RIPDA Statewide Meeting – July 11

These are interesting times here in the Ocean State.  We are still struggling to recover from an historic recession, and many of our neighbors are hurting.  Progressives today are challenged to respond to calls for drastic cuts to state services, coupled with massive tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. Restrictions on womens’ health, voting, and marriage rights may endanger all of our freedoms. On the national level we face similar obstacles, with a war-machine that consumes our national treasure. In short, we Rhode Island Progressives have much to do! Here at RIPDA, we have been working hard on issues of social justice, ending the wars, healthcare, the environment, and free and fair elections.

Please bring all your great ideas for bold, progressive actions!

Please come to our next meeting.

Monday, July 11
6:30 – 8:00

Weaver Library
41 Grove Avenue
East Providence, RI

RSVP here.

RIPDA Endorses David Segal for Congress

Today, the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats (RIPDA) announced their endorsement of David Segal for Congressional District 1, the seat being vacated by Patrick Kennedy.

“The endorsement vote went overwhelmingly for David Segal,” said Sam Smith, RIPDA member and moderator of the event. “Segal has a profound and thoughtful understanding of progressive issues and is committed to standing up for average Rhode Islanders, fighting for social and economic justice, protecting the environment, and working for peace in the Middle East.”

In response to the endorsement, Mr. Segal said, “I am honored to have earned the Rhode Island Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America’s support for our campaign, and your recognition that Rhode Islanders want a member of Congress they can trust to stand up to corporate interests and win real victories for working families.”
To earn the endorsement, candidates were required to complete a six section questionnaire reflecting their positions on the Progressive Democrats’ core issues. Candidates were also required to appear at the endorsement meeting held at Rochambeau Library in Providence on Thursday, July 15 to answer additional questions regarding the questionnaire.

Both Mr. Lynch and Mr. Segal sought the RIPDA endorsement and complied with the endorsement process. Mr. Gemma did not respond to two separate requests to seek the RIPDA endorsement. After multiple attempts to accommodate the Cicilline campaign, including extending the deadline for submitting the endorsement questionnaire twice, providing an opportunity to show a recorded statement at the endorsement meeting, and allowing for campaign staff to speak at the meeting, the Cicilline campaign chose not to participate in the endorsement process.

Robert Malin, State Coordinator for the RIPDA, commented, “many of Bill Lynch’s answers were consistent with the views of PDA, both on the questionnaire and at the meeting; however, Rep. Segal demonstrated that he was more committed to PDA’s progressive principles. It was unfortunate that Mayor Cicilline and Mr. Gemma chose not to return the questionnaire for consideration. The side by side comparison would have presented a unique opportunity to delve into the similarities and differences among these candidates.”

Both the Progressive Democrats of America and the RIPDA are very enthusiastic about Mr. Segal’s bold and reliably progressive candidacy, and are fully committed to ensuring his victory in the Democratic primary election on Sept. 14th and the general election in November.

In response to the endorsement, PDA national director Tim Carpenter said this, “We’ve had our eye on David Segal for a while and look forward to the July 29 meeting, where I have reason to believe, he will receive PDA’s national endorsement. Segal is exactly the right candidate at the right time to help address the worsening economic conditions for America’s working families.”

The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats is the state chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America. We strive for progressive change in the state of Rhode Island and this great nation by working within the Democratic Party, reminding them that they are the party that represents the people not corporate elites, and by working outside the party through coalition building to collectively achieve mutually beneficial goals.

You can view David Segal’s questionnaire here.

These are the videos of the endorsement meeting.
David Segal Part 1

David Segal Part 2

David Segal Part 3

How Americans Think About Torture – and Why

by: Roy Eidelson, Cognitive Policy Works

In recent weeks, new revelations about the harsh interrogation and torture of detainees during the Bush administration years have made headlines and stirred controversy. The positions of prominent advocates and opponents on each side are clear. But what do we know about how the American people in general have come to view the use of torture by the U.S. government?

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has been polling Americans on this key question for almost five years. Since 2004, representative samples have been asked, “Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?” The results over this time period have shown only minor fluctuations. The most recent numbers, from last month, reveal that 15% of Americans believe torture is often justified, 34% think it is sometimes justified, 22% consider it rarely justified, and 25% believe torture is never justified. So not only do 49% consider torture justified at least some of the time, fully 71% refuse to rule it out entirely.

Further insight into these numbers can be garnered from a different poll conducted a few months ago, in January 2009. Fox News/Opinion Dynamics asked a national sample of Americans, “Do you think the use of harsh interrogation techniques, including torture, has ever saved American lives since the September 11 (2001) terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?” The results: 45% “Yes” and 41% “No” (with 14% responding ‘Don’t Know”). In other words, almost half of Americans think torture “works.”

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American Kills 5 Fellow Soldiers at Clinic in Iraq

By Robert H. Reid, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – An American soldier opened fire at a counseling center on a military base Monday, killing five fellow soldiers before being taken into custody, the U.S. command and Pentagon officials said.

Although it was unclear what prompted the shooting, the incident draws attention to the issue of combat stress and morale after six years of war as the mission of the 130,000-strong force transforms to one of training and mentoring the Iraqis.

Attacks on fellow soldiers, known as fraggings, were not uncommon during the Vietnam war but are believed to be rare in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama said in a statement that he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the report, adding that “my heart goes out to the families and friends” of all those involved “in this horrible tragedy.”

After a meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama said he would make sure “that we fully understand what led to this tragedy” and will do everything possible “to ensure that our men and women in uniform are protected as they serve our country so capably and courageously in harm’s way.”

A brief U.S. military statement said the assailant was taken into custody following the 2 p.m. shooting at Camp Liberty, a sprawling U.S. base on the western edge of Baghdad near the city’s international airport. Obama visited an adjacent base last month.

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U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan ‘backfiring,’ Congress told

by Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times.

David Kilcullen is no soft-headed peacenik.

He’s a beefy, 41-year-old former Australian army officer who served in Iraq as a top advisor to U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. He’s one of the counter-insurgency warrior/theorists who designed Petraeus’ successful “surge” of troops into the streets of Baghdad.

But a few days ago, when a congressman asked Kilcullen what the U.S. government should do in Pakistan, the Australian guerrilla fighter sounded like an antiwar protester.

“We need to call off the drones,” Kilcullen said.

In the arid valleys of western Pakistan, the United States is fighting a strange, long-distance war against Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their Pakistani allies. Unmanned “drone” airplanes take off from secret runways, seek out suspected terrorists and, with CIA employees at the remote controls, fire missiles to blow them up.

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