What’s Good, February 25 to March 10
Good News from the courts!
- The Supreme Court declined to hear a Trump administration appeal against a recent federal court ruling ordering the administration to reinstate major portions of DACA.
- The Trump administration suffered two judicial setbacks in major environmental cases: a district court rejected the Department of the Interior’s attempt to delay implementation of a rule preventing waste of natural gas and and methane on public lands, and a federal appeals court refused to dismiss a suit brought by 21 teenagers and young adults accusing the US government of systemically failing to address climate change.
- A federal appeals court ruled that civil rights law bars employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation.
- A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction halting construction of a controversial pipeline in Louisiana.
Good News from the ballot box!
- Two more state legislative seats turned blue in special elections: one in a New Hampshire state house district that Trump won by 13 points, and another in a Connecticut state house district that had been held by Republicans for the past 40 years.
- Maine’s ranked-choice voting system will remain in place for the state’s June primary election after a “people’s veto” referendum campaign gathered enough signatures to temporarily nullify a state house law that would have scrapped RCV. (In other words: Maine’s voters will use RCV to vote on whether or not to repeal a law that would repeal RCV.)
Good News from far and wide!
- A statewide teachers’ strike that closed West Virginia schools for almost two weeks ended when the state’s Republican governor signed a bill giving teachers and other state employees a 5% pay raise.
- The “Philando Feeds the Children” fundraiser campaign paid off all outstanding student lunch debt at all 56 schools in the St. Paul, MN public school system. The campaign honors the memory of Philando Castile, an elementary school cafeteria supervisor who was locally famous for helping cover lunch costs for disadvantaged students before being shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in 2016.
- A project to construct North America’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Washington State has been scrapped after a five-year battle between the petroleum industry and local environmental activists.
- Washington State also won the race to sign the nation’s first state-level Net Neutrality bill into law.
Good News from close to home!
- The Massachusetts House of Representatives is poised to create an office to investigate accusations of sexual harassment and other misconduct by elected officials and staffers.
- Somerville and Arlington received $1.9M in grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund programs providing transitional and permanent housing for homeless individuals and families.
- The Somerville Retirement Board and Somerville Board of Aldermen submitted a home rule petition to the Massachusetts state legislature requesting permission to divest Somerville’s municipal pension fund from fossil fuels.
Good News for government oversight!
- Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and several other White House aides who never received formal security clearance had their status downgraded and their access to top-secret intelligence revoked.
- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was caught in an attempt to use government funds to purchase a $31,000 dining furniture set for his office and subsequently canceled the purchase. A senior HUD director also stuck his neck out to directly implicate Carson’s wife as a key player in the FurnitureGate scandal.
- The House of Representatives passed a bill forcing lawmakers to personally pay their own sexual harassment settlements rather than using their publicly funded office budgets.
- Trump spokesmouth Sarah Huckabee Sanders (inadvertently) publicly admitted that the hush-money rumors at the center of the Stormy Daniels scandal are true.
- Bonus! Trump is reported to be pissed off something fierce at the Sanders own-goal.
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has secured the cooperation and testimony of a new witness for the ongoing Russia investigation: a low-profile but well-connected Middle East expert with ties to several associates of President Trump.
Bad News for the NRA!
- Two of the nation’s largest gun retailers announced significant sales policy changes: both Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21 years old, and Dick’s will no longer sell assault rifles or high-capacity magazines at all.
- Bonus! ICYMI, Walmart stopped selling assault rifles in 2015.
- The #BoycottNRA campaign racked up two more notable victories: outdoor equipment retailers REI and Mountain Equipment Co-Op will no longer carry 50 brands produced by a company with close ties to the NRA. Meanwhile, the visibility of the pressure campaign on Amazon, Google, Apple, and others to drop the NRA’s NRAtv streaming channel received a boost courtesy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
- Emma González, an 18-year-old Parkland student who has become one of the faces of the #NeverAgain movement, has surged past the NRA in terms of Twitter audience. As of March 10, @Emma4Change has 1.21M followers, while the NRA has a mere 620K.
- Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a state bill chock full of NRA-enraging goodies: a three-day waiting period on most gun sales, an increased age requirement of 21 for all firearms sales, prohibition of bump stocks, and broadened law enforcement power to seize weapons. It also increases funding for school police officers and mental health services.
And lastly, a few chaser shots of 150-proof Neener Neener to make all that Good News go down smoother:
- A West Virginia judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by coal magnate and Trump campaign donor Robert Murray against comedian John Oliver over a Last Week Tonight with John Oliver segment in which a giant squirrel named Mr. Nutterbutter told Murray to “eat shit, Bob”.
- Swamp-on-Swamp violence! Former White House communications director Anthony “Ten-Day” Scaramucci repeatedly insulted White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in a number of cable news appearances, while Trump’s aluminum and steel tariffs were greeted by the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation and the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity as “disappointing, economically regressive and counterproductive” (HF) and “disappointing” and “misguided government actions” (AfP).
- The reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors visited Washington, DC but skipped the traditional champions’ visit to the White House and instead toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture along with 40 local children.
- The majority owner of a hotel in Panama had his staff remove the Trump name from the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Check out this video of the letters being unceremoniously crowbarred off and dumped in a plastic storage bin.
- Trump dropped more than 200 places in the Forbes magazine annual world ranking of billionaires, from 544 to 766, a result of his fortune shrinking by more than $400m over the past year.
- Trump’s aggregate job approval rating remains stuck around 40%, with disapproval ratings in the mid to high 50s. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, Trump was named the worst president since World War II, with a whopping 41% of respondents selecting him over the 12 other presidents to have served during that time. “In 73 years, 13 men have governed from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and none of them have done so with less admiration from the American people,” said Tim Malloy of Quinnipiac.