July 4th Talking Points by John Nichols
Americans need to recognize that, in addition to the lives and dollars the occupation of Iraq has cost the United States, it has also assaulted democratic ideals handed down by the founders of this country's experiment with democracy. "We should have nothing to do with conquest," warned Jefferson, who believed the US must lead by example, not by force. The invasion and occupation of other lands would, the founders feared, turn America into precisely the sort of empire against which they had so recently rebelled. More...

Celebrating Independence in the Era of Empire
by Medea Benjamin
This Fourth of July, while Americans are marching in parades and oohing and aahing at the fireworks, it would be a patriotic gesture to also spend some time thinking about what independence means today. Our nation was founded on a determination to be free of domination by the British empire. The US Declaration of Independence proclaimed the need to fight the War of Independence against Britain because King George III had 'kept among us standing armies' that committed intolerable 'abuses and usurpations.' Today it is our government whose standing army is committing abuses and usurpations in foreign lands. More...

This Fourth of July while President Bush and his cronies are out and about reveling at patriotic parades and White House festivities ignoring the global outcry against the treatment of prisoners at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay; we the people won't be blinded by the dazzling lights of cheap firecrackers and white house photo-op flashes.

Show your patriotism by observing the 4th in the spirit of our founding mothers and fathers; by standing up to tyranny. After all America was born out of rejecting an unjust government… This time let's get it right and truly demand liberty and justice for all; not just white men avoiding taxes. It's our responsibility to demand that our government recognizes the rights of the prisoners being held at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay and treat them within the confines of international law. The torture must stop now!

To Honor American Values On Independence Day Coalition Calls For Closing Of Guantanamo Detention Center
This July 4th, a diverse coalition including individuals and organizations ranging from Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem, The Center for Constitutional Rights, CODEPINK, The Culture Project, Not In Our Name, United For Peace and Justice, and WEDO (Women's Environment & Development Organization) (more names to be added) are asking people across the United States to join the call to shut down the Guantánamo  prison camp and demand an immediate independent investigation into the widespread  allegations of abuse taking place there. More...

Here are a few great ideas to add some spark to your 4th of July plans and bring attention to mistreatment and abuse happening at the hands of the American government.

Join in with parades happening in your community. Dressed as prisoners at Abu Graib and torture victims from Guantanamo Bay, this great to way to remind people that not everyone is enjoying freedom and justice today.

Invite your friends and neighbors over, have a bbq and take the opportunity to invite the media to show off what 60 percent of America is thinking. See below for great party-favor ideas and fun recipes.

Head to the local spot to see the big fireworks display & bring your own soundtrack. Blast out the usual 1812 Overture with a montage of anti-war tunes. 

We promise by the end of the show everyone will be singing the chorus to “WAR” -What is it good for?

Renegade Masquerades
Dress up your guests as Bush or Cheney with easy-to-make masks. Create a color photocopy of your favorite photo of your favorite Bush Bandit, enlarging it as needed. Cut out the face; mount it onto cardboard with spray adhesive. Cut around the face with a utility knife. Paint a thin dowel with a lovely shade of pink; when the paint dries, hot-glue the dowel to the back of the mask using a narrow strip of cardboard. Make small slits in the mask to see through. Voila, you've got your self a great mask you can use over and over.

Other ideas:

  • Dress as pink statues of liberty and march in your city's parade with signs calling for the troops to come home;

  • Have an “Independence from Empire” picnic where you have a dramatic reading of messages from our nation's founders about the dangers of foreign interventions

  • Go to the local festivities dressed in a black cape and hood, “Abu Graib-style”, or in an orange jumpsuit and shackles, with a sign around your neck saying “Liberty and Justice for All” or “Close Guantanamo

  • Join us in declaring your independence from oil – here are some ideas.

Pinwheels Blowing in the wind
Begin with a sheet of paper as wide as you want your fan to be and about 1 1/2 times as long. Accordion-fold the paper.
Hold the folded paper closed, and staple it in the center with the staple perpendicular to the folds. Cut a curved profile at each end.
Splay the fan so that the open edges of one side meet. Lay a thin line of craft glue along these edges. Press the glued edges together, and secure with a paper clip until the glue dries. You will now have a partially opened fan. Glue a thin strip of wood, such as a wooden coffee stirrer, to each side of the open V. If you want to keep the fan permanently open, tie the handle sticks together with colored twine. 

Pretty Pink Slip Garland How-To
Trace or draw desired design across full width of a package of folded tissue paper; pink tissue paper is perfect for pink slips. Cut along the outline, leaving a bit of uncut fold at both sides so figures connect to one another. You'll end up with several strings of five or six shapes each; tape together for a garland.   


Martha Stewart's Patriotic Cupcakes
decorated CODEPINK style.
Fabulous to take to the neighbors BBQ.
You'll need:
3  cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1  teaspoon baking powder
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2  cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2  cups sugar
5  large eggs
2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1  cup buttermilk
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Pink dessert toppings
- Heat to 325° with rack in center. Line muffin pans with baking cups; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. 
- In the bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With mixer running, add eggs and vanilla extract; beat until combined. 
- With mixer on low speed, add 1 cup flour mixture; mix until combined. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk; combine. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with flour, until all has been incorporated. 
- Divide batter evenly among baking cups. Bake until light golden brown and a cake tester inserted into middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate pans half way through baking. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool. 
- To decorate, place each color of sprinkles in its own small bowl. Frost each cupcake with about 3 tablespoons Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Gently press each frosted cupcake into sprinkles; rolling around so entire surface is coated. Arrange picnic party picks as desired. 

CODEPINK Grapefruit "Margaritas" - Serves 6
This nonalcoholic pink drink is a great treat for children during festive occasions. To spice it up for adults add your favorite tequila. Sanding sugar is a large-grain decorative sugar; granulated sugar may be substituted.
2 tablespoons colored sanding sugar
1 lime
6 teaspoons pomegranate syrup or grenadine
1 1/2 cups pink grapefruit juice 
- Place sanding sugar in a shallow dish or plate. Slice six thin rounds from the middle of lime; set aside. Rub lime wedge around rims of six glasses; dip each rim in sugar to coat. Pour 1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup into bottom of each glass. 
- Place grapefruit juice and 2 cups ice cubes in a blender. Process on high speed until ice is crushed. Pour frozen mixture into glasses, and stir to combine with syrup. Garnish with reserved lime rounds, and serve immediately.  
Cherry Bombs Not Real Bombs - Serves 6
1 cup grenadine
1 liter clear citrus soda or seltzer
18 maraschino cherries

- Place 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add grenadine; stir to combine. Pour mixture into two ice-cube trays. Freeze until solid, 2 hours or overnight.
- Fill six glasses with grenadine ice cubes. Top with soda. Garnish with cherries, and serve.

Action To Honor American Values on Independence Day

Fourth of July Talking Points by John Nichols