What is “Medicare for All”?

Fifty-four years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law, the overwhelmingly popular program that provides health care and supports the economic security for more than 58 million seniors.

Yet, despite Medicare’s overwhelming success, we continue to face a serious health care crisis in our country, especially for those without Medicare or other government-sponsored health care. Millions remain uninsured or underinsured, and many others who have health coverage are just one serious health issue away from bankruptcy. While the United States spends the most on health care per capita in the world, we have some of the lowest health outcomes among developed nations. 

That’s because the health care industry – insurance companies, pharmaceutical giants, device manufacturers, hospital groups, private equity, and Wall Street and their well-paid lobbyists – are raking in billions off the backs of sick people and spending millions to keep their profits flowing. Republicans and even some Democrats are all-too-happy to oblige. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Progressives lawmakers in Congress, policy experts, health care professionals and others who demand a bold solution to fix this for-profit health care fiasco have a commonsense, popular alternative, and you’ve probably heard about it. It’s called “Medicare for All” – a plan to expand Medicare to everyone to ensure all Americans have health coverage provided by the government.

What exactly is Medicare for All, how would it work and why are Republicans and many in the health care industry so opposed to it?

What is Medicare for All?

Health care is a basic human right, not a luxury for just those who can afford it. Medicare for All ensures that all Americans have access to health care provided by the government. It’s a single, national health plan that makes sure everyone can see a doctor when they’re sick. 

Medicare for All would replace the greedy, for-profit leeches that drive up costs without making us any healthier and would result in more health care coverage and better outcomes while reducing overall medical costs. Medicare for All would also improve the program for today’s seniors by including younger people and adding dental and hearing coverage into Medicare.

Here are more details about Medicare for All and an FAQ that dispels many of the misconceptions about single-payer health care from the Physicians for a National Health Program.

Who supports Medicare for All?

Medicare for All is extremely popular. Polling consistently shows that the American public supports a single-payer, Medicare for All system. In fact, a recent poll shows that 70% of Americans support Medicare for All, including 52% of Republicans. National Nurses United, a 150,000-member labor union, supports Medicare for All. More than 100 members of Congress support Medicare for All, and at least a dozen 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls support some version of Medicare for All.

In 2018, CREDO, along with many of our progressive allies including Healthcare-NOW, Our Revolution, Progressive Democrats of America, Daily Kos, Justice Democrats, MoveOn and Public Citizen, delivered more than 1 million petition signatures urging Congress to take action to pass Medicare for All.

Is there legislation in Congress to pass Medicare for All?

Yes, and CREDO actively supports these bills. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders recently re-introduced his comprehensive Medicare for All legislation in the Senate, and Rep. Pramilla Jayapal introduced an incredibly detailed, 125+ page Medicare for All version in the House of Representatives. 

In May, CREDO Action Co-Director Josh Nelson visited Rep. Jayapal’s office to host a great panel with Alex Lawson of Social Security Works where they discussed why profit has no place in our health care system and why Medicare for All is the best plan to ensure all people have health care. You can watch the full livestream here:

What’s stopping Medicare for All from being enacted?

Simply put: greed.

Right now, predatory insurance companies and Big Pharma stand between people and their doctors and use monopoly power to rob us blind. But despite its popularity and success, Medicare remains under constant attack by extremist Republicans who would rather reward their billionaire donors on the backs of seniors and working people.

So it should go without saying that the for-profit health care industry and their Republican enablers in Congress do not want to see Medicare expanded. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The massive Trump Tax Scam rammed through Congress in late 2017 was intentionally designed to drive up the deficit in order to justify gutting Medicare and Social Security. 

But thanks to activism and progressives in Congress, we’ve helped to prevent massive cuts to Medicare and are shifting the conversation on Medicare for All from a bold, fearless idea to a mainstream, popular opinion.

How can I help?

We need your help to show tremendous grassroots support for Medicare for All. While conservative Democrats resist the plan and some presidential candidates float proposals that fall short of expanding Medicare to everyone, we believe that bold, progressive ideas deserve support. 

Right now, CREDO and our members are pressuring Congress to support Sen. Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation. We urge you to join us and sign the petition here.

How Green Roofs Help Beat the Heat

Illustration of skyscrapers with green gardens on their roofs

Green roofs – roofs with soil and plants placed on top of conventional roofs – are growing in popularity. And that’s a good thing. 

