Tag Archives: United States Congress

‘Racial Justice Act’ repealed in North Carolina’ ~~ Information we must ALL read& know


By Matt Smith, CNN
updated 3:48 AM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013
 http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2013/06/21/ac-lavandera-pkg-death-due-to-race.cnn.html
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The 2009 law allowed inmates to argue that race played a role in sentences
  • Gov. Pat McCrory said it effectively halted capital punishment in the state
  • Democrats say four condemned convicts had their sentences reduced to life under the law

(CNN) — North Carolina’s governor says he agreed to repeal a law that allowed inmates to challenge their death sentences on racial grounds because it effectively banned capital punishment in the state.

North Carolina legislators barred death sentences “sought or obtained on the basis of race” in 2009, when both houses of the state General Assembly were under Democratic control.

The, legislation, known as the Racial Justice Act, allowed condemned convicts to use statistical analysis to argue that race played a role in their sentencing.

Was race a factor in death sentence?

Republicans who took control of the Legislature in 2010 weakened the law last year, overriding a veto by then-Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat.

Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican elected in 2012, followed legislative action and signed its complete repeal Wednesday.

“Nearly every person on death row, regardless of race, has appealed their death sentence under the Racial Justice Act,” McCrory said in a statement Wednesday. “The state’s district attorneys are nearly unanimous in their bipartisan conclusion that the Racial Justice Act created a judicial loophole to avoid the death penalty and not a path to justice.”

The state still allowed capital punishment even while the Racial Justice Act was on the books. But state Democrats said the law resulted in at least four convicts being taken off death row after judges ruled that their sentences resulted from racial bias, with their sentences commuted to life in prison instead.

About 53% of the 153 convicts awaiting execution in North Carolina are black, according to the state Department of Public Safety, while about 40% are white. African-Americans make up about 22% of the state’s population, according to Census figures.

CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

11 Words You Need to Teach Your Son Before He Turns 6


The things we say to our kids help shape their identity.

 

The following story first appeared on the Good Men Project. 

Recently, while helping in my youngest son’s art camp, I noticed one little boy falling behind the others and no longer participating.

I touched his shoulder and pointed at the teacher, as a reminder to pay attention. He ignored me and looked around the room. A few minutes later, his head was down and he wasn’t even trying.

I knelt in front of him and asked, “Why aren’t you doing the project?” He started crying.

“Everyone’s ahead. I can’t do it now. It’s too late.”

Thing was, he could have done it. They were simple steps and all laid out in front of him. He also could’ve asked for help. But he shook his head and said he couldn’t. He just couldn’t.

“Oh,” I said. “Do you feel overwhelmed?”

He looked at me funny and asked what “overwhelmed” means. When I explained that it’s a feeling you get when there’s so much happening and you just don’t know where to start, so you sort of freeze up.

His eyes lit up. “Yes!” he said, and seemed excited that someone understood exactly how he felt.

When his mom arrived to pick him up, he ran to her and said, “I was overwhelmed today, but then I got all caught up.” He shoved the craft into her hands and beamed. At that moment, it occurred to me how important it is for kids (and adults, too) to have a wide variety of words to describe feelings and situations.

As a parent, and someone who pays close attention to social issues around gender, I think it’s crucial that we make a conscious choice to arm all of our kids with words that can give them important social skills or the ability to describe feelings. This list is for parents of kids of any gender, but I am focusing a bit on what words boys need to know, so we can help them describe things we don’t typically think of as manly or boyish.

***

1. Lonely.

Loneliness often happens when you feel like nobody cares about you. As adults, we can often reason with ourselves about this feeling, but for a child it can be awfully hard to understand why people aren’t giving us what we need, emotionally, at the moment we need it.

Your kid may be resisting bedtime and say that he gets scared or sad in his room. He may actually be scared, or just sad, or he may feel very alone. Maybe you watch TV on the couch after he goes to bed, or you and your spouse sleep in the same bed without him. Being excluded from those things could be a lonely feeling for a kid.

Once you understand the nature of his feelings, you can better explain that even though he’s by himself in his bed, he’s very much loved by his family and in the morning you can all be together again.

