The Fresno Bee reports on two bills to be considered in the California State Assembly today to address discrimination against tenants who use Section 8 housing vouchers: “One of the bills, introduced by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, would give landlords more incentive to accept Section 8 tenants by providing a tax break equal to 3% of the voucher’s value. The bill is estimated to cost the state $48.5 million over the next three years. The other bill from Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, would make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants who receive federal housing vouchers or local housing assistance. Current law prohibits landlords from several categories of discrimination including income. Mitchell’s bill would expand the law to require that landlords consider tenants equally regardless of whether housing assistance is one of their sources of income. Landlords believed to discriminate would risk lawsuits from the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.” The Fresno Bee reports on the difficulties Section 8 participants face in securing housing: “applicants can wait years to qualify for the Section 8 vouchers and, when they do, they often can’t find housing before the vouchers expire, usually within 60 days. Last year in Fresno, roughly 17% of the 21,000 people who applied for a voucher got one. But less than half who did found a place before the clock ran out. ‘It’s billed as a golden ticket,’ said Alexander Harnden, a policy advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty. ‘At this point, I describe it as a ticket to last summer’s movie. If you can find where it’s playing, that’s great. Otherwise, it’s just a piece of paper.”’
The New York Times launched 1619, a project marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in North America that “aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.” Reporting, essays, poems, and artworks cover topics like residential segregation, the forms American capitalism has taken, the lack of universal healthcare, mass incarceration, income inequality, and the food system. Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones writes, “The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie. Our Declaration of Independence, approved on July 4, 1776, proclaims that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” But the white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst. “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” did not apply to fully one-fifth of the country. Yet despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed. Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals. And not only for ourselves — black rights struggles paved the way for every other rights struggle, including women’s and gay rights, immigrant and disability rights. Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all.”
The Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule to enable the government to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border without documentation. This rule would replace the 22-year-old Flores Agreement that limits the amount of time the government can detain children and sets standards for children's care while in federal custody. The rule also eliminates the requirement that states license and monitor federal immigration detention centers. Advocates warn that detaining children puts children at increased risk of experiencing trauma or illness, and at least six children have died over the past year due to illness while in federal custody, at least three of those children dying from flu-related illness. The National Immigration Law Center condemned the decision as “yet another example of this administration’s callous disregard for the health and wellbeing of children. This unspeakably cruel rollback will result in more children in cages and more families locked up… without oversight or other basic standards of care and protections required by the Flores agreement.” The administration also announced that it has no plans to provide flu vaccines to people in immigration detention. The New York Times editorial board called out this decision as a “cruel” health threat: “The key ingredients for an infectious disease outbreak are no secret: people with immune systems that have been weakened by stress and poor nutrition, crammed into close quarters with one another and denied basic hygiene and health care, for extended periods of time. That’s why diseases like cholera, dysentery and tuberculosis have long thrived in refugee camps and prisons and among soldiers during wartime. So federal officials should not be surprised that migrant detention centers along the nation’s southern border have become hotbeds of communicable diseases — with multiple outbreaks of scabies, shingles, lice, mumps, chickenpox and flu logged this year and last. As the Office of Inspector General noted in a July report, these facilities are dangerously overcrowded. Detainees there have not been provided with adequate nutrition, sanitation or health care. And many of them are being held for weeks or months in quarters designed for a 72-hour stay.”
This week, a judge ordered opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million, finding the pharmaceutical company responsible for driving addiction and death through “false and dangerous” sales tactics. Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin, and other pharmaceutical companies are discussing the possibility of settling over 2,000 consolidated civil cases set to go to trial in October. After the Oklahoma decision, reporting indicated that Purdue Pharma had offered to settle these cases for between $10 billion and $12 billion (and just a note here: Purdue Pharma has earned more than $35 billion from OxyContin sales alone).
After filing suit against Juul last year, North Carolina’s attorney general is now suing eight additional e-cigarette makers for aggressively marketing to children and teens. In an interview with National Public Radio, Attorney General Josh Stein said, “Bubble gum, fudge, French toast, gummy bear, unicorn - these are all names that are designed to appeal to young people. In fact, ask young people. There's survey data that shows, why do you vape, and flavors are the No. 1 reason why they vape…” In response to companies’ claims that they don’t market to children, Stein said, “I don't believe them… one of these companies I sued, Eonsmoke, has an Instagram photo that they put out there of their product, and it's a USB drive just like Juul… frankly, most parents aren't going to have the first clue what it is. And what the picture is underneath it, the caption says, ‘Mom, it's a USB drive.’ That is expressly targeted to students. And I want to shut that practice down in my state.”
CityLab reports on the upcoming launch of Restore Oakland, a project of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and the Restaurant Opportunities Center: “Restore Oakland will house local organizations and provide job training and housing assistance. A fine-dining restaurant called COLORS—whose staff will include formerly incarcerated people—a café, and a kitchen with space for entrepreneurs to run incubators will open on the ground floor… Restore Oakland is named for the restorative-justice work that will take place there: This is an approach to dealing with crime that brings together the victim and the wrongdoer to resolve the harm caused, outside of court. At least two youth-oriented restorative-justice nonprofits, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) and Community Works West, will have office space in the building. They partner with the Alameda County District Attorney’s office to divert cases involving people aged 15 to 24 into community conferencing, and have them meet the people they’ve harmed before charges are finalized; and with probation officers, to ease the transition into the community and reduce recidivism… “Too often, when people think of the term ‘public safety,’ they’re thinking of punishment and prisons,” said Zachary Norris, the executive director of the Ella Baker Center. “We felt a need for something equally tangible, equally visible, in concrete, brick, and mortar form.””
The New England Journal of Medicine looks at the intersection of climate change and environmental stress, medicine, and advocacy, and draws on the history of physician advocacy to address environmental factors: “Under the new rubric of “planetary health,” physicians argue strenuously that the health of the human population depends on the health of our planet’s life-support systems… Medical interest in the environment has ancient roots. The Hippocratic text On Airs, Waters, Places advised physicians to attend to all aspects of the environment, to the seasons, the direction of winds, and the quality of soil and waters. The environment influenced health, disease, and therapeutics… Physician advocacy also has a long history. Commitment to improving population health has often driven physicians to support radical political and ethical programs. “Medicine is a social science,” wrote Rudolf Virchow in 1848, “and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.” … A truly ethical relationship with the planet that we inhabit so precariously, and with the generations who will follow, demands nothing less.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo proposed a local ordinance earlier this month to require residents who own guns to purchase firearm liability insurance or pay a per-household fee to a “public compensation pool” to cover the public costs of gun violence. “Cities and local governments are pretty constrained in regulating in this area,” Liccardo says of the motivation behind the proposed ordinance, which had been in the works before the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. “And so, given the very limited amount of turf out there…we’ve been spending a few months with our attorneys and other organizations that have been taking this issue on nationally to try and understand what the instances are where a local government can have some impact.” Mother Jones reports that the proposed ordinance “includes other measures to help curb gun violence, including a proposal to explore imposing a gun and ammunition tax, and a consent-to-search program that, similar to red flag laws in some states around the country, would enable parents to allow law enforcement to search and seize for weapons owned by their dependents. The ordinance also proposes exploring the implementation of a bounty program that would offer cash rewards to people who tip off police to illegal guns.”