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  • YDA International Affairs Director Attends Study Session in Hungary

    July 18, 2014

    This post appears courtesy of Jillian Cardillo, International Affairs Director, Young Democrats of America.

    As many of you know, YDA is part of an international organization known as the International Federation of Liberal Youth, or IFLRY for short. IFLRY hosts many events each year, ranging from General Assemblies to study sessions on a variety of topics. I recently attended a study session on conflict transformation, held at the European Youth Center in Budapest, Hungary. The venue is one of two run by the Council of Europe (the other is in Strasbourg, France) that has meeting rooms, hotel-like rooms for sleeping and a dining area, making it an all-in-one location to host a study session.

    This particular study session was focused on conflict transformation. A group of 29 participants from 17 countries and 3 continents worked through this topic, from discussing definitions and perspectives, to looking at and dissecting a case study related to the conflict in Sierra Leone. We also broke in to small groups to do “conflict mapping” of various conflicts around the globe. I worked with representatives from the United Kingdom and France, and the three of us were jokingly called “the UN Security Council” by the participants. We mapped out and analyzed the conflict in Iraq stemming from the Iraq war.

    The study session also included guest speakers from CANVASS, an NGO working to use non-violent means to transform conflict around the world, and the Council of Europe, who had a representative on site to explain their “No Hate Speech” campaign. This campaign is designed to combat hate speech in Europe, and there was a lively debate and discussion on just how far we should go to eliminate hate speech from the public discourse.

    The week-long study session was full of valuable information on conflict transformation, discussion and debate, more than I could possibly get in to one blog post. Of course, there was also time to tour the beautiful Hungarian Parliament, eat some local food and watch lots of World Cup soccer. Overall, this study session was an incredible opportunity to learn more about an important topic and to meet people from various backgrounds and experiences.

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  • Ohio Young Democrats Meet with DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Discuss 2014 Campaign Efforts

    July 16, 2014
    OYD and DWS

    Members of Ohio Young Democrats with DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in front of the Ohio Democratic Party Election 2014 countdown clock.

    O-H-I-O Young Democrats are on a roll and starting the groundwork for Democratic victories in 2014!

    Two weeks ago, members of the Ohio Young Democrats (OYD) executive board and the leadership teams from some of Ohio’s local young dem chapters had the honor of meeting with DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. During the 45-minute meeting, which took place at the Ohio Democratic Party’s headquarters in Columbus, OYD members heard about Wasserman Schultz’s story of running for office and her first election at the age of 25. Her message was motivating to all of the current and future candidates in the room.

    During the meeting, OYD President, Gen Murphy, discussed the 2014 OYD campaign plan with DWS. She outlined OYD’s goals for the year which include working with the Ohio Democratic Party to host organizing bootcamps on college campuses, increasing membership by 50%, and supporting the Ohio Democratic statewide ticket and local candidates by knocking on 200,000 doors by the November election.

    The Franklin County Young Democrats (FCYD) President, Jen House, also had the opportunity to speak about the organization. FCYD, which is based in Columbus, is OYD’s largest chapter. Jen highlighted FCYD’s recent successes, which include knocking off an incumbent Republican Columbus School Board member with a first time young dem candidate, Dominic Paretti. Jen also talked about how Columbus is young (the average age is 33), smart and progressive.

    The final speaker of the meeting was Micah Kamrass. Micah is running for state representative in Ohio’s 28th district, one of the top targeted house races in the state. Micah talked about how while at The Ohio State University he was elected student body president, giving him experience representing 50,000 students At OSU, Micah worked on issues pertaining to affordability, safety, and inclusion. He also discussed how hard his campaign is working to win the race and the canvassing and fundraising success he has had thus far.

    The meeting ended with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz discussing the DNC’s priorities for elections in 2014 and their plans to help Democrats win in Ohio in 2014.

    After the meeting, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz replied to one of OYD’s tweets with the following message: “You’ll #winoh2014! MT @OhioYD: Honored to have the opportunity to meet @DWStweets today to talk about our 2014 plan”

    Learn more about OYD at www.ohioyoungdemocrats.org. Follow them on Twitter @OhioYD and on Facebook at facebook.com/ohioyoungdems.