Urban sprawl and growing population density contribute to climate change in a way that is often overlooked: heat islands – urban areas that are hotter than surrounding rural areas.

According to the EPA, “Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water pollution.” That’s a significant amount of harm!

Green roofs may alleviate some of the harm that heat islands create.

The benefits of green roofs

Plants on green roofs capture airborne pollutants and atmospheric disposition and filter noxious gases. By helping to moderate temperatures inside the buildings beneath them, green roofs also reduce the stress on power plants, which can reduce the amount of CO2 released into the air. And the benefits don’t stop there. Here is a list of the personal and community benefits of green roofs.

Personal benefits

Fire retardation

In California alone, 14 of the most massive 20 wildfires occurred in the last 15 years. When correctly built, green roofs can aid in the protection of homes because the common plants used in extensive green roofs are sedums and succulents, which retain much more water than other plants making them less likely to ignite or catch fire. 

Increased roofing membrane durability

Green rooftops act as an additional barrier between the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays and the waterproofing membranes on your roof that can be damaged by drastic temperature fluctuations. 

Energy efficiency

The extra layer of protection from the sun that green roofs provide helps to reduce energy costs by acting as natural insulation. The National Research Council in Canada found that green roofs reduced the need for air conditioning by nearly 75%. This process of lowering the temperature of the building is called evapotranspiration, whereby the plants absorb water through their roots and use the heat in the surrounding air so the water evaporates. 

Improved productivity

A recent study conducted at Stanford Medicine concluded that green roofs aren’t just good for the environment, they actually boost productivity. The study further showed that contact with nature not only lowered stress, but improved concentration and mood. 

Community benefits

Reduces the urban heat island (UHI) effect. 

As discussed earlier, UHI is caused by the heat created by energy from people, cars, buses, and trains in big cities. Areas affected by UHI can have worse air and quality than their rural neighbors. Green roofs help reduce the UHI effect because the plants absorb carbon dioxide and leading pollutants. 

Better water quality

Green roofs absorb and retain 70–90% of rainwater during the summer and 25–40% during the winter, thereby acting as a natural filter for stormwater runoff. 

Types of green roofs

Now that you know about the benefits of green roofs, let’s talk about the different types of green roofs, of which there are mainly two: intensive and extensive, which is determined by the depth of planting soil and the amount of maintenance they need. 

Intensive green roofs

Intensive green roofs are basically elevated parks. They’re recreational areas on rooftops that can support gardens, trees, playgrounds, parks, walkways, benches and other activities that require complex structural support. 

Chicago’s City Hall is a great example of an intensive green roof. 

Aerial view of Chicago City Hall
Chicago City Hall Green Roof by TonytheTiger CC by 3.0

Because of installation and maintenance costs and requirements, intensive green roofs are best suited for commercial or government buildings. 

If your town or city is proposing new construction, attend the town hall or meeting to advocate for the addition of a green roof. You can also organize to introduce a green roof initiative like the one recently passed in Denver

Extensive green roofs 

Extensive green roofs are a shallow covering of greenery on the roof. Not designed for recreational use, the extensive garden is simpler, costs less and has many of the same benefits. 

Because of the lighter nature of extensive green roofs, they require a weight capacity limit of only 15–50 pounds per square foot, which means they need less structural support. And, once established, they also require less maintenance. They are a great option for homes and condos.

What you need to build an extensive green roof

The first thing you should do is check with a professional installer to be sure your roof is a good extensive green roof candidate. 

A green roof can be built using a variety of materials, but the basic features of a green roof include: 

  • Membrane layer: This layer is the bottom-most layer that separates the green roof above from the structural supports below. 
  • Membrane protection: This layer can be made of lightweight concrete, insulation, thick plastic, copper foil or a combination of these materials. 
  • Insulation: This layer protects the membrane below by preventing the weight of the green roof from crushing the membrane below. 
  • Drainage: This layer is designed to absorb and remove the excess water and sometimes store the water to be used by top plants over extended periods of time. 
  • Root barrier: The root barrier is for deep-rooted plants like trees or shrubs, so it is only required for Intensive gardens. Usually, foil or plastic is used for this layer. 
  • Growing medium: Essentially, the soil or foundation for the vegetation that will sprout on top. The type, mixture and amount needed will depend on the kind of plants you choose. To prevent the wind from blowing topsoil, it’s a good idea to also add burlap jute blankets to this layer. 
  • Vegetation: This is the fun part. Once you have the layered structure, it’s time to choose your plants. A few things to keep in mind here are climate and the amount of sun your rooftop receives. For extensive gardens, sedums and succulents are best. 

