ACTION: Fight for your Freedom to Travel

(Cross-posted to Daily Kos.)

U.S. Citizens can travel to any country in the world except one. It's not the one that the U.S. fought a bloody war with 40 years ago. It's not the one that seized the U.S. embassy 30 years ago. No, we cannot travel to the country which 50 years ago overthrew a military dictator who had taken power in a coup d'état. None of these countries are democracies, but only one is subject to a travel ban.

With the announcement of the "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act", a bipartisan initiative introduced by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Reps. Bill Delahunt (D, MA-10) and Jeff Flake (R, AZ-6) in March, it seems as if we may at last be approaching a sane policy on travel to Cuba. But first, we need to overcome the obstructionism of the gang who thinks that 50 years of failed policy isn't enough.

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Obama's Popularity On Foreign Affairs Rising

Speaking of bankrupt GOP ideas, remember back when talking to Iran and setting a date for withdrawal from Iraq meant the end of life as we knew it?

Well...

President Barack Obama -- currently on his first multi-stop trip abroad since he took office -- is enjoying a 61% job approval rating at home for handling foreign affairs, up seven points since February. [...]

Obama's major focus in his first months in office has been the economy. Still, he has found time to make significant announcements regarding troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his administration has been dealing with tense situations involving China's interception of U.S. naval vessels in the Pacific and a pending rocket launch by North Korea. Obama's secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has made several diplomatic trips overseas, and Obama himself has now embarked on a high-profile trip to Great Britain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Turkey.

This is not to say that Republicans are on board with the president's foreign policy initiatives. No, on foreign affairs, Republicans give Obama a 29% approval, but the president's popularity is driven by Independents (who give Obama 64% approval) and Democrats (85%.) As per usual, the opinion of Republicans is wildly out of step with that of the nation as a whole.

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 207

I am continuing to focus more on local rather than national issues. This is simply because I am too busy to cover everything and, what with important NYC races, some Wisconsin elections, and some important events in several other states, I think my efforts are better applied to local stuff. Hopefully once my real job queits down and I get some repairs done in my apartment, I will have more attention for national issues. For now all I can say is my crusade against Bank of America, Citibank and AIG seem more justified than ever. Their behavior just gets worse and worse. I will also add that there right now is a clear difference between FedEx and UPS in the delivery business. FedEx is making some serious anti-union efforts while UPS is choosing to cease advertising on Bill O'Reilly's show. Together these actions mean if I possibly can I will not use FedEx and definitely use UPS.

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A Window for Israel/Palestine Peace?

If you want to be discouraged about the prospects for Israel/Palestine peace during the Obama Administration, you don't have any shortage of evidence you can cite; you never do. But if you want to look for openings, the situation already looks much better than it did just over a week ago. Is there a "window" for peace? If so, are Americans ready to push the Obama Administration for the changes needed in U.S. policy to bring peace about?

Israel had to end its bombardment of Gaza by the January 20 "hope and change deadline," as Jon Stewart had predicted.

President Obama appointed former Senator Mitchell as his envoy for Israel/Palestine diplomacy. It is widely perceived that Mitchell will be fair - you might think that this would be an obvious requirement, but in the recent history of U.S. policy, it would be an innovation.

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Kucinich Introducing Gaza Ceasefire Resl'n - Who'll Co-sponsor?

The war in Gaza continues, largely because the Bush Administration has continued to oppose, in practice, an immediate ceasefire. With each day that passes without a ceasefire, more innocents are killed.

Representative Dennis Kucinich plans to introduce a resolution in the House soon calling for an immediate ceasefire. There are a number of whereases in the draft, recounting the human toll of the war and the blockade, but the punchline is very simple:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives calls on the Government of Israel and representatives of Hamas to implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and to allow unrestricted humanitarian access in Gaza.

"A resolution has co-sponsors," a Kucinich staffer once said. It's great that Dennis is on the floor of the House telling the truth. But it's terrible for the prospects of changing disastrous U.S. policies towards the Palestinians for Dennis to be standing alone. Who will co-sponsor the Kucinich ceasefire resolution?

So far the original cosponsors include John Conyers, Keith Ellison, Maurice Hinchey, Marcy Kaptur, Jim McDermott, Nick Rahall, Diane Watson, and Lynn Woolsey.

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