Gillibrand, attacking Trump as a Coward, Pledges to Fight for Ideals of Opportunity, Equality, Justice

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), at rally outside of Trump International Hotel on Central Park West, New York City, vows as President to address Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, gun violence, workers rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic Senator from New York who is running for President in 2020, standing in front of the Trump International Hotel on Central Park West in New York City, drew a strong contrast between herself and those who would stand up for American values as “brave” while attacking Donald Trump as a coward and Washington in the pockets of special interests. Here are highlights from her speech –

Our president is a coward… that’s not what we deserve. We deserve a president who is brave, who will walk through fire to do what is right. We deserve a president who inspires us to stand for something greater than ourselves.

Look up at that tower, a shrine to greed, division and vanity. – now look around you, the greater strength by far is ourselves. We are here to reject the politics of fear..

The ideals of this country – opportunity, equality, justice – are worth fighting for. We are here to embrace our shared humanity and rise above our differences. We don’t build walls that are emblems of racism and fear. We build bridges, communities and hope…our unity of purpose lifts us higher than any tower.

We are here today because we know that when we join together and fight for our values, Brave wins. .Americans prove this with their own bravery every single day….. 

The people of this country deserve a president worthy of your bravery- who not only sets an example, but follows yours – your bravery inspires me every day, and that is why I ‘m running for president of the United States…. 

I will go to toe to toe with anyone to do the right thing – powerful institutions, the president, even my own party. I’m not running for president because of who I am fighting against, but who I’m fighting for.

I’m fighting for an America where power truly belongs in the hands of the people, where our leaders care about everyone in this country – and lead not from ego but strength of character – where compassion and integrity define our government, not self-interest and corruption – where we don’t just care about profits we make today but the future we are leaving to our grandchildren – I know we can be that America – but it means starting at the root of our problems – greed… 

Right now, the special interests are displacing the interests of the country …opioid manufacturers get a pass rather than the indictments while neighbors are sold addictive drugs on purpose, the NRA stops commonsense gun reform while stray bullets kill our children; dark money is at the heart.. We need to crack open government, …

I will fight against the dysfunction poisoning Washington. As your president, I will answer to you and you alone…

Our goals are ambitious, but truth is not controversial – Americans across party lines support commonsense ideas – make quality affordable health care a right not a privilege, must pass Medicare for All, I have fought for this since my first house race in 2006 – we have a plan to get from current system to single payer – and I know because I helped write it – we will create competition, get costs down, eliminate the greed

On education: it is time to guarantee universal pre-k, … provide high quality education for every kid in America no matter what block they grow up on… We must make higher education affordable, accessible for everyone, reduce the crush of student debt – the fed government shouldn’t be making money off the back of our students,. In my administration, we would refinance all student debt to lowest available rate.

Here’s a big idea: let’s improve and expand the GI Bill to make college free for anyone who agrees to do national public service – young people can pursue their dreams debt free while helping others.

To grow the middle class, we need to start rewarding work again- make full employment a national priority – invest in free job training through apprenticeship, free college at state schools, training, skills, jobs in their community in the fields of their interest. Workers rights are under attack more than ever, I would protect collective bargaining by unions; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour nationwide,

And transform the infrastructure of work by finally making national paid leave a reality. It is outrageous that we are the only industrialized country in the world without it – you should never have to risk your job, your income to take care of new baby, sick family member or your own medical needs. I refuse to accept the false choice between your paycheck and your family.

I have led this fight in congress since 2013, when not part of national conversation – hear me when I say this, paid leave, equal pay and affordable day care are not just women’s issues – these are economic issues, ones that will determine whether or not our country succeeds.

We need to dismantle institutional racism that holds back millions of families – in health care, education, criminal justice systems- in growing crisis of black women’s growing maternal mortality, in criminal sentencing decisions, in the wealth gap between communities of color and white that only widens generation to generation – these challenges call for solutions both targeted and broad – like higher standards for maternity care, a national commitment to full employment, postal banking, ending cash bail, and legalizing marijuana.

We need to restore our moral leadership in the world – we must secure our borders effectively and fight terrorism relentlessly, but let’s be very clear – racism and fear is not a national security strategy. Building a wall, ripping apart families, banning Muslims and turning our backs on refugees and asylum seekers isn’t just wrong, it makes us less safe. We need to repair our relationship with our allies and stop fawning over our adversaries. We need to leverage our diplomatic tools ot make Americans more prosperous and more secure, and always treat military force as a last resort.

We must bring an end to the endless wars – America’s commander in chief is not a dictator, and the decision to deploy our troops can never be made lightly or unilaterally without Congress.

And we need to protect the integrity of our elections, by holding accountable any threats to our democracy from abroad or right here at home.

The stakes just got higher on Friday – the Mueller Report must be made public. All of it. No one in this country is above the law or immune from prosecution, not even the president. I don’t often agree with Nixon, but he was right to say the American people have a right to know whether their president is a crook.

Finally, we need to treat global climate change like the existential threat that it is. We need to pass the Green New Deal – let’s make this our generation’s moon shot – addressing a global challenge of this urgency will take massive effort, transformational vision, which is exactly why we should do it.

Let’s invest in our crumbling infrastructure, create sustainable green jobs, protect clean air and water as a universal human right. I would go further than others – I also put a price on carbon to use market forces to steer companies away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy.

We can’t afford not to do this. We don’t have time to waste – John F. Kennedy said he wanted to put a man on moon in next 10 years, not because easy but hard. I believe we should look at global climate change in the same way –  look to zero carbon emissions in next 10 years not because it’s easy but because it’s hard, a challenge we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one that we will win.

None of these big fights, and equally big goals will be easy – nothing worth fighting for has been – but I have never backed down from a fight, and I am not about to start now.

My faith tells me to care for the least among us – to feed and clothe the poor, help the stranger, the sick, incarcerated. I believe we are all called to be the light of the world, to defeat the darkness and treat others the way we want to be treated.

I am running for president to fix what has been broken, repair our moral fabric, … this fight is so much bigger than any one election. It’s about making a choice and deciding who we are, and who we are going to be. After all, America is and always will be the home of the brave, no matter how difficult the course before us, no matter how dark the hour, the lessons of our history is that justice, fairness and truth are possible but only if we are willing to put everything we have on the line to achieve it – so each one of us has a choice today – will we defend this democracy, will we speak for what we believe in, will we reject the hate, fear, greed and corruption, will we fight with every fiber of our being because everything we care about is at stake.Will we be brave? You already answered that question just by being here, if you are with me, ready to fight and take on this fight with me, join my campaign, kirstengillibrand.com, contribute to help power this movement forward.

I believe in my bones that we can do this – years from now will look back at this moment in history and be able to say we did something about it, we stood up, locked arms and proved to America and the world that when people come together to drive out darkness, hope rises, fear loses and brave wins.

Long Island to Have First Stand-Alone Large-Scale Anaerobic Digester in NY Metro – Eliminates Waste & Generates Clean Energy

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo with LIPA Chief Executive Officer Tom Falcone. LIPA has just approved a large-scale anaerobic digester which will will turn recycled food waste into four megawatts of clean energy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Long Island will have the first stand-alone large-scale anaerobic digester – a type of food waste recycling center that converts waste into energy – in the New York City metropolitan area. When operational in 2020, It will produce four megawatts of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on Long Island by 85,000 metric tons a year, the equivalent to removing 18,000 cars from the road. 

The Board of Trustees of the Long Island Power Authority voted to approve the project which directly supports Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal, a clean energy and jobs agenda that puts New York State on a path to a carbon-free economy and supports the State’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“New York State continues to lead the way with clean energy initiatives and innovative solutions that benefit both our neighborhoods and our planet,” Governor Cuomo said. “By implementing this groundbreaking technology on Long Island, we can not only produce clean energy and reduce greenhouse gases, but also spare our landfills and keep our communities cleaner and greener for decades to come.”

The project will create at least 10 full-time jobs and help retain more than 100. The facility provides a lower cost waste disposal option for food service businesses such as supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, commercial food processers, cafeterias, catering halls, and hotels. The Town of Brookhaven will also have the capability to divert 10,000-15,000 tons per year of food waste to the project from the more expensive disposal options currently used.

The project, to be operated by American Organic Energy (AOE) at Long Island Compost in Yaphank, will process approximately 180,000 tons of local food waste per year. This waste would have otherwise been transported by gas and diesel-powered trucks to distant landfills, along with 30,000 tons of fats, oils and greases (FOG). Working with GE Water and Scott’s Miracle-Gro, AOE will collect, separate, pre-process, break down, and transform Long Island’s food waste into convertible energy, electricity, fertilizer, and nutrient-rich clean water.

Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be reduced by 85,000 tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to removing 18,000 cars off the road. It will also reduce truck traffic on Long Island roads by 1.4 million miles per year, compared to current landfill disposal practice. In addition, Long Island Compost will convert certain stationary equipment from diesel to electricity, which is expected to reduce diesel fuel consumption by an estimated 200,000 gallons per year.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that occurs when organic matter is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen. During the decomposition process, the biogas released can be recovered, treated and used to generate energy in place of traditional fossil fuels.

The agreement also establishes annual and hourly limits on the delivery of energy to LIPA. The average residential bill impact would be approximately $0.10 per month, competitive with pricing of other comparable clean energy facilities under contract to LIPA. The anaerobic digester is expected to be operational by December 31, 2020.

The project is also supported by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Cleaner Greener Communities initiative, which provided $1.35 million and also was chosen for a $400,000 Empire State Development award by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York continues to find innovative ways to produce and deliver clean energy to consumers,” Tom Falcone, LIPA’s Chief Executive Officer, said. “Turning food waste into energy here on Long Island diverts waste from Long Island landfills, reduces carbon emissions, and helps LIPA meet New York’s aggressive clean energy goals.”  

“By transforming waste into energy, digester projects like this will reduce harmful emissions and material going into landfills, while providing economic and environmental benefits to Long Island residents,” Alicia Barton, President and CEO of NYSERDA said. “NYSERDA is proud to collaborate with LIPA to advance clean energy solutions that support New York’s nation-leading clean energy goals under Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal.” 

“This project, the largest this side of the Mississippi, has many societal benefits including creating renewable energy, reducing solid waste and reducing truck traffic,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of the Citizens Campaign of the Environment said. “Today the project is cutting edge, tomorrow it will be standard operating procedure. This transformational project was seven years in the making, the permits are now completed, and we are thrilled the construction can begin.” 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Clean energy projects like this facility aren’t just good for the environment, they’re good for the health of our communities and help build a greener economic future for our entire state.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said,”Governor Cuomo understands the importance of investing in renewable energy initiatives to ensure a sustainable future for our communities and communities across the state. We are focused on expanding our efforts to create a cleaner, more efficient Long Island, and I thank the Governor for his continued support in making projects like these possible.” 

“Through this partnership, Brookhaven will continue to move forward with our plans to create an energy park at our landfill as we cap and close this facility, piping methane to this anaerobic digester to produce an estimated 1.5 megawatts of energy,” Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said. “Using food scraps and other organic matter in this facility to create compost and energy is an important part of our overall strategy to reduce our waste stream on Long Island to benefit our environment. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his support of this important an innovative clean energy project.”

Senator Todd Kaminsky said,”For a sustainable future, Long Island must stop sending excess food to landfills, and instead utilize state-of-the-art technology that turns waste into clean energy. The future is now, and the approval of this large-scale anaerobic digester is a breakthrough that marks the beginning of a new, green era.”

Sammy Chu, CEO, Edgewise Energy, and Chairman, US Green Building Council – Long Island Chapter said, “This project represents a very exciting opportunity for Long Island. It not only supports Governor Cuomo’s goal of decarbonizing our electric supply but also addresses our growing regional waste crisis. This is the type of creative solution that we need right now.”

Kevin Law, President, and CEO of the Long Island Association said, “The anaerobic digester is the most sophisticated food waste processing facility in the region. This technology will digest food waste taken from supermarkets, restaurants, and hospitals and turn this material into a source of clean energy. The LIA is in full support of this project which will benefit Long Island’s economy, environment and energy portfolio.”

Neil Lewis, Executive Director of the Molloy College Sustainability Institute said,”This project addresses the interconnection of energy, food and carbon emissions. This anaerobic digester helps with the solid waste problem on Long Island by reducing food waste, while also generating electricity. Biogas is a renewable form of energy that should be put to work for us, rather than causing emissions issues in landfills and being wasted.”

Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) said, “We are in full support of this effort to deploy technology and solutions that can help New York State achieve its ambitious climate, clean air, and economic development goals.  We applaud LIPA and look forward to continued efforts to help Long Island develop a robust organic waste-to-fuel industry.”

New York State’s Green New Deal

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal, the nation’s leading clean energy and jobs agenda, will aggressively put New York State on a path to economy-wide carbon neutrality. This initiative will provide for a just transition to clean energy, spurring the growth of the green economy and mandating New York’s power be 100 percent clean and carbon-free by 2040, one of the most aggressive goals in the U.S. The cornerstone of this newly proposed mandate is a significant increase of New York’s successful Clean Energy Standard to 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

As part of the unprecedented ramp-up of renewable energy, New York has already invested $2.9 billion into 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state as it significantly increases its clean energy targets, such as: quadrupling New York’s offshore wind target to a nation-leading 9,000 megawatts by 2035; doubling distributed solar deployment to 6,000 megawatts by 2025; and deploying 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030. To support this ambitious work, NY Green Bank intends to use its expertise in overcoming financing gaps to foster greater environmental impacts per public dollar by raising over $1 billion in third party funds to expand climate financing availability across New York and the rest of North America.

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Governor Cuomo Holds NYS Budget Hostage Without Permanent Property Tax Cap; I Object

Voting on a school bond referendum, Great Neck, Long Island. New York State’s property tax cap removes local control over spending for education and local services including parks and libraries © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he won’t sign the state budget unless it makes permanent the property tax cap.

“The highest tax in the state is the property tax and it is a killer,” Governor Cuomo said.”We want to reduce economic pressure on families by making sure government is not aggravating the problem with increased expenses. We’re going to cut your state income tax and we’re going to cap your property taxes so you know it’s not going higher than 2 percent. And I will tell you this as sure as I am before you today: if we do not have the permanent property tax cap in that state budget, this hand will never sign that state budget until it’s in there.”

From the very beginning, I have objected to this trampling off local control with an arbitrary and unreasonable constraint designed to hamstring and ultimately destroy local governments. Cuomo’s original intent was to force school districts and other local governments to cannibalize their reserve funds; the second was to force consolidation and dissolution of local governments and the third was to use local taxes as the bogeyman, so politicians could appear to be on the side of taxpayers.

Of course the property tax is the largest state tax and of course school taxes are the largest component. Something has to be “largest”. What should be? But local property taxes are spent where they are used, and local people have the greatest ability to participate in spending decisions. In fact, school and library taxes are the only taxes we taxpayers directly vote.

What the property tax cap does, though, is remove local control. Communities should have the right to decide if they want to improve their schools or parks. The property tax cap which basically keeps the annual increase to 2% or the rate of inflation whichever is less says: we don’t want any growth or improvement or new investment in your community. We want the status quo, and if that means deterioration, so be it. (Little known fact: the property tax cap incentivizes bonding because the debt service isn’t counted toward the cap.)

Somehow, and fairly ingeniously I think, the Great Neck Public School district has managed to continue to be among the best in the country and still average only 1.8 percent increase in the tax levy since the property tax cap was implemented in 2012, despite increasing enrollments and unfunded state mandates. This year, though, through the complicated formula, the school district could have raised taxes by 4.09 percent and still fall within the cap, is only seeking 1.94 percent increase. .

I resent the property tax cap by which the Governor and state legislators can declare themselves champions of reducing or controlling taxes.

But here’s the thing: New York State’s property taxes are not the highest in the nation; Nassau County’s taxes are not the highest; and both of these do not take into account that Long Island and New York’s incomes and our housing values are higher.

According to a survey by Wallethub, a financial services company, New York State ranks 8th (not first) in property taxes. New York ranks 43rd in its real estate tax rate, at 1.68 percent. You know which states are higher? Nebraska (1.80), Texas (1.83), Vermont (1.83), Wisconsin (1.94), Connecticut (2.07), New Hampshire (2.20), Illinois (2.31), and New Jersey (2.44) (See the study: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-property-taxes/11585/)

Even so, do you want to be Alabama, which is #2 on the list for lowest taxes, where the median home value is $132,000 and the tax is $558 (0.42%), or Louisiana, #3, where the median home value is $152,900 and median tax is $795 (0.52%)? Louisiana ranks 51st in health care, Alabama is 48th. New York is 17th (fourth most physicians per capita)

USA Today ranks New York’s public education 9th noting, “Between 2003 and 2015, the achievement gap between eighth graders living in poverty and their wealthier peers narrowed by the largest amount of all states…Annual public school funding totals $18,665 per pupil in New York, the third highest expenditure of all states.” (Top three are Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont). Alabama ranks 43rd (14th lowest in public school spending at $10,142). Louisiana is 46th, Mississippi is 48th.

Yes, total taxes are high: New Yorkers spend 17.07 percent of income on taxes, second highest after Connecticut (17.65 percent). But New York State is spending billions on a 21st century infrastructure and racing toward 50:50 clean energy by 2030. This is where I want to live. So do 20 million others, a number that is increasing, even as unemployment rates are at the lowest ever and the number of jobs is at an all-time high.

We pay a lot in taxes because our incomes are higher and our housing values are higher, what is more, we get more for our money, making for a higher quality of life.

The states that don’t charge an appropriate amount of state and local taxes – that is related to the cost of providing services and public investment – depend on federal handouts. New York is one of 11 states that send more money to the federal government than it gets back, in fact the #1 donor state, sending $36-$48 billion more to the federal government than it gets back. Alabama is 4th “most federally dependent state”; Louisiana is 10th.

New York sends the second highest amount in federal taxes, $133 billion (California sends $227 billion), and is fourth in the average amount of federal taxes per adult ($8,490), behind Connecticut $10,279), Massachusetts ($9,445), and New Jersey ($8,811).

(Here’s an idea: New York should do what tenants do in a landlord dispute and put that $36 billion into escrow until the SALT deductibility issue is fixed.)

But we shouldn’t be punishing our localities because of the criminality of Republicans to use the tax code as political weapon – according to State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, the SALT deduction cap has driven down tax receipts by $2.3 billion, as wealthiest New Yorkers choose other places for primary residency.

But the tax cap is also a political weapon.

The larger objective is to eliminate local municipalities entirely – to force villages to consolidate into towns, towns into counties, school districts into larger school districts. But the fallacy in that is all that it saves is a few administrative positions. Villages and school districts already have cooperative purchasing, mutual aid; school districts even cooperate on transportation where feasible. Our school district spends 4 percent of its budget on administration, the lion’s share, 75 percent, on instruction (12 percent on building, grounds & capital projects, 6 percent on transportation). (To see where your schools spend every penny, come to Great Neck South High School this Saturday at 9:30 am for the line-by-line budget review.)

The state boasts that since implementation the tax cap has “saved” taxpayers $24.4 billion statewide – that works out to $1000 per capita, divided by 7 years, or $142 a year. I’m not sure that’s worth giving up local control.

But just as Cuomo and the Congressmembers decry Trump’s disparity in federal spending for blue states versus red states and the attack on state control over its ability to raise revenue and spend, it is the same thing with local spending: there is gigantic  disparity in the level of state aid to school districts, with the result that New York City only has to raise 50 percent of its school budget from property taxes, while Great Neck, which gets just 4 percent from the state, has to raise 95 percent through property taxes. Here’s another measure: Roosevelt, with 3270 enrolled students, gets $53 million in state aid; Great Neck, with 6399 enrolled students, gets $10 million – the difference made up from property taxes. That’s just the way it is.

What the property tax cap means is that virtually all Great Neck’s school spending is governed by the cap; other districts have much less that is controlled by the tax cap.

The responsibility for determining if our elected representatives are properly handling our tax appropriations is on the community, not an arbitrarily selected cap enshrined in law.

