Exxon knew about climate change half a century ago.1 They deceived the public,2 misled their shareholders,3 and robbed humanity of a generation’s worth of time to reverse climate change.
PETITION THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL:
Investigate Exxon – DOJ, AGs combo
Recent reports have shown that Exxon knew about the threat of climate change decades ago. Yet over the course of nearly forty years, the company has contributed millions of dollars to think tanks and politicians that have done their best to spread doubt and misinformation — first on the existence of climate change, then the extent of the problem, and now its cause. If Exxon intentionally misled the public about climate change and fossil fuels, then they should be held accountable. We’re calling for an immediate investigation.”NAMEEMAIL ADDRESSCOUNTRY Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory British Virgin Islands Brunei Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cabo Verde Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos Islands Colombia Comoros Cook Islands Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Curacao Cyprus Czechia Democratic Republic of the Congo Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Eswatini Ethiopia Falkland Islands Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Ivory Coast Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Kosovo Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia Moldova Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island North Korea North Macedonia Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestinian Territory Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Republic of the Congo Reunion Romania Russia Rwanda Saint Barthelemy Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Korea South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania Thailand Timor Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu U.S. Virgin Islands Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States United States Minor Outlying Islands Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vatican Venezuela Vietnam Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe ZIP CODEADD YOUR NAME
Just as Big Tobacco lied about the risks of addiction and cancer, Exxon orchestrated a campaign of doubt and deception, making hundreds of billions4 at the cost of people’s lives — now it’s time for them to face the consequences.
Katie Halper Brad Johnson (@climatebrad) discusses climate (from minute 46:00 to minute 126:00). Also, writer, Bad Faith podcast co-host and former Bernie Sanders Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray Briahna Joy Gray joins Katie and Leslie Lee to talk about the news of the week. ***Please support The Katie Halper Show *** On Patreon https://www.patreon.com/thekatiehalpe… Follow Katie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kthalps
A Yemini family surviving on halas leaves. (Photo courtesy Mona Relief)
This report was written by Walker Bragman.
Congress is scrutinizing President Joe Biden’s policy on Yemen this week, with House and Senate subcommittees hosting hearings on the crisis in Arab state.
During Wednesday’s House hearing, Tim Lenderking, the Biden administration’s special envoy to Yemen, described the situation in stark terms. “The level of suffering there,” he told lawmakers, “is unimaginable.”
Half a world away, Fatik Al-Rodaini can imagine the suffering. The native Yemini has seen it with his own eyes.
Two months ago, Al-Rodaini visited a dusty mountain village in his country, where he found a bedraggled-looking family of seven sitting against the stone wall of their home, stooped over a boiling pot on an open fire. A smell like vinegar hung in the chilly February air.
In the pot were leaves from a halas vine — the family’s entire meal.
Yemenis used to eat halas leaves only occasionally during periods of food scarcity. The bitter, leathery foliage, boiled in well water often tainted with sewage, can cause stomach ailments. But now, as Yemen has slipped into the worst famine the world has seen in decades, the leaves have become the only thing keeping many Yeminis alive — even in this village, just a few dozen miles from Sana’a, the country’s capital.
Al-Rodaini had come to the village as part of a supply run for the humanitarian aid organization he runs called Mona Relief. The native Yemini founded the operation in 2015, two months after the country found itself in its current war. Mona Relief delivers foodstuffs and supplies to about 6,500 families in the midst of a historic humanitarian crisis.
Al-Rodaini had seen leaf eating on his relief trips to more remote areas of Yemen. But seeing it so close to the capital left him horrified.
“I feel the world is turning a blind eye to the largest humanitarian crisis,” he tells The Daily Poster. “The suffering of this area is a living example of how the war has exacted a terrible and massive human cost.”
In February, Biden announced that he would be ending U.S. backing of “offensive operations” in Yemen and related arms sales, activities widely seen as fueling the country’s war and suffering.
Since then, Al-Rodaini has continued his supply runs. Nothing on the ground has changed, he says, despite the fact that Biden faces mounting bipartisan pressure to do more to address the crisis.
If anything, he says, the people in Yemen are worse off than ever.
The Beginnings Of A Crisis
Yemen, an Arab state occupying the southern end of the Arabian peninsula, collapsed into civil war six years ago after Houthi rebels from the northern regions of the country overthrew the internationally recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The Houthis were a Zaydi Shia movement with ties to Iran that had long been at odds with the country’s government over a lack of resources and the perception that officials were working for U.S. and Saudi interests at the expense of the people.
In September 2014, Houthi forces, emboldened by countrywide upheaval triggered by the Arab Spring uprisings four years earlier, overran the capital and took over the government.
After briefly rescinding his presidency, Hadi escaped the country and appealed to foreign allies for support. His call was answered by Saudi Arabia, which feared the spread of Iranian influence so close to its borders. Recruiting a coalition of Arab nations that included the United Arab Emirates, it went to war against the Houthis.
The Obama White House, which wasn’t happy with the status of Iran’s nuclear non-proliferation commitments at the time, pledged U.S. military and intelligence support for the Saudi coalition’s campaign — along with an active military engagement against al Qaeda cells in the country — in a March 25 press release.
“While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support,” it read.
The administration had long maintained a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia, offering it tens of billions of dollars in sales of military hardware including fighter jets and missiles. To support the war effort, not only did the sales continue, American jets refueled Saudi jets in mid-air and American intelligence provided targeting assistance. When Saudi Arabia stationed war ships off Yemen’s coast in 2015, blockading the country, the U.S. stood by — despite the fact that Yemen imports 90 percent of its food and forced starvation is a war crime according to the Geneva Conventions to which Saudi Arabia is a signatory.
As he was leaving office, Obama sought to limit some arms sales to Saudi Arabia amid growing public outcry over the war. But the administration’s efforts were limited and came too late.
Donald Trump enthusiastically supported the Saudi war effort in Yemen, though he did end the aerial refueling of the kingdom’s jets. Despite an airstrike on a Yemeni school bus full of children with an American bomb, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s apparent involvement in the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump refused to sign a bipartisan war powers bill sent to his desk in May 2020 aimed at ending U.S. intelligence, refueling, and logistical support to Saudi-led coalition.
Trump also allowed weapons manufacturer Raytheon to produce smart bomb parts inside the Saudi Arabia to be used in Yemen. He reportedly even boasted to journalist Bob Woodward that he had “saved” the Saudi crown prince after Khashoggi’s murder.
“There Is A Lack In Every Single Thing”
Moving about Yemen’s capital, where he lives with his wife of 17 years and five children, Al-Rodaini stands 5-foot-8 and cuts a lean figure, often smartly dressed in a signature button-down and brown vest. The 43-year-old has thick black hair, wire-frame glasses, and speaks broken but passable English.
