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Friday, April 27, 2012

Student loan interest rates stay put at expense of health care reform

Official House Republican Conference photo
H.R. 4628 has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and instead of the government subsidizing student loans below the 3.4 percent interest rate, the bill steadies the rate until July 1, 2013.

Some question whether these government loans to students, who may find themselves in unemployment lines instead of in jobs once they graduate, should be 0% and wonder why the government is making money off students who otherwise could not receive a loan without having incomes. Others view this as a tax on people who are trying to get an education but have no guarantees that their investments in education will pay off down the road.

According to the GOP.gov's Legislative Digest, H.R. 4628 prevents interest rates on new federally subsidized Stafford Loans made to undergraduate students from increasing from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012. 

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement after the House approved the Interest Rate Reduction Act (H.R. 4628), legislation by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) that would extend current student loan interest rates by cutting spending from an ObamaCare slush fund:

“Students and families are struggling in President Obama’s economy. Nearly half of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, and laws like ObamaCare have only made it harder for small businesses to hire them. That’s why House Republicans voted to extend current student loan rates and to pay for it by eliminating an ObamaCare slush fund President Obama himself proposed cutting from his budget.

"It’s time for the president and Democrats in Congress to stop exploiting the challenges facing young Americans for political gain, and start working with Republicans to create a better environment for private-sector job growth.”

The cost of a one-year extension of the lower rate is $5.985 billion, and in order to pay for this cost, the bill would repeal the unobligated balance of the “Prevention and Public Health Fund,” a slush fund in the president’s government takeover of health care law, according to GOP.gov.

The remaining savings generated from repealing the $11.9 billion slush fund will be put toward deficit reduction. Budgetary effects of the new bill can be viewed at http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43200.

©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quote for today

"The American people have said by a large majority, 'Tax the rich. End the wars. Protect the social safety net.' And the opposite is happening...the breakdown is between the people and Washington." Jeffrey Sachs, economist

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Simple solutions to end complex poverty in USA

Right after I attended CNN’s “Today’s Other America: Living in Poverty,” I came home and watched one of my favorite movies, Contact, a 1997 science fiction drama adapted from a book of the same name by the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan.

Some of the dialogue in the movie directly relates to poverty in America: “You are capable of such wonderful dreams and horrible nightmares….take small moves…Simple solutions are the best choices.” These are recommendations we should contemplate when tackling our country's destitution disgrace.

Do not use without permission.
Henry Cisneros (3rd from left) talks to speakers and organizers before the event.
CNN’s Dialogues event was generated in partnership with Emory University’s James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The Dialogues’ theme “Today’s Other America” came out of left field, for the poor ARE America, making up 15.1 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, according to the University of Michigan’s National Poverty Center. This theme itself signifies the reality of our country’s economic divide and places “Us against Them” in an unhealthy mentality, an unlawful segregation that empowers some and demeans others.

The Dialogue
It took about three hours for Donna Beegle, Henry Cisneros, Renee Glover, Michael Rich, and Robert Woodson, Sr. to convey their message to a crowd of around 500 who attended the forum held in Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts last night.

Do not use without permission.
Thomas R. Carter and Robert Woodson, Sr.
“I didn’t hear a lot of solutions to the problem, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself,” said Thomas Carter, a community activist from Marietta, Ga. “I think the dialogue made everyone in attendance think about how each individual can attack poverty personally,” said an anonymous attendee.

The presentation began with a video featuring poor people and their situations - not being able to afford diapers while hopelessly raising kids on welfare, no adult support because parents were in prison, forced to vacate section 8 housing, gridlocked without options, regimented to drinking broth for their one course dinner.

The people in the video watched from the auditorium’s front row. To some of them, the God they pray to appears not to be listening, their government doesn’t supply enough to survive, and their fellow citizens have turned away in silence.
Do not use without permission.
CNN's Poppy Harlow

The dialogue was facilitated by CNN’s Poppy Harlow, anchor of CNNMoney. “We're talking about the forgotten,” she said.

“We 're in danger of slipping back,” warned Henry Cisneros, former U. S. HUD secretary. “We have developed a callousness that allows people to suffer in poverty...what kind of people are we?”

