In this June 2017 issue
Issues and Actions
1. An Evening with Senator Sanders –Livestream from Berlin
Please join Democrats Abroad Austria for an early evening with Senator Bernie Sanders via livestream from the Freie Universit ät Berlin on Wednesday, 31 May! The Senator will discuss social renewal in the U.S. and globally in front of a live audience with Christoph Amend, Chief Editor of DIE ZEIT Magazin.
The livestream begins at 18.00. (All are invited to arrive early to purchase food and beverage.)
WHEN: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 12:00 PM - 03:00 PM
WHERE: Beaver Brewing Company
CONTACT: Bruce Murray · [email protected]
2. DAA Talks: Melissa Fleming on the Plight of Refugees
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 fianc é. 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
CONTACT : Jennifer Rakow-Stepper · [email protected]
3. Young Dems Pub Night Summer Edition
Summer is finally here, and we can finally return to our favorite summer spot along the Donau Canal. We 're starting a little later since it 's a Friday night. If you can 't find us, ask for the table reserved under Democrats Abroad.
WHEN: Friday, June 09, 2017 at 07:30 PM - 11:30 PM
WHERE: Strandbar Hermann
Ashley Arreola · [email protected] ·+436503749481
4. It ’s just Absolutely Fabulous! Join us 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!
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:
WHEN: Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM
CONTACT: Juan Cerda · [email protected]
5. Solidarity Sundays Vienna #5
ENVIRONMENT WITHOUT PROTECTION:
Does the earth stand a chance?
How to live without the EPA, climate protocols, and nuclear disarmament?
Democrats Abroad members Faith Hall Herbold and Andreas Beckmann will lead us through some answers to these questions.
One answer will be to take action, pick up your phone and get your representatives and fellow voters to take action!
Learn about the issues, LEARN TO PHONE BANK. It 's easier to brave the phone banking system when you have a Democrat friend and potato chips at hand. Let 's go! Bring your laptop!
WHEN: Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM
CONTACT: Antje Lewis · [email protected]
6. Fourth of July on the Second of July in the Prater!
We 're celebrating the Fourth of July once again with Americans in International Organizations in Vienna (AIOV) on Sunday, July 2nd. We look forward to coming together to celebrate this all-American Holiday. Please join us on from 11:00 until dusk at the Cantina at the Prater park, located at the end of the number 1 tram line, Prater Hauptallee station, near the ASKO softball fields.
There will be American style hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and hotdogs, French fries, beer, wine and soft drinks, games, softball (to watch and to play), and live music with ‘Just the Troubles ’. Come ready to dance and bring an American picnic side dish and dessert to share, and any outdoor games you ’d like to play (Frisbee, football, bocci ball, etc.).
Payment: The food and drinks will be purchased from the Cantina; prices will be announced. There is no charge for this event, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the AIOV and DAA.
WHEN: Sunday, July 02, 2017 at 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM
CONTACT: Ashley Arreola · [email protected] ·+436503749481
Issues and Actions1. An Interview with Melissa Fleming
by Ellen Lewis, Democrats Abroad Executive Committee Member
The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people around the world has topped 65 million . Just this week, more than 30 people drowned in the Mediterranean Sea as hundreds fell from a migrant boat off the coast of Libya. Some 60,000 refugees are currently stranded in Greece. In South Sudan, political conflict, drought, and famine have created a dire situation, with tens of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries.
I sat down with Melissa Fleming, Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the UNHCR, who will be speaking on June 8 th to DAA members and friends on the plight of refugees. Melissa has written a book, A Hope More Powerful than the Sea, recounting one Syrian woman ’s perilous and dramatic journey to reach safety and a new home in Europe.
The statistics are mind-boggling and the individual stories heart-wrenching. Melissa ’s work is informed by both and during our conversation it became clear that in her position as spokesperson for the UNHCR, she is personally driven by a compassion for and dedication to helping refugees throughout the world.
EL: You ’ve worked with the UNHCR since 2008. How would you compare the refugee crisis today with what was happening when you started at the organization?
MF: It ’s much much bigger, and I think that it has been going up about 10 million a year; I have to look at the exact figure from 10 years ago, but it has just consistently gone up. The Syria conflict is a [major factor], but every year we keep announcing the new figures and it ’s always the [largest] number since WWII. We also still have large numbers of Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis, refugees from South Sudan, and now the Democratic Republic of Congo as well. There are now 65 million people who are forcibly displaced; these are record numbers; the organization has continued to grow to meet the demands, the budget has increased fourfold …
2. June is LGBT Pride Month
June is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) and is currently celebrated each year to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. In 1969, the solicitation of homosexual relations was illegal. Gay bars were the only places of refuge where lesbians and gays could socialize without public harassment. However, gay bars were subject to frequent police harassment. On June 28, 1969, the police entered the Stonewall Inn bar, arrested employees, roughed up patrons, arrested anyone who was not wearing at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing. This time the patrons fought back and rioted against the police brutality. This act of defiance, the Stonewall riots, are now considered to be the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Now, each year, pride is celebrated throughout the international community to pay tribute to diversity, lgbt rights, and individuality.
As a community, we have come a long way from the Stonewall riots and, yes, we may have marriage equality in the United States; nevertheless,LGBT rights are still under siege by the Republican statehouses. In Texas, the State Senate and Assembly passed two anti-lgbt bills: one bill is HB3859, which allows counselors as well as adoption and foster care agencies the ability to refuse services based on religious beliefs. The second bill, SB2078, targets transgender students in schools. Both bills are now making their way to the Governor ’s desk. We need you. Please send a message to the Governor, asking him to veto HB 3859 and SB 2078.
Internationally, LGBT members are being persecuted and sentenced to concentration camps. Authorities in Chechnya - a Russian republic - have rounded up at least 100 gay men and placed them in concentration camps where they are tortured, starved, and often killed. The Chechen ruler, Ramzan Kadyrov, plans to " eliminate "all of Chechnya 's LGBT community by the beginning of Ramadan, which begins on May 26. In the face of media inquiries, Chechen spokespeople have claimed that gay men simply " do not exist. "Despite international outrage, Putin and Trump have remained silent. But we can do something: through All Out , we can each donate to support the efforts of the Russian LGBT Network to get LGBT people out of Chechnya as soon as possible.
Closer to home in Vienna, you can also help by supporting and learning more about Queer Base , a program which helps and supports LGBTIQ refugees who have sought refuge in Austria. You can also participate in this year ’s Vienna Pride Parade and show your support: see the event section of this newsletter for more information.
4. U.S. Special Elections in 2017
On Tuesday, May 23, Democrats had their first Trump era special election wins in the New Hampshire and New York State Legislatures and turned two traditionally safe red states blue. This is great news and illustrates how often-forgotten Special Elections can really matter. Below is a shortened version listing the spring and summer deadlines from an article that noted all of the special elections that will take place in 2017, which was
posted on democratsabroad.org website by DA GOTV committee member, Eileen Weinberg, on February 11, 2017.
We ’ll list the fall Special Election deadlines in September. Make sure to register, vote, and spread the word to friends and family back home to help get out the vote! Please click here for the entire piece; to keep up-to-date about the most recent races, make sure to check out flippable .
As overseas citizens, we need to make sure that we go through the process of completing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register and request a ballot for the handful of states that will be holding special elections for federal offices this year. We want to encourage all overseas citizens to participate in all special elections, as well as in statewide and local elections occurring in 2017.
If you are a resident from any of the states and voting districts listed below, please register and request an absentee ballot today at VoteFromAbroad.org . You must complete, print out, sign and send the FPCA to your election office to ensure you will receive a ballot for the election. Please mail your voting materials early enough to account for mail delivery times .
California —U.S. House, 34th Congressional District
Special Election on June 6
Seat vacated by the resignation of Xavier Becerra (D) when he was confirmed as Attorney General of California —concerns voters in Los Angeles County (downtown and northeast).
Results of the Special Primary Election on April 4 mean that Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D) and former L.A. city planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn (D) are set to advance to the runoff election on June 6.
Georgia —U.S. House, 6th Congressional District
Special Election Runoff on June 20
Seat vacated by the resignation of Tom Price (R) when he was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services —concerns voters in Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton Counties. Ballots will be sent beginning March 4 for those who have requested them.
Democrat Jon Ossoff received 48% of the votes cast for the congressional race between 18 candidates. He will face Karen Handel (R) —the closest contender with 20% —in the June runoff.
A federal judge has ordered Georgia to reopen voter registration for the runoff election, extending the deadline to May 21, 2017.
South Carolina —U.S. House, 5th Congressional District
Special Election on June 20
Seat vacated by the resignation of Mick Mulvaney (R) when he was confirmed as Director of the OMB —concerns voters in Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Newberry, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union and York Counties.
Democrat Archie Parnell won the party 's nomination in the Primary Election on May 2 by a decisive margin, while top two GOP candidates will runoff in mid-May.
Utah —U.S. House, 3rd Congressional District
Special Primary Election on August 14 | Special Election on November 7
Seat vacated by the resignation of Jason Chaffetz (R) —concerns voters in Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, and Wasatch counties as well as portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties.
GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN 2017
New Jersey —Governor
State Primary Election on June 6
Incumbent Governor, Republican Chris Christie is term-limited and not eligible to run for re-election. Six Democrats are in the race for the party 's nomination to run for the November election -- community activist Bill Brennan, former U.S. treasury official Jim Johnson, State Senator (Union County) Raymond Lesniak, former U.S. ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, State Assemblyman (Middlesex County) John Wisniewski, and Borough Council President (Tenafly) Mark Zinna
State Primary Election on June 13
Incumbent Governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is term-limited and not eligible to run for re-election. The Democratic primary will decide if Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam or former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello will receive the party 's nomination for the November election.
5. Print, Pose, and Post –Participatein DA ’s Virtual Tax March
June 15, 2017 is the automatic IRS filing extension deadline for Americans overseas. In order to draw attention to our taxation issues, as well as to underscore that President Trump has yet to release his tax returns to the US public, DA ’s Global Action Team is launching a social media campaign that will run throughout the month of June. All you need to do is print, pose, and post to participate!
So, print out the A4 poster , find somewhere iconic, symbolic, or downright mundane to pose for your photo, and post it before June 15 to:
[email protected] , where it will be queued for the campaign 's launch via DA social media channels on the 15th.
D on 't forget to use the hashtags #virtualtaxmarch and #DAresists so that we can find and amplify your photos throughout the month as well!
1. Taking It To the Streets: Protest in the Time of Trumpby Tanya Lolonis, DA Grassroots Member
Black Lives Matter, the long-running and recently dismantled Dakota Access oil pipeline protest, the Women ’s March and the March for Science, protests against transgender discrimination bills —over the past year, and accelerating since the election, Americans are taking to the streets to oppose GOP policies. We ’ve racked up some successes: the travel ban was blocked by judges after protests delayed its implementation and citizens speaking up at town halls killed the first Obamacare repeal and are endangering Senate passage.
And Republicans are pushing back. While we follow national political developments, a flood of bills targeting protest tactics and enhancing penalties for civil disobedience are working their way through state legislatures. Bills designed to discourage the exercise of the right to assemble peacefully are being considered in over 20 states. These “represent an unprecedented level of hostility towards protesters in the 21st century ”(ACLU). Last month, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights wrote the State Department that this legislative activity is “incompatible with U.S. obligations under international human rights law.”
A sample: a North Dakota bill to shift liability from drivers who unintentionally hit protesters to protesters themselves did not survive public scrutiny —but a similar bill has been introduced in Tennessee and bills to jail protestors who block traffic are being drafted in Minnesota and Iowa. Wearing masks and hoodies and heckling politicians in North Carolina are specific targets and in Portland there is an attempt to reclassify demonstrations as “riots.”
Our first amendment assures the right of access to sidewalks, public spaces and streets, and protects the right to heckle, too. While the ACLU is fighting back in courts at home, we still enjoy the right to protest in Austria. Attending the Pride Parade is more celebration than protest, but its social and political messages are strong, clear —and protected. We invite you to join Democrats Abroad on June 17th as we march to demonstrate our support of LGBTQI rights and freedom.
DPCA Election Results
Democratic Party Committee Abroad 2017 Global Meeting
by Keith Jacomine, Vice Chair
Democrats Abroad country committees from around the world met physically and virtually in Washington DC from May 12-17 to conduct the business of the DPCA, elect new international officers, and hold meetings on Capitol Hill, advocating for issues important to Americans living overseas.