Those who know Al-Rodaini describe him as personable and deeply committed to his work. Ghaleb Alsudmy, a fellow humanitarian activist in Sana’a who became friends with Al-Rodaini in 2015, says he pure-hearted, “the person who works the most on earth and makes an effort to alleviate people’s suffering.”
Ahmad Algohbary, a journalist and fellow aid worker from Sana’a who runs a group called Yemen Hope and Relief, met Al-Rodaini in 2017 at a journalism conference in Jordan. They were there to talk about Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Algohbary describes Al-Rodaini as friendly and hard-working, but noted that he seemed weary.
“His body is so slim,” he says.
Indeed, despite the overall neatness of Al-Rodaini’s appearance, his face betrays an exhaustion from bearing witness to the suffering around him, and tragedies that have beset his own family. In December 2019, he lost his oldest son after the 16-year-old was accidentally shot by a neighbor who was attempting to shoot dogs in the neighborhood with a Kalashnikov rifle.
Fatik Al-Rodaini on one of his supply runs. (Photo courtesy Mona Relief)
Al-Rodaini never planned on running an aid organization. Born in Sana’a, in 1996 he got a job as researcher at the state-run news agency, Saba. That job lasted a decade. In 2010, he started his own blog and a year later began writing for the Yemen Post.
But his country’s unrest and misery forced a career change.
Yemen, which has spent decades transitioning from one bloody conflict to another, was already the poorest country in the Arab world when the war began. As the war dragged on, the situation on the ground deteriorated, precipitating an economic collapse.
In Yemen’s north, Saudi jets have dropped American bombs on farmland, hospitals, schools, and marketplaces, while Houthis have shelled populated areas and their snipers have targeted children and the elderly. Both sides have allegedly used child soldiers.
Dr. Annelle Sheline, a research fellow in the Middle East Program at The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, notes that Saudi Arabia and Iran’s involvement in the war is fueling the violence.
“Civil wars, when they are funded by external powers, can go on for decades because there’s more and more resources and no incentive to stop,” she explains.
“When [the Saudis] intervened in 2015, Iran had almost no involvement,” she adds. “Iranians have increased their support for the Houthis because it’s a great way to piss off the Saudis for a minimal expenditure of resources.”
Yemeni civilians have suffered the consequences. Amid the upheaval, workers like teachers and doctors have not been paid in years, leaving schools and hospitals understaffed. After Saudi Arabia blockaded the country, food, medicine, and fuel prices skyrocketed and the rial, Yemen’s currency, collapsed.
Houthi forces have also contributed to the crisis, diverting aid and fuel from the needy. Last April, the World Food Programme cut aid to Houthi-controlled areas after donors expressed concern it was not reaching its intended recipients.
In February, the United Nations warned that the country was headed towards the worst famine the world has seen in decades. As many as 16.2 million Yemenis are food insecure, and nearly a third of all families have nutritional gaps in their diet.
Yemen also suffers from a shortage of clean water, medicine, and medical infrastructure. According to UNICEF, only about half of the country’s 5,000 pre-war health facilities were functional as of January — and those that were operating were plagued by “extreme shortages” of medicine, equipment, and staff.
The country is ground zero for the worst cholera outbreak in recorded history, and faces the COVID-19 pandemic with diminished medical capacity. The numbers for the virus are not well-documented, but all indications point to a serious crisis.
The crisis has been particularly devastating for children, who made up a quarter of the civilian casualties over the past three years. According to the World Food Programme, as many as 2.3 million children under five are suffering acute malnutrition and require medical treatment. In 2018, the UN estimated that every 10 minutes, a child was dying in Yemen.
In total, as of last December, 233,000 Yemenis had died from the conflict, with most resulting from indirect causes like malnutrition and disease.
In the face of the deepening crisis, international aid to the country has been falling. Between 2018 and 2020, funding dropped from $5 billion to $2 billion, according to the UN.
In his own small way, Al-Rodaini is using his organization to fill in the gaps. He started Mona Relief, named after a charitable donor he met online, by delivering food baskets to 32 families in Sana’a. Since then, the operation has grown to encompass 12 provinces in Yemen, delivering supplies such as flour, rice, beans, sugar, cooking oil, milk, clean water, cash assistance, medicine, blankets, clothes, tents, education items, and hygiene products.
The organization’s supply runs are difficult and dangerous. They require clearance from local authorities, which can be challenging to get, and take Al-Rodaini and his colleagues into some of the worst conflict zones on the planet.
“There is no one who doesn’t worry about his life,” says Al-Rodaini. But the most difficult part of the work, he says, is keeping the operation afloat. Supply costs change frequently. The country’s fuel shortage makes transportation difficult, and getting proper permission from local authorities to make deliveries is also a constant worry.
Despite his efforts, Al-Rodaini says the situation continues to deteriorate around him.
“The number of families who are living under the poverty line is huge,” he says. “There is a lack of every single thing.”
A Policy Of Denial
On the campaign trail, Biden promised to alleviate the suffering in Yemen through a reevaluation of America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and withdrawal of U.S. support for the war, which has failed to reinstall Yemen’s internationally recognized government. Hadi, the country’s deposed president, has reportedly been living in Saudi Arabia since 2017.
Initially, it looked like Biden might make good on his promises. In February, he announced that he would be “ending all American support for offensive operations in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.” The administration also released an intelligence report blaming the Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi’s murder.
But days after declaring it would end support for offensives in Yemen, the Biden administration clarified that it would continue to support “defensive” operations in the country. And a few days before the release of the Khashoggi report, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin — who previously served on Raytheon’s board — took a call with the Saudi crown prince, assuring him of America’s commitment to an ongoing partnership.
Last month, after CNN reported that Saudi Arabia was violating a UN agreement by continuing its blockade of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, the Biden administration provided cover. Lenderking, the administration’s envoy to Yemen, challenged the veracity of CNN’s report.
To date, the State department’s official position is that Saudi Arabia is not blockading Yemen, because some supplies are entering the country and Saudi vessels are voluntarily acting on orders of the deposed Hadi government, which operates out of Saudi Arabia.
At the House hearing, Lenderking reiterated this position, stating that food was entering Hodeidah and inaccurately claiming that fuel restrictions were a relatively recent development.
The administration has indicated it wants to broker a ceasefire with the help of the UN. But behind the scenes, it has continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE, which is currently supporting militia fighters fighting for independence from the Hadi government.
A Yemini civilian at a medical facility suffering from acute malnutrition. (Photo courtesy Mona Relief)
Earlier this month, nearly 80 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Biden urging the government to adopt a more aggressive approach to end the blockade. Then, two weeks ago, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a similar letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken..
“Ending this practice will boost Yemen’s economy, de-escalate the conflict, and prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from worsening — all important U.S. objectives,” read the Blinken letter.
But at the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the matter this week, Lenderking, Biden’s Yemen envoy, made clear that the administration’s biggest concern wasn’t the devastating Saudi blockade, but instead a current Houthi offensive in the country’s oil-rich region of Ma’rib — the last Hadi stronghold in northern Yemen.
