02 May 2013

Practical Progress: Jailed for Praying, Starving for Justice 2MAI13

PRACTICAL PROGRESS e mail newsletter from the Agenda Project covering campaign finance reform, the hunger strike at Gitmo, closing Gitmo, gop / tea-bagger obstructionism of judicial nominees in the Senate, voter suppression laws, gun control, women in politics and financial reform and regulation of the bank-financial cabal....

PRACTICAL PROGRESS: The Agenda Project Action Fund's actually 'brief' briefing on the most Important News from the Progressive Movement.
SCARLET LETTER – On Monday, Americans for Financial Reform, Campaign Legal Center, CREW, Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, and Public Citizen sent the President a powerful letter, calling on him to step up and reform the "scandalous campaign finance system," including the "dysfunctional" FEC. The letter urges the President to exercise his executive authority to nominate individuals who are committed to properly enforcing the laws to the FEC and other agencies dealing with campaign activities.
STARVING FOR JUSTICE – Reacting to a mass hunger strike led by 100+ starving detainees, the President renewed his promise on Tuesday to shut down Guantánamo Bay’s prison - a promise he has failed to keep due to legislative flack piling up from his first term. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero has advised: “There are two things the president should do. One is to appoint a senior point person so that the administration's Guantánamo closure policy is directed by the White House and not by Pentagon bureaucrats. The president can also order the secretary of defense to start certifying for transfer detainees who have been cleared, which is more than half the Guantánamo population"(ACLU cited by NYT ed-board).
Human Rights First's Daphne Eviatar: “It’s disappointing that it has taken the president so long to finally acknowledge the crisis that’s been going on at Gitmo and that reflects the increasing desperation of the detainees there. But it’s wonderful that he’s finally talking about it, reaffirming that the prison needs to be shut down, and promising to do everything in his power to make that happen.  Now we just have to hold him to those promises.”
FACTS: Gitmo has 166 detained prisoners. 86 prisoners have been approved by the administration to return home. So far, none of them have returned home. (HRF
READ: Gitmo is Killing Me by detained prisoner Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel (NYT) & Obama can close Guantanamo by Human Rights First's Daphne Eviatar (Reuters)

HUFFPO EXPOSÉ  Why Are Senate Republicans Blocking Judicial Nominations? "It's Disingenious..." Jen Bendery Finds Process "Gummed Up" UsingAlliance for Justice's Data.
JAILED FOR PRAYING -- North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber was handcuffed and led to jail with 16 civil rights leaders, ministers, and students on Monday night for singing and praying in the state capital in protest of recent Republican legislation. The state has rejected funding to expand Medicaid to half a million North Carolinians without health insurance, cut the payroll tax credit for 900,000 poor and working people, and is on the brink of passing a package of extreme voter suppression laws. These voting laws include a $2,500 tax penalty on parents of college students to be levied if students vote in a precinct that is not in their home residence and a strict photo-ID law at the polls, which cleared in the state House last week.
"They are pursuing a cruel, unusual and unconstitutional agenda reminiscent of the Old South policy agenda of the white Southern strategy," said Rev. Barber. The protestors were charged with second degree trespassing for singing and praying too much in the state capital, failure to disperse, and carrying placards in the General Assembly. See video footage; click here and here for pictures.
The prayer protest was organized and led by NC NAACP, and supported by a coalition of state groups and national organizations like Advancement Project.                               
READ: Advancement Project's one-pager on states trying to pass voter-suppression laws in 2013.
ECONOMIC FOOTNOTES – A new fact-sheet from Citizens For Tax Justice shows the President's proposal to cap itemized deductions for the wealthy at 28 cents to the dollar would lead to tax increases next year for only 3.6% of Americans at roughly less than 1% of their incomes (or $5,950). Percentage of Americans whose taxes would increase under this proposal state-by-state: DC 8.9%, NY 5.1%, CA 5.1%, MA 5.7%, TX 3.6%.
MADAM PRESIDENT – EMILY's List, the 2M member PAC dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women candidates, will mobilize its energy and resources in battleground states to build a new voter base committed to electing the first female President in 2016. EMILY’s List announced today it will begin targeting efforts in IA, NV, and NH. A new poll commissioned by EMILY’s List found that 72% of battleground voters believe a woman will win the next presidential election. Watch: Madam President.
MEGA-BANKS, MEGA-DEAL – Today, former Chief Economist of the IMF and Top Wonk Simon Johnson slays the Davis Polk critique of Brown-Vitter. On substance, David Polk is "completely wrong."
Simon Johnson Tells Us Why Brown-Vitter Matters: "Brown-Vitter has changed the terms of the debate on financial reform. We are finally discussing the importance of much higher levels of equity financing for banks. Naturally, bank executives like the current arrangement - in which they get the upside when things go well and the downside is someone else's problem (i.e., yours). They are generating high levels of systemic risk pollution because they are allowed to operate with such high debt levels. The Federal Reserve must act to rein in this irresponsible excess. Brown-Vitter pushed the Fed in exactly the right direction - and with perfect timing."
 The Progressive Movement celebrates the President's recent decision to dump acting Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Ed DeMarco and nominate Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) as his official replacement. 
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