Editor’s note: Congressman David E. Price, vice chair of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, released this statement Monday on President Obama’s gun violence executive action.
As I said after Sandy Hook, Charleston, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Roseburg, San Bernardino, and Chapel Hill, I categorically reject the notion that we can’t develop reasonable reforms that will save lives while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. I have long advocated for proposals like requiring background checks for gun sales at gun shows or over the Internet and lifting the ban on federally-funded gun violence research, ideas that have widespread support throughout the country.
The reforms President Obama announced today are limited in scope, but they are a well-designed first step and fall well within his constitutional authority. He has repeatedly emphasized that he would much prefer congressional action on gun violence; unfortunately, Republican leadership in Congress refuses to consider even the most common-sense gun reform proposals. Executive action is his only recourse.
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Pretending the problem doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. Neither will pandering to special interests over the concerns of the majority of the American people. Congress must finally get the message that something can and must be done about gun violence. The future of our country is at stake.
U.S. Rep David Price
Rabbis speak out
As Jews and as Americans we are deeply concerned by anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic rhetoric that have become more and more extreme and commonplace in the media and in the public square. We decry terrorism, and mourn for the victims of horrifying acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion. We insist that the crimes of ISIS and similar groups are morally reprehensible – even as we insist that it is wrong to blame Islam as a whole for the acts of extremists who constitute far less than 1 percent of the world’s Muslims.
We are seeing a rise in hate crimes directed against Muslims in America and many Muslims face daily fears of discrimination, harassment and targeted violence. The Jewish community is keenly aware of what it is like to be the target of vilification and hate speech, and we recognize the danger it holds for the Muslim community, locally and nationally. We know what can happen when good people do not stand up and speak out against the loud voices churning fear, prejudice and violence.
As Jews who too often have suffered persecution because of our faith, we stand firmly with our Muslim brothers and sisters and denounce all language or actions that represent a denigration of any one faith or religious community. As Americans, we know that freedom of religion is a foundational American value that has enabled us to build a diverse, thriving nation.
We call on all Jews and all Americans to denounce hate speech and fear-mongering against Muslims in politics and the media, and to reach out in support of Muslim Americans. Together in the New Year, may we rise to our highest values of mutual respect, understanding and freedom.
This letter was signed by Rabbi Jen Feldman, Kehillah Synagogue; Rabbi Larry Bach, Judea Reform Congregation; Rabbi Daniel Greyber, Beth El Synagogue; Rabbi Ariel Naveh, Senior Educator, UNC Hillel; Rabbi John Friedman; Rabbi Elana Friedman, Campus Rabbi, Duke University; Rabbi Lucy Dinner, Temple Beth Or; Rabbi Ariel Edery, Beth Shalom; Rabbi Eric Solomon, Beth Meyer Synagogue; Rabbi Jenny Solomon, D. Min.; Rabbi Laura Lieber, Ph.D., Duke University; Rabbi Steven Sager, Director of Sicha; Rabbi Suri Friedman, Community Chaplain, NC Research Triangle; Rabbi Frank Fischer and Rabbi Susan Cowchock, M.D.
Flip the switch
It is 2 a.m. on Christmas morning 2015. I am up with the full moon overhead and the sound of the Eno River, which is running high below my property.
Feeling restless. It is a freaky 70 degrees outside. The voices of chorus frogs call in the distance. I've just served myself a cup of blended passionflower, skullcap and chamomile tea to try to calm down.
Deep down inwardly my spirit is asking, “Is it finally here, the long anticipated climatic BIG SHIFT?” Are these most unseasonal temperatures during our community's “Holy Days,” a firm and deliberate message from the Holy Beings that we all honor in some form or another, that we get a grip on our reckless use of carbon-based energy and the lifestyles it supports?
My friends, I challenge us to think of unplugging on Earth Day this coming year: April 22, 2016. As both a symbolic and exploratory act, let’s flip the main switch on our home’s electrical panel for 24 hours.
I think we all know intuitively that such a day will be forced upon us sooner or later. Perhaps if we preempt it even for one day, such an act might help us “shift” our own perspective toward climate change so as to be able to make some real and long-term adjustments in our carbon consumption behavior. Spring weather on April 22 should not even require heating or air conditioning. Flipping the switch probably will not be a huge burden. Our hot water heaters will still be lukewarm at the end of the day. Owners of refrigerators may want to keep an eye on their perishables. But I say, let’s give it a try
Dave “Riverdave” Owen
More drum beating
The most recent GOP debate echoed the sentiments of the previous two: fear-mongering and the pounding of war drums. We have seen in the past what pre-emptive war can do. G.W. Bush and administration played off the gullibility and naivete of the American people to launch an invasion of Iraq. Instead of the U.S. being hailed as the great liberator, thousands of precious lives were lost, thousands of casualties resulted and $3 trillion taxpayer dollars were spent, and for what? Basically to turn Iraq into a terrorist training ground.
Now America is viewed by many regions of the Middle East as the great malefactor. Wisdom, restraint and respect for international law are what I did not hear from any of the candidates.
Long, long ago, America prided itself on the use of war as the last resort, expending all nonviolent options. This veteran prays for its return.
Most dangerous weapon
Once again, it’s time for New Year’s resolutions, particularly those to improve our diet and exercise routine.
Although gun violence and traffic accidents remain the leading causes of death among young people, the most dangerous weapon for the rest of us is still our fork. Well over a million of us are killed each year by high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases linked to our meat-based diet.
But times are changing. According to Gallup, 22 percent of American consumers are avoiding meat and 12 percent are avoiding dairy products. Supermarket chains, along with Target and Walmart, offer a growing selection of delicious and healthy plant-based meats and dairy products. Animal meat consumption has dropped by 8 percent in the past decade.
Hundreds of school, college, hospital, and corporate cafeterias have embraced Meatless Monday and vegan meals. Fast-food chains like Chipotle, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell, and White Castle, are rolling out vegan options.
Let’s make this New Year’s resolution about exploring the rich variety of plant-based entrees, lunch meats, cheeses, ice creams, and milks, as well as the more traditional green and yellow veggies. The Internet offers tons of recipes and transition tips.
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