Use Technology to Mobilize Your Community

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The current federal leadership in the USA has many people concerned about their rights and freedoms. If you’re one of those people you can use these technological tools to help you stand up and fight back. Newsweek, rather surprisingly, compiled a list of tech tools that can be used to mobilize communities or be used to fund campaigns you support. As always, be sure to protect your online privacy and maybe even your in-person privacy. With the recent revelation of the Vault 7 leaks to Wikileaks it’s more important than ever before to speak up and stay safe.

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants aims to take down what it calls “racist” websites by attacking their ad dollars. Since many companies rely on programmatic advertising, they might not be aware of what sites their ads appear on. Thus, Sleeping Giants notifies companies, requesting that they take action and block the offending websites, or risk alienating their customers. So far, they claim over a thousand brands have committed to removing their ads from such sites.

5 Calls
This app aims to get even the most phone-shy people to call their elected representatives daily. 5 Calls automates the process, providing numbers to officials based on the user’s location and offers easy scripts to follow. It’s available on Apple and Android devices. If only there was an app like this for calling one’s parents.

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More Americans Working in Solar Than in Coal

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The coal industry is failing and sustainable alternatives are on the rise. No matter what politicians do to try and “save” coal it’s clear that the dirty source of electricity is on its way out. A recent report revealed that in the USA more people are employed by the solar industry than in the coal industry. Solar only provides 1.3% of America’s electricity yet it is more of a job provider than coal is. If somebody (like the president) wants to create more jobs in the USA than maybe supporting solar is the way to do it.

To put this all in perspective: “Solar employs slightly more workers than natural gas, over twice as many as coal, over three times that of wind energy, and almost five times the number employed in nuclear energy,” the report notes. “Only oil/petroleum has more employment (by 38%) than solar.”

Now, mind you, comparing solar and coal is a bit unfair. Solar is growing fast from a tiny base, which means there’s a lot of installation work to be done right now, whereas no one is building new coal plants in the US anymore. (Quite the contrary: Many older coal plants have been closing in recent years, thanks to stricter air-pollution rules and cheap natural gas.) So solar is in a particularly labor-intensive phase at the moment. Still, it’s worth thinking through what these numbers mean.

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The Quick and Powerful Response by the ACLU

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Image via Reddit.

Over the weekend President Trump enacted what has come to be known as the Muslim Ban. Immediately protestors took to their nearby airports in act of solidarity with the people affected by Trump’s outrageous actions against migration. The protests are continuing today at American consulates and embassies around the world. This is an amazing response by Americans and other citizens to Trump’s ban (which ironically took place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day).

The action that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took over the weekend exemplified the outrage over Trump and the unity of the American people against outright acts of oppression. The ACLU had lawyers ready at nearly every international airport to help migrants and they have publicly spoke out against the Muslim Ban including a seven point action plan to hold the Trump administration to account.

The ACLU received a total of 356,306 donations online, amounting to $24,164,691, which the organization said it would use to fight for the rights of immigrants, as part of a seven-step plan to counter the Trump administration. On Twitter, donation momentum was building as venture capitalists, celebrities and entrepreneurs pledged to match other Twitter users donations.

Asked what the money from the weekends donations would go toward, the ACLU pointed to a seven-point plan of action aimed at taking on the policies of the Trump administration.

The first step in the plan is filing Freedom of Information Act petitions asking government agencies for documents related to Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, followed by plans to protect the rights of immigrants, including challenging “unconstitutional” immigration policies and defending “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

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Here’s the ACLU’s letter to President Trump.

Obama and Canada Bans New Coastal Oil and Gas Drilling

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Obama is leaving office and he’s clearly worried that the next president will ignore climate change and its effects on humanity. In order to stymie any damage that president Trump can do, Obama has passed a law that effectively bans ocean-based drilling for oil and gas in some areas. In support, Canada has passed a similar law that will ban arctic drilling. With fossil fuels becoming less profitable and alternative source energies getting cheaper the need to drill in precarious places become less tenable.

The ban affects 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of federal waters off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea and most of the Beaufort Sea and 3.8 million acres (1.5 million hectares) in the Atlantic from New England to Chesapeake Bay.

The White House and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jointly announced their move to launch “actions ensuring a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem.”

Obama said in a statement that the joint actions “reflect the scientific assessment that, even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”

Canada will designate all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment.

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Riding a Bike in the USA is Getting Safer

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Riding a bicycle is getting safer in American cities thanks to improvements in infrastructure. Usually the USA is associated with being the land of the car (and it still is very car-focussed) so it’s really nice to see that a sustainable and friendly form of transportation is getting the attention it needs. Over the last decade more bike lanes and cycle-friendly construction has made the streets safer for everybody while improving local economies – and above all protecting people from cars.

Researchers examined 10 cities that have been “especially successful at improving cycling safety and increasing cycling levels by greatly expanding their cycling infrastructure.” The above table shows recent changes in bike network growth, cycling rates, and crash and injury rates for cyclists in those cities. Minneapolis, Portland and New York City have seen the largest drop in injury and fatality rates among this group.

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Thanks to Delaney!