Editorial: Beyond Banning “Bad Guns” and “Arming Good Guys”

This is a very thorough, well researched article focusing on the nuances and complexities behind Gun Control.  Writer, organizer, talk show host,  Subhash Kateel goes all the way in and changes a lot of the conversation by busting down the myth behind policies like Stop-and Frisk and everyone owning a gun in country’s like Switzerland being safe. He also busts down the myth that if we get rid of all the guns everyone will suddenly be safe.. This is a definitely must read that drops tremendous information and provides insightful solutions. It originally ran on Kateel’s site http://www.letstalkaboutit.info/2013/01/beyond-banning-bad-guns-and-arming-good.html

-Davey D-

“Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27)

“…and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” (Surah 5:32)

SubHash Kateel of Let's talk About It

SubHash Kateel of Let’s talk About It

It was those verses, from three different faiths, all swirling around my head as I watched the carnage in Sandy Hook on TV several weeks ago.  2012 marked a year in which many people I know had already lost so many loved ones.  For a while, I had no thoughts, no analysis, no theories…just verses.

Then the debates emerged.  To say that they became poisoned by posturing, divisiveness and sanctimony is both understandable and an understatement.  People’s anger, sadness and defensiveness charged a discussion in ways I haven’t seen since 9/11. In our current climate, it is increasingly hard to see how some of the alternating proposals flowing from these debates, namely, a “good guy with a gun” in every school or a generic “gun control” that bans all bad guns (“assault weapons”) and gun accessories (magazines, pistol grips etc.) will be anything but a distraction from truly understanding and addressing the root of what is causing people to die.

My own beliefs on the culture of violence have put me at odds with many friends.  I consider myself a progressive to the bone. I am pro-immigrant, anti-war on drugs and anti just about any war based on false pretenses and built on destruction.  Like many people, I have seen enough needless death and violence to know how much I hate it, whether it comes from the barrel of a gun, the blade of a knife, the missile of a drone, a US-issued Stinger in the hands of the Taliban or a baseball bat. But even though my parents never owned guns, I grew up around many people that did and I have always believed in what the Second Amendment fundamentally stands for. I never saw the label progressive as meaning a little left of liberal.  To me, it always meant that we address the root cause of every problem we face in a way that challenges ourselves as much as we challenge the powers creating those problems.

As a community organizer, I witnessed with my own eyes a War on Drugs that left communities littered with drugs, violence and mass incarceration, a War on Terror that terrorized communities and an undeclared War on Immigrants meant to “secure communities” that has left many families torn apart. So when I hear folks recite the mantra of “gun control” or “a good guy with a gun” as the cure-all for the culture of violence in this country, I pause.

For another “banning of bad guns” or a “giving all good guys guns” proposal to be held up as a solution to any of this madness means that we are answering our own questions with self-serving facts that reinforce what we are already thinking. The actual facts don’t support any side of this debate completely and desperately scream out for new solutions.

The facts behind “the facts”

Among the most self-serving facts are the constant comparisons between violence in the US and what Piers Morgan calls “the civilized” world. So yes, America leads most of Europe in an intentionally misleading measure of violence called gun deaths. But over half of US gun deaths are suicides that may have still happened without a gun and over a third of US murders take place without any gun whatsoever.  For perspective, if every suicide in gun death-less Japan happened with a gun, it would have a much higher gun death rate than the United States because it has way more suicides. If all gun murders in America miraculously disappeared, we would still have a much higher murder rate than Japan.

Murder Stats from 2009 UN Data, Gun Stats from Small Arms Survey

Murder Stats from 2009 UN Data,
Gun Stats from Small Arms Survey

Gun rights advocates who point to Switzerland’s’ high rates of gun ownership and low rates of murder are rightly reminded by gun control advocates that the Swiss also have significantly stricter gun laws than the US.  But gun control advocates, while pushing to ban “assault weapons,” also forget that hundreds of thousands of those Swiss guns are full-fledged automatic weapons which have been illegal to the general American public for decades and not semi-automatic “assault weapons” (a term that means virtually nothing).  When comparing the US to countries that don’t have the same history, population, land mass or (lack of) access to a social safety net, people leave out the only country in Europe that even slightly compares to the US in size and population, Russia, which has way fewer guns per capita (9 vs. 89 per 100 people) but more than twice the murders. Even Yemen, which the media often describes as an anarchic open air gun market/haven for terrorists, has much less murder per capita than Russia.

Strangely, when you only compare European countries to other European countries (see graph), you see that all have stricter gun laws than the US but the ones with more guns tend to have fewer murders.  While there is no proof that one causes the other, for how good the UK has been at eradicating gun possession (or not), it still has more murders than Germany or Switzerland which have five times more guns. European countries do have horrific mass killings far less frequently, but the scale of the ones that have taken place (even in the UK) are no less shocking. Norway, an extremely stable country with a strong social safety net, strict gun laws and extremely low murder rate had a horrible mass shooting in 2011 by a neo-Nazi at a youth camp that killed 69 people, twice as many as America’s worst modern-day mass shooting, the Virginia Tech Massacre.  Even, peaceful, gun-less Japan had a deadly sarin gas attack on its subways that killed 13 people and injured thousands in 1995.

An honest look at “civilized” Europe would tell us that our gun laws can use a few more regulations, our country can use a better social safety net, having more guns doesn’t mean more murder, having “assault weapons” doesn’t mean they will be used in mass murder and sometimes, you can do everything right and still have insane mass killings. Oh, and calling European countries the “civilized world” is really dumb and freaking racist (that’s means you, Piers Morgan).  You can’t fit that into a meme.

School Bombing in bath, Mi 1927

School Bombing in bath, Mi 1927

A basic accounting of mass killings on US soil, not “school shootings,” “mass shootings” or another carefully concocted term, should really help us question why anyone is recycling the idea of an assault weapons ban or more “good guys with guns” as a serious solution.  The largest American school massacre took place in Bath, MI in 1927 after a deranged school board official set off bombs in a schoolhouse killing 45 people, mostly children.  It is highly unlikely that any “good guy with a gun” would have known to stop a school official or that banning any gun could have prevented him from secretly planting bombs.

The worst domestic violence-related mass killing took place in 1990 after an angry ex-boyfriend set fire to a Bronx club, killing 87.

One of the first high profile mass shootings, the Texas Bell Tower shooting of 1966, was perpetrated by an ex-Marine who killed 16 people after shooting at University of Texas-Austin students and staff from a school clock tower using a Remington 700 bolt-action (non “semi-automatic”) hunting rifle still widely used today.

The worst American school shooting, the Virginia Tech massacre, was committed in 2007 with zero “assault” or high-powered weapons. Many of the 33 murdered students were killed with a .22 caliber pistol (with no high capacity magazine), among the least powerful and least likely to be banned of any gun in America (or Europe).  Both UT Austin and Virginia Tech had armed police on the scene at some point.

Oklahoma City Bombing

Oklahoma City Bombing

Perhaps the largest civilian massacre (with the exception of 9/11) on US soil since Wounded Knee, the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building, was perpetrated by a First Gulf War vet who chose a truck and fertilizer-laced explosives to blow up the relatively secure government office, killing 168 people including 19 children of the same age as those in Sandy Hook.

Columbine, one of the most high profile school shootings in recent memory, took place six years after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban’s passage at a school with an armed security guard.  Neither the banning of a bad gun nor the arming of good guys was enough to stop needless slaughter in any of the above circumstances.

To really grasp how much of a failure political quick fixes have been, one must only visit Stockton, California.  A week after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Stockton marked the 23rd anniversary of a crazed gunman opening fire on a playground full of Asian American school children at the Cleveland Elementary School, killing six and injuring 30.  The unreal bloodshed set the stage for the first Assault Weapons Ban in 1994. While many news outlets made the links between Sandy Hook and the Stockton schoolyard, none highlighted how much California’s conservative, liberal and “centrist” policies had failed the people of Stockton.

California has by far the toughest gun laws in the country, laws so tough that some gun manufacturers refuse to do business in the state.  It has the mandatory minimums and the three-strikes laws that conservatives hold up as the real answer to violent crime.  It has every zero tolerance policy in schools and anti-gang injunction on the streets that would re-elect either party’s get-tough politicians.  Yet even with the toughest of all types of laws, two decades after its own version of Sandy Hook, Stockton is considered one of the ten most dangerous US cities.  Its murder rate in 2012 is set to double what it was in 2011.

Quite simply, policies like “assault weapons bans,” “SWAT Teams in Schools” or “Tech-9’s for Teachers” don’t and won’t eliminate violence because they are not meant to. They are proposed because they make politicians look good, make liberals and conservatives feel good in their respective positions and give us another excuse to put off working together to find real solutions to stopping violence.

Another Failed War?

Stop and FriskGun and accessory bans, specifically, don’t stop murder for the same reason the War on Drugs never stopped drug addiction or Prohibition never stopped alcoholism (except that neither drugs or alcohol have been enshrined in the Constitution). In addition to their inability to tame large illegal markets, the enforcement of our gun laws plays out on the street the same way the enforcement of our drug laws do…badly.

Drug addiction has always been the disproportionate domain of White folks but the Drug War’s jail cells have always been disproportionately reserved for Black and Brown folks-so much so that the prison system has been called “the New Jim Crow.” Similarly, “common sense” gun laws are rarely enforced on middle class socially maladjusted rural/suburban kids like Adam Lanza. Black and Brown folks are far less likely to own guns than White folks, more likely to live in places (e.g. Washington DC, Chicago) where gun possession is severely restricted but also more likely to be stopped, frisked, arrested and jailed on gun charges.  The least unevenly enforced gun laws at the federal level still jail disproportionately more Black folks than Whites.


