Colorado Times Recorder https://coloradotimesrecorder.com Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:26:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Experts Say Gardner Likely to Vote With Republicans on Impeachment https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/experts-say-gardner-likely-to-vote-with-republicans-on-impeachment/20763/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/experts-say-gardner-likely-to-vote-with-republicans-on-impeachment/20763/#respond Tue, 21 Jan 2020 15:02:17 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20763 WASHINGTON DC — As the impeachment trial begins in the Senate today, the scrutiny on Colorado’s Cory Gardner grows.

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WASHINGTON DC — As the impeachment trial begins in the Senate today, the scrutiny on Colorado’s Cory Gardner grows.

Speculation has filled a vacuum left by the Republican senator himself, who has made few statements to the press about how he views the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, in which he is now a juror. And Gardner himself couldn’t be reached to explain his stance.

Among experts on Colorado politics, though, the consensus is clear: Gardner can be expected to fall in line with the Republican caucus, except for the possibility of voting for some witnesses or a similar concession, if it’s done with a group of GOP senators.

In the words of Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute: “He’s a partisan.”

“I would be very surprised, at least knowing what we know now, if Gardner defects from his party’s line on the final impeachment vote,” Kyle Saunders, a professor of political science at Colorado State University, wrote in an email.

Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, wrote that he “wouldn’t expect Gardner to deviate from the Republican leadership.” 

Gardner himself became a member of the Senate’s Republican leadership in 2016, and he currently serves as deputy whip.

A Possibility of a Smaller Act of Rebellion

As senator of a purple state, simply following the Republican party line may be too divisive of a political tack, and some experts saw the possibility of a smaller act of rebellion via a vote on allowing additional witness testimony—but only if the crowd is already moving that way anyway. 

“If there is a vote taken on witnesses, and it appears that a majority supports limited witnesses, I could see Gardner making the calculus to support something like that, but only if it’s some sort of limited scenario,” wrote Saunders. “I don’t see Gardner supporting a free-for-all ‘as many witnesses as can be called’ scenario unless things are going very badly for Trump.”

“And it’s still not likely that it will go badly for Trump with Leader McConnell running point,” wrote Saunders.

According to Ornstein, he’s likely to follow the lead set by Senator Susan Collins of Maine and allow a few more witnesses, including Hunter and Joe Biden, and possibly reprimand the president.

But ultimately, “people don’t vote alone,” according to Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver. “[Gardner is] not going to stand that far out.”

Democratic political consultant Steve Welchert said Gardner is already “off-script” in his public communications on the Senate trial by not defending Trump more aggressively, besides calling the House impeachment vote a “total circus.”

Some experts said this tactic—maintaining a neutral public image while reliably voting along party lines—has been a characteristic of Gardner’s style of politics since the beginning of his term.

Ornstein noted that No Labels rated Gardner a “moderate” during his 2014 election, as he billed himself a solutions-oriented “problem solver” at the time.

“There is nothing in the record—no votes—to suggest he is a moderate,” he said.

A similar scenario played out during the Senate votes to repeal Obamacare in 2017, when Gardner’s noncommittal public statements cane in advance of repeated votes in favor of repeal.

Gardner “will signal open-mindedness, but is likely to vote with the rest of his caucus,” said Masket.

According to Coleman, Gardner’s voting record as a whole demonstrates his adherence to the Republican agenda at all turns, his public statements notwithstanding.

“He voted for both Trump’s Supreme Court picks, the GOP tax bill, ACA repeal, and was supportive of the President’s emergency border declaration last year,” he wrote.

“Throughout his tenure, on the big votes, he usually seems more like a senator from deep red Wyoming instead of a light blue state like Colorado,” said Coleman.

CORRECTION: Gardner remains on the U.S. Senate leadership team, currently serving as deputy whip. Due to an editing error, this post initially stated that he was no longer a GOP Senate leader.

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Denver MLK Marade 2020 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/denver-mlk-marade-2020/20768/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/denver-mlk-marade-2020/20768/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 21:19:02 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20768 Tens of thousands of Coloradans marched in Denver’s MLK Day Marade to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now in its 35th year, the event is one of the largest in the nation. Click through the photo gallery above to see images from the Marade: it’s a march…and a parade!

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Tens of thousands of Coloradans marched in Denver’s MLK Day Marade to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now in its 35th year, the event is one of the largest in the nation. Click through the photo gallery above to see images from the Marade: it’s a march…and a parade!

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CU Fraternity Members Help Amplify Dreamers’ Stories https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/cu-fraternity-members-help-amplify-dreamers-stories/20707/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/cu-fraternity-members-help-amplify-dreamers-stories/20707/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:00:50 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20707 Three fraternity men, four “Dreamers” and a University of Colorado history professor were on stage Wednesday night in Boulder’s Dairy Arts Center.

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Three fraternity men, four “Dreamers” and a University of Colorado history professor were on stage Wednesday night in Boulder’s Dairy Arts Center.

According to the playbill, Motus Theater Company’s Shoebox Stories Live performance aimed to have “leaders from Boulder County organizations step into the shoes of undocumented leaders to amplify their stories.”

It was organized in part by CU’s Center for the American West and its director, Prof. Patty Limerick, who joined three leaders in CU’s fraternity community in reading four autobiographical monologues, written by four “Dreamers” – undocumented youth who came to the United States illegally as children – who appeared on stage to introduce themselves and participate in a dialogue with the audience.

Rita Valente-Quinn, Motus Theater’s producing director, described the performance as a “story holding project, the idea being that you read someone else’s story and that is an act of holding someone else’s story.”

“You kind of see the world through their eyes,” she said.

“From what I’ve seen in our performances,” Valente-Quinn said Boulderites “are very sympathetic to undocumented immigrants.”

Still, she said it wasn’t an entirely welcoming place.

She cited the the Community Foundation of Boulder County’s 2019 report, which found that immigrants are among the least welcome groups in Boulder.

“I think it’s a lot of fear and people wanting to assign blame or causality to a downturn that they are experiencing,” Valente-Quinn said.

The Stories

The event consisted of four very unique stories addressing different elements of the undocumented experience.

Dramatic topics like police profiling and crossing the border with coyotes were broached, but the stories all took a more introspective approach. Issues like depression, anxiety and strained family dynamics were all featured prominently.

One person whose story was read, Kiara Chavez, is also a community development and marketing coordinator for Motus Theater. Thanks to the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the 21-year-old recent CU grad and other students in her situation have been able go to school in the United States without fear of deportation. Now, that program is under judicial review.

“I am a big lover and believer of the fact that this world needs a lot more of that,” Chavez said before Limerick read her story. “I hope you can all fall in love with our stories as well and understand the humanity behind the policies in immigration.”

The 21-year-old recent CU grad’s narrative was centered on her first return to her birthplace and ancestral home, Colima on Mexico’s Pacific coast, to help care for her grandmother about two years ago.

As her plane took off for Mexico, Chavez wrote that she became very emotional.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about what my life had consisted of for the past fifteen years since I’d crossed the border at age four and left my first home,” she said.

It had been a decade-and-a-half since Chavez had seen any of her grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins whom she missed dearly. These people were a big part of her life when she was young.

“As a child, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go to Mexico and still, I trusted it was something I simply couldn’t do,” she said. “But now, somehow at age 19 I was returning, and my heart was just about to burst.”

Chavez’s story had a deep emotional impact, but that didn’t at all drown out its rhetorical significance. She highlighted the arbitrary, inflexible nature of American immigration policy and its real-life implications.

“My older sister could go to Mexico,” she said. “She is an American citizen who was born in the United States when my father was working in California.”

Chavez wrote that every few years, her sister “would get on a plane to Mexico and return with sweets from my aunt’s candy store and a collection of photographs of her smiling next to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and the cousins who I had never met.”