“The real conversation right now is should we pull up the ladder,” added Renee Glover, CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority. “Poverty is not a hopeless situation…the poor need structural opportunity.”


DO not use without permission.
Beegle was homeless for several years.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘If we're silent about race, we will have racism’...that is how I feel about poverty," testified Dr. Donna Beegle, President of Communication Across Barriers who said when she was poor, she had $18 left after paying rent and was appalled when she was referred to a money management class.

What are the simple solutions?
Perhaps the solutions are simpler than we think, but we have not been replicating what works, according to Glover. “We have to start with the children and focus on the future,” she said, adding no child should live in poverty in America.

Furthermore, we need to address the “profitability of poverty” which is evident in how our justice system makes prisons profitable, how predatory lending and higher interest rates charged poor people is fueling bank profits, and the psychological effects of poverty which are destroying generation after generation.

Do not use without permission.
Renee Glover talks with attendees.
Emory Professor Dr. Michael Rich said, “We need the political will to reduce poverty by making work pay.” Rich said the United States needs to take a few lessons from the United Kingdom of Great Britain. “They are investing in families there.” Rich said the Brits are using large child tax credits, funding early learning programs, shifting expenditures, and have cut poverty levels in half. 

Do not use without permission.
Dr. Rich discusses his research with students.
“When you make work pay, you get people out of poverty,” Beegle said about the need for the poor to earn a living wage for working some of the worst jobs in America. She suggested that families of four need to make at least $40k annually to survive, yet the poverty threshold for the same family is $22,113.

“Stop predatory lending is a great solution ...they are the ones bilking the poor,” added Robert Woodson, Jr., president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Woodson had a more conservative approach and claimed that the rich have helped the poor. A few examples he gave were philanthropy by Doris Buffett and the Hershey family. 

Woodson said more people should concentrate on giving to the poor instead of financing S.O.B's – more commonly referred to as symphonies, operas and ballet companies.

“We have to push the reset button,” Cisneros concluded.

Do not use without permission.
About 500 people attended the event.
Thinking outside the Box
Looking at this issue myself, I have the following thoughts.

1. Put aside the messianic approach to ending poverty. One has to analyze how the Judeo-Christian ethic reinforces the notion that poverty is o.k., as something which can be tolerated because Jesus may have said the poor will be with us always and that they will receive their rewards in heaven. This interpretation of Jesus’ mission is hogwash!

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God…Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled...Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Perhaps Jesus was talking about spiritual poverty, not material needs.

2. Criminalize predatory lending, from paycheck loan establishments, to 30 year mortgage holder liens, to student loan scams, to high rate credit cards.

3. De-romanticize high interest loans to poor people, like those based on the philosophy of the Grameen Bank.

4. Embrace green living.

5. Make sure people forgo buying “money pit” foreclosures. Counsel realtors on how to offer clients ethical recommendations. Work with banks to end foreclosures, refinance with lower interest rates, and offer principal reductions.

6. Pass laws that protect workers.

7. Urge morality over theft and greed, compassion over divisiveness.

8. Stop making it profitable to misuse the poor. Stop rewarding rich people at the expense of poor people.

9. Make affordable health care work. Research ways to help health insurance companies remain profitable while insuring people with preexisting conditions.
 
10.  Listen to the poor to formulate solutions.

11. Work with churches and non-profit organizations to make sure donations made to help the poor don't end up in the pockets, homes, and garages of preachers. Make it mandatory for churches and non-profits to have unemployment counseling/support, food, clothing, etc. project plans.

12. Provide psychological and economic counseling to those who request it, making sure the request doesn't jeopardize their ability to get a job or receive health insurance.

13. Make student loans bankruptable if graduates are unable to find a job after three years.

14. Give incentives to businesses to pay employees a living wage.

15. Support affordable healthcare legislation.
©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Legal issues facing Georgia job seekers

When my son was in college and working two part-time jobs, he decided to quit one at a major department store where he was pushing carts for three years and not getting along with his new manager. As parents, we told him to make sure he gave his employer a two week notice.

