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Archive for July 23rd, 2014

‘Power Grab’ in Campaign Against Three Tennessee Judges Could Have National Implications

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on ‘Power Grab’ in Campaign Against Three Tennessee Judges Could Have National Implications
By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – An attempt to unseat three judges in an upcoming Nashville, Tenn. election is nothing less than a “raw power grab” by right wing special interests using big money to buy control of the courts, says the head of a non-partisan organization of lawyers this week.

“It is a raw power grab is what it is. Their campaign against these justices are based on a series of lies, half-truths, misstatements and material omissions,” says Charles Grant, president of the bi-partisan Nashville Bar Association (NBA), which has endorsed the retention of the judges. “It has huge implications nationally because if they can do it here, they can do it anywhere.”

The situation involves three Tennessee Supreme Court Justices Cornelia A. Clark, Sharon Gail Lee and Gary R. Wade, all up for retention on the court by the vote on Aug. 7. They were originally appointed by Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Opposing the judges are namely Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and other Republicans backed by wealthy political operatives, some from outside the state, including the billionaire Koch brothers of Wichita, Kans., according to widespread media reports. Among Ramsey’s tools is a 30-page Power Point that attempts to scare voters by claiming – in part – that the three judges are soft on the death penalty and “anti-business”.

Grant says the claims in the Power Point are blatantly false and undermines the integrity of the process.

“It is chock full of misstatements, it’s misleading, it has substantial omissions, sometimes it attributes to these judges opinions that were written by the Court of Appeals for example. And when confronted with all of this misleading information that he is putting out to the public about the quality of these justices’ work, he will come right out and say, ‘It’s not my job to tell their side of the story,'” says Grant, the NBA’s first Black president. “What is it that they hope to accomplish? They hope to control the court. That’s what they hope to accomplish. They don’t want independence. They want control.”

In Tennessee media reports, Ramsey has defended his conduct by saying, “I’m telling my side of the story and they’ll get to tell their side of the story. Every campaign tells half of the story…They tell their side of the story and the people decide.”

Adding to the difficulty of clarifying their records is the fact that judges can’t speak out to defend themselves in the same manner as someone running for a political office. Because of codes of conduct, they must appear impartial at all times and avoid public confrontations that could warrant a conflict of interest later. They can’t speak publicly on specific cases. Neither can they ask for financial contributions.

Voters would need to research deeply to unearth the real facts pertaining to the three judges, Grant says. For example, though Ramsey contends they are soft on the death penalty, they have actually affirmed 90 percent of the death penalty cases before them, Grant says. As for the “anti-business” charge, “It is not the justices’ jobs to be leaning one way or the other. That is not what we want them to do. We want them to decide the cases based on the facts and the law without favor, without prejudice to one side or the other.”

The historic principles that have allowed for major progress in America are also at stake, Grant says.

“If Supreme Court judges had been subject to special interests, we would never have had Brown verses Board of Education. We would never have had the landmark decision that dismantled segregation and state-enforced discrimination through laws like Jim Crow and racially restrictive covenants and red-lining by banks and all of those things that enforce racism and racial oppression. So we need to have some kind of check on this power to make sure the basic constitutional rights and the bill of rights are protected.”

In a nutshell, the 40-year-old “merit selection” process by which judges are chosen in Tennessee is quite common in states across the U. S. Candidates are intensely vetted through a bi-partisan nine-member judicial evaluation commission, which then recommends three judges to the governor for any vacancy on the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court.

When the eight-year term is up, the judges are re-evaluated by a commission which then makes a public recommendation on whether the judge should be retained. If the commission decides against the retainer, the judge is subject to a popular election. If the commission decides for the retainer; then the judges go on the ballot for the public to review their record and to review the recommendations and to determine whether or not they should be replaced.

After this rigorous process, Clark, Lee and Wade were all recommended for retainer by the commission of non-partisan lawyers and citizens. Yet, the judges are now under a partisan attack.

With the rigorous campaign to unseat and replace them, Grant fears the judges’ retention bids could realistically fail because of the potency of the smear campaign and the money that is backing it.

“It is about buying influence. They are going after these justices because these justices do not cow tow to special interests. They do their jobs. They call the balls and strikes as they see them,” Grant says. “When a special interest or group wants to target a judge, it’s kind of easy to identify, to take one of their one hundred opinions or whatever, to misstate the facts or misstate the law or completely mislead.”

Grant and the NBA are not alone in their advocacy for fairness in the process. On July 15, a bi-partisan group of district attorneys came forward to support the three judges saying they have outstanding records and deserve to be retained. Also, Republican Mickey Barker a former chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, has been quoted as calling the anti-retention campaign “frightening” because it would turn the Tennessee Supreme Court into a “partisan branch of government.”

Trial lawyer Lew Conner, also a Republican, recently held a fund-raiser of his own to assist the judges in their retention bid. “This is about a system being wrongfully attacked, and Ramsey is the attacker,” Conner was quoted in the Tennessee Watchdog.

Grant says the bi-partisan outrage is simply due to the knowledge that a politicized judiciary could lead to a rogue court which could make decisions based on political whims and allegiances instead of the facts of the cases before them.

He concludes, “Lawyers don’t want judges beholding to special interests. None of us do. Lawyers don’t want to walk into court thinking that the scales of justice are already tilted toward one party before we’ve had an opportunity to present our case,” Grant concludes. “The only way to win is to educate the population. If you want an independent judiciary; you have to understand when it’s under attack by partisan special interests.”

Photo Caption: Charles Grant, president, Nashville Bar Association

President Obama Signs Washington Emergency Declaration

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on President Obama Signs Washington Emergency Declaration

The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Washington and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the area affected by wildfires beginning on July 9, 2014, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Chelan and Okanogan and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.   Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Michael J. Hall as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Chicago Attorney Robert Clifford Pens Op Ed Piece for San Fran Chronicle on Malaysia Air Crash — Safety First

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on Chicago Attorney Robert Clifford Pens Op Ed Piece for San Fran Chronicle on Malaysia Air Crash — Safety First

By Attorney Robert Clifford

Senior Partner, Clifford Law Offices

We don’t absolutely know who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, killing 298 persons including at least one American citizen, or why they did it. We do know we need to take immediate steps to prevent such an “outrage,” as President Obama called it Friday, from happening again. Shooting down a civilian jet is unacceptable in modern times.

Irina Tipunova, 65, told reporters how the body of a woman crashed through her roof. Everything in her house started to shake, she said. “Then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen.”

It was the deadliest attack ever on a commercial airliner. There were no survivors from the flight of the Boeing 777, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Bodies were scattered over nine miles of rebel-held territory near Ukraine’s border with Russia. According to the United Nations, 80 of those who died were children.

Was what happened horrific and unthinkable? Yes, but mourning the dead and expressing our shock is not enough. The international community must take concrete action, led by the United Nations peacekeepers so that the perpetrators can see the world is against them, to quickly and, if need be, forcefully root out the cause and limit the possibility that similar future tragedies would occur in Ukraine or another war zone, such as Gaza, Israel, Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.

It’s believed that Flight MH-17 was blasted from the sky by one or more surface-to-air missiles, known more commonly as SAMs. On Monday, a cargo airplane was shot down in the same area. On Wednesday, two Ukrainian fighter jets were downed in the same region, apparently by air-to-air missiles (AAMs). The U.S. military and intelligence community, along with the United Nations, should eliminate the SAM resources in those areas, even if it requires military force. Rhetoric alone won’t prevent more deadly missiles from rocketing skyward.

How else can we protect the flying public? The International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Administration should issue notices prohibiting nonmilitary flights over all portions of Ukraine and neighboring areas of Russia, not just the limited spots that were added by the FAA late Thursday.

France already has banned flights over all of Ukraine. But the new FAA advisory only says that “due to recent events, all flight operations by U.S. operators within the Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk flight information regions are prohibited. Events have indicated the potential for continued hazardous activities.”
International and U.S. civil aviation authorities should issue the same ban for any other international areas where conflict or terrorism is prevalent and where SAMs and AAMs are potential threats in the altitude ranges used by commercial flights.