The International Officers who have been elected to serve two year terms are: Julia Bryan (DA-Czech Republic) International Chair, Alex Montgomery (DA-Hong Kong) International Vice-Chair, Lissette Wright (DA-Canada) International Treasurer, Jeffrey Cheng (DA-Sweden) International Secretary and Tom Schmid (DA-Japan) International Counsel.
In addition to the election, a variety of resolutions and amendments to the bylaws were voted on, and China was admitted as our newest country committee.
Over the course of four days, attendees heard from speakers including NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, MD Congressman Jamie Raskin, a DA France alumnus, and Congresswoman Holmes-Norton of Washington DC. Among others, Larry Cohen of the DNC Unity Reform Commission and Chairman of Our Revolution spoke about the importance of unions and progressive values, which kicked off the formation of the Democrats Abroad Progressive Caucus. Michael Blake, the newly elected DNC Vice-Chair, spoke about the changes taking place under the new leadership of Chairman Perez and Deputy Chairman Ellison.
You 'll be hearing more from our new Chair in the coming months on the DPCA 's plans for continuing to advance issues important to us: keep up the resistance to the current administration and prepare for the 2018 midterms.
Member ’s Corner
1. Making Resistance Easier
by Marcy R. Fowler, Treasurer
Resisting the destructive Trump agenda can be exhausting! Keeping up with the news from back home and taking the time to contact your elected officials can feel like a full-time job. Thankfully, there are many resources and tools emerging that will keep you informed and let you communicate your views from the comfort of your smart phone. Here are a couple of my current favorites:
Resistbot is my new favorite way to resist during my daily commute. To start, simply text “RESIST ”to 50409 (note: this is a US number, so using standard SMS from Austria is not recommended) or message Resistbot using Facebook messenger . The bot asks you some basic questions and then sends your letters to your elected officials via fax. The beauty of the program is its simplicity. With Resistbot, you can quickly prepare a letter and have it nicely formatted and sent automatically. As you get more experienced with the bot, additional options become available; for example, you can add your signature to the letters for a personal touch. Check out the Resistbot website for more information.
To stay up-to-date, on my way home from work I listen to The Daily podcast by Michael Barbaro of the New York Times, which features discussion of the major news items of the day with the journalists who are breaking the stories. The coverage of the recent White House scandals has been exceptional (the 24 April episode on then-FBI director Comey was particularly absorbing), with insight into just how these incredible stories are uncovered, how the news fits into the broader context, and what it all means. You can listen to The Daily free on the NYT website or through your favorite podcast app.
If you have any tips on other tools or sources that may be of interest to Dems Abroad, please email me at RationalResistanceAustria @ Gmail.com.
2. Thanks Republikanischer Club
DA Austria Executive Committee would like to thank the Republikanischer Club for generously allowing us to use their rooms for our first DAA Talks event with Melissa Fleming on Thursday, June 8th. The day before our event, the Republikanischer Club will be hosting an event focusing on the theme of Austria ’s migration policies. Perhaps some of our German-speaking members would like to attend. Below is the information from their website .
–Jennifer Rakow-Stepper, Chair
Mittwoch, 7. Juni 2017, 18 Uhr, im Republikanischer Club:
Menschlich, Realistisch, Fair –M ögliche Eckpunkte einer (Österreichischen) Migrationspolitik?
Ein Freundeskreis engagierter B ürgerinnen (Anton Dobart, Helmut Bachmann, Christine Stromberger, Gottfried Wagner, u.a.) und der RC laden zu einer Podiumsdiskussion.
Sind fortschrittliche Allianzen in der Politik Österreichs (der EU) denkbar f ür eine bessere, humane und realistische Migrationspolitik? 'Ideale 'Politik gibt es nicht, einfache Antworten auch nicht. Wie kann ein wirksamer politischer Dialog zwischen politischen Parteien, mit NGOs und den B ürgerinnen und B ürgern gelingen? Gibt es mehrheitsf ähige Schnittmengen, um einen Paradigmenwechsel einzuleiten? …