Help get Obama on the ballot in RI this Saturday in Newport

In order to be on the March Primary ballot, every candidate needs signatures, and local Dems will be collecting them for President Barack Obama this Saturday in Newport from 2-3pm at the Peoples's Cafe on Thames Street. Get directions and RSVP at BarackObama.com.

Want to play an even bigger role in the process? You might consider running for delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next September. The RI Democratic Party will be hosting a workshop on running for delegate next Tuesday night in Bristol.

Full disclosure: I am an officer of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee.

Localblogging, Politics, 02871, 2012

RI Blogosphere party rocks Salon (progressive-style)

RI Blogosphere
RI Future's Brian Hull and David Segal of Demand Progress talk with attendees at the RI Blogosphere Party

Last night's Rhode Island Blogosphere post-holiday party rocked the The Salon in Providence, with more than 100 bloggers, politicos, and media folks kicking back and talking about the state of the world, online and off.

The big local news, of course, is the relaunch of Rhode Island's Future, the state's premier progressive blog, which was dormant most of last year. But with a spiffy redesigned site and a great collection of writing talent, RI Future looks poised to make a well-timed comeback.

Also on hand last night was an advance team from Netroots Nation, coming to town in June, and getting to know local bloggers and progressive activists. (Have you registered yet?)

It was night full of great conversations and the wonderful experience of meeting people IRL that you've been reading online (Hard to believe, in this small state, but true!) Great seeing you, everybody!

Localblogging, Politics, 02871, RI, progressive, RI Future, media

RI Future returns to the blogosphere!

Rhode Island's Future, the state's premier progressive political blog, annnounced a major relaunch this Wednesday, January 11, as part a gathering of bloggers from around the state, according to a press release distributed this afternoon.

According to the release, after a year-long experiment in which the blog was largely unmoderated and independent, Rhode Island's Future will recommit to expanding the progressive voice throughout the state. With the upcoming primary and general elections this year, a new political landscape that includes the first Hispanic Mayor of Providence and a registered Independent as governor, the upcoming Netroots Nation convention, and a series of financial and social crises that have come to a head in RI, including skyrocketing unemployment, perennial tax debates, and the recent pension reform legislation, RI Future will once again play a prominent role in advocating for progressive solutions to the problems facing the Ocean State and will be a truly grass-roots community-based source for information in the state and beyond.

The expanded list of contributors to the blog includes many longtime, new, and periodic writers and community activists in the state including: Aaron Regunberg, Andy Cutler, Brian Hull, David Segal, John Speck, Josh Stabach, Kate Brock, Libby Kimzey, Marco McWilliams, Mark Santow, Pat Smith, Reza Clifton, Russ Conway, and Thom Cahir. The new writing team includes a former elected official and Congressional candidate, a current candidate for State Representative, social activists and community organizers, a history professor, a local adult educator, an entrepreneurship and strategic communications consultant, and an award-winning multimedia producer. Each of these writers brings with them particular expertise and interests that will reinvigorate the RI Future community by reaching new audiences.

The evolution brings a wider spectrum of views and interests, and the newest incarnation of RI Future will be a platform where topics will be covered in written and multimedia formats. While budget and tax policy, the economy, state and local elections, immigration, civil rights, progressive politics, and State House news be a large part of the stories covered, RI Future will also be tackling issues such as net neutrality, digital rights, and online privacy; the intersection of race, art and politics; trends in political and online communities; and will more fully engage with the arts and culture community. More importantly, as the buzz about RI Future’s return builds in blogger and political circles, content will be driven by the evolving group of diverse writers to the site. Readers will be further engaged through an article rating system that monitors reader reaction, comment ratings which will assist with the self-policing of the site, social media linkages, reader-created content, and partnerships with other blogs and media outlets.

The new and improved RIFuture.org will be available for viewing beginning on January 11, 2012 – a time coinciding with the Annual Providence Blogosphere Post-Holidays Party, which will be held on the 11th from 7:00-10:00 PM at The Salon, 57 Eddy St. in Providence.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Localblogging, Politics, 02871, RI

Political bootcamp for young activists at Brown

This one came in via press release, but it's so good I had to share. Click through and check out the list of speakers and trainers.

The Rhode Island Youth Empowerment Campaign is hosting the Rhode Island Student Political Bootcamp, a training camp to learn how to be an effective organizer. From November 19th - 21st, trainers from national organizations will be providing small group skills-development workshops on everything from New Media and How to Write a Field Plan to Political Data & Technology. The event will culminate in a jobs fair in which approximately 50 national organizations will collect résumés and discuss job and internship opportunities.