Lenderking called the Houthi incursion in the area, which experts say could deliver a decisive blow against the Hadi government in exile, the “single biggest threat to peace efforts” and warned it was having “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
Lenderking added that, “If we do not stop the fighting in Ma’rib now, it will trigger a wave of even greater fighting and instability,” and he called on the international community and regional actors like Oman to take steps to stop the offensive.
Lenderking did not answer questions at the hearings about U.S. support for coalition military operations that many say are prolonging the country’s suffering.
“Waiting For Our Fate”
Al-Rodaini says he is waiting for Biden to make good on his campaign promises. To him and so many of his countrymen, it is a matter of survival.
Last month, he and his family sheltered in their home through multiple days of airstrikes on Sana’a. Saudi Arabia launched the bombings as retaliation for a recent Houthi offensive that was, in turn, a response to the Saudi blockade. Some of the bombs landed just a few miles from Al-Rodaini’s family home. AI-Rodaini says that when he and his family heard the sound of the warplanes last month, they stopped thinking.
“We stayed in our places waiting for our fate,” he says. “Not only me but many Yemenis, we live in a very bad condition each time that we hear the sounds of warplanes.”
It was not the first time the family had been near a bombardment. In July 2015, a bomb landed 200 meters from their house, blowing out the windows and knocking fixtures over inside. In that moment, Al-Rodaini felt like everything was going dark around him.
“You cannot decide what you are going to do,” he says. “Your life is in danger and your family too. Your children are crying and the situation is not good at all. I felt then that I’m going to die and you become suddenly without a home and the place that you are living in has become not safe at all.”
Once the bombing ended that day, Al-Rodaini drove his family to his sister’s house for safety. Then, true to form, he went back to his neighborhood to pick up the pieces.
Legislation proposed by Sup. Rafael Mandelman would make it the City’s policy to provide shelter to unhoused people, and establish a ‘safe sleeping sites’ program to meet that mandate
The program would be managed by the Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing at an operating cost of anywhere between $16.9 million and $169 million per year, depending on demand
The City currently operates six safe sleeping sites at an average cost of $190 per tent. Mandelman believes the cost could be brought down to the range of $93 per night
Other Supervisors questioned the program’s efficacy, with some suggesting that the money would be better spent elsewhere
Members of the Board of Supervisors questioned a proposal to expand “safe sleeping sites,” or sanctioned tent areas, as part of a broader mandate that the City provide some form of shelter to all unhoused people.
The legislation, proposed by Sup. Rafael Mandelman and dubbed ‘A Place for All’, engendered both strong support and vehement opposition from members of the public who have seen unsanctioned encampments grow in their neighborhoods, particularly over the past year. At a Board of Supervisors Budget Committee hearing, Mandelman argued that the sites are a “necessary and doable” alternative to street encampments, and a way to improve conditions on sidewalks and public spaces relatively quickly.
“I believe a Place for All aligns with the values and sensibilities of a majority of San Franciscans who want an end to street homelessness, but also believe that no person should have to sleep on the street,” said Mandelman of the proposed legislation. “Coming out of this pandemic, our constituents expect us to finally do something meaningful, game-changing even, about the street encampments that have earned this city an international reputation for failure and condemnation from the United Nations.” In 2018, a representative from the United Nations likened the state of San Francisco’s encampments to a human rights violation.
The ‘Place for All’ legislation would make it the policy of the city of San Francisco to operate enough safe sleeping sites, or other temporary shelter options, to meet demand. If approved, it would give the Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing four months to create a plan for meeting the mandate, and also require them to provide an estimate of costs, a list of sites, analysis of the cost effectiveness, and other details. The Controller’s Office would also be required to produce a report on the program’s outcomes every two years.
The City currently operates six safe sleeping sites at an estimated cost of $190 per tent per night, or approximately $18.2 million annually. Critics of the program balk at the cost, noting that the program costs about the same as rent in many one-bedroom apartments in San Francisco. Apart from the tent itself, operating costs at the sites include showers and toilets, utilities, meals, and general management provided by community-based organizations. Of the existing six sites, per-night costs vary from $131 to $271 per night in addition to between $50,000 and $300,000 in initial start-up costs.
According to the Budget & Legislative analyst, costs per site could be brought down to about $93 per night by eliminating CBOs and replacing them with private security at a billing rate of $45 per hour. But because there’s currently no solid estimate of demand for these sites, the annual operating cost could range anywhere from $16.9 million to $169 million according the analysis. The Department of Homelessness estimated that between 500 and 5,000 individuals may require the outdoor accommodation under the Place for All legislation.
Critics of the legislation decried the sites as merely a band-aid solution to a much greater housing crisis, or too restrictive for guests, or an ineffective use of Proposition C funds. Proposition C, which established a tax specifically for homelessness solutions, is expected to raise about $250 to $300 million annually, in addition to $492 million already collected that was tied up in legal challenges.
Supporters of the Place for All legislation contended that safe sleeping sites, which can be spun up relatively quickly compared to traditional housing or navigation centers, are a more secure and healthier alternative to the street encampments that have sprouted up in recent years.
Members of the budget committee, including Sup. Ahsha Safai, Sup. Gordon Mar and Sup. Matt Haney, expressed skepticism of the proposal, with some suggesting that the tent sites lack sufficient services or would be less effective at helping people exit homelessness than navigation centers or hotel rooms. Others were wary of expanding the sites in the absence of clear evidence that they help people advance into housing.
Sup. Mar said he was “concerned that it would mandate an expansion without a plan for how [safe sleeping sites] would integrate with more permanent solutions.”
Sup. Mandelman countered that the legislation does not necessarily require that temporary shelter offered by the City be a safe sleeping site, nor does it preclude expanded acquisition of hotel rooms, navigation centers or other interim shelter options. He told Sup. Haney that he would work with him to incorporate more hotel use into the plan if needed.
Mandelman said he was “disappointed” by the committee’s response to the proposal, but pledged to try to win them over. The committee punted a vote on the legislation to a later time. If it were approved, it would advance to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote.
The discussion over safe sleeping sites is a flashpoint in ongoing debates over how to leverage available funding—which includes temporary FEMA reimbursement for shelter-in-place hotels, state funding through California’s Project Homekey program, and the Prop C money—to help people permanently exit from homelessness, an endemic problem that has vexed San Francisco residents for decades.
Mayor London Breed recently detailed a longer-term homeless recovery plan, which includes a major expansion of permanent supportive housing, boosting shelter capacity, and preventative solutions such as temporary rental subsidies for people at risk of becoming homeless.
The City plans add 1,500 new units of permanent supportive housing by 2022 through a combination of acquiring hotels and subsidy pools for private market rentals. Other housing projects currently under construction are slated for completion by that time, and will make it possible to move 4,500 people into permanent housing by 2022, according to Breed. Shelters, which were largely shut down during COVID, will also be reactivated alongside two new navigation centers and other temporary options, such as RV and safe sleeping sites, intended as an alternative to sidewalk camping.