It is time for every carrier to reassess its routes. Even though its flight path wasn’t prohibited and other aircraft had flown it without incident, MH-17 was flying in a known conflict zone only 1,000 feet above the 32,000-foot ceiling of the restricted airspace that had been set up in Ukraine. With three planes downed in the previous three days and knowing SAMs are capable of reaching 49,000 feet or higher, aviation authorities knew any flight there was at extreme risk.

The loss of another Malaysia Airlines carrier calls into question the safety and risk-management practices of the airline and the Malaysian regulatory authorities. Malaysia Airlines has been looking for Flight MH-370 and its 239 passengers and crew since March 8. The loss of two 777s in the past four months is a new record for the airline industry, as well as evidence that it needs to take an aggressive, safety-first approach to all flight operations, planning, and equipment issues.

Flights in conflict areas where missiles or other aviation threats exist should be ended. As we have learned from these two incidents, every jetliner should have deployable flight recorders and GPS-based tracking systems so that, in the event of an emergency, we can know what happened and end the needless, endless speculation that haunts the aftermaths. We owe that much and more to the victims.

Robert A. Clifford, a senior partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, has handled and led litigation on behalf of aviation crash victims nationally and internationally for three decades.

Editor’s Note: This Op-ED piece first appeared in the San Fran Chronicle.

“International Day of Al-Quds Friday, July 25, 2014”: Free Palestine and The great Al Aqsa Mosque

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on “International Day of Al-Quds Friday, July 25, 2014”: Free Palestine and The great Al Aqsa Mosque

Letters To Editors

CHICAGO, IL — Muslim Congress will hold events in Chicago, Illinois to commemorate the International Day of Al-Quds.

Al-Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem and its environs, the Holy Land. The International Day of Al-Quds is a day of solidarity with the oppressed innocent civilian Palestinians in their struggle against the racist oppressive Zionist-Apartheid Regime (Israel).

Al-Quds Day events are held in cities across the world including many cities in the US, Canada and UK. Muslim Congress is currently coordinating an effort to organize peaceful Al-Quds Day events across various cities in the US.

Since July 8th, 2014, five hundred and seventy Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes and attacks. Three thousand three hundred and fifty people have been injured, thus far. These numbers include countless women and children.  We condemn the Israeli aggression in Palestine and demand the Israeli occupation of Palestine to end. The Palestinian people have the right to freely live on their land.

We are gathering at the Daley Center, 50 W. Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois, between the hours of 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. on Friday, July 25th, 2014 to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  This event will highlight the plight of the Palestinian people.

Lets stand with all the humans of conscience including Jews, Christians and Muslims to show support for the innocent civilian victims of global zionism, imperialism, occupation, racism and oppression, for the sake of haqq (truth).

Facebook event (500+ attending): https://www.facebook.com/events/1441089229490097

Event Flyer: http://imgur.com/VQVmzhS

Trying to Understand What Makes Sense

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on Trying to Understand What Makes Sense

By William Spriggs

Last month, a United Nations panel held that cutting off water to Detroit residents suffering from high unemployment rates and low incomes, leaving them unable to afford their water bills, was a violation of basic human rights. This past weekend, actor Mark Ruffalo and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) joined close to a thousand protesters in a march organized by National Nurses United from Detroit’s Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. The chants of the crowd included “We got sold out, banks got bailed out.” And there were renewed calls for a financial transaction tax, commonly referred to as a “Robin Hood tax.”

It was announced this week that the water shutoffs would be temporarily suspended for 15 days.

During the Great Depression there was a stock market bubble that burst on Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929. But there also was massive land speculation that collapsed the local economies of Texas, Florida and California, leading to more than 2,000 municipalities and municipal corporations being in default. The uncertainty of resolving the issue led Congress in 1934 to create a special chapter of the federal bankruptcy law to handle municipal bankruptcies.

Chapter 9 bankruptcies have spiked in each of the last three recessions. They have not reached the heights of the Great Depression. This has allowed room to treat each bankruptcy as a unique case-but the trend clearly suggests these are not independent events.

