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By Tiffiny Cheng, A New Way Forward, David DeGraw, Amped Status and Kevin Zeese, Prosperity Agenda
The next few weeks will culminate into a defining moment in American history and lay the course for our economic future. After two years of being asleep at the switch, Congress is finally stepping up and taking action on financial reform. The resulting bill will be a clear indication and definitive proof as to who is actually running our country. Will it reinforce the dominance of the Wall Street elite, or will it mark a rebirth of the rule of law and economic prosperity for millions of Americans who have seen their standard of living decline?
We cannot just sit back and let politicians, who are overly influenced by campaign funding and lobbying activities on the part of the big banks who have plunged us into this crisis, decide our future without us. Our passive unwillingness to stand up for our own rights is part of the reason we are in this crisis to begin with. Right now is the most pivotal time for us to make our voice heard.
The early indications are ominous, two of the most crucial aspects of true reform have already been dealt a severe blow. The amendment to break up the "too big to fail" banks has been voted down, and the bill to audit the Federal Reserve has been gutted of important provisions.
This bill is where we draw the line and STAND UP.
Last year, Alice Walker, Stephen King and others, took our 10 Against Torture action. Now, in 2010, we're asking you to be one of 10,000 Americans committed to urging the Obama administration to following through on its commitment to close Guantanamo and restore justice to a flawed detention and interrogation system.
Please join us over the next several weeks to help get America back on track to a country that respects the rule of law and rejects torture.
I realize it's not quite Friday yet, but I went ahead and gave my $5 Fridays five dollars to Woodstock International. Why? For producing the best newspaper I've seen in . . . well, ever.
Congressman David Obey
2314 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4907
Dear Congressman Obey,
In recent years you've expressed your opposition to war spending. I'd like to encourage you to cap off your congressional career by actually refusing to provide the funding for the current escalation in Afghanistan, and by simultaneously introducing a bill to spend $33 billion on green energy jobs, including for former soldiers.
You know better than I do that the power to begin, end, oversee, and control the escalation of wars lies in Congress. That the president has gone ahead with the escalation unfunded cannot legitimate it, and those troops can certainly be turned around and be brought immediately home.
Ted Glick wrote:
I go on trial, a jury trial, on May 11th in Washington, D.C. This is for hanging a banner last Sept. 8th, 2009, the day Congress returned from their summer recess, which said: "Green Jobs Now, Get to Work." This was part of a demonstration of about 40 people inside the Hart Senate Office Building.
It's ironic, and sad, that this call for action is as relevant now as it was eight months ago.
I was originally scheduled for trial in late February but it was postponed until May 11th. The government has made it clear they want to make an example of me because of prior convictions for similar actions. Their plea deal offer to me, which I rejected, was that if I pleaded guilty I'd have to serve 30 days in jail. They have filed a motion that, because of my past convictions, they may be asking for additional jail time if I'm convicted beyond the maximum 6 months that I'm liable for right now. I will be defending myself, with the assistance of lawyer Ann Wilcox.
I'm asking people who can to show up in court the morning (or the afternoon) of the 11th. The courtroom is the Superior Court building, 500 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington DC, Judge Frederick Weisberg presiding.
Please sign up at this link if you will be able to attend. Thanks much, Ted Glick
Vigils in 100 Districts Urge Votes Against War Escalation Funds
WASHINGTON, DC--April was the second month in a row in which "brown bag" lunch vigils against war funding were held at congressional district offices in over 100 districts around the country. Organizations participating included: Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), CODEPINK, AfterDowningStreet, the Backbone Campaign, Democrats.com, the California Nurses Association / National Nurses Organizing Committee, Healthcare Now, American Friends Service Committee and United for Peace and Justice.
Brown Bag Vigils have been held on the third Wednesday of each month since January. The next scheduled date is May 19th.
Brown-baggers are asking members of the House to publicly commit to voting No on any bills that fund wars, and to publicly urge their colleagues and the House leadership to make the same commitment. This position necessarily includes opposition to the proposed $33 billion supplemental expected in the coming weeks to fund an escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Congress members' commitments are tracked at http://defundwar.org.
PDA national director Tim Carpenter said "If congress members want to claim they oppose wars or support job creation, they have to vote against this $33 billion to escalate a war. And they know that we know that any smaller measures, such as aid to Haiti, can be passed separately if the war funding fails, and therefore there can be no excuses for voting yes to fund the escalation."
Complete information on past and upcoming Brown Bag Vigils is available online: http://tinyurl.com/brownbagvigil, including videos: http://youtube.com/pdamerica, and photos: http://flickr.com/photos/pdamerica.
Progressive Democrats of America was founded in 2004 to transform the Democratic Party and our country. We seek to build a party and government controlled by citizens, not corporate elites--with policies that serve the broad public interest, not just private interests. PDA is a grassroots PAC operating inside the Democratic Party, and outside in movements for peace and justice. Our inside/outside strategy is guided by the belief that a lasting majority will require a revitalized Democratic Party built on firm progressive principles.
For over two decades, the party declined as its leadership listened more to the voices of corporations than those of Americans. PDA strives to rebuild the Democratic Party from the bottom up--from every congressional district to statewide party structures to the corridors of power in Washington, where we work arm in arm with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In just five years, PDA and its allies have shaken up the political status quo--on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Medicare for all, voter rights, accountability, and economic and environmental justice.
Josh Stieber served in the company shown in the video from Iraq recently released by Wikileaks. He and Ethan McCord have published an apology to the Iraqi people:
And the widow of an Iraqi killed in the video has accepted the apology:
Steiber will participate in Thursday's Teach-In on Capitol Hill, where he will speak briefly and be available to answer questions.
Teach In on Capitol Hill on War
What Congress Must Do to End U.S. Wars and Help Secure a Peaceful Middle East
This Thurday's public teach-in on the war on Capitol Hill with Dennis Kucinich, Chris Hedges, Jeremy Scahill, David Swanson, and Ann Wright (which everyone should ask their representative to attend by calling them at 202-224-3121) is being sponsored by these organizations that are all working for peace and all need your support and participation:
EndUSWars.org, AfterDowningStreet.org, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, the Nation, Gray Panthers of Metro Washington, Washington Peace Center, United for Peace and Justice, Office & Professional Employees International Union Local 2, U.S. Labor Against the War, Civilian Soldier Alliance, Seacoast Peace Response, Veterans for Peace, The Humanist, Voters for Peace, Rethink Afghanistan, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Peace of the Action, Jobs for Afghans, WeThePeopleNow.org, ProsecuteOfficials.org
Calling all artists......
It's high time to redefine Uncle Sam .....the Global Network wants to challenge our artist friends to send us new images of what Uncle Sam should look like today as the empire collapses due to massive military spending and endless war.
Send us your drawings/paintings by May 24 and we will post them on our blog and pick a winner who will be awarded one of my books called Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire.
Our country has and will change even more in the next few years. It's high time that the symbol of the U.S., Uncle Sam, had a new look that really represents this change.
Send your art work via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to your submissions. (Please forward this challenge to other artist friends as well.)
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
TELL CONGRESS: "NO MONEY FOR THE AFGHANISTAN TROOP ESCALATION"
Soon Congress will be voting on a war supplemental of $33 billion to fund President Obama's troop escalation in Afghanistan, as well as a proposed defense budget of over $700 billion which includes $159 billion for "Overseas Contingency Operations" in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a 3.4 percent increase over the 2010 budget, yet programs for education, housing, transportation and the environment are being frozen. The money for Iraq and Afghanistan could be better spent at home to create jobs. We know this budget reflects the priorities of the Pentagon and not the American people.
No matter what the Dodd bill says, if one of the big 4 banks fails, they're going to have to get bailed out -- their assets equal 50% of GDP! Incremental steps are nice, but that's not what we will fight for. They're going to have to be broken up!
