Join us as we travel to Havana, Cuba and surrounding towns on September 26 for a truly unique experience specially curated for fellow Nation travelers. Recent and historic changes in US policy toward the island nation promise to make this a particularly inspiring and extraordinary time to experience the people, politics, culture, and history of Cuba in a way few ever have before.
Our week long itinerary will include museum tours with eminent art and cultural historians; seminars and lectures featuring renowned Cuban economists, government officials, community activists, physicians, and urban planners; a meeting and discussion with the Cuban Five, the intelligence agents considered national heroes after spending many years imprisoned in US jails; exclusive concerts with popular jazz artists, troubadours, and folk musicians; performances by students of Cuba’s internationally acclaimed ballet institutes; visits to artist’s colonies and studios; guided tours of Old Havana, the Latin American Medical School, and the University of Havana; and visits to many other inspiring locales and events.
The group will stay for six nights at the famed, four-star NH Capri Hotel La Habana, located just minutes from Old Havana and just a block from the the Malecón, a broad esplanade and seawall which stretches five miles along the Cuban coast. We’ll also travel to the scenic Viñales Valley on the western end of the island where we will spend one night with a Cuban host family at their “casa particulare” (private home), which will offer an opportunity to closely interact with residents of the town. While in Viñales, we will have lunch on an organic farm, explore the region’s limestone formations, and learn about the tobacco fields in this province that produce the world’s finest cigars.
Our American Airlines chartered flight departs from Tampa to Havana’s historic José Martí International Airport on September 26 and returns on October 3.
While travelling under The Nation’s license issued by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control to promote people-to-people contact, you will be accompanied by Cuba expert and longtime Nation contributor Peter Kornbluh. A former professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and currently the director of the Cuba Documentation Project at George Washington University, Peter is the author of many books on Cuba, including the recently published and widely acclaimed Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana. His articles have been published in Foreign Policy, The New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and many other journals and newspapers.
In addition, your hosts will include Charles Bittner, The Nation’s academic liaison, and Collin Laverty, author of the recently released book Cuba's New Resolve: Economic Reform and Its Implications for US Policy. Collin has visited the island over 100 times, frequently guiding members of the US Congress and their staffs on official fact-finding missions.
The all-inclusive cost of this weeklong tour is $5,550 / $5,950 per person (double/single occupancy) and includes round-trip chartered airfare from Tampa to Havana, six nights at the four-star NH Hotel Capri La Habana, one evening at a private residence in Viñales, airport transfers, health and evacuation insurance, Cuban visas, all ground transportation within Cuba, guided tours, seminars, lectures, visits to Cuba’s preeminent museums, private concerts, dance performances, most of your meals, and many other captivating activities and events.
SPACE IS EXTREMELY LIMITED – SO PLEASE REGISTER WITHOUT DELAY!
Travel to Cuba is authorized under The Nation’s OFAC license #CT-2104-307579-1
Why Can't One of the US's Most "Progressive"
Cities Reform Its Police Force?
17 November, 2011: Portland Police in Riot Gear Holding the Line in Downtown Portland, Oregon during a Occupy Portland protest on the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. (Photo:JPL Designs / Shutterstock.com)
It was just after midnight
on a September Sunday
when several police officers,
responding to reports
of property damage, approached a small group of young
black men walking down a street in north Portland, Oregon.
Among them was 16-year-old Thai Gurule, a football player
at Roosevelt High School, and his older brother Giovanni.
Officers ordered Thai to stop. He kept walking.
Within minutes Thai would
be tackled by several
officers, forced to the
ground, tased and handcuffed. Later, despite a judge’s ruling that the initial stop was illegal, he’d face charges of resisting arrest, assaulting a public safety officer and attempted strangulation. Giovanni would face similar, though less serious, charges. The Portland Police Bureau worked quickly to defend their officers, releasing a statement that explained that the Gurule brothers were “very hostile,” and that Thai demonstrated “active aggression, including his choking the female officer.”
Cell phone videos captured a different scene: Thai, slight of body, standing still between two officers. “Can I ask you a question?” Giovanni can be heard saying. “What did my little brother do? He don’t do nothing. He plays football for Roosevelt, come on now. He don’t drink. He don’t smoke.” Suddenly, the officers pull Thai towards the ground. His white hat falls off, and he reaches for it through the scrum. Officers bark orders, and bystanders shout: “Stop pulling his hair!” “Why are you punching him?” “That’s illegal!” “What’s the problem that he caused?” “Fucking pigs!” When they tase him, Thai begins to gasp, his high-pitched keening overlaid by the hoarser, panicked protests coming from his older brother.
Less than a month earlier, the Portland Police Bureau had reached a “groundbreaking” agreement with the Department of Justice to settle a case stemming from repeated incidences of police violence. There was the schizophrenic who was beaten to death by officers; the suicidal young black man who was shot in the back after concerned relatives called the police; another young man in a mental health crisis who was shot to death after cops pulled him over for driving “like a gangster.” The deal, as described
by the DOJ, will put in place “innovative new mechanisms” for community oversight and
requires reforms to training and use-of-force guidelines.
The bureau’s treatment of mentally ill people was the focus of the federal inquiry. The DOJ did also acknowledge “the often tense relationship between PPB and the African American community,” and that some Portlanders believe city cops are out to “protect the white folk and police the black folk.” But the feds didn’t dig for the roots of that tension. Portland is roughly 6 percent African-American, while just over 3 percent of the police force is. About 14 percent of the people pulled over in traffic stops are African-American, as are a quarter of people shot or shot at by police. Beneath the gloss of white Portland’s self-conscious progressivism are grievances related to this skewed use of force; to the rapid gentrification of historically black neighborhoods; the decline of black-owned businesses and public schools in those areas; and a deep history of state-sanctioned racism. “I live north of Portlandia,” a senior at De La Salle North Catholic High School put it at a forum on racial profiling in early March. “The one you know nothing about.”
Portland’s reform efforts come in the context of a national outcry against police violence and its disproportionate impact on people of color, as well as new eagerness within the DOJ to force changes to local law enforcement. The debate about how best to reform the police—and whether police reform is even the right thing to focus on—is spreading and intensifying. Portland’s homogeneity, and its reputation for liberalism and livability make the city’s policing problems appear less acute than in, say, Ferguson, Missouri. But it’s worth asking why a city that by some measures is best equipped politically to build a better policing model hasn’t been able to do so.
The Gurule case “demonstrated that even with the settlement agreement on paper, we still have a long road ahead on implementation,” said Reverend LeRoy Haynes Jr., chair of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, which was instrumental in the development of the settlement. Haynes views that agreement as “a foundation for beginning to really—slowly—transform the Portland Police Bureau.” But, he told me, it’s no panacea. “I think the DOJ chose the easier route at the time,” he said of the department’s kid-glove approach to racial dynamics in the city. “But you can’t transform the bureau without transforming its impact on communities of color.”
Teressa Raiford was 10 when police officers left four dead possums on the doorstep of her grandmother’s restaurant in north Portland. Her grandmother was so embarrassed by the incident that she refused to come out of her house, Raiford recalled recently over coffee in northeast Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood. Raiford’s father called the city commissioner to complain, and the incident provoked the formation of the city’s first citizen review board. That was three decades ago. Raiford is now a gun-safety advocate and the lead organizer for Don’t Shoot Portland, a local group pushing for police accountability. Cops aren’t leaving carcasses in front of black-owned businesses, but, she noted, “we’re still having the same conversation.”
The history of the Portland police—and the state of Oregon—is intimately bound with white supremacist groups. In August 1921 the Portland Telegram ran a picture of city officials, including the chief of police, meeting with hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan. One hundred Klansmen were officially deputized as “Portland Police Vigilantes.” The police bureau itself, the Telegram reported, was “full to the brink with Klansmen.” Although the KKK eventually lost its prominence, people of color were targeted by Portland police officers well into the 1980s. After a black off-duty security guard was choked to death by police in 1985, the police chief banned the use of “sleeper holds.” In response, police officers printed 100 T-shirts with the image of a smoking gun and the slogan, “Don’t Choke ’Em. Smoke ’Em.”
The periodic changes that the Portland Police Bureau has made to its use of force policies and leadership in response to these types of incidents hasn’t stopped them from happening. Raiford and I started talking initially about racial bias in the police force, but our conversation soon broadened to inequality in Portland generally. She talked about poverty in Portland’s communities of color, about walking into coffee shops in gentrified neighborhoods and noticing how conversation among white patrons quieted. “That’s not for us,” Raiford said of those hip cafes and other markers of Portland’s youthful prosperity. Local civil rights leader Ron Herndon said something similar in 1980 about Portland’s reputation for livability. “That livability is not there for blacks, instead we get prison, unemployment, bad housing, and Klan-type harassment.”
I walked with Raiford a few blocks to a Presbyterian church, where a Community Oversight Advisory Board formed in accordance with the Justice Department settlement was due to meet. The board’s fifteen voting members include a former state senator, a rabbi, human and disability rights advocates and medical professionals. Former Oregon Chief Justice Paul DeMuniz chairs. The meeting I attended was largely devoted to bylaws, committee appointments and other tedium. But the Department of Justice views the COAB as “innovative,” and will rely on reports from the group to monitor the police bureau’s compliance with the settlement.
Raiford is skeptical about the COAB’s anticipated impact, in part because of its limited purview. “The only thing they can do is investigate,” she said, not hold officers accountable. It also can’t do much about the political and economic disenfranchisement within Portland’s communities of color, which she perceives as intimately connected to crime, and in turn, to over-policing. “You need to provide an economic uplift,” she said. “Education and jobs is what the kids need to stop the violence.”
When I asked Reverend Haynes whether it was the police or underlying social issues that really needed reforming, he said, “We don’t have the privilege to do one and then the other.… You can’t get around the issues of economic development, of jobs, of a decent living wage, all of those major issues.” But economic development will only happen if the community feels safe, he continued. “When the crisis is such that your house is on fire, you have to put the fire out first.”
Portland’s political leadership says it is committed to the reform process forced by the DOJ. Yet the city and the police union reject accusations of systemic bias. Sitting off to the side of the COAB board meeting was the president of the Portland Police Association, Daryl Turner, wearing a black polo shirt that showed the tattoos ringing his massive arms. In September, after the announcement of the settlement agreement, Turner called on the bureau’s critics “to stop the negative, anti-police sentiment by highlighting the quality work done by every one of our members on a daily basis.” As people mingled in the church basement awaiting the start of the meeting, he chatted with Raiford, who told him that an activist at a Don’t Shoot rally the night before had been arrested. “Good experience for them,” Turner joked. Later, Raiford whispered to me that he was one of the few officials she trusted, because he was a straight-talker.
The city has already started to chip away at the terms of the agreement. The federal judge who approved the settlement, Michael Simon, did so on the condition that officials and community members would appear before his court once a year to report on the bureau’s progress. In October, Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as police commissioner, and three other members of the city council voted to appeal that order, challenging the judge’s oversight authority. Reverend Haynes and others went to City Hall in January to protest the appeal. “They don’t want any unbiased, independent authority like a federal judge to review what they are doing,” Haynes said at the demonstration. “They want to keep it under their control in order to cover-up or not implement parts of the agreement.”
As Portland State University professors Karen Gibson and Leanne Serbulo write in “Black and Blue: Police-Community Relations in Portland’s Albina District, 1964–1985,” city leaders have long been complicit in racial injustices perpetrated by the Portland police and at best, unwilling to confront the police union. “Given the lack of support from elected officials and the outright hostility from rank-and-file police officers, it is no wonder that Portland’s black community sought assistance from courts, the federal government, and even the United Nations,” they write. “Still, those external appeals fell far short of ensuring equal justice for black citizens in Portland.” Though community leaders like Haynes are still cautiously optimistic about the settlement agreement, the signals that the city is sending about its commitment to change are troubling.
During the COAB meeting Raines leaned over and handed me a note. A few hours earlier, Thai Gurule had been acquitted of all charges. In her ruling, Judge Diana Stuart reprimanded the police for endangering the teen in “a melee of fists and punches and bodies falling upon him,” and for providing inaccurate testimony. The officers’ conduct, said the judge, was “senseless and aggressive.” The police chief had no comment on the ruling. So far, none of the officers involved has been disciplined.
We have accepted a criminal-justice narrative that lumps the world into categories of villains and heroes.
Police and prosecutors are good guys in white hats. The communities they police—particularly poor and
minority communities—are presumed dangerous. It is this dehumanization that lulls us into complacency,
suppressing our outrage over the fact that 2.2 million, almost exclusively poor people are warehoused in
conditions so deplorable that some would rather die than live in them (consider the sixty-day hunger strike
last year at Pelican Bay State Prison protesting inhumane living conditions). It allows us to remain blind to
the fact that the vast majority of people in the criminal-justice system are processed from arrest to conviction
with only an overwhelmed and under-resourced public defender to try to get them justice. It enables us to
accept a system which disproportionately punishes people based on race. It enables us to become completely detached from the people and families destroyed by our indifference, and to accept “tough on crime” policies
that destroy America’s most vulnerable communities.
Israel has killed almost 800 Palestinians in the past twenty-one days in the Gaza Strip alone; its onslaught continues. The UN estimates that more than 74 percent of those killed are civilians. That is to be expected in a population of 1.8 million where the number of Hamas members is approximately 15,000. Israel does not deny that it killed those Palestinians using modern aerial technology and precise weaponry courtesy of the world’s only superpower. In fact, it does not even deny that they are civilians.
Israel’s propaganda machine, however, insists that these Palestinians wanted to die (“culture of martyrdom”), staged their own death (“telegenically dead”) or were the tragic victims of Hamas’s use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes (“human shielding”). In all instances, the military power is blaming the victims for their own deaths, accusing them of devaluing life and attributing this disregard to cultural bankruptcy. In effect, Israel—along with uncritical mainstream media that unquestionably accept this discourse—dehumanizes Palestinians, deprives them even of their victimhood and legitimizes egregious human rights and legal violations.
This is not the first time. The gruesome images of decapitated children’s bodies and stolen innocence on Gaza’s shores are a dreadful repeat of Israel’s assault on Gaza in November 2012 and winter 2008–09. Not only are the military tactics the same but so too are the public relations efforts and the faulty legal arguments that underpin the attacks. Mainstream media news anchors are inexplicably accepting these arguments as fact.
Below I address five of Israel’s recurring talking points. I hope this proves useful to newsmakers.
1) Israel is exercising its right to self-defense.
As the occupying power of the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Territories more broadly, Israel has an obligation and a duty to protect the civilians under its occupation. It governs by military and law enforcement authority to maintain order, protect itself and protect the civilian population under its occupation. It cannot simultaneously occupy the territory, thus usurping the self-governing powers that would otherwise belong to Palestinians, and declare war upon them. These contradictory policies (occupying a land and then declaring war on it) make the Palestinian population doubly vulnerable.
The precarious and unstable conditions in the Gaza Strip from which Palestinians suffer are Israel’s responsibility. Israel argues that it can invoke the right to self-defense under international law as defined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. The International Court of Justice, however, rejected this faulty legal interpretation in its 2004 Advisory Opinion. The ICJ explained that an armed attack that would trigger Article 51 must be attributable to a sovereign state, but the armed attacks by Palestinians emerge from within Israel’s jurisdictional control. Israel does have the right to defend itself against rocket attacks, but it must do so in accordance with occupation law and not other laws of war. Occupation law ensures greater protection for the civilian population. The other laws of war balance military advantage and civilian suffering. The statement that “no country would tolerate rocket fire from a neighboring country” is therefore both a diversion and baseless.
Israel denies Palestinians the right to govern and protect themselves, while simultaneously invoking the right to self-defense. This is a conundrum and a violation of international law, one that Israel deliberately created to evade accountability.
2) Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
Israel argues that its occupation of the Gaza Strip ended with the unilateral withdrawal of its settler population in 2005. It then declared the Gaza Strip to be “hostile territory” and declared war against its population. Neither the argument nor the statement is tenable. Despite removing 8,000 settlers and the military infrastructure that protected their illegal presence, Israel maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip and thus remains the occupying power as defined by Article 47 of the Hague Regulations. To date, Israel maintains control of the territory’s air space, territorial waters, electromagnetic sphere, population registry and the movement of all goods and people.
Israel argues that the withdrawal from Gaza demonstrates that ending the occupation will not bring peace. Some have gone so far as to say that Palestinians squandered their opportunity to build heaven in order to build a terrorist haven instead. These arguments aim to obfuscate Israel’s responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank. As Prime Minister Netanyahu once explained, Israel must ensure that it does not “get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria…. I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
Palestinians have yet to experience a day of self-governance. Israel immediately imposed a siege upon the Gaza Strip when Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006 and tightened it severely when Hamas routed Fatah in June 2007. The siege has created a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip. Inhabitants will not be able to access clean water, electricity or tend to even the most urgent medical needs. The World Health Organization explains that the Gaza Strip will be unlivable by 2020. Not only did Israel not end its occupation, it has created a situation in which Palestinians cannot survive in the long-term.
3) This Israeli operation, among others, was caused by rocket fire from Gaza.
Israel claims that its current and past wars against the Palestinian population in Gaza have been in response to rocket fire. Empirical evidence from 2008, 2012 and 2014 refute that claim. First, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the greatest reduction of rocket fire came through diplomatic rather than military means. This chart demonstrates the correlation between Israel’s military attacks upon the Gaza Strip and Hamas militant activity. Hamas rocket fire increases in response to Israeli military attacks and decreases in direct correlation to them. Cease-fires have brought the greatest security to the region.
During the four months of the Egyptian-negotiated cease-fire in 2008, Palestinian militants reduced the number of rockets to zero or single digits from the Gaza Strip. Despite this relative security and calm, Israel broke the cease-fire to begin the notorious aerial and ground offensive that killed 1,400 Palestinians in twenty-two days. In November 2012, Israel’s extrajudicial assassination of Ahmad Jabari, the chief of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza, while he was reviewing terms for a diplomatic solution, again broke the cease-fire that precipitated the eight-day aerial offensive that killed 132 Palestinians.
Immediately preceding Israel’s most recent operation, Hamas rocket and mortar attacks did not threaten Israel. Israel deliberately provoked this war with Hamas. Without producing a shred of evidence, it accused the political faction of kidnapping and murdering three settlers near Hebron. Four weeks and almost 700 lives later, Israel has yet to produce any evidence demonstrating Hamas’s involvement. During ten days of Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank, Israel arrested approximately 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, killed nine civilians and raided nearly 1,300 residential, commercial and public buildings. Its military operation targeted Hamas members released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. It’s these Israeli provocations that precipitated the Hamas rocket fire to which Israel claims left it with no choice but a gruesome military operation.
4) Israel avoids civilian casualties, but Hamas aims to kill civilians.
Hamas has crude weapons technology that lacks any targeting capability. As such, Hamas rocket attacks ipso facto violate the principle of distinction because all of its attacks are indiscriminate. This is not contested. Israel, however, would not be any more tolerant of Hamas if it strictly targeted military objects, as we have witnessed of late. Israel considers Hamas and any form of its resistance, armed or otherwise, to be illegitimate.
In contrast, Israel has the eleventh most powerful military in the world, certainly the strongest by far in the Middle East, and is a nuclear power that has not ratified the non-proliferation agreement and has precise weapons technology. With the use of drones, F-16s and an arsenal of modern weapon technology, Israel has the ability to target single individuals and therefore to avoid civilian casualties. But rather than avoid them, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians as part of its military operations.
What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.
Israel has kept true to this promise. The 2009 UN Fact-Finding Mission to the Gaza Conflict, better known as the Goldstone Mission, concluded “from a review of the facts on the ground that it witnessed for itself that what was prescribed as the best strategy [Dahiya Doctrine] appears to have been precisely what was put into practice.”
According to the National Lawyers Guild, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Israel directly targeted civilians or recklessly caused civilian deaths during Operation Cast Lead. Far from avoiding the deaths of civilians, Israel effectively considers them legitimate targets.
5) Hamas hides its weapons in homes, mosques and schools and uses human shields.
This is arguably one of Israel’s most insidious claims, because it blames Palestinians for their own death and deprives them of even their victimhood. Israel made the same argument in its war against Lebanon in 2006 and in its war against Palestinians in 2008. Notwithstanding its military cartoon sketches, Israel has yet to prove that Hamas has used civilian infrastructure to store military weapons. The two cases where Hamas indeed stored weapons in UNRWA schools, the schools were empty. UNRWA discovered the rockets and publicly condemned the violation of its sanctity.
International human rights organizations that have investigated these claims have determined that they are not true. It attributed the high death toll in Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks. Human Rights Watch notes:
The evidence Human Rights Watch uncovered in its on-the-ground investigations refutes [Israel’s] argument…we found strong evidence that Hezbollah stored most of its rockets in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields and valleys, that in the vast majority of cases Hezbollah fighters left populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started, and that Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared positions outside villages.
In fact, only Israeli soldiers have systematically used Palestinians as human shields. Since Israel’s incursion into the West Bank in 2002, it has used Palestinians as human shields by tying young Palestinians onto the hoods of their cars or forcing them to go into a home where a potential militant may be hiding.
Even assuming that Israel’s claims were plausible, humanitarian law obligates Israel to avoid civilian casualties that “would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” A belligerent force must verify whether civilian or civilian infrastructure qualifies as a military objective. In the case of doubt, “whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.”
In the over thee weeks of its military operation, Israel has demolished 3,175 homes, at least a dozen with families inside; destroyed five hospitals and six clinics; partially damaged sixty-four mosques and two churches; partially to completely destroyed eight government ministries; injured 4,620; and killed over 700 Palestinians. At plain sight, these numbers indicate Israel’s egregious violations of humanitarian law, ones that amount to war crimes.
Beyond the body count and reference to law, which is a product of power, the question to ask is, What is Israel’s end goal? What if Hamas and Islamic Jihad dug tunnels beneath the entirety of the Gaza Strip—they clearly did not, but let us assume they did for the sake of argument. According to Israel’s logic, all of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians are therefore human shields for being born Palestinian in Gaza. The solution is to destroy the 360-kilometer square strip of land and to expect a watching world to accept this catastrophic loss as incidental. This is possible only by framing and accepting the dehumanization of Palestinian life. Despite the absurdity of this proposal, it is precisely what Israeli society is urging its military leadership to do. Israel cannot bomb Palestinians into submission, and it certainly cannot bomb them into peace.
Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and activist, is an Abraham L. Freedman Fellow at Temple University, Beasely School of Law, and a contributing editor of Jadaliyya.
WASHINGTON — As the world remembers President John F. Kennedy’s legacy and the 50th anniversary of his assassination, Kennedy’s great nephew is requesting that Congress consider memorializing one of his key policy initiatives, the Peace Corps.
Representative Joseph P. Kennedy of Massachusetts testified Thursday before the House Committee on Natural Resources for a bill that would let the Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation establish a memorial on federal land.
During the 52-year history of the Peace Corps, more than 210,000 Americans have served in a variety of capacities ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation in 139 countries. Currently more than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers work in developing countries to assist local communities.