    This is a part of an on-going series focusing on the work of state and local Young Democrats chapters.

  • NYSYD Responds to Homophobic Young Republican Blog Post

    July 16, 2014

    This post appears courtesy of Mike Corbett, president of the New York State Young Democrats.

    I must express my disappointment regarding the recent post on the New York Young Republican Club (NYYRC) blog. In the article, the author called it “abhorrent” to allow the rainbow flag, a longstanding symbol of the LGBT movement, to hang at a United States Embassy abroad. Although I would not be surprised if the radical Tea Party wing of the GOP expressed such views, I am quite shocked that the author was a member of my age group, one which, regardless of political affiliation, tends to be more tolerant of our differences.

    According to the author, the problem stemmed from a friend of his visiting the American Embassy in London. While there, the friend took a photo of two rainbow flags draped near the entrance. While I agree such a showing might ruffle some feathers in certain parts of the world, let me reiterate that this was London. Why is this an important fact? Since March 13, legalized same-sex marriage is the law of the land in England.

    The author also seemed upset that the rainbow flag flew at another embassy, but that country is Israel, where a 2009 poll shows that 61 percent support same-sex nuptials, a higher percentage than in recent surveys here in America, where 55 percent of respondents favor legal gay marriage.

    The author added his objection to the high number of gay ambassadors who have been appointed by President Obama. To be honest, I didn’t know whether any of our diplomats were gay. That’s because the sexual orientation of our ambassadors is completely irrelevant to me. The only thing I care about is whether they are qualified to represent the United States abroad. Furthermore, to invoke the name of the late Christopher Stevens in this bigoted diatribe is unconscionable. It almost seems as if the author is insinuating that Ambassador Stevens was killed because he was gay.

    Anyway, the post from the NYYRC blog has been removed. I am hopeful that, regardless of political affiliation, my generation will continue to strive for equality for all Americans.

    Mike Corbett, President
    New York State Young Democrats

  • REMINDER: Pittsburgh Early Bird Registration Closes July 3rd!

    July 03, 2014

    Before finalizing your 4th of July holiday plans, please remember that July 3rd is the deadline for early bird registration for the YDA Summer National Conference in Pittsburgh, PA!

    Tomorrow is also the deadline to make a reservation in the YDA room block at the discounted rate of $125/night.

    See our page at yda.org/pittsburgh for more details.

  • Bangor Daily News Runs Letter by President Omara Critical of Sen. Collins for Backing Repeal of Traffic Safety Regulations

    June 12, 2014

    Drive safe

    A tragic accident killing comedian Jimmy Mack and injuring Tracy Morgan catapulted the issue of trucking safety into the headlines.

    About 169 people are killed in Maine each year in traffic crashes; about 10 percent involve big trucks.

    Now, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is looking to make the roads an even more dangerous place by removing safety regulations preventing truck drivers from working more than 70 hours a week.

    These standards are designed to keep motorists and truckers safe and prevent companies from turning rigs into mobile sweatshops.

    Collins should be working to prevent traffic fatalities, not increasing the likelihood of them. Maine deserves a safety advocate in Washington, not a senator in the pocket of lobbyists.

    Atima Omara
    President, Young Democrats of America
    Arlington, Va.

  • Sign Up for YDA Lobby Day

    June 12, 2014

    On July 9-10, 2014, the Young Democrats of America will be hosting our first national Lobby Day in more than a decade. The young, progressive leaders that make up YDA will converge on Capitol Hill to lobby on issues important to young people including the economy, jobs, net neutrality, LGBTQ equality, pay equity and many others.

    YDA members who pay the $35 registration fee will receive extensive training to maximize their effectiveness on the Hill, as well as Breakfast and Lunch provided by YDA.

    Talking to members of Congress about the issue affecting young people and the issues important to our daily lives is a vital part of our democracy.  Young people don’t have the massive lobbying arms that major companies or the NRA have.  We need to personally go to the Hill and fight back against these corrosive influences on our federal policies.

