All Activism Opportunities

  • Stop Fast Track of TransPacific Partnership via @MoveOn — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a reminder that certain awful things don’t go away quickly, so we have to stay vigilant and keep fighting them until we succeed. Today’s update: Stop the Fast Track of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

    It appears there is something the president and the GOP-lead Congress can agree is a good idea: ceding our nation’s economic autonomy to an international corporate conglomerate in a trade deal that has been repeatedly called “NAFTA on steroids.”

    As Lori Wallach reported in The Nation back when the TPP first got press almost three years ago, the agreement is essentially an assault on democracy.

    Wallach wrote:

    "Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état. The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars.”

    The Obama administration has asked Congress to “Fast Track” legislation to approve the trade deal. Fast track authority accelerates the process by which a bill becomes law by preventing amendments and only requiring a majority vote in the senate, rather than the now typical supermajority. Most of the Congressional Democratic Caucus is opposed to Fast Track for the TPP, but there may not be enough republican opposition to prevent it from happening without public outcry — which is going to be hard to drum up because trade deals are BORING.

    Super important and super boring. As our friend Lee Camp says: “boring evil is The Worst.” It’s terrifyingly easy to get things past a busy, struggling or apathetic public when words like “trade deals” and “tax policy” and …. There, see? I’ve lost you.

    The Communication Workers of America are making it easy to care and easy to act. Their petition at MoveOn.org simply says: "Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs.” You can find it at the MoveOn homepage, then just click and sign to tell your representatives you expect them to vote no on Fast Track authority.

    The CWA is also phone banking to let legislators know they oppose thoughtlessly approving a corporate power grab that would eliminate their jobs. If you want to join them, simply dial 855-980-2256 and enter your zip code when prompted. You will be connected to your rep’s staffer to whom you simply say:

    "I'm a constituent and I've had enough of bad trade deals negotiated in secret like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Congress needs to read the deal and not vote to Fast Track it before even knowing what's in it. I urge you to vote no on Fast Track authority for the TPP.”

    Simple. Direct. And, yes, legislators do still keep a record of calls on issues and House members are pretty much already running again and need to listen when you call.

    Opposing Fast Track won’t stop the TPP from eventually becoming law. It will, however, make the process public and lengthier and give less engaged citizens an opportunity to hear about the deal and weigh in. As part of the highly engaged and involved group within the citizenry, it’s basically on us to run around sounding the alarm. Visit MoveOn.org, sign, and then share the petition.

    Update!

    Obama administration asks for fast tracking of TPP: "Democrats oppose Obama's demand for fast-tracking Pacific trade deal” by Siri Srinivas at The Guardian

    Follow-up/new Action!

    SIGN: Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs via MoveOn.org and the CWA

    Sources/further reading:

    ”Tell Your Congress Member: No Fast Track For the TPP!” via the Communications Workers of America

    "NAFTA on Steroids: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would grant enormous new powers to corporations, is a massive assault on democracy” by Lori Wallach at The Nation

    "The Top Secret Deal Between 11 Countries That Will Affect Your Life" - MOC #186Lee Camp

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #896 "Resisting global corporate takeover (Trans-Pacific Partnership)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #SaveSusiya via Jewish Voice For Peace ( @jvplive ) — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Save Susiya.

    Susiya is a Palestinian village in Hebron Hills — part of the Occupied West Bank. Over the summer it was marked for imminent demolition by the Israeli army, which would have displaced 340 people. A campaign by Rebuilding Alliance and other groups lead to protests in the European Union and lead to Israel lifting the demolition date, but with violence continuing — over 2000 Palestinians have been injured since the beginning of October, the village is hardly safe from destruction.

    Just since the beginning of October, over 2000 Palestinians have been injured and 77 have been killed. Illegal settlements in the West Bank fuel the clashes. Prime Minister Netanyahu attempted to downplay the size of the illegal settlements at the Center For American Progress this week, saying that settlement construction has made up a tiny fraction of built up land — around one-tenth of one percent. The reality is that settlements technically cover one percent of the West Bank, but with ten percent of the West Bank included in what’s called the “municipal area,” around 40% of the land is off-limits to Palestinians with hundreds of kilometers of roads that further divide and destroy Palestinian territory.

    Jewish Voice for Peace — who’s mission includes seeking an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East — has a petition at JewishVoiceForPeace.org asking John Kerry to pressure the Israeli government to prevent the destruction of Susiya and recognize the right of the Palestinian families who live there to plan their futures on the land they rightfully own.

    A recent Mic.com photo essay — "16 Eye-Opening Photos Show What It's Like Going Back to School in Palestine and Israel” — shows why Jewish Voice for Peace and others have left up their campaigns in support of Susiya despite the threat of demolition being downgraded from imminent to “on hold.” The terrain that very young school children must navigate is overshadowed only by the threat of harassment and violence.

    It isn’t enough that the demolition equipment isn’t currently stationed at Susiya’s edge. When our government regularly reminds the world that we are “a friend to Israel,” the violence and human rights atrocities committed in the West Bank have our name on them. Sign the petition at JewishVoiceForPeace.org asking Secretary Kerry to step in. You can also follow the #EndTheOccupation hashtag to keep up on the latest not reported by our corporate media.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: Tell John Kerry to Defend Susiya! via Jewish Voice for Peace

    FOLLOW: #EndTheOccupation & #IsraeliIncitement

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN: "Free Political Refugees Hisham Shaban Ghalia and Mounis Hammouda From ICE custody” via Not1More

    Sources/further reading:

    5 Questions Prime Minister Netanyahu Should be Asked Today via Amnesty International

    "Families from threatened Palestinian villages Susiya and Um al-Kheir bring their stories to the US” at Mondoweiss

    "Israel, Don’t Level My Village” — Nasser Nawaja at The New York Times

    "16 Eye-Opening Photos Show What It's Like Going Back to School in Palestine and Israel” at Mic.com

    "Mapping the dead in latest Israeli-Palestinian violence”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #968 "The continuing quagmire of an apartheid state (Israel/Palestine)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #KeystoneXL Victory Update & #ActInParis via @sierraclub — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a glimmer of hope to remind you that not absolutely everything is completely terrible all the time. Today’s update: Keystone XL Victory and the Road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

    Keystone XL is officially dead.

    Thanks to activism lead by extraordinarily brave and relentless Indigenous People across the continent and climate activists refusing to give up and willing to risk repeated arrest over several years, President Obama has announced that Keystone will not go forward. Take time to sign the Sierra Club’s #ThanksObama note — it took years, but he did finally (mostly) listen and keep the project from being completed.

    Rejecting Keystone is an important step not just for the long term goals of campaigns like 350.org’s Divest From Fossil Fuels and Sierra Club’s #‎KeepItInTheGround, but as a political optics move ahead of the climate negotiations in Paris at the end of this month. It’s easier for the U.S. to ask other nations to curb their pollution in an attempt to prevent catastrophic, irreversible climate change if we are taking visible steps of our own.

    As was covered just a few weeks ago on this show, international organizations like 350.org have co-organized the upcoming Global Climate March on November 28th and 29th. You can find the action in your area or help put one together — still plenty of time — by visiting 350.org/Paris.

    If you are unable to march — and not everyone is, the Sierra Club has some great visibility boosting actions. At ActInParis.org as well as on the hashtag #ActInParis you can find updates on goals for the talks, check out the “Best of the Best” from commitments countries have made ahead of the talks, and read what international faith leaders are saying in support of bold action in Paris. Even if you aren’t religious, you know you have those friends and family in your networks who are swayed by the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and other recognizable figures. Frankly, even for the non-religious, it’s pretty inspiring to see unity among Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu leaders from around the world.

    As expected there’s a social media campaign — but it has an “in the real world” twist. People who submit photos of themselves holding a sign with the #ActInParis hashtag through Twitter and/or Instagram will not only show public support for strong action at the summit, they’ll become part of a collage that’s GOING TO the summit. The Sierra Club is posting what will hopefully be a sizable pictorial display of people from around the world demanding their leaders get something real accomplished this year.

    Looking ahead to next year — which is right around the corner, 350.org has actions already planned to follow up on the Paris talks; you can get all that information at 350.org/Paris.

    Update!

    #KeystoneXL Victory! "KEYSTONE XL VICTORY: TO WIN A FIGHT, YOU HAVE TO PICK ONE: Obama’s pipeline rejection a huge win for citizen action” via Sierra Club

    Follow-up/new(ish) Action!

    #ActInParis for bold climate action with Sierra Club

    Snap a selfie and “go to” Paris with Sierra Club’s #ActInParis Photo Campaign

    SIGN on to 350.org’s Plan Through Paris

    SIGN to say #ThanksObama for rejecting #KeystoneXL!

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #967 "Going to Paris with our heads held somewhat high (Climate)"

    Revisit the original actions/segments:

    #GlobalClimateMarch via @350

    Tar Sands Resistance March #stoptarsands

    #KeystoneXL Under Congressional #Climate Deniers

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #GlobalClimateMarch via @350 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #GlobalClimateMarch.

    The United Nations is preparing for climate negotiations in Paris this December and, predictably, 350.org has been active ahead of time.

    “The Road Through Paris” campaign is so-named because the pressure will need to continue beyond the summit. As 350.org’s campaign page says: "No matter what happens at the summit, this will continue to be true: Politicians don’t lead movements — people do.”

    2015 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history — which will make this the third record-breaking year in a row. The UN Secretary General says he’s on board, telling the press that we need to "accelerate investments in clean energy and spur a global, low-carbon transformation well before the end of the century, consistent with a below 2 degrees Celsius pathway.”

    350.org is looking to hold them to that and more with specific milestones. Their goal is to get world leaders to make a deal that’s “in line with the imperatives of science and justice.” They’re demanding that 80% of fossil fuels stay in the ground and financing for a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. These are ambitious goals and everyone has to get involved in a visible show of support to put the necessary weight behind the demands.

    Next up is the Global Climate March November 28th and 29th — info on the specifics in your area can be found at 350.org/global-climate-march. It’s the weekend before the talks start and, while the biggest action is happening in Paris itself, people are participating around the globe.

    350.org optimistically calls this a possible turning point — but only if we push for it. Visit 350.org and join up with the Global Climate March happening near you, or access resources to start your own.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Join the next 350.org #RoadThroughParis event: The #GlobalClimateMarch

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    GoFossilFree.org’s push ahead of the Paris summit: Register Your Divestment from fossil fuels

    Sources/further reading:

    "Leaders Discuss Deeper Engagement for Strong Climate Agreement in Paris”

    "Solar and Wind Just Passed Another Big Turning Point: It has never made less sense to build fossil fuel power plants.”

    via Bloomberg

    "Demolishing The 7 Myths Propping Up Fossil Fuels: It's time to set the record straight.” via Huffington Post

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #962 "Building momentum to and through Paris (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Automatic Voter Registration via @BrennanCenter — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Automatic Voter Registration.

    According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 21 states have enacted new voting restrictions in the last five years. In 15 of those states, the new laws including voter registration rollbacks to early voting cuts to voter ID requirements will be in effect for the 2016 election.

    As these voter disenfranchisements have spread, however, a handful of states are attempting to expand access to the ballot. Oregon passed automatic voter registration in March and California followed suit last week. New Jersey’s legislature sent their bill to the governor’s desk where it awaits his signature.

    After Governor Jerry Brown signed the law, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla tweeted an obvious, but apparently necessary declaration: “Democracy is stronger when more citizens can vote!”

    As voting rights guru Ari Berman reported at The Nation this week:

    "You’d think that would be a truism in a democracy, but unfortunately far too many states under Republican control have enacted new laws making it harder to vote in recent years. From 2011 to 2015, 468 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 49 states...It’s a shame that on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a quarter of Americans–51 million citizens–are not registered to vote. Let’s hope more states follow the model of California.”

    There is a push — lead by the Brennan Center — for national automatic voter registration. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced The Automatic Voter Registration Act this summer and 45 cosponsors have signed on in support. There are also a number of bills circulating through state legislatures that would eliminate the barrier of having to affirmatively register to vote.

    Voter expansion has leaked into the presidential race with candidate Hillary Clinton calling for widespread reform and criticizing republican candidates for supporting restrictions. Right now is THE time to raise awareness and push the issue on a national level.

    You can find the full list of bills in the Brennan Center’s "Automatic Voter Registration” post which is part of their “Voting Rights and Elections” section of the “Issues” tab at BrennanCenter.org, or by clicking the link in the segment notes. Use ContactingTheCongress.org to drop your national representatives a note asking them to support The Automatic Voter Registration Act and find your state reps at OpenStates.Org to support voter expansion where you live.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Find the Brennan Center for Justice list of Automatic Voter Registration laws

    Let your federal legislators know you support the Automatic Voter Registration Act through ContactingTheCongress.org and your state reps know you support voter expansion through automatic registration via OpenStates.Org

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Find out if you’re registered to vote at: CanIVote.org

    Sources/further reading:

    "The Case for Voter Registration Modernization in 2015” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    What Alabama Can Learn From California on Voting Rights via Ari Berman at The Nation

    "Gov. Brown approves automatic voter registration for Californians” via LA Times

    "Dem unveils automatic voter registration bill” via The Hill

    "Make It Easy: The Case for Automatic Registration” via Democracy Journal

    "Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out” via LA Times

    "Hillary's Game-Changing Voting Reform” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #961 "Working our way toward anti-democracy (Voter Suppression)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW via @cut_50 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW.

    1 out of every 100 Americans is behind bars. The U.S. spends $80 billion a year on incarceration. 70 million Americans have a criminal record. In too many neighborhoods, young people of color are more likely to go to prison than college.

    Over the course of this year, those stats — straight out of Cut50’s campaign supporting bipartisan criminal justice reform — have lead to an unlikely alliance of traditional ideological adversaries like The ACLU and Koch Industries. With the left and the right backing a reduction in the inmate population, legislation has actually been introduced in the House and Senate.

    As reported in NPR, Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, is behind the bill because: "The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is the most substantial criminal justice reform legislation introduced since the inception of the 'tough on crime' movement and is the best indication we have that those days are over.”

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums is also supporting the legislation. President Julie Stewart acknowledges that it isn’t perfect, but says "it is a substantial improvement over the status quo and will fix some of the worst injustices.”

    The House bill — the SAFE Justice Act — and the Senate bill — the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act — propose system-wide reforms to reduce over-criminalization, enhance rehabilitation, support individuals’ rebuilding after prison terms, reform federal prison sentencing, and reduce automatic and harsh punishments like “three strikes” laws.

    Visit JusticeReformNow.org to sign the Cut50 petition, which is approaching 200,000 signatures — it turns out criminal justice reform is also popular with celebrity activists and the general public! You can also join in demanding that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America by following the #JusticeReformNOW & #Cut50 hashtags.

    We already know this Congress is loathe to do anything besides push deadlines on the budget and investigate Planned Parenthood without a public outcry. Let’s make sure they can hear us loud and clear.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Demand that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America” via #cut50

    Sources/further reading:

    "FAMM: House Sentencing Reform Compromise Another Step in Right Direction” via Families Against Mandatory Minimums

    “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — the full legislation

    "Here's One Thing Washington Agreed On This Week: Sentencing Reform” via NPR

    "Senators Announce Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — announcement from the Judiciary Committee

    "Senate Introduces ‘Gamechanger’ Criminal Justice Reform Bill” via Time

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #959 "The need to do better (Mass Incarceration)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 via @DemandProgress & @OpenCongress — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: supporting the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015.

    No matter your conspiracy or frustration-level with Big Pharma, everyone who’s ever filled a prescription knows the medication part of our health “care” system is seriously jacked.

    To address several of the factors that spike drug prices in the U.S., Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Elijah Cummings introduced legislation last month, aptly and simply named “The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015.”

    The bullet points include:

    • Allowing U.S. residents to import lower-cost medications from Canada
    • Encouraging Medicare to negotiate medication prices with drugmakers — something private insurance companies do regularly, but Medicare does not
    • Requiring drug manufacturers to disclose prices for treatments they sell in other countries
    • Requiring drugmakers to submit annual reports detailing how drug prices are set — including research and development costs and such
    • And eradicating any existing market-exclusivity periods for medications that should never have been granted — i.e. that asshole you’ve heard about a ton in this episode.
    • And eradicating any existing market-exclusivity periods for medications that should never have been granted — i.e. that asshole you’ve heard about a ton in this episode.

    This legislation is better than spending-neutral; it would save the federal government money and provide better access to life-saving and life-improving health care. It should be a both-sides-of-the-aisle winner. Of course, that sort of thing is mostly a pipe dream these days without significant public pressure. And that means your voice is needed.

    You can click “support,” contact your legislators directly, & track the House and Senate bills through GovTrack.us. Progressive direct action group Demand Progress also has a petition in support of the legislation through the link in the segment notes — also posted on the Demand Progress social media feeds.

    It’s long past time people weren’t choosing between food and medication or housing and medication or doing without treatment with the power to vastly improve every aspect of their lives. There will be plenty left for the drug manufacturers after these reforms; we’re simply asking for them to conduct their business ethically.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Sign the Demand Progress petition to Congress: "Tell Congress to pass Bernie Sanders's bill to rein in prescription drug costs!”

    Track the legislation & contact legislators: in the Senate & in the House via GovTrack.us

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Send your legislator a letter through OpenCongress.org

    Episode #958 "Where the market should not be allowed to tread (Health Care)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #WeWantDebate in #Election2016 via @Lessig2016 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Let Lessig Debate.

    If you haven’t heard — and with the media blackout you likely haven’t, Lawrence Lessig is running for president. He’s running on a single issue: campaign reform. He’s said that he wants to hold office for a very brief period of time, telling U.S. News & World Report: "My vice president, I want to be president as soon as possible.”

    Lessig’s plan would be to enact election reform within the first year and then turn the office over to his running mate, but he’s resisting the term “protest candidate.” He wants to run and win, calling Congress “the fundamental weakness in our democracy,” largely because of political corruption.

    Lessig would make voter registration automatic, get rid of photo I.D. requirements and change Election Day to a weekend for better accessibility. He would also restructure congressional elections by creating multi-member districts and restricting government officials’ ability to become lobbyists.

    He’s certainly not the only person who thinks that no other issue is solvable until there’s a radical fix to the system that doesn’t just allow candidates to be purchased, but demands they spend at least as much time fundraising as governing just to stay in office. However, despite a fast start to his campaign, Lessig is not likely to be allowed in the Democratic debates.

    You can sign his campaign's “Let Lessig Debate" petition at Lessig2016.us to let the Democratic National Committee and corporate media know you want the democratic debates to be, well, democratic. Lessig spoke at the New Hampshire Party Convention along with the other candidates and he’s raised over $1 million in under a month from close to 10,000 people — surely there is room for his voice in the debates.

    It’s unlikely that without Lessig’s presence, the foundational issue of election reform will be addressed at all. So, whether you would support him as the nominee or not, take the time to sign the petition at Lessig2016.us to ensure that the other candidates and the media cannot ignore our broken system.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the petition: Let Lessig Debate! from the Lessig2016 campaign

    Sources/further reading:

    "Democrat Debate Controversy: Will Lawrence Lessig Be Included?” via Forbes

    "Larry Lessig Seeks A Single Issue, Single Year Presidency” via U.S.News and World Report

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #957 "Citizens demanding equal power (Money in politics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FindYourPark on National @PublicLandsDay — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: National Public Lands Day.

    It’s no secret green space is vanishing. Enjoying nature for nature’s sake is lost on most people these days. For some of us it’s because we’re creatures of habit, for other’s it’s how the hamster wheel of capitalism sucks up almost all of our time.

    This week, use National Public Lands Day as an excuse to take a breath and do something that’s as good for you as it is for nature. Saturday, September 26 is set aside as the nation's largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands. It’s hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation and signing up to volunteer at PublicLandsDay.org earns you a “fee-free” coupon to visit any federal site. For some public lands that even includes accompanying passengers in a car.

    What started as three events and 700 volunteers 17 years ago has grown to over 2000 events and more than 175,000 volunteers. Last year alone, NPLD volunteers removed 500 tons of trash, built and maintained 1,500 miles of trail, and contributed an estimated $18 million through volunteer services to improve public lands across the country. This year’s events include planting trees and shrubs; educational and recreational activities like kayaking, birding and camping; and locale-specific events like the live, interactive pre-historic cooking demonstrating featuring the "earth oven" method of cooking at Poverty Point World Heritage Site in Louisiana.

    So grab friends and get to a National Public Lands Day event in your area. The best way to make sure people are personally invested in maintaining public green spaces is to take them out to those spaces for relaxing and fun activities. Make it an annual thing and challenge others to do the same.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Register to volunteer for National Public Lands Day!

    Be sure to get your Fee-Free Coupon as a thank you for volunteering!

    Sources/further reading:

    "More than 175,000 Volunteers Expected on National Public Lands Day, September 26, 2015” via National Public Lands Day

    "Let's Move Outside: Public lands make the best playgrounds!” via National Public Lands Day

    "Our Land, Up for Grabs” via The New York Times

    "This Land Was Your Land” via The American Prospect

    "Volunteer on trail crews for National Public Lands Day, Sept. 26” via The Seattle Times

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #955 "In search of the good life (Culture)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #4EACHOfUs to #EndHyde via @AllAboveAll @NLIRH — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: supporting the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act.

    This legislation — which has the unfortunately trans-exclusionary nickname “the EACH Woman Act” — is the first national legislation to explicitly affirm the right to abortion care. Roe v Wade may have decriminalized abortion, but the complete lack of anything resembling an affirmative right in the legislature or from the Supreme Court is what has allowed 231 abortion restrictions to pass in just the past four years — not to mention practically perpetual investigations of Planned Parenthood.

    Coverage bans — restrictions on whether a patient’s health insurance provider is allowed to reimburse for abortion care — are the height of every kind of discrimination I rail against on this show. The poor, communities of color, immigrants, people living on reservations, the undocumented — basically all the people who already have barriers to healthcare and significant economic disadvantages — are hit the hardest.

    Grassroots organizing lead by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (or URGE), and the National Network of Abortion Funds along with new polling commissioned by All* Above All showing Americans — by a 24-point margin — think politicians shouldn’t be able to deny abortion care to someone just because they’re poor came together to create a historic press conference this summer. More than 70 members of Congress signed on to co-sponsor the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act introduced by Representatives Lee, DeGette, and Schakowsky. Many stood in front of cameras to declare that abortion is a right and demanded an end to this dangerous discrimination.

    Even if this legislation can’t get past the GOP’s dangerously anti-choice leadership, having a coalition this size put their names on a bill that doesn’t shy away from the word “abortion” is a huge deal and those members of Congress deserve your support. You can encourage your representatives to sign-on through the form at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health website — LatinaInstitute.org. If your reps are already supporters, likely All* Above All has included them in their “All In” social media campaign, so post the graphic at AllAboveAll.org thanking them to your networks with the inclusive hashtag #4EACHOfUs. Show favorite Barbara Lee’s graphic is up in our feeds if you don’t have a congressman of your own to thank.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Add your name in support of #4EACHOfUs: "Write your member of Congress today!” via the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

    Thank the #4EACHOfUs co-sponsors via All* Above All’s 100 Days For Coverage Campaign

    Sources/further reading:

    "Widespread Public Support Bolsters Bill to End Restrictions on Abortion Coverage” via Truthout

    "New Year, Same as the Old Year? 2015 Reproductive Rights Preview”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #952 "The battle rages whether you pay attention or not (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #HungerActionMonth via @FeedingAmerica — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Hunger Action Month.

    One in six Americans struggles with hunger. As highlighted before on this show, that number hardly fluctuates no matter what’s happening with job numbers, the stock market or the economy. Our capitalist system has created a sizable class of people — an estimated 49 million right now — who can’t take for granted that they’ll eat tomorrow. Until we can fundamentally change this system, people will go hungry.

    Hunger Action Month is the perfect time to push back on all the right-wing and center-left poverty shaming tropes. Feeding America — a fantastic organization that provides over 3 billion meals annually and reaches nearly every community in the country — has fantastic graphics, memes, educational materials, and social media campaigns available to share with your networks.

    Feeding America has also rebranded September: #Spoontember. To raise awareness and encourage people to volunteer, Feeding America is calling for selfies with a spoon balanced on your nose. We all know silly works on social media: buckets of ice water raised over $100 million for ALS research, after all. So take a selfie, tag @FeedingAmerica on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and include the stats on the campaign page at FeedingAmerica.org in your post.

    You can also support the Thunderclap scheduled for Hunger Action Day Thursday, September 3rd by clicking the link in the segment notes and in the Feeding America Facebook and Twitter feeds. It only takes ten seconds and your social media post will go out as a blast alongside other supporters, potentially reaching millions by helping the hashtag go viral.

    If you’ve been meaning to volunteer, but like most of us, forget or are reluctant to get involved with something new, take the opportunity during a month when many of the other volunteers will be new as well. You can all be unsure of yourselves together — and what better cause than feeding hungry people. FeedingAmerica.org will connect you to your local food bank, or, if in-person engagement isn’t viable for you, help you run a virtual food drive.

    You can also ask your members of Congress to visit a food bank from the Feeding America home page. There’s no expiration date on this action as residents of all 3,143 U.S. counties experience food insecurity — making this an epidemic in the richest nation on the planet.

    Whatever level of involvement you’re able to take makes a difference in helping end stigma, raise money, and push toward a better, more sustainable system.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Join one (or all!) of @FeedingAmerica’s #HungerActionMonth campaigns.

    Take TEN SECONDS to support Feeding America’s #Spoontember Thunderclap!

    Sources/further reading:

    "Hunger and Poverty Fact Sheet” via Feeding America

    "49 Million Americans Live With This — So Why Are We So Uncomfortable Talking About It?” via .Mic

    "Our Perceptions About the “Unworthy Poor” Haven’t Changed” via TalkPoverty

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #949 "Throwing away food while people starve (Poverty)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy via @EFF — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy.

    People prefer to be anonymous online for a number of reasons — not all of them so that they can troll and leave comments without reprisal. Groups and individuals who do the majority of their social justice organizing and fundraising don’t link their personal information — names, addresses, etc. — to their websites to prevent targeting by opposition and law enforcement.

    Business like Time Warner and Walt Disney — claiming they need recourse for copyright infringement — have lobbied the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (or, ICANN) to end the proxy registration of domains that keeps people’s information private. According to Buzzfeed, the entertainment industry sees proxy registration as a way to covertly steal content while privacy advocates see identity concealment as a way to enable free speech.

    The Online Abuse Prevention Initiative is particularly concerned about the way this potential rule change would affect groups like: women indie gamers who sell their products online, freelance journalists and authors, small business owners who work out of their homes, activists who take donations — especially those who live under totalitarian surveillance states, and people who crowd fund medical procedures using their personal stories to solicit donations.

    The affect on marginalized groups and those without financial resources to protect themselves through the legal system or fight harassment after it’s already begun could change the landscape of online organizing and commerce as well as open up even more people to being doxed.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is, of course, leading the effort to fight the proposal. Their "Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy” petition to ICANN is up at their website, EFF.org, under the “Take Action” tab. By signing their petition, you’ll be asking for ICANN to not only reject the change, but to go further to protect people’s online privacy by creating less costly, easier ways to withhold personal identifying information from online domains.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy” via the Electronic Frontier Foundation

    Sources/further reading:

    "Icann plan to end website anonymity 'could lead to swatting attacks’” at The Guardian

    "Proposed Domain Name Rule Threatens Website Owner Anonymity” at Buzzfeed

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #946 "What will it take to reverse this trend? (Privacy Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Hold Border Patrol Responsible via @ACLU — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Hold Border Patrol Responsible.

    Republicans have seen the light on immigration reform, the corporate, belt-way media told us earlier this year. Pay no attention to the way they refused to pass anything comprehensive — they see the benefit of incremental, piecemeal legislation and are hoping to appear less xenophobic ahead of the presidential primary season.

    Well — whether we like it or not — primary season is in full swing. And with the House gone for August recess and the Senate right behind them on Friday, this supposed party line shift seems to have been mostly hype. The only members of the GOP weighing in on immigration with any enthusiasm are the primary contenders themselves. Media proclaimed moderate Jeb Bush even seems to be taken seriously despite his throwback go-to line:

    "Finding a practical solution to the status of the people who are here illegally today is a nonstarter if our borders are not secure against future illegal immigration.”

    Despite ongoing abuses in border towns, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has virtual free reign under the Department of Homeland Security. There is little recourse for those who live with the checkpoints and harassment happening well into U.S. territory. It isn’t just Jeb’s quote-unquote “illegals” being targeted; legal residents must pass through check points even if they aren’t living on one side of the border and working or visiting family on the other.

    The ACLU has been pushing a campaign of accountability since the president’s much lauded executive order to stop deportations for over 4 million immigrants this winter. That order also ramped up the militarization of border towns and check points. Visit the “Action” tab at ACLU.org or use the link in the segment and show notes to go directly to the petition titled "Our Border Communities Are Not Constitution-Free Zones.”

    The petition demands a clear, effective method for reporting human rights violations — a power that rests with the president and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This method must be transparent, available to non-English speakers, and followed by a strong investigation process.

    While we’re fighting for comprehensive immigration reform that requires action from Congress, we must continue to push the president and his administration to stop all abuses within the power of the executive branch; bringing the Constitution back to the border and those who reside there is an important step.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Our Border Communities Are Not Constitution-Free Zones" via ACLU

    Sources/further reading:

    "Signs of Life For Immigration Reform” at U.S. News and World Report

    "Jeb Bush unveils border security, immigration reform plan” via WSB-TV

    "Documenting Ongoing Border Patrol Abuses” via Immigration Policy Center

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #943 "No human being is illegal (Immigration) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Keep #SNAP Strong via @FRACtweets — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Keep SNAP Strong.

    That video from the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities began with the voices of former Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern — the democrat and the republican credited by World Food Program USA as being pioneers in the way food assistance is delivered to those who need it in this country. Their website unequivocally declares:

    "It is no exaggeration to say that every major U.S. program designed to help feed poor children bears the imprint of these two men.”

    How quickly things change.

    As Best of the Left’s Social Media/Activism director Katie Klabusich lays out in a piece for RollingStone, the GOP has spent the past four years proposing 10 year plans to “balance the budget" that cut more than $130 billion from food assistance programs — WIC and SNAP — that Dole and McGovern worked so hard to make more user-friendly and easier to qualify for.

    Why a need to cut approximately “half of one hundredth of one percent” — that’s 0.0085 of one percent — out of a $3.8 trillion federal budget? According to the GOP the answer is priorities and redundancy. Katie, who spent the first six months of this year utilizing SNAP after an unexpected medial bill — an experience she details in the article, makes a good point: 49 million of her is pretty redundant.

    That’s how many people are food insecure in this country. 49 million — or 14% of our population. One in six Americans aren’t living with or in danger of being hungry because of the economy either; the hungry segment of our population really never drops below 11%. This is simply the percentage of our friends, neighbors, and coworkers that we’re willing to live with being hungry as a trade for our capitalist culture.

    Currently, the GOP is in charge of the budget and they're celebrating a drop in SNAP dollars for 2016 — actually due to factors affecting the program's funding calculator like fewer expected enrollees and a break in food inflation — as though they managed to sneak a law past the president that fundamentally undid Dole and McGovern’s legacy. Their intentions are clear by their false premise boasting and their on-the-record long-term budget plans. Now is the time to get involved in the effort to bolster these life-saving programs because they are absolutely at risk.

    The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is a national organization working to maintain funding for food assistance programs and fill the gaps with private efforts when public money falls short. They have a great Legislative Action Center at FRAC.org where you can track and support or oppose proposed state and federal budget actions.

    At FRAC.org, be sure to sign the "Tell Congress to Keep SNAP Strong” which encourages Congress not just to ditch any notion of cuts, but join with the White House and Progressive Caucus in bolstering life-sustaining access to food.

    You can also share your experiences and amplify others' through a hashtag Katie revived earlier this year: #PovertyIs. The hashtag trended on multiple continents and the stories are powerful. 

    TAKE ACTION:

    Track and support/oppose pending budgetary and program changes to food assistance through Food Research and Action Center’s Legislative Action Center

    SIGN: "Tell Congress to Keep SNAP Strong”

    Sources/further reading:

    "What SNAP Is For” via the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    "Honoring the Legacy of Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern” via World Food Program USA

    "Republicans Are Trying to Take Food Out of My Mouth” by Katie Klabusich at RollingStone

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #941 "Taking food out of the mouths of babes (Poverty)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@BeyondCoal via @SierraClub — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal” Campaign.

    Climate actions and campaigns can seem overwhelming in scope. But while few in the media were paying attention, the grassroots organizing and smart strategizing of the Beyond Coal campaign has made shutting down the dirtiest energy source in the country look almost easy.

    The main goals of the Sierra Club campaign are to keep coal in the ground in Appalachia and elsewhere, move municipalities to clean energy, and successfully retire one-third of the nation’s 500-some coal plants by 2020. Last week, they celebrated the closing of the 200th plant, leaving 323 on their targeted list.

    This is a major victory for both health and optics reasons. Coal is responsible for one-third of US emissions while making us unnecessarily sick. As many as 13,000 premature deaths and more than $100 billion in health care costs annually are attributed to coal. Hitting even just the hallway mark — which is practically around the corner — would make a massive difference in the lives of millions while proving that transitioning from dirty to clean energy is not the impossibility it was once portrayed as.

    Bruce Nilles, ‎senior campaign director for Beyond Coal, explained the importance of last week’s milestone to Kate Sheppard at The Huffington Post:

    "Back in 2009, the prevailing wisdom was that coal was inevitable, that the U.S. would be burning coal for a long time. We set out to show that you can make a lot of progress even without a climate bill.”

    The Sierra Club is still, of course, pushing the administration to follow through on promises to be proactive. Their “Speak Out For a Strong Clean Power Plan” petition — which can be found at SierraClub.org. — is flooding the administration with support ahead of the expected push back on the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan from fossil fuel billionaire. Through the petition page you can sign; tweet to the EPA with the hashtag #ActOnClimate; post the campaign to your other social network feeds; get involved in specific coal plan closing action in your state; and connect to other campaigns.

    Join with Beyond Coal and help push them over the tipping point to achieving an end to our dirtiest energy source.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN & SHARE: Speak Out For a Strong Clean Power Plan with the The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign

    Get involved in your state through Beyond Coal’s Take Action Page

    Sources/further reading:

    “United States Phases Out 200th Coal Plant As Momentum For Renewable Energy Grows” via The Sierra Club

    "Iowa Utility Will Phase Out Coal At 5 Plants, In Milestone For Sierra Club” by Katie Sheppard via Huffington Post

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #940 "What we are facing and how we are fighting (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment via @ERACoalition — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Finally.

    In case you missed it, women don’t have equal rights in this country.

    The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1923 — three years after the 19th Amendment gave women the vote. Early women’s rights activists knew that the vote was just the beginning. Real equality was more than just dropping a ballot in the box. They sought to add “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” to the Constitution to enshrine full quality of the sexes into our founding document.

    Congress finally passed the ERA in 1972 and 35 states ratified it — three states short of the constitutional requirement. The ERA has ben reintroduced in every legislative session since it stalled in 1982 — when the time to ratify expired, but it continually fails to garner support. This is in part because a generation after the campaign to adopt the ERA, most Americans assume the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment or the right to vote in the 19th automatically dissolved any disparities between cis men and everyone else.

    In her statement of support for the renewed effort to ratify the ERA, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier said:

    “The time is ripe to ratify the equal rights amendment. Seventy percent of people polled think that we already have an ERA in the Constitution and they’re shocked to find we don’t have one.”

    She’s backed up by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who has said: "If I could choose an amendment to add to this Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment.”

    The Equal Rights Amendment Coalition is taking RBG’s words to heart. If women are to be equal in stature before the law, we need a guarantee that can’t be repealed — an amendment to the Constitution rather than just a piece of legislation subject to the whims of Congress.

    Supporting this common sense and long overdue amendment is as easy as signing the petition at MoveOn.Org and visiting ERACoalition.org where you can take the pledge to support the ERA and send a message your legislators asking them to become supporters of equality.

    You can also keep an eye out for the upcoming documentary "Equal Means Equal” which depicts the modern day disparities for women in every area from reproductive rights to paid family leave to equal pay and follow and use the hashtags #EqualMeansEqual and #ERANow.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)” via MoveOn.org

    SUPPORT the ratification of the ERA: Take the Pledge and Contact Your Representatives via the ERA Coalition

    Additional Activism:

    Watch for the release of the documentary "Equal Means Equal” from the ERA Education Project

    Sources/further reading:

    "Meryl Streep Helpfully Reminded Congress We Still Don’t Have an Equal-Rights Amendment” at The Cut

    "Meryl Streep Is Pushing Congress to Finally Revive the Equal Rights Amendment” at Mother Jones

    "The new women warriors: Reviving the fight for equal rights” at CNN.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #938 "What are women complaining about? (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a glimmer of hope to remind you that not absolutely everything is completely terrible all the time. Today’s update: MayDay PAC's #Leaders4Reform.

    Last year, in order to change how our elections are funded, Lawrence Lessig launched “the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs” — MayDay.US. He was shrugged off by mainstream press and his grand idea seemed impossible even to those who hoped he would succeed.

    Then something incredible happened.

    "We raised the initial $1 million in 13 days, rather than 30," Lessig wrote at Medium. "That was matched two weeks later, and then we launched the second campaign. Thirty days after that, we crossed the $5 million mark...By the end of our campaign, we had raised $11 million of the $12 million that we had planned, with more than 50,000 donors from almost every state in the union.”

    When that monetary success didn’t translate into wins in the voting booth in November, Lessig decided to relaunch with the goal of winning over current members of the House and Senate in order to pass legislation now. With a bill introduced in the Senate and 151 of the 218 House members needed to guarantee a reform majority, that goal looks increasingly within reach.

    At MayDay.US you can contribute to the momentum of identifying leaders for reform and support the Fair Elections Now Act, Senator Dick Durbin’s bill which has added twenty co-sponsors less than a month after being introduced.

    From the MayDay.US home page you can record a voice message in support of reform legislation which MayDay will deliver to key members of Congress, call your representatives directly using their handy script, view the full list of Leaders for Fundamental Reform, and encourage those not yet signed on to join the fight via social media using the hashtag #Leaders4Reform.

    MayDay still plans to target and support pro-reform candidates for Congress next year; they simply aren’t sitting on their hands in the meantime. Lessig’s ability to adapt and continue with their mission is just one more reason to support the work MayDay is doing.

    Update!

    S.1538 - Fair Elections Now Act

    Follow-up/new Action: #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS

    Leave a message for Congress: Citizen Recording Studio

    Build a bigger #Leaders4Reform coalition: Call your representatives

    Sources/additional glimmers of hope:

    "The 'Super PAC to End Super PACs' Makes a Strategic Retreat” at Bloomberg Politics

    "We tried. We learned. We’re trying something new: Mayday.US, v2” by Lawrence Lessig

    "Frodo Baggins for President” by Lawrence Lessig

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #937 "Making progress on our biggest problem (Money in Politics)"

    Revisit the original action/segment:

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Universal Access To Affordable Medicine via @NeedyMeds & @AccessOurMeds — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Universal Access To Affordable Medicine.

    Before we dive in, consider this my requisite plug for the need to achieve universal, single-payer healthcare. In the meantime, there *is* work to be done to help alleviate suffering and improve quality of life.

    Prescription medications are one of the most expensive parts of healthcare — even for people with insurance. Pharmaceutical companies already enjoy the profit-boosting privilege of lengthy patents before generic versions can be developed and sold. Originally, this was designed to help research institutions and companies recoup the millions it can cost to create a drug, thus making it less risky to fail now and again and somewhat profitable to manufacture medications for uncommon ailments. Like everything else, however, corporate greed has turned a well-intentioned fail safe into a way to injure anyone who isn’t rich.

    The leaked language in the Trans Pacific Partnership indicates that its passage would likely intensify this injustice. According to Doctors Without Borders, "aggressive intellectual property rules...would restrict access to affordable, lifesaving medicines for millions of people” by enhancing patent and data protections while dismantling international public health safeguards and obstructing price-lowering generic competition.

    In short: we need an international movement supporting medication access and we need it now.

    The Access Our Medicine Initiative - which is supported by the prescription assistance non-profit NeedyMeds - is working to make affordable medicine a priority in the UN 2015 Sustainable Development Goals currently being discussed. These discussions set international cooperative priorities for the next 15 years — kind of a big deal. The "Access Our Medicine” Declaration has already garnered the signed, visible support of individual doctors, famous advocates, and organizations like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the MS International Foundation and more. What they need now is a groundswell of support from us.

    You can sign the declaration at AccessOurMedicine.com. While you’re there, take advantage of their cache of stories from real people, easily shareable facts like "1/3 of Americans with a chronic disease has difficulty paying for food, medications or both,” and well-curated media page. After you add your name, let people know why this issue matters by sharing it with the hashtag #WhyISigned.

    For immediate help paying for medications, visit NeedyMeds.org and click on their Generic Assistance Program; they offer 20 generics medications for no cost in coordination with Rx Outreach, the largest non-profit pharmacy in the country. And if you aren’t in need, pass information on the program around; you never know who in your network might.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the "Access Our Medicine” Declaration from the Access Our Medicine Initiative

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Let people know about The Generic Assistance Program (GAP) for prescription medications through NeedyMeds

    Sources/further reading:

    "Trading Away Health: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)” via Doctors Without Borders

    "What the Affordable Care Act Means for Prescription Coverage” via The Washington Post

    "Prescription Drug Costs and Health Reform: FAQ” via WebMD

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #936 "Drugged and broke (Health Care)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #Not1More via FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (@familiatqlm) — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #Not1More.

    Jennicet Eva Gutiérrez’s interruption of President Obama at the White House Pride reception was met with the type of hostility trans people experience regularly in their every day lives. Pride, like the mainstream movement for marriage equality, is often very white, very cis, and very male — sidelining those like Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans woman of color. As we’ve outlined before in the show and previous activism segments, the marriage equality victory being celebrated at the reception that day is an important step, but it should be seen as the first of many for LGBTQ people.

    As black trans queer feminist Raquel Wilis wrote last week:

    "Today, with New York City’s streets still glittering from the aftermath of the weekend’s Pride festivities, I stand in solidarity with Gutiérrez as she stands up to the government and the queer elite. Many have given her their half-hearted support—agreeing with the cause but discrediting her methods. To these people I ask: when is the right time? Those of us who have not been able to play the assimilation game learned long ago that respectability politics mean nothing when our community is constantly under threat.”

    Undocumented LGBTQ people are an especially vulnerable group, often being subjected to abuse during detention and disproportionately facing deportation and separation from their families.

    The group Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement has built quite a coalition in under a year and a half specifically to address issues like the detention, abuse and deportation of transgender immigrants and undocumented people. Their campaign #Not1More — which you can find at NotOneMoreDeportation.com — "builds collaboration between individuals, organizations, artists, and allies to expose, confront, and overcome unjust immigration laws.”

