Thursday, April 30, 2009

FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape

From My Way


WASHINGTON (AP) - "That wasn't me," President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.
It actually was him - and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years - who shaped a budget so out of balance.

And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.

Obama met citizens at an Arnold, Mo., high school Wednesday in advance of his prime-time news conference. Both forums were a platform to review his progress at the 100-day mark and look ahead.

At various times, he brought an air of certainty to ambitions that are far from cast in stone.
His assertion that his proposed budget "will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term" is an eyeball-roller among many economists, given the uncharted terrain of trillion-dollar deficits and economic calamity that the government is negotiating.

He promised vast savings from increased spending on preventive health care in the face of doubts that such an effort, however laudable it might be for public welfare, can pay for itself, let alone yield huge savings.

A look at some of his claims Wednesday:

OBAMA: "Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.... That wasn't me. Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis, financial crisis, since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you've got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks. Those are one-time charges, and they're big, and they'll make our deficits go up over the next two years." - in Missouri.


Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama's last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush's final months - a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.
To be sure, Obama opposed the Iraq war, a drain on federal coffers for six years before he became president. But with one major exception, he voted in support of Iraq war spending.
The economy has worsened under Obama, though from forces surely in play before he became president, and he can credibly claim to have inherited a grim situation.

Still, his response to the crisis goes well beyond "one-time charges."

He's persuaded Congress to expand children's health insurance, education spending, health information technology and more. He's moving ahead on a variety of big-ticket items on health care, the environment, energy and transportation that, if achieved, will be more enduring than bank bailouts and aid for homeowners.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated his policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion.

OBAMA: "I think one basic principle that we know is that the more we do on the (disease) prevention side, the more we can obtain serious savings down the road. ... If we're making those investments, we will save huge amounts of money in the long term." - in Missouri.

THE FACTS: It sounds believable that preventing illness should be cheaper than treating it, and indeed that's the case with steps like preventing smoking and improving diets and exercise. But during the 2008 campaign, when Obama and other presidential candidates were touting a focus on preventive care, the New England Journal of Medicine cautioned that "sweeping statements about the cost-saving potential of prevention, however, are overreaching." It said that "although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not."

And a study released in December by the Congressional Budget Office found that increasing preventive care "could improve people's health but would probably generate either modest reductions in the overall costs of health care or increases in such spending within a 10-year budgetary time frame."

OBAMA: "You could cut (Social Security) benefits. You could raise the tax on everybody so everybody's payroll tax goes up a little bit. Or you can do what I think is probably the best solution, which is you can raise the cap on the payroll tax." - in Missouri.

THE FACTS: Obama's proposal would reduce the Social Security trust fund's deficit by less than half, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

That means he would still have to cut benefits, raise the payroll tax rate, raise the retirement age or some combination to deal with the program's long-term imbalance.

Workers currently pay 6.2 percent and their employers pay an equal rate - for a total of 12.4 percent - on annual wages of up to $106,800, after which no more payroll tax is collected.

Obama wants workers making more than $250,000 to pay payroll tax on their income over that amount. That would still protect workers making under $250,000 from an additional burden. But it would raise much less money than removing the cap completely.

Bakery Leader Indicted in Journalist's Slaying

From San Francisco Chronicle

(04-29) 17:48 PDT OAKLAND -- More than a year and a half after Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey was gunned down while walking to work, an Alameda County grand jury indicted the leader of the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery on Wednesday on charges that he ordered the journalist killed.

The indictment accuses Yusuf Bey IV, 23, of murder for allegedly telling two followers to kill the 57-year-old Bailey on Aug. 2, 2007. The grand jury that returned the indictment heard two days of testimony last week from the alleged gunman, Devaughndre Broussard, 21, who until Wednesday was the only person charged in Bailey's death.

Broussard, a former handyman at the bakery, told prosecutors in March that Bey wanted Bailey dead because he believed the journalist was working on a story about Your Black Muslim Bakery's internal problems. He said Bey also blamed Bailey for the 2003 death of his father, Yusuf Bey, who founded the black self-empowerment group in 1968 and led it until dying of cancer.

In addition to Bailey's slaying, the indictment accuses Bey of murder for allegedly ordering the killings of two men in July 2007, 36-year-old Michael Wills and Odell Roberson Jr., 31. He is also accused in a December 2006 incident in which someone shot into an unoccupied car in Oakland.
The charges carry the special circumstance of multiple murder, meaning that Bey, if convicted, could be sentenced to death. Prosecutors have not said whether they will pursue the death penalty.

Another bakery figure, Antoine Mackey, 23, was also indicted on murder charges in the shootings of Bailey, Roberson and Wills.

He and Bey are scheduled to appear in Alameda County Superior Court on May 6. Both are already in custody, Bey on unrelated kidnapping and torture charges, and Mackey for a burglary conviction. Earlier Wednesday, Bey was ordered to stand trial on six counts stemming from the kidnapping case.

Bey's attorney in that case, Anne Beles, said of the murder indictment, "All charges will be vigorously fought. All he wants is a fair and impartial jury in whatever case he is charged in."

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama Seeks to Change Crack Sentences

Wed Apr 29, 4:33 am ET

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is asking Congress to close the big gap in prison sentences for dealing crack versus powdered cocaine, a law that critics say is unfair to blacks.

Such sentencing reform efforts tend to focus on lowering the mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine possession, but in prepared testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer did not spell out exactly how the administration hopes to make the law more fair.

“The administration believes Congress’ goal should be to completely eliminate the disparity in prison sentences between crack cocaine and powdered cocaine,” Breuer said in written testimony to be delivered Wednesday.

Federal law now has what lawyers call a “100-to-1″ ratio for cocaine sentences, in which a person selling five grams of crack faces the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as someone selling 500 grams of powder cocaine.

Critics of the law say it unfairly punishes black offenders, pointing to statistics showing 82 percent of federal crack cocaine convicts were black, while nine percent were white.

President Barack Obama had called for such a change while campaigning for the White House.
Breuer said the government should focus on punishing drug trafficking networks, like the cartels wreaking havoc in Mexico, and those whose crimes include acts of violence.

The Obama administration is also seeking to increase drug treatment, as well as rehabilitation programs for felons after they’re released from prison.

While politicians often support laws lengthening prison terms for various crimes, it is rarer to try to reduce sentences, in part out of concern they may appear soft on crime. But recently, some states have been moving on their own to temper long-standing “get tough” laws.

In New York last month, state leaders reached an agreement to repeal the last vestiges of the Rockefeller drug laws, once seen as the harshest in the nation. Kentucky enacted changes that would put more addicts in treatment, and fewer behind bars.

The Justice Department is working on recommendations for a new set of sentences for cocaine, and Breuer urged Congress to overhaul the current law, written in 1986 at the height of public concern about crack use.

Since then, Breuer argued, prosecutors’ views of crack cocaine has evolved to a more “refined understanding” of crack and powdered cocaine usage.

He also suggested that until such changes are made, federal prosecutorssentencing guidelines. Such departures are rare in the federal courts. may encourage judges to use their discretion to depart from the current sentencing guidelines. Such departures are rare in the federal courts.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Death of Print Media

For grins, next time you're in the mood for a movie, go rent "The Paper" with Michael Keaton and Glenn Close. Released in 1994, it involves a day in the life of a New York City tabloid newspaper.

A self-admitted tech geek, Chris Pirillo is president of, a blogging network.

A self-admitted tech geek, Chris Pirillo is president of, a blogging network.

What a difference a decade (and a half) makes.

It's a bit like a denizen of the year 1909 trying to fathom the relevance of what went on behind the scenes of 1894's cutthroat horse and buggy industry while Henry Ford's factories roll out Model T after Model T, dramatically changing the world's landscape -- for better and worse -- in ways we're still dealing with here in the 21st century.

Recently, someone asked me about the last time I'd picked up a newspaper, and I couldn't honestly remember when that was.

Actually, no -- I take that back. I picked up a local weekly from our driveway and tossed it into the recycling bin just the other day.

Why dirty up my hands with newsprint when I can just go see the same information presented in the more searchable and easier to share format of a Web edition?

And what if a so-called news agency doesn't have an online edition of its paper? Then I find its relevancy even more dubious and obsolete since it's failed to scoop this bit of hot news that should be apparent to anyone with brains in their noggins: print media is dying.


Click to read.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Professor Allegedly Kills Wife and Flees

A University of Georgia professor apparently shot and killed his wife and two other people at a community theater group's reunion Saturday, then dropped the couple's two children off at a neighbor's and fled.

An alert on the UGA Web site says professor George Zinkhan  is a suspect in an off-campus shooting.

An alert on the UGA Web site says professor George Zinkhan is a suspect in an off-campus shooting.

Athens-Clarke County police said they have local, regional and national alerts out for George Zinkhan, 57, an endowed marketing professor at the school's Terry College of Business.

"It appeared he and his wife were having problems," police Capt. Clarence Holeman said.

Holeman identified the dead as Marie Bruce, 47, Zinkhan's wife and a prominent Athens attorney; Tom Tanner, 40; and Ben Teague, 63.

Friends identified Bruce as the president of the board of the Town and Gown Players, the theater group holding a reunion picnic on the theater's deck when the shooting took place. Tanner and Teague were identified as set designers for the theater.

Two other people were wounded by ricocheting bullets, Holeman said, but did not identify them. At least 20 people were in attendance at the event, he said.

Zinkhan was not at the theater event initially, Holeman said, but when he arrived, he got into "a disagreement" with his wife. He left the scene -- police believe to his car, where his children were waiting -- and returned with two handguns.

"It only took a few minutes," Holeman said. Police found eight shell casings, he said.

Click to read.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dr. Christopher Metzler: The Decision Made While America Slept

by Dr. Christopher Metzler, Georgetown University

As we worried about whether Michelle Obama should have touched the Queen, whether Bo (the White House dog) will be as famous as Barney and whether Levi Johnson of Sara Plain fame practiced safe sex all of the time, the Supreme Court of the United States was wading into the racial water with an American public that is now ensconced into "post-racial" cocoon because of the election of Barack Obama.

This week the Roberts court heard the case of Ricci, ET Al. In this case, several white and one Latino firefighter in New Haven Connecticut asked the Court to decide whether the city violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the United States Constitution by throwing out a promotion test in which the plaintiffs but no blacks scored high enough to be promoted. The rather clinical legal questions are:

  • Whether the city's failure to certify the results of promotional exams violated the disparate (or different) treatment provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Whether the city's failure to certify the results of the promotional exams also violated Title VII since Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to "adjust the scores of, use different cutoff scores for, or otherwise alter the results, of employment tests on the basis of race."
  • Whether the city's failure to certify the results of the promotional examinations violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

As clinical as these legal question are, they have significant real life political ramifications. Although the plaintiffs in this case are firefighters, the decision will affect employment law, affirmative action, diversity and they way in which employers and others seek to remedy the lingering effects of discrimination. The reality is that not everyone believes that discrimination still occurs in America since slavery has been outlawed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been implemented and President Obama occupies the White House. Regardless of the position one takes on these issues, the significance of the Court's decision cannot be underestimated for many reasons, a few of which I have outlined below.

First, the Roberts court has not spoken on race in any significant way and is eager to do so. Of course, it is Justice Kennedy who will ultimately decide this case and both the liberal and conservative blocs of the Court will work to craft a decision which he can sign onto. The difficulty for the liberal wing of the Court is that this case is as much an ideological case as it is a legal one. Good old fashioned liberal ideology will require a decision which reaffirms the need for government to be zealous in forming race-conscious decisions. In order to uphold the city's decision, the liberal wing will have to convince Kennedy that the city's decision to refuse to certify the test results was based on the fact that the test impacted Black fire fighters negatively and worse because it ensured that none of them would be promoted.

Click to read from Dr. Metzler and other Black Scholars by clicking here.

David Duke Arrested Overseas

A former US Ku Klux Klan chief, David Duke, seen here, arrested ...

A former US Ku Klux Klan chief arrested here on a speaking tour was freed during the night but will be forced to leave the country later Saturday, Czech police said.

David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Louisiana-founded Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, arrived in Prague on Friday at the invitation of a local far-right group, Narodni Odpor (National Resistance).

The 59-year-old US citizen had been due to give three lectures in Prague and Brno in the east of the country and present the Czech translation of his 1998 book "My Awakening."


Click to read.

Law Firms Not Doing a Good Job with Diversity

Glance at the Daily Business Review's annual yearbook of new partners at South Florida law firms and the dearth of minorities and women is quickly obvious. Only three black lawyers were promoted to partner by area firms who responded to the DBR's survey.

One black woman was promoted to partner at Holland & Knight and another two at Greenberg Traurig.

Undeterred by the economy and the racial and gender barriers, minority and women lawyers press on.

Detra Shaw-Wilder, a black litigation shareholder at Coral Gables-based Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, says she can see progress in the representation of women and minorities in the partnership ranks at South Florida law firms -- but it has been gradual.

When Shaw-Wilder was vice president of what is now the Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association in 2001, she observed 18 black partners at large and mid-sized law firms in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. There are now 31.

"From one perspective you can say surely there is progress," she said. "But it is slow going. There's a long ways to go. There's definitely work to be done and more progress to be made. There are firms on this list that were not around in 2001, so perhaps there's more opportunity there. It looks like some firms like Greenberg Traurig are making significant progress."


Click to read.

Diversity Among Law Firm Partners Remains an Ongoing Concern

Law firms are promoting minorities, but do they need to pick up the pace?

Alana Roberts

April 27, 2009

Glance at the Daily Business Review's annual yearbook of new partners at South Florida law firms and the dearth of minorities and women is quickly obvious. Only three black lawyers were promoted to partner by area firms who responded to the DBR's survey.

One black woman was promoted to partner at Holland & Knight and another two at Greenberg Traurig.

Undeterred by the economy and the racial and gender barriers, minority and women lawyers press on.

Detra Shaw-Wilder, a black litigation shareholder at Coral Gables-based Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, says she can see progress in the representation of women and minorities in the partnership ranks at South Florida law firms -- but it has been gradual.

When Shaw-Wilder was vice president of what is now the Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association in 2001, she observed 18 black partners at large and mid-sized law firms in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. There are now 31.

"From one perspective you can say surely there is progress," she said. "But it is slow going. There's a long ways to go. There's definitely work to be done and more progress to be made. There are firms on this list that were not around in 2001, so perhaps there's more opportunity there. It looks like some firms like Greenberg Traurig are making significant progress."
Information provided by firms on this year's new partners survey indicated the number of new women partners dropped dramatically to 26 from 47 in 2008; three black attorneys were promoted or hired as lateral partners in 2009 and 2008; while the number of new Asian partners increased to two from zero in 2008.

No black men, Asian women or Native Americans made the partner ranks as of the March survey.

The economy's harsh effects on the legal industry are expected to hurt law firm efforts to improve their diversity as firms imposing layoffs make cuts across the board.
Roland Sanchez-Medina, president of the Cuban American Bar Association, said minority attorneys are likely to be targeted because they're often the last hired, which makes them easy targets for termination.

"One of the more unfavorable aspects of this recession is some of the gains we made in the diversity efforts are going to be impacted in a negative way either by way of layoffs or terminations," he said. "I think there's little doubt about that."

A woman corporate associate who was laid off from the Fort Lauderdale office of a large firm in February said she doesn't believe the decision to fire her was based on her gender. Instead, she said the decision was based on the slower work pace in her practice area. She noted partners she worked with have been helping her look for another job.

"I don't know if they looked at the diversity side. They let people go nationwide," the associate said on condition of anonymity. "I happened to be the only corporate attorney who is an associate. All the partners I worked for were white men. Although their numbers were low like mine, they were partners versus being associates."

Minority attorneys often find themselves shut out of opportunities to advance because they don't have the right family and friend connections at their firms and in the legal community, said Michele Samaroo, president of the Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association of black lawyers and a North Miami Beach solo practitioner.

"If you have a bunch of old, white partners, they may feel more comfortable asking out the young white kids to the basketball game or out for a drink," she said. "That's how people build ties. Sometimes you're at a disadvantage because you're culturally different."
But Shaw-Wilder said it's up to minority and women attorneys themselves to break down those barriers.

"For anyone who wants to be a partner at a firm, you have to want it. There are sacrifices to be made," she said. "If you're looking for it to be handed to you on a platter, that's not going to happen. You have to stick it through. You have to want to work hard at a law firm. It's about results at the end of the day."

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Removal of Miranda Rights under the Obama Administration?

Obama legal team wants defendants’ rights limited

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to overrule long-standing law that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant’s lawyer is present, another stark example of the White House seeking to limit rather than expand rights. The administration’s action—and several others—have disappointed civil rights and civil liberties groups that expected President Barack Obama to reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, after the Democrat’s call for change during the 2008 campaign.

Since taking office, Obama has drawn criticism for backing the continued imprisonment of enemy combatants in Afghanistan without trial, invoking the “state secrets” privilege to avoid releasing information in lawsuits and limiting the rights of prisoners to test genetic evidence used to convict them.

The case at issue is Michigan v. Jackson, in which the Supreme Court said in 1986 that police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one, unless the attorney is present. The decision applies even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

Anything police learn through such questioning cannot be used against the defendant at trial. The opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time.

The justices could decide as early as Friday whether they want to hear arguments on the issue as they wrestle with an ongoing case from Louisiana that involves police questioning of an indigent defendant that led to a murder confession and a death sentence.

The Justice Department, in a brief signed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the 1986 decision “serves no real purpose” and offers only “meager benefits.” The government said defendants who don’t wish to talk to police don’t have to and that officers must respect that decision. But it said there is no reason a defendant who wants to should not be able to respond to officers’ questions.

At the same time, the administration acknowledges that the decision “only occasionally prevents federal prosecutors from obtaining appropriate convictions.”

The administration’s legal move is a reminder that Obama, who has moved from campaigning to governing, now speaks for federal prosecutors.

The administration’s position assumes a level playing field, with equally savvy police and criminal suspects, lawyers on the other side of the case said. But the protection offered by the court in Stevens’ 1986 opinion is especially important for vulnerable defendants, including the mentally and developmentally disabled, addicts, juveniles and the poor, the lawyers said.
“Your right to assistance of counsel can be undermined if somebody on the other side who is much more sophisticated than you are comes and talks to you and asks for information,” said Sidney Rosdeitcher, a New York lawyer who advises the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Stephen B. Bright, a lawyer who works with poor defendants at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said the administration’s position “is disappointing, no question.”
Bright said that poor defendants’ constitutional right to a lawyer, spelled out by the high court in 1965, has been neglected in recent years. “I would hope that this administration would be doing things to shore up the right to counsel for poor people accused of crimes,” said Bright, whose group joined with the Brennan Center and other rights organizations in a court filing opposing the administration’s position.

Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and former FBI Director William Sessions are among 19 one-time judges and prosecutors urging the court to leave the decision in place because it has been incorporated into routine police practice and establishes a rule on interrogations that is easy to follow.

Eleven states also are echoing the administration’s call to overrule the 1986 case.
Justice Samuel Alito first raised the prospect of overruling the decision at arguments in January over the rights of Jesse Montejo, the Louisiana death row inmate.

Montejo’s lawyer, Donald Verrilli, urged the court not to do it. Since then, Verrilli has joined the Justice Department, but played no role in the department’s brief.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sky High Unemployment for Blacks With Degrees

by Dollars and Sense

Fifteen months into a deep recession, college-educated white workers still had a relatively low unemployment rate of 3.8% in March of this year. The same could not be said for African Americans with four-year degrees. The March 2009 unemployment rate for college-educated blacks was 7.2%-almost twice as high as the white rate-and up 4.5 percentage points from March 2007, before the start of the current recession (see chart). Hispanics and Asian Americans with college degrees were in between, both with March 2009 unemployment rates of 5%.Some argue that the problem of joblessness among African Americans can be solved by education alone, but at every education level the unemployment rate for blacks exceeds that of whites.

The disparities among the college-educated and other evidence strongly suggest that even if the black educational attainment distribution was exactly the same as the white distribution, blacks would still have a higher unemployment rate than whites. Without a renewed commitment to anti-discrimination in employment and job creation in black communities, high rates of black joblessness will likely persist.

Pastor’s Massive Pay Package Causes Lawsuit

Reverend Brad Braxton.

Dr Boyce Watkins

I read today about the financial compensation package of pastor Brad Braxton of the New Riverside Church in Manhattan.  Here is the breakdown of Braxton’s compensation:

  • $250,000 in salary.
  • $11,500 monthly housing allowance.
  • Private school tuition for his child.
  • A full-time maid.
  • Entertainment, travel and "professional development" allowances.
  • Pension and life insurance benefits.
  • An equity allowance for Braxton to save up to buy a home.
  • On top of that, Braxton immediately hired a new second in command at more than $300,000 a year.

    The total value of the package is estimated to be $600,000 per year. 

    All I can say is “wow”.  No disrespect to this man or his congregation, but he would NOT be preaching at my church.  What was most problematic about the church’s decision to give Braxton such a ridiculous compensation package was that they didn’t seem to clear it with the membership, many of whom are filing suit over Braxton’s pay. As a Finance Professor, I must admit that I personally become uncomfortable hearing men and women of God talking about money more than I do.  I must disagree with Rev. TD Jakes, who said that “Jesus is a product”.  Sorry brother, Nikes are a product.  Cheeseburgers are a product.  Jesus is a spirit that should lead us to pursue a good that is greater than our bank accounts.  I am not sure how many pastors agree with that assessment. 

  • Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Should Mel Gibson’s Wife REALLY get Half a Billion?

    In this episode of Financial Lovemaking, Finance Professor Dr. Boyce Watkins and S. Tia Brown discuss Mel Gibson’s Half billion dollar divorce.  They also discuss various issues that relate to how couples should merge their love and money together.

    What does it mean when the man doesn’t make more money than the woman?  Should Gibson’s wife get half of his dough after the divorce?

    Click the image to watch!

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Attorney Christopher Metzler Analyzes Obama’s Selective Racial Boycotts

    by Dr. Christopher Metzler, Georgetown University

    As President Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he was willing to take the political heat. He said that he was not concerned about the politics of the hand shake and more concerned about extending an open hand to nations hostile to the U.S. The open hand, it seems, is not so open after all. The President announced that, like the Bush Administration, the United States will boycott the world anti-racism conference (Durban II), which opens in Geneva today. According to the President, "I would love to be involved in a useful conference that addressed continuing issues of racism and discrimination around the globe. We expressed in the run-up to this conference our concerns that if you adopted all of the language from 2001, that's not something we can sign up for. "Hopefully some concrete steps come out of the conference that we can partner with other countries on to actually reduce discrimination around the globe, but this wasn't an opportunity to do it."

    obama-rice.jpgHe is not willing to take the political heat in this case because there is language criticizing Israel and the West in the final document. As the world celebrates the election of the first Black President, the United States boycotts the world conference against racism. Symbolism, it seems has met political reality.

    On this issue, it is difficult to reconcile the President's rhetoric with his actions. The President has repeatedly said that his policy is to talk with those with whom he disagrees. He is talking to Chavez, to Ahmadinejad, to Medvedev and Kim but cannot talk to human rights defenders about the best way to address the continuing significance of racism world wide? Surely the message cannot be that the United States does not believe that the right to be free from racism is not a basic human right.

    Click to read more from our Black Scholar’s Blog.

    PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama and black farmers

    By BEN EVANS – 8 hours ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — As a senator, Barack Obama led the charge last year to pass a bill allowing black farmers to seek new discrimination claims against the Agriculture Department. Now he is president, and his administration so far is acting like it wants the potentially budget-busting lawsuits to go away.

    The change isn't sitting well with black farmers who thought they'd get a friendlier reception from Obama after years of resistance from President George W. Bush.

    "You can't blame it on the Bush administration anymore," said John Boyd, head of the National Black Farmers Association, which has organized the lawsuits. "I can't figure out for the life of me why the president wouldn't want to implement a bill that he fought for as a U.S. senator."

    At issue is a class-action lawsuit known as the Pigford case. Thousands of farmers sued USDA claiming they had for years been denied government loans and other assistance that routinely went to whites. The government settled in 1999 and has paid out nearly $1 billion in damages on almost 16,000 claims.

    Farmers, lawyers and activists like Boyd have worked for years to reopen the case because thousands of farmers missed the deadlines for participating. Many said the filing period was too short and they were unaware of the settlement until it was too late.

    The cause gained momentum in August 2007 when Obama, then an Illinois senator, introduced Pigford legislation about six months into his presidential campaign.

    Although the case was hardly a hot-button political issue, it had drawn intense interest among African-Americans in the rural South. It was seen as a way for Obama to reach out in those areas, where he was not well-known and where he would need strong support to win the Democratic primary.

    The proposal won passage in May as sponsors rounded up enough support to incorporate it into the 2008 farm bill. The potential budget implications were huge: It could easily cost $2 billion or $3 billion given an estimated 65,000 pending claims.

    With pressure to hold down costs, lawmakers set an artificially low $100 million budget. They called it a first step and said more money could be approved later.

    But with 25,000 new claims and counting, the Obama administration is now arguing that the $100 million budget should be considered a cap to be split among the successful cases.

    The position — spelled out in a legal motion filed in February and reiterated in recent settlement talks — would leave payments as low as $2,000 or $3,000 per farmer. Boyd called that "insulting."

    Boyd noted that Obama's legislation specifically called for the new claimants to be eligible for the same awards as the initial lawsuit, including expedited payments of $50,000 plus $12,500 in tax breaks that the vast majority of the earlier farmers received.

    "I'm really disappointed," Boyd said. "This is the president's bill."

    "They did discriminate against these farmers, maybe not all of them, but a lot of these people would prevail if they could go to court," he said.

    The administration wouldn't discuss specific budget plans or commit to fully funding the claims.
    But in a statement to The Associated Press, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the department agrees that more needs to be done and is working with the Justice Department to "ensure that people are treated fairly."

    Kenneth Baer, a budget spokesman for the White House, also suggested that the White House is planning to do more.

    "The president has been a leader on this issue since his days as a U.S. senator and is deeply committed to closing this painful chapter in our history," Baer said in a statement.

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Obama proposes US loan $100 billion to International Monetary Fund

    Published: April 20, 2009

    U.S. President Barack Obama Monday asked Congress to back an expansion of an IMF emergency fund by $500 billion in a move designed to expand its reach to big emerging-market nations.

    Obama also asked lawmakers to approve a U.S. contribution to the fund to $100 billion, as part of the plan to swell International Monetary Fund reserves agreed at this month’s Group of 20 industrial and developing nations summit in London.

    At the G20 summit, “the Germans did not want an EU effort to bail out the banks,” reported the Asia Times. “They wanted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail out a substantial part of the EU financial system instead. The reason was simple: The IMF receives loans from the United States, as well as China and Japan, meaning the Europeans would be joined by others in underwriting the bailout. The United States has signaled it would be willing to contribute $100 billion to the IMF, of which a substantial portion would go to Central Europe. (Of the current loans given by the IMF, roughly 80% have gone to the struggling economies in Central Europe.)”

    The president made the request in several letters to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders Monday, pointing out that the fund didn’t require an extra financial outlay from the U.S.

    When Washington transfers funds to the IMF under the program, known as an expansion of the New Arrangements to Borrow, or NAB, it would receive interest bearing assets in return, backed up by IMF resources including gold stocks.

    “Our proposal to increase U.S. participation in the NAB by up to $100 billion as part of an overall increase of $500 billion was warmly endorsed by the G20 Leaders,” the letters said.

    “I am asking for your help to deliver on that commitment by supporting inclusion of the NAB and related IMF proposals in the most timely legislative vehicle that will enable the United States to act quickly,” Obama wrote.

    “Rapid progress is essential to the restoration of confidence in the global economy and financial system so that the global economy can emerge from recession to recovery and to sustained growth.

    The IMF was the main beneficiary at the Group of 20 London summit where leaders agreed to triple its war chest to $750 billion by adding $500 billion, some of it already pledged.

    “Mexico became the first to win approval for the new credit line Friday, gaining access to a record 47 billion dollars,” reported the Economic Times.

    “The IMF’s 47-billion-dollar credit line to Mexico was the largest financial arrangement in the 64-year-old institution’s history.”

    “Other potential candidates for an IMF credit line are Brazil, Chile, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Singapore,” the Times continued.

    “In a letter to U.S. congressional leaders, Obama said the U.S. funding ‘does not represent a budgetary expenditure or any increase in the deficit since it effectively represents an exchange of assets,’” reported Reuters.

    Obama made the request in letters to two Democrats: House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; and Republican House Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    Compiled by Stephen C. Webster.

    With AFP.

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Bank bailout plan's 'stress tests' already causing stress

    Bankers and regulators worry about how much of the results to release. Too much or too little information could undermine the financial institutions or the bailout.

    By Jim Puzzanghera and E. Scott Reckard April 19, 2009

    Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington -- Government tests on the financial health of the nation's major banks are causing significant stress on Wall Street and in Washington, where bankers and officials fear that the release of highly anticipated information may do more harm than good.

    The Obama administration is finding itself in a potentially no-win situation as it prepares to release details Friday about the methodology used in the tests, and at least partial results May 4.
    The so-called stress tests will determine whether the banks need more government bailout money and the $700-billion rescue fund needs to be replenished.

    Regulators and administration officials are still wrestling with how much of the test results to disclose.Releasing too much information could undermine the banks' health -- the very thing that the administration is trying to avoid, experts said. Revealing too little after weeks of buildup would cast doubt on the process and create a vacuum in which investors and depositors would make their own assumptions, possibly leading to runs on the weakest banks."They've gotten themselves in a pickle on this thing," said Bert Ely, an independent banking analyst. "It's clear they didn't think through how this was going to play out."

    The goal of the tests is to figure out whether Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and 17 other banks with more than $100 billion in assets each need more money over the next two years to ride out a possible worsening of the recession. They have received a total of about $214 billion in bailout money.

    To continue to read more of article, visit the following link:,0,655575.story

    Black male unemployment highest since WWII


    A recent study indicates that of the major ethnic groups impacted by unemployment during the current U.S. recession, Black men have experienced the greatest job losses since the crisis officially began in November 2007.

    "What's missing from national media coverage of this recession is plainly a great deal of [honesty] about who's losing their jobs. This is overwhelmingly a blue-collar, retail sales, low-level recession," said Andrew Sum, professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., which published the study.
    "The Impacts of the 2007-2009 National Recession on Male Employment in the U.S. through January 2009; The Massive Concentration of Job Losses Among Males Especially Black Men and Blue Collar Workers" tracked employment losses in the recession across gender groups of workers overall, and in the four major ethnicities— Asian, Black, Hispanic and White. Thestudy found that:

    • Males are 80 percent (3.1 million) of all people who have lost their jobs in America;
    • Black male unemployment rose by 6.4 percent. Between 2007 and January 2009, 482,000 Black men lost their jobs;
    • The unemployment gap between Black men and women is historically unprecedented, with

    Blacks the only group where the gap favors women. This gap stems from differences in job types and fields, such as health care, education, social services - and wellpaying jobs, which are saturated with women.