This step-by-step Instructables Workshop will give you insight into one person’s experience. Or if you need additional inspiration, these aerial views of green roof solutions capture of the artistry and beauty of green roofs. 

Rooftop gardens

You might love the idea of green roofs, but if you’re not quite ready to create one for your building, you might want to consider a rooftop container garden. But, before you start planning the garden, make sure you have both the legal permission and the structural integrity required for the task. 

Our most vulnerable communities are affected by extreme heat first – and most. The EPA warns that cities like Chicago could see 30 more days per year of 100+ degree weather. If green roofs can help reduce the urban heat island effect, then let’s work to ensure municipal governments – and the real estate developers they approve – commit to the best kind of urban jungle: green roofs. 

CREDO stands with the progressive movement at Netroots Nation 2019

Netroots Nation, the yearly progressive conference that brings together activists, politicians, the news media and more for four days of trainings, panels, networking and featured speakers, was held in Philadelphia July 10–13 – and CREDO members and staff were out in full force.

Nearly every year, CREDO plays a role at the event, from its nascent beginnings more than 15 years ago to this year’s largest-ever conference. 

And this year, CREDO stepped up our presence in a big way.

CREDO Action Co-Director Heidi Hess opened the Friday afternoon keynote addresses with a moving speech celebrating the power of the progressive grassroots movement and reflecting on our responsibilities to work hard and dream big when it comes to using our power to create the world we all deserve.

CREDO Action Campaign Manager Thaís Marques hosted an organizing training entitled “What is Absorption? Turning Mobilizing into Organizing at Scale” with Nicole Carty of PowerLabs. During her session, Thaís explained how we can turn moments of outrage into meaningful, real and lasting power, and used her experience as an organizer at Movimiento Cosecha as an example of how she helped bring people from all walks of life, especially in immigrant communities, together during and after powerful mobilizations.

Speakers at Netroots Nation 2019

And CREDO Mobile and CREDO Energy joined the Netroots “town square” with a major presence designed to bring together activists and progressive leaders to meet our staff and learn more about our mobile and energy products. We were honored to play a large role in the success of this year’s Netroots Nation, and we look forward to seeing our friends and fellow CREDO members in Denver next August!

Maine enacts state-level Green New Deal law to address climate crisis

If the federal government is incapable or unwilling to seriously tackle the climate crisis, lawmakers at the state level are ready to step up to take on the fight.

In June, one of the first-ever state-level Green New Deal bills was signed into law in Maine.

 

Introduced by progressive lawmaker and environmental activist Rep. Chloe Maxmin, who was endorsed in 2018 by CREDO-ally Sunrise Movement, Maine’s Green New Deal legislation originally included a requirement that the state reach 80% renewable energy by 2040. The final law signed by the governor did not include that goal but focused more broadly on green energy workforce development and clean energy projects. Rep. Maxim’s Green New Deal bill is the first in the nation to receive the endorsement of organized labor, who mostly criticize Green New Deal plans at the federal level.

Two other bills to promote clean energy were also recently signed by Gov. Janet Mills. L.D. 1494 mandates updates to the state’s renewable portfolio standards, doubling the requirement for clean energy sold in the state to 80% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050. Another bill, L.D. 1711, would expand solar power to more Mainers by expanding the arbitrary cap on customers who can obtain power from community solar farms.

Maine is among a few trailblazing states who are taking action on more local Green New Deal plans while Donald Trump and Republicans continue to deny the climate crisis. The New York Assembly recently passed an aggressive Green New Deal–style bill that expands solar and wind energy and would put the state on the path to 100% renewables by 2040. Other states, including New Mexico, Oregon, California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Colorado, passed bills in the last year to cut greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy. 

As states continue to take steps to combat climate change, the federal government must step up and take action. Click here to urge Congress to support the Green New Deal resolution by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey. 

Additionally, if you’d like to let us know which parts of the Green New Deal are important to you, let us know, and we’ll share your feedback with key decision makers in Congress.

How to Waterproof Your Phone for the Summer

Illustration of a man in a fishing boat with his cell phone in his hand.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s 2019, aren’t our phones waterproof yet? The answer is unfortunately, no. While new iPhones and Androids are designed to resist some kinds of water and dust damage—if treated properly—they are limited.

