Will Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Do Anything About School Shootings?

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden used Saugus High School’s recent shooting to promote activism against gun lobbyists and congressional Republicans who seem content doing nothing to stop the violence. But for all his words, it’s difficult to take Biden seriously — because at the end of the day, he’s a career politician who knows what happens to people who take the restriction of second amendment rights too far.

But he still manages to say the right things on occasion. At a recent rally in Santa Clarita, he said, “You parents and grandparents, you send off children … and the first thing they learn is how to duck and cover.”

He was describing the basic lockdown drills that most students will learn when they begin school. He went on to comment on specific safe spaces being designed in new schools and campuses across the country.”

“We’re now making sure that we provide children the ability to avoid being shot in school,” he continued. “What does that say about our soul? … I’m so tired about people talking about your prayers. Damn it, we have to protect these kids. We have to do it now.”

The shooting at Saugus resulted in three deaths, including the shooter, who carried out the attack on his birthday. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head the following day.

Biden says that he’s the only one who’s ever done anything important against the gun lobby.

Although Biden is campaigning in California, he’s skipping out on some of the bigger events that his political opponents are attending — an absence that some state Democrats are annoyed by. They believe his attendance and participation in these events is important, especially since California is holding its presidential primary on March 3, much earlier than usual. 

Usually, voting in California occurs after the outcome of the presidential primaries is already cut in stone. State officials moved it up so they could gain more political attention ahead of the election.

Both Biden and Elizabeth Warren, another top contender for the Democratic nom, were lambasted by State party Chairman Rusty Hicks for skipping a recent convention. He commented on Facebook: “I respect your work/candidacy, BUT…you should reconsider your misguided decision to publicly snub California’s Democrats & Latino Voters across the nation.”

Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Pete Kavanaugh, took offense to the post. “It’s just a question of how we’re able to spend our time. He has spent a lot of time in the first four states, and obviously he got into race later and was trying to catch up. It hasn’t been an avoidance; it’s simply a matter of trying to find hours in the schedule and trying to find days and weeks that work.”

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Google Employees Are Fighting Sexual Harassment Non-Disclosure Agreements

The tech industry has been in an uproar for the past year. Remember last year when YouTube employee Claire Stapleton publicly revealed that former Google Executive Andy Rubin had gotten away with numerous claims of sexual misconduct after their board of directors decided to funnel a whopping $90-million into his bank account? Stapleton wasn’t too happy about that — and neither were a number of other Google employees.

Before long they demanded that Google’s board do something to make such cases more transparent. They asked for an end to mandatory arbitration, an involuntary clause included in many companies’ employment contracts. It guarantees that employees with a bone to pick cannot take their complaints to civil court. Arbitration occurs outside court and behind closed doors, and both parties are forced to abide by whatever the outcome.

Not long thereafter, Google showed no sign of having heard these calls for change — so 20,000 workers walked out of the company doors for a short-lived strike. But the implications have been felt all over the world.

And the demands didn’t stop there.

One of the most important side effects of the protests was the demand for Google to put a halt to facial recognition sales, the software for which had been handed over to law enforcement in what some people believe to be a major invasion of private citizens’ privacy. 

Protests like these have also occurred at other big tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft. Apple had allowed access to one of its more controversial apps to those protesting in Hong Kong, and the company CEO Tim Cook was ripped apart for it during a vain effort to defend himself.

Right now, workers at Google aren’t yet unionized — but that could change soon. Protesters within the company are asking the federal government to step into the arbitration fight, and it’s anyone’s guess where that could go. Especially with Trump’s pro-business government still in power. 

Before these back and forth interactions between employers and employees at Google became hostile, both groups believed it was a great place to work. Not only did Google provide their greatest minds space and time to develop on their own, but people were proud of the company’s fondness for taking controversial stances on contemporary issues facing the whole of society.

Today, the mood has shifted a great deal.

According to a Google spokeswoman, “We’ve heard that employees want clearer rules of the road on what’s OK to say and what’s not. Our culture of open discussion has mostly worked well for us, and it’s something we want to preserve as we grow, so we are evolving to make sure our open discussions are still serving their original purpose and bringing us together as a community.”