    Please click here to join YDA President Atima Omara, YDA Issue Advocacy Director James Lewis, and other YDA leaders July 9-10 in Washington DC for YDA Lobby Day. Once you register, you will need to complete a Google form about the issues that are important to you. Please be sure to register for the event, complete the Google form AND Tweet/Facebook that you’re coming.  We will see you at #YDALobbyDay.

    Event Sponsors:
    Atima Omara,
    Rocco Giammaria,
    Dr. L. Kyle Horton,
    James Lewis,
    Michelle Sanderson

  • Remembering Two Great Democratic Women

    June 03, 2014

    In recent days, the America and the Democratic Party lost two crusaders for women and a better America: former DNC Women’s Caucus Chair, Mame Reilly, and Annie’s List Executive Director, Grace Garcia.

    President Atima Omara (VA) and Women’s Caucus Chair, Constantina Meis (NJ) offered these remembrances.

    “I’m saddened to learn of the passing my good friend and mentor Mame Reilly. Mame was a tireless champion for women in our Party and society; the hundreds of women and men she mentored are prepared to take on the charge of electing those candidates to public office who will fight for civil rights, equal pay and reproductive justice.”

    - President Atima Omara (VA)

    “It is with deep sadness that I have learn that the Executive Director of Annie’s List, Grace Garcia, has passed away in an accident on Monday. Ms. Grace Garcia was a passionate and visionary leader and she will be missed. We should continue to pay tribute to her life by continuing to support the work of Annie’s List and support women across Texas. Thoughts and prayers to the her family, friends and all those that cared and work with her; to the Texas Young Democrats, my condolences.”

    - Constantina Meis (NJ), Women’s Caucus Chair

  • Young Progressive Leaders Top “40 Under 40” List

    May 21, 2014

    Democratic Leaders’ Work Shows Importance of Continued Youth Leadership in Politics Moving into 2014 Mid-Term Elections

    Washington, DC – May 21, 2014 – News Release – Each day this week, the Washington Post has released the names of honorees on its “40 under 40” list, which highlights nine young Democratic state legislators. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Young Democrats of America have joined to celebrate those young, Democratic state legislators who have been honored.

    “Across our country, young people are taking up the call to public service, getting elected and writing legislation that helps middle class families, students, and all underrepresented Americans,” said Atima Omara, President of the Young Democrats of America. “When young people take on the challenge of public service, a new and important voice is introduced to our civil discourse, and these nine legislators are the perfect example of what progressive young people can do to improve their communities.”

    “Young elected progressives are leading the fight for middle class Americans in the halls of state capitols across this country,” said Michael Sargeant, Executive Director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). “The advances made by these unsung leaders are often overshadowed by Washington DC politics, but these are the young visionaries who are making a real impact on their constituents’ day-to-day lives.”

    The list included:
    • Alaska state Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins
    • Colorado Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino (also a DLCC Board Member)
    • Colorado state Representative Crisanta Duran
    • Maine state Senator Emily Cain
    • Montana state Senator Kendall Van Dyk
    • Nevada state Assemblywoman Lucy Flores
    • North Dakota state Representative Kylie Oversen
    • Washington state Representative Cyrus Habib
    • Wisconsin Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson

  • YDA Signs Letter to Congress to End Pentagon Slush Fund

    May 20, 2014

    Dear Member of Congress -

    We are writing you today as organizations with a wide variety of priorities to express our shared disappointment at the continued use of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account as a way to circumvent the very spending limitations Congress itself imposed on Pentagon spending.

    Since 2002, the Pentagon has separated funding relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and counterterrorism activities from other military programs not associated with U.S. contingency operations. With the United States drawing down its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is time to end use of the OCO account.

    According to the Pentagon, from FY 2013 to FY 2014, approximately 39 percent fewer personnel will be deployed to Afghanistan (with none in Iraq). Yet, in the FY 2014 omnibus spending bill, Defense Subcommittee funding in the OCO account will actually increase from FY 2013 to FY 2014. This only highlights the reality that the OCO is being used as a kind of slush fund to get around Congressionally approved caps on Department of Defense spending. We believe that the sum of the OCO account should be folded into Defense appropriations, with the total reduced to reflect post-war needs. That will mean that the current Defense cap will have to be increased. We believe that is a more realistic, transparent approach, just as we believe that the current cap for domestic expenditures is too low to respond to the nation’s needs.

