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Archive for June, 2011

Attorney General Madigan, Department of Revenue announce two new felony indictments in Gas Tax Fraud investigation

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Ongoing Enforcement Efforts Responsible for Recovery of $52 Million in Unpaid Sales Tax  

 

Chicago, IL ─ Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR) announced today the indictments of two additional Illinois gas station owners for sales tax fraud. To date, the ongoing investigation has resulted in charges against 13 gas station owners, operators and accountants and payment of more than $52 million in previously unpaid sales tax by gas station owners to the state of Illinois.

Madhat G. Saleh, 31, Peoria, Ill., has been charged with 13 counts of sales tax fraud for activity from June 2008 through December 2009. Saleh operates M & G Food Mart, a convenience store and gas station located at 640 W. Main St., in Peoria. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.                                                                                                              

Bhavesh Ghandi, 38, Streamwood, Ill., has been charged with two counts of sales tax fraud and two counts of mail fraud for activity from June 2007 through October 2009.  He operated AMI Oil Corporation, 1030 N. Lake Street, Aurora, Ill., from September 2005 through October 2009.  Ghandi is scheduled to appear in court on July 7.

“These businesses pocket the tax money consumers pay at the pump,” Attorney General Madigan said. “We will continue to pursue gas station owners who illegally profit at the expense of taxpayers and the state.”
“Retail outlets in Illinois have a special obligation to pay the sales taxes they collect from their customers,” said Brian Hamer, director, Illinois Department of Revenue. “We will continue to work hard to make sure that all businesses pay the taxes they owe, and that honest businesses are not placed at a competitive disadvantage.”

Filing a fraudulent Illinois Sales and Use tax return and mail fraud are Class 3 Felonies, which can result in sentences of two to five years in prison.

Gasoline sales are reported to the state on a monthly basis. In 2009, Madigan’s office and DOR determined gas station owners were evading payment of taxes by falsely reporting gasoline sales figures, resulting in millions of dollars in lost state revenue.

The joint investigation and subsequent enforcement effort has, to date, resulted in charges against 13 individuals including a Chicago area CPA, and his brother in March for preparing fraudulent Illinois Sales and Use tax returns on behalf of six gas station owners who attempted to evade paying state sales tax.

In addition to the collection of back taxes owed, investigations by DOR’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) are helping to ensure that gas stations are filing more accurate sales tax returns that reflect the actual sales of gasoline. 

Bureau Chief Vincenzo Chimera, Supervising Attorney Patrick Jennings, and Assistant Attorneys General Lori Jordan, Kristina Waldron, Kathleen Farrell, James Rustik and Gene Bian are handling the cases for Madigan’s Special Prosecutions Bureau.

HUD and NeighborWorks America announce Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(New America Media)

 

Program is designed to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure

 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in conjunction with NeighborWorks America announced the launch of the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP) today, to help homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure in 27 states across the country and Puerto Rico.

Congress provided $1 billion dollars to HUD, as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, to implement EHLP. The program will assist homeowners who have experienced a reduction in income and are at risk of foreclosure due to involuntary unemployment or underemployment, due to economic conditions or a medical condition.

Under EHLP guidelines eligible homeowners can qualify for an interest free loan which pays a portion of their monthly mortgage for up to two years, or up to $50,000, whichever comes first.

“Through the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program the Obama Administration is continuing our strong commitment to help keep families in their homes during tough economic times,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Working with our community partners across the nation through NeighborWorks® America, we are pleased to launch this program today in 27 states and Puerto Rico to help families keep their homes while looking for work or recovering from illness.”

The EHLP funds will pay a portion of an approved applicant’s monthly mortgage including missed mortgage payments or past due charges including principal, interest, taxes and insurance. EHLP is expected to aid up to 30,000 distressed borrowers, with an average loan of approximately $35,000.

“Through our work around the country, NeighborWorks® America knows all too well that in these tough economic times, homeowners facing foreclosure are seeking help wherever they can find it. The deadline is July 22, 2011, so we encourage homeowners to submit their information now in order to find out if  they qualify for this new mortgage assistance program and learn more about the many options available to assist those with housing needs,” stated Eileen M. Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks® America.

The EHLP funding is a complement to the Hardest Hit Fund which makes available $7.6 billion to 18 states and the District of Columbia that were hardest hit by the housing crisis. The EHLP funds will be offered in the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming and Puerto Rico.  Five states operating substantially similar programs are administering EHLP funds through their existing programs: Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. With today’s launch, mortgage assistance is now available for unemployed and underemployed homeowners in every state.

Contact information for participating agencies, the Pre-Applicant Screening Worksheet and more information on the EHLP assistance and its eligibility requirements can be found at www.FindEHLP.org or by calling toll free at 855-FIND-EHLP (346-3345).

About the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

About NeighborWorks America

NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. Since 1991, we have assisted nearly 1.2 million low- to moderate-income families with their housing needs. Much of our success is achieved through our support of the NeighborWorks network ― more than 235 community development organizations working in more than 4,400 urban, suburban and rural communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $15 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

(Please note: The following public information can be downloaded in these languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean)

Consumer Alert: State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez urges consumers to be on alert for “Storm Chasers”

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Severe storms in the Chicago area can prompt many homeowners to search for a contractor to repair wind and water damage to their homes but a repair project could turn into a nightmare if a homeowner falls prey to a home repair scam. 

Con artists or so-called “Storm Chasers” may never start or complete the work.  Materials and workmanship may be grossly inferior to what was promised.  Undisclosed charges for permits, cost overruns, and other fees may significantly increase the total cost of the repairs.  The selection of a qualified and reliable home repair contractor can be a difficult task, and consumer complaints about contractors are among the most common situations reviewed by the Consumer Fraud Division of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.  

The State’s Attorney’s Office recommends the following precautions to avoid rip offs in dealings with home repair and remodeling contractors:     

*RECOMMENDATIONS AND REFERENCES:  Find a reliable contractor through recommendations from local utility companies, your insurance company, or through referrals from satisfied customers.  Ask each contractor for references and a written estimate.  Contact the references and ask them if they were satisfied with the home repairs provided by the contractor.   

*BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU CHECK:  Contact the Better Business Bureau on the web (www.chicago.bbb.org) and obtain a reliability report about a contractor.   A reliability report will disclose if anyone has filed a complaint against the contractor within the last three years and, most importantly, if the contractor has resolved the complaint to the satisfaction of the customer.   

  *LIEN WAIVERS:  Find out where the contractor will obtain his materials and whether the contractor plans to use any sub-contractors.  You should obtain a lien waiver from the contractor or sub-contractor at the same time that you make a payment for materials and work.  A lien waiver constitutes proof of payment and is a defense if the contractor or sub-contractor later files a mechanic’s lien against your property.     

*RELAX:  Be skeptical of any door-to-door salesperson who claims to have just completed a nearby job and offers you a great price because there are leftover materials.  Don’t feel pressured by a request for an immediate decision or by a statement that an offer is good “only if you act now.” 

Compare the estimates of a number of contractors before selecting the most attractive estimate and do not select a contractor solely on the basis of the lowest price or estimate.    

VERIFY LICENSES:  Illinois law does not require general contractors to be licensed or certified.  On the other hand, state law requires plumbing contractors and plumbers to be licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, Plumbing Program (217/524-0791 or www.idph.state.il.us) or the City of Chicago, and roofers must obtain a license from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation (312/814-4500 or www.ildpr.com).  Ask a roofer or plumber to provide you with their license number or a copy of their license.

*MANDATORY INSURANCE COVERAGE:  Under Illinois law, most contractors are required to carry minimum amounts of insurance for property damage, bodily injury, and improper home repair.  Contractors, unless they maintain a net worth of $1,000,000, must obtain and maintain public liability and property damage insurance in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $50,000 per occurrence for property damage.  Even if the contractor has provided you with proof of full insurance coverage, as an additional safeguard, confirm that your homeowner’s policy covers accidents to persons working on your property. 

*GET IT IN WRITING: Don’t rely on oral promises.  Make sure that all of the important promises and representations made to you by the contractor are also incorporated in the contract or estimate.  Request copies of any application for a credit check, application for financing, estimate, and sales contract.  

*CONTRACT REVIEW:  Read a contract carefully before signing.   Don’t sign a contract with any blank spaces.  In general, only contracts signed at your residence have a three-day “cancellation” period.  Consider all other contracts to be final.     

*PAYMENT OF A DEPOSIT:  Don’t pay for the entire job prior to the start of work.  However, the payment of a deposit or advance payment for building materials is customary and fair in the home repair and remodeling industry. Most contractors will accept 1/3 payment before work begins, 1/3 when the project has reached the halfway point and 1/3 when all work has been completed to the customer’s satisfaction.

*DOCUMENT ANY DIFFICULTIES WITH THE CONTRACTOR:  If problems arise with the contractor, prepare a list and take photographs of the work and materials already furnished to you.  Document all of your efforts, including telephone conversations and meetings, to resolve the dispute. 