2. Frustrated.

It’s not angry. It’s not sad. It’s something else, and young children feel this sensation regularly. Imagine having to follow every command of somebody else all the time, even when their demands feel illogical. How frustrating would it be to watch other kids get to do stuff you aren’t allowed to do, just because of your size? These are the challenges kids face every day. And it’s frustrating.

And yet most little kids don’t know that word, so when they start to feel that way, they can only define it as mad. I suspect that’s why tantrums often look like little rage-fests. So get down to eye-level with your child and describe that frustration is when you get upset because you just can’t seem to do what you want to do, and maybe you don’t even know why you can’t.

Try teaching them the word, explaining the definition, and asking them to say “I’m so frustrated!” next time. Once you understand, then you can walk him through the problem and help him solve it—or at least understand the “why”.

3. Intimidated.

I remember arriving at a park to play with a bunch of our preschool buddies with my son and he turned and said, “I want to go home.”

I’d driven thirty minutes to get there, and we weren’t going home. I asked him why, and all he’d say was, “Because.”

“Because what?”

Nothing.

Finally he said, “I’m scared.”

There was nothing to be scared of, and I told him that, not realizing that I was invalidating his feelings at that moment. He was safe, he’d played there before, and I was right next to him.

Finally he explained that he felt like his friends were all together and he didn’t know what they were playing. I realized then that he wasn’t scared, he was intimidated. He felt unprepared and unworthy. Once I understood that, I was able to solve the problem. And once he knew the word, he used it frequently in situations like that.

4. That’s just not my thing.

This is a funny one, but it’s something we’ve evolved in our family after a lot of trial and error.

Saying, “that’s just not my thing,” is a way for kids to back out of socially-pressured situations without seeming like they’re judging others or making a big deal out of something. This can be anything from, “Hey, why don’t you play basketball with us at recess like the other guys?” to something that he or she’s not ready to handle, like a roller coaster or a scary movie.

It can also be used to diffuse a dangerous or amoral situation like bullying or excessive risk-taking. Of course when kids are being cruel or harming someone (or themselves), you should empower your kid to stop or report them to a trusted grown-up, but he may also need an “out” for the situation that’s handy in a pinch so he can take a moment to figure out how to proceed next.

5. Hangry.

Things we know about kids: They act out and get more emotional when they’re hungry. But oftentimes, they don’t realize they’re hungry! They just feel mad, and will tell you that in no uncertain terms!

We joke about the word “hangry” with our kids, but it’s a useful term because hungry anger is a pretty specific feeling, and having a word for it may help your kid feel empowered to explain exactly what he or she is feeling, and remind them to stop and eat a nutritious snack like a string cheese or some almonds, that will help stabilize his or her blood sugar and mood.

6-8. Proper names for their body parts. 

Specifically: Penis, Vagina (or vulva), and anus.

I know, there’s nothing cute or fun about talking about the accurate terminology for body parts, but it’s necessary. Being able to accurately describe parts of our own bodies empowers us to speak openly and honestly about them. Using these terms without shame teaches our kids that they can come to us with questions or concerns, and this is important for their health and their emotional development.

By not using cutesy terms, we raise kids who are empowered about their own bodies. We can then discuss that their genitals are their own private business, and that nobody gets to touch them without permission. Likewise, we don’t touch other people’s genitals or make people feel uncomfortable.

Christopher Anderson, Executive Director of MaleSurvivor.org—an advocacy and support group for men and boys (and their loved ones) who have been sexually abused, explains further why accurate terminology is important:

Many child protection experts strongly urge parents to empower children with the proper terminology for all body parts. Doing so can have greatly improve a child’s understanding of their own bodies, which can in turn improve their self-image and confidence. Confident, well-educated children are also less at risk for abuse, especially sexual abuse, at the hands of perpetrators who often seek out children who are more vulnerable and less informed.

This is, of course, part of a much larger conversation, but it’s one that can help prevent your child from being abused or abusing others. This conversation has to start at age 1 and continue into their college years. For more specific instructions, see The Healthy Sex Talk, Teaching Consent Ages 1-21, which I co-authored.