We see what our school taxes (and park and library and sewer district) pay for and I don’t want the state – or some politician looking to score points – deciding we can’t have low class size or a robotics club or a fencing team or an opera performance (Great Neck South High marks its 50th anniversary full-scale opera production, April 12). This community has decided these things are just as important to our district’s mission of helping every child fulfill their full potential as cramming the latest incarnation of ELA and math or operating school buildings as if they were prisons. Our mission has been to instill a love of life-long learning. And the investment this community has made in public education has brought solid ROI day after day.

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Elizabeth Warren Releases Plan to Rein in Big Tech, Giant Corporations

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a declared 2020 candidate for 2020 presidential nomination, came to Long Island City, where local activists rejected Amazon, to propose a plan to rein in big tech and other giant multi-national companies that use their economic power to stifle competition and intimidate government. Here is her proposal — Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation. 

I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most powerful companies in America — plays by the rules. And I want to make sure that the next generation of great American tech companies can flourish. To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor

That’s why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition—including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

How the New Tech Monopolies Hurt Small Businesses and Innovation

America’s big tech companies provide valuable products but also wield enormous power over our digital lives. Nearly half of all e-commerce goes through Amazon. More than 70% of all Internet traffic goes through sites owned or operated by Google or Facebook. 

As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies. 

America’s big tech companies have achieved their level of dominance in part based on two strategies: 

  • Using Mergers to Limit Competition. Facebook has purchased potential competitors Instagram and WhatsApp. Amazon has used its immense market power to force smaller competitors like Diapers.com to sell at a discounted rate. Google has snapped up the mapping company Waze and the ad company DoubleClick. Rather than blocking these transactions for their negative long-term effects on competition and innovation, government regulators have waved them through.
     
  • Using Proprietary Marketplaces to Limit Competition. Many big tech companies own a marketplace – where buyers and sellers transact – while also participating on the marketplace. This can create a conflict of interest that undermines competition. Amazon crushes small companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon Marketplace and then selling its own branded version. Google allegedly snuffed out a competing small search engine by demoting its content on its search algorithm, and it has favored its own restaurant ratings over those of Yelp. 

Weak antitrust enforcement has led to a dramatic reduction in competition and innovation in the tech sector. Venture capitalists are now hesitant to fund new startups to compete with these big tech companies because it’s so easy for the big companies to either snap up growing competitors or drive them out of business. The number of tech startups has slumped, there are fewer high-growth young firms typical of the tech industry, and first financing rounds for tech startups have declined 22% since 2012. 

With fewer competitors entering the market, the big tech companies do not have to compete as aggressively in key areas like protecting our privacy. And some of these companies have grown so powerful that they can bully cities and states into showering them with massive taxpayer handouts in exchange for doing business, and can act — in the words of Mark Zuckerberg — “more like a government than a traditional company.” 

We must ensure that today’s tech giants do not crowd out potential competitors, smother the next generation of great tech companies, and wield so much power that they can undermine our democracy. 

Restoring Competition in the Tech Sector

America has a long tradition of breaking up companies when they have become too big and dominant — even if they are generally providing good service at a reasonable price. 

A century ago, in the Gilded Age, waves of mergers led to the creation of some of the biggest companies in American history — from Standard Oil and JPMorgan to the railroads and AT&T. In response to the rise of these “trusts,” Republican and Democratic reformers pushed for antitrust laws to break up these conglomerations of power to ensure competition.

But where the value of the company came from its network, reformers recognized that ownership of a network and participating on the network caused a conflict of interest. Instead of nationalizing these industries — as other countries did — Americans in the Progressive Era decided to ensure that these networks would not abuse their power by charging higher prices, offering worse quality, reducing innovation, and favoring some over others. We required a structural separation between the network and other businesses, and also demanded that the network offer fair and non-discriminatory service. 

In this tradition, my administration would restore competition to the tech sector by taking two major steps:

First, by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as “Platform Utilities” and broken apart from any participant on that platform

Companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties would be designated as “platform utilities.”

These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform. Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users. Platform utilities would not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties.

For smaller companies (those with annual global revenue of between $90 million and $25 billion), their platform utilities would be required to meet the same standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users, but would not be required to structurally separate from any participant on the platform.

To enforce these new requirements, federal regulators, State Attorneys General, or injured private parties would have the right to sue a platform utility to enjoin any conduct that violates these requirements, to disgorge any ill-gotten gains, and to be paid for losses and damages. A company found to violate these requirements would also have to pay a fine of 5 percent of annual revenue.

Amazon Marketplace, Google’s ad exchange, and Google Search would be platform utilities under this law. Therefore, Amazon Marketplace and Basics, and Google’s ad exchange and businesses on the exchange would be split apart. Google Search would have to be spun off as well. 

Second, my administration would appoint regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers. 

Current antitrust laws empower federal regulators to break up mergers that reduce competition. I will appoint regulators who are committed to using existing tools to unwind anti-competitive mergers, including: 

  • Amazon: Whole Foods; Zappos
     
  • Facebook: WhatsApp; Instagram
     
  • Google: Waze; Nest; DoubleClick
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Unwinding these mergers will promote healthy competition in the market — which will put pressure on big tech companies to be more responsive to user concerns, including about privacy.   

Protecting the Future of the Internet

So what would the Internet look like after all these reforms?

Here’s what won’t change: You’ll still be able to go on Google and search like you do today. You’ll still be able to go on Amazon and find 30 different coffee machines that you can get delivered to your house in two days. You’ll still be able to go on Facebook and see how your old friend from school is doing.

Here’s what will change: Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn’t smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants. 

Of course, my proposals today won’t solve every problem we have with our big tech companies.

We must give people more control over how their personal information is collected, shared, and sold—and do it in a way that doesn’t lock in massive competitive advantages for the companies that already have a ton of our data.

We must help America’s content creators—from local newspapers and national magazines to comedians and musicians — keep more of the value their content generates, rather than seeing it scooped up by companies like Google and Facebook.

And we must ensure that Russia — or any other foreign power — can’t use Facebook or any other form of social media to influence our elections.

Those are each tough problems, but the benefit of taking these steps to promote competition is that it allows us to make some progress on each of these important issues too. More competition means more options for consumers and content creators, and more pressure on companies like Facebook to address the glaring problems with their businesses.

Healthy competition can solve a lot of problems. The steps I’m proposing today will allow existing big tech companies to keep offering customer-friendly services, while promoting competition, stimulating innovation in the tech sector, and ensuring that America continues to lead the world in producing cutting-edge tech companies. It’s how we protect the future of the Internet.

See: Warren Brings 2020 Campaign to Long Island City to Call for Breaking Up Big Tech, Corporate Giants

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Warren Brings 2020 Campaign to Long Island City to Call for Breaking Up Big Tech, Corporate Giants

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a declared 2020 candidate for 2020 presidential nomination, came to Long Island City, where local activists rejected Amazon, to propose a plan to rein in big tech and other giant multi-national companies that use their economic power to stifle competition and intimidate government. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

The venue for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s rally was strategic for her message: a former warehouse with dank walls now used for an entertainment space in Long Island City, the neighborhood that booted Amazon, despite its promise to bring 25,000 jobs, in exchange for a $3 billion tax incentive.

The message the declared 2020 Democratic candidate for president brought to the 600 eager supporters was that it is time to break up the high-tech companies that have come to wield out-sized economic power more like government, dictating demands and reclaim government for the people.

“We have these giant corporations — do I have to tell that to people in Long Island City? — that think they can roll over everyone,” she said, comparing Amazon to “The Hunger Game.”

“Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to buy out competition. Competition has to be able to thrive and grow.”

“Who does government work for? Just the richest people and corporations? I want government that works for the people.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY
© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I spent whole life wondering what happening to middle class, why so much rockier, steeper, and even rockier and steeper for people of color – what has gone wrong in America.

“Our government works great for giant drug companies, not for people needing prescription drugs; for giant oil companies, not for people who see climate change bearing down; great for payday lenders, not for people of color and communities and poor people who are targeted, whose lives are turned upside down.

“It’s corruption plain and simple and we need to call it out.

“Whichever issue brought you here – income gap, climate change, affordable child care, housing – whatever issue brought you here, I guarantee decisions made in Washington that directly touch – runs straight through corruption in Washington…. We need big structural change.”

Some 600 people turned out for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s rally in Long Island City. “Whichever issue brought you here – income gap, climate change, affordable child care, housing – whatever issue brought you here, I guarantee runs straight through corruption in Washington…. We need big structural change.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Her prescription: change the rules of government, of the economy, of politics:

Where to start? Change the rules of government by taking corruption head on.

“I introduced the biggest anti-corruption bill since Watergate; it’s big, long, complex, but here are a few pieces:

“End lobbying as we know it. Stop the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington; make Supreme Court follow the basic rules of ethics. Anyone who wants to run for federal office, must release their taxes.

“We need workers to have more power, we need stronger unions. Unions built American middle class and will rebuild the American middle class.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Warren is advocating an ultra millionaire’s tax: imposing 2% tax for those with over $50 million in assets.  That means the top 0.1% -75,000 households. She estimates that would generate $2.4 trillion.

In what sounds like an expansion of Obama’s oft-taken-out-of-context line, “You didn’t build that,” Warren justifies the wealth tax saying, “I’m tired of free loading billionaires. You built (or inherited) your fortune, good for you, but you built it using workers we educated, roads and bridges we paid to build, police – all helped. So yeah, you built a great fortune, so give a little back to the American people (who enabled you).

It’s a property tax, she said, not unlike the property tax that any homeowner, farmer, condo owner all pay, but includes the Picassos, diamonds and yachts.

What would it do? It would fund universal child care, and still have billions left over.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To change the rules of politics and protect our democracy, she said, “I want to see a constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote and make sure every vote gets counted. Overturn Citizens United.” (adding that she isn’t taking any corporate PAC money, but is depending on grassroots donations, ElizabethWarren.com.)

“I don’t go to closed door meetings with millionaires. I’m here with you.”

“My father was a janitor but his daughter got a chance to be a teacher, a college professor, a Senator and a candidate for President of the United States. I believe in opportunity because I’ve lived it. I want an American where every child gets a chance to build a future.

“This is our moment. Dream big. Let’s win.”

She then took questions (the questioners were picked at random):

Senator Elizabeth Warren and State Senator Michael Gianaris, at rally in Long Island City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked her view of Governor Andrew Cuomo trying to woo Amazon back after local progressives including State Senator Michael Gianaris, who introduced her at the rally,  she said, “This is like ‘Hunger Games’ – it is not just the enormous economic power, but  the political power they wield.

“A handful of companies spend $50 million lobbying Washington – a great return on investment if they get to keep Washington from enforcing regulations, antitrust laws, hold back oversight. That’s not how America is supposed to work. Corporate power… and billionaire power, all those who make their voices heard through money. They fund the think tanks that come to, predetermined conclusions, the public relations firms, the soft ads on TV, controlling government, they tilt the playing field over and over against everyone else.”

She reflected that she went to see Trump being sworn in, and realized that with control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the Republicans could have swept away health care and Medicare “by Tuesday.” “But the next day, there was the biggest protest in the history of the world.”

“I want to rein in big tech. That won’t happen by talking inside the Beltway, but in rooms like this.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked whether her wealth tax would cause billionaires like Trump to simply move outside the US, she quipped, “That would be a bad thing?” but explained the 2% wealth tax would be on all property where it is held, so a yacht in the Caribbean would be taxed.  More tax treaties mean it can be tracked. The IRS (now underfunded and understaffed) would step up enforcement. Even with a 15% cheat factor, you still get nearly $3 trillion in revenue. As for moving and renouncing US citizenship to avoid the tax? There would be a 40% exit penalty.

“You built your fortune here, you owe something to the American people.”

Asked about addressing homelessness and the lack of affordable housing, Warren said, “It’s a matter of values. In the richest country in the history of the world, people shouldn’t be sleeping in the street. I have a plan, a housing plan, but the first step is to diagnose the problem: Why has the cost of housing gone up? Wages, adjusted for inflation for four decades are flat, but housing costs have risen by two-thirds. That puts a squeeze on families.”

She said that over the years, government has withdrawn investment in housing, while private developers have build the more profitable mcmansions and luxury high rises. “There’s been an increase in housing at the top but no increase for middle class and down. The federal government is not making investment in housing for poor, working poor and middle class. Meanwhile, across America, the housing stock has deteriorated, shrinking in size, but the population is expanding, so people are paying more and more for less and less.

“The answer: build more housing. I want to build 3.2 million new housing units all across the country. That would decrease rents by 10%. I want more housing for purchase, so families can build equity over time.

“Housing is how working families have built wealth generation after generation – paying off the mortgage, and living on Social Security, grandma can live with the family, the home passes on wealth to the next generation.

“It is no surprise that for decades, from the 1930s, federal government invested in subsidized housing for white people, but discriminated against blacks. Red lined areas where federal government would block mortgages, so that generation after generation [was deprived of home ownership to build wealth]. In 1960, housing discrimination was legal, while the federal government subsidized whites and discriminated against black neighborhoods. Then, the gap between white and black home ownership was 27 points.

“Then civil rights made housing, voting discrimination illegal, and we see black middle class recover.

“But then the big banks came along – looked to black, brown home owners’ equity. They targeted black and brown people for the nastiest mortgages – Wells Fargo, Bank of America. Greed.

“Today, the gap between white and black home ownership is 30 points. Race matters in America.

“My housing bill has something we haven’t seen anywhere else: in formerly red-lined areas, first time home buyers or those who lost their homes during the housing crash, will get assistance to buy again.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked whether she would support ending the filibuster which the Republican minority used to block progressive legislation during the Obama administration, to block his judicial appointments, even the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination, she said (not too coyly): “It’s all on the table, baby. I’m on record for filibuster reform. The Republicans used filibuster to block judicial nominees, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board, the National Labor Relations Board. “Republicans get to do what they want when they’re in power, and when we are, we drink a lot of tea. It’s all on the table.”

“I get that things I’m asking for all are hard – attacking corruption, changing the rules of the economy, democracy. I get that some people earn more or less, but everyone should have an equal  share of democracy.”

People, she said, saved the Consumer Financial Protection Board, which she created after the 2008 financial collapse. “The people saved it, and it’s already forced the biggest banks to return $12 billion to the people they cheated.

“I’m calling for big structural change, but you don’t get what you don’t fight for,” she said, citing the abolitionists, suffragettes, union organizers, the foot soldiers of civil rights, gay rights activists. “They were all told, ‘it’s too hard, give up now, and yet, every one of them stayed, fought, organized, persisted [she said to big cheers], and changed. This is our moment to change.

“Dream big, fight hard, and let’s win.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 2020 Democratic candidate for president at rally in Long Island City, NY © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In an already crowded field of candidates – even the progressive faction – Warren is the only one who has clearly spelled out policy proposals and the underlying rationale, the powerful statistics of growing inequality, that she has studied and worked to change for years to level the playing field, “make government work for you”: campaign finance reform and government reform; housing; tax reform.

 And in this venue, it was fascinating to see how she could be so factual, so academic, but so enthusiastic  and personable, her audience asked for more detail about how she would address the critical shortfall  in affordable housing, even taking her by surprise.

The evening was organized a little like a townhall, with Warren moving freely about a stage in front of a giant American flag, taking questions, and then at the end, offering to stay as long as necessary so anyone who wanted to take a photo with her could get their chance.

See: Elizabeth Warren Releases Plan to Rein in Big Tech, Giant Corporations

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

International Women’s Day: For Better Gender-Balanced World, Workplaces Need to Offer Maternity Leave, Flexible Work

To achieve true gender parity in the economy and society, employers need to provide paid parental leave and flexible work solutions © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With studies concluding almost as many women with children (74.1%) participated in the labor force as women without, in 2014, women who are juggling careers and motherhood benefit from flexibility at work the most.  


With women accounting for 40% or more of the total labor force in several countries, flexible working hours, extended maternal leave, breastfeeding rooms, free education and free healthcare are just a few of the ways that countries have adopted to build the best working environments for mothers.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, calling for a better gender-balanced world in the workplace, Instant Offices, a workspace innovation company, looked countries with the most progressive approaches into maternity, and general parental leave around the world, including additional benefits encouraging mothers to be comfortable and engaged at work before, during and after pregnancy. The results: European countries are some of the most progressive for maternity leave and benefits for working mothers.

Countries with the Most Maternity Leave

COUNTRY DAYS WAGES PAID
SWEDEN 480 80%
NORWAY 400+ 80-100%
CROATIA 365+ 100%
UK 365 90%
SERBIA 365 100%

Sweden – Provides 480 days of maternity leave

Sweden offers one of the most progressive working environments for parents, which exceeds international standards. Parents are entitled to up to 80% of their regular pay for 390 of the 480 days of maternity leave provided, while mothers in jobs that require heavy lifting, or more risky work are also entitled to take time off earlier during their pregnancy.

Each parent

  • Receives 240 of 480 days of paid parental leave
  • Is entitled to 90 days exclusively for him or her
  • Has the right to shorten their work hours by up to 25% until the child turns eight (although only being paid for the time worked)

Norway – Offers 49 weeks with 100% pay or 59 weeks with 80% pay

Mastering the art of the work-life balance, the Norwegian Parliament decided to increase the quota of paternity and maternity leave for new parents in 2018. Parents now reive 49 weeks of leave at 100% pay or 59 weeks at 80%

Croatia – Offers a year of paid maternity leave with 100% pay

In addition to a year of being able to bond with your new-born, full paid parental leave is available for 120 days in Croatia.

The country’s protective attitude towards mother’s at work has ensured there are laws in place to ensure:

  • Workers who are expecting are provided with free ante and post-natal medical care
  • Mothers have breastfeeding breaks of over an hour until the child is a year old
  • Workers are protected from dismissals during pregnancy and maternity leave

The UK – Required to offer one year of leave to new mothers

Receiving 90% of their original pay new mothers are legally allowed up to 52 weeks of maternity leave:

  • Ordinary Maternity Leave – first 26 weeks
  • Additional Maternity Leave – last 26 weeks
  • You may be entitled to take some of your leave as shared parental leave, although this must be taken within the first year after your child is born

Serbia

Mothers in Serbia are entitled to 20 weeks of leave at full pay after giving birth, with an additional year after that, however lowering over time:

  • For the first 26 weeks – 100% pay
  • Weeks 27 – 39 – 60% pay
  • Weeks 40 – 52 – 30% pay

On the other end of the scale, some of the countries with the shortest maternity leave/least benefits include:

Philippines – Previously only six weeks, the Philippines has recently extended the law for paid maternity leave to 105 days.

Australia – Although mothers can receive up to 18 weeks of leave, it is paid at the national minimum wage.

United States – The law most women rely on is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which protects women’s jobs for up to 12 weeks after childbirth or adoption, however it doesn’t guarantee pay for the time off.

Maternity Leave and the Gender Pay Gap

Research by the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals a sharp drop in women’s earning after maternity leave, with no decrease in salary for men. The study also showed, from the birth of their first child, women end up making 20% less than men throughout their career.

In Denmark, childbearing accounts for 80% of the gender wage gap, as women move to more flexible hours with fewer hours and lower wages once they’ve had children; versus men whose careers go mostly unchanged. 

With many European countries moving towards better equality around parental leave, men are more encouraged to take time off after the birth of their child, and policies which bring more equity to the workforce are growing as a trend.

The Instant Group: Flexible Workspace Specialists

Founded in 1999, The Instant Group is a workspace innovation company that rethinks workspace on behalf of its clients injecting flexibility, reducing cost and driving enterprise performance. Instant places more than 7,000 companies a year in flexible workspace such as serviced, managed or co-working offices including Sky, Network Rail, Capita, Serco, Teleperformance, Worldpay making it the market leader in flexible workspace.

Its listings’ platform Instant Offices hosts more than 12,000 flexible workspace centres across the world and is the only site of its kind to represent the global market, providing a service to FTSE 100, Fortune 500, and SME clients.  With offices in London, Newcastle, Berlin, Haifa, Dallas, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, The Instant Group employs 230 experts and has clients in more than 150 countries. It has recently been included in the 2018 Sunday Times’ HSBC International Track 200.

Sanders Spotlights His Humble Roots, Early Activism in 2020 Campaign Rally in Brooklyn

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Bernie Sanders at 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College: “Make no mistake, the struggle is not just about defeating Trump but taking an incredibly powerful institutions that control economy and political life of the nation.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bernie Sanders held his first major rally of his 2020 campaign for president on the campus of Brooklyn College, just a few miles from where he grew up in a 3 ½-room rent-controlled apartment, and where he attended his first year of college. As many as 7,000 people crammed in to see him on Saturday, March 2 – like the 2016 campaign, mostly young people. Judging by the enthusiasm, The Burn is back.

Bernie Sanders is hoping the rock star status he achieved in the 2016 campaign carries through to 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

While the agenda now has become pretty standard fare for all the Democrats running for President – universal health care, lower drug prices, gun safety, immigration reform, climate action – and while others have emphasized the need to restore civility to political discourse (in contrast to the crass vitriol that constantly spews from Trump), what was decidedly different about Bernie is his willingness to name names, to take on the corporatists and the billionaires: Amazon and Jeff Bezos, Netflix, Disney, General Motors.

In some ways, Bernie, while taking credit for the leftward shift of the Democrats’ platform, needs to stand out – and this is his way. He also seems intent to correct any missteps from the 2016 campaign. This time around he is emphasizing his humble origins whose father migrated from Poland on his own at age 17 with “not 5 cents in his pocket, not speaking English” to escape crushing poverty and anti-Semitism and make a better life. He described a hard-scrabble life, appreciating full well the stress and anxiety of 800,000 government workers furloughed by the record-long Trump shutdown, who live paycheck to paycheck, at the mercy of employers.

Nina Turner, Jane Sanders, Shaun King at Sanders rally at Brooklyn College © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The campaign emphasized his early years as an activist, protesting against housing discrimination and horrible public schools for Chicago’s black children – but he was too modest during the 2016 to focus much attention on his early activism on behalf of civil rights. This time around, Nina Turner, who heads Our Revolution, put Bernie on the same pedestal as Martin Luther King, Jr., and journalist/activist Shaun King connected him with Black Lives Matter.

This time, Sanders also made certain to include issues that concern women on a long “to do” list: child care and women’s reproductive rights.

Jane Sanders: “Today is only the beginning. not a moment, but a movement.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Taking to the podium to introduce her husband, Jane Sanders declared, “I’m honored to be his wife – that might not be politically correct to say, but it’s one of my greatest honors of my life.”

She added, “Today is only the beginning. not a moment, but a movement.”

But as Bernie is forced to differentiate himself from the rest of the dozens of Democrats who are running, most of whom are championing the same agenda, he has to go even further than he did, and that may well turn off centrists, moderates and independents, and fall right into the hands of Trump and his minions who are made to turn against the notion of affordable, accessible health care and pharmaceuticals as some kind of Communist takeover. Imagine, as Trump told CPAC, “taking away private insurance from 180 million people,” banning beef, airplanes, indeed, individual liberty.

“Medicare for All” among the signs carried by the thousands of supporters who turned out for Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And don’t Democrats want as their #1 priority to have a candidate who can beat Trump? Which means not just the hard-left and youth who still only vote at a dismal 39% rate and are easily made too peeved to bother, but centrists, moderates, independents, who might be put off by being branded a Socialist and not the European-style Democratic Socialist (which have universal health care, parental leave, child care) but the Venezuelan kind, especially with such radical talk of a federally guaranteed job and a Green New Deal?

“Every card carrying American who loves their Social Security, public schools, roads, police, and fire services will love their Medicare for All. Labels don’t define us, we come together around issues – Medicare for All; free college,” a campaign worker noted.

“Bernie believes another world is possible, that in a modern developed world, people don’t die for lack of access to medical care. The issues are not blue or red, they are human rights.”

In actuality, the Republicans have portrayed every liberal as a Socialist with images of work camps and everyone collecting the same wage – including Obama, Hillary Clinton, Edward Kennedy.

Why choose Sanders? “He’s been consistent for 30 years. He’s been there for 30 years and knows where the next steps are.”

“Sanders’ success has been to inspire a revolution at the grassroots,” says a young supporter. “Look at what has happened in localities and at the state level. He alone among the Democrats who now all champion the same ideals of social, political, economic and environmental justice, has inspired such local activism.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I remark to a young fellow as we are crammed into a subway car after Bernie’s rally at Brooklyn College, how it is that with 30 years in Congress, Sanders has very little to show in the way of accomplishing the lofty goals he set out in 2016 and again for his 2020 campaign, and question how he would he be more successful as a president, given the obstructions Obama faced from a Republican minority willing to use ruthless tactics. His reply? Sanders’ success has been to inspire a revolution at the grassroots – look at what has happened in localities and at the state level. He alone among the Democrats who now all champion the same ideals of social, political, economic and environmental justice, has inspired such local activism.

Here are highlights from Sanders’ speech:

“Thank you for being part of the revolution, part of the campaign that will not just win the Democratic nomination and defeat Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history, but with your help, will transform the country and finally create an economy and a government which works for all.

“The underlying principle of government will not be greed, hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry, tax breaks for billionaires and efforts to take millions off health care. This campaign will end all that.

Bernie Sanders at 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College: “I came from a family that struggled. That influenced my life, my values. I know where I came from and will never forget. Unlike Trump who shut down government, left 800,000 employees without money to pay their bills, I know what it is like to live in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The principles of our government are based on justice: economic, social, racial, environmental justice.  Tell the insurance companies we will have Medicare for All, say to Pharmaceutical companies you will no longer charge the highest prices in world for medicines people desperately need. Your greed will end.

“We will raise the minimum wage to at least $15, rebuild infrastructure, and when we do, we will create up to 13 million decent paying jobs.

“We will have quality affordable child care…. we will make public colleges and universities tuition free.

“We say to seniors, you can’t survive on $14,000 Social Security; Republicans want to cut Social Security Benefits: we will raise it.

“We say to Trump and the fossil fuel industry: climate change is not a hoax, but an existential threat to the entire planet. We will transform away from fossil fuel into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, and when we do that, we will create millions of good paying jobs.

“All of us have moral responsibility to make sure the planet we leave our kids, our grandkids, is healthy and habitable.

”We say to the prison-industrial complex (boo), we are going to achieve real criminal justice reform. We will end the international embarrassment of having more people in jail than any other – take the $80 billion a year and invest in jobs and education instead. No more private prisons, no more profiteering form locking people up.

“No more war on drugs or keeping people in jail because too poor to afford cash bail.

“We will have real criminal justice reform –people have  records for possessing marijuana but not one Wall Street executive went to jail for destroying the economy in 2008. Instead, they got a $1 trillion bailout (boo).

“Instead of deporting undocumented immigrants, we will pass comprehensive immigration reform and provide a path to citizenship, legal status for 1.8 million DACA-eligible recipients. We will develop a humane border policy for those who seek asylum – no longer snatch babies from the arms of their mothers.

“We say to the 1% and the large profitable corporations in America, under a Sanders Administration, you’re not getting more tax breaks (big cheers). We will end their tax breaks, loopholes, and they will start paying their fair share; we will end the loopholes where Amazon, Netflix, General  Motors pay nothing in federal tax, where corporations and billionaires stash money in the Caymans and other tax havens.

“We will end the military industrial complex. We won’t spend $700 billion – more than the top 10 nations combined spend. Instead, we will  invest in affordable housing, public education, invest in our crumbling infrastructure. No more major investment in never-ending wars.

“Trump wants to divide us by skin color, where we were born, gender, religion, sexual orientation. What we are about is doing the opposite: bring people together – black, white, Latino, Asian, young, old, men, women, native, immigrant, we are together.

“As return to where I was born, as I launch my campaign for president, you deserve to know where I came from, the values I developed… I grew up a few miles from here on Kings Highway, in a 3 ½ room rent-controlled apartment. My father was a paint salesman who never made much money; my mother raised the two of us. I learned about immigration from my father who came from Poland at age 17 without 5 cents in his pocket and no English, to escape crushing poverty and widespread anti-Semitism. His entire family was wiped out by Hitler. Coming from a lower middle class family, I will never forget how the lack of money always causes stress in family. My mother’s dream was to move out of rent control apartment to a home of her own. She died young and never saw that dream.

“I came from a family that struggled. That influenced my life, my values. I know where I came from and will never forget.

“Unlike Trump who shut down government, left 800,000 employees without money to pay their bills, I know what it is like to live in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck.

“I didn’t have a father who gave me a $200,000 allowance when I was three years old – my allowance was 25 cents a week. But I had something more valuable – a role model of a father with courage to journey across an ocean with no money, to start a better life.

“I didn’t come from a family of privilege, who entertained people on TV by saying ‘You’re fired.’ I came from a family which understood the frightening power of employers. I didn’t attend an elite private school, I was educated in public schoo0ls in Brooklyn.

“I didn’t build a corporate empire based on housing discrimination. I protested against housing discrimination. One of my proudest moments was joining the March on Washington with Martin Luther King.

Bernie Sanders, campaigning for 2020, calls for Medicare for All, free tuition at public colleges, investment in infrastructure, not military, ending private prisons, voting rights, gun control, reproductive rights, federal jobs guarantee and affordable housing © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The last two years and before, you, I and millions, fought for justice in every part of society. Had some success against billionaires who attack unions, slash wages. We succeeded in raising wages to $15 across country – forced Amazon, Disney to do the same.

“We stood with teachers across country who went out on strike to fight for better schools.

“The forces of militarism kept us engaged in war. We fought back and for first time in 45 years, used the War Powers Act to end the Saudi-fueled war in Yemen.

“We fought to end the war on drugs, to get states to decriminalize marijuana possession and we are beginning to see records being expunged.

Bernie Sanders at 2020 campaign rally at Brooklyn College: “We won some victories but clearly have a long way to go.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We won some victories but clearly have a long long way to go.

“Because of the work done, we are on the brink of not just winning election but transforming our country.

 “When we are in the White House, we will enact a federal jobs guarantee.

“We will attack the problem of urban gentrification and build affordable housing this country desperately needs.

“We will end the decline of rural America – so young people in rural America have decent jobs and can remain in their communities. We will reopen rural hospitals.

“We will end the epidemic of gun violence, pass commonsense gun safety legislation.

“We will address national, racial disparity of wealth, root out institutional racism wherever it exists.

“We will end the cowardly outrage of voter suppression, and make it easier to vote.

“We will protect a woman’s right to control her own body – that is a woman’s right, not federal, state, local government.

“Make no mistake, the struggle is not just about defeating Trump but taking an incredibly powerful institutions that control economy and political life of the nation: Wall Street, insurance companies, drug companies, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the fossil fuel industry and corrupt campaign finance system that enables billionaires to buy elections.

“Brothers and sisters, we have enormous amount of work ahead. The path forward is not easy.

“Wealthy and powerful elites will do all they can to defend their financial interests, and have unlimited money. But we have the people.

“This is what I believe: if we don’t allow Trump to divide us, if we stand together – not blue states, red – but as working people believing in justice and human dignity, love and compassion, the future of this country is extraordinary and nothing we will not be able to accomplish.”

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NYS Governor Cuomo, Joined by speaker Pelosi, Signs Red Flag Gun Violence Protection Bill

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, signed the Red Flag Bill, which prevents individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing any kind of firearm. This legislation builds on New York’s strongest in the nation gun laws and makes New York the first in the United States to empower its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a ceremony on Monday, Feb. 25, signed the Red Flag Bill which prevents individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing any kind of firearm. This legislation, also known as the extreme risk protection order bill, builds on New York’s strongest in the nation gun laws and makes New York the first in the United States to empower its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention. More information is available here.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), a statewide advocacy organization, applauded Governor Cuomo for signing the legislation into law, which establishes a court process for removing firearms from individuals who pose a serious threat to themselves or others. The bill passed both houses of the legislature with bipartisan support on January 29.

Rebecca Fischer, NYAGV Executive Director, who stood with Governor Cuomo at the signing ceremony in New York City, stated, “Today, New York State has again made it a priority to protect our communities by enacting this life-saving gun violence prevention law.  Our children should be able to learn without the fear of gun violence in their classrooms.  Governor Cuomo and the legislature recognize that to keep New Yorkers safe, family, school officials, and law enforcement need a tool to remove guns from people in crisis. New York’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law will help prevent gun violence and protect our communities, schools, and homes.”

Additional measures passed by the State Legislature in January that await the Governor’s signature include: extending the background check period, a ban on arming educators, a ban on bump stocks, a statewide gun buyback program, and authorization to check out-of-state mental health records of gun permit applicants.

About Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO/“Red Flag” Law) —  S2451 (Kavanagh) / A2689 (Simon):  

In many cases of gun violence — including mass shootings, interpersonal violence, and suicide — the shooter’s family members or school officials see warning signs before the fatal act of gun violence occurs. However, they often feel powerless, and are unable to intervene — even with law enforcement support — before tragedy occurs. ERPO addresses this gap and creates a legal framework that respects due process and each individual’s rights while preventing gun violence.

If, upon a petition from a family member, school official, or law enforcement official, a court finds the individual is likely to harm him- or herself or others, the judge may issue an initial ERPO, and the individual will be required to surrender any guns to the proper authorities and will be prohibited from purchasing guns. After a second hearing, the judge may extend the order for up to a year — at which point it will expire, unless a petition is filed to renew the order.

Those subject to ERPOs will have an opportunity during the year-long ERPO period to petition the court and present evidence as to why the order should be lifted. If the order expires and is not renewed or if the order is lifted, guns surrendered will be returned to the individual and all records of the proceedings will be sealed.

During 2018 and 2019, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence educated and organized communities across New York State and led a coalition of legislators, advocates, law enforcement, students, educators, faith leaders, and healthcare professionals to urge passage of New York’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law. (www.nyagv.org)

Attending the signing ceremony were Mark Barden who lost his 7 year old son Daniel at Sandy Hook, and Linda Beigel Schulman and her husband Michael Schulman, who also lost a child to gun violence.

Speaker Pelosi acknowledged the importance of grass roots support to enact sensible gun control measures and praised New York State as a model for engagement of local activists and courage of legislators, noting that two important bills will be coming up in the House this week.

Gun control advocacy groups including Everytown for Gun Safety  are urging people to contact their Representative to urge support for HR 8, the Background Checks bill.

Here are highlights from the transcript of the remarks:

Governor Cuomo: Thank you. Thank you all. Let’s give a big round of applause for John Jay for hosting us today. To Linda Beigel Schulman and her husband Michael Schulman, God bless you for taking a terrible tragedy and taking that energy and taking that pain and turning it into something positive. Scott’s spirit does live today. I believe that. And congratulations to Linda Beigel Schulman. Let’s give her a big round of applause.

We also have with us today, Mark Barden who lost his son Daniel—seven years old—at Sandy Hook. I don’t know that I would have the strength that Mark had to carry on and I know I wouldn’t have had the strength to do all the work he has done. He has been a national spokesperson on this issue. And these made a tremendous difference. Let’s give him a round of applause.

To all the survivors and their families, to the advocates, to the moms who demand action, you’re getting through. I’d like to recognize my sister Maria Cuomo. She calls herself Maria Cuomo Cole…who produces documentaries, did a documentary on Newtown telling the story of Sandy Hook and it was a great vehicle to get the facts.

To all my colleagues in government who are here today, especially to Senator Kavanagh and Assemblymember Simon who carried the bill…[who]  were masterful in making government work. And to have Speaker Pelosi with us today—how great is that?

Speaker Pelosi, you carry all our hopes and dreams. You have given us strength and hope in the middle of the darkness. Speaker Pelosi is a champion for democracy, not just Democrats, she is the champion for democracy. And she is standing up to an Administration that constantly flaunts the Constitution, that has deceived the American people, that tramples their rights, that seeks to divide this nation every day on every issue, and Speaker Pelosi, God bless you for the job you do. Now New York is proud of what we’ve done on the issue of gun violence. After Sandy Hook happened, which was next door in Connecticut, 26 people killed, young children killed in a school. New York stood up and said no more. The nation said, “oh no Sandy Hook was an exception. That was just a once in a lifetime, that will never happen again.” And New York said that’s not true; it’s not an exception and something has to be done, and we know it’s a hard issue, and we know it’s a difficult issue, and we know it’s an emotional issue, but something has to be done because literally we are losing human life.

And when they said in the nation, “well no, it’ll never happen again,” we said “yes, and we’re going to do something.” And that was our quest and that was our conviction as New Yorkers, and we passed the SAFE Act. And we were right, Sandy Hook was not the last, it was not an exception. In many ways, it was only the beginning of a terrible scourge that went across this nation and it’s only gotten worse. One after the other, one more violent than the other, one more nonsensical than the other. And we said no more. Let’s use common sense and we passed the SAFE Act, and the SAFE Act made sense. Yes, people have a right to a gun if they are legitimate hunters, legitimate sportsmen, but not a person who is mentally ill, not a person who has a criminal background. Why would you ever put a gun in their hands? 

The SAFE Act banned assault weapons, banned high capacity magazines, it extended the background check to private sales. Why? Because otherwise the system is a joke, and right now the fight that the Speaker is going to have in Washington this week is exactly on this point. if you don’t have a background check on private sales, you have nothing. All it means is if you can pass a background check, you walk into a store and you buy the gun. If you can’t pass a background check, you buy the gun privately. It’s that walking to the store, you walk down the block and you go to a gun show or you buy it from a private individual and you pay a little bit more because they know that you can’t pass the background check, but you can still buy a gun. It is a total loophole that swallows the law. The reality is there is no background check in this nation if you want to buy a gun because there are so many guns. And you can buy a gun privately. It is a joke. And the SAFE Act said not in New York. We’re going to extend the background check to the private sales also. So, anyone who has a gun needs to go through a background check.

And today my friends New York is proud to pass a first in the nation the Red Flag Bill that empowers school teachers to do something when they believe something bad is going to happen. And we empower school teachers not by giving them guns, which is the president’s idea. I mean, how ludicrous a concept? Arm the teacher, so when the bad person comes into the classroom there can be a shootout in the classroom. I mean it is really ludicrous and nonsensical. No. Arm and empower the teacher with the law.

So when the teacher sees there is a problem or a family member sees there is a problem, and believes that a person could be a danger to themselves or others they can go to a judge. And say, ‘judge, please do an evaluation.’ It is common sense. If you believe that was going to happen, why would you sit back and do nothing? You protect the individual’s rights because you go to a judge. And there is a court-ordered evaluation. Over half of the school shootings, the teachers now said there were signs. There were signs in the person’s behavior and the destructiveness. Students who were suicidal. Over half the time there was signs. And if that teacher or that administrator had recourse and could have gone to a judge and said: ‘please do an evaluation. I think this young person needs help. Please help them.’ How many lives could have been saved? And that’s why this bill is in the spirit of Scott and the testament to the work of Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman. God bless you.

And while New Yorkers are proud of what we have done, we are also a very realistic people. And we know we cannot solve this gun problem within the borders of this state because guns come over boarders and the lines on the map are meaningless. This has to be done nationally. It has to be done federally. This is a uniquely United States problem. We lose more people to gun deaths than most developed nations. The first year of President Trump’s administration, we lost 40,000 people to gun deaths. The highest number in 50 years since the federal CDC was taking numbers. Hopefully the Speaker’s good work this week is going to start us on the road to end this carnage. Madam Speaker, what New York offers you is proof to the myths that you will hear in Washington this week and that’s what it really is. You have the opposition is about fear and lack of facts and lack of information. And when they say to you Madam Speaker, “this is a slippery slope, once the government starts to regulate guns, that’s a slippery slope and then they’re going to take all of our guns. This is just the camel’s nose under the tent.”

Six years ago, we passed the SAFE Act. Six years ago. We have six years of experience. Hunters still hunt. Sportsman still have their guns. But criminals don’t and the mentally ill don’t and the slippery slope never happened and government never came to take anyone’s guns and it worked.

And after six years, Madam Speaker, today there are 130,000 thousand people on a mental health database who could’ve bought a gun the day before the SAFE Act but now can’t buy a gun because they are not mentally stable enough to have a gun. One hundred and thirty thousand names. And, Madam Speaker, when they talk and debate about, “well these private sales are not really the problem,” after the SAFE Act private sales have to go through the NICS background check. Thirty-three thousand people have bought guns through private sales. Of those 33,000, 1,000 sales have been stopped because the person did not pass the background check. That’s one out of every 33 gun sales. That is a bigger deal and that’s why it works, Madam Speaker, and the proof is on your side.

The SAFE Act saved lives and didn’t infringe on anybody’s rights. The Red Flag bill, I have no doubt, will save lives and doesn’t infringe on anybody’s rights. It is common sense. It is logical. It is factual. We just have to get past the politics and get past the fear because Americans are better than this. We are smarter than this. We are more proactive than this. And we’re losing too many lives to ignorance and politics in this nation and it has to win and that is the battle that our Speaker starts this week.

I applaud my colleagues in state government. I applaud the advocates who worked so hard. I applaud the parents with the deepest of respect for carrying and turning your loss into a benefit for others. We wish our speaker Godspeed as she works to end this ugly chapter in Washington. Ladies and Gentleman, let’s give a New York welcome.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Good morning everyone. Thank you for your kind welcome, Governor Cuomo, thank you for your invitation to be here today, for your kind words of introduction. Let us salute Governor Andrew Cuomo for his tremendous leadership on this and so many other issues. Thank you, Governor Cuomo.

I join Governor Cuomo in saluting the parents who are with us to Mark, Linda thank you both for channeling your grief into action to save other lives. I’ve seen Mark around the country over the years, he has been a relentless champion. And Linda to hear you say today is a day that you could celebrate, that makes a difference that warms our hearts. It’s an eloquent message unsurpassed. Thank you Linda for your family’s leadership in this

I join the Governor not only in saluting them but saluting Senator Kavanagh, Assemblywoman Simon and all of the state legislators who are here, thank you for your courage in passing the legislation. I say to my colleagues in the Congress frequently, the survival of our children is much more important than your political survival. The Governor indicated the courage that it takes to pass this legislation. So once again let us salute Senator Kavanagh, Assemblywoman Simon and all of the state legislators who played such an important role in sending this legislation to the Senate.

And Governor thank you for being a leader and inspiration and relentless persistent advocate for this legislation. I was pleased and honored to join you, when you signed the landlord legislation last May, that prevented domestic abusers from obtaining firearms. Moms Demand Action was an important part of it, but all of the outside mobilization. Internally I’m sure the legislators in this state as well as our colleagues in the Congress recognize that our inside maneuvering is essential and we’re responsible to do the best possible job to get the best, strongest possible result. But without the outside mobilization this cannot, we cannot be effective. So let us thank all of the outside groups, for what they did to make this a success.

The Governor mentioned some of the statistics involved, was it George Bernard Shaw said the sign of a truly intelligent person is that they are acknowledge statistics and statistics tell the story, but the personal stories, personal stories really change the minds. And the stories of the parents and the families and school children who were there, the March for our Lives, all of that is changing. This gun violence issue is a national health epidemic in our country.

Mr. President if you want to talk about emergencies, this is an emergency.

I thank you Governor and I thank New York State for being such a leader on this issue. My colleagues I don’t know if Nydia Velazquez is here with us, a lot of traffic getting over here, but she and all of the New York members have been so great on this issue. Mostly all.

In Congress, to follow your lead and keeping guns out of the hands at risk for themselves and others whose extreme risk – protection orders – and empower the full force of communities to act, otherwise known as Red Flag. Now let me say, when we talk about Red Flag and people with certain challenges, 99 percent with any diagnosis are safe, law-abiding people in our country. As we do this, we just want to identify – prioritize to save others, then save lives after the person themselves. And they also say that when we vote on the bill this week we will pass the bill on the floor of the House.

Again, because of what you have done here to build the momentum, the outside, to make the case and now that all 90 percent of the public supports gun violence prevention by way of background checks and that includes many gun owners and many members of the NRA. They’re gun owners, they’ve taken background checks, and they think other people should too. That’s how you get to 90 percent by not only advocating, by explaining this is what the bill does so that they can’t characterize, as the Governor says they do, some of the leadership of the gun lobbyists do. So we go forward as a full supporter of the American people and we forget, pass bill and what it will do is encouragement and enactment of the extreme risk, protection order and what it will do here is prevent abusers, domestic violence abuse and stalkers from obtaining a gun. Provide funds to the CDC for gun violence prevention research, very, very important. They can do it but we have to provide the funds and insist that this administration do it. And so we have the capacity to save lives.

When we had the election, a lot of it was about health. The health of the American people and this is a health issue. The mobilization of young people and families of people effected by gun violence and other groups again are essential, in electing people who have the courage to make the challenging vote to save lives.

So I thank all of the people of New York. I thank the Governor for his commitment, his dedication, and his relentlessness on this issue. I want the families to know that this will not end here. We have more to do but it’s not about taking guns away from people, it’s just making sure that the law is effective in making, do a background check in a timely way and extend the time.

We have two bills this week one is about background checks and extending the time period. Now if you don’t get a no in 72 hours, it’s a yes so were extend the time on that. But again, all of this, by listening, hearing what really will save lives. Because sadly, the tragic events of mass shootings demand a great deal of attention, rightfully so. But every single day, and every single night in our country, people are killed by guns, senselessly, unnecessarily, and we want to make sure that we reduce violence in our country.

So again, I thank all of you. I’m very proud of the whole Congress of the United States, but our members who will have the courage to vote correctly when we come together this week. Tonight we’re taking the bill to the rules committee, tomorrow the rule will be on the floor in order to vote on the rule. On Wednesday we’ll pass the bill, the gun violence prevention by background check. Thursday we will have the bill to extend the time. But starting the week here in New York, making this gun violence prevention week, not officially, but legislatively, it just sends a very, very, very strong message. So thank you for that.

And by the way, just incidentally, okay, you can clap for that. While we’re together here I just want to say what else we’re doing this week. I don’t want to take away from the gun violence prevention, but it’s about the constitution, and the Governor spoke about that. Tonight we’ll also go to rules committee to put forth a resolution to overturn the president’s declaration

Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, and Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, from Texas, a border state, is taking the lead on this. And that will go to rules committee tonight, and the floor of the House tomorrow to be voted on. And this is not about politics, it’s not about partisanship, it’s about patriotism. It’s about the constitution of the United States of America. It’s about our beautiful constitution, beginning with the preamble, “We the People of the United States,” and as soon as that preamble ends, the very next words are Article One, the legislative branch, co-equal to every other branch, the executive branch, the judicial branch, spelling out in the text the powers of the Congress of the United States, the power of the purse being one of them. So this is not, this is not about partisanship. This is about saying we must honor our oath of office. To let the executive branch get away with this assault on the constitution, we would be delinquent in our duties to the oath of office we have taken.

And defile the core, the heart of the constitution, which is the separation of powers, co-mingled branches of government as a check and balance on each other. So this is going to be quite a week, when we talk about what our constitution really says. What it says about the separation of power, what it says about the rights of people to have gun ownership, but the rights also of us to have some say in the protection of the American people by advancing gun violence prevention. So all of you are super patriots who are doing this because you are upholding the constitution of the United States. As you protect and defend that constitution, you protect and defend the American people.

Presidents Day Protests Nationwide Rip into the Anti-President Trump Over Fake National Emergency

Some 55 Long Islanders assembled in front of the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola on Presidents Day to protest against Trump’s declaration of a fake national emergency in order to do end-run around Congress and build a wall on the southern border © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Some 55 Long Islanders assembled in front of the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola on Presidents Day to protest the anti-President, the illegitimate occupier of the White House who has yet again fouled the office and undermined the Constitution and the Rule of Law in his personal quest to see just how much authoritarian rule he can muster to overcome his incompetence. We were just one of more than 250 protests in 47 states that were held.

Just as Trump abused the claim of “national security” in order to usurp power to implement an otherwise unconstitutional Travel Ban and overturned ratified trade agreements (Canada, really!) and treaties (the Reagan-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia), Trump now perverts “national emergency” in order to preempt Congress’ Article 1 power of the purse in pursuit of building his political and personal monument, the southern border wall. And to do it, he would rob other projects, deemed worthy of appropriation by Congress: $2.5 billion in military narcotics funding and $3.6 billion in military construction necessary to cure the decrepit housing.

The very definition of “emergency” – and the clear intent when Congress passed it – was to enable a President to react to immediate crises – a foreign attack, a natural disaster – when Congress could not have time to.

But after two years of Republican control of all branches – executive, legislative and judicial – and not getting the appropriation to build the wall that even Republicans recognized as wasteful and ineffective (when Trump nixed the Democrats’ offer of $25 billion in exchange for DACA), and then a 35-day government shutdown followed by weeks of deliberation in which the Congress deemed $1.4 billion sufficient for “border fencing,” now he insists there is a “national emergency.”

What is more accurate is that there is a humanitarian crisis solely of Trump and his thugs’ making, for which in a just world, he and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II, and anyone else involved in conceiving and implementing the torturous “family separations” and “zero tolerance” policies would be tried, convicted and jailed for crimes against humanity.

Long Islanders protest against Trump’s declaration of a fake national emergency in order to do end-run around Congress and build a wall on the southern border © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But in pursuit of these human rights violations, Trump is also violating international and US law. Those Trumpers who insist “why don’t they come in legally as my grandfather did?” should recognize that Trump has shut down what legal immigration system there was – in fact, it hasn’t functioned since Reagan, which is why there are an estimated 11 million undocumented people.

Instead of actually dealing with the immigration crisis – starting with reuniting parents with their children, implementing a program to properly vet and legalize the status of Dreamers and parents of American citizen children, the tens of thousands who have been in the US legally for decades under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs, and those who have a legal claim to asylum – Trump has actually closed access through legal ports of entry, while declaring anyone who enters and then surrenders to border patrol, as having committed a crime, and therefore ineligible for asylum. That violates US and international law.

