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This week, we will celebrate the holiday of Passover, when we remember the process that led the Jewish people to become free in the land of Egypt. Part of this process will include discussing the Ten Plagues. At my family’s seder in Atlanta, we use goodie bags with various small toys that resemble each of the plagues. In these bags there will be three toys that resemble a lack of health: small plastic insects to represent lice, a small rubber cow to represent the cattle disease that killed many of Egypt’s domestic animals and bubble wrap to represent the boils that deformed the Egyptians. In Jewish tradition, lacking health and adequate health care is viewed as a plague, an issue so damaging that God viewed risking your health as a serious enough threat to cause Pharaoh to free the slaves.
Controversy has erupted in Utah since Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill into law reinstating the firing squad as a possible method of execution for death row prisoners. Lethal injection will remain the primary method of execution in the state, but the firing squad will be permitted when the proper drugs required for lethal injection are unobtainable. The news has shocked many, who find the method of firing squads to be an outdated and barbaric way of executing people. In fact, Governor Herbert himself has said that he finds firing squads to be “a little bit gruesome.”
Yesterday, the Obama Administration proposed a 28% cut in greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the next decade. The announcement was part of international climate negotiations leading up to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Paris, France this December. Each member nation of the Convention is expected to give their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) ahead of the conference with a deadline for peak emissions and an expected cut in emissions. You can read more about what the INDCs are and their place in the process on the World Resources Institute page.
By Rachel Landman As World Malaria Day approaches on April 25, I have been reflecting on how much I have learned and accomplished as a Religious Action Center and Nothing But Nets Malaria Fellow over the past three semesters. Nothing But Nets is a global grassroots campaign that raises money to send mosquito nets to Sub-Saharan Africa to prevent malaria. I had firsthand experience while studying in Kenya and Tanzania during the fall of 2013 where I slept safely under a net protected from the deadly bite of a mosquito each night, but helplessly witnessed my local friends suffering from malaria. But prior to the fellowship, I had heard of Nothing But Nets, but did not truly understand the vast prevalence of malaria worldwide, or what I could do once I returned to the United States.
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s take stock of the progress—and the setbacks—we saw for women’s rights policy this month: In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) reintroduced the International Violence Against Women Act, or I-VAWA (H.R. 1340), a bill to provide concrete tools to change the circumstances that lead to gender-based violence across the globe, including support for equal economic opportunity, access to education, legal accountability and public health services for survivors of violence. Urge your Members of Congress to support I-VAWA and to join the fight to end violence against women and girls across the globe.
On Passover, we remember the ten plagues that were put upon the Egyptian people. Thousands of years later, modern-day plagues of inequality should ignite contemporary responses to combat these injustices. Many of the most vulnerable members of our society are disproportionately affected; they cannot be “passed over” or ignored, especially during this important holiday. As we think about the ancient plagues, let us also keep in mind those who still live under the weight of modern plagues.
By Erin Glazer As a mom, I spend a lot of time thinking about what my daughter eats. And if I stop thinking about it, even for just a minute, she reminds me! Our days are peppered with refrains of “I’m still hungry” or “I want a snack.” Like most parents, I do my best to make sure she has a balanced diet, with the occasional treat thrown in for good measure. Even on her pickiest days, I know that my daughter is well fed. I can’t imagine opening the refrigerator only to find empty shelves, or worrying every morning about whether or not I have enough food to pack in her owl-shaped lunch box. And yet, for too many American families, this is the harsh reality of daily life.
By Becky Wasserman Passover is a time to remember the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. It’s a time to remember slavery and celebrate liberation. It’s a time to reflect on the modern sources of oppression we still face today. As Jews, Americans, and as citizens of the world, that is our responsibility. I challenge everyone this Passover to discuss violence against women around your seder table. It’s a modern affliction that deserves attention from all of us.
As people of faith, we advocate for a moral budget that protects the key programs that lift so many Americans out of poverty each year. Now that Congress is in recess, we have time to reflect on the many different budget proposals, and where they currently stand in the process. The budgets that the House and the Senate Budget Committees each adopted on March 19 each cut over $3 trillion over ten years (from 2016-2025) from programs that impact our most vulnerable.
The big news of the week has been the aftermath surrounding the passage of state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), with new developments on how which governor felt about which law or possible amendment changing every few hours.