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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning.
Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations - authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we're all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done.
When Joan hit one million page views, OEN Managing Editor, Meryl Ann Butler interviewed her, turning interviewer briefly into interviewee. Read the interview here.
While the news is often quite depressing, Joan nevertheless strives to maintain her mantra: "Grab life now in an exuberant embrace!"
Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and Scoop.co.nz.
Peer Juries Rule! A Look Inside Restorative Justice
Restorative justice has great merit. Individuals should be treated with respect, given opportunities for reform, and there is often a lot of commonality between people on both sides and that true listening can be extremely effective towards positive change. I also greatly appreciate the focus on prevention--In the US, we spend far too much time and money on punishment rather than on setting people up for success. Series: Restorative Justice, Prison, lawyer (View All Series)
Thursday, August 7, 2014(2 comments)
Whitni Battle: Learning to Fly - How Circus Changed My Life
People think that they have to be young or fit or naturally flexible or strong to do the things I do, but really, the only thing that holds you back is not believing in yourself. Once I started to achieve my small goals, my confidence blossomed and I felt enthusiastic about seeing what else I could do. The fact that I could teach my body to do the splits is enough evidence for me that anything is possible. Series: Careers, Creativity, Empowerment (View All Series)
BOP: 'Til Death Do Us Part?
If I left Gary and prison by 2:00, I could stop for gasoline and a caffeinated drink, make a snack-and-bathroom-break stop, and get home by 8:00, 20 to 21 hours after I had started the day. In those 20-hour days, I have usually been able to spend only five hours or so with Gary. Sometimes it was only two hours, when the prison employees were being particularly horrible. Those hours together had to last until the next time. Series: Animals, Don Siegelman, Exploitation (View All Series)
Friday, July 25, 2014(8 comments)
Farmer Gene's Tiny But Mighty Popcorn - Mighty Tasty and NO GMOs!
One of the good things about TBM Popcorn being an heirloom is that it is dent sterile meaning it will not cross with other corn so it can't be contaminated with GMOs. Heirlooms are more difficult to grow but the flavor and ability to propagate each year are good things.The seeds are smaller than conventional popcorn and have a very thin hull so when popped, it is easily digested and does not get stuck in your teeth. Series: Business, Careers, Entrepreneurs (View All Series)
Friday, July 18, 2014
Overturning 'Citizens United': The People 3, Plutocrats 0
This morning we celebrate about the most momentous issue of our generation, repudiating the corrupt Citizens United Supreme Court decision. In CA, Gov. Brown has issued a proclamation allowing the legislature to put the Overturn Citizens United Act on the Nov. ballot which will give the voters an opportunity to speak out on whether the Constitution should now be amended to clarify: money is NOT speech, corporations NOT people. Series: Activism, Citizens United, Congress (View All Series)
Amica Insurance: Where Customer Service Is No Laughing Matter
Amica received our 12th JD Power award for customer satisfaction in homeowners insurance. We received highest honors for the NE region in the JD Power 2014 US Auto Insurance Study.This is the 15th year in a row that JD Power has recognized us for customer satisfaction with auto insurers. We were also so proud to finish first in the 2013 Best Places to Work in RI competition, an event at which our corporate office was honored. Series: Business, Careers, Entrepreneurs (View All Series)
Bob Koehler on Justice with Healing at Its Core
Restorative Justice begins with the notion that justice is about healing rather than punishment. It is a worldwide movement that has been slowly growing, but it comes from the indigenous tradition of sitting in a circle and communing about matters of significance to the community. A circle is non-hierarchical; everyone in it is equal and everyone's presence is vital to the whole. I call this a state of "vibrant equality." Series: Activism, Court System, Creativity (View All Series)
Sunday, June 15, 2014(5 comments)
Is BOP Using Our Tax Dollars to Sever Family Ties?
