December 9, 2014
2014 National Vigil for All Gun Violence Victim
When: December 11, 2014 from 3:00-4:30PM
Where: Washington National Cathedral: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
Register here: Attend Event
The Newtown Foundation, in partnership with the Washington National Cathedral, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence will host the 2014 National Vigil for All Gun Violence Victims. Between December 2012 (the Sandy Hook tragedy) and December 2014, more than 60,000 Americans have died from gun violence. Please join families of victims of gun violence and special guests in honoring all Americans affected by gun violence.
November 12, 2014
“Democracy Day” Holiday
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont shares our frustration with the lowest voter turnout since World War II. He has reason to call our dismal turnout an “international embarrassment.” The United States ranks 120th in the world in percentage of registered voters who actually bother to show up on Election Day! (“Voter Turnout Rates from a Comparative Perspective” by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance).
In hopes it will drive up voter participation by making it easier to participate in the political process, Sen. Sanders has announced he will introduce legislation to make Election Day a national holiday so that everyone will have the opportunity to vote. In making this announcement, he said “We should not be satisfied with a ‘democracy’ in which more than 60 percent of our people don’t vote and some 80 percent of young people and low-income Americans fail to vote. We can and must do better than that.”
Sen. Sanders concedes that if enacted, this action may not be a “cure-all,” as we still need to address other components of low turnout such as voter suppression and campaign finance reform. However, he believes it would represent an important step forward as we attempt to strengthen our democracy. The lead editorial in yesterday’s New York Times (11-12-14) provided one of the best reasons to lend support to Sen. Sanders in this endeavor: “Showing up at the polls is the best way to counter the oversized influence of wealthy special interests, who dominate politics as never before.”
We members of the Public Policy and Political Action Committee have signed on. Won’t you? A strong voter turnout is fundamental to our democracy!
Stand with Bernie! Stand up for Democracy!
Sign his petition here to establish a “Democracy Day” Holiday
March 7, 2014
Keystone XL Pipeline
A message from Alice Day in response to many positive comments received from concerned members:
“Thank you so much for this reply to the WNDC Action Alert. The best thing for individuals to do right now today is to call Secretary Kerry at the State Department and tell him that you think that the Keystone XL pipeline would be a disaster for our nation. After the public comment period is over, that is midnight today, actually, the Sierra Club and Bill McKibben’s organization, 350.org, are planning to organize many protests at venues where President Obama will be speaking. These, of course, often involve a lot of waiting around outside until the President’s car whizzes by, but I do think it’s effective to keep up the visual protests. Then, a big one you can do is divest any securities you may have in fossil fuel industries. Link and I have done this with ours.
These are all small steps, but each one is important in its own right.
Below, I’ve attached a link from the League of Conservation Voters, firstname.lastname@example.org that will give you direct access to submitting a comment.
Chair Environment & Energy Task Force
March 4, 2014
Keystone XL Pipeline Is a “Climate and Humanitarian Disaster”—WNDC Tells State Department
Below is the text of public comments recently submitted by WNDC to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Energy Resources on the proposal by Trans-Canada to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.
We believe that the Keystone XL pipeline is NOT in the U.S. national interest for the following reasons:
First, the pipeline does not pass this simple test: Does its completion bring us closer to achieving the U.S. climate goals? The answer is clearly NO. The pipeline would contribute substantially to carbon pollution. It is estimated that it would add the equivalent of an additional 6 million cars on the road to the annual greenhouse gas emissions. A new report from environmental groups shows that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be responsible for at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants.
Clearly, if approved, the Keystone tar sands pipeline will impede rather than promote the U.S. long-term goal of making the vital transition from a fossil fuel- based energy system to a system based on clean, sustainable energy, driven by renewable resources, e.g., wind turbines and solar panels.
Second, approval of the Trans-Canadian proposal will call into question the seriousness of President Obama‘s pledge not to allow the Keystone to be built if it would “significantly exacerbate carbon pollution.” If the President is serious about his Climate Action plan to establish an emissions target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, the carbon pollution levels attributed to the Keystone pipeline will pose a formidable obstacle to achieving this goal.
