In a time in America’s history where there are record job losses, home foreclosures, and bankruptcies, oil companies are earning record profits. Gas prices have soared. The skyrocketing gas prices have had an impact on the prices of other products including but not limited to food. In response to questions being raised about the necessity of oil company subsides, the former CEO of Shell Oil, John Hoffmeister, recently said,
“Big Oil doesn’t need subsidies in the face of sustained high oil prices.”[i]
The largest oil companies, between 2005 and 2009, have made a combined 485
billion dollars in profits. That’s almost half a Trillion dollars.”[ii]
“While the U.S. House of Representatives was working on a stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown, House Democrats offered a motion that would have taken away tax subsidies from the five largest oil companies, saving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. The motion was defeated with every Republican voting against it.”[iii]This
will blog post discuss the importance of Congress taking a close look at its
mandate to serve the public good.
When looking at the federal budget proposals coming out of the House of Representatives cutting programs for indigent infants, children, youth, the elderly, and students while maintaining tax breaks for the most able to pay taxes (i.e. corporations and affluent persons), it makes one wonder whether or not the government is operating in keeping with the public good. The importance of this question is highlighted when looking at
the big oil company subsides in a period of budget crisis.
The high cost of gas has caused many drivers to utilize alternative modes of transportation for travel to and from work. Where possible, some former personal car drivers have elected to utilize public transportation, scooter, or a bicycle to travel to work. The afore-referenced alternative modes of traveling to and from work for some drivers simply are not viable. There are many portions of the country where public transportation is not available for traveling to and from work. Like public transportation, a scooter
or bicycle are not viable options for traveling to work for many workers. For these
drivers, the high cost of gas has caused them to have to cut other portions of
their personal budgets in order to continue work. Personal car drivers have been reported cutting their food, utilities, entertainment (cable, Netflix, movies), and vacation
travel budget items in order to be able to travel to their places of employment.
Voters are calling out to their elected officials in Washington, DC for “shared sacrifice” when looking at the federal budget. Voters are telephoning, emailing, faxing their elected officials in Washington, DC, to request that Congress cut the multi-billion dollar subsides to oil companies. Like the hard working citizen’s in the United States, many voters
assert that corporations and wealthy Americans must pay their fair share of the
In May of this year, President Obama heard the voters’ cries for shared sacrifice and urged Congress to take immediate action to eliminate the oil company subsides and use the dollars to invest in clean energy[iv]. Congressman John Boehner is reported to having said to ABC News that, “cutting the subsidies to oil companies is certainly something we should be looking at.”[v] “We are in at time when the federal government short on revenues. We need to control spending, but we need to have revenues to get the government moving,”[vi] Boehner said. Boehner went on to say that, “They ought to be paying their fair share.”[vii]
Last month, the President sent a letter to Congressional Leaders, saying he was heartened by House Speaker John Boehner’s statement that he was willing to consider cutting multibillion dollar subsidies to oil companies, and urging lawmakers to act.[viii]
We, as a nation, cannot address our long-standing fiscal challenges by cutting very necessary programs and services for the most vulnerable members of our state such as WIC, SNAP, Medicare, and Medicaid while corporations receive tax breaks. Instead of cutting necessary program and services, we must raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest members of society. There must be shared sacrifice.
If the federal budget crisis is important to you, it is imperative that you let your elected officials know your position on this issue. To find the name and contact information for your: US Senator, you can visit the Senate Information website at w.senate.gov/…/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm;
and for the House of Representatives you can visit this website www.writerep.house.gov. Get involved in the federal budget process.
Sources: www.chattanooga.com “Republicans Chose To Keep Big Oil Subsidies, Costing Americans Billions Of Dollars”, March 2, 2011. www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/obama-urges-congress. Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art.
“…Mihajlov’s first freedoms–speech, thought, press, assembly, association, philosophical,
political & religious persuasion–remain a world- wide challenge. Can the quest for global democracy & basic human rights & freedoms be realized?”—HigherEd.com.
All friends, colleagues, students, and admirers of Mihajlo Mihajlov are
cordially invited to participate in a re-assessment of his life, work, and
legacy whose significance reaches well beyond Tito’s Yugoslavia, the Balkans,
and Eastern Europe. Mihajlov’s quest for democracy and human rights is an
inspiration for all who strive for an open society, pluralism, and tolerance.
An indefatigable human rights champion, Mihajlov’s example contributed to the
rise of dissent, civic culture, and civil society which ushered in momentous
changes culminating in the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe and the demise
of Soviet rule. Mihajlov’s first freedoms–speech, thought, press, assembly,
association, philosophical, political and religious persuasion–remain a
continuing challenge, East and West, North and South. Curiously, Mihajlov’s
thought offers a conceptual bridge between Westernizers and Slavophiles, while
his universalism helped him befriend dissidents of all ethnic groups. Indeed,
Mihajlov’s was a universal message of individual freedom and social justice.
His undogmatic spirituality and central conception of human dignity drew on
Russian religious philosophy. The question arises: Can the quest for global
democracy and basic human rights and freedoms be realized in a world of
competing socio-economic, political, and ethno-national interests and
ideologies? Can equality be reconciled with liberty? And, can science and
technology be harnessed to serve, rather than enslave, humanity? –Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
Keynote: ”Mihajlo Mihajlov: Homeland Is Freedom”. Maria M. Ivusic, Washington (Mihajlo’s Sister & Translator).
Symposium Venue: FREEDOMS is co-sponsored by IIR-ICSA-JIS in the City of the Roses–the world-famous Tournament of Roses, in sunny Southern California, with many cultural/sightseeing opportunities.
Date: August 4-7, 2011.
Abstracts: Send Abstracts (250 words) to: c/o Dr. O. Gruenwald, JIS Editor, 1065 Pine Bluff Dr., Pasadena, CA 91107, USA. Please remember to include:Title, First & Last Name, faculty or student, mailing address, phone & email. Publication: Fully-developed papers will be considered for publication in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies XXIV 2012.
Conference Website: www.JIS3.org/symposium2011.htm
Registration & Cost: Symposium participants must preregister: $75 by 15 April 2011; $100 after 15 April 2011; $150 after 1 June 2011.
Host:Institute for Interdisciplinary Research & International Christian Studies Association.
Photocredit: Microsoft Clip Art
Former skinhead, Byron Widner, illustrated his hate through a series of derogatory tattoos all over his body. However, with the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), he was able to “leave the white power movement” and get rid of his inked imprints as said by the SPLC. The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout theUnited States as well as exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public.
To watch Byron Widner’s entire story of redemption, please tune into MSNBC this Sunday at 9:00 PM(EDT) for the documentary, “Erasing Hate.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this film will provide viewers with an account of “his life within the white power movement, the decision that led him and his wife to leave it, and the procedures he received.”
Research indicates that thousands of people every year are victims of hate crime. For every reported case of hate violence, there are countless unreported incidents of hate based violence. The hate crime phenomenon presents complex and agonizing problems to communities nationwide. The problem has become more visible as federal and state officials increasingly track hate violence.
American communities have learned that failure to address bias crimes can cause an isolated incident to result in widespread tension. Hate crimes are unique because they have a special emotional and physical impact that extends beyond the original victim. Bias crimes intimidate others in the victim’s community, causing them to feel isolated, vulnerable, and unprotected by the legal system. By making members of a specific group fearful, angry and suspicious, these crimes polarize cities and damage the very fabric of our society.
While hate violence makes headlines, the positive actions of people across the country are creating a different story. These people include but are not limited to a movement called Not In Our Town. Like other groups battling hate based violence, Not In Our Town highlights communities working together to stop hate. Not In Our Town videos and broadcasts highlight and celebrate people who have developed creative anti-bias programs and responses. The stories chronicled by Not In Our Town have served to motivate many others to develop their own innovative initiatives which overpower the hateful actions and voices in their communities.
The non-profit sector offers information, education, and activism against hate violence. This list contains a few of the organizations that offer resources or help communities respond to hate activities. Many of the national organizations have local chapters. A brief list of national organizations battling hate based include but is not limited to:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Combats media stereotyping, defamation, and discrimination against Americans of Arab descent through legal action and education.
American Jewish Committee
Published, What to Do When the Militia Comes to Town
Combats anti-semitism and racial supremacist ideology, published Hate Crimes Laws: A Comprehensive Guide.
Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Community education, legal counseling and advocacy on behalf of victims of anti-Asian violence.
Center For Democratic Renewal
Published When Hate Groups Come to Town: A Handbook of Effective Community Responses.
Center for New Community
Publishes special reports on anti-immigrant groups.
Choosing to Participate
Traveling exhibition featuring events in time when individuals and communities made decisions affecting the course of history.
Points of Light Foundation
Sponsors national “Join Hands Day”
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Published, Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the Muslim Community.
Combats racisms and fights for civil rights.
National Council of Churches
Organized nationally to rebuild burnt churches in 1996.
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Fights hate crime; monitors attacks on civil liberties.
The National Urban League
Increasing civil rights, educational and financial opportunities for African Americans through programs and research.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Support for families of Gays and Lesbians with hundreds of local chapters.
Political Research Associates
Think-tank monitoring the full spectrum of hate organizations.
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Legal assistance and educational outreach for Sikh Americans. Civil rights advocacy.
Southern Poverty Law Center
Reports on hate crime and advances the legal rights of victims of injustice. Home of Klanwatch.)
Helps communities and organizations begin small democratic, discussion groups that can make significant progress on difficult issues including race.)
100 Black Men of America
Helps young African Americans to overcome financial and cultural obstacles through mentoring, anti-violence, education and economic development programs.
Source(s): Southern Poverty Law Center; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; American Jewish Committee; Anti-Defamation League; Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund; Center For Democratic Renewal; Not In Our Town; Center for New Community; Choosing to Participate; Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); NAACP; National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; The National Urban League; Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Study Circles Resource Center; 100 Black Men of America.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Date: August 14-17, 2011
Venue: Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Marriott Marquis Hotels
The conference organizers are committed to ensuring that this conference contributes to achieving the three primary goals defined in the plan:
- Reducing the number of people who become infected with HIV;
- Increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV; and
- Reducing HIV-related health disparities. –2011 NHPC
Source Website: http://www.2011nhpc.org/home.asp
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives proposed cuts to the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition and health program (WIC). WIC provides much needed health care and nutrition support for some of our most vulnerable families, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, and children under five.
Hunger in America is prevalent. Hunger poses a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of an ever increasing number of infants and children. According to the WIC website, “…[when] WIC was permanently authorized, 88,000 people participated. By 1980, participation was at 1.9 million; by 1985, 3.1 million; by 1990, 4.5 million; and by 2000, 7.2 million. Average monthly participation for FY 2008 was approximately 8.7 million. Children have always been the largest category of WIC participants. Of the 8.7 million people who received WIC benefits each month in FY 2008, approximately 4.33 million were children, 2.22 million were infants, and 2.15 million were women.”[i]
Estimates from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that funding WIC at the US House proposed low level would result in eliminating 200,000 to 350,000 eligible low-income women and young children from WIC next year.[ii] It is a well known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children thus highlighting the need for continued funding for feeding programs such as WIC.
On May 31, 2011, in response to the devastating funding cuts proposed by House Republicans, U.S. Rep. George Miller(D-CA), senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement regarding the proposed cuts to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).[iii] These cuts further the attack on poor and working class Americans outlined in the FY12 Republican budget which proposes to severely cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, by $127 billion over ten years. [iv]
“House Republicans are trying to deny low-income mothers access to healthy food options. Their priorities are sorely misplaced. They push for tax cuts for big oil companies and threaten families with the greatest needs in this economy. If children don’t develop healthy habits early, if they don’t have enough food, they can struggle in the classroom and in life.
“Just a short time ago, President Obama signed into law transformational legislation that will dramatically improve school meals and other child nutrition programs. We came together in a bipartisan way to pass this legislation, to reduce hunger and improve the meals our children eat in and out of school. And now, the House Republicans would reverse the progress made and threaten the mothers, families and children who rely on WIC on a daily basis.
