I totally forgot last week’s Good News Friday post, probably because the Thanksgiving holiday threw me off. With that in mind, it’s hard to feel anything but somber today, with the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing. Anti-apartheid activism was a big deal when I was in college and the years after graduation; those of us coming into political activism in the ’80s well remember the Reagan Administration’s lack of support for the cause. In fact, they labeled the African National Congress a terrorist organization.
According to PolicyMic.com, in 1986, Sen. Jesse Helms (R–NC), Strom Thurmond (R–SC) Phil Gramm (R–Texas) and Rep. Dick Cheney (R–Wyo.) all opposed the Anti-Apartheid Act, which condemned South Africa for its institutional racism, put in place economic sanctions and called for freeing Mandela and other political prisoners.
Even though the Anti-Apartheid Act passed Congress, President Reagan vetoed it and claimed sanctions would hurt black South Africans, whom he also blamed for violence in the country.
Congress overrode President Reagan’s veto in 1986, noted The New York Times. Only three years later South Africa would dismantle apartheid because of economic sanctions by the US (and other countries) and release Mandela.
The same people who were on the wrong side of history then are on the wrong side of history today. The Republican Party has not changed, it has always supported white privilege and oppressive regimes in the interests of “stability.” Nothing scares the plutocrats more than seeing thousands of people hit the streets demanding change.
And no, I’m not going to let folks off the hook on this one. Mandela was a political figure fighting political battles in a political arena. It is absolutely right to be reminded where today’s conservative leaders stood on this issue. It was only 30 years ago, fer crying out loud, and the battles are still being fought.
Without further ado, some good news from the past two weeks:
• Fast food workers across the U.S. went on strike yesterday, calling attention to wage and income inequality. This issue simply will not be ignored, people.
• Twitter adds its first female board member. Congratulations, Marjorie Scardino.
• In a split from Republican Party, major corporations — including oil companies — embrace a carbon tax to pay for climate change:
A new report by the environmental data company CDP has found that at least 29 companies, some with close ties to Republicans, including ExxonMobil, Walmart and American Electric Power, are incorporating a price on carbon into their long-term financial plans.
Both supporters and opponents of action to fight global warming say the development is significant because businesses that chart a financial course to make money in a carbon-constrained future could be more inclined to support policies that address climate change.
But unlike the five big oil companies — ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell, all major contributors to the Republican party — Koch Industries, a conglomerate that has played a major role in pushing Republicans away from action on climate change, is ramping up an already-aggressive campaign against climate policy — specifically against any tax or price on carbon. Owned by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the company includes oil refiners and the paper-goods company Georgia-Pacific.
Koch’s are the last holdout, again, and they’re using their front group ALEC to achieve their goals. Still on the wrong side of history! What is it with you people? In 30 years I predict they’ll try to claim they worked tirelessly to prevent climate catastrophe. Some related items:
• Following the Trayvon Martin shooting, ALEC faces a funding crisis, as corporate donors flee. Oh noes! Playing the world’s tiniest violin.
• Related: Visa just dropped its membership in ALEC.
• Washington D.C.’s city council voted unanimously to raise the minimum wage to $11.50.
• The House voted to extend the ban on plastic guns.
• A new report says that Obamacare is poised to cost billions of dollars less than expected:
Already, the Congressional Budget Office has quietly erased hundreds of billions of dollars from its projections. It now estimates that Medicare spending in 2020 will be $137 billion lower than it thought in 2010, a drop of 15 percent; Medicaid spending will be $85 billion, or 16 percent, lower; and private health insurance premiums are expected to be about 9 percent lower.
Death of another right-wing talking point, ad nauseum. Lather, rinse, repeat.
• According to Guns & Ammo magazine, the NFL rejected a Super Bowl ad from gun manufacturer Daniel Defense.
• Nine days after tornados destroyed Jacob Montgomery’s Washington, IL apartment, his six-month-old puppy Dexter was found alive and in good shape beneath the debris.
• The Cayman Islands will start reporting U.S. citizens’ assets, in an effort to help crack down on offshore tax evasion.
The outdoor apparel company has launched an anti-Black Friday campaign, urging customers not to buy new items and, instead, to repair their old Patagonia gear instead. The retailer launched a partnership with iFixit to provide repair guides for every type of Patagonia gear, from jackets to clothing to luggage. This initiative is also coming to life in 15 of its retail locations in cities around the country. Starting at 4 p.m. on Black Friday customers can bring old, beat-up Patagonia gear to one of those 15 stores to not only get their stuff repaired for free by professionals, but also to enjoy food, beer, and live music, and watch screenings of the company’s new “Worn Wear” short film, which follows a champion skier, surfer, and other outdoor enthusiasts in their well-loved Patagonia gear.
• In Canada, two men saved a Greenland shark from choking on a moose.
• Australian renewable energy company Pollinate Energy was recognized by the United Nations for its program bringing solar energy to the world’s poorest and most remote locations.
• Oil prices fell below $94/barrel on news of the Iran peace deal. Suck on that, Newt “drill here drill now” Gingrich.
• IRS proposes new restrictions on “dark money” political groups.
• U.S. teen pregnancy rates continue to plummet.
• Yet another old polluting coal plant closing, this one in Utah.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• Firefighters rescued a driver and her adorable puppy from a fiery wreck on I-24. Even better, the puppy has been living at the fire station until the owner is released from the hospital. Awwww!
• No link yet, but Tennessee Sportsmen for Climate Action have joined forces with state Democratic Reps. Mike Stewart and Sherry Jones to take on conservative front group ALEC, according to a media advisory I received yesterday.
This week’s cool video: watch a Capuchin monkey at the International Primate Rescue teach this human his favorite game, leaf-crunching: