Do you really know all the words to your national anthem?

I gave myself a test, and I’ll spare you all the awful sound of my singing voice. I think I knew all the words, with a tiny slip up here and there. I haven’t sang the national anthem since I was a kid in school maybe. I don’t go to sports matches or really watch them on TV so, I don’t hear the national anthem much anymore. Weird, I went from hearing and singing it everyday in school to rarely hearing it.

Just in case you needed a refresher, here it is [with Wikipedia links to learn more about the origins]:

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mawtini

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fida%27i

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In Review #AmericanHorrorStory

I can’t believe I waited so long to watch this show. I like the set up, because I’m not much of a fan of shows that go on and on forever. I like that the series limits its plots to 1 season and then moves on to an entirely different concept the next. I think it’s also great for new viewers who don’t have the time to watch the entire series from the beginning. I like how all the seasons are standalone, but I also love how the show connected the seasons.

 

Season 1: I couldn’t get enough of it. I love Connie Britton and Evan Peters. They’re absolutely amazing actors. I loved all the twists and turns, all the flashbacks. I never wanted it to end, but I loved the ending. Big names and lots of talent in this season. I’d totally move into the Murder House. Sure everyone dies there, but there are so many ghosts– it’s like instant friends if you play your cards right.

Season 2: The Asylum was so difficult to watch. Not because the plot wasn’t compelling, but because it was so sad and depressing. Mental health facilities in the past in the states and still currently in some places abroad exist in vile and horrendously unacceptable conditions. The scariest and more horror filled part of this season is that just about anyone could have been locked up there for the rest of their lives. It could happen to any of us.

Season 3: LOVED every part of this. Strong cast. Strong women. Strong storylines. I love that it was a primarily female cast. I love Gabourey Sidibe, she has so much sass on her. Emma Roberts plays a really good person/character to hate. Angela Basset is amazing in just about any role she plays. Sarah Paulson’s character really blossomed towards the end. Kathy Bates is also amazing in it, she’s so believable as an actress. Taissa Farmiga’s performance seemed effortless. She’s a natural. But the character that really outshone the others was Jamie Brewer– hands down.

Season 4: Freak Shows are such a bizarre concept. I can’t believe they ever existed. I mean, factually of course I know they existed, but how anyone could go to one and taunt others for their disabilities. How awful were people. Too awful. I was super excited towards the beginning of the season, but towards mid-season I just wanted it to end. I wish the entire freak show family didn’t have to end in murder, but I like that the twins and lobster boy got together. Probably the best part of the season was Pepper and her timeline.

Season 5: This season was difficult for me to get into. It wasn’t until midseason when I started to get interested. As much as I love Lady Gaga’s performance and was stunned at how versatile the performances from Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters are. I swear, they can act as anything. I love that the season turned its emphasis to Liz towards the end. I couldn’t love the first half of this season. I thought much of the sex scenes were unnecessary to the plot and the writers were trying to accomplish too many subplots and such. I wish they would have focused in a bit more.

 

Anyways. I love the show.

An entirely flawed system

So I just found out that NJ is cutting off my food stamps because I’m considered able-bodied. Food stamps has literally been the only thing feeding my family right now and the only way for me to continue getting food stamps is if I go to a 20 hour a week work program. I tried to go to the program and had to make an appointment for orientation months ago and they were so mean and dismissive of me. They wanted me to miss my doctor appointment to go to their orientation and I told them I couldn’t miss it. I was sick, I needed to see a doctor. So they wouldn’t schedule me for another day and that was that.

I can get out of the requirement if I’m caring for someone in my family, which I am, my mother who has been unwell. But why is she unwell, because without warning her health insurance was terminated because she was deemed to make too much money. My mom makes $800 a month from alimony payments. That’s it! How is that too much money? Because she doesn’t have health insurance, she can’t afford her meds and hence has not been the greatest lately. The only way to prove that I’m caring for my mother is if she gets evaluated by a doctor and deemed disabled. Again, something we cannot afford. And if she never had her insurance terminated to begin with, she’d have her meds and she wouldn’t need someone to look after her.  It’s a flawed system and I’m so embarrassed and sad and scared. I don’t know how to feed my family.

