Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
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Hello Teen Resisters!
We hope you've had a good week. There's lots to cover this week. A couple things that you should be aware of:
- The results of the Mueller probe into Trump/Russia relations came in this week and the report was summarized in a 4-page letter by Trump's Attorney General, William Barr. Barr's summary reported that Mueller charged Trump with no crimes but also did not "exonerate" him from possible obstruction of justice. Trump has been shouting victory since, while Congress has demanded that the entire report be released to at least Congress, and ultimately the American public, by April 2nd.
- News also came in today that the Trump admin is cutting funds to numerous programs, including that DeVos wants to defund Special Olympics programs and Trump is once again cutting aid to Puerto Rico. The news came in too late for us to cover it in this week's list, but we'll cover it next time. Also coming up: a full-length feature about understanding the White Nationalist movement and what it means.
Sending you lots of light in these first wonderful weeks of Spring!
What Went Down
Background Check Expansion Act: In late February, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would require background checks for almost all private gun sales. Representatives voted 240-190 to extend the background checks requirement to sales made at gun shows or over the internet. If passed in the Senate, the law will become one of the most significant gun safety measures to go through Congress in decades - and a long-past-overdue national legislative response to the rampant gun violence in the U.S.’ schools and streets.
While eight Republicans in the House voted to pass the bill - and popular opinion on universal background checks is positive across the board, at 97% - Republican Senators refuse to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. While passage of the bill, even if brought to the floor, is unlikely, floor votes are important - they set precedent for future debate and action, and they force our representatives to go on record for supporting or opposing an issue, allowing us to hold them accountable at the ballot box. We need to fight for a vote on this bill.
What You Can Do:
NYC School Segregation: Last week, as thousands of New York City 8th graders received letters regarding which high schools they were accepted into, the New York Times reported that only 7 Black students were accepted into Stuyvesant High School, an elite public school in Manhattan. This means that although Black and Hispanic students make up 67 percent of the NYC public school population, they only make up 10 percent of the specialized school population. NYC's public schools are the most segregated in the nation.
Stuyvesant High School along with seven other specialized high schools require the SHSAT, an annual standardized test to be taken in the fall of students’ eighth-grade year, as the sole means of admission. This is not the first time the test and its biased results have come into question. In 2013, Mayor Bill De Blasio's campaign platform included scrapping the SHSAT, but it wasn’t until June of 2018 that he proposed an alternative to the test. His proposal consisted of two main parts: to expand the Discovery program, as well as to eventually replace the test with a program that offers seats in specialized high schools to the top seven percent of every middle school. The expansion of the Discovery program would aim to reserve 20% of seats in specialized schools to low-income students whose scores were just below the cutoff for admission. This proposal would need to pass in Albany and has already received pushback from many specialized high school alumni. This issue of systemic racial segregation in schools is far bigger than this test and the eight associated schools. So despite what many politicians would hope, it’s not an issue that can be solved with one bill or in a year. As representative Ocasio-Cortez pointed out during an education town hall a few weeks ago, “why isn’t every public school in New York City a Brooklyn Tech-caliber school?”
If this issue interests you, here are a few ways to get involved.
See you soon!
Peace and Power,
Hey Teen Resisters!
We are back on our cycle of lists after a quick break for our Black History Month List (which you should all go read!)--we know that the past few weeks have been beyond crazy, and so we tried to boil everything down to what we believe are some of the key happenings. Get ready to dive into a list full of youth protest, Trump trying to attack women's repro rights (again.), net neutrality, vaccines, and more!! (Also, happy late International Women's Day and current Women's History Month <33; more on that soon.) Sending all our love!
what went (&is going) down
This Friday, March 15th, students across the world will be walking out of school and protesting climate change inaction in their local communities. Goals and logistics vary depending on the school/community, but most strikes advocate for the support of the Green New Deal in Congress, a bill pushed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (among others), which aims to stimulate the U.S. economy in an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable way—an emphasis is placed on communities of color and low income communities that are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.
That means that those served by Title X rely on the government for access to birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and even simple women’s health exams. Planned Parenthood serves approximately 41 percent of those benefited by Title X funding; although 4,000 other Title X-funded health care providers across the country also provide abortion, if Planned Parenthood specifically were to be defunded, other providers would have to increase their caseloads by an average of 70 percent to service PP’s patients.
So what do all of those numbers mean? The domestic gag rule would take away funding from thousands of health care providers who service millions--many in poverty and without insurance—preventing them from accessing not only abortion but also basic, vital reproductive health care services.
The second key component of the gag rule is that it would prevent doctors and service providers from referring patients who want or need an abortion to a place where they can get one. If a woman found out she was pregnant after being diagnosed with cancer, for example, her doctor would not be allowed to inform her that abortion was even an option. What the gag rule does is just what its name suggests: forcibly prevents service providers from giving women the comprehensive, accurate information about their health care options that they deserve.
It’s clear that this rule is unethical, irrational, dangerous, and unconstitutional.
So: what can you do?
Recently, House and Senate Democrats proposed legislation–– the Save the Internet Act–– which would combat the impact of the Restoring Internet Freedom bill. It would establish guidelines that reflect what net neutrality served to protect. According to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, “The Save the Internet Act enacts the three legacy net neutrality principles – no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization – and empowers the FCC to prohibit unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory practices.”
What can you do?
What can you do?
Arizona is going in the opposite direction, advancing three anti-vaccine bills. H.B. 2470 would legalize religious exemptions for vaccines, as well as allow parents to exempt their kids without having to fill out a form informing them of the risks of not vaccinating (which would make the exemption process even easier and faster). HB.. 2471 requires medical providers to explain all the ingredients and risks of vaccines, which doctors say could confuse or overwhelm patients and make them less likely to get vaccinated. H.B. 2472 allows doctors to give an antibody titer test to patients to see if they are already immune to a disease that the vaccine would prevent. Doctors point out that the antibody titer test is sometimes unreliable—it can say that someone is immune to a disease when they really aren’t. The test is also expensive.
While many states like Washington are focusing on eliminating vaccine exemptions, enough states are focusing on expanding these exemptions to concern the federal government. Head of the FDA Scott Gottlieb has not released any specific plans, but said in an interview with CNN that “certain states” could “force the hand of federal health agencies” to act.
What You Can Do:
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