All Articles Tagged "government"

In The House (Actually, The Senate): America’s Black Senators Gather For Historic Meeting

March 12th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Sens. Cory Booker (at a NJ hospital) and Tim Scott (at a SC school) went to the historic event. pics via @CoryBooker, @SenatorTimScott

Sens. Cory Booker (at a NJ hospital) and Tim Scott (at a SC school) went to the historic event. pics via @CoryBooker, @SenatorTimScott

An historic event took place and it got buried in the news! Maybe too many folks were worried about the latest RHOA news to notice. In Washington, D.C. at the end of Black History Month (February 25), more than half of the blacks who have ever served in the Senate gathered for a special panel discussion at the Library of Congress to celebrate Black History Month.

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) led the gathering, entitled “Honoring Our Past And Celebrating our Future,” reports The Daily Beast. Five of the seven living black senators attended and spoke of their trailblazing journeys. Scott and Cory Booker (D-NJ) were joined by former senators Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL), Roland Burris (D-IL), and William “Mo” Cowan (D-MA). Former Senator Ed Brooke (D-MA), who is ill, and Barack Obama, who was senator before he was elected president, did not attend.

While these politicians have made history, there is still much more progress to be made. So far only nine blacks have served in the United States Senate.

“In the history of the Republic, we’ve never had this number of African-American Senators in one place—truly an historical event…that is awesome,” said retired Navy Rear Admiral Barry C. Black, the 62nd Chaplin of the Senate (who is also African American), as he opened the session.

The Senators shared how they overcame obstacles. Moseley-Braun, for example, talked about of how gender and racial bias caused so many difficulties she nearly quit the job once due to the stress. “My Senate years were very difficult,” she said. “Why did they want to run me into the ground? Whatever brickbats and reputation damage they did, it was up to me to take it.”

Burris  experienced racism and skepticism. “I had many black people tell me I was crazy or divinely misdirected to think they would elect a black state-wide in Illinois,” said Burris, who in 1978 became the first African-American elected to statewide in Illinois after winning as first as comptroller and then as attorney general.

But Cowan told The Daily Beast “that the American experience would not be complete until both Democrats and Republicans elected blacks to the Senate from every region of the country with frequency and regularity.”

Added Scott, who was elected to finish the term of retiring Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and will have his own election this November, “Our country needs people to represent them based not on what they look like but based on their values and beliefs… I think that in the first 150 years we’ve had four black senators—in the last few decades we’ve had five.”

Building diversity has to happen in the coming elections if the government is truly going to reflect what the nation looks like. Are there any notable politicians in your area? Let everyone know about them in the comments.

Brazil’s President Moves To Set Aside Government Jobs For Blacks

November 8th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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via Twitter

via Twitter

Brazil has been working on its own race issues over the past few years, and now the country’s president wants to close racial employment gap in government. President Dilma Rousseff has announced she will ask Congress to pass legislation to reserve 20 percent of the nation’s government jobs for blacks, reports The Associated Press (via The Grio).

Brazil’s black population is one of the largest in the world. In fact, about half of Brazil’s 204 million people are black–more than in any nation except Nigeria. Yet Brazil’s blacks are among the nation’s poorest. President Rousseff says she wants to help rectify this.

In Brazil, blacks face persistent socio-economic inequality, and President Rousseff explained that her proposal will help reverse that. She declared “affirmative action is essential” for offering equal opportunities.

So far, there is no word on when Congress might debate the proposal.

Rousseff also said that by the end of 2014, her government will have sent a doctor to each of Brazil’s more than 3,500 “quilombos.” Quilombos are settlements founded by descendants of Brazil’s slaves, reports The AP.

During the slave trade, Brazil had more African slaves arrive on its shores than any other country in the Americas.

Do you think this is a step towards equality?

Is She Out? Raven-Symone Thanks Goverment For Being Able To Wed Now

August 2nd, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Instagram

For the past few years there has been much interest in actress Raven-Symone’s sexuality — mostly because it’s something she never speaks on, perhaps until today. Two hours ago, the former Disney star sent out an interesting tweet that many think is confirmation of her homosexuality. She wrote:

What’s confusing is the timing of the child star’s message. Many think it is a response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn The Defense of Marriage Act which will allow same-sex marriages to be recognized by the Federal government; however this decision was handed down in June, making her about two months late on the acknowledgement. The tweet also appears to be in direct conflict with a statement the 27-year-old made early last year when rumors surfaced she was dating former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Az Marie. At the time, she said:

I’m living my PERSONAL life the way I’m happiest. I’m not one, in my 25 year career to disclose who I’m dating. and I shall not start now. My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I’m dating to know. I’m not one for a public display of my life. However that is my right as a HUMAN BEing whether straight or gay. To tell or not to tell. As long as I’m not harming anyone. I am a light being made from love. And my career is the only thing I would like to put on display, not my personal life. Kisses!”

