Save the JET Program

As part of Japan’s efforts to grapple with its massive public debt, the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Program may be cut. Soon after coming into power, the new  government launched a high profile effort to expose and cut wasteful spending. In May 2010, the JET Program and CLAIR came up for review, and during the course of an hourlong hearing, the 11-member panel criticized the JET scheme, ruling unanimously that a comprehensive examination should be undertaken to see if it should be pared back or eliminated altogether.  The number of JET participants has already been cut back by almost 30 percent from the peak in 2002, but this is the most direct threat that the program has faced in its 23-year history.

We are asking JET Program participants past and present, as well as other friends of the program to speak out and petition the Japanese government to reconsider the cuts.  Please sign this petition in support of the grassroots cultural exchange the JET Program has fostered and write directly to the Japanese government explaining the positive impact the Program has made in your life and that of your adopted Japanese community.

For more background on this issue, please refer to “JET Program on the Chopping Block” by Jim Gannon on – Write to Congress!

Your money is being given away by the government to big corporations who are in trouble because they made a lot of bad bets on inherently risky investment products.

Click here to send a letter to your Senators and Representatives, demanding them to take a stand against public liability for private debt.

Learn more at

CITIZENS STAND AGAINST BAILOUTS WITH PETITION AND INTERNET SITE established 24 hours after bailout plan was announced

A group of outraged American businesspeople and academics from Arizona, New York, and California are taking a stand against the proposed $1 trillion plan to use taxpayer dollars to absorb bad debts from private corporations., the volunteer advocacy group they formed 24 hours after the announcement from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, has launched an online resource and petition as a means to give a voice and support to Americans who oppose the bailout plan.

“Don’t give our children more debt and our creditors more power over us,” says Stacy Seger, an Arizona schoolteacher who helped launch the movement. “Don’t be afraid to speak out against these unprecedented government moves.”

The group circulates the petition online and on foot, planning to deliver it in person to Congress.  Public demonstrations are planned to draw more people to the issue. is reaching out to combine efforts other taxpayer advocacy groups, and will provide information to taxpayers through online and other media channels.

For more information, or to schedule an interview with an representative, please call Nicholas DiBiase at 480-734-9983 or email ActNow[at]EndBailouts[dot]org.

The Global Handshake

I just got an email from Paul Hilder of about a Global Handshake for the China Olympics:

As the Beijing Olympics begin, the world looks on with mixed emotions. It’s a moment which should bring us closer together, and Chinese citizens deserve their excitement — but the Chinese government still hasn’t opened meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama, or changed its stance on Burma, Darfur and other pressing issues.

Even worse, extremists in China are promoting the view that Olympic activism like ours is anti-Chinese. We can’t stay silent, but we also can’t let our efforts be abused to divide people. So what can we do? The answer comes from the Dalai Lama himself, in an unambiguous gesture of Olympic spirit and friendship: a handshake.

It began in London, passed hand to hand by thousands of us — now the handshake has gone online, and is criss-crossing the globe on its way to Beijing. All of us can join, Chinese and non-Chinese, and it comes with a promise: to hold ALL our governments accountable where they fall short, in Tibet, Iraq, Burma or beyond. We’ll deliver our message in a bold media campaign in Hong Kong and around the world: Click below to see how the Olympic handshake started, sign up to join in, and watch it circle the globe —

The handshake idea is nice (with all of the banality of that word fully intended), but let’s not forget to extend the dialogue to the Uighurs or with Taiwan.  Ok, I concede, the “round-the-world” map animation showing virtual handshakes is pretty rad, but I digress.

There’s not a lot of hope for the kind of openness that allows for fruitful dialogue on the Chinese side when they beat up and harass foreign journalists trying to cover the attack in Kashgar.  Then there is the systematic internet censorship.  The guarantee of press freedoms for foreign journalists was part of the contract that the Chinese government agreed to in order to host the Games.  The Chinese government isn’t living up to their side of the bargain.

And those missiles aimed at Taiwan aren’t too friendly or conducive to dialogue either, are they?  Or how about that attempted Chinese weapon shipment to Zimbabwe?  Not very peaceful either.

And then there are those Beijingers who were forcefully and unlawfully evicted from their homes without proper compensation to make way for the Olympics.  And the peaceful Chinese civil society activists (and regular residents of Beijing) who are living under lockdown as a result of the games.  Their grievances can hardly be considered anti-Chinese; since they ARE Chinese.  Same goes for the repression of Falun Gong practitioners and other religious groups.

Ok, so I’ve given a handshake for peace, but what is the Chinese government going to give its own citizens and the international community in return?  Do Chinese leaders and hardline nationalists even want a handshake?  Or do they want the world to kowtow in reverence and awe at the “new” China’s coming-out party?  As much as we all wished that the Olympics were about sports and international goodwill, the truth is, they are also about state-sponsored political propaganda (and uncomfortable displays of nationalism if you ask me) as well as corporate bottom lines.

More on Tibet – Latest from

Protesters hold a demonstration urging US President George W. Bush to cancel his plans to attend the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing because of the situation in Tibet during a protest at Lafayette Park across the street from the White House in Washington, DC, on March 31, 2008. (c) 2008 SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The latest from on Tibet:

Dear friends,

On Monday, thousands of people in 84 cities worldwide marched for justice for Tibet–and delivered the 1.5 million-signature Avaaz petition to Chinese embassies and consulates around the globe. Avaaz staff have engaged with Chinese diplomats in New York and London, delivering the petition and urging action. And a growing chorus of world leaders is joining the call. Continue reading More on Tibet – Latest from