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Archive for June 24th, 2013

“State of Equality and Justice in America”: Needed: Action Agenda to Educate Our Children

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
This is the nineteenth of a 20-part series “State of Equality and Justice in America”
By Lezli Baskerville, Esq.
At 5:00 a.m. and, careful not to wake her daughter and two sleeping grandsons, Helen gets dressed for the morning shift at a DC hotel kitchen.
“My supervisor is a kid. I hate it, but this job is all that’s keeping us from moving back to the shelter,” Helen told me, adding that, if they get lucky, her daughter Erika might earn a little extra, braiding hair in between caring for the boys and applying for work.
Helen once had high hopes that Erika, her youngest child, would become the first college graduate in the family.
But with the burden of more than $20,000 in defaulted student loan debt and fees, the prospects that her daughter will ever return to finish her degree are bleak.
It’s the story of Helen’s family, and millions more like her.
The constricting economic burdens created by excessive student loan debt, not only prevents young people from building wealth, it spirals outward in concentric circles ensnaring parents, children, grandchildren, strangling the economic growth of entire communities.
Student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion, and not surprisingly, African-Americans and other underserved minority students are disproportionately affected.
According to the Center for American Progress, 81 percent of African-Americans borrow money at higher interest rates than their peers, which creates greater financial vulnerability. More than 13 percent of students whose loans came due in 2009 defaulted within three years for non-payment, a situation exacerbated by high unemployment, a struggling economy, and the effects of the Great Recession.
We need to shift the paradigm in a way that fundamentally uproots the assumptions underlying low-income students and public higher education funding. What if institutions which serve disproportionate percentages of low-income, first generation traditionally underrepresented students were funded based upon the socio-economic and demographic profile of the students and size of the institution’s endowment? The higher the percentage of lower income students enrolled and persisting in an institution, the higher its federal funding level. The national goal is, after all, moving more of the growing populations to college completion.
What if conflicting public policies were eliminated? For example, the cost of incarceration is $26,000 yearly per inmate. The tuition rates at the historically Black Morgan State University are $17,000 and $25,000 respectively for in-state and out-of-state students, and represent positive cash flow to the state. Across the spectrum, the cost of attaining a degree at a public HBCU is $2,500 less per year than at a public HWCU, and $10,000 less per year at a private HBCU than a private HWCU, according to The College Board.
If we are to meet President Obama’s national goal of graduating 60 percent of Americans with a two or four-year degree by 2020, an estimated two million additional African-American students must be educated. Historically Black Colleges and Universities will need to increase the number of graduates per year from 35,000 to more than 57,000.
This will not happen without a major overhaul of the student financial aid system.
We must reform the Pell Grant program to require notification of likely Pell Grant eligibility to middle school student families participating in needs-based federal programs e.g., free/reduced lunch. This will incentivize low-income students to believe that college is possible.
We must devise an automatic income-based repayment (IBR) plan for student loans by which borrowers can make payments through employer withholding. If a student were unemployed, there would be no obligation to pay. If a student loan borrower must file for bankruptcy the code should be changed back to permitting privately issued student loans to be dischargeable in bankruptcy like nearly all other forms of private debt.
We must cap student and parent loan interest rates on subsidized Stafford Student Loans, Parent Plus Loans, and other government education loans at no more than 2 or 3 percent to remove the twin obstacles of high interest rates and prohibitive student debt. This will assist 7.4 million student and parent borrowers.
We must incentivize governors, state legislatures, and municipalities to establish Promise Communities in which endowments would be established and funded by a percentage of the regular expenditures of residents e.g., utility and grocery bills. The endowment would fund the cost of a four-year public education for qualifying low-income students. This concept has achieved successful outcomes in several states.
A bold agenda? Absolutely. If the lessons of the 1960s teach us anything, it is that real progress is not built on cautious compromises. We must begin a movement on behalf of black and brown, low-income, first generation students.
The components of the movement are there. It begins with an action agenda to educate our children from pre-school upward.
That’s the kind of movement that the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) is ready to lead. That’s the bold agenda that Helen’s family and other families in America desperately need now.
Lezli Baskerville, Esq. is president/CEO of the NAFEO.
Editor’s Note: This article – the nineteenth of a 20-part series – is written in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, of which Congressman Lewis is grand marshal. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity – work that continues to be vital today. For more information, please visit http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001Wa_AJpkupkV0ytFxlDolhz1d54Qn1W4tyDPEHbvcdOVfZR2zfvMDOWJAv3fMGNJfbkUSX2g4bneNu_klVKDYI8sr2Qbs4k3KPaeTAjs61IvMCy_b4eXULa8d9-GSoqkI.

