All Articles Tagged "Congress"
Merry Christmas? Unemployment Benefits Could Cease For 2 Million on December 1, Blacks Would Be Hard Hit
According to new reports, two million people could lose unemployment benefits right before Christmas unless Congress extends the benefits program. And African Americans, who have among the still have the highest unemployment rates, will most likely be the hardest hit. Even though unemployment figures for African Americans have improved, 13.4 percent of black workers, or 2.44 million people, remain out of work, according to the Huffington Post. And in New York, black women are the hardest hit.
According to the nonprofit Community Service Society of New York, older women and black workers remained unemployed longest. “Nearly 63 percent of women 55 to 65 were out of work for more than six months last year… Black New Yorkers remained unemployed for an average 47 weeks, more than any other ethnic group,” reports the Uptowner. A Department of Labor report found blacks are less likely to find jobs and tend to stay unemployed for longer periods of time.
If Congress doesn’t act by December 1, Americans who have been out of work longer than six months will no longer receive benefits. Six months is the limit for most state-funded unemployment insurance. In April, another one million people might have their checks curtailed if the program is not renewed.
“We cannot forget the human cliff looming for more than two million Americans scheduled to lose their economic lifeline during the upcoming holidays,” Rep. Sander M. Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
Congress could have some hurdles in extending the benefits as conservative lawmakers “have raised concerns that continually extending jobless benefits is both an unmanageable burden on the federal budget and a disincentive for people to find work,” reports The Washington Post.
But a coalition of more than 35 groups led by the National Employment Law Project is launching an aggressive campaign to pressure Congress to extend the program.
By now the obsession with all things ratchet has overtaken the minds, hearts and spirits of Black America. From Issa Rae’s “RatchetPiece Theatre” to our unswerving love for (and fascination by) something called a ‘Joseline Hernandez,’ there really ain’t no way around it. Ratchet is in. And ratchet activities don’t only take place in the obvious places you might immediately think of. Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, ratchet usually happens in the places you don’t even expect.
Hours before Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took the stage last night at the Republican Convention, Mayor Mia Love gave a speech that had people cheering, hooting and chanting “U-S-A.”
Love is the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, a Mormon and possibly, if the buzz becomes reality, the future first black Republican woman to get elected to Congress.
During her brief speech last night, she talked about her immigrant roots; her parents came to the U.S. from Haiti “with $10 in their pocket.” She used her time at the podium to sound off on President Obama, saying point blank that “his policies have failed.”
“President Obama’s version of American is a divided one,” she said, “often pitting us against each other based on income level, gender, and social status.”
“With Mitt Romney as President and Paul Ryan as Vice President, we can restore and revive that American story we know and love,” she continued.
You can listen to the entirety of her speech on ABC News.
Love is already the first black woman to become mayor in Utah, winning the seat two years ago. She could oust the state’s Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson. She’s already gotten support from GOP bigwigs House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. John McCain (AZ), who traveled to the state to help her raise funds. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be there on September 7.
Critics and the opposition have brought up the fact that Mayor Love has raised taxes in her city, contrary to her platform focused on fiscal responsibility and spending cuts. She says it was just for public safety. And the Christian Science Monitor reports, “A local Utah non-profit, the Alliance for a Better UTAH, issued a statement Tuesday claiming Love’s plan would eliminate all government support for student loans. The statement said Love put herself through college in Connecticut using federal student aid programs.”
After she spoke last night, people ran to Google to find out more about her. She’s definitely got our attention.
Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 – the document that expresses the want, will, and hopes of the people – the country’s political system has reflected a disproportionately low number of women. Black females are even scarcer. However, some black women have been trailblazers in the political arena, shaping history and leaving a legacy that cannot be erased.
Patricia Roberts Harris
Patricia Roberts Harris broke several racial and gender barriers throughout her distinguished political career. In 1965, she became the first black female ambassador when President Lyndon Johnson appointed her as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Two years later, she returned to her alma mater, Howard University, where she became the law school dean, making her the first black female law school dean in the country. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Harris to serve in his cabinet as secretary of housing and urban development. She was the first black female in a presidential cabinet.
In a courageous move, Democratic representative, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, stood before Congress yesterday and revealed her own history with sexual abuse and rape. She did so to show support for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The act, which originally passed in 1994, has been a point of contention for some Republicans since 2005, presumably because new provisions seek to protect gays, lesbians and illegal immigrant women. Last month, when the Senate voted on the bill, eight republicans, all men, voted against it. Though, the bill has been supported by every Republican woman in the Senate.
Moore, astounded by the stalling of this bill, decided to address Congress and share her own personal story.
You can watch the video of her very passionate, very candid statements below.
Tragically, the story Moore shared with Congress yesterday does not represent half of the abuse she’s endured throughout her life.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Moore said,
“I have been a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault for as long as I can remember. I think that men, boys, see it as a right of passage to have sex with girls. Lovers feel it is their right to dominate women in that way. That has been my experience.”
As a child, Moore was sexually assaulted by a distant family member. In high school, she was raped by a classmate, as she mentioned in the video. Amazingly she overcame all of that trauma and went on graduate from Marquette University. But in the ’70s Moore was raped again by a stranger. Moore pressed charges; but to add insult to injury, her rapist challenged her in court. He claimed that she wasn’t wearing any underwear at the time of the rape and that she had a child out of wedlock. As ridiculous and absurd as his testimony was, he was acquitted of all charges and Moore lost her job as a result.
Listening to Moore’s story will make you question God. The fact that one woman has had to endure more abuse in one lifetime than many of us will ever know is unfathomable. But the even greater injustice would be for the story of Moore’s abuse, and the abuse of the women she represents, to continue in Congress.
Another Republican representative, Cathy McMorris Rogers, a woman, told The Daily Beast that Moore and fellow Democrats are pushing the bill now as a political stunt. She claimed that that Democrats have created a “war on women” to distract from the real issues at hand.
It really is disgusting. Violence against women is a real issue, at hand right now. With the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey stating that there are an average of 207,754 rapes, (about one every two minutes), every year, it is a very real issue, right now. Not to mention, those are just the number of rapes which have been reported. With those type of numbers, there’s no doubt we all have either been assaulted ourselves, or know someone who has been raped.
If there’s any bright side to this picture, it’s that rapes in the U.S. have decreased by 60 percent since 1993. This may be a coincidence, but that is exactly one year before the Violence Against Women Act was passed. Whether it’s a leap or not, reducing funding for this act is not a theory we or Congress should be so willing to test.
What do you think of Moore’s story, do you have one like it? Do you think Moore’s remarks will help make the Violence Against Women Act a priority for Republican members of Congress?
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By now you’ve probably noticed that there’s no Wikipedia today, and that Google has blacked out its logo, or that some of your favorite blog sites have faded to black. The effort is part of a protest of two bills before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, which would censor the Web and impose some stiff regulations on online businesses.
The purpose of the bill, which is backed by many in the music and film industries, is to stop online piracy which has been running rampant for several years now and some say is costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions, possibly even billions, of dollars in lost revenue. But opponents of the legislation who have turned their sites dark in a move of solidarity say the legislation infringes on freedom of speech and could even “break the Internet.”
According to the Washington Post, the bill would “enable copyright holders and the Justice Department to get court orders against sites that ‘engage in, enable, or facilitate’ copyright infringement. That could include, say, sites that host illegal mp3s or sites that link to such sites. Courts could bar advertisers and payment companies such as PayPal from doing business with the offending sites in question, order search engines to stop listing the accused infringers, or even require Internet service providers to block access entirely. The bills contain other provisions, too, like making it a felony to stream unauthorized content online.”
Although the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998, requiring any site hosting or linking to pirated material to take it down once notified, sites aren’t required to actively police their sites, which copyright holders say isn’t enough. So, with this new law, “Rather than receiving a notification for copyright violations, sites now face immediate action — up to and including being taken down before they have a chance to respond.” As the Washington Post points out:
“Intermediary sites like YouTube and Flickr could lose their ‘safe harbor’ protections. Nonprofit or low-budget sites might not have the resources to defend themselves against costly lawsuits. And, meanwhile, larger companies like Google and Facebook could be forced to spend considerable time and money policing their millions of offerings each day for offending material.”
As far as the idea of breaking the Internet, sites in violation of the bill could be de-listed from the Domain Name System, meaning U.S. service providers would have to act as though the site didn’t exist at all. Users might then seek out foreign servers to host their material which brings a whole other issue of security into question.
