Friday, February 24, 2017

Success Stories this week!

Defamation Suit Tossed, Landry's Fined $450,000
A Harris County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Landry's Inc. against an animal rights organization that alleged four white tigers at the Downtown Aquarium were kept in living conditions that were inadequate. Photo: PAT SULLIVAN, STF / AP
Three days after both sides argued in court, Judge Steven Kirkland has dismissed Landry's defamation lawsuit against the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Carney Anne Nasser, and Cheryl Conley! To sanction Landry's for bringing such a frivolous lawsuit, Judge Kirkland issued a fine of $450,000 plus attorneys fees, and cleared the path for a federal lawsuit to free the tigers.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund along with Irvine & Conner PLLC is expected to file the federal case under the Endangered Species Act in the near future. In the meantime, today's victory is a win for activists everywhere, and the right for us to speak up and voice our concerns. Now more than ever, we unite to #freehoustontigers. Thank you for your support!

Praise Closure of Cruel Animal Circus
Target: Noble John B. Watkins, President of the Orillia, Ontario Shrine Club

Goal: Applaud decision to end circus which used captive animals for entertainment.

Due to increasing pressure by animal welfare activists, the Orillia Shrine Club will no longer be hosting its annual circus. The show has seen a drop in attendance over the years due to its use of animals. Instead, the Shrine Club will be focusing on a different way to raise funds for children’s hospitals, including an Oktoberfest event.

According to organizers, public pressure was a major factor in the decision. They claim that while the animals featured in the circus were treated well, the ongoing controversy surrounding captive animals used as entertainment was too great to ignore.

Animals held in captivity and forced to perform in circuses face both mental and physical anguish. Elephants, which have been used by the circus in previous years, are taken from their mothers at a young age. They are chained, starved, and beaten during the training process. These intelligent animals are often kept isolated and unable to move around for much of the time they are not performing.

This decision is on-trend with other circuses deciding to nix animal acts, most notably, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Public opinion is increasingly against the enslavement of animals for entertainment, and this decision shows that the Shrine Club is paying attention to that. Sign the petition below to applaud this decision, which sets a shining example for others to follow. Sign the PETITION LETTER!

Progressive Breakfast: Resistance Recess Puts Congress on Notice for Supporting Trump's Agenda


Libero Della Piana
Resistance Recess Puts Congress on Notice for Supporting Trump’s Agenda
Rep. Dave Trott’s constituents in the Northeastern suburbs of Detroit gathered at his office to ask him about his stance on health care, refugees and other urgent issues. Instead of scheduling a meeting, Trott’s staff called the police. The delegation was organized by Michigan People’s campaign, an affiliate of People’s Action ... If members of Congress won’t answer their constituents’ questions about where they stand on repealing the Affordable Care Act or other dangerous policies of the Trump administration, they will surely face the electorate’s wrath at the ballot box in 2018.

Resistance Recess

This week while Congress in on recess, People’s Action and our member organizations around the country are organizing a #ResistanceRecess. We are leading the grassroots resistance. Join us! Click here to find local town hall meetings in your area, and come tell your Congressperson to stand up for health care and against the Trump agenda.

Homestretch for DNC

Final day of campaigning for DNC Chair. The Hill: “Neither Ellison nor Perez has a lock on the majority … There’s chatter among DNC members that a deadlock between supporters of Ellison and Perez could pave the way for a compromise candidate to win after the first vote.”
Progressives push Democrats toward stronger resistance. NYT: “…spurred by explosive protests and a torrent of angry phone calls and emails from constituents — and outraged themselves by Mr. Trump’s swift moves to enact a hard-line agenda — Democrats have all but cast aside any notion of conciliation with the White House … Yet Democrats acknowledge there is a wide gulf between the party’s desire to fight Mr. Trump and its power to thwart him, quietly worrying that the expectations of the party’s activist base may outpace what Democratic lawmakers can achieve.”
Politico sizes up a week of town hall resistance:POLITICO interviewed dozens of attendees and found just one who had traveled from outside her home district to join protests … There were no signs of any outsiders being bused in and no evidence of any paid protesters … Republican lawmakers found one sure-fire way to pause the venom: breaking from the party line …”

Sessions Pays Back Private Prisons

Private prison donors could benefit from Trump. USA Today: “Private prison companies, which stand to make big gains under President Trump’s tough new immigration orders, also have contributed big sums to pro-Trump groups, including the organization that raised a record $100 million for his inauguration last month … On Thursday, Sessions’ Justice Department [told] the Federal Bureau of Prisons that the [Obama Justice Dept.] memo backing away from private prisons … would be set aside.”