In the case of water and sewage bonds and the city of Detroit, the hike in water rates involves the perverse logic Chapter 9 was intended to avoid. A rash of foreclosures from the housing crisis helped escalate a depopulation of Detroit, while the largest drop in automobile demand in U.S. history that was part of the Great Recession meant a loss of employment in Detroit. The result of depopulation and less economic activity of course meant less revenue for the water authority-but the bonds still needed to be paid. So that means a hike in water bills for an unemployed and poor population.

The full costs of the Great Recession still are being tallied. Regrettably, distant from the free fall of 2008, the stories have been pointing blame at Detroit, Flint, Puerto Rico, Sacramento and the hundreds of other local government authorities that still need to meet basic government functions-like the provision of clean water-but with big drops in revenue.

In fact, while the number of payroll positions have reached their 2008 peak, public employment still is down, and state and local governments continue to shrink their budgets. But we still have children to educate, roads that must be repaired and in cities like Chicago, public order and safety to maintain.

So, how does it make sense that President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen could bum rush Congress into a huge, multi-billion-dollar deal to create the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but there is no national outcry when a city the size of Detroit can’t provide affordable water to its citizens? If banks are too big to fail, don’t we have cities too big to fail? Where Hurricane Katrina caused too much water that drowned New Orleans, isn’t it also a catastrophe when thousands of households surrounded by potable water can’t afford a drink? Doesn’t the plight of Detroit at least warrant a White House convening?

The current level of cynicism created by our political leadership feigning impotence to deliver solutions to simple problems like affordable water is dangerous. In the case of Detroit, it is the same indifference to the poor we saw in New Orleans after Katrina. It is a mixture of two odd beliefs: That the poor created this problem-too lazy to pay rising water bills or too lazy to flee the rising waters from a broken levee-and, if it will cost money, then it isn’t something that government should fix.

The government can solve the problems of rich Wall Street banking firms that can’t pay their bills-even if it means creating a whole new government apparatus like the TARP. But the government cannot refinance the water system of Detroit, repair our roads or come up with the funds to keep our schools from closing in Chicago or Philadelphia?

This set of inconsistencies fuels the right-wing fanaticism of the Tea Party and the nihilism of the violence we see in cities like Chicago. Both are too dangerous to ignore.

We need a financial transactions tax to ensure we never have to ask how we can afford the government we deserve.

Follow Spriggs on Twitter: @WSpriggs. Contact: Amaya Smith-Tune Acting Director, Media Outreach AFL-CIO 202-637-5142

Photo Caption: Two boys at the Detroit Water Rally held July 18.

Photo: Courtesy/National Nurses United

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Seven Organizations Join Drink Up Effort to Encourage Americans to Drink More Water, More Often

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Seven Organizations Join Drink Up Effort to Encourage Americans to Drink More Water, More Often

Brita®, First 5 Santa Clara County, Haws Corporation™, Nalgene® Outdoor Products, S’well Bottle, Santa Clara Valley Water District and The California Endowment will support Drink Up through products and marketing efforts

WASHINGTON, DC – First Lady Michelle Obama joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to announce that seven organizations have joined or renewed their support for the Drink Up effort, which encourages people across the country to drink more water, more often.  Brita®, First 5 Santa Clara County, Haws Corporation™, Nalgene® Outdoor Products, S’well Bottle, Santa Clara Valley Water District and The California Endowment will support Drink Up by promoting its messages on water filtration systems, re-usable water bottles, drinking fountains or other products and programs.  The First Lady also highlighted a new study from Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), which found that a recent online ad campaign for Drink Up fueled a 3 percent lift in incremental sales of bottled water among those exposed to the campaign.

“When the Drink Up campaign was launched last year, it had one simple goal – to get kids and families excited about drinking water,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “And today, less than a year later, we know that water sales jumped nearly three percent among people who saw Drink Up ads.  So I am thrilled about the additional commitments to continue this effort that are being announced today by Brita, First 5 Santa Clara County, Haws, Nalgene, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, S’WELL Bottle Company and The California Endowment.  And I am confident that in the coming months and years, we’re going to see people across this country drinking more and more water.”

