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mnpACT Newsletter June 19, 2007

In This Issue

Next mnpACT Meetings

On The Calendar

Take Action (No Escalation)

Get Informed on Local & State Issues

Get Informed on National & International Issues


 

Next mnpACT Meetings

Saturday, June 30, 1-3:30 p.m.
Become a Healthcare Reform Activist
Open Circle Church
(Map)
Learn the history of our current health care dilemma. Join a discussion with area legislators about what happened with health care reform in the 2007 Session, and why. Be part of planning how to effect greater HealthCare change in 2008. Join our South Metro DFL legislators as they discuss this issue.

Saturday, July 31, 1-3:30 p.m..
Become a Citizen Journalist

Galaxie Library in Apple Valley

Political Party Information

Minnesota DFL

DFL CD2

MN Green Party

MN Independence Party




Summer is in full bloom. Its time for graduation parties, vacations, summer picnics, and summer reading.

It's also time for rethinking the way we have been addressing some of the serious problems we have today in our country - like healthcare. Everyone knows our current system is a mess and getting worse every year. The time is finally ripe for thinking seriously about universal healthcare in America. On the calendar below you will find two opportunities to listen to, and respond to, some of our state legislators as they work on implementing healthcare reform. If you care about healthcare in our state and country, I encourage you to participate in these discussions.

I also want to call your attention to the mnpACT sponsored event, Angst to Action, coming up in July. The internet is revolutionizing our ability to participate in the political process. Blogs, letters to the editor, You Tube-like videos, it is easier than ever to make your voice heard and be a citizen journalist. If you want to learn how to get involved for the first time or become more effective, this event is for you.

Don't forget to pass this newsletter along to your friends. Have a great summer. Relax. Rejuvinate. Re- engage.

Jay H. Steele, mnpACT President

Don't forget to head over the the mnpACT website and visit our blog, calendar, and candidate information. Click Here


  • On The Calendar
  • Tuesday, June 19 at 7 pm
    Health Care for All Roundtable
    Eagan Community Center Join us to talk with our state legislators in Eagan, including Senator Jim Carlson, about how we can make the health care system work better for all of us in Minnesota!

    Any Questions? Please Contact Julia Rybak at TakeAction Minnesota Phone: (651) 379-0751 Email: Julia@t akeactionminnesota.org

    Saturday, June 30, 2007, 1 pm to 3:30 pm
    Become a "Health Care Reform" Activist The 2007 Session is over. Now we prepare for 2008!
    Open Circle Church in Burnsville

    Learn the history of our current health care dilemma.
    Join a discussion with area legislators about what happened with health care reform in the 2007 Session, and why.
    Be part of planning how to effect greater HealthCare change in 2008.

    Legislators confirmed to participate: Senator John Doll of Burnsville, Representative David Bly of Northfield, Senator Jim Carlson of Eagan, Representative Will Morgan of Burnsville, Representative Shelley Madore of Apple Valley.

    Special Guest Speaker Kip Sullivan
    Author of 'The Health Care Mess' How We Got Into It and How We'll Get Out of It
    Minnesota's tireless champion for Universal, single payer health care reform!

    Everyone Welcome! Free Event. Contributions to support the work of mnpACT! appreciated!

    Saturday, July 21, 2007, 1 pm to 3:30 pm
    Angst to Action
    Become a "Citizen Journalist"!
    Now we begin to prepare for 2008!

    Galaxie Library in Apple Valley

    mnpACT! Can help channel your anxiety about the current state of our State and Federal Government - and make the time you invest as an activist more productive.

    Learn to blog, and write Letters to the Editor,
    How to make, edit and publish videos of progressive events,
    Learn about podcasts and local radio/TV activist opportunities
    Help develop plans for a Speakers Bureau and a "Think Tank"

  • Take Action (No Escalation)
  • Restore Habeus Corpus ACLU Hosts a Rally at Representative John Kline's Office
    June 26, ,2007, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
    Representative Kline's Office at 101 W. Burnsville Pkwy #201, Burnsville, MN 55337
    Meet outside the Representative Kline's Office on Burnsville Parkway

    Habeas Corpus:

    • Protects against unlawful imprisonment
    • Ensures prisoners will not be detained indefinitely
    The Military Commissions Act:
    • Eliminates constitutional habeas corpus right
    • Allows the government to hold prisoners up to five years without charges
    • Allows any President to determine who is an enemy combatant
    • Allows any President to decide who can be held indefinitely without charge
    • Allows any President to define what is (and what is not) torture

    The only thing scarier than a government who takes away these freedoms is a Congress and people who let them.
    www.aclu- mn.org
    For questions contact: Jana Kooren, 651-645-4097 x123

  • Get Informed on Local & State Issues
  • Is merit pay for teachers the wave of the future? The New York Times takes a look at it this week and features developments in Minneapolis:

    For years, the unionized teaching profession opposed few ideas more vehemently than merit pay, but those objections appear to be eroding as school districts in dozens of states experiment with plans that compensate teachers partly based on classroom performance.

    Here in Minneapolis, for instance, the teachers' union is cooperating with Minnesota's Republican governor on a plan in which teachers in some schools work with mentors to improve their instruction and get bonuses for raising student achievement. John Roper- Batker, a science teacher here, said his first reaction was dismay when he heard his school was considering participating in the plan in 2004.

    "I wanted to get involved just to make sure it wouldn't happen," he said.

    But after learning more, Mr. Roper-Batker said, "I became a salesman for it." He and his colleagues have voted in favor of the plan twice by large margins.

    Minnesota's $86 million teacher professionalization and merit pay initiative has spread to dozens of the state's school districts, and it got a lift this month when teachers voted overwhelmingly to expand it in Minneapolis. A major reason it is prospering, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in an interview, is that union leaders helped develop and sell it to teachers.

    "As a Republican governor, I could say, 'Thou shalt do this,' and the unions would say, 'Thou shalt go jump in the lake,' " Mr. Pawlenty said. "But here they partnered with us."

  • Get Informed on National & International Issues
  • Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was the military officer charged with investigating abuses at Abu Ghraib. For his efforts his career at the Army was effectively brought to an end. Seymour Hersh tells his story in the current issue The New Yorker:

    On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered the scandal.

    If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army's initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:

    Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse.

    Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld's senior military assistant. Craddock's daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba's two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, "Craddock just said, very coldly, 'Wait here.' " In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were "only Iraqis." Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

    "Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba-of the Taguba report!" Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under- Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, "I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting."

    In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. "Could you tell us what happened?" Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, "Is it abuse or torture?" At that point, Taguba recalled, "I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That's not abuse. That's torture.' There was quiet."

    Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. "General," he asked, "who do you think leaked the report?" Taguba responded that perhaps a senior military leader who knew about the investigation had done so. "It was just my speculation," he recalled. "Rumsfeld didn't say anything." (I did not meet Taguba until mid-2006 and obtained his report elsewhere.) Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. "Here I am," Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, "just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this." As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, "He's looking at me. It was a statement."


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