Though Raven still hasn’t technically put her personal life on display, she may have put her sexual orientation out in the open. But with no further comment from her, all one can do is continue to speculate as we have been.

What are your thoughts?


New York City Council Candidate Running On Hurricane Sandy Recovery Platform

January 9th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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A Far Rockaway resident in front of her home in November. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

A Far Rockaway resident in front of her home in November. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Selvena Brooks, a communications specialist for the Service Employees International Union, is running for a vacant seat in the New York City Council’s 31st District. The district covers the city’s Far Rockaway area, which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. In fact, Brooks is submitting paperwork to run as a “Rebuild Now” candidate, representing a party that’s focused on the Sandy recovery effort.

The New York Observer‘s Politicker blog quotes a statement from Brooks: “I am asking for people’s support on the Rebuild Now line, because we need strong leadership in not only rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but also rebuilding our education system, local economy and neighborhoods.”

Brooks at a gun violence rally. Via Twitter

Brooks at a gun violence rally. Via Twitter

Brooks is one of a number of candidates running for the position, which became vacant when the previous official, James Sanders, left for the State Senate. A special election is set for February 19.

Parts of New York and the surrounding area are still coping with Sandy’s aftermath, months after the storm hit in October. It was only last week that Congress approved a government flood insurance program that would pay out $9.7 billion to 120,000 victims of the storm. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the House and unanimously in the Senate. One of those who voted against the measure, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, who said the flood insurance program is “insolvent,” according to Bloomberg.

That vote followed a thorough blasting from fellow politicians, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

A vote for a larger relief package was cancelled on the 1st after fiscal cliff talks were finally resolved. The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut had originally asked for tens of billions of dollars in aid.

There will be another vote on January 15, which would bring the aid total to $60 billion.




Drink Water Instead: The Price of Milk Could Go Up to $8

December 28th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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They’re calling it the “dairy cliff,” and if we go over it, there are threats of $8 milk.

Along with the much-discussed “fiscal cliff,” which could cause a spike in taxes, January 1 is also the deadline for Congress to deal with a farm bill. Failure to pass this latest legislation could cause prices on dairy products to leap.

According to The Washington Post, the bill also deals with things like foreign relief aid and production issues to do with other food items. But because milk is produced all year round, it’s the most pressing item on the list.

Food costs for consumers could jump because of the outdated pricing laws that would go into effect, some going as far back as 1949, well before modern methods for farm production and sales went into effect. “[I]f Congress does not pass the bill by March, when it’s time for farmers to start planting crops, the antiquated laws could begin to roil production for other products, from peanuts to corn, by applying quotas discarded years ago,” the paper writes.

NPR is betting that the price of milk won’t actually reach this eye-popping $8 price that’s being buzzed about, which would be more than double the national average. “Dramatically higher milk prices won’t help Congress’ reputation for political gridlock. Farmers wouldn’t like it either,” that outlet’s blog says, citing the fact that it would bring unwanted attention to farm policy issues. It would also ultimately reduce demand, as consumers shy away from costly foods in favor of less expensive options. (Issues of food policy go largely unnoticed in this country, but play a big role in determining the American diet. Bestsellers like this and this go into further detail.)

More than anything, it speaks to Congress’ inability to do its job in the harsh and partisan environment that has taken over Washington. Parts of this farm bill actually expired in October. This coupled with the fiscal cliff are two reasons why the legislative bodies’ approval rating hovers around 18 percent.

Environmental Protection Agency Head Resigns

December 27th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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Rex Features via AP Images

Rex Features via AP Images

Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator for the Obama administration, has announced her resignation, effective next month. Jackson is credited with getting new air pollution limits on the books, the most drastic in 20 years, in fact, according to The Washington Post.

During her four years, Jackson made no friends with Republicans and the coal industry, two groups that objected to her efforts to lower pollution from power plants, limit soot, spoke out against climate change and on behalf of lower income communities that are negatively affected by environmental degradation.

It’s unclear what she’ll do once she officially steps down, though there’s talk of her returning to New Jersey and becoming the president of Princeton University or possibly working as a consultant.

Equally unclear is the direction that the EPA will take when she’s no longer leading it. There are still energy issues, like those with coal, that the administration and Congress have to negotiate. While there had been momentum behind some of the big changes the EPA and Jackson supported, that momentum has slowed.

Two existing EPA officials — Bob Perciasepe and Gina McCarthy — are some of the possible replacements. Mr. Perciasepe will act as interim administrator.

Owe Me Back Like You Owe Your Tax: Promoter Suing Nas for $10 Million Over Kidnapping

December 22nd, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Judy Eddy/

Judy Eddy/

A promoter who found himself in a bad situation is determined to hold Nas accountable for it, one way or another.

