Victory: FOX News will not host Democratic presidential debate

Victory! After more than 56,000 CREDO activists and allies signed the petition to demand that Democrats not legitimize hate-spewing FOX News with a presidential debate, the Democratic National Committee announced that it would not partner with FOX to host any primary debates.

FOX is a vile, hate-spewing, misogynist dumpster fire of an organization that sparks violence and serves as Donald Trump’s personal propaganda network while masquerading as a news company. Hosts and guests on Fox News offer a steady stream of racist rhetoric and paranoid conspiracy theories to keep Trump’s approval ratings high among his Republican base. The network has always stood for far-right extremism, but with Trump in power, the network is pumping up the hate and fear to new heights.

There was never any reason whatsoever to host a Democratic debate on FOX News, and we’re glad to see the DNC come to its senses. Activism works – so thank you for everything that you do to hold those in power accountable.

Tuesday Tip: 5 ways to green your garden for spring

Illustration of a garden

March 20 is the first day of spring. And if you have a garden, you’ve probably started thinking about what improvements you’ll make this year. Here’s an idea: Make your garden greener.

But aren’t all gardens green? Actually, some gardens are “greener” than others: They’re more eco-friendly. They work with nature, not against it, functioning smoothly as ecosystems unto themselves and thriving without the chemical intervention of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. A green garden may not look like the Jardins du Chateau de Versailles, but it gives a natural satisfaction that no prefab garden can.

Here are five tips to make your garden greener.

 

Go native

Choose plants that are indigenous to your region. They’re well-adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, so they’ll be healthier than non-native plants and they’ll grow happily with less water and less care. They’ll attract local birds, butterflies, and other insects because they provide the nectar, pollen, and seeds these creatures look for.

When you go native, your garden will be a sustainable and dynamic natural ecosystem that displays the natural beauty and diversity of your local area. And you’ll find a native garden easy to start these days because gardeners everywhere have come to appreciate the advantages of native plants and many native plant nurseries have sprung up to serve them. Just Google “native plant nursery.”

Avoid chemicals

You don’t need pesticides to battle garden pests. You don’t need herbicides to eliminate weeds. You don’t need synthetic fertilizers to grow vibrant plants. There are natural alternatives to all of the above – and they’re better for you and your garden. And remember, as biological-control pioneer C.B. Huffaker once said, “When we kill off the natural enemies of a pest, we inherit their work.”

To discourage pests like aphids and leaf miners, encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and spider mite predators. When you use pesticides, you kill these hardworking “good” bugs as well as the “bad” ones. Toxic pesticides also damage your soil by exterminating a lot of the beneficial organisms that live there.

If slugs and snails are a problem, there are natural remedies for them as well. Lay down a rough barrier of crushed lava rock, nutshells, coarse gravel or wood ashes. Soft-bodied slugs and snails will avoid crawling across it. Wrap a ribbon of copper tape around pots and they won’t climb up because the copper causes an unpleasant shock to their nervous system. Put out a small container of beer and slugs will crawl in and drown – perhaps happily.

If you have weeds, weed killers are a tempting option – one squirt and they die. But herbicides are not only carcinogenic, they run into streams and rivers and cause damage on a planetary scale. Instead, pull weeds by hand. Approach it in the right frame of mind and you’ll find it relaxing. Or try a mixture of vinegar, salt and liquid dish soap, which withers weeds naturally with multiple applications.

While you’re at it, sign our petition calling on Kroger to stop selling food containing bee-killing, brain-harming, and cancer-causing pesticides and commit to selling more organic food. Add your name here.

Invite insects

Insects are good for your garden. Bees and butterflies pollinate your flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Wasps, flies, ladybugs, lacewings, and beetles eat pests. Step one to attract insects is to plant natives. Step two is to offer different sources of nectar – including shrubs, trees, and flowers – that bloom from spring to fall. Step three is to avoid pesticides. They kill the beneficial bugs as well as the destructive ones and they poison the environment in general.