Kennedy, who served in the Peace Corps himself, said Americans will have to work harder to remember his great uncle’s “unshakable belief that he held that if we could export the fruits of our labor and fruits of our land, then we could surely export the most fundamental and precious American commodity of all — our values.”
But Kennedy stressed that the memorial would not be about the achievements of one leader, “but the potential of a people who are challenged to change the world.”
No federal dollars would be used in the creation of the commemorative works. The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation would be fully responsible for funding the memorial.
A response to the Cold War, the Peace Corps traces its roots to a 2 a.m. campaign stop at the University of Michigan in Oct. 1960, where then-Senator Kennedy challenged students to give two years of their lives to help people in countries in the developing world.
Officially established in March the following year, the Peace Corps became the embodiment of President Kennedy’s “ask what you can do for your country” mindset for his administration, and the tradition still continues.
“Today, you can find those men and women in the Peace Corps, in our armed forces, in a soup kitchen in Chicago, a community health center in Georgia, and a legal aid clinic in California,” the current Massachusetts representative said.
— MATTIAS GUGEL
Obama OK’s transplant study among those who have HIV
WASHINGTON — President Obama has lifted a ban on research into the possibility of transplanting organs from one HIV-positive person to another.
Obama signed a bill into law Thursday that directs the federal health department to develop and institute standards for conducting such research. It also permits the health secretary to allow such transplants if the research results warrant a change. The safety of the organ transplant process also must be protected.
Obama says the HOPE Act is an important step because it will help improve medical care for people living with HIV.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS
Christie picked as chairman of GOP governors group
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is taking on a new high-profile role that could enhance a future White House campaign.
Christie was elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association on Thursday, a perch that will allow him to travel the country in support of GOP governors and raise money for the party during 2014. He dismissed any talk of a 2016 presidential campaign, saying the task of competing in 36 governors’ races was the top priority.
‘‘My job is to go out there and elect and reelect Republican governors,’’ he said.
Cable news chatter about the Romney family’s dancing horse? A bunch of talking heads yelling about President Obama’s birth certificate?
Let’s face it, from now until November, you and every other voter will be bombarded with non-stop coverage of the presidential election. But the question is: what will we be hearing about? Will we be learning where the candidates stand on serious issues like global warming – or will the news media focus on frivolous gossip and insignificant issues?
The choice is in your hands. We have a plan to make sure that climate change is at the top of the issues list this election, but we need your help.
Millions of voters will get their information about the presidential candidates by watching the debates this fall. With a moderator like Jim Lehrer — whose show, the PBS NewsHour, has often covered climate change with the gravity that it requires — we have a real chance to generate a substantive discussion about global warming on the national stage…if he asks the candidates about the issue.
The first debate, on October 3rd, is focused exclusively on domestic issues. With the effects of climate change causing hardship for people across the county — from flooding in the Southeast to drought in the Midwest to the wildfires in Colorado, where the debate is being held — it’s only natural to assume that Mr. Lehrer should ask President Obama and Governor Romney to discuss how they plan to address global warming.
Unfortunately, experience has taught us that we can’t assume much when it comes to climate change coverage in the national media. Despite the fact that July was the hottest month ever recorded in the U.S., only 8.7 percent of television segments that reported on the record-breaking heat waves made the connection to climate change, according to an analysis by Media Matters for America. But we can change that if we work together.
No matter how many climate change deniers stick their heads in the sand, the climate crisis will keep getting worse until we do something about it. The first step towards making that happen is ensuring that voters know where their elected officials stand on moving us towards a clean energy future.
In 1963, Jackson stood with Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. For last weekend's One Nation rally, Jackson traveled to DC from Detroit, a city in dire need of sustainable jobs.
George Zimmerman was behind bars Wednesday, forty-five days after he went free after shooting Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman now faces the possibility of life in prison, but Reverend Jesse Jackson tells Laura Flanders of GRITtv that the mobilizing shouldn’t end.