I’ve been trying to get a job for a year and a half now with no luck. I have a BA and two MAs. I’m clearly educated and should be capable of getting a job but no one wants to give me a chance despite my 10 years of experience. I really don’t know what to do. I really hate to ask, but I need help. I haven’t paid my credit cards off, we’re charging everything on credit and I’ve reached my credit limit. We’re not using the heat even though it’s so cold, bc we can’t afford to make the payment. I don’t have a cell phone line because we can’t afford it. How is my family going to eat? What am I supposed to do? Like we can’t even afford to pay rent this month. Literally, I have no idea what to do or how to keep us from being hungry and homeless. And I could kick myself for ending up in this situation.

I keep trying to crawl us out of this hole, but I keep failing.

This is so embarrassing, but I need help and I don’t know where to turn. I’m so embarrassed to ask and hate myself for getting to this point. If you could spare anything, even just $1, I would appreciate it so much. https://www.paypal.me/hebavsreason I swear, I’ll never forget your generosity and 100% promise to pay it forward. I’m just so scared and so unsure of how to make ends meet. I’m so embarrassed and I’m so sorry for asking. Maybe you could pass this around, reblog it. Any help would be so important and I’d be so thankful.

The Colleagues We Lost – Update on “Tell President Obama to Consent to Independent Investigation of Kunduz Hospital Bombing!”

Petition update
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) USA just posted an update on the petition you signed, Tell President Obama to Consent to Independent Investigation of Kunduz Hospital Bombing!.

The Colleagues We Lost

Dec 01, 2015 — Last week, MSF released the names of the 14 staff members killed in the aerial attacks on our trauma hospital in Kunduz on October 3. All were Afghan. Among them was a nurse, an… Read more

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Call now: Refugees are NOT terrorists

moveon-help@list.moveon.org

Dear MoveOn member,

Anti-refugee attacks have become so fierce in Congress that Republicans are now threatening a government shutdown—seriously—to prevent any more Syrian families fleeing violence in the Middle East from entering America.1

Just days ago, the U.S. House passed a bill to slam the door on Syrian refugees—many of whom are fleeing the same terrorist network that attacked Paris—and passed it with enough votes to override President Obama’s threatened veto.2 Our grassroots outcry helped stop the bill in the Senate so far, but the fight is far from over.

So now, according to rumors swirling in Washington today, Republicans’ new strategy is to hijack the must-pass spending bill.3 Some of them are planning to hold the federal government hostage unless they get their way on blocking Syrian refugees and on other priorities of the farthest right-wing fringe of their base—maybe even defunding Planned Parenthood just days after the deadly attack in Colorado Springs.4

We can stop Republicans from scapegoating refugees in the U.S. Senate—if Democrats stand together for the principles enshrined on the Statue of Liberty. That’s why all Democrats—those who stand with us and those who are undecided—need to hear from us right now so they know where we stand in this fight.

Can you call Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker now? Tell them: “Don’t let Republicans use the spending bill to block Syrian families from finding safety in America. It’s un-American to turn away people seeking refuge from war and oppression.”

Here’s where to call:

Senator Robert Menendez

Phone: (202) 224-4744

Senator Cory Booker

Phone: (202) 224-3224

If this desperate Republican gambit sounds familiar, it’s because Republicans have pulled from this playbook before. In fact, many right-wing members of their caucus were planning to use the spending bill to further grandstand against Planned Parenthood—and we may see the lies about Planned Parenthood trotted out again in the next week, alongside fear-mongering about refugee families.

We have learned to say no to Republican hostage taking—and we need Democrats to stand strong for core American values—including standing by the message on the Statue of Liberty and defending women’s rights.

The anti-refugee backlash sweeping our country is a result of fear and bigotry shamelessly whipped up by politicians like Donald Trump. Trump outrageously claims that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in Jersey City celebrated the fall of the Twin Towers.5 Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson went so far as to compare Syrian refugees fleeing violence to “rabid dogs.”6

And the inflammatory rhetoric targeting Planned Parenthood is just as absurd and dangerous. For months, Republicans have spread lies about Planned Parenthood—and last Friday’s attack in Colorado Springs was a tragic reminder that violent language has very real consequences.

Democrats must stand together behind our most important American values and not succumb to Republican fearmongering—neither misplaced fear of families fleeing Syria nor fear of giving women power over their health and lives.

Can you pick up the phone right now, call Sens. Menendez and Booker, and urge them to say no to Republican fearmongering?

Thanks for all you do.