    If you are a Black man working in trucking, manufacturing, construction or warehousing, you are getting clobbered, the document's lead author said. Through Febru- ary 2009, Black men who were employed a month before the recession started have lost their jobs at a rate five times greater than everybody combined.

    "Here we are as a country that was priding itself on the fact that it elected a Black American president of the United States, and rightfully so. At the same time, this is the greatest recession loss of jobs by Black men since the end of World War II. Thishas never happened before, yet nobody on national TV has stood up and said this recession has been catastrophic for Black men," Sum said.

    Entrepreneurship is way out

    "This means we're in trouble," said Lavar Young, director of the Newark (N.J.) Comprehensive Center for Fathers, which helps men transition who have lost their jobs, homes, or are re-entering the work force after incarceration. Known as the Fatherhood Center, it provides mentoring, life skills, legal assistance, education and counseling classes.

    According to Young, self-help and entrepreneurship is a sure route out of joblessness for Black men. "It's a low-cost investment and many times a high reward. In Newark, we have a thriving market when it comes to folks selling things, especially when stores are going up on their prices. We just encourage the men who attend our programs to turn their skills when they were out doing negative things into something positive," he told TheFinal Call.

    For instance, he added, "One of our guys came to class selling socks for $4-$5 a pack. It won't ease all your pains and it's not a lot of money, but it will help you over that hump," at least through about six to eight months of training for a new skill.
    Implications for stimulus

    According to the study, the demographics of job loss in the U.S. have important implications for the design and implementation of the programs to be funded under the economic stimulus package and work force development policies at the national, state and local levels.

    For Sum, one way to reduce joblessness is to try to get all of the stimulus money distributed as soon as possible to get people back to work, and specifically target projects toward infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation and training money for youth jobs.

    In addition, the Obama administration, and recipients of stimulus funds must guarantee public postings of all job openings generated by federal stimulus dollars on web sites of one-stop centers.

    Black Legal News: Jesse Jackson Jr. Subject to Ethics Investigation

    A congressional ethics panel is investigating Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) after allegations last year that some of his associates had discussed helping then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich with fundraising if Blagojevich agreed to appoint Jackson to the seat vacated by then-Sen. Barack Obama.


    Click to read.

    High Court Poised to Review Civil Rights Laws

    By Robert Barnes

    updated 1:45 a.m. CT, Sun., April 19, 2009
    WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has an opportunity to reaffirm or reshape the nation's civil rights laws as it faces a rare confluence of cases over the next two weeks, including a high-profile challenge brought by white firefighters who claim they lost out on promotions because of the "color of their skin."

    The cases also touch on the Voting Rights Act, the need to provide English classes for immigrant children and, more tangentially, discriminatory mortgage lending.

    The most emotionally charged case is from the New Haven, Conn., firefighters, whose complaints define the real-life quandary that sometimes accompanies government efforts to ensure racial equality.

    The firefighters accuse city officials of violating civil rights laws and the Constitution by throwing out a promotions test on which they performed well but no blacks scored high enough to be eligible. The city responds that relying on test results with such wide racial discrepancies could have violated federal law and left them open to being sued by minorities.

    Evolving conversation
    The court will hear the arguments, along with the others, in the midst of an evolving national conversation about the role of race and diversity and in the wake of the historic presidential election.

    "Each of these cases goes to the ability of our society to achieve opportunity, fairness and ultimately to our ability to be the democracy that we aspire to be," said John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "We've made tremendous progress as a society, and some of that progress is having in place anti-discriminatory" laws to ensure it continues.

    His organization calls for the court in each case to affirm a vigorous role for government in recognizing the need for race-conscious vigilance.

    Making a statement
    But Edward Blum, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, envisions a chance for the court to acknowledge the strides that the country has made, even if it decides each case narrowly.

    The court could "send a signal to government units that race and ethnicity should play a smaller and smaller part in their decisions," Blum said.

    He said he thinks the court took the firefighter case "because it wants to make a statement. And of all the cases involving race and ethnicity, I think this is the easiest for the court to answer."

    The justices are deeply divided about government policies involving race, even if Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has shown no such ambivalence. His view was evident quickly, when in a first-term dissent he lamented the "sordid business" of dividing individuals by race.

    Read more, follow link:

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Your Black Politics: Barack Obama Boycotts Meeting on Racism

    The Obama administration will boycott "with regret" a U.N. conference on racism next week over objectionable language in the meeting's final document that could single out Israel for criticism and restrict free speech, the State Department said Saturday.

    The decision follows weeks of furious internal debate and will likely please Israel and Jewish groups that lobbied against U.S. participation. But the move upset human rights advocates and some in the African-American community who had hoped that President Obama, the nation's first black president, would send an official delegation.

    The administration had wanted to attend the April 20-25 meeting in Geneva, although it warned in late February it would not go unless significant changes were made to the draft text.


    Click to read.

    Legal Problems for WWE: Boy Imitates Game, Jumps Off Building


    Nine-year-old Domori Miles jumped 13 stories to his death with a makeshift parachute Tuesday evening in New York.

    While his mother was away from the apartment, Miles took a makeshift parachute, made of a plastic bag and some rope, and went up to the roof of his Brooklyn apartment building. Then, police believe he jumped off the top of the building, plunging to his death, thinking that his parachute would support his weight.

    One of Miles’ friends said the boy was a huge fan of the wrestling video game, “WWE Smackdown vs. Raw,” in which one of the characters swan dives. Some are speculating that Miles was trying to imitate a wrestling move.

    “He played it all the time. That was what he was trying to do,” 10-year-old Shakar Murrel told The Associated Press. “If I would have seen him up there, I would have told him not to do it.”
    In a statement, WWE expressed condolences to the boy’s family, but also asked that there be a full investigation before any conclusions are drawn, adding that none of the game’s characters use parachutes or jump from buildings.


    Click to read.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Does the Rushcard Exploit the Black Community?

    Dear Mr. Simmons:
    My name is Ryan Mack and I have followed your career for most of my life. I have been a long-time admirer of your work, a tremendous fan, and believe that millions are inspired by the paths that you have created in the field of Hip-Hop. More importantly, as an advocate for financial literacy myself, I believe that the work that you have been doing through the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network as it relates to financial literacy has been second to none. However, I must admit to being somewhat disappointed with your recent pre-paid debit card venture - the "Rushcard."

