Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vatican pre-rejects any Pro-Choice Ambassadors

Reportedly President Obama had three potential candidates to the U.S. ambassador post to the Vatican, one of whom he was considering, Caroline Kennedy.

But its now reported in U.K. newspapers that the Vatican sources would block any appointment that is pro-choice.

Since when does a person personal stance on reproductive rights make them ineligible for an ambassador position? Especially since the ambassador is there to represent the president, not themselves. And when we do allow the Vatican, or any foreign nation, to dictate who our representative should be and what their own personal political stances are.

Last week the Raymond Flynn, a former US ambassador to the Vatican, announced his opposition to Kennedy based on her pro-choice stance.
"It's imperative, it's essential that the person who represents us to the Holy See be a person who has pro-life values. I hope the President doesn't make that mistake," he told the Boston Herald. "She said she was pro-choice. I don't assume she's going to change that, which is problematic."
And for our part we hope President Obama doesn’t kowtow to this sudden demand that our ambassador’s pass some new litmus test.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The U.S. is Leaving Iraq but Where Are We Leaving Iraqi Women?

By Yifat Susskind

If you haven’t thought about the Iraq War as a story of U.S. allies systematically torturing and executing women, you’re not alone. Likewise, if you were under the impression that Iraqi women were somehow better off under their new, U.S.-sponsored government.

In the spring of 2003, Fatin was a student of architecture at Baghdad University. Her days were filled with classes and hanging out in her favorite of Baghdad’s many cafes, where she and her friends studied, shared music, and spun big plans for successful careers, happy marriages, and eventually, kids.

Today, Fatin says that those feel like someone else’s dreams.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Children are Victims of Prostitution, Not Criminals

By Anne Harper

Like most parents of girls, I have had the good fortune to have pretty well-behaved daughters who finished high school and entered promising career paths. But some families are not so lucky.

Their teens may be struggling with a host of problems from learning disabilities to drug dependency. Recently we have discovered some more extreme problems: as many as 300 girls are sexually exploited commercially in Georgia each month --at escort services, hotels, online and on the streets -- according to recent results of an independent tracking study. That is more than twice the number of girls who die in car accidents in a year in our state.


Friday, March 06, 2009

High Cost Lenders Profit from Desperate Times

By Rebecca Lightsey

As more businesses close and unemployment lines lengthen, a virtually unregulated sector of the Texas economy continues to rake in huge profits by providing high-cost payday and auto title loan services that often drag desperate families deeper into financial crisis.

A Texas-based provider of such loans recently reported record-breaking annual revenues topping $1 billion and a net income of $81 million.

So how do small-dollar loan companies make this kind of profit in the middle of the nation’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Virginia Should Opt Out on ‘Choose Life’ License Plates

By Jessica Bearden

During the recently concluded legislative session, the General Assembly passed a bill to authorize “Choose Life” license plates that now awaits consideration by Governor Kaine. Funds generated from the plates will be distributed to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.”

There are over 70 crisis pregnancy centers in Virginia, and you’ve most likely seen their advertisements—billboards that read “Pregnant? Scared? We can help.” Many people mistakenly believe that these centers do nothing more than provide materials and support to women who have made the decision to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term.


All the Right Turns

By Kathleen Rogers

In today’s confusing and disheartening economic landscape, it’s more important than ever to navigate carefully -- and make the right turns. At least, that’s what shipping giant UPS is doing. After implementing a “right turn” strategy (taking more right turns than left to avoid idling in left turn lanes) UPS has saved over 30 million miles of driving -- including three million gallons of fuel and $600 million dollars a year from the change -- not to mention countless tons of carbon emissions. The rest of us can learn from this strategy and start our own “right turn” campaign.

UPS, however, isn’t the only big green giant: Wal-Mart, the second largest procurer of energy only to the U.S. government, has made a pledge to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy; to create zero waste; and to sell greener products. The retailer is also building skylight/dimming system into its new stores. As daylight increases, skylights allow Wal-Mart to dim the lights or even turn them off, thereby reducing the demand for electricity during peak hours. This system results in an annual savings of about 250 million kwh a year, enough to power approximately 23,000 homes. Corporations like Hewlett Packard, Toyota, and even British Petroleum have taken steps toward greening their production. And J.P. Morgan Chase is investing $2 billion of its own capital to fund renewable energy projects such as wind farms and solar in 17 states. Chase believes an investment in renewable energy will help revitalize rural communities and by creating jobs and increasing the local tax base. More and more, companies are finding that simple green solutions are attractive.


Hope in Unlikely Places: Citizen Solutions

By Eleanor LeCain

In his address to Congress, President Obama acknowledged that hope is found in unlikely places; now he can tap into people in those unlikely places to renew America.

