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Dear Xenophobes,

    This letter is for you; you who have a bumper sticker that reads, “Welcome to America, now either speak English or leave.”, or you who makes prejudice remarks to your coworkers after talking to a foreigner on the phone. Or maybe you just want to keep all immigrants out in order to keep American culture “pure”. Well, let me tell you a couple things about being American and living as an immigrant in another country.

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It seems to have worked out just perfectly that my first year in France is an American election year. I came with the intention to understand the culture of France and advance my level of French but what has been the most interesting part is learning about French culture and simultaneously critiquing and comparing it with our own systems in the States.

One thing that has really stood out is the interest that France takes in American politics. Whereas in the United States, we tend to take little to no interest in international politics unless we feel threatened by someone who came into power. And even then, it's usually only the most politically informed who seem to know about international politics with any sort of depth. I'm sure we could all take a lesson from that, because we aren't the only one's living on this planet.

Another plus, not only do the French seem more often politically and internationally informed, according to a recent study done by BBC, France is the country with the highest support for Obama. However, by living here, that fact is pretty clear.

An easy way to depict this is by showing some of the numerous magazines that feature articles about the upcoming election.

Here are a few examples that I love:

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"Obama's America"; the cover of the most well known magazine series in France. They published this magazine with a full, detailed description of current state of the United States and the context and implications of this in the upcoming election.

linsaissiablemittromney

This is one of the articles in the same magazine that reads, "The Elusive Mitt Romey."

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Another magazine cover that reads, "Romney Against The World." Sadly, a large portion of Americans can't seem to see that...

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This one reads, "The America That We Love, And Those Who Scare Us." With clear intentional placement of Obama next to the words, "the america that we love" and Romney next to "those who scare us".

After posting a few of these photos on my facebook page, an American friend of mine living in Nantes as well cleverly stated, "France loves to hate Romney, and I love France." Which in my opinion pretty well sums it up.

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Cross-posted from http://occupywallst.org/...

via StudentPower2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Students from across the country marched from Ohio State University Student Union to President Obama’s campaign office to hold a press conference yesterday, calling into question the injustices of our current economic and political system. In an era where our political process is gridlocked by the influence of money and corporate power, our society has systematically diverted resources from the bottom to the top to fund a frenzy of profit seeking.

The demonstration highlighted how our electoral system and politicians have failed our youth on the critical issues of education, gender equality, racial justice, environmental sustainability, and basic respect for human rights. Neither party has the audacity to confront these injustices, nor do they attempt to facilitate any type of connection with us on these issues, which disproportionately affect women, LGBTQ people, youth, and people of color.

Akin Olla, an organizer from New Jersey, states: “It is important to recognize that not only are racism and discrimination against people of color still present in the United States, but they are playing a huge factor in the future for the youth of color by limiting our access to education, personal liberty and the right to feel safe in our own communities.”

Although women and LGBTQ people have won notable gains in recent years, Raquel Valesquez of Arizona gets to the heart of how the current system is one of structural inequality: “As we speak, women and LGBTQ people are refusing to accept the old idea of what our rights should be and are demanding change towards the true needs of our communities. As we are denied security in the workplace and safety in the streets; as our survivors of violence are blamed for their traumas while perpetrators are excused; while the state tightens its grip on our bodies through criminalization, incarceration, and abortion bans, we demand more than the right to military and marriage.”

Along with gender and sexuality injustice, we have learned that no matter who we vote for, we cannot avoid the controlling interests of corporations such as Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil dominating our political process. The corporate framework dictates infinite growth and accumulation of profit no matter what the environmental and human costs are. Tabitha Skervin of Michigan State University sums it up by saying, “You can preach economic growth all day but there are no jobs on a dying planet.”

