URGENT Petition to Dept. of Labor, deadline Monday April 17.

Via The Nation (email):

Dear Iris,

In February, President Trump ordered a review by the Department of Labor of an Obama-era regulation that would require retirement advisors to give their clients investment advice that’s in their best interest. The rule, called the fiduciary rule, was scheduled to go into effect this spring, but is now delayed pending a review by the DOL.

It may seem obvious that financial advisors should act in your best interest. But currently many are only required to suggest investments that are “roughly suitable” for their client—not necessarily what’s best for them. They are even able to suggest investments in products that they may have a personal stake in bolstering. Under the Obama administration, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that this greedy financial practice lost Americans $17 billion a year.

The DOL is accepting comments on the fiduciary rule until April 17th—giving us less than a week to convince them to side with current and future retirees over Wall Street bankers.

Can you take a minute to send the DOL a letter telling them why they need to protect the fiduciary rule?

Financial groups and institutions are fighting hard to make sure they can continue defrauding investors on their best interests—and the Trump administration and Republican party are behind them.* In January, Congressman Joe Wilson (R- SC) introduced a bill that would delay implementation of the rule for a full 2 years with the hopes of eventually revoking it altogether.

But the public is on our side. As of mid-March, the DOL had received over 178,000 letters in support of the rule, with only about 15,000 against.

Join those over 178,00 Americans in telling the Department of Labor to stand with current and future retirees, not Wall Street.

All the best,
Sarah Arnold

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*It should surprise no one that Republicans are behind barring implementation of the fiduciary rule. But just ponder for a moment that in the two years after the apex of the financial crisis (2008), Democrats held the presidency and both houses of congress—and yet they somehow did not manage to implement this simple, basic, ethical, commonsense regulation of Wall $treet. If it’s not because they couldn’t, well…I’m sure you can do the math. –Iris.

Petition to Florida State Attorney Melissa Nelson: drop all charges against the Jacksonville protesters.

Via Color of Change:

Dear Iris:

Freedom of speech is becoming even more of a crime under Trump’s reign. This weekend during an anti-Syrian war protest, a Trump supporter antagonized peaceful protesters, storming the speakers’ platform and physically assaulting them to start a fight. Instead of helping, four police officers tackled and brutalized the action organizer Connell Crooms, one of a few Black protesters present, and hit him so hard they knocked out his hearing aid. Bystander video footage shows officers beating him while he flailed helplessly and handcuffed on the ground. One officer punched Connell five times while other officers pinned him down.1

Connell was hospitalized and, along with other protesters, charged with inciting a riot and battery on a police officer. The Trump supporter who started the violent confrontation walked away scot free. Pinning bogus police endangerment charges onto protesters is exactly the outcome Trump desired when he introduced his Blue Lives Matter Executive Order in February.2 Trump and his supporters, like the Fraternal Order of Police, are using scare tactics to stifle peaceful protest. But we will not be silenced!

Demand Duval County State Attorney Melissa Nelson drop all charges against the Jacksonville protesters.

What happened to Connell exposes the long-standing intolerance and deep hostility Jacksonville has for protesters. When watching the footage, if it weren’t for their uniforms, it would be difficult to even tell the police from counter-protesters because the physical attack on Connell matched the verbal attacks being thrown at him by Trump supporters.

Just a few weeks ago, the city’s Sheriff was exposed for using internet software to surveil residents as they exercised their right to protest. Police tracked people using words like “protest” and “Black Lives Matter” on social media. Officers would even go as far as videotaping demonstrations and taking facial pictures of those in attendance. Jacksonville law enforcement appears to have forgotten that peaceful protest is a first amendment right in this country–not a crime. 3

Tell State Attorney Nelson: Protect Florida’s right to protest!

Last election cycle, State Attorney Nelson beat out incumbent Last election cycle, State Attorney Nelson beat out incumbent Angela Corey, who sentenced domestic violence victim Marissa Alexander to 20-60 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive ex in a desperate attempt to protect herself and children.4 Corey sentenced Marissa to 20 years in prison, but her case was overturned and Marissa was eventually forced to take a plea deal in order to gain her freedom. By ousting Corey last November, Floridians made it clear that they are tired of Black people being criminalized instead of protected by police. And Nelson must take heed of this message.