Third, the scale of the Keystone proposal, which is projected to carry 800,000 gallons of dirty tar sands oil per day, make the pipeline vulnerable to environment-destroying leaks and health-damaging pollution of air, water, and land. These risks, combined with the fact that the oil will be shipped overseas and that the number of jobs that would be created over the long run is minimal, makes the project inimical to U.S. national interests.
A final key point: America is already on track to moving into a system of reduced dependence on fossil-fuel energy. It does not need an expansion of Canadian tar sands oil development, especially when the climate and human costs are so high. It is already cutting down on its oil use with high-efficiency cars and trucks and the adoption of other efficiency measures such as hybrid vehicles and fully electric cars. Our national interest lies in the maintenance of the health of American families, the health of their children, the integrity of their lands, and the protection of our natural resources from despoliation by unregulated industries.
The Keystone XL is not in our national interest: it is a climate and humanitarian disaster. It is time to move forward on climate. Mr. President, Reject Keystone XL.
Anna Fierst and Anne Martin, Co-Presidents
Nuchhi Currier, Vice President for Public Policy and Public Affairs
Alice Day, PhD, Chair, Environment & Energy Task Force
February 26, 2014
Florida Special Election March 11th for GOP Rep Bill Young’s Seat
ACT NOW TO HELP DEMS PICK UP THIS SEAT WITH ALEX SINK!
Democrats have a real chance to pick up this 13th congressional district seat, vacated by the death of GOP Rep. Bill Young. Former Florida Chief Financial Officer and Democrat Alex Sink almost became Governor in Florida back in 2010, losing by one percentage point to Republican Rick Scott. Her Republican opponent David Jolly served as Young’s general counsel and then went on to lobby in 2007.
As related in our most recent Candidate Watch, Politico Newspaper ran a story on February 13th about both parties wanting “bragging rights heading into the November midterm election.” The article notes vulnerabilities on both sides: Jolly’s tenure as a Washington lobbyist and apparently through records dug up by Democrats, he did some work for a client who favors privatizing Social Security – not a popular subject in this district. Sink, on the other hand, is being called a “carpetbagger” by Jolly because she lived in a neighboring country and only recently moved to the district. The Koch Brothers and other right-wing groups are, of course, spending millions here, and the NRCC yesterday released a brand new ad, which attacks Sink this way: “David Jolly: Cut spending, stop Obamacare. Alex Sink: More spending, defend Obamacare,” an announcer says in the 30-secont spot. “She’s fighting for them, not for us.”
This race is rated Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Please contact your friends in Florida’s 13th! (According to Wikipedia, Florida’s 13th congressional district was reassigned in 2012, effective January 2013, to just Pinellas County and includes an area from Dunedin to western and northern St. Petersburg.)
Help Alex Sink win with a donation or by volunteering. Click here.
February 19, 2014
Jordan Davis’ Skilling and Angrymen Packing Heat
The verdict this weekend in the Jordan Davis/Michael Dunn trial rendered me angry as Hell. No, I was incensed. No, actually “choleric” is a more appropriate adjective. Online dictionaries define “choleric” as “quickly aroused to anger” or “easily moved to often unreasonable or excessive anger.” (this article from Daily Kos helped fuel such anger on my part) I don’t feel that my anger was misplaced and certainly not unreasonable, given the chronology of events as I understand them. But you see, my anger – perceived unreasonable or not — cannot physically harm anyone, because I don’t own a firearm and cannot legally carry one in public in the District of Columbia.
