Concealed Carry Debate Triggers Anger On House Floor

Zinger!

WUIS - My Source for News

The clock is ticking for Illinois to pass a law that lets people carry guns in public. During a debate in the Illinois House Wednesday, it became apparent that the pressure is getting to lawmakers. Amanda Vinicky reports:

A federal court says Illinois has until early June to lift the state’s ban on concealed carry.
The latest of the many plans debated by the House would let sheriffs decide whether someone has a good enough reason to carry a gun.

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American Exceptionalism (Misses the Point)

Isn’t it ironic that in a nation forged out of identities from abroad, analogies to identities from abroad so often form the most vitriolic attacks on domestic affairs? #Merica. Are we secretly-or perhaps overtly-afraid that our amalgamated origins make us particularly susceptible to future change? Do those in the power circle fear for what that reality may mean for them? If you truly disagree with a policy, all well and good. But it strikes me as frustrating and intellectually disingenuous to discount something as inherently inane or harmful by mere unconsidered analogy to the experience of another country. International learning is quite useful and positive but only when the comparisons made are actually, well, comparable. When, for example, American gun enthusiasts allege that registration requirements harken back to the Nazi regime, which actually loosened restrictions on gun ownership compared to the previous German government, that is actually detrimental to the intellectual legitimacy of policy debate. That is fear mongering with and arguing against an experience of history that no one experienced. Call anything in America socialist and you are sure to have a considerable chunk of the population on your side. Whether or not the thing at hand bears any resemblance to socialism. I wonder if these problems plague other nations so much or if this is merely the ugly side of so-called American exceptionalism.

Awareness of the world around, however, is not the same as abject rejection of it. By comparison, through the course of research interviews of British advocates lately, I have heard a consistent message so far. When I ask advocates if they have heard about a US policy effort in the same area they have engaged with in the UK, invariably they knew at least something about it. Of course we are aware of what’s been going on in this area abroad, even though that wasn’t exactly what we were doing, they tell me. That is just good practice, they say. I can’t say the same for the American advocates I’ve spoken with, including some very educated folks.

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Kernels of Motivation on the Cob Called Humanity

A social policy masters student and an intern in the House of Lords, I never have a shortage of work to do. But it’s important to remember why I came to London: to learn more about a developing area of wage equity policy  and how it came to the statute books in the UK. Some days, the motivation to continue that project comes with a  six-inch sub.

I have never learned not to talk to strangers. This used to embarrass my brother and concern my mother. Today, I ate my lunch a little early. The typical rush had not hit yet, so I struck up a conversation with my “sandwich artist.”

The woman at Subway, Nadye, has lived in the UK for a decade. She has worked at Subway for the past seven years. She does not have living parents, but she has a husband and two daughters here in London. “So I am doing ok, ” she reassured.  She was born in India.

“Some people think I’m Spanish, or Columbian, you know from South America,” she said. When I told her I want to research and advocate for better employment anti-discrimination protections and work-life balance policies, I couldn’t help but wonder what meaning was concealed behind her wistful smile and words of encouragement.

“I hope you become that!” she said, as she handed me the sandwich she had made by memory. She knows my order, down to the salad. Yet, I cannot help but wonder how much I really know about her story.
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My memoir is unwritten

I’ve been horrible at keeping up this blog, and not for lack of interesting life events. This post will not provide such details. Rather I wanted to share something I wrote on the plane to London last September. I had entirely forgotten it really, but uncovered it recently on my phone’s memory. It’s a good and timely reminder of why I am here I think. Still working on that story, and I hope I always will be:

People keep telling me to write. They tell me they can’t wait to read my books, or until I’m running the world. Its not just a one-off thing. Its been happening since I cam remember and in every life setting so far. But what story do I have to tell?

I’m 24 years old. I have two bachelor’s degrees from American University. I studied politics at Oxford for a year. I spent a little more than a year working in the government relations department of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. I loved it, but now I’m about to embark on a year as a Fulbright Scholar earning an MSc in Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy) at the London School of Economics.

So I’m doing ok in the system some might say. But what’s it actually come to? What have I created? I think that’s really the key to a life well-lived. I feel like I’m still preparing for life. For “real” life.

The other day as I was hanging out with some friends for the last time in awhile, something clicked. Someone mentioned that we were coming upon as old or older than some of the music legends of our nation. Buddy Holly. Janis Joplin. I don’t have any aspiration of becoming a music legend. But I also don’t want to end up coming to a point where I realize I’ve been so busy preparing for life I’ve forgotten to live it and live it in a way that helps others live there’s as well.

A friend’s boss recently died in his early 60’s. If the same happens to me, I could already be a third done with my stay here on Earth. A chilling thought. But more chilling: that if I died tomorrow, I’d have left no ripple. I may have impacted some individual mortals, but when they pass on, so will my ripple.

There is so much hate and pain in the world, and it pales in comparison to any I’ve felt. Oh dear, a strange man grabbed me once in the metro. A fifteen year old from Wichita, KS was taken from her home to be a forced prostitute in Oklahoma City. She told her story on a documentary played at the museum next to Lincoln’s Cottage. Her story saddened me so much that it came to mind as I write this on a plane bound for London. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen in the United States of America. But even more, this kind of thing just shouldn’t happen.

But what can I do? My memoir is unwritten. Stay tuned. I’m on it. Are you?

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Unwritten

There is so much to see and so many new folks to meet here in London, it’s hard to find time to write.  But as my classes will be starting soon, I thought it might be nice to get a few additional thoughts jotted down here first!

Since I last wrote, I have moved into my new home south of the Thames.  It’s only about 2 miles from LSE, so my commuting choices so far are to walk (about 40-45 minutes) or take a bus (about 30 minutes door-to-door).  I’m itching for the freedom of a bicycle though, and hope to make that a relatively cheap reality soon.