Trump May Back Border Tax Adjustment

Trump hints at support for House GOP border tax adjustment in Reuters interview: “…Thursday spoke positively about a border adjustment tax being pushed by Republicans in Congress as a way to boost exports, but he did not specifically endorse the proposal … ‘It could lead to a lot more jobs in the United States,’ Trump told Reuters … ‘I certainly support a form of tax on the border,’ he told Reuters on Thursday … Earlier on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC the Trump administration aimed to formulate a tax plan with support from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate and pass it before August.”
Trump won’t fix NAFTA, says Jeff Faux in Quartz: “For Trump to live up to his promise, he would need to negotiate a rebalanced agreement—one with enforceable labor standards and protections equaling those given to investors—so that workers’ wages on both sides of the border could once again rise with their productivity. Donald Trump will not do this. He and the Republican-led US Congress are dedicated to the de-regulation, not re-regulation, of labor markets.”
Paris agreement off the chopping block? WSJ: “At the request of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, language critical of a global climate deal was struck from an executive order that Mr. Trump is planning to sign soon…”

Odds Drop For ACA Repeal

House may not have the votes for ACA repeal. NYT: “The most conservative House members are pushing for a fast repeal of the health law with only a bare-bones replacement to follow … Other Republicans are more interested in taking their time … Among the increasingly concerned lawmakers are those who represent the 24 Republican congressional districts that Hillary Clinton won…”
Former Speaker Boehner says GOP can’t repeal ACA. Politico quotes: “They’ll fix Obamacare, and I shouldn’t have called it repeal and replace because that’s not what’s going to happen. They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it.”
Push to save ACA runs on shoestring. Politico: “Without cash, the smaller progressive organizations left could be hard-pressed to fight a long battle as conservatives spend heavily to pressure lawmakers to finish off the law and, possibly, revamp Medicaid.”
ACA support hits record high. The Hill: “Fifty-four percent of U.S. adults approve of the Affordable Care Act in the Pew Research Center survey released Thursday, while 43 percent disapprove … [Only] 24 percent say they should scrap the law entirely.”
GOP governors divided over Medicaid. The Hill: “…the pressure from governors and state leaders who want to keep the [Medicaid] expansion appears to be having an effect on some lawmakers … Officials from states that did not expand Medicaid are also looking to make sure that they are not treated unequally in any replacement. One idea, put forward by House Republicans, is to bring back federal payments for hospitals treating the uninsured in states that did not expand Medicaid.”

Progressive Breakfast is a daily morning email highlighting news stories of interest to activists. Progressive Breakfast and are projects of People's Action. more »

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Animal Welfare, Animal Crime & Animal Cruelty to report this Week!

Call to action. Please rate Google Bandung Zoo review

Hello! Fellow petition supporter Jacqueline Fraser brought the Google Bandung Zoo review to my attention (thx!),1, 

It has a score of 3.5 stars. I have reviewed them under the name Fleabag SQ. Please join me and review them to let tourists know not to visit this hell hole. As always, thanks for your support! Read the full update by clicking here!
Rhino orphanage attacked

In a brutal manifestation of how out of control the rhino situation is in South Africa, Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage was attacked, baby rhino/s killed, care-givers savagely beaten and a young woman sexually assaulted.
© Simon Espley
On the night of 20 February 2017, the relative sanctuary of Karen Trendler’s revered Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, set on a hilltop amidst a sea of rural villages in KwaZulu Natal, was shattered as 5 men brazenly breached the security system and brought destruction and chaos to this special team of people and their rhino babies. Karen was not at the orphanage at the time of the attack, and her young team were subjected to the horrific ordeal.
© Simon Espley
The team from Operation Rhino 7 – the national South African Police Service anti-poaching programme – were alerted and have already impounded a vehicle and rifle and arrested 2 men in nearby Ermelo. They continue to work hard to bring the perpetrators to book.

