Teacup Reads: spring forward edition

Every week, I put together links to some of the most interesting things I’ve found on the internet, so that you can enjoy them over your Sunday morning cup of tea. This week, highlights include a ballot resolution asking whether the PFD should be protected in the Alaska Constitution, Rep. Parish’s newest newsletter, and a few things happening on the national scene that might surprise you (hint: your medical data’s privacy is one issue, and a former cop is another). In addition, I read a great piece in ESPN about Alaskan musher Katherine Keith that I just can’t recommend highly enough.

Read on for all that and more!

Alaska Legislature
If you are also in my district (House 34: Mendenhall Valley, Airport, Auke Bay, and out the road), I really recommend you sign up at this link for our guy Justin Parish’s newsletter. Maybe it’s just because he is the new guy, but Rep. Justin Parish has done a great job of pushing out relevant news and events on a regular weekly schedule.

In the newest edition, Parish describes a bill he sponsored, as well as a public meeting to discuss issues TODAY (3/12) at the Mendenhall Valley Library from 3-5 (with pizza!).

In other news, our Alaskan Democratic Senators, led by Sen. Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), have sponsored SJR1:

The bill, proposed by Sen. Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), would not preclude the use of the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund by the legislature, but would require PFD checks to be paid first, utilizing the current formula and ensuring that the full dividend gets paid out every year.

I’m glad we’ve got people forcing discussion on this issue on our behalf. Here’s the press release.

Other interesting press releases from the State House’s Bipartisan Majority:

National news: Trump, Republican Congress still awful …
First up: I’m not doing ACA this week. It’s important, and it’s everywhere. So, I decided to highlight some of the other things going on this week, that aren’t getting so much oxygen.

Personal freedom is not actually a Republican value. The New York Times asks “How Healthy Are You? G.O.P. Bill Would Help Employers Find Out“:

A bill in Congress could make it harder for workers to keep employers from getting access to their personal medical and genetic information and raise the financial penalties for those who opt out of workplace wellness programs.

House Republicans are proposing legislation aimed at making it easier for companies to gather genetic data from workers and their families, including their children, when they collect it as part of a voluntary wellness program.

A brave writer at The Stranger watched all of the movies with Steve Bannon, the creepy white supremacist who Trump named his chief adviser, in the credits. In Looking to Understand the Mind of Steve Bannon? Watch his Documentaries:

Steve Bannon is the latest and most alarming exponent of a long political tradition: advisers who not so secretly do all the thinking for lightweight Republican presidents. …

Trump has Bannon. And so do we. And it’s a major problem for the whole world on a scale we’ve never seen before. While his predecessors were also skillful manipulators who loved power, they weren’t hardcore ideologues who definitely believe in biblical prophecy, have intense affinities for Sun Tzu and Julius Evola, and explicitly yearn for an apocalyptic holy war with Islam they say has already begun.

Speaking of Trump, does anyone need to be reminded that his promises can’t be trusted? From the wonderfully snarky Charles Pierce, at Esquire, President Trump Breaks Promise that Keystone Pipeline will be Made with American Steel:

In other words, the president* knew when he delivered his presidentialing speech last Tuesday that he’d already signed a directive that made what he told Congress and the nation a lie. Leave that aside for a moment and consider that the pipes to be used in building a death funnel that will carry the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels through some of the world’s most arable farmland have been sitting in a field in North Dakota, open to the elements in a state that’s known for some serious elements, for at least three years.

One last tidbit on Trump, this one from Jack Bogle, the guy who invented the index fund, that is worth a couple of minutes to read. CNNMoney provides an interview, What worries investing guru Jack Bogle right now:

Last month, [Warren] Buffett called Bogle a “hero” of the investing world. But Bogle thinks about a lot more than stocks. These days, he’s warning that some of Trump’s policies are “bad for society” — and the economy.

Bogle disagrees with Trump on restricting trade and immigration, and he is alarmed by the hate crimes and growing inequality in America.

