NC JUSTICE NEWS, Sept 8, 2009: Health Care, Immigration, Labor Day, Climate Change

September 8, 2009

HEALTH CARE: Crucial Conversation lunch featuring Wendell Potter

Wendell Potter is one of the nation's most prominent spokespersons for national health care reform. He is a Senior Fellow on Health Care at the national nonprofit advocacy group, the Center for Media and Democracy. After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, last year he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation's largest health insurers to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations - including those advocating for meaningful health care reform - achieve their goals. He has testified before Congress, appeared on a variety of national television and radio programs and was profiled in a recent column by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times entitled "Health Care Fit for Animals."

On Tuesday September 22, 2009, Potter will be the keynote speaker at a special NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon:

An insider's view: Why our broken health care system is in desperate need of reform

Co-sponsored by the N.C. Health Access Coalition

When: Tuesday September 22, 2009 (registration @ 11:30 am, presentation begins at 12 noon and concludes by 1:30 pm)

Where: Marbles Kids Museum, 201 E. Hargett Street, Raleigh NC 27601

Cost: $10 (includes a box lunch) Pre-registration required

Click here to register for this event


TOGETHER NC: Ad campaign promotes essential revenue

A controversial policy that undermines human rights and promotes racial profiling faces growing opposition from hundreds of groups, nationwide and in North Carolina.

Last month, Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano expanded the embattled 287(g) agreements, which effectively give local law enforcement the power to act as immigration agents.

In response, more than 500 civil rights, community, and immigrant rights organizations have asked the program be immediately terminated. In a letter to President Obama, these organizations -- which included the NAACP, ACLU, MALDEF, and Anti-Defamation League -- cited the civil rights abuses, specifically the racial profiling, endemic to the program. Groups such as the Office of the Inspector General have also expressed opposition to the program.

North Carolina groups signing on to the letter represent all areas of the state, and are listed at the bottom of this release.

Abuses are well-documented and can be shocking. In Davidson County, Tennessee, the Sheriff's Office used its 287(g) power to apprehend undocumented immigrants driving to work, standing at day labor sites, or while fishing off piers. One pregnant woman---charged with driving without a license---was shackled to her bed during labor.

"It seems like every day a new horror story comes out of people being unfairly targeted," said Marty Rosenbluth of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. "But it isn't just about the immigrant families being torn apart. This program expands police power in a supremely dangerous manner that threatens all our rights."

The demonstrated dangers of the 287(g) program, experts say, illustrate the urgency for the Obama administration to end the Bush-era policies and pass just and humane immigration reform.

"Preventing the expansion of 287(g) is a critical step toward preserving basic human rights for all Americans,":said Irene Godinez, advocacy director for El Pueblo. "The problems with the program also highlight the pressing need to pass comprehensive immigration reform which would create a fair and just path to citizenship."

Locals working against 287(g) are undertaking grassroots efforts, including a monthly silent vigil to call attention to these critically needed reforms.

The Justice Initiative in Hendersonville, a group of community members convened by the Latino Advocacy Coalition and the Henderson County Human Relations Council, hosts regular vigils to raise awareness about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and the damaging impact that local immigration enforcement efforts have on families.

"People in North Carolina are raising their voices -- and in this case, speaking out through silence -- to support human rights and immigrant families," said Dani Martinez-Moore, coordinator of the Network of Immigrant Advocates at the NC Justice Center. "A growing number of people are sending the clear message that the type of racial profiling 287(g) allows is simply wrong and unacceptable."


LABOR DAY: Time to re-name the holiday?

In the latest "Setting the Record Straight" column, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch calls for a re-examining of the Labor Day holiday given new realities about Americans workers' economic situation.

Schofield writes:

"So what's the solution? Is it time for a rebirth of worker solidarity and activism? Certainly. There's no doubt that American workers could and would secure a fairer share of the national pie if they hung together on core economic issues and spent less time quarreling over guns and sex and religion. This is clearly the experience of other many western democracies.  

As for the form of such a revival, however, it seems unlikely that Americans are likely to make breathing new life into "Labor Day" a centerpiece of the effort. Twenty-first Century workers are probably too diverse, too worldly, too connected, and too contrary to unite under such an old-fashioned banner.

What might actually work better is some kind of honest, "aspirational," even edgy and ironic, moniker like "American Capitalism Day." Rather than merely celebrating or remembering a movement from a different era, the idea would be to dedicate a day of our lives to honestly examining, praising, and questioning the economic system that connects us all today."

CLIMATE CHANGE: Cap-and-trade no threat

Much misinformation abounds about the impact that limiting greenhouse gas emissions would have. On the Progressive Pulse blog, Dr. Stephen Jackson explains the impact of the so-called "cap-and-trade" policy on workign families.

The answer: bills being proposed right now also offer considerable consumer relief.

"It is heartening to hear is that key Senate leaders on the bill are promoting improved low and middle-income protection in their version of the bill," writes Jackson. "This is the way to go and appears to be a far more useful and constructive approach than the tired "no tax" refrain promoted by the National Association of Manufacturers."

The ultimate impact, he concludes, is "much ado about not much at all."

Research & Publications: