Have you spent an hour on your mental health today?

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PEG 6th Congressional District Newsletter 317

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Planet Earth is on Fire

Planet Earth is on Fire

by Ellen Halter

When I moved to Seattle in July of 1973 from hot, humid DC, I found its drizzly, breezy summers a relief. Rainy and temperate, its temperature rarely hit 85 degrees. No one I knew, even the most affluent, had air conditioning. Many public spaces weren’t air conditioned. It wasn’t necessary. Mark Twain was reputed to have said of the Pacific Northwest city, “warmest winter he ever spent.”

This is why the Pacific Northwest’s current heat wave before the official start of summer is profoundly alarming. Enveloping land from Oregon to Alberta, Canada, it should be viewed as a one thousand-alarm fire for planet Earth. With temperatures in some areas exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the extreme heat has caused power outages and poses a serious risk to public health, particularly for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions.

We humans need to do everything we can to mitigate disaster for ourselves and other species.

Today is Mental Health Action Day

We are deeply committed to helping our weekly zine readership get involved in activities and movements that will support eradicating inequality in government. We also care about the mental wellness of our volunteers and readers. As of 2021, today is Mental Health Action Day and Protectors of Equality in Government (PEG) are proud partners of this digital movement. In our ‘Things to do and read’ section, you will find the 2nd installment of a timely history on Mental Health Awareness Month by one of our newest PEG Contributors, Kayla Conrad. If you happened to have missed the first installment, check it out in last week’s newsletter here.

Saturday, May 20. Coffee Hour with Senator Jeff Irwin

Join Senator Jeff Irwin, District 15, for an in-person coffee hour at York Ann Arbor, 1928 Packard St, Ann Arbor. 10 am

Saturday, May 20. Coffee Hour with Representative Jimmie Wilson, Jr.

Join Representative Jimmie Wilson, Jr., District 32, for an in-person coffee hour at Ypsilanti, Senior Center, 1015 Congress St, Ypsilanti or complete this form to attend online. 11 am

Sunday, May 21. Equity-Centered Coffee Chat

Join City of Ann Arbor Councilmembers Cynthia Harrison (Ward 1), Linh Song and Chris Watson (Ward 2), and Ayesha Ghazi-Edwin (Ward 3) at Wheeler Park, 200 Depot St, Ann Arbor. 1 pm

Sunday, May 21. Public Power Festival

Join Ann Arbor for Public Power and Guest Speakers: County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, State Senator Jeff Irwin, State Representative Jason Morgan, and Pontiac Council Member Mikal Goodman for live music, games, food, plants, and books at Burns Park, 200 Depot St, Ann Arbor. Suggested $20 donation. 5–8 pm

Sunday, May 21. A Transformational Conversations with the Michael Thompson Project

Injustices in our flawed judicial system cause grievous harm. Hear what we can do about it this Sunday when Conversations Host Chuck Newman interviews Michael Thompson and other representatives from the Michael Thompson Project.

You may not have heard the name ‘Michael Thompson’, but he became a part of Michigan state history and an ongoing national conversation in 1994 when he received a sentence of 42-60 years for selling three pounds of cannabis to his friend turned police informant. He remained there until 2021, when he was granted clemency by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. A recent presentation at the University of Michigan Law School shocked attendees when they heard how our flawed judicial system has ruined so many lives by keeping people in prison long after there is any justification for doing so.  

Chuck will interview guests about how to seek clemency for the unjustly imprisoned and changes to the parole and sentencing process. In addition to Michael Thompson, we will also hear from Nancy Seaman. She was unjustly imprisoned for killing her abusive husband in self defense and will likely never be released from prison unless we help her obtain justice.

Register here and you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. The interview will be on Zoom live at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Resident input for Early Voting accepted until May 22

Starting with statewide federal elections, residents of Michigan will soon be able to participate in early voting, thanks to the approval of Prop 2 in November 2022. In Ann Arbor, Jackie Beaudry, the A2 City Clerk, is leading an initiative to determine residents’ preferred method of voting. To this end, the city is asking residents to take a six-question survey, which is available on the A2 Open City Hall website and can be completed anonymously.

Thursday, May 25. Washtenaw County Homelessness Policy

Continuum of Care coordinates our community’s policies, strategies, and activities toward ending homelessness. This is your opportunity to get involved! Questions? Email Kristin Kunes at kunesk@washtenaw.org. Ellen Thompson Women’s Health Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital, 5320 Elliott Dr, Ypsilanti 48197. RSVP at bit.ly/CoC-May 1–4 pm

Saturday, June 3, Highway to 2024: Pick your path to Victory

Go to Lansing for the day to meet with Indivisible members from across Michigan and participate in discussions on topics that affect us all. It will be a day full of resources to help you, and your group if you have one, develop your best plan of action moving into 2024. You do not need to belong to an Indivisible group to join in the fun. This is the first statewide member conference since 2019 so don’t miss it. Click here for event registration and the full agenda. 9 am–4 pm.

Three Hot Topic Panels:

* Challenges in Public Education.

* Implementing Prop 2 election changes.

* Preventing gun violence.

Visit the PEG Events Page for all upcoming events at www.equalityingov.org/events!

Mental Health Awareness Month 2023, Part 2

Clifford W. Beers, known as the founder of the mental health movement, was born in 1876 and into a family with five children, all of whom would suffer mental health challenges to the extent that they were confined to “insane asylums,” as these institutions were known at the time.  

Prior to his hospitalization, Clifford graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale (1897). Only three years later, he experienced symptoms of depression and paranoia and Attempted suicide. At that point he was committed to a private “insane asylum” by his well -intentioned parents.