–Ben W., Mark, Jadzia, Erica, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. “Analyst: 50-50 odds of government shutdown over refugees,” McClatchy DC, December 1, 2015

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article47259075.html

2. “The moral and strategic case for admitting Syrian refugees,” The Washington Post, November 23, 2015

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/11/23/the-debate-over-syrian-refugees/

3. “Congress returns to tackle omnibus,” Politico, November 30, 2015

http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-defense/2015/11/congress-returns-to-tackle-omnibus-obama-visits-paris-concert-hall-where-attacks-occurred-nsa-bulk-phone-data-collection-ends-211485

4. “No Shutdown Expected on Planned Parenthood,” The New York Times, November 30, 2015

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/01/us/politics/congress-budget-deadline-planned-parenthood.html

5. “Fact-checking Trump’s claim that thousands in New Jersey cheered when World Trade Center tumbled,” Politifact, November 22, 2015

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/22/donald-trump/fact-checking-trumps-claim-thousands-new-jersey-ch/

6. “Republican Ben Carson compares Syrian refugees to ‘rabid dogs'” Reuters, November 20, 2015

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/20/us-usa-election-carson-idUSKCN0T82TJ20151120

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CAIR Calls for Protection of Kentucky Mosque Targeted by Terror Threat

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


CAIR Calls for Protection of Kentucky Mosque Targeted by Terror Threat

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/27/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to step up protection for a Kentucky mosque that received an emailed death threat this morning.

The Islamic Center of Lexington in Lexington, Ky., received the email, which stated: “I’m going to kill everyone I [sic] there you Muslim f**ks. Salabis is coming for you.”

“This clear terroristic death threat targeting a house of worship must be treated seriously by local, state and federal law enforcement authorities and the perpetrator should be apprehended and brought to justice,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Our nation’s leaders must send a clear message challenging the rising Islamophobia that leads to such threats.”

Hooper added that earlier today, CAIR cited an FBI alert to New York police about an Arizona anti-Islam extremist who is reportedly traveling to that state to “confront” Muslims.

SEE: FBI Warns NY Police About Anti-Islam Arizona Man Who May Be Headed to State to Confront Muslim Group (NY Daily News)

Earlier this week, CAIR released an initial report on the unprecedented backlash and discrimination targeting the nation’s Muslim community since the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.

CAIR notes that it has received more reports about acts of Islamophobic discrimination, intimidation, threats, and violence targeting American Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim) and Islamic institutions in the past week-and-a-half than during any other limited period of time since the 9/11 terror attacks.

CAIR attributes this spike in anti-Muslim incidents to the Paris attacks and to the mainstreaming of Islamophobia by political candidates and lawmakers in the run-up to the 2016 general election.

Of particular concern is the extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric and falsehoods being espoused by leading Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Another contributing factor to this marked rise in Islamophobic hostility is state governors and lawmakers playing on public fears and spreading misinformation about the federal government’s ability to screen Syrian refugees being resettled into the United States.

SEE: CAIR Reports Unprecedented Backlash Against American Muslims After Paris Attacks

CAIR offers community leaders free copies of its booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” which was published in response to past threats to and attacks on American mosques. The booklet may be requested through CAIR’s website: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html  

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights group is also asking Muslim community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident/view/form.html  

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

– END –

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171, nnaeem@cair.com

 

 

 

Council on American-Islamic Relations

453 New Jersey Ave, S.E., Washington, D.C., 20003

Council on American-Islamic Relations Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.

Alert: Ask Congress to Reject ‘Reckless’ Post-Paris Bills | CA Muslim Assaulted | Texas Mosque Intrusion | LAPD Probe Sought

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CAIR ACTION ALERT:


Tell Lawmakers to Reject Two ‘Reckless’ Bills Moving in Congress After Paris Attacks


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/20/15)
– The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is calling on all Americans to contact their elected representatives in Congress and urge them to reject two reckless bills, whose sponsors are taking advantage of public fears following the recent ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Congress Today

Tell the Senate to Reject the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015 (H.R. 4038)

Also referred to as the American SAFE Act of 2015, the measure was sent to the Senate yesterday by the House in a veto-proof majority vote, 289-137, despite the White House’s threat to reject the measure. The act would effectively halt President Obama’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees.

The act requires the heads of the DHS, FBI and Director of National Intelligence to individually certify that every Syrian and Iraqi refugee being resettled inside the United States does not pose a threat.

CAIR opposes the act because no top agency official would ever submit themselves to such a certification process or take personal responsibly for the actions of every refugee resettled in the United States over the course of their lifetimes.

The measure’s burdensome review process would also “halt” the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees as new screening and approval programs would have to be established to comply with the act.

CAIR believes that Syrian refugees are the first victims of ISIS’s terrorism and should not be made to suffer any more delays in their perilous journey to find shelter and safety.

Tell the House to Reject the Deeply-Flawed Countering Violent Extremism Act of 2015 (H.R. 2899)

Also referred to as the CVE Act of 2015, this deeply-flawed act was approved by the House Homeland Security Committee in July but not referred to be scheduled for a vote until a week after the Paris attacks. It is expected that the act will soon be assigned a date to be debated and voted on the House floor.

If adopted, the legislation would create a new assistant secretary position in DHS and provide $40 million spread over four years to fund an Office for Countering Violent Extremism.

In July, CAIR joined 41 groups raising concerns about the act contained in a letter led by the Brennan Center for Justice, noting that “despite years of experience with CVE programming in the U.S. and abroad, there is no evidentiary basis for concluding that these programs contribute to reducing terrorism.”

CAIR believes that expanding government and throwing taxpayer dollars into an unproven program is not a solution Americans should support.

SEE: CAIR: 42 Groups Raise Concerns About Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Legislation

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

– END –

CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171, nnaeem@cair.com

 

 

 

Council on American-Islamic Relations

453 New Jersey Ave, S.E., Washington, D.C., 20003

Council on American-Islamic Relations Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.

There is nothing casual about civilian casualties

Are you a Daily Mail reader? I won’t lie, I usually read the Daily Mail for a laugh. Some of these stories they come up with… they’re just interesting and chuckle-worthy to say the least. I do, however, know that I should never read an article concerning a serious matter on the Daily Mail website. But alas, I torture myself every time and even worse, I always scroll down to the comments section to read the vile things people feel so confidently typing, but rarely say in person.

Some of the worst things I’ve read include:

Comments about how “Real” refugees shouldn’t have phones- Many refugees are fleeing war. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have possessions. Cell phones are no longer a first world standard. Get over it because I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of refugees don’t have these fancy contracts and money to spend speaking hours on the phone.

Comments about how “real” refugees shouldn’t be allowed to wear makeup- First of all, I saw the video this ignoramus was commenting on and the woman did not have makeup up. She was and is naturally gorgeous. Perfect contours, skin and thick eyebrows. She’s prettier than all of us put together. That comment was pure jealousy. Plus, considering everything these refugees have been through, so what if she gets to put on a tiny bit of makeup. She deserves to feel beautiful and like her normal self after the torment of fleeing her country and home.

Comments about how refugees are only in it for the benefits- You know what benefit they really want. The benefit of life!!! I can’t entertain that nonsense.

Comments about how Syrians should fight for their country- This is the silliest comment of all. Syrians have been fighting for their country for years. They’re not only fighting against ISIS, you know. They’re fighting against the Assad regime and the US and Russia and the whole list of countries that have been striking Syria. What weapons do these innocent civilians have that they can use against a whole world? The numbers don’t add up. The worst part is so many refugees are children. Do we really expect children to fight? Because if we allowed that the Daily Mail commenters would comment about how child soldiers are wrong.

Comments about how refugees desire to continue their education makes them economic migrants and not refugees- You realize that these people have had their entire lives come to a complete halt. They’ve literally been sitting around starving and waiting to die. A whole generation of young Syrians is growing up illiterate and unable to do basic math or know much about anything other than war. These refugees aren’t coming over just so they can take advantage of university education. No, if they could have stayed in Syria and continued their education they would have. But there are no teachers left in schools in Syria because there are no schools left. The schools that are left get used as shelters and makeshift community centers.

Comments about how “we” should bomb “them all”- That is an incitement of terror and makes you complicit in murder. Just putting that out there, you horrible human being. I have no problem with seeing ISIS and Assad terrorist thugs get blasted off this earth, however the legal thing to do would be to capture them and try them in a court of international law, in which they would be found guilty and live a long and tortuous life in maximum security prisons. But there is nothing casual about bombing an entire city, killing innocent civilians and calling them casualties.

Comments about how everyone in Raqaa is an ISIS terrorist and that if they weren’t they would have left- Yes, Raqaa is an ISIS headquarter. Yes, ISIS controls the city, but is everyone there a supporter of ISIS, no? But to openly oppose it would leave you dead or tortured. Why don’t people leave? They don’t have the money. Sure smugglers could get you out, but where would you go? The smugglers will take all your money, risk your life and leave you penniless on a raft in the Mediterranean or in the desert on the way to a desolate refugee camp or in some other destroyed part of Syria.

