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Archive for September 23rd, 2013

As I celebrate another birthday, I pause and give thanks to God…and my mother

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

It’s been a long journey…and I humbly acknowledge: I never could have made it without God and His blessings

By Juanita Bratcher

Author, Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine

I’ve been a Journalist/News reporter/Author/Publisher/Song Writer/Poet now for almost 38 years. It’s been a long journey and indeed an exciting and challenging one. But through it all, I’ve always counted my blessings, and believe me I know exactly where my blessings have come from; because with God all things are possible.

So today, September 23, on my umpteenth birthday, I can’t help but praise God and give Him the glory for keeping me. He has truly blessed me a thousand-fold. I never could have made it in this world without the Lord. And I so humbly acknowledge that fact.

You see, at a very young age, death stared me straight in the eyes three times, but God had a plan for me and I overcome each one of them – all three…but of course it was not my doing. That was the interception of a powerful being – God. I don’t know the reason why I survived all three times, but by the grace of God, I’m still here. And I thank Him every day for keeping me.

In my unreleased autobiography that I’m now in the process of writing, I talk about those escapes with death: “I’ve faced death some three times: When I was six weeks old, I contracted the whooping cough. My mother thought she would lose me. At times she stayed up all night blowing breath back into my body. That’s the way she described it to me when I was old enough to understand the ways of the world.

“When I was three years old, our house caught fire. Everyone got out safely except me. My mother Tommie Sean Pickens was at work but my aunt Annie McClain, her sister, was babysitting her three children. When my aunt looked around to assess the situation, she discovered that I was not standing there alongside my two sisters. My brother had not yet been born. She went back into the house looking for me. Although she got me out of the house, safely, she was marked for the rest of her life. She was badly burned.

“In my third episode with death, I was an anxious small kid running across a main street with my two big sisters to get to an ice cream parlor to purchase an ice cream cone. I fell in the pathway of a car. Luckily for me, behind the wheels of the car was a conscientious driver. He hit the brakes fast enough to spare me my life. Of course, I felt all along that God was in the plan. Praise the Lord! It was a close encounter that I’ll never forget.

“After facing death three times, I figured there had to be a reason why I survived. As of yet, I haven’t been able to quite figure it out. But I do know that God wanted me here, that during those life threatening times my mission here on earth was not finished.

“One’s life must have meaning and purpose. And, I’ve tried my utmost to make sure that they both play an integral role in my life.

“I think about my late mother, Tommie Sean Forte (she remarried), who taught her four children from the very beginning who they were, and instilled in them self esteem at a very young age. ‘No one, absolutely no one is better than you; and you’re no better than anyone else’ she would always say to us, meaning don’t look down on others. ‘Always look everyone straight in the eyes and always stand tall for what you believe in.’ She also taught us love and respect for our fellowman – that that was the Christian way – and to always judge a man by the content of his character and not by his racial origin. And she practiced what she preached throughout her lifetime.

“My sister Eula was a conscientious doer. She participated in most of the sit-ins and boycotts of stores in our hometown, due to their discriminatory practices. I am just as proud of my two other siblings, Bertha and Tommy. They worked tirelessly to bring about change in a southern city where Blacks feared the Ku Klux Klan about as much as kids feared the imaginary figure, “bogey-man.”

“My father died when I was very young. Mom told me about him because when he died I was too young to understand anything about life. I was only three years old. He was an auto mechanic. His job was also the cause of his death. When he was repairing a car the jack collapsed and the car crushed him.

“Life has always been, and still is, a challenge. I never saw it as a “bowl of cherries,” so to speak. Undoubtedly the world we live in will be faced with many more challenges – some old, some new. Hopefully, this book of poems, in regards to perceptions and reflections of years past – and current – will shed light on this not-so-perfect world we live in; the way it was, the way it is, and the way it should be. Because the more things change, the more they remain the same.

“Today, many of our young people are suffering; not only from the vestiges of racism, but from national and worldly menus, if you will, of unemployment, mis-education, infant mortality, violence, drugs, hunger, homelessness, depression and oppression.

“I am concerned about our children, our future generations. The stark reality of children killing children, babies having babies, and many of our young people being hauled off to prisons to spend most, if not all of their lifetime behind prison bars and walls, should be of great concern to all of us.

“I am saddened over the number of young Black males that are bottled up within the criminal justice system across the nation, many of whom are talented young men with much to offer the world, but took a wrong turn in life.

“I am appalled over some of our leadership, those leaders who roam the halls of Congress and State Houses, who fail to bring home the bacon, or live up to the moral mandate set forth by the people who elected and sent them to public office. I’m also fed-up and frustrated with many of our shameless organizations that have their hands stretched out widely for what they can get, with no trickle-down effect to those who need it.

“On a daily basis, we are confronted with many horror stories – terrorism riding roughshod through our streets, through our neighborhoods, mostly by a handful of out-of-control thugs who have a total disregard for life, people or the law. They don’t respect themselves and they have no respect for other people.

“There are far too many guns out on the streets in our cities, many in the hands of young people, who sometimes pull the trigger without even thinking about the devastating repercussions that will follow. Life is precious and must be treated as such. It must be respected, preserved and protected.

“Violence is an incurable cancer. It can be so overwhelming, causing tremendous pain and suffering to many. Crime and violence must be tackled head-on by every law enforcement agency across this country. And every resident and citizen of this country must be at the forefront of the battlefield with them. We must be in partnership with their efforts. But we must also demand that justice is meted out honorably and fairly! Nothing more, nothing less!”

These are all quotes from my book, “A Journey With God – My Autobiography”.

Many have called me “walking history,” not so much for what I’ve done in my life and career but that I had the opportunity to cover many of the history makers as a journalist/news reporter.

Last night, on the heels of my birthday, I found myself reflecting on my life and career. And I thought, “God has smiled on me; He has been good to me.” I was so overwhelmed spiritually. Just to take a walk down memory lane was a spiritual enrichment for me. I was feeling emotional and yes, indeed grateful. Oh, what a joyous feeling. With God all things are possible. And if mom hadn’t been the woman she was; I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

I thank God that mom had the foresight to decipher good from bad. She was a Christian and lived life the Christian way. She was a missionary and Mother of the Church for years (even at death) at New Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia. God was first in her life – second to none – and she always showed love for her family and others. She’d say, “We’re all God’s children.” She helped many and always visited the sick (those she knew and church members).

At times, we must pause, stop and think not just about ourselves but about others. There are so many people suffering in the world today because of a terrible economy – they’ve lost their jobs, their homes and some are in poor health. Yet, there are those in public office that conflict pain on the unfortunate rather than lend a helping hand.

So on my umpteenth birthday, I give honor to God. He is my Co-pilot and the Captain of my ship (life). God has truly been good to me – first and foremost for giving me one of the best mothers in the world. She taught me right from wrong through my upbringing in the church, respect for my fellowman and a home filled with comfort and love.

Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 37 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.

Is Inequality Shortening Your Life Span?

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
This article is the 11th of an 11-part series on race
White, Black, or brown, we’d all live longer in a more equal, less status-driven society
By Phillip Longman
Imagine you got to choose whether to be born Black or born White in America. Here are a few health statistics that might inform your decision:
If you chose to be born White, your chances of dying of Parkinson’s disease would be twice as likely as if you chose to be Black. Your chances of dying from cirrhosis of the liver or Alzheimer’s disease would be 25 percent higher. As a White person, you’d also be two and a half times more likely to commit suicide.
Based on those facts alone, the decision to be born White might sound like a pretty bad idea. And sure enough, life doesn’t work out well for many millions of White people in America. But you might also consider that everyone has to die of something, and dying from these particular causes has some advantages.
As terrible as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are, for example, almost no one dies of them unless they’ve previously managed to escape death from other causes for 75 years or more. Cirrhosis of the liver tends to kill at younger ages, but you can still spend many decades of hard drinking before it catches up with you. Even for the chance to commit suicide, one typically has to have survived at least until one’s teens, and suicide is more common among those who have succeeded in growing old than it is among those who are still young.
By contrast, consider the pros and cons of choosing to be born Black, based on life tables alone. To be sure, opting to be Black would reduce your chances of dying from diseases caused by risk factors that rise with age. But it would also severely reduce your chances of living to even your first birthday, let alone growing old enough to retire.
This would be particularly true if you chose to be Black and male.
To start with, your chances of dying before your first birthday would be roughly 2.3 times greater than if you were born White. If you managed to make it to age one as a Black male child, your chances of dying before your 5th birthday would be 80 percent greater. If you survived to age 15, you’d have a 60 percent greater chance of dying within the next 10 years. If despite these elevated risks of premature death you nonetheless managed to get to your 45th birthday, you’d still be 80 percent less likely to live long enough to collect Social Security than if you had chosen to be White.
If you were Black you would also, of course, substantially elevate your chances of growing up in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood, and the health consequences of living in that kind of environment are extremely adverse. If your neighborhood were, say, New York’s Harlem during the 1990s, as a young man you’d have only a 37 percent chance of living to see 65. By contrast, according to a seminal study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, if you’d chosen to be White and wound up living in the unremarkable, predominantly White middle-class Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights, your chances of still being alive at sixty-five would be above 89 percent.
So what would you choose? It may be that longevity is not the only measure of the good life. You might also, with enough luck and fortitude, be able to overcome the highly elevated health risks of choosing to be born Black. Indeed, it is a curious fact that among African-American males who live to an advanced old age (85 years or older), the chances of living for another year are actually greater than for White males of the same age-presumably because the few African-American men who have survived that long have remarkable constitutions.
Yet who would ever choose to face this pattern of competing health risks across their life course? It’s far more important to have a good chance to become elderly in the first place than to embrace the tiny chance of becoming a centenarian in the unlikely event you’re not already dead by 65.
The vast disparities in health and longevity that exist between the races in the United States violate a fundamental idea of justice that we all carry with us at least to some degree. It is the idea of justice as fairness, of what kind of world we would choose to live in if, as the philosopher John Rawls framed it, we were all impartially situated as equals before being born and did not know what our station in this life would be. A society that resists ending the preventable causes of these racial disparities in heath is a society resisting justice.
But what are those preventable causes, and what could or should be done about them? To answer that question, let’s consider another thought experiment.
Imagine if, before you were born, you were told that you could choose to be born either Black or White in America. But if you chose to be White you would live in poverty and if you chose to be Black you would be in the lower-middle class. In this thought experiment, you wouldn’t know anything about what our world is actually like except for estimates of life expectancy for different categories of people.
Those estimates would tell you that choosing to be White would bring you very little, if any, advantage to health if you were also poor. For example, according to data developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, approximately 35 percent of Whites living below the poverty line report themselves to be in only poor or fair health. This is quite close, after we adjust for age differences, to the 32 percent of poor Blacks who report fair or poor health.
Meanwhile, the health status of Both Blacks and Whites improves dramatically with higher income while the gap between them remains small. Among Blacks and Whites living at just four times the poverty rate, for example, the percent who report poor or fair health drops to 8 percent and 6 percent respectively. Your race per se, in other words, plays little role in predicting your health compared to your income.
What explains the residual difference in the health status of Blacks and Whites who have the same-size pay check? Researchers suggest it may reflect in part the reality that at any given income level, Blacks tend to have fewer assets than Whites, such as home equity and financial savings. A Black family earning, for example, $50,000 in income is less likely to own its own home, less likely to have received an inheritance, and more likely to be encumbered by debt than is a White family with the same income. Middle-class Black families are also more likely than middle-class White families to bear the health consequences of having lived in poverty in the past.
The gap in health status may also reflect the fact that among families with similar levels of income, as well as educational attainment, Blacks are more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of crime, poverty, pollution, liquor stores, “junk food” outlets, and inferior health care. Conscious or unconscious bias among health care providers may also be at work in explaining the racial health gap, though your chances of receiving substandard health care in the United States vary far more according to where you live than according to the color of your skin.
Yet even if they remain remarkably small at any given level of income, racial disparities in health do exist. And these disparities are large enough to make it rational (if health and life expectancy are the only criteria) to prefer being born a poor White American than a poor Black one. But the differences are also far too small to make it rational to prefer being born a poor White to being born a rich, or even lower-middle-class, Black. Again, the health status of Blacks who live at just above the poverty line is substantially better than that of Whites who live below it.
There is a reason why, in English, we use the word “poor” to refer to both a lack of money and a lack of health. Both historically and still largely today, poor people are likely to have poor health, almost regardless of other circumstances.
That poverty is deadly is not hard to understand, at least at the extreme. To be very poor means not having enough to eat, being exposed to the elements, and living in areas where homicide and addiction are leading causes of death or where your access to appropriate health care is minimal or nonexistent. In addition, both historically and today, getting seriously sick is likely to make you seriously poor even if you weren’t before.
But if our goal is to overcome the vast disparities in health that exist in the United States, especially for African-Americans, we have to absorb two more difficult facts. These facts are noncontroversial among epidemiologists, even if they remain unfamiliar to most Americans.
First, it’s not just extreme poverty that is bad for your health; so is having less autonomy and status than others, regardless of your income. Among people who have plenty to eat, have equal access to quality health care, live in safe neighborhoods, and hold down jobs, health and life expectancy declines with socioeconomic position. While it is not hard to understand why truly impoverished people of all races die younger than middle-class people, it’s also true that middle-class people die younger than upper-middle-class people, and that upper-middle-class people die younger than rich people, even though none but the very poor are wanting for the basic necessities of life.
The second fact is just as strange, and equally radical in its implications, both for individuals seeking to maximize their personal health and for societies that are intent on creating just institutions. It is that the wider the disparities in status and power that exist between people within a given workplace, city, county, state, or country, the more premature deaths happen. Crudely put, inequality kills.
It’s a pattern that’s found, in greater or lesser degree, under all forms of government, within rich countries and not-so-rich countries, in the East and in the West. It also holds true in countries with universal health care and those without, and among different U.S. states.
The first place researchers rigorously documented this pattern was in the United Kingdom. There, starting in the 1960s, a team headed by the epidemiologist Michael Marmot began a long-term study of the health of British civil servants. These bureaucrats had much in common with one another. None lived in poverty; none were rich. None had jobs that posed any clear physical danger beyond the risk of paper cuts. All had equal access to the fully “socialized” British health care system.
Yet as the study went on it became clear that these bureaucrats were vastly different from one another in their health and longevity. Specifically, among employees of the same age, those who occupied the bottom of the organization chart as typists, clerks, and the like were four times more likely to die over the next 20 years as were administrators at the top of the hierarchy. Moreover, the differences in death rates did not just exist at the extremes of the organizational ladder. At every step in between, health and life expectancy were better one rung above and worse one rung below.
At first, researchers suspected that this social gradient of disease must be related to lifestyle. People at the bottom of the organization tended to smoke more, for example. But it turned out that if you were an administrator and smoked two packs of day, this was far less dangerous to your health than if you were a clerk who did the same. Similarly, if your blood pressure or cholesterol levels were high, or if you rarely exercised, being higher in the organizational chart made these conditions less threatening to your health than if you were lower. This was true even though people at the bottom of the organization tended to see doctors more frequently.
Since then, similar correlations between health and social rank have been observed just about everywhere researchers have looked. To take just one of the more curious examples, it turns out that Hollywood actors who win the Academy Award live four years longer on average than their costars in the same movie. And they also live four years longer than actors who were nominated for the award but did not win. This four-year difference in life expectancy may not sound like a lot. But to keep the implications for population health in perspective, consider that if all deaths from heart disease were magically eliminated while deaths from other causes remained the same, the improvement in life expectancy for the population as a whole would come to just four years.
One way researchers have tried to explain these and similar findings is to posit that the losers in our society have become losers because they have poor health. This is no doubt true in some cases. Clearly, if you’re in the hospital for months following a car crash, lose the ability to walk, and go through life thereafter with hideous facial scars, it is bound to negatively affect your career prospects. The same would be true if you were born already addicted to narcotics or positive for HIV.
Or to take a less extreme but far more common example, say you are a low-level employee working a dead-end cubicle job and find yourself afflicted at age 30 with prolonged bouts of depression, insomnia, and more than an occasional hangover. It is possible that these conditions will make it less likely that you will rise to the top of the ladder than if you bounced out of bed each morning feeling like the picture of health.
But to conclude in this instance that your lack of upward mobility is because of your poor health is to beg the question of why you have developed these afflictions in the first place. Maybe you would drink in any event. Maybe you’d describe life as stressful regardless. But would you drink as much, and feel so bad about it in the morning, if you also felt (like that famous, highly effective, long-lived alcoholic Winston Churchill) that you were in command and getting important stuff done?