According to a recent report by California’s Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council, more than 10,000 people sought homelessness services in San Francisco last year, a 40% increase over 2019 and the largest increase in the Bay Area. That statewide office aims to better track and analyze the delivery of homelessness resources going forward.
Locally, San Francisco launched a dashboard that shows demographic data on the homeless population, as well as the number of total shelter beds and other information.
1. Friday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm, Shut Down the Police Officers Association
SF Police Officers Association (outside) 800 Bryant St. (@ 6th Street corner) SF
Wear masks; social distancing
RESIST with Mothers on the March, Black and Brown for Justice, Peace and Equality, Family’s who loved ones have been killed by SFPD, and Community
– Demand the San Francisco Police Officers Association be Shut Down!
– The SF Police Officers Association Be Declared a Non Grata Organization
– Demand the Police Officers Bill of Rights be Abolished.
– Jail Killer Cops – we want killer cops to be charged with murder.
– Abolish the Police
After the trial of Chauvin in MN it is clear that ABOLISHION of the police with community control is the solution!
2. Friday, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, Protest in Solidarity With Hunger Strikers for Yemen
6342 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley
The current War on Yemen is starving millions of Yemenis as the country faces bombings, blockades, and partition. Foreign powers seek to divide the country in order get their slice of the pie. While some members of the U.S. establishment give lip service to ending the war, it is clear that they have no interest in doing so and do not care about the Yemeni people! We say no to this hypocrisy! We say no to the War on Yemen!
We will be gathering to discuss the hunger strike and the situation in Yemen while also fasting in solidarity with Yemeni-American protestors Iman Saleh and her younger sister, Muna, who are weeks into their hunger strike in Washington, DC. We are also fasting in solidarity with hunger strikers in New York, Boston, and others across the country.
3. Saturday, 12Noon – 3:00pm, On Mumia’s Birthday: The Only Treatment is Freedom!
Oscar Grant Plaza 14th St. & Broadway Oakland
March to DA Nancy O’Malley’s Office, 1225 Fallon Street, for a rally for Mumia’s freedom and against police terror.
Mumia, who is an internationally known Black journalist and author will turn 67 on April 24 and demonstrations are being organized across the US to demand his freedom. He has been unjustly and inhumanely incarcerated for over 40 years. Join us on April 24 in Oakland to demand his freedom!
Hosts: Support Alabama Amazon Workers, Bay Area No Justice Under Capitalism, Prisoner Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party & Western Movement Assembly
5. 12Noon – 1:30pm, Save 1921 Walnut St. / Save People’s Park
1921 Walnut St. Berkeley
End the UC’s displacement, gentrification, and violence!
Protect community, protect history, protect People’s Park and 1921 Walnut Street!
The University of California, Gov. Newsom and their billionaire cronies is trying to evict tenants of 1921 Walnut Street, a rent-controlled building, and destroy affordable housing in Berkeley, California to create student dorms. The UC is also trying to destroy People’s Park, an open space, center for arts and culture, mutual aid, and poor people in the East Bay.
Hosts: TANC, 1921 Walnut & People’s Park Committee
6. Saturday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, Street Panel: “Anti-Asian, Anti-Black and Anti-Poor Violence”
3rd and Palou San Francisco Bay View district
Masks / social distancing
Speak Out, Heal Up – Move thru the Hate A Street Panel on Anti-Asian, anti-Black, Anti- Poor Violence on Stolen Land and Youth-Led Press Conference
Come thru for this healing Intergenerational, Multi-Racial “street Panel” in ComeUnity on the Violence we all dealing with and where it comes from and where we go now. We will heal with prayer, poetry, truth and consciousness across the races- across the generations.
Co-Sponsored By POOR Magazine, The Bay View Newspaper, Krip Hop Nation and more to come-
7. Saturday, 3:00pm, Build A Revolutionary Movement (Meeting)
Compañeros Del Barrio Pre-school 474 Valencia St. (nr. 16th St.) SF
Masks / social distancing
Meeting is held outdoors / will be held indoors if it rains.
Our next meeting is on April 24th. Please come prepared to plan for our very 1st Peoples Assembly on May 1st! We are really excited to bring the people together and be a work in progress towards justice.
9. Saturday, 3 p.m., Holy Ground Ceremony for Mumia.
Center and Huey Newton Street. Procession to Mandela Parkway, Oakland.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, incarcerated for over 40 years for a crime he did not commit, is facing serious medical complications and possible death. He has recently recovered from COVID and been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease. He is suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and a painful skin ailment. Mumia’s doctor has plainly stated that the only treatment for this courageous political prisoner is his freedom.
Join us for 3 events coinciding with Mumia’s 67th birthday and demanding his immediate release from prison.
Mumia continues to inspire all of us and through his words, writings, and actions fights for all oppressed people who are struggle for freedom and liberation.
Join us at all of these events to demand freedom for Mumia, freedom for all political prisoners and for the abolition of the criminal legal system.
Partial list of endorsers: Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; California United for Mumia; Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia; People’s Strike – Bay Area; Prisoners’ Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party; SF Bay View National Black Newspaper; Party for Socialism and Liberation; Oscar Grant Committee; No Justice Under Capitalism
This was the day that the Frisco 5 Hunger Strikers were hospitalized after fasting at the Mission Police Station. We shut down SF City Hall that day/evening.
People stood up to SF sheriffs, batons, violence and threat of mace.
Ira A. shared this last year:
“And Ilyich Sato and mama Cristina were in the hospital and we had been inspired by them and the rest of the Frisco 5, Ike Ali Pinkerton, Edwin Lindo and Selassi to become the Frisco 500 and then the Frisco 5000”
“…we are so powerful when we come together. Chief Suhr was forced to resign. The people did that.”
“And none of it brought back #MarioWoods or #LuisGongoraPat or #AlexNieto but I know that they are with the ancestors and know that we did not forget about them.”
All are invited – All 5 Hunger Strikers will also be present!
Sunday, April 25
11. Sunday, 11:30am – 2:00pm, San Francisco Caravan: Say NO to the U.S. Blockade of Cuba!
1875 Marin St. SF
On Sunday, we are planning an “End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba Caravan”, in many cities across the U.S. The ANSWER Coalition and the Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Committee are two of the many sponsors and endorsers.
The Trump administration signed more than 240 measures against Cuba, tightening the blockade, including banning remittances from Cuban-Americans to their families in Cuba ($1.5 billion in 2019), placing Cuba on the “sponsor of state terrorism” list, forcing other countries to also deny Cuba trade. This is false and an outrage. It is Cuba that has suffered from U.S.-backed terrorist attacks that have killed 3,478 Cuban citizens and injured 2,099.
The 60-year blockade is a violation of International law. It is a criminal and inhumane policy to punish the Cuban people for their independence and sovereignty.
Cuba has resisted 60 years of cruel blockade. It is time that we people in the United States stand with Cuba to say No More!
We will have plenty of signs to share. You are welcome to bring your own as well.
12. Sunday, 12Noon, East Bay version of a Puentes de Amor
Lake Merritt At the Amphitheater – near the court house Oakland
in the past couple of months, there has been a growing movement in the U.S. to advocate for changes regarding the blockade, OFAC restrictions to travel and positive engagement for collaborations for covid-relief, and more.
The idea is to demonstrate our shared sense of support for Cuba as friends and family by celebrating our unity. We will have informational material to distribute to others who want to know more about our nation’s current policies.
Across the country, support groups, inspired by the Puentes de Amor organizers in Miami, have dedicated the last Sunday of each month to participate in car caravans or other acts of solidarity that will declare our support and counter the negative messaging that has been constantly used since the Revolution by the U.S. government to attempt a “transition to democracy”.
This event is in the spirit of collaboration with the San Francisco-based car Caravana por Cuba
Host: International Committee for Peace Justice and Dignity
13. Sunday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, Earth Day Celebration & Mural Unveiling In Clarion Alley
Clarion Alley Between Mission & Valencia Streets & 17th & 18th Streets SF
Come celebrate Earth Day and the unveiling of Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area’s new mural, “The world is on fire,” with music performances, art activities, storytelling and some surprises!
David Solnit will perform a “Cantastoria”: a short spoken-word, giant-picture-story “Line 3; Keep It In the Ground”, illustrated with papercuts by Jan Burger of Paperhand Puppet Intervention.
We’ll have a musical performance from Sandra and Kiki of the Sea Stars.
The Poster Syndicate will have a screen printing station set up to make posters on-site for you to take home. There will be a coloring station for children and adults alike, and food from Mora Taco Truck.
This event is outdoors and COVID-safe, so please follow community health guidelines, wear a mask, and bring hand sanitizer.
This WECAN and and Reacción Climática event is being held during the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Spanish, Portuguese and English translation will be provided during the event.
Women are essential leaders across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), mobilizing for the protection and defense of forests and biodiversity, oftentimes leading resistance efforts to defend local territories, holding invaluable knowledge of local ecosystems, and advocating at the international level for further protection of human and Indigenous rights, forests, water, and our global climate.
Please join the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) and Reacción Climática for “Indigenous Women Land Defenders, Protection of Nature, and the Escazu Agreement’”, an event to learn more about the Escazú Agreement—a critical new environmental policy in the LAC region. We will discuss how this vital piece of legislation can protect diverse ecosystems , the global climate, and Women Environmental and Human Rights Defenders (WEHRD) in their work to defend their rights and lands.
Speakers to date include:
–Patricia Gualinga (Kichwa), Indigenous leader from Sarayaku, Spokeswoman for Mujeres Amazónicas Defensoras de la Selva (Ecuador)
–María Luisa Rafael, Quechua leader, Human Rights and Environmental activist (Bolivia)
— Carol Gonzales, Organizacion de Pueblos Indigenas de la Amazonia Colombiana OPIAC (Colombia)
— Carmen Capriles, Founder of Reacción Climática, WECAN Coordinator for Latin America (Bolivia)
— Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN Executive Director
During the event, women land defenders and policy advocates will highlight the challenges women face in securing human and Indigenous rights and participating in environmental and climate policy, while also sharing how the Escazú Agreement can be a powerful tool for the protection of human rights, women land defenders, local territories and communities
Students, Community, & Faculty Speak Out to Save CCSF’s RN program (City College of San Francisco)
CCSF is facing devastating cuts right now of over 50%, and this at exactly the time when our City is going to need accessible higher education most. CCSF is the single largest job/skills trainer in the City. It’s majority student of color, and it’s been a safe harbor for generations. CCSF is how San Francisco can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
CCSF’s Nursing Program has been a cornerstone of San Francisco’s public health for generations. It’s one of the largest local sources of nurses and the most accessible for students.
City College is threatening to cut Nursing’s enrollment in half, that means half the number of students every year entering the nursing profession. City College is also refusing to address the existing staffing crisis in nursing
Sen. Joe Manchin, left, and National Restaurant Association Executive Vice President Sean Kennedy
This report was written by Joel Warner and Andrew Perez.
When Joe Manchin told attendees at the National Restaurant Association (NRA)’s national conference on Tuesday that the minimum wage shouldn’t be more than $11 and there should still be a subminimum wage for tipped workers, the group’s chief lobbyist couldn’t contain his excitement.
“From your lips to God’s ears,” exclaimed Sean Kennedy, the NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, who spoke with the Democratic senator from West Virginia as part of a virtual panel entitled, “Seeking Unity: Conversations on Finding Bipartisan Solutions.”
The NRA is a powerful, sprawling lobbying operation, with $289 million in revenue in 2018 and state affiliates around the country. The organization has been leading the charge to block a federal $15 minimum wage and is also fighting a separate Democratic effort to make it easier for workers to form unions.
Manchin, along with Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, were added to the NRA conference line-up after they joined six other Democrats in blocking an attempt by Sen. Bernie Sanders to add a $15 minimum wage provision to the Democrats’ COVID-19 relief legislation in March.
Both lawmakers have also spoken out against efforts to reform the filibuster — a stand that will keep a lid on many key Democratic legislative priorities — and they have recently enjoyed cash infusions from business interests that would be affected by the party’s proposals.
Manchin and Sinema’s statements at the conference, reportedly attended by several hundred restaurant operators from around the country, pull back the curtain on what they say to corporate interests when they’re out of the public eye. The NRA event, billed as “off the record” and “closed to press,” was the association’s annual “public affairs conference,” which means it was designed for lobbyists and focused on shaping legislation.
“It Might Be The Way To Go, Bernie, But It Ain’t Gonna Go”
During Sinema’s talk, Kennedy praised senator as a “true moderate.” She responded: “My approach has always remained the same. I promised Arizonans that I would do things differently than some in Washington, and that I would be an independent voice for our state, not for any political party.”
Sinema said she believes that “achieving lasting results on the issues that matter to everyday Americans really requires bipartisan solutions,” and she called on her “colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in my approach.”
In truth, however, Sinema’s political approach and viewpoint on the minimum wage have shifted considerably since she first got into politics. She was at one time considered a progressive.
During his talk, Manchin specifically took aim at Sanders for continuing to push for a $15 minimum wage.
“We’ve been having meetings on minimum wage, and I can’t for the life of me understand why they don’t take a win on $11,” he said. “Bernie Sanders is totally committed in his heart and soul that $15 is the way to go. Well, it might be the way to go, Bernie, but it ain’t gonna go. You don’t have the votes for it. It’s not going to happen. So they’re going to walk away with their pride, saying we fought for $15, got nothing.”
