Friday, December 3, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 6:45 AM

WASHINGTON — When paid family leave was briefly dropped from congressional Democrats’ massive social spending and climate bill earlier this fall, the outcry was swift.

Women and caregivers suddenly were calling lawmakers and advocates, and they were sharing their own stories on social media in huge numbers, said Dawn Huckelbridge, director of Paid Leave for All, a national advocacy group, during a virtual event with reporters on Tuesday.

“I think people assumed this was a given, that why would you drop paid leave in a pandemic?” Huckelbridge said. “And when that happened, there was outrage.” 

She added: “Women, caregivers, have been dealing with unimaginable circumstances these last few years. And I think it felt tone-deaf to them.”

The Democrats’ “Build Back Better” bill that passed the U.S. House did ultimately restore four weeks of paid leave for workers who need to care for a new baby or ailing loved one or recover from their own serious illness. 

But that provision is at risk of deletion in the Senate, due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.).

Payback at the polls?

Huckelbridge and other advocates and Democratic pollsters who spoke to reporters on Tuesday said a failure to take action on a national paid leave program could have significant political consequences for Democrats in 2022.

The U.S. is one of only a few countries in the world — and the only wealthy country — that does not have a national paid family leave program.

Yet creation of such a program is overwhelmingly popular across party lines, particularly with younger voters and among suburban women in key battleground states.

“It may not be bipartisan in the Congress, but it is bipartisan with the public, particularly in America’s suburbs,” said Celinda Lake, of Lake Research Partners, who was the leading pollster for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

It’s also one of the most popular provisions in the Build Back Better package. Research from Global Strategy Group, a Democratic consulting firm, found the issue has support that’s on par with allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. 

Paid leave also was the only provision tested from that legislative package other than the Medicare provision that gained majority support from voters in both parties — a rare feat in an extremely politically divided era.

In the Global Strategy Group’s survey of battleground voters, Democrats trailed Republicans by 3 percentage points in a generic question of which party’s candidate a voter is more likely to pick. 

But in a follow-up question specifically comparing a Democrat who supports paid leave to a Republican who does not, Democrats hold a 13-point edge, said Joey Teitelbaum, lead researcher on the group’s battleground polling.

Teitelbaum said the research found the issue is one that may motivate voters who would otherwise stay home, but only if those voters see Democrats following through on promises of action on paid leave. 

One-third of voters in the survey said they would rather stay home on Election Day than vote for a Senate candidate who opposes access to paid leave, with higher shares of women ages 18 to 44 and Black female voters agreeing with that statement.

One key group of swing voters in the 2022 elections, Lake said, will be white, non-college-educated women ages 40 to 65 — a group that has many women in the “sandwich” years of caring for children and aging parents. 

Another key group will be women of color and younger women under 40, “who lean very Democratic, but also wonder what the Democrats are doing for them,” she added.

“So, whether you’re talking about the strategy of persuasion, or you’re talking about the strategy of turnout, this is one of the few issues that is at the top of both of those agendas,” Lake said.

Manchin opposition

Moving paid leave from a campaign promise to a policy achievement will take a shift by Manchin, who has said he supports the idea of paid leave but does not back creating a new national program in the pending legislation.

Huckelbridge said Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who have been heavily involved in work on a paid leave program, have told her and others that they believe Manchin is “movable” on the issue.

But they acknowledge that the current bill — which would be passed through the reconciliation process, allowing Democrats to approve it without any Republican votes — is the only path forward on the national level.

“We have to do this in Build Back Better. There is no bipartisan path anytime soon that will deliver real results for families,” Huckelbridge said. 

If that fails, advocates say the movement has grown stronger during the past year. In some states, the fight may move to the state legislature, describing a rise in state-level interest.

“We will see this be an issue in state legislatures and at the ballot box in states,” said Vicki Shabo, senior fellow for paid leave policy and strategy at the think tank New America. “And the federal issue is not going away either.”

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Posted By on Thu, Dec 2, 2021 at 6:45 AM

click to enlarge MARK HERTZBERG | POOL/GETTY IMAGES VIA ARIZONA MIRROR
Mark Hertzberg | Pool/Getty Images via Arizona Mirror

WASHINGTON – He is not currently enrolled in any classes or present on campus, but Kyle Rittenhouse is already casting a long shadow across Arizona State University.

Rittenhouse, acquitted of all charges this month in the killing of two people and the wounding of a third during 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, said during his trial that he was “studying nursing” online at ASU. He later said in news reports that he intends to enroll for in-person classes at the school.

University officials said Tuesday that Rittenhouse is not currently enrolled nor has he applied for admission. But that has not kept a number of left-wing groups from scheduling a rally Wednesday to call on the university to deny enrollment to the “high-profile right-wing fascist icon,” among other demands.

