Tag Archives: visit

Ambassador to Vatican looks to pope’s U.S. visit

The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican said he expects Pope Francis will call on the U.S. to rediscover the fundamental values “that made our nation great” — especially its long history of welcoming foreigners — when he visits next month and becomes the first pope to address Congress.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ambassador Kenneth Hackett said he expected migration, income inequality, family problems and the environment to be raised by Francis during his Sept. 22-27 visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

History’s first Latin American pope will be making his first-ever trip to the U.S., where gay marriage is now the law of the land and where conservatives have cringed at his criticisms of the excesses of unbridled capitalism and largely ignored his calls for an urgent transition away from a fossil fuel-based economy.

“I’m not worried about the tense moments, really,” Hacket said. “In my two years here I’ve come to realize that Pope Francis will say and do what he wants. And that, people find refreshing even if they disagree with him.”

The disagreements — including in Congress and among Republican presidential candidates — have become more pointed since Francis released his economic-environmental manifesto “Praise Be,” in which he denounced the “structurally perverse” global financial system that he said has exploited the poor and destroyed God’s creation.

“I think he is mature in his ability to accept disagreement,” Hackett said. “In fact, it almost seems at times that he encourages it.”

Francis has spoken out strongly about the need for wealthy countries to “open doors” to migrants seeking a better life, and Hackett said that message is likely to have an impact in a country where Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has called for a massive border fence along the Mexican frontier and the deportation of some 11 million immigrants living there illegally. 

Hackett said he expected Francis would “bring people to think about the values that made our nation great,” and how Americans as individuals and a nation can recapture those values and make them more prominent.

“I think he’ll call us to continue to engage with it (the world), don’t throw any walls up around our nation, don’t revert to isolationism,” he said. “We are a nation of welcoming people, so that’s where I think he will put his attention.”

Colorado congressman invites Obama, Reid on pot tour

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., today invited President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to visit his state and see how new marijuana regulations are being successfully implemented.

Polis sent the invitation after both the president and the Senate leader expressed shifting, more relaxed positions on marijuana, which is being sold at stores and cafes in the Colorado.

Polis wrote, “I would like to extend an invitation to both of you to visit Colorado and join me to visit a legal dispensary and grow operation to see how the law is being implemented in the state. I am confident that when you see Colorado’s work to implement the law while protecting children and raising revenue for our schools firsthand, we can begin to make similar efforts on a federal level.”

Polis, who is openly gay, wants to lift federal laws criminalizing marijuana and regulate pot like alcohol.

He wrote to the president and Reid, “It is vital that our nation’s leaders recognize that marijuana’s placement on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and has classified countless people as criminals simply for using or being in possession of a substance that, as you noted, Mr. President, is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its individual impact on consumers.”

The full letter:

I am writing to thank you both for your recent comments regarding your shifting positions on the regulation and legalization of marijuana. It is vital that our nation’s leaders recognize that marijuana’s placement on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and has classified countless people as criminals simply for using or being in possession of a substance that, as you noted, Mr. President, is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its individual impact on consumers.”

As you both know, the state of Colorado began the regulated and legal sale of marijuana on January 1st, 2014, following the approval of Amendment 64 by the voters in the 2012 election. By regulating marijuana in the same way we do alcohol, Colorado has an opportunity to reduce crime and to help keep marijuana out of the hands of children. Mr. President, I appreciate your acknowledgement that often times, minorities and populations with lower incomes are disproportionately affected by the criminalization of marijuana.

Majority Leader Reid, I was also encouraged by your assessment that, “We waste a lot of time and law enforcement,” going after marijuana users. Since the law has been implemented in Colorado, we have been fortunate to see the number of cases filed in regards to marijuana offenses plummet by 77 percent. I was also pleased to read the Majority Leader’s comments regarding how individuals who are suffering from an illness can often benefit from the relief provided by marijuana. For many, access to marijuana is the difference between being able to be treated for a life threatening illness or suffer even greater discomfort. As we strive to continue bringing our citizens the best health care in the world, we must be cognizant of the potential benefits that medicinal marijuana provides, and work to end the federal classification of marijuana, that according to U.S. Code has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”.

I also agree with the assessment that legalization of marijuana is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution to the most pressing social problems of the day, and that it is a vice with potential negative health effects. We must be diligent in continuing to expand educational opportunities for children, discouraging the abuse of drugs and alcohol, keeping drivers under the influence of alcohol or marijuana off the roads, and increasing awareness of the dangers associated with their use.

It is with this in mind that I would like to extend an invitation to both of you to visit Colorado and join me to visit a legal dispensary and grow operation to see how the law is being implemented in the state. I am confident that when you see Colorado’s work to implement the law while protecting children and raising revenue for our schools firsthand, we can begin to make similar efforts on a federal level.

Thank you for your consideration of my letter and I look forward to your response.

Maryland woman says hospital barred partner visit

A Maryland woman says she was denied the right to visit her partner at Washington Adventist Hospital in Maryland.

Linda Cole, of Takoma Park, made the discrimination allegations in complaints filed with the Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Joint Commission is an independent nonprofit that accredits hospitals.

Cole says her legal spouse and partner, Kathryn Wilderotter, was taken to the hospital on Nov. 13, 2011, after suffering an epileptic seizure and crashing her car. She says hospital staff refused to recognize her as family.

The Washington Post reported this week that the hospital blames the incident on a new employee and miscommunication. The hospital says it will review its patient rights training.

Source: AP