New England News Forum and Quinnipiac University co-sponsor symposium on Gambling

The New England News Forum together with Quinnipiac University will be co-sponsoring a symposium on gambling next Tuesday from 7 until 9 PM at the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room at the Lender School of Business Center at Quinnipiac. There will be two movies and two half hour long panels.

The first panel will be moderated by William "Liam" O'Brien, a media-production professor at Quinnipiac. It will include Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, Massachusetts secretary of economic development Dan O'Connell, as well as Barry J. Cregan, interim president of the Foxwoods casino and UMass Dept. of Public Health Adjunct Professor Rachel A. Volberg.

The second panel will “will cover the challenge of reporting on the news and effects of casinos in Connecticut.” It will include UMass journalism instructor Stephen J. Simurda, New York Times editorial writer Maura J. Casey, David Collins, editorial columnist at The Day, Marvin Steinberg , founder and director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling , and Indian Country Today staff reporter Gale Corey Toensing.

Earlier in the day, starting at 4:30, two short documentaries about gambling will be screened.

More information can be found on The New England News Forum website

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Mental Health and the Executive Branch

Some people may wonder what the two topics, Mental Health and the Executive Branch have to do with each other, especially these days, but they are two important issues that came up this morning on a conference call for bloggers and online journalists with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The announced purpose of the conference call was to discuss the contempt charges that Congress will be filing as a civil lawsuit against Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers for their refusal to respond to subpoenas from Congress. At the center of this is the issue of executive privilege. How far does it extend? The same issue came up in the discussion about FISA. The positioning around the FISA bill seems to be all about attempts by the executive branch to usurp power from the legislative and judicial branches.

So where does mental health fit into all of this? The call started with Speaker Pelosi talking about congress passing the Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act on Wednesday. She described it as a tremendous, historic victory and spoke about the late Sen. Wellstone’s son, David Wellstone and Former First Lady working hard to help get this bill passed.

On Wednesday, I met with a past president of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) to discuss how AGPA could better get its message out. Group Psychotherapy has played an important role in helping people deal with issues that disasters like 9/11 or Katrina have caused. Some of the early work in Group Psychotherapy was around treating soldiers traumatized by their experiences in World War Two, and it would seem like Group Psychotherapy could be very useful in helping veterans returning from the Iraq War.

We spoke about how AGPA can better interface with the media, including bloggers, about its efforts on Capitol Hill and its work with Roslyn Carter to promote awareness of group psychotherapy.

This brings us back to the Presidential Branch. Roslyn Carter has done great work in help our country address issues of mental health. Both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have spoken about the importance of mental health parity in their health care platforms. Let us hope that our current President sees the importance of addressing issues of mental health.

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Attorney Jon Schoenhorn's Arguments in the Doninger Case at the Second Circuit

Over time, the Avery Doninger case has evolved from a draconian overreaction by narcissistically injured petty school bureaucrats to a discussion of the school district making poor use of taxpayers’ money by missing important teachable moments and wasting money on a lawsuit they should have avoided. On Tuesday, the important underlying issues of Free Speech, especially as it relates to the Internet took center stage as the case was heard before the Second Circuit of Appeals.

As a quick summary, last April, Avery Doninger, who was then Class Secretary of the Junior Class wrote a post on LiveJournal one evening at home where she used a derogatory phrase to describe members of the school administration based on their handling of a concern she and others were organizing at her school. The school administration responded by saying she could not run for re-election as Class Secretary and by refusing to honor the results of the election where she won as a write-in candidate. Avery and her mother have sued the school for violating her freedom of speech.

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On Our Watch: Stopping Genocide in Sudan

Humanitarian and author John Prendergast will deliver a lecture, "On Our Watch: Stopping Genocide in Sudan," at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 6, 2008, in Alumni Hall at Quinnipiac University. The free event is open to the public. Prendergast is co-chairman of Enough, an organization creating policy recommendations and engaging activists to stop genocide and crimes against humanity. Predergast was involved in various peace processes throughout Africa while working at the White House and State Department during the Clinton administration. Prendergast also has worked for the United Nations and members of Congress. He has authored eight books about Africa, the latest is a New York Times best seller, "Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond," co-authored with actor Don Cheadle and published by Hyperion in 2007. Prendergast travels regularly to Africa's war zones on fact-finding missions, peacemaking initiatives and awareness-raising trips involving network news programs, celebrities and politicians. For more information, call Quinnipiac's public relations office at (203) 582-8652.

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Connecticut Delegates

Various people have expressed confusion between the different types of delegates, so I thought I’d take a few moments here to make sure that everyone is clear about the different types of delegates. This is based primarily on the Connecticut Delegate Selection Plan for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, as well as on additional sources such as some CNN and blog reports and the Superdelegates.org

Connecticut has sixty delegates at the convention. Thirty-one are pledged district level delegates (Section III A). According to CNN and other sources there are twelve unpledged delegates, commonly referred to as Superdelegates. According to the selection plan, one unpledged delegate will be selected on March 26th, based on candidates for superdelegate filing a statement of candidacy by March 19th. The superdelegates are the congressman, the DNC members, and a few others. You can see a list at Superdelegate Transparency Project or the Superdelegates.org page. It is worth noting that Superdelegates.org lists 12 superdelegates, but the Superdelegate Transparency Project lists 11. I believe that Mona Mohib may be incorrectly identified as a superdelegate on Superdelegates.org, but I haven’t verified this.

The two sites generally agree that of the superdelegates, 7 have endorsed Obama, 1 has endorsed Clinton, and the rest are undeclared at this point.

There are also six pledged party leaders and Elected Officials (PLEO) delegates (Section III C). Matt has taken a look at possible candidates for these positions. People interested in being PLEOs need to file by March 20th. They will also be selected on March 26th. It is worth noting that the PLEOs will be selected after the district delegates and the add on unpledged delegate.

Then, there are the eleven at-large delegates (section III D). You must file by March 17th if you wish to be an at-large delegate and these delegates will also be elected on March 26th.

Those wishing to see Ned Lamont attend the convention as a delegate of one sort or another should encourage him to decide which type of delegate he wishes to attend as and to file with the State Democratic Party. Then, they should attend the post-primary caucuses to be held on March 19th to work to elect district level delegates that will support Ned as a delegate.

Whether or not you are interested in working to get Ned to be a delegate, it is probably a good thing to attend the post-primary caucuses. If things get hairy and there is a brokered convention, it would be good to have the best possible delegates at the convention.

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