Archive for June, 2012
By Sylvester Monroe
LOS ANGELES-Rodney Glen King’s apparent accidental death at age 47 has prompted a flood of media punditry about the legacy of a life rife with misfortune. It was young Glen, as he was called, who had discovered his father’s body in the family bathtub. Rodney Sr. reportedly drank himself to death when Rodney Jr. was in high school.
Following his father’s penchant for alcohol, the younger King made a fateful wrong turn at age 25-drinking and driving, and leading Los Angeles police officers on a high-speed chase that thrust him into an ill-fitting celebrity he never wanted or wore very well.
King’s brutal videotaped beating seen around the world years before the advent of YouTube changed the course of his life. It also triggered events that altered how law enforcement and government officials handle complaints of excessive force and police brutality. The initial impact of the beating in March 1991 was to shine light on a dark realm of routine police misconduct in Los Angeles and other cities. Â
Six days of deadly rioting followed acquittals more than a year later on April 29 of the officers who beat King and led to sweeping reforms of the police department. A heralded commitment to community policing, increased civilian oversight and more enlightened department leadership, including appointment of two black police chiefs, significantly cooled longstanding tinderbox relations between police and the African-American community. Â
Less successful in Los Angeles and other cities nationwide has been elimination of the gross stereotyping, or profiling, of young blacks as dangerous, drunk, drug-crazed ogres who can be controlled only with extreme force. Â
Twenty years after the Los Angeles rioting, national attention is again focused on a racially-charged assault. This time, an overzealous community watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., is charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, and initial police handling of the case has raised widespread concern.
The King and Martin cases are markedly different in detail, especially in that Sanford police had nothing to do with Martin’s death. But unchanged in two decades is continued use of excessive force by law enforcement officers and others who seek, out of fear, to justify violent and often fatal encounters with black youths and men. Â
Such professed fear has been a major dynamic in practically every questionable case of excessive police force against young blacks since the Watts riots of 1965 in Los Angeles. That fear factor played a key role in the King trial defense and in another verdict shortly before the city exploded in anger and violence in April 1992.
The shocking acquittals of the police officers in the King trial came less than two weeks before Soon Ja Du, 51, a Korean store owner, received a 10-year suspended prison term, probation, a fine and community service for the shooting death of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old African-American. Du said Harlins was stealing a bottle of orange juice and shot her in the back of the head. The incident was videotaped.
Nine years later, in April 2001, rioting was sparked in Cincinnati when a police officer shot and killed Timothy Thomas, a 19-year-old black. Five months later, the officer was acquitted.
Like Trayvon Martin, Thomas was unarmed. He was shot while running away from the officer, who was trying to arrest him. Officers in the King beating mounted much of their defense for striking King more than 50 times by saying that the 6-foot-4 King, who weighed more than 200 pounds, refused to obey commands to stay on the ground, and that they feared for their safety. Â
This week, attorneys for George Zimmerman, the white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death, released a police video in which he reenacted what he says happened during the fatal encounter. Zimmerman says he feared for his life after Martin reached for Zimmerman’s gun, and told him, “You’re going to die.”
According to Zimmerman, he shot Martin in self-defense under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law that gives citizens the right to use deadly force if they fear for their lives.
Martin’s parents contend that Zimmerman was the aggressor and pursued their unarmed son, who was walking home from a convenience store through the gated Sanford community that Zimmerman patrolled. They say Zimmerman racially profiled the teenager, followed and confronted him despite being told not to by a 911 operator whom Zimmerman called to report a suspicious black man.
Before and after the King beating, there have been numerous incidents of excessive police force against black men by police officers and others who invoked versions of the fear-factor defense. As recently as 2009, a grisly police assault was captured on videotape in Oakland, Calif. A transit police officer shot and killed Oscar Grant, 22, an unarmed black shown lying on a train platform at the officer’s feet. The officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter but acquitted of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.