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Should We Provide Support To Child Activists?

It seems odd to some of us that a question like this need even be asked at all. But the answer to the question generally depends on your own “adult’s” perspective. If your child wants to become a writer, musician or actor, you will generally have one of two responses: “Well, little Jimmy, you have my full support!” OR “Come now, little Jimmy, you need to be more pragmatic in life than that — it’s a desk job for you!”

Apparently, we treat activism the same way.

Greta Thunberg is a 16-year old activist who has amassed an enormous following of like-minded people who share her growing concerns about the fragility of the world’s environments. They’re breaking down, she says, while the adults play adult games involving money and economy, but act without real foresight of the inevitable disasters to come.

Many who don’t believe in man-made climate change have attacked her relentlessly (and by the way, as Neil deGrasse Tyson says, facts are facts whether you believe in them or not). They say she should go back to school and keep her mouth closed. They say that she’s been brainwashed by the “radical” liberal left. They say she’s an idiot. They say older people are exploiting her for political gain.

All nonsense.

She’s smarter than all of them, of course, and she’s consumed more than her fair share of information related to man-made climate change. Those who contend she has lots of good things to say, but that her facts are skewed, are perhaps even more misguided than those who attack her outright — at least the latter group proves that there are few arguments to face her wrath of words. The former group of people is blissfully and willfully ignorant, at best.

How can we ask whether or not we should provide support to child activists? Child support is almost a staple of our society — we would give everything to keep them safe — so why is it a question of whether or not we lend credence to their views or listen to their ideas? They are the future — and that means they have merit whether you like it or not.

It’s difficult to argue that people should not follow their dreams. It seems equally difficult to argue that people shouldn’t follow their hearts. Those who understand the gravity of mankind’s greatest struggle also understand that young people need to be allowed to speak their minds. This is especially true if the next generation is to be at peace with what is happening — at least they tried to stop it, which is more than anyone can say of the current generation of “adults” who deny, deny, deny.

If you haven’t heard of Greta Thunberg, then you owe it to yourself to learn her name. If you haven’t heard her speak, then you owe it to yourself — and the rest of us — to listen to her words.

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Extinction Rebellion Protesters Geared Up For Big Fight With Legislators Worldwide

Much of the news resulting from the Extinction Rebellion protests is coming out of the United Kingdom, but there are chapters in motion all over the world — including here at home in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Miami. A few days ago, protesters were spread out to impede Manchester’s Deansgate to shed light on what they believe are contradictions between policy and action. The city recently declared a climate emergency, but that hasn’t stopped it from putting into motion a big expansion of its airport.

The rebellion has experienced a bit of traction in recent days. 

Protesters gathered outside the offices of the New York Times newspaper a couple days ago because of next month’s Oil and Money conference scheduled to take place at the InterContinental Hotel in London. CEOs of big oil companies and moguls from OPEC are expected to attend the event.

In response to the noise made outside their offices, the New York Times quickly decided “to end its relationship with the Oil and Money conference,” according to a newspaper spokesperson.

She continued: “We want there to be no question of our independence or even potential appearance of a conflict of interest. Over the last several years [the New York Times] has significantly expanded its reporting on climate change and its impact, as well as broader investigative and explanatory coverage of energy and environmental policy.”

Another round of protests were quickly organized in response to the sweeping fires in the Amazon. “Act for the Amazon” protests swamped the Brazilian consulate in Miami. Extinction Rebellion Miami’s local coordinator, Nicholas Vazquez, said, “This is an international call to action. It’s the fire, but it’s also more. Brazil needs to end its deforestation project to prevent future desolation. Prayers are not enough.”

Protests are becoming more common in Los Angeles for similar reasons — wildfires across the Midwestern United States aren’t just becoming more common, they’re also becoming stronger and doing billions more dollars worth of damage.

Businesses aren’t happy about the Extinction Rebellion’s tendency to block roads and bridges to make its point or create needed change. Contractor Joe Connor said he didn’t believe in the threat of climate change: “I don’t think it’s a proven fact to be honest. Yes we have had a rainy summer but I used to live in Los Angeles, where we would have big downpours in the summer too, and that was years ago.”

