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The Alliance for Democracy
Alliance for Democracy -- Lewit/Castuera
August 14, 2008-- E-Newsletter

AfD News

  • Justice Rising blogs from major party conventions
  • Water Victory in Maine
  • Boston/Cambridge and North Bridge chapter news

Allied actions

  • Justice at last in Ohio?
  • Don't despair of the anti-war movement
  • Nuclear free August, nuclear-free future

AfD will “be the media” at National Conventions
This just in...Jim Tarbell, editor of Justice Rising will be blogging from the conventions! Jim has a press pass for AfD, so you'll be able to read his exciting, daily eyewitness reports from inside and outside the conventions online at the new JusticeRising
blog. If you're bookmarking alternative media sites to get the real story on the odds for either "change" or chicanery, make sure you add us to your list.

And watch your mailbox for the latest issue of Justice Rising with the theme: "Corporate Energy or Grassroots Power," and featuring articles by Antonia Juhasz, Ted Nace, and others. Watch for it online soon. Need extra paper copies? E-mail the office at afd@thealliancefordemocracy.org.


Water Victory in Maine
On June 25th, AfD’s Defending Water for Life in Maine campaign organized a rally in front of the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells Water Board offices to protest their scheduled vote to approve a contract for spring water with Nestlé Waters North America. The rally drew more than a hundred protesters from the three towns and from nearby towns also targeted by Nestlé. AfD’s Maine organizer, Emily Posner, led the rally and introduced speakers from the many towns.

Just last year the Water Board purchased sensitive ecological land in Wells with spring water sources to protect its local water supply. The Maine Nature Conservancy purchased adjacent land. One key parcel remained. Lo and behold Nestléproposed to pay the high price for the farm as part of a deal with the Water Board to sell millions of gallons of water to Nestlé. This is not the first time the close relationship between Nestléand the Maine Nature Conservancy has benefited Nestlé.

The plan unraveled the day of the rally as the Water Board voted to postpone its vote on the contract until the end of July. Then, with increasing protest from residents, the Board met in a special session on July 17 and voted to indefinitely postpone its decision on the contract.
Water District Superintendent Norm Labbe hopes for dialogue with residents outside of the “media circus.” Given the outspoken and commonsense response of residents to the proposal, we hope that "indefinitely" means "never."

The Defending Water for Life campaign will continue assisting these towns as they seek to assert their rights to protect their aquifers from Nestlé’s exploitation for profit.

To view media coverage, including the rally, go to the AfD e-news blog, and to learn about the Maine campaign go to theDefending Water in Maine website.


Boston/Cambridge and North Bridge Chapter news
Chapter member (and AfD office coordinator) Barbara Clancy writes:
There are no dog days for democracy in Boston, thanks to BCA and North Bridge chapter members!

First, we've started organizing for re-introduction of the Globalization Impact Bill, designed to establish a state-level advisory commission to assess the impact of trade agreements on Massachusetts laws. During the last legislative sessionthe bill went further than ever before, and in working to pass it,we made good connections with environmental and labor groups, which will help withpassage in 2009.

In the meantime, we'reworking to strengthen the bill's language by looking at similar boards in other New England states. Dave Lewit attended a June 25 meeting of New Hampshire trade activists, at which two members of that state's Citizens Trade Commission were present, and BCA member Jed Schwartz joined Dave Lewit and former State Rep. Karen O'Donnell to observe a meeting of the trade commission in Concord, New Hampshire on July 7. We're also contacting Maine fair trade activists who helped establish a similar board there.

Work continues on Boston/Cambridge Alliance's Democracy Protection Project in which citizens dialogue with local law enforcement on preserving civil rights in the face of a national emergency. The Democracy Protection toolkit is available on the New England chapters' website, www.newenglandalliance.org. Dave is starting to get a group together to talk to the Boston Police Department and we'd also like to bring the project to Cambridge. For information or to participate, e-mail afd@thealliancefordemocracy.org, or call 781-894-1179.

Dave Lewit and housing/forclosure preventionactivist Virginia Pratt appeared on Cambridge Community TV recently to discuss local democracy and the corporate role in the housing crisis. Lastly, BCA member Joanna Herlihy is putting together footage from the 2006 New England Roundtable on participatory budgeting in preparation for another roundtable, Spring 2009. Look for video online soon.


Allied Actions
Election Justice in Ohio?
Four years after the 2004 election, the case against former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell filed by the King-Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association is starting to move forward with some serious allegations as to how electronic votes were stolen to throw the state to George Bush. VelvetRevolution.us is calling for citizens to demand a Congressional investigation into

Whistleblowers have stepped forward, including computer security expert Stephen Spoonamore, who has reported on vote fixing in Georgia (you can read about it on the web at
Raw Story.) More web coverage has focused on the role played by Republican computer expert Mike Connell. In an interview with Velvet Revolution, Bob Fitrakis called Connell "a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important--2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress--he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in." (A transcription of the interview is available on the BradBlog, here.

More recently, Cliff has said that there are credible threats that Karl Rove will engineer lobby law violation charges against Connell's wife unless Connell "takes the fall" for irregularities in Ohio. Cliff has asked for federal and state protection for the Connells "from this reported attempt to intimidate a witness." Read more on the
BradBlog and ePluribus Media, and listen to Cliff, Brad, and radio host Peter B. Collins discuss the case and what's next here.

VelvetRevolution.us is asking that people contact their members of Congress to demand an investigation into attacks on Democratic candidates, funded by corporate money channeled through web-based front groups, the misuse of the Justice Department to prosecute opposition candidates, and the use of web-based networks to alter election results. Lots of great information is available at their site, here.


Speaking Out – the anti-war movement makes a difference!
The anti-war movement may be stronger than it thinks it is, says Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Writing in Alternet, Weisbrot notes the grassroots reaction to H. Con. Res. 362, a bill introduced in May that all but called for a blockade of Iran-an act of war. In June, "this bill was zipping through Congress" and on target to appear on the House Suspension Calendar, which would allow the House to pass it without amendments, debate, or procedural votes.

But peace groups, writes Weisbrot, "sprang into action, including Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, the National Iranian-American Council, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Code Pink, and Just Foreign Policy to generate tens of thousands of emails, letters, phone calls, and other contacts with members of Congress and their staff." Some co-sponsors withdrew their support, including Barney Frank (D-MA) and Robert Wexler, (D-FL). Some mainstream media editorialized against the resolution as well. End result: speaking out, in determined numbers, has worked-so far. As Weisbrot notes, "a dangerous piece of legislation, primed to pass through the House without debate, stopped in its tracks by an anti-war movement. And some Members of Congress are going to be a bit more careful about doing things that could move the country down the road to another war."

Read the full editoral
here.


This month: nuclear-free month, nuclear-free future
As we mark the anniversary of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we urge you to join with United for Peace and Justice to make August "Nuclear-Free Future Month." The Alliance for Democracy is a member organization of UFPJ.

The specter of nuclear weapons in the hands of "rogue" states has become one of the top U.S. excuses for waging war, yet the US continues to rely on the threatened first use of nuclear weapons as the cornerstone of its national security policy. We must raise awareness about the ever-increasing threat from nuclear weapons.

We must also raise the alarm about the dangers of proliferation and environmental pollution posed by the global nuclear power "renaissance,” that former AfD Council Member Dorothy Boberg writes about in “No More Nuclear Power” in the most recent Justice Rising.

These issues have to be put in front of voters in the presidential and congressional elections. For information, ideas for actions, resources, and listings of planned activities, please see
www.nuclearfreefuture.org


There's more on the e-News blog!
In a theatre near you! Stealing America: Vote by Vote
Schedule for screenings nationwide of this important film about vote theft
Atlantica: Myths and Realities A short video summary of what the Atlantica section of the Security and Prosperity Partnership means for New England and Maritime Canada's local economies.

And on Afd-headlines.blogspot.com...
Heads up on a bad bill--
NYT editorializes against Feinstein-Bennett
The Rove CyberGate campaign
Ecuador recognizes rights of nature


As a member or supporter of the Alliance for Democracy, you'll receive a monthly e-mail newsletter to update you on our work and alert you to ways you can act to support it. We will also send you periodic "Action Alerts" that pertain to our campaigns and those of allied groups.
If you'd like to unsubscribe from our e-mail newsletter or the Action Alerts, please reply to this e-mail with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line. Thanks for your ongoing interest and support of the Alliance!

The Alliance for Democracy
PO Box 540115, Waltham, MA 02454
781-894-1179 * www.thealliancefordemocracy.org


The Alliance for Democracy
July 3, 2008-- E-Newsletter

Chapter and National News

  • From Maine to Washington State, Defending Water for Life
  • Indiana Chapter co-sponsors rights-based ordinance workshop with Tom Linzey
  • Portland chapter builds “Defending Water” website, endorses national popular vote
  • San Fernando Valley Chapter members take part in Los Angeles Social Forum
  • Maine Citizens Trade Policy Commission discusses SPP
  • Ruth Caplan talks with Ann Coiro about "David and Goliath" organizing
  • Keep the grassroots growing!

News from our Allies

  • Steal this strip, and watch this movie!
  • A nudge for single-payer healthcare bill


From Maine to Washington State, the Defending Water for Life Campaign heats up
Summer is just starting, but in the Northeast and Northwest, the water wars are already coming to a boil.

The Alliance’s “Defending Water for Life in Maine” campaign has been holding Nestlé at bay in several communities. In south coastal Maine, the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport/ Wells Water District has been considering Nestlé’s proposal to buy water out of a local protected aquifer. Public opposition has been building, with a well-attended public meeting in late June, followed a few days later by a rally outside the water district offices when the Trustees were scheduled to vote on the contract.

The rally drew 100 people, and speakers came from other towns fighting Nestlé. The Lehrer News Hour covered the event and interviewed Emily Posner, our organizer, for future broadcast. The Trustees, feeling the heat, voted to postpone their vote to the end of July and to give the public a chance to speak at a public hearing before the vote. Now the communities are organizing to keep the contract from being signed.

The campaign has also been working with citizens in Shapleigh who are organizing to pass a moratorium on water withdrawals to keep Nestlé at bay.

The
Defending Water in Maine website is a terrific resource to learn more about the fight to keep Maine’s water out of corporate hands. You can watch a video of recent meetings and learn more about what’s going on across the state. There are talking points for letter-writers, background on Nestlé’s ethical track record, links to video of recent public meetings and media coverage, and audio of an interview with campaign coordinator Emily Posner on public radio station WERU-FM.

Meanwhile, in the far northwest, in Enumclaw, Washington, City Council member Liz Reynolds worked with Sierra Club’s Cascade Chapter to oppose Nestlé’s efforts to establish a water bottling plant there. Cascade Chapter Conservation Committee leader Rebecca Wolfe (who is also coordinator for AfD’s Seattle Chapter), and Water & Salmon Committee leader Elaine Packard, also responded with support. AfD’s Defending Water for Life campaign chair Ruth Caplan and Alliance Co-chair Nancy Price, who is western states coordinator for the campaign, supplied Liz with good advice and suggestions. Rebecca writes:

Liz was the only one of the seven members who understood the risks of allowing Nestlé to “dip a toe” in Enumclaw’s municipal water supply. By organizing local opposition and with support from AfD and Sierra Club members, she was able to get a vote of “No More Meetings with Nestlé” at the June 23 City Council meeting.

This situation and the involvement of AfD members, in cooperation with Sierra Club members, demonstrates exactly what Co-chair Lou Hammann has written about how we, as activists all across the nation, in AfD and other pro-democracy, pro-environment organizations are making a significant impact even when it seems that our local groups are not being very active. We carry the name of “The Alliance for Democracy” with us in all of our activism. We share “Justice Rising” and other excellent publications about our AfD issues. We are thriving in very real, very immediate ways so that the Alliance for Democracy is very much alive wherever we are doing the important work to “disrupt and disable” corporate abuse.

For her part, Liz says she can't take credit for getting Nestlé out of Enumclaw. She researched Nestlé’s record and asked the public to do the same and come to their own conclusions. “The citizens made their own minds up and spoke and I listened and supported them. The citizens made it very clear how they felt,” she wrote in an e-mail. She’s made a formal request that all documents in regard to Nestlé’s attempt to buy into Enumclaw’s water be publicly disclosed.


Indiana Chapter co-sponsors rights-based ordinance workshop with Tom Linzey
On May 1, the Indiana AfD Chapter co-sponsored a day-long workshop on “Rebuilding Democracy,” with speaker Tom Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The workshop explored the implications of a “rights of nature” ordinance, reframing the problem of pollution and unwanted development from a regulatory matter to an issue of democracy. The workshop closed with a brainstorming session to begin the strategic process for action, focusing on issues in Indiana and what participants can do about them. Other event co-sponsors were Sustainable Earth, Earth Charter Indiana and NUVO Newsweekly.


Portland Chapter builds “Defending Water” website; endorses national popular vote
The AfD Portland Chapter's Defending Water for Life in Oregon website is up. Oregonians are facing down water privatization and resource extraction in Butte Falls and the Tualatin Valley. Visit the site to learn more about these state hotspots, as well as what's happening elsewhere in the northwest region. You can also sign up for campaign updates, learn more about the environmental costs of bottled water, and follow links to co-campaigners on water protection in the US and Canada. David Delk is working on a Defending Water for Life in California so that the about to be printed California Water Tabloid can be posted there with the full map stories and other information and links.

And the Chapter is also working to build support for a national popular vote that would bypass the Electoral College. David Delk writes:

The Electoral College (EC) is a dinosaur left over from the founding of our nation. But because of the difficulty of using the constitutional amendment process, it continues to exist. But several years ago a plan was developed called the National Popular Vote, which assures that the presidential candidate with the largest popular vote is elected president. Had the National Popular vote been in place in 2000, there would have been no Florida recount, no constitutional crisis, and no Supreme Court pick of a winner, since nationally Gore had a clear advantage of over a half million votes over George Bush. But because most states have a winner-take-all system of delegating their electoral college votes, the votes in Florida counted more than Gore’s national majority.

Watch the Portland website for more information on the chapter’s endorsement of the National Popular vote or go to www.nationalpopularvote.org .


San Fernando Valley Chapter members take part in Los Angeles Social Forum
Several members of the San Fernando Valley Chapter will be tabling for single-payer health care and campaign finance reform at this weekend’s Los Angeles Social Forum. The LA Social forum will bring Southern California activists together to share power, plans, and perspectives on peace and social justice work, with over 70 workshops, films and performances.


Maine Citizens Trade Policy Commission discusses SPP
“Atlantica,” the eastern Canada and Northeastern US section of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, came under discussion recently at a meeting of the Maine Citizens Trade Policy Commission, which Bonnie Preston, national council member, attended. She reports that the commission was very interested in both Atlantic and the broader SPP agenda. The trade commission assesses the impact of international trade policies and agreements on Maine’s laws, business environment and working conditions.

Speaking in favor of the Atlantica development program was Brian Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. Leo Broderick, of Council of Canadians, offered the perspective of several groups, including AfD, who see both Atlantica and the SPP as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable. Broderick gave the context of Atlantica in global trade terms and pointed out, among other things, that Crowley completely ignored the emerging crises of global climate change and peak oil. Broderick also linked Atlantica to the larger Security and Prosperity Partnership.

Bonnie noted that part of the SPP program on transportation—a super-highway into the US from a deepwater port in Halifax—is getting press attention in Maine. A highway that would cut east-west across the northern part of the state is not a new idea, but this recent proposal would be privately constructed, and be financed by multinationals.


Ruth Caplan talks with Ann Coiro about "David and Goliath" organizing
How do local organizations take on deep-pocket corporations and win? Ruth Caplan shared her perspectives on organizing Thursday on "The Green Show" on San Francisco's KKGN AM 960. She talked with host Angie Coiro about the need to go beyond the single issue or the single regulation to demand that the rights of communities and nature are protected first. She said she was inspired by the fact that the people who are stepping forward in these fights aren't "your normal progressive activists." They're often from "rural, conservative Republican communities who simply say 'wait a minute, we do not want corporations to come in and tell us what we can and can't do.”

Ruth appears about halfway through the Thursday' 6/19 podcast, along with tenant organizer Dean Preston and environmentalist Christina Wong.


Keep the grassroots growing!
It takes a lot to grow a national progressive populist movement--starting with you! First, if you recently renewed your Alliance membership or made an extra appeal contribution, thank you! But if you haven't, now's the time to support our work. Send a contribution to Alliance for Democracy, PO Box 540115, Waltham, MA 02454, or contribute
online.

Even in these tight times we've been gratified by the enthusiasm and loyalty of our members, both long-time and new. They know we're in a long fight to loosen the grip that multinationals have on our democracy. But we're in it 'till the job's done--join us!


News from our Allies
"Steal this Strip", and watch this movie!
Get ready to steal the election--back! Journalist Greg Palast and artist Ted Rall have joined forces on what Greg calls "hard-edged investigative journalism—in 'toon form." Download the comic "Vote Theft for Idiots—Part 1" at Greg’s website, and share it with friends, family, and current and future voters.

And pencil in a little film viewing for your July 4th weekend: Free For All, a new and comic look at vote theft in Ohio, will be up on the web for viewing and download at www.freeforall.tv . Greg Palast says “it's funny as hell - oddly, democracy's death can tickle your funny bone.”

We hope reports of democracy’s death have been exaggerated! If not, with enough determination we can bring it back to life. Share the film and see what folks in your area say. Meanwhile, the trailer is on our blog, or if you’re lucky you may be able to catch a free screening - see the Palast website for details.


A nudge for single-payer healthcare bill
It has been a long slog for HR 676, authored by Rep. John Conyers, the US National Health Insurance Act to establish a single-payer universal health care system similar to those enjoyed by 28 industrial nations, many of whom have higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality, and spend less on health care than we do in the US.

But some California officials are standing up to insurance companies and supporting this bill. A new website established by the Los Angeles city attorney allows people to submit complaints for future litigation against health insurance corporations. And San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recently signed a resolution supporting the U.S. National Health Insurance Act and requesting the House of Representatives to being hearings immediately on the bill.

At the Courage Campaign, an on-line organizing hub for Californians, CA State Senator Sheila Kuehl and the California Nurses Association have developed a short, chilling ad, which has aired in Los Angeles, San Francisco and in the media—you can see it here.


As a member or supporter of the Alliance for Democracy, you'll receive a monthly e-mail newsletter to update you on our work and alert you to ways you can act to support it. We will also send you periodic "Action Alerts" that pertain to our campaigns and those of allied groups.