Her “sister could enroll in the best private schools in Denver and attend on scholarship. I was smart too, and I tested in as well,” Chavez said, “but I couldn’t go because as an undocumented person, I wasn’t eligible for financial aid and there was no way my parents could afford tuition.”

A Secondary Focus

Undocumented immigrants were certainly the event’s primary focus, but Limerick had another group she wanted to highlight as well.

“I am the lucky soul who conjured up the idea of recruiting fraternity leaders to join me in reading tonight,” Limerick said.

“I live on University Hill,” she said – a student-oriented section of Boulder adjacent to the university campus which is home to most of the city’s Greek life, “and we’ll say that every now and then a football weekend is quite something.”

Limerick spent some time explaining beer die – an innovation on beer pong where participants hurl dice high in the air with the hope of having it bounce off the table and onto the ground without having an opponent catch it.  

“If you throw a ping pong ball, there’s a very good chance it’ll go in the direction you intended it to go,” Limerick explained. “But the die, you don’t know. The die has edges and it bounces.”

Limerick said stereotypes have had a detrimental impact on many in the undocumented community.

“On a different scale of intensity,” she said, “there is no fudging the fact that stereotypes of ‘frat boys’ are in circulation on the CU campus and in Boulder.”

Periodically, Limerick said “an uncomfortable, unhappy or even tragic event has seemed to confirm those stereotypes. What we do not see when we hear of the unhappy event… these young men taking it on,” she said, “and succeeding at getting their fellows onto better footing.”

Adam Wenzlaff, one of the people Limerick invited to read at the event, is the chief executive officer of Boulder’s Undergraduate Intrafraternity Council – an umbrella organization which has represented most CU fraternities since they broke official ties with the university in 2005.

“More so than changing my opinion on DACA,” Wenzlaff said his participation “changed my opinion on what it means to be an immigrant and what struggles you really have to go through to get over to this country and then to succeed.”

He assumed that Limerick invited fraternity members because in many circles they’re seen “polar opposites” when compared with a group like undocumented immigrants.

Although Wenzlaff said he couldn’t speak for other Greek communities, he couldn’t imagine that any of the people whose stories were read on Wednesday night wouldn’t be welcome in a Boulder frat.

“The Boulder Greek community is very welcoming to people who may not have had the typical American experience,” Wenzlaff said. “There’s no requisite for citizenship to join a fraternity here.”

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PHOTOS: Denver Womxn’s March 2020 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/denver-womxns-march-2020/20721/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/denver-womxns-march-2020/20721/#respond Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:37:09 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20721 So many signs! Thousands of Coloradans marched around the state Capitol on Saturday, January 18, in protest of the Trump Administration at the 4th annual Denver Womxn’s March.

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So many signs! Thousands of Coloradans marched around the state Capitol on Saturday, January 18, in protest of the Trump Administration at the 4th annual Denver Womxn’s March.

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GOP Lawmakers Push Bill to Make Health Care for Transgender Youth a Felony in Colo https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/gop-lawmakers-push-bill-to-make-health-care-for-transgender-youth-a-felony-in-colo/20697/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/gop-lawmakers-push-bill-to-make-health-care-for-transgender-youth-a-felony-in-colo/20697/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:27:27 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20697 Republicans in Colorado’s legislature introduced a bill Wednesday that would impose criminal penalties on doctors who provide gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

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Republicans in Colorado’s legislature introduced a bill Wednesday that would impose criminal penalties on doctors who provide gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

The “Protect Minors From Mutilation and Sterilization Act” would make it a class 3 felony for health care providers to offer any sort of treatment for the purpose of “facilitating sex reassignment of a minor,” including surgical intervention or the use of drugs or hormones.

In a press release, Daniel Ramos, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy organization One Colorado, described the bill as “one of the most extreme and direct attacks on transgender youth in Colorado’s history.”

“Medical care for transgender youth should be determined by healthcare professionals, not politicians,” he added.

In an article addressing policy debates regarding transgender youth, The Endocrine Society wrote that “many of the claims being made about gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-incongruent individuals are inaccurate,” and that “claims that a transgender child would receive surgical or irreversible hormonal treatment do not reflect the reality of medical practice.”

Its Clinical Practice Guideline, which outlines best practices for the care of transgender individuals, states that “pubertal physical changes are unbearable” for many trans adolescents, and recommends delaying the process with puberty-blocking medication to give the individual more time to explore their gender identity until they’re old enough to make decisions about more intensive health care options.

“As compared with starting gender-affirming treatment long after the first phases of puberty, a benefit of pubertal suppression at early puberty may be a better psychological and physical outcome,” The Endocrine Society continues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Psychological Association, all mainstream medical associations, support this kind of gender-affirming care for minors.

Still, conservative lawmakers in several states are pushing legislation to ban this kind of care.

“This bill, and other similar legislation being introduced in states around the country, are meant to embolden the dehumanization of the transgender community,” said state Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), the first openly transgender person elected to the state legislature. “By denying appropriate and affirming healthcare, we are setting trans youth up for a more difficult future and the possibility of depression or suicide. We need to value our young people and allow our healthcare professionals to make the decisions, and not be limited by politicians. We won’t be erased.”

Research shows alarmingly high rates of suicide among transgender youth.

One study from the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that more than half of transgender male teens attempted suicide in their lifetime. Rejection by family, discrimination, and harassment are known to be serious risk factors. Researchers at UCLA found that transgender adults who are denied health care are more likely to report having suicidal thoughts or actions.

The bill’s prime sponsor is state Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-Colorado Springs), with additional sponsorship from House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) and others.

Conservatives at Colorado’s Capitol also introduced a bill to create the “Live and Let Live Act,” which would allow public and private businesses to legally refuse service to LGBTQ people based on “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The bill, which has been criticized by LGBTQ advocates as a license to discriminate, has failed in previous years.

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Learning From King’s Last Campaign https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/learning-from-kings-last-campaign/20710/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/learning-from-kings-last-campaign/20710/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:15:49 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20710 As we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., it’s natural to remember his courageous advocacy for racial equity. But before he was assassinated, King had also begun to broaden his efforts to unify around economic justice.

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As we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., it’s natural to remember his courageous advocacy for racial equity. But before he was assassinated, King had also begun to broaden his efforts to unify around economic justice.

That’s worth remembering today.

In December 1967, King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and other conveners laid out their vision for the first Poor People’s Campaign. Seeing how poverty cut across race and geography, these leaders built the campaign into a multiracial effort including African Americans, white Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans aimed at alleviating poverty for all.

The goal was to lead a massive protest in Washington D.C. demanding that Congress prioritize a massive anti-poverty package that included, among other things, a commitment to full employment, a guaranteed annual income, and more low-income housing. And they wanted to pay for it by ending the Vietnam War.

“We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war,” King said, “and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty.” Assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968 while organizing Black sanitation workers, King never made it to the Poor People’s March, but thousands did protest in Washington to honor King’s memory and to pursue his vision.

That vision remains to be realized. Today, 140 million Americans — over 40 percent of us — remain poor or low-income. As in King’s day, Black and brown Americans are especially impacted, but so are millions of poor whites.

Our country may be polarized by party. But the truth is, we have more in common to fight for than what divides us.

A December survey by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that 52 percent of American voters across party lines reported experiencing a serious economic problem in the past year. This tracks with other research, including the Federal Reserve Board’s finding that 40 percent of Americans don’t have the money to cover a $400 emergency.

The same CAP survey shows that strong majorities — including 9 in 10 Democrats, 7 in 10 independents, and 6 in 10 Republicans — support government action to “reduce poverty by ensuring that all families have access to basic living standards like health care, food, and housing if their wages are too low or they can’t make ends meet.”

