News

Congratulations New DA Global Leaders!

 photo crop2_18447677_1477178555635757_2166408299670811330_n_zpslscupfdf.jpg

 

Meet the new Democrats Abroad International Executive Committee, elected May 14, 2017 at the DA Global Meeting in Alexandria, Virginia! From left to right: Tom Schmid, Counsel (Japan); Alex Montgomery, Vice Chair (Hong Kong); Julia Bryan, Int'l Chair (Czech Republic), Jeffrey Cheng, Secretary (Sweden); and Lissette Wright, Treasurer (Canada).


The Democrats Abroad Austria May Newsletter

 

 

In this May 2017 issue

>Upcoming Events

Issues and Actions

DAA Review

Members’ Corner

 

Upcoming Events

  1. Young Dems Pub Night May Edition with 80's karaoke

     photo 33b1c31c-3ecb-442f-a3a0-8971412b5f42_zpswgigvgwg.jpg

    You can check out Beaver Brewing Company"s Facebook event here. 

    Democrats Abroad will have their own table reserved.

    RSVP Via Facebook is also possible.

    WHEN
    Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 07:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    WHERE
    Beaver Brewing Company
    Liechtensteinstrasse 69
    Vienna, VIenna 1090
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Ashely Arreola · ashley_arreola@yahoo.com · +436503749481

  2. Solidarity Sunday #4 Grow Your Protest Rainbow Parade Outreach

     photo solsunvienna 4 small_zpseq13hmic.jpg

    We’re preparing to take our PROTEST to the streets, and we’re going to do it right. Join us on May 28 as we gear up our outreach for the Rainbow Parade in June.

    • We’ll forge plans to organize a peaceful, legal and powerful action.
    • Come learn ways to get involved helping LGBTIQ refugees.

    Why should you act now? The Republican Party and Trump are building a wall of RE-DISCRIMINATION against LGBT people.

    • Trump has already revoked federal contractors’ duty to prove non-discrimination, affecting millions of LBGT employees.
    • Republican congresspeople are concertedly urging Trump to sign the executive order on "religious freedom (to discriminate)" that has been waiting in the wings since February.

    The issues of marriage and immigration rights loom darkly. Get creative. Get targeted. Let's make sure Democrats Abroad has a stronger presence than ever this year. Never again Love Exiles!!!

    RSVP via Facebook Event Here 

    WHEN
    Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 04:00 PM - 04:00 PM
    WHERE
    Amerlinghaus
    Stiftgasse 8
    Vienna 1070
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Antje Lewis · solsun@gmx.at

  3. DAA Talks Melissa Fleming on the Plight of Refugees

     photo melissa_zpsubcgvesu.jpg

    We are pleased to announce that Melissa Fleming, Head of Communication and Chief Spokesperson at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), currently working as Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary General, and author of A HOPE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE SEA will address DAA members and friends.

    At the UNHCR, Melissa has led a media team to bring the news and stories of the world's sixty million refugees and displaced people to the public. Her discussion will highlight the stories of human suffering and resilience she has witnessed on a daily basis and bring to life the story of Doaa al Zamel, a young Syrian woman who was one of the few survivors, together with the baby she saved, of a boating disaster that killed over five hundred men, women and children who were attempting to reach the safety and promise of Europe.

    Melissa has recently written a book, A HOPE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE SEA, published by Flatiron, which details Doaa's journey from her war-ravaged country of Syria to her exile in Egypt to her nightmare on the Mediterranean Sea and finally to her new home in Sweden. The refugee crisis is one of the most pertinent topics for discussion right now. We thank Melissa for agreeing to speak with us.

    Here is a recent review of Melissa's book from The New Yorker: Written by an official in the U.N.’s refugee agency, this deeply affecting book recounts the story of a young Syrian, Doaa al Zamel. In 2011, as a shy, stubborn fifteen-year-old, she demonstrated against the regime; after fleeing to Egypt, she stitched bags in a burlap factory, hoping to get to Europe. In September, 2014, she was pulled from the Mediterranean, parched and delirious, with two small children clasped to her chest. She’d been afloat for four days, after a boat smuggling her to Europe sank, killing five hundred other passengers, including her fiancé. Fleming brings a moral urgency to the narrative. Doaa is now safe in Sweden, but Fleming pointedly asks, “Why is there no massive resettlement program for Syrians—the victims of the worst war of our times?”

    Please join us for an evening that focuses on one of the human tragedies of our day…when we become better and more personally informed, we are also perhaps better prepared to help! Go to Melissa Fleming's Linked in page for further biographical information on Melissa Fleming. 

    WHEN
    Thursday, June 08, 2017 at 06:30 PM - 08:30 PM
    WHERE
    Republikanischer Club
    Rockhgasse 1
    Vienna 1010
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Jennifer Rakow-Stepper · demsabroadaustria@gmail.com

  4. It’s just Absolutely Fabulous! Join us June 17th for Vienna's Pride Parade

    DANCING IN THE STREETS, FEATHERS, BEADS & MASKS WHAT MORE DO WE NEED TO HAVE A BLAST AT THIS YEAR’S VIENNA'S PRIDE PARADE!

     photo PP2017_zps7h7k9jv2.jpg

    Join Democrats Abroad Austria as we march and dance at this year’s Vienna Pride Parade. Although the Pride Parade begins at 14:00 on Saturday June 17th, participants planning to join the Democrats Abroad Austria contingent in the parade should meet in Rathausplatz at 1:00 p.m. (exact line-up location is TBD). Participants may simply join the group at the beginning of the parade route, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. 

