This month, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to repeal the death penalty. With that said, the total number of states that have abolished capital punishment is now eighteen (18). For years, Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley has championed the repeal of death penalty in his state. After signing the bill into law, Governor O’Malley said that the risk of executing an innocent person weighed heavily in his dedication to ending capital punishment in Maryland. The success of the repeal effort in Maryland has given momentum to repeal efforts in Delaware where an abolition bill was passed by the state Senate this week. The next step in Delaware is for the legislation to go before the House. The Delaware Governor, Jack Markell, has refused to say whether he favors the legislation.
The US criminal justice system is based on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the foundation of our justice system, built to serve and protect the wrongly accused. But in the case of Troy Davis and countless others on death row, it’s a principle that was defied, ignored, and trampled on. As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008 :” … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe.
With the recent decision to abolish the death penalty in Maryland, we have moved one step closer to dismantling our unjust criminal justice system city by city, state by state and country by country. Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been seeking to do just that for decades. Specifically, these organizations have been quite successful in raising awareness about the problems with criminal justice system and the need to end the death penalty. The number of persons supporting their work is growing as demonstrated in the case of Troy Davis. Their petition seeking clemency in the Troy Davis case was signed by almost one million persons. NAACP and Amnesty International have experienced steady progress in this important undertaking to end the death penalty. However, the Troy Davis case reminds us that more work needs to be done to end the death penalty across our nation.
The collective work done on Troy Davis’ case resounded with people all over the world. Next stop for the abolition of the death penalty nationwide is California, a state poised to make history this fall by ending its death penalty through a referendum. The struggle continues. But with each victory, we, as a nation, come closer to a world where human rights are respected, and executions are a thing of the past.
For further information on how you can get involved in efforts to end the penalty nationwide, please visit the websites for Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Equal Justice USA, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
Sources: Delaware Senate approves repeal of death penalty, POLITICO, March 26, 2013, Associated Press. Amnesty International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Innocence Project. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Research indicates that ten million children die before their fifth birthday every year. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of these deaths. CARE works diligently to help people in crisis worldwide to escape hunger and poverty as well as their effects. CARE needs partners in its fight against world wide hunger and poverty.
With your help, CARE can provide: hungry children a warm, nutritious meal at school to improve their energy, attention and performance; mothers with garden kits, including a spade, watering can and other tools, to improve crop production and income for her entire family; and farmers with handbooks on improved techniques to increase and better manage their crop production.
When women are empowered to fulfill their potential, they invest in their families and work for lasting change. These are a few reasons why CARE works side-by-side with women in the fight against hunger and poverty in more than 70 countries around the world every single day of the year. Please don’t wait for another crisis to help people. Make a gift today to CARE to help empower women around the world create a brighter future for all.
Source: CARE. Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art
This year, Earth Day is being recognized on Monday, Apr 22, 2013. It is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the earth’s natural environment. Celebrate Earth Day everyday.
Do not throw out gently used items and goods that are still working and in great shape. Keep them out of the landfill by donating them. When we donate items, our earth awareness can not only decrease the already exploding landfills but also serve to improve the quality of life for many of our nation’s most vulnerable persons.
Let’s all be good stewards of this beautiful place we call our home.
Our nation can significantly reduce the deficit by closing corporate tax loopholes and limiting the unfair tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Not only would Senator Patty Murray’s budget reduce the deficit, it would take an important step to increase investments in early learning and home visiting programs, giving more children access to the prekindergarten, child care, Head Start and Early Head Start opportunities they need to succeed in school, more parents the support they need to work, and our economy the skilled workforce it needs to prosper.
Senator Murray’s budget would also protect Social Security and most core safety net programs, including SNAP/Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income, which are especially important to women who are at greater risk of poverty than men at all stages of their lives. It would permanently extend the improvements in the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that lift millions of women and children out of poverty. And it would expand access to affordable health insurance and preventive care services by providing funding to implement the Affordable Care Act.
Also, Senator Patty Murray’s budget would close corporate tax loopholes and limit unfair tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. It calls for tax reforms that would raise $975 billion in revenues needed to support critical programs and help reduce the deficit.
Source: National Women’s Law Center
Like last year, this week, the House Republicans passed the Ryan Budget Plan. Last year, the House Budget Committee Chairman, US Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., entitled his FY2013 budget plan “The Path to Prosperity”. Countless well-known economist have written that the Ryan Budget Plan is anything but the road to prosperity. Economist have proven that “Trickle Down Economics” simply does not work. Assertions about there flawed premises has not deterred US Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. and his Republican counterparts in the House of Representatives.
