Journalist Collins Mtika was jailed in Malawi for four days last week, in horrendous conditions, after reporting on anti-government protests. We met Collins last year in Atlanta, when he was among 22 fellows chosen to participate in our training for an international conference on AIDS vaccine research. Also in that group was Tom Paulson, now editing the Humanosphere blog for NPR station KPLU in Seattle. The J2J connection kicked in when Tom heard about the arrest.
As the United States approaches an August 2 deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion limit on our national ‘credit card’, we have either a political opportunity to cut near-term federal spending and tackle unsustainable entitlement programs, or face an extraordinary risk of defaulting on our obligations, disrupting financial markets and sending the fragile global economy into a tailspin. Or is there no risk at all? Discuss.
That’s what we’ll do on Tuesday, June 28, with a panel of experts guaranteed to peel the glaze off your eyes and help you understand the policy and the politics around this critical and complex topic. John Irons, Research and Policy Director of the Economic Policy Institute, has spent his career studying the economy and economic policy, including a stint on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who is widely published and a frequent speaker on economic topics, has put in his time on the Hill and is a top expert on tax and budget policy. Michael Crittenden writes on banking and finance issues from the Washington bureau of Dow Jones Newswires.
We give the fellows in our Washington programs opportunities to hear from key legislators on the issues they want to learn about. One standout was U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), whose personal experience with breast cancer spurred her to draft a bill that would fund educational outreach on early detection for young women. At that time, in September 2009, Wasserman Schultz already was a rising star in the Democratic party. This month, she was named chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. Wasserman Schultz gave NPF’s 2009 Cancer fellows an hour, during which she shared her personal story and took all of their questions. The audio from that presentation is . . .
The story about how your state is creating the legislative districts that will be in place for the next decade is not easy to tell, and yet it’s critical for your audience to understand. The boundaries being set now, based on the 2010 Census, create the population groups that will elect our leaders. The details matter. A few thousand African-American households here, a few square miles of conservative voters there, in or out, can make a world of difference. This process is central to how our democracy functions, and it’s steeped in bare-knuckles politics.
Here are two resources to help you cover it . . .
New software that could revolutionize the every-ten-years process of drawing up new districts for state House and Senate and Congressional districts was the subject of an article on Sunday March 20 In The Washington Post. NPF presented a free webinar on the identical subject a month earlier, with one of the software’s creators. Michael McDonald of George Mason University, co-presented the NPF’s Feb. 18 webinar on the complex topic of redistricting. With David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. Professor McDonald addressed policy, politics and reporting about a process that goes to the heart of our representative democracy. Complete audio and the two presenters’ Powerpoints are on our website . . .