Posted 9 months ago on Aug. 9, 2012, 4:52 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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The Voter ID Struggle in Pennsylvania: Losing ID Is About Losing More Than The Right to Vote
Thursday, 09 August 2012 12:43 By Hannah Jane Sassaman, RH Reality Check | Op-Ed
We're taking up a collection at my office, here at the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia, PA, for some of our radio producers and campaigners.
For six years, we've believed that the right to speak means little without the right to be heard--and hundreds of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania residents have agreed with us. We're poor and working people producing media that tells the untold stories of people in Pennsylvania--and developing those people into leaders united to change our city and state. We're a tight crew, so when folks are having trouble, we come together to help each other out. One young man, Marco (not his real name), is a producer at Radio Unidad, Philadelphia's only Spanish-language community news show. Andres and Paulita (not their real names) are leaders in another immigrant rights campaign that's been meeting since January. Even though they work hard, support families, and in many cases own homes and pay taxes--the state has unceremoniously cancelled their drivers' licenses, saying that the Tax ID numbers they used to get their licenses aren't proof enough of their right to live in the US. But they have families to support, and work to do. So they get in their cars and drive-- hoping for the best. But they were stopped by the police, and charged fines of several hundred, up to a thousand dollars, for driving without licenses. They need to drive to work, to pay those fees. And they might get stopped again, and again--and their hard-earned money will go to filling the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's coffers. And that's what gets me. As Charlene Carruthers said in her powerful piece on the relationship between voter suppression and reproductive rights, the current fight to make sure that thousands of Pennsylvanians without ID get to vote is important--vital--to making sure that our communities get to the polls to make important decisions on the direction of our state and country. Recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of State, processed and analyzed by the labor federation AFL-CIO, shows that 20 percent of Pennsylvania voters--and 43 percent of Philadelphia voters--might not possess ID valid enough to get them into the voting booth. But we need to understand two things.
First – when states take away ID from poor and working folks, or limit poor and working people's access to getting ID in the first place – those people lose far more than their right to vote. They often lose their right to work, to bank without exorbitant fees, to get benefits for which they and their family qualify, and, as noted, to drive even though they've passed a drivers' test. They become even more invisible in our society, and state governments and corporations profit off of their struggle to meet their and their families' daily needs.
And second, when the state limits access to ID and access to society unless you have a valid ID, it also takes away the rights of multiple communities, in many locations in the state, from many different kinds of people who need ID for different reasons. When the electorate is divided--immigrants from citizens, poor from near and new poor, working class from middle class--everyone loses. In order to change that reality, we need to do more than re-empower folks without ID to get their chance to vote... though that matters. First, we need to frame the voter ID fight as one that unites everyone who has lost access to the tools necessary to build a dignified life--no matter where they live and who they are. We need to do the hard movement-building work of uniting poor and working people across rural and urban, race, and origin lines so Pennsylvanians are powerful enough to never lose their right to vote again.
Time to Rebel! Five Ways We Can Break the Big Banks' Death Grip on the Economy
Thursday, 09 August 2012 14:04 By Stephen Lerner, AlterNet | Op-Ed
Wall Street’s incredible greed and arrogance may have finally handed us the tools and leverage we need. Let’s be honest. Many people are feeling a little hopeless and cynical about whether anything can change how Wall Street banks run roughshod over the economy and our democracy. We’ve marched, rallied, sat-in and thousands have been arrested--and yet bankers have remained unrepentant, unpunished, unindicted and seemingly untouchable. But the wheels of history are turning and Wall Street’s incredible greed and arrogance may have finally handed us the tools and leverage we need to challenge and break the death grip Wall Street has on struggling people and communities around the country. Two critical tools--the LIBOR fraud scandal and the potential to start exercising eminent domain to seize bank-owned properties--can supercharge the ongoing campaigns focused on Wall Street. For the first time we can align moral and legal arguments with real leverage to demand that banks renegotiate the debt that is bankrupting communities and drowning homeowners around the country. The single most important step we can take to address local budget deficits is to force banks to renegotiate toxic deals held by local government and to rewrite mortgages for underwater homeowners. Combined, this would pump hundreds of billions into local economies.
World War II: The Good War Gone Bad
Thursday, 09 August 2012 11:37 By H Patricia Hynes, Truthout | News Analysis
This is the first article in an irregularly appearing series, "Listening to Soldiers and Vets," featuring the voices of soldiers and veterans from armed conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries, voices whose clarity and moral fiber were forged in the crucible of war.
So long as we resort to war to settle differences between nations, so long will we have to endure the horrors, the barbarities and excesses that war brings. -British Air Marshall Sir Robert Saundby on the Allied bombing of Dresden
In January 2012, the White House and the Department of Defense released a pithy, strategic policy document, "Sustaining US Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense." Like all predecessor defense policies since World War II, its raison d'etre is maintaining American global supremacy through military superiority. And its premise: "Everybody else must be weaker," to sustain US national security. Cold wars and hot wars since World War II have turned us into a self-appointed global cop, notes Army veteran and international policy specialist Andrew Bacevich. As for statecraft, he adds, "Washington has become an intellectual dead zone."
The seeds of American militarism spawned by the Second World War compel us to probe beneath the "good war" moniker because it is the poster war that keeps war acceptable in our society. In this piece, the soldiers' and veterans' voices are unique in being few - it was our most popular war, critics are rare and in from voices of highly educated veterans and high-level military commanders.
America's Syrian Jihad: An Old War in New Clothes
Thursday, 09 August 2012 13:41 By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Truthout | News Analysis
The situation in Syria continues to spiral out of control. Bashar al-Assad's forces, including tanks and helicopter gunships, supported by Russia and Iran, are currently amassed around the city of Aleppo, where Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels have fought an eleven-day offensive leading 200,000 civilians to flee their homes - with both sides claiming they are winning the battle.
What began on 15, March 2011, with public demonstrations which rapidly accelerated into a national uprising, has now become an armed insurgency complete with suicide bombings - provoked by Assad's ruthless efforts to stamp out peaceful protests. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that over 19,000 have been killed so far, while between one and 1.5 million people have been internally displaced.
While the White House has ruled out a direct military intervention, a presidential "finding" - a highly classified, secret directive authorizing greater covert assistance for the rebels - came to light late last week as Obama administration officials spoke openly about a post-Assad Syria. "We are in the early stages of contemplating an Assad aftermath," said one senior US official. The New York Times reported that the US is "increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down" Assad's regime. The US administration is "in talks with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse," including "regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities." US diplomats are also meeting "various Syrian opposition groups outside the country to help map out a possible post-Assad government."