People expect the president to solve an array of formidable challenges like creating good-paying jobs, providing health care, strengthening energy independence, and improving public schools.

Fortunately, the president can draw on the experience of the most accomplished Americans, not only the well-known wise men and women selected for the Cabinet, but regular people who solved these problems in their own communities.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is This the Plan to Save the Day?

By Dana Beasley Brown

As a mother, I’m fed up with the questionable choices made by the leaders who are entrusted to serve and protect their citizens. As a resident of Kentucky, I need to know that our leadership is willing to invest in the life that my son will have here. I need to know that when he’s old enough to go to school, he’ll have every opportunity to learn and succeed as well as his friends in Maryland and his cousins in California.

And I need to know that the air he breathes and the water he drinks is just as safe here as it is anyplace else and that he will experience a community in which people are treated fairly and justly.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Our Social Safety Needs Mending

By Irasema Garza

The current government social safety net that was built for a growing economy has stretched to its breaking point.

While Congress has acknowledged the dire circumstances working and middle-class families now face, little attention has been paid to those on the brink of the economic precipice: poor families facing the expiration of government assistance, with no jobs on the horizon and all avenues for help closing off.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Volunteer DTV Extension Wreaks Havoc

By Karen Toering

Do we love TV too much? Maybe.

But for nearly all American households, television provides more than mindless entertainment. It's also our most important lifeline for news and information.

According to Nielsen Media Research, 98.6 percent of American households have at least one TV set. And a Project for Excellence in Journalism study shows that more of us get our picture of the world from local TV news than from any other single source.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Health Care Reform Would Boost Economy

By Heidi Topp Brooks and Lydia Pendley

This year's multi-billion dollar bailouts of the banking and auto industry were meant to give the impression that these huge infusions of cash would buoy the economy and result in better circumstances for all. But many of us were left wondering where exactly those hundreds of billions of dollars would go and how exactly that would translate into improved conditions for regular Americans and New Mexicans.


Monday, February 02, 2009

State of Mississippi's Children

By Rhea Bishop

Mississippi is once again failing its children.

The Children’s Defense Fund’s recently released State of America’s Children 2008 report highlights how far we have to go in Mississippi to protect our children. Even in the midst of the current economic downturn, Mississippi must continue to invest in our children if we are ever to move up from the bottom of the nation’s economic ladder.

Here’s what we learned in the report:


Friday, January 30, 2009

Investing in Our Human Infrastructure

By Riane Eisler

Over half a million people lost their jobs last month. There’s no question we need a job-creation plan. The real question is what kind of plan will most quickly stimulate the economy and at the same time provide the best long-term investment for our nation.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Better Nutrition Equals Better Education

By Kathleen Rogers

Cafeteria food has always been the brunt of kids' jokes. Many of us remember the grilled cheese sandwich that stuck to the plate when you turned it upside down, and the egg soufflé that jiggled when you poked it. But even that is a far cry from what's served now.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Moving on to Common Ground

By Cristina Page

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Connecticut Catholic Conference announced its solution to the increasing rate of teenagers seeking abortion care in the state. They proposed abortion restrictions; specifically, limiting teenager's access to abortion by requiring parental notification. If the goal is lowering the abortion rate, this is the wrong approach.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ending Wage Discrimination

By Lisa Grafstein

In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision which changed the rules for determining how long an employee has to raise a claim of wage discrimination. The plaintiff in that case, Lilly Ledbetter, lost a claim for 18 years of discrimination, but has lent her name to a proposal which would correct the interpretation of federal law and allow victims of wage discrimination to recover a portion of what they have lost.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

English Only Amendment; How Not to Unite a Community

By Nancy Stetten

I have been a teacher all of my life. For a number of years I taught English to immigrants. I experienced firsthand the frustration of trying to communicate without a common language. I was always impressed though with how difficult it was for the adults to learn English, and how hard they struggled to master it to become better, more informed members of their communities.


Monday, January 05, 2009

To Achieve Change President-Elect Obama Needs to Bet on Women

By Linda Tarr-Whelan

President-elect Obama has now moved swiftly to name talented and creative people to Cabinet-level offices and the key members of the White House team. But a nagging thought keeps coming back to me: Why isn't he naming more women to bring our experience, creativity and energy to address the problems that face us?


Friday, January 02, 2009

Medicaid Reform: Yet Another Barrier To Care

By Toni Waters Woods

On Thanksgiving Day 2006, my father, James "Buzz" Waters, was waiting to be disenrolled from the Medicaid reform pilot program in Duval County so that a high-risk cardiologist in Alachua County would see him. Jacksonville cardiologists referred my father to the Alachua doctor because apparently there was not a high-risk cardiologist in the Duval County Medicaid reform program. This wait proved to be fatal.