“As Drink Up encourages more people to drink more water, we also want to help make choosing water an easy choice. The efforts announced today – along with our current supporters’ efforts – will help us show more people that you are what you drink, and when you drink water you Drink Up,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler.  “We applaud the efforts of each of these supporters toward helping us take another step closer to providing access to water for more people wherever they are, whenever they want it, however they want it – be it tap, filtered or bottled.”

For complete information about this PHA commitment, visit AHealthierAmerica.org and YouAreWhatYouDrink.org.

Child Refugees: The Consequences of the 2009 Coup in Honduras

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on Child Refugees: The Consequences of the 2009 Coup in Honduras

Child Refugees: The Consequences of the 2009 Coup in Honduras

By Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

If we’re going to discuss the root causes of the current Honduran refugee crisis, let’s get a few things straight.

First, the U.S. government has and continues to fund, orchestrate and support coups across Latin America.

Most Americans who know anything about Latin American history will readily highlight Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1972 and Nicaragua in the 1980s as prime examples of the United States’ antidemocratic tendencies in the region. A few might even mention Panama in 1903 and 1989, Honduras in 1911, Haiti and the Dominican Republic under Wilson, Nicaragua in 1934, El Salvador in ’44, Cuba in ’61, Brazil in ’64, the D.R. again in ’65, Uruguay in ’73 and Venezuela in 2002.

There are countless other instances. I’ve just picked the least disputed.

Yet how many people would cite the most recent U.S.-backed coup in Latin America?

In the early morning hours of June 28, 2009, soldiers stormed Palacio “José Cecilio del Valle” in Tegucigalpa, detained the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya (still in his pajamas) and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. Within hours the National Congress accepted Zelaya’s letter of resignation and voted to make the president of the congress and next in line, Roberto Micheletti, interim president—though the deposed president later called the letter dated June 25 a complete fabrication. The military was deployed to secure the streets of the capital city, killing at least 12 people following a severe crackdown. Lines of communication were cut, public transportation halted and a curfew imposed.

While I could point to several circumstances showing how what transpired that summer amounted to nothing less than a military coup, I merely need cite the report released by the Honduras Truth and Reconciliation Commission two years after the fact. Reviewing the events leading up to and following Zelaya’s removal from power, the commission concluded that, while Zelaya broke the law by ignoring a Supreme Court ruling against a referendum on a potential constitutional convention, and while the Honduran Constitution lacks provisions for dealing with such a conflict, the National Congress overstepped its authority by removing Zelaya from power.

A cable from the U.S. State Department’s own embassy in Tegucigalpa dated July 2009 put it even more plainly:

“Regardless of the merits of Zelaya’s alleged constitutional violations, it is clear from even a cursory reading that his removal by military means was illegal, and even the most zealous of coup defenders have been unable to make convincing arguments to bridge the intellectual gulf between ‘Zelaya broke the law’ to ‘therefore, he was packed off to Costa Rica by the military without a trial.’”

While President Obama was dragging his feet on whether to continue funding the Honduran military police or not, State Department officials agrued that “there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup.”

The United Nations, the Organization of American States, the European Union and the presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and Cuba, among others, all called for the immediate restoration of Zelaya’s presidency—all of whom were ignored by the Honduran government.

President Obama paid lip service to democracy by verbally condemning the coup, but his administration didn’t go so far as calling it a military coup, a distinction which would’ve automatically forced the U.S. government to freeze all aid to the regime.

The reasons behind U.S. support for the results of the coup, if not its means, have been quite clear to this day.

Zelaya, elected on the center-right Liberal Party ticket, attracted the ire of Washington when he defected from the neoliberal camp and began buddying up with the Castros in Cuba and the late Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, eventually having Honduras join the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas in 2008.