I want to note that I think following your child’s lead in what they call their genitals is okay, as long as they are clear of the technical terms too. I wouldn’t stop a boy from calling his penis a “weenie” or something, as long as it was very clear he knew the word penis was accurate and totally fine to say, as well.

9. Touched-out.

This term has become synonymous with new parents who have babies climbing all over them all the time, but it’s useful in a lot of different ways, too.

Sometimes, as a parent, you just feel like you need some personal space. Maybe you’re in a bad mood, or maybe you have had a baby on you all day long. Regardless, it’s okay to lovingly tell someone—even your own child—that you’re feeling “touched out” and would like a little time where nobody is touching you. Reassure him or her that pretty soon you’ll feel like snuggling or wrestling again, but for now you need everyone to honor your “space bubble”. I always use my hands to show my kids how far around me my space bubble is, and ask them not to pop it.

Not only are you teaching them to honor others’ bodily autonomy, but if you also offer this as an option for your child, then you’re empowering him or her to say “no” to touching, even loving or innocent touch. If his little brother or sister is poking him or trying to snuggle, then he can say to you or them, “I feel touched out” and you can help advocate for his personal space.

10. Overwhelmed.

I talked about this at the beginning, but I want to underline the way I see this word helping kids, especially boys, in classroom settings.

Often, when we see a kid drifting or fidgeting in class we may default (even if only subconsciously) to assuming that the kid has an attention issue or just doesn’t care about school.

But what if there’s another issue? What if he really wants to engage but is overwhelmed because he’s behind, or because he can’t hear the teacher, has a distraction, or see the board well? I really do think this feeling-word could be of great service in young elementary school classrooms.

11. May I please…?

At the top of my list of things kids do that drive me crazy is when kids make demands. It drives me absolutely bonkers to hear a kid say, “Get me some milk” or “Give me that toy”. I know kids are naturally very selfish creatures, and being demanding is a part of development, but part of teaching your child empathy is asking them to consider how it feels to have someone demand something from them.

“Dad, may I please have a glass of milk?” or “Mom, could you please get me the Lego bin?” are questions that require your child to consider how you feel, what you’re doing, and how their request might affect you. If my arms are full of groceries, I hope my sons will see that and not tell me at that exact moment to open the door for them. But if we don’t teach them to ask people for things nicely, they may not learn to consider the feelings of the person they’re imposing upon.

And trust me, you child’s teacher will appreciate the good habit.

Becoming comfortable with asking for things with respect, as well as learning to be kind and gracious when someone says “no” are lessons that will carry forward into their lives as older kids, too, especially when they start dating.

Buy a lady a drink ~~ Stella Artois …. water.org a repost


Today, 750 million people around the world live without access to clean water. This crisis disproportionately affects women, who walk a combined 200 million hours a day to collect water for their families. Stella Artois is supporting Water.org to help solve the global water crisis. Learn how you can help at http://BuyALadyADrink.com

How many use “the Media” for voting information


voter-suppression_petition

Just another rant …

The President says the time for talk is over; I agree, but if you read or listen to the media who interview folks on the right often characterize this President’s actions as frantic furious regarding health care reform; in the end it got done.  Now, use nasty rhetoric that should question the oath that these men&women took before taking their seats in Congress.  I would say maybe those who did not have healthcare are thankful whether it is called ACA, Obamacare or any alias given by their states along with those that accepted the expansion of Medicare funding. Our President has made it possible to help a fellow American have a chance at living. The hospitals, Drs., Nurses and the other healthcare providers are only as good as the Hospital Officials in control of how, who, the care being given to their clients and ACA is doing it, though Republicans certainly want it to stop.   We all know the media engages in the spin; trying to set the public mood is definitely offensive; Americans have been talking about health care reform for a long time, Congress has avoided voting let alone talk about reform for over 40 years. It is time to move this a long get it done and create more jobs for everyone for our economy that is at risk yet again.  The fact is, Republicans continue to block , hold up bills that have jobs attached to it and have held enough hearings using taxpayer funds that could have funded so many things to help “we the People”

The so-called Obamacare aka ACA, is a jobs creator, though the Media has yet to comment on how it would and or how many jobs are possible; fact is that an additional 31million will need help; the current work force would be unable to handle the workload.  Is it possible that the Media prefers to give out selective information as viewers watch wonder and are still unable to challenge these people who rake in the big bucks telling just enough truth to sedate

Most if not all of us know Republicans have done almost everything, they can to stall any progress; which includes the Presidents nominees, health care and many bills that the Senate passed and sent to the House, only to be stalled and or blocked by more filibusters than any time in the past. The government might be broken like the Media and some Senators have said but it still needs to work for “We the People” … wouldn’t it be great if Republicans let the governing party do the work they seemed to have left or weren’t interested in  when they had a Republican President for 8 years ago.