    Our parade group is open to all. We urge participants to bring signs—the more colorful and creative the better —and we encourage participants to wear colorful costumes (feathers, beads, masks, fairy tale character, glitter). 

    You can RSVP for this event using one of the methods below:

    1. RSVP at the Democrats Abroad website
    2. Email Juan
    3. Use Facebook (For current Democrats Abroad Austria Facebook Group members) 
    WHEN
    Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM
    WHERE
    Rathausplatz
    Vienna 1010
    Austria
    Google map and directions
    CONTACT
    Juan Cerda · juandcerda@gmail.com

 

Issues and Actions


There’s a Whole Big World Out There!

 

Have you ever wondered what Democrats Abroad is and does outside of the borders of your local group? You know that we help Americans register to vote, and you’re probably aware that there is more to DA than just your chapter – after all, there are 41 country committees with members in 190 countries on 5 continents. But it’s been amazing to find out just how far DA reaches!

Did you know Democrats Abroad is considered a “state” by the DNC? Despite being spread across the globe, our members are our population – the more members we have, the more delegates we get, and the more our concerns are heard. 

To this end, DA has task forces such as FATCA, Medicare Portability, Residence-Based Taxation, and others that promote topics that are important to all Americans living overseas. There are also issues and constituencies that are represented through our caucuses and councils. The LGBT, Youth, and Women’s caucuses are established while others, such as the Hispanic Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and the Veterans and Military Families Council, are still in formation. All of them are eager to hear from you!

The other day, JFK’s iconic words were brought to mind when someone remarked that it’s one thing to be a member but much more satisfying to be involved. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” is a good parallel to participation in DA – that “aha” moment when one realizes that the organization is made up entirely from members who have chosen to participate.

The subject is timely because DA global leadership elections will be happening in Washington, D.C. from May 12-15. The new international Executive Committee, as well as the Regional Vice Chairs, representing the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe, Middle East and Africa, will be elected. Attending DA members will also knock on the doors of our Representatives and bring the issues that matter to us home to them.

This year, the five door-knocking topics are: Overseas Voting Rights (especially for US citizen children born abroad), FATCA, Residence-Based Taxation, Maintaining/refunding the Election Assistance Commission, and State Department budget cuts, which will affect funding for American Citizen Services, education exchange, and USAID. Last weekend our grassroots group wrote letters to be hand delivered – you can still send one to us and add it to the pile!

 Now you know DA does a whole lot more than its vital task of getting out the vote. So the next time you’re feeling discontent, disconnected or -- better yet -- inspired, we hope you’ll write a letter, join a caucus, or stop by a local event and say hello, because you are Democrats Abroad, and together we reach across borders. 

  


FATCA & FBAR: Two Big Headaches for Americans Abroad


Note: This article is reprinted from the Jan 2015 DA Germany newsletter. For up-to-date information and the latest details on the FATCA/FBAR click here

After years of discussion, the majority of Americans living abroad may have heard about or found themselves affected by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Report of Foreign Banks and Financial Accounts (FBAR). While the initial intent was to smoke out rich tax evaders in foreign tax havens, for the average American citizen living abroad it has created unintended negative consequences that critics say far outweigh any intended benefits. The effects on ordinary Americans who engage in normal financial activities such as participating in a company pension plan or starting a small business can be severe in some circumstances.

FATCA and FBAR have been on the statute books for years, even if many of us were unaware of it, and thus non-compliant. If in the past tax “experts” discreetly hinted that if non-filing Americans abroad kept a low profile, they might never be “discovered,” this is no longer extremely likely. In 2014, under new bilateral agreements, foreign banks were asked to identify account holders that could be “US persons” (citizens or green card holders). Many DA members subsequently have received letters from their banks asking for information. Usually, a form W-9 “Request for Taxpayer Identification and Certification” is enclosed. This  is then forwarded by the banks to a proxy of the IRS, as the German government, among others, felt uncomfortable with forwarding information directly to the US tax collector.

There are many important things to know when trying to come to grips with what FATCA and FBAR mean. The good news is that the draconian penalties applied by the IRS to those participating in earlier amnesty programs have been dropped in favor of a “simple” explanation of why the person has not filed. Under a new “streamlined procedure,” those wishing to become compliant can do so by submitting US tax returns for the past three years and FBARs for the past six. The bad news is that those who do not complete the streamlined procedure before being found by the US will still face penalties – even if not as severe as in the past.

In a nutshell: A far larger proportion of Americans will be affected by FBAR than the wider-reaching FATCA, which concerns only those residing overseas with assets exceeding $200,000 (single filers) and $400,000 (joint filers). US citizens living abroad are required to file an FBAR with their US tax returns – every year – if they have an interest in any financial account, including bank, securities or other types of account, in a foreign country, provided the aggregate value of these accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. In addition, a person with signature authority over a foreign bank or financial account must also file an FBAR annually.