Obviously, the entertainment industry has a right to want to protect its revenue streams, but do their rights come before those of all Americans? The way in which the bills seek to eliminate piracy could very well eliminate the business models Google and Reddit have built entire companies around, or even your everyday blogger who has created a business for herself by killing the very thing we admire most about the internet: information that is readily accessible and can be easily shared. It may be necessary for Congress to approach this issue from another angle.
The Senate is expected to vote on the issue Jan. 24, meanwhile Google is asking Americans to sign a petition to end piracy, not liberty.
What do you think about the PIPA and SOPA bills? Do you oppose or support the legislation? What do you think would be a better way for Congress to address Internet piracy?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Unemployment has threatened significant portions of the American population, including teenagers. With this issue in mind, the White House announced their plan to create 180,000 for young adults (16-24) with a goal of reaching 250,000.
Summer Jobs+ essentially partners with businesses, non profit organizations and other forms of government to provide employment for low income young adults. This program comes immediately after the president proposed a $1.5 billion plan to implement summer and year round jobs for this same age group but Congress did not act on it. Afterward the Federal Government and the private sector came together to create an alternative initiative. The Summer Jobs+ program is the result of those efforts.
Companies like Bank of America, Starbucks Coffee Co. AT&T Inc. have committed to providing 26,850 jobs to the program. Wells Fargo, CVS, Deloitte and Gap Inc., have also signed on to take part in this program.
You can get the rest of the story from the White House Press Release here.
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It may not surprise you that black women have been hit the hardest by the economic crisis. The Washington Post reports that while other segments of the nation’s unemployed are slowly starting to find work, a study from the National Women’s Law Center found that black women have lost more jobs during the recovery than they did during the recession.
The national unemployment rate declined from 9.0 percent to 8.6. percent in November; but the Bureau of Labor Statistic reported that the unemployment rate for black women actually increased from 12.6 to 12.9.
And that doesn’t include the 150,000 women who have become too discouraged to continue looking for work. (You have to actively be searching for work in order to be included in the unemployment rate.)
The only bright spot in this dismal news is that President Obama proposed a jobs bill that funds the rehiring of teachers, jobs for veterans construction jobs and job training programs for low-income young people and adults.
We’ll have to see what Congress is going to do with this one…
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When the congressional super committee charged with reducing America’s deficit failed to reach an agreement on what cuts should be made in 2013, some assumed HBCUs, of which their presidents and supporters warned were being targeted, were off the hook. But an article on The Root says not so fast.
Unless a new deal is struck, Historically Black Colleges and Universities could still lose more than $20 million per year in federal support through across-the-board cuts, or they could lose as much as $85 million per year through the normal appropriations process.
“This needs to go at the top of the ‘Must do — now!’ list of everyone who cares about HBCUs,” Michael Lomax wrote in his editorial, encouraging supporters to make their local congressional leaders accountable to the members of their jurisdiction who care about this issue.
Citing the more than 47,000 college graduates produced by HBCUs each year, the 180,000 jobs HBCUs represent, and their $13 billion dollar impact to the nation’s economy, Lomax says this is not the time for the government to back out on its long-standing support of these institutions, particularly as minorities grow in this country.
But do people—specifically the people in power—still want to support HBCUs? Some still hold the view that these institutions promote segregation and question the need for them now that America has become so “racially integrated,” others cite poor graduation rates as proof that HBCUs aren’t serving its students. Unless HBCUs receive large endowments from private parties, it seems unlikely that they won’t at least have to swallow the $20 million losses, further restricting their resources and their ability to adequately prepare its graduates for the work force. And then what will that do to representation of African Americans in the work place?
Do you support HBCUs? Do you believe they are a necessary part of the education system? Do you think the government will eventually try to phase out HBCUs by weaning federal support?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(New York Times) — Republicans on Tuesday sought to intensify political pressure on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. over a disputed investigation into a gun trafficking network based in Phoenix, accusing him of misleading Congress. Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent aletter to President Obama asking him to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Mr. Holder committed perjury in testimony about the investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, at a hearing in May. Mr. Holder testified that he had only recently heard about the matter. But Mr. Smith pointed to two newly disclosed documents suggesting that the attorney general may have encountered references to Fast and Furious the previous year. He contends that the documents raise “significant questions about the truthfulness” of the testimony.