“It is absolutely necessary to take a long hard look at government spending to avoid wasting any taxpayers’ dollars, but time and time again, Republicans wrongfully make their cuts on the backs of poor and working class Americans.”[v] For more information on WIC, visit the WIC website at www.fns.usda.gov.
Sources: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Voices for America’s Children’s Action Alert. WIC’s website. U.S. Rep. George Miller(D-CA)’s website where he released his statement on the proposed WIC Cuts in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Last week, the House-proposed cuts to the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition and
health program (WIC). WIC provides health care and nutrition support for some
of our most vulnerable families, including pregnant or breastfeeding women,
infants, and children under five.
According to the WIC website, “…WIC was permanently authorized, 88,000 people participated. By 1980, participation was at 1.9 million; by 1985, 3.1 million; by 1990, 4.5 million; and by 2000, 7.2 million. Average monthly participation for FY 2008 was approximately 8.7 million. Children have always been the largest category of WIC participants. Of the 8.7 million people who received WIC benefits each month in FY 2008, approximately 4.33 million were children, 2.22 million were infants, and 2.15
million were women.”
Food security is necessary to lead a productive, healthy, and active life. It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well kept secret.
When examining the prevalence of childhood hunger in America, the need for food programs is highlighted. Approximately, one in four children in America is food insecure.iii As is aptly stated in the materials by Share Our Strength ii “No Hungry Kid”, “…their bodies may not be rail thin, nor their bellies bloated like their counterparts in other countries, but they’re at risk of hunger all the same. They lack the energy to learn, grow, and thrive.” It is a well known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children.
Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United States:
- According to the USDA, over 17 million children lived in food insecure (low food
security and very low food security) households in 2009. iii 20% or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. The states of Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas (24.3 percent) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. (Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iv In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (21.3 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.6 percent) or single men (27.8 percent), Black
non-Hispanic households (24.9 percent) and Hispanic households (26.9
The cuts on the table would leave up to 350,000 without aid. Some member of Congress will say there simply is not money in the budget to help these families. But just pennies on the dollar from tax cuts for the rich would provide young children and mothers with the supplemental nutrition and health care that they need. If this issue is important to you contact your members of Congress.
Sources: WIC website. Voice for America’s Children. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Feeding America (online); Rhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010; Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 and 2009; Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008; www.share.org; www.feedamerica.org; www.nokidhungry.org; and Food Research and Action Center.
Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art
iiIn 1984, Share Our Strength, was started by the brother and sister team of Bill and Debbie Shore started the organization with the belief that everyone has strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, and that in these shared strengths lie
iiiRhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.
ivNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States,
vCook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008. Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.
viVoices for America’s Children.
Mary Johnson, mother of a murder victim, demonstrates how a mother’s love can endure formidable challenges. This is the second of a four part series on the death penalty. When preparing to write about the death penalty, I read various articles on the topic and conducted interviews of persons on both sides of the issue.
While doing my research, I was afforded the opportunity to speak with a woman whose brother is on death row for a murder. It was a rare opportunity for me to speak with someone that close to an issue of this magnitude. In speaking with her, I had an opportunity to learn about the devastating effects that a death row sentence has not simply on the accused but on the family of the accused as well. In this case, the accused vehemently asserts that he did not commit the crime that he was convicted of committing. In fact, there is very compelling evidence that he did not commit the crime. This case has been appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Because the wheels of justice turn very slowly, he has been on death row for over two decades. What a horrible state of being—you know that you are innocent. Yet, you are trapped behind prison walls awaiting your execution date. It was clear in speaking with the family that the day that the accused was convicted of murder and given a death sentence that a part of the family died.
