Tag: OW

Eight Ways to Strengthen Our Democracy Beyond Voting

Throughout this trying election season, we’ve been told how much is at stake with our vote. But the success of any democracy depends on continuing to pay attention long after we cast our ballots.

So let’s pledge to strengthen our democracy with a few resolutions to focus our intentions and keep us moving forward over the next four years.

Left to Die in the Streets

As eighteen-year-old Paul O’Neal lay facedown with a pool of blood collecting at the back of his t-shirt, police officers gathered around. None of the officers attempted to administer first aid. None attempted to call for medical assistance. None evidenced even the smallest degree of concern for the young man dying at their feet.

Instead, they restrained him in handcuffs. But not before one spat at him: “Bitch-ass mother f***er.”

So much for “protect and serve.”

Paul O’Neal isn’t the only black American who has been denied the dignity of medical attention. This trend follows in many of the recently exposed cases of police brutality.

The Hidden Homeless Population

A growing number of homeless students lack the academic and community support they need to get off the streets.

Most children in the United States spend their school days dreaming of their next birthday party or worrying whether they’re popular enough. Not America’s homeless youth.

Students like Jamie Talley, who first became homeless at age 2, are thinking about how the weather will affect their sleep and how to silence their growling stomachs during a test.

“I was pushed out of the world and left to survive on my own,” Talley said in a scholarship essay quoted by the Washington Post. “I had given up on the possibilities for me to become somebody.”

Federal Marijuana Laws Reek of Hy-Pot-Crisy

Cannabis is considered dangerous until proven safe, while known toxins like asbestos are still legal.

For a few brief months, it looked like America might take a step closer to sanity. And then came the news: the Obama administration will not loosen federal restrictions on marijuana after all.

Before delving into the issue of marijuana, consider its two fellow “gateway drugs:” alcohol and tobacco. Aside from the potential benefits from drinking a glass of red wine, neither one is good for you.

Is Solar Energy Really Too Expensive?

Utilities are lobbying against the expansion of rooftop solar, and that’s no good for anyone.

In order for solar power to compete with other forms of energy, the conventional thinking goes, it needs to become way cheaper.

Installing rooftop solar panels can be prohibitively expensive, after all, and it takes years before the resulting energy savings pay off. For the individual, it doesn’t matter whether solar panels will save you money in the long run if you can’t afford them in the short run.

For those of us who are renters, the decision of whether to go solar is even more irrelevant. We don’t have the option to install panels ourselves. And unless your apartment comes with utilities included, your landlord has no incentive to install solar panels, because you would get all the savings.

The Sacrifice Muslim Soldier Khan Shouldn’t Have Had To Make

Clinton’s rhetoric on the Muslim world might be friendlier than Trump’s, but her record is much bloodier.

It was impossible not to be moved as Khizr and Ghazala Khan, two Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, stood before the Democratic National Convention and mourned their son Humayan, a U.S. soldier who’d been killed in Iraq.

Humayan, his grieving father recalled, was “the best of America.” Yet if it were up to Donald Trump, Khan said, the slain soldier “never would have been in America.” It was a compelling rebuke to the GOP nominee’s unrepentant calls to banish Muslims and immigrants alike.

Loving America Means Finding Fault With It

Nobody would say we’re flawless — especially not in a summer of mass shootings and police killings.

I was sitting on a bus one summer, chatting with a man behind me who’d worked all over the world in the U.S. foreign service. Like many conversations today, ours turned eventually to the many problems with our country.

That’s when his companion, who’d been silent so far, spoke. If things are so bad, he barked at me, why don’t you leave the country?

The Problem with ‘Blue Lives Matter’

The murder of police officers is a terrible tragedy, but most Americans already believe that cops’ lives matter.

We’re not long into summer, but already we’re long on tragedy. Police shootings of black men in Minnesota, Louisiana, and beyond. A mass shooting of police officers in Dallas.

Yet this surplus of tragedy seems to have created some confusion. So let’s clear things up.

There’s a difference between cops killing unarmed black people and the horrific murder of cops that just occurred in Dallas.

Dining Out? Here’s Some Food for Thought

Big chain restaurants pay poverty wages, hurt local economies, and pollute our climate.

Americans now spend more on dining out than on groceries. But while we increasingly seek out organic and fair trade goods at the store, we usually don’t think about the social and environmental impacts of dining out.

We should. The last time you ate at a restaurant, you probably weren’t aware that your wait staff might be earning poverty-level wages — or that transporting your food may have contributed unnecessarily to climate change.

ISIS Must Love Trump

As the sun set over New York on June 12, hundreds of Muslims gathered in Hudson River Park to break their Ramadan fast together.

Iftar, the evening Ramadan meal, is often a joyous celebration of faith and family. But the mood that Sunday was solemn: That morning, news had broken of the ghastly massacre of LGBTQ revelers at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

A lone Muslim had allegedly perpetrated the attack. Here by the Hudson, over 200 knelt in prayer.

“We’re praying for those who were lost,” one woman explained in a video circulated by the Huffington Post, her voice breaking. “As Muslims, we’re united in our outrage over this senseless act of violence.”

Obama Promised Open Government, But Hasn’t Delivered Yet

From torture to campaign finance, the president can still order important transparency reforms — but there isn’t much time.

President Obama took office promising to usher in an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability in the federal government.

Back in 2009, when he said federal agencies “should take affirmative steps to make information public,” he promised that the administration would make openness a centerpiece of its agenda.

But as the curtain closes on Obama’s second term, many of his lofty promises remain unfulfilled.

For example, despite signing the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which was supposed to usher in a new era of protections for officials who speak out against waste and fraud, the Obama White House has brought more cases against whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined.