Social Issues

Terence Blanchard performs with his band E Collective
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Grammy-winning jazz musician Terence Blanchard is no stranger to composing music inspired by social injustice. He wrote an album about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  He wrote the opera "Champion," which dealt with race and sexuality issues in boxing and debuted at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis last year. And he just released a new work inspired by the death of Eric Garner and the #BlackLivesMatter social media campaign that’s taken root in St. Louis since the shooting death of Michael Brown.

At the beginning of the month, a report came out from the Pew Hispanic Center reporting that illegal immigration into the country had declined "sharply since mid-decade."

According to the study, which used U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of undocumented immigrants in the country dropped 8 percent, from 12 million in March 2007 to 11.1 million in March 2009. 

Only a handful of opponents of Proposition B, the Nov. 2 ballot measure to regulate dog breeding in Missouri, showed up Tuesday night for a protest outside the Humane Society offices on Macklind Avenue in St. Louis.

Inside, supporters of the measure -- Proposition B -- heard from national and state leaders of animal-rights groups, who said passage of the ballot measure would have national repercussions. Jill Buckley of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals noted Missouri's reputation as "the puppy mill capital of the United States."

As a progressive Democrat, I have a very different view of health-care reform than that of conservative Republicans. The dividing point is this: Do we, as a people, care enough about providing effective, affordable health care for everyone to put citizens' needs ahead of the financial interests of the health care industry?

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., appeared to exude more optimism today about St. Louis' chances of landing a transit hub with China than she was about her party's chances in this fall's election.

Addressing members of the St. Louis Chamber and Growth Association, McCaskill said that the latest talks with China indicate Lambert Field should be seeing two Chinese cargo flights a week by next summer.

Federal stimulus dollars continue to provide additional financial underpinning for St. Louis' system of health care for the needy. Grace Hill Neighborhood Health Centers is a recent beneficiary of stimulus money, and it has used those funds to replace and upgrade two of its facilities.

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri's Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, marked Labor Day by launching a new ad that focuses on jobs and features the owner of a St. Louis dry-cleaning store.

But arguably more significantly, the ad includes what the GOP believes may be a magic word this election season: Obama.

"Robin Carnahan supports the Obama agenda. I don't,'' says Blunt in the ad, referring to his Democratic rival.

Cecilia Nadal (standing at right in green) talks with Yanith Carranza (left) and Elizabeth Morales in Amherst Park after the unity concert. Morales came from the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park.
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon file folder

Karen Cox Miller seldom thought much about the growing presence of foreigners in the Alpha Garden and Alpha Village apartment complexes a couple of blocks west of her home near Hodiamont Avenue and Skinker Boulevard.

On Sunday, however, she decided to get to know some of the new arrivals by attending the neighborhood's first Amherst Park Concert for Unity, which sought to build better relations between African Americans like herself and immigrants.

Jim Hacking
From law firm website

Most of us say deportation, but in legal circles, with the government and those who find themselves involved with a case, it's called removal.

The word itself pretty much describes what happens: A person is literally removed from this country for a number of reasons. But how removal works is not necessarily easy to understand or navigate.

I LOVE great ideas. Solutions. Effective approaches.

If I were asked to nominate "the best idea wasted," it would be the IBOT wheelchair invented by Dean Kamen using his Segway technology.

Segway, you'll recall, is that two-wheeled device that takes a standing rider and never tips over due to the gyroscope technology created by Kamen's company DEKA. It's a remarkable invention.

In the 8th District congressional contest, Democrat Tommy Sowers and Republican incumbent Jo Ann Emerson both have new TV ads on the air. Both spots go negative, which is unusual so far out before the Nov. 2 election.  

Candidates often wait until after Labor Day to take off the verbal gloves, in part because that's when voters are most likely to pay attention.

The ad attacks by Emerson and Sowers both fit in with their respective party line.

During a 2010 interview, Norman Seay shared this photo of Jefferson Bank protesters being led to jail. A young William Clay, before he was elected to Congress, is second from left. Seay is the man wearing a hat and is behind the man with a pocket handkerc
Provided by Mr. Seay

When Norman Seay leads a gathering to this year's commemoration of the Jefferson Bank protest of 1963, he will be taking a stand one more time for civil rights, equality and justice.

Seay is one of St. Louis' most widely respected advocates for civil rights. He has spent most of his life trying to educate people -- blacks and whites -- about the importance of integration and equal opportunities for everyone.

Norman Seay lives in the family home on James "Cool Papa" Bell Avenue. The star baseball player was his uncle.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has retooled his lawsuit against the federal health-care law to make it clear that he's not suing on behalf of the state of Missouri.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, in turn, dropped his court challenge of Kinder's initial suit, which Koster said at the time was ambiguous as to the lieutenant governor's intent.