As compliance with any of the rules involves more than just listing income and other assets and calculating the foreign tax exemption, those who can afford to would be wise to hire a tax preparer, preferably a certified public accountant (CPA) registered with the IRS. This can cost upwards of €1,000 for the three tax returns and six FBARs. Democrats Abroad does not keep an official list, but those seeking names and addresses can contact this email address from DA Germany: DAG-FATCA@DemocratsAbroad.org

Since FATCA and FBAR came into effect, a dedicated Democrats Abroad task force has been working with the IRS and the US Treasury Department to address the financial reporting burden the legislation imposes on Americans living and working abroad.


Aloka Barthel, Media Contact – DAG-Press@DemocratsAbroad.org (2015)

Dede Williams, Communications Team – DAG-FATCA@DemocratsAbroad.org (2015)

 

 


 

DAA Review

 

March for Science

By Danny LoCascio

 

Democrats Abroad Austria participated in the recent March for Science held on Earth Day, April 22. About 25 DAA members carried the American flag and a DAA banner as they marched alongside scientists, students, professors, and people from all walks of life - expats and Austrians alike.

The march was just one of more than 500 satellite marches in solidarity of the March for Science in Washington, D.C.  Millions marched around the world to demonstrate in support of science, but also in protest of the recent decisions made by Donald Trump regarding science. "He has thrown a wrecking ball at institutions like the Environmental Agency," one member stated.  “He has appointed climate change deniers to his cabinet. He has publicly described climate change as a hoax. It's like putting an arsonist in charge of extinguishing a fire which they started, and we're all living in the burning house."

Scientists are now worrying about government funding for research desperately needed to undo the ravages that the misuse of science has caused.  And people all over the world are worried that climate change will continue until it is irreparable, if it isn't already. 

The march originated at Sigmund Freud Park, where people gathered, met up with friends, and got the feel of the march.  Democrats Abroad Austria set up a table for voter registration. Although rain was forecast at precisely the time of the march, it held off until the end to everyone's relief.  At Sigmund Freud Park, there was a DJ, interviews with scientists and live music provided by Danny Chicago, who performed Bob Dylan's "The Times They are a Changin" and his own socially influenced song "Runaway Train"

DAA Chair Jennifer Rakow-Stepper commented, “The organizers had posted a map with the scientific landmarks along the route and our new treasurer, Marcy Fowler, gave us her professional insights about the Iran nuclear deal as we passed by Palais Coburg, where the talks were held. Another DAA member, Lizzie Stevens, was a part of the TBA21 artwork, Jiboia (King Boa), by Ernesto Netos. Everyone had a good time for an important issue.

The march began at 2 pm and wove its way through the first district and back to the ring at Maria Theresien Platz. The entire march took roughly 90 minutes. There were hundreds of distinguished Austrian scientists who gave their signed support to the march and many of them could be seen marching in the crowd. 

Several highly respected scientists in the Austrian scientific community gave speeches in support of science such as Vice-President of the Universities' Conference and Rector of the Vienna University of Economics Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger and former President of the European Research Council (ERC) Helga Nowotny.

Two DAA members, Casey Miller and Danny LoCascio, were part of the original organizational committee. The initial organizers were Robin Gleason and Olivia Fischer, and original members included Monica LoCascio, Laura Silverstein, Sabine Montagnon and David Heuser.  The organization was later turned over to Oliver Lehmann and his support team of Petra Eckhart, Emilie Kleinszig and Claudia Spitz, and the original committee stayed active through the end of the march.

The demonstration size was estimated within the 2500 range.  It was a positive crowd with great energy, enthusiasm and a healthy mix of sending an important message while keeping a good sense of humor. The signs being carried were a varied mix of grim messages, clever science puns, angry sentiments, inspirational quotes and takeaway phrases. 

After the march, twelve members of DAA met up at Halle to rest their feet while enjoying refreshments and conversation.

 If you would like to see follow-up events and activities go to the main March for Science link.

 


Solidarity Sunday #3:  Pens Out Against FATCA & Tax Reporting Hell


Our third Solidarity Sundays Vienna event on April 30 helped to enact change - even if we didn’t manage to get Trump to disclose his tax returns. We did, however, produce an armful of cards urging our legislators to reform the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). More than 60 cards from Vienna will be hand-delivered by Democrats Abroad activists in mid-May as part of their Congressional Door Knock. And our writing action is inspiring other Democrats Abroad groups to follow suit!

All in the nick of time: after years of legislative inaction, something started moving last week. Americans Abroad Caucus Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill to reform FATCA. The Overseas Americans Financial Access Act aims both to ease the reporting burden from abroad, and to allow us again to easily open bank accounts in the countries in which we’re living and working.

Despite the long weekend, several of us gathered for good coffee and discussion, and our activism is helping to move an important political question forward. Join us for the next Solidarity Sundays Vienna event on May 28 to learn about planning peaceful, legal and powerful street action, and to support DA’s participation in this year’s Pride March. All info can be found on our Facebook page here as well as here.

 


 

Member’s Corner

Welcome, New Democrat!

