Category Archives: African American News

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The Legacy of Roe v. Wade and the War on Poverty

by Heidi Williamson
SOURCE: AP/Susan Walsh

Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

This column contains a correction.

This year we celebrate both the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision and the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Less than 10 years before the Supreme Court handed down a decision that allowed women the right to an abortion, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty” in 1963. The subsequent creation of social safety net programs such as Medicaid, Head Start, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, marked the beginning of an incredible journey that helped reframe the destiny of American women.

The legalization of abortion bolstered the promise of the War on Poverty for women and families. In the years prior to the Roe decision, poor women bore the brunt of unplanned pregnancy. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved birth control pills in 1960, many states did not allow doctors to prescribe them to unmarried women. Coupled with the drug’s high cost, women who lived in poverty struggled to control their family size and take advantage of America’s economic opportunities. President Johnson’s War on Poverty, however, gave women unprecedented access to necessary health care services through the first federal family planning grants. Family planning dollars further increased when Congress enacted Title X in the 1970s, which explicitly funded reproductive health services for low-income women.

Increasing women’s reproductive autonomy was an investment in more educated and empowered families that could strengthen their communities and ultimately the nation. The War on Poverty was the catalyst to move women toward greater economic mobility, access to affordable health care, and the promise of equal economic and social opportunity in America.

Economic mobility

The War on Poverty was the beginning of a new day. For the first time, the theory of economic mobility was put into practice through President Johnson’s budget and a series of new laws that guaranteed rights to health care, food, and education. For women, however, economic mobility was not simply a matter of managing money or resources but also the ability to control if and when they would have children. Women’s health has always had a direct impact on families’ well-being, but after Roe, it began to influence the workforce as well.

Legalized abortion, access to birth control pills, and civil rights legislation allowed women to be more self-sufficient, both by controlling their fertility and taking advantage of the various educational and economic opportunities created by the War on Poverty. By the late 1960s, women were approaching education, career, marriage, and children in a way that no generation had before. The social and economic impact of Roe not only ushered women into the workforce, but it also allowed women to contribute to the economic stability of their families. Fifty years later, women make up 50 percent of the workforce and are increasingly breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families. The high percentage of women working outside of the home is directly linked to access to birth control and legalized abortion. It has also played a critical role in enabling women to contribute to the economic mobility of their families. However, a woman’s contribution often hinges on her ability to control her health and balance her unique set of circumstances.

Equal access to health care

President Johnson understood that affordable health care was critical to lifting people out of poverty and maintaining economic prosperity. The creation of Medicaid had a profound effect on women, particularly women of color, getting access to the care they needed. After Roe became the law of the land, this included abortion services as well as the preventive care that comes with family planning. Prior to the passage of the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which prevents the spending of federal dollars for abortion services except in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, poor women used this vital source of funds to take care of their health, and in many instances, it saved their lives.

Before Roe v. Wade, many women sought illegal abortion services. Poor women and women of color, who often sought out cheaper and consequently more dangerous services, had higher rates of death or damaging complications such as hemorrhaging and septic shock. This resulted in a public health crisis that impacted everyone, not just women. Approximately 5,000 women died annually from illegal abortions—many of whom were mothers, wives, and caregivers. Many others suffered from other long-term health problems such as high-risk future pregnancies or infertility. Women as caregivers and human beings needed to have more control over their lives and the dignity of access to safe health care, regardless of their income.

After the passage of Hyde, poor women once again ceased to have the War on Poverty’s promise of access to affordable health care for all of the essential services that impact their reproductive lives. Medicaid continued to cover sterilizations, experimental drugs that prevented pregnancy, and childbirth but not abortion. While 17 stateshave decided through legislative action or court decision to use their own budgets to cover this procedure, poor women in the remaining states still lack access to abortion.

Equal opportunity and the American Dream

A critical result of the War on Poverty and the Roe decision is the realization that economic security, educational opportunity, and health are inseparable. More importantly, women’s right to control their own fertility and government action to protect that right are essential to ensure that the War on Poverty’s promise becomes a lived experience. Abortion access is a critical component to women’s lives as they balance raising a family, engaging in healthy relationships, and pursuing economic and educational opportunities.

Abortion is not affordable or easily accessible today and thereby is not truly a right for all women. According to Dr. Susan Wood, abortions costs as much as a month of rent for some women. Accessing this legal health service should not require women to choose between medical care and their family’s economic stability.


This year, we will celebrate Roe by working to ensure that all women have access to abortion services, regardless of their income or source of insurance. The War on Poverty rages on, and it must continue until all women and girls have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for themselves, their families, and their communities in all areas of their lives.

Heidi Williamson is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Women’s Health and Rights program at the Center for American Progress.

*Correction, January 24, 2014: This column incorrectly stated the number of states that offer Medicaid coverage for abortion. The correct number is 17.

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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in African American News


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3,600-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy Unearthed By Spanish Archeologists


An archaeologist and an Egyptian worker look at the wooden sarcophagus that was lifted from the ground in Luxor, southern Egypt archaeologist and an Egyptian worker look at the wooden sarcophagus that was lifted from the ground in Luxor, southern Egypt


CAIRO (AP) — Spanish archeologists have unearthed a 3,600-year-old mummy in the ancient city of Luxor, Egypt’s Antiquities Minister said Thursday. Prosecutors accused nine people including three Germans of smuggling stone samples from pyramids.

In a statement, Mohammed Ibrahim said the rare find in a preserved wooden sarcophagus dates back to 1600 BC, when the Pharaonic 17th Dynasty reigned.

He said the mummy appears to belong to a high official. The sarcophagus is engraved with hieroglyphs and decorated with inscriptions of birds’ feathers.

The exact identity of the well-preserved mummy will now be studied, Ibrahim said, adding that it was discovered by a Spanish mission in collaboration with the Egyptian antiquities ministry.

Antiquities department head Ali Al-Asfar said the two-meter sarcophagus still bears its original coloring and writings.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s top prosecutor referred three Germans to criminal court on charges of smuggling and damaging antiquities and six Egyptians for acting as their accessories.

Hisham Barakat said authorities issued arrest warrants for the alleged German thieves, who fled to their country after the incident. He said authorities would communicate with Germany to restore the pieces they say were taken last April under the pretext of use for research.

The Egyptian defendants are already in detention.

Barakat says the Germans, along with their Egyptian guides, entered the famed pyramids of Giza with permits to visit but not excavate, and left with samples of stone from the ramparts of two tombs and the burial room of King Khufu.

Egyptian archaeologist Monica Hanna says the German researchers wanted to use the samples prove their hypothesis in a documentary they later filmed, which says that the pyramids were built by a people that pre-dates the ancient Egyptians.

The online documentary, removed in the wake of the controversy, showed one researcher inside the inner chambers of the Khufu pyramid, taking samples from the king’s cartouche.

Egypt has experienced a security vacuum since its 2011 uprising. Thousands of artifacts have been stolen.

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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in African American News



47 Percent of Wrongfully Convicted Exonerees Are African American – Wyoming prosecutor drops charges against Andrew Johnson for 1989 rape


by Frederick H. Lowe
The National Registry of Exonerations, which reported that there were 87 recorded exonerations last year, said that black defendants are over-represented among the wrongfully convicted.

Of the 1,281 individual exonerations from January 1989 through December 2013, 47 percent or 598 were African American; 40 percent or 513 were white; 11 percent or 147 were Hispanic and 2 percent or 23 were Native American or Asian.

“Black defendants continue to be over-represented among exonerees, particularly in sexual assault, robbery and drug cases. As we noted last year, the disparity is greatest in sexual assault cases. Black defendants constitute 25 percent of prisoners incarcerated for rape, but 61 percent of those exonerated for such crimes,” reported the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Northwestern University Law School.

The Exoneration Project reported that 46 percent of African Americans were exonerated for homicide; 61 percent were exonerated for sexual assault; 25 percent were exonerated for child sex abuse; 69 percent were exonerated for attempted murder; 58 percent were exonerated for robbery; 38 percent were exonerated for other violent crimes; 55 percent were exonerated for drug crimes and 59 percent were exonerated for other non-violent crimes from January 1989 through December 2013.

The Registry now lists 1,304 exonerations from 1989 to February 3, 2014.

Andrew Johnson, a black man, was exonerated for rape and burglary by DNA evidence in 2013 after being wrongfully convicted of the crimes in 1989 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Exonerations by Race

A woman, who Johnson had been drinking and smoking marijuana with earlier, accused him of breaking into her house and raping her.  He was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Johnson denied that he broke into the woman’s home and raped her although she claimed he did.

The Rocky Mountain Innocence Project took on Johnson’s case. In 2013, DNA tests excluded Johnson as the perpetrator, as DNA evidence from the rape kit proved that the woman’s abusive boyfriend attacked her.

The Laramie County District Attorney’s Office later dismissed all of the charges Johnson, the first person acquitted by DNA evidence in Wyoming.

The National Registry of Exonerations noted that DNA exonerations dropped from 23 in 2005 to 18 in 2013. At the same time, the number of non-DNA exonerations rose from 34 in 2005 to 69 in 2013.

Texas, Illinois, New York, Washington and California were the leading states with exonerations in 2013. There were 13 exonerations in Texas, 9 in Illinois, 8 in New York, 7 in Washington and 6 in California.

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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in African American News


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Cuts to the Child Care Subsidy System Force Parents and Providers to Make Difficult Choices

by Katie Hamm
SOURCE: AP/Danny Johnston

A child plays near a housing unit at Our House, a nonprofit that provides child care, shelter, and other programs for working homeless people in Little Rock, Arkansas, on October 10, 2013.

Most of us have heard about sequestration’s devastating impact on the federal Head Start program. Due to funding cuts, nearly 60,000 children were cut from the program in 2013, and some centers had to shut down classrooms or shutter their doors. Equally important but less visible are cuts to the child care subsidy system that have forced some families out of quality child care programs.

The government cut $115 million from the child care subsidy system in 2013 as a result of sequestration, exacerbating the damage done by years of funding that has failed to keep up with the growing cost of child care. Cuts to child care assistance have been largely absent from the national discussion on the impacts of sequestration, as they are difficult to quantify. Flexibility in federal child care funding allows states to set their own program requirements, including families’ eligibility, provider reimbursement rates, and health and safety standards. States can even choose to transfer funds from other federal grants into the child care subsidy funding stream, which can mask the impact of funding cuts. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many children have lost access to child care, there are some troubling trends in states and communities across the country.

Many states have dealt with cuts by paying child care providers less and requiring low-income parents to pay more toward child care. According to a National Women’s Law Center report, only five states increased payments to child care providers in 2013, despite the rising costs of rent, utilities, food, and fuel—all of which drive up the cost of child care. At the same time, eight states increased the proportions of their incomes that families must pay in order to be eligible for child care assistance. Many states also allow providers to collect additional fees if subsidies do not cover the cost of child care for parents who do not receive a subsidy. States have also changed the way they reimburse providers: Child care providers report, for example, that the state no longer reimburses them for days a child is absent, resulting in a net loss for providers.

To better understand the impact that cuts have had on the child care subsidy system in the absence of national data, the Center for American Progress conducted interviews with child care providers that serve children in the child care subsidy system in multiple states. We also spoke to parents who face difficult choices in the child care subsidy system.

It’s clear that cuts to the child care subsidy system have resulted in fewer low-income children having access to high-quality child care. Several large child care providers have reported a drop in the number of children enrolled in their programs who currently receive a subsidy. The Child Care Network, for example, which operates 200 centers in 10 states, saw its proportion of subsidized children drop from around 60 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2013. Likewise, the New Horizon Academy, which operates 70 nationally accredited programs in Minnesota and Idaho, has experienced a 15 percentage-point drop in the number of children enrolled in the subsidy program, from 35 percent to 20 percent.

In most cases, children from families who do not receive a subsidy—and who can afford subsidy costs—take the place of these children, and families in the subsidy system are forced to go elsewhere. Many families find informal child care settings of varying quality or leave early childhood programs altogether. Mark Kehoe is the CEO of Brightside Academy, which operates 60 centers in urban areas that primarily serve children who receive child care subsidies. Over the past several years, he has seen an increase in providers with no credentials or training providing low-quality child care; some of them do not even follow requirements to collect co-payment from families. “The options of low quality [are] increasing, while the options of high quality [are] decreasing,” said Kehoe. “Access to low quality is increasing and in the long run, that is detrimental to what the child needs.”

Ashley Thorton is a single parent in Virginia who works full time to support her 2-year-old son. For the past six months and with the help of a child care subsidy, her son has attended a KinderCare program, where he has learned to count to 10, identify colors, and recite the alphabet. But Thorton recently received a notice that her child care subsidy would be terminated because she recently earned an extra $100 per month. Thorton does not want to take her son out of the classroom where he is learning, so she will pay to send him two or three days per week, and he will spend the other days with a family member. She is concerned, however, about moving him between two child care settings and upsetting a routine that has worked so well for him.

A single parent in Illinois also struggles to keep her 9-year-old daughter in the high-quality, safe child care program that a subsidy gives her the ability to afford. As co-payments have increased, she has had to cut back on groceries to make ends meet. Her housing situation has been unstable since she lost her home during the economic downturn, and she has had to move several times to afford child care. She believes it’s worth it, however, to maintain the safe and caring environment that the child care center provides. Even though she has made sacrifices in order to afford quality child care, she refuses to change child care providers. She remembers a friend’s baby dying from abuse sustained in an informal child care setting. She worries that any increase in her income will result in her losing her subsidy and that she will no longer be able to afford to send her daughter to the center.

Other families choose to leave the child care subsidy system altogether, leaving paid employment or school programs to care for their children rather than settling for low-quality child care programs. Chad Dunkley, who oversees 70 nationally accredited programs in Minnesota and Idaho, finds that, “Parents have seen the research on brain development, and they want their child in a high-quality child care setting. If they can’t find it, they would rather put their goals for improving their lives on hold than leave their child in an unsafe environment.”

To avoid raising enrollment fees, child care centers are finding ways to cut or defer costs. As the costs of wages, insurance, food, and supplies rise with inflation, child care providers must find creative ways to maintain services with less funding. Many large child care providers have deferred maintenance projects and capital investments; one provider that transports children to and from school has not replaced buses in 10 years. While this is a short-term fix to sustain operations during revenue shortfalls, child care providers will eventually have to address these kinds of improvements.

Cuts to child care have also had impacts on staff salaries and retention. For example, Brightside Academy has historically provided a 3.5 percent annual wage increase so that its staff can keep up with the cost of living, but this increase has been only 1.5 percent for the past three years. As a result, turnover has increased, particularly among more highly qualified teachers who have opportunities for better-paying positions. In 2008, New Horizon Academy froze wages for the first time in its 42 years of operation.

Cuts to the child care subsidy system are jeopardizing children’s access to quality child care, parents’ ability to hold down full-time jobs, and high-quality providers’ ability to participate in the child care subsidy system. If we want to give parents opportunities to improve their lives through education and employment and prepare their children for school, we need a well-funded child care subsidy system that supports children, parents, and providers.

Katie Hamm is the Director of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress.

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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in African American News



JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending February 7th, 2014

  • ——————————————–

    According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), 27 victims of human trafficking have been rescued in the past two years, with a total of 41 rescues overall. The gains achieved by the police have caused an upgrade in Jamaica’s position on the United States State Department Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2.

    Former Jamaican Senator Dr, Christopher Tufton believes that Jamaicans must face economic reality before it can deal with conditions in the country. Tufton left his position as Jamaica Labor Party chair of the St. Elizabeth South west area in 2014. He said that Jamaica’s economy is not stable and that more people need to be involved with addressing the issues required to improve it.

    Horace Burrell, president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), announced that as of September 14, 2014, all football coaches in Jamaica will have to be certified and have a JFF certified coach’s license for all levels of coaching in the country. Burrell said all head coaches and assistant coaches must have JFF Level-One certification or an equivalent.

    Anthony Hylton, Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, suggests that the government will take quicker action in regard to implementing the proposed logistics hub. The government will better understand the proposal by China Harbor Engineering Company for the trans-shipment hub on the Goat Islands within a few weeks and then decide how to proceed. There will also be a greater effort to keep the public informed about the progress of the project.

    Dr. Carlton Davis, the co-chair of the Energy Monitoring Committee (EMC) in Jamaica, is hoping that Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell will answer major questions about the 360-megawatt power plant project. Davis is special adviser to the Prime Minister, Portia Simpson MIller, and he wants to be reassured that Energy World International (EWI) has sufficient capacity to handle the project.

    Lisa Hanna, Jamaica’s Youth Affairs Minister, issued a condemnation of the murder of eight-year-old Selena Edmund. She was a student at Whitehall Primary School in St. Thomas and was killed while performing an errand for her mother. Hanna stated that children are “too often” preyed upon by adults rather than protected by them.

    Four police officers face charges in connection with the alleged assault of Kamoza Clarke in October 2013 while Clarke was in custody at the police station in Falmouth. The officers were arrested and taken to Resident Magistrates Court. Two were charged with wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and misconduct in a public office, while the other two officers were charged with neglect of duty.

    Farmers set up booths and sold crops at the Maggi Farmers’ Market in New Kingston among the crowds of business people who were happy to see it. Buyers in general thought it was an excellent idea to bring goods into the city. Especially favored was the chance to buy exotic fruits not normally available in that location. The farmers’ market is an attempt to link rural Jamaica with urban areas and encourage the purchase of locally produced crops and products.


    The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) has appointed Tracy Robinson, a Jamaican lawyer, to by the Thematic and Country Rapporteur for the Bahamas, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Suriname. She will also be Rapporteur on the Rights of Women and the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual, Bisexual and Intersex Persons (LGTBI). Robinson, in addition to being a lawyer, lectures on Gender and the Law, Constitutional Law, and Commonwealth Caribbean Human Rights at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica.

    The Read Across Jamaica Foundation and First Book Inc. plan to send thousands of books to Jamaica by May 2014. Representatives of the groups visited Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States Stephen Vasciannie in Washington D.C. to describe their plans. Read Across Jamaica is sponsored by the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations, a major Diaspora groups in the U.S.

    United States Customs and Border Protection agents arrested a Jamaican man who was deported after being convicted of fraud 17 years ago. Christopher Hagigal still faces marijuana charges from six years ago in Florida. He was arrested on the border with Canada after presenting a passport and U.S. Green Card in the name of Adrian Bandoo. He now faces prosecution in the U.S. for misuse of a passport, making false statements, and misuse of identification documents.

    Romelda Aiken, Jamaican netball star, has been victimized in a “racist” cyber attack in Australia. According to Laura Geitz, captain of the Queensland Firebirds, the team supports Aiken after she publicly admitted that she has experienced bullying, cyber racism, and aggressive threats stemming from the posting of her photograph on social media. Queensland police are investigating the matter. Aiken has been with the Firebirds since 2008.

    Dave Verhard, captain of Jamaica’s cricket team, stated that he was pleased with how his players performed during a six-wicket victory over Ireland at the NAGICO Super50 tournament in Trinidad. He said the Jamaicans played well as a team and limited Ireland to 161 in an excellent effort.

    Five fashion designers from Jamaica will have their work on display at the 2014 International Fashion Showcase in London. The showcase will present the works of emerging designers Dexter Huxtable, Spokes Apparel; Claire Requa, Clairely Upcycled Jewellery; Ayanna Dixon, ASD Clothing; Simone Nielson, Ms. Sim; and Abenah Gonzalez, Abenah Adelaide Designs. The collection will be introduced on February 12, 2014, at an event hosted by the High Commission of Jamaica in London.








    Robert Cogle, the top official at Royal Bank of Canada in Jamaica, has been loaned to Sagicor Group to facilitate the transition of ownership in the bank once the deal is completed. Cogle has worked at the bank since 2012 and was made group managing director in 2013. He will remain in that post until the transaction is finished, according to Donovan Perkins, president and CEO of Sagicor Investments.

    Karl Samuda, the Opposition Spokesman on Industry, Investment, Commerce, Mining and Energy in Jamaica has expressed alarm at the reluctance of the government to tell the public about its findings in the due diligence performed on Energy World International (EWI). EWI is the preferred bidder on the building of a 360-megawatt energy plant. The government has not disclosed whether EWI is in a position to actually construct the proposed plant and handle the project.

    Politicians and experts on renewable energy will meet on the private island owned by billionaire Richard Branson to discuss how to transition various operations to clean energy. They will also attempt to find ways to encourage small island nations in the region to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Branson is the CEO and founder of Virgin Group and is hosting the three-day meeting on Necker Island.

    Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) is expanding its operations by entering into a partnership with Du Boulay’s Bottling Company, a manufacturing and distribution firm in St. Lucia. The new partnership will be known as CPJ St. Lucia and plans to target the growing hospitality sector. It plans to expand into food manufacturing in the future.
    Caribbean Science and Technology News provided by






    Grammy- award-winning musician Sean Paul plans to launch his sixth studio album on February 18, 2014. The new album is called “Full Frequency” and will be released first on iTunes. It features cross-genre music and several top reggae, hip-hop, and pop stars, including Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Nicki Minaj, and Iggy Azalea.

    A new English feed of HBO Latin America will be launched in Trinidad and Tobago and provide the Caribbean with local content of special interest to audiences there. Gustavo Grossman, the corporate vice president of HBO Latin America, said T&T is one of the first countries to obtain the service because of its British influences, which is likely to mean that English content will represent a welcome addition to media offerings there.

    “BUNNY RUGS” DEAD—02/03/14
    William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke, a pioneer of Jamaican reggae, has died in Florida. Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Opposition spokesperson on Youth, Sports, Information, Culture and Gender Affairs, expressed “profound sorrow” at his passing. Clarke was the former lead singer of Third World. Grange called Clarke a performer who helped to make Jamaican music “a major force for world change, equality, and justice.”

    The singer Visionary grew up listening to the sounds from Studio One, the legendary Jamaican record company. On his second solo album, “Grassroots,” the singer, who is based in Toronto, Canada, pays tribute to the music provided by Clement “Coxson” Dodd, the founder of Studio One in 1962. The album’s songs are driven by Studio One beats, but the lyrics have been written by Visionary.


    Akheem Gauntlett and Aleen Bailey of Jamaica won their spots on the podium at the Russian Winter Indoor meet in Moscow. Gauntlett took second place in the 400-meters with a time of 48.78 seconds. Bailey took third in the women’s 60-meters, clocking 7.31 seconds.

    Joseph Clarke, Jamaica’s first and mostly highly ranked international umpire, is the first Jamaican to be named to officiate badminton at the Commonwealth Games since the tournament was held in Jamaica in 1966. The 2014 games will be held in Scotland in July and August. This is just the latest in a series of historic achievements for Clarke, who is also the first Jamaican elected to the Badminton World Federation Council and the first and only Jamaican to become a BWF accredited umpire.

    The Jamaican bobsled team arrived in Sochi to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics, but they did so without their gear, which was lost on the flight to Russia. Without clothes, sliding suits, helmets or runners for their sled, the Jamaicans could only watch the first day events. They finally received the gear around midnight, allowing them to participate in the second-day “unofficial” training. The delay in receiving their equipment has not dampened their enthusiasm for the competition, and they are ready to go.

    The doping case against Sherone Simpson, Jamaican Olympic champion, has been delayed once against after officials could not figure out the meaning of a report from a Kentucky sports science laboratory. Lackston Robinson, attorney for the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), said he could not continue because he did not understand the report. Simpson’s lawyers said the test revealed that oxilofrine was in the supplement consumed by Simpson.


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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in African American News


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CARIBBEAN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending February 7th, 2014


Four Jamaican scientists have published groundbreaking research on lionfish in one of the world’s leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, Food and Chemical Toxicology. The scientists, working at the University of the West Indies, Mona, International Center for Environment and Nuclear Sciences, published their study, the “Evolution of Dietary Exposure to Minerals, Trace Elements and Heavy Metals from the Muscle Tissue of the Lionfish Pterois Volitans.”  The scientists who published their results were Leslie Ann Hoo Fung, Johann Antoine, Charles Grant and Dayne Buddo.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is the first police force in the Caribbean region to utilize a custom system for the management of electronic documents and records. The new technology is used to digitally automate the approval, auditing, and managing of all communications data requests occurring between police officers and providers of services.


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Unbought And Unbossed: Shirley Chisholm’s USPS Black Heritage Stamp Revealed


The first African American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was honored with an official stamp as part of the USPS Black Heritage series. Ronald Stroman, Deputy Postmaster General of  USPS, explained on “NewsOne Now” that it’s important to use the stamp to honor her contributions and teach her legacy to young people.

“You have to have a strong foundation and she set that foundation for those who came after,” said Stroman, “and the people who go first often time suffer backlash. She was willing to take on that challenge, willing to be independent and take all of the criticism that came.”

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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in African American News


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CARIBBEAN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending January 24th, 2014

Antigua and Barbuda has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Jamaica’s University of Technology to explore several partnership possibilities. These include joint degree programs, collaboration in research projects, and various technology initiatives.

If integration between information and communication technology (ICT) and the development of human resources were improved in the Caribbean, it could turn the tide in terms of sustainable growth and development in the region. This suggested came during a special meeting of the Council of Trade and Economic Integration in Grenada.

According to Dr. David John, the chief medical officer in Dominica, countries in the Caribbean, which are trying to get out of their poor economic situations, now must be concerned with the diseases arising from climate change. These diseases tend to have a more serious impact on the lives of the poor. Dengue and some respiratory illnesses are affected by changes in the climate, said John.

When the Jamaican Bobsledding Team qualified to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics, the team lacked the money it needed for equipment, training, or travel expenses. To remedy the situation, the team turned to crowd funding, getting significant donations in a digital currency known as Dogecoin. This currency was converted to Bitcoins, which were then converted to US dollars. By using online sources, the team managed to obtain the thousands of dollars required for its bid for a medal at the Sochi games.


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Arlington, VA ( — In commemoration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans, PBS today announced new shows and online content celebrating the African American experience past, present and future. From an AMERICAN MASTERS profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, to an INDEPENDENT LENS documentary about the secret spy agency created to maintain segregation in 1950’s Mississippi, Black History Month on PBS will provide programs that educate, inform and inspire viewers to learn more about the rich culture of our nation.

The lineup begins on February 3 at 10:00 p.m. with “American Promise,” a powerful coming-of-age documentary from POV that follows the journey of
two young African-American males from kindergarten through high school graduation as they attend a prestigious Manhattan private school.
Confronting challenges from typical childhood growing pains to cultural identification within a predominantly white environment, the young men and
their parents push toward success and discover their own individuality in the process.