The identity of the woman that was sexually assaulted will hopefully remain confidential. Exact details of how many rhinos were killed are sketchy, but one baby had to be euthanized the following morning due to its injuries. Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage staff members, the baby rhino care-givers, need your positive energy right now. They also need privacy, as they pick up the pieces and start the long journey to mend themselves. The team is understandably extremely traumatised, and members of the public are requested to direct their focus on putting pressure on the South African government to bring about change. Please also be patient, as more information will be made available in due course.
© Simon Espley
This incident is a sad indictment of how violent criminals are now the chosen tools of trade in the savage rhino poaching industry. Surely this is a turning point for South Africa’s beleaguered rhinos and their protectors? Surely the South African government now has to at last take a stand and stop fiddling while Rome burns?

For regular updates refer to the Facebook page Outraged SA Citizens against Poaching

Karen and her courageous team need your help right now, and donations are by far the most effective way of helping in this hour of need.

Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation, via the email address

South Africans: Telegraphic transfers to bank account
Bank name: First National Bank

Account name: Lawrence Anthony Earth Org

Account number: 62080145983

Account type: Cheque account

Branch code: 223526 (Westville)

Swift code: FIRNZAJJ
Turtle killers beat up Navy veteran for trying to stop their animal abuse

Animal cruelty: Dog dragged behind motorized scooter by man in Texas caught on camera

Bull escapes from slaughterhouse, gets chased by the NYPD all over Queens, then dies

Progressive Breakfast: Principles for Progressives to Follow on Trump's Ties to Russia


Richard Eskow
Principles for Progressives to Follow on Trump’s Ties to Russia
Putin’s an oligarch. So is Trump. Putin runs a kleptocracy. So does Trump. Both Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson have done business in Russia. So why is money the one aspect of the Russia scandal people seem to talk about the least? Perhaps because it’s the one area the U.S. intelligence community avoided when it accused Russia of helping Trump win the election. Now, some Democrats are inflaming xenophobia and triggering conspiracy theories instead of highlighting the dangers of oligarchic rule.

Resistance Recess

This week while Congress in on recess, People’s Action and our member organizations around the country are organizing a #ResistanceRecess. We are leading the grassroots resistance. Join us! Click here to find local town hall meetings in your area, and come tell your Congressperson to stand up for health care and against the Trump agenda.

DNC Chair Candidates Debate

CNN debate between DNC Chair candidates reveals “Democratic divisions”: “… the debate showed the party hasn’t settled questions over just how vigorously to oppose Trump, or how to settle division within its own ranks … [Rep. Keith Ellison] said Trump has already violated the Constitution and called for an investigation … But [Mayor Pete Buttigieg] cautioned against focusing too much energy on Trump … Jaime Harrison, the South Carolina Democrat chairman, issued a stern call on party members not to launch primary challenges against the 10 Democratic senators in states that Trump won in 2016 … Other contenders, meanwhile, said the DNC shouldn’t stand in the way of primary challenges.”
Politico deems the race a “nail-biter”: “The consensus among Democratic officials is that former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is the slight favorite … But a POLITICO email survey of the 447 DNC voting members [has] Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison holding a narrow advantage … The email survey suggests that if the chairmanship race continues through several rounds of balloting, Perez might be in a better position to prevail than Ellison. While Ellison’s supporters had few qualms about backing Perez as their second choice, the same didn’t hold true for Perez backers…”
AP reports “independent Democratic strategists” give Perez the lead: “…independent Democratic strategists [are] tracking [Perez] at about 205 votes … [Ellison] has the support of about 153 members, the strategists said. Ellison spokesman Brett Morrow blasted the count as ‘totally inaccurate’ and said his camp remains ‘incredibly confident.’ … The counts have South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison at 27 votes, a number that could make him a kingmaker who tilts the race to the eventual winner … The race could easily tip to either Perez or Ellison; a third possibility is that the committee ends up in deadlocked with the two current leaders short of a majority. That could open up the door for [the other] candidates…”

Trump Targets Transgender Students

“Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students.” NYT: “In a joint letter, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice … [AG Sessions] wanted to act decisively because of two pending court cases that could have upheld the protections and pushed the government into further litigation … [Education Sec Betsy] DeVos initially resisted signing off … [Sessions] took his objections to the White House … Trump sided with his attorney general … DeVos, faced with the alternative of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along.”
More from The Daily Beast: “With that guidance now officially rescinded, Title IX is still the law of the land but President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have now signaled their divergence from the interpretation held by the Obama administration … individual states and schools could still find themselves on the receiving end of Title IX lawsuits … [but they won’t] necessarily [be] penalized by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division or immediately [risk] the loss of federal funding.”