Under the separation of powers of the U.S. Constitution, activities not enumerated fall to the purview of the states. Such it has been with the jurisdiction of family law. Each state has enacted laws governing marriage, adoption, and sexual activity.

A new early intervention program, financed with $88 million in federal health-reform money, has the potential of breaking the poverty cycle that afflicts generation after generation of at-risk families. The idea is to give a needy kid a healthy start in life through a home-visit  program that addresses child protection, health, early education and social service issues through age 8.

In a political showdown that Republicans favored and Democrats wanted to avoid, Missouri voters gave strong approval to Proposition C, the state referendum that calls for Missouri to opt out of the federal health care reform law that was passed four months ago. More than 72 percent of Missouri voters supported the measure.

The federal health-reform train began rolling across America this summer, dropping off benefits at every stop along the way, offering coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, giving added protection to young people about to be removed from their parents' health plans, and setting up temporary high-risk pools for some unable to buy affordable insurance.

Based on projections from local elections officials, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is estimating that less than a quarter -- 24 percent -- of Missouri's registered voters will turn out next Tuesday.

In the St. Louis area, the turnout predictions ranged from only 19.26 percent in St. Louis to 25.41 percent in St. Louis County and 27.78 percent in St. Charles County. Even Jefferson County, which has a spirited Democratic primary for county executive, is projecting less than 20 percent of its voters will cast ballots.

Proposition C, which is on Missouri's Aug. 3 primary ballot, asks voters whether Missouri should be able to opt out of federal health-care reform, specifically the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance. The Beacon, through our Public Insight Network, asked readers how they are likely to vote on this measure. Here are excerpts from some of their responses. (Read the Beacon's companion article: With Prop C, Missouri voters will be first in nation to weigh in on health-care reform.)

Missourians for Health Care Freedom, the chief campaign group for Proposition C, launched a statewide radio ad campaign today that will continue until the statewide vote Aug. 3.

The initial ad buy totals $25,000 and will increase if more money comes in, said campaign manager Patrick Tuohey. The ads began airing in west Missouri and should be heard in the St. Louis area by Tuesday, he said.

In 1789, the people of the United States of America proclaimed:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

With that, we the people formed the federal government to promote the general welfare of the people.

On Aug. 3, all eyes in the nation will turn toward Missouri, as voters in the Show-Me State become the first anywhere to cast a ballot concerning the federal health-care plan foisted upon them. A "yes" vote on Proposition C -- the Health Care Freedom Act -- will tell the nation that Missourians have looked at this expensive, ill-conceived and unhealthy measure and rejected it.

Ken Schmitt didn't set out to be an immigration lawyer.

He got involved, however, when he started his own practice and knew people who were graduating from American schools and wanted to stay and work as professionals. Then, the majority of his clients had a minimum of a bachelor's degree and were offered jobs, but that only made up about 20 percent of his practice for a while.

Actor Billy Bob Thornton has always fancied himself a musician. He played in Creedence Clearwater Revival and ZZ Top cover bands back in his native Arkansas and finally got to release a handful of solo albums after he'd risen to fame onscreen in "Sling Blade" and "Monster's Ball."

Actress Cyd Charisse died yesterday in Los Angeles. She's perhaps best remembered as Gene Kelly's sultry dance partner in "Singing in the Rain":

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But Charisse was equally memorable in such films "The Band Wagon," "Silk Stockings," and Nicholas Ray's noir "Party Girl":

To take account of race or to not take account of race, that is the question -- or at least it is in transracial adoption.

The rates of transracial adoption have increased dramatically in the past decades, and research and the law are trying to keep up. From the social research perspective we've learned a few things. Historically, research on transracial adoption found no differences in outcomes for kids adopted across race compared to same-race families.

Health-care officials in Missouri are gearing up for a major campaign this summer to convince uninsured, low-income women to take advantage of free vaccinations to guard against human papillomavirus or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.

A poster for prevention

Health-care foundation of greater Kansas City

The U.S. Supreme Court broadened the legal protection of workers who face retaliation for complaining about discrimination at work. The court ruled that workers who complained about race and age discrimination were protected from reprisals, just as are those who complain about sex discrimination have been protected since a 2005 decision.

What do you think?

- Is retaliation for complaining about discrimination the same as discrimination?

- Should the Supreme Court say that retaliation is covered by the law if the text of the statute doesn't say so explicitly?

- What about the male coach of the girls' softball team who suffered reprisals after complaining the girls didn't get the same resources as the boys' baseball team? 

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