On January 12th, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to adopt a "Bring Our War Dollars Home" resolution that "praises United States troops and their families, applauds the end of the Iraq War and supports the further drawdown of troops in Afghanistan with funds being redirected to domestic priorities." Before the vote, the Council heard from members of the community who pointed to urgent unmet needs in the city of Portland. Chani Geigle-Teller from Sisters Of The Road spoke about cuts to funding for housing causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units, while Toby Green of the Laborers 483 Public Employee Union spoke about one-half billion dollars in deferred maintenance that needs to be done in Portland alone.
All welcome to join the (almost) DAILY Solidarity Sing-along, a member gorup of WNPJ! We sing Monday through Friday, from 12 noon - 1 pm in Madison. Usually we sing inside the Capitol Rotunda on Mondays through Thursday - and outside at the State St. corner of the Square on Fridays. Bring your guitars and musical instruments for this special Friday event. We have the songbooks! See you at the Sing! Questions?
Thanks to the hard work of several community groups and neighbors - including Ronna Swift of WNPJ member group Fox Valley Peace Coalition - a former country club will be transformed into a multi-use community space in Appleton.
"The more than century-old, 77-acre private golf club [will be redeveloped] into a community-based market garden and public green space, which will be called Riverview Gardens," reports the Appleton Post-Crescent.
After weeks of controversy surrounding a new policy that would require groups of four or more protesters to seek a permit from the state 72 hours in advance of a protest and potentially pay for police at the cost of $50 per hour per officer, the Wisconsin Department of Administration is now saying it will not take any steps to enforce the policy. According to Channel 27 news, "DOA spokesperson Jocelyn Webster reiterated the agency's stance today that no arrests will be made for violating the policy," saying that "if someone is holding an event without a permit, they will be given a permit application and strongly encouraged to apply, but that Capitol Police will take no action beyond that." The reversal comes after more than 500 people packed the Capitol rotunda to take part in Solidarity Sing-Along, a singing protest that has taken place in the Capitol every weekday since March 11th. See the full story here...
In a surprising vote, the Senate passed by a voice vote an amendment authored by Colorado Senator Jeff Merkley (left) that requires the President to "expedite transition of responsibility for military and security operations to the government of Afghanistan and provide a plan to Congress for bringing troops home faster within 90 days of passage of the resolution." The Obama administration has previously stated a committment to "transition" the Afghanistan combat mission to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, while also planning to keep U.S. troops and bases in the country past that date. The Senate vote calls for the President to present a plan for an earlier withdrawal of U.S. forces, but does not require a set timetable. Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies described the vote as a sign that "the message of the longstanding and still rising U.S. majority — 63 percent in the most recent polls want to end the war in Afghanistan — is finally being heard in the Senate."
Just in time for Thanksgiving, WNPJ member group Worker Rights Center scored a significant victory for employees of the Madison-based cleaning firm Dirt Destroyers, which had failed to pay employees for hours worked, for travel time or overtime worked. Dirt Destroyers had refused to pay, even after the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development-Wage & Hour Division had investigated the company and ruled in favor of the workers. After the workers came to Worker Rights Center for help, WRC put out an alert, and the owner was soon deluged by emails and calls. WRC reports: "After a few days of this, and after his story changed a number of times, the owner finally relented and paid workers who had been waiting in one case for four months to get paid."
More than 500 federal inmates won release from prison last week, due to a change in federal sentencing policy which brought sentences for crack cocaine closer to the penalties for powder cocaine. (Photo: Susan Cardwell hugs her brother Darryl Flood as he arrives at a bus station in Woodbridge, Va., after his release.) The disparity in sentences for crack versus powder had long been criticized as racially discriminatory because it disproportionately affected black defendants. The Fair Sentencing Act passed by Congress in 2010 and signed by President Obama reduced the disparity for future cases, and this summer the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets federal sentencing policy, decided to apply the act to inmates already serving time. The releases are the result of months of work by public defender offices around the country, which reviewed hundreds of files of potentially affected inmates.Gil Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio reports...
|Just days after a ten-thousand-strong protest that completely surrounded the White House, President Obama announced that a controversial pipeline project previously approved by the State Department would be sent back for a second review.|
The pipeline project would have transported Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in Texas, crossing environmentally sensitive areas and potentially threatening the Oglalla aquifer. The Canadian tar sands represent the largest unexploited pool of carbon remaining, causing climate scientist James Hansen to describe the Keystone XL project as the equivalent of "lighting a fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet." More than 1300 people were arrested at a civil disobedience action against the pipeline in August, an action that many Wisconsinites participated in. Read more...