    Through their website you can support individuals facing deportation, share stories and artwork, and call on your representatives to end abuse and detention.

    While the White House released a memo on the detention of transgender immigrants in response to pressure from the #Not1More coalition following the White House Pride reception, guidance documents don’t have the force of law that will prevent abuse and violence against those being detained and deported.

    In their "Tell President Obama, Don't Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants” petition, FAMILIA seeks to remind us and the president that justice is not achieved until no one is left behind: "Millions have finally been provided relief. But millions more have still been excluded.”

    You can sign the petition at NotOneMoreDeporation.com calling on the president to expand deferred action for all families and amplify the stories and artwork of those affected by this unjust immigration policy.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Tell President Obama, Don't Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants” via FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

    JOIN the movement to end deportation of undocumented LGBTQ people with #Not1More

    Sources/further reading:

    “#Not1More RESPONSE TO ICE NEW MEMO ON PROCESSING TRANS DETAINEES”

    "A transgender woman of color on the hypocrisy of the gay rights movement” by Raquel Wilis at Quartz

    "Obama's reply to a trans woman proves LGBT advocacy stops at gay marriage” by Meredith Talusan at The Guardian

    "Was Obama’s Heckler Actually A Transgender Hero?” by Kristina Marusic at MTVIssues

    "The Obama Legacy: Inequality, Corporate Trade Deals, Worldwide War” by Kit O’Connell

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #935 "It is so ordered (Marriage Equality)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Showing Up For Racial Justice @ShowUp4RJ — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Showing Up For Racial Justice.

    As has been discussed on this show fairly regularly, members of marginalized groups are called on continually to do the “101-level” explanations of their issues and teach people how to be allies. This work is thankless, exhausting and often takes valuable time away from real movement and liberation work.

    But to achieve equality in any real way, majority groups must participate in the efforts to recognize and solidify immigrant rights, women’s rights, trans rights, gay rights, and rights for people of color — just to name a few of the current fights for justice. So, how do movements engage the majority without ceding the mic or spending resources they don’t have teaching allyship?

    Enter Showing Up For Racial Justice — or SURJ. This national network of groups and individuals does the work of organizing white people for justice. On their “About” page they explain their role through a quote from Alicia Garza, a community organizer and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement: "We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.”

    SURJ helps train white people to play supportive roles in the campaigns driven by people of color and how to take a racial justice focus back to their other organizing efforts — in climate, economic, political, LGBTQ, voting rights, feminist campaigns and movements. One of the most important things white people can do to challenge white supremacy is to speak up in typically white, privileged spaces.

    ShowingUpForRacialJustice.org has a great “Action” tab with local events across the country. There are affiliated chapters in almost every state; you can also sign up to start one in your area. They need volunteers to help with social media, fundraise, write for the blog, do graphic design and web layout, plan actions, and facilitate training. Basically, whatever skills you have are needed and useful.

    Katie participated in the “White People Take Action For Charleston” conference call/webinar last week. 500 people were on the call and the suggestions — like pushing back on right-wing media and engaging anyone carrying an “All Lives Matter” sign at an event so black organizers don’t have to — were fantastic and designed to keep white allies in the background while being visible support.

    SURJ also provides a handy redirect for people of color tired of going through the 101 racism and White Supremacy explanations. It can be hard — if not impossible — to tell if people approaching you online or in your daily lives are asking questions in good faith and with real interest; the beauty of referring them to a resource like SURJ is that those truly looking for a way to understand and get involved will be appreciative and those who aren’t are quickly dismissed.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Volunteer and/or participate in actions around the country with Showing Up For Racial Justice

    Follow SURJ on Twitter and like the on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    #TakeDownTheFlag

    AskAWhitePerson.com

    Sources/further reading:

    "12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People” by Janee Woods at The Root

    "White Supremacy Culture: From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups” via SURJ

    "Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now” by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic

    "Calls to Drop Confederate Emblems Spread Nationwide” via The New York Times

    "Before Charleston, Not Many People Wanted To Take Down The Confederate Flag” via FiveThirtyEight.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #933 "The long shadow of southern white supremacy (Racism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FightBackTX with @FundTexasChoice — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Fight Back Texas with Fund Texas Choice.

    With 35% of U.S. women of reproductive age living in the 87% of counties without an abortion provider, Texas is certainly not the only area where the phrase “undue burden” applies. However, as the second largest state in population — with nearly 27 million people — and the second largest physically — topping 268,000 square miles, the impending clinic closures put the population with the the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country in immediate crisis.

    Thanks to the Fifth Circuit, unless the Supreme Court steps in with an emergency stay, half the clinics in Texas will close. Again. Depending on whether a couple can comply with a handful of specific provisions in HB2, on July 1st there will be only 8 to 10 clinics to serve the entire state — with none in the expansive western half and likely no abortion provider at the clinic in the Rio Grande Valley should it remain open.

    Patients who were already having to travel hundreds of rural miles will now be competing for appointments with city residents or going out of state at great expense. Clinics in New Mexico and Oklahoma are the next closest options — 500 miles from central West Texas and 200 miles from Dallas-Ft. Worth respectively. With overnight stays due to ultrasound, mandatory counseling, and waiting period laws, a trip for even a simple, five minute first trimester procedure or to procure the abortion pill easily becomes a four or five day trip with all the expenses of travel, time off work, and child care.

    Fund Texas Choice is the abortion fund dedicated to helping patients navigate and afford the logistical challenges of accessing this vital medical care. In-state check points and buses that are regularly swept for people without papers exacerbate an already challenging road to the doctor for many Texans. Fund Texas Choice already sends over one-third of their clients out of state, sometimes costing thousands of dollars just in travel. You can help lessen the burden and increase their ability to help bridge these gaps by donating at FundTexasChoice.org and following them @FundTexasChoice on Twitter.

    Their “Texas Abortion Clinic Map” page has an updated list of clinics that are open and/or providing abortion care. They also link to the orgs that help patients fund procedures — Lilith Fund, TEA Fund [just said like “tea”], and West Fund. You can also give directly to Whole Woman’s Health — the independent clinic chain spearheading many of the lawsuits attempting to overturn harmful laws — at WholeWomansHealth.com under the “Abortion Care — Financial Assistance” tab.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Follow and support Fund Texas Choice

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Follow and support the other Texas abortion funds:

    Lilith Fund

    TEA Fund

    West Fund

    Whole Woman’s Texas Action Fund

    Sources/further reading:

    "State Facts About Abortion: Texas” via The Guttmacher Institute

    "Fifth Circuit Upholds More HB 2 Provisions, Dares the Supreme Court to Step In” by Jessica Pieklo at RH Reality Check

    "Court Upholds Texas’ ‘Devastating’ Anti-Choice Omnibus Law” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

    "Plaintiffs appeal to 5th Circuit Court, Supreme Court following ruling on HB 2” at The Daily Texan

    "Fifth Circuit Refuses to Stay Ruling That Could Immediately Shutter All But 9 Abortion Clinics in Texas” via The Center For Reproductive Rights

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #932 "Moving the goalposts on "undue burden" (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • "Move the Money" - Reducing the Pentagon Budget via @VFPNational — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: "Move the Money" - Reducing the Pentagon Budget.

    This month, Congress spends a significant amount of time on the military budget for the following year. They debate the National Defense Authorization Act — or NDAA — and lay the groundwork for foreign policy based on how much money can be spent where and on what.

    The National Priorities Project explains the NDAA and military budget process is super simple terms at NationalPriorities.org:

    • The NDAA is an authorization, not an appropriation; it gives the government the authority to spend money and sets policy direction.
    • Drafts of the NDAA are not open and transparent.
    • The current draft has Congress ignoring its own budget caps, allotting some $90 billion off the books to fund the supposedly over Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 
    • The NDAA has billions allocated for equipment the military says it doesn’t need or want and protects military contractors.

    The NDAA is an authorization, not an appropriation; it gives the government the authority to spend money and sets policy direction. Drafts of the NDAA are not open and transparent. The current draft has Congress ignoring its own budget caps, allotting some $90 billion off the books to fund the supposedly over Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The NDAA has billions allocated for equipment the military says it doesn’t need or want and protects military contractors.

    Veterans For Peace is taking this opportunity to lobby Congress and engage those of us who would rather see our money invested in people and peace than war and destruction to let our representatives know we support a shift in policy.

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to get your representatives’ phone, address, and social media handles and let them know you support the Veterans For Peace priorities listed under the “Legislative Update” section of “Take Action” at VeteransForPeace.org.

    Budget change demands include: moving money from the military to urgent domestic needs like health, education, environment, and infrastructure; closing bases from wars waged in previous generations; reining in profits of Pentagon contractors; and auditing the Pentagon to eliminate waste.

    If you’re looking for a way to get more involved with Veterans for Peace, registration is open for their annual convention August 5-9 in San Diego, CA. You can’t miss the tab at VeteransForPeace.org.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to tell your representatives to follow the Veterans For Peach plan to “Move the Money” & “Audit the Pentagon”

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Register for the Veterans For Peace 30th Annual Convention, August 5-9

    Sources/further reading:

    "Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?” via CounterPunch<?p>

    "National Defense Authorization Act: Five Things You Should Know” via the National Priorities Project

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #931 "From rewriting wars to waging peace (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@POTUS: Free Victims of the Drug War via @DrugPolicyOrg — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: "Free Victims of the Drug War" with the Drug Policy Alliance.

    President Obama stepped up his pardons earlier this year by commuting the sentences of 22 federal prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses being served “under an outdated sentencing regime,” according to the administration. As Trymaine Lee reported for MSNBC.com, the president described the power of commutation as embodying “the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance.”

    For what are most certainly widely varying reasons, bipartisan conversations have begun seeking to tackle the injustices of decades-old mandatory minimum and three-strikes laws which have lead to the overcrowding of our nation’s prisons and the fulfilling of the greedy dreams of private prison company CEOs. In his statement on the commutations, the president acknowledged both the social good and the financial imperative of fixing the broken system.

    “Well, here’s the good news,” the president said. "There is an increasing realization on the left, but also on the right politically, that what we’re doing is counterproductive. We’re all responsible for at least a solution to this.”

    As the predictably slow wheels of potential Congressional action turn, there is good news: this is another situation where the White House holds significant unilateral power. The Drug Policy Alliance is campaigning to pressure the president on additional commutations — which should be an easy sell as he has already established a clemency initiative to encourage individuals sentenced under the draconian drug laws to petition for commutation.

    You can join with the Drug Policy Alliance by visiting DrugPolicy.org/action and contacting the White House through their "Free Victims of the Drug War” page. You can also follow their hashtag #NoMoreDrugWar and use it to publicly share that you’re participating in the campaign to free those wrongly and cruelly incarcerated.

    As the Drug Policy Alliance letter-writing page explains, the White House is starting to listen on this issue; now is the time to build momentum by asking the president to continue a process he began and not leave the work unfinished for an incoming administration. The time is now.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN to tell the president to Free Victims of the Drug War via the Drug Policy Alliance

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    FOLLOW the hashtag: #NoMoreDrugWar

    For those who want to get more involved, it’s early registration for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference (11/18-11/21/2015)

    Sources/further reading:

    "President Obama commutes prison sentences of 22 drug offenders” by Trymaine Lee at MSNBC.com

    "Prolific Pardoner? Obama Grants Clemency to 22 Prisoners Last Week, but Has Denied Thousands” by Annie Waldman for ProPublica via Truthout

    "Will the U.S. Senate Finally Reform Harsh Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drugs?”> via Drug Policy Alliance

    "The Nation's Shame: The Injustice of Mandatory Minimums" by Andrea Jones at RollingStone

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #929 "Looking to avert further tragedy (War on Drugs™)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Public Banking via @PublicBanksNow & @DemocracyCollab — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Public Banking.

    Neither the concept of pooling money to benefit a larger community nor the notion of holding that money in a publicly owned and run institution is novel. We collect taxes to fund schools and roads — projects we couldn’t accomplish individually — and the state of North Dakota has operated its own financial institution for nearly a century. So why is Bismarck, ND the only place in the country with a publicly owned bank?

    The movement to expand public banking is gaining momentum. Gus Alperovitz — the economist behind The New System Project we featured just a few weeks ago — described what has created renewed interest in founding more public banks in an op-ed for Bill Moyers:

    “[R]ecognition is also growing of the undue influence that private corporate finance — tied to Wall Street rather than anchored to Main Street — has on our communities. Most Americans understand that regulation can only go so far and that it has a tendency to unravel in the face of corporate pressure…[S]tarting at the local level, 'public banking' and related strategies seek to transform the current system toward one in which banking is managed as a public utility rather than a global casino where taxpayers pick up the tab for private losses.”

    Banking as a "public utility" — a public good — rather than a playground for the uber rich could quickly revolutionize who has access to capital for starting businesses, buying homes, and funding worthwhile projects that benefit entire communities. We already know that locally spent dollars fuel local economies; public banks work in a similar way by not funneling a percentage of the tax dollars housed in those institutions off to the CEOs of Wells Fargo and Citibank.

    Efforts are underway in Sante Fe, New Mexico and the state of Vermont to found public banks. The Vermont plan would authorize up to 10% of the state’s cash balance — approximately $350 million — to be available for investment in local enterprise. Imagine what that could do for a state with just 600,000 people?

    If this concept is exciting to you, the Public Banking Institute is looking for volunteers, members for their chapters in more than 20 cities across the country, and support for local initiatives in Santa Fe, Philadelphia, Seattle, Vermont and California. Visit PublicBankingInstitute.org and click on the “Take Action” tab for volunteer opportunities, events, and info to share on your networks.

    Then, keep an eye out for more from The Next System Project, which The Public Banking Institute partners on, and new ways to get involved with reclaiming public assets for public use.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with The Public Banking Institute by:

    Supporting a Local Initiative, Volunteering, and/or Joining a Chapter!

    Sources/further reading:

    "Inequality’s Dead End — And the Possibility of a New, Long-Term Direction” by Gar Alperovitz of The Democracy Collaborative

    "Vermont Votes for Public Banking” by John Nichols at The Nation

    "Public banking debate starts in Santa Fe” at Albuquerque Journal

    "Public Banking Institute a Partner to a New Project on Economic Alternatives” via The Public Banking Institute

    WATCH: "National Launch Webinar: The Next System Project

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #928 "The criminal enterprise that runs our politics (Big Banks)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@TheNextSystem Project- National Launch Webinar - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: The Next System Project: National Launch Webinar.

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that the capitalist, boot-strap, American Dream mythology basis of the way we live and interact with each other simply isn’t sustainable. But a few minutes thinking about how to reverse the ship or even rebuild the ship from scratch is pretty overwhelming.

    Luckily, the folks at The Next System Project are doing the heavy lifting and they’re inviting you to join in as they imagine and design a better, more sustainable way of life. A project of the Democracy Collaborative, they describe their undertaking this way:

    "The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in coming decades.”

    You can register for the introductory, interactive national launch webinar on Wednesday, May 20th at 3pmEST moderated by GritTV’s Laura Flanders. I’m tuning in and Katie will be livetweeting through the @BestoftheLeft Twitter feed using the #WhatsNext hashtag. If you heard the clip of The Next System Project on the show a couple months ago and were intrigued, but full of questions, this is your chance to ask them.

    Get registered at “launch.thenextsystem.org” and mark your calendars!

    TAKE ACTION:

    WATCH The Next System Project National Launch Webinar moderated by Laura Flanders of GritTV

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #922 "A crisis of culture (Capitalism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Drone Pilots, Please Refuse to Fly via @KnowDrones - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Drone Pilots, Please Refuse to Fly.

    Drone news has been focused on domestic surveillance and potential delivery service methods for the past couple of years. Perhaps people are desensitized or unable to garner interest in violence against those overseas, or perhaps stopping a now routine military practice seems impossible.

    But drones are deadly and still in use under the Obama administration. According to estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, about 6,000 people have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Of that 6,000, 230 are estimated to be children.

    Since John McCain’s Senate Armed Services Committee is busying itself trying to keep the 122 remaining prisoners at Guantanamo from being released and the Commander in Chief seems unwilling to curb the use of drones, military veterans have teamed up with the organization Know Drones to appeal directly to the pilots who fly them.

    Graphic 15-second ads depicting the drone operations video screen, an explosion, civilians searching through rubble after the drone attack, and images of children killed were produced and paid for by KnowDrones.com and members of Veterans For Peace, Sacramento. The voice over says, "Drone pilots, please refuse to fly.”

    Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones, explained the purpose of the ads and why they are calling for help to continue airing them: "We produced this spot to make the point as powerfully as possible that drone killing is horrifying, illegal and immoral. The President and the Congress refuse to respect law and morality and stop US drone attacks, so we are asking the people who are bear the burden of doing the actual killing to put a stop to it.”

    You can support the KnowDrones effort by visiting their website — KnowDrones.com — and donating and/or sharing the ads on your networks. Their campaign is being distributed to local cable companies and networks through coordination with activist social justice ad agency Information in the Public Interest, so a $25 donation can buy a spot on CNN and as little as $50 a spot on MSNBC.

    It’s time the public engaged with this issue as drone killings are done in our name by our government with our tax dollars. If more veterans and enlisted military can be encouraged to speak out and supported as they do, drawing in people across political parties and affiliations will be easier and could help make this a campaign issue next year.

    Support "Show the Real Truth to United States TV Audiences" via KnowDrones and Veterans For Peace, Sacramento

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign: "Guantanamo Forever? Tell John McCain: No.” via Amnesty International

    Sources/further reading:

    "Military Veterans Sponsor TV Commercials in California Condemning U.S. Drone Attacks” via DailyKosM

    "Pakistan Is Investigating a CIA Official Accused of Murder After a US Drone Strike” by Jason Leopold at Vice News

    "John McCain: The Most Hypocritical, Opportunistic and Untrustworthy Senator” by Steven Rosenfeld at Alternet

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #918 "War is a racket (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Ban Fracking on Public Lands via @foodandwater — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Ban Fracking on Public Lands.

    While an outright ban on fracking would probably be the best plan for the environment and our drinking water, managing to pass a ban that prohibits the practice on public lands would go a long way toward curbing its effects.

    Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin reintroduced his bill to do just that last week — on Earth Day, in fact. Food & Water Watch is supporting the "Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015” to both reduce the impact on the climate and to keep the areas around our national parks and monuments from being destroyed.

    According to Food & Water Watch, at the end of 2014 oil and gas companies had leases on over 34 million acres of public land and over 200 million more are being targeted for drilling. Serious damage has already been done; habitat destruction and the potential for damage to parks and monuments is only increasing.

    You can visit FoodAndWaterWatch.org’s “Take Action” tab to add your name and — as always — use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your legislators know you support Rep Pocan’s bill, so they should sign on as co-sponsors.

    California is especially impacted by the water required to fuel the fracking process. The drought and Governor Brown’s mandatory 25% statewide reduction in water use is getting national attention, but most news outlets are missing the exemptions to agriculture and energy. According to Reuters, California used 70 million gallons of water to frack in 2014. DeSmog Blog reports that the oil industry insists it’s a “responsible user of water.” But if things are dire enough to limit household use, perhaps exemptions aren’t prudent.

    Clean Water Action — at CleanWater.org — has a petition calling for Governor Brown to impose a moratorium. If you’re a resident of the state, you can sign on to contact him through the link on their home page. And anyone can use the “contact us” links at CA.gov to let them know what impacts one state effects everyone.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN and share: Ban Fracking on Public Lands! via Food & Water Watch to support Rep Mark Pocan’s legislation

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your legislators know you expect them to support Rep. Mark Pocan's Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN and share: "Tell Governor Brown: Fracking Moratorium now!” via Clean Water Action

    Contact Governor Brown directly: Mail/Phone/Email

    Sources/further reading:

    "The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking” via Food & Water Watch

    "Exclusive: California used 70 million gallons of water in fracking in 2014” at Reuters

    "How Much Water Does The California Oil Industry Actually Use?” via DeSmog Blog

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #917 "The water wars start at home (Climate) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FreePurviPatel via @rhrealitycheck — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Free Purvi Patel.

    By now you’re probably wondering when during the show an expert or an advocate will explain how a person can be charged and convicted of both feticide — the killing of a fetus — and neglect of a dependent — which presumably would be a child with a birth certificate and a birthday and all the necessary markers that come with entry into the world. Welcome to the current state of reproductive healthcare and the criminalization of anyone who dares walk around with a uterus.

    Before the red state shaming of Indiana kicks back into gear, you should know that as of April 1st, there were 332 abortion restriction provisions making their way through 43 state houses. So, not just red states or southern states or fly over states. Basically, unless you live in proactive Oregon or California, your state is at the very least stalled on extending care to those who need it or actively attempting to legislate basic healthcare until it's out of reach for poor and marginalized people.

    People like Purvi Patel.

    Our friend Imani Gandy at This Week in Blackness is also senior legal analysis at RH Reality Check — and she can describe, but not make sense of either the charges or the conviction. As she so succinctly put it, "A charge of feticide requires a dead fetus, while a charge of neglect of a dependent requires a live birth.” The state’s inability to create or present evidence of a self-induced miscarriage — which is illegal in every state, by the way — or evidence that an attempted miscarriage resulted in a live birth should have meant Patel went home.

    Instead she’s expected to serve 20 years in prison.

    RH Reality Check is calling for the State of Indiana to overturn the conviction and eliminate criminal liability for pregnancy outcomes. You can find, sign, and share their petition at RHRealityCheck.org — the graphic and the link are on essentially every page.

    We shouldn’t need for an injustice to be in our backyard to care about it; but for those who do, legislation that monitors and criminalizes pregnant people is setting records this year from coast to coast. Stopping the wave and demanding existing laws be overturned is a fight we can’t afford to skip out on; lives are at stake — right now, today.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN ”Overturn the #PurviPatel Conviction; Repeal Indiana’s Feticide Law” via RH Reality Check

    Sources/further reading:

    "Purvi Patel Sentenced to 41 Years for Feticide and Neglect of a Dependent” by Imani Gandy at RH Reality Check

    Read RH Reality Check's extensive coverage on Purvi Patel’s case

    "How Indiana Is Making It Possible to Jail Women for Having Abortions” by Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women

    "So Far, 2015 Is On Pace to Set Abortion Restriction Records” by Katie Klabusich at Truthout

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #916 "The history and current state of abortion (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Starting and supporting worker co-ops via @Dematwork — BotL Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Starting and supporting worker co-ops.

    We think we believe in democracy and yet most of us spend eight hours — or, if we’re realistic, more than that — working under a dictatorship. Sure, thanks to the labor movement we have some loosely guarded rights and guarantees, but working for a business or a corporation, or even just a small business owner, essentially means serving at their pleasure.

    Unless you’re part of a worker co-op.

    Worker co-ops have been around basically forever, but just don’t get the kind of attention they should because our corporate media banks on the capitalist system we’re all beholden to. They give all the rights and power to the actual human beings who provide the labor and thus create the wealth. Novel concept: you build it, you benefit from it.

    The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives describe co-ops as “business entities that are owned and controlled by their members, the people who work in them.” They have two central characteristics: "(1) worker-members invest in and own the business together, and it distributes surplus to them and (2) decision-making is democratic, adhering to the general principle of one member-one vote.”

    Sounds great, right? If it sounds complicated to join or start, remember it’s an entire system we’re trying to bring down, here. A little work is going to be involved and luckily you don’t have to figure it out or do it on your own.

    The Democracy at Work Institute was created by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives to help build co-ops especially in economically and socially marginalized communities by providing support, strategy, and relationship building.

    Their website — Institute.USWorker.coop — has resources for start-ups including frequently asked questions, 101-level presentations, questions to ask before meeting with legal counsel, guidelines, financing fundamentals, studies, and step-by-step guides. For those interested in joining rather than starting a coop, their home page also links to a searchable list of existing worker coops by state and industry and has a form for submitting additions to their database. You can find childcare, bakeries, breweries, massage centers, landscaping companies, eco-cleaners — almost any business you can think of is being run by workers in some part of the country.

    California has a bill worth supporting in the state legislature right now that would make worker coops easier to start and run. The "CA Worker Cooperative Act,” AB 816, clarifies existing law and broadens protections while creating more visibility for worker coops and providing a framework for developing new coops in the state. With nearly 40 million residents — more than 10% of the total U.S. population — and a variety of industries including many that traditionally disempower workers like agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing, California is a great testing ground for this legislation. If it can be successful there, it not only helps a whole lot of people, it can become model legislation for other states and possibly the federal government.

    You can sign the petition to support AB 816 at TheSELC.org under their "About Us, Advocacy" tab — or just click the link in the segment notes.

    If we’re going to change the system, we need to build working grassroots examples of alternatives. So, support the legislation in California and use the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives listing of worker-owned business to support the ones in your area.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with The Democracy at Work Institute, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

    Utilize the Democracy at Work Institute “Information for Start-ups”

    SIGN to support: CA AB 816: Worker Cooperative Act via The SELC

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Use the collaborative legal resource e-library created by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and the Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3) Co-opLaw.org

    Attend one of the conferences with the National Center For Employee Ownership

    Sources/further reading:

    "What is a Worker Cooperative?” via The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

    Read the full bill: "AB-816 Cooperative corporations: worker cooperatives”

    "CA Worker Coop Act Discussion” via The SELC

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #914 "Looking for something better (Capitalism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Federal LGBTQ Bill of Rights via @GetEqual — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: the Federal LGBTQ Bill of Rights.

    Indiana drew all the heat for the state legislature’s extra discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but the Hoosier state is hardly the only place where firing, evicting, and even refusing to serve LGBTQ people is legal. Despite the wave of court mandated marriage equality wins and the cultural tide turning on the right to marry, only a federal affirmative right to be treated as fully equal human beings can protect all facets of life and liberty for LGBTQ people in all parts of the country.

    Rather than pushing for a patchwork of single-issue bills that would need to work their way through the legislature one at a time, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) are spearheading an all-encompassing fix. According to Sen. Merkely’s website, he and Rep. Cicilline “will be leading the legislative fight for a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill this spring. The legislation would be similar to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

    The LGBTQ rights group GetEQUAL is in the midst of a campaign to both support this legislative effort and demand that it be comprehensive and uncompromising. At their NoAsterisks.org website, you can sign on to back the full LGBTQ Bill of Rights, which is described as "a guiding document, created with the input of thousands of LGBTQ folks across the country, that lays out what the community really needs.”

    From preamble, to conclusion, the GetEQUAL document details the fears and dangers experienced daily by LGBTQ people that should be addressed and alleviated by true protections at work, at home, at the doctor, at school, and in the eyes of the law and law enforcement.

    Visit NoAsterisks.org and support GetEQUAL’s call to action:

    "As we approach the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution and the 224th anniversary of the Bill of Rights — the document that outlined the specific rights extended to (some) Americans — we demand that this country live up to the values espoused in the nation’s founding documents.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN to support GetEQUAL’s LGBTQ Bill of Rights

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Use Get Equal’s bill tracker to stay up to date: WeCan’tBelieveThis.org

    Sources/further reading:

    The LGBTQ Bill of Rights via GetEQUAL

    "Cicilline Announces Upcoming Legislation to End LGBT Discrimination” via Rep. David N. Ciciline (D-RI)

    ”Civil Rights Bill Top Priority For LGBT Voters, According to New Poll” by Amanda Terkel via Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

    "Resolution opposing RFRA passes City-County Council” via Wish-TV, Indianapolis

    ”Stop” — Indiana resident, activist, and writer Melissa McEwan’s take on #BoycottIndiana

    Indiana #RFRA Updates via Melissa McEwan

    "That Time I Ranted About #BoycottIndiana & Caring About All People” by Katie Klabusich

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #913 "Refusing to tolerate intolerance (LGBTQ Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Jailbreak Your Phone For Security via @EFF - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Jailbreak Your Phone For Security.

    Jailbreaking phones used to be a way to switch providers without having to buy a new device. iPhones famously were only available on certain networks, but it was an industry-wide issue. Once the most visible evil corporate profit motive was alleviated as providers started letting you bring your old device to a new network, most of us forgot about or didn’t care whether or not jailbreaking was illegal under copyright law.

    But the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest campaign makes clear that the illegality of jailbreaking is a security prohibiting nuisance. Modifying the software on your phones and tablets can be a way to install security fixes making data collection more difficult or impossible. With the ongoing NSA Spying programs and whole warehouses being built to house our data “just in case” the government feels the need to mine it later, securing our ability to jailbreak is important.

    The “Take Action” tab at EFF.org has a link to their “Jailbreaking is Not a Crime” petition which sends a letter to the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress asking them to renew the exemption allowing us to legally modify our mobile devices. Join the more than 20,000 who have added their names already to preserve the right to protect ourselves. Regaining rights once they’re lost — as made clear by the fight to repeal all the provisions of the Patriot Act — can be a nearly impossible battle. Let’s do what we can to hang on to the privacy we still have.

    Also, a quick reminder that EFF’s website has a whole set of security tutorials to protect yourself on all your devices and networks. They can help you do everything from selecting good passwords to installing software to learning how to safely use social media.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the EEF’s petition: Jailbreaking is Not a Crime

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Take advantage of EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense tools.

    Sources/further reading:

    "EFF General Counsel Takes On NSA Spying”

    "Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection of Americans’ Telephone Records”

    "How to Jailbreak Your iPhone: The Always Up-to-Date Guide [iOS 8.1]”

    "Surveillance Techniques: How Your Data Becomes Our Data”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #912 "Poking the watchful eye (NSA Spying) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Fighting the Patriarchy With Film: @thehuntinground & @theperfectvict — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Fighting the Patriarchy With Film.

    Survivors of rape and intimate partner violence share a fear of not being believed. Deeply rooted in the patriarchy that rules our culture and our institutions is a fundamental skepticism of anyone who comes forward to say they’ve been violated. We interrogate rape victims as they report and when they take the witness stand; we berate domestic violence victims with shaming questions like “Well, then, why didn’t you just leave?”

    A pair of documentaries seeks to put human faces out in front of the statistics in order to move the needle on the culture of blame. The subjects of “The Perfect Victim” and “The Hunting Ground” recount their stories in compelling fashion, demanding that viewers help address stigma and demand change to the legal hurtles that keep justice out of their reach.

    “The Hunting Ground” — in theaters now — is an indictment on college campus rape culture and the near complete refusal of administrators to address the issue or punish offenders. You can visit TheHuntingGroundFilm.com for show listings and to use the “Take Action” tab to get involved. Their “advocate” action takes thirty seconds and sends your representatives in Congress a note urging them to support the Campus Accountability & Safety Act.

    “The Perfect Victim” lays out the fallacy of the title through the stories of Shirley, Carlene, and Ruby — three women serving a collective eighty-five years in Missouri State prison for killing their abusive husbands. Each was denied the chance to tell their story at trial; each is hoping new council will help them find a path to justice.

    Beginning April 15th, The World Channel — which you can find at WorldChannel.Org — and Amazon Prime are both showing “The Perfect Victim” for free. You can find more information and get involved through the “Take Action” tab at ThePerfectVictim.Com.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Go see The Hunting Ground and visit their ”Take Action” tab to get involved.

    Go see The Perfect Victim and visit their ”Take Action” tab to get involved.

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #911 "Emasculation Nation (Rape and Intimate Partner Violence)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Cap and Dividend For a Healthy Climate via @CCAN — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Cap and Dividend For a Healthy Climate.

    The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is backing legislation that compliments the usual activism we tell you about. It’s a really neat idea that people should be excited to get behind and draw attention to. Bonus: it’s easy to describe and explain to even the nonpolitical folks in your networks.

    Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has introduced the “Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2015” — or H.R. 1027 for those who like the technical, wonky stuff. It creates what CCAN calls:

    “[A] simple, fair, and built-to-last policy solution to reduce the carbon and other heat-trapping emissions now harming our climate while boosting the income of most American families.”

    By requiring polluters to pay for bringing oil, gas, or coal into the U.S. market, companies are de-incentivized from using dirty energy and revenue which is then paid out to everyone with a valid Social Security number. Think of it the way Alaska pays out oil sharing revenue to its residents.

    Visit ClimateAndProsperity.org where you can sign the petition supporting Rep. Van Hollen’s plan to boost the economy while preserving the climate and call on your representatives to co-sposor the bill. Cosponsors build allyships and pull other representatives into the fight during the current legislative session and beyond — so that’s an important emphasis with a GOP-lead Congress.

    You can also volunteer or get your group or organization involved by signing on as part of the coalition supporting the bill. Current endorsers vary from local to national, environmental and consumer, and social and economic justice-focused groups.

    Corporations clearly don’t respect anything unless it costs money. It’s time they respected climate impact by having to consider the price tag while making decisions on energy-use. Changing the way businesses approach consumption while reducing CO2 by 80% over the next 35 years and raising money for those who need it most would be a cross-category win.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Tell Congress: Act on Climate by Passing Cap-And-Dividend” via Chesapeake Climate Action Network

    Visit the TAKE ACTION tab at Climate and Prosperity to volunteer or join the coalition.

    Sources/further reading:

    "FACT SHEET: The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2014” via Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

    "Cap and Dividend Bill Introduced In Congress (VIDEO)” via Green Action News

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #909 "Debunking the doubters (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Student Aid Bill of Rights via @WhiteHouse — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: the Student Aid Bill of Rights.

    I’m running the risk of developing a reputation for being a White House shill, but it’s hard to disagree that second half of second term Obama is, indeed, the best Obama. It’s not all sunshine and roses — he is cheerleading the TPP after all, but some of the policies he’s dishing out are downright progressive. Enacting a Student Aid Bill of Rights is one of those policies.

    In his weekly address this past Saturday, President Obama unveiled a long-overdue proposal that builds on his State of the Union promise to provide two years of free community college to any American who wants to enroll and is accepted.

    The Student Aid Bill of Rights states that every student in America should:

    I. Have access to high-quality, affordable higher education.

    II. Be able to easily find the resources they need to pay for college.

    III. Be able to choose an affordable repayment play for student loans.

    IV. Receive quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment when repaying loans.

    It sounds simple — and it basically is. Currently, those who are able to go to college graduate with an average of $28,000 in debt; one in ten students graduates with more than $40,000; and “elite” degrees in law and medicine can cost upwards of $150,000 — if you don’t include undergrad. With federal student loans passing the $1 trillion mark — not to mention the private loans taken out by students and families, the debt our young people are saddled with before entering the work force is, as Forbes.com puts it, “crippling” the economy.

    Visit WhiteHouse.gov/CollegeOpportunity and add your name to the Presidential Memorandum, then use ContactingTheCongress.org to call, email, and tweet with the hashtag #CollegeOpportunity to let your representatives know you expect them to get behind this plan and take steps to enshrining the right to quality, affordable education into law.

    While you’re at it, let your state representatives know you expect them to implement the President’s plan for free community college. Even though it would be at no cost to the states, we’ve seen republican, split, and even some democratic state houses reject free federal money during this administration which means they need to hear from you.

    As long as the republicans control Congress, debt forgiveness is off the table. Let’s do what we can now to push the conversation to the left and keep student debt in the news and the forefront of the public consciousness so that during the primaries and 2016 presidential run, the ground work will be laid to make a trillion dollar infusion into the economy an obvious, politically viable plan.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Add your name: Student Aid Bill of Rights

    Let your reps know you support the plan through ContactingTheCongress.org where you can call, email, and tweet at your representatives using the hashtag #CollegeOpportunity.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Reminder that the states have to agree to implement the president’s community college plan. Even though it would be at no cost to the states, we’ve seen republican (and even some democratic) and split state houses reject free federal money during this administration. Let your state and congressional representatives know you back a plan to make community college available to everyone who wants to attend.

    Sources/further reading:

    Press Release: “A Student Aid Bill of Rights”

    “Your Weekly Address: A Student Aid Bill of Rights”

    "5 Reasons Not to Get a Law Degree” via CBS News

    "How The $1.2 Trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents And The Economy” by Chris Denhart at Forbes.com

    "The President Proposes to Make Community College Free for Responsible Students for 2 Years”

    Watch POTUS video on two free years of community college: The President Proposes to Make Community College Free for Responsible Students for Two Years

    "FACT SHEET - White House Unveils America’s College Promise Proposal: Tuition-Free Community College for Responsible Students”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #906 "Crushing our potential with student debt (Education)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Curbing #FactoryFarming via @ASPCA & @UN — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Curbing Factory Farming.

    No matter your dietary needs or preferences, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that factory farms are a nightmare of cruelty and planet destruction. If you believe in science and evidence and facts, the United Nations has pretty much ended the debate on whether a human-friendly climate can handle the rate of animal agriculture we’re attempting to impose upon it.

    Senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld delivered this unequivocal assessment:

    “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

    The UN report continues by calling out cattle-rearing specifically as a “major source of land and water degradation.” Not only do humans need to slow down the rate of growth around the world of factory farming, but the UN warns that “[t]he environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level.”

    If we as progressives are going to yell at hard-line conservatives for not listening to us on the need to build transit, cap carbon, and stop drilling for oil and natural gas, perhaps we should pause to hear what international scientists have been screaming about in unison for almost a decade.

    According to the UN report:

    "When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.”

    The good news is that there are organizations fighting factory farming in virtually every country. If you don’t live in the U.S. or do and are looking for a local group in your city and state, you can search at World Animal.net/directory. And if you are in the states, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — better known as the ASPCA — has 10 ways to fight factory farming under their “fight cruelty” tab at ASPCA.org.

    Among the suggestions at the ASPCA are:

    “Let Money Talk” by using their guide to finding animal welfare certification labels; if the products are raised ethically, they likely don’t come from a factory farm.

    “Ask Local Grocers and Restaurants to Offer Foods that are More Humanely Raised.” This one shouldn’t be such a tough ask anymore as awareness of the local food movement has made it to most areas.

    “Take Action in Your Community” by starting petitions and letter-writing campaigns or organizing a local group and educating kids on food and farming ethics.

    ...and the increasingly popular: “If You See Something, Say Something.” Factory farm conditions aren’t just unsafe for the climate and the animals, they are often unsafe for workers. You can join up with labor organizers, immigration activists and others who’s constituencies overlap with your concerns about farming practices.

    You can also check out the Humane Society’s factory farming campaign at HumaneSociety.org and sign their “Protect Farm Animals” petition.

    TAKE ACTION:

    10 Ways You Can Fight Factory Farms via The ASPCA

    Fight Factory Farming via The Humane Society

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign: Protect Farm Animals petition from The Humane Society

    Use the WorldAnimalNet directory HERE to find anti-factory farm as well as animal rescue/adoption organizations in your country, state, and city.

    Sources/further reading:

    "Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns” via the United Nations News Centre

    Farm Animal Cruelty — ASPCA facts on factory farms

    "How to Stop the Next Pandemic: End Factory Farming” by Thom Hartmann via Truthout

    Watch: “Us & The Planet” video from Animals Australia at #MakeItPossible

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #905 "Personal, societal and environmental health (Food System)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Gender Neutral Bathrooms — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Gender Neutral Bathrooms.

    Sometimes the answer to a problem is so simple, cheap, and easy to lobby for it’s a wonder it hasn’t already been handled.

    This show has talked about the violence perpetrated against trans people due to overt bigotry, misogyny, and discrimination. Because of that and other factors, trans people are more likely to commit and attempt suicide than any other group. (The information for Trans Lifeline — (877) 565-8860 — a suicide hotline staffed by trans people for trans people is listed below.)

    What we don’t talk about much is the day to day hassles and micro aggressions that feed the culture of violence against trans people.

    Parker Molloy, a Chicago-based trans woman writer, described what an afternoon of errands used to be like for her in an interview with The Chicagoist:

    "One thing that a lot of transgender people struggle with is...well, for me, there was a period in my life where I was started taking hormones, and if you saw me in public, you'd be like, 'I have no clue what you're even going for here. Man? Woman? What?' ...I kind of hit this weird androgynous phase. It was to the point where, if I walked into the men's room, I'd get a lot of weird looks, and if I went into the women's restroom, I'd get a lot of weird looks. And so, rather than continuing to do that, before one of the weird looks became a scream, or became violent, I just decided to use the bathroom at home. Which is super inconvenient and hard. I would sit there and schedule my errands for making sure I wasn't away from the house for more than a few hours… Which is really sad that that has to be an issue, but it is an issue.”

    The cities of Austin, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and West Hollywood have all taken a simple step to alleviate both the stress of those situations and the potential for violence by enacting ordinances to make single-use bathrooms gender-neutral. The fix is cheap — usually $20-$50 at a Home Depot for supplies to change the signs — and most patrons don’t really notice the difference. West Hollywood business owners have even discovered a handy side-effect: shorter lines because anyone can use any of their bathrooms.

    Kentucky State Senator CB Embry, Jr. is pushing legislation that would bar transgender students from using the locker rooms and bathrooms that match their identities — and he’s not alone. The easiest way to prevent new discriminatory legislation is to create a cascade of proactive, rights-affirming legislation. And the good news is you have loads of power at the local level where gender neutral ordinances are being introduced!

    Go to your next city council meeting, call your alderman or your city council member and connect with your local LGBTQ group to lobby for change where you live. If cities and states can go smoke-free in public places for health and safety despite the tobacco and business lobbies, swapping out a couple of signs should be an easy ask.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Call and write your local alderman/city councilperson to push for local gender neutral bathroom ordinances.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    TransLifeLine is a crisis hotline staffed by trans people for trans people. Contact them via Twitter and phone: US (877) 565-8860, Canada (877) 330-6366

    Sources/further reading:

    "INTERVIEW: The Advocate's Parker Marie Molloy on Grantland, Piers Morgan, and More” at The Chicagoist

    "A trans advocate’s perspective on Trans 101 questions” at Transadvocate

    "TLDEF Condemns Kentucky Bill Targeting Transgender Students for Discrimination” via TransGender Legal

    "No label required on West Hollywood's gender-neutral bathrooms” at LA Times

    "Austin Makes Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Out Of All Single-Use Stalls, And Other Cities Should Take Note” at Bustle

    "My Transgender Coming Out Story” ebook by Parker Mollow

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #904 "Opt for compassion and inclusion (Transgender Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Bolstering Unemployment Benefits with the 2016 Budget via @WhiteHouse - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Bolstering Unemployment Benefits with the 2016 Budget.

    I’ve had my differences with the president during his tenure in office, but I'm a pragmatic fan of good ideas. And fixing our busted unemployment insurance system is a very, very good idea. Building that kind of meaningful, benefit extending, life changing reform into the budget is even better than a good idea.

    As a whole, the budget is solid enough that the typically critical folks at Common Dreams are fans of what they’ve seen so far. Dave Johnson describes the White House’s move to the left and the end of the austerity mindset still reigning from the sequester this way:

    "President Obama is using his 'bully pulpit' to push the country in a new direction. The President has submitted a budget that calls for more public investment in vital areas, and pays for it with more taxes on the wealthy. He has drawn a dividing line between a Reaganomics era of 'trickle down' favors for the wealthy combined with cuts, austerity and intentional economic pain and harm, and a return to an era of a government that does things that make people’s lives better.”

    A large part of "making people’s lives better" is redesigning “triggers” that kick in unemployment insurance benefits so that they are available early enough in a downturn and don’t require action by Congress — which typically comes after a recession is in full swing. The unemployment reform even has bipartisan roots — something that may make you cringe, but is necessary with a Republican-controlled Congress. Also, the plan makes sense.

    As Danny Vinik writes at The New Republic:

    "The plan has two components. One would offer states financial rewards for changing the eligibility criteria so that more people who work part-time or who work on and off are eligible for benefits. The second part would encourage states to implement programs to promote reemployment…[S]tates could offer the unemployed relocation vouchers to move where jobs are more widely available, an idea that Republican Senator John Thune proposed in 2014. States could also support more extensive reemployment services and job training programs.”

    So if your job is actually GONE and not just downsized or restructured, you could get help learning new skills. And if your job hops a state border or too many towns over to commute, you could get a hand relocating. This seems like common sense not just because it’s helpful, but because getting people employed quickly is less expensive than long-term unemployment or social programs. It should be win-win from any perspective.

    Luckily, we have enough time before the budget will hit the floor to make the unemployment boost popular, giving opinion poll cover to the White House and creating a PR nightmare for conservative congress members who would lobby to nix it.

    Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and let the president know you support an un-compromised budget with none of the unemployment reform bargained away in the months to come. You can always tweet to @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama to leave a public comment that encourages others to do the same. Information on writing and emailing the White House can be found at WhiteHouse.gov/contact.

    Then, use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your representatives in Congress know you support this provision of the 2016 budget and you expect them to publicly do the same.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Let the White House know you support the unemployment provisions of the 2016 budget via phone (202-456-1111), email/mail and via Twitter to @WhiteHouse and @BarackObama

    Use ContactingTheCongress to let your reps know you expect them to publicly support the unemployment plan.

    Sources/further reading:

    Fiscal Year 2016 Budget of the U.S/ Government via The White House

    "Obama's Budget Proposes a Major Overhaul of Unemployment Insurance” by Danny Vinik at The New Republic

    "Right-Wing Media Use Flawed Study To Attack Unemployment Benefits” by Rachel Calvert at Media Matters for America

    "U.S. jobless claims fall as labor market gains momentum” by Lucia Mutikani at Reuters

    "Conservatives Cheer Research Saying Cuts To Unemployment Benefits Helped The Economy” by Arthur Delaney at HuffPo

    "Obama Budget Signals End Of Austerity, Return Of Sanity” by Dave Johnson at Common Dreams

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #901 "The wealth divide and the crumbling bridge across it (Economics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #EqualPayDay (4/14/2015) - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Equal Pay Day.

    There’s a stat most people are aware of. On the right they do back flips and employ non sequiturs to “refute” it. On the left we rattle it off automatically whenever anyone says: “Men and women are equal these days, so why is everyone still complaining?”

    Data shows that women in the U.S. earn approximately 25% less than their male counterparts. Still. Like right now. In 2013, women’s earnings were 78.3% of men’s — up 1.8% from 2012 according to the Census.

    That stat comes with an important caveat that should be noted and remembered when participating in today’s action. The 78.3% number is for white women. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), African American women earned 68.1% of all men’s earnings and Latinas’ earnings were 60.4% of men’s. So, far less than their white counterparts.

    Even if we just use the white woman pay equity gap, the numbers are staggering. In 2013, men earned an average of $50,033 and women came in at $39,157 — a difference of over $10,000 per year. Think about what you could do with ten grand. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, neither women’s nor men’s earnings improved much from 2012 to 2013 — the most recent numbers available. Their “wage gap fact sheet” states:

    “If the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960, it will take another 45 years, until 2058, for men and women to reach parity.”

    The biggest awareness day for the pay gap is coming up. The National Committee on Pay Equity started Equal Pay Day in 1996 to illustrate how many extra days into the new year women would need to work to equal what men earned the previous year. In 2015, the date is April 14. So, women would have to work all of 2014, plus the first three and a half months of 2015 to match what men took home in 2014.

    Social media will likely use the traditional hashtags of “Equal Pay” and “Equal Pay Day” with people sharing stories and statistics. Wearing red — possibly with a selfie or two posted to your networks — symbolizes how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay.

    You can also visit the “What You Can Do” tab at Pay-Equity.org anytime to track legislation, contact Congress, and find out how to do an equality audit of your business.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Wear red on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 for #EqualPayDay.

    Visit the “What You Can Do” tab at PayEquity.org to track legislation, contact Congress, form a wage club, or do an equality audit of your business.

    Sources/further reading:

    Wage Gap Fact Sheet via Institute for Women's Policy Research

    Equal Pay and the Wage Gap via National Women's Law Center (NWLC)

    "Women Can't Afford to Celebrate Equal Pay Day” by Margaret Carlson at Bloomberg View

    "For African-American Women—and All Women—Let’s Make Every Day Equal Pay Day” by Stephanie Schriock and Rep. Terri Sewell at The Root

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #900 "Stuff we shouldn’t have to explain anymore (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The March to Full Marriage Equality Continues with @MEUSA - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: The March to Full Marriage Equality Continues with Marriage Equality USA.

    Thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia currently have full marriage equality on the books. With only 13 states and five U.S. territories to go, the cementing of this particular right for LGBTQ people seems inevitable. As discussed previously on this podcast and in LGBTQ activist writing and campaigning, marriage is not the only right we should be concerned about. But the goal is well within reach, so how about we push hard to get all the way there while building resources and momentum for battles on employment, housing, and healthcare discrimination protections?

    MarriageEquality.org is the nation’s oldest non-profit dedicated to building equality for the LGBTQ community through civil marriage equality at the state and federal level. Their “What’s Happening Now” tab is a comprehensive aggregation of wins and setbacks around the country. They link to local and state-level actions as well as post videos and other shareable content to spread around your networks.

    MarriageEquality.org also tracks anti-equality groups like The National Organization for Marriage and politicians like Mike Huckabee and the Arkansas legislators who just sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would build the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people into state law.

    Tracking state-level legislation has become increasingly important. As the finish line approaches on full marriage equality in America, right-wing groups and legislators are digging in their heels and even repealing protections against discrimination. Basically, they’re using all the press and celebration over marriage to attempt a quiet undermining of the dozens of other rights not as yet afforded to LGBTQ people. The most recent example is in Kansas where the governor essentially cancelled protections for state employees by taking an executive action by former governor Kathleen Sebelius off the books.

    Not exactly a bastion of liberal thought in recent years, even the Washington Post editorial board is giving it to Governor Brownback on both moral and logistical grounds. Their editorial from last week titled "In Kansas, the governor is rolling back tolerance,” reads in part:

    "...his official rationale is embarrassingly weak. Just like chief executives in the private sector, governors and the president set workplace policies within their executive branches all the time. Those policies don’t apply to private employers; it’s up to lawmakers to mandate state or national anti-discrimination policy. That’s no reason for governors or the president to sanction discrimination in the meantime, particularly when “it makes good business sense to treat employees . . . with dignity and respect.”

    Help MarriageEquality.org and the local group Equality Kansas raise awareness and fight back by joining their action to let Governor Brownback know how you feel. You can call the Kansas state Capitol at 877-579-6757 and post a message for him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/govsambrownback and on Twitter at @govsambrownback.

    Also, keep an eye on your state; it is possible to celebrate the realization of one right while looking ahead to continue the fight beyond this victory.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Help finish off the fight for full marriage equality & track state-level discriminatory legislation at: MarriageEquality.org

    Join Marriage Equality USA and Equality Kansas fight Governor Brownback’s discriminatory executive action by calling the state capitol at 877-579-6757 and posting messages on Facebook and Twitter

    Sources/further reading:

    U.S. map of marriage equality via Freedom To Marry

    "Arkansas Legislature Passes Bill Allowing LGBT Discrimination” by Dominic Holden

    "Governor Brownback Cancels LGBT State Employee Protections” via Equality Kansas

    "In Kansas, the governor is rolling back tolerance” by The Washington Post editorial board

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #899 "Work still to be done (LGBTQ Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Global Divestment Day via @350 - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: 350.org’s Global Divestment Day.

    The typically on-point Naomi Klein sums up the need for this action quite well:

    "Are fossil fuel companies — long toxic to our natural environment — becoming toxic in the public relations environment as well? It seems so.”

    Despite science, despite polling, despite even the Pope getting on board with the need to curb climate change — the prevalence of massive piles of money available to legislators, networks, educational institutions, and publishing outlets is keeping projects like the Keystone XL pipeline at the top of to-do lists.

    Last month the House of Representatives voted 266 to 153 to pass Keystone and the Senate followed last week with a strong, but not quite veto-proof majority of 62-36. Yes, that means some democrats voted in favor of the pipeline. The president has vowed to veto the project — our friends at the NRDC have a letter on their website you can sign asking him to keep his word — but that doesn’t change the amount of time being wasted on this toxic project. Alternative, renewable energy plans and necessary infrastructure bills languish while fossil fuels remain at the forefront.

    It’s clear that the only way to stop the construction of destructive and potentially catastrophic-to-the-climate projects such as Keystone is to make them financially untenable for the billionaire backers. If fossil fuels weren't guaranteed money makers, there wouldn’t be lobbyists pushing legislators to back such a destructive industry; there’d be nothing in it for them.

    Enter: Global Divestment Day. The entire world — six continents and dozens of countries — is participating on February 13th and 14th, joining with 350.org to speak en mass to their powerful institutions.

    The event info states the simple goal:

    "Together, we will show that we are a truly global and growing force to be reckoned with. As the fossil fuel industry throws more money at fossil fuel expansion, we will turn up the volume of our divestment movement. And we won’t stop until we win. Join us for Global Divestment Day on February 13 and 14 and together, let’s make fossil fuels history.”

    GoFossilFree.org and 350.org both link to the plans for the event. You can find an action near you, start your own, download the divestment campaigning toolkit — valuable and valid long past the event next week, and find campaigning and petitioning tools. Each region around the world has its own specific resources including a Step-by-Step Guide to Divestment. 350 and their coalition partners have done all the research for you; just click, join and use the tools they’ve made available at your finger tips.

    This all should be getting less controversial. Even — to the dismay of the conservative Catholics holding 30% of our Congressional seats — the Pope has gotten increasingly vocal on the disproportionate affect climate change has on the poor and our global responsibility to care for those who are without power and resources.

    As detailed by John Abraham at The Guardian, Dr. Michael Naughton, Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas thinks we haven’t heard the last from Pope Francis on climate change — and he’s guaranteeing an anti-capitalism bent to his position:

    "Francis will no doubt, in his punchy and prophetic tone, draw our attention to a market system that too often treats the environment like a commodity in what he describes as a 'throw away' culture. As he is never tired of repeating, the poor suffer the most from our ecological crisis. He will confront this 'logic of the market' with a 'logic of gift' that views the earth to be shared with all of humanity — a gift in need of great care and attention.

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m here for whatever your motivation might be to get on board with confronting climate change and demanding our institutions divest from supporting fossil fuels. It will take a truly world-wide effort to keep our planet livable for generations to come.

    TAKE ACTION:

    JOIN with 350.org for Global Divestment Day February 13th

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Add your name to @NRDC’s letter: “Tell President Obama You Stand Behind His Veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline!”

    Sources/further reading:

    "US House passes Keystone pipeline bill” at AlJazeera

    "Senate Passes Keystone Bill” by Alex Rogers at Time.com

    "White House Confirms Obama Will Veto TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline” by Carol Linnitt at DesmogBlog

    "The New School Submits Bold Plan to Tackle Climate Change” at The New School

    "Pope Francis plants a flag in the ground on climate change” by Dr. John Abraham at The Guardian

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #895 "Living like the world is ending (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Demand Congress Address Civil and Human Rights via @civilrightsorg - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Demand Congress Address Civil and Human Rights.

    Even those with only a cursory knowledge of the work done by Martin Luther King, Jr and the millions of Civil Rights activists from the founding of our country through today can look at the current climate in our courts and Congress and see the systematic dismantling of the protections fought for with blood and sweat and tears.

    From the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act to the announcement made by the newly GOP-lead Congress that the words “Civil Rights and Human Rights” had been deleted from the Senate Constitution Committee, the infrastructure that provided some measure of relief from pre-Civil War and Jim Crow days is crumbling.

    Perhaps the Grand Old Party thinks we are, indeed, post-racial and post-patriarchal. Or perhaps they simply don’t care about civil rights. Or perhaps they feel threatened by it. Or perhaps they are just trying to reduce their work load and simplify their jobs — we all know how hard they work the 132 days they’re in session.

    The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has a simple, important action at Civil Rights.org under the “Take Action” tab. Add your name to the letter with the clear title: "Congress Must Address Civil and Human Rights Priorities in 2015.” Apparently this is something we must now remind our legislators is part of their job description.

    The letter urges your legislators to make 2015 a year of action on civil and human rights issues. The three categories this coalition of civil rights groups seeks to address are: Economic Security and Opportunity, Voting Rights, and Criminal and Racial Justice.

    Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, responded to the Senate’s decision to rename the Constitution committee. She said, in part:

    “The new Senate Republican Majority’s decision to expunge civil rights and human rights from this subcommittee’s name is a discouraging sign given the growing diversity of our nation and the complex civil and human rights challenges we face... Names matter. This, after all, is a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the implementation and enforcement of many of our most important civil rights laws... We cannot afford to demote the importance of civil and human rights in the 114th Congress. While we have made progress, we still have a long way to go to address issues such as voting discrimination and hate crimes and violence committed against individuals because of their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. In addition, the recent deaths of unarmed African-American men and boys at the hands of police have spurred a movement across the nation calling for reforms to our nation’s justice system, which would likely fall under this subcommittee’s jurisdiction.”

    Take two minutes and support The Leadership Conference in demanding that Congress tend to the needs and rights of all the citizens they represent. Considering their behavior so far this session, we’re going to need to continually remind them and it’s best we get started immediately.

    Also, if you haven’t yet, go see Ava DuVernay's “Selma.” The movie grabbed a nomination for Best Picture, but she was snubbed by the 94% white, 76% male academy voters in the director’s category. Anyone who’s seen the end of any awards show knows how rare this is; your movie is nominated, you clean up in additional nominations and typically in wins as well. When you see “Selma," you can feel the director’s influence; it would be an entirely different movie without her perspective behind the camera.

    It’s not enough to know what happened during King’s lifetime and be able to list the accomplishments of the movement — especially at a time when that legacy is being dismantled. Go see Selma and feel what happened.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Add your name: Congress Must Address Civil and Human Rights Priorities in 2015 via The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Go. See. Selma. Find listings HERE

    Sources/further reading:

    "Will Justice Scalia Be the Savior of the Fair Housing Act?” at ACLU.org

    "Civil and Human Rights Coalition Troubled by Deletion of “Civil Rights and Human Rights” from Senate Constitution Subcommittee” press release from The Leadership Conference

    “Yes, The Oscars Are So White, And Here’s Why That Matters” at MTV.com

    #OscarsSoWhite via @ReignOfApril

    Ava DuVernay: ‘Selma’ Is the ‘Vision of a Black Storyteller Undiluted’” by Mychal Denzel Smith at The Nation

    "Congress Will Be in Session Longer Next Year. Will It Make a Difference?” by Kate Scanlon at The Daily Signal

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #894 "Dispelling the selective memory of Dr. Martin Luther King"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • End Abortion Coverage Bans - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: End Abortion Coverage Bans.

    New year, same as the old year. Except slightly worse. The newly GOP-lead Congress announced their priorities for the 114th legislative session by exhaling the final word of the oath of office, removing their hands from their Bibles, and — without so much as pausing — introducing a slate of abortion restrictions.

    Because jobs? and national security? and…maybe they didn’t actually run on anything and this was always the plan. Their very unproductive plan to make restricting people’s bodily autonomy seem not so extreme and, in fact, mostly OK ahead of the presidential primary fundraising set to begin any moment.

    The first vote was scheduled for January 22nd which marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the seminal date in reproductive rights. They seem to have either zero recognition of history or zero shame — unsurprising from a group that voted over fifty times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, knowing that any bill they passed would be vetoed.

    Similarly, the White House has promised to veto any anti-choice bills that make it through both the House and the Senate — but we can’t rely forever on the West Wing to be a stop gap for bad laws. And the one that passed last week — H.R.7 — is extremely bad policy.

    H.R. 7 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 — would make federal funding for abortion care double, extra, super secret illegal. It’s already on the books thanks to the Hyde Amendment which gets attached annually to the federal budget to prohibit people insured by Medicaid from using their coverage for abortion care. HR 7 would expand that access restriction to absolutely everyone in the country, no matter their insurance provider.

    Privately purchased plans, employer-provided plans, ACA plans — none would be allowed to offer abortion coverage. So much for the free market.

    As Emily Crockett reports at RH Reality Check, the medical community — who deal daily with patients struggling to afford care — are none to happy about H.R.7. Hal C. Lawrence, executive vice president and CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — the group we probably should be listening to on this as they’re the experts — expressed his concern:

    “We remain disappointed that the House leadership continues to target abortion by pivoting to payment policies. Medical care must be guided by sound science and by the patient’s individual needs, not by legislative mandates or financial concerns.”

    H.R. 7 is making its way to the Senate; you can track it’s progress at GovTrack.us and then use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your Senators know you expect them to vote “no” when it hits the floor.

    Even when H.R.7 is defeated, low-income Americans will be facing the renewal of the Hyde Amendment. Congress has seen fit to actually pass a budget the past couple of years, which means some GOP legislator will reintroduce Hyde to maintain the punishment of the poor. Disadvantaged Americans have long been on the legislative chopping block, used as tools and talking points by ambitious politicians without fear of reprisal.

    As the group All* Above All says in their letter to end Hyde: "It’s time to stop abortion coverage restrictions, plain and simple.”

    You can sign their letter to your representatives at AllAboveAll.org under the “Act” tab. If you are in a blue state, you have additional power here. Your representatives should be at least “check the box” pro-choice and moveable on this. The president has also revised his language on abortion and come out unapologetically without couched language against H.R. 7; it’s time he did the same with Hyde. President Obama can end this continual punishment of low-income and marginalized communities by promising to veto a budget that includes Hyde.

    The importance of ending coverage bans cannot be overstated. Only 13% of counties in the U.S. even have abortion providers thanks to TRAP laws and attacks since Roe. The affects of these bans is explained perfectly by Heidi Williamson, the Senior Policy Analyst for the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress and long-time reproductive justice advocate:

    "We celebrate Roe as a standard and a vision that we must continue to strive for as a nation. All women, regardless of age, gender, income, socio-economic status, or funding source of insurance should benefit from its promise. And our fight for justice isn’t done until all woman have comprehensive reproductive health care, including the access to abortion services.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    Track H.R.7 via GovTrack.us and use Contacting the Congress to tell your Senators to vote NO when H.R.7 comes to the Senate.

    SIGN All* Above All’s letter opposing the Hyde Amendment on the 2016 budget: End Abortion Coverage Bans Now!

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN NARAL Pro-Choice America’s petitions to the 114th Congress:

    ”Ask the Republican Leaders: Where Are The Women?”

    ”Anti-Choice Politicians Don’t Speak For Me

    Sources/further reading:

    Graphic courtesy of The Repeal Hyde Art Project

    See who the H.R.7 co-sponsors were: Congressional Bill Tracker — H.R.7

    "New Year, Same as the Old Year? 2015 Reproductive Rights Preview” by Katie Klabusich at Truthout

    "Roe Should Be a Reality for All, Not Just for a Wealthy Few” by Heidi Williamson at TalkPoverty.org

    "Congress Rejected A 20-Week Abortion Ban, But These States Didn’t” by Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #893 "Bringing harm, one patriarchal policy at a time (Abortion Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census via @ACCESS1971 & @NNAAC - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census.

    This is one of those: "Who knew this wasn’t already a thing and why do we even have to ask our policy makers to get on it?” kind of actions. But, apparently, the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t recognize the uniqueness of people from the Middle East and North Africa — or MENA — region. MENA includes a significant number of Arab Americans — a group currently experiencing heightened discriminated thanks to fear mongering from the GOP and Fox News crowd. In such a climate, their receiving specific designation from a governmental body has political, cultural, and practical implications.

    Excluding a group from the Census essentially makes them invisible from a political and policy standpoint, so the National Network for Arab American Communities and their parent group the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services are building grassroots support to create a new category. The comment period is open now; you can add your name to help reach the necessary 5,0000 supporter mark by visiting the “Take Action” tab at NNAAC.org. Comments close February 1st; please act now so the opportunity doesn’t pass.

    A successful campaign would mean including the MENA region in the 2020 census, giving people from that community more power with office holders. Because people from the MENA region identify with many racial backgrounds, they are not viewed as a group from a governmental and policy standpoint. Rights often begin with recognition; Census classifications serve as a resource to local and federal officials charged with caring for their constituents.

    The Census is also used by non-profits and organizers; official recognition of the region allows for non-governmental agencies to address the needs of a community that is underserved, not just because of racism and malevolence, but also because of simple ignorance on the part of those who administer services.

    Visit NNAAC.org and add your name. The Census only comes around every ten years, so missing this opportunity means another decade without recognition.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Leave a positive comment by February 1 to support adding the MENA region to the Census

    Sources/further reading:

    Linda Sarsour speaks to MEMO about Islamophobia in America”

    "Radio Dispatch Live with Linda Sarsour and Vince Warren” on Radio Dispatch

    "For Republicans, Muslims Will Be the Gays of 2016” by Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #892 "Fearing and hating what we don’t understand (Religion)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Prohibit Mass Surveillance via @EFF - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Prohibit Mass Surveillance.

    For the background on today’s activism, I must channel my inner Thom Hartmann: This is mostly Ronald Reagan’s fault.

    In 1981, President Reagan signed an executive order — number 12333 — which, according to our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is: "the primary authority under which the country’s intelligence agencies conduct the majority of their operations.”

    This means NSA spying and mass surveillance.

    So, despite recent bills in Congress designed to curtail mass telephone surveillance, the NSA’s primary surveillance authority has been left unchallenged. The good news is that the fix is easy and the president seems open to using the final two years of his administration to do things unilaterally. Why it took so long to come to that conclusion is a mystery, but let’s take advantage of it now that it’s happened.

    The petition — available at EFF.org under the “Take Action” tab — asks for the president to reform Executive Order 12333 and issue a new order that “prohibits the United States from engaging in mass surveillance of digital communications.”

    The effects of this order have been somewhat hidden. According PEN America’s report “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide found that 75% of those living in democracies have engaged in self-censorship. Writers en mass now fear that their governments will not respect their right to privacy and freedom of expression — a seriously troubling trend.

    We already know far too little about our country’s law enforcement agencies and programs. If this trend continues, what’s left of our “Fourth Estate” watch dog press will decline even further. So, sign the EFF petition "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333” to curb the practice and restore — at least in part — our freedom of the press.

    Also, please take a minute to sign the petitions in the “Additional Activism” section of the segment notes. EFF is trying to prevent the Federal Elections Commission from adding harmful regulations to online political speech that could disproportionately impact free platforms like YouTube — and therefore all of us who use YouTube content. The comment period ends this week, so time is short. There is also a petition from the ACLU urging the president to use the power of the executive order to stop mass surveillance.

    Privacy, security, and Free Speech have always existed with tension. It is our job as citizens to demand our legislators and courts maintain a balance that errs on the side of uninhibited speech that promotes free thought and democracy.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) petition: "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333”

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Leave a comment for the Federal Elections Commission via EFF: "No New Regulation for Online Political Speech”

    SIGN the ACLU pledge: "Invasion of the Data Snatchers”

    Sources/further reading:

    "PEN America: "'The Harm Caused by Surveillance...is Unmistakable’” via EFF

    "Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers” from PEN American Center

    "The Fight in Congress to End the NSA’s Mass Spying: 2014 in Review” at EFF

    "ACLU accuses NSA of using holiday lull to ‘minimise impact’ of documents” by Nicky Woolf at The Guardian

    "US tries to strike deal with EU for immunity over online security breaches” by Phillip Inman at The Guardian

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #890 "Why privacy matters (NSA Spying)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #BlackBrunch - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #BlackBrunch.

    To a privileged group of mostly white people, brunch is held up as almost sacred. The word provokes images of leisure and lazy Sundays, mimosas and bloody marys. And though plenty of socially conscious people eat brunch — some even use it to organize, because, well, brunch is certainly cheaper than dinner — it still has that “feel" to it. A doing what you want, when you want, because you can “feel.”

    A group of creative organizers in Oakland decided they would take peaceful protesting to a group that on the whole doesn’t engage and has the privilege to ignore social injustice — specifically racial injustice. And so #BlackBrunch was launched with protests in the Bay Area and Manhattan.

    Writer Muna Mire describes the goals of the protests and the organizing on the hashtag:

    "The idea behind Black Brunch is to target those who can afford to avert their gaze, bringing the struggle for racial justice to the table, literally, so that it’s impossible to ignore. Brunch is the hallowed tradition of the affluent, the comfortable, and often those with enough white privilege to insulate them from the struggle to end the war of on Black life in America.”

    Predictably, the first round of protests — especially in New York — were met with mixed reactions. While some stood when asked at the end of the demonstrations, many couldn’t resist being ridiculously racist and threatening. Posts to social media like the one made by former NYPD officer John Cardillo proved why the protests are so necessary. Holding his gun up in front of his nose with his finger on the trigger, he posted: “I’m really enjoying these Eggs Benedict so move along now” to the hashtag when a group briefly interrupted his meal.

    Michelle Malkin called the coordinated wave of actions: “Attack of the ‘Black Brunch’ Brats." For the New York Post, she writes: "Opposing racism now means practicing it in the most obnoxious manner possible.”

    Because the extrajudicial death of a person of color at the hands of police isn’t “obnoxious” or reason enough to put down your biscotti for four and a half minutes — a time honoring the four and a half hours Mike Brown’s body was left in the street in Ferguson.

    #BlackBrunch protests are organized and carried out by people of color — as is, I’m sure, clear from the name and the description. My job as a privileged white guy is to amplify the organizing — especially with an action that can be taken in any city around the country by a small group of individuals — and also to pass along some advice to my white listeners who recognize their privilege, but want to support these actions without co-opting them.

    And so, should you, white listener, find yourself at a #BlackBrunch unexpectedly, Derrick Clifton of Mic News has some tips on how to recognize your privilege and handle yourself and your potential discomfort appropriately:

    1 — Remain calm and listen.
    2 — Use the time to reflect on the issue.
    3 — If you're able, stand in support when asked.
    4 — Continue eating as usual after the demonstration ends.
    5 — Share what happened with family and friends.

    Please follow the #BlackBrunch hashtag and remember that one of the most powerful things you can do is to push back on the racism in your networks. Post the stories, videos and articles on your social networks and respond to the comments you hear in your daily life. Silence equals consent; it’s time we all did more shouting.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get the info on #BlackBrunch: "#BlackBrunchNYC Disrupts Diners To Protest Police Brutality” via Lily Workneh at HuffPo

    Follow @BlackBrunchNYC and #BlackBrunch on Twitter.

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Go. See. “Selma.” Now showing Find your local listings #MarchOn

    Sources/further reading:

    "Former NYPD Officer Responds To #Blackbrunch With Gun-Toting Selfie” by Hannington Dia at News One

    "A Guide for Anyone Who Finds Themselves in the Middle of a #BlackBrunch” by Derrick Clifton at Mic News

    "Black Brunch Won’t Let Us Turn Away From Victims Of Police Violence” by Muna Mire at {Young}ist

    "Attack of the ‘Black Brunch’ brats” by Michelle Malkin at The New York Post

    "Hashtag Activism Isn't a Cop-Out” by Noah Berlatsky at The Atlantic — an interview with Deray Mckesson

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #889 "The system is built to fail (Injustice System)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Support Survivors With @KnowYourIX - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Survivors With Know Your IX.

    This episode happened because sexual assault at colleges and universities is at an epidemic level. That the Rolling Stone reporter was bad at her job and may have coerced sensationalized details doesn’t change the pertinent fact: one in five female students will be assaulted during their time on campus. These students will regularly not be believed, have little legal recourse, be forced to transfer, be expelled for reporting, end up saddled with tens of thousands of debt from schools where they won’t receive degrees and deal with the trauma the rest of their lives.

    Federal law designed to create gender parity — Title IX — exists to provide a framework for students dealing with sexual assault. Known better for its affect on athletics — schools can’t have twice as many male sports teams as women’s sports teams any more, for example — Title IX has much broader applications that are woefully under publicized and under utilized.

    And so, the organization Know Your IX was created in 2013 to educate students, advocates and supporters on everything from how to file a complaint under Title IX and where to find a lawyer to how to speak to the media and handle school retaliation. Know Your IX is a national group run by survivors and driven by students seeking to end campus sexual violence. Their importance cannot be overstated: campus culture is nearly impossible for one person or even a group to change during the very short time they’re enrolled. Change simply takes longer than a couple of years. A grassroots network that holds schools accountable while helping informing the public at large and supporting survivors is critical to making all colleges safe for all students.

    KnowYourIX.org has a number of easy, practical ways to assist their work and make a difference in your community. Obviously, you can always donate if you have the means; they do a lot of trainings and free help, so the money goes to good use.

    Their “Provide” tab has resources for victims of campus sexual assault including how to file a complaint and information on trans discrimination and the affects of immigration status. The “Related Resources” tab prepares victims for dealing with school retaliation and new legislation. And the “Activism” tab guides students who want to change their campus culture and join the movement.

    Perhaps the most broadly helpful and important part of the website is the “I Want To” tab. When you click “support a survivor” you jump to a detailed list of dos and don’ts for family, friends, professors, activists and advocates. The way you — yes, you and absolutely every one — respond to stories about sexual assault in the media and in plot lines and in pop culture affects the survivors in your life. Even if you don’t know that you know someone, the numbers say you do.

    So take the fifteen minutes to prep yourself in case a friend or family member comes to you. Being supportive in that situation isn’t intuitive and doing a little reading ahead of time can mean a world of difference to someone who needs you in that moment. What they need first and foremost is for you to simply believe them.

    The hashtag #BelieveSurvivors was created long before the Rolling Stone article that prompted the current wave of discussion and victim blaming. It sounds so simple, but it is so rare in our culture for a victim to be believed implicitly by the person they reach out to. If you take nothing else out of this episode and the work that groups like Know Your IX do, let it be that two word directive: believe survivors.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Follow, support, and utilize the resources at Know Your IX

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Read and signal boost the #BelieveSurvivors hashtag

    Sources/further reading:

    "On Rolling Stone, lessons from fact-checking, and the limits of journalism” by Maya Dusenbery at Feministing

    ”Jackie Update” — and why media only covers “interesting” rape stories by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville

    "How Rolling Stone Gave A Gift To Rape Apologists” by Katie Klabusich at Buzzfeed

    "Why I Don't Want To Hear Both Sides Of Rape Cases” by Wagatwe Wanjuki at Buzzfeed

    "Victims’ Memories Are Imperfect, But Still Perfectly Believable” by Ali Safran at Buzzfeed

    "The Wrestler and the Rape Victim” by Jessica Luther at Vice Sports

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #885 "A guide to doing it all wrong (The UVA Story - Rape Culture)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Prosecute #Torture via @ACLU - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Prosecute Torture.

    I know. It seems like this topic wouldn’t require any activism. Why would we ever need to demand that the Department of Justice seek…well…justice? Apparently, for all the reasons covered in today’s show and all the reasons you already knew and all the reasons that don’t even surprise us now that more than a decade has gone by since our government lied to our faces to obtain support for an illegal war.

    We already knew about the torture; but now the government has spent three years and $40 million, finally proving the thing we knew — that the CIA understood torture isn’t an effective information gathering tool, but encouraged its use anyway. And it doesn’t appear it took much for our elected officials at the time to be convinced. The report also makes clear once and for all that the illegal and torturous actions carried out in the name of patriotism did not help locate Osama bin Laden or thwart any terrorist plots. They were, in fact, counterproductive. Just don’t tell that to Dick Cheney — his robot heart might not be able to take it.

    Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept and Marcy Wheeler at EmptyWheel.com do solid break downs of the report, how it came about, the worst things in it and other details to stoke your rage should you be into digging deeper.

    The ACLU told the following to The Intercept:

    “Even though we previously knew many details about the torture program, the brutality this landmark report documents is breathtaking...The release of this report is a call to action for the Justice Department, Congress, and the White House. We cannot make a clean break from this nation’s history of state-sanctioned torture without accountability for the terrible human rights violations committed in our name.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Visit ACLU.org and click on the impossible to miss "No Free Pass For Torture” action to sign the petition asking Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor — as is not only his right, but his duty as the highest law enforcement official in the country. As the petition states: "Accountability for torture today is critical for stopping it tomorrow” — and, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have any of this happen again.

    Also — as it is the holidays — we’re bringing you a positive torture related action via the ACLU. Not everyone who was commanded to use the “enhanced interrogation techniques” followed orders. There were dissenters among our public officials and our military rank and file. Some prosecutors resigned rather than bring cases founded on coerced evidence. Others, like the Navy’s general counsel Alberto J. Mora, stayed and led an effort to end the practices which he argued to his superiors were ineffective and unlawful.

    Still others endured ridicule and bullying by their bosses for daring to question what they were told was their job and patriotic duty. Lt. Col. Darrel Vandevelde was placed under house arrest for refusing to participate in torture. Please sign the ACLU petition titled "Honor Those Who Said No To Torture” asking the president to “formally honor the members of the military, the CIA and other public servants who — when our nation went off course — stayed true to our most fundamental ideals.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    Write, email, and call (202-353-1555) the Department of Justice to demand the prosecution of those who ordered and orchestrated torture

    SIGN the ACLU petition: No Free Pass For Torture

    Additional Activism:

    SIGN the ACLU petition demanding the president Honor Those Who Said No To Torture

    Sources/further reading:

    "Why a Criminal Investigation is Necessary” — The ACLU statement on the Senate Torture Report

    "Civil Rights Groups Call for Prosecution of Torture Architects” by Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept

    "SSCI Torture Report Key: They Knew It was Torture, Knew It Was Illegal” via empty wheel

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #884 "One of our Blackest Marks (The Torture Report)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Get Local on #ClimateChange via @NRDC - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Get Local On Climate Change.

    In a move that will shock no one listening to this podcast, the federal government is in the process of proving that gridlock and living on a razor’s edge remain the preferred state of affairs in Washington. The Senate gave itself two extra days to pass the emergency spending bill the House has sent them and that is fully expected to happen before the extended end of the legislative session. (Likely it will have passed by the time this episode finds its way to your ears.)

    The bill is a nightmare.

    As the website for the anti-money-in-politics organization “The Bulletin” puts it:

    "If you’re a Congressperson looking to sneak through something shady, the omnibus budget bill is the perfect opportunity since 1.) It’s 1600 pages long and very easy to hide things in, and 2.) Congress kind of has to pass it or the government shuts down. Again.”

    Not that we didn’t already know the next two years would — at best — be a wash, but the new Congress isn’t even on duty yet. This is still the group from BEFORE the Republican midterm sweep. Shunning the chance to limit the damage, the bipartisan emergency spending bill — not to be confused with an actual budget, of course — does several awful things. Basically, the only ridiculous thing it DOESN’T do is shut down the government. That possibility is set up for September when the bill runs its course.

    While there WAS room in the spending bill to allocate $479 million for a warplane that the pentagon didn’t ask for, there wasn't room for $93 million of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program or to fund environmental protections. That pairing makes sense, though, because what goes better with poor nutrition than poor air quality — Am I right?

    If you’re frustrated, there’s good news. You have a governor and state elected officials who actually have to do things like pass budgets and enforce federal regulations from agencies like the EPA. The National Resources Defense Council have an easy fill-in-the-boxes way to let your governor know that despite the federal government’s insistence on gridlock, you’d like them to get on board with the new limits to carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

    Local officials have power — typically more power to actually do real things that affect real people than federal officials. Nothing should reinforce that like days worth of Speaker Boehner’s face on cable news above the headline “Possible Government Shutdown Ahead.”

    So, visit NRDC.org and go to their “Act Now” tab to click through and support the campaign. This will take you less than 60 seconds. Governors are typically more busy balancing budgets than contributing sound bites to Sunday morning shows, so we can forget that they are executive office holders who draft and approve budgets for everything from road repair to education to energy. Give your governor their due and tell them clean air matters to the people of your state.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN to Tell Your Governor to Help Curb Climate Change h/t The National Resources Defense Council

    Sources/further reading:

    "5 Awful Things Congress Snuck Into the Omnibus Budget Deal” via The Bulletin

    "Congress narrowly averts government shutdown” via CNN.com

    "What’s in That Huge, Lobbyist-Driven Spending Bill?” by Joshua Holland at BillMoyers.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #883 Put your money where our future is

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Protest Black Friday - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Protest Black Friday.

    Happy Height of Capitalism Season! …or, happy holiday season, depending on your degree of festiveness. This is the time of year where we regularly hear of people getting trampled at Wal-Mart in the desperate rush to procure the item television advertising executives declare is the must-have, no-way-you-can-live-without-it gift.

    Low-wage workers must report for duty while the CEOs and high level managers who demand their stores open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday are home with their loved ones. This annual injustice has expanded so much over the past decade that the only thing left is for stores to be open 24-hours from Thanksgiving morning through the end of Black Friday.

    Luckily, there’s a super easy thing everyone listening can do to support the workers and stop further capitalist encroachment into our holidays: nothing. Really — you can just do nothing.

    Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism. Adbusters is promoting Buy Nothing Day with the hashtag #BND and asking people to “participate by not participating.” Just stay home. Don’t go shopping; don’t cross picket lines of striking workers. Simply opt-out of the post-turkey dash for deals. Let family and friends you hear discussing their plans to shop on Friday, November 28th know that you’re parking it on your couch with a movie or a book. Possibly even invite them to join you.

    Stores and malls are only opening Friday at dawn — some on Thanksgiving Day even — because people show up to shove each other out of the way in the hopes of saving 10% on a widget no one will remember was a thing by the time the snow melts. By not participating, you make it expensive for stories to open early, close late, and schedule extra staff.

    If you are moved to fight the tryptophan coma and get up off the couch, you can attend a Walmart Black Friday Protest — organized at BlackFridayProtests.org and under the hashtag “Walmart Strikers.” There are events happening all over the country in support of more than 2000 stores where workers are demanding a $15/hr living wage.

    Obviously, abstaining entirely from the annual purchasing bonanza is a tough ask that can go over like a stocking full of lead in some families. So, if you do plan to do a bit of the traditional holiday gift buying — perhaps on Cyber Monday, which is December 1st this year — don’t forget you can redirect a portion of corporate profits into supporting the production of this show through our Amazon link: http://www.bestoftheleft.com/amazon.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Participate by not participating: Buy Nothing Day #BND via Adbusters

    Follow and support Walmart Strikers via #WalmartStrikers on Twitter and Black Friday Protests

    Sources/further reading:

    "Sit-Down Strike at Walmart and Win? It's Been Done” via Huffington Post

    "Letter: Working and middle class should support fast food workers” via Fight For $15

    "Poll: Should retailers remain open on Thanksgiving?” with Steven Greenhouse on PBS Newshour

    Watch: "This Black Friday, Workers to Challenge the Waltons” via OUR Walmart

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #879 "Capitalism will not set you free (Economics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Real Representative Democracy via @FairVote - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Real Representative Democracy — FairVote.org.

    Our country's election process is broken. No one listening to this podcast needed election 2014’s mixed results or record low voter turn out to persuade them that our democracy’s fundamental tenet could use a tune-up. World War II was raging last time we had turn out this low and certainly a lack of trust in the system is contributing to the apathy epidemic.

    But what if we could give American democracy an upgrade? That’s the optimistic — yet entirely feasible — goal of the organization Fair Vote.

    According to FairVote.org, their mission "advances systemic electoral reform to achieve a fully participatory and truly representative democracy that respects every vote and every voice in every election...We promote ranked choice voting (“instant runoff”), a constitutionally protected right to vote, a national popular vote for president, and, most fundamentally, fair representation voting forms of proportional representation.”

    They’ve already succeeded in getting enough jurisdictions to pass legislation supporting a popular vote for the president to equal almost two-thirds of the electoral votes needed to win the White House — an accomplishment that makes Fair Vote’s next set of concrete goals seem within reach.

    “Representation 2020” seeks gender parity in elected representation. Women only make up 18% of Congress and hold under a quarter of state legislative seats — a stat that puts the U.S. well behind Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, China and Vietnam. We rank 80th in female elected officials — which should be a source of national embarrassment.

    And the “Reform 2020” campaign seeks to end gerrymandering, make voting an explicit Constitutional right, bring about a national popular vote for the presidency and uphold voter choice and majority rule through ranked choice voting.

    Run off voting is already implemented in San Francisco and Oakland, California; Portland, Maine; and Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. None of these city legislatures fell apart when ballot accommodations were made to make room for third party and independent candidates with built-in back-up selections for cautious voters. Even as a push for reforms nationally moves slowly but steadily, this is particular democracy enhancement is one you can demand of your local city councils and state houses.

    Get involved by supporting the Fair Vote’s goals for 2020, following FairVote on social media and spreading the word about election reform, tracking pending legislation, and signing their periodic petitions.

    Don’t let your anger at the broken system keep you home on election day. Instead, use it as motivation to make our democracy stronger and fight to reduce apathy by getting us closer to having every vote count and be counted.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with Fair Vote

    Follow FairVote on Twitter and on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Reform 2020

    Representation 2020

    Sources/further reading:

    "Voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest since WWII” via The Washington Post

    "The Gender Gap: Percentage of Women in Government Worldwide. We're Number One, Right? Not So Much…” via Daily Kos

    ”Jim Crow Returns: millions of minority voters threatened by electoral purge by Greg Palast at Al Jazeera America

    Watch: Brad Friedman (@TheBradBlog) on Thom Hartmann’s The Big Picture discussing #Election2014 result reliability.

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #877 "Hair of the dog (Election)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Stop Street Harassment via @StopStHarassmnt - Best of the Left Activism

    This should be simple, right? A stranger walks past you on the sidewalk or is standing in front of you in line at the coffee shop or running for the bus or even groggily walking their dog early in the morning. What do you do? How 'bout nothing? Possibly — if you make eye contact in that way that humans sometimes do — you smile and nod as the two of you go on your way.

    For more than 80% of women all over the world, this is not the typical experience. According to Stop Street Harassment — a nonprofit dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide, behavior ranging from demanding a person smile to flashing to screaming to stalking are a real, daily part of life.

    There is a compounding threat of gendered harassment for people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. A 2013 study of nearly 100,000 LGBTQ people in the European Union found that half avoided public spaces because of a high level of fear in restaurants, parking lots, parks, etc.

    In the U.S., one quarter of women experience street harassment before their 12th birthday and 90% report dealing with it regularly by age 19. It’s simply unacceptable that more than half our population has to take evasive measures to feel safe in their daily lives. As we’ve heard on today’s show, even if you’re a guy who has totally benign motivations, after hearing and seeing what women go through, you might understand why your “Hey there, where are you headed?” would be met with caution and even fear.

    At StopStreetHarassment.org you can find a comprehensive definition of street harassment as well as tools to raise awareness and work toward culture change around the world. The board of directors explains why they devote time and resources to this issue:

    "We believe that street harassment impedes gender equality and must be taken seriously. Because street harassment is often an invisible problem (especially to people in power) and it is dismissed as being a 'minor annoyance,' a ‘joke,' or the fault of the harassed person, our primarily focus right now is simply to document the problem and demonstrate why it’s a human rights violation that must be addressed.”

    That power dynamic is the core component: a man yelling at a woman on the street is putting himself into her space without her permission and declaring that he can do so if and when he wants. The good news about this dynamic is that every man listening can do something super simple to help. Visit StopStreetHarassment.org to check your own behavior and take stock of the other men in your networks. It’s safer for you to call out a buddy than it is for the harassed person to try and do so.

    Also, this is seriously advanced warning about Anti-Street Harassment Week happening April 12th-18th, so mark your calendars as you’ll have no excuse to miss it. Between now and then, you can share your story with Stop Street Harassment, volunteer your graphic design skills and report ads, TV shows and other media that depicts harassment as a joke, compliment or no big deal. Most of the asks at Stop Street Harassment's “Join Us” tab take less than 15 minutes; certainly the basic humanity and safety of more than half the world’s population is worth at least that.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with Stop Street Harassment

    Mark your calendar for Meet Us On The Street, an international anti-street harassment campaign April 12-18, 2015.

    Follow Stop Street Harassment on Twitter and on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Bookmark Meet Us On The Street Week resources on Twitter and on Facebook

    Follow the #EndStreetHarassment thread and share your own experiences.

    Sources/further reading:

    "Street harassment of women: It's a bigger problem than you think” by Holly Kearl at Christian Science Monitor

    "Feeling harassed? Do something about it. — Friday is Women's Equality Day in the US, yet routine street harassment blocks that goal for many women. But we can act.” by Holly Kearl at The Guardian

    "6 Things You Might Not Think Are Harassment But Definitely Are (because apparently we need to clear a few things up)” by Kat George at Bustle

    "Street Harassment Is a Problem—No Doubt—but Here’s Why That Video Didn’t Help the Debate” by Dio Rabouin at The Root

    "Hollaback and Why Everyone Needs Better Research Methods And Why All Data Needs Theory” by Zeynep Tufekci at Medium

    WATCH: "NYC Women Talk Cat Calling” by W. Kamau Bell

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #876 "Hey girl, you want me to respect your personal space? (Street Harassment)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #KeystoneXL Under Congressional #Climate Deniers - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s an update to remind you why you should still be angry about a topic that just won’t go away. Today’s update: Keystone XL Under Congressional Climate Deniers.

    The more we learn about last week's newly elected legislators, the worse things look for liberals. If you’re in the camp that sees the president as a moderate at best, a Republican-run Congress has serious implications. And the most immediate potential problem is a possible approval Keystone XL.

    While the state department has issued a report outlining a conservative, but definitive estimate of the damage Keystone would do to our air, water, and food supplies, the president hasn’t made his position clear. At times making statements that made approval seem imminent, Obama has repeatedly postponed his decision, leaving room for environmentalists to remain hopeful.

    But now the Republicans own Congress. All of it. They’re in charge of introducing legislation as well as passing it and they do this kind of work quickly when they don’t have to reach across the isle for cooperation. This fossil-fuel-backed GOP walks in lock-step over issues like Keystone.

    At Climate Desk, environmental reporter Tim McDonnell briefly profiles the 12 new Congress members who range from ambivalent to outright oppositional on the notion of man-made climate change. Iowa’s Senator-elect Joni Ernst has a particularly playful way of describing her non-commitall attitude on the science. When asked by Iowa Public Radio if she agreed with NASA and the 97% of scientists standing together in a public statement affirming climate change she replied:

    "I haven’t personally seen those reports, so I don’t know that climate change is mainly due to humans.”

    And Ernst’s position — which includes promoting personal responsibility for protecting the environment through activities like recycling — is moderate amidst her party’s Congressional class.

    Seasoned climate reporter Kate Sheppard counts a solid 61 Senate votes in favor of a measure to force Keystone’s approval. For those who were hoping this GOP-run Congress would at rival last term’s inability to get anything done, that’s a filibuster-proof majority. RNC chairman Reince Priebus declared on the morning of election 2014 that passing a Keystone approval bill would be second on the Republican agenda — right behind passing a budget.

    The bill pushing POTUS to approve the project is likely already being written. So. Right now. Stop what you’re doing. Go to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s SaveBioGems.org website to sign their letter to President Obama with the subject line: "The Keystone XL is not in our national interest.”

    Then use ContactingTheCongress.org to find and write, call, and tweet your new — and old — representatives encouraging them to oppose legislation which would approve Keystone.

    Also, check out “Above All Else” — a documentary that premiered at SXSW this year. Recommended by food and environmental writer Tom Philpott, this film is a close-up of the landowners and activists in East Texas who risked their personal safety to stop Keystone from tearing up their land. Personal stories are often the most compelling way to break through an empathy deficit, so sharing visual depictions like “Above All Else” can help people who think Keystone is just a political, “both sides arguing” issue to connect with the real impact of the pipeline.

    Follow-up/new Action!

    Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline! via NRDC BioGems

    Tell President Obama to reject Keystone XL

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to find your possibly new representatives and let them know you oppose Keystone.

    Additional activism:

    Watch/host a screening for ”Above All Else”: a documentary about the battle over the KXL pipeline in East Texas. h/t Tom Philpott at Mother Jones

    Follow "Above All Else” on Twitter and on Facebook

    Follow Idle No More’s work protecting the land and water in Canada as well as the rights of the Indigenous population there.

    Sources:

    "Senate Now Has Enough Votes To Pass Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Bill” by Katie Sheppard at HuffPo Politics

    "Meet the Senate’s New Climate Denial Caucus: Their views range from tepid acceptance of the science to flat-out rejection” by Tim McDonnell at Climate Desk

    "OMG. They Tell Her That Her Words Are BS Right To Her Face. So Satisfying.” — an amazing short film by AJ+ on the Unist'ot'en Camp founded by members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation to resist the Tar Sands Gigaproject in Western Canada. via Upworthy

    ”Candidate Profile: Joni Ernst via Iowa Public Radio

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #875 "Rising tide of climate change deniers and sea levels (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Assessment Reform via @FairTestOffice - Best of the Left Activism

    Most of what’s wrong with our country’s education system can be summed up by a Time Magazine cover published yesterday. “The War on Teacher Tenure!!” declares Time emphatically atop a graphic with a gavel coming down on “rotten apples” — presumably the teachers in question. The article’s subtitle explains: "It’s really difficult to fire a bad teacher. A group of Silicon Valley investors wants to change that.”

    As if union busting right-to-work laws and the charter school privatization movement weren’t enough, now Silicon Valley has decided to weigh in on our public education system. It’s probably fine, though, right? It’s not like the perpetual standardized testing process could have anything to do with the sudden interest from the technology sector…

    Resistance to the monetizing of primary education and to standardized testing specifically is growing across the country. Boycotts, demonstrations, community forums, and opt-out campaigns like the successful one last year in Seattle have spread to Austin, Portland, Chicago, Denver, and Providence with more student, parent and teacher groups joining all the time.

    Testing Overload in American Schools released a report released last week on just how much time our students take filling in bubbles on tests instead of learning. On average, across the 14 school districts surveyed, students took one to two standardized tests a month. A companion report by the Center for American Progress adds that this “test preparation culture” has “put a premium on testing over learning.”

    The reports were scathing enough that even President Obama — who’s education secretary Arne Duncan has been decidedly right of center on tenure and testing — was forced to weigh in and support a "cutback on unnecessary testing and test preparation" and "the smarter use of tests that measure real student learning.”

    With the release of the reports and the White House comments, now is the perfect time to join the movement for assessment reform. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has a comprehensive compilation of resources for anyone looking to support opting out and resisting No Child Left Behind “reforms.” Visit FairTest.org for fact sheets on tests, explanations of federal policies, the consequences of high-stakes testing, and better ways to evaluate students and teachers.

    You can also sign the American Federation of Teachers' petition calling out the Time Magazine cover — which doesn’t even accurately depict their own journalists’ reporting, let alone the state of public education. Since we all know more people will see the cover than read the article, most Americans will get the wrong impression and not hear any of the concern surrounding testing industry ties to Silicon Valley.

    Effective public education is an issue that concerns all of us — whether or not we are students or have children of our own. It’s not an overstatement to say that the future of our country very much depends on our investing in the next generation. So, visit FairTest.org and join the movement to let our teachers get back to, well, teaching.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with FairTest: Assessment Reform Network Project to resist unnecessary standardized testing

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign AFT’s petition: "TIME: Apologize to teachers”

    Sign the "Don't Delete History” petition from Texas Freedom Network

    Sources/further reading:

    The awful Time article for those who want to read it: "War on Teacher Tenure: How Silicon Valley Wants to Fire Bad Teachers”

    "Florida schools rail against explosion of new tests” via Orlando Sentinel

    "Scrap the MAP! | Solidarity with Seattle teachers boycotting the MAP test”

    "Test Opposition Surges Across the Nation” via FairTest

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #871 "Your child is a widget (Education)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act via @healthyteen & @nwlc - Best of the Left Activism

    Because of a legislative onslaught of unconstitutional laws that have left almost 90% of Americans living in counties without abortion providers, the media and activism focus on issues of choice and reproductive rights typically centers around abortion care. Reproductive justice advocates work tirelessly to break through that tunnel vision, broadening the narrative to remind us that supporting bodily autonomy includes more than helping people end unwanted pregnancies; it also includes helping those who choose to become parents.

    Teen pregnancy and parenthood come with so much stigma you likely already have a mental image of the stereotypical teen mom. It’s not that you’re insensitive; it's years of media, horror stories in health class meant to scare kids into not having sex, and bad TV all having done their respective jobs on your subconscious.

    You probably don’t even realize that there are laws to protect pregnant teens as those typically accidental pregnancies aren’t given much priority in public spaces or political platforms. It turns out, however, that pregnant teens are full, autonomous humans — whose wombs and lives, according to the Republican Party Platform, must be regulated at every possible opportunity. By all means, they must carry to term — and then be sent adrift with no societal support and as much scolding as possible.

    Title IX laws actually bolster Constitutional protections and bodily autonomy guarantees, but most high school students aren’t aware of their rights, can’t vote for laws that protect them, and are heavily influenced by the messaging in their communities.

    As #NoTeenShame co-founder Gloria Malone writes this week at RH Reality Check, pregnant teens often initially buy into the doomed depiction of young families in the media and on shows like "16 and Pregnant.”

    Malone candidly describes her experience this way:

    "When I became pregnant at 15, the adults in my life believed my life was over. In addition to explicitly stating this to me, they began to treat me differently and even stopped helping me look into colleges because they believed I would not finish high school...If my family and high school guidance counselor had responded to my decision to carry my pregnancy to term and parent my child in a more positive way from the get-go, with tips on planning for my future and for my daughter’s future, I may have experienced a more healthy and positive pregnancy. And so I ask, how are others preparing teens to live the life they want for themselves and their families? We can and must do so much better.”

    Healthy Teen Network and the National Women’s Law Center are co-leading an effort which aims to take that advice and do better in practical and useful ways. The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act — sponsored in this legislative session by Senator Udall of New Mexico and Representative Polis of Colorado — would solidify the rights of teen parents and establish policies that provide concrete help.

    Teen parents should have the flexibility to finish school, pursue careers and have healthy families. Let your representatives know — during election season and beyond — that an issue affecting nearly 3 in 10 girls matters to you and should matter to them. Sign the letter at HealthyTeenNetwork.org under the Public Policy tab and help make the legislation a priority after next month’s election. Also, be sure to follow #NoTeenShame for other ways to get involved with ending stigma and building support for families.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Sign to support the The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act legislation backed by the National Women’s Law Center and Healthy Teen Network

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Follow #NoTeenShameon Twitter and on Tumblr

    Submit your story to #NoTeenShame

    Sources/further reading:

    "New Mexico Parental-Leave Law Helps Teen Moms Stay in School” via NBC News

    "Where’s the ’16, Parenting, and OK’ Reality Show?” by Gloria Malone at RH Reality Check

    "#NoTeenShame: A Social Media Movement Pushes Us To Respect Young Mothers & We’re All For It” via Hello Beautiful

    Graphic by Repeal Hyde Art Project and available for purchase at RHAP’s Zazzle Store

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #870 "Don't police me, bro! (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@MAYDAYUS is Underway - Best of the Left Activism

    In case you missed the memo, there’s an election around the corner. Things are getting contentious in fundraising and door knocking and local nightly news is all “SCANDAL” or “so-and-so has pulled ahead!” If you’re in Florida, all you’ve heard about this week is that Governor Rick Scott threw a tantrum as a broadcast debate was starting because there was an electric fan on his podium. For you non-Floridians, that isn’t an Onion creation. Turns out, the fan posed a threat to his famous spray-on tan.

    Is this democracy? Spray on tans and scandals?

    Even our “legitimate” democratic institutions seem to have gone off the deep end.

    The DCCC is making even life-long, super committed dems unsubscribe and consider jumping ship. They’re putting Al Franken’s email barrage to shame.

    The way they’re going about asking for our support — aka our money — is almost as problematic as how much of it they seem to need and their complete intransigence on how to dish it out. They’re using tactics from the early days of email, making them look like they miss the strategies immortalized in movies like “Primary Colors” and “Wag the Dog.” It’s no wonder people under 35 aren’t excited about volunteering and loath to “get on board” with electoral politics.

    Also, there are races in rural Texas and upstate New York and the nether regions of New Mexico and pinkish, purplish Arkansas where some solid candidates have a real shot at local, statewide and national elections. But if the “big D” democratic party isn’t already sure they can win, they aren’t putting money into it. What’s the point of that? Are we only throwing our money behind sure fire winners now? What kind of sense does that make?

    No sense, obviously. It feeds into the disconnect that’s part of the larger problem of money in politics exacerbated by Citizens United and solidified by McCutcheon. I’ve held Lawrence Lessig’s “SuperPac to end all SuperPacs” — May Day Pac — up as a possible remedy to some of the ills money in politics have caused and today I bring you good news: MayDay is underway.

    They met their initial fundraising and matching goals for the launch and to date they're at more than $11 million raised on over 64,000 individual donations. This has enabled them to jump in during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, supporting candidates who favor campaign reform. Their objectives remain: (a) to convince Congress of the salience of this issue to voters, and (b) determine how best to intervene to move voters on the basis of this issue. In 2017, the focus will be pressing Congress and the White House to pass and sign legislation reforming how elections are funded.

    Obviously, like any group, they could use your money if you want to get behind their goals. Even more than that, they need something we’re pretty good at around here: amplification. Follow them @MayDayUS on twitter and sign up to volunteer at MayDay.us. Watch for the results of this week’s video contest — with judges like George Takei, Cenk Uygur and Baratunde Thurston, there is guaranteed to be some buzz about the results.

    Oh, and they’re backing candidates! So if you want something to get excited about next month, check out their “Anti-Corruption Candidates” fact sheet on the website to learn about the eight reformers to root for. MayDay has candidates in Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, New Hamphire, North Carolina and South Dakota — that last one is especially important as it could keep the Senate out of Mitch McConnell’s hands.Obviously, voting remains important despite our disillusionment and frustration with money in politics. That’s part of what’s so brilliant about MayDay. They’re looking for ways to reform our process, making it more democratic — without telling us to disengage as that work gets done. They are unique in that they aren’t throwing in the towel — they’re looking to make the game more fair as we play.

    Update!

    MayDay PAC closes initial fundraising!

    Follow-up/new Action!

    Support the MayDayPac candidates: ”Candidate Fact Sheet

    Sources/additional glimmers of hope:

    MayDay in the News round-up

    "SCOTUS 'McCutcheon' Ruling to Help Super Rich Purchase Even MORE of American ‘Democracy' (And a reminder why elections still matter.)” via The Brad Blog

    "Florida Governor Almost Calls Off Debate Over Fan” h/t Satiristas

    "In Wisconsin, Dark Money Got a Mining Company What It Wanted: An accidentally released court filing reveals how one company secretly gave money to a nonprofit that helped get favorable mining legislation passed.” by Theodoric Meyer at ProPublica

    Find out more about Dark Money: Money in Politics -- See Who's Giving & Who's Getting at OpenSecrets.org

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #869 "Democrats will not save you until the system is fixed (Elections)"

    Revisit the original action/segment: "MayDay PAC - via @MayOneUS - Best of the Left Activism” from BotL episode 839 (06/24/14): "Disinfecting the rot on American democracy (Money in Politics)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones via @KnowDrones and @VFPNational

    The United States is at war. Again. Still. Always? At this point, no matter what our elected officials are calling the insurgent groups, the rhetoric certainly sounds familiar. Even FoxNews has stated more than once that President Obama is sounding a lot like George W. Bush.

    With Congress off campaigning for the midterms, there’s no direct action linked to funding or supporting military action in Iraq and Syria — other than the always encouraged action of calling your reps to tell them you’ll be considering their position on continuing intervention on November 4th.

    You can, however, stand united with a world community in opposition to the president’s primary tool for intervention in the “war on terror” which now includes ISIS/ISIL. October 4th is the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing, organized by “Know Drones” and supported by Veterans for Peace and Code Pink.

    Actions are planned in the US, England, South Korea, Germany, India, and Canada just to name a few. You can find the event in your area at KnowDrones.com and if you are planning one where you live, you can submit it to the calendar by email via Anastasia@CodePink.org.

    If you glaze over at the use of the word “drone” because it’s part of punchlines about Amazon, the Olympics and our overreaching surveillance state, I urge you to read the story of Brandon Bryant as told to GQ a year ago. The article “Confessions of a Drone Warrior” is candid, emotional and cuts through the clinical rhetoric used by news outlets and on the floor of Congress.

    The article itself describes why Bryant’s bravery in coming forward is so important:

    "Since its inception, the drone program has been largely hidden, its operational details gathered piecemeal from heavily redacted classified reports or stage-managed media tours by military public-affairs flacks. Bryant is one of very few people with firsthand experience as an operator who has been willing to talk openly, to describe his experience from the inside.”

    Bryant’s description of the moments after his first fired shot is chilling:

    "The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot. His blood is hot. But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on.”

    Drones kill. That’s their purpose. The rhetoric out of the White House and Congress that we “aren’t sending troops” or that we're “just providing tactical air support" shouldn’t comfort those concerned about ending war and supporting peace. Get involved. Make your voice heard. Stand with Veterans For Peace and Know Drones.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Find the event near you: Global Action Day Calendar

    Submit your event to Anastasia of CODEPINK via anastasia@codepink.org

    Sources/further reading:

    "Veterans Group in Response to President Obama’s Plan to Confront ISIL Says They are Disappointed But Not Surprised” via Veterans For Peace

    ”Veterans For Peace: Six Steps Short of War to Confront ISIL”

    ""Ban Weaponized Drones!": Anti-Drone Movement Spreads in Europe” via Truthout

    "Confessions of a Drone Warrior” by Matthew Power at GQ

    "Race is on to perfect solar-powered drones” by Hiawatha Bray at The Boston Globe

    "Domestic Drones” via ACLU National

    "Warrant for Drones Veto Was the Wrong Decision” via ACLU of Northern California

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #864 "The definition of insanity (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #TacoOrBeerChallenge

    It turns out “hash tag activism” is real activism with concrete results in the “real world.” It can raise awareness as well as money while changing culture and bringing people together internationally — even when the hashtag itself was initially started as a joke.

    Andrea Grimes — a reproductive healthcare activist and senior political reporter for RH Reality check — had been watching the “Ice Bucket Challenge” make its way around and thought tacos and beer sounded more fun.

    So, Grimes issued a new challenge via video on Tumblr: The Taco Or Beer Challenge. (That’s heavy on the “or,” by the way, to be inclusive to everyone’s dietary needs and restrictions.) She wrote the following for RHRC:

    "What do ice buckets have to do with ALS? I don’t know. What do tacos and beer have to do with abortion? I don’t know that either.

    What I do know is that eating tacos and drinking beer is more pleasurable than getting doused with ice water, and that lawmakers around the country are passing increasingly restrictive anti-abortion access laws. Which means abortion funds are now more necessary than ever as legal abortion becomes harder than ever to access—especially for those of us who don’t live in major urban centers.

    Tacos and beer, of course, remain as vital to our human happiness as they ever were. The solution is clear: Eat tacos, drink beer, and donate to abortion funds.”

    Since the start of the Taco Or Beer Challenge, the National Network of Abortion Funds has reported a major spike in first time donors. Celebs like Dan Savage, Martha Plimpton, Sarah Paulson and more are snapping pics and videos of themselves with a beer and/or a taco while donating to the abortion fund of their choice. Many are choosing to give to funds in New Orleans and Texas where recently passed laws are going into effect.

    Participating is easy and delicious. There’s no minimum contribution. You can toss two dollars to your local abortion fund — which you can find at FundAbortionNow.org — and you’ve completed the challenge! TacoOrBeerChallenge.tumblr.com has a submission link and you can put it up on Twitter where right-wingers are freaking out over the abomination of “American” favorites like tacos and beer being used to fund healthcare for patients in need.

    The average caller to an abortion fund receives assistance in the neighborhood of one to two hundred dollars, which means your modest contribution goes a long way. Because the hotlines are volunteer run, 100% of your donation goes to save a person who needs it because this basic, safe medical procedure is singled out by politicians and rarely covered by insurance.

    So have a taco. Or a beer. Or both! Ice cream tacos, root beer, vegan quesadillas — all taco and beer-like substances are accepted. And then enjoy angering hysterical right-wingers and their hypocritical need to regulate your bedrooms and your doctor’s offices.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Take the Taco Or Beer Challenge via Andrea Grimes

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Find your local abortion fund through The National Network of Abortion Funds and follow NNAF on Twitter

    Follow #TacoOrBeerChallenge and use it to challenge your friends/followers!

    Sources/further reading:

    #TacoOrBeerChallenge, Two Weeks In

    NNAF Spotlight: New Orleans Abortion Fund h/t @nolaAbortionFnd

    "Meet The Woman Who Refuses To Stop Fighting Against Texas’ Abortion Restrictions” by Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress

    "Whole Woman’s Health Opens its Doors in New Mexico, Starts Advocacy Initiative” via Whole Woman’s Health

    "Abortion Provider Expands to New Mexico in Response to Texas Anti-Abortion Law” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

    "Federal Court Blocks Part of Texas Abortion Law Preceding Immediate State Appeal” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

    WATCH: "What It’s Like Inside One of Texas’ Last Abortion Clinics”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #858 The fight for fundamental equality (Abortion Rights)

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Jim Collins Foundation

    The Jim Collins Foundation raises money for those transgender people who need gender-confirming surgery as an important step toward becoming their true selves, but are without the financial means to access care. The founders and the board recognize that not every transgender person needs or wants surgery. Their mission is to aid those who do by abating the despair that comes with realizing the monetary hurdle is too high to clear. Finding surgery unattainable can result in hopelessness, depression and sometimes suicide.

    Allies who are moved to help can certainly do so by donating to this worthy non-profit, but also by checking to see if your own insurance company discriminates. Until the trans community is granted the same access to medically necessary care and protections from discrimination under the law, they will remain marginalized. Pressuring insurance companies and elected officials to actively move toward full equality is action we can — and must — all take.

    Take Action:

    Donate and spread the word about this great organization through their website: Jim Collins Foundation

    Additional Activism: Free CeCe, a documentary on CeCe McDonald

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The Jim Collins Foundation, episode #801 "If you're talking about genitals then you've missed the point (Trans* Rights)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The New Economy Coalition

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Capitalism is integrated into every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or like it. It’s a massive system and it dictates how we interact with each other and how our government interacts with those outside our boarders. So if we find it problematic, what exactly are we supposed to do?

    From the New Economy Coalition:

    The stakes are high. Climate change is accelerating. Inequality is at historic levels. The financial industry continues to teeter on the brink of collapse, threatening the global economy. And all the while, our political system has proven incapable of effecting the structural transformations necessary to — quite literally — save the planet. The time is now for a new approach, a New Economy.

    Take Action:

    Visit the New Economy Coalition website to join up, add your expertise, offer your support.

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: New Economy Coalition, episode #803 "Resistance is the only hope (Capitalism)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Sex Workers Project

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    The Sex Workers Project is doing the hard work of advocacy on behalf of a stigmatized industry. They provide client-centered legal and social services to individuals who engage in sex work, regardless of whether they do so by choice, circumstance, or coercion. Their professional service providers are multi-lingual and non-judgmental, assisting clients to remain in stable housing, access safer working conditions and employment options, protect their legal rights in family court, clear criminal records, secure legal immigration status, fight police misconduct, and access long-term supportive therapy while creating best practices in a marginalized, but legitimate field.

    The “Not Your Rescue Project” hash tag was started in January by a coalition of sex workers and allies fighting back against stigma and the idea that they were all powerless women in need of saving by predatory NGOs. [just said “N-G-O”] Read the linked article by Andrea Garcia-Vargas published at “Bustle” on where the hashtag started and how to support the activists’ efforts. If you’re just becoming aware of the issue of sex workers rights, the stories and narratives you’ll find there will help break down preconceived notions and give you a way to engage with one of the most marginalized groups in our society. If they can be brave enough to speak, we should honor that by listening and learning to become allies.

    Take Action:

    No Condoms as Evidence

    emPOWER - a Celebration of the Sex Workers Project, June 5th, NYC

    Additional Activism:

    Follow #NotYourRescueProject

    The Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP): Take Action and Volunteer

    More info:

    ”Playing the Whore” by Melissa Gira Grant

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The Sex Workers Project, episode #826 "Work is work is work (Wage and Respect Gap)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Stop Deportations Now

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    A federation of unions, who typically stand with the president on policy initiatives, took action this week to stand instead with those putting themselves on the line to save their families. The group projected a 60 by 90 foot video onto the AFL-CIO building, which faces 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to tell the statistics and human stories behind the deportations.

    “We feel like the political debate about immigration has gotten old and tired, while the human dimension of the deportation crisis has unfortunately lost center stage,” said Jeff Hauser, a spokesman for the union federation.

    Text “Now” to 235246 to back the union federation’s campaign and use #Not1More to tweet at your representatives, respectfully, if you would. You can find your rep’s handles, along with the rest of their information, at ContactingTheCongress.org.

    You can also join with the AFL-CIO in sending solidarity to the hunger strikers at the White House. Text “Hunger” to 235246 and add your words to messages like this one: "Your work is so important. Thank you for putting your personal welfare on the line. I wish Congress could do the same. Solidarity!”

    Take Action:

    AFL-CIO: Stop Deportations Now, YouTube

    Tweet your legislators via ContactingTheCongress.Org

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Stop Deportations Now, episode #822 "It might have something to do with race (Immigration)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • USA Freedom Act

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    The USA Freedom Act is a piece of legislation with bipartisan sponsorship and support. It is a comprehensive overhaul of the NSA spying program that repeals the surveillance state sections of the Patriot Act and FISA. The ACLU and Electronic Freedom Foundation are supporting it — and they’re not alone. The USA Freedom Act is even supported by Freedom Works — the national conservative group that helped launch the tea party (those were their buses you saw at rallies) while continuing to fund Rush Limbaugh & Glenn Beck.

    As the ACLU closes their plea for action: “Let's make sure our representatives in Congress hear us: We won't tolerate our own government spying on us any more. Let’s win this fight.”

    Take Action:

    Contact your legislators to support The USA Freedom Act via the ACLU and/or the EFF

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: USA Freedom Act, episode #818 "Burn it to the ground (NSA Spying)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Expose the TPP

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    A number of organizations, grassroots groups and watchdog outlets are lining up to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership for all the reasons already mentioned and the dozens more that would doubtlessly be discovered AFTER implementation.

    Expose The TPP [dot] org is a hub of information and action aggregated by a coalition of those groups and individual volunteers. You can find out how to deliver anti-TPP talking points in six seconds to your less tuned-in friends and family, get updates on the push to fast track the TPP through Congress, contact your representatives, write letters to the editor and suggest your own actions.

    Take Action:

    Visit the Expose The TPP website for resources, talking points, ways to contact your representatives and more.

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Expose the TPP, episode #792 "Don't get down with TPP (Corporate Takeover)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Ali Forney Center

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    We have what can only be described as an epidemic of homelessness among LGBTQ youth in this country. According to Colorlines, though only 5 to 7 percent of youth overall identify as LGBTQ, as many as 45 percent of homeless youth are queer identified. A conservative estimate is that there are 200,000 homeless LGBT youth, but just 350 beds in 10 programs across the nation to meet that need.

    The Ali Forney Center was started in June 2002 as a response to the lack of safe shelter in New York City. They provide not only housing, drop in service, STI testing and treatment, substance abuse counseling and career assistance, but are "dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBTQ youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBTQ community.”

    Take Action:

    The Ali Forney Center

    The Ali Forney Story

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The Ali Forney Center, episode #821 "The arc of history and the stumbles along the way (LGBTQ Rights)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Yes 4 Elkhart

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    The parent — teacher — community campaign style of the Chicago Teacher’s Union has spread across the country. Parents and students stood with teachers in Boston earlier this year to oppose the expansion of charter schools. Thousands signed petitions and educated the community, mobilizing a network prepared to form a wall against outside, corporate monied interests.

    Most of our country’s communities are smaller than Boston and Chicago, however. Many are without strong union support and wonder how they are to stand up to conservative governors and skeptical voters as they work to halt charter school development and fight budget cuts under already bare bones conditions. Teachers and parents in Elkhart, Indiana decided their students were worth fighting for despite the odds. “Yes 4 Elkhart” is a referendum to support the Elkhart Community School System’s more than 12,000 students by repairing aging facilities, increasing safety and improving transportation.

    No matter where you live, these are the grassroots efforts we should be amplifying. Let’s build on wins and repeat what works in school districts and cities from coast to coast. We do have power at the local level; find out what’s happening to the schools in your community and see if the Yes 4 Elkhart and Chicago Teacher’s Union efforts can changes conditions as we work to rebuild the foundation our of nation’s public education system.

    Take Action:

    Yes 4 Elkhart referendum

    Yes 4 Elkhart on Facebook

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Yes 4 Elkhart, episode #820 "More misplaced incentive structures (Education)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Protect the Arctic From an Oil Spill Disaster

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Thanks to a recent ruling out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Shell has announced it cannot make its yearly push for new leases and fewer regulations. The courts have said that the Department of the Interior failed to conduct an adequate environmental impact assessment before allowing the sale of Arctic Ocean areas for oil and gas exploration.

    The Obama administration has the power to cancel all current Arctic drilling leases and halt all future lease sales. As the Sierra Club petition reminds us, “the Arctic's extreme weather, harsh cold, sea ice, winter darkness and sensitive wildlife make it the last place we should be drilling for oil.”

    Take Action:

    Add your voice/name to the Sierra Club's White House letter: Protect the Arctic from an oil spill disaster!

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Protect the Arctic, episode #815 "Past and future destruction (Climate)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Buying Green Power

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Planet killing energy giants control everything, right? That’s the assumption most of us residing outside of deregulated, competition-rich Vermont live under. Coal, oil, natural gas — all are pumped into our homes by the company we’ve always used or who bothered to drop the flier into our mailboxes.

    It turns out we’re wrong; there is competition for our heat and electricity.

    The US Department of Energy website’s “Buying Green Power” tab can connect you to the options in your state — many of which are cheaper than use going through the obvious corporate conglomerate. Depending on where you live, your options vary due to ingenuity, availability, feasibility, etc. Not every area has off shore wind farms, for example, or access to Vermont’s “Cow Power Program” which turns farming by-products into energy. But even if your state hasn’t implemented market competition for electricity, you should still be able to purchase green power or use a “green pricing program.”

    Take Action:

    Buying Green Power, The Green Power Network

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Buying Green Power, episode #824 "Investing in a green future (Climate)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Solutions Project

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Wouldn’t it be great if someone was spearheading a project that connected science, climate reality, practical solutions and concerned citizens? That thought lead actor and activist Mark Ruffalo to Professor Mark Jacobson, the Stanford researcher who had done a study on making New York state 100 percent reliant on renewable energy. Ruffalo thought, why not a study with a realistic plan for every state?

    These are not happy, overly-excited liberal fantasies. They were developed by scientists and business leaders with research from Stanford, UC Davis and Cornell. By combining wind, water and solar power, each state can break free of its dependence on carbon fuels — and there’s no admission fee or purchase requirements or entrance exam for leaders in government and business to get their hands on the plans. They just have to say yes.

    Take Action:

    Visit the The Solutions Project website for tools and to stay updated on their efforts.

    Other Activism: Put Solar on It will help you attach solar panels to almost any structure!

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The Solutions Project, episode #795 "It's hot, it's cold, it's polluted (Climate/Energy)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Brave New Films

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Robert Greenwald revolutionized activist documentary filmmaking when he launched Brave New Films in 2002. Moved by the voter rights abuses in the 2000 election, Greenwald discovered audiences were similarly hungry for in-depth investigations told through personal, relatable stories. You may have seen some of his work without even realizing it; take this opportunity to binge on what you’ve missed.

    Take Action:

    Watch existing documentary films and shorts, follow on social media and keep up on the latest projects: Brave New Films from Robert Greenwald

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Brave New Films, episode #800 "A parody of itself (Media)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • McCutcheon: Citizen’s United Take Two

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Rich, white men rule this country. We can deny it and point out anomalies, but by and large rich, white and male is the trifecta — a winning lottery ticket to a life of ease and power. And as minorities become the majority, women and the LGBTQ community chip away at the millennia-long privilege, and equality gets chiseled into our federal and state constitutions — the Koch brothers & their ilk are doubling down on their efforts to rig the system.

    As the governmental accountability nonprofit Common Cause explains on their website: If the Court sides with the plaintiff in McCutcheon v. FEC and overturns aggregate contribution limits, a single individual could spend as much as $3.6 million on a single election -- enough to buy the attention of the President and every single member of Congress.

    Take Action:

    Take Action on McCutcheon v FEC at the Common Cause website.

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Citizens United, Take Two, episode #811 "The affliction of wealth on people and society (Economics)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Families Against Mandatory Minimums

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    The ineffectiveness of the “war on drugs” is not a new concept to listeners of this show. We regularly discuss the for-profit prisons, racist structure of the court system and hurtles impeding a return to full citizenship in clips as well as in our voicemail and commentary segments.

    What’s often left out is a major (and politically inconvenient) cause of our prison population spike: mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Congress passed mandatory minimum sentencing laws in the 80’s as part of an attempt to appear “tough on crime.” Since then, the federal prison system has seen a nearly ten-fold increase in incarcerations. Consequently, one out of every four Department of Justice dollars is spent on locking up mostly nonviolent drug offenders in federal prisons.

    Take Action:

    Add your voice in support of common sense reform: Tell the Commission: Cut These Drug Sentences!” from Families Against Mandatory Minimums

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Families Against Mandatory Minimums, episode #798 "Learning to play nice with human nature (War on Drugs)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    What could be more important than a need as basic as food? With an eye toward the future, sustainable agriculture seeks to provide for “the now” without infringing on future generations’ ability to live and grow. We must revive the notion that we are all stewards of the land.

    NSAC is "an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.” Basically, they’re the Best of the Left of our food supply. They aggregate the efforts of nearly 100 groups around the country that are doing the on-the-ground work necessary to make sure we can eat, our children can eat and — hopefully — our great, great grandchildren can eat as well.

    Take Action: Sign up for action alerts at the NSAC “Take Action” page.

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, episode #796 "Don't eat shit and die (Food)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Raise the Minimum Wage to $10.10

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be at a hardly adequate ten dollars and eight-six cents. Instead, due to shameful inaction by Congress, an often silent bully pulpit in the West Wing and a poverty-stricken worker class too exhausted to organize — the federal minimum wage remains seven dollars and twenty-five cents.

    At RaiseTheMinimumWage.com you can find the list of state’s with proposed legislation as well as the latest on the federal push. You can also share your story as a low wage worker. The NELP is putting a human face on the fight. They have a great step by step story building page to amplify the voices and experiences too often left out of the discussion and they’re directing it at Washington.

    You can also participate in the twitter campaign being led by the White House. Use #1010Means to add your voice to grassroots activists, “ordinary” citizens and legislators like Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota who’s feed posts stats like “#1010Means one million veterans will see a pay increase; let’s thank our soldiers for their service and #RaisetheWage.” And Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon who tweeted: “#1010Means millions of Americans would see higher wages—particularly women who work full time. #RaiseTheWage.”

    Take Action:

    Raise the Minimum Wage via NELP

    Raise the Wage via The White House

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Raise the Minimum Wage to $10.10, episode #823 "It makes moral and economic sense (Minimum Wage)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Freedom Center for Social Justice

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    The Freedom Center for Social Justice, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, is hard at work on the slate of these often ignored, vital issues. Their LGBTQ Law Center provides legal representation, education and advocacy to assist with name changes, divorce, marriage, custody, landlord/tenant disputes, powers of attorney, wills and employment issues. Their mission is "to enhance quality of life by increasing the number of healthy options & opportunities available to low income communities, communities of color, sexual minorities and youth.”

    The 2014 Transgender Faith and Action Network Conference is August 29 through 31 in Charlotte. Registration is open now for this networking and advocacy training opportunity. Organizers are gearing up for sessions on legal protections, health and wellness, employment and growing more inclusive faith communities.

    Take Action:

    The Freedom Center for Social Justice

    Transgender Faith and Action Network (Trans*FANN)

    Also, like Freedom Center For Social Justice LGBTQ Law Center on Facebook and Follow on Twitter

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Freedom Center For Social Justice, episode #817 "The power of words (Trans Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Clinic Vest Project

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Because of the Supreme Court case challenging the Massachusetts state buffer zone — which provides a reasonable separation of picketers and patients — and a publicity push by NARAL and others, the climate outside our nation’s reproductive healthcare clinics is finally getting some attention. Community members are stepping up and standing with providers, staff and patients by volunteering as clinic defense escorts.

    Healthcare that is technically legal, but not accessible further widens the gaps created by privilege and increases the burdens on low-income Americans who are seeing their only available healthcare taken away. Standing up for our country’s clinics not only aids the individuals in our communities seeking care, but shows legislators and anti-choice groups that the majority of Americans believe they should be able to walk into a clinic without driving a thousand miles round-trip and without intimidation as they do so.

    Take Action:

    Like the Clinic Vest Project on Facebook and follow on Twitter for the latest on clinic defense, violence and buffer zones around the country. You can also contact them for connections to escort groups in need of volunteers.

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The Clinic Vest Project, episode #813 "Intolerant of discrimination and proud of it (Reproductive Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • We Do Campaign

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Join the Campaign for Southern Equality as they refuse to concede the conventional wisdom that “the South is unwinnable” on LGBT rights. Only FIVE PERCENT of national LGBT organizational funds go to the south, resulting in limited resources for advocacy and a higher than average risk of poverty because of extreme discrimination. As couples and their allies stand up to be counted, the tide of acceptance and love will continue through states like Kentucky and Virginia where recent victories are still being celebrated. There’s plenty of room on the bandwagon for activists, allies and legislators alike.

    Take Action:

    We Do Campaign from The Campaign for Southern Equality

    More info:

    Follow/Like The Campaign for Southern Equalityon Facebook and Twitter

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The We Do Campaign, episode #812 "Pathetically grasping at cakes (LGBTQ Rights)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • After Tiller

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Currently, 87% of counties in the US do not have an abortion provider, largely because of new laws and the fever-pitch at which they've been implemented since the Tea Party wave of 2010. The biggest provider shortage is for late term abortions. There are only four doctors in the entire country who terminate pregnancies in the third-trimester.

    If we are to have a real conversation about reproductive justice in this country, we must move beyond anecdotes, sound bytes and slogans. The implications of legal restrictions on abortion care and the affect they have on real people must be considered and understood. The "After Tiller” filmmakers have provided us with a unique opportunity to begin that process.

    Take Action:

    Visit After Tiller for showings and info on the documentary and rent via iTunes .

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: After Tiller, episode #791 "We just earned a D grade (Reproductive Rights)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Generation Justice

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Generation Justice's mission is to "inspire youth to become media makers committed to social transformation.” Their fellowship and youth development programs train teens to apply a social justice perspective to written and broadcast journalism. By employing the core values of youth leadership & empowerment, community, action, equity, multiculturalism and love, teens learn about democracy and civic engagement.

    Take Action:

    Listen, follow & support! Generation Justice

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Generation Justice, episode #804 "Knowing Our History and Seeing It Echo Today (racism)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Demanding Tuition-Free Public College Education

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    According to TruthOut, the average graduate now walks with $29,400 in student loans — a burden they must repay no matter their field of study, career success or starting salary. Student loan debt isn’t subject to discharge through bankruptcy. Think about that. Corporations can escape fines, pension obligations and shoddy business deals by filing bankruptcy. But if an American graduates from college into an awful job market and doesn’t “make it” fast enough to get a handle on their student loans, they’re stuck with them forever. And should they default, their entire financial future can be ruined before their 30th birthday.

    It’s time public higher education was free.

    Take Action:

    Sign the CREDO petition Make Public College Tuition Free

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Demanding Tuition-Free Public College Education, episode #793 "Our social safety sieve (Economics)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Stand Up For Mental Health

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    More than 46 million Americans suffer from some sort of mental illness. That is a sizable — and fluid — minority. As some disorders are temporary or situational, the likelihood that you or someone close to you will be affected by mental illness during your lifetime is significant.

    Yet, despite the commonplace nature of mental health issues, the stigma surrounding any illness or disorder that can be placed under that heading is intense and affects nearly every aspect of life. In fact, we often categorize mental health care as separate from other health care, as if one's mind has no affect on one's physical well-being. This separation is one of the reasons there are often job and relationship consequences to speaking up, seeking care and disclosing even minor details of one’s mental illness, thus condemning many to silent suffering.

    Take Action:

    Visit HealthyPlace.com and support their campaign, access resources, and make connections: Stand Up For Mental Health Campaign

    Additional Activism/Resources: Affordable Care Act & National Alliance of Mental Illness

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Stand Up For Mental Health, episode #797 "Trouble at the old pharm (Health Care)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich