August 2020 Headlines

August is coming to an end but things are not getting any better -- 

The Nation literary burns as fires in California have forced more than 119,000 people from their homes 

Firefighters are struggling to get a handle on the 560 wildfires burning throughout the state, scorching more than 900,000 acres, including a treasured redwood forest

The fires continue to grow, particularly in the north, where two groupings are now among the largest in state history. 

Things are so bad that smoke has reached Nebraska. 

And more dry thunderstorms could make things worse. 

Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Laura is gaining strength and is expected to crash into the already impacted Louisiana and Texas coasts as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday evening. 

Louisiana was hit by Category 1 Hurricane Marco barely this past Sunday! 

We wish everyone the best and hope you and your families and your homes are safe.

In terms of covid… even though it is clearly human nature to try to move on -- and the powers that be are really trying to convince us everything is fine -- we are still very much in the middle of the pandemic…

The U.S. has 5.79M confirmed cases and 178k deaths (as of Aug 25)

The States with the most COVID-19 cases are:

  • California 2. Florida 3. Texas 4. New York and 5. Georgia 

The States with the most COVID-19 related deaths are:

  • New York - 32,887 deaths, 2. New Jersey - 15,946 deaths, 3. California - 12,235 deaths, 4. Texas - 11,749 deaths, 5. Florida - 10,397 deaths

And these numbers are before Trump pushed to resume classes -- wait until people start testing positive by the thousands! Assuming the statistics get reported correctly as some schools are keeping quiet about coronavirus infections. 

    • But they won’t be able to keep the secret for so long -- especially after more U.S. colleges were grappling with high numbers of students testing positive for the coronavirus just days into the start of the fall semester after some universities rolled back their campus reopening plans in recent weeks.On the first day of school in Camden County, Ga., local Facebook groups were already buzzing with rumors that a teacher had tested positive for the coronavirus. The next day, a warning went out to school administrators: Keep teachers quiet.
    • In the weeks since, parents, students and teachers in the coastal community on the Florida border have heard by word of mouth of more positive cases linked to district schools. 
    • But even as fears of an outbreak have grown, the district has refused to publicly confirm a single case, either to the local community or The New York Times, who covered this note.

It is absurd that many educational institutions are endangering their students’ health, mainly for the tuition money -- greed as always is at the root of it all. 

Don’t believe me? Just read what the CDC has on their website: “Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America's greatest assets—our children….”

It is sickening how in the midst of all this full-blown apocalypse, profits can still be a motive...

Anyways -- on top of those natural and unforeseen catastrophes, we have to worry about the constant blows our already defunded public institutions are taking-- this time it’s the US Postal Service and the American Retirement System! 

    • Post office situation may be condensed to this: 
      • Longtime Republican mega donor and Trump-allied postmaster general Louis DeJoy is being criticized for maintaining financial ties to a company that conducts business with the US Postal Service, received $1.2 million to $7 million in income from XPO Logistics last year. (Major Conflict of Interest?)
  • But that’s not all! Since he started in the job June 15, DeJoy has launched an unprecedented and solely political series of organizational shake-ups that have attracted bipartisan criticism; the changes would delay mail delivery just as more Americans are expected to vote by mail and heavily influencing the outcome of the upcoming election. 
    • These changes included a reduction in employee overtime hours and the elimination of postal-sorting machines.
    • Luckily, after seeing how 8 out of their 18 machines that sort and postmark letters were disconnected and pushed into a corner, USPS workers defied the orders and reinstalled the machines in Seattle-Tacoma, and others we reinstalled others as well in Wenatchee and in Dallas. 
    • Also, the House approved legislation Saturday to allocate $25 billion to the USPS and ban operational changes.
    • Additionally, on Tuesday, August 25, thousands of people took action across America with one clear message – #SaveThePostOffice
    • The fight is not over yet! 
  • Simultaneously, Wall St. is Looting the American Retirement System and of course the Trump Administration is Helping!
      • The Trump administration is pushing dramatic changes to the American retirement system that will benefit Wall Street but push average citizens into plans that are riskier, less profitable, and loaded with high and hidden fees.
      • In the past two months, Trump’s Labor Department has introduced two pending changes to deregulate vulturous private equity firms and multi-trillion dollar retirement managers like Vanguard, Fidelity, and BlackRock. A third proposed change would restrict retirement investments with an underlying environmental, social, or governance mission — mainly to boost the struggling fossil-fuel industry.
      • If finalized, the result will be death by a thousand cuts to Americans’ diminished retirement nest eggs, amounting to an all-out Wall Street looting of American retirement.
      • Pushing this through is Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia — son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

For the millennials and zoomers in the crowd, perhaps a quick review of the basics of retirement is helpful. “Retirement” refers to a period toward the end of a human life during which ordinary people could use money they’d saved and invested — combined with Social Security payments — to stop working but still live comfortably.

This used to be considered a core part of American middle class reality (especially for white folks). But thanks to Wall Street and Corporate Rule (and having absolutely nothing to do with avocado toast), retirement as a concept has become more of a pipe dream than a guarantee. 

That ‘American Dream’-- like that supposed sensation of safety we are supposed to feel when you see a cop on the street -- is long dead (and honestly maybe that’s fitting because for black, indigenous, brown and poor folks the American Dream has mostly been a myth...

Which takes us to this week when, ANOTHER INNOCENT BLACK MAN WAS SHOT BY THE POLICE!

Jacob Blake, the man who was shot multiple times at close range by police in Kenosha, WI., last weekend, is currently paralyzed from the waist down, according to the family's attorney. 

His only crime was "breaking up a fight between two women," said Benjamin Crump, an attorney hired by the family.

That’s when the Kenosha police arrived, responding to a domestic incident.

Raysean White was across the street and said he heard two women arguing when Blake arrived. He said he doesn't know what started the altercation.

White was filming the incident when Blake walked away, toward the driver's side of his car, and opened the door. In video that's now been seen millions of times police are seen closely following Blake and shooting him seven times in the back as he leans into the car.

Jacob Blake was unarmed. And his children were in the car. And he didn’t do anything wrong. And even if he had that’s absolutely not grounds for an attempted execution. 

Kenosha is understandably in flames and as we have all probably heard by now, last night a 17 year old white supremacist and police sympathizer shot 3 people, killing 2. Solidarity actions are happening across the country. It is critical that we not stand aside in this moment.

And we must continue to occupy the streets and whole cities, if needed, because enough is enough! And we won’t back down despite threats such as taking away our right to vote!

Yes, you hear right -- Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) quietly signed a bill into law ramping up punishments for certain kinds of protests, including losing the right to vote.

The GOP-controlled state General Assembly passed the measure last week during a three-day special legislative session and was signed without an announcement earlier this week.

The new law slaps a mandatory 45-day sentence for aggravated rioting, boosts the fine for blocking highway access to emergency vehicles and enhances the punishment for aggravated assault against a first responder to a Class C felony. 

The bill passed the General Assembly after almost two months of sustained protests outside the state Capitol, where demonstrators have been calling for racial justice reforms in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police in May. 

Make no mistake, folks -- this is not merely coincidental; this is a clear attempt to intimidate us. 

But, like all social movements through history-- fear and intimidation only goes as far as we let it.

And speaking of relentless efforts, courage, and sacrifice, one of the movements we can take inspiration from is the women’s rights movement -- this month was the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment

But despite the ratification the 19th Amendment, the Fight for Women’s equality Continues

And while on one hand we can take inspiration from their sacrifice, on the other there are cautionary lessons to consider. The fight was compromised from its inception by a largely racist vision by many suffrage leaders of who should benefit and who could be left out. 

HOT TAKE: (The white suffragists who gained their vote were not willing to put their wealth and liberty on the line for their Black and brown sisters)

And this horrible fact is often left out from the history books. 

Almost equally horrible is the fact that still today, many Americans still do not enjoy full voting rights. Despite the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression efforts persist and disproportionately target voters of color, immigrant voters, LGBTQ voters, and disabled voters, and, as a result, many women living at the intersection of any of these identities.

Access to the vote is a powerful tool to drive change and transform communities. 

And people like Tennessee’s Governor Lee know it -- and is precisely why they now want to strip us off of that right!

They are trying to take away all the tools to drive change that we have at our disposal -- the right to vote, suppressing news and distributing misinformation on social media, and even gutting the Postal Office -- 

But seriously, though -- we should all aspire to be as badass as the USPIS - the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that is. 

The USPI is the gun-carrying, badge-bearing, law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service. And it consists of roughly 1,200 badass agents that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use. 

They are so cool that they have a TV show called The Inspectors based on them -- 

AND the US Attorney himself gave the USPIS agents a shout-out after the arrest of Steve Bannon, former Trump’s Chief of Staff. 

As it turns out, it was the USPIS who carried out the arrest of Bannon last Thursday.  

Bannon and Brian Kolfage, founders of the “We Build the Wall” fundraiser, were indicted Thursday morning on conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Trump tried to distance himself from the scandal by saying he didn’t like the project and that he thought it was being done for “showboating reasons.”

Funny -- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the general counsel of “We Build The Wall,” in January 2019 said that Trump gave the project his “blessing,” as well as Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.’s public praise of the project as a “pretty amazing” effort for an “important grassroots issue” at a 2018 fundraiser, according to video unearthed by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski.

Whew, that’s the rundown in corporate rule news...

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