Inherently unequal gun law enforcement is nothing new and predates the War on Drugs by a couple centuries. In fact, most of the country’s early gun laws were obsessed with preventing Black and Native American folks from owning guns.  What has hundreds of years of gun control in Black communities, through the eras of the old and new Jim Crows, produced? Today, Black men are six times more likely to be victims of homicide than White men.

The liberal understanding that the Drug War failed miserably and destroyed communities it claimed to protect doesn’t seem to translate into an understanding that the same criminal justice system tasked with leading the failed War on Drugs would be tasked with making a “War on Gun Violence” successful.  Whenever I ask my friends what would be different, I am merely told, “we have to do something” or “it’s a start.”

Proposed gun bans are effective, however, at creating artificially high demand that floods the country with whatever gun or accessory is at threat of being banned.  In this respect, they do the opposite of what they were meant to, much the same way those Parental Advisory warnings from the 1990’s probably encouraged my friends to listen to more violent music.  Several older gun shop owners have told me that there wasn’t such large-scale demand for “assault weapons” until the first push to ban assault weapons in the early 90’s.

AR 15

AR 15

As we speak, AR-15’s (one of the guns used at Sandy Hook) are moving off the shelves at guns shops and gun shows at a rate as high as a dozen an hour per dealer.  By the time the ink is dry on any weapons or magazine ban, at least a million more AR-15’s and even more high capacity magazines will be in the hands of Americans.  Regardless of the rhetoric, assault weapons ban proponents admit that no ban will retroactively seize any of these newly acquired guns or magazines.  But none of this seems to stop the same media outlets, who refuse to make the man that shot the children at Sandy Hook a household name, from running a virtual 24 hour infomercial for the AR-15, selling more than any Bushmaster ad campaign could imagine.  Is that really a good “start?”

Much distresses me about this entire debate.  For one, some of my liberal friends that lament “the other side’s” ignorance on things like climate change similarly ignore the basic statistics saying that more Americans are killed with bats, knives or bare fists than assault weapons or the government research describing the last assault weapons ban’s effectiveness as tenuous at best.  They also keep insisting on banning things that are already illegal (machine guns ), that semiautomatic rifles are never used for hunting, or that rifles used to kill a 400 lbs. deer at 250 yards away are somehow less powerful, not as “armor piercing,” or less deadly than “assault weapons.”  While hoisting up the need for gun bans and gun buyback programs, which are among the least effective anti-violence measures, they allow all sides of the debate to ignore proactive things like gang intervention programs and other successful anti-violence efforts that are constantly left starving for resources.

Meanwhile, using a culture war on guns as a stand in for stopping violence also gives some conservative gun owners a codependent crutch for fatalistic views on violence that run counter to their own values (personal responsibility, etc.). Many swear off American violence as the inevitable product of evil intent, making stopping it with force the only logical solution.  I swear, for how many gun owners I know that call themselves Christians, you would forget that they belong to a faith that puts a premium on redemption, responsibility and reconciliation.

In either case, the responsibility to stop violence is always someone else’s and can never happen until a mythical world is created where the Brady Campaign and the NRA either completely agree with each other or, depending on whose world, cease to exist.

False Prophets of Peace

Perhaps the worst part of the current debate is that it lionizes politicians as prophets of peace that are anything but.  New York State has hosted some of the most egregious examples. George Pataki, New York’s Republican Governor from 1995-2006, was often lauded as a voice of reason in the gun debate for passing some of the strictest gun laws in the country, making the assault weapons ban in New York permanent (which the current Governor promises to make more permanent). These same gun laws couldn’t prevent William Spengler from killing two firefighters in Webster, New York barely a week after Sandy Hook. But few of the forces that anointed Pataki a centrist savior want to remember that he also cut college programs for incarcerated people.  These programs moved scores of people that I know personally from being participants in the culture of violence to being social workers, computer programmers and legitimate small businesspeople.

Seems like Mayor Bloomberg & Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are heavily borrowing from the sordid legacies of LAPD Chiefs Chief William H Parker & Darryl Gates

Mayor Bloomberg & Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has become a Mahatma Gandhi/Daddy Warbucks of the gun control world while overseeing a police force (NYPD) that he affectionately calls his personal army (no he really said that).  On his watch, rogue members of his “army” have been accused of planting evidence, murdering unarmed men with impunity, stealing guns and selling them to drug dealers, creating a mass shooting by trying to stop one and many other things that Gandhi would never ever do.

Many gun control advocates still hold up the Empire State as a success story.  But anyone that has actually worked in New York City neighborhoods for longer than five minutes can tell you that the “safe” New York is more a product of policies that turned the city into a playground for the superrich (who feel safe no matter where they live) while pushing many working people into significantly less safe locales both within (Buffalo, Poughkeepsie) and outside the state (New Haven, Philadelphia and Orlando).  Cities in the “safe” New York State like Buffalo and Poughkeepsie have murder rates nearly three times the national average.

Connecticut politicians, whose tears post Sandy Hook are no doubt genuine, are similarly credited with being strong enough to stand up to the NRA, making Connecticut’s gun laws the fourth toughest in the country.  Unfortunately, they never stood up to the realities of a state where one of the wealthiest and most prestigious universities in the world, Yale, runs a virtual company town, New Haven, that is considered one of America’s most violent cities.

Sadly, pro gun and anti-gun politicians share much in common. Both crave a zero tolerance, low intensity police state that uses violence and force whenever it makes their rich friends happy, whether it is conducting selectively dehumanizing stops and frisks, the use of eminent domain for questionable “community development” or breaking up completely legitimate First Amendment activity.  At the same time, almost all have stood in the way of real community strategies that actually stop violence.

A New Way Forward?

With all of that said, there is far too much violence in America. Facts, politicians and politics be damned; when you are a parent attending a child’s funeral, one death is a statistic too many and a problem in need of an immediate solution. Finding real solutions means coming together to do practical things now to stop violence that are based in reality.

America’s reality is 1) the Second Amendment will never ever be repealed and guns will never be banned or even restricted to the point where we will become the UK or Japan. 2) Americans will never have enough “good guys with guns” to stop every murder or insane act of violence. 3) There is far too much violence in America, with or without guns.  4) The things we have tried rarely address the root causes of violence.  5) No one in their right mind wants people to die.

Taking collective responsibility to stop the culture of violence now means working with people we disagree with to come up with solutions not contingent on our collective agreement on the Second Amendment. After talking to many people I trust for the past month, I have heard of a few things we can do now.

stop the violence march-web1.  Preventative gun policy (vs. prohibition).  Calling everything “gun control” doesn’t distinguish between policies that ban things, which just make politicians look good, don’t stop violence but have bad side effects (disproportionate incarceration and increased demand) and preventative gun policies. Amazingly, researchers cited by pro and anti gun control camps who disagree bitterly on everything seem to agree that strengthened background checks (possibly even Joe Biden’s “universal background checks”) work in reducing violence without confiscating anything or putting anyone in jail.

Many gun owners I have spoken to tell me that they oppose any ban but believe that everyone buying firearms should have a reasonably thorough background check to prevent, for example, the severely mentally ill or perpetrators of domestic violence from obtaining guns.  Some have even suggested being ok with background checks for high capacity magazines while opposing their prohibition. Even if the NRA would oppose expanded background checks, very few of their members would. While stronger background checks wouldn’t have stopped the Sandy Hook killings, they may have stopped the Virginia Tech massacre, the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and the mass shooting in Tuscon, Arizona that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  Besides better background checks, there are plenty of other preventative gun policies that would significantly reduce violence way better than banning anything.

stop the violence2.  Tax credits and incentives for gun safes and smartgun technology. Connecticut already had an assault weapons ban and strict gun laws.  While no law was enough to stop Adam Lanza from getting his mother’s guns, securing those guns might have stopped something. It is easy to balk at a proposal to proactively help gun owners better secure their firearms until you consider that every year, at least 500,000 guns are stolen, sometimes by relatives and often from homes without quality gun safes.  Those guns are exponentially more likely to be used in the 300,000 or so gun-related violent crimes yearly than the 270 million guns that aren’t stolen. Most gun owners want and would use a quality safe.  Using incentives, as opposed to requirements, to encourage investment in high quality safes could over time potentially keep millions of guns out of the illegal gun market and away from violent crime scenes.  Although controversial, research is also underway for smartgun technology that customizes guns so that only the owner may use them.  While requiring gun owners to invest in controversial and untested technology would be a non-starter, encouraging more research and incentives for future use opens doors to new strategies to drastically reduce death.

3.  Invest in domestic violence intervention and prevention. To understand domestic violence is to understand Adam Lanza’s mother, who intimated to community members that she feared her son’s mental trajectory, as a victim.  The Justice Department says that over half of murder victims were killed by someone they know (almost a quarter by family members).  A boyfriend or spouse kills a shocking third of all female murder victims, regardless of weapon used. Violent intimate partners have also been involved in their fair share of mass killings.  Making sure that there are better support services for survivors and perpetrators while investing in best practices to keep survivors away from violent circumstances and keep high-risk perpetrators away from survivors and weapons can have immediate and lasting impacts on violence. Ensuring that domestic violence institutions are fully equpped to deal with these circumstances is something that pro and anti gun control people can support regardless of their politics.  For example, former US Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, one of the Senate’s most respected progressive members, was both a strong supporter of gun rights and a strong supporter of policies protecting survivors of domestic violence.