In order to capture the varied perspectives on this very controversial topic, I sought
to interview opponents and proponents of the death penalty. While conducting my
research on the death penalty, a friend emailed me an interview conducted on National Public Radio (NPR) of a woman whose son was murdered. The young man convicted of killing her son was not sentenced to death. Instead, the murderer spent many years in prison and has been released. NPR interviewed the mother of the murder victim as well as the person that committed the murder.[i]
The mother of the murder victim is Mary Johnson. The man that murdered her son is
Oshea Israel. Unlike many murder stories, this is a tale about redemption and should be heard by all. In listening to the story which was aired by National Public Radio, like me, you will learn that Ms. Johnson not only harbors no resentment toward, her son’s murderer, Oshea Israel, to the contrary Mary hopes that Oshea lives a happy, healthy, and productive life. The NPR interview closes with Mary and Oshea expressing their love for one another much like you would hear from a mother and her son. The forgiveness that Mary demonstrates for her son’s murderer and the faith that she demonstrates in Oshea’s ability to make the remainder of his life a success is truly remarkable.
In this murder case, there is no doubt that Oshea Israel took the life of Ms. Johnson’s son. Despite the devastating loss of her son to a senseless murder, Ms. Johnson is not crying out to the criminal system to have, Oshea Israel, the murderer, put to death.
On the contrary, Mary wishes that Oshea Israel lives a happy, healthy, and productive life near her so that she can share in his successes. This extraordinary story can be found be on National Public Radio’s website and is dated May 20, 2011. This remarkable story reported by National Public Radio is entitled, “Forgiving Her Son’s Killer: Not An Easy Thing”.
It is my hope that this series on the death penalty will generate thoughtful conversations about this topic. Toward that goal, in my last two posts on this topic, I will examine:
(1) whether or not capital punishment accomplishes its stated goals; and (2) public opinions on the death penalty.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Sources: “Forgiving Her Son’s Killer: Not An Easy Thing”, National Public Radio, by NPR Staff, May 20, 2011.
[i] “Forgiving Her Son’s Killer: Not An Easy Thing”, National Public Radio, by NPR Staff, May 20, 2011.
Many Americans assume that paid sick leave is a standard practice for all employers in our country. This simply is not the case. Research indicates that fifty million workers in
America lack paid sick days.[i] In workplaces with fewer than 100 employees, nearly 50 percent of the employees do not have access to that benefit.[ii] As a result, when these employees experience an illness they are faced with the unenviable choice of either missing a work and pay or coming to work sick. When facing that dismal choice, far too often, sick workers feel compelled to report to their place of employment or risk loosing their job. A sick worker poses not only further health risks for him/herself but also to their coworkers and their customers. To address the absence of paid sick days for
hourly workers several states have passed legislation regarding paid employee sick
Most recently, Connecticut passed legislation regarding paid employee sick leave. In Connecticut, this legislative measure covers only service workers who receive an hourly wage. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 workers including but not limited to: waiters, cashiers, fast-food cooks, hair stylists, security guards and nursing home aides are without paid sick leave.[iii] This legislation allows each employee to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, with the number of days capped at five per year. [iv]
Regarding this new legislation, Governor Malloy of Connecticut said, “This is good public policy and specifically, good public health. Governor Malloy went on to say, “Why would you want to eat food from a sick restaurant cook? Or have your children taken care of by a sick day care worker? The simple answer is —you wouldn’t. And now, you won’t have to.”[v] The sick leave bill applies simply to businesses with 50 or more employees.[vi]
This piece of legislation exempts manufacturing companies and nationally chartered nonprofit organizations, day laborers, independent contractors and temporary workers. [vii] Gov. Malloy campaigned on this issue and is expected to sign this bill into law perhaps as early as sometime this month. Once this piece of legislation is signed by the governor, this would make Connecticut the first state in the country to require large
employers to provide their employees with paid sick days.[viii]
Sources: “Sick and Tired of No Health Care”, Greg Kaufman, NPR, April 6, 2010. “In Connecticut, Paid Sick Leave For Service Workers Is Approved”, New York Times, Peter Applebome, June 4, 2011. “Paid Sick Leave: Cities, States Putting Mandates On Employers”, Huffington Post, Dave Jameison, June 6, 2011.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
“Sick and Tired of No Health Care”, Greg Kaufman, NPR, April 6, 2010.
[ii] “Sick and Tired of No Health Care”, Greg Kaufman, NPR, April 6, 2010.
[viii] “Paid Sick Leave: Cities, States Putting Mandates On Employers”, Huffington Post, Dave Jameison, June 6, 2011.