December 14, 2008

Youth Activist Award

As you may or may not know, the NEA Peace & Justice Caucus initiated an annual award project last year called the Paul Mann Youth Activist Award, in honor of the late Paul Mann, a Des Moines, Iowa teacher who was a dynamic Peace & Justice member whose premature death two years ago was a devastating blow to our cause. Last year's award went to an outstanding Des Moines student named Romen Borselleno, but this year there will be far more nominees from all over the country. There are many great and deserving students throughout the Midwest who deserve to be recognized for their efforts toward peace.

Please nominate a youth organization or individual youth activist who has been outstanding in the struggle for human rights, social justice, peace, and/or youth empowerment. You may nominate a young person, elementary through high school age. The student selected will be invited if possible to the 2009 NEA Representative Assembly in San Diego, CA, or to the sponsoring state education association affiliate’s Representative Assembly to receive their award during their 2009 RA.

Click here to access the application for the Paul Mann Youth Activist Award.

December 12, 2008

December 8, 2008

Linda Darling-Hammond Bio

Contact Barack Obama to recommend Linda Darling-Hammond as the next Secretary of Education. It is important that he hears from classroom teachers and ESP's. Below is Linda Darling-Hammond's Bio. Click her for her Resume.

Linda Darling-Hammond is currently Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University where she has founded and oversees the School Redesign Network, which works across the nation to transform schools to teach 21st century skills and to support student success through innovations in district and school redesign, as well as in curriculum, teaching, and assessment. She has also founded and co-directs the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, which conducts research and policy analysis on issues affecting educational equity and opportunity.

Darling-Hammond’s research and policy work have focused on issues of school reform, teaching quality, and educational equity at the federal, state, and local levels. Beginning with her work as Senior Social Scientist and Director of the RAND Corporation’s Education policy program, and extending through appointments at Columbia’s Teachers College and Stanford, she has conducted research on a wide range of policy issues affecting teaching and schooling while advising policymakers at all levels of government. She has led the development of new standards and assessments for students and teachers, launched innovative schools, redesigned teacher training programs, and designed policies that have supported greater opportunities for children and youth.

From 1994-2001, Darling-Hammond served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, chaired by Governor James B. Hunt, a blue-ribbon panel whose 1996 report, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future, led to sweeping policy changes affecting teaching and schooling. The Commission developed state and local partnerships in more than 25 states to promote legislative changes and organizational reforms. In 2006, this report was named one of the most influential affecting U.S. education and Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy over the last decade.

While William F. Russell Professor at Teachers College, Darling-Hammond co-founded the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST), which supported a range of school reform initiatives in New York and nationally. Darling-Hammond has been deeply engaged in efforts to redesign schools so that they focus more effectively on learning and to develop standards for teaching. As Chair of New York State's Council on Curriculum and Assessment in the early 1990s, she helped to fashion a comprehensive school reform plan for the state that developed new learning standards and curriculum frameworks for more challenging learning goals and more performance-oriented assessments. This led to an overhaul of the state Regents examinations as well as innovations in school-based performance assessments and investments in new approaches to professional development.

As Chair of the Model Standards Committee of the Chief State School Officers’ Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), she led the development of licensing standards for beginning teachers that reflect current knowledge about what teachers need to know to teach challenging content to diverse learners. These were ultimately incorporated into the licensing standards of more than 40 states and became the foundation for a new generation of teacher certification tests. She has been instrumental in developing performance assessments that allow teachers to demonstrate their classroom teaching skills in authentic ways, as an early Board member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and, later as a co-founder of the Performance Assessment for California Teachers.

Darling-Hammond has been active in developing innovative schools. She began her career as a public school teacher and has co-founded both a preschool / day care center and a charter public high school serving low-income students of color in East Palo Alto. In a community where only a third of students were graduating and almost none were going onto college, this new Early College High school – an open admissions school which admits students by lottery – has created a pipeline to college for more than 90 percent of its graduates. The school, along with seven others, is a professional development school partner with the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), which prepares a leadership corps of teachers for high-needs schools. Darling-Hammond led the redesign of the STEP program for this new mission, and its successes have been acknowledged through recognition in several studies as one of the nation’s top programs.

Darling-Hammond has worked with dozens of schools and districts around the nation on studying, developing, and scaling up new model schools -- as well as preparation programs for teachers and leaders -- that enable much greater success for diverse students. She has also worked with civil rights and community-based organizations to leverage changes in state and local level policies and practices that promote greater equity in educational opportunity and access for traditionally underserved students. For this work, she has been awarded, among others, the Charles W. Eliot Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education, the Asa G. Hilliard Award for Outstanding Achievement in Racial Justice and Education Equity, the Founder’s Award from the National Commission on African American Education, the Woman of Valor Award from Educational Equity Concepts, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Darling-Hammond is past president of the American Educational Research Association, a two-term member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and a member of the National Academy of Education’s executive committee. She has served on many national advisory boards, including the White House Advisory Panel's Resource Group for the National Education Goals, the National Academy's Panel on the Future of Educational Research, the Academy’s Committee on Teacher Education, and on the boards of directors for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Spencer Foundation, the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, the Center for Teaching Quality, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the National Council for Educating Black Children.

Darling-Hammond is author or editor of 14 books and more than 300 journal articles, book chapters, and monographs on issues of policy and practice. Among her books are The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools that Work (awarded the Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association in 1998), Teaching as the Learning Profession: A Handbook of Research and Policy (co-edited with Gary Sykes, and awarded the Outstanding Book Award from the National Staff Development Council in 2000), and Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers should Learn and be Able to Do, a project of the National Academy of Education (co-edited with John Bransford and awarded the Pomeroy Award by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in 2006).

Darling-Hammond received her B.A. (magna cum laude) from Yale University in 1973, and her doctorate in Urban Education (with highest distinction) from Temple University in 1978. She holds honorary degrees from many universities in the U.S. and abroad and has received numerous awards for her research contributions including the Council of Scientific Society of Presidents’ Education Award, the American Educational Research Association’s Awards for Research into Practice and Review of Educational Research, as well as its Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship, and the Margaret B. Lindsay Award for Distinguished Research in Teacher Education.

Fair Test Video

A short video challenging the use of high-stakes standardized tests to judge students and schools. Produced for the non profit organization FairTest.

December 5, 2008

Obama's weekly address

The following is from Iowa Peace and Justice Chair, Carol Kula.

I wanted to share this week's address to the nation from President-elect Obama as he mentions federal investment in improving infrastructure and technology in our public schools as part of his immediate economic stimulus plan-at about 3 minutes he begins to discuss public school investment.

December 4, 2008

'End the War in 2009'

In February of 2008, Barack Obama promised to end the War in Iraq in 2009 if he was elected president. See here.

Fill out the survey at Barack Obama's website and let him know that as people who supported him that we expect that he hold to this promise and others he made to us.

November 2, 2008

Is Education Truly Our Priority?

If the population of the United States were polled and asked to identify their top ten priorities most would assume that education would rank among the top two. We often hear people say that education is vital for the future of our country; both in terms of literacy and its economic impact. In a 2007 Gallup poll, however, education ranked 10th in terms of priorities for the country. Even gas prices ranked higher on the list than education. Something is wrong with this picture.

We often blame politicians for failing to adequately fund public education. However, if Americans are saying that education isn't a top priority, who can blame them? Isn't it up to us to send the message to politicans that education is our top priority and to convince others that education should be our top priority?

Funding education is expensive. The quote, "education is expensive, but so is ignorance," says it all. If we want a literate population and one that moves our economy forward we must place education as a top priority. Most might say that a large percentage of the taxes they pay already go towards funding education, but this is often not the case. See the chart below for an example of how the taxes paid by a median income family in San Fransisco are spent:

Sector $ Spent %
Military $1,731 27%
Health $1,329 21%
Debt Interest (Non-Military) $657 10%
Debt Interest (Military) $580 9%
Income Security $383 6%
Education $289 5%
Veteran's Benefits $214 3%
Nutrition $167 3%
Housing $119 2%
Natural Resources $97 2%
Job Training $19 0%
Other $790 12%


Education within the United States is also deeply unequal. School funding is primarily based on property tax values. The schools that need the most money often receive the least because their school is an a low-income, and therefore low property tax, area. This system creates a inherent inequality.

The videos below highlight two sets of schools. In A Tale of Two Schools, the schools are across the street from each other. One school is well-kept and has many resources available to its students. The other school looks as if it should be condemned. In Trading Schools, there are two schools from the Chicago area. One school is highly funded and has every resource available to its students. The other school is dilapidated and has very few resources for its students. These videos show the inherent nature of inequality present in education today. They show that even though Brown v. The Board of Education declared "separate but equal," unconstitutional, the concept is very much alive today.

A Tale of Two Schools

Trading Schools

For more information:

October 5, 2008

Help Save Iranian Teacher Farzad Kamangar

Farzad Kamangar, an Iranian teacher, officer in his union and defender of Kurdish minority rights was sentenced to death by an Iranian court for "enmity against God." In effect, he is being accused of being a terrorist for his activist activities. His lawyer, who was not allowed to defend him at trial, has said that there is no evidence of Farzad committing any "terrorist" activities.

Many national and international organizations have attempted to have this sentenced commuted, but despite their efforts the death sentence was upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court on July 11, 2008. Those who have shown solidarity with Kamangar are now also being subjected to intimidation by Iranian officials.

To help Farzad by sending a petition to the
Iranian government or to read the full story go to:

One Woman, One Vote: Gloria Steinem on Sarah Palin

by Gloria Steinem

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the
anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party --
are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We
owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger
strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to
Shirley Chisholm, who first took the 'white-male-only' sign off the White House,
and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny
to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss
has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes
everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting
a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's
not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's
about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to
attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing
but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did
nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many
male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by
the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's
candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest
for McCain/Palin would be like saying, 'Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll
amputate my legs.'

This is not to20beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues
that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because
she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about
a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and
foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to
learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about
the vice presidency, she said, 'I still can't answer that question until someone
answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?' Wh en asked about
Iraq, she said, 'I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq.'

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's
won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200
rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax
cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps
McCain has opposed affirmative action for so l ong that he doesn't know it's
about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps
McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department,
of putting a job candidate's views on 'God, guns and gays' ahead of competence.
The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away
from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McC ain. He may have chosen Palin out of
change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and
content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones
who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive
freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows
what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have
taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions,
right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue
that wom en support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism
should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes
g un control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem
cell research but approves 'abstinence-only' programs, which increase unwanted
births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers'
millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend
enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation
rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but
supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she
supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain
has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly,
only younger.

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn.,
she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself .
She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a
coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's
pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one
of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child.
She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it
dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson
of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, 'women are merely waiting for
their husbands to assume leadership,' so he may be voting for Palin's husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from
this contest.

Republicans may learn t hey can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women
at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of
Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal
Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the
wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than
from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from
male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are
equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men
should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

This could be huge.

September 9, 2008

Help Us End the War in Iraq

25,000 Volunteers, Each Knocking of 40 Doors to Bring Our Troops Home and End the War in Iraq

Our leaders in Washington aren't going to end the War in Iraq unless we make them.

You and I know face-to-face, one-on-one contact is the single most effective way to communicate with voters and make change happen.

On Saturday, September 20, that is exactly what we are going to do.

Whether you can knock on 5 doors or 50 -- whether you walk alone or bring a friend -- working together with progressives all over the country we'll reach out to a Million Doors for Peace.


We're working with our friends from all over the nation: TrueMajority, USAction, MoveOn, and over 20 other hard working anti-war activist organizations.

This will be an historic day of action bringing the grassroots together for one of the largest mobilizations ever against the War in Iraq.


September 4, 2008

Violent Escalation Raises Fears in Chiapas

There is trouble brewing in Chiapas. Although this hasn't hit the national radar yet, it is something that those of us in the Peace and Justice community must watch carefully. Our friends in Mexico are counting on us to bring abuse to public light.

On August 29 and 30, 2008 Zapatista small farming families once again faced a serious escalation in the disturbing pattern of violence which has swept Chiapas in recent months. The latest attack by armed paramilitary forces occurred in the autonomous municipality of Olga Isabel and resulted in the wounding of 43 year old peasant Mariano Pérez Guzmán. Click here to read the Spanish language denunciation published by Zapatista officials in the caracol of Morelia.

September 2, 2008

1,000,000 Doors for Peace in ONE Day

In the past, the most common way progressives have mobilized opposition to the Iraq War is with nationwide candlelight vigils or a one day march in Washington DC.

Now is the time for something different. Nothing beats the effect of face to face action -- neighbors talking to neighbors about what matters most.

Democracy for America is excited to join the Million Doors for Peace campaign and we need your help to make a difference. On September 20, Americans will go door to door in their community to reach out to voters to end the War in Iraq.

We need 25,000 people to knock on 40 doors each. Are you ready to join the team?


Sign up now and a few days before September 20 you'll get everything you need. The campaign will send you a list of 40 people in your neighborhood who are either newly registered or infrequent voters. We'll go to these targeted homes with a petition calling on the next President and Congress to bring our troops home from Iraq within a year. We'll identify supporters from every political party and, on Election Day, we'll turn out these voters for candidates that share our values.

This isn't preaching to the choir -- this is direct action to make change happen. Will you take action on September 20th?


Together, we will move a million voters and knock on a million doors to end the War in Iraq and bring our men and women in uniform home. Join me, your neighbors, and activists throughout the country on September 20.

Thank you for everything you do,

August 12, 2008

Budget deficit soars to $102.8 billion in July

Deficit is nearly triple the $36.4 billion deficit recorded a year ago

WASHINGTON - The federal budget deficit soared in July, pushed higher by economic stimulus payments and $15 billion in outlays to protect depositors at failed banks.

The Treasury Department reported that the deficit for July totaled $102.8 billion, nearly triple the $36.4 billion deficit recorded in July 2007.

The deficit outstripped the $97 billion gap that Wall Street economists had been expecting for July.

The Treasury said outlays were pushed up by $15 billion because of payments the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. made to depositors at failed banks. The Treasury report did not identify the banks but federal regulators seized the assets of California-based IndyMac Bank, the largest regulated thrift to fail in U.S. history.

The FDIC is expected to be successful in recovering much of its outlays for failed banks, in part by selling the assets of seized institutions. The FDIC has also raised the possibility that it will increase insurance premiums on healthy banks to cover the cost of what are expected to be rising bank failures as the current credit crisis unfolds.

Besides the payouts by the FDIC, government outlays were increased by the final bulk mailings of government stimulus payments in July. The July deficit also looked worse than the July 2007 deficit because last year's figure was artificially deflated by timing issues that shifted about $19 billion in normal outlays into the prior month.

So far this year, the budget deficit totals $371.4 billion, more than double last year's deficit through the same time period of $157.4 billion.

The Bush administration recently revised its forecast for this year's deficit, lowering it from an estimate of $410 billion, down to $389 billion. However, the Congressional Budget Office is more pessimistic, projecting the deficit for this year will total $400 billion when the current budget year wraps up on Sept. 30.

For the 2009 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, the administration is now projecting a deficit of $482 billion, which would be the highest in dollar terms in history, surpassing the old mark of $413 billion set in 2004.

Through July, government revenues total $2.094 trillion, down 1 percent from the same period a year ago. Revenues have been weaker this year, reflecting the sharp slowdown in the overall economy.

Government spending so far this budget year totals $2.466 trillion, 8.5 percent higher than a year ago. That's in part due to the $168 billion stimulus package Congress passed at the beginning of the year in an effort to keep the country out of a deep recession and because of increased spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

August 11, 2008

Franken: America a 'chump' on Iraq rebuilding

Minnesota Senate candidate seeks to get back more U.S. Iraqi funds

Last week, Franken's opponent, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, said the U.S. should take back $1.1 billion committed to Iraqi reconstruction after a government report found that Iraq has a cumulative budget surplus of up to $50 billion for 2008, thanks mostly to oil and gas revenues.

The Coleman campaign issued a statement Monday applauding Franken for joining in seeking to have the Iraqis pay for more of their own reconstruction. But it said Franken's proposal includes money that has already been returned, plus more that will be returned in the coming weeks, and that it would put U.S. troops at risk by taking money away from a program that provides funds to field commanders for emergency responses.
Minnesota Senate candidate seeks to get back more U.S. Iraqi funds

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Senate candidate Al Franken called on the U.S. to rescind $7.1 billion that's committed but not yet obligated to Iraqi reconstruction, and spend it instead on highway infrastructure improvements in the United States.

Franken, the Democratic candidate in Minnesota's Senate race, said at a State Capitol news conference Monday that there's no reason for U.S. dollars to keep flowing if Iraq can pay for its own reconstruction.

"There's a line between being responsible for rebuilding a country you helped destroy, and being a chump, and I think we crossed that line," Franken said.

Franken's call for taking back more money set off a new round of tussling between the campaigns over Iraq, which has been a central issue in the race. Franken returned to one of his most persistent criticisms of Coleman — that as chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations from 2003 to the end of 2006, Coleman failed to provide any oversight of U.S. funds being diverted to Iraqi reconstruction.

"Senator Coleman at any time could have done these hearings on reconstruction and he did none," Franken said, arguing that to have done so might have run Coleman afoul of the Bush White House and Republican congressional leaders.

Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said Franken was being deceptive in how he characterized the work of the subcommittee on investigations. Sheehan said its small staff and budget would make it the wrong entity to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the Iraqi reconstruction.

Sheehan pointed out that the panel's ranking Democratic member could have instigated an investigation of the reconstruction but did not. That senator, Carl Levin of Michigan, also hasn't initiated such an investigation since becoming chairman, Sheehan said.

Coleman has supported investigations of U.S. spending and policies in Iraq by other entities including the Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction, a nonpartisan group established by Congress to conduct oversight in Iraq.

"It's a matter of dollars and resources and not duplicating effort," Sheehan said.

August 9, 2008

Iraq demands timeline for U.S. withdrawal

But U.S. officials insist there is no agreement on specific dates

BAGHDAD - Iraq's foreign minister insisted Sunday that any security deal with the United States must contain a "very clear timeline" for the departure of U.S. troops.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters that American and Iraqi negotiators were "very close" to reaching a long-term security agreement that will set the rules for U.S. troops in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.

Zebari said the Iraqis were insisting that the agreement include a "very clear timeline" for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces, but he refused to talk about specific dates.

"We have said that this is a condition-driven process," he added, suggesting that the departure schedule could be modified if the security situation changed.

No deal without timeline
But Zebari made clear that the Iraqis would not accept a deal that lacks a timeline for the end of the U.S. military presence.

"No, no definitely there has to be a very clear timeline," Zebari replied when asked if the Iraqis would accept an agreement that did not mention dates.

Differences over a withdrawal timetable has become one of the most contentious issues remaining in the talks, which began early this year. U.S. and Iraqi negotiators missed a July 31 target date for completing the deal, which must be approved by Iraq's parliament.

