Since 1976, Project Censored, a media research, education and advocacy initiative currently based at Diablo Valley College, has been reporting on "The News that Didn't Make the News," issuing a look at the top 25 most censored stories of the year, and every year, we check in with them to talk about their work. In this edition of "Corporations and Democracy," Annie and Steve host Andy Lee Roth, Project Censored's associate director, to see what we we should have been reading about in the mainstream media. You can click here to listen.
Up until recently, activists here in the US had one main "ask" as they approached members of the House of Representatives on NAFTA renegotiation: to get a pledge that any final text that contained an Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism, NAFTA's current Chapter 11, would earn a "no" vote.
A NAFTA with ISDS out, however, could still be hugely damaging for the environment and climate, public health, jobs and work rights, and food safety.
We have four demands for NAFTA renegotiation:
No Investor State Dispute Settlement provision
Retain and strengthen "Buy Local" and "Buy American" public procurement preferences
Include much stronger protections for workers and the environment in the agreement itself--not as easily-ignored side agreements
Renegotiation must be conducted transparently, with legislators having full access to a public text
If you agree, print this postcard, have your fellow constituents sign, and then deliver to your member of Congress.
"Keep Space for Peace Week" is coming up October 7 through 14, and it's a good opportunity to focus community attention on militarization and what we don't get as a society when we are spending to stay on a constant war footing.
Filmed over two years in the Marshall Islands, Japan, Korea, China and the United States, filmmaker John Pilgar's The Coming War on China reveals a build-up to war on the doorstep of China. More than 400 US military bases now encircle China in what one strategist calls “a perfect noose”. Filming follows the secret history of militarization in the Pacific, from Bikini to the current resistance on Okinawa and Jeju.
The Coming War on China has been broadcast on network TV in Britain, Australia and around the world, but (so far) not in the US (and reading between the lines of the press release it is not for lack of trying, and thus probably won't happen. As such, it's up to interested citizens to take on very local distribution, which can be done through a community screening license. Information is available here.
Just about everything you want to know about Local Food and Community Self Governance Ordinances and the Maine Food Sovereignty law
If you have an hour to listen to an excellent news program, check out this edition of Maine Calling, a current affairs show focusing on Maine issues produced by Maine Public Radio.
Maine has a new law--LD725--that allows towns to regulate local food production as they wish, without requiring state and federal rules. While the focus on the show was on what the new law means for Maine farmers and food-buyers, the conversation also touched on national and international food freedom and food sovereignty movements.
Guests include local food ordinance organizer and farmer Heather Retberg, as well as Rep. Craig Hickman, a state representative who also helps run a local bed and breakfast, and Richard King, a goat farmer who helped pass a local food ordinance in his town of Liberty.
Jessie Dowling, of the Maine Cheese Guild, calls in with some criticisms of the new law, and good information about the supports that the Maine Department of Agriculture offers to small farmers and food producers, especially cheesemakers. Even though she's not a fan of LD725, her comments underscore that as far as local food infrastructure goes, Maine has a lot to build on.
The show is a very comprehensive look at what these ordinances do and don't do, the issues of liability, and the importance that people place on good healthy food.
People power prevails in Atlantic City as a local initiative secures the right to protect public water
Food and Water Watch reports that a community effort in Atlantic City scored a major victory against Governor Chris Christie’s state takeover with a new law protecting the publicly-owned water system from privatization.
The local law was under threat of a governor's veto, thanks to a 2016 takeover law that allows the state Department of Community Affairs (oh the irony in that name!) to block actions taken at city council meetings within 15 days. But the ordinance passed by the Atlantic City city council on July 11 will stand.
That ordinance, introduced by the citizens group AC Citizens Against the State Takeover, protects the public’s right to participate in any decision to sell Atlantic City’s water system.
According to Food and Water Watch, "Governor Christie and other state political leaders have long shown interest in selling the city’s water system to a corporation. While residents of every municipality in the state have the right to hold a referendum on any sale of a public water system, the state takeover law removed that right. The ordinance seeks to restore that power to Atlantic City residents. At the July 11 Atlantic City Council meeting, the ordinance was unanimously passed 8-0, with one abstention.
AC Citizens Against the State Takeover, a project led by Food & Water Watch, the Atlantic City chapter of the NAACP, Atlantic City Civic Associations, ACLU of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center, released a statement, calling the state takeover legislation "an act of complete arrogance on the part of the Governor and his Democratic ally, Senator Steve Sweeney. They expected to be able to come into Atlantic City and steal one of the most valuable assets that remains in public hands. We said no, and now people power has prevailed in Atlantic City.
“When the takeover law passed in 2016, Christie didn’t think the people of Atlantic City would come together and put up a challenge. He was wrong. The takeover law is a clear violation of our civil rights, and a threat to black and brown communities and hard-working communities across the entire state.
“Governor Christie’s arrogance was stopped by the people of Atlantic City. The next governor of the state should undo the damage done by Christie’s takeover by restoring full democracy to Atlantic City."