To continue this thought experiment, what if you did not feel slighted and powerless at work; if your boss didn’t make eight times your income but only double; if he didn’t seem to look down on you and “your kind”; if losing your job didn’t mean losing what little control you have over your life? What if you didn’t feel variously envious, intimidated, and infuriated by coworkers, neighbors, and people you see on TV who seem to have it all; if you could point to some way of keeping score in this life by which you were a winner and life had meaning?
The specific biological mechanisms that lead from feelings of relative powerlessness and low status to specific diseases are not well understood at the molecular level. Some researchers have pointed to the role of cortisol, a steroid hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress that has the effect of suppressing the immune system. Among people who are overweight, those with high levels of cortisol are more likely to contract diabetes than those with low levels.
More than 200 laboratory studies have also shown that the highest cortisol levels are found in people required to perform tasks outside their control that involve, as the epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson puts it, “threats to self esteem and social status in which others can negatively judge your performance.” A hard-charging executive may use the word “stress” to describe his reaction to the burdens of command, but it is his cowering subordinates who are most likely to feel the kind of stress that literally changes body chemistry.
The negative effects may be compounded if those subordinates must also endure the stress and humiliation of either perceived or real racial or class discrimination. And the effects may be further multiplied if they have also internalized feelings of inferiority based on these or other negative stereotypes or social constructions.
In an intriguing study at Emory University, researchers found, for example, that black men who reported being victims of racial discrimination experienced an increased risk of heart disease. But a much greater risk of heart disease was found among African-American men who agreed with negative statements about Blacks. Indeed, the highest rates of heart disease were found among African-American men who said they were not personally victims of racial discrimination but still viewed their own race as inferior. Put another way, being or believing yourself to be the victim of racial discrimination is not good for your health, but what’s really bad is to absorb a social belief system that says you are at the bottom.
Cross-country comparisons also establish a clear link between poor health and social stratification. Among developed countries, for example, there is no correlation whatsoever between per capita GDP and life expectancy. But there is a strong correlation between countries that have low levels of inequality and those in which long lives are most common.
Sweden and Japan, for example, are very different countries, but both have extremely low levels of income inequality and the lowest rates of premature death in the developed world. Sweden achieves its egalitarianism through a large welfare state that massively redistributes income and opportunity. Japan has a comparatively small welfare state, but, according to custom, bosses refrain from paying themselves too many multiples of what workers earn. For the purposes of maximizing public health, Wilkinson observes, it does not seem to matter how a nation achieves relative equality, only that social and economic stratification is somehow kept to a minimum.
A similar pattern emerges when we compare how long White people live in different parts of the United States. To better see what happens, consider one last thought experiment.
Suppose, before you were born, you were told that you had to be a White man, but you could choose whether you would live out your days in Mississippi or Minnesota. If you could not know anything else about these states except their life tables, what would the rational choice be?
The life tables would tell you that if you wound up a White man in Mississippi, your chances of not dying before age 65 would be little better than 74 percent, and that if you did live to that age, you could expect to be dead within 15.35 years. But if you were a White man in Minnesota, your chances of living to age 65 would be better than 83 percent and your remaining life expectancy at that point would be 17.49 years.
The choice would seem clear, but what explains how stark it is? One big difference between Mississippi and Minnesota is the number of Black people in each state. But unless you think that Blacks in Mississippi are responsible for the deaths of huge numbers of White males-and they aren’t-that can’t be the reason why White men in Mississippi live shorter lives than White men in Minnesota. Nor are differences in median household income between Whites in Mississippi and Minnesota large enough to explain such a large disparity in health: few Whites in either state are poor enough that their health is threatened by lack of food or shelter.
The key factor may be how these states differ in their degree of social and economic stratification. Mississippi is among the states with the highest inequality of income. Moreover, throughout most of the last two decades Mississippi has led the nation in the growth of income inequality, whether as measured by the difference between those at the very top and those at the very bottom or by the gap in income between the middle class and the very rich.
Minnesota, by contrast, has much lower disparities of income, and is much more egalitarian in many other dimensions as well, including educational attainment, access to health care, and even, dare we say, cultural style. Garrison Keillor’s joke about all the kids in Lake Wobegon being “above average” contains an important truth: Minnesota is not a place where invidious distinction is typical, or kindly looked upon. And perhaps because of that, it is also not a place where stress and insecurity about social standing and loss of face is very common.
Within the United States generally, disparities in health among different segments of the population have increased in lockstep with growing disparities in income and education. By now it’s to the point that poorly educated White Americans, for the first time ever, are experiencing an absolute decline in their average life span. White males with fewer than 12 years of education now have a life expectancy of just 67.5 years-just six months longer than the standard Social Security retirement age set under current law for today’s middle-aged and younger Americans. The gap in life expectancy between White females who go to college and those who don’t widened from 1.9 years in 1990 to 10.4 years in 2008.
Meanwhile, for all but those at the very top of the ladder, and perhaps even for them, life is shorter than it likely would be if we lived in a more equal, less socially competitive and status-driven society-including one that was less obsessed with status distinctions based on race, education, and profession or that paid less notice than Americans have since the 1980s to who has the biggest McMansion, the most designer clothes, or the latest, snazziest smartphone. Inequality may not be an equal-opportunity killer, but few escape its mortal consequences.
To Live Longer, Move to a New Zip Code
Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign emphasizes the importance of physical activity for combating obesity, a point she has driven home by dancing alongside school kids to Beyoncé’s workout video. But another kind of movement may also be important to your chances of living to a ripe old age: moving to a new zip code.
Between 1994 and 1998, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted a demonstration project known as “Moving to Opportunity.” The project randomly assigned low-income families to one of three groups. Those in the first group received a voucher that they could use to help pay the rent on an apartment, provided that the apartment was not in a low-income neighborhood. Those in the second group received a voucher they could use in any neighborhood, while those in a control group received no voucher.
In 2011, HUD researchers published the results in the New England Journal of Medicine. The most dramatic finding was that people assigned to the different groups varied significantly in their weight by the end of the experiment. Going into the program, participants as a whole had been substantially more obese than the U.S. population as a whole. But 10 to 15 years later, those women who had moved to more affluent neighborhoods were one-fifth less likely to be obese than those in the control group, and also one-fifth less likely to have contracted diabetes.
This was true even though there was little difference among all the participants in the numbers who managed to move off welfare, improve their education, or find a better job. This suggests to researchers how powerfully our surroundings alone are to determining our habits and health. Though it might seem strange to say that obesity is contagious, for example, it does seem that people’s risk of it is affected by the weight of their neighbors, as well as by such environmental factors as whether most of the food for sale in their environs is junk food, as is often the case in America’s most impoverished neighborhoods.
The results of the HUD demonstration project are in line with other studies showing the extreme importance of geography and social environment as determinants of health. A dramatic graphical representation of this reality can be seen in the accompanying map of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area developed by the Commission to Build a Healthier America. It shows how life expectancy improves by nearly a decade within just a few stops along the region’s various Metro subway lines.
Color-Blind Medicine?
In 2002, the Institute of Medicine published an oft-cited and controversial report entitled Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. The report concluded that members of minority groups, even when fully insured, tend to receive substandard care from their doctors. It cited disparities in how often Whites and minorities received even routine medical procedures, as well as how often they underwent specific operations, such as coronary artery bypass surgery.
The resulting headlines were sensational-“Is Your Doctor a Bigot?” asked one. And there soon followed fulsome denunciations of the report’s conclusions, notably by Dr. Sally Satel and Jonathan Klick of the American Enterprise Institute. In their 2006 book, The Health Disparities Myth, Klick and Satel claimed that “[n]ot only is the charge of bias divisive, it siphons energy and resources from endeavors targeting system factors that are more relevant to improving minority health.”
Today, both sides in this debate have refined their positions and can point to new information. Professor David R. Williams of the Harvard School of Public Health still criticizes Satel as “coming at it from an ideological perspective.” But, he adds, “I will say one thing in her defense. At the time of the IOM report, our conclusion about the role of unconscious discrimination was based on circumstantial evidence.”
That changed in 2007, when the Journal of General Internal Medicine published the results of a study of residents at four academic medical centers. Participants were asked to review the medical record of an imaginary patient complaining of chest pain. For half the participants, the record included a picture of a middle-aged Black man; for the rest, a middle-aged White man. Participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 whether they thought the patient suffered from coronary artery disease, and, if so, whether they believed that the patient should receive a drug treatment known as thrombolysis.
The study also asked participants to complete what are known as Implicit Association Tests, or IATs. These tests are designed to uncover unconscious bias by, for example, asking test takers a series of questions about whether they associate the word “happiness” with the word “White” or with the word “Black.” In this instance, the test also asked the residents whether they associated Black patients with being more or less cooperative with a doctor’s orders.
The study found that participants who scored high for anti-black bias on the IATs were less likely to recommend thrombolysis when the Black man’s picture, rather than the White man’s, was included in the medical record, presumably because they believed the Black man would be a less cooperative patient or perhaps less able to pay. The study’s authors concluded that the “[r]esults suggest that physicians’ unconscious biases may contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in use of medical procedures such as thrombolysis.”
While few now dispute that some doctors may consciously or unconsciously treat patients of color differently, both the nature of that bias and its importance in explaining racial disparities in health care are highly disputed. For example, in focus groups organized by researchers to assess the role of race in medical practice, Black doctors were far more likely than White doctors to say that a patient’s race is a medically relevant factor in determining the best treatment.
As one Black physician in a Philadelphia focus group put it, “I think being an African-American is a risk factor in and of itself. And, I think that when you see an African-American then you need to often be more aggressive than you would, and use different standards than you would for the general White population.”
Black doctors were also more likely than White doctors to say that they pay close attention to whether a patient can afford the prescriptions they write, and to consider what the circumstances of their patients’ lives are like outside the examining room. In contrast, White doctors in these focus groups tended to dispute that there is any reason to pay attention to a patient’s race in recommending a course of treatment, and even to warn other doctors against racial stereotyping.

But perhaps in this way the White doctors were showing insensitivity to racial realities that Black doctors know better and that are indeed medically relevant. As the organizers of the focus groups concluded, since African-Americans as a whole are far more likely than Whites to suffer from hypertension and diabetes, it may be appropriate for doctors to take into account at least some population-based probabilities of disease when deciding protocols of treatment to follow. Color-blind medicine isn’t necessarily the best medicine.
The picture also looks different when researchers pan back and look at how widely medical practice varies in different areas of the United States. From this perspective, it is place, not race, that overwhelmingly determines what specific treatments patients receive for specific ailments.
Blacks tend to live in parts of the country that have a disproportionately large share of low-quality providers. But as researchers from Dartmouth Medical School have demonstrated, within poor-quality hospitals, which include not just inner-city “St. Elsewheres but often well-known academic medical centers, both Whites and Blacks tend to be equally mistreated, often by being subjected to unnecessary surgery and unproven treatments. Moreover, there are some predominantly Black cities, such as Raleigh, North Carolina, and Birmingham, Ala., that have a long history of institutionalized segregation but where the researchers did not find racial disparities in treatment, and there are others, such as Jackson, Miss., where racial disparities in care are apparent.
More recently, researchers associated with the Dartmouth Atlas Project have concluded that “where patients live has a greater influence on the care they receive than the color of their skin.” Reform efforts, they argue, should therefore be focused not on the headline-grabbing issue of racial disparities, but on improving the quality of the U.S. health care delivery system in every region where it is poor.
Phillip Longman is senior editor of the Washington Monthly. This article, the 11th of an 11-part series on race, is sponsored by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and was originally published by the Washington Monthly Magazine.