    The pre-paid debit card industry has always been an industry that is built upon a lack of knowledge within the community. It is an industry based upon the legal phrase which demonstrates that "false imprisonment is an intentional tort." In other words, if I put someone in a room and do not lock the door but tell them that the door is locked, they will remain in the room because they believe the door is locked. As a result of my action, I have committed a punishable crime. I view pre-paid debit cards in the same light. Those who know the strategies to empower the community have a moral obligation to those, who may not be as knowledgeable, to fully inform them. There are other more efficient means to empower those in our communities than pre-paid debit cards and other financially destructive establishments such as check cashing facilities. The typical bank offers free debit cards that if used properly do not have any fees affiliated with them and can be used for the same purpose as the pre-paid debit cards.

    If we compare the fees affiliated with the Rushcard compared to the typical bank offered debit card, we can clearly see the advantage of the cards offered by the banking institutions.

    Rushcard vs. Typical Bank Card
    Activation Fee: Rushcard = $19.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
    Convenience Fee: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
    ATM Cash Withdrawal: Rushcard = $1.95 Typical Bank Card = Free (At Branch)
    ATM Balance Inquiry: Rushcard = $.50 Typical Bank Card = Free
    Bill Payment: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
    Inactivity: Rushcard = $2.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
    Refund of Rushcard/Bank Card via Check: Rushcard = $5.00 Typical Bank Card = Free

    Click to read.

    Obama, Venezuela's Chavez shake hands at summit

    Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:23am BST
    (Updates with remarks from presidential palace)

    PORT OF SPAIN, April 17 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday greeted and shook hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during an impromptu meeting with the anti-U.S. leader at the Summit of the Americas.
    Photographs released by the Venezuelan government showed Chavez, a fierce foe of former President George W. Bush, smiling and clasping hands with Obama at the start of the summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in Trinidad.

    "I greeted Bush with this hand eight years ago; I want to be your friend," Chavez told Obama, according to a Venezuelan presidential press office statement.

    Chavez, a staunch ally of Cuba, had became one of the Bush's administrations most strident critics. In March, he called Obama at best an "ignoramus" after the U.S. leader said Chavez obstructed progress in Latin America.

    Ties between Washington and Caracas have frayed under Chavez, who often accuses U.S. officials of trying to topple him. Chavez expelled the U.S. envoy to Caracas in September in a dispute over U.S. activities in Venezuelan ally Bolivia.

    Former soldier Chavez says socialist revolution can counter U.S. free-market policies in South America and he has become a standard-bearer for anti-U.S. sentiment in the region. But Washington has branded him a threat to regional stability. (Reporting by Patrick Markey; Editing by Eric Walsh)

    On March 22, 2009, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama was at best an “ignoramus” for saying the socialist leader exported terrorism and obstructed progress in Latin America.

    “He goes and accuses me of exporting terrorism: the least I can say is that he’s a poor ignoramus; he should read and study a little to understand reality,” said Chavez, who heads a group of left-wing Latin American leaders opposed to the U.S. influence in the region.

    Your thoughts?

    Commission: Hecht violated code of conduct

    PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- A local judge accused of harassing and patronizing a prostitute has been found guilty of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct by the state Commission on the Judicial Conduct, according to a statement of charges released Wednesday.

    The commission found Pierce County Superior Court Judge Michael Hecht engaged in illegal or otherwise indecorous and inappropriate behavior, namely patronizing prostitutes, harassing or threatening persons whom he believed were discussing his interactions with and payment of prostitutes, using racist language in public conversation and engaging in unfair campaign conduct.

    The commission has charged the judge with paying a male prostitute to perform sexual acts on numerous occasions over a five-year period beginning in 1997, when the prostitute was still a minor. Hecht is also charged with patronizing two other male prostitutes from 2000 and 2002, and from 2007 to 2008. In all three cases, the sexual activities took place in Hecht's office, the commission said. The commission said that in 1996, Hecht provided legal services in exchanges for sexual activity with a male client.Hecht is also charged with using the "N" word in a conversation in 2007, as well as stealing his opponent's campaign signs during the 2008 judicial campaign. Hecht has 21 days to file a written response to the charges, the commission said. A lack of response will be interpreted as an admission of guilt.

    The commission, which works to protect the integrity of the judicial process, can recommend the suspension of a judge to the Supreme Court. Last month Hecht, 58, temporarily stepped down from the bench after pleading not guilty to felony charges. Prosecutors said Hecht threatened to kill a 24-year-old man, whom Hecht had paid for sex years ago, in Tacoma on Aug. 30, shortly after he was elected to the $148,000-a-year job. Hecht also paid a 20-year-old man for sex on numerous occasions, prosecutors said.

    But Hecht last month told KOMO News all the allegations are simply not true."Looking forward to being vindicated. I'm leaving it the hands of my consul and I think a lot of facts will come," he said.The presiding judge for the county said Hecht is cooperating with authorities, and voluntarily decided to take a leave."We are very respectful of the fact that there's an election process that put him in this position. At the same time we are also concerned about the appearance here and the integrity of the court. And that's why he stepped away at this time and we agreed," said Presiding Pierce County Judge Bryan Choshcoff.

    Hecht had only been hearing civil cases since he became a judge. He was to see out the remainder of the cases currently before him.

    Hecht's trial is scheduled to start on June 9.

    Michigan, DC Other cities hit hard by unemployment

    Unemployment rose in 46 states and Washington, D.C., in March, with Michigan leading the way at 12.6%, the government said Friday.

    The most dramatic increase was in Oregon, which went from 10.7% to 12.1% - the second-highest among the states.

    Oregon was followed by South Carolina, at 11.4% in March, and California, at 11.2%.

    The Michigan job market has been hit hard by the battered auto industry. The Big Three carmakers have shed tens of thousands of jobs because of giant corporate losses and waning demand for vehicles.

    In Oregon, employment is heavily reliant on the lumber industry, which has suffered from the decline in homebuilding in California and elsewhere.


    Click to read.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Dear Mr. President: Morehouse Prof Writes Letter to Obama About Black Men

    Dr. Henrie M. Treadwell

    I applaud your recent creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls to help ensure we are treated equally in public policies, by employers and in every other aspect of American society. I must also urge, however, that you place a similar emphasis on men and boys, particularly young men of color, who face some of the steepest hurdles in American society.

