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Monday, October 31, 2011

Changing face of politics: The Electoral College reapportionment

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there will be some changes to the Electoral College due to changes in population that could affect the 2012 presidential election. The change will be in the number of representatives in the Electoral College.

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington, gained votes due to reapportionment based on the 2010 Census. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania lost votes.

According to Wikipedia, "In the political climate of 2011, this would give the Democratic Party a net loss of six electoral votes in states won by Obama in 2008. Conversely, the Republican Party will achieve a net gain of six electoral votes in states won by McCain."

In 2008, Barack Obama won by 365 electoral votes compared to John McCain's 173 votes.

For the full U.S. Census report, go to:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Parallels between Trinidad and the United States: curfews, detentions, and anxiety among citizens

Although there are major differences between Trinidad and the U.S., there are similarities between the two countries - anxiousness and detainment of people due to security and economic issues.

Anxiety in Trinidad: The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, known as "The Land of Paradise," remains under a limited state of emergency until December. It has been reported that the whole country has been under a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew since August 2011, while others say that only certain regions have been targeted, and citizens in certain areas can go about their normal routines after dark.

"We can't plan for next year," said a citizen who wants to remain anonymous who is living in an Ariman community known as Santa Rosa Heights, 15 minutes from the Piarco International Airport in Trinidad. "Clothing is not a problem, but getting food is because the prices keep going up and up," she said. "We can't afford the basics."

According to the CIA Factbook, "The government is coping with a rise in violent crime" in Trinidad. Violent crimes are defined as homicides, forcible rapes, robberies, and assaults. This Caribbean island, once a British Protectorate, is having major security issues as well as recurrent problems from heavy rainfall and flooding which all hamper the country's progress.

She said she feels the anxiety that comes from living a day to day existence. "Today was good; now let's see what will happen tomorrow." Residents worry that people placed in detention facilities across from housing complexes will break out and then break into their homes.

It's coming down to survival of the fittest. "I wish they would ship them all away from here," said the East-Indian native. Trinidad’s motto is "Together we aspire, together we achieve," but there remains turmoil between the races of the country's 1.3 million inhabitants.

Anxiety in U.S.: The U.S. is known as "The land of the free and the home of the brave." Recently, curfews have been enacted in various cities due to Occupy protests, while most states have permanent curfews set up for those under 18 years of age. Curfew laws can be overruled by the Constitution if they violate 1st, 4th or 14th Amendment rights of minors, including the right to free speech, free exercise of religion, and freedom of assembly.

Some people believe that President Obama is bringing back troops from Iraq to increase the security presence against protesters. Others are saying that should Marshall Law be declared, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could step in to ship detainees to over 800 vacant "concentration camps" established around the nation.

Some city government officials are saying that Occupy protesters leave garbage, waste, and are security risks which cost money. Many people are afraid to exercise their right of free speech because they fear they will be jailed. Despite these fears, Occupy meetups are occurring in 1,744 cities.

Numerous U.S. cities have been devastated by floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes this year. Since April 2011, all 67 counties in the southern state of Alabama have been dealing with debris removal and emergency protective measures as a result of extreme weather.

Today the Telegraph ran the following headline: "Tea Party legislation reveals anxiety at US direction under Barack Obama." In the U.S., wealth disparities have increased as has the poverty rate. Over 14 million people are out of work. Many people from India have been hired in the U.S., taking away jobs from qualified applicants already living here.

NOTE: According to the United Nations, the ratio of the average income of the richest 10% to the poorest 10% in Trinidad is 012.9 while it is 015.9 in the U.S. One advantage is that a college education in Trinidad is free at most accredited schools, and students are encouraged to become doctors or go into scientific fields of study. Last week, it was reported that student loan debt in the U.S. has outpaced credit card debt, with students owing up to $1 trillion in loans.

A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000. The three richest people possess more financial assets than the lowest 48 nations, combined.

Map of Trinidad: 2004 CIA World Factbook
Satellite view of U.S.: National Climactic Data Center/NOAA
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How much are top school executives paid, and how much did they pay in student loans?

(Pillar before Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga.)

As President Barack Obama (salary $400k) talked to students about his and Michele's combined $120k in student loans that were paid back after 10 years and two book deals, I wondered how much university presidents are paid, and what type of student debt they accrued. I remembered being told at the 125th Homecoming Celebration of Kentucky State University, a small liberal arts college in Frankfort, that the president was getting over $230k per year. That seemed exorbitant to me, so I decided to do some digging and to include expensive, private college preparatory school administrators in my research.