Comments judging refugees for being separated from their families- Seriously? Is this the Olympic category for most vile comment made? Because if it is, you win. People get separated from their families in all sorts of ways that most people would find inconceivable. But it happens all the time. Talk to anyone whose family has been through a war or some sort of catastrophe: I can guarantee you that a majority of people will tell you they have at least one family member that ended up alone or separated from the rest.

Comments about how refugees have “such nice tents”- This dude commented on how her tent was so nice that she couldn’t possibly be a “real” refugee and that she probably has all this money stashed away. How deep in the dirt is your head exactly? Much of this type of supplies has been provided by aid workers, charity organizations and normal human people with hearts that donated much needed goods, such as tents. Do you want to live on a tent on a street corner when it’s raining and cold? No, especially since winter is nearing. You’re just a horrible person for thinking this

Comments stating the run of the mill stereotypes- The long list of racial slurs, insults, and stereotypes that I won’t humor by listing. You know the type orientalist rubbish that is slanderous, libel, disgusting and horrible filth, but Facebook won’t take it down because they’re too worked up taking pictures down of women’s bodies.

 

My conclusions: Firstly, humans are awful. I don’t know how people can be awful. I doubt most of these hateful commenters could handle  day in the life of a refugee. If you really think “we don’t owe them anything,” then you clearly have no idea how complicit our governments are in making Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the world, the situation that they are in today.

Secondly, we haven’t learned from history one bit. These comments– ugh just look at some of the things people said during WWII about refugees. Please and compare those comments to now.

And lastly, I can’t be the only one who sees comparison in 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq with the Paris Attacks and the subsequent bombing of Raqaa.

Civilians, particularly children are innocent and pay the highest toll in wartime situations. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I know what the answers to terrorism, racism, discrimination and bigotry are. Offhand I would say education, but we all know the world isn’t that simple.

All I want is for people to think for 30 seconds before they type these horrible comments. I pray your ignorant minds become enlightened with knowledge, wisdom and empathy.

 

Social Security must be expanded, not slashed

Dear Activist,

The Tea Party Republican Congress wants to slash Social Security, but progressives in Congress are making a major push to strengthen and expand this crucial program.

Please join our friends at CREDO Action in urging Congress to expand Social Security – not slash it.

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

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Social Security must be expanded, not cut

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The petition to Congress reads:

“Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in U.S. history. I urge you to support efforts to expand Social Security and reject any attempt to cut benefits.”

Add your name:

start BUTTON: SIGN THE PETITION

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Dear Activist,

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Republicans in Congress are in the midst of an all-out attack on Social Security1 – pushing the specious argument that we need to cut benefits now so we won’t have to cut them later.

But the fact is, Social Security works – and an overwhelming majority of Americans want the program to be expanded, not cut.

Progressives in Congress are making plans right now for a major effort to expand Social Security benefits and strengthen the program’s finances by making the wealthy pay their fair share into the trust fund. Let’s make sure Congress knows there’s huge grassroots support for expanding Social Security.

Sign the petition: Social Security should be expanded, not cut. Click here to sign the petition.

There’s no shortage of smart ideas for expanding and strengthening our Social Security system. For example, Senator Bernie Sanders just proposed raising the cap on earnings that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax, which would force the wealthy to pay their fair share into the trust fund.2

Other proposals are being considered to modify the formula used to make cost-of-living adjustments to more accurately reflect inflation on products and services seniors buy, and to expand benefits across-the-board.

But Congressional Republicans want to go in the opposite direction – forcing unnecessary benefit cuts that would be devastating for millions of retired Americans, military veterans and Americans living with disabilities.

Last month, more than 200,000 CREDO activists signed our petition telling Republicans in Congress not to cut Social Security benefits under any circumstances. Now it’s time to go on the offensive.

I hope you’ll join us in sending a strong message to members of Congress in both parties: Social Security should be expanded, not cut.

Sign the petition: Expand Social Security now! Click here to sign the petition.

Thanks for fighting to expand Social Security.

Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager

CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

start BUTTON: SIGN THE PETITION

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1. “Republicans planning stealth attack on Social Security, Democrats fear,” Washington Post, February 9, 2015.

2. “Bernie Sanders: Raise taxes on the wealthy to save Social Security,” The Hill, February 10, 2015.

© 2015 CREDO. All rights reserved.

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