Provide shelter for insects. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators need protection from predators and the elements as well as a place to raise their young. An old log in a sunny spot makes a good home. Drill a few holes in it and you’ll attract native mason bees. They’re solitary, docile and the most effective pollinators in North America.

If you like butterflies – who doesn’t? – choose plants that appeal to them. There are dozens to choose from. And remember that butterflies need water. They appreciate a birdbath, and they like muddy puddles because the puddles provide salts and nutrients as well as H2O.

Be bird-friendly

Birds play a vital role in your garden ecosystem. They eat slugs, snails and damaging insects. And, of course, they’re just a joy to have around. Bushes and trees with fruits or berries will attract birds but a feeder provides a more reliable source of food. Get your seeds from a knowledgeable shop to ensure you have the right varieties for your local flock. Keep your feeder free of old seeds and place it far from sources of cover where cats can hide. A birdbath is important not only because birds like a bath, but because seed-eating birds need water to wash the seeds down. Add a few stones for birds to stand on.

Hummingbirds are a constant source of color and enjoyment in a garden. They also appreciate a birdbath, and they need nectar as a source of energy for their almost-perpetual motion. If you have a feeder, fill it with sugar water that’s one part sugar, four parts water but never honey, artificial sweeteners or dyes. Hang it in the shade so the sugar won’t ferment. Also, plant flowers – especially red or orange tubulars – which hummingbirds like as well as a feeder. And, again, avoid pesticides. Hummingbirds eat insects for protein and they feed their chicks a diet of almost exclusively arthropods.

Compost

Compost contains nutrients your plants need for good health, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It encourages bugs, worms, and microorganisms that create rich soil. It enhances drainage while retaining moisture. And a compost pile is the perfect place to toss your kitchen scraps and garden leaves, instead of the garbage can.

All you need to get started composting is a corner of your yard to start your pile – and patience because it will take time for your compost to “cook.” While you wait, consider the lesson that compost teaches: the natural cycle of decay and growth. In nature, there is no “waste.” Waste is a human phenomenon. In nature, every plant and animal is part of our planetary organism and every end sustains a new start.

Victory: We just forced JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to stop financing private prisons

UPDATE: On March 12, in response to questioning by progressive champion Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a House Financial Services hearing, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan confirmed that the company will no longer finance two private prison companies detaining immigrants.  Wells Fargo now joins JPMorgan Chase as companies that will no longer fund mass incarceration and immigrant detention.

Thank you to the more than 100 organizations and thousands of activists who stood up to the financial institutions that are bankrolling hate and made this incredible victory possible.

 


Our people-powered movement just forced JPMorgan Chase to deal a massive blow to the private prison industry.

After years of activism led by immigrant rights groups and progressive allies, the bank recently announced that it would stop financing private prison and immigrant detention corporations.

This is a huge win made possible by more than 200,000 CREDO members who signed petitions and joined immigrant rights activists to occupy bank branches and march in the streets. Your CREDO Donations votes also made a significant impact, driving critical funding to some of the anchor organizations that led this fight.

It’s important we celebrate the good news so everyone in our social networks knows that our activism is getting real results. Help us strengthen our movement by sharing on social media the news about this huge win:

Click here to spread the news of our victory by sharing this graphic on Facebook.

Click here to retweet this news on Twitter.

During a time when a racist autocrat is occupying the Oval Office and attacking our communities and democracy, wins like these give us hope and serve as an important reminder that each and every one of us holds tremendous power to fight back.

But this isn’t just a win that proves that activism works. It is also a testament to the tactical savvy of immigrant rights and progressive groups who are changing the narrative around mass incarceration by exposing – and working to cut off – all sources of funding for the private prison and immigrant detention industry.

None of this would have been possible without the leadership of our allies at Make the Road New York, Center for Popular Democracy, MamásConPoder, The National Domestic Workers Alliance, Presente, Hand-in-Hand, MoveOn and all the members of the Families Belong Together Corporate Accountability Coalition.

Thank you for sticking with us through this fight. When we join together – even when the odds are stacked against us – we are unstoppable.

The Trump-GOP Tax Cuts Are a Huge Failure. Now What?

