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Archive for May 21st, 2013

NBCI calls on all Christians to get rid of their guns – unless you have sinned

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Who is going to protect you – God or your gun?

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans churchgoers, calls on its membership to get rid of any weapons in their homes. The black church believes that having a weapon is a sin; as Christians we are asked to put their faith in God. God says that He will protect us even until the ends of the Earth. So if God is going to protect you, why would you need a gun?

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology,

“Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home. They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home. Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method.”

The experts say that having a firearm in your house increases the likelihood that someone in your house will either die from homicide or suicide. The Scripture says, “Thou shalt not kill.” This applies to killing yourself as well as to killing others. Therefore, a gun does not have any place in a Christian’s life. Nothing can offer salvation except for our God, and you cannot live a righteous life by preparing for a violent end. Our weapon is prayer, not violence.

The Rev. Anthony Evans, President of the National Black Church Initiative, says,

“Our community has been devastated by guns. They have caused so much pain and destruction in African-American lives. Why we think that guns are the answer is beyond me. One should strive to have a non-violent personality. We will have much to say about this issue in the coming press releases. The heart of the Christian faith lies in having faith in God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and, as followers of Christ; we should never put anything above our Lord – not the Second Amendment or our guns. Our faith should be rooted in the Lord and will save us in the end, not a gun. So this is why the church is speaking clearly against a gun that can only kill the body and stain the soul. If you have a gun for protection, it is a sin and you must get rid of it. Your faith must prevail.”

So if you have any weapons in your house, the church is decreeing you to rid your home, life, and soul of guns and their associated violence within fifteen days of reading this edict. You have a choice to keep your guns because of free will, but also remember that the Scripture states, “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

About NBCI

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work. Visit our website at www.naltblackchurch.com.

Kern Residents — Fatal police beating didn’t happen in a vacuum

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Kern Residents -- Fatal Police Beating Didn't Happen in a Vacuum

New America Media

By Raj Jayadev

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Abusive behavior by law enforcement officers in towns across Kern County and neighboring Tulare County has generated distrust and resignation, especially among Latinos who make up the majority of the region’s population.

But national media coverage of the alleged beating death by deputies of David Silva, a 33-year-old Latino father of four, in downtown Bakersfield may prompt a public reckoning with the wider issue, according to some two dozen attendees at a health care fair here interviewed by New America Media.

Less than a week after Silva was beaten allegedly by eight or nine deputies and highway patrol officers, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC and Fox News had all reported on the incident as well as on an apparent attempt to cover it up when Bakersfield police confiscated the cell phones of several bystanders who had videotaped it.

So had the Spanish-language news outlet Univision, which posted a compilation of video segments titled “Most Infamous Police Beatings.”

“This is a really conservative community. Most people will think something like this was bound to happen — it’s been happening in other places. But the country’s eye is now on Bakersfield and that could make the difference,” said Amy Lopez, 22, a student of dental hygiene at Cal State Bakersfield.

Bill Phelps, who works with South Kern’s low-income health plan program HMC, said news of the beatings had “accelerated a huge mistrust of law enforcement across all sectors of the community. Thanks to national media coverage, Kern County is now on the public radar.”

Hilary Meeks, a reporter for the Visalia Times, noted that the incident hadn’t occurred in a vacuum. “There’ve been five shootings over the last four years in neighboring Tulare County … A sheriff’s deputy ran over someone two years ago and nothing was done about it. We had a guy killed in Porterville. The court case ended in a hung jury. That was one or two years ago.”

At least a third of those interviewed by NAM at the fair, held at the Kern County Fair Grounds on Saturday, had not heard about the Silva incident, although it’s been front page news for the Bakersfield Californian’s daily website, and on local TV. But recession-related closures of all but one Spanish- language news weekly and Univision’s Bakersfield bureau, has turned the city into something of a media desert, especially for non-English speakers.

“Local awareness will build with more local, state and national media coverage,” said El Popular publisher George Comacho, who plans to report on the story next week, especially in the wake of Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s request on May 14 for an FBI probe into Silva’s death.

Linda Vasquez, a 27-year-old Cal State Bakersfield student, was as agitated by the cover up as the beating itself. “The part that makes me angry is how they took the phones, because they’ve done that before.” She told a story of how her brother was harassed, and the phone of another family member who recorded the incident was taken by law enforcement. She was not sure whether it was city police or the sheriff’s department.

Ali Morris, CEO of the local Black Chamber of Commerce, thinks that even if public pressure mounts over the Silva case, it’s going to take a lot of time and education to change things for the better. “We have a broken system. In theory everything should work right. We can start attacking it here or there, but it’s the system that’s broke. It should have never gotten to this point.”

The solution, Morris says, has to come with changes in perception on both law enforcement’s side and on the public’s side.

“I think both sides are responsible,” Morris observed. “The whole police force is at the mercy of one bad officer. At the same time, the police officer wonders why he is putting his life in jeopardy when the people here don’t want him there.

“We have to go at this whole thing piece by piece,” Morris concluded. “If I didn’t have a spiritual foundation I couldn’t get through it.”

Pablo, another Cal State Bakersfield student who is studying to become a police officer and didn’t give his last name, learned about the Silva incident from his criminal justice professor.

“There have been a lot of shootings and beatings by law enforcement officials. They should train the police to use nonviolence or non-lethal force,” he commented.

Cal State student Amy Lopez said she was frustrated that there hadn’t been more public reaction like a student protest. “Something’s got to give. I shouldn’t leave it up to another group to say something. I should step up and do something.”

Wisconsin women arraigned in sex trafficking case

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Two Wisconsin women were arraigned on sex trafficking charges for transporting a teenage girl to Illinois and forcing her to engage in the ongoing sale of sexual services for their personal profit, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Elizabeth Roeder, 34, of Milwaukee, WI, and Shannon Hathaway, 41, of Stoughton, WI, have been charged with Involuntary Sexual Servitude of a Minor and Trafficking in Persons, both Class 1 felonies with a penalty of four to 15 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, the 17-year-old victim was dating Roeder’s teenaged son in Wisconsin and last March Roeder brought the victim to Illinois and began posting ads on the internet for both of them to work as “escorts.” Roeder then met Hathaway in Illinois and the two joined forces, posting ads for themselves and the victim to work as “escorts,” renting hotel rooms, arranging the dates and collecting all of the money.

Both Roeder and Hathaway kept the proceeds from their own acts of prostitution as well as the victim’s encounters, but the victim never received any of the financial proceeds. According to prosecutors, Roeder forced the victim to engage in prostitution, even though the victim expressed an unwillingness to do so.

Alvarez said Cook County and the state of Illinois are locations in which sex trafficking has very serious consequences thanks to the specialized Human Trafficking Initiative operated by the State’s Attorney’s Office.

“We have some powerful new laws on the books here in Illinois to attack this crime and we do not hesitate to use them,” Alvarez said. “The sexual services of teenagers are not for sale in our jurisdiction and we will continue to do everything within our power to ensure that juveniles are not being exploited for the purposes of sex trafficking.”

On April 10, 2013, an undercover officer from the Sheriff’s Police Vice Unit responded to an online ad and booked a date asking for Roeder, based on the name and photo that appeared in the advertisement. When the officer arrived at the hotel room in River Grove, Hathaway was waiting in the room with the victim. Hathaway negotiated the date with the officer and left the room. The minor was taken into custody, where it was then discovered that she was 17-years-old.

Roeder and Hathaway were taken into custody a short time later. Hathaway had the cash she received from the undercover officer with her and it was discovered that Roeder’s cell phone was the contact number listed in the online advertisement.

Both women pled not guilty during their arraignment today. Their next court date is June 11, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. at the Maywood Courthouse, Room 108.

The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Madigan: Illinois homeowners receive $1.8 billion in relief from National Foreclosure Settlement

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
Attorney General Cites Compliance Concerns, Citing 60% of Cases Sampled Failing to Comply With Key Settlement Timeline Term
CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Madigan reported Illinois homeowners have received more than $1.8 billion in relief under the national foreclosure settlement, according to the latest independent monitor report. Madigan, however, cited compliance concerns involving the settlement’s new mortgage “servicing standards.”
As of March 2013, Madigan said, 25,142 Illinois consumers have received more than $1.8 billion in relief under the settlement, with an average of $71,777 in direct assistance per borrower, in principal reductions and refinancing for underwater loans. Significantly, of those receiving assistance in Illinois, more than 3,500 homeowners received first-lien principal reductions averaging $118,235. Illinois ranks among the top five states for the amount of relief directed to homeowners, according to Madigan.
However, the Attorney General noted an alarming pattern of potential violations of mortgage “servicing standards” set forth in the 2012 settlement. Madigan said her office initiated a review of loan modification files submitted to her office and found that in 60 percent of the files surveyed, servicers failed to comply with a requirement that they notify borrowers within five days of missing documents in their applications. The requirement was included in the settlement to prevent servicers from delaying reviews by making multiple document requests of borrowers. Madigan’s office further found that in 45 percent of the files reviewed, servicers made multiple document requests of homeowners in violation of the new standards. Madigan said her office has heard similar concerns echoed by local legal aid groups and housing counselors regarding the banks’ efforts to meet certain deadlines.
Madigan said failure to comply with the stated deadlines increases the chances that struggling homeowners could lose their homes to foreclosure because the longer loan modifications are delayed, the further behind homeowners can fall on their payments as additional fees, penalties and interest accumulate.
“The new servicing standards were supposed to eliminate headaches for homeowners,” Madigan said. “But unfortunately, it seems we’re hearing about the same frustrating experiences. Homeowners are getting the runaround, receiving multiple requests for the same information and experiencing continued delays that put them closer to foreclosure. It’s important that the independent monitor closely review the problematic patterns we’re seeing to ensure the banks are held accountable under the settlement.”
Last year, Madigan joined 48 states, the U.S. Department of Justice and the nation’s five largest bank mortgage servicers – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC – in a $25 billion settlement to address allegations of widespread “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents and other fraudulent practices banks employed while servicing loans of struggling homeowners.
In addition to providing direct relief to borrowers who either lost their homes or were at risk of foreclosure, the settlement established new national “servicing standards” to better assist and protect borrowers who are behind on their mortgages. In the past, regardless of how well borrowers complied with bank requirements to try to obtain a loan modification or other assistance, borrowers ended up facing foreclosure because the banks failed to provide fair and efficient service to customers. These tough, new standards were set to ensure borrowers were given a fair chance to save their homes. The 304 new standards included provisions that require:
  • Distressed borrowers be considered for a loan modification rather than being automatically referred to foreclosure.
  • No loan be referred to foreclosure while a loan modification is being considered.
  • Mortgage servicers provide a single point of contact for borrowers as well as easier methods for checking on the progress of their loan modification applications.
  • Loan servicers to be held to strict timelines in dealing with distressed borrowers.
“One of the most frustrating experiences for homeowners occurs when servicers make repeated requests for documents during the loan modification process,” Madigan said. “Homeowners feel that they are on a ‘hamster wheel’ of unending document requests, which causes some homeowners to drop out of the process and, ultimately, lose their homes.”
Attorney General Madigan’s office serves on the settlement’s state monitoring committee to ensure that the servicers deliver on the new standards and consumer relief provisions of the settlement. The committee is working with the independent monitor to address concerns regarding noncompliance with the servicing standards’ new loss mitigation timelines. Madigan’s office initially alerted the monitor on March 25 about the potential violations of the servicing standards. The Attorney General’s office employs a staff of housing counselors who work directly with consumers and servicers to obtain affordable loan modifications, making it uniquely positioned to uncover potential violations.

MLK and “The Lest of Thee”

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Roosevelt Mitchell III, M.Ed

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — America wrestles with race like the country can only be viewed through a prism of the color wheel. Many democrats and conservatives takes Dr. King statement “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” to imply that he insisted on America being color-blind. Being color blind suggest that we do not take into consideration the specific elements of each individual’s identity, yet we are supposed to view them as color-less and magically everyone will get along thus making the nation Post-racial. This notion dismisses an entire group of people thus parochializing Dr. King’s dream and vision for love and justice for everyone. He fought for working people, poor people in Appalachia, poor people deep down in the delta, red, brown, white, black and people with disabilities. So he did not only fight for color but fought class also and his dream included “the lest of thee.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted America to be love struck, not color-blind. Love struck embraces all the elements of one’s identity and along with their traits and characteristics that make them who they are. You can’t love someone if you don’t know their gender, if you don’t know their race or what their bodies look like. To be love struck is too love and embrace who they are, what they look like, and their culture and history.

The notion of being “love struck” as opposed to “color-blind” is relatively important when it comes to folks with disabilities. Being color blind only suggest that people do not see color and everyone should get along based on the notion that we are all the same color. What about the difference of physical appearance? The social definition of what is “normal or humane” has been etched into society’s psyche so deep that it does not have to be said because it is already understood. If one is asked to explain what beauty look likes, or to explain the characteristics of a beautiful person they will be hard pressed to create an explanation out of whole cloth. It is something that is not explained but can be pointed out. If someone’s body differs or deviates from that unwritten definition then they are not normal but classified as different. People with disabilities undeniably lament an enigmatic mind state for mainstream society. For people with disabilities being color blind only solves part of their societal issues and does not even address the fundamental concept of what is normal and socially accepted in terms of able bodiness. People with disabilities are sifted in this American Diaspora and are not challenged by society to a level of excellence or mediocrity but failure is expected and accepted. Any person or race that is not challenged to excellence is done a disservice by mainstream society. Dr. King’s notion of being love struck embodies this great country’s motto “E pluribus unum,” and was intended to prevent any race or group from social inertia.

Black and white leadership today has failed people with disabilities since the death of Dr. King leaving them in the shadows as each decade passes with issues such as gay rights, immigration, war on drugs, and healthcare are in the forefront. People with disabilities are still not fully included in society, for example, it was May 17th, 1954 that Brown vs. Board of Education delivered the decision that segregation based on race was unconstitutional, but schools are still segregated today. Special education in schools is a segregation of students with disabilities from all of the “normal” students which is flagrant because this segregation spills over into mainstream society. Why has leadership not pushed for a more inclusive “we” instead of excluding the lest of thee? As we close upon the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech let us remember that people with disabilities were included in that dream, not out of rhetoric but love.

Roosevelt Mitchell III, M.Ed is an intellectual activist, writer, and speaker in the battle against social injustice. Contact him at (314) 708-9180 or rooseveltmitchell@yahoo.com or visit www.rooseveltmitchell.com

State Senator Raoul meets with Sandy Hook parents, discusses gun laws

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the Springfield visit of three parents of children killed in December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut:

“I was honored to have a personal meeting today with Mark Barden, Nicole Hockley and Francine Wheeler, all of whom lost young children in the Newtown massacre. These brave parents, who have lived the nightmare all mothers and fathers fear, came to Springfield to tell legislators that their children’s lives could have been spared had the shooter not been equipped with high-capacity magazines.

“I discussed with them my legislation, Senate Bill 851, which requires private sellers of firearms to verify that the buyer’s FOID Card hasn’t been revoked. This measure also requires gun owners to report a lost or stolen firearm and tightens mental illness reporting requirements so people who are a danger to themselves or others don’t acquire deadly weapons. Mr. Barden, Ms. Hockley and Ms. Wheeler agree with me that just as Connecticut enacted commonsense gun laws in response to Sandy Hook, Illinois desperately needs to take steps now to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring here.

“I salute the Sandy Hook parents for telling their story over and over, as difficult as that must be, in the hope that what happened to their children will not happen to ours. I urge my colleagues to join them in supporting commonsense gun laws.”