I've started my first assignment with Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga.

The President of Woodward Academy, the largest private prep school in the continental U.S., is Dr. F. Stuart Gulley. He along with the headmaster manage a 300 member faculty which teaches 2,670 students who have a 100% college matriculation rate. Dr. Gulley received his undergraduate training at Vanderbilt University, his Master of Divinity degree from Emory University, and his Ph.D. from Georgia State University. The school, through Marla Goncalves, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, declined to participate in this story.

Iranian born Nariman Farvardin has been the president of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey since July 2011. He was brought to my attention by a former staff member, and I found that Dr. Farvardin's salary was actually cut in half from his predecessor. The New York Times reported that Farvardin's base salary is $625,000, drastically lower than the previous president's $1.1 million salary and $1.8 million in illegal low-interest loans for vacation homes which were investigated by the Attorney General's office. Dr. Farvardin holds all his degrees in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

As for KSU President Dr. Mary Evans Sias, she earned an MBA from Abilene Christian College, received a Master of Science degree and a Ph.D., both in sociology, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

According to several news sources, Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee is the highest paid public university president, receiving $1,323,911 in 2010. Gee has held more university presidencies than any other American. Gee received his law degree from Columbia University Law School and his Ph.D. in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Neither KSU or Ohio State replied to our requests for further information on what their presidents paid in student loans.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

The White House's plan for managing student loans

(This information was taken from a White House press release.) The President has announced a series of additional steps that the Administration will take to make college more affordable and to make it even easier for students to repay their federal student loans:

Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt by Capping Monthly Payments to What They Can Afford - Allow borrowers to cap their student loan payments at 10% of discretionary income.

(Investopedia defines "discretionary income" as "the amount of an individual's income that is left for spending, investing or saving after taxes and personal necessities - such as food, shelter, and clothing - have been paid. Discretionary income includes money spent on luxury items, vacations and non-essential goods and services.  It is derived from disposable income, which equals gross income minus taxes.")

The President has announced that his Administration is putting forth a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal to make sure these same important benefits are made available to some borrowers as soon as 2012. The Administration estimates that this cap will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million student borrowers.

Borrowers looking to determine whether or not income-based repayment is the right option for them should visit

Improve Ease of Making Payments and Reduce Default Risk by Consolidating Loans
- Provide a discount on consolidation loans. While all new federal student loans are now Direct Loans thanks to the historic reforms in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, there are still $400 billion outstanding in old Federal Family Education Loans. These loans offer fewer repayment options and are unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers. In addition, about 6 million borrowers have at least one Direct Loan and at least one FFEL loan, which requires them to submit two separate monthly payments, a complexity that puts them at greater risk of default.

To ensure borrowers are not adversely impacted by this transition and to facilitate loan repayment while reducing taxpayer costs, the Department of Education is encouraging borrowers with split loans to consolidate their guaranteed FFEL loans into the Direct Loan program. Borrowers do not need to take any action at this time. Beginning in January 2012, the Department will reach out to qualified borrowers early next year to alert them of the opportunity.

For more information on managing student loans, go to:

Perry's Texas has highest poverty regions in U.S.

By Tomi Johnson...Texas has the poorest people in the nation within its borders. Texas is governed by Governor Rick Perry, a Republican candidate for president who claims that more jobs have been created in Texas than any other state.

"The Texas region defined by the cities of McAllen, Edinburg and Mission had the highest poverty rate in the country -- 33.4 percent," wrote Lisa Lambert, Huffington Post business writer. The report was based on U.S. Census data released last week.

McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County which also is the home of Edinburg and Mission which are in Southern Texas. According to Wikipedia, "Hidalgo County is consequently one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States, and is the seventh most-populous county in Texas."

Other highlights concerning U.S. poverty from government data include the following:

* The number of people in poverty in 2010 (46.2 million) is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.

* The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent — up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent.

* Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 9.4 percent to 9.9 percent), for Blacks (from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent), and for Hispanics (from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent). For Asians, the 2010 poverty rate (12.1 percent) was not statistically different from the 2009 poverty rate.

* Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for children under age 18 (from 20.7 percent to 22.0 percent) and people aged 18 to 64 (from 12.9 percent to 13.7 percent).

Map by David Benbennick - Public Domain.
Census Data:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Message to Herman Cain

The following email message is circulating through the Black community in the U.S.

The greeting on your website says, "We are looking forward to hearing from you," but I'm not sure you will be looking forward to hearing from me, Mr. Cain.

I saw on the Internet that you called the President a liar. I deplore what you are doing and the things you are saying about the President in order to gain favor with these greedy, thieving, selfish, Republicans. How dare you call President Obama a liar. You are a pathetic, obviously brainwashed black man who has lost his way and his mind. You have had opportunity and a smattering of privilege in America that has made you forget your roots. I despise people like you and Clarence Thomas, and you both have Georgia roots.

What is it with you black men from the south who grow up in an oppressed environment and end up siding with the oppressor? The recent case of Troy Davis in Georgia is an excellent example of the present day oppression and legal lynching that still takes place in that state and in this country. The political party that you praise so highly is presently enacting laws to suppress the black vote, the student vote, and many elderly voters across this entire country. Yet, you choose to stand with people who display such obscene and un-American behavior. You would throw black people (including the President of the U.S.) and others under the bus to curry favor with these non-caring and hedonistic people.

You were there when your Republican cohorts cheered about the death penalty which disproportionately affects black men and women in this country - some of whom have been proven to be innocent. You should be ashamed to stand with these people and yet, you appear to be proud of such an association.

Yes, President Obama does believe in fairness and sharing the responsibility of the tax burden, it is not socialism nor is it class warfare, and he is not a liar for saying it. That kind of rhetoric from you and those with whom you identify is nothing more than a weak defense for the greedy and despicable philosophy that you choose to embrace.

You had the unmitigated gall to tell Wolf Blitzer on CNN that two thirds of African-American people are brainwashed and incapable of thinking for themselves. You are surely touched in the head. The millions of us who are capable of thinking for ourselves - we know who is really brainwashed - you - brainwashed whiter than snow.

Do you really think those people with whom you stand on the debating platform really respect you and see you as their equal? They as well as others see you as a joke and a person who is engaging in buffoonery. A Republican majority House and Senate would never pass your "so called" 999 plan. They would never deem it in their best interest. Besides, there are many who believe your plan is a coded message from Satan. If you flip the numbers they become the 666 plan.

You will never be President of this country, and I thank God for that. I must say, you certainly live up to your last name. Just as Cain in the Bible so blatantly slew his brother, you are equally willing to do the same politically and economically to millions of black and middle class citizens of this country. Such behavior is extremely ugly, and need I remind you, Mr. Cain, that God does not like ugly.

Have a Blessed Day,

P.S. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm having a nice day, I would tell you what I really think about you.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Breaking news: U.S. troops returning home by Dec. 31

President Barack Obama announced today that he is living up to his campaign promise, and all U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraq by year's end. The President also promised that many will be home for the holidays.

What crimes against humanity did Gaddafi commit?

According to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was accused of the following:

"The evidence shows that Muammar Gaddafi, personally, ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in the public space, repressed demonstrations with live ammunition, used heavy artillery against participants in funeral processions, and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after the prayers...

The evidence shows that Gaddafi relies on his inner circle to implement a systematic policy of suppressing any challenge to his authority. His second eldest son, Saif Al Islam, is acting as a de facto prime minister and Al-Sanousi, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, is his right-hand man and the Head of the Military Intelligence.

The Office gathered direct evidence about orders issued by Muammar Gaddafi himself, direct evidence of Saif Al Islam organizing the recruitment of mercenaries, and direct evidence of the participation of Al Sanousi in the attacks against demonstrators. Additionally the Office documented how the three held meetings to plan the operations.

Muammar Gaddafi committed the crimes with the goal of preserving his absolute authority. As the Guide of the Revolution he has absolute authority in accordance with Libyan law. His orders are binding even for the Congress. It is a crime to peacefully oppose Muammar Gaddafi, insult him or challenge his authority."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Breaking News: Muammar Gaddafi مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي is dead

Preliminary news reports say Libyian President Gaddafi has been killed.

Who elected Obama in 2008?

A lot of people think that black folks put Barack Obama in the White House, but that is not true.

Obama received 53% or 66,882,230 votes from citizens. Black voters represented 12% of the voting populace, and 96% of blacks voted for Obama.

Winning the popular vote, however, does not necessarily mean a presidential candidate will win the election. In the U.S., presidents are not elected by citizen's votes but by the Electoral College System, and Obama got 365 electoral votes while McCain got 173. (It took 270 to win.)

Who are the electors, who are probably the most politically powerful people in states, and what racial groups do they represent? There are 535 people responsible for voting on behalf of their state in the Electoral College, and their numbers per state are based on the number of U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives per state.

According to, electors "may be State elected officials, party leaders, or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the Presidential candidate...the voters in each State choose the electors on the day of the general election. The electors' names may or may not appear on the ballot below the name of the candidates running for President, depending on the procedure in each State."

California has the most electors (55), followed by Texas(34), New York (31), and Florida (27).

So who really put Obama in the White House? For a full listing of the 2008 Electoral College members, go to

Map - Public Domain - Wikipedia. ©2011 Tomi Johnson (article); ©2011 Sharon Roper Jackson (photo). All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy DC expands in McPherson Square Park

The following photos were taken by Sharon Roper Jackson at a Washington, D.C. park on 15th Street & K Street during the first week of occupation. These pictures provide a photographic essay on what a peaceful citizen's protest movement is like in the U.S. They also highlight the frustration many citizens are experiencing since the 2008 recession; the economic realities of many who blame corporate greed, Wall Street, and a government bent on funding multiple wars instead of providing employment relief.

Ironically, these pictures were taken prior to the dedication of the MLK statue in the nation's Capital.

Many people are unclear about the protesters: who they are and what they want. According to its website (, the organization "is a peaceful grassroots movement that are fed up with the current political and economical system in this nation. We are an independent branch from and but carry the same terminology and philosophy.

"We are here because our economic system is broken, and many of us are suffering. We are here because massive financial, political, and societal inequality is not sustainable, and threaten the country’s ability to thrive. We are here because we are the 99% and the economy is ours too."

The protesters have set up a tent city in the Park. Tent cities are temporary housing facilities which are set up during disasters, natural or man-made, and are often used as forms of expression or objection to particular events, policies, or situations.

These tents are very colorful and have durable chairs to match!

Some are covered with extra tarps to keep out rain and meant to be livable havens for months.

In this circumstance, people are protesting government corruption. "One of the reasons why we don’t want to put out any official demands or goals yet is because we want to hear from the people what they want. We have heard many messages but we feel like we need more input from more people before we can even think about releasing official demands," the group says on its website.

And while the protesters sat in and around their tents, President Obama was viewed on a jumbo-tron near the new King Memorial, talking about Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of non-violent dissent:

"Dr. King understood that peace without justice was no peace at all; that aligning our reality with our ideals often requires the speaking of uncomfortable truths and the creative tension of non-violent protest."

In his speech, Obama never mentioned that King was against war. So far, there have been over 4,683 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 32,799 wounded in combat. Last week, Obama sent 100 military "advisers" to Uganda which neighbors his father's native country, Kenya. This same tactic was used during the beginning of the Vietnam War.

According to How to Occupy's website (, the protestors are trying to build a new world and are promoting alternative money/exchange systems, free media, Internet/Opensource Software, political alternatives, and sustainability projects.

To find a list of the organization's grievances, go to:

©2011 Tomi Johnson (article)
©2011 Sharon Roper Jackson (photos). All rights reserved.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breaking News: Johnson-Sirleaf ahead in Liberian presidential race

With 96.7% or 4311 of 4457 polling places reporting, incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has 44% of the vote, followed by Winston A. Tubman with 32.2% and Prince Yormie Johnson with 11.8% of the vote. (National Elections Commission, Republic of Liberia) This means there is going to be a runoff, with Johnson-Sirleaf coming short of an outright majority.

The voting turnout was high, with 1,243,233 or 71.4% of the registered voters voting. A likely run-off will be held November 8. President Johnson-Sirleaf issued the following statement concerning the election:

"My Fellow Liberians: I want to congratulate each of you who turned out to vote on Election Day, and also for the discipline and tolerance you demonstrated. We commend the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the professional manner in which it conducted the process which was judged by most to be free, fair and transparent. We thank the Liberian Council of Churches, the Liberian Muslim Council and all national and international groups that have called for peace and requested all political parties to refrain from actions that will undermine the peace of our nation. We condemn acts of violence and destruction, and call upon all Liberians to refrain from violence and threats as we prepare to once again exercise our political franchise by voting in the run-off election which we are certain will be equally free, fair and transparent. After all, we are all Liberians – one history, one culture, one future. When this election is over, we’ll all be Liberians, and it will require the collective effort of all of us to continue the process of rebuilding our country and to ensure that peace, stability and democracy continue to prevail. We ask all religious bodies, and all of our people, to continue to pray for our nation. May God bless us all."