New Travel Ban Delayed

WH delays new travel ban. The Hill: “The White House is pushing back the release of a revised executive order on travel and refugees until next week, an official said Wednesday. No explanation was given for the delay, and it remains unclear how the White House will tweak the travel ban to avoid future legal pitfalls … White House policy adviser Stephen Miller said on Fox News on Tuesday night [that] the new order will largely resemble the old one.”
Immigrants go underground. NYT: “No going to church, no going to the store. No doctor’s appointments for some, no school for others. No driving, period — not when a broken taillight could deliver the driver to Immigration and Customs Enforcement … [Trump’s] threat, for many people, has now begun to distort every movement … ‘There’s a real fear that their kids will get put into the foster care system,’ said Mary Clark, the executive director of Esperanza Immigrant Legal Services in Philadelphia.”

Trump Lays Out Agenda Tuesday

Trump prepares for Tuesday’s prime time address to Congress. Politico: “…White House aides involved in planning say the president will be more detailed as he seeks to recast his tumultuous first month as a success, ticking through the promises he’s already kept and … focus[ing] on work the White House wants done on Capitol Hill during the rest of 2017 … Two administration officials said Trump plans to highlight four policy areas, with one summarizing Trump’s expected message to Congress as: ‘I want us to get tax reform; I want us to get the border secured; I want us to get health care; I want us to get infrastructure.'”
Republican press Trump to cut retirement security, despite Trump rhetoric. NYT: “… some Republicans are hoping [his budget director] and others will change the president’s mind on … structural changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid … The pressure to break [his] promise will come not only from congressional Republicans but also from his own campaign pledges to build a wall along the Mexican border, increase spending on defense, border security and infrastructure, cut taxes ‘big league’ and control the deficit … Even if Mr. Trump keeps his promise not to touch Social Security and Medicare, other programs like housing subsidies, child care assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, could be cut…”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggests she won’t vote to scrap Medicaid expansion. Alaska Dispatch News: “Murkowski, in her annual address to the Alaska Legislature, told lawmakers that she would not vote to repeal the expanded Medicaid health care program … as long as the Legislature wants to keep it. The expanded Medicaid program began in Alaska under an executive order by Gov. Bill Walker in 2015, and it now covers some 29,000 low-income residents … The Legislature has neither voted to support expanded Medicaid nor voted to kill it …
Murkowski said she was concerned about the long-term cost of the expanded Medicaid program. But she said it had also strengthened Alaska’s Native health care system and reduced the number of uninsured people visiting emergency rooms.”
“Raucous crowd rocks [Sen. Tom] Cotton town hall” reports Politico: “…protesters in a packed auditorium at Springdale High School frequently stood and chanted denunciations of the senator’s support of the Trump administration and the GOP’s ongoing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act … Chants of ‘tax returns’ — a dig at Trump’s refusal to release his own — rang out several times …”
“Banks Want To Make It Easier To Launder Money” explains The Nation’s David Dayen: “The ask comes in the form of a report the Clearing House Association, a financial-industry trade group, released last week. The report proposed numerous reforms to the anti–money laundering (AML) compliance process … When transactions are larger than $5,000, or have hallmarks of terrorist financing, tax evasion, or money laundering, they must file a suspicious activity report (SAR) and deliver them to federal regulators … the Clearing House report makes numerous recommendations for AML reform that all have the same bottom line: reducing the number of SARs that banks have to file.”
NYT explores America’s weakening dam infrastructure: “Nearly 2,000 state-regulated high-hazard dams in the United States were listed as being in need of repair in 2015 … By 2020, 70 percent of the dams in the United States will be more than 50 years old … the Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimated that it would cost $60 billion to rehabilitate all the dams that needed to be brought up to safe condition, with nearly $20 billion of that sum going toward repair of dams with a high potential for hazard.”

Progressive Breakfast is a daily morning email highlighting news stories of interest to activists. Progressive Breakfast and are projects of People's Action. more »