So before you head to the pool, beach, or river this summer let’s talk about some things you can do to help prevent accidental water damage to your phone.

Check your smartphone’s IP rating

For the most part, we’re going to discuss ways to protect your phone from accidental water damage. However, if you’re a deep-sea diver, lifeguard, or the type of person who jumps into the deep end of a pool before checking their pockets (guilty party here) you should check out your phone’s IP rating. 

IP stands for Ingress Protection and is a type of certification issued by the  International Electrotechnical Commission; they specify how resistant a device is to fresh water, dirt, dust, and sand. The Samsung Galaxy S9, for example, is IP68 certified, which means it is water-resistant up to 30 meters deep and for 30 minutes, whereas the iPhone X is rated IP67 for a depth resistance of just one meter for 30 minutes.  

Get a hard case

Hard cases are good for rugged outdoor activities because they can protect against shock, sand, dirt, rain, and snow. Some cases are even built for deep water photography. But make sure you check for these 3 aspects of any case you buy: 

  1. Waterproofing depth: How deep can you go before the waterproofing fails? Is it three feet? thirty feet? Or 100 feet?
  2. Time: How long can your smartphone be underwater? One minute? thirty minutes? An hour?
  3. Manufacturer’s guarantee: if the brand doesn’t guarantee its waterproofing, that means it doesn’t believe in the effectiveness of its own product, and you probably shouldn’t either.

 Popular brands for hard cases are the: the LifeProof FRE series,  NÜÜD series, OTBBA, iThrough, and ORDTBY.

 Get a smartphone dry bag

This solution is for the more budget-conscious consumer. A smartphone dry bag is just a thin bag in which you can seal your smartphone. At a cost between $7-30, it is a great option if you are looking for a limited use solution such as a day at the beach or pool. But there are a few downsides you should be aware of:  

  • These bags are susceptible to tearing. The foldable material that makes them easy to pack is made of plastic, which means the seal will deteriorate over time. This is especially true in saltwater.
  • The neck cords can break, causing you to lose your phone. 
  • You may experience poor sound quality because the bag covers the phone’s speakers.
  • The phone must be removed from the bag before it can be charged.  
  • If used incorrectly, the bag is ineffective.

Some popular brands include JOTO, CaliCase, TeaTronics, Vansky, and Mpow.

 Make your own waterproof pouch

Some people make fun of the Ziploc-type bag phone case, but this cheap solution actually works. Waterproof phone pouches work especially well at the beach because they keep both sand and water away from your smartphone. 

Here’s a video tutorial that shows how two bags provide superior protection by securing the initial seal. And if you think this option is enticing, you are going to love this upgraded option involving a vacuum-sealing device like the Food Saver. 

Experiment with your new device

Before you go running towards the open water with your newly protected device, be sure to test it in a sink or basin filled with water. Once you’ve tested the device, you’ll be primed to capture amazing underwater images of your epic waterborne adventures. 

What to do if your phone does come in contact with water

Check out our post, 5 Things Every Smartphone User Should Know, where we’ve detailed what you should do if your phone does come in contact with water. 

Enjoy the summer

Now that you’ve properly protected your phone, it’s time to lay back, enjoy the summer, and relax. 

How to plan an ocean or park clean-up in your community

Illustration of man picking up trash on the beach

Each summer, millions of people flock to beaches and parks to enjoy beautiful weather and good company. Unfortunately, a lot of trash is left behind. This trash doesn’t just interfere with our enjoyment of our public spaces, it contributes to the 8 million metric tons of trash and debris in our oceans, 80% of which comes from land-based activities. 

If you’re concerned about the amount of trash in your community, you can plan a cleanup project. Community-organized and -led park and beach cleanups are a great way to reduce waste and are now easier to plan than ever!  

Here are 8 easy tips for how to organize a successful beach or park cleanup day. 

1. Don’t get overwhelmed. Planning events can be stressful, but cleanup days don’t have to be. Hosting this event can be as simple as gathering your four best friends for a little sunrise cleanup followed by a group hike. Or, if organizing is your jam, these tips are easily scalable to bring in your neighborhood, company or even entire city. 

2. Pick your cleanup location. Decide where you’re going to focus your efforts so you can determine what you’ll need to bring. 

Not sure where to begin? No problem. Use this government website to find your local government office. Then, direct yourself to the Parks and Recreation department. This will have information on places to start and what permits you might need, though typically, permits are only needed for underwater cleanup projects. 