Tubman's organization has claimed that the vote was rigged in Johnson-Sirleaf's favor. It has been reported that the country is in limbo since the elections started, with Johnson-Sirleaf fighting youth unrest and inability to fill key government positions, especially in the financial sector.

In August, Johnson-Sirleaf nominated Robert L. Kilby, an independent consultant and auditor who was born in Liberia but also works near Stone Mountain, Ga., as the new Auditor-General for Liberia. Kilby is also an exam writer for the American Institute of Certified Accountants and an expert on the Sarbanes Oxley Act.
(Robert Kilby with wife, Marilyn, in 2002. Listen to audio interview with Robert Kilby - at

Johnson-Sirleaf just won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month.

Photos by Kurk Johnson ©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Opportunities in education not reverse discrimination

Whether you are for affirmative action and equal opportunity or against reverse discrimination, some universities still have programs in place to assist minorities. The term "reverse discrimination" refers to discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group.

Here are some opportunities still available for non-majority students.

Harvard University is offering free tuition to families of low-income students. In 2004, Harvard inaugurated a financial aid initiative for low-income
students under which families with incomes below $40,000 paid nothing toward the cost of their child’s attendance. Just two years later (2006), this benefit was extended to families with incomes below $60,000 (current level). Beginning next fall (2012), this ceiling will be raised to $65,000. For more information, visit or or call (617)495-1581.

Syracuse University School of Architecture is desperately seeking young women and men of color interested in pursuing a 5 yr. professional degree in Architecture. Contact: Mark Robbins, Dean, School of Architecture, at
(315)443-2256 or visit

Wake Forest University has an opportunity for minority students to attend its MBA program for FREE, and so far, the response has been very poor. This is a tremendous opportunity to attend a top graduate school. For details, contact Derrick S. Boone, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing,
at, visit, or call (866) 925-3622.

Black Male Teachers needed. Do you know any Black Males who
are seniors in high school who want to go to college out of state for
FREE? The CALL ME MISTER program offered by 4 historically black
colleges in South Carolina , Benedict College , Chaflin University ,
Morris College and South Carolina State University. Visit the for an online application or
call (800)640.2657.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Breaking news: U.S. troops invade Uganda

Developing story...It has been reported that 100 U.S. troops or advisers made their way into Uganda and a bordering country earlier this week, but Pres. Barack Obama only informed Congress of the action today. The U.S. has had normal diplomatic relations with Uganda.

According to the CIA Factbook, "Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. Uganda has never conducted a national minerals survey."

News from the White House this year concerning Uganda has only surrounded the death of leader David Kato.

On January 25, 2011, Obama's press office released a statement, saying "I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato.  In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate.  He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom.  The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work. At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate.  In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered.  It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights.  My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad.  We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all."

According to Wikipedia, David Kato was killed on January 26, 2011, and he was a leader of a gay rights movement. It was alleged that he was killed in his home by robbers who also attacked and killed others in the neighborhood.

Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. The country and its citizens were brutalized by the former President Idi Amin. The 2006 film "The Last King of Scotland" was based on Amin's life.

Black pr professionals to host conference and career fair

Milwaukee, Wis. – Against a backdrop of job loss and public relations agency business declines, the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS) seeks to stimulate job growth and encourage new business development for members of its industry. The organization hosts its 2011 NBPRS Conference and Career Fair, Oct. 27 – 30, in Milwaukee at the InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel.

“The economy has been hard on everyone and many in our membership have been among those hardest hit. The NBPRS Conference and Career Fair will provide timely support, networking, job opportunities and professional development programming to help meet the needs of our member network,” said national NBPRS President Wynona Redmond.

“Thus, we will caucus around employment, career transitions, new business development and the importance of diversity in major corporations and PR firms,” she said.

The NBPRS Conference theme is The Network @ Work: Managing Transitions, Techniques and Technology for Career and Business Success. The four-day event will include career coaching, resume critiques and meetings with potential employers to discuss job opportunities.

Conference highlights include a special strategic session on Saturday with career expert Virginia Clarke, author of “Career Mapping: Charting Your Course in the New World of Work.” Clarke, an expert in talent and career management, diversity recruitment and executive coaching, is founder of Talent Optimization Partners, LLC. She is widely respected as a thought leader and practitioner of recruitment and retention strategies.