Long Islanders protest against Trump’s declaration of a fake national emergency in order to do end-run around Congress and build a wall on the southern border © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The absurdity of Trump’s unlawful assertion of “national emergency” to build a wall is the fact that he would only have one year before it expired – and the $8 billion he is expropriating would hardly be sufficient. Moreover, a wall takes tremendous amount of time to build, even if it would actually keep out drugs and gangs (which it won’t). Hardly a way to address an actual “emergency.”

Of course, Trump admitted as much when he betrayed his utter ineptitude when he declared the emergency when simultaneously declaring, “Of course I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.” The money, he said, could be reallocated from the many “unimportant” projects – like disaster aid to Puerto Rico and California, or cutting funding for 9/11 victims.

He then boasted about having so much money – even in the defense budget. “When you have that kind of money going into the military, this is a very, very small amount that we’re asking for,” Trump said.

Here’s the question: if the Defense budget is so bloated (at $719 billion), doesn’t that mean that Congress should allocate funding elsewhere, like health care, infrastructure, child care, R&D? (Yes.)

In addition to the Democratic-controlled House advancing a resolution rescinding the declaration, and organizations like the ACLU bring suit, 16 states (including New York), led by California, are now suing Trump. “We’re going to try to halt the President from violating the Constitution, the separation of powers, from stealing money from Americans and states that has been allocated by Congress, lawfully,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stated.

Long Islanders protest against Trump’s declaration of a fake national emergency in order to do end-run around Congress and build a wall on the southern border © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Initially, there was a cheering thought that Trump’s precedent would enable a Democratic President (in just 2 years!) to finally address real emergencies, circumventing the obstruction of the likes of Mitch McConnell – health care, climate change, gun violence, humanitarian crisis posed by Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy – that destroy tens of thousands of lives needlessly, tragically each year.

But then I realized that just as Trump’s sing-song description of how he expects to lose in the 9th circuit but expects to win at the Supreme Court, which going back to Bush has been stacked with “justices” who believe in a Unitary Executive (when a Republican is in office), that this same Supreme Court right-wing, Federalist Society majority, that would empower Trump’s “presidential discretion” today would beat back a national emergency claim by a Democratic president for these purposes, just as they contradicted the Constitution and precedent in Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, Heller, Bush v Gore.

“The risk is that we limit the president’s power to act when it really is necessary, when it is not practical to bring the Congress into session on a moment’s notice,” said Congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence committee. “But this president doesn’t care about future presidents. He only cares about himself. And in this case, he only cares about placating his conservative critics.”

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota Announces Run for President

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, spoke for 23 minutes in frigid 14 degree temperature (feeling like 4 degrees), in a thick snowfall, without hat or gloves, in front of hundreds of supporters on Boom Island who had stood for hours to hear her declare her candidacy for President. Already, with an unprecedented number of women running for Election 2020, the tone is different, as Klobuchar raised issues of child care, universal health care, lower prescription drug prices, gun violence prevention, climate action, criminal justice reform, fair wages and taxes, the need for diplomacy and international alliances as key.

Here are highlights from her speech declaring her run for President:

Prosperity shared leads to better lives for all. [America is] a beacon for democracy, one in which every one matters. We start in this place…

[Recalling when the deteriorating I 35W Bridge over the Mississippi collapsed, killing 13 and injuring 145, and the first responders dove in to try to save them, a wake-up call to the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure.] A bridge shouldn’t fall down in America..Suddenly the eyes of a nation are on our state. The nation saw in visceral way that everyone matters. Later, I worked across the aisle and rebuilt that I 35 bridge- that’s community shared, a story or ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

That sense of community is fracturing across the nation, worn down by the petty and vicious nature of our politics. We are tired of shutdowns, showdowns, gridlock and grandstanding. Today, in this snowy day, on this island, we say enough is enough

Our nation must be governed not from chaos, but opportunity, not by wallowing over what’s wrong, but marching inexorably to what’s right.

It starts with all of us.

My family story – both on my Mom and Dad’s side, arrived in this country with nothing but a suitcase. They made a home here.

Like so many immigrants they wanted a better life for their family. My grandfather worked 1500 ft below ground mining. My Dad – now age 90 – got a two-year degree, then finished at University of Minnesota and became a journalist. As a young AP reporter, he called the 1960 race for JFK, interviewed everyone from Reagan to Ginger Rogers. Freedom of the press wasn’t some abstract idea to my dad; he embraced it, lived it.

My Mom, a proud union member, taught 2nd grade in the suburbs until she was 70 years old, her students still come up and say she was their favorite.

On this island in the middle of mighty Mississippi, in nation’s heartland, at a time when we must heal the heart of democracy and renew our commitment to common good, I stand before you, as granddaughter of iron ore miner, a daughter of newspaper man, the first woman elected to US Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for president of the United States.

I am running for this job for everyone who wants their work recognized and rewarded, for every parent who wants a better world for their kids, for every student who wants a good education, for every senior who wants affordable prescription drug, for every worker, farmer, dreamer, builder, for every American, I am running for you.

And I promise you this, as your president, I will look you in the eye, tell  you what I think, focus on getting things done, that’s what I have done my whole life. And no matter what, I will lead from the heart.

Let me blunt.

For too long leaders in Washington have sat on sidelines while others tried to figure out about changing economy, impact on our lives, disruptive nature of new technology, income inequality, political and geographic divides, changing climate, tumult in the world.

Stop seeing these as obstacles on our path – let’s see obstacles as our path.

This is what I mean.

There are insidious forces every day trying to make it hard to vote, drown out voices with big money – time to organize, galvanize, take back our democracy. It’s time America.

It’s time to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get dark money out of our politics.

It’s time to stop discriminatory action by restoring the Voting Rights Act. Time to pass my bill to automatically every young person to vote when they turn 18.

The obstacle they are throwing at us with big money, obstacles to voting, are obstacles but also our path – as Paul Wellstone would tell us, it’s how we organize.

Here’s another: Climate change. The people are on our side – because like you and I, they believe in science.

That’s why in the first 100 days of my administration I will reinstate the Clean Power rules and the gas mileage standards and put forth sweeping legislation to invest in green jobs and infrastructure.

And on Day 1 we will rejoin the International Climate Agreement.

The obstacles, they are our path.

Another challenge: Way too many politicians have their head stuck in the sand when it comes to the digital revolution. It’s not coming, it’s here. If you don’t know the difference between a hack and slack, it’s time to pull off the digital highway.

What would I do? Put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to people’s privacy.

For too long big tech companies have been telling you, ‘Don’t worry, we have your back’ while your identities are being stolen, your data being mined. Our laws have to be as sophisticated as those who are breaking them.

I would guarantee net neutrality for all; connect the digital divide by 2022 – that means you, Rural America. If they can do it in Iceland we can do it here.

Train our workers today for the jobs of tomorrow, strengthen economy for what’s ahead– strengthening certifications, 2 year degrees, make it easier to get them.

And comprehensive immigration reform. It is time America.

Close those tax loopholes designed by and for the wealthy and bring down our debt and make it easier for workers to afford child care, housing and education – that is what I mean by shared prosperity.

But we can’t get there if people can’t afford their health care – that means getting to universal health care, and bringing down the cost of prescription drugs.

Last week, my guest at the State of the Union, here with us today, Nicole Smith Colt. Her 26 year old son Alec, aged off his parents’ insurance just 3 days short of payday. A diabetic, he couldn’t afford insulin, a simple drug that’s been around for nearly a century. He tried rationing but it didn’t work, and he died. This disgrace should never happen in the United States of America today.  

The obstacle to change? Big Pharma. Well, they don’t own me and they don’t own Nicole.

We are teaming up to pass meaningful legislation, to bring in cheaper drugs from other countries, stop keeping generics off market – harness the negotiating power of 43 million seniors, lift the ban on negotiating cheaper prices under Medicare.

I’ve always believed in doing my job without fear or favor – that’s what I do as a senator, what I did as a prosecutor – convicting the guilty, protecting the innocent.

It’s why I have and always will advocate for criminal justice reform.

And, in a state where we all value hunting and fishing and the great outdoors, I am not afraid to join the vast majority of Americans, including many gun owners to stand up to gun lobby and put universal background checks and commonsense gun legislation into law. It is time America.

Even if we isolate from the rest of world, the rest of world won’t let you – international problems come banging at the door just as opportunities come knocking.

We must stand consistently with our allies, be clear in our purpose, respect our front line troops, diplomats and intelligence officers, who are there every day risking their lives for us. They deserve better than foreign policy by tweet/

(cheers)

And one last obstacle we must overcome: To move forward together, stop the fear-mongering and stop the hate. We may come from different places, pray in different ways, look different, love differently but we all live in the same country of shared dreams.

In Minnesota, we have the biggest Somali population in the country and we are proud of that community. A few years ago, at the height of angry rhetoric, a Somali family of 4 went to dinner. A guy passing by said, ‘You four go home where you came from.’ The little girl said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to go home. You said we could eat out for dinner out tonight.’ You think of the innocent words of that little girl – she only knows one home, our state, one home, the United States.

Walt Whitman, the great American poet, said: I hear America singing the very carols I hear.” For Whitman, those were the songs of the mechanics, carpenters, masons, shoemakers, and those carols are still being sung today – that is also the song of our sisters and brothers, a chorus of different races, creeds, way of life.

E plurbus unum – out of many is one.

It is more than a motto, America – it is the North Star of our democracy. It is the North Star of our effort.

I am asking you to join this campaign – it is a homegrown one.

I don’t have a political machine, I don’t come from money, but what I do have is this: I have grit.

I have family, I have friends, I have neighbors and have all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of winter, who took the time to watch today from home, willing to stand up and say people matter.

I am asking you not to look down, not to look away. I am asking you to look up, at each other, the future before us, let us rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of our day – cross the river of our divides and walk across a sturdy bridge to higher ground.

As one faith leader reminded me: to pursue the good we must believe that good will prevail.

I do believe it, and so do you.

Let’s join together as one nation, one nation, indivisible, under God and pursue the good.

Thank you and God bless America.