Friday, September 22, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - September 22 Edition

Natural Disasters, Infrastructure, Preparation, Funding

“First, there is a better way to handle disasters than appropriating money for relief after each catastrophe. In a previous era of politics, this wouldn’t be a problem, but conditions are such that any “must pass bill” like funding for the victims of hurricanes creates opportunities for partisan irresponsibility in Congress. It’s true that the federal government has a spending and debt problem, but that issue should be completely separate from helping people who just lost their homes, livelihoods or worse.

Instead, Congress, in consultation with state and local government, should create a national strategy for disaster relief and prevention including funding replenished each year through predictable sources. Democrats, in the past, have proposed taxing carbon energy producers and other polluters. Obviously this solution does not appeal to most Republicans. But perhaps, as we enjoy a brief moment of bipartisanship after storms that tore down the homes of Democrats and Republicans alike, Congress can find a mix of revenue streams to create such a fund in a bipartisan way.

Second, those moneys shouldn’t be used exclusively for emergency relief, which is obviously critical. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Of course you can’t prevent a hurricane or an earthquake, but you can help communities likely to be affected by natural disasters better prepare to handle them. By investing in infrastructure improvements in vulnerable areas, we can prevent the worst effects of natural disasters.”


““After the last election, there were a lot of people who felt their votes aren’t being counted due to the two-party system,” says Cindy Black. “People were like, what are the (other) possibilities?”

Black, executive director of the Seattle-based nonprofit Fix Democracy First, is now heading up an effort to answer that question: A Seattle charter amendment that would shift the city to a ranked-choice balloting system.

The system, used in 13 cities across the United States including San Francisco and Minneapolis, asks voters to rank their preference of candidates, rather than casting a vote for a single candidate. Ideally, the system takes away the threat of a minor candidates acting as a spoiler, empowering voters to cast their ballots for candidates they most agree with without worrying about electability. For example, in this year’s mayoral primary, had a voter been 100 percent on board with Dave Kane’s campaign, but seen Jessyn Farrell as the most palatable of the “top six” candidates, they could have put Kane as their No. 1 choice and Farrell as No. 2 and continued ranking down the rest of the 21 candidates. If no candidate got more than half of all No. 1 votes in the first round of counting, then the candidate with the fewest No. 1 votes (Dave Kane) would be eliminated and the No. 2 choice on those eliminated ballots would be added to the totals of the remaining candidates (in the case of our hypothetical voter, that vote would transfer to Jessyn Farrell), and so on (go here for a more detailed explanation.)”

Inspiration, Women

“At an event for first-year law students at Georgetown University, Ginsburg reflected on her years working on women’s rights cases, with several of the selected student questions centering on issues facing women in the law.

When asked why she built her legal career around issues of gender equality, she rephrased the question.

“You mean, how did I decide to become a flaming feminist litigator?” she said, to laughter.

Saying that it was “exhilarating” to see women making up the majority of students in Georgetown’s incoming law class, Ginsburg recounted that there were only nine women in her class at Harvard Law School, and that there were few, if any, anti-discrimination laws when she was entering the profession.

“Employers were up front about wanting no, quote, lady lawyers,” she said. “The main difference is all the closed doors are now open. There is nothing that a woman can’t do in the law.”

While “overt barriers” no longer exist, she said, women now face challenges that are harder to detect.”

The Brain, Mind, Body, Spirit

“Americans are taking in five times as much information each day this year than they did in 1987 — a stunning and impossible-to-process 35 gigabytes of information during our leisure time in just one day, said Levitin. “That’s a huge cognitive burden, and it leads to a sense of fatigue.”

Multitasking, the typical response to this firehose of information, doesn’t work, Levitin explained. The science is very clear: The human brain pays attention to each thing separately, shifting back and forth as necessary.

“We’re fracturing our attention into little bitty pieces and never paying full attention to one thing,” he said. “On every measure, we might think we’re getting more done, but on every measure we’re doing worse.””

DACA, Immigration

“PROVIDENCE, RI – Gov. Gina Raimondo said she and a number of philanthropic organizations have raised $170,000 to cover the renewal fee for all Rhode Island residents who are eligible to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump rescinded protection for young adults who came to the United States as children but have now applied to legally work and attend college here. There are 1,200 so-called “Dreamers” in Rhode Island and approximately 250 are eligible to renew their DACA status but they have to act quickly.

Recipients whose work permits expire before March 5 must submit their renewal applications no later than Oct. 3. They must be received by Oct. 5. This money is for those young adults.

“This is a human issue,” Raimondo told a gathering of like-minded individuals.”

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