Remind State Attorney Nelson that she works for the people, not the police!

Sincerely,

Rashad and the rest of the Color of Change team
________
References:

1. “6 arrested, 1 hospitalized after Jacksonville anti-war protest erupts in violence” Jacksonville.com, March 24, 2017

2. “Presidential Executive Order on Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers” White House, February 9, 2017

3. “Monitoring Dissent: How the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spied on protesters” Jacksonville, March 24, 2017

4. “Florida woman in ‘warning shot’ case released from jail” Reutuers, January 27, 2017

________

Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

Petition to North Carolina Officials: Free Dontae Sharpe.

Via Color of Change:

Dear Iris,

Time and time again the criminal justice system in the United States continues to disappoint and traumatize Black communities — ripping families apart and leaving communities to deal with the consequences of the lack of accountability from police officers, prosecutors, and judges. In North Carolina, we are confronted daily with a morally corrupt criminal justice system that destroys people’s lives, people like Dontae Sharpe.

Dontae has been incarcerated since the age of 19. He has now spent 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.1 Dontae has spent decades behind bars despite a complete lack of evidence against him, recanted witness testimony and mounting evidence of misconduct by police and prosecutors in Greenville, NC.

In the face of such grave injustice, we must act on the moral imperative to repair the harm to Dontae, his family and community. In this holy week, we must not forget that the Bible reminds us of our moral responsibility to proclaim liberty to the prisoner.2 For more than a year the North Carolina NAACP has called on the government of North Carolina to free Dontae Sharpe.  Now, along with Dontae’s mother, Sarah Blakely, I am asking for the support of Color Of Change members to bring him home.

Help bring Dontae home. Tell North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper,  Attorney General Josh Stein and Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb to free him now.

Dontae was convicted of a murder connected to a drug buy in 1994 but the case quickly fell apart. The prosecution’s key witness recanted her testimony within two months of the trial and a detective from the case has come forward to admit that Dontae was wrongfully convicted and that evidence in the case was selectively documented to build the case against him.

Yet, Pitt County Prosecutor Kim Robb refuses to reverse course. The actions of the Pitt County District Attorney’s Office have convinced us that Robb has lost her way — focused on avoiding accountability for a grave misdeed, while Dontae is sacrificed in the name of maintaining the status quo. She knows that Dontae’s freedom exposes crookedness in the Pitt County Criminal justice system that continues to this day. It is time for her office to take responsibility and right this wrong, or declare a conflict in this case.

Dontae has spent over half of his life behind bars because he maintains his innocence. If he’d confessed to the crime he was convicted of he would be home today. His case is a tragic example of the deep-rooted brokenness of our criminal justice system where prosecutors and police can exploit racism and inequality to try and extract guilt from innocent people.

Demand North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein and D.A. Kim Robb overturn Dontae Sharpe’s conviction.

We know these are not isolated cases. In North Carolina and all across the country, there are thousands of cases where Black people have been wrongly convicted and harshly sentenced to prison for crimes they did not commit and that were never properly investigated.3 Some have been exonerated but many more remain in prison and even on death row.

There is a long history of Black people enduring the pain of being mistreated by the judicial system. From coerced confessions to ineffective eyewitnesses, misconduct by police, mishandling of DNA evidence, to biases from judges and prosecutors, Black communities suffer from a criminal justice system that repeatedly discriminates against them.

But I believe we can correct these harms by joining together to call on those in power to do what’s right. Last year, in a troublingly similar case, we were able to help free Kalvin Michael Smith, after he was wrongfully imprisoned for 19 years by pressuring the Attorney General to show leadership.5 We can do the same for Dontae.

Dontae’s youth, freedom, and life are being stolen by the criminal justice that should have been protecting his innocence. Governor Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein, and D.A. Kim Robb can now correct the mistakes made by the courts 2 decades ago— they can overturn this wrongful conviction and unite Dontae with his loved ones and return him to his community. We can’t wait another decade. We can’t wait another day. 

Tell North Carolina Governor Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein, and D.A. Kim Robb to overturn Dontae Sharpe’s conviction.

Until justice is real

Rev. William Barber II

President, NC NAACP State Conference
Architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement

References:

  1. “Lacking evidence, recanting witness suggests another look necessary in Sharpe conviction” wnct.com, 03.10.2016. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7741?t=6&akid=7250.2505660.cJvWIi

  2. Luke 4:18
  3. “Don’t stop fighting: Wrongfully convicted man free after 32 years” CNN, 03.17.2017. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7742?t=8&akid=7250.2505660.cJvWIi

  4. “Troy Anthony Davis,” TroyAnthonyDavis.org 09.21.2011. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7745?t=10&akid=7250.2505660.cJvWIi

  5. “Uncovering the truth Kalvin Michael Smith has been released from prison,” MTV.com 11.10.16. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7746?t=12&akid=7250.2505660.cJvWIi

Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

Petition to Congress: Stop Trump’s illegal war in Syria.

noblankcheck

Via CREDO* Action:

Tell Congress: Stop Trump’s illegal war in Syria

The petition to congressional leaders reads:

“Rein in Donald Trump’s illegal military strikes without congressional authorization now. Hold immediate and emergency deliberations on Trump’s illegal escalation of military engagement in Syria.”

Add your name: Sign the petition

Dear Iris:

Donald Trump has launched an illegal war in Syria.

Last night, he launched Tomahawk missiles into Syria without seeking any congressional approval. Since taking office, Trump has made a series of rash, hawkish and barbaric combat decisions that have already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians and American military personnel. But this is worse than anything we have seen so far.

We need Congress to act quickly and decisively to rein Trump in. Trump has launched illegal military strikes. Now is not the time for congressional leaders to head out of Washington for spring recess. They must assert their constitutional authority and hold immediate and emergency deliberations on Trump’s continued reckless and unauthorized military actions in Syria.

Tell congressional leaders: Rein in Donald Trump’s unauthorized military strikes and hold immediate emergency deliberations on Trump’s illegal escalation of military engagement in Syria. Click here to sign the petition.

It is undeniable that Assad’s regime is responsible for triggering a catastrophic humanitarian crisis – but Trump is acting in his own best interests, not those of the Syrian people. As humanitarians confronting the horror of the Syrian civil war, we must consider how we can best protect civilians and end the violence. Rash, illegal acts of war are not the way.

The backwards step of instigating illegal strikes in Syria is horrifying on multiple levels. The current Authorization for Use of Military Force that Congress passed post-9/11 does not authorize this strike.1 This latest attack also violates international law. The Charter of the United Nations is crystal clear on when it is legal to go to war: in the case of self defense or when it is approved by the U.N. Security Council.2 Trump not only met neither of these conditions, he also did not give Congress a chance to debate and vote on this illegal escalation.

Donald Trump has never articulated a vision or endgame for our involvement in Syria. Throughout his racist and misogynistic campaign, he tried to present himself as an anti-war candidate. But since his election, he has failed to invest in staff or strategies that will lead to anything other than American and civilian bloodshed.

Escalating our military entanglement in Middle Eastern countries – with the inevitable escalation of civilian casualties that comes with it – has been shown to actually help terrorists with recruitment. Trump’s reckless action is nothing more than a publicity stunt and an attempt to boost his plunging poll numbers and change the narrative for a dysfunctional administration that appears to be in complete disarray. It is a reckless abuse of power that shows a complete disregard for both the law and human life, and Congress must hold him accountable.

Congressional leaders must assert their constitutional authority to rein in a rash, out of control so-called president putting the lives of American military personnel and innocent civilians at risk, and they must do it now.

Now is the time for Congress to check and balance Trump.