There are reports from conservative writers, that this is a frantic furious moment for the President. this is just absurd. The notion that the public is weary over what is going on in Congress and Democrats are wavering has led the public to believe in rumors falsehoods and that this is a new behavior. Unfortunately, this is how Congress works, though to be sure NOT on this level NOT obstruction solely based on who is in the Whitehouse.  Yes, Health Care Reform  is President Barack Obama’s baby, it’s not only a historic moment but one that will change the lives of Americans all over the country and in a good way because as we all know the last eight years have been good … For The Rich.  Don’t get me wrong being or wanting to be rich is great … the problem is how folks are using their riches …for themselves ok but are they manipulating the system holding the mid or lower classes down controlling them with their riches.  In a time when some probably knew the end of spending without paying for it would finally rear its ugly head, no one seemed to want to put the brakes on back when the House of Bush was saying … charge it! and if you take notice … the shutdown the hearings have cost Americans millions … all created by Republicans

  I say vote for 21st Century living and that means letting go of Tea Party and Republican ideology.

 The fact is that they believe in exclusion or at least that 47% of us should be punished….

Lest we include … Vets, Seniors, Students, Minorities, The Poor, Gays, those on Social Security, Medicare/caid

The War on Poverty at 50 … never forget


by 

What People Really Think About Poverty

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” “It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it,” said Johnson.

50 years later, many of the programs that were passed in that era still exist and have helped keep millions out of poverty. In fact, the poverty rate would be nearly double today without them. But without a doubt, poverty still exists in this country.

The perception continues to be that there is a wide ideological gap across the county of what government’s role is in extending the ladders needed to increase economic mobility and lift people out of poverty. On this anniversary, the Center for American Progress and Half in Ten commissioned a poll to ask Americans what they really think about poverty in the United States. The findings might surprise you:

1. Between one-quarter and one-third of Americans experience direct economic hardship. Sixty-one percent of Americans say their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living, compared to just 8 percent who feel they are getting ahead and 29 percent who feel they are staying even. Anywhere from 25 to 34 percent of Americans-and even higher percentages of Millennials and people of color-report serious problems in the past year falling behind on rent, mortgage or utilities payments; affording necessary medical care; keeping up with credit card payments; or having enough to money for food.  Fifty-four percent of Americans say that someone in the immediate or extended families is poor — a 2-point increase since 2008 and an 18-point increase since 2001.

2. Americans blame economic conditions, not personal responsibility, as the reason people live in poverty in this country.  Almost two-thirds (64 percent) believe that most people who live in poverty do so because of bad economic conditions like low-paying jobs, compared to only one-quarter who think it is because the poor make bad decisions. Even white conservatives believe by a 2:1 margin (63 percent to 29 percent) that poverty is driven by socioeconomic factors and conditions rather than poor personal decision-making.

poverty

3. There is almost unanimous agreement that government has a responsibility to fight poverty. An overwhelming 86 percent of Americans agree with the belief put forward by President Johnson 50 years ago.

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4. There is widespread support for a national goal to cut poverty in half within 10 years. Seven in 10 Americans–including a majority of those identifying as white conservatives–support this goal.

poverty3

5. Americans also express very strong support for a number of policies to help reduce poverty rates, particularly with jobs, wages, and education but also on more traditional safety net items. Among the proposals garnering strong support are emergency unemployment benefits, increasing the minimum wage, universal pre-kindergarten, and expanded nutrition assistance. Congress should take note.

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You can check out the complete results of the poll HERE. Our colleagues have also put together a variety of other resources on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Be sure and check those out HERE.