The Ryan Budget Plan has faced strong opposition by House Democrats and others. Many opponents assert that the Ryan budget irresponsibly seeks to balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor and other vulnerable citizens. Opponents to the Ryan budget assert that, we, as a nation, must find a balanced approach to the federal budget that will serve to protect investments in our nation’s greatest resource its people.
This week, the Republican-led US House of Representatives passed the Ryan Budget Plan by a partisan vote. The Ryan Budget Plan and the resulting vote in the House highlight the deep divisions in the vision for this nation.
As previously stated, opponents to the Ryan Budget Plan call it anything but a road map to financial health for this nation. One such opponent to the Ryan Budget Plan is Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)[i]. Van Hollen is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. Since the passage of the Ryan budget by the House, Van Hollen and others have been writing and speaking about the devastating implications of the Ryan Budget.
When discussing his budget plan, U.S. Rep. Ryan promised that it would free America “from the crushing burden of debt now threatening its future.” Opponents to the Ryan Budget Plan assert that it would do no such thing. To the contrary, the Tax Policy Center says that “… major tax cuts included in the Ryan budget would reduce federal revenue by $418 billion in 2015 alone; by 2019, revenue losses would exceed half a trillion dollars each and every year. That will make the deficit worse, not better…”
US Rep. Van Hollen asserts that the Ryan Budget Plan is a $3.5 trillion budget bill that has no chance of becoming law but that draws a clear line in the sand between Republican and Democratic goals for our nation. Van Hollen and other opponents have stated that instead of working with President Obama on a balanced approach, House Republicans passed a radical budget that seeks to: not only maintain but expand the Bush tax cuts; end the Medicare guarantee; Medicaid budget would be cut by $810 billion. If House Budget Committee Chairman, US Rep. Paul Ryan, has his way with his proposed budget resolution, Medicare will be privatized and Medicaid, food stamps, and countless other federal entitlement programs will be eliminated. The cuts under Ryan’s budget proposal, if implemented, would drastically increase income inequality and poverty.
While the Ryan budget reduced health, education, welfare, and transportation spending, the defense department budget was increased. Although, the Defense Department recommended a decrease in defense spending, its budget recommendation went unheard by House Budget Committee Chairman, US Rep. Paul Ryan. In response to the divided opinion on the defense department budget line, Ryan responded that, “the Generals aren’t giving us their “true advice”…” Meanwhile, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy aren’t just extended, they’re vastly expanded. Billionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas would receive millions while seniors are forced to pay more for their health care.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art.
[i] “Van Hollen was elected to Congress in 2002 in a high-profile election that received national attention. He quickly earned a reputation as an active, engaged, and effective member of Congress, rising to become one of the youngest members of the Democratic leadership in 2008. In addition to representing the Eighth District of Maryland and serving in House leadership, Congressman Van Hollen was elected by his colleagues in 2010 to serve as the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. In this position, he is working to advance policies that support job creation and economic growth, reduce the deficit, and put America on a path to long-term fiscal sustainability.”
“The Washington Post named Chris Van Hollen one of “10 members to watch in the 112th Congress.” Roll Call has noted that “Van Hollen gets near-universal respect from his colleagues for his intellectual firepower and combination of policy and political chops.””
“Congressman Van Hollen is a tireless advocate for Maryland in Congress, and his leadership has helped to obtain funding for a wide range of critical investments in our community, including infrastructure, biotechnology and education; public transportation in the Washington National Capital area; and anti-gang initiatives. Congressman Van Hollen was recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as the ‘Best Metro Area Member of Congress’ in 2010 and as the ‘Best Local Elected Official’ by Bethesda Magazine in 2008.”
“Throughout his career, Congressman Van Hollen has been a champion of education, energy, the environment, health care, and civil rights. He is a leader on cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, and fought successfully to obtain a historic boost in federal funds for the Bay as part of the Farm Bill and to secure provisions in the Recovery Act that provided loan guarantees for renewable energy projects. He also played an integral role in the effort to pass comprehensive health care reform and fought to ensure that young adults receive expanded access to health insurance. He has been a staunch advocate for critical government reforms. He led the fight to pass far-reaching lobbying disclosure reform and has been a key supporter of whistleblower protections. A former professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Congressman Van Hollen has a strong background in national security policy. He lived and studied abroad in South Asia and has remained active in issues related to U.S. foreign policy in that region and around the world.”
