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Just checking in to say we hope that all is well with you and your furbabies – and to let you know we immensely enjoy your publications. The articles and recipes are great – we are going to try some of the veggie burger recipes definitely – my daughter April is vegan and I am vegetarian for over 25 years now. Just wanted to say we hope you’re well …
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via the Internet
We Can Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
By Congressman Jim McGovern
All too often, our national political conversation seems to devolve into a shouting match. You can turn on the television and see talking heads screaming past each other or log on to social media to see anonymous insults traded back and forth at virtually any moment of the day. It’s exhausting, and I believe voters on all sides deserve better.
That’s why since I was first elected, I’ve been hosting “Coffee with your Congressman” across our district. I’ve traveled to bookstores, senior centers, restaurants – any type of venue that allows us get back to the type of real conversations that used to be so common. You won’t find all the finger-pointing, playing to large crowds, or made for YouTube moments that people are so sick and tired of today.
Instead, I’ve encouraged people to sit side-by-side in these more intimate settings and share their stories and concerns directly with me. And a funny thing happens every time: people stop talking past each other and actually start listening to one another. I’ve heard things that people just wouldn’t share at some large rally.
During a conversation at a coffee in Leicester, a young man talked about how he was brought here as a baby from Brazil. “My father instilled in me the American dream,” he told us. He made the issue of protecting DREAMers personal to everyone in the room that day, and left many with a new perspective as the nationwide debate over the border and immigration policy continues.
I met a lifelong Republican at a coffee in Uxbridge. It was clear we disagreed on nearly every issue, but there was no shouting or name-calling. Even though we didn’t agree on much, we still discussed the issues of the day and appreciated the chance to hear a different perspective.
I could go on and on. Holding these coffees has meant more travel and more events to reach the same amount of people as I would in some packed gymnasium. But it has been worth it to help facilitate meaningful conversations – including those that have reaffirmed that, even in this day and age, we can disagree without being disagreeable.
As chairman of the Committee on Rules, I’ve tried to bring this same approach to our nation’s capital. I’ve instituted a more accommodating legislative process that allows more amendments from both Democrats and Republicans to be debated on the House Floor – including those I disagree with. That’s because I believe in having fair fights and letting the chips fall where they may.
As I’ve watched more of these debates happen on the House Floor, I will admit that some politicians could stand to learn a thing or two from the people I meet regularly here in Massachusetts. No party has a monopoly on good ideas and there is much more common ground than some would have us believe.
None of this is to suggest we don’t have real and deep disagreements in our politics today. It’s no secret that I don’t agree with this president on much. I think his economic policy favors the rich and his immigration policy completely ignores human rights, to name just a few things.
But I also know that yelling won’t solve a single one of the issues we face today. So I will continue doing something radical for an elected official: talking less and listening more. Because as the Dalai Lama said: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
Fighting Stigmas and Advancing Opportunities for People with Disabilities
29 Years Later, the Fight to Fulfill the Promise of the ADA Continues!
By Philip Kahn-Pauli
This year marks the 29th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
After years of hard work, activism and protest by thousands of people with disabilities, an American president lifted his pen to tear down “the shameful wall of exclusion.” In signing the ADA, former President George H.W. Bush called on all Americans to join in the great work to “remove the physical barriers we have created and the social barriers that we have accepted.”
Today, nearly three decades later, the work to remove those barriers continues. “The ADA was meant to ensure that people with disabilities could earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else,” said former member of Congress and current Chairman of the national disability organization RespectAbility, Steve Bartlett, while reflecting on the anniversary. “Significant challenges remain to fulfill the promise of inclusion and independence.”
The work to address those challenges continues. Dozens of disability-led organizations and disability rights groups are working together to fulfill the promise of the ADA. The Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), “which collectively represents millions of Americans with all types of disabilities” coordinates the efforts of more than 120 member organizations “to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration, and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.” Groups such as Disability:In and the National Organization on Disability work with some of the global economy’s largest businesses to promote diversity, inclusion and hiring for employees with disabilities. In the international realm, the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) works with disability leaders across the globe to advance the cause of international disability rights. Together, such efforts are critical to continue advancing the high ideals embodied by the ADA.
According to the best available data, one in four American adults live with a disability. That total includes more than 61 million people living across every community in the United States. It includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries.
It also includes peoples living with invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health conditions or on the Autism spectrum. Counted within that number are people from every segment of the broad mosaic of America society. Every racial group, every gender identity, and every aspect of society is deeply connected to the lived experience of people with disabilities.
Disability employment was a key issue that the ADA was meant to address. In his remarks on that hot July day, President Bush had a special message for the business community. He argued that people with disabilities are “a tremendous pool of people who will bring to jobs diversity, loyalty, proven low turnover rate, and only one request: the chance to prove themselves.” Today, American with disabilities still face challenges in entering the workforce.