One week after quitting, he was fired. Not only does he have a negative mark on his employment record, but we found out that in Georgia, which is an "At Will" state, you only have to give notice as a courtesy, for it is not required. Giving a two week notice only gave the new manager an opportunity to try and negatively affect my son's future.

There is no legal requirement that an employee has to give notice unless an employment contract is  signed with language stipulating rules governing the termination notice. If you break the contract, beware of any consequences. Also, the bridge to that company may be burned, so leaving a company is just as important as starting a new job.

While no employee is perfect, it's still an employer's market. Employee satisfaction is at an all time low while employers are hiring fewer people, working the ones they employ more, and paying them less for what they accomplish.

"An employer can let you go for any reason, at any time, with no explanation," said Attorney José De La Cruz, a volunteer human resources counselor and trainer at CobbWorks, Inc. in Marietta, Ga.

"They can let you go if they don't like the color of the ink pen you are using," he said. "When you are applying for another job, you have to answer all questions on the job application truthfully. If they ask whether you have ever been fired, you must try to explain why you were let go," he said. It is always a good idea to ask for a separation notice.

De La Cruz added that most companies are socially conscious and want to have a good branding reputation that they treat employees fairly, however, they want to hire people who will not only be a good fit for their team of professionals, but people who will not set them up for litigious or negligent hiring lawsuits should something unlawful happen on the job.

Although most employers limit what information they supply on former employees, they may answer the question, "Is this person eligible for rehire?" A few other tools that potential employers can legally use to weed out undesirables, check honesty and integrity, and limit risk include:

Background checks including arrest records, charges, misdemeanors and felony convictions
Credit checks
Drug screens
Social media postings (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)

Professional hiring managers urge job seekers to check their records at all three credit bureaus, do searches on the  Internet to see what may have been written about them, and refrain from writing comments under a real name which sometime appear on web pages. This can be used against you in hiring decisions, and there's nothing you can legally do about it!

If you are having a hard time getting a job and don't know why, you should check what data is available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This Act provides that "any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions." (http://www.foia.gov/)

If you have a criminal background, have alcohol or drug use issues, poor credit history, were dishonorably discharged from the military, lack an employment history, or are receiving temporary assistance to needy families (TANF), there still is hope that you can get a job in Georgia through the Federal Bonding Program. (www.gonds4.com)  This program provides fidelity bonding insurance coverage, sometimes called dishonesty bonding, to high monetary risk individuals.

For more information on this program, go to your local GDOL center office or call the FBP coordinator at 404-232-3540.

©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Electrocution without conviction: Taser deaths of black men increase

On November 19, 2011, Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr, a retired marine with heart problems, mistakenly triggered his medical alert apparatus in his White Plains, N.Y. apartment. The apparatus was a LifeAid medical-alert pendant.

Instead of the police responding to this supposed medical emergency without force, they answered the call and broke Chamberlain's door down. Chamberlain, 68, told police there was not a problem, but they tasered and shot him anyway with non-lethal projectiles and then live ammunition.

A recording released by authorities related the following being said by one of the police officers when arriving on the scene. Chamberlain said he was alright, and the officer responded: “I don't give a fuck, nigger — open the door.”

Chamberlain died from his injuries. No one was arrested. A grand jury has been convened.  

This incident reminds me of a similar case in metro Atlanta when a woman called paramedics to her home to assist her husband, Frederick Jerome Williams, 32, who was having an epileptic seizure. Instead of medical personnel arriving, a police officer arrived, and an altercation took place. Back up was called, and Williams was tasered several times and then taken into custody. He died in jail, and nothing has every been done about it. (http://www.wingcomltd.com/Articles/taser.htm)


Williams' wife at march in 2004 for her dead husband. (Photo by Tomi Johnson)
Williams left behind four children, all under the age of 10 years old.

According to a media report, the last taser death occurred on April 11, 2012, when police killed another black man, Bobby Louis Merrill, 38, of Saginaw. Mich. after it was reported that he was jumping on cars and was combative. The police claimed that Merrill may have been on drugs. Investigators will be reviewing police car cameras and taser cam footage as the investigation continues.