While struggling with his own psychiatric symptoms, it did not take long for Beers to register the abuse he and his fellow inmates were subjected to by their thuggish asylum attendants, whether it was the frequent and unprovoked use of forced feedings and of straightjacketing, or the practice of being spit upon, cursed at, and beaten regularly. Initially, he Beers to report his observations to the asylum administrators who were unresponsive.

He then used empirical means to figure out who could be trusted to smuggle out letters to influential members of the medical and academic community.  

Finally, in 1903, Beers was discharged, and his first task was to write his autobiography. His book, “A Mind That Found Itself,” was published in 1908. It told the story of a young man who was gradually overwhelmed by psychosis. It offered a balanced view into mental illness and drew attention to the often-horrific conditions of his confinement. The book was widely read, favorably reviewed, became a best seller, and is still in print. [1

After writing his autobiography, Mr. Beers, founded the organization now called Mental Health America in (1909), which became the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of people living with mental illness and preventing mental illness through advocacy, education, research, and services such as mental health screens.* More recently, MHA adopted an explicit anti-racist health equity agenda, stating that racial injustice had Caused trauma and harm to minoritized communities and that MHA will devote itself to addressing discrimination, stigma, and other social and moral determinants of health, “leading by example, and educating its affiliates and communities to stand together united in support of racial justice.” [2

*Screens or mental health screens or screenings are easy ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. The most common diagnoses in the U.S. are Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorders, for which there are several types of effective treatments. Free or low-cost treatment is available through Community Mental Health Clinics. If you have insurance through your employment, your options for treatment increase. Larger employers may even offer short-term mental health services through their Employee Assistance Programs (EPAs), which can jump-start treatment and reduce distress.

The National Popular Vote

This law ensures that the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide becomes the President. It advocates for applying the “one-person-one-vote” principle, equalizing every vote. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted the law, totaling 195 of the 270 electoral votes needed. In addition, National Popular Vote has passed one legislative chamber in 9 states with 88 electoral votes.                     


Proponents emphasize the need for a national popular vote to prevent recounts, legal disputes, and lack of confidence in elections caused by close vote totals in a few narrowly divided states. Under the current system, Presidents have taken office without winning the national popular vote, including the 2000 and 2016 elections. There have also been instances where a few voters in key states determined the election’s outcome, making the majority of voters elsewhere less significant. An example of a near miss is in 2020. Joe Biden would have been defeated, despite leading by over 7 million votes nationally. These 21,461 voters (5,229 in Arizona, 5,890 in Georgia, and 10,342 in Wisconsin) were more important than the 7 million voters elsewhere. Because of that, Presidential candidates only pay attention to voters’ concerns in closely divided battleground states. How often do we hear this election comes down to 4 or 3 states?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The National Popular Vote addresses the winner-take-all laws in individual states, which award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate with the most popular votes in that state. These laws are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and were not part of the original intent. Instead, the Constitution grants states the power to determine how they award their electoral votes.    

How it Works                                                                                                                            

Once enacted by states representing a majority of electoral votes (270 out of 538), the National Popular Vote law would be enacted. The presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia would then receive all the electoral votes from the enacting states, guaranteeing their election as President.

This approach ensures that no voter’s choice is disregarded at the state level and that every vote directly contributes to the national count for the chosen candidate. It aims to make every voter politically relevant in every presidential election, regardless of their location. The National Popular Vote law is a state-based solution retaining the Electoral College.  

Michigan and the National Popular Vote

Currently, there is a push in Michigan to enact this legislation.       

Potential Drawbacks                                                                                                                

Some argue the National Popular Vote would alienate voters in less populated areas and cause more polarization. In the event of a close election a full recount would be required, which could be a nightmare. 

High-Capacity Magazine Bans Could Save Lives. Will they hold up in court?

A bit of History; When Congress passed the federal assault weapons ban in 1994, it also prohibited magazines with more than 10 rounds. When the weapons ban expired in 2004, that restriction was also lifted. Now, in a country with an estimated 400 million guns, there are also millions of magazines with at least 30 rounds, according to gun rights groups and court filings.

So why is this not being reinstated when research has shown that smaller magazines give people a few precious seconds for people to flee, hide, fight back, or move away from the shooter when the perpetrator has to reload? Anna Lefkowitz of the Washington Post reports that while most states do not limit magazine sizes, within the past year, lawmakers in four states have added restrictions capping magazine sizes. Such efforts, however, face growing legal challenges from gun rights advocates and the issue could ultimately wind up with the Supreme Court ruling on a pivotal question: whether the right to bear arms extends to these ammunition magazines. Yet most states do not limit magazine sizes. Within the past year, lawmakers in four states have added restrictions capping magazine sizes at anywhere from 10 to 17 rounds — and Oregon voters in November approved a 10-round limit. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill in January that included a ban on the sale of long-gun magazines with more than 10 rounds. Michigan currently has no restrictions although Democrats have reissued legislation to limit the capacity to a maximum of 10 rounds. They reference the Oxford Shooting and how lives could have been saved. They  noted that GOP lawmakers in Michigan have generally opposed any new gun control measures and so this bill faces an uphill battle.

Firearms advocates argue that magazine restrictions are unconstitutional and endanger law-abiding citizens who could need them for self-defense.“It’s a different era,” said Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, a pro-firearms organization mounting several legal challenges to magazine restrictions. “We think the Second Amendment wins on this every time now.” Proponents of restrictions say fewer bullets fired means more lives could be saved and they reject the notion that larger devices are protected by the Constitution. “The Second Amendment, which I support and I respect, makes no mention of ammunition,” said Rhode Island state Rep. Justine Caldwell (D), who sponsored a ban that passed last summer. “Nobody has a constitutional right to a 100-round magazine.”


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