I’m slowly starting to figure things out and get used to my neighborhood, though I still need to do a bit of unpacking and get a few more things for my flat.  Slowly but surely, things are coming together.  That brings me to my flat though, which is awesome and very international.  Everyone has their own bedroom, with a toilet, sink and shower (shower is a generous term though, as it is basically a corner of the bathroom and nearly on top of the toilet, but such is life).  We then all share a kitchen and hallway.  There are 8 of us (another American from VA, a girl from Japan, a boy from Mexico, a boy and girl from France, a girl from Germany, and a boy from the Netherlands).  We’ve hung out with each other quite a lot already and seem to be a really good group, so that is exciting!

Also exciting–the invitation I received to meet with the Director of LSE.  I met with Dr. Calhoun and two of the LSE Pro-Directors on Monday morning–a unique start to my orientation week, I’m sure–because of my Fulbright Scholarship.  They were all very nice and welcoming.  It was really neat how much one of the British pro-directors knew about Lilly Ledbetter’s story as well–it impressed the Director, who happens to be a red-blooded American!

I have only met one boy from my program, but I think it is quite small, so not surprising.  He is a guy from Austria.  With my department welcome tomorrow and my program induction on Friday, I should meet the rest of my classmates soon!  I am anxious to sort out my classes, but we won’t have presentations on all the options until Friday, so I have to wait a little bit longer it seems.

Over the next few days, I also have to confirm the societies (clubs) that I want to join this year and find out more about the possibility of taking on a parliamentary internship during the year.  We shall see!

Oh and if you have gotten this far, I should tell you the “best” thing about the LSE library: there are bean bag chairs in the basement! Also, the Dean of Academic Affairs gave a very welcoming introduction this afternoon–most notably, he played a snippet of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” during his explanation of how to avoid plagiarism–lolz.

(My title is a throwback to my undergrad orientation at American for any of you Eagles reading this.  The theme song to Resident Hall Director’s session was “Unwritten.”  It crossed my mind today with the various musical interludes of this LSE session.)

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Welcome to the Jungle!

Good morning, London.  I’ve arrived!  Well, actually, I arrived on September 11, but that’s another matter.  I’m here now and somewhat settled, nearly ready to begin my year as a Fulbright postgrad at the London School of Economics.  At my side sits “The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State.” It cost a pretty penny, or, well, pence, but it’s a book I’ve checked out many times from various libraries, so I’m glad to finally call it mine as I begin to prepare for my year of studying social policy ahead.

But before I get into the academics too heavily, I’ve been having a great time getting re-acclimated with the UK and back in touch with old friends. Following three fun days with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, I headed out to my “adopted hometown” of sorts, Chorleywood in Hertfordshire to stay with a family friend there.  It’s a sleepy village of about 6,500, but it certainly has it’s charms–such as horses randomly strolling up the street, all the tea I can drink, and a nice assortment of charity shops–from which I’ve already snagged a cheap, but like new pair of jeans and a full-length down-filled coat from the United Colors of Benetton.

Between orientation and some adventures on my own, I’ve been able to see quite a few London icons already–the London Eye (I still must ride it!), the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge (at night, dusk, and during the day), the Globe Theatre (took a tour), and the Houses of Parliament (took a tour and had a talk from MP Sir Peter Bottomley and a woman from the House of Lords). Well, off to go hang my laundry, if the rain continues to hold out.  In the mean time, here are a couple albums I’ve put up on Facebook so far of my time here.

Fulbright Orientation roughly speaking.

First week in Chorleywood.

TTFN.

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32 Metrobus, Toward Friendship Heights

Prejudice remains alive and well in this country, but apparently so does honor and courage. Today, I was enjoying a fun last weekday before joining the real world of full-time employment on Monday. My entertainment of choice: check out a few museums I’d been meaning to investigate. At the end of the day, I hopped on a 32 and happily headed home through Georgetown. Sitting near the back, I noticed a cute young man, clad in a light blue t-shirt, auburn curls adorning his head. Ten feet away, a heavy-set, middle-aged, crew-cut white man noticed this fellow as well, but in a different light.

“Hey, how many deustche marks d’ya have in your pocket, son,” the prejudiced man belted out. The boy and his apparent father, mother and young brother weren’t speaking German. They were speaking French. Little matter apparently. They, along with the rest of the bus, tried to ignore the man.

Unsatisfied, he tried again. “You think we can’t understand you, but we can. Especially those of us from the military.” I was starting to get concerned. “This is an American bus!” the man went on. “You better hope I don’t come back there and poke a pin hole in your butt.”

People on the bus were starting to take notice, shifting uncomfortably in their seats. I wanted to tell the man that in America, we have freedom of speech and diversity is what we’re all about…or should be. And I wanted to tell him that no one uses deustch marks ANYWHERE any more, especially not in France. But I sat in my seat silent.

The man made his way toward the back doors, toward the French family. “You better be glad that girl is standing between us, or I’d poke a pin hole in your butt,” the man threatened. “That girl” appeared to be the boy’s mother. Frightened, she sat down to avoid the man. As she did, a hispanic man rose to stand in front of the boy, clearly blocking the old man’s way. He didn’t say a thing, didn’t confront him at all. He just stood there, a human wall of courage.

“I’m going to introduce you to the Klan!” the prejudiced man said, in a final utterance of a threat. The hispanic man stood strong. He didn’t know the family from Adam. He simply knew right from wrong, and he acted upon it.

A few minutes later, the old man thankfully got off the bus without acting on his words. The bus riders heaved a collective sigh of relief and the hispanic man sat down again. I don’t know his name, but some might call him “angel.” Whoever he is, the world can sure use a whole lot more folks like him.

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