Photo credit: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Shrinking tax refunds this winter have raised renewed skepticism over the Trump-GOP tax plan rushed into law in late 2017. While a smaller refund doesn’t necessarily mean higher taxes, there’s plenty else in the Republican law for working families to complain about.

The so-called Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) mainly benefits the nation’s richest people and most profitable corporations. It will cost nearly $2 trillion, which Trump and Congressional Republicans want to cover by cutting Medicare, Medicaid, education and other public services working people depend on.

This is exactly the opposite of what the American people want, which is a fairer tax system that demands more from those best able to pay, preserves and strengthens vital services, narrows economic inequality, and helps create an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

Republicans claimed their tax cuts would magically pay for themselves. That’s not happening. Tax revenue from corporations—which were the biggest winners from the plan—was down by over $80 billion, or about a third, in the first full year under the new law. Corporations are estimated in 2018 to have kicked in the lowest share of total government funding at any time in the past 85 years.

That big cut in corporate taxes is one of the reasons the TCJA is such a boon for the wealthy, who own the vast bulk of corporate stock, and such a bust for working families, half of whom don’t own any stock at all. Once the law is fully implemented, the wealthiest 1% will get 83% of the benefits.

The GOP assured working people they would benefit indirectly from the corporate tax cuts through higher wages. Trump went so far as to explicitly promise that corporations would give working families a $4,000 raise. That’s not happening either.

Only 4% of American workers have gotten any kind of bump in their pay thanks to the Trump-GOP tax law, and most of those have been one-time bonuses rather than raises. Meanwhile, corporations have been celebrating their tax-cut bonanzas and resulting higher profits by further enriching their CEOs and shareholders through stock buybacks.

Since Trump signed the plan into law, firms have authorized nearly $1 trillion of share repurchases. These divert corporate profits from making new investments or paying higher wages to jacking up the value of stock, which is mostly owned by the wealthy. Companies have spent about 140 times more on stock buybacks than they have on worker pay boosts tied to the tax cuts.

Among industries that gained the most from the Trump-GOP tax giveaway are some of the least deserving. Huge drug companies saved billions of dollars in taxes last year alone and stand to reap a $76 billion tax cut on all the profits they’ve spent years stashing offshore. Those profits were wrung out of American patients and public health programs through the outrageous overpricing of prescription medications.

Big banks crashed the economy a decade ago and were only saved from their own recklessness by bailouts from the American people. Banks enjoyed record profits last year of over $230 billion, boosted by nearly $30 billion in tax cuts. The six largest banks alone, including scofflaw Wells Fargo, were showered with at least $14 billion in cuts and have authorized $72 billion in stock buybacks since the GOP plan was enacted. The “Bix 6” banks have given their workers little in tax-cut-related benefits.

Thankfully, beyond this winter of tax-scam discontent lies a spring of genuine tax reform. Members of the new Congress are finally addressing our broken tax system with the energy the problem deserves.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) reminded us that multimillion dollar incomes used to be taxed at much more progressive levels – 70%. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would attack the crisis of wealth inequality with a small 2% annual asset tax on families worth more than $50 million, with billionaires taxed a bit more. Sen. Bernie Sanders wants to reinvigorate the estate tax, the only current federal curb on the growth of dynastic wealth that destabilizes our economy and undermines our democracy.

On the corporate side, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) have introduced legislation to repeal tax incentives that actually encourage offshoring of American profits and outsourcing of American jobs.

These progressive tax reforms would raise trillions of dollars.

If all this makes sense to you—in fact are wondering why it took politicians so long to figure it out—you’re not alone. Polls show strong, bipartisan support for higher taxes on the rich. We need that revenue to meet our existing obligations to seniors, children and families, as well as make necessary investments in improved health care, repaired infrastructure, a response to dangerous climate change and other priorities.

And we need to restore an economy and society in which everyone has a fair shot, no one is left out or left behind, everyone has the chance to make their dreams come true. Real tax reform—not the scam foisted on us in 2017—can be a major step.

Frank Clemente is executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, an organization that mobilizes public support for progressive tax reform so we have the revenue needed to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and make new investments in education, infrastructure and health care to create an economy that works for all. Since 2017, CREDO members have voted to donate over $133,000 to ATF.