President Bush has steadfastly refused to accept any timetable for bringing U.S. troops home. Last month, however, Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to set a "general time horizon" for a U.S. departure.

Last week, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press that American negotiators had agreement to a formula which would remove U.S. forces from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 with all combat troops out of the country by October 2010.

The last American support troops would leave about three years later, the Iraqis said.

No agreement on specific dates
But U.S. officials insist there is no agreement on specific dates. Both the American and Iraqi officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing. Iraq's Shiite-led government believes a withdrawal schedule is essential to win parliamentary approval.

American officials have been less optimistic because of major differences on key issues including who can authorize U.S. military operations and immunity for U.S. troops from prosecution under Iraqi law.

The White House said discussions continued on a bilateral agreement and said any timeframe discussed was due to major improvements in security over the past year.

"We are only now able to discuss conditions-based time horizons because security has improved so much. This would not have been possible 18 months ago," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Sunday. "We all look forward to the day when Iraqi security forces take the lead on more combat missions, allowing U.S. troops to serve in an overwatch role, and more importantly return home."

Iraq's position in the U.S. talks hardened after a series of Iraqi military successes against Shiite and Sunni extremists in Basra, Baghdad, Mosul and other major cities.

Violence in Iraq has declined sharply over the past year following a U.S. troop buildup, a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and a Shiite militia cease-fire.

Concerns about militants
But attacks continue, raising concern that the militants are trying to regroup.

The suicide bomber struck Sunday afternoon as U.S. and Iraqi troops were responding to a roadside bombing that wounded an Iraqi in Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Four Iraqi civilians were killed along with the American soldier, military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Stover said. Two American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were among 24 people wounded.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast but suicide bombings are the signature attack of al-Qaida in Iraq.

"This was a heinous attack by al-Qaida in Iraq against an Iraqi family, followed by a cowardly attack against innocent civilians, their security forces and U.S. soldiers," Stover said.

Elsewhere, a suicide car bomber attacked the Kurdish security department in Khanaqin, 90 miles northeast of Baghdad. At least two people were killed and 25 wounded, including the commander of local Kurdish forces, Lt. Col. Majid Ahmed, police said.

Ethnic tensions growing in northern Iraq
Ethnic tensions have been rising in northern Iraq amid disputes between Kurds, Turkomen and mostly Sunni Arabs over Kurdish demands to annex the oil-rich city of Kirkuk into their self-ruled region.

Sawarah Ghalib, 25, who was wounded in the blast, said he believed military operations under way south of the city in Diyala province had pushed insurgents into the Khanaqin area.

"I did not expect that a terrorist attack to take place in our secure town," Ghalib said from his bed in the Khanaqin hospital. "Al-Qaida is to blame for this attack. Operations in Diyala have pushed them here."

In Baghdad, six people were killed in a series of bombings on the first day of the Iraqi work week.

The deadliest blast occurred about 8:15 a.m. in a crowded area where people wait for buses in the capital's mainly Shiite southeastern district of Kamaliya. Four people were killed, including a woman and her brother, and 11 others wounded, according to police.

A car bomb later exploded as an Iraqi army patrol transporting money to a state-run bank passed by in Baghdad's central Khillani square, killing two people including an Iraqi soldier and wounding nine other people, a police officer said.

Another Iraqi soldier was killed and five were wounded by a car bomb in Salman Pak, about 25 kilometers south of Baghdad, police said.

July 31, 2008

The George W. Bush Out of Office Countdown

173 days left

"The United States of America is engaged in a war against an extremist group of folks."

McLean, Virginia, 2006

July 28, 2008

NPR: McCain, Obama Offer Dueling Education Plans

All Things Considered, July 28, 2008 · Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is proposing a laundry list of educational benefits that would reach from birth to college. His rival, Republican John McCain, plans to focus on enabling local educational initiatives and expanding virtual learning.

Although both Obama and McCain have criticized the No Child Left Behind Act, neither proposes scrapping it altogether. While Obama regularly bashes the landmark education law for being underfunded, he is not planning to drop the measure's reliance on standardized tests, which is its most controversial provision.

McCain would offer vouchers to children in schools that fail to meet federal standards, so they can attend private schools. Obama opposes vouchers.

Both major teachers' unions have endorsed Obama, despite the fact that he has endorsed so-called "performance pay" — bonuses for successful teachers — something many unions have resisted. Obama would let teachers negotiate how to dole out these bonuses. McCain, who also endorses merit pay, would let principals decide how to distribute the money — something unions roundly reject.

Listen to NPR's feature on the candidates and where they stand on education.

Click here for a written version of the article on the candidates and their plans on education in text form.

Check out NPR's coverage profiling major differences and the few similarities between the candidates in their on-going Election '08 series.


Check out how the candidates square up on Russian Disarmament and the Housing Crisis.


Check out how the candidates diverge on a variety of issues: Abortion/Reproductive Freedom, Homeland Security Spending, Nuclear Power, Iraq War Policies, Terror Policies, Impact of Off Shore Drilling, Mideast Policy, Iran, National Intelligence, Next Step on Guantanamo, the Pentagon Under a New President, Have the Candidates Flip-Flopped

July 27, 2008

Candidates Differ on Breadth of Education Plans

Comparing Candidates' Plans

comparing the candidates' policies
Gabriel Bouys/Emmanuel Dunand
AFP/Getty Images

Both candidates plan to maintain full federal funding for schools, keep the No Child Left Behind Act intact and provide more money for needy college students and merit pay for teachers. Here's where their plans differ.

McCain: He supports school vouchers, home schooling, charter schools and any program that allows parents to chose the school their child will attend.

Obama:Obama also wants to give parents more options when they pick a school for their children, but he would limit those choices to public charter schools. He does not support vouchers for children to attend private and parochial schools. He is the first presidential candidate ever to propose accrediting all schools of education that train teachers.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama delivers the commencement speech.
Spencer Platt

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama waves to students as he delivers the commencement address at Wesleyan University on May 25, 2008, in Middletown. Getty Images

McCain speaks about education during a campaign forum.
Mario Tama

Arizona Sen. John McCain speaks at a McCain Exchange Forum on March 8, 2007, in New York City. McCain touched on topics including the war in Iraq, education and defense spending. Getty Images

Candidates' Key Advisers


  • Linda Darling Hammond: She is a professor at Stanford with the School Redesign Network. Hammond is most widely known for her work at Columbia Teachers College, long-considered an incubator for big, liberal, left-leaning education proposals.
  • Michael Johnston: He works with the New York City-based organization New Leaders for New Schools. His organization is touted as one of the most innovative collections of education entrepeneurs who have made urban school reform their top goal.
  • Andrew Rotherham: He is a former adviser to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and is widely respected in education circles. He is also the co-founder of the Education Sector, a liberal think tank in Washington. Rotherham is considered by some as a possible nominee for U.S. secretary of education in an Obama administration.

