Category Archives: Social Justice
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are solely the opinions of the author. They do not represent any organization, including UMCD, MDP, DNC, DCCC, DSCC, OFA, or the people at the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop and their Macklemore parody advertisement.
+ Breaking News: The Vagina Monologues is coming to campus!
+ Helene Gayle, president of CARE USA, spoke yesterday at the Ford School about the challenges of non-profit organizations, additionally how to pick the best lawn gnome. One of those may not be completely accurate.
+ The Month of Entrepreneurship is still going strong. Someone tried to sell me a back scratcher, pizza cutter, and I think even a cardboard box at one point. The Michigan Difference.
+ OK, this one is seriously cool and everyone should see it, because I’ve been serving as the authority of cool things since never. There is a documentary called “Shenandoah” which is about our struggles as an immigrant nation using the example of an undocumented person who died in 2008 in an act of racism. Go see it at the Michigan Theater on the 27th!
+ Dems and CTE’s own Kevin Mersol-Barg discusses in a well-written article why Order of Angell is lame and should’ve been left in the dust years ago with its offensive Native American artifacts. Also, elitism is bad.
+ Crime Notes: Parts of a door were missing from a room. There are no suspects.
+ Kick-Ass Thursday is on the 20/20 Education Plan and will be featuring President of the State Board of Education John Austin, who will discuss educational and economic policy! It is tonight at 8:00 PM in the Parker Room of the Michigan Union.
+ Want to write semi-witty e-mails like these? Or do you like blogging? Or designing things? Then join ThoughtfulDems, which meets every Wednesday at 8 PM on theRed Couches on the fourth floor of the Michigan Union!
The Justice Department has filed a challenge to the Texas voter ID law on the grounds that the state of Texas failed to prove that the law is not discriminatory against Hispanic voters. Texas Secretary of State, Hope Andrade, said that it was “extremely disappointing” to hear that the Justice Department was actually going to do its job by objecting to this discriminatory law. The new photo ID requirement would affect about 11% of Hispanic voters who do not have a state-issued ID and thus, under the new law, would be unable to vote. Although backers of the law claim it is simply meant to discourage ineligible individuals from voting, the state failed to show how this new law would address “significant in-person voter impersonation” in a way that is not already covered by the laws currently on the books.
“If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I would make you very proud.”
-University of Iowa Student Zach Wahls, discussing the normalcy of his upbringing by two same-sex parents in a speech given to the Iowa House of Representatives. Despite the moving remarks, the legislature voted 62-37 to overturn the state’s civil union policy.
This week in Afghanistan, the parliament passed a set of laws “to give the minority Shia community their own identity.” However, as a female member of parliament stated, “In Afghanistan, the sacrifice in the political game is women and children.”
The most controversial of the laws that infringe on women’s rights is the fact that men can now have sex with their wives even when they say “no,” which constitutes as rape in marriage.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai stated that the conerns shown from Western countries concerning the issue were due to “inappropriate, not-so-good translation of the law, or misinterpretation.” After the passage of this law, Afghan women expressed concern that their new rights could be taken away slowly by the government. Since the Taliban regime ended, women have been able to gain some rights, namely that they are not forced to wear a burqa anymore. However, this law starts to undermine the limited freedom women have received in the past few years.
Both President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were quoted as expressing severe distate for the law, calling it “abhorrent.” Hopefully Western pressure will force them to withdraw the law, however, the “conservative legislators [in Afghanistan] are pushing back any progress made for women’s rights.”
In all but two states, keeping female prisoners shackled to beds and administering minimal anesthesia is common practice. Their legs are shackled either together or to the bed, complicating the delicate task of delivery and putting the health of the women and their infants at risk. When challenged, prisons often cite security reasons for the procedure. According to this article from 2006, however, there have been no reported cases of women attempting to escape during labor.
The article goes on to describe a young womanâ€™s experience:
â€œThe experience of giving birth without anesthesia while largely immobilized has left her with lasting back pain and damage to her sciatic nerveâ€¦â€
Two points to keep in mind:
1. Not everyone in prison is there for committing a violent crime.
2. Realistically, what are the odds that a woman will actually leap from her bed while passing a human through her birth canal, bypass doctors, nurses and guards, and escape in her getaway vehicle?
So far, itâ€™s only been outlawed in California and Illinois.
How sad for humanity that such a barbaric practice even has to be explicitly banned.
I have another Congressional bill that I would like Dems to contact their Senators and Representatives for.Â
The bill is the Medicare Patient IVIG Access Act, or Senate Bill S. 701. An identical bill is supposed to be introduced in the House by the end of this month. The Senators and Representatives need to be contacted on how important this bill is, and I am asking for your help.Â
IVIG is the expensive treatment used to treat people with Primary Immune Deficiency Diseases. With this treatment, Primary Immune Deficients are able to lead healthy, normal lives, and live to a normal age for an American; without it, however, patients are guaranteed to die. (more…)
There was a huge breakthrough in health insurance today. The groups America’s Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association announced that they would “phase out the practice of varying premiums based on health status in the individual market.” What this means is that two of the largest insurance groups in the country will stop charging higher rates for individuals with a history of severe health problems.