Tell congressional leaders: Rein in Donald Trump’s unauthorized military strikes and hold immediate emergency deliberations on Trump’s illegal escalation of military engagement in Syria. Click the link below to sign the petition:

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/Syria_War

Thank you for standing for peace,

Tessa Levine, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name: Sign the petition

References:

John Nichols, “Trump Launched Missile Strikes on Syria Without Congressional Authorization,” The Nation, April 6, 2017.
Jack L. Goldsmith, “What Happened to the Rule of Law?,” The New York Times, Aug. 31, 2013.

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*CREDO Mobile is a lefty activist mobile company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. (CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor.) Consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop funding anti-democratic donors that fund conservatives like AT&T. They offer pretty much all the same deals on phones, contract buyouts, incentives, fees, etc.

How to deal with fascism denial

I attended a local meeting of Indivisible in which regressive Tea Party followers were scattered throughout the audience. They were kept under control by the organizers, but near the end, one comment stirred up a ferocious (and frustrated) frothing by one of the Tea Partiers — someone mentioned that Trump was building a fascist regime, which led to much indignation and insistence that no, he was nothing like Hitler.

This will happen to you, too, in conversations with Trump followers. Prepare yourself by reading Sunsara Taylor’s article, Why It’s Not Just Right, but Highly Illuminating and Very Necessary to Compare Trump to Hitler. In this instance, the Trump defender was shut down to prevent him from disrupting the meeting, but you might have to explain this situation to someone else.

First, let’s get something out of the way. History never repeats itself exactly. During Hitler’s rise, Germany was coming out of defeat in World War 1, was in the throes of a major depression, and faced a popular communist movement and broad sections of very combative and progressive working people. The U.S. ruling class does not face that situation. But it does face an international situation increasingly fraught with challenges to its geopolitical, military, and economic domination. It does face a situation in which different sections of the ruling class are sharply divided over the “legitimating norms” of society—that is, the common set of values and morality around which the society is broadly understood, held together, and cohered.

Quite a bit of this crisis flows out of the conflict between the foundational and structural character of the U.S. as a white supremacist society, and the way this has been challenged over the past 50 years—both through righteous liberation struggles and through major demographic changes, like the growing number of immigrants. And while the U.S. does not face a major depression right now, there is no work for huge sections of the working class (speaking here of the multinational U.S. working class, made up of Black, Latino, Arab, Asian, and other nationalities, as well as white), living standards and future prospects have gone significantly down for sections of the working class that do have jobs, and large sections of the middle class also face great uncertainty.

So, no, the U.S. does not face the exact circumstances of Germany; but the contradictions and problems it DOES face have proven extremely intractable. In the face of this, there have been increasingly strong fascist currents brought forward over a whole period of decades. In this situation, Trump has been able to cohere forces and come to power determined to carry out a fully fascist restructuring of society. And let us not fail to notice, Trump has already inherited—and has vowed to massively strengthen—a repressive apparatus that goes far beyond what Hitler inherited when he came to power. And, Trump—unlike Hitler—has unchecked personal control over the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and is clearly itching to use it. During a briefing, he asked three times, “If we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?”

Don’t dismiss the comparison out of hand. There are differences, but also deep similarities. We are seeing a racist, nationalist regime coming to power, and you can’t ignore it by telling us that Trump doesn’t have a toothbrush mustache.

A Global Letter to Trump…

Dear

Avaaz has a global letter going, and they’d like to get 6 million signatures. I’ve signed. Please, sign yourself, and boost the signal! We can make our voices heard.

With the Muslim ban, Trump has shown that the worst fears about his Presidency are true. Add your voice to the open letter below to join the resistance — then spread it far and wide:

—-

Dear Mr. Trump,

This is not what greatness looks like.

The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering, and bigotry. We reject your support for torture, your calls for murdering civilians, and your general encouragement of violence. We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don’t look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same god as you.

Facing your fear we choose compassion. Hearing your despair we choose hope. Seeing your ignorance we choose understanding.

As citizens of the world, we stand united against your brand of division.

Sincerely,
[Add your name!]

Please sign and share!