Ironically, on the day Rodney King died, black and Latino community leaders gathered at a rally in New York City to protest the city’s stop-and-frisk policy that they say has led to escalated profiling of young blacks and Latinos, and increasing allegations of excessive force and brutality by New York police officers.
The rally followed a report this year by the New York Civil Liberties Union showing that the New York City Police Department conducted 685,724 stop-and-frisk searches in 2011. More than 86 percent of those targeted by police were blacks and Latinos.
“What happened to me and what’s happened to others can still happen,” King said in an interview with Ebony Magazine in April, shortly before the 20th anniversary of the rioting. “The police are still killing people. I am just glad I was one of those who the camera was on.”
King often said he wanted his epitaph to read: “Can we all just get along?” Nervous and visibly shaken, he spoke those words at a 1992 news conference immediately after rioting erupted.
The answer to his question may well be influenced by the outcome of the expected trial in the Martin shooting. This time, it is not a police officer but a private citizen who took it on himself to patrol the streets to protect his community from what he viewed as potentially dangerous intruders.
How the Sanford Police Department handled that shooting will be as important as actual facts of the case and a verdict. In the King case and others, blacks felt that their voices and concerns about police misconduct went largely unheeded. When the officers were acquitted even though the videotape clearly seemed to show excessive force, blacks in Los Angeles took it as one more slap in the face.
Similarly, the Martin family and African-Americans across the nation were outraged that Zimmerman was not arrested immediately and charged. When city officials rejected Police Chief Bill Lee’s offer to resign, the situation was aggravated. Lee, who had stepped aside temporarily in May and was on paid leave, was fired on June 20. Â
Whatever the outcome, if Sanford’s black community and African-Americans elsewhere do not believe that the investigation and expected trial were conducted fairly and that black profiling has been addressed adequately, the answer to Rodney King’s plaintive plea will undoubtedly be, “Not yet.” Â
Whether Trayvon Martin will become the Rodney King of his generation remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: The ghost of Rodney King will loom large over the trial of George Zimmerman.
America’s Wire is an independent, nonprofit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Our stories can be republished free of charge by newspapers, websites and other media sources. For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Quinnâ€™s announcement last week that the supermax would be shuttered by August 31 was welcome after a four-year educational, legal, and legislative campaign by Tamms Year Ten and dozens of other organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Uptown Peopleâ€™s Law Office and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Quinnâ€™s spokesperson Kelly Kraft cited the exorbitant cost of the facility as the main reason for the closure.
But opponents and proponents alike are sure that human rights concerns also motivated the governor to close the supermax.Â Tamms is now synonymous nationwide and even internationally with sensory deprivation and prison cruelty.Â The letter signers organizations had pressured Quinn to close the supermax and were relieved by the news.Â Laurie Jo Reynolds, organizer of Tamms Year Ten said,Â â€Faith-based, community and civic organizations pushed for this decision, and are thrilled that the governor did the right thing.Â TheÂ internet is buzzing with support for Quinn. We are proud of our governor for remaining steadfast.â€
The open letter to Governor Quinn specifically rejected the ad-hoc conversion plan to change Tamms to a medium-security facility. The signers argued that there exist more effective and economical ways to relieve overcrowding â€” such as diversion programs, supervised release, and the granting of good time credits to responsible men and women in prison. They further note that Â low-level offenders are less likely to commit new crimes if they receive community supervision instead of imprisonment. Nearly 70% of Illinois prisoners are convicted of non-violent crimes.
The closure of Tamms comes in the face of a last-ditch effort by downstate legislators to preserve Tamms, despite widespread opposition to the prison by many House and Senate legislators. The idea was to spend $8 to $16 million to â€œrepurposeâ€ Tamms supermax to make it suitable for humane confinement.Â The proposalÂ was never endorsed by the governorâ€™s office, which held firm that the state needed the $26 million for other essential services.