United Playza4.  Invest in other creative violence intervention/prevention projects. Gang truces, college degrees for the incarcerated, street violence “interrupter” projects.  Many of us have seen all of these programs have a direct and dramatic impact on reducing “street” violence and transforming lives. But these programs are labor intensive and often require investing in the redemption of people walking away from the culture of violence. Research shows that these programs are much more effective than feel-good things like gun buy back programs.  But when budgets are cut, they are often the first programs to go, when they are funded at all. Whether it’s the government, Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns or the NRA funding them, ensuring that they are effective and well resourced must become a cornerstone of any fight against the culture of violence.

5.  Create holistic treatment of the violently mentally ill or chemically addicted.  The most welcome, yet first to be dismissed, conversations post-Sandy Hook emphasized this country’s crisis in mental health and substance abuse treatment. The mental health link to Sandy Hook was downplayed partly by well meaning activists with legitimate fears that folks with mental illness (who are more likely to be victims than perps) would be scapegoated as potential serial killers. That doesn’t change the fact that in Florida, where I live, the number of people that are being declared a threat to themselves or others is skyrocketing while the services for them are disintegrating.  Yes we need better background checks to prevent the sliver of mentally ill/chemically addicted that are a threat to others from obtaining weapons, something that is completely doable. But we also need to make sure that we are creating holistic and effective care.

6.  Create more peace building institutions.  A big mistakes made in this debate is assuming that you can create a peaceful society by forcing people to give up their guns (even rhetorically). Martin Luther King, a gun owner, didn’t become a proponent of peaceful resistance because of gun laws. He made a conscious commitment to it. To create a peaceful society, we need to spend way more time encouraging the creation of things like effective conflict resolution programs in schools (that aren’t just for overachievers) and less time getting boiling mad over divisive debates.

gun-control-about-control7.  Creating a different gun culture.  America’s gun culture isn’t going anywhere, but it doesn’t have to be inherently intertwined with the culture of violence. Martial arts instructors, despite knowing twelve different ways of killing someone with their fists, are in my experience among the least violent people I know.  Additionally, acknowledging that we had 14,000 too many murders last year (about 9,300 with a gun) is to acknowledge that murder and violent crime have dropped for five straight years and that we have over a 100 million gun owners from all walks of life that aren’t committing murderous acts of violence. Gun club organizers, firearms instructors and gun shop owners are, in fact, in a unique and far better position to positively stop gun violence than those that want to wish them out of existence.

In Aurora, Colorado before the theater shooting, there were two people that thought something was not right with the shooter, his psychiatrist and the owner of the gun range that the shooter unsuccessfully tried to join. Our current culture war has created a scenario where that intuition never prevented tragedy. Encouraging a culture where people that spend every day with people with guns can detect early warning signs and find proactive, non-“creepy big brother” ways to address those signs could stop scores of violent acts before they start.  Additionally, encouraging a culture where gun owners actively support anti-violence work seems like a better use of time than demanding that Mayor Bloomberg and the NRA’s Wayne La Pierre shake hands.

Will these things stop all murder 100%? No.  Will they stop much more violence than any unproductive culture war debate with mostly symbolic legislation? Absolutely.  Will they give us ways to work with people we don’t agree with to stop violence that we all agree has to stop? Definitely.

The starting point can’t be waiting for the right law or right fully armed/disarmed society.  We(I) have to take the collective responsibility to address our culture of violence as it appears in our lives.  As a man, that means taking the responsibility to address the way that us men are often socialized to express anger, depression and cries for help.  As a friend, that means investing in the redemption of friends and family that wish to walk away from the culture of violence they once participated in. As a community member, it means making sure the institutions that keep people truly safe and healthy survive.  It also means challenging ourselves to come correct with our best thinking and actions. After talking to tons of gun owners and non-gun owners, I realize that the best parts of us believe in building a better and safer world for the people we care about.  The sooner we can put our best beliefs forward, the sooner we can do that.

Subhash Kateel is the co-host of Let’s Talk About It!, a real talk radio program that talks about the real issues that affect the lives of real people. Subhash Kateel has been organizing immigrant communities for over twelve years. He was the initiator of the detention and deportation work for Desis Rising Up and Moving and of co-Founder of Families For Freedom, a multi-ethnic network of immigrants facing and fighting deportation in 2002. He was also an organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition helping to develop community responses to ICE raids, detentions and deportations. Besides facilitating some of the most sought after know your rights trainings in the South East, he helped lead the We Are Florida! campaign that successfully stopped an Arizona-style anti-immigrant bill from passing in the Florida legislature. He is now the co-host of Let’s Talk About It! He has called many places home, including Saginaw, Michigan, Brooklyn, New York and now Miami Florida.

Don’t forget to check out our show every Wednesday night at 7pm right HERE.

Hip-Hop Activists Host Live Discussion on Recent Cases of Police Brutality

A Conversation About Police Brutality
Paradise Gray and Jasiri X Will Host a Live Discussion Online


Every week, a new story emerges of a local community rocked by police violence. These stories typically follow a similar pattern: a young man of color, alleged to be carrying a weapon that is never recovered, gunned down by police officers in a mysterious altercation that, too often, disappears under a mountain of police pressure and legal mismanagement. Taken individually, these stories are surreal tragedies; viewed as a whole, they reveal a disturbing pattern of police abuse and a serious need for a commitment to a 180-degree makeover of community police procedures. This conversation will be a chance for us to work together as activists and Americans to discuss ways to rebuild the trust between police departments and the communities that they are sworn to protect.

WHO: Paradise Gray, Jasiri X, The League of Young Voters Education Fund

WHAT: Live Online Broadcast of the Summer Chat Series from Pittsburgh

WHEN: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 4 p.m. EDT

WHERE: YoungVoterLive.com

WHY: To encourage a provocative and real conversation on how to deal with police brutality in our communities.

Opportunity to Join the Conversation:
Tweet your questions @TheLeague99 to get them answered live.

Brought to you by:

Paradise Gray is a founding member of X-Clan and the Blackwatch Movement. He is a dedicated activist and member of the hip-hop community. Along with Jasiri X, he is one of the founders of One Hood Media, which is a project to train urban youth on media outreach.

Emcee and community activist Jasiri X is the creative force and artist behind the ground breaking internet news series, This Week with Jasiri X, which has garnered critical acclaim, thousands of subscribers, and millions of internet views. From the controversial viral video What if the Tea Party was Black?, to the hard hitting hilarity of Republican Woman…stay away from me, Jasiri X cleverly uses Hip-Hop to provide social commentary on a variety of issues.

The League of Young Voters Education Fund is a non-profit political organization that engages young people who have been shut out of the political process. We train them to be sophisticated organizers in their own communities, where they learn to build multi-racial, multi-issue alliances.

For more information, contact Sarah Stern at (347) 464-8683 or media@99problems.org

Barbara Lee Smashes on the GOP for HCR Repeal

Many of us on the left side of the political spectrum weren’t too happy with all the compromises made to get this Health care bill passed. We wanted single payer, or at least public option, instead we got something that delivers 50 million new customers to insurance companies. The GOP members who are bent on repealing HCR apparently feel that all of us should be on our own to deal with Healthcare… What are your thoughts? For those who don’t know the House just voted to repeal Healthcare Reform

Here’s what our Congresswoman had to say…

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09) issued the following statement today condemning GOP efforts to repeal patients’ rights. The Republican-led House is expected to repeal the healthcare legislation today.

“Every minute we take on this bill to repeal the important freedoms provided by the health reform law is a critical minute we are not focusing on jobs,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.  “What a sham and a shame. Our business should be focusing on getting our economy moving by directly creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

“Instead the Republican leadership wants to add $230 billion to the deficit and empower health insurance companies to take away patient’s rights to make their own health care decisions. By repealing health reform, Republicans will give insurance companies the power to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, deny young people up to the age of 26 the option to stay on their parent’s plans, and drop coverage for pregnant women and breast and prostate cancer patients

“Repeal will further squeeze our seniors by forcing them to pay more for their prescription drugs, and endanger the future solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund.

“Worst of all, the Republican plan to repeal the new law does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to improve health care for anybody in this country – whether to make health insurance more affordable, to provide greater coverage, to reduce costs, or to improve quality of services.

Literally their idea is to return to the same failed system that has left 50.6 million people, including 7.5 million children, without health insurance.

In the current economic environment – where more people are without coverage and jobs are scarce – making it more difficult for people to access health care or to keep their health coverage makes no sense. Instead we should strengthen and improve the current health care law, first by adding a public option to provide choice and competition and expanding Medicare for all.

“Our goal should be to realize a world where access to health care truly is a fundamental human right and not a privilege enjoyed by the wealthy few.

“Rather than continuing with this political charade, we must answer the President’s call to come together in a spirit of civility and through honest debate find solutions to the current economic crisis and put America back to work.”

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Oscar Grant Update: Bay Area is Stunned as a Lying BART Cop is Reinstated

Marysol Domenici

Last week an officer who blatantly lied under oath was given her job back.. We’re talking about Marysol Domenici who was one of the first officers to on the scene at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, January 1 2009 when an unarmed Oscar Grant was shot in the back by convicted former BART cop Johannes Mehserle.

Domenici was fired after an independent investigating law firm Meyers Nave concluded she had lied about what took place the night of Grant’s murder. Domenici who had been on 15 months paid leave at the time of her firing, appealed via arbitration with the ruling she be immediately reinstated with back pay. The arbitrator, William Riker insisted that the prior investigation was flawed and that he saw no evidence that Domenici was untruthful.

Rulings like these have given people more and more reason to have little confidence in the justice system. What has taken place over the past two years around the killing of a Oscar Grant is something all of us involved with social justice issues will have to study for years to come. How can one be so meticulous in following every ‘proper’ step to seek justice only to see it thwarted at every turn?

To hear an arbitrator say that Domenici didn’t lie is beyond outrageous. Here’s a few things that are glaring.

During the preliminary hearings Domenici under oath emphatically stated that Oscar Grant had grabbed her arm. However when a video was shown it showed Grant holding on to the arm of his friend Jack Bryson.  When confronted with the video, Domenici recanted her statement.

Under oath Domenici claimed that there were 40-50 people on the BART platform, the scene was chaotic and she feared for her life.. Those were exact words-She feared for her life. However, when a video is shown.. there is NO ONE on the platform.. Where were the 50 people?  Not only that Domenici trained Black belt fighter which suggests a discipline and methodic approach toward dangerous situations, claimed she feared for her life, yet never called for back up..She also said that she would’ve used lethal force and killed somebody.

During the actual trial when Domenici took the stand she was confronted with her lies about 40-50 people being on the platform.. She tried to switch it up and say the train that was packed with passengers returning home from New year’s celebrations was ‘an extension’ of the platform. Yes, the train was packed, but no one was rowdy or jumping our confronting officers.

Domenici also claimed that Oscar friends caused his death by not co-operating. She made the claim they had struggled against her, but when questioned she noted that Grant’s friends didn’t struggle. What was crazy was Domenici had pulled out a taser and had pointed it at the heads of some of Grants friends threatening to shoot them which was not only against department protocol but also deemed unconstitutional by the 9th circuit court.

For folks in the Bay Area who have followed this case, from day one there was a call to have all the officers on that BART platform charged with crimes after Oscar Grant was murdered. While it was Johannes Mehserle who did the shooting, Domenici and her partner Tony Pirone who was also fired and now appealing, set the hostile climate that led to Grant’s death.

By deliberately exaggerating and making it sound like things were out of control, anyone the officers grabbed that night were likely to be subjected to harsh treatment. This is what happened to Grant and his friends.  Even after he was shot, he was handcuffed because the officers claimed the environment was hostile.

BART says the ruling to reinstate Domenici is out of their control. The ruling has left many in the Bay Area asking some hard questions: 1-How could Marysol Domenici be reinstated in the face of all her wrong doings? 2-Why has she not been charged with perjury? By all accounts she lied on the stands. Her sworn accounts do not coincide with what was shown on videos? They also change from the preliminary trial to the trial?  Why hasn’t Alameda DA Nancy O’Malley hit Domenici with perjury charges?  The statute of limitations have not run out? If not O’Malley should this question be brought to the feet of California’s new Attorney General Kamala Harris?

Many are vowing to keep pushing in the upcoming New Year. Thus far two years have hard work have been stomped on by a far right conservative judges, Robert Perry and now this arbitrator who says he found nothing untruthful. All one has to do is read her statements, look at the video and can see it clearly. It’s clear for some the admission that cops could do something so egregious is unfathomable and thus even in the face of something this glaring, they give the police benefit of the doubt. That has got to change in the New Year.

-Davey D-

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Michael Moore: Dear Government of Sweden

Dear Swedish Government:

Hi there — or as you all say, Hallå! You know, all of us here in the U.S. love your country. Your Volvos, your meatballs, your hard-to-put-together furniture — we can’t get enough!

There’s just one thing that bothers me — why has Amnesty International, in a special report, declared that Sweden refuses to deal with the very real tragedy of rape? In fact, they say that all over Scandinavia, including in your country, rapists “enjoy impunity.” And the United Nations, the EU and Swedish human rights groups have come to the same conclusion: Sweden just doesn’t take sexual assault against women seriously. How else do you explain these statistics from Katrin Axelsson of Women Against Rape:

** Sweden has the HIGHEST per capita number of reported rapes in Europe.

** This number of rapes has quadrupled in the last 20 years.

** The conviction rates? They have steadily DECREASED.

Axelsson says: “On April 23rd of this year, Carina Hägg and Nalin Pekgul (respectively MP and chairwoman of Social Democratic Women in Sweden) wrote in the Göteborgs [newspaper] that ‘up to 90% of all reported rapes [in Sweden] never get to court.'”

Let me say that again: nine out of ten times, when women report they have been raped, you never even bother to start legal proceedings. No wonder that, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, it is now statistically more likely that someone in Sweden will be sexually assaulted than that they will be robbed.

Message to rapists? Sweden loves you!

So imagine our surprise when all of a sudden you decided to go after one Julian Assange on sexual assault charges. Well, sort of: first you charged him. Then after investigating it, you dropped the most serious charges and rescinded the arrest warrant.

Then a conservative MP put pressure on you and, lo and behold, you did a 180 and reopened the Assange investigation. Except you still didn’t charge him with anything. You just wanted him for “questioning.” So you — you who have sat by and let thousands of Swedish women be raped while letting their rapists go scott-free — you decided it was now time to crack down on one man — the one man the American government wants arrested, jailed or (depending on which politician or pundit you listen to) executed. You just happened to go after him, on one possible “count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape (third degree).” And while thousands of Swedish rapists roam free, you instigated a huge international manhunt on Interpol for this Julian Assange!

What anti-rape crusaders you’ve become, Swedish government! Women in Sweden must suddenly feel safer?

Well, not really. Actually, many see right through you. They know what these “non-charge charges” are really about. And they know that you are cynically and disgustingly using the real and everyday threat that exists against women everywhere to help further the American government’s interest in silencing the work of WikiLeaks.

I don’t pretend to know what happened between Mr. Assange and the two women complainants (all I know is what I’ve heard in the media, so I’m as confused as the next person). And I’m sorry if I’ve jumped to any unnecessary or wrong-headed conclusions in my efforts to state a very core American value: All people are absolutely innocent until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. I strongly believe every accusation of sexual assault must be investigated vigorously. There is nothing wrong with your police wanting to question Mr. Assange about these allegations, and while I understand why he seemed to go into hiding (people tend to do that when threatened with assassination), he nonetheless should answer the police’s questions. He should also submit to the STD testing the alleged victims have requested. I believe Sweden and the UK have a treaty and a means for you to send your investigators to London so they can question Mr. Assange where he is under house arrest while out on bail.

But that really wouldn’t be like you would it, to go all the way to another country to pursue a suspect for sexual assault when you can’t even bring yourselves to make it down to the street to your own courthouse to go after the scores of reported rapists in your country. That you, Sweden, have chosen to rarely do that in the past, is why this whole thing stinks to the high heavens.

And let’s not forget this one final point from Women Against Rape’s Katrin Axelsson:

“There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s safety. In the south of the US, the lynching of black men was often justified on grounds that they had raped or even looked at a white woman. Women don’t take kindly to our demand for safety being misused, while rape continues to be neglected at best or protected at worst.”

This tactic of using a rape charge to go after minorities or troublemakers, guilty or innocent — while turning a blind eye to clear crimes of rape the rest of the time — is what I fear is happening here. I want to make sure that good people not remain silent and that you, Sweden, will not succeed if in fact you are in cahoots with corrupt governments such as ours.

Last week Naomi Klein wrote: “Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that ‘women’s freedom’ was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up!”

I agree.

Unless you have the evidence (and it seems if you did you would have issued an arrest warrant by now), drop the extradition attempt and get to work doing the job you’ve so far refused to do: Protecting the women of Sweden.

Michael Moore


Police Files Reveal FBI, Homeland Security & Secret Service Heavily Monitored Oscar Grant Protests

Below is a story about the huge amounts of surveillance that going on during the Oscar Grant protests.Some might say we shouldn’t be surprised about the strong presence of FBI, Homeland Security etc at Oscar Grant protests over the past couple of years.. That’s being a bit dismissive. The word is not surprised, but we should be concerned and be asking alot of questions. We should also note all this surveillance is connected to something much larger. Is this part of the ongoing efforts to monitor any sort of political protestor.  On many levels the US in terms of suppression has become like some of the very countries we often criticize and have even fought in an effort to bring Democracy and openness.

Many of us were well aware there were police informants and undercover officers who were embedding themselves in the Oscar Grant Movement. The very first rallies had folks who were riding for the police. Most folks who have long organized knew to expect that and on many levels worked hard to find various ways to counter and eventually a couple of the informants were identified and publicly outed.

However, with the Feds doing all this surveillance says something else. Why monitor protestors vs investigating the police who killed Oscar Grant?

There was no denying with the thousands who showed up at marches, rallies townhalls that police brutality had struck a chord in various communities. Black, Asian, Latino, whites.. When you have that many people come together and express outrage, one would think this should set of alarm bells and lead the Feds to ask themselves;  ‘What’s  going on with police in the Bay Area that so many people are out protesting’?  Are there any discernible patterns of police wrong doing? ‘Is there any sort of coverup or collusion going on?’ For starters we can look at all the potentially damaging material that convicted officer Johannes Mehserle was allowed to keep covered up thanks to the police man’s bill of rights.

People seemed to forget that an unarmed man was shot in front of hundreds of people while he lay face down on a subway platform restrained. Moments before being shot he was called a ‘bitch ass nigger‘ by an officer who was later fired when it was discovered that he and his partner had lied and covered parts of the incident.. Were the Feds investigating and monitoring that? How widespread was the coverup.. We do know that there was a police agency NOBLE that investigated and concluded there was negligence on the way BART handled things and recommended sweeping changes.. Shouldn’t the FEDS have been concerned about that verses protestors?

It’s also interesting to note that the focus seemed to be concerns about property damage. Not to justify broken windows, but all of us have been to Big Game events where Cal plays Stanford and stores have been ransacked and windows busted damn near every other year.. Have the feds been investigating that?

Judge Robert Perry

The conduct of Judge Robert Perry who is now the subject of a recall needs to be investigated. Here’s a judge who has a long history of covering for the police. Here’s a judge that told the family during sentencing that they should be happy the Barack Obama is in office. He intimated that Obama was an indication we progressed beyond race..

Again the feds are investigating things on our behalf and with our tax dollars. Most of us would like to see those tax dollars used to investigate the reason our justice system is broken and whats it gonna take to fix it.

-Davey D-


Police files reveal Federal interest in Oscar Grant protests, “Anarchists”

December 15, 2010 | 9:29 AM | By Ali Winston


Documents recently obtained by The Informant reveal the significant involvement of state and federal law enforcement in monitoring the various Oscar Grant protests in Oakland over the past two years.

According to internal Oakland Police Department documents about the July 8th protests that followed Johannes Mehserle’s involuntary manslaughter conviction, agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, United States Secret Service, and the California Department of Justice were assigned to monitor crowd activities.

Thirty-three federal, state and local officers were assigned to video details posted in buildings surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza and throughout the crowd of several hundred demonstrators. Among them were personnel from the Secret Service, the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation who took video of the protest. Some DEA and Oakland Police officers recorded the protest, while others dressed in plainclothes provided intelligence from within the crowd to OPD’s Emergency Operations Command Center at 1605 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The documents indicate FBI involvement in monitoring the Oscar Grant protests as early as January 2009. A police report included in the case file of Holly Noll, a 24-year-old activist who plead no contest to charges of assaulting a police officer, shows the FBI was providing intelligence to OPD on the movements of “black bloc” anarchists in Downtown Oakland on the night of January 14, 2009, when the latest of several protests agitating for Johannes Mehserle’s arrest erupted into property destruction and clashes with police.

Oakland Police Officer Scott Seder’s report from that night indicates specific FBI interest in “anarchists.” The report reads as follows:

“OPD [Oakland Police Department] radio announced a communications order stating the FBI advised groups of anarchists, described as MW [male, white], 17-25 years old, wearing black and red clothing, were en route to the protest and planned to commit acts of violence and vandalism adjacent to the main demonstration.”

Jose Luis Fuentes, an attorney at Siegel & Yee, the law firm that is defending those arrested in the July 8th protests, believes the involvement of state and federal agencies in intelligence-gathering is part of a larger effort to scrutinize political protest. “They’re trying to build a case against ‘black blocs’ or anarchists as domestic terrorism,” said Fuentes. “The federal government wants to know who’s protesting. They’re documenting who the agitators are — This is all COINTELPRO resurfacing.”

The Counter Intelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, was an extensive federal operation that ran from the 1950s through the 1970s that monitored political activists, sometime using law enforcement to harass and discredit everyone from the National Association of Colored People to the Ku Klux Klan, who federal authorities considered dangerous.

But law enforcement personnel who worked the Oscar Grant protests say federal involvement had nothing to do with a political ideology and everything to do with keeping civilians and critical infrastructure sites safe and preventing disorder.

Oakland Police Captain David Downing, who was in charge of “Operation Verdict,” the police response to the July 8th post-verdict protests, says the handful of federal agents were nothing more than extra eyes among the several hundred law enforcement officers working on July 8th.

“Their only job was to be out there and videotape, be observers and feed information,” said Downing, who was in charge of Operation Verdict. The DEA, California DOJ and Secret Services agents were a fraction of the several hundreds of law enforcement agents from across Northern California who took part in Operation Verdict.

Much like several police departments provided officers to assist with crowd control, the state and federal agencies brought their investigative capacities to the table, as well as equipment. The FBI and DEA both offered helicopters for air support.

Documents indicate that anarchists were on everyone’s mind.

In a running police log from the July 8 protests and in emails exchanged between OPD command staff in the days prior, there is extensive mention of potential acts of property destruction and violence by “anarchists.” The log was later forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center. “They were interested in the event,” said Captain Downing.

During previous protests about the Oscar Grant case, media reports focused on property destruction allegedly perpetrated by “black bloc” anarchists.

“They’re a concern,” said Captain Downing of the Oakland Police. “They don’t really care about the cause other than using the mask of a large mob to engage in property damage.”

Defense attorney Jose Luis Fuentes remains convinced the intelligence gathered during Operation Verdict was part of a broader effort to intimidate political protest. The subtext is that, “If you’re going to protest and violate any law, we might prosecute you federally,” Fuentes said.

A November 16th primer on “Anarchist Extremism” on the FBI’s website describes the Bureau’s general policy on anarchists:

“Currently, much of the criminal activities of anarchist extremists fall under local jurisdiction, so they’re investigated by local police. If asked by police, the Bureau can assist. But we have a heavy presence at a major national or international events generating significant media coverage—that’s when the threat from anarchist extremists, as well as others who are up to no good, dramatically increases.”

According to an OPD investigative log, the FBI explored the possibility of charging some of the July Oscar Grant protesters federally.

FBI Special Agent Russell Romero contacted OPD on July 21 to set up a meeting about the July 8th incident. On July 27, Agents Russell Romero and Kari McInturf met with OPD investigators “to see if Federal charges can be brought.” Romero and McInturf obtained a list of all the July 8th arrestees and their charges from OPD. To date, no federal charges have been filed.

Pres Obama’s FCC Throws Another Constituency Thrown Under The Bus-Big Showdown Dec 21

After campaigning as a champion of network neutrality, President Obama has decisively broken yet another promise. The FCC votes December 21 on rules proposed by the president’s FCC chairman which will begin the transformation of the free and open internet into somethning much more like cable TV, with corporate control over content, and hundreds or thousands of “channels”, but not much worth watching.

President Obama’s FCC Sells Out on Network Neutrality – Another Constituency Thrown Under The Bus

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon


Bruce Dixon

Never mind the big tent,” declared a cartoon by the artist Mike Fluggenock during the 2008 presidential campaign. “There’s room for all” the caption declared “under Obama’s Big Bus.” A full two years after that historic election, it’s hard to name any part of the Democratic party’s base constituencies that President Obama has not decisively betrayed. Last week gays, women, blacks, Latinos, the environment, the peace movement, labor, the unemployed and a host of others were joined beneath the speeding wheels of the Obama bus by those millions of Americans who believe greedy corporations should not control what we see, hear, write and communicate over the internet.

President Obama campaigned on the promise that he would take a back seat to nobody in guaranteeing the free and open internet. Two years out, it’s abundantly clear thatu the president lied to us, and to the American people on network neutrality.

The pending merger between Comcast and NBC would create a gigantic corporation with both the motive and means to privilege the delivery of its own content over the enormous fraction of the internet that they own, and to slow down, inhibit, or apply surcharges to content originating from outside. Neither the administration’s Justice Department or FCC have lifted a finger to oppose it. So-called compromise rules announced last week by Obama’s FCC Chairman Julius Genachowki pay only the faintest lip service to the concept that the internet should be a common carrier available to all, and provide vast loopholes for internet providers to apply punitive charges to content and content providers they disfavor.

Thanks to the Obama administration, which once enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the media justice community, greedy telecom corporations will at last have their wish — that the internet will become a lot more like cable TV — five hundred, or five thousand channels, but nothing worth watching. The proposed FCC regulations will allow corporations even more power to control and restrict the content delivered via wireless broadband internet, thought to be the internet delivery technology of the future. Needless to say, the telecom and cable companies are well pleased. Their paid stooges at the Alliance for Digital Equality, the Minority Media Telecommunications Council, LULAC, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and the NAACP, and the Congressional Black Caucus are raking in telecom donations and cranking out press releases assuring us that giving their benefactors more control over the internet will create jobs and opportunities for all of us little people.

The five member FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposed rule changes on December 21. Certainly chairman Genachowski will vote for his own rules. Amazingly, it is possible that the two Republican commissioners may not because they object to any regulation of corporations whatsoever. Commissioners Kopps and Clyburn, however, are still thought to be staunch supporters of network neutrality, and should be contacted by email, phone or fax and asked to oppose the Obama proposal to let corporations control what we see, hear and send over the internet. This is a case when doing nothing is better than anything already on the table. For more information on what you can do, visit www.savetheinternet.com That’s www.savetheinternet.com.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon.

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Will Ron Paul bring the Revolution to Congress & Audit the Feds?

For years Ron Paul has sat in the halls of Congress talking a good game about how he wants to audit the Feds, ultimately abolish it and clean house.. He’s garnered a strident, loyal following of folks who in many ways gave the country a glimpse into the fiesty, cantankerous, defiant attitude  that some would be characterized as part of the Tea Party Movement. I was in NH during the 08 primaries when I ran into Paul and the Ron Paul Revolution… They were impressive in terms of kicking up dust..Folks were standing out there in the cold making sure their presence was felt and that everyone within earshot would know Paul’s name.

At the same time I later got to interview Paul and his son Rand who is will be taking his seat in the Senate come January. During our discussion, myself and a conservative reporter whose name escaped me, asked Paul about his willingness to take money from the KKK and other white supremacist organizations that had his picture and links to his site on their sites.

Paul didn’t blink an eye and said he had no problem taking money from them and would continue to do so. When asked would he give the money back and denounce them, Paul hedged and said he doesn’t follow their beliefs and that he would not give back their money. That raised a lot of eyebrows..

When we played the interview on the air we got a lot of angry calls from Ron Paul supporters who insisted that he was not racist and that he can’t help that White supremacist were supporting him.. This is essentially what Rand  said to us in response to his father’s remarks.  He said his father believes in freedom of speech and he wasnt a supporter of the KKK and their activities..

The discussions would quickly move from Paul and then KKK to him wanting to dismantle the Fed, and start hauling folks off to jail for financial wrong doing. We’ll come 2010 his opportunity will be there. He’s set to chair the House Subcommitte on Domestic Monetary Policy. The question is will he succeed in doing what so many others have failed? Will he shake up Washington? Will he follow through or meet the same corporate backed forces and lobbyist who thus far have shut down, run out of town  and brought off damn near everyone who has tried? It’ll be interesting to see how the people who have long championed the Ron Paul Revolution feel if he doesn’t. Will they become as disillusioned with their man the same way many young Obama supporters got disillusioned with him when Washington didn’t change?

-Davey D-

  Ron Paul Rides Again


Ron Paul

The Revolution is here! Searching for leadership, congressional Republicans have finally turned to Ron Paul. Well, to chair the House subcommittee on domestic monetary policy, at least. But that does put Congress’s leading critic of the Federal Reserve in charge of the panel that oversees the central bank.

Ben Bernanke, beware. The 12-term libertarian-leaning congressman from Texas has written a book-length manifesto – titled simply End the Fed – calling for the Federal Reserve’s abolition. He will likely call leading Austrian economists affiliated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute to Capitol Hill to testify alongside staid mainstream economists. Fortune magazine recently asked, “Will the Fed be able to survive Ron Paul?”

For years, Paul laboured in obscurity. He ended his first stint in Congress with an unsuccessful run for US Senate in 1984 (he lost to eventual Senator Phil Gramm in the Republican primary). Before returning to the House 13 years later, in order to join the stalled government-shrinking “Republican Revolution”, Paul was the Libertarian party’s presidential nominee in 1988.

But it was Paul’s first Republican presidential campaign in 2008 that really put him on the map. Debating alongside John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, Paul stood out as a voice for peace and civil liberties. Unlike all the other Republicans on stage, he opposed the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. A strict constitutionalist, he was also more consistent than the rest of them in his rejection of debts, deficits and runaway government spending.

Paul’s views on war and peace remain deeply controversial within the Republican party. When Paul defended Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, for instance, the conservative blog RedState denounced him as “al-Qaida’s favourite member of Congress”. But when it comes to economics and the requirement that federal legislation be explicitly based on the Constitution, Paul’s philosophy is starting to resonate.

continue reading this article in the UK Guardian

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President Obama Taps Singer Jon Bon Jovi to be a Affordable Housing Advisor

President Obama Announces Members of the White House Council for Community Solutions
WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Council for Community Solutions.  The Council will provide advice to the President on the best ways to mobilize citizens, nonprofits, businesses and government to work more effectively together to solve specific community needs. 
The President also announced his intent to appointthe following individuals to the White House Council for Community Solutions:
·         Patty Stonesifer, Chair, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Byron Auguste,Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Diana Aviv, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Paula Boggs, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jon Bon Jovi,Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         John Bridgeland, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jim Canales, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Scott Cowen, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         John Donahoe, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Michael Fleming, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         David Friedman, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jim Gibbons, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Michele Jolin, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Michael Kempner, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Steven Lerner, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Maurice Lim Miller,Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Laurene Powell Jobs, Member,White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Norman Rice, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Kristin Richmond, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Judith Rodin, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Nancy H. Rubin, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Paul Schmitz, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jill Schumann, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Bobbi Silten, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Bill Strickland, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
President Obama said, “These impressive men and women have dedicated their lives and careers to civic engagement and social innovation.  I commend them for their outstanding contributions to their communities, and I am confident that they will serve the American people well in their new roles on the White House Council for Community Solutions.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
In addition to providing advice to the President on solving specific community needs, the White House Council for Community Solutions has been tasked with three key functions: enlisting leaders in the non-profit, private, and philanthropic sectors to make progress on key policy goals; providing strategic input and recommendations to help the federal government promote greater innovation and cross-sector collaboration; and honoring and highlighting those making a significant impact in their own communities.  The Council will be composed of leaders from non-profits, corporations and foundations who are committed to social innovation and civic engagement. 

President Obama announced his intent to appointthe following individuals to the White House Council forCommunity Solutions


Patty Stonesifer

Patty Stonesifer, Appointee for Chair, White House Council for Community Solutions

Patty Stonesifer currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Regents for the Smithsonian Institution.  As the former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (1997-2008), Ms. Stonesifer continues her involvement with the Foundation as a Senior Advisor.  Prior to helping establish the Gates Foundation, Ms. Stonesifer had a two-decade career in technology, with her latest role as Senior Vice President at Microsoft Corp.  Ms. Stonesifer serves as a private philanthropic Advisor and sits on the boards of The Broad Institute and the Center for Global Development.  She has also served on the boards of the Seattle Foundation, the GAVI Fund, Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa (DATA), and ONE.  Ms. Stonesifer is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council on Foreign Relations and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on AIDS.  In July 1996, Time Magazine named her as one of the 25 Most Influential People in America.  Ms. Stonesifer holds a B.G.S degree from Indiana University and honorary degrees from both Indiana University and Tufts University.
Byron Auguste, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Byron Auguste is a senior partner at McKinsey & Company in Washington DC., where he primarily works in the fields of high technology, information- and services-based businesses, education, and economic development.   Mr. Auguste also serves as Director of McKinsey’s Global Social Sector Office, which works with institutions in the private, public, and non-profit sectors worldwide.  He previously spent fourteen years in McKinsey’s Los Angeles Office, where he was elected Principal in 1999 and Director in 2005.  Prior to that, Mr. Auguste worked as an economist at the African Development Bank, LMC International, and Oxford University.   He is the co-founder and board chairman of Hope Street Group, a nationwide, nonpartisan, volunteer organization of professionals, executives, and entrepreneurs developing and promoting public policies.  Mr. Auguste also serves on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Council on International Policy, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Board of Trustees of the Center for American Progress, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  He holds a B.A. in economics and political science from Yale University, where he was chosen as a Truman Scholar, and a M. Phil. and D.Phil. in economics from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.
Diana Aviv, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Diana Aviv is President and CEO of the Independent Sector, a leadership network representing thousands of nonprofits, foundations and corporate giving programs.  Prior to that, Ms. Aviv was Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Action Office of the Jewish Federations of North America.  In her career, she has also served as Associate Executive Vice Chair at the Jewish Council of Public Affairs and Director of Programs for the National Council of Jewish Women.  Ms. Aviv is an advisory committee and board member of many nonprofit organizations including GuideStar USA, the National Council on Aging, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the Comptroller General’s Advisory Board, and the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law.  She previously served on the Board of Governors of the Partnership for Public Service, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents’ Committee on Governance.  Ms. Aviv is former Chair of the Board for the National Immigration Forum.  She holds a B.S. degree from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and an M.A. from Columbia University.
Paula Boggs, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Paula Boggs currently serves as the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Starbucks Coffee Company.  Ms. Boggs also serves as Secretary of the Starbucks Foundation and is Washington’s State Delegate to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates.  Prior to that, she was Vice President at Dell Computer Corporation (1997-2002), partner at Preston Gates & Ellis (now K& L Gates, 1995-1997), Staff Director for the Advisory Board on the Investigative Capability of the Department of Defense (1994), and an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Washington (1988-1994).  Ms. Boggs also served in the United States Army (1981-1988) and was a detailed staff attorney at The White House (1987-1988).  She currently serves on The Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees, the American Red Cross Board of Governors, the Advisory Council for KEXP FM (an NPR affiliate), and Washington State’s Campaign for Equal Justice.  Ms. Boggs has also been part of several philanthropic organizations, such as the boards of Legal Aid for Washington Fund, the Greater Seattle YMCA, and the Seattle Art Museum.   She holds a B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from University of California at Berkeley School of Law. 

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jon Bon Jovi currently serves as Chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the lives of those in need.  The Soul Foundation launches programs and partnerships with the intent to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness in the United States.  To date, Mr. Bon Jovi and the Soul Foundation have provided affordable housing to hundreds of low-income individuals and families.  Mr. Bon Jovi is also the lead singer of the Grammy Award winning group Bon Jovi, which has sold more than 120 million albums and performed more than 2,600 concerts for more than 34 million fans.
John Bridgeland, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

John Bridgeland currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C.  Prior to founding Civic Enterprises, Mr. Bridgeland served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Assistant to President George W. Bush, Director of the USA Freedom Corps, and Chief of Staff & Special Counsel to U.S. Congressman Rob Portman.  He also co-led the Policy Transition Team for President George W. Bush in 2000-2001. In 2007, he led the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, TIME Magazine, and MTV to bring attention to the high school dropout crisis.  Mr. Bridgeland was also a co-convener of ServiceNation, a Presidential forum that showcased a 10-point plan to increase community, national, and international service opportunities.  For his work in promoting the national service agenda, Mr. Bridgeland was selected as NonProfit Times Executive of the Year.  He currently serves on twelve non-profit boards, including City Year, Earth Conservation Corps, the President’s Advisory Board at EARTH University in Costa Rica, National Conference on Citizenship, the Public Advisory Board at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, and the Partnership for Public Service.  He is Vice Chairman of Malaria No More and a Senior Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Malaria. He holds a B.A. degree from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Jim Canales, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jim Canales currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine Foundation.  Prior to this appointment, Mr. Canales served as Vice President and Corporate Secretary at the Foundation from 1999 to 2003.  His service at the Foundation began in 1993 and has included roles such as Special Assistant to the President, Program Officer, and Chief Administrative Officer/Corporate Secretary.  Mr. Canales currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and he is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the College Access Foundation of California. Mr. Canales has previously served as board chair for KQED Public Broadcasting and for the Stanford Alumni Association.  He has also served on the boards of BoardSource in Washington D.C., and Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.  He is a co-founder and past Board Chair for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO).  Mr. Canales holds a B.A. degree and an M.A. from Stanford University.
Scott Cowen, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Scott Cowen currently serves as the fourteenth President of Tulane University.  Dr. Cowen also holds joint appointments as the Seymour S. Goodman Memorial Professor of Business in Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and Professor of Economics in the School of Liberal Arts.  Prior to serving at Tulane, Dr. Cowen was a professor, and later dean, at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio for twenty-three years.  In 2005, Dr. Cowen was appointed by New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin to the “Bring New Orleans Back Commission” after Hurricane Katrina and charged with leading a committee to reform and rebuild the city’s failing public school system.  Dr. Cowen is also the co-founder of the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors program, a group of New Orleans civic leaders dedicated to promoting post-Katrina New Orleans around the country.  He has held leadership positions in national academic and professional associations, including the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.  Dr. Cowen currently serves as a board member for several organizations, including the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation.  In 2009, Time Magazine named Dr. Cowen one of the nation’s top 10 Best College Presidents.  Prior to his work in academia, Mr. Cowen served for three years as a United States Army infantry officer, including a tour in Turkey (1968-1971).  Dr. Cowen holds a B.A. degree from the University of Connecticut and an M.B.A. in finance and D.B.A. in management from George Washington University.
John Donahoe, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

