Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 21:35

The state of voter suppression in America

Just because President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission has been disbanded doesn’t mean the state of voter suppression in America has improved. Many states fought to defend the privacy of its voters from the voter fraud commission and won, but the fight has just begun to curb voter suppression in states throughout America.

Suppressing the Student Vote in America

Young voters can sway elections, and the Republican-led New Hampshire Senate has passed a “poll tax” that will suppress student voting. The bill will likely pass the Republican-led House, but Republican Governor Chris Sununu doesn’t support the bill and could veto it. Regardless, the constitutionality of the bill has been called into question.

The 24th Amendment to the Constitution states: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

Now the New Hampshire law isn’t a “tax” in the exact sense of the word. Instead of forcing out-of-state students to pay a tax to access the polls, which would be unconstitutional, House Bill 372 allows the State of New Hampshire to impose fines on voters who do not have a New Hampshire driver’s license, even though it is legal to vote in the state with an out-of-state license.

The bill would impose two obligations on new voters. Within 60 days of registering to vote, a New Hampshire voter would need to register her car with the state and obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license, the cost of which could amount to over $200.

Suppressing the Minority Vote in America

Minorities have already been deciding elections in America, with black voters making the difference in Alabama. This is a major threat to Conservative incumbents, and Conservative-led, state legislatures have taken measures to suppress the minority vote in America.

Ohio’s law purging voters who have not participated in consecutive elections or failed to respond to a notice from state officials will likely be upheld by the Conservative majority of the Supreme Court.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the essence of the case is whether Ohio’s law is “disenfranchising disproportionately certain cities where large groups of minorities live, where large groups of homeless people live, and across the country they’re the group that votes the least.”

While federal law doesn’t allow states to use failure to vote as a reason for purging voters from rolls, federal law also calls on states to keep accurate voter rolls and allows for removal when a person fails to respond to a state’s request to confirm registration and then fails to vote in two federal elections. Ohio sends a notice after a voter misses a single election, and removes said voter if they don’t reply. It’s the most aggressive law of its kind in America.

Redistricting All the Rage in America

With the 2020 census upcoming, the redrawing of states’ voting districts is getting a lot of attention, especially in the courts. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that its voter district map was partisan gerrymandered to benefit Republicans and must be redrawn.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed a lower-court order that would have forced North Carolina Republicans to redraw its state’s congressional district map while similar cases involving Wisconsin legislative districts and one Maryland congressional district are considered by the Supreme Court.

Bills governing redistricting were introduced in 27 states in 2017. Here’s a complete list of those bills. What’s the reason for so much redistricting legislation? Well, 37 state legislatures have primary control of their own district lines, and 42 legislatures have primary control over the congressional lines in their state (including five of the states with just one congressional district). And why wouldn’t an incumbent legislator draw district lines to his or her advantage? That’s why organizations like Common Cause are having success campaigning for independent commissions to handle district drawing. All of the 27 states with pending legislation governing redistricting have bills calling for a commission separate from the legislature to handle the map-making.

For instance, in Minnesota, there are companion bills calling for independent commissions to handle redistricting. HF 246 and SB 2052 call for a commission of former judges to draw district lines, but objectors to the bills say former judges aren’t representative of Minnesota’s minority populations. In nearby Michigan, bills have been introduced mirroring California’s citizens’ commission for redistricting -- the favorite model of organizations working toward democratic, competitive elections.

So while the state of voter suppression in America is improving and bound to continue improving for voters, there will still be states where partisan gerrymandered districts result in undemocratic, noncompetitive elections in 2018 and 2020. And until every state gets redistricting out of the hands of incumbent legislators, free elections are an impossibility.


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Wednesday, 24 January 2018 19:04

Are many athletes at risk for depression?

POST-ATHLETIC ACTIVITY DEPRESSION (PAAD) MAY AFFECT MULTIPLE ATHLETES WHEN THEIR SEASON ENDS DUE TO THE HIGH HORMONE LEVELS INDUCED BY THEIR PRIOR RIGOROUS EXERCISE REGIMEN SUDDENLY DROPPING.

 

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps admitted at the The Kennedy Forum in Chicago last week that he had battled depression for years and contemplated suicide.  With his multiple decade athletic career, the most decorated in history, how could an Olympian find life so unlivable?

Other decorated athletes have suffered from depression as well:   Terry Bradshaw, Darryl Strawberry, Larry Sanders, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Oscar de la Hoya to name a few.

Post-athletic activity depression (PADD) may ensue when the high levels of exercise aren’t maintained and the mind isn’t prepared for losing or being surpassed by another athlete.  As you will see biology as well as psychology play huge factors in the mental health of an athlete.

Exercise wards off depression

 

Michael Phelps admitted to going into a depression after each Olympics.  His workouts leading up to each of the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics were illustrated by Arizona State coach Bob Bowman at the American Swimming Coaches Association, and demonstrated thousands of hours and yards swum each week.

Multiple studies have proven that exercise wards off depression. This is in part due to multiple mood enhancing hormones being released during athletic activity such as:

  • endorphins
  • norepinephrine
  • dopamine
  • serotonin

So if after a meet, marathon, playoff or Olympic race ends, does the average athlete keep their rigorous training schedule? Probably not.  Hence these hormones that the body has become accustomed to seeing aren’t there at their previous levels, inducing a depression.  If someone is at risk for depression, the drop in these hormone levels could, in theory, depress one to the point that they contemplate suicide.

Being the best puts you psychologically at risk

 

They say winning is addictive and from a psychological standpoint, that’s correct.  Once you win you reform a new identity.  Those psychologically mature and stable will not find their win their only identifying factor and additionally will understand that you “win some, lose some”.  However those who struggled for years to win, especially if the prize is an Olympic medal, may not deal with “lose some” so easily.

Once you own that Superbowl ring, first place blue ribbon or gold medal others look at you as “one of the best”.  How much higher can you go?  Usually an athlete only has two choices. Maintain their “top” status, difficult to do with aging and younger up and comers vying for their spot, or start losing. Most athletes aren’t preparing for how to lose.  They can’t. They use all their waking hours preparing on how to win.  So when the loss does come, they’re unprepared.

 

loss

 

Could some CTE symptoms be related to post-athletic activity depression?

 

I believe so. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degeneration of brain tissue and function from multiple hits to the head.  Many who suffer from CTE have mood changes, anxiety, anger and impulsivity.  CTE tau protein build up in the brain contributes to this but hormones can play a role as well.

What needs to be studied are the mood changes incurred by athletes after each season or race to see if a “funk” sets in because their exercise regimen is not being maintained.

Moreover all athletes should have access to counseling to thwart depression and suicidality because losing is inevitable for everyone.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information