Last week, the mother of a prisoner, drove six hours from Missouri, planning to visit her son, likely for the final time. This mother has a terminal illness and is three months past her life expectancy according to her healthcare providers. When she went through the metal detector, it went off. She told the prison employees she had a rod in her back and they told her she could not see her son. That is just purely evil. Series: Activism, civil rights, Exploitation (View All Series)
Birds, Dogs and Mother's Day: A Tale in Two Parts
When I come to visit, Emma greets me lavishly, with enthusiastic tail thumps, smiles, wiggles and plenty of whiny greetings. We reunite and then go for a leisurely walk. Afterward, I chat with Kate for a few minutes and take my leave. Emma is sad for a nanosecond and then returns to her lovely life. Love is letting go and isn't that what we mothers have to learn again and again as our chicks leave the nest and take flight? Series: Animals, Children, positivity (View All Series)
Scholastic and Big Coal Team Up to Bamboozle 4th Graders
Scholastic is invited into schools based on educators' assumption that Scholastic is trying to offer engaging, fair-minded curriculum. Instead, Scholastic was operating as a hired gun for Big Coal. And, it turns out, that through its In-School Marketing program, this is a part of what Scholastic does: hires out its curricular expertise and good name to corporations of all kinds. I was stunned. Series: Activism, economy, environmental (View All Series)
Friday, April 11, 2014
Music + Love + Ghosts = "Bellweather Rhapsody"
I read like a tiny person possessed--basically, anything I could get my hands on.I loved to read and be told stories so much, I didn't want them to stop. From a very early age, I wanted to imagine my own; before I could spell, I dictated. I always think back to a great quote from Eudora Welty: "For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading." That was my path, without question. Series: Author/books, Creativity, students (View All Series)
Constitutional Amendment Or Bust
Legislation would clarify the Constitution and that would reverse the Citizens United folly by empowering Congress to again establish reasonable regulation.Constitutional amendment is needed to reject the notion that spending money and free speech are indistinguishable. Otherwise, the very wealthy have giant 120 decibel megaphones and the rest of us have little tin cans on strings. And isn’t that what’s going on already? Series: Activism, Congress, Corruption (View All Series)
Sunday, March 30, 2014(2 comments)
Sounds of Faith Concert Builds Bridges Through Music
I am especially excited to be the co-chair of this concert because I believe that bringing people of different religions and cultures together bridges understanding. This summer, I was very upset with the violence in Chicago that captured news headlines. I know that the violence represents a very small part of the population of Chicago.
The real Chicago will be at Anshe Emet Synagogue on April 6th. Series: Women, the Arts, Creativity (View All Series)
Anniversary of Boston Marathon Bombing Looms, Many Questions Remain
Our original piece, which appeared within four days of the bombing, attracted tremendous attention and huge social media reaction, was based on our concerns that so many "national security" events don't make sense, and that we need to be vigilant about being manipulated in support of unexplained agendas, often having to do with the power and profitability of the perennial "homeland security" and "national security machines." Series: Federal, journalism, terrorism (View All Series)
The Inside Story of a Judicial Campaign
One of the key elements in whether they leave with a feeling that, win or lose, they had their fair day in court, is dependent on the judge's temperament.Too many judges leave those appearing before them with a feeling that they did not get a chance to present their cases, that the judges were rude or impatient with them or their attorneys, and they felt they never got a proper hearing.This is a complaint I've heard too often. Series: Activism, Careers, Children (View All Series)
Coming Out and Pushing Back Against Alzheimer's, Part Two
Now, I look back at all of this with a feeling that we all did the best that we could and tried to maintain some quality of life for him and for our relationship with him as the illness progressed. In many ways, I feel very proud of myself for finding ways to cope and afford him as good a quality of life as I could, under the circumstances. I feel good about being helpful to others who are going through similar situations. Series: Activism, behavior/psychology, health (View All Series)
Coming Out and Pushing Back Against Alzheimer's, Part One
Bernie was really getting annoying with his constant questions, my feeling his greater dependence on me and his no longer being the person I married. I had to take more and more responsibility and guide him. At times I found myself getting very irritated and taking it out on him. Then, the guilt set in. He's not doing this on purpose. He has always been very thoughtful and helpful to me. Why am I yelling at him? Series: Activism, behavior/psychology, health (View All Series)
Check Out Donna Karlin's "So You Want to Get Divorced?"
Going through a divorce can demolish us, yes, but it can give someone an opportunity to design a life that is better than they ever imagined. Humans have the ability to look at life through a wide-angled lens. We can stay centered enough to survive and move on, but we can also look at what we want for our future and start making necessary changes right now to create a life we love. I can attest to that. Series: authors, Divorce, Empowerment (View All Series)
Thursday, January 9, 2014(20 comments)
Why Should We Care About Bookstores? Who Reads Anymore, Anyway?
Bookstores are considered a dying species despite the role they have played in communities as centers for the exchange of information and ideas.I can't predict the future but for people who enjoy the bookstore experience-browsing for books,discussing them with other book-lovers,acquiring them for their libraries-I suggest they take advantage of their existence while they still can. Future alternatives might not be as much fun Series: authors, Business, Careers (View All Series)
Recent NSA Ruling Actually REALLY Bad News?