Use your discretion. It is your neighborhood after all. 

3. Pick a date & time. Saturday mornings are usually the best time, but you can use your discretion here. Consider a short block beginning at 8:00 a.m. and ending around noon, before the hottest part of the day. A few hours can make a huge difference and won’t feel like much of an obligation.

4. Plan for waste removal. Once you collect the trash/recyclables, you’re going to need to dispose of it somewhere. Depending on your group size you’re likely to haul in 50–300lbs of waste. That’s a lot! 

For small groups, consider borrowing a truck so you can transport your trash to the dumpster and recycling center. 

For larger groups, contact your local waste management company and ask for a bin to be placed at your site. Plan ahead for this as bin availability and delivery options may be limited and can take up to four weeks to schedule. 

If you’re cleaning up a park, reach out to local businesses in the area about depositing your collection in their bins. Once they hear about what you’re doing, some businesses are more than happy to oblige. 

5. Reach out to local vendors. Clean parks and beaches are good for business, so don’t be afraid to seek sponsorship from them. The sky’s the limit as far as sponsorship possibilities, but here are a few ideas: 

  • Pizza exchange. Ask a local pizzeria to provide your volunteers with pizza in exchange for 5 lbs of trash collected per each volunteer. 
  • Beer exchange. Ask a local brewery for a round of free beers for every 5 lbs of trash collected per volunteer. 
  • Corporate sponsorship. Ask a local corporation (or your employer) to donate $5 for every 5 lbs of the trash you collect, then use that money to pay for your cleanup celebration.

When you partner with another organization you broaden your reach, which leads us to the next step. 

6. Get out the word. You’ve got a great idea. Now, it’s time to rally the troops. Start this process early. Make your pitch quick, simple and conversational. Here’s an example:

Hey Fellow Lovers of the Planet, 

I’m planning a (beach/park) cleanup day and I’ve love for you to join me. We’re going to be cleaning up (name of the site) on (date and time). After, we’ll celebrate at (sponsored restaurant/event). Let me know if you’d be interested, and I can send you more information. 

Add photos! Take pictures of the area you plan to clean. Show how the trash and debris are affecting the site and its users. For coastal cleanups, you can also use this handy flyer. 

Spread the word:

    1. Ask if you can leave a flyer with the vendor you’ve just partnered with.
    2. Create a Facebook Event. 
    3. List your event on Nextdoor.
    4. List your event on Neighborland.
    5. Post photos of the problem on Instagram. 
    6. Post a newsletter above the water cooler in your office. 
    7. Ask for your event to be included in city newsletters and websites.
    8. Ask for your event to be included in school newsletters and websites.

7. Prepare for your cleanup day. Now that you have a date, location, and group of people ready to help you’re going to need a plan. 

  1. Confirm dumpster delivery and pick-up.
  2. Know where the closest restrooms are for your volunteers.
  3. Confirm sponsorship plans (e.g., pizza or brewery).
  4. Create an email blast or Evite reminder to go out the day before your event that includes. 
    • Date and time
    • Location (including maps) and meeting spot.
    • Volunteer checklist. 
    • Fun photo of the cleanup process.
  5. Download and print this checklist of items you’ll need. 
  6. Gather supplies. 

8. Enjoy Clean Up day. Scan your checklist one last time to make sure you have all of the items you need, and perhaps most importantly, have a good time! 

CREDO protesters crash fundraiser for Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco #CloseTheCamps

Trump’s racist deportation and criminalization nightmare is becoming a reality right before our eyes. Trump and his racist henchmen aren’t just running concentration camps for children on the border. They are terrorizing immigrants across the country and doing their best to change federal policies and practices to close our doors to refugees, take social services away from immigrants and inflict their racist agenda on our democracy.

Democrats who refuse to stand up to Trump are complicit in this nightmare. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has the power to defund the agencies implementing Trump’s racist agenda, or at least use her power to rein them in, but recently, she caved to Mitch McConnell and Republicans and pushed through additional funding.

That’s why I led a protest outside a fundraising event hosted by Speaker Pelosi in San Francisco to hold her accountable and show her what standing in solidarity with immigrant families looks like:

"They told us we could only have one layer of clothing, and took the rest of our clothes and threw them away."

