Only Love Can Do That

Last night, I spoke at the Colorado Muslim Society for an Interfaith Vigil in Solidarity with New Zealand's Mosques. I wanted to share some of my remarks from the vigil with you as we stand together against hate:

In Colorado, we stand with our Muslim friends and neighbors.
In Colorado, we recognize that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.
In Colorado, we are united in addressing rising hate crimes and bigotry.

In America, we honor our national motto, E Pluribus Unum—from many, we are one.
In America, we work together to form a more perfect union.
In America, we believe that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
And in America, we welcome those fleeing religious persecution, as my family was welcomed after surviving the Holocaust.

We all must channel that essential American spirit, a nation founded on the principle of religious freedom and tolerance. That spirit is what Dr. Martin Luther King had in mind when we said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Our love, compassion, and empathy for one another—which we must strengthen in the face of such attacks—is how we do the work of moving toward a more perfect union.


Colorado AG Wants To Crack Down On Robocalls: ‘Getting Worse And Worse’

Watch the interview here.

DENVER (CBS4)- Do you get a lot of calls from unknown numbers? Are scammers blowing up your phone? You’re not alone.

“I get them all the time. It’s bogus!”

“I block the number and then another number gets me. It’s annoying.”

“I get nervous it’s my friend in trouble, but then it ends up being a scam.”

Various cellphone users told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann they receive robocalls several times a week, if not multiple times a day. It’s a frustrating issue and one Colorado’s attorney general is trying to stop.

“The scammers are getting more and more sophisticated,” Phil Weiser said. “We need to stop the spoofing where they pretend to be calling from our neighborhoods.”

Weiser has joined a bipartisan coalition of more than 50 attorneys general in supporting the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The TRACED Act requires phone carriers to implement technology to identify who’s behind the scam calls.

“It gives both the FCC and the federal and state law enforcement tools to crack down on the robocalls,” Weiser explained. “Right now the technology is not in place to figure out where the calls are coming from. We need help.”

Among other things, the TRACED Act prioritizes efforts to ensure phone carriers implement STIR/SHAKEN, a technology that would substantially assist consumers in filtering and blocking unwanted robocalls and other phone-based spam. The legislation also establishes an Interagency Working Group that would enable Colorado to coordinate more closely with federal regulators in combating this crisis.

Last year, Coloradans received an estimated 120 million robocalls—averaging out to more than 20 such calls per Colorado resident. Weiser said robocalls are the number one complaint to his office.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” he said. “In 2019, half of all phone calls are expected to be scam robocalls.”

In the middle of his interview with CBS4, Weiser received a call from an unknown number. He had a good feeling it was a scam and his conversation with the person on the other end seemed to prove him right.

“Hello, what is your name, sir, and phone number to look up your information?” the caller asked.

“You just called me,” Weiser replied.

“Yes, to verify please,” the woman responded.

“Why do you need my name?” Weiser questioned. “You just called me.”

“Um, to verify the information, sir,” she said.

“What are you selling,” Weiser asked.

“We’re not selling anything, sir,” the woman replied.

“Why did you call me?” he asked.

“Alright, thank you so much for your time. Bye bye,” the woman said before hanging up.

Weiser said he’s received several robocalls like that, including one that he said made him very angry.

“I’ve been called actually being threatened with jail, and I’m the attorney general,” he said. “I was so pissed off I wanted to basically get the person talking, but as soon as these people know who you are they hang up.”

All the more reason, Weiser added, the TRACED Act is necessary to help authorities trace back to the scammer. Supporters of the TRACED Act hope it will help the federal government and law enforcement agencies find the scammers and fraudsters and potentially prosecute them.

“That way the feds can say to us here in Colorado, ‘There’s a scammer located in Colorado, you can go after them and prosecute them with criminal fraud,’” Weiser said. “Right now I don’t have the tools to get that information.”

Weiser said the TRACED Act is still in its introductory phase, so it will likely be some time before any kind of technology is in place to help consumers and authorities identify robocalls. In the meantime, Weiser warns everyone to be skeptical of unknown callers and to not answer any calls from numbers they don’t recognize.

 


Colorado to Join 19 States in Lawsuit to Stop Federal Abortion “Gag Rule”

The Denver Post

Colorado is joining 19 states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit to stop the so-called abortion “gag rule” changes to a federal grant program that provides reproductive health care services, including cancer screenings and contraception.

The lawsuit, which is being led by Oregon, is expected to be filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore., according to a news release from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. A spokesperson for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office confirmed the state will join the suit.

The legal action seeks to stop rule changes being made to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Title X family planning program, which are expected to go into effect in 60 days.

Opponents are calling the changes a “gag rule” because health providers that receive Title X funding will no longer be able to refer patients for abortion services. The new policy also prohibits family planning services funded by the program from being housed in the same physical location as abortion providers.

“These restrictions threaten to undermine health care providers’ ability to serve their patients professionally,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement. “If these rules go into effect, Colorado will see an increase in teen births, unintended pregnancies and abortions.”

Other states joining the lawsuit include New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland.

California filed its own lawsuit against the Title X rule on Monday, with that state’s attorney general calling it an “attack on women’s health.”

“The Trump-Pence Administration’s sabotage of Title X services that millions of women across our nation rely on is not only irresponsible, it is dangerous to women’s health,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

However, the rule change has drawn supporters. It “draws a bright line” between family planning services and abortion, said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in a February statement.

“Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers will now have to choose between dropping their abortion services from any location that gets Title X dollars and moving those abortion operations offsite,” he said. ”Either way, this will loosen the group’s hold on tens of millions of tax dollars.”

Colorado’s health department on Monday “denounced” the new rule changes. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment receives about $3.8 million a year from the Title X program.

None of the money the department receives goes toward abortion services, but the agency said it contracts 29 organizations that provide family planning services in 76 clinics across Colorado. Under the new rule, physicians and other advanced providers at these facilities will not be able to refer patients for abortions.

Nurses, social workers and other counselors will also be prohibited from counseling women about abortions. Instead, that responsibility will fall on physicians and advanced providers, said Jody Camp, family planning section manager for the health department, in an interview.

The new rule could cut the number of providers in the Title X program and hinder “honest conversations and damage the strength of the provider-patient relationship,” the health department said in a news release.

“Our work is based on a commitment to ensuring all residents have access to care, and this rule eradicates the progress we’ve made,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the state health department,in a statement. “It will result in more unintended pregnancies, more sexually transmitted infections and more early-stage cancers that will go undetected. The men and women of our state deserve better.”

There is only one Title X provider in the state that also offers abortion services.

Since it will be challenged in court, Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center has no plans to alter its services in response to the rule changes, said spokeswoman Lisa Radelet.

“We are going to keep providing the care we have always provided,” she said. “We were the first abortion clinic in the state.”

Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center opened in 1973, months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade ruling legalized abortions nationwide.

The center’s Title X funding does not go toward abortions. Those services are paid for by patients and their insurance companies. And the center has a fund — supported via private donations — to help low-income patients who can’t afford the costs, Radelet said.

“What this new rule does upends the whole intent of the program by inserting abortion politics into this program,” she said.