Pastor Hannah brings prayer heat to the 79th Street “hot spot”

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Prayer warriors: ‘Honk if you need prayer’

By Chinta Strausberg

More than 200 members and supporters of Pastor John Hannah, head of the New Life Covenant Church Saturday marched from Cottage Grove to King Drive along 79th Street Hannah described as a “hot spot” for crime.

They carried signs that read, “Honk your horn if you need prayer,” and where the members prayed and screamed out “we reverse the curse of the enemy” as they marched along the 79th commercial strip where just May 13th, 19-year-old Brandon Byars was shot while standing in a fast food chicken store located on the 400 block of East 79th Street.

Pastor Hannah said, “We want to cover our city with prayter. We know that Chicago is filled with violence so we wanted to make sure we come out before the summer even starts to make sure we cover our community.”

Labeling 79th Street a “hot street,” Hannah said, “There is a lot of violence on this street, a lot of liquor stores and a lot of guys hanging out on covers, so we want to cover this street with prayer. This street is hot and the only way it can be changed is with prayer.”

“We want to let them know that God is in control, and they need to turn to him,” said one marcher who wanted only to be identified as Sade N. “There are so many kids dying on this street. We had a lady to come down from her house and say thank you for doing this. We had six kids who died just a few months ago. It’s time to bring it to the streets and let them know that God is God.”

Brianna Seates, 12, said, “We are praying for people and pray that they won’t” shoot or kill any more people.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

Rapper Jay-Z launches 2013 Scholarship Program for needy students

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The deadline to apply is May 31, 2013

Nationwide — The Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund (SCSF) provides individual grants ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 to every student who qualifies and reapplies yearly, from admission to graduation.

The grant can be used to cover tuition expenses and related supplemental educational expenses such as books, lab fees, travel and select costs of living. All Shawn Carter Scholars are required to “give back” by conducting community service and by serving as mentors to younger, aspiring Shawn Carter Scholars.

All high school seniors, undergraduate college students, and students at vocational or trade schools are eligible to apply. All applicants must be US citizens, 25 years old or younger, and have a minimum GPA of 2.0.

For more details and/or to apply, visit:

Top internships for minority and African American students in 2013/14

Posted by Newsroom On May - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Internships are a gateway for students that lead to careers. There are thousands of internship opportunities each year across the country, and some of these programs are specifically for minorities and African Americans. Here are just five of such programs:

#1 – Explore Microsoft Internship Program For Women and Minorities
This program is for current college undergraduate minority students pursuing a degree in computer science or software engineering. Students may apply in their freshman or sophomore year of college.
Learn more at: www.findinternships.com/2013/04/Explore-Microsoft-Internship-Program.html

#2 – White House Initiative’s Year-round Internship Program For African Americans
This program offers an exciting experience for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in improving education outcomes for African Americans. This is an unpaid internship working for the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.
Learn more at: www.findinternships.com/2013/04/white-house-initiative-year-round-internship-program.html

#3 – National Urban League Summer Internship Program
This program is for students interested in a career in the non-profit industry. The program provides an 8-week paid internship for college students in either New York City or Washington, D.C.
Learn more at: www.findinternships.com/2013/04/national-urban-league-summer-internship.html

#4 – UNCF/NAACP Gateway to Leadership Internship Program
This program is a 10-week paid summer internship for undergraduate students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This program offers finance majors an opportunity to work with major financial organizations during the internship.
Learn more at: www.findinternships.com/2013/04/uncf-naacp-gateway-to-leadership-internship-program.html

#5 – NASCAR Diversity Internship Program
This program is a 10-week, full-time, paid summer work opportunity for deserving students with an interest in the NASCAR industry, who are of Alaskan Native, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, or of other racial minority descent. Students must have an interest in the NASCAR industry.
Learn more at: www.findinternships.com/2013/03/nascar-diversity-internship-program.html

To search and apply for more internship opportunities, visit www.FindInternships.com

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