  • McCain:

  • Lisa Graham Keegan: She is a former superintendent of public instruction in Arizona and a close friend to McCain. She advised him during his first presidential run in 2000 and was on the short list to become President Bush's secretary of education. If McCain is elected, Keegan will be the leading candidate for that post.
  • Phil Handy: He is a former chairman of Florida's State Board of Education.
  • Jane Swift: Former governor of Massachusetts.
  • Gene Hickok: Former U.S. undersecretary of education in President George W. Bush's administration.
  • Hannah Skandera: Former California undersecretary of education.

  •, June 27, 2008 · Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has delivered four major speeches on education. Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain unveiled the details of his educational agenda during a speech in mid-July before the NAACP.

    The two candidates differ on everything from public school funding to college tuition to the No Child Left Behind Act. Below, NPR lays out the two candidates' education plans side by side.

    Funding Public Education

    The McCain campaign has said that Arizona senator intends to keep the full federal funding for schools; he just wants to give more of that money to parents for them to send their kids to the public, private or religious schools of their choice. He has also said that he would like to commit a total of $750 million to develop "virtual schools" and curriculums, allowing students to take online classes in science, math and foreign languages.

    Obama has said that his education proposals would cost about $18 billion and would be funded by trimming NASA's budget and auctioning surplus federal properties, among other measures. But most of the Illinois senator's education proposals are so costly that they would require Congress to approve additional new spending. He says he wants to make "a historic commitment" to education, because he wants to give every American child the same chances he had.

    Rethinking the No Child Left Behind Act

    Both McCain and Obama plan to keep in place the No Child Left Behind Act, although they both want to tweak the law.

    McCain voted for the 2001 law, which has given the federal government unprecedented authority over testing, academic standards and the rating of the nation's public schools. However, he has joined critics — Democrats and Republicans alike — who say the law needs major fixes. Unlike conservatives and some members of Congress, McCain does not want to scrap the law entirely. His advisers say instead, he wants to provide more tutoring services for students who are behind before he tackles NCLB.

    Obama was not in the U.S. Senate when Congress voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, but he supported it in the Illinois state legislature. His biggest criticism of the law is that it has been ineffective and inadequately funded. He also has said it relies too heavily on poorly designed tests to gauge progress in reading and math at the expense of a well-rounded education. Obama says he doesn't want to get rid of testing, but he does want to work more closely with governors to come up with better written tests that help teachers pinpoint students' weaknesses.

    School Choice: Vouchers, Charters and Home Schooling

    McCain supports vouchers, home schooling, charter schools and generally any policy that helps parents choose the private or public school that they want their children to attend. School choice, McCain argues, will create market forces that will spur competition among schools, not just for students but for the best teachers. He has also said that he would expand federally funded vouchers called Opportunity Scholarships that would let more parents pick the school of their choice.

    Obama also wants to give parents more options when they pick a school for their children, but he would limit those choices to public charter schools. He does not support vouchers for children to attend private and parochial schools.

    Keeping College Costs Low

    Both McCain and Obama support providing more money for needy college students, as well as the recent efforts by Congress and the Bush administration to shore up the student loan program, which has been hit hard by the credit crunch.

    Obama would like to introduce a new tax credit to ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is free for most students, in exchange for 100 hours of community service. This plan would cost about $10 billion a year. Obama says he can save billions of dollars by overhauling the federal student loan program, and creating a system that bypasses banks and private lenders in favor of having the U.S. Education Department run a direct lending program.

    He also wants to double the size of the Peace Corps and expand Ameri-Corp and other national service programs.

    McCain wants to make college more affordable by supporting a big increase in Pell Grants that Congress approved for needy students in 2007. McCain also backed the expansion of low-interest loans for middle-class families who are struggling to keep up with college tuition increases.

    Training Teachers

    Obama would require all schools of education to be accredited and then figure out which colleges are doing the best job of training teachers. Obama is the first presidential candidate ever to make such a proposal. His proposal borrows many ideas from several commissions that promote the national certification of teachers, more mentoring programs for first-year teachers, and merit pay for the best teachers.

    McCain has said that he supports merit pay for teachers, including giving bonuses to teachers who work in the most troubled schools. He also wants to recruit more top teachers who have graduated in the top 25 percent of their class, or who participated in an "alternative teacher recruitment program," such as Teach for America.

    July 26, 2008

    Bush foes rail at hearing, skirt impeachment

    Washington -- It wasn't an impeachment hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan insisted from his dais. Instead, Conyers announced his committee was conducting a hearing on executive power and its constitutional limitations.

    But impeachment -- the process Congress can use to forcibly remove presidents from office -- was constantly mentioned during six hours of testimony on Friday.

    And Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich was delighted.

    Kucinich, the loudest impeachment backer in Congress, was the hearing's first witness. He described devastation wrought by the Iraq war and listed untrue claims he accused the Bush administration of making before invading that Iraq harbored terrorists and was developing nuclear weapons as justification for congressional action against Bush.

    Check out the YouTube (c) video of the hearing.

    July 14, 2008

    Congressional Record Honors Paul Mann through our friend, the "Lion of the Senate", the Honorable Tom Harkin

    Congressional Record of the United States of America
    Proceedings and Debates of the 110th Congress, Second Session
    Washington, Tuesday, June 24, 2008
    Volume 154, Number 105


    Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, in early July, when nearly 9,000 educators are in Washington for the National Education Association's annual Representative Assembly, they will posthumously honor one of Iowa's most dedicated and respected teachers, Paul Mann. Lola Mann, Paul's wife of 38 years, will accept the Applegate-Dorros Award on behalf of her late husband at NEA's annual Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner on July 2.

    Applegate-Dorros Award is given each year to an individual who has made lasting contributions to the cause of international understanding, and who has encouraged young people to study the world and work for world peace. Over a long and distinguished career spanning nearly four decades as a teacher with the Des Moines public school system, Paul both lived and taught those ideals. He shaped the thinking of generations of students, and he was active on the national state as a long-time leader of NEA's Midwest Peace and Justice Caucus.

    I do not believe that democracy is a spectator sport, and neither did Paul. As his wife Lola said, "he felt strongly that he was place on this earth for a purpose...that he was here to help make the world a better place." He challenged his colleagues and students alike to get involved in campaigns and in the broader political process. His own passion for politics and engagement was infectious.

    Paul stood up for social justice and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Just as Gandhi counseled that "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," Paul lived a life that embodied the progressive ideals that he advocated.

    Paul Mann was born in
    Onawa, IA on March 12, 1947, graduated from Central Missouri State University in 1969, and earned a master's in public administration from Drake University in 1981. He began teaching in Des Moines in 1969 and was an energetic, beloved teacher right up until his sudden passing in September of 2006. At the time of his death, he was a teacher of world civilization and government at Central Academy, the magnet school for Des Moines' gifted and talented middle- and high-school students.

    As a teacher,
    Paul was a consummate professional who had a deep personal commitment to ensuring that every child receives a high-quality public education. this commitment lead to his activism and leadership withing the Des Moines Education Association, including 8 years as president. He served in various leadership positions at the local, State and national levels within the National Education Association. He was also active in local and State politics.

    I have always
    appreciated what Lee Iococca said about teachers. "In a completely rational society," he said, "the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else." Fortunately, in Iowa, so many of our best and brightest do go into teaching. And Paul Mann was one of the very finest.

    To honor his activism in the cause of world peace and understanding, the Paul Mann Memorial School has
    been established in Chiapas, Mexico. In addition, he has another living legacy: countless former students who are living the noble ideals that he taught in his classroom and embodied in his life.

    Paul Mann lived a life of constant activism and thoughtful action both in and out of the classroom. His life is one worthy of recognition and I commend his family and all of his form colleagues for doing their part in honoring him with the
    Applegate-Dorros Award.

    Join Amnesty International in Battling Online Governmental Censorship


    Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.

    The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression … learn more

    *Got a blog or website?

    Undermine censorship by publishing fragments of censored material on your site

    If you have a website or blog, help us spread the word and undermine unwarranted censorship by publishing censored material from our database directly onto your site.

    The more people take part the more we show that freedom of expression cannot be repressed.

    *Interested in the issue?

    Read the latest good and bad news on internet repression and submit new stories

    These are news items relevant to censorship and online repression submitted by users. You can submit your own too. If you find any item inappropriate (e.g spam) simply use the "flag for moderation" link to have a moderator look at it.

    * Only have a few minutes?

    Sign the pledge to support freedom of expression on the internet

    About this Pledge

    An Amnesty International delegation handed in a petition of 50,000 signatures to this pledge in November 2006 at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens, before an audience of governments and companies from across the world.

    The IGF process continues and so does Amnesty's fight for freedom of expression online. will continue to collect signatures to the pledge and use them to campaign against internet repression.

    The more people who sign up, the louder our voice. Please read and sign our pledge.

    July 12, 2008

    Honoring Paul Mann at the NEA Human & Civil Rights Dinner in Washington, DC

    Iowa Delegates, family and P&J Friends attended NEA's Human and Civil Rights Award Dinner on July 2, 2008. It was a fantastic night to be a member of the Association. Inspiring, motivated, kind and passionate educational leaders were honored for their service to humanity, social justice, equality and making the world a better place.

    It was an honor to watch Lola at the microphone. I'll bet you'll reach the same conclusion. Here are the clips honoring the Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding recipient for 2008, our friend Paul Mann.

    NEA President Reg Weaver on the War in Iraq.

    In his final keynote address to NEA's annual convention, the NEA president talks about the disastrous War in Iraq that has taken lives and opportunity from America's youth.

    The NEA president urged support for a resolution on Iraqi teachers and workers at Education International's World Congress. Mr. Weaver cites the Association's Representative Assembly vote calling for an exit strategy for U.S. forces from Iraq.

    July 9, 2008

    Day laborer organizer ‘served the people’

    Alejandro Abarca, leader of day laborers in New Jersey, died last week in Mexico. His death at the young age of 32 marked the untimely end of a life devoted to the struggle of the oppressed.

    Like millions of Mexicans, Alejandro Abarca was forced to migrate to the United States. He settled in the Borough of Freehold, New Jersey, where a sizable number of Mexican workers tried to survive as day laborers. Abarca immediately embroiled himself in working for the dignity and rights of Freehold’s Mexican workers. Most of them had been forced from their homeland by the North American Free Trade Agreement. Based on the greedy profit motive of U.S. transnational corporations, NAFTA effectively drove the Mexican farms out of business. Some of these families moved to Freehold to work and to live in peace.

    But there was no peace. Abarca said, Freehold “officials did not show any respect” for the immigrant population. He said officials profiled all Latin@s, “assuming that all dark-skinned Latin@ people are in the United States illegally.” (New Jersey News) So he organized the Workers Committee for Progress and Social Welfare, which called for an immediate end to harassment and intimidation and for the right to be respected. (NJ News)

    Abarca became a leader of Casa Freehold, which was organized to defend the rights of Latin@s in their homes, at work and in the streets. He devoted his life to a simple concept: “Serve the people.”

    For Latin@s, life in Freehold was difficult. The Borough of Freehold was settled by the English in 1683 who stole the land from the Lenne Lenape tribe. Descendents of the original settlers show open racism against residents speaking Spanish at Borough of Freehold town meetings. Representing 30 percent of Freehold’s population, the Latin@ community has faced official harassment in their homes, in the schools and in their freedom to assemble.

    When men, seeking work as day laborers, gathered at a “muster zone” on a road outside the main part of town, local police hounded them.To defend the workers’ rights, Abarca organized with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Foundation, National Day Laborers Organizing Network, International Action Center and the Workers Committee for Progress and Social Welfare. The PRLDEF won the case guaranteeing the right of Freehold day laborers to seek work in public places.

    Cognizant of the difficulty Mexicans have in establishing bank accounts and other financial and legal activities, Abarca brought the Mexican Consulate from New York to Freehold to issue “matricula consular” identity papers to hundreds of people in the borough. (Asbury Park Press) Organizing with his community for his community, Abarca also spearheaded a struggle to win day laborers $10 an hour for their work. In 2006, when the national May 1 organizing began, Abarca brought the Freehold workers into the national struggle for immigrant and workers rights.

    Speaking at a 2005 anti-Iraq war rally in New York, he said, “In Latin America, we understand occupation, and we know that the transnational monopolies have been occupying us for years, but the moment is coming when the people will tolerate this occupation no longer.” (La Ventana, March 21, 2005)

    One year ago he suffered a severe accident and returned to his native country to undergo a series of operations. “Probably he died of complications from one of these operations,” said Rita Dentino, who worked with him. “Alejandro made Casa Freehold into a broader organization against the war, against racism, for women’s reproductive rights. His life was dedicated to social justice.”

    Alejandro Abarca Presente!

    June 30, 2008

    Keith Olbermann Special Commentary: Obama's FISA Opportunity

    The Democratic leadership in the Senate, Republican knuckle-dragging in the same chamber, and the mediocre skills of whoever wrote the final version of the FISA bill, have combined to give Sen. Barack Obama a second chance to make a first impression.

    And he damned well better take it. The Senate vote on this tortured and reckless piece of legislation has now been postponed until after the 4th of July break. The Democrats, completing their FISA experience, a collective impression of Homer Simpson falling off a cliff and hitting every bramble on the way down, didn't exactly plan this fortuitous delay.

    June 28, 2008

    Protesters split weeks before Dem Convention

    DENVER - They adopted a bold name - Re-create 68 - promising a protesters' show of force like in Chicago 40 years ago when the Democratic National Convention comes to Denver in August.

    But the Denver-based umbrella coalition ranging from anarchists to environmentalists has fractured in recent months. Prominent activists have split with Re-create 68 over its incendiary rhetoric and, according to some, its refusal to endorse nonviolent protest.

    "My understanding was that there was some resistance to really settling on a commitment to non-violence," said Dana Balicki, whose group, Codepink, joined a new protest coalition for the convention.

    Re-create 68 appeared shortly after Denver's selection as convention host. On its Web site, the group once vowed its protests here would make the 1968 clashes with police in Chicago "look like a small get-together."

    The war in Iraq, government infringement of civil liberties and the environment dominated its message. The coalition once included Tent State University, a student organization that began at Rutgers University demanding that war funding be channeled to education, and Troops Out Now, a New York-based group.

    Re-create 68 has since sought to tone down its rhetoric to appease would-be allies and critics. Its Web site has been edited to emphasize its members are drawing from the "optimism" of the 1968 protesters.

    Co-founder Mark Cohen says the group's mission always was to "recreate" the spirit of political activism of the 1960s. The group says it opposes violence but reserves the right to "self-defense" during the Aug. 25-28 convention.

    That hasn't stopped a dozen activist organizations from leaving its umbrella and forming a second protest coalition called the Alliance for Real Democracy. It includes Codepink, Students for Peace and Justice and Tent State University, among others.

    Claire Ryder, a member of the Denver Green Party, said she attended some Re-create 68 meetings but now refuses to talk about them. Duke Austin of Boulder-based Students for Peace and Justice also declined to comment. So, too, did Codepink organizer Zoe Williams.

    "We wish them the best," said Glenn Spagnuolo, Re-create 68's most prominent spokesman, who calls the protesters' rift a creation of the mainstream news media.

    Unity dominated a recently weekly meeting of Recreate 68 in the basement of a Denver coffee shop. "Love is free will. Enter with luv," read a sign as organizers discussed convention preparations, including the topic, "Be positive: R68 is not exclusionary - we are working with everyone."

    A former New Yorker, Spagnuolo, 37, has participated in heated Columbus Day parade protests in Denver. Many local residents oppose celebrating a man they say helped introduce centuries of oppression of Native Americans.

    Spagnuolo also gained attention for supporting the free speech rights of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who triggered national outrage over an essay equating some Sept. 11 victims to Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

    Re-create 68 has been at the forefront of efforts to get protest permits from the city, and is pressing officials to release information about police plans to handle demonstrations during the convention. The American Civil Liberties Union represents the group and 13 other plaintiffs.

    It plans a large anti-war rally on the eve of the convention and at least 10,000 people for daily demonstrations addressing political prisoners, civil rights violations, immigrant rights, the environment and racism.

    Sen. Barack Obama's historic candidacy didn't affect planning, Spagnuolo said.

    "We firmly support the idea of a black president. That's a racial step forward," he said. "But we don't applaud what Obama stands for or what he's done the last couple of years. The only thing now is that imperialism has a black face instead of a white one."

    But Re-create's rhetoric - and a plan to levitate the Denver Mint - can overshadow its efforts to pry information from the city.

    "The DNC is setting up a very dangerous situation," Spagnuolo warned when the Denver convention host committee won a permit to use Civic Center park for a convention event. Re-create 68 insisted park permits go to groups not affiliated with the convention.

    Spagnuolo warned the Democrats would be to blame if things "blow up." He later explained that people participating in Re-create 68 demonstrations nearby could spill over to Civic Center park and that he wasn't implying there would be violence.

    "When they make a statement like that, we just can't ignore it. We have to prepare for the worst," said Charlie Brown, a Denver City councilman and one of Re-create 68's most outspoken critics.

    Brown said the group puts Denver police in a "no-win" situation where they'll be criticized if they respond aggressively and if they take a laid-back approach.

    Brown also criticized the group for being "selective" about First Amendment rights, noting its protests of the Columbus Day parade.

    "They basically hate America, they hate both political parties, they hate capitalism, you can go down the list," Brown said. "Their real goal is to make it so bad here that no American city will ever want to host a convention."

    Re-create 68's preparations include an attempt to encircle and levitate the Denver U.S. Mint and shake the money out to spread the wealth - a nod to Abbie Hoffman and protesters who tried to levitate the Pentagon in 1967.

    "I think that everybody has a little bit of magic inside them and if we combine our energies, who knows what could happen," Spagnuolo said.