Over 100,000 African American parents are now homeschooling their children

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu

We hear so much about the plight of Black children and their low test scores. We have
not heard that African American children who are homeschooled are scoring at the 82% in
reading and 77% in math. This is 30-40% above their counterparts being taught in school. There
is a 30% racial gap in schools, but there is no racial gap in reading if taught in the home and only
a 5% gap in math.
What explains the success of African American students being taught by their parents? I
believe that it’s love and high expectations. I am reminded of Booker T. Washington High School.
They were honored several years ago for producing the greatest turnaround as a Recovery school.
The principal had the opportunity to pick and choose her staff and emphatically stated, “If you want
to teach in this school you must love the students”. Researchers love promoting that the racial gap isbased on income, marital status, and the educational background of the parents. Seldom, if ever, dothey research the impact of love and high expectations.
Since the landmark decision, Brown vs. Topeka in 1954, there has been a 66% decline in
African American teachers. Many African American students are in classrooms where they are
not loved, liked, or respected. Their culture is not honored and bonding is not considered. They
are given low expectations – which helps to explain how students can be promoted from one
grade to another without mastery of the content.
There are so many benefits to homeschooling beyond academics. Most schools spend
more than 33% of the day disciplining students. And bullying has become a significant issue.
One of every 6 Black males is suspended and large numbers are given Ritalin and placed in
Special Education. These problems seldom, if ever, exist in the Homeschool environment.
Another major benefit is the summer months. Research shows that there is a 3 year gap
between White and Black students. Some students do not read or are involved in any academic
endeavor during the summer. Those students lose 36 months or 3 years if you multiply 3 months
times 12 years (grades first -12) Homeschool parents do not allow academics to be forsaken for 3
Finally, in the homeschool environment, parents are allowed to teach their children
values. Large numbers of parents are teaching their children faith based morals and principals.
And many are teaching their children with the Africentric curriculum SETCLAE. These children
are being taught truths like, Columbus did not discover America; Abraham Lincoln did not free
the slaves; Hippocrates was not the father of medicine and that African history did not begin on a
plantation, but on a pyramid.
Until public schools give more love, higher expectations, better classroom management,
greater time on task throughout the entire year, values and the SETCLAE curriculum, we can
expect to continue to see an increase in African American parents homeschooling their children.

A communications company

Black model wrongly accused of Beverly Hills Jewelry Store theft

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

G.U.R.L.S. lead global leadership program founder establishes legal defense fund for falsely accused young model linked to theft from popular Beverly Hills Jewelry Store featured on “Basketball Wives”

Author and Harvard lawyer-turned-social entrepreneur, Dr. Raye Mitchell,  an award-winning humanitarian helping girls and young women, announced the Justice for Tierra Bridewell Project, in conjunction with her new book “The Laws of the New Game Changers: How to Make Breakthroughs that Take You Forward.”

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) – Dr. Raye Mitchell, Entertainment attorney and author of a new book on innovation and change entitled, The Laws of the New Game Changers: How to Make Breakthrough Impacts that Take You Forward will donate proceeds from the sales of her book to help raise attorney fees for a young girl wrongly accused of robbery.

For Tierra Bridewell, a trip to a Beverly Hills jewelry store with the man she loved just weeks before Valentine’s Day could have been the beginning of a dream-come-true. Instead, that stop at the store that has been featured on “Basketball Wives” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” led to the trusting young model’s worst nightmare.

Unjustly imprisoned, Bridewell’s prayers for justice and her release are now buoyed with hope since G.U.R.L.S. Lead Global Leadership Program (formerly G.U.R.L.S. Rock …) and Dr. Mitchell are now championing her cause.

In the book, the first step to being a game changer is captured in Law #1: “Just Do Something.” In this case, Dr. Mitchell followed her own advice and used the occasion of receiving a distinguished honor as one of the ‘Women in Justice’ to champion the cause of Tierra Bridewell, a young woman languishing in jail, praying for the opportunity to rebuild her life as she awaits trial on false robbery charges linked to a high profile Beverly Hills jewelry store. Tierra, the treasure of her mother’s heart, is a pretty young girl who could be America’s Top Model. Her trust in her boyfriend led to life changing events at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

On September 14, 2013, the Rho Upsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. hosted its Third Annual Breakfast Honoring ‘Women in Justice’ in honor of Constance Baker Motley, the first African America woman judge appointed to the United States Federal Court. The list of distinguished honorees included Federal Judge Honorable Saundra Brown-Armstrong, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Honorable Gail Brewster Bereola, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Venus D. Johnson, and Attorney and Social Entrepreneur Dr. Raye Mitchell, as Distinguished ‘Women in Justice’.

In her prepared remarks at the award ceremony, Dr. Raye Mitchell announced that she and her foundation, The New Reality Foundation, Inc., a 501c(3) tax exempt organization whose mission and purpose is to train, motivate, and mentor young girls and women to excel as global leaders, will help raise legal defense funds for Tierra Bridewell.

“It makes perfect sense and it is the right time for the foundation to ‘just do something’ and become involved in helping Tierra’s friends and family members raise needed funds for Tierra’s legal fees,” stated Mitchell. “In my current book, The Laws of the New Game Changers, I make it clear that to change the game and be a game changer, you have to take action and do something bold and new. I have pledged a portion of the sales proceeds from the current book to go to support relief efforts for Tierra, an innocent young woman, and I have already begun work on my next book project telling her side of the story in a new book entitled The Pawn [www.TheHarvardLitigator.com]. There is urgency for justice here, and so it made sense to not wait for the book to come to print and to do something now.”

The ‘Women in Justice’ honor is given to women who step forward to support, lead, and advocate for justice. Mitchell, CEO and founder of The G.U.R.L.S. Lead Global Leadership Program, a program of the New Reality Foundation, commented, “While I was notified months ago that I would receive this distinguished honor, it just came together at the last moment that I would deliver this thank you message of hope from Tierra Bridewell. “

Tierra’s wrote, “Thank you, ladies of the Rho Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for honoring Dr. Raye Mitchell and other distinguished women as ‘Women in Justice’ concerned about fairness for all. I know that your organization and the other honorees are not endorsing me and have no involvement in my situation, but I know that this award is a message from God that I can have hope for justice in my case, and that God is still in my situation.”

The full text of Dr. Mitchell’s remarks and more information on supporting and donating to Justice for Tierra Bridewell is available at www.JusticeForTierraBridewell.org. Follow Tierra’s story and the development of the book project, The Pawn, at www.TheHarvardLitigator.com.

About Raye Mitchell and The G.U.R.L.S. Lead Global Leadership Program
Raye Mitchell is a real life ‘fixer’ who helps ordinary people deal with problems that can become overwhelming. A successful litigation attorney and graduate of Harvard Law School, Mitchell is now acclaimed as an award winning humanitarian and social entrepreneur recognized for her contributions to creating positive changes in the community, and for girls in particular. She is the founder of The New Reality Foundation, a 501 c (3) tax-exempt foundation that provides training and mentoring for girls, The GURLS Rock Leadership Global Leadership Program (www.gurlsrock.org). Raye is also the co-founder of The M.B.A. Series Executive development Program that provides leadership training for young adults aged 12-40. (www.thembaseries.org)

For more information, contact:

LaNiece Jones
510-568-5899 or

Janice Edwards

Defunding Obamacare would destroy American Indian Health System

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Defunding Obamacare Would Destroy American Indian Health System

New America Media
By Mark Trahant

Congress always works on two tracks. The first rail is legislation that gives the government authority to spend money. The second rail is one that actually appropriates the funds. It’s that second law that dictates how the government can spend dollars for the Indian Health Service (or any other program) under parameters set by law.

This two-track idea is important to remember when you think about the chaos in Washington concerning the budget and debt ceiling. Certain hardline Republicans and Tea Party members, known as True Believers, are bent on using the budget process to rewrite the Affordable Care Act — and that proposal would be catastrophic for the Indian health system.

