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Guest Observer Archive

Obama Presidency Transformed a Nation -- But Not Silicon Valley | Commentary

As one of the most historically significant events for African-Americans, the presidency of Barack Obama, winds down, our community has a chance to reflect on the progress we have made — and the work we still have to do. The achievement of our first black president, remarkable though it was, should not blind us to the difficult obstacles we must still overcome. In too many areas of society, from the economy to culture, African-Americans are still on the outside looking in.

Congress Is Endangering Missile Defense | Commentary

News media are jammed with reports of epidemics, terrorists, and armed conflicts that threaten our warfighters and allies abroad. Just as alarming, our homeland has never been more vulnerable to attack by advanced weaponry now in the hands of potential enemies.

New Insurance Exchanges Fail to Protect Colon Cancer Patients | Commentary

Colon cancer will claim more than 50,000 American lives this year. Affecting men and women almost equally, 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed at some point in their lives.

With Friends Like the NRA, Who Needs Enemies? | Commentary

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., recently found out how fickle his former allies in the gun lobby can be.

Ebola Crisis Creates Sense of Urgency to Restore NIH Funding Now | Commentary

The first case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the U.S. While this was anticipated and experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, assure us it will not lead to an outbreak here, it is concerning. The Ebola virus has taken the lives of more than 3,000 people in West Africa and the death toll continues to mount, breaking apart families and raising fears throughout the world of a devastating epidemic. Despite attempts to contain the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now predicting between 550,000 and 1.4 million cases by early 2015. And that’s just in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

From Liberia to America, We Must Stop Illegal Logging | Commentary

Around the world, illegal logging threatens communities and drives deforestation. Every second, an area of forest the size of a football field disappears due to illegal logging. In the United States, imports of illegally logged wood and wood products undercut American companies and threaten local jobs. As activists in Liberia, a country that produces timber and wood products, and the United States, a leading consumer of wood products, we are calling on Congress and the Obama administration to crack down on the illegal timber trade by fully funding and fully enforcing the Lacey Act, a landmark conservation law that prohibits the import of illegally harvested wood products.

In Defense of Political Email | Commentary

All right already. We get it. Politicians and campaign committees send lots of emails with interesting subject lines and rather frantic requests for contributions.

Congress Needn't Look Any Further Than California on How to Combat Climate Change | Commentary

President Barack Obama’s recent address to a global audience at the United Nations Climate Summit, coupled with the executive order he unveiled the same day, make even more evident the need to combat climate change despite some reluctance coming from Congress. According to the Globe Climate Change Legislation Study released earlier this year, “In the USA, dedicated climate change legislation remains politically challenging.”

It's Time for an Asian-Pacific American Attorney General | Commentary

With the resignation of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the president must nominate a highly qualified successor who will inspire confidence, and lead with grace and thoughtful decisiveness. That nominee must also be one likely to be confirmed by a Senate that may shift to Republican leadership in November.

Stability at the Cost of Democracy | Commentary

As the world’s leaders gather at the United Nations, they will take the opportunity to discuss issues of extremism that are currently ravaging many countries around the world. While these issues clearly have every right to be on the world’s stage, another danger is rising in the shadows of extremism.

Congress Plays Politics With the Internet | Commentary

In a town where Democrats and Republicans can hardly agree on anything, Congress has the unique opportunity to pass legislation that is both bipartisan and popular: extending the ban on Internet access taxes. The Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prohibits politicians from slapping new taxes on Internet access, is currently scheduled to expire at the end of October. Despite its wide support, Congress is dragging its feet on renewal, meaning consumers could find themselves paying even more in taxes. Legislators need to get off the sidelines and protect unfettered online access for all Americans and by passing a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

Elephants: Critical to America's National Security | Commentary

Though Ahmed Godane, the leader of the Somalian terrorist group al-Shabab, was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this month, Ugandan authorities uncovered a 19-person al-Shabab cell armed with explosives just last week. What action can the United States take against African terrorist groups that advances American security, protects U.S. service members, and fits within budgetary constraints? One approach suggested by Rep.Peter A. Defazio, D-Ore., might surprise you: Protect Africa’s elephants with the Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range, or TUSKER, Act.

A Simple Strategy to Improve Constituent Dialogue | Commentary

I was giving a speech to a group of citizens visiting Washington for a fly-in, and was asked this question: “What’s the most frustrating obstacle to enhancing the democratic dialog between citizens and Congress?” I surprised myself by responding quickly: “Bad writing.”

Veterans' Needs Must Come First | Commentary

Oct. 1 marks an anniversary many of us prefer to forget — the start of the 16 day partial government shutdown of 2013. Among the disruptions caused by the shutdown, work stopped on more than 250,000 veterans’ disability claims awaiting appeals, burials at national cemeteries were scaled back and vital medical and prosthetic research projects were threatened. Had it continued a couple weeks longer, even veterans’ disability compensation checks might have stopped.

Time to Let the Sunshine In | Commentary

Starting September 30, AARP members and consumers of all ages will be able to get a better idea of what may be driving their health care provider’s decisions thanks to the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, or Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act requires drug and medical device manufacturers to publicly report virtually all payments, gifts, and other services provided to health care providers and teaching hospitals every year.

Electronic Health Care Program Threatens More Efficient Setting of Care | Commentary

Recently at National Health IT Week, health care experts gathered to emphasize the importance of improving the quality of health care delivery and strengthening the interaction between patients and healthcare providers. For good reason, adoption of Electronic Health Records is largely lauded as a necessary, even overdue step to improve efficiency and ultimately the quality of patient care.

A Half-Baked Marketplace Fairness Act | Commentary

Many continue to call for Congress to pass legislation empowering States to require remote sellers to collect sales tax on their behalf. They say such legislation is necessary to provide fairness between brick and mortar retailers and online sellers. Let me be clear: Overstock.com supports a fair federal solution to prevent a patchwork of legal standards, not to mention computer systems, from making online retailing a virtual nightmare. Unfortunately, the Marketplace Fairness Act is not that solution.

How the West Was Won and How Congress Can Win America's Energy Future | Commentary

Congress is running out of time to drive new economic development this year, during a year when most Americans agree that new jobs and smarter economic choices are paramount. With just a few days left in session, while there are many important issues to address, it’s imperative that Congress focus on a subject all Americans agree on: economic development and jobs.

Will the FCC and Congress Stand Up for Women's Safety? | Commentary

Ray Rice is not the only reason that we, as a society, have far to go in stopping violence against women. People may argue the circumstances surrounding the Baltimore Ravens running back, and the video showing him knocking his fiancée out cold in an Atlantic City elevator, are exceptions to the common American experience. He’s a star, football is an inherently violent sport, the media is on a feeding frenzy, and money and reputations are at stake.

Growing Children, Shrinking Wages: How to Make Child Care Affordable for the Middle Class | Commentary

While 14 million American families have a child younger than school age, child care and preschool are quickly becoming a luxury only the rich can afford. Child care costs exceed nearly every other household expense, and for families with two or more children, child care costs exceed the median rent cost in every state. On average, families pay anywhere from $4,000 to $16,000 per year for a child care center, depending on the geographic location and the age of the child.

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