Also on Saturday, H Walker, Director of Education, McDonald’s Global Inclusion & Intercultural Management (GIIM), will be the keynote speaker for the NBPRS Network Luncheon. An expert in the field of global diversity, inclusion, executive coaching and leadership development, Walker will share strategies for empowerment and personal mastery.

Tina Dugas, Senior Associate for Bloom, Gross & Associates Executive Search Firm, and long-time NBPRS supporter, will have dual roles. On Friday, she will be a part of a panel entitled “Recruit Me: Trends in Recruitment and Retention.” She also will be among honorees of the NBPRS Founders Luncheon on Friday.

The conference also will include a broad range of relevant topics, e.g., “Wired for Success: Embracing New Technologies for Successful PR Careers and Campaigns,” “How to Brand, Market and Protect Your Creative Destiny,” “Case Studies in Crisis Communications,” and “Crafting Messages That Move and Motivate Your Audiences.”

Communications and PR students will have their own track designed to help them network, and gain access and experience in the PR field.

Sponsors for the 2011 NBPRS Conference and Career Fair include Northwestern Mutual, Harley-Davidson, Edelman, Constituency Management Group, Business Wire and Black PR Wire, Inc.

For more conference information, visit

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Courageous" film produced by megachurch receiving rave reviews

The Christian drama film Courageous produced by Sherwood Pictures, a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., is showing in movie theaters now. A rare A+ CinemaScore review rating has been received for this film.

Courageous was released to 1,161 theaters on September 30, 2011 and had the best opening of all new movies released that weekend, beating out The Lion King 3D, Moneyball, Dolphin Tale and Drive. It grossed $2,000,000 in pre-sales alone and grossed $9.1 million total for the weekend. Directed by Alex Kendrick, the film was produced with a $2,000,000 budget.

According to the Sherwood Pictures website, "Through prayer, we see God's plans for themes, scripts, plot lines, casting, volunteers, and every other aspect of movie making." The church's mission is to "Touch the whole world with the whole word."

Senior Pastor Michael Catt, Executive Pastor Jim McBride, and ministers Stephen and Alex Kendrick want others to learn about the film's intent. “The movie is about fatherhood and the title is one word: COURAGEOUS,” Alex Kendrick said.

“Four fathers...begin looking at their role as fathers . . . and they begin challenging one another to fulfill God’s intention for fathers...“We believe God is calling men to rise up with strength and with leadership in their homes, with their families and with their children.”

“The statistics on fatherless children are devastating,” McBride said. “And because the family is the building block of society, one important place to rebuild families is through fathers who stay and lead and love.”

Roughly half of the cast are volunteers from Sherwood Baptist Church, but the other half were through invitation-only audition sessions. Sherwood Baptist Church is a megachurch in Whispering Pines, a subdivision of Albany with over 2,000 attendants; however, this number places it among the smallest of referenced "megachurches". Courageous is the church's fourth movie.

The plot of their latest movie centers on the Albany, Ga. police force's attempts to stop drug smuggling in the city. The sheriff urges his deputies to spend time with their families based on statistics that fatherless children are several times more likely than those with fathers to turn to lives of crime.

The film's climax happens at a Father's Day church service. Mitchell, one of the main characters, urges fathers in the congregation to influence their families for God. The film ends with a portion of Joshua 24:15: "...[C]hoose you this day whom you will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

To learn more about Sherwood Pictures, go to: To watch movie trailer, click on link to the right of this article.

Portions of this article taken from Wikipedia provided under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bill Gates death announcement posted on Wikipedia

An erroneous mention of the death of Bill Gates was posted on Wikipedia's bio posting of J. P. Morgan.

In between the listing of Morgan's wives, the announcement was printed twice and read:

Death: Bill Gates passed away on 11th October 2011 in his home. The cause of death is not confirmed but expected to be from a reaction to a nut allergy from nuts posted through his letterbox. The funeral will be a private ceremony on 13th October 2011.

It was posted at and then removed. It is unclear whether the website was hacked or how the error was made.

Breaking news: Gas $3.01 off I75

If you are a Kroger card holder and have earned 100 points, you can purchase regular gasoline at Kroger Fuel stations off I75 near Exit 333 for $3.01 as of yesterday at 9:00 p.m.

