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July 30, 2011

On February 14 communities across the United States joined together in a collective day of action called by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants. From Washington, DC to Florida, from Maine to California, HUD tenants, foreclosure victims, homeless and poor people, and their supporters held press conferences and community forums to demand full funding of vital housing programs -- including poverty, homelessness, and health programs.

The San Francisco Valentine’s Day protest was co-sponsored by the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) and a broad range of Bay Area housing and social justice groups.

July 7, 2011

No matter how it unfolds, the Egyptian revolution will go down in the history books as a defining moment in the 21st century. Millions of Egyptians brought down one of the world’s most repressive regimes, that of the US-backed Hosni Mubarak, in just 18 days. Their bravery, perseverance, and tactfulness in the face of the regime’s brutal crackdown not only triggered uprisings across the Arab world but inspired and influenced protests against government austerity in the US, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Despite the fact that it is only a few months old, it’s important to begin piecing together a people’s history of the revolution to convey what happened and how it happened so that the lessons from this critical struggle can be disseminated.

June 27, 2011

For the last 40 years, the Right in this country has claimed ownership of the role of “protecting family values.” Along with that role came the privilege of shaping and defining what constitutes a family, both in mass culture and according to the law.

But there is a radical initiative to take back the idea of supporting family and put it in a reproductive justice frame that lifts up the voices and leadership of parents and communities who are the most under threat. It’s called Strong Families.

June 20, 2011

Social welfare programs are easy fodder for budget debates. A mere 18 percent of the federal budget is earmarked for discretionary spending, which includes welfare programs like public housing, food stamps, and cash assistance. Yet to hear foes spin it, one might think that social welfare programs comprise the bulk of the US budget and are responsible for sinking the country into unimaginable debt.

To close the fiscal year gap and keep the government running for the rest of fiscal year 2011, Republicans recently took aim at discretionary spending with the Welfare Reform Act of 2011. When the dust settled, the cuts to social services—though less than they would have been due to the quick action of activists, advocates, and some elected officials—were stark. (See sidebar for outline of recent cuts.) These cuts are beginning to play across the country as cash-strapped cities and states have fewer funds from the federal government to use to deliver services.

June 20, 2011

Since the spark of popular revolt electrified Tunisia in January of this year, uprisings continue to spread across the Middle East and North Africa as civil society wages pitched battles against repressive dictatorships and monarchist regimes. Largely unarmed masses from Syria to Yemen have faced down lethal attacks from state forces as they demand basic freedoms, workers’ rights, and an end to Western influence. Leaders have been driven out in Egypt and Tunisia and have left neighboring politicians shaking in their boots.

Left Turn contributing editor Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed analyst and Middle East commentator Lamis Andoni for a perspective on how Middle Eastern and North African civil society movements have initiated, expanded, and given peoples across the region the motivation to rise up to join this “Arab Spring.”