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NationAction

Your Guide to Meaningful Action

Spread the Word: The Hyde Amendment Must Be Repealed

Today marks thirty-seven years since the passage of the Hyde Amendment, the law banning federal Medicaid coverage for abortion. The legislation has particularly dire consequences for poor women by effectively eliminating coverage of abortion under Medicaid in all but fifteen states. Without insurance, abortions can cost an average of $451 in the first trimester, and some can cost more than $3,000.

Reproductive justice advocates recently launched a new campaign to fight abortion coverage bans: All* Above All: United to Restore and Sustain Abortion Coverage for Low-Income Women. The activists will fight to protect policies in states that do provide vital Medicaid coverage for abortion as well as push for the nationwide repeal of the Hyde Amendment.

TO DO

Write to your local newspapers to spread the word about the new fight for expanded abortion access and the need to repeal the Hyde Amendment. Use our talking points or write your own. Then, if you can, support the National Network of Abortion Funds

TO READ

On the thirty-seventh anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, Stephanie Poggi of the National Network of Abortion Funds and the *All Above All campaign describes the new coalition of abortion rights and reproductive justice groups poised to fight attacks on coverage of abortion and, ultimately, overturn Hyde. 

TO WATCH

In this new video, members of the National Network of Abortion Funds explain why they fight for abortion access.

Demand the United States Military Prioritize Civilian Lives

This October marks twelve years since the invasion of Afghanistan. While many Americans can cite the more than 2,200 Americans killed and the billions of dollars spent on that war, even those who are vociferously antiwar often fail to discuss, or even comprehend, its catastrophic effects on Afghan civilians. In part to remedy this collective ignorance, The Nation created an interactive database detailing Afghan civilian deaths by United States and coalition forces. As the project documents, the United States military has often been inadequate to the task of accounting for the lives lost in its armed conflicts.

Currently, the Department of Defense does not have an office dedicated to tracking and reducing civilian casualties. As a result, lessons often fail to become institutionalized and the military risks repeating its mistakes. As Robert Dreyfuss and Nick Turse write, “The American people, the media, academia and think tanks all have a role to play in demanding that, in any future wars, the United States place the highest priority on avoiding civilian casualties and, if they occur, on being accountable and making amends.”

TO DO

Someday we may live in a world where war and militarization are rare, but, until then, we must demand the protection of innocent life when conflicts happen. Sign our open letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asking him to implement a permanent office at the Pentagon dedicated to monitoring and preventing civilian casualties.

TO READ

In their introduction to The Nation’s special issue on Afghan civilian casualties, Nick Turse and Robert Dreyfuss detail the difficulties of gauging the true toll of the war on Afghan civilians.

TO WATCH

In a video for Foreign Affairs, Center for Civilian Casualties Executive Director Sarah Holewinski describes the challenges facing organizations who advocate for civilians in war zones.

Obama Administration Announces Expanded Labor Protections for Homecare Workers

A homecare worker
A homecare worker in Miami Florida (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Nearly two years after promising to make the change, the Obama administration announced today that it will extend minimum wage and overtime protections to the nation’s homecare workers. The workers, most of them women, were previously not covered due to the “companionship exemption” in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new protections will take effect in January of 2015.

Activists have been pushing for the change for quite some time. As Bryce Covert has pointed out, an expansion of the FLSA was even included among the demands of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In the fifty years since the march, homecare work has become one of the fastest growing fields in the country, while remaining one of its lowest paid. Homecare workers make an average of $9.70 an hour and nearly 40 percent rely on Medicaid or food stamps.

Beginning in March of this year, Nation readers joined the growing call for President Obama to fulfill his promise with an open letter that garnered many hundreds of signatures. One reader, a homecare worker herself, listed the demands of her job: “I have provided physical rehabilitation care, wound care, emotional and psychological care (counseling/listening) for families and their loved ones,” she wrote, “I have provided Hospice care, pet care, plant care, personal care, yard care and I could list much more.”

While the changes will greatly expand the protections offered homecare workers, there is still much to be done to improve the lives of domestic workers more broadly. Andrea Mercado, the Campaign Director for NDWA, pointed out over email that, while the changes are important and “long overdue,” they “do not solve all of the issues that domestic workers face.” The NDWA and other organizations will continue to push for more labor protections for domestic workers through Domestic Workers Bill of Rights legislation passed on the state level.

Nation readers have also joined that campaign, sending nearly 900 letters to their state legislators asking for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in their state. New York and Hawaii have already passed versions of the law and a bill in California was recently passed by the legislator and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. If your state hasn’t gotten on board yet, take a minute to join the campaign. And if you live in California, call Governor Jerry Brown at 916-445-2841 and demand that he sign AB241 to expand labor protections for California’s domestic workers.