As her donors brushed past our crowd, we urged Speaker Pelosi to stop writing blank checks to those who want to destroy our democracy and to close these camps once and for all. She has the power to show real solidarity with the people Trump threatens every day by defunding ICE and CBP and by letting go of her chokehold on an impeachment investigation – but she’s refusing to use it. 

We expect more from her, and we will continue to demand it.

To watch the entire livestream of our protest, please click here or watch below:

CREDO Tip: 3 Ways to Boost Your Privacy on an Android Phone

Illustration of a phone with a green lock in the screen and test next to it that says "3 Ways to Boost Your Privacy on an Android Phone"

If you want to protect your privacy, a good place to start is with your phone. It’s an open door to your life. The apps you install can potentially collect data and stream it to companies that use it to make money.

This is particularly true of Android phones. According to some studies, they collect 10 times more data than iPhones – and that’s just Google. The company that manufactured your phone and the apps you’ve installed on it may also gather and use your personal data for their own purposes.

A lot of this data collection may be harmless. But a lot of it is not. For example, news reports revealed earlier this year that an app called Twinning from PopSugar was leaking user selfies. And in January, security experts discovered that one of the world’s most popular weather apps was collecting an inordinate amount of data on users and subscribing some of them to paid services without permission.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your privacy and make informed decisions: 

  • First, only install apps from the official Google Play store. 
  • Second, review the permissions granted to the apps you’ve already installed. 
    • Open Settings, tap Apps or Application Manager (depending on your device), tap the app you want to review and then tap Permissions to see what data the app is accessing. If a calculator app is accessing your photo gallery, you should probably turn that permission off.

As a mobile carrier, CREDO makes protecting our members’ privacy one of our top priorities, and we have a long record of fighting for their privacy rights. That’s why we’d like to share three more ways you can protect the data on your Android device and hide your web activity. 

Use a VPN

A virtual private network is a good measure you can take to protect your privacy on your phone. A VPN provides a secure connection between you and the sites you visit and the apps you use. This is important because when you surf the internet using mobile data, your carrier can watch and gather information on every website you visit. ISPs do the same, and so does Google. Under the NSA’s sweeping secretive domestic spying program (with the help of AT&T), the government can also track your internet data. A VPN can do a good job of concealing your activity (and your location) from them.

After launching the VPN, it first encrypts all data before it leaves your phone. It then routes the data through the VPN server and from there to your online destination. In the site’s view, your data is coming from the VPN server, not you. VPNs hide your IP address from the sites and apps you use, and they hide the sites and apps you use from your carrier and your ISP.

For a relatively inexpensive fee, you can use a commercial VPN provider like NordVPN or Private Internet Access. Outline VPN allows you to set up your own VPN that you control – and it’s available for Android in the Google Play store.

Use a non-tracking search engine or browser

Even if you do use a VPN, Google can still monitor your activity in Chrome and when you use Google to search from your home screen. It will then add this activity to its detailed profile of you and may share that activity with third parties.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that does not track you. According to the company, it does not store or sell your search history and does not keep a profile of you. Each time you use it, you are effectively a new person. DuckDuckGo does, however, serve you ads based on the search terms you use in each session.

Another good option for more private browsing is Firefox Focus, which blocks a range of common online trackers and ads and includes a neat one-click wipe function. Just click the button and your browsing history disappears.

Tor Browser is another good option to protect your privacy online. Built on Firefox code, Tor uses a special network to anonymize your internet activity while blocking trackers and utilizing multi-layered encryption. The company recently released a fully-supported Android app that you can check out here.

A quick note on settings in common internet browsers: Many browsers offer you the option to choose not to have your online activity tracked. You can turn on this privacy setting, but there is no law mandating that websites must respect your request, and most simply ignore it. You can learn more about “Do Not Track” from our allies at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Use a secure messaging app

Secure messaging apps make encryption very easy, they’re free and they provide high-level privacy for all your communications, including texting, photo sharing, voice and video calling. They don’t just help with privacy and security of your data, they also help if you’re concerned with intrusive tracking and annoying ads in your social media messaging apps.

Secure messaging technology is complex. An algorithm encrypts messages you send so they can’t be read while in transit, then decrypts them at the receiver’s end. Using a secure messaging app is simple. Just install it on your phone and you can communicate securely with anyone else who has the same app. The messages aren’t stored on company servers and can’t be mined by advertisers or read by eavesdroppers – not by hackers, service providers or the government. Even the app makers can’t access your messages.