In another incident on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012, Marland A. Anderson, better known as the Sledge Hammer, a 39 year old adult film actor, was tasered several times by LAPD. Anderson's girlfriend had called for help when he appeared to need medical attention. Anderson got into an altercation with police and paramedics before being tasered. He died from his injuries in the hospital on Friday, April 13. 

According to the Electronic Village blog, there have been 522 documented taser-related deaths in the U.S. since 2001. It reports that although Blacks make up 13.6% of the total U.S. population, 41% of the 2009-2012 taser-related deaths were African American.

©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

A call for “This is the Way Family Foundation" (TITWFF)


(This is a reaction to my post on seeking new activism methods for justice instead of marching in the streets.)

 "We are you, you are we" 
By Bro Malcolm

The following is the base of my proposal to make reparations a reality for our people, and if the acquisition of land and water resources reflect a problem, then geographic alternatives are always possible. Again, this is an idea to make reparations a reality for us.

I believe that it's imperative that we develop and implement "This Is the Way Family Foundation” (TITWFF). “We are you, you are we" under the 501.c (3) tax code should summon our wealthy entertainers, professional athletes, and business professionals to give their support so as to help and assist ourselves to make reparations a reality, in this part of the globe.

TITWFF will focus on providing every Black family with a home built from the ground up by all of our people who are jobless. TITWFF will accommodate all training in every applicable trade in housing construction.

First, please allow me to ask each an everyone of us, how much more evidence or how many more unethical/uncivilized events do we have to be victimized by, or subjected to, until we fully get it in our minds, with a total understanding, that we're in the mist of what has clearly manifested itself to be the most uncivilized location for Black people/us on earth?

In general with regards to lives lost, it shouldn't be a surprise that there's been more loss of life in the US over the past 18 months than there has been in Afghanistan & Iraq combined! The irony is the former and the latter are supposedly in an all out "state of war." On the other hand, the domestic front can be easily construed as the same, if not worse!

In my view, we can no longer stand idly by while this system continuously puts more emphasis on the 2nd amendment of its constitution than it does making its past and current wrongdoings right. Isn't it about time that we embrace ourselves as a family of people and start moving forward on what we deem as being "right" for us and most importantly, the future of our children?

Are we going to remain dependent on a system that has proven itself time and time and time again that its #1 priority is to preserve itself without any consideration for our preservation? Let's face the reality that's telling us consistently that the plan for us is "genocide!" We don't make up 1/3 of any state in the U.S., but yet we're #1 on the homeless, jobless & incarceration rolls, and it's our duty to correct this acute problem. It's obvious that the system is doing exactly what it was designed to do!

In other words, the "reparations" that we, overwhelming, rightfully deserved since before 1865, but never received…I believe it's time that we take the lead in making it happen. We've come to that point to where millions of us realize now that we cannot continuously remain idle and expect someone outside of us to repair us. The way Trayvon's case was and is being handled is telling us that it's imperative that we move forward.


Let's move forward.

(Scale of Justice graphic in public domain.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

State Tax Collections Increase $62 Billion

Photo by K. C. Lewis, Third-Eye Photography
Although many state governments are claiming they don't have any money, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today that overall government tax collections for states increased to $763.7 billion in fiscal year 2011.

“The nationwide increases in state government tax revenue are an indication of the stabilization of revenues for state governments,” said Lisa Blumerman, chief of the Governments Division. “These data help us understand the condition of our state governments and their fiscal ability to continue to provide public services.”

It was also noted that the largest increases in insurance premium sales tax revenue were seen in the Northeast and South.

Corporate net income tax revenue was at $40.2 billion, up 9.4 percent, while tax revenue on individual income was at $259.1 billion, up 9.8 percent. General sales tax revenue was at $240.9 billion, up 8.2 percent. Corporate net income tax revenue, individual income tax revenue and general sales tax revenue comprised 70.7 percent of all state government tax collections nationally.
              
All 50 states saw an increase in total tax revenue in fiscal year 2011, led by North Dakota (44.5 percent), Alaska (22.4 percent), California (17.4 percent) and Illinois (15.3 percent).

For more information about this survey, visit <http://www.census.gov/govs/statetax/>.

Sybrina Fulton's "accident" statement result of unbelief or attempt to make justice assured

When you are grieving and don't know why something horrific has happened, you can be in a state of disbelief. I think this is what the parents of Trayvon Martin are going through at this moment. 

In a Today Show interview this morning with Ann Curry, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, was asked, “If you were to come face to face with George Zimmerman , what would you want to tell him, what do you want to ask him?”

She responded, “I think it was an accident,” that things just got out of hand, and then there was no turning back. These were the words of a mother who still can’t believe someone would kill her baby for no reason. These feelings, however, will have to be put aside in a court of law when state prosecutors try to prove that in actuality, George Zimmerman committed murder.

While watching the interview, when she said "accident" I went OOPS, to myself and looked directly at her lawyer, Mr. Crump, to see his response. But after I thought about it a minute, I understood that Fulton may not conceive that Zimmerman shot Trayvon out of malice aforethought.

Murder is not an accident. According to FindLaw, “second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion" or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life.”

Even Angela Corey, the special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin second degree murder case called his parents “sweet.”  Fulton seems to be a very Christian and forgiving woman, but legally and historically naive. U.S. history is filled with horror stories of how black men have been tortured and/or murdered for no reason.

Accidental death is often described as wrongful death. According to FreeAdvice.com, wrongful death is a "result of negligence (or other type of unjust action) on the part of the person or entity being sued..."

From their appearance, the parents are weary from having to travel and give interviews while Zimmerman remains silent. They need to let their lawyer do the talking in any interviews going forward. Zimmerman, the accused, is being represented by a new attorney, Mark O'Mara.

Sybrina Fulton may be nice, but she's no dummy. She hasn't gotten this far fighting for her son to let it all count for nothing now. She has learned something from civil rights leaders and legal counselors to know where this is all heading. The fight will not bring Trayvon back, but justice must be served.

Corey must have evidence that Zimmerman is a murderer to bring such charges forward unless she is just trying to calm the growing negative sentiment against the police department’s hasty investigation of the case. If the crime was an accident, maybe Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter to make sure he receives a conviction.

Let's see how this will all play out.

©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Zimmerman charged with 2nd degree murder

Florida's Special Prosecutor Angela Corey has announced that George Zimmerman has been charged with 2nd degree murder in the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman avoided arrest when he said he shot Martin in the chest out of self-defense and in accordance with Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Corey started a press conference saying she had talked to the "sweet parents" of Trayvon Martin in the search for his killer. "We prosecute on the facts...and the laws of the State of Florida," Corey said. "We are ministers and prosecutors of truth. We look out for our precious victims. When we charge a person, we are committed to justice," Corey said. Zimmerman has been charged with Murder in the 2nd degree. "Trayvon's family are the constitutional victims in this case," Corey said.

Breaking news: Zimmerman has surrendered in Martin case revisited

George Zimmerman has surrendered. Florida's Special Prosecutor Angela Corey about to give the specifics of the charge.

Breaking News: Special prosecutor to make announcement concerning George Zimmerman

Should we end the real war on drugs?



The Afghanistan War. Why has fighting gone on there for so long? Do they have large deposits of gold, diamonds, and oil?  No.

First Russia had troops there, beginning on December 24, 1979 and ending on February 15, 1989. The Soviets called this ten year engagement “the Bear Trap” or "The Soviet Vietnam" and decided they could not win. U.S. troops combined with soldiers from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Australia entered "The War in Afghanistan" on October 7, 2001, and fighting still persists there to this day. We have passed the ten year mark.

Are the real reasons this rocky place which appears to be a desolate hell hole is being continuously occupied by soldiers because it has the best drugs in the world - opium, cannabis, and hashish? 

We claim we are there fighting terrorists, but in actuality, this is a war on drugs which has escalated and some deemed emboldened the producers of some of the most injurious drugs on the planet. These drugs are not used for the prevention of a disease but are recreational and very damaging when abused.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan is the greatest illicit opium producer in the entire world, producing 95% of world's market ($64 billion) in 2008. There were 2.9 million opium farmers reported in Afghanistan that year. Drugs coming from Afghanistan supply Iran, Pakistan, Russia, India, the United Arab Emirates, and the European Union. Opium is the key ingredient in heroin which is highly addictive.