Even at a time of stark partisan polarization, a majority of Americans support policies like raising the minimum wage — while opposing things like the Trump administration’s draconian cuts to federal nutrition assistance programs.

King and the Poor People’s Campaign promoted a vision of unity. But it wasn’t a unity that avoided conflict — it was one where poor and low-income overcame their divisions to fight for economic justice together.

To revive that vision, a new Poor People’s Campaign has emerged to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and militarism — and what they’re calling “the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.” Over the past two years, this campaign has organized communities from all over the country to build lasting power for poor and impacted people.

“Poor and low-wealth people are seeing the need to galvanize themselves around an agenda, not a party, not a person, but an agenda,” said Reverend William Barber, one of the new campaign’s leaders. “What happens if a movement is able to help people see how they’re being played against each other? You could reset the entire political calculus.”

As we head deeper into a divisive election season — and as we remember Dr. King — it’s worth remembering that our real enemy is injustice, not each other.

This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

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Abortion Foe Appears to Mock Women Who Have Had Ectopic Pregnancies, Miscarriages https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/abortion-foe-appears-to-mock-women-who-have-had-ectopic-pregnancies-miscarriages/20675/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/abortion-foe-appears-to-mock-women-who-have-had-ectopic-pregnancies-miscarriages/20675/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 17:33:11 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20675 In a video promoting a bill to ban nearly all abortion in Colorado, Christy Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Colorado Campaign for Life, appeared to mock women who’ve experienced a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the uterus.

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In a video promoting a bill to ban nearly all abortion in Colorado, Christy Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Colorado Campaign for Life, appeared to mock women who’ve experienced a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the uterus.

Speaking alongside Colorado state Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) about her bill to make abortion a felony by defining human life as beginning at conception, Rodriguez dismissed concerns, raised by women testified against previous versions of the bill, that the legislation could result in criminal penalties for the removal of an ectopic pregnancy or fetal remains following an incomplete miscarriage.

See the video below:

“As I understand it, it does not criminalize women who have had an ectopic pregnancy,” said Rodriguez.

“That’s right,” Saine replied.

“That’s been one of the arguments during the testimony in previous years, that women come in and say, ‘I had an ectopic pregnancy. I had a miscarriage, and they had to do a D&C and this is going to… I’ll get thrown in jail for that,’” she continued, appearing to mock those women. “How to you respond to those objections?”

“Well that simply isn’t in the bill, and they’re throwing all of these red flags out hoping that they’ll convince the members of the legislature to vote against the bill,” Saine replied.  

While the Protect Life at Conception Act does contain an exception for ectopic pregnancies, there are no specific protections for doctors who provide treatment during a miscarriage.

Under this legislation, performing an abortion for any reason other than to save the life of the patient would be a class 1 felony punishable by life imprisonment or death.

Ectopic pregnancy has increasingly become a topic of conversation within the abortion-rights debate after anti-abortion lawmakers in Ohio pushed a bill to require doctors to “reimplant” ectopic pregnancies, a procedure that doesn’t exist in medical literature.

According to a study published last month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, early pregnancy loss due to ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage frequently causes PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Responding to an email from the Colorado Times Recorder containing the link to the video, Saine wrote, “I haven’t reviewed the video yet and I don’t remember what you are referring to.”

“Any interviewer is responsible for their own words,” Saine added.

Rodriguez did not respond to a request for comment.

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Interfaith Panel Encourages Bridge-Building Across Ideological Differences https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/interfaith-encourages-bridge-building/20648/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/interfaith-encourages-bridge-building/20648/#respond Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:43:00 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20648 Monday night, the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado kicked off its series of events, called Together in This, with a panel of faith leaders who discussed political and ideological conflicts within their respective religious communities–and presented ideas for moving forward in a more cohesive direction.

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Monday night, the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado kicked off its series of events, called Together in This, with a panel of faith leaders who discussed political and ideological conflicts within their respective religious communities–and presented ideas for moving forward in a more cohesive direction.