I have listened to all the talking heads and their guests railing against Florida’s broadly-written self- defense laws with a strong “Stand Your Ground” component. Thank you very much, NRA and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for this fine gift to what – 26 states now? Yes, it’s a dumb and dangerous law in terms of public safety and deserves to be repealed. Dumber still, however, is the easy access to guns in these states. In Florida, as gun ownership increases, so do gun murders – up 38% in the most recent data, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “Concealed carry permits and the state’s so-called ‘stand your ground’ law also have emboldened more people to carry firearms, leading to more opportunities for gun murders, “says the Department in a 2013 article on the website of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
Certainly I do believe that from a public policy standpoint, there is a linkage between “Stand Your Ground” and racial bias. I mean, seriously, you basically have a right to shoot to kill because you deem someone to be a “thug” and a threat because of rap music or considered a threat because a person wears a “hoodie” and carries Skittles candy? The most recent case in Florida involves an angry “choleric” man who killed another man because he didn’t like that the victim was “texting” with his young daughter during the trailers before the start of a movie at a cinema. But this time, the murder victim was not an African-American. His name was Chad Wayne Oulson, who from his photos looks as if he could be from Scandinavian decent, and was just on a date with his wife. He was killed because an angry man packing heat didn’t like him texting. Wow!
In all three cases, there were three angry men packing heat in a state where one can easily own a firearm. Under Florida law, when residents don’t like someone or something someone is doing, they can by law shoot first, make up the “feared for my life” story later. Floridians seem to be okay with this “Stand Your Ground Law,” but as a tourist, I am not. My husband and I are traveling to Cuba in March. We had planned a three-day relaxation at a resort in St. Petersburg, Florida afterwards to relax in the sun and visit the Chuhuly and Salvador Dali Museums. We have just cancelled those reservations in protest of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground law”. After all, as Democrats, we could be considered a “threat” to an angry man with a gun. I am choleric about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but I don’t own a gun, and in Florida, angry men do. This action to cancel our resort reservations, of course, won’t matter to the Florida tourism industry. But it matters to me.
Take Action here.
Shelly Livingston, Chair, WNDC Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Gun Violence
“Keystone Pipeline XL: Whittling Away at Democracy”
The New York Times report, “Silencing Scientists” (9/22/13, p. 10) and Robert Reich’s new film, “Inequality for All,” make it increasingly clear that even more is at stake in the Keystone XL Pipeline decision than the sustainability of the environment as a healthy habitat for human and natural life. This project is also a challenge for our democratic values.
The NY Times has revealed that Canada’s plan to use American farmlands, plains, and forests to build a pipeline system to ship toxic bitumen oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast is very unpopular even with many Canadians. A major reason is that in its feverish effort to mine the earth and oceans with little regard for the environment, the Canadian government is stifling freedom of speech and assembly. The project is being rammed through by Stephen Harper, the country’s Conservative Party Prime Minister, who is suppressing scientific discussion and restricting the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries, and the Alberta tar sands.
On Amy Goodman’s show Democracy Now (10/24/13), Tzeporah Berman, a leading Canadian environmental activist and the former co-director of Greenpeace International’s Climate Unit., said that Harper’s tactics of muzzling scientists speaking out on global warming, closing down scientific organizations, and rapidly dismantling environmental laws, were “corroding Canadian democracy.” Reports the NY Times, “There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.”
But what has this to do with democracy in America? “To all the other kinds of pollution the tar sands will yield,” according to the NY Times, “we must now add another: the degradation of vital streams of research and information.” When freedom of speech and assembly are suppressed, as Robert Reich documents in ”Inequality for All,” the yawning gap between rich and poor is further widened. If President Obama gives Canada permission to go ahead, the USA will be patently endorsing the Canadian model of monitoring and restricting the flow of scientific information and free interchange of ideas.
Meanwhile, who is defending the rights of American property owners and indigenous people whose lands lie in the path of the pipeline? The oil carried in the pipeline is intended for export: it is not being built for US consumption. This is yet another corporate plan to enrich a few at the expense of the less powerful who have nothing to gain from Canada’s rush to remove from the earth its huge cache of carbon emitting fossil fuels.
Call the White House, write or e-mail President Obama, urging him do not taint our democratic values by partnering with Canada on this pipeline.
Alice Day, Chair Environment & Energy Task Force