Congratulations to DAA Member-at-Large and Database Manager, Caitlin Ahern, on the birth of her son Benjamin on April 8th. She is thrilled to be raising another tiny Democrat in this very parenting-friendly country!

 

 

 


The Democrats Abroad Austria April Newsletter

  • Upcoming Events

    • Young Dems Pub Night Thursday, April 20
    • March for Science Saturday, April 22
    • Solidarity Sundays #3 Sunday, April 30
  • Issues and Actions

    • Looking Forward, Stepping Up: DAA is Taking Action
    • Solidarity Sundays Vienna: Persist Persistently
    • Round-up on “DREAMers”: Issues and Interview with Juan David Cerda
    • DA FBAR/FATCA Task Force Report: 15 April Filing Date!
    • DA’s new “Global Action Team” (GAT)
  • DAA Review

    • Annual General Meeting 2017:
    • Re-cap by Outgoing Chair
    • Post-AGM Get Together
    • AGM Questionnaire Results
    • A Fun Political “Sudoku Quiz”
    • “Growing the Grassroots”: Solidarity Sundays Vienna #2 on “DREAMers”
  • Members’ Corner

    • Popular Political Podcasts—All for free!
    • Rational Readers Club

 

Upcoming Events


 

The Young Democrats Abroad Pub Night in April

 

 photo beaverbrewingco_zpsefvdnofl.jpg

It seems like a lot of members are taking a hiatus from drinking during Lent, so our next pub night will be the first Thursday after Easter, so there'll be no excuse not to come and join us!

Beaver Brewing Co. is also dog-friendly, so you can bring your little friends as well.

*Disclaimer: Contrary to some belief, Democrats Abroad cannot treat us to our monthly pub nights, so please be sure to pay your complete tab at the end of the night! Thanks in advance ;-)

If you prefer to RSVP via Facebook, you can!
WHEN
Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 07:00 PM - 10:00 PM
WHERE
Beaver Brewing Company
Leichtensteinstrasse 69
Vienna 1090
Austria
Google map and directions
CONTACT
Ashley Arreola · ashley_arreola@yahoo.com · +436503749481

 


 

March for Science

 

JOIN DAA AS WE PARTICIPATE WITH OTHERS AROUND THE GLOBE IN THE MARCH FOR SCIENCE!

Albert_Einstein-2.png

We’ll be easy to spot with an American flag, our DAA signs, and we’ll be getting creative as well!

Science is grounded in facts and substantiated arguments. Science and technology are the biggest contributors to the prosperity of society via education and health care. Much remains to be done to reduce existing global inequalities. Considering the enormity of the challenges our world will face in the near future, we need solutions that can only be realized and implemented by a science-based society.

The current political climate, not only in the United States but also abroad, gives us cause for concern. The falsification and denigration of facts for ideological purposes threaten not only science, but also the basis of democracy.

We call upon you to protect, strengthen, and celebrate the democratic foundations of science. We are not alone in this mission: 400 near-simultaneous demonstrations the world over prove that science and society are both willing to work towards an open-minded future.

WHEN
Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM
WHERE
Sigmund-Freud-Park
Vienna 1090
Austria
Google map and directions
CONTACT
Oliver Lehmann · team@sciencemarchvienna.at

SOLIDARITY SUNDAYS VIENNA #3: CITIZENS ABROAD AND TAXATION

 photo 4301d5b9-fb12-4007-a9f9-1e3f3ac9c01a_zpspvab5fsa.png

FATCA Schmatka? Do we as citizens abroad care about residence-based taxation?

  • How to change overseas tax misery by getting Congress to vote in our and the nation's interest!
  • Action! … Dear Honorable …We’re going to write the kind of letter to our elected representatives that gets us a reaction. Our Democrats Abroad colleagues are going door-knocking on Capitol Hill and will put your letters right into the hands of your elected representatives.
  • PS Keep your eyes on the Dems Abroad website for FATCA deadline infos!

You can RSVP via Facebook if you prefer!

WHEN
Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 04:00 PM - 04:00 PM
WHERE
Amerlinghaus
Stiftgasse 8
Vienna 1070
Austria
Google map and directions
CONTACT
Antje Lewis · solsun@gmx.at

 

Issues and Actions


 

Looking Forward, Stepping Up

By Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair

 

It goes without saying that the 2016 US presidential election was a shock to pretty much everyone. While most of us still have the “what if” soundtrack replaying in our heads, a number of things have become clear since Trump’s inauguration on 21 January 2017. First and foremost, we, as citizens, not only stand up for our beliefs, we also get involved, we get organized, and we get active. So, regardless of the threat to our democracy that many of us perceive, we’ve proven that our voices can be heard.

 

This is why I’m excited and looking forward to my coming term as Chair of Democrats Abroad Austria.

 

Read more …

 


Solidarity Sundays Vienna: Persist Persistently

By DAA Grassroots

Persist Persistently! Here’s how.

Mark your calendars: last Sunday of the month, 4 pm in Amerlinghaus, Stiftgasse 8, 1070 Vienna.

Every meeting has a topic and a real, live action. Get up on the issues, have some fun, do some good.

We’re an open group, you can come with no strings attached, or you can attach strings and help out :-) Fire off an email: solsun@...

