December 15, 2013

ALEC exposed

by Brian Washington


Sign the petition and tell ALEC to stop cashing in on kids! CLICK HERE ›
Local reporters across the nation are starting to ask questions about the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) following a report last week that the conservative, right-wing group, known for promoting the agenda of rich fat cats over the rights of American workers, is facing some serious financial troubles.
Reporters are also taking a closer look at the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of local affiliates that promote themselves as independent “think tanks” but, in reality, are really some of the most active members and largest sponsors of ALEC.
ALEC and SPN squash democracy by scheming with corporate CEOs and right-wing, conservative politicians to push its “model legislation” in state legislatures across the country. However, the media is starting to catch on. Check out some of the negative press ALEC and SPN are generating across the country:
Some of the policies that undermine middle-class families and shortchange students that are being promoted by ALEC and SPN include legislation that would do the following:
  • Privatize public education
  • Deny workers a voice on the job
  • Defund public services; and
  • Disenfranchise communities of color.
Last week, a large group of protesters rallied in support of students, working families, and public education outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington, DC, the site where ALEC held its annual meeting.
Check out the topic page on Education Votes dedicated to ALEC, where you can learn more about ALEC and SPN, including how both are working to drive more students into poverty and rob them of the chance to get a quality public education.
TAKE ACTION:  If journalists in your area have not reported on ALEC and its destructive, corporate agenda, call them up and find out why.

December 5, 2013

Amnesty International

Imagine being imprisoned for voicing a New Year's Eve wish for peace and democracy.

That was one of the reasons Ethiopian authorities sentenced iconic dissident journalist Eskinder Nega to 18-years in prison on charges of terrorism and treason.

Free speech is not a crime - it's a human right. Help us defend it. 

Join Amnesty in calling for Eskinder Nega's immediate and unconditional release.

Eskinder is one of 10 urgent human rights cases highlighted in Amnesty International's 2013 Write for Rights campaign, the world's largest and most effective letter-writing event.

Every day that Eskinder and other journalists remain imprisoned, the dark cloud of oppression in his country grows more menacing. 

Eskinder and his family have endured arrest and harassment from authorities for years. In 2006 and 2007, Eskinder and his wife, Serkalem Fasil, along with 129 other journalists, opposition politicians and activists, were detained and tried on treason charges in connection with protests following the 2005 election. 

Serkalem gave birth to their son Nafkot while in prison. 

Show solidarity with Eskinder and Serkalem - raise your voice to defend theirs.

The crackdown on free speech in Ethiopia has intensified since early 2011 - a number of journalists have been imprisoned on trumped-up charges of treason and terrorism while others have fled the country to avoid jail time. Newspapers have been closed down and last year, printers were ordered to remove any content that may be considered illegal by the government. 

The independent media, and freedom of expression itself, has been dismantled in Ethiopia. Eskinder has been prosecuted at least 8 times for his journalism. His words have done no harm. His writings are a lawful expression of his human rights. 

Free speech needs more champions today. Be one of them.

In solidarity, 

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

PS - Write for Rights is about writing letters and connecting people who care about human rights. Chances are, there is a Write for Rights event happening near you. You can host your own event (public or private) or attend one in your area - sign up now to Write for Rights!

