Your Guide to Meaningful Action
In a case some have called "Citizens United 2.0," the Supreme Court ruled today to strike down caps on the total amount a donor can give to political candidates, parties and political action committees. The case, McCutcheon v FEC, involved a coal tycoon who argued that the laws limiting individual donations to polticial candidates and parties to $123,200 total over two years violated his first amendment rights. Now, wealthy donors can give more than $3.5 million over that same time period. Citizens United allowed Big Business to spend literally as much as it wants. But Citizens United money can go only to outside groups. McCutcheon removes meaningful limits on the total amount an individual can directly contribute to candidates, political parties and political committees.
The good news is that people are fighting back. Public Citizen, Demos, MoveOn and a host of other organizations have organized rapid response demonstrations across the country to protest today's ruling. The demonstrations come in the wake of a growing movement for a “Democracy Is For People” amendment to end unlimited and undisclosed corporate financing of American elections and enable the government to regulate spending by individuals. The amendment would effectively reverse much of the damage of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and help to mitigate the worst excesses of the McCutcheon decision.
Sixteen states and hundreds of cities and towns across the country have already demanded that Congress act to end the ever-growing influx of big money into politics. Join the movement and ask your senators and representative to support the "Democracy Is For People" amendment. Then, if you have the time, head to Money Out/Voters In and find a rapid response protest near you.
Citizens United and McCutcheon aren't the only Supreme Court rulings that are bad for our democracy. As Ari Berman points out, while the court has given the rich more power over our government, they've simultaneously made it more difficult for every day people to even cast a vote.
Back in October, Slate's Emily Bazelon went on The Colbert Report to break down the dangers of the Supreme Court ruling the way it did today.
Last month, The Nation joined Green America and China Labor Watch in calling on Apple to take the lead in protecting its workers from dangerous chemicals. As we pointed out, there are hundreds of chemicals routinely used in electronics manufacturing, some of which are known carcinogens and reproductive toxins and some of which have not been tested. Factory workers do not often receive adequate training or protective gear for handling toxic substances. Electronics manufacturers, including Apple, do not disclose the chemicals used in their supplier factories, making oversight and improvement difficult.
Tens of thousands of people have supported the cause by sending a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and over 300 media outlets have covered the campaign. Today we're ramping up the pressure with a national day of action. To participate, call Apple at 408-996-1010 and demand they take the lead and protect factory workers from toxic chemicals. You can also head to Green America's website for more details on what to tell Apple when you call.
Shortly after the campaign launched, Apple responded in a statement to Computerworld, stating that it was a leader in ridding toxic chemicals from products and that its suppliers were required to match or exceed US safety regulations (the article incorrectly stated that the campaign was calling for a boycott). In response, Elizabeth O'Connell of Green America and Kevin Slaten of China Labor Watch pointed out that Apple still has not disclosed the list of chemicals used at its supplier factories, that its new training program does not guarantee that workers will be trained (only management) and that Apple must take responsibility for workers already made sick.
In the short film Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics, documentary filmmaker Heather White tells the stories of workers in China who struggle for recognition after discovering that they have been poisoned by toxic chemicals at their jobs.
Despite a lot of hype about cuts to the military budget, the Pentagon has used war budgets and slush funds to avoid most cuts, while every other government program has faced the axe. As a result, the percentage of discretionary spending going to militarism, across multiple departments, is on the rise. It now stands at 57 percent.
The sequester imposes minimal cuts on the military, but members of Congress are maneuvering to undo those cuts and replace them with increases. Similar efforts are not underway on behalf of education, environmental protection, foreign aid, or any other non-destructive program.
Join The Nation, RootsAction, WESPAC Foundation, Know Drones and PJC-Sonoma in calling on Congress to keep military spending at sequester level or lower and to invest the additional savings in human and environmental needs.
At TomDispatch.com, Mattea Kramer of the National Priorities Project broke down the ways in which the United States military managed to avoid the dramatic cuts the sequester imposed on scores of other public programs.
This fall, the National Priorities Project released a video to highlight their campaign to “take back the federal budget” and make it work for all of us.
Senator Dianne Feinstein’s allegations that the CIA spied on a Senate investigation of torture under the Bush administration raise serious questions regarding the separation of powers and Congress’s ability to monitor US intelligence agencies. These allegations are only the latest in a series of revelations demonstrating the need for a full accounting of the abuses of our intelligence agencies.
In 1975, a Senate select committee known as the Church Committee uncovered CIA plans to assassinate foreign leaders and FBI spying on peace and civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. Recently, Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., the chief counsel for the Church Committee and recent recipient of the Ridenhour Courage Prize, took to the pages of The Nation to call for a “new Church Committee,” one that would serve as “a new nonpartisan, fact-based and comprehensive investigation of our secret government.”
Last week, Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr. went on HuffPost Live to discuss his article and his call for a new Church Committee.
Seventy-five percent of the world’s population owns a cell phone, billions of which are made in China. As the demand for cheaper consumer electronics grows, workers are paying the price.
There are hundreds of chemicals that are routinely used in electronics manufacturing processes in China—some are known carcinogens and reproductive toxins, and others are largely untested. Manufacturers do not readily disclose the chemicals they use and factories do not typically provide adequate training or protective gear. Workers exposed to these dangerous chemicals can develop cancer, leukemia, nerve damage, liver and kidney failure, and reproductive health issues, depending on the chemical and level of exposure.