Other sins leading to his ouster included raising the minimum wage 60 percent, providing free education to all children (including free lunch to the poorest children), reducing poverty by 10 percent during his first two years in office and considering an expansion of the reproductive rights of women. Only weeks before the coup, Zelaya had agreed to review the land title claims of the campesinos living in the Aguan Valley, where currently security forces controlled by a rich landowner are engaged in a campaign of severe repression against the same campesinos.

The rich landowner in question is Miguel Facussé, a known narcotrafficker and coup supporter who met with U.S. State Department officials before and after the coup. His security forces conduct their operations in tandem with the Honduran military police, which in term receive its funding and training from (you guessed it) the U.S. government.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we give countries over to thieves.

Notwithstanding the reasons for the coup, the fact of the matter is that there was a coup in Honduras, one subsequently supported and reinforced by the United States. As Honduras experts like Dana Frank have been pointing out for the past few years, the coup regime that the U.S. government initially pretended to oppose has seen its military police strengthened thanks to increasing levels of aid and training from the U.S. government. President Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton both endorsed the election of Porfirio Lobo only months after the coup, even while much of the international community deemed it illegitimate and called for the restoration of President Zelaya.

The coup regime continues its rule over Honduras to this day in the form of Lobo’s successor, Juan Orlando Hernández. And, again, outspoken criticisms from the likes of Prof. Frank have proven invaluable in their insight, showing how the violence, corruption and impunity already endemic to Honduras before the coup were only inflamed by the coup and the regime that came to power.

Be that as it may, whereas most of the finger-pointing has been directed at gangs, the Honduran government, drug users and U.S. foreign policy, I would include yet another culprit: the American people. Yes, the American people are also at fault here—not for something they’ve done, but for something they didn’t do.

Namely, they didn’t give a damn.

For 100 years the U.S. government and its business interests have preserved their little banana republic in Honduras while the American people have hardly taken notice. When they did notice, it was to mock Honduras’ political prostration, dipping so low as to name a clothing store after it. Even now you can Google the term “banana republic” and the first thing you’re confronted with are ads for polos and chinos instead of discussions on U.S. imperialism in Latin America.

Most Americans were glued to their TVs, computers and smartphones in late June 2009, though few people knew about the concurrent coup in Honduras, much less had an opinion. It wasn’t the death of democracy in Honduras they were concerned about then, but the death of a beloved singer.

The international community condemned the coup and called for Zelaya’s reinstatement, while most Americans were completely oblivious to the travesty of justice occurring 1400 miles south of the border, allowing the U.S. government to continue its tacit support of the coup.

The international community refused to legitimate the elections that brought to power a political rival of the deposed president, while the American people were focused on a golfer’s extramarital activities, allowing the U.S. government to endorse the presidency of Porfirio Lobo Sosa, whose administration subsequently committed all sorts of human rights atrocities in the name of fighting narcos.

Under the banner of the war on drugs, the U.S. government has increased military aid and training in Honduras in the years since the coup, providing hundreds of millions of dollars to a regime known to use death squads and attack defenseless campesinos, LGBT rights supporters, child advocates, political opponents and other critics of the regime. All the while the American people never paid Honduras any mind, which ensured that the U.S. government would never be held accountable for any of it.

To their credit, some members of Congress have voiced their concern over what’s happening in Honduras, even before 13,000 Honduran children seeking asylum showed up at the Rio Grande.

Still, it’s clear that the current refugee crisis was made possible only by the complete and willful ignorance of the American people. I say “willful” because most Americans have purposefully avoided learning anything about Central America, much less Honduras. The military coup came and went, and most Americans viewed it as they do disturbances in Sub-Saharan Africa — being of no importance or consequence to the United States and its way of life.

That’s how much of American foreign policy operates: out of sight, out of mind.

Now that conditions in Honduras have placed the country directly in sight of most Americans, suddenly everyone’s deeply concerned, wondering why and how. Now every newspaper and talk show is decrying the tragedy that is Honduras.

Which brings me to the last issue that needs to be cleared up.

Take it from the son and grandson of Honduran immigrants, the people of Honduras are not “backward.” That’s not why their government is evil, why violent gangs control their neighborhoods, and why women and children are fleeing by the tens of thousands. If Honduras seems “backward,” it’s only because it’s been kept back by the U.S. government and U.S. business interests, which have overthrown the sovereign will of the Honduran people whenever promising reforms were on the horizon.