John Donahoe currently serves as President and CEO of eBay Inc. In this position, Mr. Donahoe has global responsibility for growing the company’s e-commerce and payments businesses, which include eBay Marketplaces and PayPal.   Mr. Donahoe joined eBay in February 2005 as President of eBay Marketplaces, where he was responsible for all elements of eBay’s global e-commerce businesses.  Prior to eBay, Mr. Donahoe spent more than 20 years at Bain & Company, a worldwide consulting firm based in Boston.  He started as an Associate Consultant and rose to become the firm’s CEO, where he managed Bain’s 30 offices and over 3,000 employees.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for eBay Inc. and Intel Corp., Mr. Donahoe is a member of the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College.  Mr. Donahoe received a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Michael Fleming, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Michael Fleming currently serves as the Executive Director of the David Bohnett Foundation.  As Executive Director, Mr. Fleming promotes the Foundation’s goal of improving society through social justice and civic activism and is committed to funding forward-thinking programs, organizations and institutions in areas including public policy, education, the LGBT community, the arts, gun violence and animal language research. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2000, Mr. Fleming worked in a variety of media positions, including producing newscasts in Boston and Washington and serving as a media specialist for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Mr. Fleming remains active in broadcasting as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of public radio’s KCRW Foundation, one of the country’s – and the Web’s – most listened-to NPR stations.  In 2007, he was appointed to the Los Angeles Convention Center Commission by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  Mr. Fleming has, since 2003, taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, served on the Dean’s Council of New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and was, in 2005, a Victory Fellow (now Bohnett Fellow) at Harvard Kennedy School.  Mr. Fleming holds a B.A. from Colorado College.
David Friedman, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

David Friedman currently serves as the Lead Director and Chair of Edison Properties/HNB Private Trust, the largest owner of miniature storage facilities in New York City.  Mr. Friedman also serves as partner at Sandy River II, an organization which develops and operates Alzheimer’s Assisted Living facilities in New England.  In 2005, Mr. Friedman served as Founder and Chairman of Sandy River Health Systems, Maine’s largest provider of long-term health care.  He has served on several boards and commissions, including the Calvert Social Investment Fund, The Threshold Foundation, UFP Technologies, and as Co-Chairman of The Jewish Funders Network.  Mr. Friedman holds a B.S. degree in economics from Harvard University.
Jim Gibbons, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jim Gibbons currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill Industries International.  He is also a past President and Chief Executive Officer of National Industries for the Blind (1998-2008).  Prior to joining National Industries for the Blind, Mr. Gibbons worked as President and Chief Executive Officer of Campus Wide Access Solutions-a wholly owned AT&T subsidiary.  While at AT&T, Mr. Gibbons held various leadership positions in marketing and operations.  Mr. Gibbons has received several awards and recognitions for his work, including the 2010 National Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, the 2009 Young Presidents’ Organization Social Enterprise Leadership Award, SmartCEO 2010 ECO CEO award for organizational commitment to the environment, and the Purdue 2007 Outstanding Industrial Engineer of the Year award.  Mr. Gibbons holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.
Michele Jolin, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Michele Jolin currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she is developing policy tools to foster social entrepreneurship and drive investment toward more innovative, effective nonprofit solutions to our nation’s critical social problems.  Previously, Ms. Jolin served as Senior Advisor for Social Innovation at the White House, in the newly created Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation (2009-2010).   Prior to joining the White House, she co-edited the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s presidential transition book titled Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President.  Ms. Jolin also served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (2005-2008), where she authored a number of articles and reports on policy tools to promote innovation and impact in the nonprofit sector.  From 1999-2004, she was a Senior Vice President at Ashoka, a global foundation that invests in social entrepreneurs in more than 50 countries around the world.   From 1995 to 1999, Ms. Jolin served as the Chief of Staff for President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and from 1993-1995, she worked for Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on the Senate Banking Committee. She has a B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Michael Kempner, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Michael Kempner is the Founder (1986), President, and Chief Executive Officer of MWW Group, one of the largest independent public relations firms in the United States. Mr. Kempner also serves as an Operating Advisor to Pegasus Capital Advisors, helping them build companies that solve scarce resource issues and other transformative technologies.  Previously, Mr. Kempner was the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Torricelli (1982 -1984).  He is currently a member of various boards, including the Center for Food Action, the Network for Teacher Entrepreneurship, the North Jersey Community Bank, and New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism and Community Service.  Mr. Kempner was named PR Professional of the Year in 2010 by PR News and was inducted into the PR News Hall of Fame in 2009 for his work in communications.  He has also received recognition as PR Week’s Professional of the Year (2008) and the Public Relations Society of America New Jersey chapter’s Public Relations Professional of the Year (2005). Mr. Kempner holds a B.S. from the School of Communications at The American University.
Steven Lerner, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Steven Lerner is the Founder and Managing Partner of Blue Hill Group, a financial company that invests in entrepreneurial companies and helps them manage rapid growth.  Mr. Lerner is also Partner in LaunchBox Digital, an organization that provides seed capital and mentoring to start-up companies through a 12 week accelerator program.  He is a member of various Boards, including Bandwidth.Com, Accent Energy, Petroliance, and Piedmont Community Bank Holdings.  Mr. Lerner is also Chairman and Founder of two North Carolina marketing service companies, Capstrat and FGI (1982).  Over the years, he has served on the boards of locally based not-for-profit organizations with a primary focus on education and communications.  Previously, he served as Chairman of Yankelovich Partners prior to its sale in 2008.  Mr. Lerner received both an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Maurice Lim Miller, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Maurice Lim Miller is the Founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Family Independence Initiative (FII), a national center for anti-poverty innovation.  Before founding FII, Mr. Miller spent 22 years at the Asian Neighborhood Design (1978-2000) and served as its Executive Director for most of his tenure, where he promoted multi-service community development initiatives in San Francisco and Oakland, California.  He also serves on the boards of the Hitachi Foundation and the Board of the California Endowment, one of the country’s largest foundations, which focuses on the nexus of health and poverty.  Mr. Miller previously served as a Board Member of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, Public/Private Ventures, and the Koshland Awards Committee of the San Francisco Foundation.  Former President Bill Clinton honored him at the 1999 State of the Union Address for his community service and leadership.  Mr. Miller holds a B.S. and an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Laurene Powell Jobs, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Laurene Powell Jobs is founder and chair of the Emerson Collective, an organization that works with a range of entrepreneurs to advance domestic and international social reform efforts.  Ms. Powell Jobs also serves as president of the board of College Track, an after-school program she founded in 1997 to prepare underserved high school students for success in college.  Since its inception in East Palo Alto, College Track has expanded to serve students in Oakland, San Francisco and New Orleans.   Ms. Powell Jobs also serves on the boards of Teach For America, NewSchools Venture Fund, Stand for Children, New America Foundation and Conservation International.  Earlier in her career, she spent several years working in investment banking and later co-founded Terraverra, a natural foods company, in California.  Ms. Powell Jobs holds a B.A. and a B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Norman Rice

Norman Rice, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Norman Rice currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Seattle Foundation, one of the nation’s largest community foundations. In this role, Mr. Rice is leading the Foundation in achieving its mission to create a healthy community through engaged philanthropy, community knowledge, and leadership.  Prior to joining The Seattle Foundation, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle (1999-2005) and Mayor of Seattle (1990-1997).  As Mayor, Mr. Rice earned national acclaim for revitalizing Seattle’s downtown and strengthening city neighborhoods through public-private partnerships.  He also championed for an improved public school system, implemented a welfare-to-work program, and improved downtown retail centers, housing, and civic buildings.  Mr. Rice currently serves on many boards and commissions, including the Brookings Institute’s Advisory Committee for Sustainable Communities, the Northwest African-American Museum, the King County Committee to End Homelessness, and HistoryLink.  He holds a B.A. in Communications and an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Washington.
Kristin Richmond, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Kristin Richmond currently serves as co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Revolution Foods. Ms. Richmond founded Revolution Foods in 2005 in order to serve healthy meals and offer nutrition education to low income students.  From 2002 to 2004, Ms. Richmond was Vice President of Resources for Indispensable Schools and Educators, where she designed and executed strategy that grew the organization from a small community based program to a nationally scalable model working with more than 700 teachers and 60 public schools.  From 2000 to 2002, Ms. Richmond lived in Nairobi and co-founded the Kenya Community Center for Learning (KCCL).  Prior to that, she worked at Citigroup.  Ms. Richmond is a board member of many organizations, including KCCL, Lighthouse Community Charter School, and U.C .Berkeley’s Global Social Venture Competition.  She is also an Aspen Institute Entrepreneurial Leaders in Public Education Fellow, an Education Pioneers Fellow, and an Advisor to the Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Program.  In 2010, Newschools Venture Fund named Ms. Richmond the Entrepreneur of the Year.  In 2007, she won the Global Social Venture Competition for the Revolution Foods model.  Ms. Richmond holds a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from Boston College and an M.B.A. from U.C. Berkeley.
Judith Rodin, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Judith Rodin currently serves as the 12th President of the Rockefeller Foundation, where she has focused on recalibrating the Foundation’s focus in order to support and shape innovations to ensure that more people can access globalization’s benefits and strengthen resilience to risks.  Prior to working with the Foundation, Dr. Rodin served as President of the University of Pennsylvania, the first woman to lead an Ivy League institution (1994-2004), and provost of Yale University.  Dr. Rodin is the author of more than 200 academic articles and has written or co-written twelve books, including her most recent, The University & Urban Renewal: Out of the Ivory Tower and Into the Streets. Dr. Rodin holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.
Nancy H. Rubin, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Nancy Rubin currently serves as co-chair of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary Year to build a larger international grassroots movement to prevent abuse and promote human rights.  Previously Ms. Rubin served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights where she led international initiatives on securing rights around the world.  Ms. Rubin also served the Clinton Administration as a Director in the Corporation for National and Community Service to establish AmeriCorps, which has placed over half a million Americans in public service programs.  At AmeriCorps, Ms. Rubin led the public private partnership initiative to garner the business community’s support.  She has also served on the Public Policy Support Committee of the National Red Cross and was catalytic to a loan repayment program for law students pursuing careers in the public’s interest.  During the Carter administration, Ms. Rubin served as Deputy Director of Public Participation at the Department of Agriculture and worked at the White House as the National Coordinator of the Consumer Education Project.  Prior to her service in Washington, Ms. Rubin was a public school teacher in Los Angeles, where she served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Youth.  Ms. Rubin founded Community Outreach and served on a number of boards and commissions, including Women, Men and Media, and the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center.  She was the first chair of the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign and she received the Carrie Catt Chapman Public Service Award.  Ms. Rubin holds a B.A. from UCLA.
Paul Schmitz, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Paul Schmitz is the National CEO of Public Allies, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting young people through full-time community service and leadership development programs.  Mr. Schmitz founded Public Allies Milwaukee in 1993, was promoted to Vice President and Chief Strategist in 1997, and was appointed national CEO in 2000.  He currently serves as Co-chair of Voices for National Service, co-founder/chair of the Nonprofit Workforce Coalition, and is a board member of Our Good Works and Independent Sector.  Mr. Schmitz is also a faculty member of The Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University.  He was recognized by The Nonprofit Times as one of the 50 most powerful and influential nonprofit leaders in the country, and honored by Fast Company Magazine with a Social Capitalist Award for innovation.  Mr. Schmitz was also a Next Generation Leadership Fellow with the Rockefeller Foundation.  He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Jill Schumann, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jill Schumann currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Services in America (LSA).  In this position, Ms. Schumann leads an alliance of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and over 300 health and human service organizations. Prior to her work with LSA, Ms. Schumann launched Kairos Health Systems (1996), a nonprofit post acute care alliance.  Ms. Schumann has also served as Vice President with Tressler Lutheran Services (1994-1996), a large multi-state, multi-service health and human service organization, and held multiple executive roles within nonprofit and for profit organizations.  Ms. Schumann’s work has created programs in post acute healthcare, behavioral health, and chemical dependency treatment.  Ms. Schumann serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the National Human Services Assembly, and the Roundtable of National Faith-Based Health and Human Service Organizations.  She holds a B.S. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from Mt. St. Mary’s University.
Bobbi Silten, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Bobbi Silten currently serves as the Chief Foundation Officer of Gap Inc., a global specialty retailer whose brands include Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.  For more than five years, Ms. Silten has led the Gap Foundation, overseeing all community investment and volunteer programs for 135,000 employees worldwide, and guiding Gap Inc.’s work to make a long-term impact in its communities, including targeted programs for underserved youth and women through innovative social solutions.  Prior to joining Gap Inc., Ms. Silten spent 10 years at Levi Strauss & Co. (1995-2005), including five years as President of the U.S. Dockers brand.  She also spent 11 years working in advertising at Foote, Cone & Belding (1984-1995).  Ms. Silten currently serves as a national board member for Summer Search and Chair for the Reimagining Service Council, a national cross-sector initiative to increase the impact of volunteerism.  She was formerly co-chair of the Business Track of the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering Service and the inaugural co-chair for the California Volunteers Business Partners Program.  Ms. Silten holds a B.A. in Social Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Bill Strickland, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Bill Strickland currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Bidwell Training Center, and National Center for Arts and Technology.  As President and CEO, Mr. Strickland’s duties include developing and implementing major fund-raising plans of action, working with Boards of Directors and Industry Advisory Boards, and encouraging the participation of corporate executive officials from major multi-national Pittsburgh corporations.  Mr. Strickland is also instrumental in the creation and maintenance of MBC’s operational affiliate centers in Cincinnati and Cleveland, OH, Grand Rapids, MI, and San Francisco, CA.  He holds a B.A., cum laude, in American History and Foreign Relations from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Michael Moore: Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange

Filmmaker Michael Moore is putting his money where his mouth is and putting up bail money to help WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange post bail..it’s interesting to note the amount of negative information that has been put out about Assange, so much so that many are calling his character into question to the point its hard to know what to believe.

On one hand no one with a conscience wants to dismiss anything like the rape he’s accused of committing, at the same time we know the types of propaganda that is routinely used on folks who have stood up to our government in the past via Cointel_Pro. The Black Panthers, American Indian Movement, Chicano Movement, Anti-War Movement etc..They and so many more were victim to massive disinformation campaigns that have lasted 40 years after the fact. A lot of the dis-information  was so convincing that it led to people being killed , imprisoned and ostracized. Are we seeing that being played out before our very eyes with Julian Assange and Wikileaks?

One thing is certain, his character has become just as much of a conversation as the information he put out. And maybe that’s the plan-create enough of a distractions and doubt that we stop looking at what’s really in those documents. Even more important is noting if it’s happening to Julian Assange  and Wikileaks it can happen to any one of us should we decide to take a firm, public stand on issues that put us in opposition to those in power. That should have us all concerned. Put the words ‘top secret’, ‘national security threat’ or ‘war on terror’ around any activity or document and we seem to allow all sorts suppression without blinking an eye.

In short we better pay close attention to all aspects of Wikileaks and how things unfolds and make sure no one involved suddenly disappears.

Bradley Manning

Lastly, it seems like  hardly anyone is talking about Bradley Manning the soldier who supposedly got Assange the documents in the first place. I know the city of Berkeley, Ca is holding a city council vote tonite to see if Manning should be considered a hero, but other than that we don’t hear too much. If you notice we don’t hear too much about the court proceedings going on at Ft Hood involving Maj. Nidal Hasan who was the gun man in last years massacre.  We should be looking closely to see why we have such egregious acts being committed by our men in uniform.

-Davey D-

Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange


Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:

**Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks “has violated the Espionage Act.”

**The New Yorker‘s George Packer calls Assange “super-secretive, thin-skinned, [and] megalomaniacal.”

**Sarah Palin claims he’s “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” whom we should pursue “with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.”

**Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: “A dead man can’t leak stuff … there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.”

**Republican Mary Matalin says “he’s a psychopath, a sociopath … He’s a terrorist.”

**Rep. Peter A. King calls WikiLeaks a “terrorist organization.”

And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won’t be so easy because the tables have been turned — and now it’s Big Brother who’s being watched … by us!

Julian Assange

WikiLeaks deserves our thanks for shining a huge spotlight on all this. But some in the corporate-owned press have dismissed the importance of WikiLeaks (“they’ve released little that’s new!”) or have painted them as simple anarchists (“WikiLeaks just releases everything without any editorial control!”). WikiLeaks exists, in part, because the mainstream media has failed to live up to its responsibility. The corporate owners have decimated newsrooms, making it impossible for good journalists to do their job. There’s no time or money anymore for investigative journalism. Simply put, investors don’t want those stories exposed. They like their secrets kept … as secrets.

I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at thisphoto. That’s Mr. Bush about to be handed a “secret” document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.” And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings.” Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.

But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden’s impending attack using hijacked planes?

But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time’s 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)

Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read “secret” memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the “facts” he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched — or rather, wouldn’t there have been calls for Cheney’s arrest?

Openness, transparency — these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 — after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin — there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.

Instead, secrets killed them.

For those of you who think it’s wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he’s being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please — never, ever believe the “official story.” And regardless of Assange’s guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money — and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that’s the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you’re up to. You simply can’t be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.

And that is the best thing that WikiLeaks has done. WikiLeaks, God bless them, will save lives as a result of their actions. And any of you who join me in supporting them are committing a true act of patriotism. Period.

I stand today in absentia with Julian Assange in London and I ask the judge to grant him his release. I am willing to guarantee his return to court with the bail money I have wired to said court. I will not allow this injustice to continue unchallenged.

P.S. You can read the statement I filed today in the London court here.

P.P.S. If you’re reading this in London, please go support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks at a demonstration at 1 PM today, Tuesday the 14th, in front of the Westminster court.

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