    Just last year, the House of Representatives voted to cut the OCO account—reversing House appropriators’ decision to include billions of dollars above the Pentagon’s request in the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014. Similarly, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its Fiscal Year 2014 defense appropriations bill with significantly less appropriated in the OCO account than the omnibus ultimately provided.

    Although the Ryan-Murray deal kept parity between defense and non-defense spending caps, one of the ways that Congress met the new cap was by shifting spending from the Pentagon’s base accounts into the OCO account. Domestic spending priorities cannot make such an end-run around the new spending caps Congress implemented just last month.

    Since 2010, regular (non-OCO) Pentagon spending will decline less than the 17.8 percent cut to domestic and international appropriations. But the presence of non-war spending in the OCO account means that the Pentagon has had to cut less than it appears. On the other hand, preschool programs for young children, scientific research, affordable housing and other community rebuilding, home energy assistance, aid for college students, job training, and nutrition programs for seniors are just some of the programs that are not keeping pace with need.

    Continuing to budget through the OCO account not only ignores Congress’ prior actions to rein in the Pentagon budget but also the desire of the American public to see our war spending come down as our troops come home. It is time to shift the nation’s budget priorities to encourage investment in jobs, education and infrastructure here at home.

    As you begin the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2015, you have an opportunity to end the use of budget gimmicks and realize genuine savings at the Pentagon. We urge you to end the use of the OCO, and instead methodically address wasteful, ineffective, or low-priority expenditures.

    Sincerely,

    NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

    9to5
    Alliance for a Just Society
    American Friends Service Committee
    Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
    Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor (A.D.R.O.P.)
    Campaign for America’s Future
    Center for International Policy
    Center for Popular Democracy
    Coalition on Human Needs
    CODEPINK
    Community Action Partnership
    Conference of Major Superiors of Men
    Council for a Livable World
    Courage Campaign
    CREDO Action
    Fellowship of Reconciliation
    Foreign Policy in Focus
    Franciscan Action Network
    Friends of the Earth
    Global Exchange
    Global Justice Institute
    God’s Will In Action
    Gray Panthers
    Historians Against War
    Institute for Peace and Justice
    Just Foreign Policy
    Labor Fightback Network
    Lutheran Peace Fellowship
    MoveOn.org
    National Employment Law Project
    National Low Income Housing Coalition
    National Priorities Project
    NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
    On Earth Peace
    our developing world
    Peace Action
    Peace Action West
    Physicians for Social Responsibility
    Progressive Democrats of America
    ProgressNow
    Promise the Children
    Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator
    Rebuild The Dream
    RootsAction.org
    Salaam Legal Network & Citizen’s Council for Human Rights
    Share The Wealth Productions
    Sisters of Charity Federation
    Sisters of the Most Precious Blood
    Sisters of the Presentation
    Taxpayers Protection Alliance
    The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice
    The Center on Conscience & War
    The Young Democrats of America
    U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)
    USAction
    USAction Education Fund
    Veterans For Peace
    WarIsACrime.org
    Win Without War
    Women Legislators’ Lobby
    Women’s Action for New Directions
    Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