A Year of Climate Change Evidence: Notes from a Science Reporters Journal

2018 was filled with new evidence and warnings of the high risks and costs of climate change.

Our heat-stricken planet is orbiting through the end of a year that humanity might rather forget. But several recent climate reports tell us that 2018 may be remembered as a turning point, for better or worse, in the fight to cap global warming.

Compelling new evidence shows we will speed past a dangerous climate-risk threshold as soon as 2030 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, potentially triggering climate change on a scale that would present grave dangers to much of the living planet.

Several reports conclude that investing in a global economic transformation now would save huge amounts of money compared to paying spiraling costs for climate disasters later. Others outline the tremendous challenge: We are still shoveling millions of tons of coal into furnaces every day; CO2 emissions have increased 4.7 percent since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015.

Although there were many promises of action and signs of progress as coal plants closed, renewable costs dropped and companies and state and local governments tightened their rules, the United Nations Environment Program said the gap remains as large as ever between commitments under the Paris agreement and the cuts needed to reach its goals.

IPCC: 1.5°C Warming Is Bad; 2°C Is Worse

The climate science highlight of the year was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of a report mandated by the Paris Agreement, Global Warming of 1.5 Celsius.

It authoritatively reinforces the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by roughly half in the next 12 years in order to move toward the treaty’s most ambitious goal, and to eliminate emissions by 2050.

That means transforming energy, agriculture and forest systems on a large scale. It means rethinking how and where we build, work, shop, play and live; how we get around and feed ourselves; where we obtain the energy we need for economic development, and how we adapt to the global warming impacts that are ahead.

Chart: Global temperatures have been rising

The report concludes that the impacts if the planet warms by 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times are much greater than if we can keep warming to 1.5°C:

  • 2°C would push extreme heat events past the upper limit of variability into a climate regime never experienced by humans, especially in the tropics.
  • Sea level would rise about 4 inches more with 2°C of warming than with 1.5°C, affecting 10 million more people.
  • 2°C of warming would double or triple the species extinction rate compared to 1.5°C.

National Climate Assessment: Lots of Red Flags

After four years of work by scores of government and outside scientists, the United States issued its authoritative National Climate Assessment, which reaffirms the basic findings of the IPCC and zooms in to the impacts in the United States.

Among its findings:

  • With warming of 2°C or more, the U.S. can expect 9,300 additional heat-related deaths per year by 2100.
  • Heat waves, drought and extreme storms are impacting energy production and infrastructure, which ripples through the entire economy, including transportation, manufacturing, retail and healthcare.
  • Many ecosystems are at risk, including forests becoming more susceptible to fires, disease and insects.
  • Water and food security are threatened in many places.
Chart: Rising Demand for Air ConditioningChart: U.S. Is Seeing More Extreme Rainfall

The assessment, mandated by law and rigorously peer-reviewed, also offers a path toward resilience and sustainability, including a series of best-practices case studies, showing how investments in adaptation and resilient infrastructure can pay off, by preserving local agriculture, reducing traffic emissions or boosting forest restoration efforts, for example.

Emissions Are Still Rising

Carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution, mostly from burning fossil fuels, cause global warming, so several reports in 2018 focused on pinpointing the worst sources of the greenhouse gases, measuring how fast they are building up and also how they are absorbed by oceans, forests and fields.

All the reports show a significant increase in emissions, which means the world is not yet on track to limit global warming, no matter how the problem is measured.

Chart: The Keeling Curve - A History of CO2 in the AtmosphereThe Global Emissions Gap Between Policies and the Paris Goals

According to the 2018 Global Carbon Budget, global fossil fuel emissions increased more than 2 percent in the last 12 months. Since the Paris Agreement was signed, fossil fuel CO2 emissions have gone up more than 4 percent.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual Greenhouse Gas Index, released each spring, measures the annual increase in the heating effect of all greenhouse gases combined. In 2017, the increase was 1.6 percent and since 1990. Human-caused emissions “turned up the warming” by 41 percent in less than three decades.