Manchin said there are other Democrats who agree with him that “the path they’re going down is wrong.”
He added that he doesn’t think the minimum wage should be increased to more than $11, and he said there should still be a lower subminimum wage for workers who rely on tips.
“If it comes down to one person, I don’t believe it should be above $11, I don’t think the tipped wage should ever go above half of that,” Manchin said. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, and the subminimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13. West Virginia has an $8.75 minimum wage, with a $2.62 tipped wage.
In response, Kennedy gushed to Manchin: “You and your staff have been absolutely amazing in working with small businesses, including the National Restaurant Association, in finding a common-sense path, so we can wrap up that aspect by just saying thank you.”
Kennedy, who previously served in the Obama White House as a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, has become the public face of corporate opposition to a $15 minimum wage.
“The Raise the Wage Act imposes an impossible challenge for the restaurant industry,” Kennedy noted in a statement earlier this year. “A nationwide increase in the minimum wage will create insurmountable costs for many operators in states.”
Kennedy’s talking points contrast with statements made by executives from several of the NRA’s biggest member restaurants, including Denny’s, Domino’s, and the Cheesecake Factory, who have indicated to investors that increasing the minimum wage wouldn’t be an overwhelming burden.
In January, for example, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors: “Our view is the minimum wage is most likely going to be increasing whether that’s federally or at the state level as I referenced, and so long as it’s done… in a staged way and in a way that is equitable for everybody, McDonald’s will do just fine through that.”
“We Will Not Be The Country We Are”
During his talk on Tuesday, Manchin reiterated his opposition to eliminating the legislative filibuster, which currently allows Republicans to block most legislation, outside of spending bills, unless Democrats can find 60 votes. The Senate is currently split 50-50, and Democrats only have a 51-vote majority with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break ties.
“You get rid of the filibuster and we will not be the country we are for this reason: You’ll have the violent swings, extreme swings, every time there’s an election, whichever party is in power,” he said. “It’ll be no different than a lot of European countries are, no different than a lot of developing countries. It’s whoever’s in power, and basically it swings. Everything’s thrown out and started over. We have been a country and we have grown as a country with a consistency that people could depend on.”
Labor activists were thrilled when Manchin on Monday said he would cosponsor Democrats’ landmark labor reform legislation, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act — meaning there are now only three Democrats who have not signed onto the bill. Sinema is one of the holdouts.
But Manchin’s position on the filibuster makes it unlikely the PRO Act will advance at all, as there is basically no chance that ten Republicans will support the legislation.
While Sinema didn’t speak about the filibuster specifically, she said, “What I’m telling my colleagues is that we cannot accept a new standard by which important legislation only passes on party line votes. If we were to accept that, it would set the stage for permanent partisan dysfunction, it would deepen the divisions that exist within our country, and it would further erode Americans’ confidence in their government, which we know is a challenge we face already.”
When Kennedy asked Sinema what restaurant operators should know about communicating with lawmakers, she replied that “Senators need to hear from their constituents… They may have a public position on an issue, but it’s also that person’s job to represent his or her constituents.”
A March poll of Sinema’s constituents found that 52 percent of independents in Arizona and 72 percent of Democrats support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Arizona’s minimum wage is currently $12.15, with a tipped wage of $9.15.
The same poll found that only 50 percent of Democrats viewed her favorably, down from 65 percent in January. The change came after Sinema attracted national attention for the overly performative way she flashed a thumbs down on the Senate floor to spike the $15 minimum wage provision that would have boosted the paychecks of 839,000 workers in her state.
During the NRA conference, Sinema, who recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a ring that read, “Fuck Off,” said it’s important to treat people with respect.
As she advised lobbyists in attendance, “You always want to be polite.”
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COVID-19 worsened what was already an untenable street homelessness crisis in our city’s neighborhoods. And the residents I’ve been hearing from over the last 13 months have been unequivocal: addressing that crisis must be City Hall’s top post-pandemic priority.
That’s why I have authored legislation called A Place for All to establish a network of temporary safe sleeping sites to guarantee a secure, well-managed location for every person experiencing homelessness to sleep. A Place For All — which will have its first hearing before a Board of Supervisors committee this Wednesday — does three things:
First, it will establish as city policy San Francisco’s commitment to provide shelter to every unhoused person willing to accept it, setting minimum standards for shelter that include a safe sleeping site with access to bathrooms, showers and 24/7 staffing;
Second, it will give the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, or HSH, four months to come up with a plan — together with proposed budgets, locations and policies — for how to achieve that goal over a two-year period; and
Third, pending Board approval of the plan, it will require HSH to implement it, ensuring that within two years every unhoused person in San Francisco can be offered shelter that is better than the nearest sidewalk, plaza or park.
Predictably my proposal is drawing fire from right and left alike.
For some San Francisco “moderates,” my legislation is “too much.” They contend that our city has already spent billions of dollars on homelessness, with little to show for it apart from bigger problems. The answer, they argue, is not to spend more on shelter, but to instead enforce existing laws.
While I understand their arguments, a 2019 U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Martin v. City of Boise now prohibits most local enforcement actions “when no alternative sleeping space is available.” Moreover, their no-investment, all-enforcement approach fails to acknowledge the great good San Francisco has done with the billions of dollars it has invested to successfully move thousands of people off the streets and into permanent housing.
Conversely, for some San Francisco “progressives,” my legislation is “not enough.” Their opposition centers on two points, the first being a false contention that A Place For All would establish a “right to shelter” akin to policies in New York City and Boston.
In fact, my proposed ordinance would not create a “right to shelter.” It’s fully compatible with aspirational solutions pushed by local homeless advocacy and policy organizations to address homelessness by giving unhoused people housing. Of course, that would require vastly more federal and state funding than San Francisco has received in four decades. But nothing about A Place For All would foreclose it.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that neither New York City nor Boston were blasted by the United Nations for the “cruel and inhuman” conditions of their street encampments, as San Francisco was. That’s a “world-class” distinction no San Franciscan should take pride in. A second argument some progressive critics are making against my legislation is that it would lead to enforcement against unfettered camping on streets and sidewalks by those experiencing homelessness.
In fact, A Place For All does not directly address the question of enforcement. I believe that the vast majority of people experiencing homelessness would gladly accept an offer of shelter. I’m also convinced that a large majority of San Franciscans expect The City to end street homelessness once we have safe alternatives to offer. Encampments in residential neighborhoods and commercial districts are not sustainable, especially when so many unhoused people suffer from serious addictions and/or other mental illnesses.
Finally, critics from both sides fault my proposal for its costs.
During the coronavirus pandemic, San Francisco piloted for the first time a number of safe sleep sites. A recent analysis of those efforts ascribed a monthly cost of about $5,000 per tent, which included 24/7 security, facilities and three-meal-per-day food service, together with COVID-19-appropriate PPE and distancing placements. Those costs were unacceptably high, and I’m convinced they can be reduced significantly post-COVID with better planning and economies of scale. Still, decent shelter will cost money. Safe sleeping sites should be a quick and cost-effective alternative to traditional shelter, but there is no reason to expect them to be significantly cheaper on an operational basis.