And, we hope, to the entire state! Congratulations to Atlantic City and to their responsive local elected officials.
Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-NY-3. This brings total cosponsors of HR 1673, the Water Affordability , Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act of 2017, to 36. You can read more about the bill here.
Organizing for a city-level public bank in Washington DC has taken a big step forward, thanks to advocacy by the DC Public Banking Center, as the city’s 2018 budget authorizes $200,000 for a feasibility study.
The city council's action was partly spurred by problems with Wells Fargo, including the bank's admission of illegally opening bank accounts for customers without their knowledge, and failing marks for its activities under the Community Reinvestment Act. Washington DC, a Wells Fargo customer, considered a review of its banking practices, and as part of the review, to study a public banking system.
The DC Public Banking Center is a sponsored project of Alliance for Democracy, and one of three public bank campaigns involving Alliance members or supporters, including Hub Public Banking in Boston, which is currently advocating for a state public bank there, and the Portland Public Banking Alliance, in Portland OR, which is looking to bring public banking to their city.
DC Public Banking Center will continue to advocate for as complete and comprehensive a feasibility study as possible, one that looks at the potential positive impacts of banking on small business, affordable housing, and job creation. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter and visit their website here.
This July 4th, celebrate how inspired, focused, town-by-town organizing led to statewide victory.
The Alliance has long supported local food activists in Maine through the “Local Food RULES!” campaign, which works at the city or town level to pass Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinances (LFCSGOs). You can read the basic ordinance text here and here. These ordinances protect the rights of farmers and small producers to sell directly to their neighbors, preserving traditional foodways and expanding the availability of local food.
After passing 20 town-level ordinances in Maine, the campaign won an even more important victory—passage of a state-level bill guaranteeing that Maine will not interfere with town- or city-level food safety regulation. This bill, LD725, An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems, was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage this month and will take effect at the end of the current legislative session.
Organizers thanked the Alliance for Democracy for the local food issue of Justice Rising, calling it “our most helpful organizing tool.” Read it online here, or contact the office to see about ordering printed copies. They also praised the bill’s legislative champions, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and the countless people who passed LFCSGOs locally and wrote their legislators in its support: “Grassroots democracy at its best!"
You can read more about the bill on our blog, and in this article in the Bangor Daily News.
Is President Trump’s new Election Integrity Commission a fix or a fraud? That was the topic on this week's edition of "Corporations and Democracy," a twice-monthly radio show hosted by Alliance secretary Steve Scalmanini and Annie Esposito. Their guest was election integrity and voting rights activist Jan Ben-Dor, a founding member of the Michigan Election Reform Alliance, and a member of the board of directors of the National Election Defense Coalition, as well as a former election official.
You can listen or download a podcast of the show here.
Want democracy? Come to Minneapolis this August for the Democracy Convention (and our Earth Democracy Conference!)
If July 4th left you hankering after some real democracy, come make the connections, hear the ideas, and share the skills that will invigorate your movement-building at the Democracy Convention III, August 2 – 6, at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.
The Alliance for Democracy will be there, organizing the Earth Rights and Global Democracy Conference linking global work to defend Mother Earth and the rights of communities and ecosystems to thrive and survive to the issues important to us in the US, such as: fair trade, water, food and agriculture, climate.
Read the Earth Rights and Global Democracy statement here. AfD’s Co-chair, Nancy Price is organizing a series of panels. Here’s a partial list of Convention presenters; the full program will be posted soon.
Here’s just a taste of the Earth Rights & Global Democracy panels: the Renegotiating NAFTA panel will add a gender and racial justice analysis; and panels on the false solutions to global warming of cap and trade and carbon tax, stopping GE Eucalyptus forests slated for our southeastern states responsible for the terrible fires in Chile and Portugal, on bottled water, frac-sand mining and more.
Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the Organic Consumers Association, will speak on “Connecting the Dots: Bringing the Food, Climate, Natural Health and Democracy Movements Together in a Powerful Force for Revolution.” The great line-up of Convention Plenary speakers will be posted soon.
Earth Rights and Global Democracy is one of eight distinct, yet interrelated conferences at this third Democracy Convention. You can also connect with Representative Democracy, Racial Justice for Democracy, Peace and Democracy, Media Democracy, Education United for Democracy, Democracy and the Constitution, and Community and Economic Democracy. In addition, two tracks, on Overcoming Oppression, Building an Inclusive Movement, and Skills and Arts provide a toolkit for activists seeking to broaden their allies and impact.
Register Now: The Democracy Convention website has all the information you need on registration, lodging and meals (including affordable options on campus), and getting to and from Minneapolis. You can also donate or sponsor the convention.
As conference organizers at the 2013 and 2015 conventions, we are excited to be working again with so many sharp and committed people. Previous conventions were a tremendous coming-together of activists across the issues and the miles.
We look forward to seeing you again – this time in Minneapolis, August 2 – 6. Look for our table!