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Your Guide to Meaningful Action

Keep a Reporter Out of Jail

The New York Times building

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has joined The Nation, RootsAction, the Center for Media and Democracy, FAIR, The Progressive and the Freedom of the Press Foundation to support James Risen, a reporter who has refused to divulge information about a confidential source.

The US government is insisting that Risen testify against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who was accused of illegally leaking classified information that appeared in Risen’s book. Risen has said repeatedly that he won’t capitulate, a stance that could land him in jail. After all, as Ellsberg said, “without protecting confidentiality, investigative journalism required for accountability and democracy will wither and disappear.”

The campaign is urgent. Just last month, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court not to take up Risen’s plea to hear his case and affirm a reporter’s privilege against testifying in criminal cases. Risen appealed to the High Court after a federal appeals court panel ruled against his effort last year.

TO DO

Join Ellsberg, The Nation and a host of other organizations committed to protecting press freedom in calling on President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to halt all legal action against Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.

TO READ

Josh Gerstein at Politico reports on the Obama administration’s recent decision to urge the Supreme Court not to take up Risen’s case.

TO WATCH

Last year, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! covered the Committee to Protect Journalists’s first report on press freedom in the United States. The report asserts that officials are “reluctant to discuss even unclassified information…because they fear that leak investigations and government surveillance make it more difficult for reporters to protect them as sources.”

Bad Apple Campaign Takes Its Message to the Technology Giant’s Doorstep

Green Apple protest

Protesters from Green America and China Labor Watch

Earlier this month, The Nation joined Green America and China Labor Watch to call on Apple to stop exposing workers at its supplier factories to deadly chemicals. Over 16,000 people have joined the campaign, hundreds of media outlets have covered it and the technology giant has even responded, although it hasn’t adequately addressed activists’ demands. To make that happen, there’s still work to done and, this afternoon, Green America ramped up the pressure with a demonstration at Apple’s “cube” store located near Central Park in New York City. The store is a popular tourist destination and is one of Apple’s most profitable locations, grossing around $350 million per year.

As we pointed out at the beginning of the campaign, 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 often do not 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. The ramifications are serious; exposure to dangerous chemicals can lead to cancer, leukemia, nerve damage, liver and kidney failure, and reproductive health issues, depending on the chemical and level of exposure.

There’s some precedent for Apple responding to similar campaigns. In 2012, Greenpeace hosted an action to call attention to Apple’s wasteful energy practices. One year later, the company announced a plan to use 100 percent renewable energy at its data centers.

With millions of people working in their supplier network, another positive change from Apple could make a big difference. If you haven’t already, be sure to join The Nation and Green America in calling on Apple to rid its supplier factories of dangerous chemicals.

We Must Protect Net Neutrality

A net neutrality protest

(Courtesy: Flickr user Steve Rhodes, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Federal Communications Commission announced this week that it will propose new rules that would allow companies to pay Internet service providers (ISP) for faster lanes to deliver their content to customers. That means that large corporations like Disney or Netflix could pay to have their content delivered more quickly, while small start-ups or anyone without lavish funding would be stuck with slow or low-quality service.

The rule change would be devastating for net neutrality, the principle that ISPs should treat all content on the Internet equally and that users should have equal access to all legal content.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court struck down rules the FCC implemented in 2010 to protect net neutrality on the grounds that the agency classifies broadband providers as information service providers and not telecommunications service providers, which can be regulated more strictly. As John Nichols points out, it is well within the FCC’s power to reclassify internet access as a telecommunications service and to reassert its authority to protect net neutrality.

TO DO

Don’t stand by while the internet is transformed into a pay-to-play service. Contact FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and tell him that we need a free and open internet. Then, check out the work of Free Press, a national media reform organizations that has been at the forefront of championing net neutrality.

TO READ

FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler was appointed by President Obama late last year. As John Nichols points out, Wheeler should take to heart the words of candidate Obama when he “‘got’ that net neutrality represented an Internet-age equivalent of the First Amendment.”

TO WATCH

Activists across the country have been working tirelessly to protect the free and open internet. Back in January, Free Press galvanized a coalition of organizations which delivered one million signatures to the FCC demanding net neutrality.