This is great news for people who do not get insurance through their employers. Many of the uninsured in the United States are those who do not get insurance as a work benefit and cannot afford to purchase it on their own. For those people who do have a history of health problems, they will no longer have to pay the higher premiums they pay now, which makes the insurance more “affordable,” although I will use the term “affordable” loosely. It is a step toward the end of what I believe is an injustice in the American private health insurance system and these two companies will start treating individuals equally.Â
There is a bigger implication to the announcement though. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D, NM) said it shows that “insurance companies are open to major insurance reform, and are even willing to accept broad consumer protections…. It represents a shift from where the industry was in the 1990s.” The willingness to reform is excellent, as one of Obama’s upcoming priorities is the problem of health insurance. According to the article, the insurance companies took this step to make their coverage more affordable and prevent the creation of a competing government plan.Â
While this is a huge step towards “affordable” insurance, there are still large hurdles ahead. The companies said they will still charge varying rates based on age, family size, and place of residence, among others. The companies are only going to phase out the medical history practice. The other hurdle is that the companies are only going to stop charging varying rates for medical history in individuals. Employers – most importantly small business owners – will still have to pay higher rates for the long-term medical problems that their employees or employees’ families have. There is hope in the future though for lower rates for small business owners. The article quoted Karen Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans group, as saying, “We are in the process of talking with small-business folks across the country…. We are well on the way to proposing a series of strategies that could be implemented for them.”
The two insurance groups have taken a huge first step toward affordable insurance where all individuals are treated equally. While the measures affect only a small percentage of health insurance purchasers, it is a huge breakthrough in health insurance policy. It may be one of the most influential breakthroughs made, since it might hopefully start a trend among all insurance groups. Equal, affordable health insurance is one of the main reasons I’m a Democrat, and I’m glad to see that steps towards creating that are finally being taken.
Attorney General, Eric Holder.
If there is one speech I can hardly believe I missed, it is Attorney General Eric Holder’s blunt, yet very astute, speech last month on race. In an almost mild-mannered way, Holder clearly emphasized the lack of dialogue between ethnic groups.Â This speech, however, has been criticized for being “needlessly provocative.” Unfortunately many media sources and bloggers have latched onto Holder’s claim that we are a “nation of cowards” on race and ignored the meaning of the speech.
Today, IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn addressed the global implications of the world financial crisis at a conference in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.Â Strauss-Kahn predicted a severe global recession that would disproportionately affect the world’s poor.Â In sub-Saharan Africa, the IMF predicted that economic growth will slow to 3 percent.Â With the Africa’s population continuing to grow at a rate of approximately 2.4 percent, it would take 118 years for economic output to double at a growth rate of 3 percent.Â Such slow growth is likely to unlikely to raise living standards and could cause the continent to fall farther behind in meeting IMF and UN poverty targets.Â Strauss-Kahn warned today that the situation for Africa was quite bleak:
“Even though the crisis has been slow in reaching Africa’s shores, we all know it is coming and its impact will be severe.Â We must ensure that the voice of the poor are heard. We must ensure that Africa is not left out.”
While he posits that the voice of the global south must be heard, only one country from sub-saharan Africa (South Africa) will be present at the G20 talks scheduled to begin April 2nd in London.Â At the conference, wealthy, developed countries will convene to discuss solutions to the financial crisis, including ways to help undeveloped nations through the crisis.
Today the International Criminal Courts (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, President of Sudan, for crimes related to Darfur.The indictment did not include genocide but did list murder, rape, forcible transfer, torture, pillaging, attacks on civilians, and extermination. It is possible that genocide could be added to the charges if more evidence becomes available.Â The move is largely just symbolic since Sudan is refusing to give up Al-Bashir and the courts authority is quite limited. Since the inception of the ICC in 2002, the court has only pursued cases in Africa and has only just began its first trial in January against former Congolese Warlord Thomas Lubanga. Â Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be charged by the ICC and while he may not be standing trial anytime soon some hope that the case will change the dynamics of Sudanese politics. Chris Hall of Amnesty International said,
“You have a President of your country who is subject to an international arrest warrant, a fugitive from justice, and the implications for the country will be enormous. My guess is that there will be some very serious thinking among the senior members of the Cabinet about whether Sudan would be better off enforcing the arrest warrant.”
It will be interesting to see if the action by the ICC causes any noticeable difference to the millions of displaced people and those still in the Darfur region of Sudan. While it would be nice to see Sudan turn over a new left, I think it is far more likely that this move by the ICC and through association the UN will cause an escalation in the violence in the region.