The six panelists at the event, held at the Denver Community Church, were: Rev. Dr. Thomas V. Wolfe, President and CEO of Iliff School of Theology; Dr. Mark Young, President of Denver Seminary; Dr. Nabeeh Hasan, Director of the Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureau; Rev. Dr. Jennifer Leath, Assistant Professor of Religion and Social Justice at Iliff School of Theology; Rabbi Bruce Dollin, from the Hebrew Educational Alliance; and Sister Marion Weinzapfel, CSJ (Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph), pastoral assistant at Curé d’Ars Catholic Church. The panel was moderated by Rev. Amanda Henderson, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.

Rabbi Dollin immediately brought up the topic of Israel. He said that rabbis in his community had stopped talking about Israel for a while among each other, because of their political divisions.

Dollin said that as President of the Rocky Mountain Rabbitical Council at the time, he arranged for a retreat for 25 rabbis that included a group discussion where everyone talked about their “connection to Israel, and what they found deeply moving about [their] connection to Israel.”

Dollin noted that each rabbi’s political concept of Israel had to do with the political situation in Israel at the time that each rabbi studied there. The older members experienced Israel around the time of the Six-Day War, which Dollin says leaves a very different impression from studying there as a younger rabbi, during peace talks.

Dr. Young, an Evangelical Christian, chose to bring up how the term “evangelical” has become politicized, which he describes as “identity theft.”

“For me, the understanding of what it meant to be evangelical is very closely tied to a profound religious experience, or conversion experience for me,” said Young, “as well as a set of convictions relating to the way we read scripture and the way we choose to live out our lives in line with scripture, as well as engagement in helping others understand who is this person that we worship.”

For Young, the fact that “evangelical” has been “reduced to not just a political term, but the support of a particular candidate in the political world, is intensely painful.”

Rev. Henderson inquired what Young’s thoughts were about a recent editorial published in Christianity Today, an Evangelical news publication. The article presents the opinion that President Donald Trump should be removed from office–a take that surprised many.

Young called the article “a ray of hope” for some, because it broadened the concept of evangelicalism. He also noted, however, that the article has raised “the stark divisions” in his religious community.

“[Evangelicals] are on the verge of being split into red and blue churches[…]and that also causes significant grief,” said Young.

LGBTQ+ issues were brought up by multiple panelists, including Dr. Hasan, Rev. Dr. Wolfe, and Rev. Leath, who is an openly queer woman herself.

Hasan spoke out about the divides he faces in the Muslim community when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community.

Hasan was told by a family member to resign from the Interfaith Alliance because of an Interfaith colleague’s stance in support of the queer community.

“I was left wondering, ‘How do I pick up the pieces with this family member? How do I reconcile this grave gulf that lies between?'” said Hasan.

“The Muslim community is one of the most diverse communities that you will find in America. Politically, religiously, ethnically, racially, you will find Muslims who are as pro-Trump as pro-Trump gets,” said Hasan. “And obviously you will find those who are every bit as invested as anyone in saying ‘impeach the president and let’s get someone else into the Oval Office.'”

Wolfe, a United Methodist, said that he has hope, thanks to his students’ willingness to fight for their identities.

After the decision made by the United Methodist church to disassociate from the LGBTQ+ community, Wolfe said he came back to Iliff School of Theology to find a “huge rainbow flag hanging in our foyer for everybody to see.”

Sister Weinzapfel, a Catholic, was the only panelist to address the oft-avoided topic of abortion.

“I get upset with the abortion question. Because, in our church, so often, this gets related to a party,” said Weinzapfel. “And yet, at the same time, I keep watching delegates come and hope that they would find some middle ground. You know, why can’t we reduce abortions? Why is it just either/or?”

