Monday Updates – Week of January 1st 2017

News:

There is, as always, a lot happening right now. It can be hard to distinguish the chatter from actual news worth paying attention to.

huge piec of the news that has come out is that Obama has placed sanction son Russia in response to their “actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” These sanctions include the shutting down of two Russian compounds here in the US, and kicking out “35 Russian diplomats who the U.S. said were actually intelligence operatives.” It was noted in the preisdents statement that more actions would be happening, and also noted that some declassified information was being released to “help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.”

Putin originally stated that there would be retaliation for this, but then withdrew that statement. Trump took to Twitter (as seems to be the only means through which he is communicating with the public) to write “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Many of Trumps statements seem to indicate that he is uninterested in further pursuing this Russian involvement in our election – which is not surprising, given his seemingly close association and admiration of Russia and Putin.

Additionally, there was some Russian-hacking-associated code found within the Vermont electric utility system.

 

Another piece of news to pay attention to – it appears that Jeff Sessions, nominee for the Attorney General, “is withholding decades’ worth of records from his career ahead of his Senate confirmation hearings early next month.” This information comes via the Alliance for Justice, who have put together a memo explaining the situation – including a link to this letter. What appears to exist in the gaps of information being provided includes a lot from his time when he was rejected from being made a federal judge in 1986 due to being too racist.

Finally, in Texas a federal judge “issued a court order barring enforcement of an Obama administration policy seeking to extend anti-discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act to transgender health and abortion-related services.” It’s another reminder of the importance to keep an eye on local legislation and activity.

Update: The judge issued a nationwide injunction, the lawsuit “brought by Texas, a handful of other states, and some religiously affiliated nonprofit medical groups” that has stopped the enforcement of the protections for transgender and abortion-related services.
The ACLU has stated that they will be fighting this:

Good News:

People are standing up for their beliefs. One woman resigned from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rather than perform for Trump’s Inauguration. She speaks in the letter in the language of her deep faith, talking about praying for an answer. She addresses the choir “I know the goodness of your hearts, and your desire to go out there and show that we are politically neutral and share good will…. I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man.”

“Tyranny is now on our doorstep” she continues, “it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake.”

One of the things I find particularly beautiful about this, beyond her willingness to really stand by her values, is that it is a sign — and a call — to step across some of the things that do divide us, in the interest of fighting against something much greater.  I am fairly certain that this Mormon woman and I have some political views that do not mesh, but we can stand together in fighting the fascism of the rising regime.  And that is something we can all remind ourselves of — sometimes the people who may not be our ally’s on some matters can still be people we will be standing side-by-side with on other matters.

Action Items:

Start the year with a charitable donation to a good cause. And, because sometimes it feels good to be a little vindictive… make that donation in the name of someone who would not be pleased with it!  This site will help you decide whose name, which issue, and where to make that donation!

Look at the positions that Trump is suggesting and contact those who will have to approve them to express disapproval. A staff member in one senators office has suggested that it’s most effective to first contact the Committee Chair, and then to move on to the senators. A few people have put together an example of what can be done, with a lot of good information and numbers.  This pdf particularly looks at the recommendation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education (call-to-action-sec-of-edu-betsy-devos).

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