Attendees will gain the tools and strategies to effect positive change in the state. If you have any questions please feel free to call, email, or check us out on Facebook!

Web site: OfByForRI.org
Facebook page

Localblogging, Politics, 02871

An oily deal for terrorism

According to a report in the The Daily Telegraph, UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw admitted that "trade and oil" were involved in the government's negotiations as far back as 2007 around a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) for convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdel al-Meghari.

Documents published this week showed Mr Straw originally promised that a PTA would only be reached with Libya if Megrahi was excluded. But he later caved in to Libyan demands to include Megrahi. It followed a warning from BP that a failure to include the bomber could hurt the oil giant’s business interests.

When asked in the interview if trade and BP were factors, Mr Straw admits: “Yes, [it was] a very big part of that. I’m unapologetic about that... Libya was a rogue state.
Daily Telegraph

Last month, al-Meghari was granted compassionate release from a Scottish prison with months to live and received an official — and by some accounts "hero's" — welcome in Libya, which in 2003 formally admitted responsibility for the terrorist attack.

According to the BBC, Straw's office has blasted the press about the "innuendo over this issue," and a Scottish official called it "academic," since al-Mehrahi was eventually granted release on compassionate grounds, rather than as part of a PTA.

I do not have a nuanced position on this. While I can understand the impulse to show mercy to a prisoner dying of cancer, there are plenty of murderers who serve their term and die in custody. And the country that gave him a warm welcome admitted responsibility for bringing down an American plane and killing 270 people. America has gone to war over far less.

Let me be clear about my bias: As an undergraduate, I attended Syracuse University, and have several times visited the memorial on campus honoring the 35 students who were killed returning from a semester abroad. I was at JFK the day before the bombing, picking up a friend, a student from a different school returning on the very same flight number, something which continues to chill me every time I think about it.

I am deeply, deeply disappointed in the actions of the UK government.

Localblogging, Politics, 02871

Former WaPo blogger interviewed at PDF

There has been a load of good stuff coming out of last week's Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) in NY, (hashtag #pdf09) but I just watched an interview/QA between journalism prof Jay Rosen and former Washington Post political blogger Dan Froomkin. Why "former?" Therein hangs the tale, ably dissected by Glenn Greenwald in Salon.

Rosen and Froomkin talked for about a hour, and the video is up on blip.tv here or you can just watch below. It's long-form, but if you're interested in contemporary journalism, there are deep insights. You might want to kick back over lunch.

Money quote from Rosen at about 49:08: "A professional newsroom is an apparatus of social control that is organized, in part, to de-voice the individual journalists. And by devoicing all the individual journalists you're able to control the whole thing, more easily, from the top."

Boy, but Rosen sounds like a media ecologist. (grin)

Localblogging, Politics, 02871, media ecology

TSA, airline settle security theater suit

We Will Not Be Silent t-shirt
Raed Karrar's t-shirt.

Two Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staffers and airline JetBlue have paid a civil settlement of $240K to passenger Raed Jarrar, who was initially denied boarding a flight in 2006 because of Arabic writing on his shirt, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said today.

According to the ACLU, on August 12, 2006, Jarrar was waiting to board a JetBlue flight from New York to his home in Oakland, California, when he was approached by two TSA officials. One of them told Jarrar that he needed to remove his shirt because other passengers were not comfortable with the Arabic script, telling him that wearing a shirt with Arabic writing on it to an airport was like “wearing a t-shirt at a bank stating, ‘I am a robber.’”

The settlement, reached late last month and delivered to Jarrar on Friday, was a "victory for free speech," said ACLU attorney Aden Fine. "This settlement should send a clear message to all TSA officials and airlines that they cannot discriminate against passengers based on their race or the ethnic content of their speech," Fine said in a statement.

Just to be clear. This was not about anyone actually, oh, being a terrorist. Or carrying weapons. Jarrar's shirt said, "We will not be silent" in English and Arabic. Compare his experience to the writer from the Atlantic who was waved past a bored TSA checker with a Hezbollah flag. Even after convincing Jarrar to cover up his shirt in order to allow him to board, they literally moved his seat to the back of the plane.

This was kabuki-level security theatre — and racial profiling.

Read more at the ACLU. (And hey, while you're there, why not become a member?)

Localblogging, Politics