Check us out + share: https://www.facebook.com/solsunvienna/

We have an event planned for the last Sunday of every month this whole year!! 

View the Solidarity Sundays Schedule for May - November 2017

 


Round-up on “DREAMers”: Issues and Interview with Juan David Cerda

By Adrea Mach, Member-at-Large

  photo juancerda_zps471079db.jpg

“Who’s a ‘DREAMer’?” you may ask. Maybe you know one; maybe you even were/are one. Time to find out. Even if not, what does this have to do with you, DAA and Trump’s anti-immigration America?

 

Read more …


 

The Democrats Abroad FBAR/FATCA Task Force Report – March 2017

Democrats Abroad works hard for all Americans Abroad on a number of issues and on FATCA/FBAR in particular. As you may have become aware of over the past few years, Americans with accounts in foreign financial institutions with a total balance across all accounts at any point during the year of US $10,000 or more need to file a FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report) Form 114. This year, for the first time, the form is due for submission on 15 April, as opposed to 30 June as it has been in the past.

As Carmelan Polce, the Singapore-based Chair of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) wrote to the DPCA Leadership on 24 March 2017: “I appreciate it has been six months since you had an update from the FBAR/FATCA Task Force, but we’ve all had rather larger, more pressing fears and concerns to contemplate since last fall … and there hasn’t actually been much to say until now.” But now there IS—and the contents of this report are important for YOU as tax-paying Americans abroad. “You may be asked about FATCA and the Trump Government, so we hope these notes will help you to form answers.”

View the full report here.

 

READ MORE...


DA’s new “Global Action Team” (GAT)

On Sunday, March 26, in the context of our new “Solidarity Sundays”, Katie Solon, Democrats Abroad International Chair, gave an update on global outreach strategies and initiatives. Citing the growing ranks of active Dems Abroad—up by 10,000 members since the November 2016 election—she said that the new buzzword is the “Global Action Team” or “GAT”. The four action priorities are:

  1. Sharing resources
  2. Networking
  3. Bubble-up ideas on “global post-it” notes
  4. “Globalizing” 2-3 national events this year (e.g. the highly successful “Women’s March on Washington” in January that was replicated not only in US but around the world.

A GAT Leadership Team is being developed and there are also several Global Caucuses:

  • The Women’s Global Caucus
  • The LGTB Global Caucus
  • The Young Dems Global Caucus, are currently recruiting country chairs and new members.

 New global caucuses are welcomed, Katie said, and the “hurdles” to create one are very low and easily surmountable. More details and Best Practices on WIKI and the Democrats Abroad website.


DAA Review


 

March 2017 DAA Annual General Meeting Re-cap

By Vice-Chair, Keith Jacomine

On March 18th members of DA-Austria met for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to review the previous year’s business activities and elect a new Executive Committee.

The evening started with a business review by outgoing Chair, Keith Jacomine, and Vice-Chair, Ashley Arreola. The Chair's presentation focused on the sizeable growth in membership over the past year, the increased level of volunteerism amongst members, DAA’s financial and leadership support to the Democratic Party Committee Abroad—plus our members’ emboldened political activism. The Vice-Chair‘s presentation focused on member engagement and the numerous events, ranging from social to political orientation, that were staged over the year 2016 to keep members active and aware.

Read more...

POLITICAL SUDOKU- A “Mary Ann and Keith’s Quiz Special” by Democrats Abroad Austria on Scribd


 Post-AGM Dinner and Get-Together

By Ellen Lewis, Secretary

 

Political meetings are best digested with tasty food and a good glass—or more—of wine. Following the AGM, members enjoyed a bit of wine and tapas onsite before heading en masse to dinner at the nearby “Brickmakers Pub and Kitchen” where we had the chance to socialize with DA-A friends and get to know new people. Engaging conversations ranged from political to personal, and it was particularly refreshing to have such a mix of young and not-so-young!

There was a spontaneous invitation to continue the merrymaking at Yvonne Richard’s apartment and those of us who did had a great time. Bonding over DAA politics, especially in the present climate, fosters both activism and camaraderie! 


Results from the AGM and Online Questionnaire

By Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair

I’ve long had an open question in my mind about whether our efforts at DAA are actually reaching their intended targets. Therefore, I took the opportunity of the AGM to put together a questionnaire (which was also available via an online survey) to ask members their opinions about what we were doing and how we were doing it.

Altogether, 110 members responded within a few days and the results have made us rethink some of our approaches. A total of 85% of responding members receive their news from the emailed DAA newsletter. Thus, thanks to member-at-large, Adrea Mach, look forward to a newsletter that is both bigger and more substantive.  

Read more...

DAA Questionnaire by Democrats Abroad Austria on Scribd

 


 Growing the Grassroots: Solidarity Sundays #2 on “DREAMers”

On Sunday, March 26, a good dozen members—including a surprise appearance by DA International Chair Katie Solon—and interested visitors gathered together for the second Solidarity Sunday at Vienna’s Amerlinghaus (Stiftgasse 8, 1070), which will now be this action’s permanent monthly meeting site. SolSun founding organizers Juan David Cerda, Antje Lewis and Tanya Lolonis steered this energizing event.

Read more...

 


 

Members’ Corner

Here are a few events and items that may be of interest to DAA members.