Pink leaflets were handed out by protesters in Manchester as a way to apologize for the inconvenience: “For the human race to survive, we need big changes fast. There are solutions that are economically and culturally possible in a short space of time. But we need the government to make changes now, and they are not listening.”

Valiente’s criminal attorneys handle personal injury, DUI, and family law in addition to criminal law. If you were injured or arrested during civil rights protests anywhere in Miami-Dade County, they can help you mount an expert defense!

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What Can We Do To Avert A Man-Made Climate Change Disaster?

With so many people turning a blind eye to the man-made climate change emergency on our doorstep, a lot of others are asking if there’s really anything we can do — if there’s any hope to change our climate in time — short of turning off the electricity around the globe and waiting a century to see who’s left alive to turn the lights back on. Environmental activism is getting bigger and louder over time, but is it enough to turn the tide?

Probably not.

One of the biggest problems we face is our own system of democratic capitalism, a system many have come to realize is broken — and has always been broken. Under the current status quo, the ones with the most money have the biggest voice, and the government will always cater to them first. Since the fossil fuel companies are rich, who does the government listen to? Even if we install a president who wants to implement a big change without relying on big money (like an Elizabeth Warren or a Bernie Sanders), there are far too many in the opposition to ever make anything happen to substantial effect. 

So what can we do?

Those who understand the grave consequences of doing nothing will always try to do something. That’s why we all have that vegan friend, or the friend with a die-hard recycling habit, or a friend who bikes to work instead of relying on transportation that pumps more greenhouse gases in the air. But those individual contributions mean almost nothing. Most of these people pick and choose what they give up, and too many people choose to give up nothing. In order to make a difference that matters, we need to do something as a collective.

Perhaps the best thing we can do is educate those who are taken in by all the lies strewn about day by day. Climate activist Greta Thunberg decided she would give up flying to help fight climate change. While her individual contribution means as little as anyone else’s, it’s more of a publicity stunt — and she’s using the publicity to make more people aware of what will happen if we don’t do anything to avert a disaster that could result in the extinction of our own race.

New York recently passed a “Climate Emergency” declaration. While this may be a victory for activists everywhere, we have to wonder what it will really accomplish.

Right now, Joe Biden is perhaps the most likely candidate to receive the Democratic nomination for president — and that’s to say nothing of his relatively minute chance of becoming our next president because of a political landscape that many in the older generations fail to understand. He presented a plan to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels by 2050. Good job, old guy: you’ve presented a plan to do nothing at all. Organically, even if that were soon enough to make a difference (it’s not), we’ll already have turned to other more sustainable resources by 2050. 

We really need a new government to have a chance. We’re not likely to get one.

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The Outlook For LGBTQ Rights After Two Years Of Trump

Pride Month is drawing to a close in cities around the world and most of us are asking ourselves the same question: have we gained any ground after two years of a Trump Administration? The answer is a pretty hard “no,” unfortunately. Trump certainly pretended to be a friend to the LGBTQ community when he ran for office in 2016, but his actions have proved to be anything but friendly to our cause. 

June 28, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the epic Stonewall riots, perhaps one of the most important events in our community’s history. The LGBTQ community has certainly grown much stronger in the decades since then, but moving forward has been difficult these last few years.

Let’s look at what recent presidents accomplished for the community:

  • Clinton implemented the controversial “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that technically allowed LGBTQ individuals to serve in the military as long as they were quiet about it.
  • Clinton implemented legislation to bar discrimination for sexual orientation in the government. 
  • George W. Bush basically did nothing, but he was somewhat vocal in his opposition to gay marriage.
  • Obama was president when gay marriage was legalized.
  • Obama repealed “don’t ask don’t tell,” allowing LGBTQ individuals to serve in the military openly.

Now let’s look at what Trump has accomplished for the community:

  • He ignored Pride Month.
  • He barred the flying of pride flags at U.S. embassies worldwide (although many chose to ignore his order).
  • He barred transgendered individuals from serving in the United States military.
  • He endorses politicians who hold anti-LGBTQ views.
  • He’s edited legal documents to “redact” LGBTQ rights.
  • He makes it difficult for members of our community to afford health care.
  • He ended a Bureau of Prisons law that allowed transgender individuals to serve time with those who share the identified gender. Now transgender individuals are housed dependent on biological gender, putting them in significant danger.
  • He has strengthened discriminatory “religious freedom” laws.

