Hi everyone! I'm running short on time today for all the things that I need to get done on my list, so my comments will be short- allowing you to get down to the action, and me to get down to finishing my incredibly long list of things to do...which includes applying for about 100 jobs.
There are a lot of important items here, as usual. Please do what you can. Over the next few weeks I'm hoping to focus in a bit on some specific issues that will be coming before Congress. If anyone has suggestions for a focus one week, please let me know of those in the comments.
War and Human Rights Issues:
-- Sign Senator Biden's "No More Troops" petition.
-- From Just Foreign Policy:
Some have not yet accepted that the American people - and the Iraqi people - want an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. USA Today and Congressional Quarterly report that the Bush administration will ask for a record amount of emergency war money in 2007 - perhaps as high as $160 billion. That would be in addition to the $435 billion in military spending Congress already authorized for 2007.
Together, those sums represent nearly three-fifths of the 2007 discretionary budget, money that could be spent on saving lives at home rather than destroying them abroad.
You can use the tool [here] to write a letter to your senators and representatives asking them not to pour more money into a failed and destructive policy in Iraq. We have written talking points, but we encourage you change the wording to reflect what you want to say to your elected representatives.
Environmental, Energy, and Wildlife Issues:
-- From the NRDC:
Lead is a potent toxin that can be particularly harmful to children, yet the EPA recently proposed eliminating its current standard for the maximum allowable level of lead in the atmosphere. Urge the EPA to strengthen, not eliminate or weaken, this standard.
-- From Campus Climate Action:
America and Canada's youth are calling for five days of demonstrations to jumpstart the second semester of the Campus Climate Challenge and put the heat on a new U.S. Congress and a returning Canadian Parliament to begin aggressive national power shifts on global warming. In December, a wide cross-section of young activists took part in a national brainstorm to come up with the theme "Rising to the Climate Challenge: Visions Of Our Future."
January 29th through February 2nd young people will speak to their campus and political leaders about how the decisions they make today will directly affect the world we inherit tomorrow.
-- From Union Of Concerned Scientists:
In 2007, with a new Congress in power, we have an exciting opportunity to finally pass national renewable energy legislation. The Renewable Portfolio Standard, a bill that has repeatedly passed the Senate but not the House, requires utilities to generate an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources—like wind and solar. This bill would dramatically expand our nation’s use of clean energy—creating local jobs and protecting our environment. Your representative is a likely supporter of this clean energy bill, but constituents like you need to show strong, early support to convince House leadership to back the bill.
Please urge your representative to be a co-sponsor of this important bill. Click here to find your representative's phone number—call today!
-- From the Center of Biological Diversity:
The government of Grenada, a small island in the Caribbean, is poised to privatize a national park to make way for a sprawling, deluxe Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts development. This will annihilate the endangered Grenada dove-the country's National Bird-of which only about 100 individuals remain in the world. Tell Four Seasons management to keep Mt. Hartman National Park protected so that the embattled dove has a chance for survival.
-- From Rainforest Action Network:
Earlier this month, Grassy Narrows First Nation declared a moratorium to stop all industrial activity on their traditional territory. This week, the community needs your help by increasing the pressure on the province of Ontario to stop the destruction of their territory.
Last month, we made more than 600 calls to Ontario Premiere Dalton McGuinty's office! Insiders close to the talks say that your calls are working. Provincial officials have begun exploratory consultations with some members of the Community, and we need to keep the pressure on!
Call David Ramsay, Ontario Minister Natural Resources and Aboriginal Affairs to demand that he honor Aboriginal rights and stop clear-cut logging in Grassy Narrows.
-- From the NRDC: Ask Congress to pass tough Global Warming Legislation
Media and Free Speech Issues:
-- From Defend the Press:
Sarah Olson is a journalist who published an exclusive interview with Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, the highest-ranking member of the military to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Now, the Army wants Olson to be their witness in the lieutenant’s upcoming court martial. The Army is trying to turn speaking to the press into a crime — and wants to have a reporter participate in the prosecution of political speech.
Hauling journalists like Sarah Olson in front of a military court to testify against their sources silences debate, and creates a chilling effect on reporters willing to write the tough stories.
Journalists should not have to deal with potential fines, legal bills and jail time for serving the public interest.
-- Another item from Defend the Press:
Ask Congress to pass a federal shield law to protect more journalists in this new age of media. Stand up for a free press. Take action now.
-- From FreePress:
Major record labels are paying off radio stations to play their acts. Commercial "talent" is pushed to the top of playlists nationwide, shoving local artists off the airwaves. When labels pay off Big Radio, independent music suffers and radio choice turns into a mind-numbing race to the bottom.
The FCC is currently working on an agreement that could let broadcasters caught taking bribes off with a slap on the wrist, rather than holding broadcasters accountable for past wrongdoing and stopping payola in the future.
When you're done sending that letter, check out all the other advocacy campaigns you can participate in through FreePress. They have a really great site.
-- From the adorable Chris Bowers:
We're dedicating BlogPac to continuing this mission. Our first project this cycle is the 50 state blog strategy. We want to help support a community-based blog in every state in the country, so that activists, unions, and progressive politicians have a place to chat, organize, raise money, and influence the local media. Many of these blogs already exist, and contributed to our victories in 2006.
So far, BlogPac pledged to cover the website hosting fees of 50 local, community, progressive blogs for one year. At $15 a month, over twelve months, for 50 blogs, the cost of this project will be exactly $9,000. As of 8 a.m. this morning, BlogPac had raised $6,243.40 toward that goal. This means we still need another $2,756.60. You can put this campaign over the top by donating to BlogPac right now.
Let's support our fellow bloggers folks!
Labor & Economic Issues:
-- From The ONE Campaign:
Send a letter to President Bush urging him to request the billions of dollars necessary to fully fund poverty-focused development assistance.
-- From the AFL-CIO:
-- From Walmart Watch:
Urge your representative to co-sponsor the Frank-Gillmor Bill—a bipartisan measure that would prevent Wal-Mart, Home Depot and several other commercial firms from chartering or acquiring an ILC bank.
-- From Public Campaign Election Fund:
Tell your member of Congress to put an end to the era of pay-to-play politics by passing Clean Elections campaign reform. Already working in 7 states and 2 cities, Clean Elections helps keep politicians working for the voters and not for well heeled donors and insider lobbyists.
It's time to put full public financing for congressional elections on the table and make elections about voters and not campaign donors.
-- From Common Cause:
We have the opportunity to make sure that we don’t lose anymore votes in 2008. Congressman Rush Holt is introducing a paper trail bill in Congress, but its success depends on the support from other lawmakers this month.
Together let’s make sure that Congress prioritizes our votes and restores confidence in America’s electoral process. Tell your representative to co-sponsor Congressman Holt’s bill.