Nel's New Day

May 11, 2013

Take Action for Mother’s Day

As I write my blog almost daily, I wonder how I can improve the dire situation that the people of the United States suffer. I sign tons of petitions, donate to causes, write occasional letters to the newspaper, talk politics with people, attend meetings, and, in the past, marched in protests in our small town.

Over a year ago, I cheered on the fighters in Wisconsin who tried to protect their unions and mourned their losses, especially the return of Gov. Scott Walker to his post despite his illegal actions. After that, conservatives popped up everywhere like superbugs that spread throughout hospitals, sickening everyone who objects to the GOP’s goal of eradicating the middle class.

Occupy Wall Street—and many other places—gave some hope, but people can live in a park only so long. Across the country now, however, people are acting in opposition to legislation and corporations to create move toward a better world.

Students in NYC occupying Cooper Union are demanding that their education remain free. And spare me the conservative attitude that students should pay a fortune for their education. If we want a skilled workforce, we need to educate them like countries around the world including Europe and the Middle East do.  Students in Philadelphia walked out in protest of budget cuts that are cheapening their education. Chicago students and teachers are protesting against the closing of schools that define their communities.

A massive student-led movement over 400 campuses is pressuring university administrations to divest their school endowments from the fossil fuel industry, with growing success at the Rhode Island School of Design. In Madison (WI) students occupied their chancellor’s office demanding the school cut their contract with a food vendor known for willfully abusing its employees.

Fast food workers have been on strike in St. Louis, demanding their employers treat them like human beings and pay them a living wage.

This weekend, activists in Baltimore are celebrating the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign by marching the 150 miles to Washington to protest the cruel, intertwined systems of mass incarceration, police brutality, and private prisons.

On May 25, people in over 30 countries will participate in the March against Monsanto, showing their opposition to the corporation that has poisoned food supplies, bribed politicians to keep quiet about their crimes, and caused an epidemic of poverty and suicide among thousands of farmers around the world.

In North Carolina, doctors, preachers, lawyers, raging grannies, students, and others are willing to be arrested as they protest the GOP control of the entire state government that has attacked voters’ rights, health care policies, welfare management, and public education. Their weekly gatherings at the state legislature for “Moral Mondays” has resulted in 50 arrests, but they’re not stopping.

Dr. Charles Dr. van der Horst, 61, was arrested during his protest against the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid with federal funding, limiting health care access for almost one-half million people. He also opposes legislation which requires photo ID to vote and decreases the number of days in voting.  Van der Horst also fights legislation from people who claim to be “pro-life” who then cut early childhood education programs and access to Medicare.

Rev. William Barber, head of the state chapter of the NAACP, said that this fight will move to the courts and raise money for candidates and awareness about the legislators’ actions. He said they had already talked to legislators and the governor who ignored them. Barber was also part of the protests in Wake County (NC), arrested for refusing to leave school property, when he acted with dissenters against the GOP-controlled return to school segregation.

North Carolina’s latest outrageous bill is to mandate fiction to be taught to seventh graders as fact. The past week, the state Senate Health Committee passed a bill requiring all these students be taught that abortion is one of significant risk factors causing a woman to have pre-mature deliveries later in life. An impressive set of health organizations agree that this is not true.

Another protest movement garnering success is boycotting Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers. Within the year starting with Limbaugh’s statements about Sandra Fluke being a “slut,” the vast majority of Cumulus radio network advertisers have left Limbaugh, and the company has lost $5.5 million. Forty-eight out of 50 major network advertisers have excluded not only Sean Hannity but also Limbaugh.

The courts may also take care of his hate speech. According to Dick Armey, former chair of Freedomworks, that organization and Heritage Foundation have been paying Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to promote their right-wing agendas. Yes, it’s free speech, but FCC rules mandate that the recipients of the money make this public:

“Any broadcast station employee who has accepted or agreed to accept payment for the airing of program material, and the person making or promising to make the payment, must disclose this information to the station prior to the airing of the program.”

The boycott continues. Here is a petition that you can sign.

You can also help stop the Koch brothers from buying the Tribune newspaper group. After extensive lobbying and messaging in the media, the Koch brothers have decided to go directly to the newspapers to publish their message of taking over all the country’s net wealth and eradicating the middle class. The Tribune papers include eight major publications in the United States: the Los Angeles Times, the Allentown Daily Call, the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Hartford Courant, the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Hoy, the nation’s second-largest Spanish-language paper.

The Koch brothers bankrolled Scott Walker’s anti-union movement in Wisconsin and went on to take aim at public unions, lobbying, and pensions across the country, spending $4 million in California alone to restrict unions’ political activity. Two major Tribune stakeholders are the investment management firms managing billions of dollars in public pension funds. If Koch buys the Tribune group, public employees will be forced to support their anti-union attacks.

So eager to purchase themselves several of the nation’s major newspapers, the Koch brothers are allegedly prepared to submit a bid of $1 billion over the current value of $600 million to $700 million. Conservatives are already mentally watching the evacuation of journalists: Chicago Tribune’s Cal Thomas is waxing ecstatic over the day when his office is rid of the “liberal quitters” and full of “unbiased” people like him. Thomas wrote that the Koch brothers could provide “ideologically balanced coverage”—sort of like Fox News.

Public sector employees have some control over the purchase. They can require their investment managers to choose between them or the Koch brothers. You can help keep the eight newspapers more independent from right-wing ideology by signing this petition or searching the Internet for others.

Fortunately, people in the Congress like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continue to fight against corporations. We need to support them. And we can do this by celebrating Mother’s Day tomorrow, not with the commercial, corporation-driven belief that it’s a day for eating out and flowers but with its original meaning.

After the Civil War, Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” issued a proclamation asking women to form peaceful resolutions to international conflicts and avoid war. Most casualties of wars, whether the current ones in the Middle East and the ones imposed by conservatives and corporations, are women and children.

In her proclamation, Howe wrote, “We will not have urgent questions decided by irrelevant agencies.” We need to stop “irrelevant agencies” from undermining our quality of life.

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