    The reasons cited in forming the new council are just -- throughout our nation's history women have often been treated as second-class citizens when it comes to earning a livelihood, climbing the corporate ladder and even exercising the delayed right to vote. Let us not forget that the Equal Rights Amendment was first drafted in 1923--and has yet to be ratified.

    To be sure, the new council will focus attention on continuing the progress that has been made through the decades as women have crashed through the glass ceiling.

    But I would argue that young men of color face even more daunting circumstances. Young men of color face challenges ranging from a justice system that disproportionately incarcerates them to media and entertainment industries quick to portray them as worthless, violent and criminal. Even before the recession, our young men of color faced a bleak job market where discrimination, globalization and structural change made it difficult for them to find good jobs and succeed in life. With the nation's economy in a tailspin, the unemployment of young men of color has been spiraling out of control.

    Consider this sampling of data:

    * High school graduation rates for males of color--African Americans (42.8 percent), Native American/Alaska Natives (47 percent) and Hispanics (48 percent)--are far lower than for whites (70.8 percent).
    * Minority youths are disproportionately in the juvenile justice system: African Americans (1,004 per 100,000), American Indians (632 per 100,000) and Latinos (485 per 100,000) compared with whites (212 per 100,000).
    * More than 29 percent of African-American boys who are 15-years-old today are likely to go to prison at some point in their lives, compared with 4.4 percent of white boys the same age.
    * The mortality rate from homicide for African-American boys ages 15-17 is 34.4 per 100,000, compared with 2.4 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic white boys.

    Click to read more from Dr. Treadwell and other Black scholars.

    Prominent Scholar Donald Easton-Brooks Explains the Wealth Gap

    This study examined whether socioeconomic indicators including wealth, parents' education, parents' occupation, and parents' income predicted the academic outcomes of African Americans and European Americans differently. Using a sample of 1,302 African American and 6,362 European American public high school students drawn from the first- and second-year follow-up of the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988, the study found that socioeconomic status (SES) accounted for significant variance in the academic achievement of African American students, and that wealth explained variance for students of both ethnicities beyond what was explained by SES alone. Wealth accounts for greater variance in outcomes of African American students than of European American students.

    In her presidential address before the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in April 2006, Gloria Ladson-Billings called attention to the relationship between wealth and what she called an "achievement debt" accruing to African Americans over centuries in the United States. Her thesis, supported by a growing body of research (Conley, 1999; Orr, 2003; Shapiro, 2004) and testimony among African American scholars and elders, was that differences in educational outcomes between African American and European American students related to the historical denial of resources-social, intellectual, and financial capital-as a legacy of slavery, Jim Crow policies, and more subtle institutional racism.

    Click to read.

    Lawrence Summers: Barack Obama’s In-House Financial Hypocrite?

    Frank Rich, The New York Times

    "I am pronouncing the depression over!" declared CNBC's irrepressible Jim Cramer on April 2. The next day the unemployment rate, already at the highest level in 25 years, jumped yet again, but Cramer wasn't thinking about the 663,000 jobs that disappeared in March. He was thinking about the market. Mad money. Fast money. Big money. The Dow, after all, has rallied in the weeks since Timothy Geithner announced his bank bailout 2.0. Par-tay! On Wednesday, Cramer rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, in celebration of the 1,000th broadcast of his nightly stock-tip jamboree.

    Given Cramer's track record on those tips, there's no reason to believe he's right this time. But for the sake of argument, let's say he is. (And let's hope he is.) The question then arises: What, if anything, have we learned from this decade's man-made economic disaster? It wasn't just trillions of dollars of wealth that went poof in the bubble. Certain American values also crumbled and vanished. Making quick killings by reckless gambling in the markets - rather than by investing long-term in new products, innovations, technologies or services that might grow and benefit America and the world - became the holy grail in the upper echelons of finance.

    Click to read.

    Texas Governor: Obama May Make us Secede from the Union

    Per the New York Post, "Tens of thousands of protesters -- some dressed in colonial wigs with tea bags hanging from their eyeglasses -- staged boisterous protests modeled after the Boston Tea Party all around the country yesterday, rallying against financial bailouts and the Obama administration's tax and spending plans."
    “The hundreds of grassroots events staged around the nation to protest America's tax burden showcased successful efforts by conservatives to mobilize thousands of participants via Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. Liberals once dominated that realm,” the Washington Times adds.

    The New York Times: “It was hard to determine from the moderate turnout just how effective the parties would be. In Philadelphia, a rally in Center City drew about 200 rain-soaked participants… In Pensacola, Fla., about 500 protesters lined a busy street, some waving ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flags and carrying signs reading ‘Got Pork?’ and ‘D.C.: District of Corruption.’ In Austin, Tex., Gov. Rick Perry energized a crowd of about 1,000 by accusing the Obama administration of restricting states’ rights and vaguely suggesting that Texas might want to secede from the union.”

    The AP has more on what Perry said. “Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that. ‘There's a lot of different scenarios,’ Perry said. ‘We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.’”


    Click to read.

    Black Legal News: Fewer Blacks in Prison for Drugs

    For the first time since the war on drugs became a national law enforcement obsession in the mid-1980s, the number of African-Americans in state prisons for drug offenses has declined, a criminal justice reform organization said.

    The number of whites in state prison for drugs rose 42.6 percent since 1999, while  blacks dropped 21.6 percent.

    The number of whites in state prison for drugs rose 42.6 percent since 1999, while blacks dropped 21.6 percent.

    A study released Tuesday by the Sentencing Project found a 21.6 percent drop in the number of blacks incarcerated for drug offenses, a decline of 31,000 people, from 1999 to 2005.

    The corresponding number of whites in state prisons for drug offenses rose 42.6 percent, or by more than 21,000 people, while the number of Hispanics was virtually unchanged, according to "The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs."

    The study, authored by Executive Director Marc Mauer, found that the differences between black and white imprisonments for drug crimes are partly because of how police target suspects and court sentencing guidelines, which vary by state.

    Also, there has been a decrease in the use of crack cocaine in predominantly minority urban neighborhoods and an increase in methamphetamine abuse in many primarily white rural areas, Mauer said Wednesday.

    Click to read.