Between the U.S. government, the American people and the Honduran government, I place the least amount of blame on the “thugocrats” in Tegucigalpa, because as the coup and the United States’ increased aid and training have shown, the Honduran government is only capable of doing what the U.S. government allows it to do.

And the U.S. government is only capable of doing what the American people allow it to do. If not, then the current state of democracy in the United States is no better than it is in Honduras.

But if the U.S. government is still answerable to the American people, then shame on them for looking the other way while their government subverted democracy in Honduras for so long.

And shame on them if they even consider turning their backs now on the children they’ve left nationless.

Chicago Area Dollar Tree Customers Can Donate School Supplies for Military Children

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on Chicago Area Dollar Tree Customers Can Donate School Supplies for Military Children

CHICAGO, IL – Operation Homefront and Dollar Tree, Inc. have joined forces again this pre-school season to gather school supplies for military children across the country. The supplies can be purchased starting today by customers at any of the more than 130 Dollar Tree and Deals stores in and around Chicago and placed in collection boxes in each store.

The Back-to-School Brigade™ program is a nationwide campaign by Operation Homefront and Dollar Tree.  This is the sixth year that Dollar Tree has partnered with Operation Homefront for the program.  Last year, Dollar Tree patrons donated more than $4.7 million of supplies nationwide.

“For the last six years, Dollar Tree and its customers have been our partners in getting military kids ready to go back to school,” said Darcy Clardy, Executive Director of Operation Homefront Central Midwest. “These donated school supplies enhance the morale and the success of our military children, while easing the burden military families carry.  These families deal with deployments and the other stresses of military life, and Operation Homefront serves lower- and mid-grade enlisted, the lowest-paid of our service members.”

“Dollar Tree is a proud, national sponsor of Operation Homefront,” said Chelle Davis, Dollar Tree spokesperson. “We are honored to once again participate in the Back-to-School Brigade TM and thank our customers for their continued generosity and support.”

Dollar Tree stores will collect supplies July 7 – August 14. Participating stores include the locations at Wally Ottawa Plaza, Romeoville Center, and Rolling Meadows Shopping Center. Once the program ends, Operation Homefront volunteers will collect and distribute the gifts to military children during the back-to-school season in August and September. Log on to OperationHomefront.net for more details on how to contribute.

About Dollar Tree: Dollar Tree, a Fortune 500 Company, is the nation’s leading operator of discount variety stores selling everything for $1 or less. The Company operates more than 5,000 stores across 48 states and 5 Canadian Provinces. To learn more about the Company, visit http://www.DollarTree.com.

About Operation Homefront: A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.

Dance Center Opens 41st Season With BalletX Contemporary Ballet Co. Performs Sept. 18-20

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on Dance Center Opens 41st Season With BalletX Contemporary Ballet Co. Performs Sept. 18-20

CHICAGO—The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago presents the Chicago debut of Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company BalletX as the opening performance series of its 2014–15 season. Performances are September 18–20, 2014 at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Co-directed by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, the 10-member company performs two works by Joshua L. Peugh: Slump, a wild, aggressive dance about courtship and the instinctual rituals of mating, featuring Korean dance steps and set to Klezmer, jazz and mambo music, and Valentine’s Day, a pas de deux commissioned by BalletX that deals with the ideas of giving and receiving, romance and obligation, support and struggle, inspired by the simplicity and purity of Japanese animation. Jodie Gates’ Delicate Balance, lauded by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “a dreamscape of motion,” is a physically and emotionally powerful piece that highlights the athleticism and artistry of the BalletX dancers, set to Arvo Pärt, Henryk Gorecki, Gavin Byers, David Lang and Max Richter. Named a “Dance Favorite for 2013” by the New York Times, Neenan’s The Last Glass is a ballet that slowly awakens like a city, part mysterious pageant and part raucous celebration, featuring the wild street-parade sound of American indie-rock band Beirut.