Conservative organizations, meanwhile, have come to Rittenhouse’s defense, with some raising money for legal fees and others accusing his opponents of harassment and engaging in “mob rule.”

The two sides agree on at least one thing: Each thinks the university is not doing enough.

An ASU spokesman Tuesday would only say that Rittenhouse is no longer enrolled in the school’s online nondegree programs and that, as of now, he has not applied for admission to a degree-seeking program.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 2, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Posted on Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 9:27 AM

The Pima County Health Department, in partnership with the City of Tucson, is offering free COVID-19 vaccines at the Tucson Convention Center.

The vaccine clinic is in the TCC east lobby, 260 S. Church Ave. adjacent to the DoubleTree Hotel, and will operate Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free parking is available in the Lot A Garage, which can be accessed from Church Avenue.

All three vaccines are available to adults at all stages - first, second, third doses and boosters. Pfizer shots will also be available for kids age 5 through 18. Vaccinations will be provided on a walk-in basis. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are widely available throughout Pima County. A complete list can be found at pima.gov/covid19vaccine. Vaccinations are also available at pharmacies and health care providers throughout the county. Contact your local provider for more information.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 6:45 AM

click to enlarge Wildflowers bloom near the base of Piestewa Peak in Phoenix in 2013. The mountain was renamed in 2003 from Squaw Peak because the word “squaw” is a derogatory term. There are still 67 places on federal lands in Arizona that use that term, and all will be renamed because of an order by the U.S. Department of Interior. - AZNATURALIST | WIKIMEDIA/CC BY-SA 3.0
Aznaturalist | Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0
Wildflowers bloom near the base of Piestewa Peak in Phoenix in 2013. The mountain was renamed in 2003 from Squaw Peak because the word “squaw” is a derogatory term. There are still 67 places on federal lands in Arizona that use that term, and all will be renamed because of an order by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Arizona officials and advocates praised U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for declaring “squaw” as a derogatory term and ordering that it be removed from any geographic feature on federal lands, which will rename 67 locations in Arizona.

“The removal of such language is bittersweet as it addresses an everyday indignity that Native Americans are continuously subjected to, but also highlights the deeply-rooted anti-Native sentiments that our country was founded on and for which our government is yet to atone,” Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly said. 

Cázares-Kelly is a citizen of the Tohono O’odham Nation and the first Native American to hold a countywide seat in Pima County.

“Deb Haaland’s move to remove a well-known racist and derogatory term that sexualizes Indigenous women from everyday government use is incredibly powerful and long overdue,” said Cázares-Kelly. 

The move comes at a time when many federal leaders are finally acknowledging the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic, Cázares-Kelly said. According to the National Institute of Justice, 84% of Indigenous women experience violence in their lifetime, compared to 71% of white women.

Haaland issued her secretarial orders on Nov. 19.

“Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands. Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage – not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Haaland said in a press release.

As part of Haaland’s order, the Board of Geographic Names – the federal body tasked with naming geographic places – will need to implement procedures that will remove the term from federal usage.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2021 at 6:45 AM

click to enlarge President-elect Joe Biden receives the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination from Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming at Christiana Care Christiana Hospital. - ALEX WONG, GETTY IMAGES VIA ARIZONA MIRROR
Alex Wong, Getty Images via Arizona Mirror
President-elect Joe Biden receives the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination from Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming at Christiana Care Christiana Hospital.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden sought to reassure Americans on Monday about the latest COVID-19 variant, describing it as “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”

Biden did not announce any new travel restrictions or other federal actions during his brief remarks from the White House. 

Instead, he urged Americans to get a booster shot to increase their immunity against COVID-19 — and to be patient while scientists gather more data on what exactly the new omicron variant will mean.

“We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists, and we’re learning more every single day,” Biden said. “We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”

The White House already had restricted travel from eight nations, including South Africa, which first identified the new variant. 

Other countries also have restricted travel as cases involving the new variant have been detected in a growing number of countries, including Canada and parts of Europe.

So far, U.S. public health officials say they believe the current COVID-19 vaccines will provide protection against the new variant. But it likely will take several weeks to gather data on how the mutations in the new variant make it easier to transmit or cause more serious disease. 

Biden said his administration will share the information it gathers “candidly and promptly.” He also said that top health officials are working with the three authorized vaccine manufacturers to ensure they are preparing in case they need to tweak their products to adapt to the variant.

The president also said he will be announcing on Thursday a detailed strategy for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the winter, including more widespread vaccinations, boosters and testing.

“We have moved forward in the face of the delta variant,” Biden said, referencing the variant that caused a surge in infections over the summer. “And we move forward now in the face of the omicron variant as well.”

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Monday, November 29, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 1:00 PM