Also airing in February are two programs that celebrate the contributions of artists such as Bobby McFerrin and Terence Blanchard in JAZZ AND THE
PHILHARMONIC, and Bill T. Jones and Brian Stokes Mitchell in BECOMING AN ARTIST.

“Our Black History Month lineup delves deep into the stories of notable people and historical topics in a way that’s uniquely PBS,” says Donald
Thoms, Vice President, Programming and Talent Management.  “We feature the work of diverse and independent producers, which remains a staple of our content offerings year round, and I think our viewers will enjoy and even find a little inspiration from our content this year.”

In addition to on-air programs, the PBS Black Culture Connection (BCC), an extension of featuring black films, stories and discussion across PBS, announces a digital partnership with the Because of Them, We Can(TM) campaign, which aims to educate and connect a new generation to heroes who paved the way. In an original blog series called “Behind the Lens,” hosted on, PBS will go behind the camera of cultural architect and campaign photographer Eunique Jones Gibson, and her powerful images, to tell the rich story and history of African American icons through the eyes of our nation’s youth. During the month of February, the BCC will feature images from the Because of Them, We Can(TM) campaign including portraits of children inspired by Harriet Tubman, James Brown, Muhammad Ali and the Freedom Riders, along with a blog post by the photographer giving details of the subject, the shoot and the child/children who are pictured. “Behind the Lens” will be hosted on both the PBS Black Culture Connection and on

“Eunique has created a special link to our past through a campaign that’s inspired and powered by our youth, our future,” said Nicole Eley-Carr,
editor, PBS Black Culture Connection. “In many ways, she’s contemporizing Black History, and PBS is excited to be a space for this evolving dialogue
that empowers young people by honoring achievers of yesterday and today.”  “I am excited and honored to share a glimpse into the making of the
Because of Them, We Can(TM) campaign with the PBS audience,” said Eunique Jones Gibson. “Through the ‘Behind the Lens’ blog series I hope to further the campaign’s mission of building the esteem of both children and adults, while helping them reflect on a living legacy of greatness.”
“Behind the Lens” will debut during Black History Month on, alongside more than 30 films that will be available for streaming
online throughout the month of February. The full Black History Month programming lineup is listed below (check local listings) and will also be
available for online streaming on the BCC after premiere:

POV “American Promise”
Monday, February 3, 2014, 10:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET “American Promise” spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson,
middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, New York, turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way
through Manhattan’s Dalton School, one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from
kindergarten through high school graduation, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come
of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival

AMERICAN MASTERS “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth”
Friday, February 7, 2014, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET Most famous for her seminal novel The Color Purple, writer/activist Alice Walker celebrates her 70th birthday. Born February 9, 1944, into a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia, she came of age during the violent racism and seismic social changes of mid-20th-century America. Her mother, poverty and participation in the Civil Rights Movement were the formative
influences on her consciousness, becoming the inherent themes in her writing. The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for
Fiction, Walker continues to shine a light on global human rights issues. Her dramatic life is told with poetry and lyricism, and includes
interviews with Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire, and Walker herself.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Spies of Mississippi”
Monday, February 10, 2014, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET View the story of a secret spy agency formed during the 1950s and 60s by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy. Over a decade, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). They were granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret files, make arrests and compel testimony. The program tracks the commission’s hidden role in important chapters of the Civil Rights Movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the trial of Medgar Evers and the KKK murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.

Friday, February 28, 2014, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET JAZZ AND THE PHILHARMONIC is a unique, generational and wholly American concert experience that highlights two of the greatest musical art forms the world has ever seen, classical and jazz. With performances by artists
such as Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Terence Blanchard and Elizabeth Joy Roe, this special emphasizes the works of legendary past composers such as Bach and Mozart with these contemporary artists. Songs are performed with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra from the University of Miami Frost School of Music and National YoungArts Foundation alumni.

Friday, February 28, 2014, 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET Enjoy an inspiring tribute to the power of mentoring and the vital role it plays in passing on our artistic cultural heritage from one generation to the next. The documentary features acclaimed artists across the disciplines, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Robert Redford, Rosie Perez, Bill T. Jones, Frank Gehry, Brian Stokes Mitchell, John Guare and Kathleen Turner working with some of the nation’s most talented students selected by the National YoungArts Foundation. BECOMING AN ARTIST is a celebration of our cultural vitality and the need to ensure its continuance.

The following is a sample of the more than 30 programs available for online streaming on the BCC in February:

* The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
* The March
* Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
* Independent Lens – Daisy Bates, Black Power Mixtape, Soul Food Junkies
* Memories of the March
* Bill T. Jones: A Good Man (American Masters)
* Cab Calloway: Sketches (American Masters)
* Dreams of Obama (Frontline)
* Endgame: AIDS in Black America (Frontline)
* Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
* Freedom Riders (American Experience)
* Interrupters (Frontline)
* Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A-Comin’ (American Masters)
* Jesse Owens (American Experience)
* “Roots” Special on Miniseries (Pioneers of TV)
* Not in Our Town: Class Actions
* Slavery by Another Name
* Too Important to Fail (Tavis Smiley)
* Underground Railroad: The William Still Story
* Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll (American Masters)
* James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (American Masters)
* POV – Black Male Achievement documentary special series: Teaching
Fatherhood, The Jazz Ticket, The Algebra Ceiling

Other series that routinely offer programming to commemorate Black History Month include FRONTLINE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, PBS NEWSHOUR, TAVIS SMILEY and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL.

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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in African American News


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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrations Honor The Late Civil Rights Activist




ATLANTA (AP) — Hundreds of people filled Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Monday to remember and reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who preached at the church.

The service featured prayers, songs, music and speakers. It’s one of the many events across the country honoring King, including parades, marches and service projects.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said there were not many states that can boast a native son that merits a national holiday, but added: “we Georgians can.”

Deal said this year he would work with state legislators to find an appropriate way to honor King at the Georgia Capitol, which drew a standing ovation from the audience. He did not give any specifics.

“I think that more than just saying kind thoughts about him we ought to take action ourselves,” said Deal, a Republican. “That’s how we embed truth into our words. I think it’s time for Georgia’s leaders to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps and take action, too.”

Deal also touched on criminal justice reforms his administration has tried to make, including drug and mental health courts and community-based services to keep non-violent criminals and young people out of prison.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte planned to deliver the keynote address for the 28th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium.

In Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated, an audio recording of an interview with King was played at the National Civil Rights Museum. The recording sheds new light on a phone call President John F. Kennedy made to King’s wife more than 50 years ago.

Historians generally agree Kennedy’s phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband’s arrest in October 1960 — and Robert Kennedy’s work behind the scenes to get King released — helped JFK win the White House.

The reel-to-reel audiotape was discovered by a man cleaning out his father’s attic. The father, an insurance salesman, had interviewed King for a book he was writing, but never completed it and stored the recording with other interviews he’d done.

King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and the federal holiday is the third Monday in January.

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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in African American News



How to Start Your Own Business While on the Job


by C. Daniel Baker - Black Enterprise

Smiling Black Guy at Computer

Becoming an Intrapreneur isn’t something people typically fall into. If you want it to happen, you’re going to have to get out there and make it happen. And to do that, you’ll need a plan.

Item number one on your list is to master your job. This is actually a two-parter.

First, become an expert in your current role. Second, you’ll need to hit certain milestones if you want to pull this off. The first one is being at your job long enough for you to learn your role and feel that you could teach everything you do to another person. You need to prove your worth and demonstrate that you can handle the responsibilities you were hired to do. You’ll also want to build in enough time on the job to make your boss look like a rock star and gain his trust before you venture outside your role. Otherwise, you’re going to have a really tough time getting him to buy into and support your ideas (and to support you in your desire to expand your role in the company). In my experience, it usually takes six months to get to this point. Of course, if you can do it in less time, great! But don’t rush things. It’s better to take a little more time than to try to make a move when you’re really not ready.

Throughout this process — and throughout your entire career — it’s important to think in terms of how you can best leverage your strengths and weaknesses to help your company succeed. What are some things your company does really well? What does it do less well? What should it be doing to improve? How can your strengths and intrapreneurship goals get your company where it needs to go? With that in the back of your mind, you’ll be better able to articulate to your manager how your intrapreneurial idea will benefit the company.

You’ll also need to be able to clearly define your objectives and metrics.

In other words, what does success look like and how can you measure it? Be absolutely sure that your project aligns with the corporation’s mission and values.

If you want your company to support your idea, you’ll need heavy hitters behind you. Start with your manager. Sit down with them and talk about the potential opportunity you see. They’ve worked at the company longer than you have and they know the path to making a project successful, including how to assemble a team and how to get decision makers to buy in. Have a presentation that describes the opportunity, how it benefits your company, and what resources you’ll need to execute (people, materials, funding). Once your manager is solidly backing you, ask for their help in lining up a senior executive or major decision-maker inside your company to put his or her name on the project. That will help you get the resources you’ll need to give you the greatest chance of succeeding.

Remember, this is your project, and you want to be the center of attention, right? But don’t try to do everything — you’re going to need help. In addition, trying to do it all makes you seem either like you can’t get others to work with you, you can’t delegate, or you’re trying to hog all the glory. Instead, surround yourself with people who have skills you don’t but who can make your idea even better. Look for people who are passionate about the idea you want to develop. Some will come from inside your organization, but others may come from outside.

Optimism and self-confidence are great qualities for intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs alike. But they can easily turn into naïveté if you don’t have a backup plan. Having a great idea, a great team, strong backing, and deep resources significantly increase your chances of success. But even with all that, sometimes things don’t work out the way you’d hoped. Life can be awfully unpredictable, and it doesn’t pay to be overconfident. There are too many factors beyond your control, such as your company’s health, management changes, and corporate mergers. So you’ll want to have a backup plan — at the very least so you can salvage the work you’ve done and have something to show for it. Not having a contingency plan is just plain foolish (and it’ll be interpreted by people you’re trying to turn into allies as amateurish and immature).

You also want to have a contingency plan because intrapreneurship, just like entrepreneurship (and everything else in life, for that matter) is risky. You could get laid off tomorrow. You could get hit by a bus on the way into the office. Likewise, there’s no guarantee of success in business — most ideas fail.

Taking risks is what builds successful careers. Those who don’t, get stuck (in fact, I’d argue that not taking risks at work will be more harmful to your career than failure, because your company needs new ideas in order to grow. So if you’re holding back on proposing a new internal business opportunity, don’t. And keep in mind that you could benefit even if your project doesn’t get funded.

Two final things and then we’ll move on. First: As you go through the process, check in with your team to learn what’s working and what isn’t, what you’d need to do to improve. How could you prevent mistakes in the future and repeat your success? Intrapreneurship is all about experimenting/testing ideas, measuring the results, and improving on them. It can sometimes take a few tries to figure out whether or not something is right for your company. Finally, as soon as your project is up and running, start thinking about your next one and what kinds of people, backing, and resources you’ll need to build it out.

This post is an excerpt adapted from the author’s book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.

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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in African American News



Childless Couples Are Happier Than Those With Kids, Study Says



By Emily Thomas

The happiest couples are those without children – at least, that’s according to research out of the United Kingdom’s Open University.

The study titled “Enduring Love?” found that childless married and unmarried couples reported being more satisfied in life and feeling more valued by their partners than did pairs with kids. Unmarried parents were found to be slightly happier than married parents.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the research involved intensive interviews and surveys with more than 5,000 people of all ages and sexual orientations in long-term relationships.

Of those interviewed, mothers reported being happier with life than any other group, and childless women reported being the least happy, the study, which was obtained by The Huffington Post, revealed.

The child factor also influenced intimacy levels among couples. Fathers were twice as likely to cite a lack of sexual intimacy as the biggest downfall of their relationships, while mothers reported that they want to have sex less often than their partners do.

According to the research, simple expressions of gratitude play a big role in fulfilling marriages. Small gestures, such as telling a partner “thank you” and giving compliments, were shown to be among the most important factors in maintaining healthy relationships.

“What this study shows us is that couples need to keep investing in their relationships.It’s reassuring to know, especially in these tough economic times, that it’s the small gestures of appreciation and affection, rather than the big romantic displays that really make the difference,” said Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the relationship support organization Relate, which contributed to the study.

The results will be presented at the British Library later this week.

Earlier this year, The Stir’s Sasha Brown Worsham shared 10 simple tips to sustaining a happy marriage. The article suggests laughing more, admitting when you’re wrong and having your own interests.

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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in African American News



Laozi, Nietzsche and Kropotkin: Are The Common People Good?

by  on January 14, 2014 in News

Pic: Hugh Rankin (PD)

Pic: Hugh Rankin (PD)

What say you, Disinfonaughts? Are the common people, and the uncivilized, good? Are they better off than those on high?

via Bao Pu 抱朴

I picked up Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals (1887) yesterday and found a passage which immediately made me think of Laozi. Here’s Nietzsche, writing about the origins of the concept of “good” :

… the judgment good does not originate with those to whom the good has been done. Rather it was the “good” themselves, that is to say the noble, mighty, highly placed, and high-minded who decreed themselves and their actions to be good, i.e., belonging to the highest rank, in contradistinction to all that wasbase, low-minded and plebian. It was only this pathos of distance that authorized them to create values and name them … Such an origin would suggest that there is no a priori necessity for associating the word good with altruistic deeds, as those [English] moral psychologists are fond of claiming. In fact, it is only after aristocratic values have begun to decline that the egoism-altruism dichotomy takes possession of the human conscience …

Nietzsche goes on to mention that he discovered that the etymology of the word good in various languages always contains the basic concept of noble, “in the hierarchical, class sense …” and that “this development is strictly parallel to that other which eventually converted the notions commonplebianbase into the notion of bad.”