California State Senate Passes a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

A domestic worker
(Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

California could soon become the third state to implement a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, ensuring that the state’s domestic workers are entitled to labor protections that many take for granted. The State Senate voted yesterday to pass AB 241, which guarantees overtime protections for workers such as housekeepers, childcare providers and caregivers for people with disabilities and the elderly. Last September, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a previous version of the legislation.

Groups such as the California Domestic Workers Coalition and the National Domestic Workers Alliance responded to the veto last year by intensifying their push for the law with demonstrations on the capitol, phone-ins and a “Drive for Dignity” from San Diego to Sacramento. Across the country, New York and Hawaii have already passed similar protections, and efforts are underway for states such as Massachusetts and Illinois to follow suit.

Since we launched an action this past May, Nation readers have sent over 800 e-mails to their state legislators asking them to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in their state. If your state hasn’t caught on yet, be sure to take a minute to join the campaign. And if you’re in California, call Governor Jerry Brown’s office at 916-445-2841 and demand that he sign AB 241.

Help Prevent Military Intervention in Syria

After pressure from Congress and a skeptical public, President Obama announced that he would ask for congressional authorization before launching an attack on Syria in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. It’s now up to Congress to weigh the many humanitarian and practical arguments against such an attack and to rise to the moral challenge of the moment.

TO DO

According to polls, a plurality of Americans oppose striking Syria even if there is definitive evidence that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Now it is time for democracy to work. Contact your senators and representatives and demand they vote “no” to war with Syria.

TO READ

This new Nation editorial outlines both the practical and humanitarian reasons to oppose US airstrikes in response to the horrific chemical weapons attack.

TO WATCH

During yesterday’s Senate hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted the administration has irrefutable evidence proving the Assad regime was responsible for the deadly chemical attack in late August. But questions remain over key parts of the administration’s case for military action, as this Democracy Now! conversation makes clear.

Tell President Obama to Break Up the Old Boys' Club at the Fed

Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Bank, speaks at the Economic Club of New York (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

If appointed, Janet Yellen would be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve. Her detractors claim she lacks the “gravitas” for the job and hint that the markets will become skittish upon her appointment. On the contrary, she would bring a much-needed perspective to a position too often filled by a tight circle of elite men who subscribe to the prevailing wisdom that crashed our economy. While Larry Summers, another top contender for the job, has yet to express regret for his support of the deregulation that ruined our economy, Yellen sounded the alarm about the housing crisis before many were willing to entertain the idea. Moreover, a recent report by The Wall Street Journal revealed that she was the most accurate forecaster in all of the Fed.

TO DO

Sign our open letter to President Obama and tell him to break up the old boys’ club and appoint Janet Yellen head of the Federal Reserve.

TO READ

The Nation’s William Grieder argues that President Obama should “impose a glass ceiling on the old boys who got it wrong” and choose Yellen over Summers.

TO WATCH

On All In with Chris Hayes, Hayes breaks down the crucial differences between Janet Yellen and Larry Summers, and explains what the pick means for the American economy.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Despite Changes, Advocates for Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military Continue to Fight for Reform

Marine Ariana Kay
Marine Ariana Klay, who brought a lawsuit against the US Military after she was raped. (The Invisible War).

On August 15, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced an array of new initiatives intended to combat sexual assault in the military. While victim advocates welcomed the reforms, they stressed that they fail to fully address one of their key complaints: that the current system of prosecuting sexual assault within the chain of command leaves victims fearful of retaliation and reluctant to report crimes.

In a memo to staff, the defense secretary directed each branch of the military to create a legal advocacy program for victims, standardized prohibitions on inappropriate relations between recruiters and recruits, ensured that pretrial hearings are conducted by military lawyers and provided commanders with the option to reassign or transfer the accused (previous rules allowed commanders to transfer the victim). The secretary also said that he would meet with a panel tasked with assessing the current systems used to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate crimes.

Protect Our Defenders, an organization dedicated to fighting for justice for victims of sexual assault in the military, applauded the new legal advocacy program in each branch, but stressed that, ultimately, the changes amounted to “small tweaks to a broken system.”

The organization has joined the Service Women’s Action Network in calling for the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), a bill introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that would remove responsibility for prosecuting sexual assault outside of the military chain of command.

Senator Gillibrand herself said that while the changes were a positive step forward, more was needed. “As we have heard over and over again from the victims and the top military leadership themselves,” she said,” there is a lack of trust in the system that has a chilling effect on reporting. Three-hundred and two prosecutions out of an estimated 26,000 cases just isn’t good enough under any metric.”

Since we launched a campaign earlier this summer, Nation readers have sent nearly 1,000 messages to Congress in support of MJIA. To keep up the pressure, head to our activism page and implore your representatives to fight for real change for victims of sexual assault in the military.