Remember track one? Every appropriation from Congress has to link back to the legislation that set the rules for spending. In the case of the Indian Health Service, the legislative authority comes from the Indian Self-Determination Act, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and the Public Health Service Act. The Indian Health Care Improvement is part of the Affordable Care Act (or, as the Republicans like to call it, “ObamaCare.”)

The proposal to defund the Affordable Care Act would wipe out most of the Indian Health Service budget. This scenario is beyond absurd: Imagine every Indian Health Service, tribal, nonprofit, or urban clinic unable to open its doors after October 1 and remain closed for a full year.

That’s exactly what House Joint Resolution 62 would do. The resolution, promoted by Georgia Republican Tom Graves, would fund the government at sequester levels, while eliminating any money that implements the Affordable Care Act.

Normally this proposal wouldn’t be worth mentioning. It has some sixty supporters in the House and a few members in the Senate, so it’s not a majority view. But this also shows how Congress is drifting toward a more conservative stance. The Heritage Foundation, for example, is providing “research” on the viability of defunding the Affordable Care Act. Heritage said: “It is beyond dispute that Congress can use its power of the purse to defund ObamaCare—both its mandatory and discretionary spending— in appropriations legislation this fall. The lone remaining question is whether Congress can summon the political will to do so.”

Republicans who support this defunding approach appear unwilling to compromise. There is no middle ground for True Believers.

Idaho Republican Raúl Labrador is a good example of the True Believer Thinking. He says he will not vote for a bill that doesn’t strike down ObamaCare. “House Leadership should bring it to the floor for a vote,” he said in a news release. “If the House passes it and the Senate rejects it, it will be the Senate that’s responsible for shutting down the government. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but House Republicans must seize this opportunity to keep our promises to the American people on ObamaCare.”

The thinking from the True Believers — such as Labrador — is that the public would blame the president for “shutting down” government because everyone understands that neither the Senate nor President Obama would agree to such a destructive approach. (And, at some point, as I wrote last week, Republican leaders might just have to work with Democrats in the House to head off a government shutdown or a debt default.)

But the True Believers don’t care. They are willing to sink their own Republican leaders — and the country — in order to kill the Affordable Care Act. But do they have the votes? Even in the House? And what happens after that? Hard questions. And we need the answers soon.

Mark Trahant is the 20th Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is a journalist, speaker and Twitter poet and is a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Join the discussion about austerity. Comment on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/IndianCountryAusterity

Sec’y of State Jesse White announces Statewide Poster Contest to kick off National Child Passenger Safety Week

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois Secretary of Secretary of State Jesse White kicked off National Child Passenger Safety Week by announcing a statewide poster coloring contest for first- and second-grade students. White was joined by Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen and Skokie Police Deputy Chief Al Lopez at Fairview South School in the northern suburb.

Secretary White spoke about the importance of using child passenger safety seats from birth up to 8 years old. White said that for this year’s Child Passenger Safety Week he would be looking for first- and second-graders statewide to help spread the message. Students received coloring sheets featuring a place for a slogan highlighting the importance of child passenger safety. The winning drawings will be featured on a poster that will be distributed statewide. The Secretary of State’s office will be taking contest submissions statewide until December 16, 2013.

“The leading cause of death and injury for children is automobile crashes,” White said, while at the school at 7040 Laramie Ave. “This poster contest is a great way to bring awareness to the fact that the majority of safety seats are improperly installed. In addition, it also reminds us that children in the first and second grades must be properly secured in booster seats to ensure their safety.”

The event was aimed at encouraging parents, caregivers and their families to make sure children are properly secured in appropriate child safety seats. There was also a demonstration on how to properly secure a child in a booster seat.

In Illinois, three out of four child safety seats are improperly installed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act states that children under age 8 must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system, including booster seats.

In 2012, 3,766 drivers in Illinois were ticketed for not having their children restrained.

Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers in passenger vehicles.

For more information on the poster contest, please contact Kathleen Widmer at 312-814-2905 or kwidmer@ilsos.net.

The Secretary of State’s office, through its Kids In Safe Seats program, has 12 fitting stations in Illinois where motorists can set up appointments or be referred to technicians in their area who can show them how to install their child safety seats properly. Safety seat technicians teach parents how to install more than 50 child safety seats a month in the Chicago metro area. To make an appointment or get more information, please call (866) 247-0213 or visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

Something Is Really Broken

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By William Spriggs

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau issued its annual report on income and poverty in the United States. It revealed what has been obvious in the five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the onset of the Great Recession: Something is really broken in our country.

Since 1980 we have seen a steady climb in the share of income going to top 5 percent of American households, except the downturns of 2001 and 2008. During those downturns, financial bubbles burst and the top lost income share. In both cases, the Federal Reserve System acted aggressively to save the financial sector and stave off further contagion from the sector of finance and speculation into the sector of goods production and employment-the real economy. The restoration of the financial sector restored the incomes of the top 5 percent, and the recovery after 2001 and the current recovery restored the steady growth of inequality.

In 2001, the income share of the top 5 percent fell from a record high of 22.4 percent of all income to 21.4 percent of all income by 2003. In 2006, the share of income for the richest American households fell from 22.3 percent of all income to 21.2 percent in 2007. Now it is firmly back at 22.3 percent of income.

But, for the rest of us, there has been no recovery since 2001. The share of the nation’s income going to those in the middle fifth of the income distribution continues its slow and steady decline that started in the 1980s. Adjusting for inflation, the median income of families headed by members in their prime working age (45 to 54 years old) fell from $90,456 in 2000 to $78,236 in 2012. And, in the five years since the collapse of Lehman is below its peak in 2006 of $86,198. For all families, median income has been falling each year since 2007. The best news of the report is that from 2011 to 2102 the fall was a mere $7.

The story is not any brighter at the bottom of the income scale. The Great Recession pushed up poverty among American families from 9.8 percent in 2007 to 11.1 percent by 2009. The best news of the Census report is that the figure has remained stuck at 11.8 percent since 2010. The poverty rate for families with children remains stuck at 18.5 percent.

So, five years after the collapse of the financial sector and now its current recovery to record-setting Dow Jones stock averages, growth in national income-GDP-to $685 billion above its fourth quarter 2007 peak, a continued decline in the federal deficit as share of the economy, the lives of over half America’s families and the plight of one in five of its children is markedly worse. Something is fundamentally broken is our system when the Washington and New York elite remained fixated on everything except the deteriorating plight of America’s families.

Clearly we are not in a recovery. Among the elite, at least the Federal Reserve Board of Governors appear sane, keeping to their stance of low-interest rates-their policy tool-to keep the economy growing with a clearly stated view they do not see a sustainable recovery in place, yet. Otherwise, our political and media class chatter more about the records the Dow Jones stock average is setting than the clear evidence America’s families are drowning.

There was some hopeful news in the last week. The U.S. Department of Labor finally announced new regulations that will protect the wages and working conditions of millions of workers who provide personal services to the elderly and disabled. Those workers were excluded from coverage by claims of their employers that they were in essence “elder sitters,” excluded from minimum wage and overtime protection as are babysitters.

The clarification by the Labor Department in its new rules that these workers are covered will automatically improve the working conditions of millions of women-their wages and incomes, and thus help their children who struggle in poverty. This fulfilled a fight by Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus convening its Annual Legislative Conference this weekend in Washington to protect the wages of domestic workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act excluded farm and domestic workers when it became law, as a clear effort to gain southern Democratic votes; which also meant the exclusion of most African American workers who at the time were in farm or domestic occupations.