More importantly, his words continually perpetuate hatred across minority communities. Since his 2016 campaign, attacks against practicing Muslims have skyrocketed. Violence against Hispanics has risen. Attacks against transgender women have skyrocketed. Trump is a man who is responsible for the deaths of American citizens, members of our community included. His election was a disaster for LGBTQ individuals, humanitarian efforts around the world, and progress in general.

For all the steps forward we’ve taken over the last two decades, it seems like Trump has tried to take twice as many backward — and he’s proud of it. 

In 2019, LGBTQ individuals are the most likely targets of hate crimes.

Visiting from Houston and looking for support back home? Jose Ceja is an activist! Visit: https://cejalawfirmtx.com/

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Women Who Are Changing Our World With Their Environmental Activism

There is no planet B is a popular catchphrase of one of our sister sites, Teach Climate Change. With that being said, there are four extraordinary women who are raising awareness of global environmental issues and are making a difference and impacting policy changes across the globe.

Clair Nouvian
Founder of BLOOM

Nouvian was the winner of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize. A former journalist, she became involved in activism after seeing the devastation of deep-sea bottom trawling and forming the nonprofit conservation organization BLOOM in 2005. Her main goal is to protect the deep blue sea by understanding the connection between shark consumption habits and deep-sea fisheries.

Pashon Murray
Co-founder of Detroit Dirt

Murray’s environmentalism is all about waste reduction, recycling and the reuse of materials. She began her adventure by starting a compost by collecting waste from plant-eating animals at the Detroit Zoo and food waste from local restaurants and General Motor’s headquarters. Her goal is to raise awareness about Detroit’s overall carbon footprint. She also wants to find solutions for everyday waste and lower trips to the landfill by bringing composting into neighborhoods.

Nguy Thi Khanh
Director of the Green Innovation and Development Centre Vietnam

After witnessing her friends and family develop cancer by growing up next to a coal plant in Northern Vietnam, she began promoting sustainable energy development in her country. In 2011, she founded the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) to do just that. She also helped establish the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance which helps communities reduce pollution into local rivers, turn waste into energy, and change to more sustainable energy like solar. She is also a winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

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The Worst Cases Of Commercial Animal Cruelty On Record

By now it shouldn’t come as any surprise that animals are subject to cruelty and abuse on an unimaginable scale when they are born into the same factory farms from which they won’t make it out alive. Much of this occurs by sadistic individuals because a blind eye is turned, but often it is just a part of daily life for animals that are raised for no other reason than to be transformed into food for us.

This is the reason why animal rights activists want to shed light into these backwater industrial farms and slaughterhouses. This is the reason why activists urge governments and scientists to quickly find a way to bring lab-grown meat into grocery stores around the country. The number of vegans has exploded by a crazy 600 percent in the United States from 2014 to 2018. Some are only in it for health reasons, of course, but many others do it to promote awareness of commercial animal cruelty.

Many of you will remember the JBS supplier footage that showed piglets slaughtered when one worker arced the piglets over his back in order to gain enough momentum to slam their skulls into the concrete ground. Footage of chicken factory farms in Brazil shed light on the living conditions that many animals are forced to endure. Many animal farms barely provide any space for movement at all. These animals live in the darkness without any room to exercise. Many of these farms operate in wholly unsanitary conditions.

Believe it or not, about 95 percent of the meat in your fridge comes from animals who lived and died under similar conditions. Almost the same percentage of Americans believe that these animals should be free to live in far different, more liberating conditions. What do our laws have to say about it? Sadly, not as much as most of us think they should. There’s a humane way to do things, and then there’s the way we actually do them.

Shockingly, few if any laws on the books will protect the animals that live in industrial farms. Instead, only methods of transport and slaughter are covered. Primarily, animals must be provided with rest and nourishment every 28 hours when transported across state lines on their way to slaughter (wow). In accordance with the law, many animals must be anesthetized before slaughter. Poultry is exempt.

