will help you get involvedor be able to contact others who are involved. By ‘involved’ I mean you
are not sitting on your ass, watching your world and go down the toilet before your very eyes. By being ‘involved’
your WORD starts to actually mean something. I need all the backup I can get to stand up to injustices and speak up for all
Look at these links and issues. Let us all stand up together and
contact our officials, by writing, phoning, singing or what ever it takes to insure that we Want Freedom to Ring!”
Benjamin Todd Jealous is part of Change.org's Changemakers network, comprised of leading voices for social change. Mr Jealous is the 17th President and Chief Executive Officer
of the NAACP.
Fear, misinformation and haste are a recipe for bad policy. Throughout our nation’s history, some of the most discriminatory
government actions, or those with the worst unintended consequences, were born from uneasy times. Some, like the Black Codes
or the McCarthy-era anti-Communist hearings, have been rightly judged by history as shameful over-reactions. Others, sadly,
are still in effect.
In 1986 -- at the height of the inner-city crack cocaine epidemic and the fears it sparked -- Congress rushed the passage
of legislation that required mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least five years for the possession of just five grams
of crack cocaine. The same law, though, said that someone would have to possess five hundred grams of powder cocaine to receive
a comparable prison term -- a ratio of 1 to 100. This massive sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine
set in motion the mass incarceration of African Americans and Latinos. With mandatory minimums and measures such as three-strikes
laws, the trend has spread to working-class whites, as well.
There’s no reason our society should shoulder this injustice. Mandatory minimum sentencing violates Fourteenth Amendment
guarantees of equal protection, since the law’s burden falls disproportionately upon racial and ethnic minorities. While
in 2006, more than 66% of crack cocaine users were white, a full 82% of those sentenced under the federal crack cocaine law
were African Americans -- even though blacks were estimated to represent less than 15% of crack users.
Now, though, Congress has an opportunity to correct this unjust law by passing the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of
2009 (H.R. 3245), sponsored by Rep. Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2009 (S. 1789), sponsored
by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL). These measures would eliminate disparities in sentencing law, as well as the five-year mandatory
minimum prison term for first-time possession of crack cocaine.
Congressional action is long overdue. Over the last three decades, the U.S. prison population has more than quadrupled,
growing from about 500,000 to 2.3 million today. That growth is largely due to the incarceration of hundreds of thousands
of African Americans and Latinos, many for nonviolent drug offences.
The original intent of the law, convicting drug kingpins, has been perverted. The law removes judges’ discretion
to consider a defendant’s role, addiction or mitigating circumstances. What’s more, there are no alternatives
to incarceration for first-time offenders such as drug treatment. Under the law, the only way someone can receive a reduced
sentence is by providing information that would assist the government in prosecuting others, which puts low-level offenders
at a disadvantage, because few of them are able to provide facts and name names. By contrast, that is something the high-level
dealers can do, so very few of them go to prison. The overwhelming majority of those locked up are nonviolent offenders --
street dealers, drug mules, addicts and women whose boyfriends or partners convince or coerce them into participating in the
drug trade. We have needlessly lost millions of citizens to our prison system, with lives ruined long after the debt to society
has been paid.
The disparity in federal drug laws is beyond discriminatory: it is also wasteful. The annual price tag to incarcerate America’s
prison population is $70 billion. By filling prisons with our young African Americans, Latinos and others, the criminal justice
system is robbing our communities of their futures. Meanwhile, prisons are diverting resources from education and essential
social services. We’d be much better off -- and save money, too -- if we sent many offenders to drug rehabilitation
facilities instead of prison.
Finally, our current approach to drug enforcement doesn’t make us safer. In 2008, 735,000 ex-offenders were released
from prison. Many of them were more damaged and disadvantaged than when they were first locked up. But few communities have
the resources to reintegrate them.
It’s time to ditch this policy based on fear and haste. There are smarter and safer ways to address fight drug problems,
and one good first step is for Congress to pass fair sentencing legislation.
The mission of "WE CAN TAKE IT" is a grassroots call
for action to urge the President-elect and the 111th Congress and its members to suggest to Congress
to forge a bill for the floor to create law that would reactivate, refund and revamp this accountable and time
proved program the United States Civilian Conservation Corps. Why reinvent the wheel when it is already
on the Congressional Record just blow the dust off the books. Upon reactivation the mission of "We can take it" could
carry on in the guidance of this program in some capacity or be dissolved.
We own 711 million acres of public lands. Today
our federal, state and local governments are facing hard times and are cutting funds for maintenance
and management of our public lands. Cost cutting is causing the wasteful neglect of the environment and infrastructure
on our public lands. At the present time, the 111th Congress is in session and has a economic stimulus package for our
new President to sign into law. Apparently the stimulus package has no indication to fund
our public lands.
our fellow Americans to petition the government and contact your US district Representative and your US Senators
at (202) 224 3121 and the Presidents Transition Team at (202) 540-3000 and urge these policy makers
to set aside funds from the economic stimulus Obama's Recovery Program to go to our public lands and funding the
reactivation of the U.S. Civilian Conservation Corps. The program is on the books since June 1942 and
only needs refunded to be the proper workforce to repair our "Public Lands" ecosystems and infrastructure.
We must keep up the pressure for reactivation of the CCC, now and into the new Administration. We have finally
got a real window of opportunity opened for our most popular government program ever in American
History the U.S. Civilian Conservation Corps !
The resurrected Civilain Conservation
Corps would enroll young adults and veterans and would provide them with the awareness to develop
a strong work ethic and conservation ethic. The CCC program would allow enrollees to travel, work with
others from different parts of the US, learn, and earn together by doing labor intensive public works programs on public lands.
This program would focus on the development and maintenance of the natural resources of the United States by its veterans
and young adult citizens, and by doing so, prepares them for the ultimate responsibility of maintaining and managing these
The CCC's would also offer an individual an alternative to military service. Those
who serve in the CCC and fulfill their contract would be fit and ready to enter the military if they so
choose. Participates who complete their enrollment would also have access to the GI Bill of Rights and have
time in service to the US Government.
Shoes Thrown in Iraq - Petition
By Najlaa A. Al-Nashi, with Noah Baker Merrill
It was only a few seconds - the shoes were flying toward President Bush, and with them a huge insult in Iraqi
You may have heard the news that an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at the American president, but as an
Iraqi I'd like to share with you a few details about the journalist, and why he did that.
Muntather Al-Zaidi, the journalist mentioned in the reports, is 28 years old. He is from the Southern city
of Nasiriyah, and lives in Baghdad. He works for the Egyptian-owned Al-Baghdadiya channel, but he is Iraqi.
Muntather is well-known among those who know him as being against the occupation. Several months ago, he promised
his brother that, if he was ever selected to interview President Bush, he would throw his shoes at him as a sign of his outrage
and opposition to Bush's role in the suffering of his people and the destruction of his country. At the time, his brother
thought it was nothing more than words spoken in an angry moment.
Muntather's last reporting assignment, which ran last month, was an investigation of the conditions for Iraqi
widows and orphans. As a result of three wars, the rule of a dictator, devastating sanctions, and a disastrous occupation,
it is estimated that 5 million children are without at least one of their parents and there are 1.5 million widows.
As he prepared this report, he was deeply impacted by what he saw, and he can be seen crying in the film that was broadcast
Now let's have a look at what's going on in Iraq, and how these events are viewed among Iraqis:
At Baghdad University and Al Mustansiriya University, students have refused to study or attend classes. Instead,
they are protesting and asking for the release of Muntather by Iraqi security forces.
From all over the world, Iraqis are sending messages thanking Muntather and his family for their son's message.
In TV interviews and with phone calls, Iraqis are expressing their support of his actions.