Try to acquire as much information from the contractor about his reasons for nonperformance so that this information can be provided later to a private attorney or the authorities.    

*SEND A DEMAND LETTER:  If telephone calls and meetings do not resolve the dispute, you should notify the contractor in writing of the exact nature of the problem.  This demand letter should request a refund or completion of the work within a reasonable time period of at least ten (10) business days, and it should be sent by regular and certified mail or hand-delivered.  Retain a copy of this demand letter for your own records.                 

If you cannot resolve the dispute on your own and you feel that you have been the victim of fraud, the Consumer Fraud Division of the State’s Attorney’s Office may be able to help you recover your losses, prosecute the person or business responsible for the fraud, and prevent other members of the public from falling victim to the same scheme. 

To initiate a complaint with the Consumer Fraud Division, please call 312/603-8700 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM on weekdays.  The Consumer Fraud Division is staffed by specialists, and often, many citizen questions about a home repair or remodeling dispute can be promptly answered over the telephone. In some cases, you will be asked to file a written complaint with the State’s Attorney’s Office, and in other situations, you may be referred to another government agency, private organization, or resource.  Spanish language service is also available.

State’s Attorney sues out-of-state “Storm Chaser” construction company

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Alvarez issues consumer alert urging consumers to be on guard for Storm Damage scams

 

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Unit has filed a lawsuit against a Texas construction company and its agents for bilking thousands of dollars from northwest suburban homeowners whose houses were damaged by hail and heavy winds due to severe storms, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced.

Alvarez also issued a Consumer Alert in the wake of recent severe storms that have hit communities across Cook County reminding homeowners to be on guard against so-called “storm-chasers,” or fraudulent or unlicensed contracting companies whose owners and operators target homeowners in communities that have been hard hit by damaging weather.

“Cook County residents who suffer severe storm damage to their homes have every right to expect honest services from home repair contractors in an emergency,” Alvarez said. “The State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Unit will aggressively enforce our consumer protection laws and hold unscrupulous storm-chaser companies who engage in fraud fully accountable.”

Named in the suit is Godfather Construction, originally a Texas-based construction company that incorporated in Illinois in April of 2010 at a time when heavy storms had caused severe hail and wind damage to hundreds of homes in the northwest suburbs. Also named in the suit are the company’s owners and operators Thomas Kamin and Steven Anderson, both of Texas; and Freddie Miles, of Indiana.

According to prosecutors, Kamin, Anderson and Miles are “Storm Chasers” who travel to communities that have been hard hit by storms in order to target the insurance money received by homeowners from severe weather damage.

According to the suit, Godfather contracted to make repairs with six homeowners in Niles, Park Ridge, and Des Plaines beginning in April of 2010. All of the homeowners believed they were hiring a reputable and experienced company to complete their repairs but in reality, Godfather Construction would typically import unlicensed laborers from out of state to perform the work, which was often incomplete or shoddy.

Also named in the lawsuit is Peter Svaras, President of Svaras Roofing based in McHenry, Illinois. Svaras entered into a contract with Godfather Construction in April of 2010 whereby he agreed to work for the company and accept profits and register the company as a licensed roofer under his roofing license. According to prosecutors, Svaras failed to register Godfather so the company was never properly licensed in Illinois, despite the false claims that they made to consumers.

In many cases, Godfather also took advantage of subcontractors by failing to pay them for their work. Several crews stopped working when they didn’t receive their payments leaving repairs unfinished. Several threatened to file liens against the homeowners to collect payments for the work they had completed.

In total, the suit alleges that Godfather collected nearly $60,000 in payments from the victims. Some were able to collect some refunds but only after several months and sought help from local authorities.

The suit filed by the State’s Attorney’s Office seeks an injunction to permanently bar Godfather Construction from ever doing business again in Cook County and the State of Illinois. The suit also seeks restitution for victims who have not already obtained it and to prohibit the defendants from engaging in this conduct in the future.

Clues to why “They” All Look Alike

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(Northwestern University News)

 

New research sheds light on the well-documented “other-race effect”

 

EVANSTON, IL –  Northwestern University researchers have provided new biological evidence suggesting that the brain works differently when memorizing the face of a person from one’s own race than when memorizing a face from another race.

Their study — which used EEG recordings to measure brain activity — sheds light on a well-documented phenomenon known as the “other-race effect.” One of the most replicated psychology findings, the other-race effect finds that people are less likely to remember a face from a racial group different from their own.

