Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Andrew M. Mwenda
CNN) -- So finally, Madonna's honeymoon with Malawi has ended with a spat. Malawi's minister of education accused Madonna of "bullying officials" and exaggerating the extent of her charity in the country.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 17:22
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
By LZ Granderson
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (CNN) -- If September 11, 2001, was the day everything changed, then April 15, 2013, serves as another reminder of that change, of our frailties and of a new reality in which "it can't happen here" has been replaced by "it can happen anywhere."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 16:15
Category: Opinion Written by NNPA News Service
by William Reed
(NNPA)--CNN contributor Roland Martin, who departed the network on April 6, has been named the National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) 2013 Journalist of the Year.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 10:01
Category: Opinion Written by George E. Curry
(NNPA)—There has been much discussion about the big picture items in President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2014. If the devil is in the details, as politicians like to say, some parts of Obama’s budget will mean hell for some needy citizens.
Before getting into the details, let’s talk approach. As I have often said, I am not a fan of some of the tactical approaches Obama takes. I understand that his reasoned approach—as opposed to the meat cleaver style of House Republicans—is far better than the GOP alternative. Still, it makes no sense to offer a compromise position in advance of actual negotiations.
A report by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank that analyzes government policy and programs, notes, “It is unusual for a President to include these kinds of compromise policies in his budget. Typically, the President’s budget would include policies that are more akin to an opening bid in a negotiation—that is, the President’s budget generally reflects his preferred policies. This budget, in contrast, reflects the President’s position at a stage of the negotiations after several rounds of offers had been made. This budget differs significantly from the approach taken in earlier Obama budgets.”
Clearly, compromises will have to be made at some point—even compromises President Obama will not want to make—but this is not the time to make them.
Robert Greenstein, president of CBPP, said: “Politically speaking, I had thought that the White House should not put these concessions in its budget, as distinguished from offering them in bipartisan negotiations if and when Republicans agreed to dedicate substantial savings from curbing tax credits, deductions, and other preferences (known as ‘tax expenditures’) to deficit reduction. The Administration took a different approach. Having done so, it is appropriately insisting that the part of its budget that contains the President’s last offer to Boehner is an indivisible package—that policymakers cannot cherry pick the budget cuts on their own, as some Republicans are already suggesting, without taking the accompanying revenue increases.”
Given President Obama’s overtures, one would think reasonable people would meet him half way. But the operative word is “reasonable.” Instead of also making concession, Republicans have become even more recalcitrant.
“When it comes to deficit reduction, the playing field is not level,” Greenstein stated. “The President is sticking with his final offer to Boehner despite the anger that it’s creating in his party and his political base due to the chained CPI and other proposals.
“The Speaker and other Republican leaders, however, have buried their last offer to Obama in December and are ignoring the fact that it included $400 billion in revenue increases beyond what policymakers enacted at the start of the year. They now brand any new revenues as unacceptable. The contrast between the President’s approach and that of Republican leaders is striking.”
Beyond the political wrangling, there is plenty to be concerned about.
“The budget proposes to replace sequestration for all years—2013 through 2021—with other deficit-reduction measures. While most of the proposed deficit reduction is in the form of higher revenues and lower entitlement spending, the budget also reduces funding for discretionary programs by $200 billion below the already austere caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA),” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report states.
“The $200 billion in proposed cuts are evenly split between defense and non-defense programs, consistent with the President’s December offer to Speaker Boehner. Non-defense discretionary programs include a broad set of government functions, such as education, public health, law enforcement, veterans’ health care, housing supports for low-income families, and scientific and medical research.”
Calling the non-defense discretionary program funding “ill-advised,” The center’s report noted, “The BCA funding caps already significantly constrain this area of the budget. In fact, under the BCA caps, spending for non-defense discretionary programs is on track to reach, by 2016, its lowest level on record as a share of the economy (these data go back to 1962). This area of the budget, which has been cut significantly in recent years and is not a driver of longer-term deficits, would be cut still more deeply under the President’s budget.”
In addition the CBPP said, “The budget would increase the income-related premiums paid by upper-income beneficiaries and gradually expand those premiums to cover a larger fraction of beneficiaries. It would also increase cost-sharing for new beneficiaries by raising the deductible for physician services, introducing co-payments for certain home health care services, and introducing a premium surcharge for those who purchase Medigap supplement plans that provide near-first-dollar coverage (which encourages greater utilization of health care services).”
There are plenty of good things in the president’s proposed budget, including his plan to expand early education and infrastructure investments, but Obama needs to break his addictive habit of making major concessions to Republicans before sitting at the bargaining table with them.
(George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the NNPA. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 06:00
Category: Opinion Written by CNN
by Judith S. Palfrey
(CNN) -- Gun violence is a public health threat to our children. My husband, Sean Palfrey, and I are pediatricians. We are not specialists or experts in the field of injuries, but we are, sadly, all too familiar with the devastating impact of guns in children's lives. Firearms have claimed the lives of patients, friends and family members.
The shooting this week of a 6-year-old boy by his 4-year-old neighbor, who apparently had gotten hold of a loaded .22-caliber rifle from his home in New Jersey, reminds us that gun-related tragedies are daily occurrences in America.
Last December, in the days after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, my husband and I wanted the public to know that gun injuries are too common in our children's lives. We wanted doctors and nurses to redouble efforts to help families decrease the threat that guns pose to children and to offer hope and encouragement that there really are positive things we can do to increase our children's safety. So we wrote an article for the New England Journal of Medicine
For the article, we didn't have to look far to discover that guns are as much a threat to our children and grandchildren as infectious diseases and other health disorders. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6,570 people ages 1 to 24 died from firearm injuries in 2010. That's 18 people every day and a staggering seven a day for children ages 1 to 19.
In 2010, firearms caused twice as many deaths as cancer, five times as many as heart disease and 15 times as many as the recorded infections. Protecting children from gun violence is not a political decision, it's a public health imperative.
Guns kill teenagers who get into scuffles over weighty and trivial matters. They kill sad boys and girls who make the impulsive decision to end it all right now, and can because they have the lethal means right in their hands. And they kill little children who play act what they see adults doing around them or on television or the internet.
In October, a committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement on firearm-related injuries. The statement included technical background research and statistics, asked questions about how and why kids get their hands on guns and came to the evidence-based conclusion that if children have access to guns in their homes or neighborhoods, they are at risk of injury.
"The best preventive measure against firearm injuries and deaths is not to own a gun. However, if you choose to have firearms in your home, adhere to these rules for gun safety:
• Never allow your child access to your gun(s). No matter how much instruction you may give him or her, a youngster in the middle years is not mature and responsible enough to handle a potentially lethal weapon.
• Never keep a loaded gun in the house or the car.
• Guns and ammunition should be locked away safely in separate locations in the house. Make sure children don't have access to the keys.
• Guns should be equipped with trigger locks.
• When using a gun for hunting or target practice, learn how to operate it before loading it. Never point the gun at another person and keep the safety catch in place until you are ready to fire it. Before setting the gun down, always unload it.
• Do not use alcohol or drugs while you are shooting.
The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has awakened our nation into action. It prompted our president to declare that "now is the time" to end gun violence. It encouraged our elected leaders to come together to vote on legislation that can make children feel safe in their homes, school and communities. It mobilized advocates and parents to come to Washington. It spurred dialogue in local and national media.
We are at a tipping point. And we can do this.
We have increased automobile and bike safety and prevented drownings and poisonings by making simple but strict rules compelling Americans to change their habits. We can make our country safer, but only if we work together. Only if we look at these numbers and say: Enough.
Gun violence is an epidemic that we can treat over time. We must not only understand this, we must act. Through strong state and federal gun safety policies, through research into the causes and prevention strategies of gun violence, through doctors talking to patients about guns in the home, through reducing children's exposure to violence in the media, in their homes and in their communities, we can do this.
Medical professionals, clergy, government officials, police officers, families must collectively say, without relent or apology: We must protect our children.
Editor's note: Judith Palfrey is a general pediatrician and the T. Berry Brazelton professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior associate in medicine at Children's Hospital, Boston. She was the 2009-2010 president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has written expensively about community medicine, public health and child advocacy.
Last Updated on Sunday, 14 April 2013 16:30
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