 

Popular Political Podcasts—Informative, Fun, and all for Free!

By Tanya Lolonis, Member and Grassroots Activist

Today’s fusion of media and politics, as well as media as a platform for politicians and movements, makes podcasts a terrific medium for exploring—and resisting—the Trump era. Some of the best discussions on U.S. politics are streaming through your speakers and headphones right now! Three standouts (all free on iTunes):

Read more...

 


Looking Forward, Stepping Up

 

By Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair 

It goes without saying that the 2016 US presidential election was a shock to pretty much everyone. While most of us still have the “what if” soundtrack replaying in our heads, a number of things have become clear since Trump’s inauguration on 21 January 2017. First and foremost, we, as citizens, not only stand up for our beliefs, we also get involved, we get organized, and we get active. So, regardless of the threat to our democracy that many of us perceive, we’ve proven that our voices can be heard.

This is why I’m excited and looking forward to my coming term as Chair of Democrats Abroad Austria. 

The critical issues that are keeping thousands of activists busy in the US and across the globe are the very same issues, actions, and events that are generating a new wave of members to become actively involved in DAA and will enable Democrats Abroad to help take back the Senate and turn Congress blue in 2018.

Directly after the November 2016 election, DAA couldn’t just sit still so, instead, we stepped up and responded in the best ways we knew: we organized a vigil; we joined in with and supported Caroline Kirkpatrick, who organised the “Women’s March on Washington” here in Vienna; and we gave our whole-hearted suport to the newly formed DAA Grassroots activists and started working on their monthly Solidarity Sundays. We’re investing a LOT of energy!

Over the coming two years, my goal as DAA Chair is to build on that energy and move it towards, not just the ExComm, but encouraging each and every one of us to take one step up. If you registered to vote from abroad, help us now to register others to vote for the 2018 mid-term elections. If you went to an event before, now help organize one. If you thought something wasn’t working right, then step up and help change it for the better. If each and every one of us takes just one little step up to the next higher level of participation, come November ‘18, we will have generated a Democrats activists’ storm–let’s make it a Category 5!

The new Executive Committee looks forward to meeting and working with many volunteers over the next few years! We would also sincerely like to thank our retiring board members, Mary Ann Balko-Koch, Stanley Hale, Christian Gauster, Eva Ciabattoni, and Fred Robinson for all their enthusiasm, hard work and commitment over the past years.


Round-up on “DREAMers”: Issues and Interview with Juan David Cerda

By Adrea Mach, Member-at-Large

“Who’s a ‘DREAMer’?” you may ask. Maybe you know one; maybe you even were/are one. Time to find out. Even if not, what does this have to do with you, DAA and Trump’s anti-immigration America? 

 photo juancerda_zps471079db.jpg

“I’m one of those ‘bad hombres’—those Mexican guys Trump loves to bash,” says Juan David Cerda, an American of Mexican descent. “But I had the fantastic good luck to be born in the US—in a small agricultural town in the Central Valley of California. So I actually started out life as an American citizen, NOT as a DREAMer. I'm even more fortunate to come from a family that encouraged me to follow my dreams and to take risks.  

My mother, Rosalina, was a risk taker. Born in Mexico, at age 16 she illegally waded across the Rio Grande River to Texas with only one sandal— the other one got lost on the way. So happy to have arrived, she made her way to California, slaved away as migrant field worker in the unrelenting heat during the summers and met David, her husband, my dad, who had been born in Texas and thus was legal. They fell in love, got married and the rest—including my two younger siblings—is current history.

My mother enrolled herself in a night school program to learn English, received her GED, went on to college, and now works at a pre-school. She also earned her American citizenship. I still remember, when I was about ten, helping her study for the civics exam with questions like: ‘How many members does the House of Representatives have?’ I’ll bet not even everybody born in the States knows the answer to that one. [435 is the answer.]

My father David, a mechanic, taught me the meaning of hard work and never to give up. I'm the first in my family to earn a master's degree; my sister is a teacher; and my younger brother is studying for a PhD. My parents did right by us.

 Back then in the 1980s, they were both members of United Farm Workers Union under Cesar Chavez [Latino American civil rights activist in the California of the 1970/80s]. I grew up with that stuff in my backyard. Fighting for common decency. And passing on the benefits, both economic and emotional, to others, trying to realize their own dreams.”   

What a great personal story to bring “DREAMers” issues to life!

Juan now works at an international organization in Vienna. 

The DREAM Act”—short for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act—is focused on documented immigrant children. This US congressional bill was first introduced in 2001 with the goal of granting legal status to young people brought to the United States as children, stayed and attended school there. Although several versions of the bill have been introduced in Congress since 2001, it has yet to pass both houses and be enacted into law.

Although the term “DREAMer” originally took its name from the above congressional bill, it clearly has a double meaning: do America’s undocumented youth dare to dream of a better future? For recent details, check out http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/05/unauthorized-immigrants-covered-by-daca-face-uncertain-future/

Meanwhile, in 2012, Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. since 2007 and arrived under the age of 16 to receive work permits, access to welfare, and protection from deportation. More than 750,000 illegal immigrants are covered by the policy and 1.1 million would be eligible. Trump’s campaign trail promise to “immediately terminate Obama’s illegal executive amnesties” has NOT been put into action yet ... but it could at any moment. Ending DACA would be as simple as signing a new Executive Order. And we all know how much Trump enjoys doing that. 