With the prison population at last beginning to decline, it is likely that administrators simply did not want to be saddled with an unnecessaryÂ new facility.Â The Illinois prison census spiked with the termination of Meritorious Good Time in 2010, but diminished by 1000 in the past year, and trend lines are expected to point downward with other initiatives to reduce the Illinois prison population.Â The letter urged the governor to utilize safe and cost-effective methods of decreasing the prison population, which will ultimately safe the state millions of dollars by reducing the tremendous burden of corrections costs.
Tamms has been controversial from before it was even built. Warnings about potential constitutional and humanitarian violations were highlighted by Governor Jim Edgarâ€™s 1993 Task Force that proposed the prison, and soon after it in 1998, law suits alleged due process violations Â and cruel treatment of men with serious mental illnesses. Challenges to the prison continue even now: Juan E. Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on Torture for the United Nations, recently disclosed that his staff inÂ Geneva, Switzerland might investigate the Illinois supermax to see if it met the international definition of torture.
Men at Tamms are held in indefinite isolation 24 hours per day. They can only leave the cell to shower or for an hour of solitary exercise in a small, concrete yard. Cell doors are made of solid steel, perforated with small holes, making communication difficult if not impossible. The cells are designed so that each faces a bare concrete wall, and all meals are delivered through a hole in the door.Â Many men at Tamms suffer from serious mental illnesses, some induced from the physical environment of the supermax. Self-mutilation, smearing of feces and compulsive suicide attempts are an expected consequence of long-term isolation and are common at Tamms.Â Many have been in the relatively small 180-prisoner lockup for more than a decade, some since the prison opened in 1998.
Although the prison was designed to house men who are violent or disruptive, a 2009 expose by theÂ Belleville News DemocratÂ indicated that most of the men at Tamms had not been charged with a crime in a regular prison, and at least half of those who did had thrown feces or urine, often signs of untreated mental illness. In general, people with mental illness are far more likely to end up in segregation and isolation because they canâ€™t manage their behavior in the stress of a prison setting.
Quinnâ€™s announcement that he will close Tamms adds Illinois to a growing list of states, most recently Mississippi and Maine, that have ended or drastically curtailed the use of long-term solitary confinement in favor of increased mental health treatment and rehabilitative programming. Those states saved millions and saw prison violence plummet.Â
Cook County prosecutors have secured the guilty plea of a Chicago man who was involved in a Chicago-based counterfeit check cashing ring that produced and cashed an estimated $2 million worth of phony checks, according to the Office of Cook County Stateâ€™s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Deangelo Evans, 27, of Chicago, has pled guilty to the charge of Continuing a Financial Crimes Enterprise and he has been sentenced to five years in prison.Â Evans is the 54th and final defendant to be convicted in the ongoing investigation called â€˜Operation Paperhanger,â€™ which was conducted jointly between the Cook County Stateâ€™s Attorneyâ€™s Financial Crimes Unit and the United States Secret Service.
According to prosecutors, Evans and his codefendants were part of a ring that produced large amounts of fraudulent checks and then recruited other individuals, typically young women, to cash them at local currency exchanges. Typically they would use the personal information of the people they recruited such as their name and address when they produced the phony checks. They would visit numerous currency exchanges and keep the amounts below $500 to avoid arousing suspicion
In April of 2010, after arresting 35 of the ringâ€™s check cashers, investigators were able to identify the leaders of the ring. In addition to Evans, Antaneaio Scates, 31, of Chicago, Tomeka Carlock, 29, of Chicago were identified as the rings recruiters. Investigators also identified Benjamin Brown, 29, of Chicago, and Michael Carr, 29, of Chicago, as printers. All of these individuals have also pled guilty and have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to eight years.Â
Investigators estimated that the ring produced approximately $2 million in fraudulent checks that were cashed throughout Cook County and neighboring states.
Alvarez thanked the U.S. Secret Service and the Assistant Stateâ€™s Attorneys from the Financial Crimes Unit for their work on the case. She said the long-term operation was effective at dismantling an organized crime that has a significant impact on consumers.Â
â€œThe first victims in this type of crime are the financial and banking institutions that incur significant financial losses when they are ripped off by these con artists,â€ Alvarez said. â€œThe next victims become consumers who are forced to pay higher fees to cover the costs of these losses,â€ said Alvarez.
Classrooms First recommendations promote consolidation and shared services to redirect millions from back-office operations to students
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SPRINGFIELD, IL â€“ The Classrooms First Commission has submitted a final report to Governor Quinn and the General Assembly with 23 recommendations to spur school district consolidation and streamline school district operations, with the goal of redirecting $1 billion to classrooms from administration spending, Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced today.
Simon says she will work with state lawmakers in the coming months to introduce several legislative recommendations outlined in the report, â€œA Guide to P-20 Efficiency and Opportunity,â€ that will reduce barriers to consolidation, boost use of shared services agreements and increase learning opportunities across the state.
Among the top priorities listed by the bipartisan advisory panel led by Lt. Governor Simon is the need to replace the stateâ€™s consolidation incentive system. The commission recommends sun-setting current consolidation incentives in 2017 and replacing them with a system that is both affordable to the state and responsive to needs of merging districts.
The Classrooms First Commission was created last August by the Governor and General Assembly to reduce duplicative education spending and improve educational outcomes due to the stateâ€™s budget constraints. The commission studied a Fiscal Year 2012 proposal to cut the stateâ€™s more than 860 school districts in half, and found it would cost well over $3 billion under the stateâ€™s current consolidation incentive structure. To rein in those costs, the report calls for incentives to sunset in five years and a commission to develop a new system based on a predictable, affordable formula or factors such as the square footage of a new district.
â€œWe want Illinois to lead the nation in education performance, not bureaucracy,â€ Simon said, â€œbut taking a cookie cutter approach to efficiency ignores fiscal and educational realities. This report recommends several well-reasoned steps to spend smarter and expand opportunity. We lived up to our name to put Classrooms First.â€
Simon says while new incentives are being developed, lawmakers should implement several Classrooms First recommendations that promote consolidation in regions where it will produce cost savings and increase educational opportunity.
The first step is for Governor Quinn to sign Senate Bill 3252. The bill allows new â€œunitâ€ or P-12 districts to gradually reduce their tax rate over four years following a consolidation. The maximum tax rate for a unit district is below the combined rate for separate elementary districts that feed into a high school district, so the legislation would give a district time to adjust to the lower tax rate, while still providing residents with property tax relief.
The second step is to make several legislative changes next Session that would reduce barriers to consolidation and cut red tape, Simon said. They would allow districts to merge with nearby neighbors when contiguous districts reject consolidation; expand the authority of regional board of school trustees to dissolve districts; and authorize districts to delay the effective date of a consolidation while waiting for construction funding.
Â â€œThese recommendations eliminate bureaucratic burdens that keep districts from consolidating even when it makes sense,â€ said Simon. â€œRemoving these roadblocks will allow districts to focus on the merits and potential benefits of consolidation.â€
Within two years, the commission wants to see legislation authorizing the state to conduct feasibility and efficiency studies for districts in counties with small and declining school-age populations, which could lead them to consolidate. At that time, the state should also pilot a consolidation construction program that prioritizes funding for merging districts.
Beyond voluntary consolidation, the commission also recommended several legislative changes that would make it easier for districts to share staff and services beginning next Session and moving forward. One proposal would create a revolving fund to provide short-term, low-interest loans to seed cooperative service agreements or conduct efficiency studies; the loans would be repaid with the money gained through resulting streamlining. Another would permit districts to outsource non-instructional services if they were provided on a multi-district basis.
A third shared services proposal would authorize the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to provide a web-based resource management program to districts so they can identify potential savings in five major spending areas: instruction, transportation, food services, administration and facility maintenance. A pilot program of a similar service in Ohio resulted in at least a 5 percent operational savings at participating districts. At that rate, Illinois districts could realize a net savings of almost $1 billion.
The Classrooms First report is the culmination of an 11-month, three-stage process that gave commission members the opportunity to review relevant research and Illinois data, create working groups to draft recommendations and collect public input from hundreds of administrators, teachers, parents and taxpayers from across Illinois. The commission held two sets of public hearings that were attended by nearly 500 people and included testimony from 85 individuals. Additional feedback was collected from 470 submissions to an online survey in the fall.
â€œWhen this commission was formed it was a political football, and it has been wrested away from that,â€ said Brent Clark, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators and a commission member. â€œWe put this in a place where it could be talked about and not kicked around politically.â€
Â â€œYou donâ€™t know what you donâ€™t know,â€ said Paul Swanstrom, who represented the High School District Organization of Illinois on the Classrooms First Commission. â€œThe Lt. Governor asked us to be open-minded and in so doing I think we have all learned things. One of the key elements of the success of this commission is we heard from people across the state about what they are doing, and the members of the commission were able to use this information in their deliberations.â€
Simon says she will begin meeting with stakeholders to move legislative recommendations in the coming year. To read the commissionâ€™s final report visit www.ltgov.illinois.gov.
SPRINGFIELD, IL â€“ Illinois State SenatorMattie Hunter released a statement today praising the Supreme Court decision cementing the Affordable Care Act as law.Â The high courtâ€™s decision was the most anticipated ruling in years.Â
â€œThis decision is a mandate for our country,â€ said Hunter.Â â€œIf you are one of the 30 million Americans who donâ€™t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will give you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.
“Hard working, middle class Americans will now have the opportunity to services they should have had all along, particularly those with pre-existing conditions.Â Â We will see the benefits of this ruling in years to come. The Department of Healthcare and Family services is already analyzing the ruling to better understand what it means for our state in the future.Â
“I appreciate the Supreme Court for not allowing politics to get in the way of such an important ruling.â€
Proposed Transportation Bill substantially cuts dedicated funding for biking and walking
Even though a recent survey found that 83 percent of Americans support maintaining or increasing federal funding for walking and bicycling facilities, a congressional committee yesterday recommended a federal transportation bill that would cut dedicated federal funding for biking and walking between 40 and 100 percent. The actual amount will vary depending on how each state uses the money. The bill maintains funding for transit projects but fails to restore pre-tax transit benefits to levels that expired last year.
The Active Transportation Alliance opposes the bill and urges Congress to restore dedicated funding for walking and biking.
â€œWe are concerned that people who choose to walk and bike will get the short end of the stick as a result of large and disproportionate cuts in the proposed bill,â€ said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. â€œWith gas prices and roadway congestion increasing, and with more and more people wanting communities that are friendly to walking and biking, this bill is a step in the wrong direction.â€
Affected programs include the Transportation Enhancements program, which has funded many trail projects in the Chicago region like the Prairie Path, Lakefront Trail, DuPage River Trail, North Shore Channel Trail, Salt Creek Greenway, Burnham Greenway, and more. Also affected are the Safe Routes to Schools program and Recreational Trails grants.
The pool of federal money available for walking and biking will shrink at least 40 percent and could be reduced even more because state departments of transportations (DOTs) are allowed to divert half of these funds to other projects, most likely roads. Before passage of the 1991 federal transportation bill, state DOTs had similar flexibility and almost always chose to spend federal funds on roads instead of biking and walking.Â
â€œMany walking and biking projects will become road kill under this bill,â€ said Burke. â€œWe need the Illinois DOT to minimize the damage and pledge not to divert bike and pedestrian funds to other projects.â€
In addition, the bike and pedestrian funds must now compete with other projects within a â€œTransportation Alternativesâ€ program, such as environmental mitigation. This will make it more difficult for local communities to secure funding for local biking and walking projects.