New York City Council: Pass the Community Safety Act


In this July 18, 2012 photo, a woman and children walk past a street mural depicting individual rights during a stop-and-frisk in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

At first glance, the NYPD’s reliance on stop-and-frisk appears on its last legs. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled the practice unconstitutional and New York City mayoral candidates are suddenly eager to condemn it. But the Community Safety Act, an initiative that would ban discriminatory profiling by the NYPD and establish oversight over of the department, is still languishing after Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the legislation last spring. The mayor, who has vehemently defended the NYPD’s practice of targeting communities of color, continues to use his considerable power to defeat the law.

TO DO

The New York City Council is expected to hold an override vote on the Community Safety Act this month. If you live in New York City, join The Nation in calling on the council to pass this vital piece of legislation, then take a minute to call your councilmember to make sure they know where you stand. No matter where you live, you can spread the word in social media with the hashtag #CommunitySafetyAct and lend your support to Communities United for Police Reform.

TO READ

The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith sums up Mayor Bloomberg’s response to the stop-and-frisk ruling: “Bloomberg and Kelly denied that stop-and-frisk is racist, but then claimed it wasn’t racist enough, and now want everyone to believe that even if it is racist it doesn’t matter because it works.”

TO WATCH

In a footnote to her decision, Judge Scheindlin referred to an investigative documentary video produced by The Nation last year. The video, which includes the only known recording of a stop by a civilian, centers on Alvin Cruz, who was verbally harassed during a 2011 stop in Harlem.

Moral Mondays, Tuition Fairness and Stopping Summers


A woman is arrested as protesters rally during "Moral Monday" demonstrations at the General Assembly in Raleigh, North Carolina, Monday, July 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Over the last several months, The Nation has launched numerous political campaigns in support of issues central to our reporting. We periodically post updates on past campaigns to keep up the momentum and to give our readers more opportunities to make a difference.

Moral Mondays
This month, we decided to try something different and a bit more positive by encouraging readers to thank the activists behind Moral Mondays in North Carolina. Facing a Republican-led state government determined to implement a radical right-wing agenda, members of the North Carolina NAACP and a host of other progressive organizations have been staging weekly protests outside the state capitol building. We launched our letter to help generate national awareness and support for the campaign and have so far collected nearly 3,000 names as well as numerous critically needed donations and pledges of volunteer time and in-kind contributions. Join the call!

Pay It Forward
We followed Katrina vanden Heuvel’s post lauding Oregon’s new, creative solution to the student loan debt crisis with an action asking readers to contact their state senators and representatives to urge them to consider the state’s “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” plan. One of our readers has since informed us that, after sending the letter and adding to it that he had expertise on the issue, he was contacted by his state representative to set up a meeting to discuss the idea. Spread the word!

Stop Summers
Ahead of the national debate on the potential appointment of Larry Summers to head the Federal Reserve, William Greider was one of the first writers to denounce the idea and we quickly followed up with a petition to the president asking him to please not appoint Summers, who was key in implementing the deregulation policies that led to the financial crisis. With more than 6,000 signatures and counting, the petition is contributing to a major national groundswell opposing the appointment. Add your voice to the chorus!

Going forward, we are working on partnerships with other progressive organizations to develop more impactful actions, as well as exploring ways to keep participants in our actions updated so they can become more engaged. Nation readers and rabble rousers are encouraged to e-mail sarah@thenation.com with their own activism ideas and to visit thenation.com/activism and follow @NationAction on Twitter for information on upcoming campaigns.

Stop Larry Summers

Rumors are circulating that President Obama is planning to appoint Larry Summers to replace Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve. This would be a terrible mistake. In the 1990s, Summers led the effort to stop Brooksley Born from regulating derivatives, precisely the financial instruments that magnified the housing bubble and accelerated the financial collapse. While Treasury secretary he pushed Congress to eliminate Glass-Steagall’s firewall between commercial and investment banks and he oversaw passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which banned all regulation of derivatives.

Janet Yellen, the vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington and the other rumored front-runner, would be a much better choice. She’s a strong voice for job creation and assertions that she lacks the “toughness” or “gravitas” for the job reveal more about the sexism of her critics than they do about the deeply experienced economist.

TO DO

If our economy is ever going to truly recover, we must move forward, not back. Join The Nation in asking President Obama not to appoint Larry Summers head of the Federal Reserve.

TO READ

As William Greider writes, by appointing Summers, the president would be “rewarding the same guys who got things disastrously wrong for the country—the Clinton-Rubin policy makers who danced to Wall Street’s tune of financial deregulation and collaborated with the Greenspan Fed and Wall Street to gut prudential regulation like the Glass-Steagall Act.”

TO WATCH

In this interview with Sam Seder, David Dayen explains how Larry Summers has positioned himself to become the next Fed chair and why his appointment would be such a big mistake.

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