That’s why we’re writing to the “movers and shakers”—from congressional representatives to local sheriffs to editors of local newspapers. Every letter carries its clout! See the post about Solidarity Sunday Vienna #2 for more. 

 


The Democrats Abroad FBAR/FATCA Task Force Report

Democrats Abroad works hard for all Americans Abroad on a number of issues and on FATCA/FBAR in particular. As you may have become aware of over the past few years, Americans with accounts in foreign financial institutions with a total balance across all accounts at any point during the year of US $10,000 or more need to file a FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report) Form 114. This year, for the first time, the form is due for submission on 15 April, as opposed to 30 June as it has been in the past.

 

As Carmelan Polce, the Singapore-based Chair of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) wrote to the DPCA Leadership on 24 March 2017: “I appreciate it has been six months since you had an update from the FBAR/FATCA Task Force, but we’ve all had rather larger, more pressing fears and concerns to contemplate since last fall … and there hasn’t actually been much to say until now.” But now there IS—and the contents of this report are important for YOU as tax-paying Americans abroad. “You may be asked about FATCA and the Trump Government, so we hope these notes will help you to form answers.”

For the full report go to http://www.democratsabroad.org/fbar_fatca_task_force_report

 

Here are the highlights of the report in a nutshell:
  • Democrats Abroad continues to support Residency-based Taxation and believes the proposal that has the best model will entail both fees and penalties for exercising the reporting exemption and be revenue neutral.
  • FBAR is due on April 15, 2017 as opposed to June 30, 2017 as it has been in the past, although supposedly there is a six-month automatic extention. DAA does NOT give tax advice–you must check with your tax advisor or FinCen’s website for the filing due date.
  • Many Americans living abroad know nothing of their obligation to report to the IRS the earnings they make in their country of residence. 
  • Double Taxation: Many areas of the tax code were developed without due consideration for the impact they would have on Americans residing abroad. 
DPCA welcomes your comments and commitment to their efforts. To get involved in this important issue visit:

2017 Democrats Abroad Annual General Meeting Review

By Vice-Chair - Keith Jacomine

On March 18th members of DA-Austria met for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to review the previous year’s business activities and elect a new Executive Committee.

The evening started with a business review by outgoing Chair, Keith Jacomine, and Vice-Chair, Ashley Arreola. The Chair's presentation focused on the sizeable growth in membership over the past year, the increased level of volunteerism amongst members, DAA’s financial and leadership support to the Democratic Party Committee Abroad—plus our members’ emboldened political activism. The Vice-Chair‘s presentation focused on member engagement and the numerous events, ranging from social to political orientation, that were staged over the year 2016 to keep members active and aware.

After wrapping up the AGM’s business agenda, the floor was opened to audience participation. What followed was a spirited discussion of DA’s overrall role in the Democratic Party and many members’ desire for it to take on a more grassroots, progressive orientation. The discussion ended with an agreement that, regardless of which “flavor” or persuasion one is on the Democratic Party spectrum, we must all work together to beat the Republicans. 

Post-discussion, it was time for the 2017-2019 Executive Committee elections. While the ballots were being tabulated, Chair Keith Jacomine and Member-at-large, Mary Ann Balko-Koch, entertained members with a politically oriented Trivia Quiz: "Real or Fake Headline/Who Said It Quotes" with the top winners walking away with "valuable" prizes. Since this is perhaps not so “trivial” after all, if you would like to test your knowledge, you can find the Quiz right here! 

Following the announcement of the vote results, the new Executive Committee was introduced. They are:

Chair Jennifer Rakow-Stepper

Vice-Chair Keith Jacomine

Treasurer Marcy Fowler

Secretary Ellen Lewis

Counsel Bruce Murray

At Large: Caitlin Ahern

Ashley Arreola

Adrea Mach

Matthew Stevens

 

Our newly elected Chair, Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, then presented the priorities, focusing our efforts over the coming two years (2017-2019) to work on the issues we care about and use our work to rally voters to the polls for the 2018 mid-term elections. She closed her presentation with a call to “Be Active! Volunteer for an issue you care about! Get involved!” 

Thanks to all the members and volunteers who have tirelessly given of their time and energy this past year. If you'd like further information on what was discussed at the meeting, please email Ellen Lewis, DAA Secretary at ellenlewis2@gmail.com

 


Results from the AGM and Online Questionnaire

By DAA Chair Jennifer Rakow-Stepper

I’ve long had an open question in my mind about whether our efforts at DAA are actually reaching their intended targets. Therefore, I took the opportunity of the AGM to put together a questionnaire (which was also available via an online survey) to ask members their opinions about what we were doing and how we were doing it.

Altogether, 110 members responded within a few days and the results have made us rethink some of our approaches. A total of 85% of responding members receive their news from the emailed DAA newsletter. Thus, thanks to member-at-large, Adrea Mach, look forward to a newsletter that is both bigger and more substantive.

The survey also gave us a better idea of what kind of events members have attended, been popular in the past, and what types of events members would like to see take place in the future–think political actions and events and quarterly meet-ups!