The 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows that out of more than 20 million working-age people with disabilities, only 7.5 million have jobs. Overall, the employment rate for people with disabilities has risen to 37 percent (compared to 28.7 percent 29 years ago), which is still far behind that of people without disabilities.
“Employment rates only tell part of the story,” added Philip Kahn-Pauli, Policy and Practices Director at RespectAbility. “When you look across the intersection of disability and race, you find serious gaps in outcomes.” Only 28.6 percent of African Americans with disabilities have jobs compared to the 38.6 percent of Hispanics with disabilities and 41.2 percent of Asian Americans with disabilities who have jobs.
Last year, 111,804 people with disabilities entered the workforce for the first. Among the 50 states, 29 states saw job gains for Americans with disabilities. The states that have added more jobs have done so because of cooperation and collaboration among leaders in the community, in government and in the school system.
States that have seen remarkable growth in jobs for people with disabilities such as Florida, Virginia and Illinois can attribute part of their success to programs such as Project SEARCH. SEARCH is a program for young adults with disabilities to improve their skills, learn from job coaches and ultimately find a job. Data shows that 70 percent of SEARCH interns who complete their training obtain competitive employment. By expanding such critical programs and working toward the principles of Employment First, states across the country can greatly increase the number of people with disabilities entering the workforce.
As more companies hire employees with disabilities, conversations are shifting to focus on inclusion. “Disability inclusion is no longer about automatic doors, curb cuts, ramps, and legislation,” said Jim Sinocchi, Head of the Office of Disability Inclusion at JP Morgan Chase. “Today, the new era of disability inclusion is about ‘assimilation’– hiring professionals with disabilities into the robust culture of the firm.”
Brand name companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young, IBM, Walgreen’s, Starbucks, CVS and Microsoft show people with disabilities are successful employees. Companies that embrace employees with disabilities clearly see the results. According to Accenture, disability-inclusive companies have higher productivity levels and lower staff turnover rates, are twice as likely to outperform their peers in shareholder returns and create larger returns on investment.
As the nation marks the anniversary of the ADA, it is critical to remember that disability is part of the human experience. It is nothing to fear because all of us will be affected by it eventually, whether by accident, aging or illness. Opening more job opportunities to people with disabilities will mean stronger communities and a better economy for all. That was the promise of the ADA and it is a promise that all of us must work to fulfill.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that understands we are a stronger community when we live up to our values – when we are welcoming, diverse, moral and respect one another.
We work with entertainment, policy makers, educators, self-advocates, nonprofits, employers, faith-based organizations, philanthropists, journalists and online media to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities.
Led by people with disabilities and those who love them, we know that people with disabilities and their families have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else, even if they face different challenges.
We do not lobby; we educate. Our free tools and factual resources inform so people with disabilities can achieve the education, training, jobs, security and good health that everyone needs and deserves.
Mission Statement: RespectAbility fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.
To learn more visit respectability.org
More from Jim McGovern:
Congressman McGovern Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to End Cuba Travel Ban
Legislation Would Remove All Restrictions on U.S. Travel to Cuba
Congressman James P. McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, introduced bipartisan legislation yesterday, alongside Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) in the House of Representatives, to lift all restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens and legal residents.
The legislation, which was cosponsored by Kathy Castor (D-FL), Eric A. “Rick” Crawford (R-AR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Darin LaHood (R-IL), José E. Serrano, Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), would also lift restrictions on transactions in conjunction with such travel, such as banking transactions.
Last month, the Trump administration further cracked down on travel to Cuba – implementing regulatory changes to ban “people-to-people” travel, the most common legal method of American travel to Cuba for non-family visits. The administration’s changes also bar all U.S. cruise vessels from entering Cuba.
“Every single American should have the freedom to travel as they see fit. Yet the travel ban deliberately punishes the American people – our very best ambassadors – and prevents them from engaging directly with the Cuban people,” said Congressman McGovern. “It is a Cold-War relic that serves only to isolate the United States from our allies and partners in the region, while strengthening the control of ideological hardliners in both countries. It’s time for us to listen to the majority of Americans, Cuban-Americans, and Cubans who do not support the travel ban, and get rid of it once and for all.”
The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000 codified a ban on tourist travel to Cuba for U.S. nationals. It is the only country in the world for which the U.S. maintains a statutory travel ban. Currently, Americans can travel to China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Russia, Iran and Syria – each with human rights records arguably as bad or worse than Cuba’s. Until just recently, Americans could even travel to North Korea.
Ironically, continued efforts to further restrict the right of Americans to travel to Cuba have had devastating consequences for Cuba’s fledgling private sector – the very people the United States aims to help. Until these harsher measures were imposed, Cuba’s private sector had grown to be approximately 30 percent of Cuban economy.
A companion bill will also be introduced on Monday in the Senate by a broad bipartisan group of 46 senators led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).