Tag Archives: Jeff Merkley

Utilities Took $1.25 Billion in Pandemic Aid Then Shut Off Power to Households Nearly 1 Million Times: Report

“These companies took bailout dollars from taxpayers and turned around to lobby against shutoff moratoria proven to save lives.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-30-2021

A new report from BailoutWatch and the Center for Biological Diversity reveals that leading U.S. utilities took $1.25 billion in pandemic relief funds even as they cut off power to vulnerable households nearly a million times. Photo: Matt Wiebe/Flickr/cc

Over a dozen leading U.S. utility companies took more than a billion dollars of publicly-funded pandemic bailout money while pulling the plug on power to vulnerable households nearly a million times, according to a new report out Thursday.

The Center for Biological Diversity and BailoutWatch report—entitled Powerless in the Pandemic: After Bailouts, Electric Utilities Choose Profits Over People—details how utilities used their political power “to secure bailouts that cost taxpayers $1.25 billion, cushioning them from the pandemic economy,” while disconnecting vital services from some of the most vulnerable U.S. households. Continue reading

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‘We’re Staying’: Line 3 Opponents Camp at Minnesota Capitol to Protest Oil Pipeline

“The cops are gathered here by the hundred and the governor’s brand new fence glimmers in the background, but our spirit is resolved.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-26-2021

Demonstrators protest the Line 3 pipeline on the grounds of the Minnesota capitol building on August 25, 2021. (Photo: RootsAction)

With Enbridge on the verge of completing its multibillion-dollar Line 3 pipeline, thousands of Indigenous leaders and environmentalists brought their protests against the sprawling tar sands project to the grounds of the Minnesota state capitol building on Wednesday to demand that lawmakers intervene before the dirty oil starts flowing.

Roughly 2,000 demonstrators—including Indigenous leaders who marched over 250 miles along the pipeline’s route—rallied at the capitol Wednesday afternoon and hundreds stayed through the night as Minnesota police officers guarded the building’s perimeter, which was surrounded by a chain-link fence installed in anticipation of the protest. Continue reading

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Groups to Congress: Include $34 Billion for Global Vaccine Production in $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan

“For one one-hundredth of the proposed budget, the U.S. could make and deliver billions of vaccine doses and end this horrific pandemic.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-10-2021

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense/flickr

A coalition of global health justice organizations on Monday urged Congress to ensure that the $3.5 trillion budget resolution recently introduced by the Senate Democratic Caucus includes $34 billion in funding to ramp up the worldwide manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines.

In a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as well as six committee chairs, a half dozen groups—Public Citizen, Health GAP, Oxfam America, Partners in Health, PrEP4All, and RESULTS—called on lawmakers to allocate a tiny fraction of the funding proposed in Democrats’ reconciliation package to accelerate the global vaccination effort and help bring the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to an end. Failing to do so, the groups warned, will only prolong suffering around the globe. Continue reading

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MONARCH Act Introduced to Ensure ‘Beloved Pollinator’ Is Around for Future Generations

“In only a few decades, a migration of millions has been reduced to less than two thousand butterflies.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-17-2021

Butterflies seen at Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove on November 30, 2015. (Photo: Sandy/Chuck Harris/CC BY-NC 2.0)

A group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced two bills on Wednesday to boost conservation of the western monarch butterfly to save the population from total collapse.

The legislation comes at a critical moment for the iconic species. The Xerces Society said in January after its latest annual western monarch count that 1,914 monarch butterflies were recorded overwintering on the California coast—a figure the conservation group said reflected a staggering 99.9% drop from numbers in the 1980s and was an indiction the species was heading toward extinction. Continue reading

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‘A Big Deal’: Lawmakers Reintroduce Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

“We cannot allow the wealthiest individuals and corporations to flood our elections with cash through complex webs of super PACs and dark money groups that put special interests above the will of the American people.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-21-2021

Occupy Tampa displays signs at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Photo: Liz Mc/Wikimedia Commons/CC

n a bid to reverse the outsize influence of corporations and the wealthiest Americans over the nation’s electoral process, a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

The reintroduction of the Democracy for All Amendment in the 117th Congress—led by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), John Katko (D-N.Y.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)—occurred on the 11th anniversary of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commissiona 5-4 ruling which affirmed that corporations are legal persons and that they, labor unions, and other outside groups could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of U.S. elections. Continue reading

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‘This Is His Top Priority’: McConnell Advances Another Trump Judge as Covid Relief Bill Remains Unfinished

“As a government shutdown looms, and as the pandemic rages on across America, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to push through Trump’s judges until the very end.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-19-2020

Photo: THE WORLD NEWS/Twitter

Having kept the Senate in session over the weekend to complete work on a nearly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package and an omnibus government funding bill, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday moved to advance yet another of President Donald Trump’s right-wing judicial appointees as the desperately needed stimulus legislation remained unfinished.

The Republican-controlled Senate’s vote to limit debate on Thompson Michael Dietz, a Trump nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, came as Majority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) suggested that coronavirus relief talks could spill into Monday as negotiators struggled to resolve a number of outstanding issues. Continue reading

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Trump Threat to Unleash Secret Police in Other US Cities Slammed as Scheme to ‘Steal the November Election’

“The exercise also has the advantage for Trump of entrenching a new form of secret police and of turning federal agents into instruments of his authoritarianism.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2020

Screenshot: ABC News

Amid mounting criticism over the deployment of unidentified federal agents to Portland, Oregon—where they have been driving around in unmarked vehicles and snatching people off the streets—civil liberties advocates are increasingly concerned that President Donald Trump will similarly send “secret police” to other Democrat-led cites across the country as part of a 2020 campaign strategy to sow chaos and further his law-and-order message.

“Part of Trump’s reelection strategy is to scare the white suburbs, which polls show have soured on him, with ‘urban’ (read: minority) violence,” University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole wrote Monday for his website Informed Comment. Continue reading

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After Trump Deploys Secret Police in Portland, ‘Imagine What Happens If He Gets Four More Years’

“They want to see what they can get away with before launching into other parts of the country.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-17-2020

Photo: BoopTroopEugene/Twitter

Video footage and first-hand accounts of unidentified federal law enforcement officials snatching up Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon and throwing them into unmarked vehicles drew nationwide attention and outrage Friday, with members of Congress, human rights groups, and journalists accusing the Trump administration of deploying “secret police” to crush dissent.

“Unmarked federal agents in combat gear are pulling protesters off the street and jailing them without charge,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “That is what a police state is all about. Now is the time to defend our Constitution. Now is the time to come together and defeat Trump’s authoritarian policies.” Continue reading

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‘Naked Attack on the Free Press’: Trump Allies Reportedly Raising $2 Million for Campaign to Discredit Journalists

“Intimidating reporters to influence coverage is a tactic of dictators and has no place here,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-3-2019

Donald Trump talks to the press in October of 2018. Screenshot: Fox News

Right-wing operatives allied with President Donald Trump are attempting to raise at least $2 million to fund a campaign to discredit journalists and editors at major U.S. media outlets like the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, New York Times, and HuffPost.

That’s according to a three-page fundraising pitch for the effort reviewed by Axios, which reported Tuesday that the group of Trump allies “claims it will slip damaging information about reporters and editors to ‘friendly media outlets,’ such as Breitbart, and traditional media, if possible.” Continue reading

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Black Sites for Kids: Rights Advocates Outraged Over Child Immigrants Being Held at ‘Off-the-Books’ Detention Facilities

“Good lord.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2019

Immigrant rights advocates were horrified Tuesday by a new report which confirmed that the Trump administration is sending some immigrant children to clandestine facilities that are not known to their families and lawyers and are not equipped to provide care to vulnerable minors.

An investigation by Reveal on Monday showed that at least 16 young immigrants—as young as nine years old and in need of mental or behavioral health treatment—have been sent by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to “off-the-books” facilities outside the network of federally-funded detention centers. The administration is housing immigrant children with an even greater degree of secrecy than was previously known, in violation of U.S. law. Continue reading

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