    NEA Peace & Justice Caucus Calendar

    Representative Assembly 2008
    Washington, DC

    JULY 1
    4 :00- 5:30 PM Welcome Meeting--Renaissance Auditorium

    JULY 2

    Noon- 1:00 PM Issues/Membership--Renaissance West A

    JULY 3rd
    8:00 - 9:30 AM Pass the Hat for Paul * All State Caucuses
    9:30 - 11 AM Issues/Constitution Renaissance West A

    JULY 4
    9:30 - 10 AM Nominations/Issues Renaissance West A
    Paul Mann Youth Activism Award Presentation

    JULY 5th
    9:30 - 10 AM Issues/Elections Renaissance West A
    11 AM - 2 PM ELECTIONS RA Café Tables
    Cindy Sheehan--Peace Activist - Gold Star Mother - Congressional Candidate

    JULY 6
    9:30 - 10 AM Issues Discussion Renaissance West A
    LUNCH BREAK Issues Discussion Renaissance West A

    Come visit the Peace and Justice Booths 761 and 763
    * T-shirts * Jewelry * Books *
    * Support the Paul Mann Memorial School and Music Center *

    June 26, 2008

    They're Not Just Numbers, Mr. President, These Young People Dying Halfway Around the World All Have a Face, Names & Families

    Promising Diplomat, Peace & Justice Advocate Killed in Iran

    It is with great sadness that Seton Hall announces the death of Captain Gregory T. Dalessio ’00/M.A. ’04, from wounds suffered in combat in Iraq on 23 June.

    Greg Dalessio, 30, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, out of Baumholder, Germany. He was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq and had been there about two months when he was killed. He was the oldest of eight children and grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and he graduated from Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken.

    Greg earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in diplomacy and international relations here at Seton Hall. He was an outstanding member of the ROTC program, and left his mark as a sincere, hard-working young man who was always concerned with helping others in need and seeking peace and justice in our world.

    “I remember meeting Greg when he was a freshman here and I will forever remember his warm smile and engaging, generous spirit,” said Monsignor Robert Sheeran, University President.

    “With his close-knit family, we mourn Greg Dalessio’s passing in the service of his nation. He lived the way the Church teaches us we ought, with a deep commitment to ethics and honor, with a love for family, country and God. We pray that he may find eternal rest among the saints in the presence of the Almighty Father,” said Monsignor Sheeran.

    The American flag is to be flown at half mast on the Seton Hall campus in honor of Captain Dalessio.

    June 17, 2008

    Des Moines Student, Roman Borcelino, Receives NEA Peace & Justice Youth Activisim Award: Please Help Us

    originally posted 6/10/2008

    ...from the desk of Nancy Porter, NEA P&J Recording Secretary

    Please help us raise dollars to support this gentleman who will come to DC and accept the award. Bring money to the RA to give to Nancy Porter

    Great News! On the 4th of July in DC, a past student of Paul Mann's,
    recipient of the first Iowa Caucus Peace and Justice Youth Activist Award, Romen Borcelino, will receive the first NEA Peace and Justice Youth Activist Award. He competed against many great applicants.

    Those of you who were lucky enough to hear Roman's wonderful acceptance at the ISEA Delegate Assembly know that we have honored a gifted, articulate and deserving young man.

    You may also send a check to Nancy Porter
    with a "defray costs" for Romen note to

    2519 Potomac Drive
    Iowa City, IA 52245

    We want to cover plane and room. If there is any money left over, it will beused for the Paul Mann Youth Activist Award for 2009. Thank you for helping forthis very special occasion that puts IOWA in the front seat.

    If you have any issues you feel the P and J caucus should bring forth at the RA, please email Nancy Porter immediately.

    Thank you, again, for all you do in the name of Peace and Justice.

    June 15, 2008

    McCain vs. Obama: Video in Their Own Words

    John McCain in his own words in 90 seconds: the War in Iraq, Immigration & Health Care

    Barack Obama in his own words in 90 seconds: War in Iraq, Health Care & Alternative Energy

    Keith Olbermann: Special Commentary on John McCain's Comment that "It's not too important when troops come home..."

    Senator and US Presidential hopeful John McCain recently met criticism of his comments to Today Show's Matt Lauer that, "It's not too important when troops come home..." and what President Bush's Congressionally unauthorized plan to staff 50+ bases in Iraq might mean to the future of our dedicated soldiers/patriots, their lives and the impact of this rhetoric on real people's lives.

    Olbermann uses his "Special Commentary" to address Senator McCain's remarks in his Edward R. Murrow style.

    June 13, 2008

    A New Logo for P&J Midwest and Justice Caucus

    With the encouragement of Nancy Porter of Iowa City, we've designed the following new logo for our Midwest Caucus...we'll hope that we can take it further... We hope you like our new look.

    Your blog guy,


    Cindy Sheehan: July 5th Keynote Speaker for P&J at the NEA RA

    Cindy Sheehan ("Before You Sign Up")

    Marisa Tomei reads Cindy Sheehan

    June 12, 2008

    Habeas Corpus: A Letter from Our Friend, Senator Patrick Leahy

    Dear NEA Peace & Justice Caucus Friends,

    Today the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a stinging rebuke to the Bush-Cheney Administration's handling of military detainees at Guantanamo Bay -- while vindicating you, me, and thousands of others who have spoken out against the Administration's unwise and unconstitutional policies from the very beginning.

    In today's 5-4 Boumediene v. Bush decision, the Court ruled that stripping habeas corpus rights from detainees at Guantanamo Bay was unconstitutional. In so doing, the Court reaffirmed the fundamental right of habeas corpus -- the right that all Americans, and those prisoners under American control, have to challenge the government's reasons for imprisoning them -- a fundamental American right that underpins our individual freedoms and liberty.

    Now, in three separate decisions, the Supreme Court has rejected the Bush-Cheney Administration's erosion of fundamental rights. It is these very protections and rights that set America apart from our enemies and make our nation a beacon of freedom and justice for the rest of the world.

    It's time to repair the damage that the Bush-Cheney Administration has done in rolling back essential rights that have long guided America's conscience -- and the Supreme Court's ruling is yet one more step in that important process. It's another signal that -- at least in this instance -- we will not cringe in fear and walk away from bedrock American values.

    Today's decision is a huge victory for justice, for the Constitution, and for the rule of law. Thank you so much for continuing to stand with me and fight for the rights and freedoms we hold dear.


    Patrick Leahy
    U.S. Senator

    Supreme Court Rules in Favor of "Habeas Corpus" as a Constitutional Right

    Supreme Court backs Guantanamo detainees
    In rebuke to administration, suspects may appeal in U.S. civilian courts

    WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

    In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."

    It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than six years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

    The administration opened the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to hold enemy combatants.

    The Guantanamo prison has been harshly criticized at home and abroad for the detentions themselves and the aggressive interrogations that were conducted there.

    The court said not only that the detainees have rights under the Constitution, but that the system the administration has put in place to classify them as enemy combatants and review those decisions is inadequate.

    The administration had argued first that the detainees have no rights. But it also contended that the classification and review process was a sufficient substitute for the civilian court hearings that the detainees seek.