In response to a question posed by Rev. Henderson about what might unite us moving forward in such a divisive time, Rev. Leath cited “The Space Traders,” a short story by Derrick Bell published in 1992, in which an ethical dilemma occurs–aliens come to the U.S. and ask for every black person in exchange for incredible wealth and technological advances. In the story, the U.S. government agrees to the deal.

“I also believe, as a descendant of slaves, that we need freedom. And that we need to rather die than be unfree, and working toward freedom together. And that’s the bottom line: that, if we are ever presented with such a trade,” said Leath, “whether it’s the question of the extermination of black people; of Jewish people; of LGBTQ people; of Muslim people; of any people. If we are ever given that opportunity again, if we ever see that opportunity in the future–we need to be ready. To die for freedom and love together, rather than to offer any one of us up.”

Future events in the Together in This series will continue to address how to overcome the country’s political and cultural divisions.

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Why Do We Have School Lunch Debt at All? https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/why-do-we-have-school-lunch-debt-at-all/20669/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/why-do-we-have-school-lunch-debt-at-all/20669/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 17:58:35 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20669 A Google search for “paying school lunch debt” reveals a long list of recent news stories about good Samaritans paying off the school lunch debt of children whose families cannot afford it.

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A Google search for “paying school lunch debt” reveals a long list of recent news stories about good Samaritans paying off the school lunch debt of children whose families cannot afford it.

A Fredonia, New York man paid off $2,000 in school lunch debt in his area, helping 140 families. A Rigby, Idaho tattoo shop raised $1,200. Nationally, a charity called School Lunch Fairy has raised nearly $150,000 to pay off the school lunch debt of children in need.

These stories are heartwarming, and the people who donate are angels. But let’s look at the bigger picture: Why is there school lunch debt in the first place?

In 2008, Mark Winne wrote in his book Closing the Food Gap that he knew how to end hunger. I was impressed. What could it be? I figured the answer must be terribly complex.

But it wasn’t. End poverty, Winne wrote.

This ties back to the work of Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate in economics who found that hunger was not due to a lack of food, but a lack of a right to food. If you lack the ability to buy food or grow your own food, and nobody gives you food, then in a capitalist economy, you are not legally entitled to food.

Or, in this case, if your parents cannot afford food, then children are not legally entitled to eat at school.

Let’s divide this into two distinct issues, a moral one and a more practical one.

Letting children go hungry in the richest country on earth is wrong. Period. That’s the moral one.

Now, speaking practically, providing free and reduced cost lunch to children of low-income families serves several purposes at once.

It provides for children’s physical needs as an end in itself, while helping them focus on learning while at school. It provides jobs in food service for adults. It even creates demand for commodities to help keep prices up for farmers.

Going one step further, the National School Lunch Act was actually passed as a matter of national security after the Great Depression and World War II. Lawmakers considered undernourishment a liability if it meant young people weren’t healthy enough to fight the next Hitler.

Whatever the reason, ensuring children have enough to eat during the school day is also an economic stimulus and a matter of public good. We all do better if we live in a nation where children grow up healthy, educated, and well nourished.

But we already have the National School Lunch Program, which offers children of low-income families free and reduced price lunch. So why is there still an epidemic of school lunch debt?

For one thing, qualifying for free or reduced price lunch usually involves some burdensome paperwork, so families who should qualify for it don’t always receive it. In other cases, bureaucratic errors can saddle families with thousands in debt for lunches they thought were covered.

The Trump administration is actually making that problem worse by no longer automatically enrolling children in families that qualify for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, for school lunch assistance.

We live in a nation where food is plentiful but millions of children experience hunger and food insecurity. Feeding our kids shouldn’t fall only to kind strangers and acts of charity.

Instead, a nationwide epidemic of school lunch debt points to a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution. Our kids deserve universal school lunch — and real plans to end poverty in the richest country on earth.