Nationally, biking and walking account for 12 percent of all trips and 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, but only 1.5 percent of federal spending. That funding percentage will decrease significantly under the proposed bill. The new bill is touted for job creation, but bicycling and walking projects create more jobs per dollar than highways.
The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. Formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the Active Transportation Alliance is North Americaâ€™s largest transportation advocacy organization, supported by more than 6,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 35 full-time staff. For more information on the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.
By A. Barry Rand, CEO, AARPÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Last year, I called a meeting of the Howard University Board of Trustees to discuss a serious problem. More than 80 seniors at Howard had indicated they were going to have to drop out of school and would not be able to earn their degrees. The reasons were all economic. Some were overburdened by student loan debt. Others were told by their families that they could no longer afford to help them pay for college. And, yet others felt the need to find a job so they could help their families who were struggling to make ends meet because of the recession.
The problem we faced at Howard is a microcosm of what is happening today as Congress debates whether or not to extend the 3.4 percent interest rate of federal student loans, or to let it double to 6.8 percent on July 1. This decision affects approximately 7.4 million students who are estimated to take out these loans in the upcoming year.
At AARP, we see the student loan debt problem through a different lens, but it stems from the same circumstances. More and more older adults are still saddled with the burden of paying off student loans, either their own or those of their children, and in some cases, their grandchildren. According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Americans 60 and older still owe roughly $36 billion in student loans, and more than 10 percent of those are delinquent. And, increasingly, older adults are postponing retirement in order to pay off student loan debt accumulated by their children or grandchildren.
The reason we were so concerned at Howard and at AARP-and why all Americans should be concerned today-is because higher education is not only the gateway to the American Dream, it is the key to restoring prosperity to the middle class. The facts are clear. The median weekly income for high school graduates last year was $638 compared with $1,053 for college graduates. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for workers with just a high school diploma is 9.2 percent, more than double the rate for those with college degrees.
Being able to attain an affordable education also concerns us at AARP because we know that being able to live the life you want at 50, or 60 or 80 depends largely on whether or not you get a good start in life and have access to an affordable, quality education. That’s why we have joined forces to create AARP Experience Corps, a program that recruits older volunteers to volunteer in schools to make sure that students are reading at grade level by third grade. If they’re not, their chances for success in life diminish greatly.
We also see more and more people who reach a point where they want to do something different in their lives or they are forced to go into a different field because they can’t find a job. So, they go back to school, maybe to become a teacher, or to get a Master’s degree, or to pursue a field of study that has always interested them. Often, they rely on student loans to help finance their life reinvention dreams.
I get angry when I hear people question whether a college degree is really worth the investment. Of course it is. It’s true, many people with college degrees have lost their jobs and are deep in debt. But this is an even more harsh reality for those without college degrees. They struggle even more.
I also understand that when people question the value of a college education, what they are really concerned about is the cost. They compare the cost of a college education with the current economy and question whether they can ever earn enough to justify the investment. But this speaks more to the downturn in the economy and the erosion of the middle class than it does to the value of a college education. The reality is that more and more of the jobs in the future will require a college degree at a minimum.
The undeniable truth is that over the past generation, more and more of the middle class have fallen off the cliff into poverty-pulled down by a lack of job opportunities, rising health care costs, inadequate savings, declining home values, a lack of consumer protections and stagnant wages that have not kept pace with the costs of meeting basic human needs. Working adults now comprise a record share of the poor in this country-nearly 57 percent according to the most recent census data.
Moreover, a majority of middle-class Americans today believe that the next generation of adults will be worse off than their parents. If that happens, it will be the first time in our history. We cannot allow that to happen. And the first step in preventing it is to ensure access to affordable, quality higher education.
As we engage in this debate over student loan interest rates, we must remember that it was the GI Bill, passed following World War II, that opened the door to affordable higher education for so many, which in turn helped people achieve a higher standard of living and fueled the prosperity that built up the American middle class. It was access to education that helped boomers and others acquire the knowledge and skills to create the digital world we live in today.
At a time when we should be doing everything we can to restore prosperity to the middle class and to prepare our young people to create the world of tomorrow, we must also do everything we can to make sure that they have access to a high quality, affordable, higher education, not take steps like increasing interest rates that put it further out of reach. Our future depends on it.
A. Barry Rand is CEO of AARP and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Howard University in Washington, DC.
The Premier League will take up a leading position demonstrating the power of football to change lives by backing Beyond Football at Arsenal FCâ€™s world-famous Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, July 24th.
The Premier League, which has a long track-record in developing and investing in community development, will back Beyond Football as it works to further develop the use of football as a tool for social development. Beyond Football is being staged by Beyond Sport, the preeminent global organisation in the field of sport for social change, and worldwide network streetfootballworld.
Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the Premier League, commented: â€œBeyond Sport provides a platform for the various organisations and individuals that contribute to creating social change through sport to come together and learn from one anotherâ€™s skills and experiences.Â Â
â€œInitiatives like Premier League 4 Sport, Premier League Enterprise, Kickz and Premier Skills have shown us how by working with the right partners sport can make a real impact across different issues at a local and global level.
â€œWith our position as the most popular domestic sport league in the world comes responsibility, and we and our member clubs recognise that responsibility. Through a range of centralised and club-based programmes the power of football as a social engagement and participation tool positively affects our communities in a way few would have imagined 20 years ago.â€
Scudamore will speak on the opening panel at Beyond Football, joining leading experts from across the game and beyond as the event seeks to provide tangible outcomes and recommendations for ways in which the worldâ€™s most popular sport can use its unique position to tackle pressing social challenges.
The one-day event, also backed by global sportswear giant adidas, will explore how football can be used to promote education, health and crime prevention, with a strong emphasis on practical grassroots solutions. A particular focus will be on footballâ€™s role in tackling youth unemployment â€“ perhaps the biggest issue facing British youth at this time, and an area in which all 20 Premier League clubs are active.
Nick Keller, the Founder of Beyond Sport, added: “The 20 Premier League clubs are involved in some absolutely cutting-edge work in their communities, in some circumstances effectively fulfilling the role of social worker. From youth disengagement to disability to health, there is much to learn from these institutions which, despite their position as global brands, remain absolutely entrenched at the centre of their local communities.â€
JÃ¼rgen Griesbeck, the Founder and CEO of streetfootballworld, said: â€œFootball has a unique role as the worldâ€™s most popular sport, and streetfootballworld is committed to maximising its potential in the social arena. For 10 years, we have worked to strengthen a global network of community organisations and connect them to influential partners â€“ with tangible results. We are delighted to once again be working with Beyond Sport, and we look forward to further developing the field of sport for social change at Beyond Football.â€
Beyond Football is being staged as part of the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards, a three-day collision of leading figures from sport, development, business, and politics being staged in London just days ahead of the Olympic Games. Speakers at Beyond Sport will include The Rt Hon Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and Chairman of the Beyond Sport Ambassadors; Bob Diamond, the Chief Executive of Barclays; Jamie Oliver, the world-renowned chef and campaigner; Olympic gold medallists and Beyond Sport Ambassadors Michael Johnson and Bob Beamon; Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, the most successful Paralympian of all time; and John Amaechi OBE, the NBA legend and political activist.
The inaugural edition of Beyond Football, held in 2011 as part of the Beyond Sport Summit in Cape Town, focused on creating the â€˜perfect partnershipâ€™ between investors and practitioners, building the ideal team to create social impact worldwide. It brought together inspirational players such as former South African captain Lucas Radebe with teams, leagues, NGOs and stakeholders from around the world.
President Barack Obama: U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s Decision a victory for people all over this country
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk: The health care law threatens our economic recovery.
WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ In a historic decision the U.S. Supreme Court today by a 5-4Â vote upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s decision is a victory for people all over this country.
