by Dailene Hendon, LUTU member
Texas members of Moms Demand Action (momsdemandaction.org) are working to bring attention to bills of concern that have been prefiled for the 85th Legislative Session. After winning the fight for campus carry in 2015, several representatives are working to expand gun legislation in Texas.
Texas State Representative Drew Springer (R) has prefiled HB 560, which will broaden the places a licensed to carry (LTC) holder can enter and would bring the state closer to the “guns everywhere” or “constitutional carry” that many in the pro-gun lobby are fighting for. Springer hopes to eliminate all gun-free zones. House Bill 560 created alarm because language in the bill provides for loaded handguns to be carried openly or concealed in institutions with government funding, including K-12 schools, hospitals and nursing homes, courthouses, bars, amusement parks, and sports stadiums.
Speaking as a teacher, HB 560 is a nightmare scenario in regard to the safety of my students and school staff. I am deeply concerned about the gun violence that plagues our nation, and I do not believe that this legislation works toward solving this problem and saving lives. Forcing our schools and campuses to allow guns is not part of the solution. At any given time, most public school campuses have visitors, parent volunteers, parent conferences, and student drop-off or pick-up occurring somewhere in or around the school grounds. Discerning who is and is not LTC places an undue burden on the campus and puts actual peace officers at risk for high-tension situations. Can you imagine a scenario in which a teacher is harmed during a parent conference? Educators and school staff are frequently involved in Child Protective Service cases and confidentially made aware of high-tension custody battles. The idea of creating a culture of guns in schools alarms me when I think of how those scenarios might play out. Will arming every parent, churchgoer, sports fan, and teacher really solve our violence problem and provide a safe community?
Parents, educators, and community members who are involved with government-funded entities and concerned about HB 560 are encouraged to contact their state representative and express their concerns. For more information, visit momsdemandaction.org.
Want to get involved this month? Join us at these events!
Feb. 15 @ 8am: FIGHT BACK Texas: Stop 3 Anti-Abortion Bills This Week - Join us Wednesday, February 15 at the Capitol to fight for reproductive rights!
Feb. 25 @ 2pm: No Ban, No Wall Rally at Texas State Capitol - Join us Saturday, February 25 on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol to stand with our undocumented and muslim brothers and sisters!
Feb. 28 @ 9am: We Are All Texas: Day of Action for Immigrant and Refugee Rights - Join RITA (Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance) at the Capitol to lobby for immigrant and refugee rights.
Info Watch: The struggle for truth is real
by Matthew Connolly, LUTU member
It seems that everyone is talking about exiting these days. It started with #Brexit, and when it became clear that the California electorate was out of step with the rest of the country, there were mumbles of #Calexit. Some even considered #Demexit when it became clear that the Democratic National Committee stacked the deck against Bernie Sanders.
As I pored over the endless stream of ignorant, false, and angering posts pouring out of my Facebook feed, I seriously considered a #FBexit. I considered boycotting it completely partly out of self-preservation, and partly to fight against what Facebook has become. Instead, I’ve decided to protest.
At its core, to protest is to say no. But exiting is not saying no. Exiting is giving up. We must be strong and knowledgeable enough to say no when we see injustice.
Injustice is usually sold as a false story based on lies. Too many people are buying these stories these days, even when they are preposterous. A recent Economist/YouGov poll found that 29 percent of American adults believed that the “Pizzagate” story is “probably” or “definitely” true even after it was thoroughly and blatantly debunked on national television following the actions of a deluded armed man who was inspired by the fake story to “self-investigate.”
Nearly a third of our fellow Americans believe that, during the Clinton campaign, John Podesta ran a pedophile ring out of the nonexistent basement of a Washington pizza restaurant and used code words on his emails to organize despicable acts.
Not since Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure has such a ridiculous tale been spun about a fictional basement. But many believe it, and noted local conspiracy theorist Alex Jones still promotes the story through his fake news organization, InfoWars.