Biodiversity, Food Security and Extinction

In other research fields, scientists have also started identifying global warming impacts to biodiversity, and by extension, the effects on humans due to the loss of important food crops or the ecologically valuable services of species like pollinating insects and bats.

By 2070, global warming could be the main driver of biodiversity decline. Warming temperatures can affect animals directly, by changing their habitat, and also by disrupting natural reproductive cycles between species, like flowers, insects and birds.

Tidal Flooding Is Rising with the Sea

A World Wildlife Fund study released in October found that global populations of vertebrate species have, on average, declined in size by 60 percent in the past 40 years. Habitat loss and direct exploitation are the main factors, and are linked with overconsumption of resources, which is also at the root of global warming.

In November, the European Commission Joint Research Centre suggested global warming will cause cascading extinction effects at up to 10 times the rate of existing estimates.

Scientists also showed how populations of crop-killing insects will boom with global warming, and how warming temperatures are throwing the plant-pollinator cycle out of sync.

In the oceans, hundreds of fish species are moving north to cooler water, disrupting coastal economies and threatening food supplies in less developed countries in the Global South.

In the Arctic: Rapid Changes Underway

Several 2018 reports also described how global warming continues to force rapid changes in Arctic ecosystems, including changes to ocean chemistry that are affecting marine life, as well as melting ice and thawing permafrost that is directly affecting local communities and the wider global climate system.

2018: Arctic's Second-Warmest Year on Record

The international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program shows the Arctic Ocean continuing to become more acidic as it absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. Among the impacts:

  • The changing water chemistry will affect basic biological activity in the region in ways that are still not fully understood, but there will be disruptions to the food web.
  • A wide range of species, from tiny plankton to shellfish, have a harder time reproducing in more acidic water, and the changes also affect their basic metabolism.
  • Entire ecosystems are expected to change in the coming decades as parts of the Arctic become more like adjacent temperate ocean areas.

A separate NOAA 2018 Arctic Report Card describes additional changes, including more toxic algae outbreaks, coastal permafrost erosion and a big decline of caribou herds, affecting food sources for indigenous communities.

How Climate Change Is Loading the Dice

Scientists are growing increasingly confident in linking global warming with climate disruption.

The American Meteorological Society said civilization isn’t keeping up with the sweeping changes, and that leaves people vulnerable. In today’s human-changed climate, extreme weather is much more likely. Studies showed:

Chart: Strongest Tropical Storms Have Grown More Common Since 1980Chart: Climate Change's Economic Impact in the U.S.

Despite all the evidence, and the overwhelming scientific consensus about what it all means, the world is producing “the kind of change in emissions you would expect if we didn’t know global warming was a thing,” climate scientist Adam Levy said in a recent video.

What’s Should We Be Learning from All This?

The massive amounts of information can seem overwhelming, but if you strip away most of the technical and scientific jargon, the message is clear, said Michigan State University professor Kyle White, who co-authored a National Climate Assessment chapter on Tribes and Indigenous People.

“The reports are all about one thing: To reach the global climate goal, we have to fundamentally rethink our relationship with the environment and realize that we aren’t separate from the environment,” White said.

The indigenous knowledge expressed in several of this year’s reports has universal relevance for the systems-level change we need, he said. “A sustainable environment must become a basic aspect of governance. Indigenous knowledge systems are not just about recording environmental data. They’re about the way society should be organized to learn from people who know about the environment,” he said.

Perhaps the strongest message for climate action came from a Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, who mesmerized an audience of seasoned treaty negotiators from countries around the world at the annual meetings on the Paris accord.

“You are not mature enough to tell it like is,” she said. “Even that burden you leave to us children.”

MORE BY BOB BERWYN

Tuesday Tip: 6 Ways to Fight for Reproductive Rights

It’s a frightening thought: Republicans have never been closer to overturning Roe v. Wade.

Donald Trump used his stage at the State of the Union address to repeat anti-abortion advocates’ lies. His administration is working to implement the Title X gag rule, which will ban federal funding to health clinics that provide or refer patients to abortion services, with the goal of defunding Planned Parenthood and similar providers.