California passed a new state minimum wage law, boosting its minimum wage to $10 an hour. This gives California the highest minimum wage in the country, followed by Washington State. That wage level also restores the minimum wage to its value back in 1968.

The actions by California’s legislature and governor and the U.S. Department of Labor are tied directly to the real conditions and lives of everyday Americans. These are policies aimed at lifting the wages and earnings of families and putting the middle class back as the center focus of measuring economic progress.

Washington appears set to return to its fetish with deficits and party politics as it braces for the Republican House majority’s fight to close the federal government to get more deficit reduction. This will launch a debate among elites in the media about party politics and to media members who ignore the data, more discussion about the deficit-which is falling.

America’s working families rate Congress at low levels because this coming fight to shut down needed government services more than the current sequestration is accomplishing puts the needs of the Republican Party and the ideology of a large block of its fringe members ahead of debating restoring the economic health of America’s families. Time taken out to shut down the government and keep more children out of Head Start programs is time taken away from addressing the low level of the federal minimum wage and the working standards of millions more American workers.

Something is fundamentally broken when the political will of the people is shut out of economic policy in the democratic institutions of Congress, while the appointed Federal Reserve Board shows real concern about the health of the broad economy. In a market economy, it is one dollar one vote in determining what the nation will produce and who will get access to those goods. The Census data makes clear that the top 5 percent are getting their 22 votes; the top 20 percent in fact get 51 votes. Clearly, the Republican-held House is looking at those 51 votes. But, what the 80 percent of Americans who get the remaining 49 votes in the market place want is for their votes to be reflected in Congress and in the decision making of America’s elites.

Follow Spriggs on Twitter: @WSpriggs.

Contact: Amaya Smith-Tune Acting Director, Media Outreach AFL-CIO 202-637-5142.

Military Service, Not Buddhist Meditation Clue to Navy Yard Shooting

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Military Service, Not Buddhist Meditation Clue to Navy Yard Shooting

New America Media
By Yoichi Shimatsu

BANGKOK, Thailand – As media pundits scrounge through Aaron Alexis’s background for clues to the uncontrolled fit of rage that led him to gun down 12 civilians at the Washington Navy Yard, a most egregious accusation has been raised against his devotion to “the dark side of meditation.” Critics have charged that Thai Buddhist meditation classes promoted his psychological detachment from reality, implying such practices amplified the voices in his head and thus impelled him to mass murder.

In a further attempt to shift the blame onto the tiny Thai community in America, the New York Post in tabloid-style claims that his break-up with a Thai girlfriend and a frustrating trip to Bangkok to find another soulmate led to the pent-up rage that was later unleashed in gunfire. This sort of speculation is demeaning and completely irrelevant, since couples break up every day of the year without venting their grief in a suicidal shooting spree. His target was not his ex-girlfriend and her circle of friends in either Texas or Thailand, but unrelated victims at his workplace in Washington, D.C.

These sorts of conclusions put the cart before the horse. From medical records and accounts of his acquaintances, Alexis was well aware of his emotional difficulties and had sought help from his VA hospital and wherever he could find it, and one source of comfort was the Wat Busayadhammavanara temple on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas.

For a brief period in the suburb of White Settlement, Alexis was employed as a waiter at a Thai restaurant owned by a couple who encouraged his meditation lessons as a path toward resolving his anger issues. Apparently in Vipassana meditation, he found some relief and peace of mind from the constant anxiety that caused him to carry a .45 caliber handgun in fear for his life. Whatever prompted his feelings of insecurity and terror arose from a source unrelated to that temple and the Thai community.

His defensive reactions, which led to two earlier incidents of non-injurious gun violence, were likelier linked to traumatic experiences during his military service as a full-time Navy reservist with a secret-level security clearance. The nature of his missions remains undisclosed by the Pentagon and probably never will be revealed in accurate detail.

A Troubled Generation

Alexis attributed his mental-health issues to his assignment in cleaning up contaminated debris at the 911 Ground Zero site, but the Navy claims no such record of this work. A report in British paper Daily Mail notes Alexis was seen exiting a subway near the World Trade Center just as the twin towers were collapsing. The sight, it says, quoting Alexis’ father-in-law, left him “traumatized.”

Indeed, the career of Alexis runs parallel to the 911 era, when thousands of servicemen were assigned to secret combat missions that do not appear on their military records.

Another troubled Navy reservist, Christopher Dorner, was trained as a sniper at Fallon air station, Nevada, and with an elite commando unit that required every member to swim with full combat gear from Camp Pendleton on the California coast to military-controlled San Clemente island – a nearly superhuman feat. As a sniper, he was sent on secret missions into Iraq, the nature of which the Pentagon has never disclosed. Those blank pages in his record undoubtedly are key to understanding his personal rebellion against the government that he had served, and are key to unraveling the alleged double homicide and other fatal shootings Dorner is accused of perpetrating in the Los Angeles area.

The Washington Navy Yard incident is rife with many other inconsistencies. Alexis owned an AR-15 rifle but his blue-clad body was found only with a shotgun and two pistols, while military veterans at the shooting site heard the distinct sound of gunfire from an AR-15 and saw a second shooter dressed in green holding this very same model of automatic weapon.

If any of the above factors haunted his military career, then Alexis had good reason to seek out Vipassana meditation, which was developed by Sinhalese Buddhists in ancient Sri Lanka and then transmitted to Thailand.

Diversion Tactics

To blame meditation by Thai Buddhist practitioners is a cheap trick aimed at diverting public attention from the home-grown causes of gun violence. Buddhism, especially of the Theravada school practiced in Thailand, stands firmly opposed to these sorts of overbearing societal pressures and, to the contrary, tries to help individuals rediscover their genuine mental grounding, which in Judeo-Christian terms could be called moral conscience. When Alexis turned to Vipassana meditation, it was to free himself from the shackles that imprisoned his mind.

This is not to say that Buddhism is entirely peaceful as is commonly assumed. There are political factions in Buddhist societies that, for reasons of material interest, advocate violence. This is obviously the case in places like Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Japan in the wartime period, where fanatic monks or priests have urged brutal attacks against minority religious groups and foreigners. These gross violations of the Buddhist doctrine of non-violence are based on secular power struggles that exploit religious differences. Some of these same problems apply to Tibetan Tantric Buddhism in the politically complex struggles inside and outside its homeland.

The Southeast Asian temples in the United States are not associated with any of these deviant teachings but remain true to the original calling of helping people resolve their personal troubles and live together in harmony. Most of these religious communities – Vietnamese, Cambodia and Laotian – arrived as refugees, while Thais came as students or economic migrants. These subgroups are by no means free of violent crime against each other or against other Americans, as has been shown in several shooting incidents in Minnesota and on the West Coast. If anything, these communities have been occasional victims of discrimination and violence, as in the case of the murderous attack on schoolchildren in Stockton, Calif., in the late 1980s. In none of these past cases of violence has Buddhism or meditation ever been suspected as the cause of crime.

To borrow a phrase from Jesus of Nazareth, the wider solution to the Aaron Alexis mystery is: Physician, heal yourself. The root problem resides in the violence of American political power, not in the nonviolence of Buddhism.

Yoichi Shimatsu, a Hong Kong-based science writer, is former editor of the Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo and associate editor of Pacific News Service, the predecessor of New America Media.

