Success Story

State Dept. reverses visa denial for peace activist

Reversing their earlier decision, U.S. Consular officers  have now issued a visa for Dr. Wee Teck Young (left) to come to the U.S. for a multi-state speaking tour as part of the U.S.-Mexico “Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity” organized by Global Exchange. Dr. Young prefers to go by the name Hakim, a name bestowed on him after he served as a public health doctor among refugees on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the Dari language, “Hakim” means “learned one and local healer.” The visa approval  comes after Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Global Exchange, and Fellowship of Reconciliation urged their members and supporters to contact the State Dept. on Hakim's behalf. Responding to the news, Hakim said, "Your support letters to me and to the U.S. Embassies in support of my U.S. visa re-application encourage me deeply in my wish and work for global peace. Your acts of love show me that without extending our hand to one another, neither simple nor difficult steps towards a better, non-violent world could be taken successfully."

Dane County Board passes elephant ban

WNPJ member group, Alliance for Animals, succeeded in their quest for a ban on performing elephants at the Alliant Energy Center. On June 7, the Dane County Board voted 23-9 in favor of the ban, although an ammendment was passed that grandfathers in the Zor Shrine Circus performances until 2020. This follows years of protests outside circus performances in Dane County.

Read the Capital Times article here.

Ecuador to withdraw from SOA/WHINSEC

Ecuadoran President Rafaeal Correa (left) has announced that Ecuador will no longer send its soldiers to the School of the Americas (now named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.) Correa made his decision after meeting with a delegation from SOA Watch, which has documented the many crimes and human-rights abuses committed by Officers who have graduated from the school. Ecuador joins Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia, who have all pulled out of the SOA.

Philadelphia passes "Bring Our War $ Home" resolution

On June 21st, The Philadelphia City Council, by a vote of 15-2, passed a resolution "calling on the U.S. Congress to bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, to take the funds saved by that action and by significantly cutting the Pentagon budget, and to use that money to fund education, public and private sector family-sustaining job creation, special protections for military sector workers, environmental and infrastructure restoration, care for veterans and their families, and human services that our cities and states so desperately need." The resolution was drafted by the Delaware Valley New Priorities Network, comprised of dozens of labor, neighborhood, faith, and peace organizations. Read more... Photo: Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez (second from left) who introduced the resolution, celebrates outside the City Council Chambers with members of the Delaware Valley New Priorities Network.

Democracy Campaign, allies, win transparency in ad spending

WNPJ member group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign joined with19 other citizen organizations in successfully defending a new requirement that broadcasters disclose online the purchasers of political ads. A new Federal Communications Commission ruling required that TV stations, which had previously been required to keep a list of political ad purchasers available for public viewing at their stations, must also post the list online. Lobbyists for the broadcasters responded by pushing for an amendment to an appropriations bill to block the FCC rule. But on Wednesday, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee reversed their position and allowed the FCC's new online disclosure requirement to stand. 

States rethink Supermax prisons

States across the country are taking a hard look at "Supermax" prisons and the widespread use of solitary confinement at those facilities, citing high costs, lawsuits and new research that shows that the Supermax model doesn't reduce prison violence. Illinois will be closing its Supermax facility, saying $26 million cost of the prison - about $62,000 per inmate per year - could no longer be justified in a time of budget crisis. Mississippi has cut the number of prisoners kept in solitary confinement by nearly 90 percent, and Colorado reduced the number of prisoners in solitary by half in the past year and will shut down a Supermax facility that is only two years old. In Maine,

Nationwide campaign wins cancellation of for-profit detention center

Immigrant-rights activists in Florida and around the country are celebrating a victory over Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest and most powerful for-profit prison operator in the country.

CCA had already begun construction on a 500,000 square foot immigration detention facility in the south Florida community of Southwest Ranches when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced they would be cancelling plans to use the facility.

Right-wing ALEC losing sponsors and members

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group responsible for drafting "model" legislation passed by Republican-controlled statehouses across the country, is losing corporate sponsors and legislative members as its involvement in pro-gun and anti-labor legislation becomes more widely known. Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy has worked to expose ALEC's behind-the-scenes role in creating the Florida "Stand your ground" legislation, the centerpiece of a firestorm of public criticism after the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. This week, online retailer Amazon announced it was dropping its sponsorship of ALEC, citing "public concerns."  Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald's and Kraft Foods have also announced they are withdrawing from their ALEC corporate sponsorships. Attention is now shifting to legislators who are members of ALEC, and this week, 16 Pennsylvania legislators announced they will drop their ALEC memberships.
Take Action: Please contact your state legislators to ask them if they are ALEC members, and to urge them to follow the example of other legislators who have withdrawn their membership (Incredibly, Wisconsin Legislators are allowed to use taxpayer funds to pay for their membership dues in this partisan organization.)

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