In its 2003 report, “The Opium Economy in Afghanistan: An international problem,” it was stated, “For more than two millennia, Afghanistan has been at the crossroads of civilizations and a major contributor to world culture. In the past quarter century, the country has also found itself at the crossroads of international terrorist violence and became a major contributor to world narcotics production.

“Afghanistan’s opium economy grew as a consequence of the degradation of agricultural and economic infrastructure due to more than twenty years of war, the acceptance of opium as a livelihood strategy by many rural households, and the failure of the state… unless the drug problem is solved, there will be no sustainable development for Afghanistan.” (http://www.unodc.org//pdf/publications/afg_opium_economy_www.pdf)

The U.N. also reports that up to 24,000 hectares of cannabis are grown every year in Afghanistan. Hashish is a byproduct of cannabis. Afghanistan also leads the world in hashish production.

Now Afghanistan is the leading cause of military expenditures for the U.S. military. Almost 3000 U.S. soldiers have died during Operation Enduring Freedom. As of March 16, 2012, 15,460 United States soldiers have been wounded in action in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department. 

Do you think the U.S. should end this war on drugs?

(Photos: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.


Breaking News: Earthquake strikes Indonesia twice

The U.S. Geological Survey has reported that a 8.2 earthquake has hit off the west coat of northern Sumatra. The area is now bracing for possible aftershocks and tsunami. This area was also hit by an 8.6 earthquake earlier today.

On this same day in 1997, a 6.2 earthquake hit China. In Jiashi County,  at least 9 people were killed, 89 were injured, 100,000 were left homeless, 11,000 livestock were killed, and thousands of buildings were destroyed.

To track earthquakes around the globe, go to http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php.





Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spotlight: Astrophysicist Neil DeGasse Tyson

(Cropped and flipped NASA photo - 2005) 

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson made news headlines when it was reported that Titanic, the movie, had to be altered because he found a flaw in one sky scene. Tyson noted that the stars could not have been in the sky in that position in 1912, so the film's producer, James Cameron, had them digitally altered. The changes to the film were made before it was re-released in 3-D.  

Tyson was born on October 5, 1958 in Manhattan, N.Y. According to Tyson's vitae on the American Museum of Natural History site, his professional research includes star formations, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of the Milky Way. His data is obtained by looking through multiple telescopes in major planetariums. He published the article "The High-Redshift Distribution of Starburst Galaxies in the COSMOS Field" in 2006.

Tyson holds a BA degree in physics from Harvard, a MA in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin, a MA in astrophysics from Columbia as well as a PhD. from there in astrophysics. 

Major influences in his life were his mother, Sunchita Feliciano Tyson, a gerontologist,  his father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, a sociologist; Carl Sagan and Fred C. Hess, both astronomers.

Breaking News: Zimmerman's lawyers withdraw from case

Legal counselors for Mark Zimmerman, the self admitted killer of Trayvon Martin, said they do not know the whereabouts of Mr. Zimmerman and were both withdrawing from the case.

Racial distractions causing Blacks to fall further behind technologically

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, wears Harvard hoodie in 2005. (This photo is released under the creative commons attribution 2.5 license.)

While Black America has become depressed by the seeming racial war going on - with the high profile Trayvon Martin case, the Wendell Allen case in New Orleans, and Good Friday shootings in Tulsa - white multi-billionaires have been treading ahead to increase their economic stance.

Facebook gobbled up Instagram, a company that was not reporting any profits, for $1 billion. The Associated Press (AP) has partnered with Bambuser, a live streaming startup. Google announced that it will buy TxVia, a mobile payments technology company.

The only news about African Americans is that we are being gunned down in the streets, and our response has been marching and praying in front of police department offices.

"If there is a racial war, you know who is going to win," said one Black, 25 year old, recently unemployed college graduate.  "If we are still alive when all the dust settles, the next phase of development will be who will have the best invention to reach the masses."

How many Blacks are coming up with cutting edge digital solutions that will be of value in this new, technological age?  Please comment.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Breaking News: Racial tensions escalate in Florida

In Sanford, where Trayvon Martin was killed over a month ago, peaceful student protesters have forced the closing of the police department today. The students wearing hoodies knelt before the police department doors. No arrests were made.


It was also announced that the special prosecutor handling the case, Angela Corey, has decided not to convene a grand jury to decide whether to bring charges again George Zimmerman, Martin's confirmed killer.


This news comes on the heels of a report that the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-nazi group, has converged on Sanford, stating that they were willing to protect the city's white citizens should a race riot ensue. The group was founded in 1974 by Robert Brannen, former member of the American Nazi Party.

A Fox News affiliate has called the NSM a "civil rights" group, however, the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks racists groups, deems the group dangerous.  To read more about the NSM, go to: http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/04/08/neo-nazis-plan-patrols-in-florida-in-wake-of-trayvon-martin-shooting/

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Louise White, 81, says winning lottery ticket kept in bible

PowerBall winner Louise White of Newport, R.I. released the following statement on how she won a $336.4-million jackpot

"It was Saturday and I wanted to buy a Powerball ticket. I was supposed to be going to the store and had made a list, but the person taking me was working all day at home and couldn't get away. So we decided to go in the morning. It was on my mind to buy Powerball tickets, nobody was thinking that I had to go tonight to get them for that evening's drawing.

"Then around 7, a family member wanted some rainbow sherbert to eat later, so they decided to go to the Stop N Shop. I had just finished making a sandwich and was asked if I wanted anything at the store and I said emphatically, 'I can't believe you asked me if I want you to get me something. NO, I don't want you to get me something I want to go with you!'

"And although I was told there was no hurry and I should finish eating, I said we needed to go now!

"When we arrived at the Stop N Shop I went to the ticket counter and asked if I had time to buy a Powerball ticket. The gal behind the counter said yes, you have until the store closes.

"I asked for 3 quick picks with the Powerplay.

"Later that evening I was at home listening to the news while the family enjoyed the rainbow sherbert. I heard the drawing and roughly wrote down the numbers as they called them out, but missed some so I waited until they saw it again in about 10 minutes and wrote them all down. I didn't immediately look my ticket.

"I decided later to check my ticket, 'I got that one, I got that one, I got that one' and yelled, "Is anybody awake -- I want you to come look at something.' I handed over the Powerball numbers that I had written down and then my ticket. We checked each number and they were the same. But we weren't sure I had written them down right so I said 'let's check the computer,' so we ran to the computer and went to RILOT.com and the numbers were the same.

"We still didn't believe it, so we turned off the computer and turned it back on and went back to the Web site and my numbers were still there.

"We hugged each other and jumped up and down screaming!! Then I was told to 'Sign it quick!!'

"We hid the ticket in the Bible and went for breakfast on Sunday since we couldn't do anything with it. But we did carry the Bible with us for safe keeping. It was unbelievable. None of us can believe it yet.

"We're excited, very blessed and will determine in the coming months how we'll spend the money, but we know we'll always have rainbow sherbert."

Leila Denmark leaves legacy of caring for children

Dr. Leila Daughtry Denmark, a practicing pediatrician for 70 years who treated over 250,000 children, will be laid to rest Friday in Athens, Ga. Born February 1, 1898 in Portal, Denmark was believed to be one of the world's oldest people. She died on April Fool's Day.

The third of  twelve children born to the late Elerbee and Alice Hendricks Daughtry, Denmark completed high school at First District A and M School in Statesboro, now Georgia Southern University. After teaching high school science for two years, she enrolled in the Medical College of the University of Georgia, now the Medical College of Georgia, and received her medical degree in 1928.

She married Mr. John Eustace Denmark, moved to Atlanta,  became the first resident of the newly opened Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children, now Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and admitted its first patient.

After the birth of her only child, Mary, Denmark began practicing pediatrics in her home where she continued her profession until retiring at age 103. Her hobbies were going to the opera, gardening, sewing, reading, and golfing.