Signal is one of the better secure messaging apps available today. While it’s not perfect (you must provide a phone number when signing up), it’s probably better than any of its competitors. Signal set the standard for secure messaging protocols and end-to-end encryption that other apps now use. The app and service are free and open-source and allow you to text/SMS, voice and video chat, and share documents and photos. Signal includes a timer for self-destructing messages, and the company doesn’t store data or metadata. You can learn how to install and use Signal for Android from our friends at EFF.

(Regarding the apps mentioned above: the views and values of the app creators are their own and are not endorsed by CREDO Mobile. Before downloading any app, confirm that it meets your personal standards for corporate ethics and protection of privacy. And whenever you download any Android app, do it from the official Google Play store.)

AT&T donated $2.7 million to 193 anti-LGBTQ politicians

AT&T can rainbow-stripe its logo for Pride Month, wave the rainbow flag and claim it supports the LGBTQ community, but none of those things can make up for the fact that AT&T is directly funding politicians who are fighting equality and LGBTQ rights.

According to new reporting by Judd Legum at Popular Information, AT&T donated a total of $2.755 million to 193 anti-LGBTQ politicians in 2017 and 2018. 

While AT&T has long touted its inclusive employee policies and support of LGBTQ causes, its donations to right-wing bigots tell another story.

Here’s just a sample of the politicians AT&T contributed to during the last election cycle: 

  • $36,850 to now-Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who supports Donald Trump’s ban on trans people in the military, regularly votes against protections for LGBTQ people and opposes marriage equality.
  • $19,752 to Sen. Ted Cruz, a famously anti-LGBTQ politician who co-sponsored a bill that would sanction discrimination by businesses against LGBTQ people and urged states to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling affirming marriage equality.
  • $14,985 to Rep. Karen Handel, a vocal opponent of LGTBQ adoption, who once said: “I think that for a child to be in a household … with a situation where the parents are not married, as in being one man and one woman, is not the best household for a child.”
  • $12,500 to Rep. Doug Collins, who opposes the Equality Act (legislation that CREDO actively supports) and believes it would promote “radical gender ideology” and “prioritizes the rights of biological men over the rights of biological women.”

AT&T’s two-faced stance on LGBTQ rights is disappointing, but it’s not surprising: AT&T regularly courted extreme politicians to benefit its bottom line. The company donated $2 million to Trump’s inauguration to curry favor. It hired Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen to help influence the repeal of net neutrality regulations. It lobbied and donated to Republican politicians to ensure the passage of Trump’s Tax Scam, netting it billions while the company continued to lay off workers.

Here at CREDO, we don’t support anti-LGBTQ politicians – and we never will.

As America’s only progressive mobile company, we donate to organizations fighting for LGBTQ rights like the Transgender Law Center and the National LGBTQ Task Force. And we mobilize our millions of members to take action to protect marriage equality and fight for transgender rights. In all, CREDO members have helped us contribute more than $12.7 million to progressive groups fighting for civil rights and have taken millions of actions to stand up for LGBTQ rights.

 And unlike AT&T and other major carriers, we don’t slap a Pride flag on our logo in June – because we don’t need to. We stand with the LGBTQ community all year long.

 If you’d like to learn more about how you can help fund progressive organizations and activism through your mobile company, click here to find out how you can make the switch and join CREDO Mobile.

Our June grantees Free Speech For People, Friends of the Earth Action and MPower Change 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 Trump accountable, defending the environment and standing up for the American Muslim community. In June, CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to Free Speech For People, Friends of the Earth Action and MPower Change.

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 June grant recipients thank you.

Free Speech For People

“CREDO members inspire the work to defend our Constitution and reclaim our democracy! Your support makes it possible for Free Speech For People to confront the corruption of the presidency and to lift up the promise of political equality for all.

-John Bonifaz, President, Free Speech For People

To learn more, visit https://freespeechforpeople.org/

Friends of the Earth Action

“Thank you for your support and partnership! We value your dedication to our work to defend the environment and champion a healthy and just world. CREDO members like you help us fight—and win—many important battles for our planet.”

Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth Action

To learn more, visit https://foeaction.org/.

MPower Change

“Thank you for supporting MPower Change! CREDO funding helps us support and mobilize Muslim communities in the U.S. and strengthen American movements for human rights, social justice, health, and safety for all communities.” 

-Linda Sarsour, Director, MPower Change

To learn more, visit https://mpowerchange.org/.

Now check out the three groups we are funding in July, 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.