With Brett Kavanaugh now sitting on the Supreme Court and Donald Trump playing to his base on abortion, the court’s solidly conservative 5-4 majority has a real opportunity to overturn the landmark case protecting a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Overturning Roe v. Wade would leave more than 25 million women in 20 states – more than one-third of women of reproductive age – without access to legal abortion. That includes “more than 4.3 million Hispanic or Latina women, nearly 3.5 million Black or African American women, more than 800,000 Asian women, and nearly 300,000 American Indian or Alaska Native women.”

In the 46 years since the court handed down this monumental decision, conservatives have tried to overturn Roe v. Wade and restrict access to abortion through legal battles, unconstitutional legislation at the state and federal levels, and intimidation and violence against women and providers. But never have they had a chance like now to truly overturn women’s protected right to a safe and legal abortion nationwide.

What can we do to stand up for a woman’s right to an abortion?

There are ways activists, allies and progressive lawmakers can protect women’s rights if states begin banning abortion or if the court agrees to take up and rules unfavorably on one of the many abortion cases making their way through the court system.

Our friends at Planned Parenthood have released a 3-part plan to fight back against any attempts to restrict women’s health and access to reproductive services now that Kavanaugh has been installed on the Supreme Court.

They include:

  1. Expanding access to reproductive services in states where abortion remains legal and increasing support for women in states where abortion is restricted
  2. Increasing pressure on state lawmakers to strengthen good laws protecting access and oppose bad laws restricting women’s health, and
  3. Fighting the negative stigma of abortion that continues to pervade politics and popular culture.

And here are three more ways you can take action right now:

  1. Push back on the Trump administration’s Title X gag rule. This gag rule is another blatant attempt by Trump and Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood, take away reproductive health care from women living in poverty and end access to abortion nationwide. Learn more and join Planned Parenthood’s fight Stand up for abortion rightsto overturn it.
  2. Sign our petition calling on the House of Representatives to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. This legislation, if passed, would bar federal and state lawmakers from advancing laws that would ban abortion or make it extremely difficult for a woman to access abortion services. You can add your name here.
  3. Join CREDO (or tell your friends to join!). We are one of Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donors and have a long history of donating to other organizations standing up for women’s rights, so you know that you will be supporting reproductive rights every day by just using our products and services.

By taking these actions, we can generate massive public pressure at both the state and national levels to create an environment where conservative lawmakers and right-wing hate groups feel the pressure to back off their attacks on women and where advocates have the support to continue standing up for women’s rights.

In the coming months and years, we hope you will continue to help us in the fight to protect reproductive freedom, no matter what Trump does or what happens at the state level or at the Supreme Court.

Victory: House votes to block Trump’s illegal emergency declaration

After massive public pressure, including from more than 150,000 CREDO members who signed an urgent petition, the House of Representatives voted to revoke Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a wasteful and racist wall on the southern border.

Donald Trump is the real emergency, and this House vote shows that our nation is sick and tired of Trump’s racist attempts to divide us and shows his emergency declaration for what it is: an ugly attempt to grab power in service of ramping up the administration’s attacks on communities of color.

Now it’s up to Senate Democrats to follow the lead of their colleagues in the House and vote to revoke Donald Trump’s national emergency. The progressive community is watching closely and expects Senate Democrats to present a united front in the fight against bigotry, hate and authoritarianism. Senate Republicans, especially those in battleground states, also have an important choice to make: they can continue to be spineless lackeys for Trump or finally stand up to his threats to our democracy.

Thank you to all who have signed our petition. If you haven’t yet added your name, click here to tell Congress to revoke Trump’s national emergency declaration.

How CREDO members’ support helped the ACLU, Amazon Watch and other progressive groups

Since our founding, CREDO has supported progressive nonprofits on the front lines of the most important fights for civil rights, climate justice, equality and more. The donations we make to these organizations – $150,000 each month – wouldn’t be possible without our members. And that’s why we want to share with you what our recent grantees have accomplished with their CREDO funding. You helped make the following possible:

The ACLU’s recent July 2018 $64,140 CREDO grant helped the organization win a victory in court to keep Kentucky’s only abortion clinic open, file a lawsuit against Facebook and 10 other employers for unlawful gender discrimination for targeting job ads to only male users, and launch a new voter education and mobilization program called ACLU Voter ahead of the 2018 election cycle.