Free Meal Program Continues Across Illinois During Summer Vacation

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

More than 2,100 sites serving free breakfast and lunch SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced that approximately 2,100 sites are expected to serve free breakfast and lunch to children and teens ages 18 and younger across Illinois during summer vacation. At more than half the sites, children and teens will not have to apply or show any proof of family income in order to receive a meal.

“These healthy meals will help keep students well-fed and prepared for success when the school bell rings this fall,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Research clearly shows proper nutrition impacts student achievement.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the Summer Meals program and ISBE administers the program in Illinois. Summer feeding sites include schools, places of worship and faith, community facilities and parks.

Families can search for a nearby site offering free meals at www.summerfeedingillinois.org. ISBE has partnered with Share Our Strength, a national child anti-hunger organization, to address childhood hunger with the Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign.

Individuals also can text the words “FoodIL” to 877-877. Upon texting, individuals will be prompted to send a full mailing address, after which they will receive the address and serving times of the closest summer meals sites.

Despite a slight increase in the number of low-income children eating summer meals nationwide in July 2012, the nation’s Summer Nutrition Programs continue to fall far short of the goal to curb summer hunger, according to a recent report by the Food Research and Action Center (www.frac.org). The “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation:Summer Nutrition Status Report” and a summary are available online at http://frac.org/new-frac-report-finds-summer-meals-continue-to-fall-short/.

According to the report, Illinois saw a small increase, in the number of lunches served from June-August 2012 compared to the previous summer. Experts estimated nearly 63,000 children in Illinois were served meals during each of the past two summers.

With 2,155 sites this year across the state, compared to about 1,900 last summer, the Illinois State Board of Education hopes to provide more healthy meals for Illinois schoolchildren this summer.

“We encourage families to take advantage of our state’s summer meals program,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Absolutely no child should go hungry anytime of the year in the United States of America. Children who maintain healthy habits during the summer are more likely to be prepared to succeed in school this fall.”

Madigan urges Department of Defense to strengthen protections for servicemembers targeted by predatory lenders

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to strengthen regulations under the federal Military Lending Act (MLA) to ensure servicemembers are better protected from abusive lending practices.
Joined by 12 other Attorneys General, Madigan submitted a letter to Hagel in response to proposed new rules under the MLA. In 2007, Congress passed the MLA, establishing a 36 percent cap on interest and fees on certain consumer credit transactions with servicemembers.  However, the U.S. Department of Defense’s regulations currently limit the protections to three narrow definitions of consumer credit:
  • Payday loans (only covering loans of up to $2,000, for a term of 91 days or less);
  • Vehicle title loans: (only covering loans for a term of 181 days or less); and
  • Tax refund anticipation loans.
 The limited lending products covered by the MLA have allowed predatory lenders to structure their high-cost loans in a way that evade the regulations. For instance, lenders offer payday loans starting at $2,001 or require a minimum repayment period of 92 days, allowing them to avoid the 36 percent interest rate cap.
“Servicemembers are unfortunately prime targets for predatory lenders,” Madigan said. “The Department of Defense must close the loopholes in the law because those who serve our country don’t deserve to be defrauded by predatory lenders.”
Madigan and the other attorneys general stressed that the protections in the MLA should apply uniformly to all consumer credit loans. They also raised concern about a lack of coverage for any open-ended or revolving payday loans; any bank loan that is secured by funds on deposit, such as overdraft loans; and any retail sales credit loan or other similar rent-to-own transaction, including those where the loan claims to be “secured” by personal property that bears, in actuality, no relationship to the amount of the credit advanced.
Attorneys General from the following states joined Madigan in the letter to Hagel: California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. 

