The Guardian: Senate Republicans feel force of protest … but pass tax bill anyway

Senate Republicans finally managed to pass some legislation on Friday night, in the form of their much-criticized tax bill … but only after a remarkable effort from activists to thwart the bill.

In Arizona activists had protested through Thursday night outside John McCain’s office, while people did the same outside Susan Collins’ office in Bangor, Maine. Both had been seen as potential no votes before committing to the bill this week.

Even on Friday morning, progressive group Indivisible had been urging activists to spend the day making calls to senators, providing phone numbers and suggested scripts to urge elected officials to vote against the legislation.

It wasn’t just activists who launched desperate efforts. The DNC urged supporters to make calls, while the editorial board of the New York Times took over the @nytopinion Twitter feed on Wednesday “to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation’s fiscal health”.

On Monday thousands of activists across the country had launched sit-ins at senators’ offices. In the end all the effort wasn’t enough. But there will be more battles to come.

Verizon focus of last ditch net neutrality protest

Hundreds of protests are planned outside Verizon stores on Thursday 7 December, to demonstrate against the upcoming Federal Communications Commission vote on net neutrality.

Activists say they have chosen to target Verizon as the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a former lawyer for Verizon. The company has lobbied for current regulations – designed to protect an open internet – to be overturned.

The FCC is due to vote on defanging those regulations on 14 December – potentially allowing internet service providers like Verizon to charge for different levels of web access.

A group of coalitions including Fight for the Future and Team Internet are organizing the demonstrations.

“We’ll demand that our members of Congress take action to stop Verizon’s puppet FCC from killing net neutrality,” said a message on the groups’ Verizon Protests website, which has a tool for people to find their nearest protests.

Broken musical instruments for children

Grammy award-winning composer David Lang is launching his Symphony for a Broken Orchestra in Philadelphia this weekend – a novel attempt to draw attention to the more than $1.2m that has been slashed from the city’s musical instrument repair fund.

Lang – who won a Grammy in 2010 for his composition The Little Match Girl Passion and the Pulitzer prize for music in 2008 – sourced 1,500 broken musical instruments the School District of Philadelphia for the performance.