Join The Nation and Green America in calling on industry leader Apple to commit to eliminating benzene, n-hexane and other harmful chemicals from its supply chain. With millions of people working in its supplier factories in China, Apple’s leadership on this issue could make a big difference.
Head to Green America’s “Bad Apple” campaign site to learn more about the use of toxic chemicals in the electronics industry.
In the short film Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics, documentary filmmaker Heather White tells the stories of workers in China who struggle for recognition and compensation after discovering that they have been poisoned by toxic chemicals at their jobs.
In October, the Obama administration nominated Ted Mitchell, the chief executive of the NewSchools Venture Fund, to become under secretary of the Department of Education. While the nomination has flown largely under the radar, the choice represents a sign that the administration is favoring greater privatization of public education.
As Lee Fang pointed out last December, Mitchell’s connections to for-profit colleges and the movement toward privatization raise real questions about his commitment to public education. On top of his work with the NewSchools Venture Fund, Mitchell has connections to powerful education corporation Pearson and to Salmon River Capital, a venture capital firm that helped found the for-profit college Capella University. Furthermore, until he stepped down to prepare for his confirmation process, he was on the advisory board of Students Matter, the organization funding a legal challenge to teacher tenure in California.
Over at City Watch LA, Gary Cohn detailed the concerns advocates for public education have over Mitchell’s nomination.
Last spring, Education historian Diane Ravitch spoke at Occupy the Department of Education about the dangers of privatization and the Department of Education’s failure to stand up to corporations profiting off our education system.
President Obama has denounced Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, calling it a “breach of international law.” Russia’s actions deserve criticism but, as a new campaign from RootsAction points out, the United States is hardly beyond reproach. Despite protestations from around the globe, our government routinely violates international law with drone strikes and missile attacks in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Sign RootsAction’s petition calling on President Obama to end the United States’s own violations of international law.
In her column for the Washington Post, Katrina vanden Heuvel calls for a sane, common sense approach to the crisis in Ukraine.
On CNN’s Amanpour this week, vanden Heuvel reiterated her call for diplomacy and for “some sober perspective” from politicians in the Unites States, Russia and Ukraine.
Comcast recently announced plans to buy Time Warner Cable. If the merger is approved, the country’s two largest cable providers would become one powerful behemoth that would control a massive share of our TV and Internet-access markets.
John Nichols summed up the danger of the merger:
Merging the two largest cable providers is a big deal in and of itself—allowing one company to become a definitional player in major media markets across the country—but this goes far beyond cable. By expanding its dominance of video and Internet communications into what the Los Angeles Times describes as a “juggernaut” with 30 million subscribers, the company that already controls Universal Studios can drive hard bargains with content providers. It can also define the scope and character of news and public-service programming in dozens of states and hundreds of major cities—including Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, DC.
The merger would be bad for consumers, bad for our free press and bad for democracy. Tell FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that he must stop the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger.
In her column for The Washington Post, Katrina vanden Heuvel explained why the proposed merger “doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Earlier this week, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! interviewed former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who discussed the dangers of the deal, saying that it “should be dead on arrival.”
After Jessica Valenti reported that TED Talks had featured no talks on abortion, and that they believed it did not fit into “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights,” TED staff responded by saying that the quote was taken out of context and that they “welcome talks and conversations on abortion as a social justice issue.”
Valenti has pointed out that she was quoting directly from a TED staffer and posted a screen grab of their email exchange. Even more importantly, it is undisputed fact that TED has never hosted a talk on abortion and that it has yet to commit to doing so.
There are countless brilliant writers and activists TED could invite to speak about abortion. Use their online form to suggest your favorite reproductive justice speakers. You can also join a robust online discussion using the hashtag #AbortionTEDTalks
The issue of self-described feminist institutions avoiding “controversial” issues goes beyond TEDWomen and TED Talks. Jessica Valenti reports on the rise of feminist “empowerment elites” and what their popularity means for feminist movements.
Along with The Nation, NARAL Pro-Choice America was at the forefront of holding TED accountable. Watch its President Ilyse Hogue debate Live Action’s Lisa Rose on CNN’s Crossfire.
On Tuesday, February 11, more than 5,000 websites are participating in “The Day We Fight Back ,”a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA’s mass spying. The day is also intended to honor activist and technologist Aaron Swartz and to mark the two-year anniversary of the mass online protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act.
The coalition is asking Americans to support the USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan effort to rein in the worst abuses of the NSA. The bill would end the bulk collection of Americans’ records, allow communications providers to disclose the number of surveillance orders they receive, mandate the government publish how many people are subject to surveillance orders and make public significant FISA court opinions.
To truly end the NSA’s out-of-control surveillance and abuse of power, we need real reform. Write to your representative and senators now and tell them to support the USA Freedom Act. To amplify your voice, call the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 or tweet using the hashtag #StoptheNSA. Then head to TheDayWeFightBack.org to find out more about today’s coalition.
In the inaugaral article at First Look media, Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal that the NSA is using analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, to locate targets for lethal drone strikes—and that as a result, innocent people have died.
This video by The Day We Fight Back celebrates the life of Aaron Swartz and the causes, including the fight against mass surveillance, that he fought for.