After receiving its July 2018 $44,610 grant, Amazon Watch and partner organizations  launched the BlackRock’s Big Problem campaign to garner public support and apply political pressure to end BlackRock’s financing of companies that destroy the climate and precious ecosystems like the Amazon. The campaign also demands that BlackRock must shift its capital out of fossil fuel companies and toward clean energy solutions.

With the support of its August 2018 $66,585 CREDO grant, Social Security Works continued to lead the  fight to expand Social Security and Medicare for All in the current Congress. SSW worked with Rep. John Larson’s office to introduce a Social Security expansion bill with 204 original co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, and with Rep. Pramila Jayapal on her Medicare for All bill.

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign’s recent $43,950 CREDO grant will support the launch of a new initiative to identify, recruit and coach judicial candidates for federal court vacancies. This program will lead the progressive community’s response to the longstanding conservative pipeline of radical and unqualified judicial nominees. The goal of the program is to prepare a strong pool of qualified potential nominees to be considered by the next president.

You can learn more about how previous grantees have used CREDO’s funding here. These efforts by our partners were made possible in part by the CREDO members who use our products and services every day. Learn more about CREDO Mobile and CREDO Energy.

This International Women’s Day, it’s time to end the global gag rule

Dark grey background with text "Stand Up for Abortion Rights" for the Roe v. Wade anniversary
Editor’s note: This International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight the work of our partners at Planned Parenthood and Rewire.News on expanding women’s access to healthcare around the world.

The global gag rule doesn’t just drastically limit access to safe and legal abortion. It jeopardizes access to all health care offered by the same providers.

When we invest in global health, we save lives, transform communities, and change the trajectory for generations to come.

As a medical student, I saw the impact of U.S. foreign assistance firsthand when I worked with an NGO that provided care for women living with HIV and AIDS in Rwanda. Medical care with antiretroviral medications and wrap-around social and emotional support empowered women to better care for their families. As a physician and researcher, I have studied health systems in China, Slovenia, Nigeria, Colombia, and South Africa, among others, and I have seen the life-changing impact of global health investments. Now, as president of Planned Parenthood, I lead an organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and partners with over 100 local organizations in 12 countries in Latin America and in Africa to provide health care and education. There is no question that access to health care, including reproductive health care, is critical to all people having control over our bodies, our rights, our lives and our futures.

For years, there has been a positive global trend toward patient-centered, comprehensive, and evidence-based health care, both in the United States and internationally. But now, President Trump’s global gag rule is systematically wiping out not only access to information and services related to abortion, but health care that people around the world count on. This policy is rolling back decades of progress—and we now have the best opportunity to stop it.

When asked, most people said health care was an important issue in determining their vote in the midterm election. The new U.S. Congress, gaveled in just weeks ago, is taking action in both the Senate and House of Representatives. By introducing the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) aim to permanently repeal the global gag rule, which blocks health-care providers from offering lifesaving services and information, silences advocates, and creates fear and confusion for millions of women around the globe. They continue their long-standing leadership today to ensure that health-care providers across the world can do their jobs. Together with over 100 diverse organizations, a pro-reproductive health majority in the House, and bipartisan support in the Senate, we must use the energy of this moment to advance the Global HER Act and stop a policy that threatens health and lives around the world.

Also known as the “Mexico City Policy,” the global gag rule was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan. It barred international organizations from receiving U.S. family planning funding if they provided, referred, or advocated for abortion services. After years of the policy going in and out of effect, President Donald Trump issued an executive order in January 2017, on his first full day in office, reinstating the gag rule—and going much further. He announced that these funding restrictions would be radically expanded to apply to all U.S. global health programs, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Now, if an organization wants to partner with the U.S. to fight HIV or improve maternal health, they have to give up their right to provide legal abortion services, counseling or referrals, or engage in advocacy on abortion—even with their own, non-U.S. funds. This policy is unethical, dangerous, and unacceptable.