Photo Caption: Aaron Alexis

The Immigrant – Opening night of the 49th Chicago International Film Festival

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Opening Festivities to include Gala Screening at The Chicago Theatre And Celebratory After-Party at the Chicago Cultural Center

CHICAGO, IL – The 49th Chicago International Film Festival (October 10 – 24, 2013) announces the selection of The Immigrant, directed by James Gray, written by Gray and Richard Menello and starring Academy Award®-winning actress Marion Cotillard (in her first English-language lead role), Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, as the Opening Night Film. The Immigrant will be screened on October 10 at The Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.). The red carpet event starts at 6 pm. Director James Gray is scheduled to attend.

“The Chicago International Film Festival has long been a director’s festival. For 49 years, we have introduced audiences to the work of innovative new filmmakers while also celebrating the latest by the masters of world cinema,” said Founder and Artistic Director of the Festival Michael Kutza. “James Gray is, without a doubt, one of America’s preeminent talents. The Immigrant is a testament to his brilliance. It is at once intimate and epic, classic yet immediately relevant.”

The Opening Night Gala is dedicated to the late Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, a long-time supporter and friend of the Festival. Ebert credited the Festival with introducing him to the work of Martin Scorsese, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Gregory Nava, and other giants of the film industry.  “Like the Festival, Roger strongly believed in the importance of supporting the work of rising filmmakers,” added Kutza. “By honoring Roger’s legacy, we are also paying tribute to all of the directors he supported early in their careers, like Festival filmmakers Errol Morris and John McNaughton, as well as to the spirit of the Festival.”

About The Immigrant
1921. In search of a new start and the American dream, Ewa Cybulski (Marion Cotillard) and her sister sail to New York from their native Poland. When they reach Ellis Island, doctors discover that Magda is ill, and the two women are separated. Ewa is released onto the mean streets of Manhattan while her sister is quarantined. Alone, with nowhere to turn and desperate to reunite with Magda, Ewa quickly falls prey to Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. The arrival of Orlando (Jeremy Renner) – a dashing stage magician who is also Bruno’s cousin – restores her self-belief and hopes for a brighter future, but she has not reckoned with Bruno’s jealousy.

The Immigrant will be released by The Weinstein Company.

James Gray (Writer / Director / Producer) made his directorial debut in 1994 at the age of 25 with Little Odessa, a widely acclaimed film that received the Critics Award at the Deauville Film Festival as well as the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. That same year, he received nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay. In 2000 Gray wrote and directed The Yards, his second feature and his first with Joaquin Phoenix, who would become a frequent collaborator, going on to star in Gray’s next three films. The cast also included Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Faye Dunaway, Ellen Burstyn and James Caan. The drama premiered In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000.

Gray’s New York crime drama We Own the Night (2007) starred Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall. The film received a César nomination in 2008 for Best Foreign Film and screened In Competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Gray’s most recent feature, Two Lovers (2008) received nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Female Lead. The Brooklyn-set drama starred Joaquin Phoenix opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw and Isabella Rossellini. The film premiered In Competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and went on to receive a César nomination for best Foreign Film in 2009.

Born in New York City, Gray grew up in Queens and attended the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.

Opening Night Ticket Information
Tickets for Opening Night of the 49th Chicago International Film Festival are on sale now and can be purchased online through the Chicago Theatre: www.thechicagotheatre.com/tickets or in person at The Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.) box office (Monday to Friday, 12-6 pm). Film-only tickets are: Balcony, $25 for Cinema/Chicago members and $30 for non-members; Main Floor, $30 for Cinema/Chicago members and $35 for non-members. VIP Ticket packages including a main floor seat and admission to the after party at The Preston Bradley Hall of The Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St., 4th Floor) are priced at $150 per ticket.

Festival Passes and Theater Information
Festival Passes are on sale now. Pass options include:

Moviegoer (10 regular admissions): $95 for Cinema/Chicago members, $125 for non-members.
Passport (20 regular admissions): $180 for Cinema/Chicago members, $240 for non-members

Passes can be purchased online at www.chicagofilmfestival.com.

Individual tickets will be available to Cinema/Chicago members on September 18-20. General public tickets will be on sale starting September 21. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster www.ticketmaster.com/chicagofilmfestival; by phone at 312-332-FILM (3456); or by visiting the Festival box office at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.) or at the Cinema/Chicago office (30 E. Adams, Suite 800).

Festival screenings will be held at the AMC River East 21 Theater (322 E. Illinois St.).

Festival Sponsors
Opening Night of the 49th Chicago International Film Festival is sponsored by Lead Partner Columbia College Chicago; Official Airline – American Airlines; Headquarters Hotel – JW Marriott Chicago and evening partners Casale del Giglio, Effen Vodka, Gibsons Restaurant Group, RL Restaurant,  Michigan Avenue Magazine, ShutterBox Photobooth, Stella Artois, Tres Generaciones®, WBBM NEWSRADIO 780 and 105.9FM and Lavazza. Evening Patrons: Jeanne Randall Malkin, John and Jacolyn Bucksbaum, Paul and Ellen Gignilliat, and Penelope and Robert Steiner.

Led by Presenting Partner Columbia College Chicago, the 49th Chicago International Film Festival’s sponsors include: Official Airline – American Airlines; Headquarters Hotel – JW Marriott Chicago; Producing Partners: AMC Theaters, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Major Partner: Intersites; Supporting Partners: DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media, Stella Artois, Effen Vodka, WBBM Newsradio 780 and 105.9FM, Cultivate Studios; Participating Partners: State Farm, AARP, Tres Generaciones®, Comcast, Allstate, Spotlight Cinema Networks, Casale del Giglio, Second City Computers, Shutterbox Entertainment, Gibson’s Restaurant Group, RL Restaurant and Creative Technology.

About Cinema/Chicago
Cinema/Chicago is a not-for-profit cultural and educational organization dedicated to encouraging better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image. The Chicago International Film Festival is part of the year-round programs presented by Cinema/Chicago, which also include the International Screenings Program (May-September), the Chicago International Television Competition (April), CineYouth Festival (May), Intercom Competition (October) and year-round Education Outreach and Member Screenings Program.

BET Networks and TV One announce new Fall 2013 Internship Programs

Posted by Admin On September - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Students can now apply for paid internship opportunities at two of the leading African American cable networks

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — BET and TV One, the two largest Black-focused cable television channels, are looking for interns for the Fall 2013 season. Internships are available in career categories including media, communications, graphic design, marketing, public relations, and more.

The BET Networks Internship program provides paid internships for both undergraduate and graduate college students at five different BETN locations. They are open to both undergraduate and graduate students interested in working in the media industry. The internships will help students visualize what their careers will be like through actual work experience. During the Spring, Summer and Fall, students will find internships that match their skills and career interests. Each internship lasts about 10 weeks.

The TV One Internship Program offers internships to undergraduate college students in the Fall, Spring and Summer. The internships are for students interested in a career in the media industry. Internships provide real, practical work experience for students in the fields in which they are studying. Whether it’s marketing and sales, finance, legal, human resources, digital media, production or programming, students will find an internship opportunity that will enrich their learning and give them insight into their career options.

For more details about the BET Internship program, visit:

For more details about the TV One Internship program, visit:

To search hundreds of other 2013-14 internships, visit:

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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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