Responding to the U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s 5-4 decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act, President Obama said: â€œWhatever the politics, todayâ€™s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives are more secure because of this law and the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision to uphold it.â€
Kirk (R-Ill.) released the following statement: Â
“While I respect the Courtâ€™s decision, the health care law threatens our economic recovery by raising taxes, imposing new regulations and creating a drag on the economy,” said Senator Kirk. “Congress should repeal the health care law and replace it with common sense, centrist reforms that give Americans the right to buy insurance across state lines and expand coverage without raising taxes, while blocking the government from coming between patients and their doctors.”
Calling the Affordable Health Care Act a good law, Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said, â€œIt helps seniors, young adults and middle class Americans receive stronger, more affordable care. It promotes preventive care, such as checkups and mammograms. And it prevents insurance companies from denying care to people with pre-existing conditions or charging women more based on their gender. The Supreme Court ruling today upholds these commonsense protections and puts our country on a healthier path. In Illinois, I encourage our state leaders to use this ruling as a backdrop as we set policies to make our citizens healthier, train the next generation of health care workers, grow local food systems and find other opportunities to move our state forward.”
Others weigh-in on the Supreme Courtâ€™s health care ruling:
Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady said â€œObamaCare will lead to the implosion of our health care system, an explosion of our national debt and economic uncertainty for millions of job creators. This comes as no surprise since Barack Obama spent his formative political years in Springfield being trained by Illinois Democrats like Michael Madigan, who through years of mismanagement, have led Illinois to having the worst budget deficit, credit rating, pension debt and business climate in the nation.â€
In his statement, Jim Duffett, Executive Director of The Campaign for Better Health Care, said the â€œAmerican public has been battling the opponents of fairness and corporate insurance industry greed for 100 years to create a system of health care that works for all.. An affordable, accessible, quality system of health care gives consumers and small businesses the ability to choose, and ensures their peace of mind and security. Obamacare accomplishes these goals.
Duffett also pointed out some of the overall benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act:
Who is protected and helped by Obamacare?
1) You and your family: Obamacare makes health care coverage more secure for working families. You can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or lose your coverage when someone gets sick and needs to use it.
2) Women: The new health care law makes health care more secure and fair for women by ending denials due to pre-existing conditions and ensuring women can no longer be charged 150% of what men pay for the same coverage. Because of Obamacare, more than 20 million women have already received preventive care such as mammograms and pap smears without any out of pocket expenses.
3) Young Adults: Young adults want jobs and a future. Thanks to Obamacare, 2.5 million young adults are now more secure because they are able to stay on their parents insurance.
4) People with Cancer and other Health problems: Thanks to Obamacare, the more than 120 million Americans under 65 who have a â€œpre-existing conditionâ€ now have peace of mind from knowing they can no longer be denied affordable coverage.
5) Small Business: Under Obamacare, tax credits will help small businesses provide quality health care choices to their employees. Soon they will also have the ability to leverage their purchasing power as a group and get the same lower rates as big corporations do.
â€œTodayâ€™s Supreme Court decision helps to strengthen our nationâ€™s tattered social fabric and provides hope that constitutional law and democracy matters,â€ commented Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care.Â
Duffett continues, â€œIt is time for the obstructionists in the Republican Party in Congress and in Springfield, and a handful of insurance industry backed Democrats in Springfield to stop their crusade against Obamacare.Â It is time to put America and Illinois first, act like adults, and do something positive for a change that will help small businesses and hard working Americans by implementing Obamacare.Â Meanwhile, we are urging Governor Quinn to immediately sign an Executive Order and begin implementing the new insurance Marketplace (exchange) so Illinois’ hard working families and small businesses will continue to enjoy the benefits of access to affordable, quality health care.â€Â
Duffett concludes, â€œThank you Obamacare and thank you President Obama for keeping your word and delivering for the American people.Â The United States can now join the rest of the sane western industrial world that provides affordable, accessible and quality health care to its people.â€