In 1971, Denmark published Every Child Should Have a Chance, now in its 14th printing, which gives advice on child care and the rearing of children. She objected to cigarette smoking around children, believed drinking cow's milk harmful, preferred eating fruit instead of drinking fruit juices, and recommended only drinking water. She was also the inspiration behind Madia Bowman's book, Dr. Denmark Said It!  

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, 1687 Tullie Circle, NE, Atlanta, GA 30329, or to the Medical College of Georgia Foundation, 1120 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30912. Lord & Stephens East Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

For further information about Dr. Denmark, go to her website, www.drleiladenmark.com.

Information for this obit supplied by the family.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Although you may be strip searched, guard your virginity, if only in your mind


by Chrystal Writtier

When I was four years old, I was sexually molested by a drunken neighbor who decided he wanted to show me his genitals. I told my parents who hurriedly whisked me off to the ER to have my virginity checked. To add insult to injury, I was vaginally examined by a male doctor who found no signs of sexual penetration, so the perpetrator was never arrested. He later committed suicide.

Although I was still a virgin, my mind was violated twice. This unwanted, unsolicited victimization coupled with a religious upbringing where modesty was valued made me hold fast to my physical virginity a lot longer than other young women my age. That was a good thing.

Yesterday’s troubling announcement that the Supreme Court approves of arrest coupled with strip searches, regardless of the crime, gives government security officials free rein to violate God's human temples, regardless of guilt or suspicion.

Pediatrics reported in 2011 that by age 23, up to 41 percent of American adolescents and young adults have been arrested at least once for something other than a minor traffic violation. We must warn our children that they, too, may be despoiled if picked up by the police, and they won’t be able to sue if they are maltreated in the examining room. The FBI reported that law enforcement made an estimated 13,687,241 arrests in 2009.

The arrest records of African American youth are staggering. According to Professor Paula J. Fite, Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Black youths are arrested three times more than White youths.

If a strip search can lead to psychological trauma that is not treated, the statistics show that we may have millions of depressed, anxious adults running around America who have been strip searched and could become abusers themselves.

Physiologically, virginity is equated with the hymen for girls and penetration for boys, but I believe psychological virginity deals with one's body space. Can you have your virginity taken away in your mind by physical violation in the jailhouse? I say privacy and virginity are one in the same.

It may sound old fashion, but I still think most Americans view virginity as sacred, that the body should not be desecrated in life or death, and that personhood encompasses the soul AND body.

I guess while we’re spending billions on war, that it's too expensive to retrofit arresting stations with airport-like scanners to detect illegal dangers inside the body, up the anus, underneath fat-folds, or under armpits.

Strip searches are often performed by hurtful, impersonal, impatient, non-medical security officials gloved and ready to violate a person's inner sanctum. With this ruling, The Supremes have decided that security dangers outweigh individual embarrassment, and one must be ready to be violated by unfamiliar forces if arrested. This ruling also discourages people from protesting laws for fear they will be strip searched.

In the US, where you are presumably innocent until proven guilty, a person's sexual innocence can be taken away quickly and indiscreetly, and there is nothing you can do about it. Police power can be abusively intrusive, and even if you may be fond of a friendly goosing every now and then, you still should have the right to say no, don't touch there. Not so when you arrive in jail in handcuffs in 40 U.S. states.

This new ruling has the potential of creating more mad people.

While reading Caroline Kennedy (Schlossberg)
and Ellen Alderman's account of a friend in their 1995 book "The Right to Privacy," I was alarmed over Dr. Joan W. statements. She was strip searched by two females.

"I felt like an animal," she said after the lips of her vagina and her buttock were examined for contraband. Even a dog is treated more modestly by a vet taking an anal temperature. Even a collarless mutt is handled more humanly than a person in lockup.

Even though the Justices of the highest court have ruled, I fear God is not pleased with their decision. Our Ultimate Judge deems every body He has created precious and one's privacy, i.e. virginity, guard worthy. So do I, whether in the bedroom or the jailhouse. One is a more private, protected place.

You or your child may never be strip searched, so you should not be paranoid to the point that you don’t occasionally jaywalk; however, tell your child if she/he is arrested to stay calm, and that this is only one of life's unfortunate, unpleasant, unreasonable, invasive procedures that can legally occur even with the 4th Amendment in place.