The United States currently maintains a massive military machine responsible for the inhuman attempt to maintain and increase domination over the planet. We are outraged that more than $1 trillion of the annual federal budget is allocated towards sustaining the military-industrial complex instead of socially beneficial services such as accessible education. Within our borders, youth are growing up in a militarized society. The United States military targets low income and youth of color with manipulative promises of enlistment being the doorway to education and enrichment. We do not condemn individual soldiers whose bodies becomes tools of the state, used and then discarded to suffer untreated from the traumatic consequences of their service. Aislinn Bauer from New York City states, “We believe that the massive expenditures of taxpayer money should be redirected towards enhancing socially beneficial services like accessible education rather than furthering the interests of multinational corporations such as Big Oil and agribusiness and monitoring and criminalizing our own population. Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!”

We are now raising our voices to join the rallying cry of student movements across the world, addressing common global grievances, and resisting a system that does not serve the majority of us. Noting that access to higher education has become increasingly out of reach for much of the population due to skyrocketing tuition and burdensome loans, Lainie Rini of Ohio State University compares our education system to a factory: “Our current education system denies anyone but the privileged access to quality education. It is farming students for profit rather than being a space for inquiry and thought.”

The current situation has demonstrated that we cannot passively depend upon our leaders to save our society. We call for American youth to take action much like students across the globe in places like Quebec, Mexico, Chile, Spain, and Puerto Rico, who are mobilizing to demand their rights. Democracy cannot exist without demonstration and debate in public spaces. This fall, regardless of where we lie on the political spectrum, it is crucial that we come together on campuses across the country to reclaim our future before it’s too late. Join us November 14th-21st as part of a global week of student action, demonstrating that we in the U.S. are committed to global justice and the international student movement. Here. Us. Now.

WEB: www.studentpower2012.org
TWITTER: @studentpower12 #HereUsNow
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/StudentPower2012

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Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 12:41 PM PDT

We Need to Fight the Debt Sentence

by RoyaHegdahl

Crossposted from my other blog at http://horsesass.org/...

This year I will be starting college in France and I am going to France for two reasons. One being that I love France, its language and culture; the other being that I will be paying roughly $400 for my annual tuition without scholarships, grants, loans taken out or federal aid. (And additionally, I am still able to apply for federal aid for my housing). I am not able to go to a respected university in my own country without going into debt for the next few decades. It wasn’t always this way. And it doesn’t have to be.

Since the 1980’s the percentage of the federal budget that has been spent on education has decreased significantly, while the cost of education has skyrocketed and increased more than 5x the rates of inflation.

Some argue that we can’t afford to put more money into public universities. I say that’s a lie. We waste plenty of money into defense spending on weapons we will never use. Some defense spending is of course important, but to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into things we have no need for, or will never use is fiscally irresponsible.

What we can’t afford is committing an entire generation of educated people to the debt sentence. People starting their lives with tens of thousands of dollars in debt will not only severely damage our economy but it will also alienate entire groups of people who are brilliant and have potential that will either never be able to develop it or be struggling too hard to pay back into loans to be able to invest in their dreams.

The tuition costs we have now specifically hinder growth and that is not what education is about and it is not what our country says we’re about either. We say that we are the country of possibilities that anyone who works hard can make their way in the world. So then why am I someone who has worked hard for years needing to leave my country just to have access to a decent education without starting my adulthood in debt? I have stayed in the top 5% rankings in my class in one of the best schools in the country, a National Honor Society Member, took 10 AP classes, 5 honors classes and 5 classes that were considered college in high school classes for which I received college credit. I was a JV athlete in cross-country, a captain and varsity athlete in gymnastics and a varsity athlete in track and field in my high school. Additionally, I have babysat since I was 12 and babysat with an additional job from the time I was 16. And this year, on top of those two jobs, I had an internship with Darcy Burner.

So the fact that I didn’t receive enough scholarships to make school reasonably priced is not based on the fact that I didn’t work hard or didn’t do well in school. For every dollar in scholarships available there are 2 dollars of tuition. In the past, this number was reversed.

This week at a student activism conference, I met some students who have been in the ongoing protests in Quebec. They have had hundreds of thousands of students in the streets protesting and on strike because of the plan to have tuition raised from $2,168 to $3,793 between 2012 and 2017. When an American student at the conference asked, “why are you striking? You have the lowest tuition in Canada.” The Quebecois student responded, “we have the lowest tuition in Canada BECAUSE WE STRIKE.”

So, why are we not all in the streets? We’ve normalized the way in which we deal with tuition and higher education but that doesn’t make it right. We need to fight for our right to an education. As a country we seem to agree with that from elementary school until high school so what makes higher education any different?

We can do better than this. We can fight for our right to education. If not an education that is as cheap as it is in France, at least something that is more manageable for the average citizen.The students of this country need to step up and stand together to fight for access to education without going into debt before it’s too late.

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At another incredible keynote speech today at Netroots Nation 2012 titled "Criminal Justice in America", there were a few examples mentioned of issues related to the Trayvon Martin case you may not know of. I decided to pass on a few that were mentioned in the key note, other panels, as well as find a few more of my own examples. Racial profiling needs to be eradicated. The only way to do that is first by knowing where the problem exists and making sure everyone else knows too.

Stop and Frisk (New York):

A program that gives police the ability to stop, question and search anyone that they have "reasonable suspicion" of committing criminal activity. Supporters say that it reduces crime, opponents question whether the police really have "reasonable" suspicion of the people that they stop. About 580,000 people were stopped in 2009, 55% of which were African-American and a large portion was also Hispanic. Only 6% of the stops resulted in arrests.

Cocaine vs. Crack Offenses:

"The sentences for crack offenses need to fall to a level in line with the punishments for powder," said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "There is no rational medical or policy reason to punish crack more severely than powder. Cocaine is cocaine." In the powder cocaine cases in 2000, 57% were against Latinos and 30% against African-Americans, even though the vast majority of powder cocaine users were white. 84.7% of crack cases were against African-Americans, 9% against Hispanics and only 5.6% against Whites. Where in reality, 64.4% of users are white. The federal mandatory minimum prison sentence disparity between cocaine and crack is 18 to 1, which was improved in 2009  from a disparity of 100 to 1.

Criminals And The Right to Vote:

Yes, it is a right. Most rights are restored to criminals after they leave jail, however voting is not one of them. Some states require you to petition the governor if you would ever like your right to vote to be restored after being in jail.

Report Illegal Immigrant Hotline:

There are multiple hotlines for people to call if they just "suspect" someone of being illegal, both national and local.


Those are just a few, feel free to leave more example in the comments and I'll add them to the list.

There is hope, the End Racial Profiling Act has been introduced and needs to be given more support!

Cross posted from my blog at HA
http://horsesass.org/...

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As a first timer at Netroots Nation, I really didn’t know what to expect beyond that it would be incredible but even so,  the convention has really exceeded my expectations beyond words. So many of the speakers and people that I’ve met this weekend so far have been amazing but the speech that nearly brought me to tears along with many others in the audience was from our very own Darcy Burner.

The following is the video of the entire Keynote called the War on Women and if you have the time, watch all of it. The main speakers were Darcy Burner, Elizabeth Warren, and Mazie Hirono. However, if you just want to watch Darcy’s speech, skip to 7:30 and it’s roughly 15 minutes long.

The part I really wish had a visual of the audience in video was when Darcy Burner asked the audience to hold their applause for a minute and have any woman who has had an abortion and was comfortable expressing it openly to stand up in the audience. Moments later, she asked everyone who will stand with them in support to stand up as well and nearly every person in the room stood up. It was a really beautiful moment.

Here is the link to the video:

Darcy starts just after time 7:30

http://www.netrootsnation.org/...

Enjoy!

Cross posted from my blog at Horses Ass
http://horsesass.org/...

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:42 AM PST

Please vote for me!!!!!

by RoyaHegdahl

Hey everybody,

I was nominated by my dad for the Netroots Nation Scholarship so that I could attend the Netroots Nation conference this June. Without this scholarship, I would not otherwise be able to go because I'm saving all the money I make right now for college next year.

If you've enjoyed my diaries and believe that I deserve this chance I would love it you would vote for me. If you haven't read my diaries, then I'm sure you could get a better idea of whether or not you'd like to vote for me by reading some. However, if you don't have time to do so, if you click the link where you would vote, there is a description and overview of things about me.

I would be so appreciative of any support, this would really mean the world to me. I have just recently started blogging and because of this I realized how important it is to just start speaking out. I keep thinking, "Oh, I'll just get into politics when I'm older" but I've realized that the best time to start is now, and this would be a huge step in that direction for me.

I would be honored to receive this scholarship and it would be so awesome to be able to start some major political action before I even graduate :)

To find my description and to vote click HERE :)

Thanks for reading! I hope I will have the privilege to meet many of you at the conference!

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The House of Representatives in Indiana just passed a bill that makes it legal for a homeowner to shoot and kill a police officer on their property if they just "believe" that they are there illegally. Shoot and kill. This new law is of course strongly backed by the NRA and the Republican representatives of Indiana. I understand that we should always protect the rights of criminals and suspects in any case but to go to the extent that they are allowed to use force against a police officer to the point of killing them if they think it's necessary, is disgusting. I can not believe that this passed at all. This shouldn't be partisan issue, it should be about saving the lives of the people who are there to protect us. We NEED to take action to stop this horrible bill.

For more details, follow below the orange swirly.

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Beyond the moral conscience that tells you that as a whole we should help the poor, there are facts to back that up. So when in doubt, this is what to tell to your relatives, colleagues, friends and well, anyone that believes taxes and social welfare programs should be cut during financial crises.

Equal opportunity does not exist in America. In a time where we face a huge debt, it can be so easy to want to cut these basic programs, aka austerity. However, keeping these programs in place is one of the only ways our country can bounce back into prosperity.

Please follow below the orange swirly....

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Ron Paul is known by many as the "Defender of the Constitution". Well, truth is, that's far from accurate. From what I know of the founding of our country, he should actually be called the "Defender of the Articles of Confederation". Republicans so openly boast that their motives are nearly identical to those of the founding fathers. But nothing has really indicated to me how much they actually know about the founding of our country. From what I've learned in school, it seems like Ron Paul and most republicans got confused somewhere along the way with our Constitution and the document that came before it.
Follow me below the orange squiggle for my reasoning and why Ron Paul would lead to the destruction of America...

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I began watching the GOP debate because I thought it would be a great opportunity to write something else. However I did not expect to get so legitimately enraged by what they said. The debate started out with the regular “NO GOVERNMENT”, “NO TAXES”, “STATES DECIDE EVERYTHING” and “OBAMA IS THE PROBLEM” rants no matter the relevance to the question. However, as soon as they got to the subject of birth control, I lost it. I couldn’t seriously believe what they were saying. I’ve been paying attention and know that there seems to be some rally against the use of birth control but I didn’t realize how horrible it was. In fact, after watching that part of the debate yesterday morning, I literally started crying from a mixture of anger, disgust and sorrow. And that is why I decided to write this response to the GOP debate aimed solely to the discussion that followed a question about birth control.

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The other day I spoke with a very close friend of mine and for privacy purposes, she will remain anonymous. We were talking about her family back in Brazil and I asked her to show me some pictures. One of her brothers didn't have any sort of social networking whereas the rest of her family did. When I asked why, she responded "Well, he's in jail." I began to ask her more about it and our light conversation about family turned very serious. What horrified me the most is not why her brother is in jail but how the prisoners and especially the people who go to visit are treated. I knew that conditions in prisons in any impoverished country were probably not ideal, but I never expected to hear what she told me.

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