Many Iraqis inside and outside their country are saying that "for each action there is a reaction". Bush hurt
everyone, they say, and so why is he surprised when he is met with an angry and insulting response on behalf of the people
In Iraq, the traditional community is deeply rooted in tribal relationships. Whether Sunni or Shi'i (and some
tribes contain members of both sects), in Iraqi tradition if a member of a tribe takes an action or is in trouble, members
of his tribe will represent him and will be responsible for supporting him. But in Muntather's case, tribal leaders from throughout
Iraq, from the North to South and from East to West, have claimed him as their son. They have said that they want him released
safe and sound, offering to pay whatever fine the government will set for him.
Muntather's actions have, for these days, united Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians. It united Iraqis as Iraqis.
And it only took a few seconds. Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders have publicly asked that Muntather not be referred to using
his tribal affiliation (Muntather Al-Zaidi), because they believe his tribal affiliation now encompasses all the tribes of
Iraq: They've asked for him to be referred to as "Muntather Al-Iraqi" (Muntather the Iraqi). At the same time, the tribal
leaders have said that they hope it is now clear that they have only one enemy - the occupation of Iraq.
The Iraqi response shows clearly that Muntather's actions have triggered a deep release in Iraqi society.
It gives an indication to the outside world how much so many Iraqis oppose the occupation and the ongoing presence of foreign
troops in their country, but have been without a voice that cut through the walls of silence and the filtered mainstream media.
It is important to be clear that this action by a single man does not arise from his role as a journalist,
or from some specific incident or time in his life. It comes from an Iraqi man who, like all of his people, has suffered
greatly from occupation, from the actions of mercenaries like those employed by Blackwater Worldwide, from the torture
of Iraqis by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, and from the sectarian violence that the occupation has
cultivated, fueled, and allowed to thrive. Muntather himself was kidnapped a few months ago, though thankfully he was released
Now let's stop to analyze the situation. Why do so many Iraqis consider Muntather "their son", and why are
they calling him a hero? Why are people printing his photo and distributing it in many parts of Iraq as a symbol to promote
Iraqi courage and freedom?
His actions expressed the same anger and pain they feel. But his actions gave it a voice, and in that one
small action he lit a spark in them that reminds them of their history and their dignity. His symbolic act of protest told
the whole story, cutting through the carefully constructed image that has been built by Bush and his supporters since they
defied the UN and the world to invade and occupy Iraq.
Getting back to responses:
More than 200 Iraqi and Arab lawyers have volunteered to defend him in Iraqi courts, if they are given that
One Iraqi businessman signed a blank check and called on Munthather to make it out for any amount, as long
as the businessman could receive the shoes that Muthather threw. Another man from Saudi Arabia offered 10 million dollars
for the shoes.
Muntather's nephew is about 6 years old. He was shown on video carrying another pair of his uncle's shoes,
and he told Al-Baghdadiya Channel that he was prepared to throw this second pair of shoes, too, if they wouldn't release his
In Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, there have been strong expressions of support, including
protests and celebrations.
Many Iraqis are saying that the situation in Iraq now is like it was before the revolution in 1920 which threw
out the British occupying forces. They're saying that Muntather might be a spark for a new revolution in his country. In recent
days, there have been protests all over Iraq asking for Muntather's release. Crowds in Najaf threw shoes at occupying forces.
The streets of Iraq are filled with anger as people learn that Muntather has been beaten and tortured while in the custody
of US-supported Iraqi forces.
Yesterday in Jordan, a good Iraqi friend of mine got into a taxi cab. For Iraqi refugees in Jordan, riding
in a cab often means insults, scorn, and disdain from Jordanians and Palestinians unhappy to have so many Iraqis seeking refuge
in their country. But this time, it was different. The cab driver treated her with respect. Recognizing her Iraqi accent,
he said he'd take her anywhere she wanted to go, and he would do it with pleasure, because she was one of the "shoe throwers".
His case is not just a personal case - it is a national concern. Yesterday parliament had a meeting to help
in releasing him. The news yesterday was that within two days he would likely be released, after having paid the fine for
his actions under Iraqi law - 200 Iraqi dinars, or, after the catastrophic collapse of the Iraqi economy in recent years,
less than twenty US cents.
Today, though, the situation remains tense, and has worsened. The Iraqi government says he will likely have
to serve 7-15 years in jail, with no possibility of paying a fine to be released. But in spite of this news, it does seem
as if they will have to release him soon. If they don't, they risk losing the tenuous control they have in many parts of Iraq.
Muntather's actions could serve as a spark bringing Iraqis to unite to oppose the occupation and the US-supported government.
Anyone who knows Iraqi history knows very well what the anger of the tribes can do.
Before the British were thrown out of Iraq in 1920, there was a recently-signed agreement on the status of
occupying forces in the country. Under the pressure of a sustained national uprising opposing foreign occupation, the troops
left far sooner than the British occupiers had hoped. It may well be that the agreement that Bush and Nouri Al-Maliki signed
just before the "moment of the shoes" will fail before 2011, following the same course. Many Iraqis today hope so.
Meanwhile, Muntather is still in jail, where he has suffered serious injuries, including what are likely a
broken hand and arm, an injury to his eye, and possibly to his legs. Today there were protests in many of Iraq's governorates
demanding his release.
I remember, in the early days of 2003, it was said that invading US troops would be "greeted with flowers".
No one said anything about how Iraqis would say farewell to Bush and his occupation.
Some People Get a Golden Parachute... For Everyone Else, There's the Golden Promise: Social Security
Americans have lost nearly $2 trillion from their retirement accounts in the last 15 months* while Wall Street's financial
elites are making away with billions.
Social Security is a golden promise guaranteeing Americans that if we work hard and play by the rules, we will earn the
right to retire with dignity. We must not gamble this promise away on risky privatization schemes that guarantee only massive
benefits cuts and turn our life's work into a chip for Wall Street’s elites to bet.
Therefore, I pledge to oppose privatization of Social Security -- the diversion of payroll taxes into private accounts
-- by any name.
Please use the form below to urge your representative and senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 766 and H.R.
1338) and the Fair Pay Act (S. 1087).
Equal pay has been the law since 1963. But 44 years later, women workers still are paid less
than their male counterparts--even when they share similar education, skills and experience. Wage discrimination based on
sex still exists in the workplace.
The most recent available data shows women are paid 77 cents for every dollar men receive. For
every $100 worth of work women do, that's $23 less to spend on groceries, housing, child care and other expenses.
Tell the House and Senate to support both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair
Pay Act to help bring justice and fairness to the workplace.
Help us bring investment bank Lehman Brothers to the negotiating
table for strong climate protection safeguard policies. If Lehman Brothers is serious about climate change, they and
their partners who are bidding to be the new owners of TXU must craft a commitment to stop funding new coal power projects.
Send a message to Lehman Brothers climate
director Teddy Roosevelt IV and demand a climate policy that ensures Lehman Brothers won't fund any new dirty
coal plants. A clean enery future is possible in Texas.
TXU is also Texas' largest provider of wind energy, and numerous
studies have show that efficiency measures and renewables can readily meet Texas' energy needs while better
protecting the environment and human health.
To: Theodore Roosevelt IV, Lehman Bros.
Mr. Theodore Roosevelt
We need your leadership right now to ensure the finance sector gets serious about climate change. We call on you to use
your new position to announce that Lehman Brothers will be adopting a world-class climate protection policy that will end
financing for the dirtiest climate polluting projects. Today, a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina and amidst irrefutable
and overwhelming scientific evidence of the threats posed by climate change, the American public is ready for action.
you well know, respected U.S. scientists like Dr. James Hansen are now calling for a ban on construction of new coal fired
power plants. They know that if we do not level off our greenhouse gas emissions within a decade we run a serious risks of
slipping into a runaway climate change scenario. Financial institutions like Lehman Brothers can no longer ignore these serious
warnings about the very future of our planet.
We hope you'll make the right choice and, along with your peers on Wall
Street, make a commitment to stop funding dirty, dangerous and outdated climate-polluting technologies and help fund and facilitate
the transition to a sutainable future. We say, "No New Coal." We hope you are listening.
the Troops Home and Iraqi Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2007," H.R. 508, was
introduced last week by Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D - CA6), Barbara Lee (D - CA9), and Maxine Waters (D - CA35), with the following
intent: "To require United States military disengagement from Iraq, to provide United States assistance for reconstruction
and reconciliation in Iraq, and for other purposes."
Click Here To Send Your Email to Your Representive
H.R. 508, the "Bring the Troops Home
and Iraqi Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2007," a bill which Peace Action helped create, is the comprehensive bill
we need to end the war. Please take a moment to use the form below and send an email to your Representative in Washington,
demanding that they co-sponsor this important piece of legislation. If you can take even a further moment to personalize
the message, using your own words in the subject line and first couple of sentences, this has an even greater impact.
PLEASE NOTE: Current
co-sponsors of the bill, along with Reps. Woolsey, Lee and Waters, who introduced it, include Diane Watson (D-CA-33,
James McGovern (D-MA-3), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-7), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH-10), Barney Frank (D-MA-4), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22),
John Conyers (D-MI-14), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-8), Chaka Fattah (D-PA-2), Bob Filner (D-CA-51), William “Lacy” Clay
(D-M0-1), Donald Payne (D-NJ-10), Steve Cohen (D-TN-9), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18).
Yes, they did it again. The Senate defeated a clean minimum wage
increase that is nearly 10 years overdue. So, once again, millions of minimum wage workers have to wait for a raise while
the House (which passed a clean minimum wage increase) and Senate work out the differences between their versions of the legislation.
Please use the form below to tell your U.S. representative and senators
to pass a clean minimum wage increase, with no strings attached and no more business handouts.
Unfortunately, PacifiCorp, our second-largest utility,
is trying to move in the opposite direction. They are proposing three new coal-fired power plants for their electric system.
Coal-fired power plants are some of the worst energy choices a utility can make - they are one of the biggest sources of global
warming pollution and other environmental problems. PacifiCorp's plants would be built in Utah, but they want Oregon
consumers to pay 25% of the cost.
"There are those who look at things the way
and ask why...
I dream of things that never were
and ask why not."
- Robert F. Kennedy
Quoting Irish playwright
George Bernard Shaw
convicted of rigging ’04 presidential
recount By Associated Press Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - Updated: Jan 26, 2007
05:25 AM EST
CLEVELAND - Two election workers
were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio’s
most populous county.
Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board,
and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee.
They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty.
Prosecutors accused Maiden and Dreamer of secretly reviewing preselected ballots
before a public recount on Dec. 16, 2004. They worked behind closed doors for three days to pick ballots they knew would not
cause discrepancies when checked by hand, prosecutors said.
Defense attorney Roger Synenberg has said the workers were following procedures as
they understood them.
Ohio gave President Bush the electoral votes he needed to defeat Democratic Sen.
John Kerry in the close election and hold on to the White House in 2004.
Special prosecutor Kevin Baxter did not claim the workers’ actions affected
the outcome of the election - Kerry gained 17 votes and Bush lost six in the county’s recount.
Maiden and Dreamer, who still work for the elections board, face a possible sentence
of six to 18 months for the felony conviction. Sentencing is on Feb. 26.
A message left for Elections Board Director Michael Vu was not immediately returned
Wednesday. The board released a statement that said its goal is to restore confidence in the county’s election progress
and pursue reforms in addition to those made since 2004.