Needless to say, the law isn’t always followed.

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How You Can Get Involved In Environmental Activism in Los Angeles

The environment is taking point on the world stage as the effects of climate change become better known (and much scarier), but deniers still demand more research be done. Those same people probably don’t realize that the research has been ongoing for over half a century, and the conclusions are the same all across the world. The problem is real. But how do you help? Where should you go, and what should you do to be a part of the needed change?

These are a few resources you can use to plan your efforts!

  1. The website Meetup is a phenomenal resource if you live in a big city like Los Angeles, and it should be the first place you look when trying to make a difference. You’ll find thousands of like-minded people interested in all sorts of activities across a wide range of topics like fossil fuel, clean renewable energy, forest and water conservation, education, veterans benefits, and even veganism.

When using this resource, you can decide what it is you want to do. Would you prefer to volunteer? Perhaps you want to protest. Or maybe you just want to get together with other people who are part of a club. The choice is most definitely yours.

2. If you’re interested in information and causes related to aridity and climate change, then check out the Arid Lands Institute. They offer a wide range of resources for outreach, research, and education.

3. The Burbank Green Alliance takes aim at unsustainable practices in the surrounding areas. They offer lectures, workshops, networking, newsletters, and resources for people who want more information. If sustainability is your thing, this is a good place to make a stop.

4. The Burbank Recycle Center is a good spot if you’re having trouble finding a way to recycle certain types of goods. They’ll take everything you would typically leave at the side of the street or bring to the grocery store, in addition to harder-to-recycle goods like scrap metal, antifreeze and oil filtration devices, and more. It’s also a good place to get involved in a workshop, or take a tour.

Or, if you live in the neighborhood and just want a recycling bin, you can drop by and pick one up.

5. The California Coastkeeper Alliance aims to coordinate programs that help to safeguard all relevant waterways in the state of California.

There are literally hundreds of resources, so look around to find the right one for you!

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How The Aids Crisis Started in Los Angeles

October is LGBTQ History month. And while the HIV virus is now a known thing, the AIDS crisis or rather that government’s lack of action regarding the spreading of the virus amongst LGBTQ communities in the early 80s, shows just how strong a community united can bring about change.

A bit of background. The HIV virus began in central Africa and made its way over to the US via Zaire and Haiti. The HIV virus is more easily spread through Anal Sex which is why it affected gay communities more than straight or even lesbian communities. After the Stonewall riots in 1969, LGBTQ activists across the country made significant advances in gay rights including protection against discrimination in employment and through criminal attorneys the decriminalization of sodomy. It was during this time, the early 1970s during the sexual revolution, that the first AIDS cases were appearing in Los Angeles.

The first official government report was in June of 1981. A government bulletin in Morbidity and Mortality reported,

In the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California. Two of the patients died.

It garnered media attention throughout the early 80s. An appearance from gay and men’s health activist Larry Kramer appeared on the Today Show to discuss the anger in the gay community. But while this was going on the HIV virus was spreading to hemophiliacs during blood transfusions as well as injection drug users. However, many people who objected to LGBTQ were referring to the outbreak of AIDS cases as the gay plague and using it as a way to justify anti-gay rhetoric and that God was smiting them.

Finally, in 1984, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler discovered that AIDS was caused by the HIV virus. She also developed a test to see if a patient had AIDS and predicted a vaccine by 1986 (well that never happened). It wasn’t until years later that Reagan even acknowledged AIDS was a problem or the government offered a treatment (called AZT) that slowed down the progression of the disease but did not cure it.

In 1987, The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power or ACT UP formed and their activism helped speed up the government’s response to the AIDS crisis. Through the late 80s and early 90s, ACT UP and other activists fought for the rights of men’s health. By 1995, AIDS was the single greatest killer of men between the ages of 25-44. It was also the year that the first protease inhibitors, a new type of drug, was able to halt or reverse the progression of the AIDS. However, this treatment is extremely expensive (Currently HIV thrives in poor regions who can’t afford treatment like Mississippi).

It wasn’t until 2003 when George W. Bush enacts the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR which delivers life-saving HIV medicine to poor people around the world. The program currently has provided medicine to 14 million people all over the world.

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