This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

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Gardner Erases His Opposition to Obamacare From His Campaign Website https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/gardner-erases-his-opposition-to-obamcare-from-his-campaign-website/20658/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2020/01/gardner-erases-his-opposition-to-obamcare-from-his-campaign-website/20658/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 00:08:53 +0000 https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/?p=20658 In a little-noticed change to the “Health Care” section of his new re-election campaign website, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has removed any mention of his stance in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

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In a little-noticed change to the “Health Care” section of his new re-election campaign website, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has removed any mention of his stance in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

That’s a major shift in campaign tactics for Gardner, who made killing Obamacare a major theme of his political campaigns, first for the U.S. House in 2010 and then for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

“Cory has been a leader in modernizing our health care system, lowering costs, and improving the quality of care for Coloradans,” states the new website, which was changed sometime since November . “He understands any health care plan needs to cover pre-existing conditions and must be a part of any plan he will support.”

Contrast this to Gardner’s stance on health care when he was running against Democrat Mark Udall in 2014, when not only did Gardner’s campaign website call for repealing the “misguided” ACA, but it was the centerpiece of his entire campaign, his reason for entering the race.

“Throughout his time in Congress, Cory has voiced his strong opposition to Obamacare and the premium increases, thousands of pages in new regulations, and burdensome mandates it creates,” states Gardner’s 2014 campaign website, courtesy of the Way Back Machine. “…He supports legislation that repeals this misguided law and replaces it with a solution that allows the purchase of insurance across state lines, bolsters state high-risk pools to provide for those with pre-existing conditions, and enacts badly needed tort reform to reduce medical costs, among other ideas.”

Health care analysts believe Gardner’s campaign is trying to hide or downplay the senator’s longstanding opposition to the ACA, in light of the fact that the popularity of Obamacare was at a low point when Gardner was elected to the Senate, and it’s at a near high point now.

“Gardner is trying to erase his history of voting to repeal the ACA in 2017 and well before,” said Adam Fox, Director of Strategic Engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “He knows that Coloradans will not look favorably on it, and it damages his chances of re-election. He’s just trying to obscure the way he consistently votes, because it’s politically inconvenient for him.”

Gardner’s office did not return a call asking if he no longer wants to kill Obamacare and/or if he plans to remove references to repealing the ACA from his Senate website.

Gardner’s decision to excise his opposition to Obamacare from his re-election campaign website comes despite the senator’s ongoing opposition to the ACA.

Even his Senate website, which is run separately from his re-election campaign, states that fixing “our healthcare system will require repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with patient-centered solutions, which empower Americans and their doctors.”

In fact, other than the change on his campaign website, there are no signs that Gardner is softening his opposition to the ACA, having repeatedly backed Trump’s administrative actions to undermine the law—most recently when Gardner voted in support of Trump’s order to allow the sale of so-called junk insurance that would skirt the ACA’s guarantee that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Gardner also appears to support a lawsuit heading toward the U.S. Supreme Court that aims kill Obamacare outright, telling Hill last year when asked about the lawsuit, “That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.” He’s not part of a Senate resolution that would force Trump to stop supporting the lawsuit.

If the court kills Obamacare, the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which Gardner claims to support on his new website, would be eliminated.

These protections would also have been weakened or completely eliminated under Gardner’s multiple votes to kill Obamacare in the House and also in the Senate.

Overall, Gardner’s professed support for a health care plan that “needs to cover pre-existing conditions” doesn’t comport with his record of voting repeatedly for measures that would undermine Obamacare’s existing requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered.

And Gardner has not produced a plan that comes anywhere close to matching Obamacare’s protections.

Gardner’s new campaign website also boasts that the senator “worked with Governor Polis and the Trump Administration to secure a waiver for Colorado to implement a reinsurance program that will reduce health care costs for hardworking Coloradans.”

But, the reinsurance program is part of Obamacare, which Gardner wants to kill. The Republican’s ironic stance led 9News’ Kyle Clark to observe, “Senator Gardner wants to demolish the house, but today he’s claiming credit for helping the homeowners put on an addition.”

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