Archive | May 2011

US Senate Rejects House Budget Plan

Last month, the US House of Representatives voted to pass the budget plan authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). On Wednesday, May 25, 2010, the United States’ Senate voted 57 to 40 against the Ryan Budget Plan. The Ryan Budget Plan would have turned Medicare into a voucher program. Under Representative Ryan’s Budget Plan, senior citizens would have to buy private insurance. As you could imagine, it may be difficult for an elderly person to identify an insurance company that would sell an insurance policy to them at a moderate price.

Members of both majority political parties rejected the Ryan Budget Plan. Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Scott Brown of Massachusetts voted with Democrats to reject the budget plan. Rand Paul (R-KY) also opposed the plan, calling for greater budget cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), stated that the Ryan Budget Plan “…would turn over seniors’ health to profit-hungry insurance companies. It would let bureaucrats decide what tests and treatments seniors get. And it would ask seniors to pay more for their health care in exchange for fewer benefits. That’s a bad deal all around.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated, “House and Senate Republicans are on record: they want to break the bedrock promise that this country made to our seniors-that after a lifetime of hard work, they would be able to depend on Medicare-at the same time that Republicans are giving tax breaks to Big Oil. On the other hand, Democrats are committed to preserving and strengthening Medicare while creating jobs, responsibly reducing the deficit, and growing our economy.”

Sources: “Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal blocked by Democrats, U.S. Senate”, The Capitol Column, Thursday, May 26, 2011, Column Staff Writer. “Harry Reid on NY Election: Voters Reject Republican Plan to Kill Medicare” The Capitol Column, Friday, May 26, 2011, Column Staff Writer. National Public Radio. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Memorial Day

Each year, on Memorial Day, we honor the lives of fallen U.S. soldiers. Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of the month of May which commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in military service. Initially, Memorial Day was enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. After World War I, the decision was made that the holiday would honor Americans who have died in all wars. This year, Memorial Day is celebrated on Monday, May 30, 2011.

As was aptly stated in the Washington Post, “…with a spring that brought news of international conflict, ongoing U.S. wars and the death of Osama bin Laden, the road to Memorial Day 2011 seems particularly hard-fought.” Research indicates that the lives of over four thousand lives US service persons have been lost as result of Operation Iraq Freedom and over sixteen hundred lives related to Operation Enduring Freedom. To get a better picture of the lives lost in Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, you can visit the Washington Post website. The portion of Washington Post website entitled “fallen” seeks to provide the publication’s readers with knowledge about the fallen soldiers such as their age, year of death, hometown, and military branch.

Sources: Washington Post.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2011

In December of 2010, the Senate voted unanimously to pass the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. This piece of legislation was sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the bill aimed to protect women and girls in developing countries from entering into child marriages. If the bill had passed, it would have required that the Department of State implement a multi-year plan to prevent child marriages in developing nations and promote the educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of girls and women. The act was not passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

UNICEF reports that over 60 percent of women were married prior to their 18th birthday in Sub-Saharan African and Bangladesh. Furthermore, the maternal mortality rate is five times higher for women under 16 years of age than those between 20 and 24. (UNICEF) When discussing this piece of legislation Senator Durbin stated, “Tens of millions of women and girls around the world have lost their dignity, independence and lives due to child marriage. Child marriage denies these women and girls of an education, economic independence and is the root cause of many of the world’s most pressing development issues – HIV/ AIDS, child mortality, and abject poverty.”

In February of 2011, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (S.414). As of February 28, 2011, the cosponsors for this piece of legislation were as follows: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Senator Scott Brown (R-MA); Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD); and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). In the continuing months, since the legislation was introduced, more members of the U.S. Senate have decided to cosponsor this piece of legislation.

The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2011 seeks to “…reduce maternal and child mortality, reduce maternal illness, halt the transmission of HIV/AIDS [and] prevent gender-based violence. The bill requires the President to establish a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage and authorizes the President to implement a variety of foreign assistance programs directed at the needs of girls including “access to water and suitable hygiene facilities . . . [and] access to health care services and proper nutrition for adolescent girls.” “The bill authorizes “such sums as necessary.”

Sources: The Library of Congress. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s US Global Policy Tracker. UNICEF. Senator Dick Durbin’s website.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

The Second International Conference on Violence Against Women

According to Conference Alerts, “The Second International Conference on Violence Against Women” organized by CRI-VIFF will offer an opportunity for dialogue, reflection, and debate on topics in three main categories: theoretical models, violences, and social responses.” The conference will be held from May 29th until June 1st of 2011 in Montreal, Quebec in Canada.

The CRI-VIFF is a unique partnership experience between universities, communities and institutions. All of CRI-VIFF activities are carried out via close collaborations between academics and community services. Currently, 49 researchers, 35 community services or program and policy making organizations are brought together in three research teams. In this perspective, the CRI-VIFF’s functional structure is based on parity between academics and partners (community, autonomous and institutional services). Administratively, CRI-VIFF is linked to Université Laval and Université de Montréal.

