A new report from Food & Water Watch and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, “Paying to Pollute: The Environmental Injustice of Pollution Trading,” examines the adverse effects of policies that allow market-based pollution trading, in particular the impact on low-income communities of color that already face elevated environmental hazards: “Pollution trading fundamentally precludes the democratic engagement of vulnerable communities by placing the decision to pollute solely in the hands of industry… The shift to market-based environmental regulation has daunting environmental justice implications for minority and lower-income communities. Companies trade pollution credits with little or no public input. This lack of transparency can concentrate emissions and exacerbate the persistent inequitable health and economic burdens in disadvantaged communities. Unlike the regulatory process, pollution trading leaves almost no room for political or legal recourse.” (via Colorlines)
A lawyer for Sandy Hook families argued in court this week that gun companies were “negligent to market a dangerous military-style weapon to civilians.” The Guardian reports that the attorney for the plaintiffs said: “Remington may never have known [Sandy Hook shooter] Adam Lanza, but they had been courting him for years… The weapon he needed for his mission that day was never in doubt,” explaining the Bushmaster AR-15 style rifle the shooter used had been marketed as “the uncompromising choice when you demand a rifle as mission-adaptable as you.” The case faces steep judicial hurdles: “American politicians have tried to protect gun companies from this angle of attack. In 2005, Congress passed a law designed to shield gun companies from liability when their legally sold products are misused by criminals. The law does not shield companies from lawsuits over faulty products, or over the ‘negligent entrustment’ of a product to someone the seller knows is likely to misuse it. By trying to define the mass marketing of AR-15-style guns to civilians as ‘negligent entrustment,’ the Sandy Hook families are pursuing what experts call a novel legal strategy.”
Seven senators – four Republicans, including John Cornyn of Texas, who has an A+ NRA rating, and three Democrats, including vocal gun control advocate Chris Murphy -- introduced legislation to improve the federal background check system, primarily by requiring state and federal agencies to be more thorough in entering criminal records into the database.
The New York Times tracks the soda tax campaign in Colombia, including broad public support for the measure, the committed work of activists, and a government crackdown on those same activists (Colombia’s consumer protection agency barred Dr. Esperanza Ceron, head of the advocacy organization, from speaking publicly about the links between sugary drinks and chronic disease), who were also harassed, stalked, and threatened. The Times writes, “The battle over taxing sugar-sweetened beverages is becoming one of the world’s most ferocious policy brawls — a clash of science, politics and money in dozens of countries and cities. “The industry sees sugary-drink taxes as an existential threat,” said Dr. James Krieger, executive director of Healthy Food America, which tracks beverage tax initiatives. In the United States, the industry has spent at least $107 million at the state and local levels since 2009 to beat back soda taxes and beverage warning labels, a new study found. Compared to the domestic tactics, Dr. Krieger said, overseas, “it’s much dirtier, much more bare-knuckled.” … The battles have been particularly intense in emerging markets as the industry seeks to make up for falling soda consumption in wealthier nations. Latin America has surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest soft-drink market, according to the World Health Organization, with sales of carbonated soft drinks doubling there since 2000 while they declined in the United States.”
A new investigation conducted by ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union analyzed five years of pedestrian citation data from Duval County (which includes the city of Jacksonville). They found that residents of the city’s three poorest zip codes were nearly six times as likely to receive pedestrian citations, and that black residents were three times more likely to be cited than white residents. Further, the investigation found that Jacksonville’s pedestrian infrastructure, especially in the poorest neighborhoods, is inadequate to meet pedestrians’ needs, forcing people to navigate unsafe roadways and placing them at risk of citations and contact with law enforcement.
On Tuesday, a shooter killed six people in Northern California, including his wife and neighbors. ThinkProgress reports, “Neal has a history of violence against women. One of the people killed Tuesday was a woman who had sought protection from Neal earlier this year. The woman, a neighbor of Neal’s, filed a temporary restraining order against him after he violently attacked her and another woman in January. According to law enforcement, Neal fired at the two women through a fence, then stabbed one of them and stole a cell phone. Additionally, neighbors told CBS Neal had “fired multiple rounds for days” before the shooting Tuesday. The story of Tuesday’s shooting is part of a disturbing trend: Mass shooters are, more often than not, domestic abusers with histories of violence against women.”
The Republican tax proposal that is expected to pass out of the Senate Finance Committee later this week would repeal the ACA’s individual mandate. Repealing the individual mandate would result in approximately 13 million more Americans being uninsured by 2027, with four million losing coverage as soon as 2018. Additionally, if tax reform becomes law, deficits would spike by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, which would trigger massive automatic cuts to health and social programs, including eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund (which supplies 12% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget). Medicare and federal student loans would face cuts, and many vital programs would be zeroed out entirely, including the Social Services Block Grants, which supports substance abuse treatment, foster care and adoption, and special services for people with disabilities, among many other resources; vocational support for people with disabilities and workers who have lost their jobs due to broader economic changes; the Crime Victims Fund; and other social service programs.
Representative Jackie Speier (D-California) revealed that approximately $15 million in sexual harassment claims have been paid out by the US House over the past 15 years.