And even if full implementation of A Place For All were to cost tens of millions of dollars, that money would still be a fraction of the many hundreds of millions of dollars the city spends each year on housing for people exiting homelessness without any appreciable impact on street conditions. If we want to solve street homelessness in our neighborhoods, we need to fund policy interventions targeted to solve street homelessness in our neighborhoods.
Gavin Newsom sometimes says, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll get what you got.” It’s time for San Francisco to try something different. It’s time for A Place For All.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman represents District 8 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
“The economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America,” Franklin Roosevelt said in1936. “What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.” Challenging corporate power was at the heart of FDR’s project. Joe Biden keeps getting compared to FDR and seems to be pleased with the comparison. But the Biden administration’s record on corporate power is a big incomplete.
The administration has made a couple noteworthy hires, like Lina Khan and Tim Wu. Khan isn’t installed at the Federal Trade Commission yet; her confirmation hearing is this week. And even once she gets seated, Democrats won’t have a majority on the commission once Rohit Chopra shifts to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In the meantime, what’s happening on that Commission? Acting chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter announced in March, to much fanfare, an interagency “rethink” of pharmaceutical mergers, after a decade of dealmaking. The expectation was for much more rigorous scrutiny of pharma mergers. But the first one that came up, a $39 billion acquisition of Alexion by AstraZeneca, went through within four months, without a “second request.” That means that the FTC didn’t ask for more time to consider the merger. No conditions were added. It was just waved through.
Another merger, creating a giant in the market for salt, was approved by the Justice Department yesterday with a divestiture. Conditions-based mergers have fared quite badly in recent years. This would have brought us from three evaporated salt manufacturers to two, and instead there will be two big ones and one newfangled rival jury-rigged by DOJ to manufacture competition.
Shortly after former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delivered a bizarre speech that immediately angered and disturbed people following along on social media.
“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice,” Pelosi said. “For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that?” she interjected. “Call out to your mom, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But because of you, thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice. And now we have to make sure justice prevails in the sentencing. But, you know, that’s its own procedure.”
Pelosi’s offering of thanks, her equivocation of Floyd’s murder with a sacrifice, implying that he was in any way willing to die by police violence, was met with condemnation. A short sampling of tweets are below.
Conflating “being murdered” for “sacrificing your life” is the sort of statement you make when you have no skin in the game and eager to return to peaceable status quo ASAP https://t.co/eulKRLi9o8— austin walker (@austin_walker) April 20, 2021
No. This is not it. Black people are not sacrificial lambs. He was killed because of injustice not as a symbol of anything. He was a human. A man. A father. A brother. Let’s not do this.— Lindsey Appiah (@LAppiah) April 20, 2021
Others wondered aloud how Pelosi, 81, who’s been a powerful politician for more than three decades and has a net worth of roughly $114 million, could issue such a tone-deaf statement during a moment when quite literally anything else would’ve sufficed.
Pelosi and/or her communications team have since attempted a nonapology redo of her speech on Twitter. “George Floyd should be alive today,” her account tweeted. “His family’s calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain. We must make sure other families don’t suffer the same racism, violence & pain, and we must enact the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act.”
Editor’s note: In response to subscribers’ requests, this is the first in a two-part series on state-level health care reform.
Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
This report was written by Julia Rock.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden promised to create a nationwide public health insurance option that would lower patient costs, improve medical care, and help small businesses deal with soaring health care costs.
While a Medicare-for-All, single-payer health care system would be simpler, cheaper, and guarantee universal coverage, Biden and Democrats in competitive Senate races pitched a public option as a way to expand and improve coverage without fundamentally changing how most people get health insurance today. And the Congressional Budget Office recently reported that a robust public option could reduce premiums and save Americans big money.
So far, however, President Biden and Democrats in Congress have made little effort to follow through on the pledge, instead opting to funnel tens of billions of dollars to private health insurance companies to put people on expensive insurance exchange plans known for large out-of-pocket costs and high rates of denied claims.
Amid the leadership vacuum in Washington — and as premiums and insurance profits continue to skyrocket — state lawmakers have been frantically working to develop their own alternatives to try to help Americans combat increasingly costly medical coverage. Their efforts spotlight the challenges and opportunities for states trying to offer their citizens a public health insurance option.
While such state-level public option programs are no replacement for a national Medicare for All program, many see them as tangible and constructive health care reform for budget-strapped states barred from deficit spending.
Washington state led the way in 2019, establishing the nation’s first public insurance option. The program was supposed to provide a cheaper alternative that people would choose on the state’s insurance exchange. But so far, enrollment has only reached about 1 percent of the population, largely because the program does not require hospitals to accept the insurance and most have chosen not to.
As the state’s lawmakers prepare to pass a much-needed fix, the battle over a public option is heating up in Colorado for the second year in a row. This time, legislators are hopeful they can overcome a swarming lobbying effort and propaganda campaign to derail the bill.
Lawmakers in Connecticut and Oregon are also considering legislation to establish a public option.
A Faulty First Attempt In Washington State
In 2019, the Washington state legislature passed a bill creating a new state health insurance program, Cascade Care, with two elements: new standardized plans that private insurers were required to offer, as well as a public option.
Both the private, standardized plans and the public option are administered by private insurers, and are required to offer a standard set of benefits such as primary care visits, generic drugs, and mental health care services.
The main difference between the standard option and the public option is that the public option plans reimburse providers at a rate of up to 160 percent of the Medicare reimbursement rate, which is lower than what private insurers typically pay. Employer-based plans, for example, pay an average reimbursement rate of 240 percent of Medicare.
The lower reimbursement rate is supposed to keep costs down. While premiums for the Cascade Care plans were higher than the average plan offered on the exchange, Cascade Care options had deductibles that were, on average, $1,000 lower than other plans.
But the bill had a significant loophole that made the plans inaccessible: Hospitals successfully lobbied to ensure they were not compelled to accept the insurance, due to the public option’s lower reimbursement rates than private insurance. Cascade Care’s public option plans, as a result, were only available to Washingtonians in half of the state’s counties.
“Hospitals were opposed to it, and they never moved off of their opposition,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody.
When the public option launched during the 2021 enrollment period, about 15 percent of people buying health insurance on the state exchange opted for Cascade Care plans, but fewer than 5 percent of the people who bought those plans actually chose the state’s public option plans.
As a result, only 1,872 people are currently utilizing the state’s public option, or less than 1 percent of people who get health insurance through the state exchange. That percentage is slightly higher — about 2.5 percent — when taken just as a percentage of people who enrolled on new plans in 2021 as opposed to keeping their old plans.