For additional information about the upcoming conference, please contact Natasha Dugal  or visit the event website. Source Information: CRI-VIFF website and Conference Alerts. Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Healthy Families Act of 2011 (H.R. 1876/S.984)

Last Thursday, the Healthy Families Act was reintroduced in both the U.S. House and the Senate. This legislation would require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees and was reintroduced in both the House and Senate on May 12, 2011 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)(HR1876) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)(S.984). No one should fear loosing their job because they needed to take a day away from work to care for a sick child or an elderly parent. Especially in this unforgiving economy, we, as a nation, need legislation that helps workers and their families to stay healthy.

“First introduced in 2004 by Congresswoman DeLauro and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Healthy Families Act would enable workers to earn up 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to (7) seven days’ worth of paid leave. Currently, 40 million Americans are without paid sick days, meaning they cannot take time off work should they fall ill or need to care for ailing child or elderly relative. Two-thirds of lower-income private sector workers do not have a single paid sick day, and the percentage is even higher amongst workers in certain industries.”

Congresswomen DeLauro stated that, “I believe that everyone should be able to take care of themselves and their families if they are sick without having to worry about losing their jobs. Too many of our workers, especially those who work in the food service industry, where health is so critical, are unable to do this. And simply showing up to work when you are sick, known as ‘presenteeism,’ costs employers a staggering $160 billion a year in lost productivity. It is in the best interests of our nation, and especially our families, to ensure American workers have access to paid sick days.”

“Every day, many Americans go to work ill, often worsening their own health or infecting co-workers, for fear of missing a day of pay or even losing their job,” Harkin said.  Senator Harkin also stated that, “Paid sick days give families the security they need to care for a sick child or an ailing parent, or to recover from an illness. American workers should never be forced to choose between the jobs they need and the families they love.” The Healthy Families Act (HR 1876/S.984) would allow workers at businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to 7 paid sick days per year.

These prudent pieces of legislation would help parents and also serve to improve public health. Now, if this issue is important to you, contact your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator to express your support of the Healthy Families Act of 2011. These pieces of legislation would help to make sure no one has to choose between the family they love and the job they need.

For further information on these pieces of the legislation, visit the websites of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and/or Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) or

Sources: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) website. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)’s website. Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art


DREAM ACT Reintroduced in 2011
In December of 2010, when the DREAM Act failed, the hopes of many students and their allies were dashed across the country. When the DREAM Act failed to be passed by the Senate, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement. “I am appalled that partisan politics and the archaic filibuster stood in the way of passing the DREAM Act today. My mother came to the United States as an immigrant and because of the opportunities in this country; I was able to fulfill the American dream. It is a shame that we cannot extend the same opportunities to others who are willing to contribute to our country and abide by the rules.”

All hope is not lost; this week, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and 30 other Senators reintroduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. This bill gives undocumented students a path to earn United States citizenship. It would be possible for an undocumented student to become a citizen if the undocumented student came to this nation as a child, is a long-term U.S. resident, has good moral character, and completes two years of college or military service in good standing.

Regarding the reintroduced DREAM Act, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) stated that, “This narrowly tailored legislation would give young, undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States the opportunity to earn legal residency by obtaining an education or joining the military. I am proud to cosponsor the DREAM Act for one simple reason: this will enable these children, who are in America not due to their own action, but those of their parents, to reach their potential and contribute to a stronger, more prosperous America.”

Senator Joe Lieberman (I – CT) stated this about the reintroduced DREAM Act, “I am convinced we must adopt smart immigration reform to advance our national security, our economic vitality, and our historic values… I have joined in introducing a critical piece of such reform – offering a path to citizenship for young adults who have grown up in this country, achieved here, and want a chance to continue their lives as productive members of our society. This is the right choice for these deserving young adults and for our own national interests. These individuals embody the education and work ethic we promote, and we should let them remain here to strengthen our military, our economy and society as a whole.” There are is no storage of opinions and deep feelings about how to best address the issue of immigration.

For further information on the reintroduced DREAM Act, you can visit or Senator Durbin’s website at

Sources: Senator Harkin’s website at Senator Durbin’s website at and the West Hartford News website at

Photocredit: Microsoft Clip Art

National Teacher Day

In 2011, National Teachers Day was May 3. Every day, teachers make a meaningful difference in the lives of countless students across the world. For some students, many of their fondest memories were made at school. Teaching is a daunting job that is often overlooked but very critical in a person’s intellectual as well as emotional development.

In 2012, National Teacher’s Day will be held on May 8, 2012. The overarching goal of National Teacher’s Day is to recognize educators for their dedication to ensuring that every student receives a quality education. The work of teachers should be celebrated by students, parents, and the community as a whole not simply on National Teacher Day but every day. For ideas on how to recognize the important and necessary work undertaken by teachers, consider visiting the National Educators Association (NEA) website at

Source(s): National Educators Association

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art