    STATE AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

    A. Thompson & Co.
    Advocacy for Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
    American Friends Service Committee Northeast Regional Office
    ARISE Inc.
    Arlington United for Justice with Peace
    Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition
    CAPA
    Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
    Center for Latino Progress – CPRF
    Chicago Area Peace Action
    Citizen Action of New York
    Citizen Action of Wisconsin
    Cleveland Nonviolence Network
    Cleveland Peace Action
    Coalition for Peace Action
    Coalition of Peace Action of Monroe Township
    Columbus Campaign for Arms Control
    Community Action Development Commission (CADCOM)
    Community Action Marin
    Community of St. Francis
    Dorchester People for Peace
    East Bay Citizens for Peace
    Education Equals Making Community Connections
    Fairmont, MN Peace Group
    FALAM
    Family Therapy Institute of Suffolk
    Florida Consumer Action Network
    Fund Our Communities
    Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
    Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace
    Georgia Rural Urban Summit
    Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND)
    Granite State Priorities
    Greensboro Housing Coalition
    Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
    Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb
    Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center (IJPC)
    Iowa Citizen Action Network
    Justice Committee of the albany Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
    Keystone Progress
    Kickapoo Peace Circle
    Lawrence Pax Christi
    Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO Peace Center)
    Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives
    Loretto Committee for Peace
    Maine People’s Alliance
    Mansfield Housing Authority
    Maryland United for Peace and Justice
    MASS Senior Action Council, North Shore Chapter
    Massachusetts Peace Action
    Michigan Citizen Action
    Minnesota Arms Spending Alternative Project
    Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition
    National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter
    Neighbors for Peace & Justice
    New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action
    New Jersey Citizen Action
    New Jersey Peace Action
    New Jersey Tenants Organization
    Newman United Methodist Women
    NH Housing Finance Authority NHHFA
    NJ State Industrial Union Council
    NY State Council of Churches
    Oakland County Welfare Rights
    Occupy Ft Lauderdale Labor Outreach
    Oregon Action
    Oregon WAND
    Patriots for Change
    Pax Christi Northwest Minnesota
    Peace Action Montgomery County
    Peace Action New York State
    Peace Action of Michigan
    Peace Committee First Unitarian Denver
    Peace Economy Project
    Peace Seekers of East Shore UU Church
    Peaceworks Kansas City
    Pennsylvania Coalition for Peace Action
    PeterCares House
    Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City
    Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm’s CEO
    Progressive Maryland
    ProgressOhio
    Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition
    Public Justice Center
    Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone
    Schenectady Inner City Ministry
    Sisters of I.H.M.
    Sisters of Mercy WMW Cedar Rapids, IA
    Sisters of Social Service
    Somerville Homeless Coalition
    SS Peter & Paul Church
    Teens, Training and Taxes
    Tennessee Citizen Action
    United Action for Idaho
    Upper Hudson Peace Action
    USCCC
    VES
    Veterans For Peace, #92
    Veterans For Peace, local chapter 39 NEOH
    Virginia Organizing
    Virginia United Methodist Women
    WAND of Northern Indiana
    War vs Human Needs South Florida
    Washington Community Action Network
    Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment
    West Virginia Citizen Action Group
    wilson dist co

  • The Hill Publishes Net Neutrality OpEd by Benjamin Yee

    May 17, 2014

    Profits trump communication in FCC’s new rule

    By Benjamin Yee

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially unveiled its proposed “open Internet” rules. Few are shocked because the Commission has spent the last few weeks in a public relations battle to manage public anger at their undermining of Internet access.

    Two months the ago, the Young Democrats of America sent out one of its most popular emails in the past year on this topic.

    Politicians and bureaucrats may think they’re safe behind that seemingly dull and uninspiring name, or the obscure nomenklatura of the FCC, but they are not. Net Neutrality is a youth issue, it is a voting issue and we are taking action.

    On Thursday morning, we joined other activists, organizations and companies rallying outside FCC headquarters to ensure that the open Internet does not die off without a fight. There’s still more to do.

    Young people in this country have watched as Twitter has helped topple autocrats, and social networks have helped boost voter turnout. We’ve seen tyrants shut off the Internet and countries manipulate it to censor and spy on personal conversations.

    To young people, the Internet is a rapidly evolving, ever-changing place. The proliferation of apps and tools, like Facebook, Google docs, Instagram and Kickstarter are a product of an Internet that is free of discrimination. A place of true capitalism. The best ideas rise to the top because people use them. The FCC’s action, or inaction, stands to undermine this marketplace.

    Re-classifying the Internet as a telecommunications service is the only reasonable option and the legal course a federal judge directed the FCC to take. As the Internet comes under increasing threat from the entrenched interests of phone and cable companies, the FCC is the bulwark against stagnation.

    Read the full OpEd on The Hill.

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