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Activate Magazine is an on-line publication that focuses on Social Justice, Activism and Politics but also features Music Reviews. Some of the work here may come with a defiant sneer and others with brutal cynicism but it all comes with a sense of genuity. Not all the viewpoints or perspectives here represent the values or ideals of Activate Media. That being said we try to be fair in journalistic principles.

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‘What the Hell Are They Doing?’ Outrage as GOP Tries to Adjourn House With Millions Going Hungry, Covid Surging 

‘What the Hell Are They Doing?’ Outrage as GOP Tries to Adjourn House With Millions Going Hungry, Covid Surging

“They’re treating this like a game. Leaders don’t abandon people in their time of greatest need,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

By Jake Johnson

With mass layoffs persisting at an unprecedented clip, coronavirus deaths surging, and hunger on the rise nationwide, a group of House Republicans on Thursday attempted to pass a motion to adjourn the chamber in what Democratic lawmakers denounced as an “outrageous” stunt by members of a party that continues to stand in the way of desperately needed economic relief.

Though the motion, introduced by House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), was ultimately defeated by the Democrat-controlled House, the attempt to adjourn was viewed as another telling example of the GOP’s refusal to take seriously the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

“The Republican Party’s contempt for working people is on full display.”
—Rep. Ayanna Pressley

“People are going hungry and they’re treating this like a game,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response to the motion, which Republicans used to complain about House rules allowing proxy voting to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on Capitol Hill. “Leaders don’t abandon people in their time of greatest need.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) called the GOP ploy “batty” and noted that “Americans are in dire need of food and paychecks.”

Over the opposition of the chamber’s Republicans, House Democrats in October passed legislation that would send another stimulus check to most Americans, restore the lapsed $600-per-week federal unemployment boost, and provide aid to cash-strapped state and local governments. The Republican-controlled Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has refused to consider the measure.

“More people died yesterday from Covid-19 than any day since,” Swalwell said Thursday. “We have work to do. Yet, the House GOP just motioned to adjourn Congress. What the hell are they doing?”

“Isn’t this a procedural stunt you ask? Sure,” Swalwell continued. “What makes it outrageous is a single vote now takes well over an hour to occur with Covid-19 restrictions in place. Then the chamber must be sanitized. These are final days of Congress. It’s like pulling the fire alarm during a final exam.”

Other Democratic members voiced similar outrage over the motion, introduced as U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations soared to a record high and the Labor Department reported that a million Americans filed jobless claims last week, a blaring signal that the economic crisis is nowhere near over.

 

The House GOP’s procedural maneuver came as coronavirus relief negotiations showed signs of life for the first time in weeks, with a possible government shutdown just seven days away and the end of the year rapidly approaching. Failure to approve additional Covid-19 relief before year’s end would be disastrous, economists have warned, particularly given that more than 13 million Americans are set to lose unemployment benefits as emergency federal programs expire on December 26.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and President-elect Joe Biden have expressed support for using a $908 billion bipartisan compromise proposal unveiled earlier this week as a framework for talks going forward, while acknowledging that the plan—which lacks direct payments and provides just $300 per week in additional unemployment benefits—is nowhere near sufficient.

“The McConnell Senate enabled the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the health crisis and still insists on doing as little as possible to contain the economic fallout.”
—Jeremy Funk, Accountable.US

“Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement Wednesday. “In light of the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and the hope that the vaccine presents, it’s time for Leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a true, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country.”

McConnell and Pelosi spoke by phone Thursday afternoon for the first time since the presidential election and, according to the Kentucky Republican, had a “good conversation” about coronavirus relief and an end-of-year spending package to avert a government shutdown.

“Compromise is within reach,” McConnell said in a floor speech Thursday. “We know where we agree. We can do this.”

The Republican leader’s remarks came just days after he circulated a relief proposal of his own that was immediately dismissed as a non-starter by many Senate Democrats and progressive critics, who lambasted the plan’s sweeping liability shield for corporations and exclusion of additional weekly unemployment benefits.