Parents of closing school lead voter registration drive and rally in an effort to defeat Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Parents and students of Sexton Elementary School, a Woodlawn School slated for closure, will rally at 61st and Cottage Grove and register voters, in an early effort to vote out Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“School closings will lead to more violence” says Marilyn Harper, parent at Sexton Elementary School, “closing Sexton will force children and their relatives to cross gang lines and will result in violence”. Harper says that they are registering voters because “school closings are not about making our school better, they are about privatization and the mayor and his band of puppets making money; we need to vote him out of there.”

Four students and community members were arrested last month protesting the closing of Sexton Elementary. Protestors held a die-in along 61st and Cottage Grove, a gang line which students will be forced to cross when Sexton closes.

WHAT: Parents of closing school lead voter registration drive and rally

WHEN: Mon. 6/24 3:30pm

WHERE: 61th & Cottage Grove

WHO: CPS Parents United and community allies

For more information, contact: Alex Goldenberg (773) 543-9153

Robert L. Johnson and Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. announce Alliance to End Payday Lending, lower minority consumer debt, and promote financial education

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Agreement supports RLJ Financials’ Plan to provide viable alternative to Payday Lending for consumers in need of short term and emergency borrowing


BETHESDA, MD (BlackNews.com) — Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies and Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, announced their alliance to reshape the national financial lending climate and help Americans, particularly minorities, pay down consumer debt, increase household savings, and overcome a cycle of short term and emergency borrowing caused by the excessive use of payday lending.

Nearly twelve million Americans turn to payday loans annually when faced with financial challenges in order to cover emergency expenses and meet cash shortfalls. Forty-one percent of borrowers have needed a cash infusion to pay off a payday loan and many ultimately turn to the same options they could have used instead of payday loans to finally pay off the loan. As a result and because of current high interest lending rates, many borrowers are unable to pay back loans in a timely manner and find themselves in a cycle of borrowing and debt. (Payday Lending in America: How Borrowers Choose and Repay Payday Loans, published February 2013).

Johnson announced earlier this year his financial awareness campaign to “end payday lending as we know it today” and has designated Dr. Soaries and his dfree® program as the financial literacy arm to change the lending climate and help minority consumers overcome recurring debt and achieve financial stability. By encouraging lending institutions to create lower interest borrowing solutions and making consumers more aware of the financial options available to them prior to going into debt, today’s collaboration will offer the tools and resources consumers need in order to make better and more informed financial decisions.

Founded by Dr. Soaries in 2005, dfree® (www.mydfree.org) is an enterprise that creates solutions for individuals and organizations pursuing financial freedom and economic self-sufficiency. The dfree® strategy begins with the elimination of debt and addresses the root causes of chronic indebtedness. dfree® stands for “Debt, Delinquency and Deficit Free” and the program has reached thousands of consumers nationwide by challenging them to take control of their finances by setting debt reduction goals, paying off debt, increasing awareness and changing behavior as it relates to money and borrowing.

“Dr. Soaries and the dfree® program has been highly successful in its mission to help consumers gain financial literacy and save for their financial future,” said Johnson. “I am delighted that Pastor Soaries has agreed to work collaboratively on my campaign to bring about an end to payday lending as we know it today. He has been a national leader on educating consumers about the need to live debt free, and I believe that together we will bring about a significant change and provide valuable information on improving the lives of millions of working class Americans, particularly minority Americans,” he concluded.

“I am thrilled to join Bob Johnson and his financial initiative to end payday lending and am proud to be a part of the efforts through dfree®. Our mission is to help consumers nationwide achieve debt free living, economic capacity, and to rely less on borrowing, particularly from high interest payday lending institutions. Providing individuals and families with the tools to address financial needs on a consistent basis, helps them to better manage their finances and achieve financial freedom,” noted Dr. Soaries.

About The RLJ Companies:
The RLJ Companies, founded by Robert L. Johnson, is an innovative business network that provides strategic investments in a diverse portfolio of companies. Within The RLJ Companies portfolio, Johnson owns or holds interests in businesses operating in a publicly traded hotel real estate investment trust; private equity; financial services; asset management; insurance services; automobile dealerships; sports and entertainment; and video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming. The RLJ Companies is headquartered in Bethesda, MD, with affiliate operations in Charlotte, NC; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; San Juan, PR; and Monrovia, Liberia. Prior to founding The RLJ Companies, Johnson was founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET). For more information, visit: www.rljcompanies.com.

About Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.:
Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in New Jersey and author of dfree®: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery. His dfree® strategy is designed to lead people out of debt to attain financial independence. His strategy was the focus of CNN’s “Almighty Debt” documentary. Recently, Soaries announced the Billion Dollar Challenge, a campaign challenging people to pay off $1 billion in debt. Participants can track their progress online at www.billiondollarpaydown.com.

Man receives 35-year prison sentence for murder of teen in 2009 case

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

A Chicago man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for a 2009 gang-related shooting that left a16 year-old dead and two others wounded, according to the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Cortez Powell, 30, was charged and convicted of the murder of Damier Love, 16, who was killed in a shooting that occurred on the city’s west side in 2009.  Cook County Judge Thomas Hennelley sentenced Powell to 35 years in state prison for the murder during a hearing at the George Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago this week.

According to prosecutors, during the early hours of April 9, 2009 Powell and co-defendant Brian Ward went out looking to shoot rival gang members.   The pair saw the victim and two other men as they stood in front of a liquor store in the 5300 block of West Chicago.  Ward allegedly approached love and shot him several times, killing him.  Powell was also armed with a gun and fired his weapon.  Two other men were shot during the incident but survived. 

Ward is currently awaiting trial with his next court appearance scheduled for June 26, 2013. 

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked Assistant State’s Attorneys Martin Moore and Joseph Lattanzio and the Chicago Police Department for their work on this case.

The Official Post Awards Party hosted by Chris Brown

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS


ZING Vodka Presents: “The Party-After” Hosted by Chris Brown Featuring DJ Nick Cannon post BET Awards 2013, June 30, 2013, at The Belasco Theater, 1050 S. Hukk Street, Los Angeles, Ca. (entrance on 11th Street.

Press/Media check-in at 9:30 p.m.
Red Carpet Arrivals, 10-11:30 p.m.

Those attending the event will be Recording Artists Chris Brown, Nick Cannon, Jeremih, Problem, Ray J, Ne-Yo, Brandy Norwood, Judith Hill, Slaughterhouse; NBA/NFL Athletes–Blake Griffin, Desean Jackson, Dashon Goldson, Ike Taylor, Joe Johnson, Shawne Merriman, Brandon Bass, Kenyon Martin, Josh Smith, Bryant McKinnie, and Olympian Will Clay; Cheryl Burke (DWTS), Adrienne Maloof (RHOBH), Draya Michelle (BWLA), Yandy Smith (LHHATL), Laura Govan (BWLA), Jackie Christie (BWLA), Quad Webb-Lunceford (Married2Med), Monifa (R&BDiva), Kaitlynn Simone (the Game), Dorian Missick (Southland), Glenn Plummer (Sons of Anarchy); Grammy Award nominees and winning producers: Eric Hudson, Drumma Boy, Bangladesh, Tommy Hittz, Corey “Knotch” Marks, plus many others.

e: Stacey@JadeUmbrella.com
p: 323-833-8358

Photo Caption: Chris Brown

One Month Down: Red Line South Reconstruction Project Proceeding On Time and On Budget

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Alternative service providing smooth commutes 

As the Red Line South reconstruction project marks the completion of the first month of work, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) officials announced that the $425 million project remains on schedule and within budget, and that alternative service is providing smooth commutes for customers.

“Mayor Emanuel and I are pleased to report that this massive investment in the Red Line South and the South Side is proceeding smoothly and our customers are a month closer to a brand new railroad that provides faster, smoother and more reliable commutes,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.  “The CTA continues to provide plenty of alternative, convenient and discounted or free service to customers affected by the project and we continue to create jobs and economic benefits for the South Side and Chicago as a whole.”

The Red Line South reconstruction began May 19, requiring a temporary shutdown of 10 miles of track to completely rebuild it. The five-month shutdown will allow the work to be completed in the quickest, most cost-efficient manner, and includes the rehabilitation of eight of nine Red Line South rail stations along the Red Line South. The ninth station, 95th Street Terminal, will be reconstructed in a separate, $240 million project next year.

