DC Just Passed Great Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Days Bills. What's in them?

Congratulations to all DC workers and to the advocates who helped push the DC Council to pass unanimously the Fair Minimum Wage Act and Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013 today without allowing the bills to be weakened by amendments.

Although news reports have shared some of the highlights of the worker protection bills just passed by the DC Council, here are some of the details, which weren’t always covered.

Supporters challenge Kim Rivera's separation from newborn in Fort Carson protest Sunday

A handful of peace activists gathered outside of Fort Carson on Sunday to protest the military's continued detention of a self-proclaimed conscientious objector who recently gave birth.

At the heart of their concerns: Army Pfc. Kimberly Rivera's newborn son, Matthew, is not receiving breast milk because Rivera is not allowed to keep him with her at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego, where she's being held, according to her civilian lawyer, James Branum.

Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees

Activists have long criticized Walmart for failing to pay its employees living wages, and instead relying on the state to step in and pay for the healthcare and food of workers. In Canton, Ohio, another Walmart recently demonstrated this kind of corporate welfare by holding a food drive—for its own employees.

“Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” reads a sign accompanied by several plastic bins.

Understandably, the food drive has sparked outrage in the area.

Here's Another Way the GOP Is Undermining Obamacare

Scott Messick is a 54-year-old retired health insurance consultant from Conroe, Texas. His wife runs a small yarn shop. They're both on his former employer's health insurance plan for retirees, and Messick says that he and his wife together pay $964 a month in premiums, and a $12,000 annual deductible (the amount of money they have to pay out-of-pocket each year before the insurer will pay any expenses). Starting in January, their premiums will shoot up to $1,283 a month, he says. Earlier this month, Messick logged on to the federal insurance exchange website to shop for a new plan.

Reflections and Lessons After Four Decades of Organizing. By Lisa Fithian

2013 is a significant year in my work for justice. It was 50 years ago the National March on Washington made history and Dr. King wrote his famous letter from the Birmingham Jail. Fifty years ago, the Washington Peace Center was founded. Twenty-five years ago, I served as the Coordinator of the Washington Peace Center. Ten years ago, United for Peace and Justice was born, a campaign in which I continue to serve as a National Convener. One year ago, I joined the Peace Center Advisory Council.

The Next 50 Years: Building a New World. By Vasudha Desikan

The following is the transcript of a speech that was given by WPC board member, Vasudha Desikan, at our 50th Anniversary party in May.

This past weekend, I was obsessively watching “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix. For those of you who don’t know, the show is about this Texas high-school football team that is down and out, until this passionate but straight talkin’ coach with a vision instills them with hope and discipline, and they end up going to the State championships. I won’t give any more spoilers, promise.

The Purpose of Protest By David Hostetter

For me, the fiftieth anniversary of the Peace Center has two meanings. On one level, realizing that I have been associated with the Center for 30 of my 51 years makes me feel much like I did when I received my first solicitation from AARP last year: How can I be so old? On another, it reminds me that I made a commitment to the Center from which I have derived a great deal of satisfaction. In the autumn of 1983 I climbed up the narrow stairs to the attic offices the Center then had in the Friends Meeting of Washington, and in my heart I have never come back down.

Happy Anniversary Afghanistan!

October 7 marked the 12th anniversary of the Afghanistan War, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the papers. In fact, “America’s longest war” has become so unpopular that both the media and the Obama administration have done everything in their power to sweep the whole matter under the rug hoping that people just forget about it. But it’s hard to forget about it when US troops keep getting blown up like they did on Sunday. Just look at this from CBS News:

Why Race Matters in the Government Shutdown

The shutdown of the federal government which began at midnight today is a body blow to our economy that could prove difficult to bear. Coming on the heels of the automatic budget cuts of sequestration, which are already forecast to cost 750,000 jobs this year, and three years of an anemic economic recovery, the furlough of almost a million federal workers is just not what the economy needs right now. The shutdown was touched off by a Senate vote yesterday to turn down a measure that would have kept the government operating for 10 weeks in exchange for a one year delay in Obamacare.

Cooperative Housing Thrives in DC

DC has a rich history of housing cooperatives, in which each resident owns a share of the entire property, not just their unit. While relatively unknown, there are at least 120 co-ops in DC, many of which are a great source of stable, affordable housing.

In a cooperative, each resident owns a share in the corporation that owns their property, entitling them to reside in a specific unit. The corporation has a board of directors and a management company, which maintains the property, screens new residents, and determines monthly fees or carrying charges.

DC Teach-in: Why we must stop US Military Action in Syria

On 9/5/13, the Washington Peace Center sponsored a teach-in about the proposed bombing of Syria.  Featuring Rania Masri and Bassam Haddad, it was a fantastic presentation and conversations about the context and history of the proposed bombings, why this was happening now, what the alternatives were and what we could do about it.

Click here to watch the video from this event.

9/11: What Didn't Change

It changed everything.

That's the mantra that emerged from the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001. In certain areas of our collective lives, it was an accurate description. Security concerns increased. The United States went to war in two far-away lands. It engaged in brutal practices that amounted to torture and opened secret prisons and the ever-controversial Guantanamo facility. Ugly barriers went up around public facilities. Navigating airports became a new kind of nightmare.

Dubious Intelligence and Iran Blackmail: How Israel is driving the US to war in Syria

President Barack Obama’s August 31 announcement that he would seek congressional authorization to strike Syria has complicated an aggressive Israeli campaign to render a US attack inevitable. While the Israelis are far from the only force in bringing the US to the brink of war – obviously Assad’s own actions are the driving factor – their dubious intelligence assessments have proven pivotal.

Take a Stand Against Nuclear Weapons

Sixty-eight years have passed since atomic bombs were used against people for the first time — on Aug. 6, 1945, in Hiroshima and three days later in Nagasaki. Policymakers the world over should take concrete action toward the abolition of nuclear weapons by listening to what Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said in his 2013 Peace Declaration on Tuesday, the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

Bradley Manning acquitted of “Aiding the Enemy” charge, month-long sentencing phase now determines fate

“We won the battle, now we need to go win the war,” shared defense attorney David Coombs following today’s verdict. “Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire,” he said to dozens of emotional supporters outside of the Fort Meade, Maryland military courtroom. Coombs expressed subdued optimism going into the expected month-long sentencing phase of the court martial that will determine how long Bradley Manning will remain in confinement.

Crackdown on Turkish Uprising: Police Hammer Youth Revolt as Fight Continues Against Inequality and Repression

As a sea of riot police backed by water cannon trucks pushed past the barricades, seizing the center of Taksim Square in a barrage of teargas and rubber bullets, the small environmental protests-turned-urban anti-government revolt entered a new stage. In a bid to reclaim the square they occupied for the past week, Turkish youth, woken from their tents to the sound of exploding teargas canisters, erected new barricades, throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks in pitched battles with police throughout the day.

How to Honor 50 Years of Activism?

Thank you to everyone who came and supported our 50th anniversary celebration and reunion last month.  How to honor 50 years of activism?  By looking forward! The Washington Peace Center is continuing to build the next generation of activists through monthly training skillshares.  Please donate today to support training the future change-makers!

LGBTQ leaders uphold selection of Bradley Manning as SF Pride grand marshal


Recently, it was announced that PFC Bradley Manning would be a grand marshal of the 2013 San Francisco Pride Celebration. We felt this decision was a bold and uplifting choice, bestowing a great May honor on a young whistleblower being persecuted for following his conscience.

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