Concert promoter Patrick Alloco is suing Nas for $10 million dollars for what he believes in Nas’ role in a kidnapping and TMZ has, of course, obtained the documentation.  Not sure if you heard about this but the concert promoter was kidnapped in Angola after Nas did not show up for a concert on New Year’s Eve in December 2011 after he was paid $300,000.  Singer Jeremih was also part of the bill and didn’t show up but the assumption is that he was only paid $15,000 for his performance. The Angolan promoter that was involved, Henrique Miguel, was allegedly very upset because he put up a lot of money for Nas’ appearance and when he didn’t show up, he allegedly sent his “henchmen” out to capture Patrick until he got his money back.

Alloco and his son were held captive for 50 days – until February 2012 – when the U.S. Embassy finally stepped in and were able able to get them released (the Angolan authorities were aware of what was going on – they, in fact, held Alloco for over seven hours for questioning).

In the lawsuit filed in federal court on Friday, Alloco said he was threatened constantly and beaten during the time he was held hostage.  He also states that as a result of him being away from the states for so long and being unable to do business, he has lost his company and his home.

That is a lot of money and we already know Nas has had IRS money problems, ex-wife money problems, etc.  This case seems like it’ll be interesting (if Nas doesn’t settle out of court) because the only reason Alloco was kidnapped was because Nas didn’t show up for the show.  Now, who knows if he’ll actually get $10 million but you have to wonder if a judge would see things in his favor in some part.

What do you think? Should Nas be held somewhat responsible?

We Wish You Well: Nelson Mandela Recovering From Surgery And Lung Infection

December 16th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"NMandela pf"

Former South African president Nelson Mandela is still in the hospital as he recovers from surgery to remove gall stones, ABC News reports.

Mandela was flown to an unnamed hospital in the city of Pretoria on December 8th with no details as to why he was going. The government made an announcement that he was just going to to the hospital for medical testing, giving no indication as to why he needed to be flown to a hospital for said tests. However, they said Saturday that the doctors found gall stones that needed to be removed.

The doctors also said Mandiba, as Mandela is affectionately known, also has a lung infection that needs to be treated. However, they feel tat doing the surgery first would be better and safer.

The 94 year old Mandela has been hospitalized a couple of times over the last year – in January 2011 for a lung infection and earlier this year for abdominal pains – but this is the longest he’s ever been in the hospital.

Although he’s no longer president, there is no question that Mandela is still South Africa’s most revered person. To that end, the media always wants to be updated with full details about his health and whereabouts. These recent health issues have caused a serious rift between the government and the media because the government initially said that Mandela was at a military hospital but then said he was at an undisclosed private hospital.  Further, they stated they will not release the name of the hospital in order to respect the privacy of the family.

The Office of the Presidency released a statement saying the surgery was successful and that Mandela is recovering.

Education Money Awarded: Race to the Top-District Winners Announced

December 12th, 2012 - By Kimberly Maul
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The latest version of President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative allowed specific school districts to apply for nearly $400 million in grants, rather that just at the state level. Race to the Top-District awarded grants ranging from $10 million to $40 million to 16 applicants, which represent 55 districts in 11 states. According to the AP, three charter schools won grants and more than 300 applications were rejected. Districts could team up and apply together.

Winners were from all areas—suburban, urban, rural—and included Green River Regional Educational Cooperative in Kentucky, Carson City School District in Nevada, School Board of Miami-Dade County in Florida, and the Puget Sound Educational Service District in Washington.

“Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level, and now these winners can empower their school leaders to pursue innovative ideas where they have the greatest impact: in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a statement about the winners. “The Race to the Top-District grantees have shown tremendous leadership though developing plans that will transform the learning environment and enable students to receive a personalized, world-class education.”

The announcement of Race to the Top-District winners comes as two international studies found that US students still lag behind students from around the world, particularly those from Asian countries. Additionally, the NAACP also released a study highlighting how pre-K prep, effective teaching, “targeted spending,” and additional learning time will help improve education overall in the US.

Hopefully these grants will help, as the winnings schools have said they will use the funds to introduce technology for a more personalized learning experience, expand partnerships with community organizations, and create courses designed to go deeper with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), among other projects.

The White House Gets Pinterest Fever

December 11th, 2012 - By Kimberly Maul
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White House Pinterest page

The White House, President Obama, and the First Family have joined Pinterest. Starting on December 17, the account will start pinning content related to life inside the White House, including the President’s Holiday Social planned for the 17th.

On The White House’s blog, Kori Schulman, director of online engagement for the Office of Digital Strategy, wrote about the new social plan: “On Pinterest, the White House will share pins and boards that range from inspiring images and quotes to infographics that help explain key issues to details about the life inside the White House. From the very beginning, President Obama and the First Lady have taken steps to make this the most open White House in history.”

The Obama Administration can pin content ranging from home décor, parties, and more personal life inside the White House to meetings and policy events that showcase the business side of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There are already a lot of pins featuring White House content, including photos of the current President and First Lady, as well as historical images and past presidents’ photos.

President Obama has always used social media as a way to connect with his constituents and supporters. The White House already has Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr accounts, so adding Pinterest to the mix is a smart move. According to comScore, Pinterest had 26.7 million unique visitors in October 2012.