Ancient Daoists would scoff at the idea that goodness is the domain of the aristocrats. Laozi suggested that the great Dao has more in common with the lowly, that which lies unseen, neglected, at the foundation. The Daoists avoided using the aristocratic-flavoured term Junzi, which can be translated as Princely Person, Superior Person or Gentleman, as a term for their ideal human.

Peter Kropotkin argued in Modern Science and Anarchism (1901) that “… a scientific study … proves that usages and customs created by mankind for the sake of mutual aid, mutual defence, and peace in general, were precisely elaborated by the ‘nameless multitude.’ And it was these same customs that enabled man to survive in his struggle for existence … Science demonstrates to us that the so-called leaders, heroes, and legislators of humanity have added nothing to history beyond what had already been worked out by the Customary Law. The best of them have only put into words and sanctioned the institutions that already existed by habit and custom …”

It seems to me that this resembles Laozi’s view, to which he adds the observation that making morality explicit, makes it forced. Forced morality is far from ideal, and creates more problems. Authentic “morality” has been “worked out” by the “nameless masses” before any philosophers, religious authorities or heroes spoke of them. [this morality is nothing more than local morality however, not universal or objective]

It seems that many (e.g., Daoists, Mohists, Legalists) felt the Ru, (which includes the Confucians) took themselves too seriously, were self-righteous, and looked down on the plebian, common people, the Little People (Xiaoren).

But, pages later, Nietzsche seems to think this view is appalling, as he blames the Jews and Christians for inverting the aristocratic value system as those who began this “grand and unspeakably disastrous initiative”: “It was the Jew who, with frightening consistency, dared to invert the aristocratic value equations good/noble/powerful/beautiful/happy/favored-of-the-gods and maintain, with the furious hatred of the underprivileged and impotent, that ‘only the poor, the powerless, are good; only the suffering, sick, and ugly, truly blessed …’”

Zhuangzi gave examples such as crippled and deformed people, those who had lowly occupations such as butchers, and those of ancient times who were uncivilized, plain and lived at one with Nature as those who might be better regarded as “good,” or better off.

I could go on, but, I will not.

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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in African American News


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Syria’s refugee crisis: drops in the ocean

 by Editorial

The number of Syrian refugees in Britain is so small because they are caught in a Catch-22

Amid the diplomatic to and fro ahead of next week’s scheduled Geneva talks, the reports of jihadi massacres in the north or chemical weapons disposal, it is easy to neglect Syria’s great human tragedy: the plight of more than 6 million displaced people who have fled their homes, 2.3 million of them crossing the country’s borders to become refugees. Half of this vast exiled population are children. No wonder the refugee crisis has been characterised as the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of modern times.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is working to feed and clothe the displaced, who are now living through the frost and snow of the war’s third winter, and to ensure that the most desperate are prioritised for assistance. It is to this end that UNHCR has called for 30,000 of the most vulnerable to be taken in by the other countries by the end of 2014, including at-risk women and girls, torture survivors, refugees with medical needs or disabilities, vulnerable older adults and refugees in need of family reunification. The international community has responded: the United States is expected to accept several thousand under the programme. Germany has said it will take 10,000 over three years, limited to a two-year stay. Norway, Finland and Sweden have each accepted between 400 and 1,000; Austria and France 500. Moldova is taking 50. Britain’s contribution to the UNHCR callout, meanwhile, is so far none at all.

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, spoke about Syrian resettlement in the House of Commons last week. He answered testily that Britain had already taken in “hundreds upon hundreds” of Syrians under the UK’s international asylum obligations. As Mr Clegg must know, the 1,500 or so Syrian asylum-seekers the UK accepted in 2013 represent drops in the oceans of both the total refugee population and the number of people who are allowed to settle in Britain each year. He may also know that the number of Syrian refugees in Britain is so small because they are caught in a Catch-22. To claim asylum they must reach British territory but to do so they are almost always obliged to break the law. A putative refugee would need a visa before an airline would let them board, and as there are no visas given for the purpose of asylum-seeking they would have to lie about their intent in the UK. More likely, our refugee would take the dangerous journey through one of the third-party countries, such as Greece, where they could face the threat of xenophobic violence, or Bulgaria. Under a European law known as the Dublin regulation, if they ever reached the Channel’s northern shores they would be sent back to apply for asylum in the European country they entered first.

In lieu of acceding to the UNHCR requests for resettlement, and in a political climate where Ukip and the Tory right have rendered all discussion of immigration toxic, ministers are proud instead of spending £500m on the Syrian relief effort in the region. We can applaud the substantial sum but lament the lasting impression that Britain is exporting its obligations to Syrian refugees overseas, to countries that already bear a near-impossible strain. In Lebanon, riven by sectarian tensions long before the Syrian war, the number of refugees is expected to reach 37% of the population by the end of 2014, according to a recentWorld Bank report, with 170,000 people pushed into poverty. Jordan, meanwhile, is running short of water, and food prices have shot up. Turkey has spent an estimated $2bn it can ill afford on the refugee crisis.

As the UN high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, has pointed out, Syria’s neighbours do not just need financial and technical support, they also need western countries to receive “refugees who are today in the neighbouring countries but who can find a solution outside the region”. The Syrian crisis shows little sign of abating. It is time for the UK to change its shameful stance and accede to the UNHCR’s wish.

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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in African American News


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Tips on Overcoming and Surviving a Financial Crisis

Executive Services Firm Hardesty LLC Offers Organizations Tips on Overcoming a Financial Crisisby C. Daniel Baker - Black

It’s no secret the best time to overcome a financial crisis is before there is one. It’s also no secret that financial crises can be sparked by any number of reasons including recessions, terrorist attacks, overvalued assets, stock market activity, poor debt management, or regulatory failures.

Some are foreseen, others cannot be predicted. Regardless of the underlying cause, having a reliable sense of your future cash flow and a strategic plan in place can provide the tools to manage or avoid any potential problems.

Karl Hardesty, CEO of Hardesty LLC, a national executive services firm, realizes overcoming a financial crisis has its challenges, but it doesn’t have to be cause for panic. He offers the following steps any organization should implement to prevent or overcome a crisis.

  1. Establish a communications plan. Every organization has a chain of command, but in a crisis, the rules change. Assign a spokesperson to speak with media calling with sensitive questions. Make certain someone is ready to speak for the management team when investors come knocking, and someone is responsible for contacting customers and vendors. Knowing who will carry approved messages to key audiences before a crisis occurs may make the difference between satisfied investors who are well informed of your cash management or disgruntled investors who read misinformation about your business challenges on their Twitter feed.
  2. Develop a 13 week cash flow. The ability to forecast, monitor, and perform in the short term can establish the foundation for a positive outcome during any financial crisis. A 13 week cash flow is an appealing structure because it provides visibility into when cash will come in and what order obligations need to be addressed. Often it can help corporate turnarounds by focusing on short-term liquidity requirements and using weekly tracking to ensure fewer surprises and lower variances. Knowing your cash flow situation can help you get ahead of any issues before they become problems.
  3. Set up a cost reduction plan. There may come a time when cash is short and you’ll need to prioritize quickly. There’s always a lag between execution of a plan and positive impact on cash. Developing a plan after you notice the cash flow shortfall means it’s already too late. Create a line-item specific phased cost reduction plan that can be executed quickly. When doing so, note which vendors will need to be prioritized. Will you freeze disbursements? Will you reduce salaries or institute furloughs? How quickly can you revise payment terms with creditors? Once you’ve realized a cash flow shortage, have answers to those questions in place and move immediately.
  4. Encourage customers to pay faster. A payment acceleration plan can boost cash flow immediately. Initiate customer discounts or a rewards plan to encourage swift payment of receivables. Consider offering discounts to liquidate excess inventory. An example of companies that do this are discount wireless providers, who offer customers “shrinking payment” discounts for consistent early or on-time payments. Utility companies often allow lower payments for customers who pay early. Some businesses enter customers into contests for monthly cash or gift card giveaways for on-time payments. There’s no reason your business can’t apply a similar model that works for you.
  5. Keep your reorganization options open. Sometimes, cash flow issues unveil deeper problems in your business, and a reorganization becomes necessary. Perhaps no one is accountable for business performance. Maybe your structure drives up payroll costs even when revenue generation is at a standstill. It may be best to bring in outside management with experience in your industry to allow them to evaluate cost structure versus incoming cash.

For more information about averting a financial crisis, visit

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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in African American News


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Majority of Americans still in the dark about incandescent light bulb phase-out


Yannick LeJacqNBC News
IMAGE: Incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs. (John Brecher / NBCNews)
John Brecher /
From left: Incandescent tungsten, compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs.

The Jan. 1 deadline to end production of 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs is fast approaching, but most Americans aren’t even aware that their traditional light sources will soon become a rare commodity, according to one consumer survey.

Lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania recently released its sixth annual “Sylvania Socket Survey,” which found that only 4 in 10 consumers were aware that 60- and 40-watt light bulbs are being phased out in 2014 as production ends.

Sixty-four percent of participants were aware that a general elimination of incandescent light bulbs was taking place, however, which represents a sharp increase from recent years. In Osram Sylvania’s 2012 survey, only 52 percent of participants were aware of any phase-out. In 2008 — just a year after then-President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) into law, mandating that low-efficiency light bulbs be gradually removed from production — only 21 percent of people surveyed knew of the oncoming shift in how you light up your house. 

The government began phasing out 100- and 75-watt light bulbs in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The elimination of 60- and 40-watt bulbs will have a much greater impact on U.S. consumers because they are the two most popular bulbs on the market, according to the electronics industry research firm IMS Research.

Lights out?
With a major shift on the horizon, some Americans are doing their best to take stock of the situation. It’s still perfectly legal to buy incandescent light bulbs as long as supplies last — companies just can’t import or manufacture any new ones. Osram Sylvania’s survey found that 30 percent of those who are aware of the phase-out are planning to stockpile the leftover light bulbs.

Others have already begun to seek out alternatives, however. Noah Horowitz, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency for the Natural Resource Defense Council, identified “three major types of bulbs to choose from” in a recent blog post: more-efficient incandescent bulbs (also referred to as halogen incandescents), light-emitting diodes (otherwise known as LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

Osram Sylvania’s survey found that 46 percent of respondents are planning to switch to CFLs, while 24 percent prefer LEDs. Thirteen percent hope to use new and improved incandescents.

The 60- and 40-watt light bulbs are being discontinued because they fail to meet standards set forth in EISA. That legislation set a timetable that requires all screw-in light bulbs to use 25 percent less power by 2014 and 65 percent less by 2020. 

While the phase-out may take some getting used to, energy experts expect that the transition to alternatives like LEDs and CFLs will wind up saving many of us a significant amount of time and money. Incandescent models like the ones that are about to be phased out may seem cheap, but they waste about 90 percent of their energy producing heat rather than light. More efficient alternatives like LED lights can turn as much as 60 percent of their energy into light. Horowitz thus predicts that a successful transition away from incandescent light bulbs could save Americans as much as $13 billion annually on electricity bills.

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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in African American News


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10 Hotel Secrets from Behind the Front Desk


By Jacob Tomsky

Jacob has worked on the front lines of hotels for more than a decade, starting as a lowly valet in New Orleans and ultimately landing at a front desk in New York City. He’s also the author ofHeads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality and a man with some hospitality secrets to spill.


The fact that a hotel could fail to be profitable astounds me. Why? The average cost to turn over a room, to keep it operational per day, is between $30 and $40. If you’re paying less than $30 dollars a night at a hotel/motel, I’d wager the cost to flip that room runs close to $5. Which makes me want to take a shower. At home. That $40 turnover cost includes cleaning supplies, electricity, and hourly wages for housekeepers, minibar attendants, front desk agents, and all other employees needed to operate a room as well as the cost of laundering the sheets. Everything. Compare that with an average room rate, and you can see why it’s a profitable business.


The term “walking a guest” sends shivers down any manager’s spine. Since the average no-show rate is 10 percent daily, hotels will overbook whenever possible. The sales and reservations departments are encouraged to book the property to 110 percent capacity, in the hopes that with cancellations and no-shows they will fill every room. What happens when the numbers game doesn’t play in the hotel’s favor? Someone gets walked. The hotel will now pay for the entire night’s room and tax (plus one phone call—how cute is that?) at another comparable hotel in the area.

A guest is more likely to get walked if:
1. He booked using Expedia, hence he has a deeply discounted rate and is less important.
2. He never stayed here before and may never visit the city again.
3. He’s a one-nighter.
4. And this one is so much more important than all the others: He is acting like a jerk.


Though most complaints should be delivered to the front desk directly, in person or on the phone, keep in mind that most issues will not have been caused by the front desk at all. So briefly outline your problem, offer a solution if you have one, and then ask whom you should speak with to have the problem solved. “Should I speak to a manager about this?” “Should I speak to housekeeping about this?” Those are wonderful and beautiful questions to ask. Most of the time, the front desk will be able to solve the problem immediately or at least act as proxy.

Want to make sure that the agent doesn’t nod, say “certainly,” and not do a damn thing? Get his or her name. Nothing tightens up an employee’s throat like being directly identified. You don’t have to threaten him or her either, just a nice casual “Thanks for your help. I’ll stop by later to make sure everything has been taken care of. Tommy, right?” Whatever you asked me to do I am doing it. (Will screaming get you what you want? Well, probably. But it’s not nearly as effective.)


To put on a pillowcase, the housekeepers throw a solid karate chop right down the middle of the pillow and then shove it in, folded like a bun. This method is preferred to the civilian method of tucking it under your chin and pulling up the pillowcase like a pair of pants because these ladies have no interest in letting 50 pillows a day come into contact with their faces.


You know what cleans the hell out of a mirror, and I’m talking no streaks? Windex? No. Furniture polish. Spray on a thick white base, rub it in, and you’ll be face-to-face with a spotless, streak-free mirror. However, I am not recommending you take this tip and apply it in your own home. Though using furniture polish is quick and effective, over time it causes a waxy buildup that requires a deep scrub.

The housekeepers kept this move behind closed doors along with another dirty secret I didn’t discover until I walked in on ladies with Pledge in one hand and a minibar glass in the other. Keeping those glasses clean-looking was also part of the job. So the next time you put a little tap water into the glass and wonder why it has a pleasant lemon aftertaste, it’s because you just took a shot of Pledge.


Minibars. Most people are appalled at the prices. However, you never have to pay for the items in the minibar. Why not? Minibar charges are, without question, the most disputed charges on any bill. That is because the process for applying those charges is horribly inexact. Keystroke errors, delays in restocking, double stocking, and hundreds of other missteps make minibar charges the most voided item. Even before guests can manage to get through half of the “I never had those items” sentence, I have already removed the charges and am now simply waiting for them to wrap up the overly zealous denial so we can both move on with our lives.


Reservations made through Internet discount sites are almost always slated for our worst rooms. Does this seem unfair? First of all, we earn the slimmest profit from these reservations. And honestly, those guests didn’t really choose our property based on quality; they chose based on value. We were at the top of a list sorted by price. But the guest behind them in line, the one with a heavy $500 rate, she selected this hotel. When she comes to New York, she goes to our website to see what’s available. Since we have no reason to assume Internet guests will ever book with us again, unless our discount is presented to them, it truly makes business sense to save our best rooms for guests who book of their own volition.


Bernard Sadow: the man all bellmen hate, though they’ve never heard his name. In 1970, he invented the wheeled suitcase, the bane of the bellman’s existence. Before that, the bellman was a necessity, a provider of ease and comfort, a useful member of society. When Sadow sold his first prototype to Macy’s in October 1970, he instigated a catastrophic change in the hospitality environment, causing the once noble species to retreat, rethink, and reemerge as a hustler fighting for survival. Sadow might as well have invented the phrase no bellman wants to hear, the phrase that leaves bills unpaid and ruins Christmas: “No, thanks, I got it.” Or that surprisingly prevalent and ignorant phrase: “I don’t want to bother him.” Don’t want to bother him? The man has a family. No one is being bothered here!


Any arriving guest should receive what are referred to as initial keys, which are programmed to reset the door lock when they are first inserted, deactivating all previous keys. Not until the keys expire or a new initial key enters the lock will the keys fail to work. With a “key bomb,” I cut one single initial key and then start over and cut a second initial key. Either one of them will work when you get to the room, and as long as you keep using the very first key you slipped in, all will be well.

But chances are you’ll pop in the second key at some point, and then the first key you used will be considered invalid. Trace that back to me? Not a chance. Trace that back to the fact that you told your 9-year-old daughter to shut her mouth while harshly ripping off her tiny backpack at check-in? Never.


Here is one of the top lies that come out of a front desk agent’s mouth: “All the rooms are basically the same, sir.”

Bull. There is always a corner room, a room with a bigger flat screen, a room that, because of the building’s layout, has a larger bath with two sinks, a room that fits two roll-aways with ease, a room that, though listed as standard, actually has a partial view of the Hudson River. There is always a better room, and when I feel that 20 you slipped me burning in my pocket, I will find it for you. And if there is nothing to be done room-wise, I have a slew of other options: late checkout, free movies, free minibar, room service amenities, and more. I will do whatever it takes to deserve the tip and then a little bit more in the hope that you’ll hit me again.

Some people feel nervous about this move. Please don’t. We are authorized to upgrade for special occasions. The special occasion occurring now is that I have a solid 20. That’s special enough for me!

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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in African American News




Merry Christmas

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Posted by on December 25, 2013 in African American News


9 Odd and Awesome 2014 Calendars


You have to have a great calendar on your wall that will keep your interest every month through the year 2014. Try something new and different with one of these strange and wonderful offerings. We’ll start with some calendars we’ve never featured before.


The NYC Taxi Drivers 2014 Beefcake Calendar takes liberties with what most of us would consider “beefcake.” It features real taxi drivers in their everyday work lives. They volunteered their time and images because the calendar will benefit University Settlement, an organization that provides a range of services to lift New York City families out of poverty.



Artists and photographers can put anything on a calendar, but it’s funnier when you try to fit something completely unsexy into the classic idea of a pinup calendar. Erika Deoudes illustrated your favorite movie monsters and aliens in classic pinup poses for her Calendar of Sexy Monsters. The calendars are available in various formats at her Etsy store, where you can also get individual monster prints.



When you think of famous fathers, Darth Vader should come to mind. Yeah, we make enough Fathers Day jokes about it every year. But you can have that fuzzy warm feeling about the Sith Lord all year long with the Darth Vader and Son 2014 Wall Calendar! This calendar is from Jeffrey Brown, the author of the book Darth Vader and Son, about the fantasy interactions between Vader and young Luke.



The Warwick University Rowing Club (of the University of Warwick in England) has sold a calendar for every year since 2009, featuring their athletes in the altogether. Yes, they are nude, with tastefully-placed hands, accessories, or tall grass. Proceeds go to support the school’s boating sports. And starting last year, the calendar is used in connection with Sports Allies, an organization fighting homophobia and bullying. The picture shown here is heavily cropped from the original. See more pictures at Buzzfeed (NSFW).

Oh yes, Warwick has a women’s rowing team, too, and they are selling a nude calendar as well. They use a lot of oars as props.



An art group from Barcelona called Meet the Pugs pulled off a strange stunt by sellingcalendars on Kickstarter featuring Kanye West, his 12 most memorable quotes (for example: “My greatest pain in life is that I’ll never be able to see myself perform live”), and pugs. The pug dogs were Photoshopped onto images of Kanye for each month. This unique calendar is now sold out, but you can see images at the Kickstarter page. The video on that page contains NSFW language. Some of the funders received multiple copies of the calendar, so they may be marketed elsewhere as limited edition collector’s items. Meet the Pugs also hasart prints from the project for sale.



Yoga Trail invited their readers to submit photos for the 2014 Yoga Dudes Calendar, and got 800 submissions! Those were winnowed down to twelve that were published in a calendar that will benefit the Movember Foundation. You can see all 12 dudes at Yoga Trail. Only one of them is completely nude.



Artist Christina Hess illustrates historical figures as if they were cats and dogs! She published her Animals from History in an ebook, and has a calendar for 2014 featuring 13 of her illustrations. You can get it through her Etsy store for a mere $6.



Artist Noa Bembibre has been producing a limited-edition art calendar since 2005, different every year, but based on a continuing idea. Each month features a sentence or phrase in which the name of the month is hidden. See examples from previous years. The name of this project is a phrase that contains the word “calendar.” Order your 2014 calendar here. Oh, you can also order cards and prints with custom names and phrases done this way!



Get ready to have your typical image of a librarian changed forever. The Rhode Island Library Association printed a calendar titled Tattooed Librarians of the Ocean State 2014. You might be surprised at the kind of ink these librarians selected! Sales of the calendars will benefit the Rhode Island Library Association. Sadly, the limited edition run of calendars has sold out, but you can see the images at Huffington Post.

And here are some links for 2014 editions of calendars that we’ve featured in previous years.

12 Months of a Dead Ken

Guinea Pig Games

The Roadkill Calendar

Heavy Equipment Calendar

The Hooters Owl Calendar

Toilets Around the World

Goats in Trees

Surf Dogs

Extraordinary Chickens

Passive-Aggressive Notes

Hot Guys and Baby Animals

Roman Priest Calendar

December 17, 2013 – 2:41pm

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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in African American News




“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.”

―Gordon B. Hinckley


1.  Other people’s judgments.

It’s OK to listen to others, but not at the full expense of your own intuition.  Throughout your life there will be many times when the world gets real quiet and the only thing left is the beat of your own heart.  So you’d better learn the sound of it, otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s telling you.

When you spend too much time concentrating on everyone else’s perception of you, or who everyone else wants you to be, you eventually forget who you truly are.  So don’t fear the judgments of others; you know in your heart who you are and what’s true to you.  You don’t have to be someone else to impress and inspire people.  Let them be impressed and inspired by the real YOU.  Honestly, what does life matter if you lose yourself along the way?  Even your mentors should teach you HOW to think, not WHAT to think.  So if someone – anyone – is belittling your truth, it might be time to turn the other way.



2.  Old troubles from the past.

You can’t change what has already happened, so choose to look ahead instead of behind you.  Don’t stress.  Do your best.  Forget the rest.  Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you.  Life is a beautiful circle.  You’re strong because you know your weaknesses.  You’re wise because you’ve been foolish.  You can laugh now because you’ve known sadness.

It’s crazy how you always end up where you’re meant to be – how even the most tragic and stressful situations eventually teach you important lessons that you never dreamed you were going to learn.  Remember, oftentimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.  Just because you’re not where you want to be today doesn’t mean you won’t be there someday.  Everything is going to be come together – maybe not today, but eventually.



3.  Each day’s little frustrations.

A bad day is just a bad day.  It comes and it goes.  Choose not to make it anything more.  You will find that it’s necessary to let some things go simply for the reason that they’re heavy on your heart and soul.  Go ahead and let go of them.  Don’t clamp shackles to your own ankles.  It’s incredibly easy to enjoy more of your life right now, no matter what the situation.  It’s just a matter of dropping of the layers of nonsense that are weighing you down.

Behind every beautiful day, there has been some kind of struggle.  You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live, you learn.  You’re human, not perfect.  You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive.  Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive today – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to chase the things you love.  Sometimes there is sadness in your journey, but there is also lots of beauty.  You must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when it hurts, for you will never know what is waiting for you just around the bend.

Follow this daily to-do list and you’ll be just fine:

  1. Think positively.
  2. Eat healthy.
  3. Exercise today.
  4. Worry less.
  5. Work hard.
  6. Laugh often.
  7. Sleep well.




4.  The necessary pain of hard work and growth.

There are two types of pain in life: pain that hurts you, and pain that changes you.  But when you learn from it, they are one and the same.  If you want something, you must endure the pain of working for it.  It’s that simple.  If you’re not where you want to be right now, take the time to visualize yourself in the place you want to be and take the first step in that direction.  You may not be able to change your destination in a day, but you can change your direction right now.

Remember, strength doesn’t come from what you can do.  It comes from overcoming the things you couldn’t.  Tough situations build strong, successful people.  No matter how much it hurts now, you have to hold your head up, grit your teeth, and keep going.  In the end, consistent action speaks for itself.  So focus diligently, work hard in silence, and let your success be your noise.



5.  Insignificant busywork.

In the beginning, you need to say “yes” to a lot of things to discover and establish your goals.  Later on, you need to say “no” to a lot of things and concentrate on your goals.  Stop over-committing and trying to do too much at once.  Start saying “no” more often.  If you never say “no,” you will take on too much and all you will achieve is stress and frustration.

As Bruce Lee once said, “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease.  Hack away at the inessentials.”  Many of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.  Don’t be one of them.  It’s not what we claim are our priorities, but how we spend our time each day that reveals the truth.  Let your daily actions reflect your highest priorities.



6.  Impatient thoughts.

Patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.  It’s the willingness to stay focused, confidently staking one small step at a time, knowing that the way you move a mountain is by moving one stone at a time.  Every stone you move, no matter how small, is progress.

Whether you are working on improving your health, learning a new skill, or getting a business venture off the ground, you can’t expect instant gratification.  Instead, you must dedicate yourself to the best of your ability and understand that real change takes time.  Sometimes it may be hard to see your progress.  Sometimes it will be frustrating when the results you seek don’t appear as quickly as you had hoped.  Still, you are advancing.  Hang in there.  You may be moving things along slowly, but you are still moving a mountain.



7.  The things that can’t be controlled.

Never force anything.  Do your best, then let it be.  If it’s meant to be, it will be.  Don’t hold yourself down with things you can’t control.  Stop talking about the problem and start thinking about the solution.  Forget what could go wrong for a sec and think of what is already right.

Remember, change happens for a reason.  Roll with it.  It won’t be ideal or easy at first, but it will be worth it in the end.  When times are good and everything is comfortably in order, it’s easy to become complacent and forget how skillful and resourceful you are capable of being.  Unanticipated troubles are necessary evils that push you forward, because they eventually end, but the lessons and growth you gain from them last a lifetime.



8.  Unfounded fears.

Life is about overcoming fear and taking risks.  If you don’t take risks, you won’t know what you’re capable of.  If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.  Truth be told, nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to expand your comfort zone so you can experience things and understand more… so that you may fear less in the long run.

The reality, of course, is we all get afraid sometimes.  It’s not about not being afraid, but what you do when you feel that way.  When you feel doubt, or fear, or anxiety, or frustration, know that you can let it go just as surely as you can pull your hand away from a flame.  Keep your mind focused on the goodness, on the possibilities and on your most treasured goals.  What begins in your mind ends up in your life.  Think continually of the way you would like to be, let these thoughts drive your actions, and your reality will reliably catch up with your thinking.



9.  The mind’s endless stream of doubts.

Believe in yourself through tough times.  Believe in your capacity to succeed.  Believe that your relationships are worth the effort.  Believe that people make mistakes on their way to greatness.  Believe that people can be foolish and intelligent, selfish and generous, and stressed and happy all at once.  Believe that very few people hurt others on purpose.  Believe that there are many roads to what’s right.  Believe in your intuition, especially when you have to choose between two good paths.  Believe that the answers are out there waiting.  Believe that life will surprise you again and again.  Believe that the journey is the destination.  Believe that it’s all worth your while.

Or as Roald Dahl once said, “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”


The floor is yours…

Which of the points above have you struggled with?  What else do we all need to ignore more often?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with us.

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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in African American News



The Origins of 10 Nicknames



The name Richard is very old and was popular during the Middle Ages. In the 12th and 13th centuries everything was written by hand and Richard nicknames like Rich and Rick were common just to save time. Rhyming nicknames were also common and eventually Rick gave way to Dick and Hick, while Rich became Hitch. Dick, of course, is the only rhyming nickname that stuck over time. And boy did it stick. At one point in England, the name Dick was so popular that the phrase “every Tom, Dick, or Harry” was used to describe Everyman.


There are many theories on why Bill became a nickname for William; the most obvious is that it was part of the Middle Ages trend of letter swapping. Much how Dick is a rhyming nickname for Rick, the same is true of Bill and Will. Because hard consonants are easier to pronounce than soft ones, some believe Will morphed into Bill for phonetic reasons. Interestingly, when William III ruled over in England in the late 17th century, his subjects mockingly referred to him as “King Billy.”


The name Henry dates back to medieval England. (Curiously, at that time, Hank was a diminutive for John.) So how do we get Hank from Henry? Well, one theory says that Hendrick is the Dutch form of the English name Henry. Henk is the diminutive form of Hendrick, ergo, Hank from Henk. Hanks were hugely popular here in the States for many decades, though by the early 90s it no longer appeared in the top 1,000 names for baby boys. But Hank is making a comeback! In 2010, it cracked the top 1,000, settling at 806. By 2012 it was up to 685.


The name Jack dates back to about 1,200 and was originally used as a generic name for peasants. Over time, Jack worked his way into words such as lumberjack and steeplejack. Even jackass, the commonly used term for a donkey, retains its generic essence in the word Jack. Of course, John was once used as a generic name for English commoners and peasants, (John Doe) which could be why Jack came became his nickname. But the more likely explanation is that Normans added -kin when they wanted to make a diminutive. And Jen was their way of saying John. So little John became Jenkin and time turned that into Jakin, which ultimately became Jack


“Dear Chuck” was an English term of endearment and Shakespeare, in Macbeth, used the phrase to refer to Lady Macbeth. What’s this have to do with Charles? Not much, but it’s interesting. However, Charles in Middle English was Chukken and that’s probably where the nickname was born.


The name Margaret has a variety of different nicknames. Some are obvious, as in Meg, Mog and Maggie, while others are downright strange, like Daisy. But it’s the Mog/Meg we want to concentrate on here as those nicknames later morphed into the rhymed forms Pog(gy) and Peg(gy).


The name Ted is yet another result of the Old English tradition of letter swapping. Since there were a limited number of first names in the Middle Ages, letter swapping allowed people to differentiate between people with the same name. It was common to replace the first letter of a name that began with a vowel, as in Edward, with an easier to pronounce consonant, such as T. Of course, Ted was already a popular nickname for Theodore, which makes it one of the only nicknames derived from two different first names. Can you name the others?


Since Medieval times, Harry has been a consistently popular nickname for boys named Henry in England. Henry was also very popular among British monarchs, most of whom preferred to be called Harry by their subjects. This is a tradition that continues today as Prince Henry of Wales , as he was Christened, goes by Prince Harry. Of course, Harry is now used as a given name for boys. In 2006, it was the 593rd most popular name for boys in the United States. One reason for its upsurge in popularity is the huge success of those amazing Harry Potter books.


There are no definitive theories on how Jim became the commonly used nickname for James, but the name dates back to at least the 1820s. For decades, Jims were pretty unpopular due to the “Jim Crow Law,” which was attributed to an early 19th century song and dance called “Jump Jim Crow,” performed by white actors in blackface. The name “Jim Crow” soon became associated with African Americans and by 1904, Jim Crow aimed to promote segregation in the South. Jim has since shed its racial past, and is once again a popular first name for boys all by itself, sans James.


Sally was primarily used as a nickname for Sarah in England and France. Like some English nicknames, Sally was derived by replacing the R in Sarah with an L. Same is true for Molly, a common nickname for Mary. Though Sally from the Peanuts never ages, the name itself does and has declined in popularity in recent years. Today, most girls prefer the original Hebrew name Sarah.

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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in African American News





There are grant and loan programs to help ex-offenders get a fresh start.

Everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes are more detrimental than others.

Though more than 650,000 inmates are released back into society per year to get their life back on track, convicted felons often have a hard time making that transition back into civilian life. With everyday civilians struggling to land jobs, it can seem next-to-impossible for ex-convicts to be hired anywhere, which is why many are forced to start their own businesses.

Fortunately, felons have the opportunity to apply for government grant and loan programs. We’ve gathered a list of the best grant and loan programs that could lead former incarcerated men and women to success after serving time. 

-The Prison Entrepreneurship Program was founded in Houston, TX in 2004 with a mission to help diligent felons pursue entrepreneurship. Since then, other similar programs have popped up around the country. While they don’t provide direct capital, they do teach felons how to work with investors, as well as connect them with MBAs, executives, and politicians for needed assistance. 

-Head over to for a slew of possible business grants available specifically for felons. The database is filled with different opportunities based on your needs and background. 

-An option for those seeking a return to education is called College Now. The Adult Learner Program provides scholarships and assistance for students who pursue a non-degree certificate or license in a vocational or technical field, as well as associate or bachelor’s degree. 

-Another excellent education opportunity is The Charles W. Colson Scholarship. Established back in 1988, this provides assistance specifically for ex-offenders. Awards are given based on needs, and they are commonly matched with other funding, too– including that of grants– for a Wheaton College education. 

-The Pell grant is an educational alternative tool for felons. In order to be assessed, one must fill out the FAFSA before receiving this grant, which is based on a combination of income and assets.

-The Justice Program established the re-entry program in the United States in 2009. This is a National Re-entry Resource Center option with funds designed to provide felons with assistance. Grants for ex-convicts are distributed to qualifying applicants through organizations like correctional institutions, non-profits, and religious organizations. The funds help the felons with job placement, vocational training programs, temporary housing, and mentoring opportunities. 

It is important to also note the misconception that ex-offenders are ineligible for any and all financial aid. Many think such is truth, and so they don’t even try to apply. 

These programs help ex-offenders hold onto hope for the future despite the costly mistakes they have made in the past. While it is not easy, it certainly is possible.

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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in African American News


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6 Things Debt Collectors Can and Can’t Do

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau includes debt-collection guidelines in annual report.

  1. A debt collector must identify himself. During all communications, collectors must state they are debt collectors and any information they collect could be used to recover the debt.
  2. A debt collector may not harass you. For example, a debt collector may not use profanity or abusive language.
  3. A debt collector may not make false threats. A debt collector is barred from making threats about what will happen to you if you don’t pay up unless he or she has the legal authority and intent to proceed with the action. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission recently shut down a collection agency that lied to customers and told some of them they would have their children taken away if they failed to pay their debts. If you receive a threat like this, report it immediately.
  4. A debt collector cannot request an amount that is different from what is legally required. For example, a debt collector cannot lie about or misrepresent the amount you owe. The CFPB noted that many consumers had complained about attempts to collect a debt that had been discharged in bankruptcy.
  5. A debt collector cannot request an amount that is not clearly authorized by your debt agreement.The CFPB says consumers should beware of a collector requesting interest, fees, or expenses that were not owed, such as unauthorized collection fees.
  6. You must receive written notice of your debt. Debt collectors are required to send a notice of your debt amount as well as the name of the creditor who is owed the debt. They must also state they will obtain verification of your debt and mail it to you if you happen to dispute the debt in writing within 30 days of receiving the notice.

Now that you know what is and is not acceptable behavior for debt collectors, make sure to take action if a collector violates your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

For more consumer tips, check out @sheiresango on Twitter.

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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in African American News


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The Dirty Secret of Black Friday ‘Discounts’

How Retailers Concoct ‘Bargains’ for the Holidays and Beyond



With Black Friday approaching, we explain how retail discounts generally aren’t discounts at all — they are priced into it from the beginning. Suzanne Kapner reports on the News Hub. Photo: Getty Images.

When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won’t just be going to the mall, they’ll be witnessing retail theater.

Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion.

The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don’t sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn’t typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want.

The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40% off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in.

Buyers don’t seem to mind. What they are after, especially in such a lackluster economy, is the feeling they got a deal. Retailers like J.C. Penney Co. JCP +2.34%who try to get out of the game get punished.

“I don’t even get excited unless it’s 40% off,” said Lourdes Torress, a 44-year-old technical designer, as she browsed the sale racks at Macy’s Inc.’s flagship store in New York on a recent afternoon.

The manufactured nature of most discounts raises questions about the wisdom of standing in line for the promotional frenzy that kicks off the holiday shopping season. It also explains how retailers have been able to ramp up the bargains without giving away the store.

The number of deals offered by 31 major department store and apparel retailers increased 63% between 2009 to 2012, and the average discount jumped to 36% from 25%, according to, a website that tracks online coupons.

Over the same period, the gross margins of the same retailers—the difference between what they paid for goods and the price at which they sold them—were flat at 27.9%, according to FactSet. The holidays barely made a dent, with margins dipping to 27.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 28% in the third quarter of that year.

Customer discounts are way up. But retailers’ profit margins are flat. Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal

“A lot of the discount is already priced into the product. That’s why you see much more stable margins,” said Liz Dunn, an analyst with Macquarie Equities Research.

Retailers including Best Buy Co.BBY 0.00% , Wal-Mart Stores Inc.WMT 0.00% and Macy’s are warning this will be an unusually competitive holiday season and that all the deals could hurt margins. That can happen when chains have to fight hard for sales or get stuck with excess inventory and have to take heavier-than-planned markdowns. Stores also field loss leaders, true bargains that pinch profits but are aimed at getting customers into their stores. Most deals, however, are planned to be profitable by setting list prices well above where goods are actually expected to sell.

Retailers could run into legal trouble if they never try to sell goods at their starting price. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with the practice. Companies can be pretty frank about how things work.

Penney, which made a disastrous attempt to move away from discounts under formerApple Inc. AAPL +1.58% executive Ron Johnson, is again playing the standard discount game under new CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman. But first it has to adjust its prices.

“We must and will compete to win,” Mr. Ullman said last week on a conference call with analysts. “That means initially marking up our goods to sufficient levels to protect our margins when the discount or sale is applied.”

Here’s how it works, according to one industry consultant describing an actual sweater sold at a major retailer. A supplier sells the sweater to a retailer for roughly $14.50. The suggested retail price is $50, which gives the retailer a roughly 70% markup. A few sweaters sell at that price, but more sell at the first markdown of $44.99, and the bulk sell at the final discount price of $21.99. That produces an average unit retail price of $28 and gives the store about a 45% gross margin on the product.

Retailers didn’t always price this way. It used to be that most items were sold at full price, with a limited number of sales to clear unsold inventory. That began to change in the 1970s and 1980s, when a rash of store openings intensified competition and forced retailers to look for new ways to stand out.

Most deals are planned to be profitable by setting list prices high. Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal

Enter high-low pricing, a strategy designed to create excitement and lure shoppers by dropping prices for occasional sales. Initially, retailers practiced this strategy with restraint. At Mervyn’s, a department-store chain that has since gone out of business, discounted items couldn’t exceed 30% of total sales, said Mark Cohen, a professor at the Columbia Business School who worked at the company and has held other retail posts including CEO of Sears Canada Inc.SCC.T -0.05%

But the floodgates have opened. In a 2012 presentation, Mr. Johnson, then still Penney’s CEO, said the company was selling fewer than one out of every 500 items at full price. Customers were receiving an average discount of 60%, up from 38% a decade earlier. The twist is they weren’t saving more. In fact, the average price paid by customers stayed about the same over that period. What changed was the initial price, which increased by 33%.

“The silliness of it all is that the original price from which the discount is computed is often specious to begin with, because items hardly ever sell at that price, which makes the discount less legitimate,” Columbia’s Mr. Cohen said.

Can’t wait until after Thanksgiving dinner to find all the great shopping deals on offer? MarketWatch’s Jim Jelter shares the best tips and apps for scouting out the sales.

The rise of e-commerce has made it possible to track pricing on the Web and see how much time products spend at their list prices. Inc. AMZN +1.05%is featuring a Samsung 005930.SE +0.96%60-inch HDTV in its 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. The TV is selling at a 45% discount to its list price of $1,799.99. But, according to, a price-tracking firm owned by eBay Inc., the TV hasn’t sold for anywhere near the list price in months. The most it has sold for in the past eight months is $1,297.85, according to As recently as October, it was priced at $997.99, about the same as its current sale price.

An Amazon spokeswoman said that “showing the most ‘recent’ price can be somewhat arbitrary and could be confusing to our customers,” since the retailer changes prices so frequently in an effort to provide the best deals.

Another tactic involves raising selling prices ahead of the holidays before the discounts kick in. In an analysis for The Wall Street Journal, price-tracking firm Market Track LLC looked at the online price fluctuations of 1,743 products in November 2012. Prices climbed an average of 8% in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving for 366, or about a fifth, of the products; the items were then discounted on Black Friday. Toys and tools had the biggest pre-Black Friday price increases—about 23%.

Mr. Johnson lost his job after he abandoned the discount system abruptly in favor of everyday low prices and sales plunged. But retail executives said he hit on an important insight, that prices had lost their integrity.

Retailers are supposed to offer items at regular prices “for a reasonably substantial period of time” before marking them down, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Cynthia Spann is suing Penney over what she says are phantom discounts. She bought three blouses at 40% off the regular price of $30 in March 2011, according to her complaint. But instead of $30, the prevailing price for the blouses in the three months preceding her purchase was $17.99—exactly the same as the sale price she paid, the lawsuit alleges. Ms. Spann said in the complaint that she wouldn’t have bought the blouses if she had known the discount wasn’t real.

Through her lawyer, Ms. Spann declined to be interviewed.

A spokeswoman for Penney declined to comment on the litigation, but said the retailer’s policy is to sell all items at their original price for a reasonable period of time before putting them on sale.

Similar cases are pending against Kohl’s Corp. and Jos A. Bank Clothiers Inc. A Kohl’s spokeswoman didn’t reply to requests for comment. In its most recent quarterly filing, the company said the legal proceedings it faces likely won’t have a material effect. A Jos A. Bank spokesman declined to comment on the pending litigation or the company’s pricing strategy, but said two other lawsuits making similar claims were dismissed earlier this year.

Retailers, having trained customers to shop for deals, are stuck with the strategy for now. Macy’s tried to cut back on coupons in 2007.

“Customers stopped shopping,” said Chief Executive Terry Lundgren, “so we knew that was a bad idea.”

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in African American News



8 Foods You’ve Been Eating All Wrong


You think you know how to eat an apple, but you’re wrong. Last week, FoodBeast posted a video called “How to Eat an Apple Like a Boss” that went viral. The clip shows that rather than eating an apple from the outside in to the core—which wastes approximately 30 percent of the fruit—people should eat it from the top down. The core simply disappears, allowing for 100 percent consumption of the apple. And apples aren’t the only food you’re eating wrong. Here are eight others.



[Image via @OMGLifeHacks]

Drowning your pancakes in syrup is inefficient: The top pancake will be completely soggy, while the middle pancakes are totally dry. The solution: Carve a hole in the middle of your stack before pouring any syrup, which will then distribute more evenly through your pancakes.



[Image credit: Reddit user ChickenMcFail, via lifehacker]

If you’ve eaten a PB&J, you’ve also probably had a dollop of jelly seep out and land on your table or clothes. But there’s a better way to construct this staple sandwich that stops messy drips: Simply fence the jelly in with peanut butter. Spread as much peanut butter as your heart desires on two slices of bread, then create a taller border with peanut butter on both sides. On one slice, put the jelly in the hole that the border creates, then complete your sandwich.



[Image credit: JewelPie]

If you have a knife handy, opening oranges doesn’t have to be a hassle. Cut small slices off the top and bottom of the orange. Then, cut a slit in the side of the orange. The orange should unroll, leaving a nice row of slices.



[Image credit: Food Wishes]

This fruit is way less difficult to seed if you use a bowl of water. First, cut the fruit in half. Then, submerge the fruit in cold water and pull the fruit apart, releasing the seeds with minimal mess. The unwanted membrane, which holds the seeds, will even rise to the top of the water.



[Image credit: Thinkstock]

Never break a nail trying to open a sealed pistachio again—just use another pistachio shell toseparate the nut that’s hard to crack.



[Image credit: Katy Brown/Mommy Mishmash]

Think there’s no way to eat a cupcake without getting frosting on your nose? Think again. Get rid of that pesky wrapper, slice about half of the bottom off the cupcake, then make a frosting sandwich out of the two slices. With that delicious gob of frosting safely in between two pieces of cake, the odds of frosting all over your face will be minimized. A fork might also solve this problem, but it’s way less fun.



[Image credit: Curry and Comfort]

Hard-shell tacos tend to fall apart, leaving too many meat and cheese casualties. Butwrapping a tortilla around the taco will help. The food that would normally just fall will be caught by the protective tortilla. You can make this more binding with a layer of refried beans in between the tortilla and the taco shell.



[Image credit: Crazy Bananas]

Most people start peeling from the end with the longer stem. But if you peel from the bottom, it will be easier and the banana will contain less stringy pieces. This is also the way that monkeys open their bananas, so you know it’s right.


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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in African American News



NYC Outer Boro Taxi Finally Here

Remember this article? This is the color of the new outer-borough taxi well it’s finally here.


Displaying 20131126_081355.jpg

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in African American News


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11 things to know before visiting Hungary


By Robin Marshall, for CNN
There are more than a thousand hot springs in the country and 118 in the capital, Budapest, alone.There are more than a thousand hot springs in the country and 118 in the capital, Budapest, alone.
  • Hungary has one of the highest Nobel prize counts per capita
  • Paprika is of national importance
  • Here, goulash is a soup, not a stew
  • Per capita, the country has one of the highest tallies of Olympic medals across both winter and summer games

(CNN) – Slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Indiana, and with a slowly decreasing population of just under 10 million (1.7 million of whom live in the capital, Budapest), Hungary is a land in thrall to its history.

The horse is still revered here, Franz Liszt is huge and goulash is a soup not a stew.

You may find yourself overtaken in a revolving door, but you’ll be made to feel thoroughly welcome — as long as you don’t clink your beer glass.

1. It has Central Europe’s largest lake

At almost 80 kilometers (50 miles) long, and covering an area of almost 600-square-kilometers (230 square miles), Lake Balaton is so big it’s known as the “Magyar tenger” or the Hungarian Sea.

The lake is a favorite vacation destination for Hungarians — the southern shore, and especially the city of Siófok, is something of a party spot.

The annual Balaton Sound summer music festival is held in the nearby town of Zamárdi.

Families with kids prefer the relatively quiet northern side.

2. Swimsuits are necessities

Hungary has hot water to spare.

There are more than 1,000 natural springs in the country (and the world’s largest thermal lake at Hévíz, near Lake Balaton), with 118 in Budapest alone.

On the Pest side of the river in the capital, Széchenyi Thermal Baths(Állatkerti körút 9-11, 1146 Budapest; +36 1 363 3210) claims to be the biggest thermal bathing complex in Europe.

Another good Budapest bathing spot is the art nouveau Gellért Baths and Hotel (Kelenhegyi út 4, 1118 Budapest; +36 1 466 6166), at the foot of Gellért Hill.

3. Hungarians are smart; just ask the people at Nobel

For my next trick, I will now invent something else.
For my next trick, I will now invent something else.

The country has one of the highest rankings, per capita, for Nobel laureates, with 13 winners going back to their first, in 1905 (for physics), and the most recent, in 2004 (for chemistry).

Hungarians have also invented many things, from the biro ballpoint pen (named for inventor László Bíró) to computer science (János Neumann) to Rubik’s cube.

As minister of state for economic strategy Zoltán Cséfalvay recently said: “I am very proud to be able to say that everything was invented by a Hungarian.”

He was joking.

Sort of.

4. Franz Liszt is still huge

The composer is such a big deal here that, although he was born in what is now Austria, spoke German and French but no Hungarian and died in Germany, they renamed Budapest International Airport in his honor for the anniversary of his 200th birthday, in 2011.

The reason?

The village he was born in was Hungarian at the time, and he described himself as Hungarian.

Liszt Ferenc (in the Hungarian naming convention, the family name always goes first) also has a square named for him in Pest.

Surrounded by trendy cafes and restaurants, it’s extremely popular in summer.

5. The ‘little gate’ is a way of life

Forty years of communism left Hungarians expert at finding what they call “the little gate,” an alternative way in, a work around.

They’re reputed to be the only people who can enter a revolving door behind you and emerge ahead.

They also have an opinion on everything, so much so that it’s said if you have three Hungarians in a room, they’ll form four political parties.

6. Goulash isn’t what you think it is

It is ghoulash, but not as you know it.
It is ghoulash, but not as you know it.

The signature national dish is gulyás, which you probably know as goulash.

What’s served in Western restaurants, however, is usually a stew, while what you get in Hungary is a soup.

Everyone claims to have the best recipe, with an annual goulash festival held each September in Szolnok (120 kilometers southeast of the capital in central Hungary).

The version at one of Budapest’s best known restaurants, Gundel(Gundel Károly út 4, 1146 Budapest, next to Budapest Zoo entrance; +36 1 889 8100), will set you back HUF 3,800 ($17).

Around the corner, you can get a great bowl for HUF 1,900 atBagolyvár (Gundel Károly út 4, 1146 Budapest; +36 1 468 110; website in Hungarian), which is owned by Gundel but specializes in home-style cooking.

7. Hungarians are addicted to a red powder

There’s one element of Hungarian cuisine that’s present in every kitchen, from Grandma’s to that of the country’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, Costes (Ráday utca 4, 1092 Budapest; +36 1 219 0696): paprika.

The powdered pepper is used to spice up just about every dish — especially goulash.

It’s so important it was national news when spice and sauce maker Univer announced in late October that its paprika-based condiments would continue to be made from 100% Hungarian produce, despite a poor harvest.

8. Clinking beer glasses is frowned upon

Walk along Budapest’s answer to London’s Soho — the pedestrianized Ráday utca teeming with bars, restaurants and galleries in the center of Pest — and you’ll hear little clinking of beer glasses.

When the Hungarians lost the 1848-49 Revolution and War of Independence, Austrians executed 13 of the most senior Hungarian generals, and supposedly celebrated by drinking beer and clinking their mugs.

Hungarians vowed not to clink beer glasses for the next 150 years.

Although that period ended in 1999, the “ban” is still widely observed, especially among more elderly people.

It’s fine to clink wine and spirit glasses.

9. Tokaji is the Wine of Kings

Sweet ending to every meal.
Sweet ending to every meal.

Tokaji is so good that Louis XIV of France called it the “Wine of Kings, the King of Wine.”

If you want to take a bottle of the sweet dessert wine home you’ll find it in most wine shops – Bortársaság (Wine Society) has locations across Budapest and the country.

Tokaji is measured by its sweetness, shown by the number of “puttonyos.”

A good example of the topaz-colored wine is Tokaji Aszú — look for four puttonyos or more (the scale goes up to six).

The best Tokaji (also rarest and most expensive) is the Essencia style.

10. Hungarians are sports mad

Hungarians love sports and are extremely proud of the fact that, per capita, the country has one of the highest tallies of Olympic medals (482 across both winter and summer games).

They continue to do well at fencing, swimming, gymnastics and kayaking, but the men’s water polo team is exceptional — you’ll find Hungarians gathered around TVs everywhere when the latter are playing.

If you want to get a feel for the Hungarian love of sports (and beer),Champs Sport Pub (Dohány utca 20, 1074 Budapest; +36 1 413 1655), in Pest, is a good venue for watching sport among Hungarians. But be warned, it gets packed for big events.

11. Equestrian traditions are very much alive

The Hungarians rode into the Carpathian Basin — the central European territory they conquered — on horseback and have been in love with things equine ever since.

Their famed light cavalry gave English the word Hussar (from the Hungarian “Huszár”).

The current coach-driving world champions are the Lázár brothers, who hold regular horse shows at the Lázár Equestrian Park in Domonyvölgy (Fenyő utca 47, 2182 Domonyvölgy; +36 28 576-510), about 35 kilometers from Budapest.

There are plenty of other places throughout the country to take riding lessons or simply go for a hack.

A good choice is the Hilltop Riding Farm (Repülőtéri út 0117/ 15 hrsz, 2100 Gödöllő, Hungary; +36 30 636 8553), in the town of Gödöllő, outside Budapest.

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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in African American News



Second Richest Man In The World Donates $74M To End Ethnic Bias In DNA Research

Carlos Slim Helú

By Kimberly Gedeon

Carlos Slim Helú, the second-richest man in the world, has a bone to pick with biomedical research: Why are they only testing European populations? To break the add diversity, Slim is donating $74 million to promote human genome analysis on non-White subjects, Forbes reports.

A whopping 96 percent of DNA in biomedical studies, which are analyzed to find the genes that heighten risk for disease, are of European descent. Slim – a Mexican billionaire — was fed up with the “scientific racism,” as Forbes called it, and submitted the generous monetary gift to the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT. In total, Slim has contributed a total of $139 million to rectify the ethnic bias in DNA science.

“It’s like doing science with one eye closed. There are many discoveries that can only be made by studying non-European populations,”  said Dr. Eric Lander, president and director of the Broad Institute.

Overlooking non-White subjects for genomic research can cause serious setbacks to DNA discovery. For instance, African-American populations are often predisposed to cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Without the work from researchers at the University of North Carolina, which focused on Black DNA subjects, we wouldn’t know that “genetic variations exist between whites and blacks living in the U.S., leading to less efficient metabolism of glucose and predisposition to diabetes in the blacks,” according to NewsMedical.

Furthering research in diseases that plague non-European populations, Slim’s donations will go towards the SIGMA 2 project, which propels DNA testing for cancer, type II diabetes, and kidney disease.

With an initial donation of $65 million for the Broad Institute in 2010, Slim’s investment yielded fruitful results. ”First, it identified a genetic variant in Latin Americans that predisposes them to type 2 diabetes. (The variant is absent in Europeans.) The researchers also found new genetic drivers of breast cancer, lymphoma, head and neck cancer, among others,” Forbes said.

For four years, Carlos Slim was the richest man in the world — until Bill Gates regained his spot on top. According to figures from Oct. 29th, Gates has a net worth of $73.5 billion. Slim follows a close second with a net worth of $69.5 billion.

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in African American News


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How to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors

By Christopher Dawson and Jennifer Grubb, CNN
Residents line up to receive treatment and supplies at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines, on Monday, November 11. Troops and aid organizations have been battling blocked roads and devastating damage to deliver help to Filipinos struggling to survive the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history. <a href=''>See how you can help.</a>Residents line up to receive treatment and supplies at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines, on Monday, November 11. Troops and aid organizations have been battling blocked roads and devastating damage to deliver help to Filipinos struggling to survive the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history. See how you can help.
  • Relief organizations are accessing needs, but there are ways to help now
  • Typhoon Haiyan left utter devastation and thousands of casualties in the Philippines
  • Recovery will be long for victims of this deadly storm

(CNN) – The stories coming out of the Philippines are unimaginable. Rushing water and wind tearing children away from their parents’ arms. A death toll that may reach 10,000. A city of 200,000 in which no buildings appear to have survived intact.

One of the most intense typhoons on record, Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) left catastrophic destruction behind.

If you’re looking for someone missing in the Philippines, or if you have information about someone there, has launched the Typhoon Yolanda Person Finder. A Google crisis map has also been added to detail evacuation centers and areas designated for relief.

Charities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world are responding to this disaster. Many are detailed below with how they’re providing aid and how you can help them make a difference.

Emergency support

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has deployed rescue and relief teams to evaluate the damage in the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. You can donate to the Philippine Red Cross by selecting theSupertyphoon Yolanda campaign on their donation page. TheInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(IFRC) and Red Cross networks from around the world are supporting the Philippine Red Cross. Many have created specific funds for this disaster, including the American Red CrossCanadian Red Cross and the British Red Cross.

The Salvation Army is on the ground serving storm survivors, primarily with food, water and shelter. Emergency Disaster Service teams have been providing help since the typhoon hit, but are challenged by the lack of accessible roads to transport goods and medical supplies. The non-profit has set up a designated fund for Haiyan relief efforts, which you can access here. You can also make a donation by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is working with local authorities, the Filipino Jewish community and their global partners to assist in providing for survivors’ immediate needs. You can support their efforts online or by phone at 1-212-687-6200.

CARE‘s emergency response teams are coordinating with local partners in the Philippines to provide food, water, shelter and health care for those in need. Their teams in Vietnam are preparing for the potential need there as Typhoon Haiyan continues its devastation. You can support CARE’s efforts on their website, or by phone at 1-800-521-2273 within the United States or +1-404-681-2252 outside the U.S.

Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the U.S., is on the ground helping with water purification, shelter materials and essential living supplies. You can donate to the organization’s efforts online or you can call 1-877-435-7277. You can also type in your phone number on the website and a representative will call you back to take your donation.

Convoy of Hope‘s Global Disaster Response Team has shipping containers full of food and supplies on the way to the Philippines. The organization is preparing more supplies to be sent like canned goods, hygiene kits and water filtration units. You can visit Convoy of Hope’s website to donate funds to their efforts or call 1-417-823-8998.

Mercy Corps is preparing to deliver food, water, temporary shelter and other basic supplies to devastated areas throughout the Philippines. You can support the organization by donating through their websitePayPal, or by calling 1-888-747-7440.

Oxfam America aid teams are on the ground in northern Cebu, northern and eastern Samar and Leyte, in the Eastern Visayas region in the Philippines. They’re working to provide immediate access to water and sanitation materials. You can support this effort by donating online to their Typhoon Haiyan Relief and Recovery Fund, or by phone at 1-800-776-9326.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency‘s (ADRA) emergency response team is working in Manila and in the province of Bohol to provide food, emergency relief and medical aid to those in need. They have launched an emergency appeal that you can supportonline or by phone at 1-800-424-2372.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has dispatched an emergency team to Manila and launched a $10 million appeal in order to ensure immediate needs like safe water, hygiene and sanitation are met. If you would like to contribute to their efforts, clickhere.

Operation Blessing International (OBI) has deployed disaster relief teams in multiple locations following the massive devastation from Typhoon Haiyan. The organization is providing clean water and food, emergency shelter materials and medical assistance. To help the charity’s mission, you can make a contribution on their website.

Food and water

The World Food Programme was already providing emergency food assistance in the Philippines following the October earthquake. With these emergency food stocks stretched thin, they’re now mobilizing additional supplies and are flying in 40 tons of fortified biscuits in the coming days. Additional food supplies are needed. You can help these efforts by donating online or by calling 1-202-747-0722 domestically or +39-06-65131 for international calls.

Samaritan’s Purse has sent disaster relief specialists, including water and nutrition experts, to the Philippines to deliver immediate aid. They have launched the Philippines Emergency Relief fund for this disaster, which you can support online or by phone at 1-828-262-1980.

World Vision is responding in the Philippines by first providing emergency food and clean water. They will also work to create child-friendly spaces and help families rebuild from this disaster. They have launched a Philippines Disaster Response Fund that you can support online or by calling 1-888-511-6443.

Action Against Hunger is on the ground providing drinking water and survival kits containing buckets, soap and chlorine tablets. They’re also working to distribute sanitation equipment to prevent outbreaks of waterborne diseases. They’re requesting assistance and you can help by donating online or by calling 1-877-777-1420.


ShelterBox was already in the Philippines providing shelter after the 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on October 15. They are now expanding their operations to provide tents and essential equipment for families left homeless after Typhoon Haiyan. You can support their work in the Philippines either online or by calling 1-941-907-6036.

Habitat for Humanity is already providing help to 30,000 families with shelter repair kits to rebuild their damaged homes. You can support this work by donating from the Philippines to their Re-Build Philippines Fund or from the U.S. by contributing to their Disaster Response Fund. You can also make a donation by phone at 1-800-HABITAT.

Architecture for Humanity is mobilizing to assist with post-disaster reconstruction and the organization’s working with local architects to identify the most critical rebuilding needs. You can support their Super Typhoon Haiyan Response online, by calling 1-415-963-3511 or by texting REBUILD to 85944 to make a $10 donation from your mobile phone.

Medical assistance

Americares has an emergency shipment on the way to the Philippines with enough medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. You can support Americares with an online donation or by calling 1-800-486-4357.

International Medical Corps has pre-positioned medical supplies and their team is on the ground coordinating with their partners in the Philippines to distribute and provide medical aid. You can support their Typhoon Haiyan Emergency Response fund online or by calling 1-800-481-4462.

More than 1.5 tons of emergency medicine and medical supplies are en route to the Philippines from Direct Relief. The supplies include antibiotics, pain relievers, nutritional supplements, antifungal medications, wound dressings and chronic disease medicines. You can call in your donation by dialing 1-805-964-4767 or you can goonline to support the organization.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) have emergency teams in Cebu city with an additional 50 people including medical personnel, logisticians and psychologists arriving in the Philippines in the next few days. They’ll bring tents, supplies of drugs, medical equipment and material to purify water, as well as essential plastic sheeting, cooking items and hygiene kits. Teams will monitor possible outbreaks of infectious diseases. An additional cargo is being prepared due to leave later this week from Bordeaux with an inflatable hospital and medical material. You can make your donation by calling 1-212- 763-5779 or online.

Helping children

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is helping children and their families in the Philippines receive shelter, clean water, nutrition and vaccines. Their emergency response can be supported online or by calling 1-800-367-5437. You can also donate directly to UNICEF in the Philippines here.

Save the Children is offering disaster relief support for children in the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam after Typhoon Haiyan. The charity has pre-positioned relief material kits for children and families, which will include toiletries, household cleaning items, temporary school tents and learning materials. You can support their Philippines Annual Monsoon and Typhoon Children in Emergency Fund online. You can also donate by phone at 1-800-728-3843.

Emergency response teams from ChildFund Internationalprepositioned supplies, including emergency kits and tents, and made arrangements with local suppliers to access food and non-food relief supplies. The organization is also preparing to setup child- centered spaces where kids can feel safe. Donate to ChildFund online to help children cope and recover confidence after this disaster.

Teams from Plan are also on the ground responding to the needs of children and their families. Their priorities are vulnerable youngsters and communities in rural locations. You can support their appeal on their website.

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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in African American News


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Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Saving Promise founder L.Y. Marlow uses social media to teach prevention


Saving Promise founder L.Y. Marlow. (YouTube screen Capture)

by Danielle Kwateng

complex issue, domestic violence outcomes have not shifted much in recent years. President Clinton passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, which was created to provide legal, physical and emotional support to female victims of abuse. Still, almost two decades later, statistics show that one in three women have experienced, or will experience, intimate partner violence in their lifetime. A disproportionate number of these women are African-American.

Despite these odds, there are individuals rallying to improve protections for victims of domestic violence. During the month of October, L.Y. Marlow, the founder of Saving Promise, has asked people to pledge their allegiance to fighting domestic violence through her iPromise campaign. The first initiative of a three-to-five year plan, Marlow hopes her program will become a national call to action to eliminate this social ill. During the iPromise campaign, people have submitted stories and pledges to end domestic violence on the Saving Promise web site, and shared their pledges via social media.

We sat down with the advocate and domestic violence survivor to talk about the campaign and current legislation that aims to make domestic violence a thing of the past. After surviving generations of domestic violence in her family, Marlow’s goal is to make her personal fight political for the benefit of all.

theGrio: As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, can you share with us the end result of the iPromise campaign?

L.Y. Marlow: The response has been overwhelmingly positive for a number of reasons. We led this campaign with a positive empowering, message to show people that they can take action at a grassroots level through submitting their videos and letters. We also focused on partnering with a variety of organizations and in a matter of weeks we’ve gotten a couple commitments, one from American University. We’re launching iPromise on college campuses to reach a younger demographic and create a model for awareness.

What are signs women can look out for in men who may be abusive?

Does this person have a short temper, or treat you in a way that feels unnatural? Are they controlling? Most abusers are very controlling of your time, who you’re with, where you’re going. Do they isolate you from your friends and family? Do they make you feel responsible for their actions? These are some early warning signs that people can acknowledge and recognize. These questions can be applied to emotional, verbal and psychological abuse as well.

Coming from generations of domestic violence in your family, how much do you think nurture was involved in choosing to be with these men?

Research has found that young people or children who grow up in an abusive environment typically become a victim or perpetrator. That’s a fact. They’re 10 times more likely to become a victim or perpetrator because it’s a learned behavior. So the correlation is definitely there and it can become cyclical.

Will a physically abusive partner ever change?

Absolutely, I honestly believe that everyone should have an opportunity to change. The questions is: Are they ready? They need to be willing to take responsibility for their actions. Many times this is a hurdle because they’re in denial and can’t take responsibility for their behavior. Taking responsibility is also acknowledging that they need help. If they’re not willing to embrace the two requirements that will lead to change, then they can’t change.

With the introduction of social media, how has the landscape of domestic violence prevention changed? 

One of our strategies in terms of the prevention model is to embrace technology, particularly social media. We cannot look at this issue in old traditional ways. We have to meet people where they live, work and play. Social media is going to be a leading platform to form a more aggressive strategy to reach people. The students we’re working with said the number one way of leveraging a wider audience is through social media and they came back with suggested forms like Vimeo and Instagram. Almost 60 percent of students are on Instagram right now! So we’ve quickly instrumented these forms of social media into our strategic model.

Tell us your thoughts on the Violence Against Women Act. What are its strengths and its weaknesses?

I believe the Violence Against Women Act was historical legislation and put our country on the map, being the only legislative model at the time. Over the years, I think it’s done a great job of keeping domestic violence a priority in this country. However, when you look at the act… it’s just another hodge-podge of initiatives and programs — but we’re still behind the times. [During the last reauthorization]  I feel that there was an opportunity for us to really take a close look and see what needs to change, because it’s still a national crisis. We need to figure out what is not working, because the issue is getting worse. We need to look at this from a different angle and then we’ll be able to see some progress.

If you are interested in getting involved with Saving Promise, visit the Saving Promise web site.

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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in African American News




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