Friday, December 06, 2013

Forward Motion Friday

Remembering Mandela

The tributes and accolades continue to come forth concerning the death of former South African President Mandela from all over the world. Yet even as this wonderful poetry set to video by former U.S. Poet Laureate Dr. Maya Angelou can not be overshadowed by hateful and demonstrative comments being left on the YouTube channel where it can be viewed.  I was sicken as the level of the rhetoric and the utter gutter type of remarks posted in a effort to diminish his true contributions to his country and world at large.

No matter where you may fall on the issue of his tactics , beliefs or his final evolution that forgiveness would be his hallmark, consequently as Dr. Angelou stated, "our planet has lost a friend,"
is a simple and yet profound statement to the legacy of a man who will never be forgotten.

Rollout of Repeal HIV Discrimination Act 

In advance of World AIDS Day, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) announced plans to introduce a Senate version of the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal (“REPEAL”) HIV Discrimination Act. The Act was previously introduced in the House by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Senator Coons has been actively looking for conservative co-sponsors. Senator Coons noted his planned introduction of the law at a World AIDS Day event with the Delaware HIV Consortium (DHC), a member of the AIDS United Public Policy Committee.
Thirty-two States and 2 U.S. territories still have criminal statutes based on perceived exposure to HIV. The bill would require the Attorney General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Defense to work with state stakeholders to review laws, policies and cases, develop “best practices,” issue guidance to States and monitor whether/how states change policies related to the treatment of HIV in criminal and civil commitment cases.
In his statement, Senator Coons noted that many state and local criminal laws regarding people with HIV run counter to effective public health strategies, discourage HIV testing, and perpetuate unfair stigma and discrimination. “Our laws need to catch up to our science,” he said. AIDS United’s Political Director, William McColl, was quoted in the press release. AIDS United has strongly supported ending laws that criminalize perceived HIV exposure and commended the Senator for his work.

President Obama Focuses on Inequality

In a speech on Wednesday at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) in the Anacostia area of Washington, D.C., President Obama addressed head-on the issues of increasing inequality and decreasing upward mobility. He said that the combined, decades-long trends pose a “fundamental threat” to “our way of life” and cited them as “the defining challenge of our time.” He noted that the contentious nature of political debates, the recent partial federal government shutdown, and the “admittedly poor execution on my administration’s part in implementing” the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces have left Americans frustrated that Congress and the federal government are not addressing the economic pain that many are feeling every day. The President pledged to focus the attention of his remaining administration on decreasing inequality and increasing upward mobility.

 The President’s speech on inequality comes one month before the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s first State of the Union Address, in which he declared an “unconditional war against poverty in America.” The speech also comes at a time when many conservative Members of Congress seem determined to wage an unconditional war against the hallmark programs that fight poverty, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the food stamps program
(now called SNAP).

President Obama did not lay out specific initiatives but presented a few key principles that he called a roadmap to guide the legislative agenda and administrative efforts. The principles included the need to push relentlessly for an agenda of economic growth, the need for education and skills building programs, the need to empower workers by strengthening collective bargaining, the need to target programs to communities most impacted by inequality, and the need to revamp retirement plans and the safety net for older Americans. In the speech the President clearly linked passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act to efforts to reduce inequality, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”


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