To accommodate customers affected by the shutdown, the CTA has provided extensive alternative service, including free shuttles between Red Line stations south of 63rd Street and the Garfield elevated rail station; free entry at Garfield Green Line station; Red Line train service running on Green Line tracks from Roosevelt to Ashland/63rd; expanded bus service on numerous nearby bus routes and 50-cent discounts on bus rides south of 63rd Street.

Project progress highlights include:

Railroad reconstruction

The project includes replacing all railroad ties, rails, third rail, drainage and communications systems, and ballast, the stone material that holds the ties in place. Station work includes lighting replacement or refurbishment, new signage, floor reglazing/repair, painting, cleaning and new elevators at the Garfield, 63rd and 87th stations.

About 95 percent of the old tracks have been removed and 80 percent of the third rail, signals and communications cable has been finished.  At shuttered Red Line South stations, demolition and foundation work has progressed in areas where new elevators will be built.

Job creation 

The CTA estimates that overall jobs created by this project will top 1,000, including 400 part-time bus operators, 100 traffic control aides, 400-plus construction jobs and more.

Alternative service/ridership

To help customers inconvenienced by the temporary Red Line South branch shutdown, the CTA undertook a major alternative service effort to provide customers with plenty of service alternatives that are being widely used by our customers.

In line with the CTA’s expectations, customers are taking advantage of a number of alternatives during this period.

  • More than 9,300 customers on an average weekday are taking express shuttles from 95th, 87th, 79th and 69th to Garfield.
  • More than 6,700 customers are taking the local shuttle, which makes all stops between 63rd and 95th.
  • More than 1,300 customers take the express shuttle between Cermak/Chinatown and Roosevelt Road.
  • Customers are increasing use of the Green, Orange and re-routed Red Line, as well as several north-south bus routes, including the #3 State, #4 Cottage Grove, J14 Jeffery Jump and #29 State.

During the first few weeks of the project, CTA closely monitored ridership patterns each day and made a number of tweaks to the alternative service to better meet ridership demand.  For example, CTA added service on the #3 King Drive, #4 Cottage Grove, #J14 Jeffery Jump and #29 State Street bus routes to address an increase in ridership.

Additionally, the CTA increased the number of signs and maps at stations and shuttle stops to help customers more easily navigate the alternative service, and launched a campaign to promote the free shuttles as a convenient alternative to normal north-south bus routes.

More information about the Red Line South project is posted at www.transitchicago.com. Follow us on Twitter @RedLineSouth for updates.

Topinka calls on Illinoisans to join cancer research effort

Posted by Admin On June - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS


Comptroller joins Cancer Society to promote CPS-3


CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka joined representatives and volunteers from the American Cancer Society at the Thompson Center in Chicago Monday to celebrate the organization’s 100th Birthday and promote participation in a new Cancer Prevention Study.

The Cancer Society launched its first Prevention Study nearly 60 years ago, and conducted a follow-up study years later. The pair of investigations led to important discoveries such as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and the role obesity plays in the risk of several cancers.

On Monday, Topinka and Cancer Society leaders encouraged residents to enroll for a third study.

“Cancer Prevention Study -3 is an unprecedented opportunity for Illinois residents to get involved and make a difference,” Topinka said. “It’s a chance to participate in a historic study that has the potential to change the face of cancer for future generations.”

In addition to Topinka, volunteer champion and President of the American Cancer Society’s leadership board, Claire Thibodeaux spoke about her involvement and experiences with the cancer research effort.

CPS-3 is a historic research study that gives scientists a better understanding of cancer causes, prevention and treatment. The Society is looking for local men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 from various racial/ethnic backgrounds with no personal history of cancer to help reach full enrollment of at least 300,000 people.

Researchers say CPS-3 holds the best hope of identifying new and emerging cancer risks. They will use data from CPS-3 to build on evidence from earlier cancer prevention studies, which began in the 1950s and involved hundreds of thousands of volunteer participants.

Visit www.cancer.org/cps3, call 1-888-604-5888 or e-mail cps3@cancer.org to learn more about Cancer Prevention Study-3.                                         


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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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