November 13, 2013

People who make a difference

Manfred Rommel, Son of German Field Marshal, Dies at 84
By DOUGLAS MARTIN; Published: November 9, 2013
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was a hero of Hitler’s Germany, the legendary “Desert Fox” who seized the world’s attention with his daring tactics in North Africa from 1941 to 1943.
Manfred Rommel was his son. He was 15 when he said goodbye to his father, then watched as two German generals ushered him into a car. The generals had given the field marshal a choice: commit suicide or face a rigged trial on charges of conspiring to kill Hitler. If he chose the trial, they said, they could not promise that his family would be safe.
Field Marshal Rommel was guilty of supporting a plot to kill Hitler, whom he had decided was leading Germany to disaster. Within minutes, he bit into a cyanide pill and quickly died. It was Oct. 14, 1944.
Manfred went on to become the three-term mayor of Stuttgart, a major city in southwestern Germany where Mercedes-Benz makes cars. He became a liberal voice in postwar West Germany, supporting the rights of immigrants, backing civil liberties and strengthening the city’s Jewish population.
He died on Thursday in Stuttgart at 84. The present mayor of Stuttgart, Fritz Kuhn, announced the death without giving a cause. Mr. Rommel had Parkinson’s disease.
As mayor, Mr. Rommel angered his constituents in 1977 by allowing convicted terrorists to be eulogized and buried in the municipal cemetery. He said he wanted “to show how, with a little generosity of spirit, enmity ends with death.”
In his tenure, from 1974 to 1996, Mr. Rommel tightened control over city finances and reduced debts, while expanding public transport and building a new arena and convention center. In 1982, The New York Times called him “the rising political figure with the best chance of becoming national leader.”
But he turned down opportunities to run for state or federal office in favor of the municipal politics he said he liked best. “I’m not ambitious,” he said. “It’s an unbearable burden to be chancellor,” his country’s highest office.
He continued, in his touchingly honest style, “Federal officials in this country have an aversion to outsiders, and they’re only interested in them for help if they’re in mud up to their ears.”
Part of his political appeal was his last name. Many Germans felt pride in his father’s brilliant generalship, while also remembering his humanity in an inhuman situation. Field Marshal Rommel ignored orders to kill Jewish soldiers, civilians and captured commandos, and was not accused of war crimes. He angered Hitler by urging a negotiated surrender on the Western Front.
Manfred’s response to the Nazi horror was to emphasize the unity of Europe rather than German patriotism. “German history is too much for us,” he said in an interview with The Times.
“The shadow is too great,” he continued. “I belong to the generation of burned children, and I am not so sure about our capabilities. My father once said during the war, ‘The best thing would be to live as a British dominion now that we’ve shown we can’t manage our own affairs.’ He was being sarcastic, of course.”
Manfred Rommel was born in Stuttgart on Dec. 24, 1928. He was only 14 when he was drafted by the Luftwaffe as an antiaircraft gunner. When his father killed himself, he deserted and surrendered to French forces.
After his release from captivity, he studied law and political science at T├╝bingen University, then went to work for the state government of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, of which Stuttgart is the capital. He became deputy finance minister of the state.
During his tenure as mayor, he was president of the German Association of Cities for nine and a half years. He retired in 1996, when he reached the compulsory retirement age of 68.
Mr. Rommel is survived by his wife, the former Liselotte Daiber, and their daughter, Catherine.
As the field marshal’s son, Mr. Rommel formed friendships with the sons of two of his father’s most prominent opponents: David Montgomery, son of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery of Britain; and Maj. Gen. George Patton IV, son of Gen. George S. Patton of the United States.
His many honors include the Commander of the British Empire, the French Legion of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the highest grade of the German federal order of merit.
“The number of honors seems to be endless,” he once said. “The inscription on my gravestone will read, ‘Please turn over!’ ”

November 6, 2013

Climate Change

If we do not respond to the increase in carbon emissions, temperature change and do it quickly, there will be little else to worry about in our future.  Please consider this.  Thanks, Nancy

On behalf of and our partners in Iowa, I’m happy to invite you to join us for a free two-day Climate Organizers Training, sponsored by  These trainings are offered across the U.S. and around the world to build the strongest possible climate and clean energy movement and address the climate crisis by building the organizing skills of local leaders.  One goal is to grow the network of local 350 groups in Iowa and begin to discuss a possible statewide network.

The Climate Organizers Training will focus on campaign planning and movement strategy, including practical information on media, action design, engaging allies, and other critical organizing tools. We will share lessons learned from our experience organizing both local events and international campaigns, and will equip you with skills that can bolster the work you do locally and empower you to more effectively contribute to the broader climate movement.

Dates: Saturday and Sunday, November 16 and 17, 2013 (with an optional welcome event the evening of Friday the 15th with special guest Sen. Rob Hogg)
Times: 9am-7pm Saturday + group dinner and 9am-6pm Sunday
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
RSVP:  Please fill out this form by November
 if you wish to attend, and we will get back to you as soon as possible to confirm and share the location details.

This training will be capped at approximately 35 participants, and applications will be accepted until the limit is met. The training is free; we provide all the food and materials. Please state on the application any needs you may have for travel expenses. Please contact Anna Goldstein, with any questions.

We hope you can join us!

Cheryl and the team at

October 25, 2013

Tom Hayden, Peace Exchange, worth following.

Tom Hayden
The Peace Exchange Bulletin
Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.

Two, Three, Many Americas?

Since the posting of "Becoming Two Countries in 2014", many readers have argued that we actually are becoming three or more Americas, while others cling to the dream of becoming One America again.

Greenwald Drone Film Opens In Pakistan

In a unique film premiere for victims of drone strikes, Pakistani leader Imran Khan will host a screening of Robert Greenwald's new documentary "Unmanned: America's Drone Wars" in Islamabad this Friday. 

Bird-Dog Your Congressional Representatives

Peace Action West has produced a citizens' guide to Congressional votes on Afghanistan, drones and other issues of war-and-peace.