So how are the rational among us to say no to this? How do we protest the pervasive lies that seem to be poisoning the minds of so many?
It was once sufficient to walk quickly by the fear monger on the corner screaming about mind control, chemtrails, and dark government conspiracies. Not now. That fear monger is now screaming on your Facebook feed and Twitter and Reddit and Breitbart and InfoWars.
The tinfoil hat crowd has evolved into a web of screen-gazing trolls bolstered by fake news operations that profit off their attention both directly, through advertising revenue, and indirectly, by leveraging their apocalyptic fear into an appetite for purchasing water filters, food dehydrators, and magic nutrient powders.
This must not stand. We must use the tried-and-true lessons of real-life civil protests and apply them the online world.
Act locally. Start with your own feed. We must call out false stories and false sources whenever they pop up on our social media. Be the one that calls people out, even friends—especially friends—when they repeat false information.
Get informed. Knowledge is power. If you aren’t sure about the facts of a story, spend three minutes researching it. That is probably three minutes more than the person who posted the fake news spent confirming it.
Be brave. Marching or engaging in civil disobedience takes courage, and so does standing up to people who make false statement on the web. You are making a public statement. Get ready for a fight. Fight well. Logic and well-sourced information will eventually vanquish ignorance every time.
Be persistent. Getting a person or sometimes an entire community to rethink something they believe is not easy and won’t happen instantly. But if you are rational, polite, and persistent, people will hear what you are saying, even if they don’t acknowledge it immediately.
Be realistic. It is very easy to let the fight for truth turn into an unhealthy obsession. Limit yourself. Spend much more time being you than you spend being an online crusader.
Protest the lies. Stand up for the truth. Say no to fake news.
The progressives who considered #Calexit and #Demexit - decided to organize instead. Recently, they managed to elect over 600 Sanders progressives as delegates to the California State Democratic Committee. The way forward is not to leave, it is to fight.
This column is devoted to winning the struggle for truth and giving others the tools to fight the good fight. If you see fake news that needs to be fought or have any questions about how to fight lies, send your comments to email@example.com.
Why You Should Compost!
by Matthew Krausse, LUTU member
Composting is a great way to individually affect our planet for the better. It creates healthy soil for your home garden, helps with pH levels in the soil, and reduces landfill waste, which creates powerful greenhouse gases. Composting can reduce your trash volume by up to 30%, which can allow you to get a smaller trash can! You don’t need a big yard or even an outdoor space to get started. There are a number of great, easy-to-use indoor/outdoor composting options.
Here in Austin, the city offers a great program you can use to start composting at home. If you live in a single-family home, the city will even pick up your compost if you don’t want to use it in your garden. Left Up To US is working to expand this service to multifamily housing, such as apartments—find your city councillor’s info at austintexas.gov/government and call them to show your support for this initiative.
Austin Resource Recovery offers most Austin residents (those who pay the Clean Communities fee on their utility bill) a $75 rebate on a home composting system. There are two ways to receive the rebate: attend class in person or complete an informative video online. Once you complete this requirement, you can either apply for a coupon to purchase your home composting system or purchase your system and be reimbursed.
All this information is available on the Austin’s city government’s website, austintexas.gov/composting.
What can be composted? If it grows, it goes:
Tea and coffee grains
Vegetable and fruit scraps
Yard trimmings (old plants, wilted flowers, small prunings)
WHO LOVES YA, BABY?
by Thom Woodruff, guest contributor
Anyone who devotes time, energy, attention
to the lifting of common consciousness
Anyone who levitates your moods and responds
in a way that adds to your happiness
Anyone who listens, stays, respects, prays
so that another might make it through each day
Anyone who feels as well as thinks
Anyone who adds good dreams into our commonspeak
Anyone like you, and me, and she and he
who lifts a little so the lot rises up
and we are leaf upon a branch upon a tree
within a forest in a world that decimates
Each leaf one Uni-verse.Trembling in winds
Ready to lift when the need emerges-
to turn into wings.
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