When a judge like Leon takes a strong position on the NSA and other judges in other circuits take opposite positions-as they have-that puts the whole issue of NSA domestic data mining and spying on a fast track to the Supreme Court. Today's Court has a majority that has a split personality on individual rights.In policing and national security issues, it sides with state power. We may get a ruling that we will not like. Series: Activism, Court System, journalism (View All Series)
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Behind the Scenes with Hollywood Screenwriter, Robert Avrech
I learned more about making movies from the late director Sidney Lumet than from any single person.Sidney insisted that a script must have, at its core, an essential truth that the audience recognizes. He also said that 90% of a director's job is in casting the right actors. If you put the wrong actor into a role, no matter how well written and directed, the film will fail. Watching Sidney work with actors was a revelation. Series: authors, Careers, Creativity (View All Series)
Thursday, December 19, 2013(3 comments)
Why We Care About Poop: 2.6 BILLION People Lack Access to a Toilet
I always believe you start small. Jewish tradition teaches, if you save one life, you have saved the world. And so I have built Youthaiti by starting in one small village in rural Haiti, and now we are reaching over 20 villages. We teach one person to use a bucket composting toilet, and soon the whole family is using it. We provide a composting toilet for one village, and the next one is ready to use it too. Series: Activism, Children, Food (View All Series)
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Inmates Train Service Dogs with Assist from Civilians on Weekends
Most of the dogs in the program live with prison inmates for about a year, starting from the age of about three months. The inmates train the puppies to be service dogs but what they can't do for them is give them real-world experiences, like riding in a car or going to a movie. We take the puppies out Friday-Sunday evenings and gradually expose them to all of the experiences they'll encounter as working service dogs. Series: authors, Children, journalism (View All Series)
The Worst Trade Deal Ever, And What You Can Do To Stop It
It's the most outrageous attempted corporate power grab yet.Suppose some foreign transnational corporation wanted to come into your country and start fracking or they wanted to unilaterally rewrite your labor laws, you would be forced to submit to that.This sounds like the kind of hysterical hyperbole that right wingers are so fond of trafficking in.This is what is actually being pushed in secret. It's like NAFTA on steroids. Series: Activism, Business, Congress (View All Series)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Rock and Wrap It Up's Creative Approach to Hunger
We now have 73 sport franchises and colleges practicing the Sports Wrap! program.Food from their arenas and stadiums now goes to the local indigent in their catchment areas.The entire NHL works with us in North America. This year, the NFL is working with us to recover all of the food generated surrounding and leading up to Super Bowl XXXXVIII, in both NJ and NY, and will be recovered through Rock and Wrap it Up! Series: Activism, economic inequity, Food (View All Series)
Katy Read on The Regrets of a Stay at Home Mom
When my sons were six months and two years old, I left my full-time job as a newspaper reporter. I became a freelance writer/stay-at-home mother, with my sons in daycare three afternoons a week.It seemed like a great arrangement for everyone in the family. Then in 2008, my husband and I split up and I moved back to Minneapolis.That's when the recession hit. The newspaper industry had already been imploding and shedding jobs. Series: Careers, Divorce, economic inequity (View All Series)
A Class Act: Chicago Actor Coaches Kids, Saves Vintage Theatre
The lovely Grande Dame at 100 was not meant for this much use, that's for sure. There are the things that aren't very sexy, like updated plumbing, electrical, fixing the facade. We are also on the cusp of a Kickstarter campaign so we can convert to digital.So many towns have lost their independent theatres to huge mall multiplex mega theaters. That is like losing the town's soul. What a loss that can never be recovered. Series: Careers, Creativity, Entrepreneurs (View All Series)
Monday, November 11, 2013
Inmates Stick Their Necks Out to Cast Light on Recent Prison Death
A prisoner who was very distressed about the events was threatened that he would be sent to solitary confinement for telling his own wife. I have shared with you the written statements of two prisoners who shared crucial moments of the day Mr. Hallford died. They understand the risk is to all prisoners when there is no accountability and and prison employees are allowed to kill prisoners without consequences. Series: Activism, civil rights, health (View All Series)
Thursday, November 7, 2013(3 comments)
"Citizen Koch" Fights to Tell Its Story
Because of David Koch's donations and his position on the board of one powerful PBS affiliate, the film was censored.The public agency that funds independent documentaries withdrew its financial support and its broadcast partnership for our film to avoid offending WNET's benefactor David Koch.Not only did the film lose $150,000 in funding, but millions of viewers lost their chance to see "Citizen Koch" on public television. Series: Activism, Corruption, Documentary (View All Series)