Category: March 2018

How to Build a Progressive Movement in a Polarized Country

GEORGE LAKEY – Many assume that polarization is a barrier to making change. They observe more shouting and less listening, more drama and less reflection, and an escalation at the extremes. They note that mass media journalists have less time to cover the range of activist initiatives, which are therefore drowned out by the shouting. From coast to coast activists asked me: Does this condition leave us stuck? My answer included both good news and bad news. Most people wanted the latter first.

‘Corporations Are People’ Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie

ADAM WINKLER – A farcical series of events in the 1880s produced an enduring and controversial legal precedent. Somewhat unintuitively, American corporations today enjoy many of the same rights as American citizens. Both, for instance, are entitled to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. How exactly did corporations come to be understood as “people” bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre—even farcical—series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day.

Federal Judge’s Unprecedented Order on Climate Science ‘Could Open Floodgates’ for Big Oil Lawsuits

JESSICA CORBETT – With a decision that could have far-reaching implications, a federal judge in California has ordered the first ever U.S. court hearing on climate science for a “public nuisance” lawsuit, meaning that major oil and gas companies for the first time may have to go on the record regarding what they knew about the planetary impacts of their products—and when.

Although Two Out of Three Americans Oppose Increasing U.S. Military Spending, the U.S. Government Is Boosting It to Record Levels

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Early this February, the Republican-controlled Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed new federal budget legislation that increased U.S. military spending by $165 billion over the next two years. Remarkably, though, a Gallup public opinion poll, conducted only days before, found that only 33 percent of Americans favored increasing U.S. military spending, while 65 percent opposed it, either backing reductions (34 percent) or maintenance of the status quo (31 percent).

Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Youth Plaintiffs, Rejects Trump’s Attempt to Evade Constitutional Climate Trial

OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST and EARTH GUARDIANS – San Francisco. On March 7, Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, rejected the Trump administration’s “drastic and extraordinary” petition for writ of mandamus in the landmark climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, brought by 21 youth supported by Our Children’s Trust.

PGE Withdraws Plan to Expand Fracked Gas-Fired Power, But Asks to Increase Pollution by 800% At Existing Plant

DAN SERRES – On February 20, 2018, Portland General Electric (PGE) officially ended plans to expand the Carty Generating Station, a fracked gas-fired facility located near Boardman, Oregon. This is a huge victory for our climate and public health. But controversy remains: PGE wants to dramatically increase air pollution at the existing Carty gas plant.

Look Deeper Than the Latest Shooting

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – There’s a bigger problem embedded in the social order than our lack of effective gun laws, and I hope the movement that emerges out of the Parkland massacre makes the leap beyond anger and single-issue politics. The nation’s weak gun laws — the easy availability of AR-15 assault rifles — are, in fact, a symptom of the general cheapening of human life in American society, which is reflected in the nation’s ever-expanding obsession with war and a military budget the size of Godzilla. War always has a way of coming home.