Wingcom Watchdog tried to contact Kroger's media relations department today to obtain information on what is driving gas prices lower, but they were not available for comment.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases new data

New information concerning labor force characteristics by race and ethnicity, job openings, labor turnover surveys, Alabama and Mississippi workplace fatalities, and international comparisons of manufacturing productivity as well as U.S. import and export price indexes were released today by the federal government. The statistics are not surprising but are worth noting:

* Unemployment rates among the major race and ethnicity groups remained high in 2010 as the U.S. economy continued to slowly recover from the 2007–2009 recession. The jobless rates for Blacks (16.0 percent), Hispanics (12.5 percent), Whites (8.7 percent), and Asians (7.5 percent) were much higher than their pre-recession levels. To read the full report on "Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity," go to:

* There were 3.2 million job openings on the last business day of July 2011. The hires rate (3.0 percent) and separations rate (3.0 percent) were essentially unchanged over the month.

* Fatal work injuries in Mississippi totaled 64 in 2009. Highway incidents remained the most frequent fatal event in the workplace in Mississippi as well as the nation.

* Manufacturing labor productivity decreased in 2009 in 12 of the 19 economies. The U.S. had the largest productivity increase, 7.7 percent, and Japan had the steepest productivity decline. For the first time, both output and hours in manufacturing declined in all 19 economies compared. In most economies, output declined by more than 10 percent and hours by more than 8 percent.

* U.S. import prices declined 0.4 percent in August led by a 1.8 percent decrease in fuel prices. The August drop in import prices followed a 0.3 percent rise the previous month. In contrast, prices for US exports rose 0.5 percent after declining 0.4 percent in July.

KSU wins 2011 Homecoming game; Midnight Star wows crowd

Frankfort, Ky...Kentucky State University (KSU) celebrated its 125th Anniversary on October 6 – 9 in Frankfort, Ky., the Commonwealth's Capital. The theme was “Uniting Generations: Securing Futures.”

Although there was one major injury requiring a player to be taken off the field in an ambulance just before halftime, the Thorobreds football team was victorious over the Fort Valley Wildcats in a dramatic 25-24 win. With less than 2 minutes left in the game, Senior Keith Massey intercepted a pass at KSU's 14 yard line.

Immediately following the game, R&B and electro-funk group Midnight Star performed a free concert on the track field. Their style of music is described on Wikipedia as "Dance-pop, Soul, Electro, Disco, Hip hop, and Quiet storm." In the midst of adoring fans and surrounded by numerous tailgaters, seven of the nine original members performed onstage:

vocalist Belinda Lipscomb, keyboard player/vocalist Bo Watson, guitarist/vocalist Melvin Gentry, bassist Kenneth Gant, multi-instrumentalist Bill Simmons, and drummer Bobby Lovelace. The original group was founded at KSU in 1976 after first coming out as Funkafied.

The concert consisted of all the groups major hits, including U.S. R&B 2xPlatinum hit "No Parking on the Dance Floor", "Freak-A-Zoid", "Operator", and several hits the group wrote for other entertainers.

“We have been blessed to record 10 albums over 35 years and write for other great musicians,” said Melvin Gentry. Midnight Star still tours around the world and will be performing at two separate venues in California later this month. Original members and brothers Reginald and Vincent Calloway are no longer in the group.

Kurk Johnson of Atlanta poses before his ole college chums.

The weather was an added plus, with temperatures reaching 81 degrees. Later that evening, students enjoyed a concert at the Frankfort Convention Center and alumni gathered for drinks and camaraderie at the Capital Plaza Hotel.
"Gant" performs onstage.

It was a perfect afternoon to relax and listen to great music. Renee Carter from Louisville, Ky.
Saxophonist Benny J. Smith and Midnight Star's Bill Simmons pause for photo after the show.

On Sunday, many alumni visited friends, teachers and administrators at their homes in and around Frankfort to reminisce.

Alumni talk about working in the library with Former Librarian Mrs. Katie Jones.
Retired alumni Bobby Stone shows off new motorcycle.

Former instructors Dr. Winona Lee Fletcher and Blogger Tomi Johnson pose after discussing their future plans.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf shares Nobel Peace Prize

(Johnson Sirleaf addresses crowd after speech in Atlanta, Ga. in 2007 when blogger Tomi Johnson ((l)) was a reporter.)

Oslo, Norway...The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work. "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society," the Committee declared.

According to Wikipedia, Johnson Sirleaf was born October 29, 1938, "and is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d'état, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. Johnson Sirleaf is the first and currently only elected female head of state in Africa."

"Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first democratically elected female president. Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women," said the Nobel Committee in a press release today.