For proof, look no further than the Family Life Association of Swaziland, which lost nearly $1 million in U.S. funding under this expanded global gag rule, forcing them to lay off a total of 56 staff members. That meant shutting down programs that provided cancer screenings, HIV services, pregnancy care, and diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections to young people and other groups who already face disproportionately difficult barriers to care. Fewer patients in need are getting critical, life-saving health care because of this policy.

In Kenya, Family Health Options was forced to close a clinic outside of Nairobi that once provided free HIV testing, antiretroviral medication, family planning, and cancer screening. The entire facility closed, all staff were terminated, and the people in the community who relied on it were left without alternatives.

Two years into the sweeping expansion of the global gag rule, there are countless examples around the world of patients losing access to health care, especially in places where maternal deaths, HIV rates, and unmet need for contraception are unacceptably high. Planned Parenthood’s recent report builds on a growing body of evidence from global health advocates around the world, and confirms that communities are losing access to vital health services and information—from antiretrovirals for people with HIV, to nutritional support for children, to contraceptive information for women.

The global gag rule is playing politics with women’s lives around the world, and now the Trump-Pence administration is also trying to gag providers in the U.S. by preparing a similar domestic gag rule. Whether at home or abroad, the administration is pushing policies that would ask physicians like me to make an impossible choice: either be censored from providing patients with accurate, comprehensive information, or stop providing potentially lifesaving care to some of the most vulnerable patients in need. These gag rules have nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with politics. As a physician, I find it unethical and unconscionable that people could be blocked from accessing vital health care and services that are legal in their countries and in the U.S.

The global gag rule doesn’t just drastically limit access to safe and legal abortion, it jeopardizes access to all health care offered by the same providers, who are often the most qualified experts in their respective region. The policy hits hardest those populations that already face barriers to care—including people of color, families with low incomes, youth, and the LGBTQ community. It places the trust of the physician-patient relationship in jeopardy, gags advocates, violates free speech, and bucks global trends recognizing that reproductive health care is health care and health care is a human right. How can we move health care forward when physicians like me can’t even talk about it to our patients?

We will not be gagged, and we will not be silenced. This is our moment. It is time for Congress to pass the Global HER Act and end the global gag rule once and for all.

This article was originally published on Rewire.News. Subscribe to their free newsletter or follow Rewire.News on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates.

Sunrise Movement, American Constitution Society and Amnesty International thank CREDO members for their support

A blue image with text saying "Thank you from our grantees" next to a photo of people at a rally holding signs and a rainbow flag

Each month, CREDO members vote on how we distribute funding to three incredible organizations. Those small actions add up – with one click, they help fund groups holding Donald Trump accountable, fighting for human rights across the globe and working to stop climate change and pass a Green New Deal. In February, over 62,000 CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to American Constitution Society, Amnesty International and Sunrise Movement.

These donations are made possible by CREDO customers and the revenue they generate by using our products and services. The distribution depends entirely on the votes of CREDO members like you. And for that, our February grant recipients thank you.

American Constitution Society

$41,625
“Thank you for your support! This is a critical time in this country. ACS is a key progressive legal voice in the fight against efforts to take away our core freedoms, but we couldn’t do it without help from CREDO members like you!” To learn more, visit acslaw.org.

Amnesty International USA

$57,735
“Amnesty International USA thanks CREDO and its members for their commitment to human rights around the world and in the United States. The ongoing support from the CREDO community is essential in the ongoing fight to globally protect and advance human rights.” To learn more, visit amnestyusa.org.

Sunrise Movement

$50,640
“We can’t thank you enough. Sunrise is working tirelessly to pass a Green New Deal and end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel billionaires over our politics – and it’s thanks to CREDO members like you that we can keep it up.” To learn more, visit sunrisemovement.org.

Now check out the three groups we are funding in March, and cast your vote to help distribute our donations.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile and CREDO Energy and join our movement.