Residency Activities
A post-performance conversation with the artists takes place Thursday, September 18, and a pre-performance talk with Matthew Neenan takes place Friday, September 19 at 7 p.m. Both events are free to ticket holders. Neenan also will participate in The Dance Center’s FREE DanceMakers series, which features contemporary dance artists offering insight into their choreographic process, Monday, September 15, 6:30–8:30 p.m. at the American Rhythm Center, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave. 3rd floor, Chicago. Preregistration is required.

Founded in 2005, BalletX, Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet, unites distinguished choreographers with an outstanding company of world-class dancers to forge new works of athleticism, emotion and grace. Through the daring vision of its award-winning founders and artistic directors Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, BalletX challenges the boundaries of classical ballet by encouraging formal experimentation while preserving rigorous technique. The company is committed to producing new works of the highest quality and integrity that bring the combined visions of choreographers and dancers to life and cultivate in audiences a collective appetite for bold, new dance.

The Dance Center
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago is the city’s leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. The Dance Center has been named “Chicago’s Best Dance Theatre” by Chicago magazine and “Best Dance Venue” by the Chicago Reader, and Time Out Chicago cited it as “…consistently offering one of Chicago’s strongest lineups of contemporary and experimental touring dance companies.” Programs of The Dance Center are supported, in part, by Alphawood Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, New England Foundation for the Arts, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, National Performance Network (NPN) Performance Residency Program and the Arts Midwest Touring Fund. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Special thanks to Friends of The Dance Center. For information, call 312-369-8330 or visit colum.edu/dancecenter.

The Dance Center’s 2014–15 season continues with Hedwig Dances with DanzAbierta (Oct. 9–11), Rosy Simas Danse (Oct. 16–18), Beijing Dance Theater (presented by the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in association with The Dance Center at the Harris Theater Oct. 28–29), Heidi Latsky Dance (Nov. 6–8), David Roussève/REALITY (Feb. 5–7), Chicago Dance Crash (Feb. 19–21), Shantala Shivalingappa (Mar. 5–7) and Urban Bush Women (Mar. 19–21).

Ticket Information
The Dance Center presents BalletX September 18–20, Thursday–Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Single tickets are $30. All programming is subject to change. The theatre is accessible to people with disabilities. For information, call 312-369-8330 or visit colum.edu/dancecenterpresents

Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Free Pulitzer Prize Winner From Detention! Take Action – Sign the Petition

Posted by Admin On July - 23 - 2014 Comments Off on Free Pulitzer Prize Winner From Detention! Take Action – Sign the Petition
Care2 Petitionsite Action Alert
Action Alert!

Jose Antonio Vargas, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008, has been detained at a Texas airport. We must come together to demand his release now.
Please sign the petition today! Free Jose Antonio Vargas Immediately!

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When Jose Antonio Vargas was 12, his mother sent him from the Philippines to live with his grandparents in California’s Bay Area. There, Vargas thrived, becoming a “copy boy” for the San Francisco Chronicle before working his way up to eventually win a Pulitzer Prize for his work with the Washington Post. Vargas should be lauded as an example of the great ways people can succeed if they persevere. Instead, Vargas has been detained in an airport in Texas for his documentation status.

Vargas “came out” as an undocumented immigrant in a New York Times Magazine article in 2011. Since then, he’s been traveling around the country to support the millions of undocumented immigrants who struggle to find jobs or housing amid the convoluted American legal system.

And on Tuesday morning, Vargas became another victim of our country’s draconian immigration policy. Des pite flying in the past without an issue, he was put in handcuffs at an airport near a Texas border town.

Like Vargas, the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States aren’t dangerous. They’re only trying to keep their families safe and healthy, just like documented American citizens. Many, like Vargas, came to the country as adolescents; they consider the U.S. their home. Yet they continue to face prejudice, detention and deportation, as if being born in a different nation were a crime.

Vargas’ current plight symbolizes that of millions of people suffering at the hands of the government every day; he must be allowed to go free. Tell Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to release Vargas from custody immediately!

Thank you for taking action,

Kathleen J.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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