Loud support for Breaking up the Banks is growing! The power of too-big-to-fail banks to skirt regulations and get a bailout is too big.
Yesterday, Baseline Scenario blogged the petition. Democrats.com is now running it too. Lawrence Lessig, key advocate against political corruption, signed onto our petition, among some of your favorite thinkers: McJoan of Daily Kos, Nomi Prins, Economist Dean Baker, Chris Hayes of the Nation, Zephyr Teachout, Law Professor, Heather Booth of AFR, Adam Quinn of Credo, David Arkush of Public Citizen, Jan Frel of Alternet, Cryn Johannsen of AllEducationMatters, David Cobb, 2004 Green Party Presidential Candidate, Rob Johnson of Roosevelt Institute, and Dana Balicki of Code Pink, Doug Rushkoff of Life Inc.
For those of us against the bailouts and too-big-to-fail, this is our bill. For those of us for fair and safe competition, this is our bill. For those of us railing against political corruption, this is our bill.
Breaking up the banks is supported by Alan Greenspan, Thomas Hoenig of the St. Louis Fed, Robert Reich, Joe Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Michael Moore, Paul Volcker, Simon Johnson, Arnold Kling, George Soros, and ... Citigroup (seriously).
On April 28, 2010, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation is sponsoring a “Fiscal Summit” in Washington, DC. The purpose of the Conference, which is scheduled for the day after the first meeting of the President's recently constituted National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (By the way, where the Conference is happening is a mystery not cleared up on the PGPF web site), and which includes many notables, is:
I mean other than the war, murder, torture, lawless imprisonment, warrantless spying, lack of a free press or freedom of speech and assembly, absence of rights in the workplace, abusive justice system, death penalty, and discrimination. You know, on the big stuff, How are we doing?
Teach In on War on Capitol Hill
Don't Use Any More of Our Money
Brown Bag Vigil on April 21st
Marcy Winograd in DC on April 27th
Harvey Wasserman on Climate Bill
Teach In on Capitol Hill on War
What Congress Must Do to End U.S. Wars and Help Secure a Peaceful Middle East
DESCRIPTION: Educational briefing on the U. S. agenda in the Middle East, its consequences and development of a strategy/plan to withdraw. Emphasis will be on constructive, interactive dialogue among panelists and attendees.
MODERATOR: Representative Dennis J. Kucinich (D - Ohio)
A critical moment in banking reform
By Kevin Zeese | Prosperity Agenda US
Last month saw record bankruptcies since the federal personal bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005, the underemployment rate increased to 20%, and the percentage of borrowers three months behind in mortgage payments is at 6.67% up from 2% in 2005.
People are hurting and the banks are taking advantage of them. Major banks are now part of the pay day loan scam charging up to 120% or higher interest rates. The rich are getting richer - the number of billionaires is increasing, the wealth divide is expanding with 70% of wealth now owned by the top 1%, CEO pay is $500 to every $1 made by the average worker. Wall Street is paying themselves record bonuses and salaries only because the taxpayers have provided them with trillions of dollars of our money.
The financial interests who dominate the Congress are doing a very effective job of preventing real financial reform. Rather than breaking up the big banks whose existence assures another financial collapse, the "reform" actually includes a back door bailout that gives the Fed emergency lending authority. And the Fed, which many criticized as a cause of the collapse, is gaining power under the proposed "reforms" including controlling the consumer protection agency.
StopTheChamber.com Campaign Calls For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide
No More Business As Usual
Our StopTheChamber.com Campaign Today Called For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide Of 29 West Virginia Miners
We Also Called For Congress Members To Order Halt Contact With Chamber Lobbyists
YOU CAN HELP BY JOINING AND SUPPORTING OUR CAMPAIGN TO STOP THE CHAMBER!
