‘More Important Than Ever’: Stacey Abrams Applauded for #FairFight2020 Initiative Against Voter Suppression 

‘More Important Than Ever’: Stacey Abrams Applauded for #FairFight2020 Initiative Against Voter Suppression

“Creating a government of the people, by the people, and for the people will happen only when we hear every voice from the people.”

By Jake Johnson

After experiencing firsthand how voter suppression impacts elections in her narrowly unsuccessful Georgia gubernatorial race against Republican Brian Kemp, Stacey Abrams on Tuesday launched an initiative aimed at bolstering voter protections nationwide ahead of the 2020 elections.

“There are only two things stopping us in 2020: that people have a reason to vote, and that they have the right to vote,” Abrams said in a speech at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades convention in Las Vegas, where she officially launched her initiative.

“I can’t undo the election in 2018,” said Abrams, “but I will say something that seems to anger people when I say it: We won. We won that election.”

Titled Fair Fight 2020, the program was launched with the goal of staffing and funding “voter protection teams” in battleground states across the country to ensure people’s rights are protected from sneaky and unlawful suppression tactics as they head to the ballot box next year.

As the New York Times reported, Fair Fight 2020 will

expand beyond Georgia to target 20 states, including across the Midwest and Southeast, and will invest up to $5 million.

It will work to correct inaccurate voter rolls, address shortages of voting machines and provisional ballots, and standardize the rules around counting absentee ballots, according to aides. There will also be a state-by-state hotline where election irregularities can be reported.

“Creating a government of the people, by the people, and for the people will happen only when we hear every voice from the people,” said Abrams in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday.

Abrams’ decision to launch Fair Fight 2020 comes amid reports that she was considering a late entry into the crowded Democratic presidential field.

The former minority leader of the Georgia House was applauded for choosing instead to tackle the crisis of voter suppression, which has been deployed in various forms by Republicans to seize power in states across the nation.

“While being a pundit or running for president might have been easier, fighting voter suppression and making sure our nominees have what they need to fight on the ground is what’s most important,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, an Abrams aide, told the Times.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, was among the progressive chorus celebrating Abrams’ initiative.

“At a time when Donald Trump and cowardly Republican politicians all over this country are working overtime to suppress the vote, Stacey Abrams’ work to protect voting rights is more important than ever,” Sanders tweeted late Tuesday. “If you’re an American citizen who is over 18, you must be able to vote.”

Source: ‘More Important Than Ever’: Stacey Abrams Applauded for #FairFight2020 Initiative Against Voter Suppression | Common Dreams News

Farmers Hit Back as USDA Chief Sonny Perdue Mocks Those Harmed by Trump Trade War as ‘Whiners’

Farmers Hit Back as USDA Chief Sonny Perdue Mocks Those Harmed by Trump Trade War as ‘Whiners’

“He doesn’t understand what farmers are dealing with, and he’s the head of the Department of Agriculture. He’s supposed to be working for farmers.”

By Jake Johnson

Farmers facing record bankruptcies and collapsing incomes due to President Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with China were not amused by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s joke about their economic pain during an event in Minnesota last week.

“I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania,” Perdue told an audience of thousands of farmers gathered in a barn near Morgan, Minnesota. “What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar.”

Some laughed at the agriculture secretary’s joke, but other farmers booed and denounced Perdue’s wisecrack as callous and tone-deaf mockery of the real hardship caused by the Trump administration’s trade policies.

“It was definitely not an appropriate thing to say,” Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, told HuffPost on Monday. “It was very insensitive. It took everyone by surprise. He doesn’t understand what farmers are dealing with, and he’s the head of the Department of Agriculture. He’s supposed to be working for farmers.”

Perdue’s characterization of struggling farmers as “whiners” came after the Trump administration announced it will impose a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods starting Sept. 1, a significant escalation in the ongoing trade war between the two global powers.

China quickly retaliated by canceling all purchases of U.S. agricultural products, a move American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall called “a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by.”

With farmers suffering from his trade policies, Trump has attempted to tamp down backlash with targeted aid packages—but, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), most of the assistance has gone to wealthy farmers.

Meanwhile, as HuffPost reported on Monday, “Net farm income in America has plunged by nearly half over the last five years from $123.4 billion in 2013 to $63 billion last year. It plummeted by 16 percent last year alone.”

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, said last week that Trump’s “strategy of constant escalation and antagonism” toward China has “made things worse.”

“It’s really, really getting bad out here,” added Bob Kuylen, a North Dakota farmer, in an interview with CNBC. “Trump is ruining our markets.”

 

Source: Farmers Hit Back as USDA Chief Sonny Perdue Mocks Those Harmed by Trump Trade War as ‘Whiners’ | Common Dreams News

‘Degrading’ and ‘Unconstitutional’: Trump Reviewing Rule That Would Allow Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits 

‘Degrading’ and ‘Unconstitutional’: Trump Reviewing Rule That Would Allow Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits

“This type of futile and unconstitutional intrusion into people’s privacy simply because they are out of work is unacceptable.”

By Jake Johnson

The Trump White House is reportedly reviewing a Labor Department rule that would give states the power to force people to pass a drug test before they can receive unemployment benefits, ignoring protests that such screenings would amount to demeaning and unconstitutional invasions of privacy.

“The rule itself would not automatically impose drug tests on the jobless but would let states screen people who file claims for unemployment benefits―fulfilling a GOP dream from the Obama years,” HuffPost‘s Arthur Delaney reported. “In the wake of the Great Recession, after the national unemployment rate surged to 10 percent, several Republican-led states clamored for the right to obtain the bodily fluids of people laid off through no fault of their own.”

The proposed rule was published the Federal Register last November and immediately came under fire from the ACLU and worker advocacy groups, which condemned the measure as overly broad and likely illegal. The Labor Department finalized the rule last week after a public comment period and sent it to the White House for review.

“The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches by the government. Courts have said drug testing is a search and subject to Fourth Amendment protections,” the ACLU’s Kanya Bennett and Charlotte Resing wrote in a blog post earlier this year. “So unless there are probable cause and individualized suspicion, there should be no search.”

“Exceptions to this rule have been made when the government can show it has a ‘special need’ and that need outweighs individual privacy rights, but that is not the case here either,” they added. “Simply put, the government is on very shaky ground if it thinks it can subject the unemployed to blanket drug testing.”

In addition to constitutional concerns, Bennett and Resing also argued the Trump administration’s rule would add “an unnecessary and degrading toll to the existing stigma of being out of work.”

“Blanket drug testing just further demeans people who the government has no reason to suspect of using drugs,” said Bennett and Resing. “This type of futile and unconstitutional intrusion into people’s privacy simply because they are out of work is unacceptable.”

 

Source: ‘Degrading’ and ‘Unconstitutional’: Trump Reviewing Rule That Would Allow Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits | Common Dreams News