Jeremy Funk, spokesperson for government watchdog group Accountable.US, slammed McConnell for “shilling for special interests” instead of offering real relief to the tens of millions of Americans struggling to afford basic necessities and possibly facing eviction in the near future.

“The McConnell Senate enabled the Trump administration’s mismanagement of the health crisis and still insists on doing as little as possible to contain the economic fallout,” said Funk. “McConnell’s big idea of giving corporations permission to mistreat workers with impunity during a pandemic and giving more handouts to coal CEOs means absolutely nothing to the millions of families who face hunger and homelessness in the Trump recession.”

Source: ‘What the Hell Are They Doing?’ Outrage as GOP Tries to Adjourn House With Millions Going Hungry, Covid Surging | Common Dreams News

 

 

 

Just Days Before Exit, Trump Plans ‘Going Out of Business’ Sale With Arctic Drilling Leases 

Just Days Before Exit, Trump Plans ‘Going Out of Business’ Sale With Arctic Drilling Leases

“The Interior Department’s Arctic Refuge leasing process has been flawed from the outset, ignoring science and Indigenous voices throughout.”

By Julia Conley

Conservation campaigners on Thursday accused President Donald Trump of taking a “wrecking ball” to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as the White House announced plans to move ahead with the sale of drilling leases in the 19 million-acre coastal preserve, despite widespread, bipartisan opposition to oil and gas extraction there. 

Seven weeks before Trump is set to leave office, the administration announced it plans to conduct the sale virtually on January 6. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will enter a notice about the sale in the Federal Registry next week. 

“We are rapidly moving to renewable energy and clean transportation options. We don’t need the current administration to jam this through, using a ‘going out of business sale’ approach. We strongly urge oil companies to take a pass.”
—Ellen Montgomery, Environment America

The announcement comes a week after Bank of America became the latest bank to rule out financing of drilling projects in the Arctic Refuge. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo have also stated in the past year that they will not give financial backing to fossil fuel extraction in the Arctic, leading the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency last month to propose a new rule that would bar financial institutions from refusing to lend to specific sectors in the name of “fair access.”

“Arctic Refuge drilling makes zero sense in today’s reality of high oil market volatility and with every major U.S. bank and many international banks unwilling to invest in risky, expensive Arctic oil projects,” said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League. “The administration is simply rushing to sell off one of the wildest places left on earth for pennies on the dollar before President-elect Biden takes office in January.”

According to Kolton, Trump’s plan to move forward with his deeply unpopular leasing plan is “yet another dangerous political favor” to the fossil fuel industry and an action which suggests he is eager to do as much damage to the environment before Biden—who opposes drilling in the Arctic Refuge—is inaugurated.

“President Trump’s electoral fate has been sealed and his days in office are numbered,” he said. “The fact that the sale will be officially noticed on December 7, one day after we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic Refuge by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, symbolizes the degree to which the president has taken a wrecking ball to decades of bipartisan conservation support.”

The timing of the announcement, added the Natural Resources Defense Council, makes “a mockery of the ongoing public comment period.”

The Gwich’in people, who have hunted caribou on the land that is now the Arctic Refuge for thousands of years, are among the most vocal opponents to drilling in the region. In August the tribe sued the Interior Department and the BLM over the Trump administration’s plan to sell leases in the refuge’s 1.5 million acre coastal plain.

“The Interior Department’s Arctic Refuge leasing process has been flawed from the outset, ignoring science and Indigenous voices throughout and failing at every turn to sufficiently analyze the impacts drilling will have on our climate, our air and water quality, the health of wildlife or the future of local Indigenous communities,” said Kolton.

In addition to negatively impacting the Gwich’in people, opponents say drilling in the Arctic Refuge would also harm the polar bears that live there and have already been harmed by the warming of the planet, numerous fish species, and nearly 200 species of migratory birds. 

“For decades, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has stood as a symbol of our nation’s strong natural legacy,” said Ellen Montgomery, public lands campaign director for Environment America. “Its breathtaking landscape is home to endangered polar bears, caribou, wolves, muskoxen, and migratory birds that travel annually to all 50 states. Destroying their home in the craven desire for more oil is a tragic mistake.”

“Once this seal is broken, there is no going back,” Montgomery added. “Industrial-level oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge cannot occur without doing catastrophic damage to vital habitats.”

According to a poll released in August by Morning Consult, just 31% of Americans support drilling in the Arctic Refuge. 

In light of public opinion, banks’ unwillingness to fund drilling projects, and signs that renewable energy industries are poised to grow faster than the fossil fuel sector in the coming years, Kolton said, “any oil company bidding on this sale will face not only economic challenges, but enormous reputational and legal risks as well.”

“America is transitioning to a new administration that has already pledged to protect the refuge,” said Montgomery. “We are rapidly moving to renewable energy and clean transportation options. We don’t need the current administration to jam this through, using a ‘going out of business sale’ approach. We strongly urge oil companies to take a pass.” 

Source: Just Days Before Exit, Trump Plans ‘Going Out of Business’ Sale With Arctic Drilling Leases | Common Dreams News

 

Sanders Slams McConnell for Pushing ‘3-Martini Lunch’ Deduction and Zero Relief for 26 Million Hungry Americans 

Sanders Slams McConnell for Pushing ‘3-Martini Lunch’ Deduction and Zero Relief for 26 Million Hungry Americans

“The Republicans l-o-v-e corporate socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the rest. Ain’t gonna happen.”

By Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for pushing a coronavirus relief measure that contains a 100% tax deduction for business meals—a gift to corporate executives—but nothing for the tens of millions of people across the U.S. who are struggling to afford food for themselves and their families.

“Mitch McConnell’s ‘new’ Covid relief bill gives CEOs a 100% tax deduction for a 3-martini lunch, but ZERO to the 26 million who don’t have enough food to eat,” the Vermont senator tweeted. “Yes. The Republicans l-o-v-e corporate socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the rest. Ain’t gonna happen.”

On Tuesday, as Common Dreams reported, the Kentucky Republican began circulating a purportedly “targeted” coronavirus stimulus proposal that would grant corporations sweeping immunity from coronavirus related lawsuits without providing a federal boost to unemployment benefits, another round of direct payments, or any aid to state and local governments.

“Let’s be clear about what Covid-19 ‘liability protections’ would mean: letting corporations off the hook if they decide they care more about making a quick buck than keeping workers safe”
—Sen. Ron Wyden

The plan also omits nutrition assistance amid a worsening nationwide hunger crisis; according to Census Bureau data, 26 million U.S. adults reported in late October and early November that they did not have enough food to eat.

McConnell’s proposal was immediately dismissed as a non-starter by many Democratic lawmakers, who characterized the plan as woefully inadequate to address the twin public health and economic crises ravaging the nation.

 

“This is an insult to the millions of workers and businesses that are losing their livelihoods because of this crisis,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. “This proposal doesn’t come close to giving Americans the help they desperately need to stay afloat.”

With a possible government shutdown just over a week away and time running out to secure a coronavirus relief agreement before the end of the year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday threw their support behind a new bipartisan, bicameral compromise proposal as the “basis” for negotiations.

Unlike McConnell’s plan, the bipartisan proposal would provide a $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment insurance, a key lifeline that 12 million Americans are set to lose on December 26 without congressional action. The bipartisan group of lawmakers also called for a liability shield for corporations that would reportedly be more limited than the one McConnell is pushing, though specific language has not yet been made public.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday was among those raising concerns about the bipartisan compromise package, specifically citing the corporate liability protections as a key sticking point.

“Let’s be clear about what Covid-19 ‘liability protections’ would mean: letting corporations off the hook if they decide they care more about making a quick buck than keeping workers safe,” Warren tweeted Wednesday. “We can’t let businesses escape accountability for putting people’s lives at risk.”

 

Source: Sanders Slams McConnell for Pushing ‘3-Martini Lunch’ Deduction and Zero Relief for 26 Million Hungry Americans | Common Dreams News