Our StopTheChamber.com campaign has been warning for months about the devastating effect of U.S. Chamber of Commerce policies on the well being of Americans. Specifically, we have condemned the Chamber for spending hundreds of millions to fight regulation of its dues paying members and regulation of pollution caused by those members. These actions have been led by Chamber CEO Tom Donohue and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, the latter who runs vast coal mining operations in West Virginia, including the serial offending Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners were killed last week.
In a recent press release, attorney and campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said: “The convergence of the Chamber’s policies against regulation of workplace safety and the disaster of mining coal without regard for the environmental impact resulted in the death of 29 hard working West Virginian miners. This was not an accident, but rather the result of deliberate and intentional decisions and actions of Don Blankenship, a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Blankenship and Chamber CEO Tom Donohue must be held accountable for these deaths. What is it going to take for Congress and the President to stop coddling criminals, masquerading as legitimate businessmen, who cause the death of our loved ones? Blankenship, with the lobbying army of the Chamber to back him up, has thumbed his nose at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, ignoring or appealing every violation, including the scores that resulted in coal mine evacuations and the hundreds of other serious violations. As the Washington Post pointed out in a Saturday editorial, these 29 deaths would not have occurred absent this intentional conduct of Blankenship. He is just as criminally culpable as any mass murderer.”
Today we called on federal law enforcement officials to charge Don Blankenship with homicide, and for a complete criminal investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its CEO Tom Donohue to determine what policies and practices led to the death of these miners, and whether Chamber lobbyists and lawyers were used to cover-up or avoid compliance with safety regulations. Criminal prosecution of the perpetrators of this terrible crime will ensure accountability, expose the Chamber’s criminal conduct and pave the way for real worker safety across the nation.
We also called on all Congress Members to immediately issue a standing order to their staff to cease all communication and contact with U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyists. Now that the Chamber and its directors have been directly implicated in the homicide of 29 workers, there can be no more business as usual. Congress Members must stand up for working people by refusing to meet with and do the bidding of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization whose directors, policies and practices have killed and will kill again if they are not stopped.
Add your name here to growing list of signers of this statement:
I'm going to do this. Will you? If so, blog and Email, Fbook and Tweet. --DS
From Jon Schwarz
Starting today, every Friday I'm going to give five dollars to someone who's produced something funny/interesting/worthwhile and is giving it away on the internet(s).
Obviously the internet is the greatest distribution technology ever created for music and writing and video and journalism. But it's also obvious it generally makes it more difficult for people producing such things to earn a living.
So I have three goals with this:
1. Finally start paying some of the people who've created wonderful things I've enjoyed.
2. If possible, get lots of other people online to start doing this as well. It would be a beautiful thing if it grew and grew, and three years from now 10,000 people were giving away $50,000 to artists every week. To help get things rolling, I've created the twitter hashtag #5DF. Every week I'll link to the recipient of my five dollars on twitter with that tag, and if you start doing it I encourage you to do the same. (I'll also archive all my recipients here.)
3. In my most grandiose dreams, this idea would—in the process of becoming popular—make people realize that we need a new way to fund all kinds of art. In theory the internet should be a dream come true for artists and people generally, but it will never fulfill its potential if everyone is trying to eke out a living from advertising or just what other people are willing to cough up on the spur of the moment.
Take Action: McCain/Lieberman/McKeon Bill Removes Right to Trial, Means Endless Incarceration Without Trial
TAKE ACTION against a Dangerous Bill
Newt Gingrich went apoplectic over the fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the so-called "underwear bomber") was read his Miranda rights after his arrest, and that he will be tried in a civilian court. They hit the talk show circuit to criticize Attorney General Eric Holder for his handling of the case. You may remember the case of Richard Reid (the so-called "shoe-bomber") who was arrested, read his rights and sent to trial in civilian court. He pled guilty and is now serving life in prison. I've heard Gingrich and others defend the Bush Administration's handling of Reid by asserting he is a U.S. citizen - he is not. The cases are quite similar and demonstrate how politically-motivated the "outrage" is. Although civilian courts have done a fine job of trying and convicting terrorist (403 terrorists convicted since 9/11 compared to 3 convictions via military commissions) a large group of politicians are working to prohibit the use of civilian courts in terrorism cases (focusing their arguments on the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed).