“Congressman Van Hollen has received numerous leadership awards for his legislative activities, including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s “Climate Champion of the Year” award for his contribution to clean-energy policies; the “Community Health Superhero Award” from the National Association of Community Health Centers for his efforts on behalf of the uninsured and medically underserved Americans; the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s “Legislator of the Year” award; Progressive Maryland’s “Champion of Working Families” award; the Maryland Executive Council for Educational Opportunities’ “Excellence in Educational Advocacy” award; and the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s “Representative of the Year” award.”
“Before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Van Hollen served 4 years in the Maryland House of Delegates and 8 years in the Maryland Senate. His legislative record in Annapolis earned him the praise of The Washington Post, which called him “one of the most effective members of the Maryland legislature.” He is a graduate of Swarthmore College, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Georgetown University Law Center. He lives in Kensington, Maryland with his wife, Katherine, and their three children, Anna, Nicholas, and Alexander.”
Source: US Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s Congressional website. US Rep.Van Hollen Action Alert. Van Hollen Congressional website. “Why Paul Ryan’s budget would explode the deficit”, Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal Constitution, March 30, 2012. “House passes GOP budget with no Dem support” Stephanie Condon, CBSNews.com., March 29, 2012. http://www.examiner.com. Washington Post. Wall Street Journal. http://www.MSNBC.com. “Republican budget: Ryan Plan would hurt seniors”, Daily Koos, Joan McCarter, March 30, 2012, http://www.dailykos.com
In March of this year, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will turn three years old. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed a sweeping set of health care reforms into law. It was a historic moment in our nation’s history. Barack Obama was the first American president that was able to deliver a comprehensive health reform. This was a goal which eluded his predecessors. Since its enactment, it has been highly debated and challenged in the courts.
Last year, in a 5-4 ruling, the United State Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s signature legislation, The Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice John Roberts provided the critical swing vote in this ruling. We all deserve high-quality health care that we can all afford, and today brings this goal to reality.
The United State Supreme Court’s ruling means that:
Children will no longer be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, effective immediately.
Young adults can stay on their parent’s health insurance policy until age 26.
Adults will no longer be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, effective in 2014.
Health insurance providers can no longer cancel your policy because you get sick.
Creates state-based marketplaces where people can easily compare and shop for insurance beginning in 2014.
Prevents insurance companies from charging women more than men and overcharging those who need care the most.
Gives hard-working Americans tax credits so they can afford insurance beginning in 2014.
Provides Americans with rebates from insurers who spend too much on CEO bonuses or advertisements.
Ends insurance company power to raise rates without justification.
There can no longer be annual limits to health coverage. If your illness is incredibly expensive, you will no longer have to worry about reaching a limit to what your insurance company will pay.
Is there a need for the 2010 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereinafter “Affordable Care Act”)? Let’s look at the number of uninsured in America. This nation’s deep economic recession and resulting decline in employer sponsored coverage contributed to a rise in the uninsured in recent years. Research indicates that these factors left fifty (50) million Americans without coverage in 2009.
While public insurance programs prevented some individuals from losing health insurance coverage, these programs do not reach all of those who cannot afford insurance. With that understanding, the Affordable Care Act seeks to address the gaps in our private-public insurance system. This new law requires most Americans to have health insurance and many will gain coverage through expanded Medicaid eligibility and subsidized private coverage for individuals with incomes up to four hundred (400) percent of poverty starting in 2014.
The United States Supreme Court’s ruling in this case was a victory for Americans concerned about access to healthcare for all. As stated in an article in Mother Jones, “The largest expansion of the American welfare state since the Great Society stands, upheld by the most conservative Supreme Court in decades. Yet the decision is not simply a landmark ruling, it is a monumental setback for a conservative movement strategy meant to sabotage, by all available means, the presidency of Barack Obama.”
Sources: The White House. CBS News. Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.healthcare.gov; http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/healthcare-overview; http://www.democraticleader.house.gov/; http://www.dpcsenate.gov/healthreformbill/healthbill; The Kaiser Family Foundation, “Focus on Health Reform.” “Obamacare Lives: What Next?” by Adam Serwer, Mother Jones, June 29th, 2012.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art