… but we should remember that most people aren’t awful
Are you a nerdy Christian? Check out this long read, Letter to a Christian Climate Skeptic by Bradford Littlejohn. I can’t speak to quality of the rest of his site, but this piece might speak to you:

Whatever your views on the details of the debate, I think you’ll agree with me that we who worship the God who created this marvelous planet with its intricate, delicately-balanced ecosystems, and who put us here to protect it, should take these issues more seriously than anyone. You may remain a skeptic, but I exhort you to be a thoughtful skeptic, not a lazy or complacent one, for the stakes are much too high for that. Above all, don’t let yourself be a skeptic just because that is more comfortable, less likely to challenge your cherished habits and opinions. Truth is rarely comfortable. [Bold mine – Mary]

And for something completely different [content note: language], check out someone trying to build bridges between feminists and gay men. Like so many of us, Russell Brown felt a chill down his spine after the election. Read The Fallopian Dudes Urge Men to Stand Up for Women’s Health in Trump’s America to find out what he did after this:

Brown recalls the post-election 60 Minutes interview in which Trump announced that he didn’t plan to dismantle same-sex marriage but he was working to overturn Roe v. Wade and repeal the Affordable Care Act (which provides free birth control for many women). Brown’s Facebook echo chamber of gay men erupted with celebratory posts. He refreshed his newsfeed to find update after update with posts such as, “Maybe the next four years won’t be so bad.” Brown was furious.

He couldn’t believe his friends were popping bottles for gay marriage when the progress of women’s health and autonomy was about to be steamrolled by the Trump administration.

Blogger Square Cop in a Round World is tackling some of the same problems that civil rights leaders are, but s/he’s doing it as a retired officer. In a piece called What the nobility of policing requires, this idea gets fleshed out:

These [acts of unpunished misconduct] are the dirty little secrets we don’t want to talk about in mixed company. I know. But we must find the courage to address this. I don’t say this to air dirty laundry. I say this because I care about policing. I care about the tens of thousands of you who are honest and out there doing a great job. Every single bad cop allowed to stay does damage that makes you unsafe. It’s that simple. [Bold mine – Mary]

Non-political news
Every week I include a few non-political things as a way of honoring all of us as complete people.

I don’t usually read ESPN, but this article about Katherine Keith pulled me in completely, and you will be glad you read the whole thing: Iditarod competitor loses everything, finds solace in Alaska wilderness. Have Kleenex handy, and make sure your shirt is loose enough for your heart to grow two sizes.

This article, I’ve Spent Thirty Years Trying to Solve One Horrific Murder Case, reminds us of the corrupting power of … power. Read about Julian Pierce, murdered while campaigning to be a judge in the South:

Many residents, including Lumbee attorney Dexter Brooks, feared a backlash from the county’s elite. “There was a sense of danger,” says Brooks, who declined to offer Pierce his support at first. “[Pierce was] viewed as taking on the whole establishment.”

“There was a good old separatist history,” adds Rev. Sidney Locks, an African-American state assemblyman from Robeson who kept his support for Pierce private at first. “There were whites who didn’t want unity, blacks who didn’t want unity and Indians who didn’t want unity.” …

“The last thing I said to him was, ‘Don’t you realize how dangerous this is?’” Julian’s brother Roy Pierce told me at the reunion. “He just told me, ‘Someone has to stand up and do something.’”

And, last, to clear the palate from that, take a look at this hopeful piece from the Alaska Dispatch News, Could be time for Alaska to make the leap:

However, the Leap Manifesto is more than climate and clean energy, it’s about job creation for the middle class, protecting indigenous rights, standing up for education and health care, and encouraging more localized agricultural systems. It’s a holistic, aspirational approach that responds simultaneously to caring for the earth and caring for one another. Best of all, it comes with a plan to pay for it all … a carbon tax that gives back.

We have a bright, shiny new week in front of us – I hope yours is a great one!

– Mary

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