Finally, out of 110 respondents to the DAA survey, almost half replied that they would like to help, but weren’t sure exactly what they could do, while twenty-nine said they would like to help with a specific issue, and another thirteen members sent their name and email saying, “Call Me”. That is a really enthusiastic response!

Overall, since the election, 11,000 members have raised their hand to volunteer to Democrats Abroad. DAA Excomm would like to thank everyone who responded to the survey and especially those of you who have stepped up to volunteer your time!

Click below to view the questionnaire results in full.

DAA Questionnaire by Democrats Abroad Austria


Growing the Grassroots : Solidarity Sundays Vienna #2 - on "DREAMers"

On Sunday, March 26, a good dozen members—including a surprise appearance by DA International Chair Katie Solon—and interested visitors gathered together for the second Solidarity Sunday at Vienna’s Amerlinghaus (Stiftgasse 8, 1070), which will now be this action’s permanent monthly meeting site. SolSun founding organizers Juan David Cerda, Antje Lewis and Tanya Lolonis steered this energizing event.

Juan, our guest speaker, brought the issues of “Dreamers” to light with moving, insightful personal stories (See “Round-up on “DREAMers”: Issues and Interview with Juan David Cerda” for details). We heard about the so-called “DREAM Act”—the acronym for the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act—a US congressional bill first introduced in 2001 aimed at stepwise granting of legal status to undocumented minor immigrants, allowing them educational opportunities and potentially paving the way to permanent residence and American citizenship.

 

After wide-ranging discussions on America’s public perceptions of “DREAMers”—from young refugees in need of support, education and protection to “criminals” to be immediately and en masse—we moved to “What can WE—ourselves American ‘migrants’ abroad—do to help our homeland counterparts?”

 

“Contact your Congressional Representative, Senator or locally elected Sheriff!” and “Write a Letter to the Editor of your voting district newspaper!” was Tanya’s answer. She provided us not only with letters-to-the-editor writing tips and a sample letter but also the comprehensive website—http://www.50states.com/news—to pinpoint the contact details of newspapers in our previous hometowns and/or current voter registration cities. Our “homework” was to:

  1. Look up the media channels.
  2. Identify a current “hot” political issue there—“DREAMers” or another burning issue.
  3. Draft/share your “LTE” letter with solsun@gmx.at.
  4. SUBMIT it per email to this news outlet or congressional or sheriff’s office within a week maximum! And, of course, if your “LTE” gets published, Bravo! Let us know what kind of feedback it produced!

 

After a brief DA global update by Katie Solon, we focused on our own SolSun thematic priorities for the coming months. Everyone was invited to propose topics, actions and hands-on help.

 

For those of you unable to attend these motivating “Solidarity Sundays” in person, our monthly DAA Newsletter will also do its part by previewing upcoming SolSun topics and reporting on their outcomes and follow-up channels, thus expanding our outreach. For queries or inputs, please contact solsun@gmx.at.

Join us at Solidarity Sundays Vienna #3 on April 30, 2017.


Member's Corner

Popular Political Podcasts—Informative, Fun, and all for Free!

By Tanya Lolonis, Member and Grassroots Activist

Today’s fusion of media and politics, as well as media as a platform for politicians and movements, makes podcasts a terrific medium for exploring—and resisting—the Trump era. Some of the best discussions on U.S. politics are streaming through your speakers and headphones right now! Three standouts (all free on iTunes):

  • Pod Save America is the ideological home of the resistance. Four former members of President Obama’s inner circle - Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor - enlist journalists, politicians and activists to discuss politics, the press, and the Trump presidency. Barack Obama’s last interview as president was here, and Tom Perez and Keith Ellison both featured in the run-up to the DNC election. Consistently at the top of iTunes podcast charts in the U.S.
  • With Friends Like These is the cyber-space where political columnist and culture critic, Ana Marie Cox, conducts open, in-depth conversations with liberals and conservatives about what divides us. It’s billed as “a show about listening instead of arguing” and is a good place to get ready for those hard conversations with Trump-supporting family back home. 
  • Vox’s The Weeds is where wonkish journalists Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff and Matt Yglesias tackle complex, weighty topics — perfect if you want to use your daily commute or run to understand Obamacare, the history of U.S. immigration policy, or SCOTUS (i.e. the Supreme Court of the United States). Billed as the podcast for people who “love thinking about health care, economics and zoning.” 

For further details, please contact Tanya at tanya.lolonis@mac.com.

 


Rational Readers Club

By Marcy Fowler, Treasurer

 

The Rational Readers Club of Vienna will be meeting on April 15 to discuss Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. And since we're meeting on Tax Day, we’ll also talk about current issues related to transparency in government. We’ll share tips on effectively calling our government officials and then will try out our enhanced skills by making calls to demand that Trump release his tax returns. 

Details: Saturday, April 15 at 11:00 am at Café Phil (Gumpendorferstraße 10-12, 1060 Vienna). We would enthusiastically welcome new book club members--please just contact us in advance at RationalResistanceAustria@gmail.com.

We’ll be meeting again in May (details TBA) to discuss our next book, The Captive Mind, by Czesław Miłosz.