06 26 2016
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  • ST. LOUIS (AP) — A draft of the Democratic Party's policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty. Hillary Clinton's supporters turned back efforts by Sanders' allies to promote a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system and a carbon tax to address climate change, and freeze hydraulic fracking. While the platform does not bind the Democratic nominee to the stated positions, it serves as a guidepost for the party moving forward. Party officials approved the draft early Saturday. The Democratic National Convention's full Platform Committee will discuss the draft at a meeting next month in Orlando, Florida, with a vote at the convention in Philadelphia in late July. Sanders said Friday he would vote for Clinton, the presumptive nominee, in the fall election, but so far has stopped short of fully endorsing the former secretary of state or encouraging his millions of voters to back her candidacy. The Vermont senator has said he wants the platform to reflect his goals — and those representing him at a St. Louis hotel said they had made progress. "We lost some but we won some," said James Zogby, a Sanders supporter on the committee. "We got some great stuff in the platform that has never been in there before." Added Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a Sanders ally: "We've made some substantial moves forward." Deliberating late into Friday, the group considered language on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has divided Democrats. The committee defeated an amendment led by Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with "an end to occupation and illegal settlements" and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza. The draft reflects Clinton's views and advocates working toward a "two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict" that guarantees Israel's security with recognized borders "and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity." In many cases, Clinton's side gave ground to Sanders. The document calls for the expansion of Social Security and says Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, referring to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a "starvation wage," a term often used by Sanders. Sanders has pushed for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Clinton has supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to that level but has said states and cities should raise the bar as high as possible. Sanders' allies wanted the draft to specify calls for a $15 per hour minimum wage indexed with inflation. Clinton's side struck down a direct link, noting the document elsewhere included a call to "raise and index the minimum wage." The committee also adopted language that said it supports ways to prevent banks from gambling with taxpayers' bank deposits, "including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall." Sanders wants to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking activities. Clinton does not, but says her proposed financial changes would cast a wider net by regulating the banking system. Also in the draft is a call for the abolition of the death penalty. Clinton said during a debate this year that capital punishment should only be used in limited cases involving "heinous crimes." Sanders said the government should not use it. Sanders, a vociferous opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was unable to get language into the document opposing the trade deal. As a result, the party avoided an awkward scenario that would have put the platform at odds with President Barack Obama. Clinton and Sanders have opposed the deal. Committee members backed a measure that said "there are a diversity of views in the party" on the pact and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal "must protect workers and the environment." In a setback for Sanders, the panel narrowly rejected amendments that would have imposed a tax on carbon and imposed a national freeze on fracking. The panel deliberated for about nine hours following several late nights and long hours of policy exchanges between the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Sanders, in a statement, said he was "disappointed and dismayed" that the group voted down the measure opposing the TPP. But he was pleased with the proposals on Glass-Steagall and the death penalty — and vowed to fight on. "Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party," he said.
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  • VIDEO: Vermont senator says he will vote for Clinton if she wins nomination                  
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Chetter Galloway

This Monday, the Kenton Library will host a special workshop on African American storytelling techniques. The class will be led by Chetter Galloway, a storytelling performance artist who has studied both African and African American story traditions.

Galloway said attendees will be introduced to these styles and techniques and will leave with a broader understanding of the art form.

“(They will) know more about the art of African American storytelling, more about the story tellers who work to preserve the cultural traditions and heritage of African and African American storytelling,” Galloway said.

One of the classic traditions of African storytelling is the use of “call and response” -- where there is a back-and-forth syncopation between the leader and the chorus. Call and response techniques tend to dissolve the separation between the performer and audience, making the art interactive.

Galloway said this interaction is key, as well as the use of music as a part of the tradition. Whether the stories talk about joy or sadness, the heart of African storytelling is creative articulation.

“African American storytelling is very lively, animated and rooted in expression. Where this expression is social justice issues or civil rights or some strife, it’s very expressive and comes out through the art,” he said.

Galloway said the class will have interactive activities that will apply the lessons of the workshop. Attendees will have a better understanding of the art and the ability to use the techniques in their own storytelling practices.

He also wants to connect people with national storytelling organizations. Part of the workshop will cover the National Association of Black Storytellers who work to preserve African cultural heritage.

The African American storytelling workshop is part of a larger movement by the Multnomah County Library to reach out to their community members.

Library employee David Miles said the library had hired several reference positions for libraries to develop programming that would be interesting to the African American community.

“That is one of the focuses of our particular location … to have a more engaging relationship with the African American community that uses us,” Miles said.

Galloway, who is part of the Portland Storytellers Guild, said there are many places for good storytelling in this area, but there aren’t many places that focus on African and African American traditions.

“There is an opportunity here to enlighten others about an art and craft that isn't necessarily represented all the time in the community,” Galloway said.

The African-American Storytelling workshop takes place in the Kenton Meeting Room in the Kenton Library, Monday, November 16 at 6 p.m. Class space is limited, interested storytellers should arrive early.

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