Published: Thursday 15 November 2012
Published: Thursday 15 November 2012
Veterans Affairs has been a troubled agency for decades now, sometimes better, sometimes worse, rarely adequate to meet the need.

 


On October 4, a small group of American veterans went to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington, DC, to talk to officials there about veteran suicides, veteran homelessness, veteran joblessness, and other veteran struggles.   No one from the department would talk to them. 

 

Even the contingent of Homeland Security guards blocking the door wouldn’t explain to the veterans why they couldn’t come in.  So they stayed on the sidewalk in front of 810 Vermont Avenue, a few hundred yards from the White House, and established Occupy Dep’t of Veterans Affairs and they’ve been there ever 

Published: Tuesday 13 November 2012
Police arrested four people for refusing to move from in front of TransCanada’s lobbyist’s front door.

 

In Washington, DC, the day before the 2012 election, an Occupy action by dozens of protestors blocked the entrance to the law firm McKenna Long and Aldridge, a major law firm with the oldest government contract practice in the United States.  The firm also represents the Canadian corporation TransCanada, which is seeking U.S. government permission to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. 

 

Organizers  called this demonstration a “Tar Sands Solidarity Action,” in support of  the Tar Sands Blockade of the Keystone XL pipeline now under construction in East Texas.   Police arrested four people for refusing to move from in front of TransCanada’s lobbyist’s front door.  Increased non-violent direct action seems to be a harbinger of mounting pressure by environmentalists across the country to persuade President Obama to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline altogether for the sake of the health of the ...

Published: Tuesday 2 October 2012
“Occupy the Debates is concerned about the anti-democratic restrictive nature of the debates and about the lack of connection between what will be discussed in the debates and what the people actually care about.”

On October 3, 2012, the first presidential debate will be held in Denver, Colorado and a people's dialogue will be held at the same time to provide broader perspectives. The live-streamed event (details below) will provide an opportunity for the public to discuss how to solve the pressing challenges of the nation.

The presidential debate is being produced, as it has since the mid-1980’s, by the corporate and partisan Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) and only the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates will be permitted to debate. George Farah, Executive Director of Open Debates, said, "The Commission on Presidential Debates undermines our democracy. Because of the Commission's subservience to the Republican and Democratic campaigns, the presidential debates are structured to accommodate the wishes of risk-averse candidates, not voters."

Occupy the Debates is concerned about the anti-democratic restrictive nature of the debates and about the lack of ...

Published: Thursday 13 September 2012
Published: Friday 18 May 2012
“Based on this analysis, I encourage others to consider giving up the practice of eating animals, and I support abortion rights.”

 

Though my politics are radical, my approach to vexing moral questions is cautious; I try to be aware not only of my limits but of human limits to understand ourselves in a complex world.

That’s why I call myself a radically cautious vegetarian. Here’s how it worked out:

I grew up in a typical meat-eating household in the 1960 and ‘70s, where vegetarianism was something to be mocked, not explored. In my early 20s, I started to ponder the question, and at the age of 26 I ate my last piece of animal flesh, a lobster at a waterfront restaurant in Washington, DC. My soon-to-be brother-in-law, a relatively affluent lawyer, was buying, and I ordered something expensive. As I ate it, I realized it would be the last time. Like many people who grew up eating off large platters of meat at the family dinner table, I had always said, “I could never be a vegetarian.” But then I was.

But I didn’t become an animal-rights advocate, and I don’t proselytize on the subject. I don’t cook meat for others, but when people bring meat dishes to a potluck I help serve it and don’t hesitate to pull the leftover meat off chicken bones when I clean up. I don’t use chicken stock at home, but I don’t quiz waiters at restaurants about whether there is chicken stock in the soup broth. Some of my best friends eat meat. I don’t.

When I first decided to stop eating meat, I hadn’t worked out a complete philosophy on the matter but just knew it felt wrong to me. As in much of life, I have been making it up as I go along. Here’s how that came together:

We struggle with countless ...

Published: Sunday 29 April 2012
U.S. drone strikes have killed an estimated 3,000 people, including hundreds of civilians, in covert drone missions in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

Today, CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Reprieve hosted the International Drone Summit in Washington, DC. The Summit consisted of multiple panels dealing with issues ranging from the expanding use of surveillance drones to the Obama administration’s targeted killing program. Participants had the opportunity to listen to the personal stories of Pakistanis who had survived drone strikes or had their loved ones killed in them.

“We’re dragging this secretive drone program out of the shadows and into the light of day,” said Medea Benjamin, one of the Summit organizers and author of the new book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. “It’s time for the American public to know the true extent—and consequences—of the killing and spying being done in our name.”

 

Lawyers representing Pakistani drone-strike victims and journalists investigating the attacks shared their experiences of these events in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. New footage of interviews with victims was aired.

 

U.S. drone strikes have killed an estimated 3,000 people, including hundreds of civilians, in covert drone missions in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. While drones were primarily used by the U.S. military and CIA for surveillance prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, in the last ten years drones have become routinely used to launch missiles against human beings in countries where the United States is not at war, including Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

 

“As the Obama Administration expands its use of killer drones around the world, so must we increase our demands for transparency and accountability” said Maria LaHood, a Senior Staff Attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who spoke at the Drone Summit and who has litigated against the Obama administration’s targeted ...

Published: Tuesday 27 March 2012
“The conference organized by the Center for the Study of Responsive Law was designed for the Occupy Movement.”

The National Occupation of Washington, DC which begins on March 30th and ends on April 30th will include protests, music and art but its anchor is education of the movement.

The major educational activities begin on April 2nd with the "Control the Corporation" conference at the Carnegie Institute of Washington.  The conference organized by the Center for the Study of Responsive Law was designed for the Occupy and will include how people can work toward controlling corporations impact on elections, slow privatization, create better paying jobs and mobilize for the future.  The full schedule is here. Please register in advance at http://csrl.org to help planning for food and space.

Over two weeks the NOW DC Social Forum will hold more than 70 sessions where members of the Occupy and their allies will examine the first six months of the movement and discuss what worked, and what did not work.  Also discussed will be how labor and Occupy can work together more effectively, what strategy and tactics are most effective, how the Occupy can work with the media, as well as create its own media.  A range of economic issues including job creation, co-operatives, sustainable and local economies, health care, energy, biodiversity and food production will be examined as will issues of war and empire.  Goals, strategies and tactics of the Occupy will be examined in multiple sessions.  The full schedule can be seen here.

"We want occupiers to share information, network and learn so they can bring new information and skills back to their Occupation.  This is an opportunity to lift the Occupy to a new level of strategy, activity and cohesion," said Margaret Flowers, MD, one of the organizers of NOW DC and one of the original organizers of the

Published: Friday 16 March 2012
“Another visible presence of Occupy will be evident this spring in Washington, DC when the National Occupation of Washington, DC begins on March 30th.”

Many in the corporate media like to think the Occupy is over, but those of us involved know better.  We do not rely on the corporate media to validate the work of Occupy, we see it in our communities.  And, we know to look to our own media for accurate information. The Occupied Wall Street Journal reports on the actions of the Occupy, it’s weekly “Reports from the Front Lines” is something many of us look forward to so we can see the movement taking action across the country.

Another visible presence of Occupy will be evident this spring in Washington, DC when the National Occupation of Washington, DC begins on March 30th.  The event, which will continue through the month of April, is being organized by members of dozens of occupies from around the country.  Twenty-five General Assemblies have passed statements of solidarity for this national occupy event.

NOW DC begins with a lot of activity.  On the first day, Occupy the EPA, will bring people together to protect the planet for a sustainable ...

Published: Sunday 12 February 2012
An analysis of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) from Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Media Director Steven Capozzola...

I've talked with many domestic U.S. manufacturers over the past decade or so-- mostly small and mid-sized manufacturers (the backbone of America's industrial base). 

One particular manufacturer whom I knew well was the president of a family-owned company that produced printed circuit boards.  His firm had been around since the dawn of the computer age, manufacturing circuit boards for both commercial and military applications.

He used to tell me all the time that his workers and his factory were incredibly efficient and productive.  He would say, "I can compete with anybody in the world...But what's killing me is China's currency peg."

What he meant was that, because China deliberately undervalues its currency (in violation of world trade law), its manufacturers can export goods at an artificially reduced price.  Essentially, my friend's firm was competing against the full resources of the ...

Published: Wednesday 8 February 2012
“Attendees will have to dress the part; the required dress code for the event is ‘lounge suit for men, cocktail dress for women.’”

There has long been a perception that Washington, DC is dominated by lobbyists for special interests making big-dollar donations to rub elbows and sip expensive drinks with politicians in smoke-filled rooms. The conservative One Nation political action committee is doing its best to keep that image alive and well.

This Thursday, the PAC will host its second annual Scotch & Cigars fundraiser, according to an invitation posted by the Sunlight Foundation. A $1,000 PAC or individual contribution buys a spot on the event’s host committee. Just a $50 check “entitles you to a cigar and open selection of whiskey and wine, as well as good company with fellow conservative guests” in executive suite #3320 of Washington’s Marriott Wardman Park. To encourage healthy behavior by young people, the event has a $20 discounted rate for anyone under age 30.

Attendees will have to dress the part; the required dress code for the event is “lounge suit for men, cocktail dress for women.”

The “good company” includes several powerful political players: anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, twice-defeated former Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R-MD), and current U.S. Reps. Dan Benishek (R-MI), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), and Bob Latta (R-OH). Despite the health dangers of tobacco and hard liquor, the event has the apparent seal of approval from Buerkle (a nurse) and Benishek (a medical doctor and 

Published: Tuesday 10 January 2012
“The Bill of Rights Defense Committee stands with Amnesty International and many other organizations in protesting unlawful detainment at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram this Wednesday in Washington, DC.”

This Wednesday marks the 10th year since the start of illegal detention in Guantánamo Bay. Despite evidence of widespread torture and deprivation of due process for many detainees, the United States has continued to keep the doors open. Two recent accounts of innocence depict gruesome torture and denied due process and illustrate the need for action.

Lakhdar Boumediene was snatched from Bosnia at the United States’ request for allegedly plotting to bomb an embassy in Sarajevo. In spite of an investigation by Bosnian courts dismissing these allegations as false, the US seized Boumediene and five others and shipped them off to Guantánamo. Held captive for seven years, Boumediene was finally set free after the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled that prisoners have a right to trial.

Murat Kurnaz was apprehended in Pakistan, and, similarly, there was no proof connecting him to terrorist activities or groups. Kurnaz describes the treatment he received while detained:

During their interrogations, they dunked my head under water and punched me in the stomach; they don’t call this waterboarding but it amounts to the same thing. I was sure I would drown.

At one point, I was chained to the ceiling of a building and hung by my hands for days. A doctor sometimes checked if I was O.K.; then I would be strung up again. The pain was unbearable.

After about two months in Kandahar, I was transferred to Guantánamo. There were more beatings, endless solitary confinement, freezing temperatures and extreme heat, days of forced sleeplessness.

American and German intelligence documents revealed that, early on, both countries suspected he was innocent, but Kurnaz had to endure five years of torturous ...

Published: Thursday 5 January 2012
OWDC adds two houses while continuing freedom plaza occupation, adds new projects, builds for massive American Spring.

When we called for the occupation of Freedom Plaza in early June, we said this occupation would be “the beginning.”  We saw the occupation of Freedom Plaza as a tactic, much like a lunch counter sit-in or Freedom Ride during the civil rights movement. The Occupation was designed to educate and mobilize people for a much bigger and longer effort to end a government dominated by money and militarism and shift power to the American people. A few weeks before we began to occupy Freedom Plaza, Occupy Wall Street erupted, and other occupations soon followed. Occupation of public space was an idea whose historical time had come.

More than 1,200 Occupy camps sprang up quickly across the nation and the world.  The first months of this new movement profoundly shook the foundation of the 1% – almost instantly creating a new form of political power. This TIME “Person of the Year” protest movement, truly grown from the grass roots, handed the 99% some REAL political capital for the first time in decades and installed the Occupy Movement as a force to be reckoned with. 

Shifting power to the American people requires much more than an occupation.  The Occupy Movement needs to build on four strong components – (1) non-violent protest and civil resistance, (2) non-participation in the existing corporate finance-dominated economy, (3) the development of concrete plans and policies to transform the corporate economy into a people's economy and (4) ending government dominated by money by shifting political power to the American people. Occupy Washington, DC says: no oligarchy, no plutocracy we want participatory democracy.  As we transitioned to winter we had many discussions on Freedom Plaza and among the web-community of Occupy ...

Published: Monday 17 October 2011
A consistent theme of the Herman Cain campaign is the need to put big business even more in charge of government.

A scandal surrounding Atlantic Bridge, a conservative “think tank” exposed earlier this month by U.K. regulators as a front group for Tory party interests and corporate lobbyists, has jolted Prime Minister David Cameron’s government. Over the weekend, allegations stemming from the Atlantic Bridge pay-to-play scheme resulted in the resignation of Liam Fox, Cameron’s Defense secretary. But the controversy may also hit a high profile American politician: GOP presidential contender Herman Cain.

Atlantic Bridge is a right-wing nonprofit that is officially partnered with the Washington, DC-based American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate lobbying front that funnels business lobbyist tailored legislation to state representatives and state senators across is the country. Earlier this month, the U.K. Charity Commission axed the Atlantic Bridge after an investigation found the group to have violated charity laws by acting primarily as a ...

Published: Sunday 9 October 2011
Thirty leaders, diverse in age, gender, sexual orientation, religious faith, and cause, all standing on the stage shoulder to shoulder to tell the audience how their own struggle fits in with the American Dream Movement.

It’s been a wild week. On Sunday, progressives from around the United States poured into Washington, DC for the Take Back the American Dream Conference, the first summit of the American Dream Movement. And by 9:00 Monday morning, the conference was in full swing.

There were a lot of key moments in the conference. Thirty leaders, diverse in age, gender, sexual orientation, religious faith, and cause, all standing on the stage shoulder to shoulder to tell the audience how their own struggle fits in with the American Dream Movement. Van Jones making the crowd gasp, laugh, and cry in the same presentation. Ohio State Senator Nina Turner energetically passing on her grandmother’s wisdom: the only bones you need to make a difference are the wishbone, the jawbone, and the backbone. Shifting the whole conference to start early on Monday to add a special session to address Occupy Wall Street.

Here’s ...

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