In order to solve this problem, the state Senate passed a fixearlier this year, requiring hospital systems to accept the public option plans. The fix was then modified and passed by the state House. Now, the senate needs to concur on the modified legislation.
“The trigger is that any hospital that contracts with Medicaid or the state employee health care plans would have to accept a public option plan,” said Cody, adding, “Everybody takes Medicaid.”
Cody expects the state Senate to concur on the legislation this week, and Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign it into law. She has one piece of advice for lawmakers in Colorado working on public option legislation: “Prepare for a fight.”
Following that defeat, state lawmakers went to work on public option legislation last year, with the support of Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. They passed a bill out of a House committee just two days before the legislature shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The private health insurance industry aggressively opposed the bill, arguing it was better to let the industry lower costs voluntarily rather than by government mandate, according to state Rep. Dylan Roberts, one of the leading public option advocates in Colorado.
“What we heard continuously during the bill debate was that insurance companies know health care costs are too high, and that they would like the opportunity to lower costs without strict government intervention, or any type of government intervention, actually,” Roberts said.
This year, Colorado Democrats are trying a new strategy by calling the private health care industry’s bluff. Their revised public option bill would give private insurers the opportunity to significantly reduce costs over two years before a public option is introduced.
The bill would require insurers offering plans on the state individual or small group marketplace to offer a new standardized insurance plan, which will be designed by the state health insurance commissioner.
If insurers manage to reduce premiums and deductibles on their standardized plans by 10 percent each year in 2023 and 2024, then the state won’t set up its public option plan.
“We built in the first phase of the bill to take the insurance companies at their word and allow them two and a half years to get costs down,” said Roberts. “If they do, great, we all benefit from lower health insurance costs.”
But if they fail to do so, then the state will apply for a waiver from the Biden administration, a so-called “Innovation Waiver” created under the Affordable Care Act, and use the money from the waiver to set up a public option. The public option, or “Colorado option,” would be the state’s version of a standardized plan.
About 15 percent of the state’s population is projected to be offered the public option plans. These are people who either don’t get health insurance through their employer and buy it on the state’s exchange, or people who work for small businesses that opt for their employees to be covered under the public option.
The Colorado legislation also integrates lessons learned from the effort in Washington state.
For example, the bill is designed to align cost-cutting measures with the introduction of standardized plans, said Adam Fox, Deputy Director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a consumer advocacy group supporting the public option legislation.
“In the Colorado option legislation, we’re essentially requiring insurance carriers to offer the standardized plan. And those are the plans that they have to meet these target reductions on,” Fox told The Daily Poster.
In Washington, Fox said, the standardized plans were separate from the cost-cutting elements of the legislation. That resulted in higher premiums, even though Cascade Care plans did have lower deductibles than other private insurance plans.
The bill also creates a fee schedule for provider reimbursement rates, which are slightly higher for rural hospitals and lower for highly profitable hospitals that are part of larger networks. The reimbursement rates would be set through a public rulemaking process, Fox said.
Perhaps most importantly, the Colorado legislation is statewide, meaning providers can’t refuse the insurance as they have in Washington state. And, unlike the Washington plans which are administered by private insurers, Colorado’s public option will be operated by a nonprofit entity set up by the state.
Roberts said that while the bill would only make modest changes to the state’s health care system, especially during the first stage, it could have important reverberations across the country, showing people how government action can reduce health care costs and improve care.
“It’s not a total overhaul of our health care system in Colorado or in the United States by any means,” he said. “However, we would be the first state in the country that would do something like this, where it would be truly a statewide plan that’s available to every Coloradan that wants to purchase it. I would love to see it trickle out across the country, and hopefully show Congress in Washington, that this is something that they should pursue on a national level.”
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June 16 — Public Bank East Bay hosts Sylvia Chi, co-author of the California Public Banking Act (AB 857), at a Public Banking 101 session On June 16th, 7:00-8:30 pm PT, Public Bank East Bay invites public banking allies to their next Public Banking 101 session, an educational series exploring public banking in the context of ongoing efforts to create a public bank in the East Bay. The guest speaker will be Sylvia Chi, co-author of the landmark 2019 California Public Banking Act (AB 857) and former policy director for the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN). Sylvia will give an overview of AB857… Continue reading →
Join us Thursday for another engaging conversation on our national organizing call at 6PM EST. We’ll be discussing the Supreme court and Birddog strategies with Center for Popular Democracy’s very own Julia Peters from CPD’s Innovation Team! We’ll also be discussing Medicare-for-all and Senate filibuster updates happening in our progressive fight. Hope to see you all Thursday at 6PM. Register here to join! Thank you, Innovations, Center for Popular Democracy CPD Action 449 Troutman Street, Suite A Brooklyn, NY 11237 United States
*** Please forward widely *** City to Retirees: Private health care ─ Take it or leave it NYC government retirees to be forced to switch from public Medicare to a private Medicare Advantage Plan Thursday, June 17 – 7:00 PM EST You can join this Zoom event by phone or computer. Closed captions will be available. Event will be recorded, with video link sent to all registrants. Speakers: Peter Arno, PhD, Director of Health Policy Research, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst Naomi Zewde, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health and Health… Continue reading →
Here’s a quick history lesson for you, Democrats:On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Texas finally got the news that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom from enslavement and embraces a moment in history when the scales were tipped towards justice. The California Democratic Party invites you to a virtual celebration of Juneteenth this Thursday, June 17 at 6 PM. Join us for a conversation focused on how the Black Lives Matter movement has shifted the Democratic Party and what the party can do to advance justice going forward. We need your… Continue reading →
My apologies for getting this out so late. Our film(s) this month will be a series of short of 5 short videos that cover various aspects of the Palestinian situation, which is our subject for the month. The films vary in length from 8 to 12 mins (less than an hour in total). Here’s the writeup and the official flyer is attached: Here’s the Zoom link information: Sensible Cinema Zoom meeting at 6:30pm on Friday, June 18, 2021. The virtual door opens at 6:00pm if you care to drop in early. Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89812236935?pwd=dnpDbWpkeUg3cndudXE2TDhPV1JZUT09 Meeting ID: 898 1223 6935 Passcode: 254041… Continue reading →
ISF State and Local Working Group meeting: Friday, June 18, 7:30–8:30 PM. Register here to help us plan to propose legislation to our state legislators and support progressive initiatives on the state and local level.
The Institute for the Critical Study of Society at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library OUR CURRENT SCHEDULE (NOTE: These are all tentative and may be changed. Please check back the week before, or sign up for our weekly reminders/updates at email@example.com) Sun, Dec 27, 2020: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm CONFIRMED: The Three Concepts of Freedom Synopsis: In this session we will compare and contrast the Liberal, Democratic, and the communist concepts of freedom. We will discuss that the Liberal freedom consists of the legal guarantees against outside intrusions. Democratic freedom emphasizes the right to participate in the… Continue reading →