Concerned About Climate Change? Take Action to Stop Cove Point

Activists speak out against Cove Point

Activists speak out against Cove Point. (Robert Meyers)

You’ve heard of Keystone XL but have you heard of Cove Point? While it hasn’t garnered the same amount of attention as the infamous pipeline, the proposed $3.8 billion liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility would do serious damage to the local environment and could put the United States on the path to massively increasing our greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed Cove Point export facility in southern Maryland just fifty miles from the White House would turn natural gas into a liquid to be sent overseas. Much of that natural gas would be obtained through fracking, giving companies a huge incentive to expand the dangerous practice. Furthermore, while natural gas has been sold as a clean alternative to coal, the facility at Cove Point would trigger more planet-heating pollution than all seven of Maryland’s coal plants combined. Finally, while its proponents no doubt want to paint Cove Point as a potential boon for the economy, only the gas industry stands to profit; a recent study commissioned by the Department of Energy found that exporting US gas would raise the price here at home by as much as 27 percent.

According to the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if we’re to limit global warming to just 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels (a level that avoids climate catastrophe, according to scientists), about two-thirds of the earth’s remaining fossil fuels need to stay underground. In the struggle to mitigate the effects of climate change, Cove Point would take us backwards. We need to move forward.

TO DO

Activists at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) are working tirelessly to make sure that the Cove Point facility never comes to pass and that Maryland instead embraces clean energy alternatives. Join The Nation and CCAN in calling on President Obama to reverse course on his support of LNG exports.

TO READ

The Nation’s Mark Hertsgaard explains the significance of Cove Point to the larger climate movement and why the liquid natural gas facility is shaping up to be “the next flash point between Obama’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy and the growing grassroots movement to stop global warming.”

TO WATCH

In a video, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network breaks down the dangers posed to the climate if Cove Point is built and highlights the hard work of activists fighting to make sure that never happens.

As Deportations Continue to Tear Families Apart, Tell President Obama to Act

Youth from United We Dream call for an end to deportations

Youth from United We Dream call for an end to deportations. (AP Photo/Valerie Fernandez)

Each day, an estimated 1,100 undocumented immigrants are deported, leaving spouses, siblings and even children behind. The policy has devastating effects on families; between 2010 and 2012, 200,000 parents of US-born children were deported. As a result, at least 5,000 children are in foster care. Although President Obama has claimed to focus deportation efforts on serious criminals, a New York Times study released this April found that two-thirds of the 3.2 million people deported over ten years had committed only minor infractions, such as a traffic violation.

Now, activists are fighting back. Immigrants’ rights advocates have staged a hunger strike outside the White House and have been calling attention to the individual stories of the families who have been separated.

TO DO

While Congress drags its feet, President Obama could make a real difference in the lives of millions of immigrants and their families. Sign our open letter with Daily Kos calling on the president to listen to immigrants’ rights activists and use executive actions to end mass deportations.

TO READ

As The Nation’s editors point out, executive action by the president could spur reform by galvanizing electoral support from immigrant communities and by driving a wedge between mainstream Republicans supportive of reform and anti-immigrant hardliners.

TO WATCH

Activists from the Not1More Deportation campaign organized by the National Day Laborers Organizing Network explain why they decided to join the White House hunger strike: “Mr. President, we have come to your front door because your agents have come to ours.”  

The McCutcheon Decision Is Disastrous—Here's How You Can Fight Back

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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.

TO DO

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.

TO READ

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.

TO WATCH

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.

 

Why You Should Call Apple Today

An Apple store in Beijing

A policeman looks out from a balcony as the crowd is dispersed from the front of an Apple store in the Beijing district of Sanlitun. (Reuters/David Gray)

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.

TO DO

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.

TO READ

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.

TO WATCH

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. 

Move the Money Out of the Military

The Pentagon

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, DC (Reuters/Jason Reed)

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.

TO DO

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.

TO READ

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.

TO WATCH

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.

Demand a Senate Investigation Into America’s Secret Government

The CIA

(Reuters/Larry Downing)

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.

TO DO

Join The Nation and Daily Kos in calling on Congress to launch an independent investigation into America’s secret government.

TO READ

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.”

TO WATCH

Last week, Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr. went on HuffPost Live to discuss his article and his call for a new Church Committee.

Tell Apple to Protect Its Workers From Dangerous Chemicals

Workers make electronic parts in a factory in Sichuan province

A supervisor inspects as employees make electronic parts at a factory in Suining, Sichuan province. (Reuters/stringer)

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.

TO DO

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.

TO READ

Head to Green America’s “Bad Apple” campaign site to learn more about the use of toxic chemicals in the electronics industry.

TO WATCH

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.

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