Johnson Sirleaf sings Liberian National Anthem.
President Johnson Sirleaf, also known as “Iron Lady”, “Titanium Wonder,” and “Superwoman Wannabee,” survived a fire at her presidential palace on Independence Day 2006. When Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was asked what she expected from Liberians living at home and abroad, she answered firmly, “Commitment, honesty, hard work, peace.”

"It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s hope that the prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realise the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent."

In her home country, President Johnson Sirleaf can make significant contributions if she accepts technological challenges, surrounds herself with the right people; and takes advantage of the World Bank’s Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP) and the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Other challenges still facing Johnson Sirleaf include security, the economy, infrastructure improvements, tourism, human rights, good governance, and health care. In employment, it has been reported that ghost names still remain on the government payroll.

Johnson Sirleaf is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the first black sorority founded in the U.S. in 1908 and incorporated in 1913. According to the sorority's website, Johnson Sirleaf is a member of Eta Beta Omega Chapter, the sorority's first international chapter, chartered in 1957.

Photos: Atlanta's Four Seasons Hotel in 2007.
©2007 Kurk D. Johnson. All rights reserved.
Article: ©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are career centers and networking consultants helping the unemployed?

Blogger's Notes:
Last night, I attended a job networking event at a neighborhood church. Information and advice given by "job transition" consultants included the following:
1. 82% of jobs are not posted. Good ole boy networks still exist.
2. HR won't help you get a job. Only five applicants for one job are usually interviewed. Most resumes are filed in the trash can.
3. Have a marketing plan for yourself. Always list accomplishments on your resume. Large companies scan resumes into computers which search for key words. Most resumes are not read by people.
4. Senior level managers are the only ones to talk to about your opportunity value to the company.
5. Some job networking event presenters are out of work themselves and trying to make a living by giving advice on surviving through "transition" or are retired executives who are "paying it forward."
6. Jobs posted on boards are like vaporware and are often just an advertising ploy. People are seldom hired at job fairs.
7. Cold calls can work if you can talk to a senior executive and can prove you will add value to the company's bottom line.
8. Age, race, and sex still are key factors in hiring decisions.
9. Networking and having technical skills are important. Manage your career by using social media.
10. People who can "make money" or solve problems are in high demand.

What about government sponsored career centers?
What benchmarks and results are acceptable? How does the U.S. Dept. of Labor gauge career center's successes?

National career centers are placed under the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA. Information on centers can be accessed by going to:

According to the website, "One-Stop Career Centers are designed to provide a full range of assistance to job seekers under one roof. Established under the Workforce Investment Act (1998), the centers offer training referrals, career counseling, job listings, and similar employment-related services. Customers can visit a center in person or connect to the center's information through PC or kiosk remote access."

To view the full Act, go to:

Personal Experience: Although I have never gotten a job through working with the Dept. of Labor, I still went to the career center last week after receiving a letter from President Obama recommending that I do so. The assistant was very nice, but she referred me to a 6 hour per week job which required a Master's degree in Library Science which I do not have. The other job she referred me to has not returned my calls.

I think it is now time for the government to give us some statistics as to how their employees are helping the unemployed land jobs. Stop blaming corporate America and small business....what is our tax-funded government doing to really help? What is their success rate? If it's not at 85%, those in charge should be fired!!!! How will the success of Career Centers be improved if the Jobs Bill is passed, and how do their managers measure their success?

It would be nice to get some clear answers on this topic...if only I had a ticket to Manhattan and a tent!
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Careers in electric vehicle research expected to soar

According to James Hamilton, economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobs of the future will be in electric cars.

Although modern electric cars were developed in 1996, new and improved electric vehicle technologists are in demand. Chemists and material scientists as well as electrical engineers will be needed to improve battery life and recharging time. A Ph.D or PE certification will be necessary to fill these positions, and medium pay in 2010 was between $68,320 and $100,450 for those holding advanced credentials.

“A degree is certainly useful for these jobs, however, there are many jobs available that do not require one,” said Hamilton. He also says the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium may be helpful in providing career training. For more information, go to

In order for electric vehicles to be a viable alternative to gas powered vehicles, however, access to charging stations in the U.S. will have to be drastically increased. A map of charging stations in the U.S. confirms that there are over 500 electric vehicle recharging stations in California, but 27 states have less than 10 charging stations, with 12 having none at all.

To read the full report, go to

Photo: GNU Free Documentation License,
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.