“Scientists have put forward numerous ideas about why people do not recognize other-race faces as well as same-race faces,” says Northwestern psychology professor Ken Paller, who with psychology professor Joan Chiao and Heather Lucas co-authored “Why some faces won’t be remembered: Brain potentials illuminate successful versus unsuccessful encoding for same-race and other-race faces.”

The discovery of a neural marker of successful encoding of other-race faces will help put these ideas to the test, according to Paller, who directs the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

“The ability to accurately remember faces is an important social skill with potentially serious consequences,” says doctoral student Lucas, lead author of the recently published study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. “It’s merely embarrassing to forget your spouse’s boss, but when an eyewitness incorrectly remembers a face, the consequence can be a wrongful criminal conviction,” she adds.

The Northwestern team found that brain activity increases in the very first 200 to 250 milliseconds upon seeing both same-race and other-race faces. To their surprise, however, they found that the amplitude of that increased brain activity only predicts whether an other-race face (not a same-race face) is later remembered.

“There appears to be a critical phase shortly after an other-race face appears that determines whether or not that face will be remembered or forgotten,” Lucas says. “In other words, the process of laying down a memory begins almost immediately after one first sees the face.”

Previous research has associated this very early phase — what is known as the N200 brain potential — with the perceptual process of individuation. That process involves identifying personally unique facial features such as the shape of the eyes and nose and the spatial configuration of various facial features.

When the researchers asked the 18 white study participants to view same-race faces and to commit them to memory, the individuation process indexed by N200 appeared ”almost automatic — so robust and reliable that it actually was irrelevant as to whether a face was remembered or not,” says Lucas.

Minutes later, the participants were given a recognition test that included new faces along with some that were previously viewed. The researchers analyzed brain activity during initial face viewing as a function of whether or not each face was ultimately remembered or forgotten on the recognition test.

The N200 waves were large for all same-race faces, regardless of whether or not they later were successfully remembered. In contrast, N200 waves were larger for other-race faces that were remembered than for other-race faces that were forgotten.

Of course, not all same-race faces were successfully recognized, the researchers say. Accordingly, their study also identified brain activity that predicted whether or not a same-race face would be remembered. A specific brain wave starting at about 300 milliseconds and lasting for several hundred milliseconds was associated with what the psychologists call “elaborative encoding.”

In contrast to individuation (which involves rapidly identifying unique physical attributes from faces), elaborative encoding is a more deliberate process of inferring attributes. For example, you might note that a face reminds you of someone you know, that its expression appears friendly or shy, or it looks like the face of a scientist or police officer.

Making these types of social inferences increases the likelihood that a face will be remembered.

“However, this strategy only works if the process of individuation also occurred successfully — that is, if the physical attributes unique to a particular face already have been committed to memory,” Lucas says. “And our study found that individuation is not always engaged with other-race faces.”

Why is individuation so fragile for other-race faces? One possibility, the researchers say, is that many people simply have less practice seeing and remembering other-race faces.

”People tend to have more frequent and extensive interactions with same-race than with other-race individuals, particularly racial majority members,” Lucas says. As a result, their brains may be less adept at finding the facial information that distinguishes other-race faces from one another compared to distinguishing among faces of their own racial group.

Another possible explanation involves “social categorization,” or the tendency to group others into social categories by race. “Prior research has found that when we label and group others according to race we end up focusing more on attributes that group members tend to have in common — such as skin color — and less on attributes that individuate one group member from others,” Lucas says.

As a result, smaller N200 brain potentials for other-race faces — particularly those that were not remembered later — could indicate that race-specifying features of these faces were given more attention.

The Northwestern researchers expect future research to build on their findings in the continuing effort to better understand the other-race effect. “That research also will need to focus more on face recognition in minorities, given that the bulk of research to date has examined majority-white populations,” Lucas says.

Co-authors Heather Lucas and Ken Paller are available by e-mail at heatherlucas2011@u.northwestern.edu and kap@northwestern.edu).

NORTHWESTERN NEWS: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/

Illinois awards nearly $75 million for school improvement

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Federal funds to go toward 13 low-performing schools in six districts

 

Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education announced it has approved 13 schools to receive $74.9 million over the next three fiscal years in federal School Improvement Grant funds to dramatically improve education among some of the lowest achieving schools in the state. The schools were selected after a rigorous application and review process that included participation from state and national experts, teachers, parents and community members.

“Thanks to federal funds, these districts will be able to invest significant resources toward raising student achievement and enabling schools to make adequate yearly progress,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “The program will help thousands of students in both rural and urban settings across the state gain access to a better education and it will set these schools on a trajectory of long-term change.”

For each eligible school approved to receive funds under this grant, the district must implement one of four intervention models; Turnaround, Restart, Transformation or School Closure, as approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Money allocated to each of the six districts will go toward the reform strategy at the specific schools and district oversight.

Fourteen districts representing 24 of the lowest achieving schools in the state submitted proposals that were evaluated and scored by review teams made up of national experts.

The SIG districts are required to work with one of 16 organizations, called Lead Partners, that have been pre-approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The state agency will also provide technical assistance during the process and each district will have to re-apply for continued annual funding in FY 2013 and FY 2014.

This marks the second round of districts to apply and receive School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds authorized under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Last fall, another five districts and 10 schools were approved to receive up to $52.5 million in SIG funds. For a list of schools awarded funds in FY11, please visit this ISBE web page: http://www.isbe.net/sos/pdf/sig_1003g_funded_fy11.pdf

The following six districts and 13 schools are approved to receive funding over the grant’s three year period: 

  

 

District

School

Intervention Model

Tier

Lead Partner

Total LEA Award (3 years)

Total LEA or Individual School Award (3 years)

Grades Served

 
City of Chicago SD 299

 

 

 

   $ 47,999,998.00  $ 2,661,985.00    
City of Chicago SD 299 Julian High School Transformation

I

CPS Office of Transformation    $ 5,691,666.00

9-12

 
City of Chicago SD 299 Kelvyn Park High School Transformation

I

CPS Office of Transformation    $ 5,684,554.00

9-12

 
City of Chicago SD 299 North Lawndale Charter High School Transformation

I

CPS Office of Transformation    $ 5,694,613.00

9-12

 
City of Chicago SD 299 Juarez Community Academy High School Transformation

II

CPS Office of Transformation    $ 5,681,021.00

9-12

 
City of Chicago SD 299 Hancock College Preparatory High School Transformation

I

Network for College Success University of Chicago    $ 5,699,896.00

9-12

 
City of Chicago SD 299 Tilden Career Community Academy High School Transformation

I

America’s Choice    $ 5,595,150.00

9-12

 
City of Chicago SD 299 Richards Career Academy High School Transformation

I

America’s Choice    $ 5,591,235.00

9-12

 
City of Chicago SD 299 Wells Community Academy High School Transformation

I

Network for College SuccessUniversity of Chicago    $ 5,699,878.00

9-12

 
Decatur SD 61    

 

   $ 5,399,998.00  $ 1,181,271.00

 

 
Decatur SD 61 Eisenhower High School Transformation

II

Learning Point Associates at American Institutes for Research    $ 4,218,727.00

9-12

 
North Chicago SD 187  

 

 

 

 $ 6,000,000.00  

 

 
North Chicago SD 187 North Chicago Community High School

Transformation

II

AUSL Academy for Urban School Leadership

   $ 6,000,000.00

9-12

 
Peoria SD 150    

 

  $ 6,000,000.00  $ 4,140,454.00

 

 
Peoria SD 150 Peoria High School Transformation

II

Consortium for Educational Change    $ 1,859,546.00

9-12

 
Sandoval CUSD 501    

 

   $ 4,000,000.00  $  907,045.00

 

 
Sandoval CUSD 501 Sandoval Sr High School Transformation

II

Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools    $ 3,092,955.00

9-12

 
Springfield SD 186    

 

  $ 5,523,420.00  $  317,992.00

 

 
Springfield SD 186 Lanphier High School Transformation

II

Learning Point Associates at American Institutes for Research    $  5,205,428.00

9-12

 
        Total: $ 74,923,416.00

 

The Cornel West Theory releases new LP, July 19th

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 49 COMMENTS

 

Washington, DC-based band teams with Princeton Professor, Dr. Cornel West

 


The Cornel West theory: (bottom left) Rashad Dobbins, (far left) Yvonne Gilmore, (back left) Tim Hicks, (center) Sam Lavine, (right back) John Wesley Moon, (right) Katrina Lorraine Starr.

 

Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) — The Cornel West Theory is launching their new LP, “The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come,” on July 19. This record features the six-member band and chief collaborator, Princeton Professor Dr. Cornel West.

In releasing their second full-length album, the Cornel West Theory continues to evolve its Type I style, which is based in the progressive hip-hop tradition established by artists such as Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine and KRS-One. The album was created out of an appreciation for several music genres – hip-hop, jazz, punk, blues, go-go, rock – and takes its name from Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come” and Refused’s “The Shape of Punk to Come.”

The Cornel West Theory has once again teamed with Dr. West. In 2009, the band recorded with its namesake on its critically-acclaimed release “Second Rome.” Back then, Dr. West commented: “I think what we have with ‘Second Rome’ is an instant classic of its generation. And if the subsequent generations understand the depths of it, they will see what is at stake here in this album is the making of a new wave of new voices in a new generation that we haven’t seen in decades.”

“The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” also represents the tradition of hip-hop as a rebellious art form, one that pushes creative boundaries, champions the common man and speaks with a genuine love for humanity. This album makes a bold statement about where hip-hop has been and can go.

“Hip-hop is really one dimensional right now,” says Cornel West Theory Emcee Rashad Dobbins. “Hip-Hop has four elements: Graffiti, dj’ing, rhyming and B-boying. Now the fifth element of money has taken over. … It’s a contradiction to a rebellious music from the start.”

With the release of “The Shape of Hip-Hop To Come,” Dr. West says, “It builds on the best of the past. Yes, but it’s something new, something novel.”

The intent of “The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” is to display traditions from hip-hop and spoken word and show how those styles can expand with the fusion of other genres. The album takes traditional elements – electronic loops and beats – and evolves them by fusing live instruments and other elements from industrial, jazz, gospel, go-go, reggae and rock music. Hard, thoughtful, introspective, literary-esque lyrics are a mainstay of the Cornel West Theory. The group’s lyrical range and depth are placed on display in this record.

Tim Hicks rhymes on the song, “The Contradiction:” “This is exercise, bench pressing, soul weapons, fortified live/Christ died and my mom’s still praying/And this is what I’m saying/ That this time it’s no more contradictions, platinum changes or chrome benzes.”

The Cornel West Theory (www.thecornelwesttheory.com) is a Washington, DC-based ensemble, proudly born from the hip-hop aesthetic, but not bound by limitations of any genre. It’s an eclectic amalgam of spoken word, lyricism, instruments, electronics and vocals, which draw from genres ranging from home-grown go-go to jazz to rock to hip-hop. This “musical theory” hits you aesthetically, emotionally and intellectually.

With the blessing of Dr. Cornel West, the Princeton University professor and renowned author, the band takes its name from his prolific writings and philosophies, which have shaped contemporary thought throughout the world. The group formed in 2004 and has performed throughout the country.

The band delivers music that holds a mirror to the world, with a core focus on political, cultural and spiritual commentary. They combine the essence of hip-hop with the original purpose of its movement: to speak truth to the masses. The ultimate griot, Dr. Cornel West, has recorded and appeared live with the band, sharing his unifying philosophy and highlighting the talents of this extraordinary ensemble.

“The Shape of Hip-Hop To Come” takes its name from Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come” and inspiration from what he accomplished in borrowing from the best of his genre and striving to push it somewhere else. Coleman’s seminal work, released in 1959, made its mark on the jazz community and is considered one of the genre’s most influential. And this album takes its form from “The Shape of Punk to Come.” Refused released that album in 1998 as a studio album, which was unusual for punk music. Refused revisited the tradition of punk with a rebel spirit reflected in the politics of the album, adding drum and bass as a twist to the traditional.

The Cornel West theory band Members include: Tim Hicks (MC), Rashad Dobbins (MC), Yvonne Gilmore (Spoken word), Katrina Lorraine Starr (Spoken Word), John Wesley Moon (Electronics) and Sam Lavine (Drums). The band is managed by Seven Fields Productions, LLC.
More information:
The first single from “The Shape of Hip-Hop To Come” is “The Contradiction,” a fun, fast-paced song steeped in hip-hop tradition with a sultry summer feel. The song will be released in July and is available by request.

The Cornel West Theory and Dr. Cornel West are available for interviews by request. Review copies of “The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” will be available by request on July 1. Please contact Sarah Massey at Massey Media at 202 445-1169

“The Shape of Hip-Hop to Come” official album release show will be hosted at the U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C., on July 30, where the Cornel West Theory will headline a bill with D.C. favorites Kokayi and Gods’illa.
Summer Show Dates:
ROOTS Fest 2011 Baltimore, Md. June 25
Kennedy Center Washington, D.C. June 27
BloomBars Washington, D.C. July 1-3
SOB’s New York, N.Y. July 12
Fort Reno Park Washington, D.C. July 14
Fringe Festival Washington DC July 16
U Street Music Hall Washington, D.C. July 30
The Shadow Lounge Pittsburgh, Pa. Aug. 26

For more information, visit www.thecornelwesttheory.com

Weigh the pros and cons of tech buy-back offers: Better Business Bureau advises

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Chicago, IL – Today’s technology is constantly being updated with models showcasing newer, faster features. To keep up with the latest tech-trend, many consumers are tempted by retailer buy-back programs. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to weigh the pros and cons of these programs before parting with their money.

 

Typical buy-back programs come in the form of a one-time fee required at the time of the original purchase. To avoid falling behind the latest technology, consumers opt-in to these programs to ensure their gadget doesn’t go stale. As long as it’s in good condition, many buy-back programs allow you to trade-up items such as your cell phone, laptop, tablet, and television for a percentage of its current value. Usually this credit will come in the form of a gift card that may be used toward the purchase of a newer model.

 

“If you are an individual that likes to say on top of the latest technology, a buy-back program may be for you,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “However, as with anything else, you will need to do your research to find out if the program is worth the cost.”

 

The BBB provides the following information to consumers considering a retailer’s buy-back program:

 

Buy-back programs can provide a sense of insurance on your product. Buy-back programs essentially guarantee a resale value, meaning they act as insurance against loss of value. But like any insurance policy, its true value can become nominal and hard to define. Before becoming a member of a buy-back program, make sure to read the fine print. Many buy-back options have conditions and constraints that could ultimately keep you from being able to sell back your used gadget.

 

Remember that the interest of the retailer is usually at heart. In exchange for your old gadget, your return will come back in the form of a gift card more times than not. This plan and gift card means you are locked into the issuing retailer for your next technology purchase. Not to mention, you may end up paying triple the sales tax when all exchanges are said and done. While sales tax rules vary from state to state and buy-back programs vary from program to program, you are the one responsible for paying the tax. By paying the tax once when you buy the item and again when you return it, and then again when you use the gift card, you may end up paying triple the tax in the end.

 

Gadget-buy backs are not ideal for the forgetful or the disorganized. If you haven’t saved your original receipts, power cords and manuals, you could be at a loss or your payout could be less than expected. Many buy-back programs insist that the original items be brought back to the store at the time of the exchange.

 

Mobile phone contracts are not covered. When you purchase a new phone and add the retailer’s buy-back program, you can resell your phone back to the retailer for the agreed upon dollar amount. Keep in mind that even when you sell your phone back to the retailer, your cell phone provider will keep billing you for the duration of your contract.

 

You can compromise your identity. Before selling your electronics back to the retailer be sure to take care of your personal data. Many electronic items such as your smartphone or laptop can hold a great deal of personal information. If this information gets into the wrong hands, your identity could be compromised. Be sure to fully wipe out all personal data before reselling to a retailer.

 

You could get more for your electronic gadgets elsewhere. Reselling electronics is not new. Many consumers use sites like eBay and Craigslist to sell their gadgets. In most instances you could get more for your electronics by using these sites than opting for a retailer’s buy-back program.

 

For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins calls on African Americans to step up and donate marrow

Posted by Admin On June - 30 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

National awareness campaign highlights need for more bone marrow donors during July’s African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month

 

Minneapolis, MN (BlackNews.com) — Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins rose to fame as an actress, singer and member of the popular 90s musical group TLC – all while quietly battling sickle cell disease. Now, she is lending her famous voice to encourage people, especially those in the African American community, to join the Be The Match Registry® as potential bone marrow donors and help others – like 11-year-old Imani Cornelius – fight similar life-threatening diseases.

Watkins has partnered with Be The Match® on two public service announcements. The PSAs will hit the airwaves and the Internet in July, which is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month. Donor registry drives will also take place nationwide throughout the month.

“As a person with sickle cell disease and an advocate for everyone fighting this disease, I was naturally drawn to Be The Match,” Watkins said. “Unfortunately, myths about bone marrow donation keep many people from joining the Be The Match Registry and potentially saving a life. That is why I am passionate about encouraging everyone to learn the facts about bone marrow donation through these PSAs. We need more African Americans to step up.”

A bone marrow transplant can be a cure for someone with sickle cell disease or other illnesses like leukemia and lymphoma. Most patients who need transplants do not have a match in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a match.

But many African Americans and other minorities can’t find marrow donors – like Imani Cornelius, of Minneapolis. Imani was recently diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and her only hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. Her doctors continue to search the Be The Match Registry for a matching donor, but that search has not been easy as Imani is biracial.

Right now, the chance of finding a match on the Be The Match Registry is close to 93 percent for Caucasians, but for African Americans and other minorities, the chances can be as low as 66 percent.

The tissue types used for matching patients with donors are inherited, so patients are most likely to find a match within their own racial or ethnic heritage. There are 9 million people on the Be The Match Registry, but only 7 percent are African American.

Jonathan Nazeer, of Greensboro, N.C., saw firsthand the need for more African American donors when his friend was searching for a match. Jonathan joined the registry in 2006 on her behalf. Just a few years later he was called to donate to a 52-year-old woman battling a rare disease.

“Donating is life-changing, not only for the individual who is receiving the transplant, but even for you. To know that you may have played a small part in actually saving someone’s life is extremely fulfilling,” said Nazeer, who was recently contacted again as a match for an 18-year-old boy.

While the number of transplants that the NMDP facilitates for African American patients has doubled since 2004, more people of African American descent are urgently needed on the Be The Match Registry so that more lives can be saved.

“We have made great strides in expanding the number of patients and the range of diseases that can be treated with bone marrow transplants,” said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), which operates the Be The Match Registry. “But we need more volunteers – from every ethnic and racial background – to meet the ultimate challenge of helping every patient find a life-saving donor.”

About Be The Match®
Be The Match is a movement that engages a growing community of people inspired to help patients who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation, created Be The Match to provide opportunities for the public to become involved in saving the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases. Volunteers can join the Be The Match Registry – the world’s largest and most diverse listing of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units – as well as contribute financially to Be The Match Foundation or give their time. For more information, visit www.BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.

Newly elected African American Mayors bolster the war on unemployment

Posted by Admin On June - 29 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

To Be Equal#26

 By Marc H. Morial, President and CEO
National Urban League

 

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The recent elections of Alvin Brown as Jacksonville, Florida’s first African American mayor and Michael Hancock as Denver’s second Black mayor, provide much needed new hope and leadership in the war on unemployment.  Both Brown and Hancock have strong Urban League roots and both have made job creation in their cities job number one.

On May 19th, Alvin Brown, a former president of the Greater Washington Urban League Guild, shook up the political establishment of Florida’s largest city when he won election as Jacksonville’s first African American mayor.  Mayor-elect Brown’s long arc to City Hall began in the working class neighborhoods of Jacksonville, where he was raised by a devoted mother and grandmother who worked two jobs to raise him and his siblings.  He worked as a meat cutter at the local Winn Dixie while attending Jacksonville State University.  Hard times almost derailed his college aspirations until a Jacksonville pastor co-signed for a loan to keep him in school.

Brown earned his B.S. and M.B.A. from Jacksonville State and completed post graduate study at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  He served as a senior urban affairs advisor for both President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.  As executive director of the White House Community Empowerment Board, he managed a $4 billion initiative to create jobs in urban America.  Upon winning the election, Brown said, “My first priority is jobs.  We must invest in the inner city and create public-private partnerships.”

Denver Mayor-elect, Michael Hancock, credits his background as the former President of the Denver Urban League and his two-terms as President of the Denver City Council with inspiring his run for City Hall.  He won a run-off election on June 6 and becomes the second African American mayor in the history of the Mile High City.  Wellington Webb was the first, serving from 1991-2003.

Hancock had a tough childhood.  Growing up, he and his nine siblings experienced periods of homelessness.  A brother died of AIDS.  A sister was killed by an estranged boyfriend.  Through it all, Hancock has always been a leader, both in his family and in the Denver community.  He attended college in Nebraska, returning home every summer to work in Mayor Frederico Pena’s office.  After graduation he earned his Master’s in public administration from The University of Colorado-Denver.  

Hancock started his career in the 1990’s, holding down two jobs at the Denver Housing Authority and the National Civic League.  He joined Metro Denver’s Urban League affiliate in 1995 and in 1999, at the age of 29, became the youngest Urban League president in America.

When asked about his priorities as Mayor, Hancock answered, “Growing jobs, without question.  Everything we do will be about the sustainability of jobs in this city.  Nothing’s more important…”

Alvin Brown and Michael Hancock know what it means to beat the odds.  They are also both committed to creating good jobs so that more Americans like them have the chance to realize their dreams.  We congratulate them on their victories and wish them all the best.

National Urban League, 120 Wall Street â–ª New York, NY 10005 â–ª (212) 558-5300 â–ª WWW.NUL.ORG

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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