We are particularly worried by a bill introduced by McCain/Lieberman in the Senate, and by Rep. McKeon in the House. The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act of 2010 (S. 3081; H.R. 4892) would allow the President to decide whether you are entitled to a fair trial, or if he should just toss you in jail and throw away the key. If the President accuses you of being a terrorist, or of providing material support to terrorists, you will not be read your Miranda rights, you will not be entitled to a trial, you may not even be charged, you will be interrogated by special teams… and you can be locked up without trial until the war on terror ends. Even if you are a U.S. citizen. The accusation can be based on 'secret evidence' that you will never see. It could be based on lies, or misunderstanding. You could be innocent of all charges, and never be allowed to prove it.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. While it probably will not get voted on in Committee, the bill, or provisions of the bill, could be added to another piece of legislation on the floor of the Senate - so we have to fight the provisions in this bill NOW!
Click here to send an email. Or, call your Senators (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) and tell them to oppose these dangerous ideas!
Note: the bill will not likely be voted on as a S. 3081, but rather as an amendment or a series of amendments - so while you can mention the bill number, it is most important to raise concerns about the substance of the bill.
I am concerned that Senators McCain, Lieberman or other Senators may introduce provisions from S. 3081 as amendments to another bill on the floor of the Senate. I urge Senator ______ to vote against any amendments that would:
- Prohibit the use of civilian courts to try terrorism suspects
- Prohibit the reading of Miranda rights to terrorism suspects
- Deny the right of Habeas Corpus to terrorism suspects
Tell Your State Legislatures and Governors the National Guard Is Not for Occupying Other People's Countries
By Leah Bolger
Tips and Talking Points for Lobby Visits
1. Bring laptop with “At This Moment” National Guard theater commercial
2. DoD spends $3 billion a year on recruiting. Point out that this slick video focuses primarily on combat/fighting missions, and not on a typical state-based mission.
3. Concern that the National Guard is being marketed as a front-line fighting force. By marketing the National Guard in this way, it appears that the federal government intends to continue using the Guard as a front-line component.
4. The National Guard is not meant to be a front-line fighting force for indefinite periods of time.
5. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have decimated the effectiveness and readiness of the Guard.
6. States need the resources and manpower of the National Guard for state-based emergencies.
7. Federal call-up and deployment of National Guard units has a huge negative economic impact on states.
8. Tie-in recent Executive Order which creates “Council of Governors” which appears to be wresting control of the National Guard away from the governors.
9. Ask your governor if he/she is aware of this Council and its possible ramifications.
10. Ask your governor if he/she knows who is on this Council and if he/she has been in communication with the Council.
The mortgage company has agreed to a month’s delay in foreclosing on the Peace House.
Your support is making a difference!
Johnny Wolf’s activism began at an early age, as his parents instilled in him an ethic of peaceful service to his fellow man, which he has practiced throughout his life. After attending a National Network to End the War Against Iraq conference, he sold enough buttons at a buck a pop to raise the down payment on the Peace House.
Among Johnny’s other contributions are co-founding the Committee on Solidarity with the People of Iraq, which, together with Veterans for Peace, is responsible for rebuilding six water treatment plants in Iraq.
The Crawford Peace House was dedicated on Easter Sunday, 2003.
Over the years of resistance to the Iraq war and the criminal activities of the Bush regime, the Crawford Peace House served thousands of activists as a gathering place of hope and resistance, feeding literally thousands of people and managing a large team of volunteers. Wolf states, “The Peace House is so much more than President Bush – it is a centralized location where we perform miracles, offering hope to humanity to counter the cult of war.”
Now, with your help, Johnny is working tirelessly to make the dream of a Peace Museum a reality. Easter, of course, is our seasonal reminder of the prospects of world peace. If you share in the dream of a Peace Museum and care to contribute, you can contact Johnny Wolf.