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From: The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression The following letter was hand delivered ...
Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama:  Hello, CBC!  Thank you so much...It is ...
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By Chinta Strausberg Rev. Kenyatta Smith, pastor of the Another Chance Church, 1641 W. 79th ...
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Great Lakes Task Force co-chairs U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and ...
From: Malik S. Nevels, J.D. Executive Director, ILAACP I am excited to announce the release of our ...
By Ron Busby As America begins the annual ritual of "celebrating" the countless achievements of ...
 (From the Illinois GOP)   CHICAGO, IL  – Democrat Brad Schneider running in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, ...
By Robert A. Clifford Senior Partner, Clifford Law Offices in Chicago AirAsia Flight 8501 was cruising at ...

Archive for February 4th, 2015

Madigan, DOJ, & States Announce $1.375 Billion Settlement With Standard & Poor’s

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Lawsuits by Madigan, DOJ & States Prompt S&P Settlement for Misleading Investors in Lead Up to Economic Collapse

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a $1.375 billion settlement with Standard & Poor’s to resolve allegations that the credit ratings agency compromised its independence and objectivity in assigning its highest ratings to risky mortgage-backed securities in the lead up to the 2008 economic collapse.

Illinois will receive $52.5 million under the joint state-federal settlement forged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Madigan and 19 other attorneys general and S&P, a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill Companies, that is one of the nation’s largest credit ratings agencies responsible for independently rating risk on behalf of clients and investors.

In 2012, Madigan was one of the first attorneys general in the country to file a lawsuit against S&P for its misconduct that contributed to the 2008 collapse. Madigan’s lawsuit alleged S&P compromised its independence as a ratings agency by doling out high ratings to unworthy, risky investments to increase its profits, while its misrepresentations spurred investors, including Illinois’ pension funds, to purchase securities that were far riskier than their ratings indicated.

“Standard & Poor’s deliberately exploited its trusted reputation as an independent analyst to maximize profits and gain market share, and in the process, S&P became a key enabler of the economic meltdown,” Attorney General Madigan said. “Were it not for S&P abandoning its core principles, these securities, made up of unsustainable mortgages destined for default, could never and would never have been purchased by many investors.”

According to the settlement, S&P consistently made misrepresentations about the processes it used to assign credit ratings to mortgage-backed securities. While publicly promising independent, objective analyses, the company privately relaxed its ratings criteria and manipulated subprime mortgage data to ensure its clients’ mortgage-backed securities would achieve higher ratings than the actual quality of the assets supported. These tactics were part of an overarching corporate strategy intended to retain clients and increase market share, according to the settlement agreement.

Mortgage-backed securities are financial products made up of a pool of mortgages that are bundled together and sold as a security. The assets are backed by residential mortgages, including subprime mortgages. The performance of these investment products have significant, real-world implications for Illinois institutional investors, such as pension funds and 401(k) managers that make decisions about whether, and which, of these securities are appropriate investments. It was the misrepresentation of the true risk of these mortgage securities that helped the housing market skyrocket and ultimately led to its collapse in 2008.

Under today’s settlement, S&P will pay a $1.375 billion penalty, which exceeds the company’s profits earned for rating mortgage-backed securities from 2002-2007. The majority of the relief awarded to Illinois will be distributed to the state’s pension systems. Further, S&P has agreed to a statement of facts acknowledging conduct related to its analysis of structured finance securities. S&P also agreed to comply with all applicable state laws and will cooperate with requests for information from states that may express concern over a possible violation of state law. The states have also retained authority to enforce their laws – the same laws used to bring these cases – if S&P engages in similar conduct in the future.

Today’s settlement is the latest in a long line of enforcement actions Attorney General Madigan has taken against banks, lenders and other contributors of the financial crisis. As a result of all of Madigan’s enforcement actions, she has recovered a total of approximately $2.85 billion for Illinois homeowners, communities, county recorders and pension funds.

Joining Madigan and DOJ in today’s settlement were attorneys general from: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Doug Rees, Consumer Protection Division Chief Deborah Hagan, Consumer Protection Chicago Bureau Chief Susan Ellis, Senior Assistant Attorney General Tom James, Supervising Attorney and Assistant Attorney General Vaishali Rao, and Assistant Attorney General Vijay Raghavan, Andrea Law and Agnes Ptasznik handled the case for Madigan’s office.

Father Pfleger to Rauner: ‘Stop Raping the Poor and Our Youth to Balance Your Budget’

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

‘Honor the contract, restore the money’

By Chinta Strausberg


Saying Gov. Bruce Rauner doesn’t care about youth and the poor, Father Michael L. Pfleger and Henry English, CEO/COO/President of the Black United Fund of Illinois, Inc., Tuesday held a protest outside of the James R. Thompson Center demanding that Gov. Rauner restore the cuts and to cease “raping the poor and our youth programs” just to balance his budget.

Two busloads left Saint Sabina Church Tuesday morning headed for the Thompson Center carrying signs that said, “Governor, Don’t Balance Budget on Backs of the Poor,” and “Rauner, Don’t Raise Unemployment.”

Some attendees  were the victims of Rauner’s budget wielding knife even though the legislators had approved their contracts, funds had been allocated, contracts signed by January 1, 2015 and verified by the state comptroller “as obligated funds to be paid out.”

On the eve of the governor’s “State of the State” address, Pfleger said since Rauner was sworn into office he has given nothing to the poor and the youth. In fact, he said Rauner has taken away what was legally given them.

Referring to Rauner’s cutting the budgets for youth employment by $4.5 million, $3.5 million in   afterschool care and day care programs, Pfleger said, “last Thursday the Governor without warning without conversation all programs were ended effectively immediately. Nobody was spoken to. Nobody was talked to. The programs week just ended” including day care programs he said were not refunded as of January 31, 2015.

Pfleger said while this is going on, African American youth unemployment is at an “all time high and while the governor is cutting programs for young people… He is giving his deputy governor a 24 percent increase in salary. He’s giving his chief of staff a 38 percent increase in salary and he’s giving his general counsel a 53 percent increase. He is giving his budget director a 20 percent increase in salary, and he’s giving his executive assistant a 94 percent increase in salary, and he’s hiring a chief of staff for his wife. How you hire a chief of staff when you have no staff”?

“So you can increase in your group around you and cut off programs in the African American and Latino communities…. Gov. Rauner, we’re here to tell you…you may have a lot of money and you may be a venture capitalist. You may be a business man, but we are not accepting this kind of business in the state of Illinois,” Pfleger said as the crowd screamed in support. “Do not balance your budget on the backs of poor people and Gov. Rauner don’t turn your back on our youth…. Restore the money now.”

More than 250 people joined Pfleger and English protested the budget cuts chanting, ‘What do we want? Jobs. When do we want them? Now.” “Restore the Jobs.”

Mr. English said, “We’re going to fight for justice…and for jobs…. We are not going to stand down. If you’re standing up, it’s hard for someone to stand on your back.” He called on legislators to “stand up” for their community. “We will fight for jobs and justice….

“You can’t just come in and disrespect us by sending us an e-mail” that ended their programs. “That is totally disrespect…. I’m calling on our community to stand up. We may have a long fight….we will circle, fight, do what ever is necessary to get justice for our community” said English. Pfleger chanted, “honor the contract.”

“Gov. Rauner, you call yourself a businessman. This business will not be accepted. You said in your inaugural you’re compassionate. Well show some damn compassion…,” said Pfleger chanting “honor the contract,” “employ our youth, save our jobs,” “give back the money.”

Pfleger, who has had the largest youth employment agency in the Midwest, wasn’t the only one receiving an e-mail from the state ending social and economic programs. Lynette Santiago, executive director of the Fellowship Connection in Humboldt Park was another budgetary victim.

She hired 350 youth and said they depend on the funding to go to school and social workers “who have taken a vow of poverty” to help the youth. “How can we work together…don’t just cut us out.

“Our families need this and we need you to speak to us.” Santiago said her organization subsidizes 28 agencies and churches to hire youth. Rauner canceled her $923,000 grant. The funding came from the Department of Labor and managed by the Department of Human Services. “We put so much money into this and we have no guarantee we’ll get it back.”

Community activist David Whittaker, CEO, Chicago Area Project, said, “There is a moral imperative that we look out for our young people” he said are hurting and dying every day. “This program is one that works because it gives our young people hope…. We’re talking about the lives and welfare of these young folk.”

One of those who received an e-mail from the state canceling their funds was Oscar Rivera, Jr., who heads the Bikes N’ Roses under Communities United in Albany Park. He teaches youth about bicycle mechanics and job readiness training. He received a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

When Rauner canceled the contract, Rivera was forced to fire more than 50 people he says are “traumatized.” “There were a lot of tears on the day,” Rivera said explaining he received the e-mail last Thursday. He said the youth “are confused. They’ve been shot down….”

Diane Liamas, a volunteer with Community United, said, “A lot of the youth we hired quit their jobs because they thought there was a contract and they thought this job was set in stone until the contract ran out. They quit their former job and now they don’t have a job at all.”

She also leased a space for the youth to work and doesn’t know if her organization can break that lease. “This is very hard on our young people.”

Rosita Chatonda is the coordinating director for the Black Fund’s Teach for South Shore program and heads the Chicago Alliance of Urban School Educators where she advocates for more than 10,000 African American teachers who had been terminated due to school closings. She had 28 retired teachers and she was going to hire 40 parents. “It’s a wonderful program. ….”

Pfleger said when Gov. Rauner was running; he said he was going to cutting the income tax…he did. We were presuming he had a plan and maybe the plan is what we’re seeing now.” “He ran for governor because he said he had a plan. Where’s the plan”? Pfleger asked why didn’t Rauner say this when he was running for governor?

Pfleger said the governor cut between $8 and $9 million and that he had 50 interns to show up for work yesterday. “We had to turn them away,” he told reporters.

“Tomorrow the governor is giving the “State of the State. We’re here today to say the state in in trouble” especially giving the last two-weeks with Rauner cutting these program.

Asked by this reporter if he may sue, Pfleger said the funds were already allocated and that state lawmakers are meeting to discuss the legality of what Rauner has done. “All our young people here want is a job. You cut all of these programs, get ready for the spring,” Pfleger said.

English said 91 percent of the youth are unemployed with 58 percent being black men. “Those are staggering immoral figures and we have to figure out how to deal with that.” He hopes Rauner would take the moral road on resolving this situation.

The protesters passed out flyers saying, “Stop the cuts! Governor Bruce Rauner.  Under the state’s subtractions, it listed: youth employment programs, after school programs and day care programs. Under additions to state government, the flyer listed: Paying top staff members significantly more than his predecessor and hiring a chief of staff for his wife.

“The math is clear,” the flyer stated. “The youth and the poor do not seem to be a priority in Governor Rauner’s budget.” Earlier, Pfleger was a guest on the Windy City Live show where he was asked what did he want the governor to do. “In his speech, he said he wanted a compassionate state. Well, show me the compassion with action, not words….”

The governor issued a statement saying: “Unfortunately, Gov. Quinn signed a budget that was unbalanced by $1.5 billion. The administration is taking action to manage the inherited budget hole and is working with the legislature to find responsible solutions.”

Father  Pfleger continues to ask his supporters to call Gov. Rauner at 312.814.2121 and/or his Springfield office at 217.782.0244 and tell him to “honor and restore the contracts.”

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

Department of Justice FY 2016 Budget Request

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

President Obama’s FY 2016 budget proposal totals $28.7 billion for the Department of Justice to support federal law enforcement priorities and the criminal justice priorities of our state, local and tribal law enforcement partners.  The request represents a comprehensive investment in the Justice Department’s mission and includes increases in funding for countering violent extremism and other national security areas, civil rights and advancing equality under the law, Smart on Crime activities, including increased funds for prisoner reentry initiatives, and other key enforcement initiatives.  The request represents a $1.3 billion increase over the comparable FY 2015 enacted level.

“The Department of Justice is dedicated to advancing the safety, the security, and the rights of all Americans – and the vital investments detailed in the department’s FY 2016 budget reflect that commitment,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “From our global efforts to safeguard the American people against terrorist attacks and prevent violent extremism, to the work we are doing through the Smart on Crime initiative to make our criminal justice system more fair and more effective, to our ongoing focus on building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, we are working every day to protect the American people and extend this nation’s promise of equal justice under law.  And as we move forward – with the resources outlined in this budget proposal – the Department of Justice will build on its groundbreaking work to strengthen our communities, to preserve our cherished values, and to build the safer, more just society that all Americans deserve.”

The Department of Justice’s areas of investment include:

  • +$65 million for the department’s law enforcement components, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program.
  • +$125 million for our litigating components, including the U.S. Attorneys, National Security Division, Criminal Division, Civil Rights Division, Civil Division, and the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
  • +$217 million for the prisons and detention functions of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  • +$146 million for immigration and administration, technology, and other support functions, including the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Office of the Pardon Attorney, Office of the Inspector General, Community Relations Service, General Administration, and Justice Information Sharing Technology.
  • +$154 million for DOJ grant programs overall (Office of Justice Programs, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and Office on Violence Against Women), for a total grant program request of $2.4 billion.

National Security

Defending U.S. citizens from both internal and external threats remains the department’s highest priority.  National security threats are constantly evolving, requiring additional investments to adapt to those threats in innovative ways.  The FY 2016 budget request provides $106.8 million in program increases to develop the department’s capacity in a number of critical national security areas including: countering violent extremism and domestic radicalization; counterterrorism; cybersecurity both domestic and abroad; information sharing and collaboration with the intelligence community; and training and technical assistance for our foreign partners.

The FY 2016 request supports a comprehensive national security strategy that includes countering violent extremism (CVE) and cybersecurity.  Through grants provided by the Office of Justice Programs and the Community Oriented Policing Services, the department will foster community-led CVE efforts and emphasize trusted partnerships between public safety agencies and local residents and community organizations.  Funding is also requested to build upon recent cyber investments that address computer intrusions and defend the security of the department’s critical information networks from cyber threats.

To maintain its role as a national security leader, the department must continue to improve its coordination with both domestic and foreign partners through training and technical assistance.  The FY 2016 request includes resources for both the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration to enhance collaboration with the intelligence community through improved IT infrastructure and counterintelligence programs.  In addition, the FY 2016 request includes resources for improving the process of sharing evidence with our foreign partners, coordinated investigations, and operating overseas security sector assistance programs. The department’s foreign experts are best situated to build the strong overseas partnerships that are essential to joint efforts to fight terrorism and transnational crime.

For more information, view the National Security Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Civil Rights

The department’s mission is to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly the most vulnerable members of our society—thus extending equality under the law to all Americans.  Accomplishing this requires resources both to investigate and to litigate.

Protecting the nation’s most vulnerable populations is a top priority of this Administration and the department. These issues remain a highly relevant to the American people and a significant focus of both the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service.  The FY 2016 request includes $102.8 million in new investments addressing ongoing and growing threats of human trafficking, hate crimes, and campus sexual assaults.  The request includes funds to expand civil and criminal enforcement efforts to ensure that all communities have effective and democratically accountable policing.

Our request supports the health of our democracy by augmenting our Voting Rights Act enforcement to protect each citizen’s fundamental right to vote.  Further, our request creates a sustainable and lasting legacy of civil rights enforcement in U.S. Attorneys Offices and the coordination of our efforts with state and local partners across the nation.

Increases for grant programs will provide technical assistance and training to improve the public’s access to counsel and legal assistance in state, local, and tribal courts and juvenile justice systems.  The resources will also help to implement the recommendations of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and assist law enforcement agencies on criminal justice issues, including use of force practices and the deployment of crisis intervention teams.

For more information, view Civil Rights Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Smart on Crime

In total, our budget invests an additional $247 million to support Smart on Crime initiatives. At the direction of the Attorney General, in early 2013 the Justice Department launched a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system in order to identify reforms that would ensure federal laws are enforced fairly and—in an era of reduced budgets—efficiently.  As part of its review, the department studied all phases of the criminal justice system, including charging, sentencing, incarceration, and reentry, to identify the practices that are successful at deterring crime and protecting the public.

We must remain vigilant in our efforts to stop violent crime.  However, for far too long, well-intentioned policies created to lower criminal activity perpetuated a cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration that broke too many families and weakened too many communities. The Smart on Crime initiative focuses on effectively using federal resources for the most important law enforcement priorities, addressing the disparate impact of the criminal justice system on vulnerable communities, and implementing a series of commonsense reforms to create a fundamental shift in response to certain crimes—particularly low-level, nonviolent offenses.  The new guidance also bolstered prevention and reentry programs to deter crime, reduce recidivism, and create pathways of opportunity for eligible candidates.

The Attorney General’s plan focuses federal resources and places the harshest sentences on the most violent offenders rather than prioritizing the sheer number of prosecutions.  Considering alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent offenses also strengthens our justice system and places a lower financial burden on the budget.  This means increased use of diversion programs, such as drug courts, that reduce taxpayer expense and have the potential to be successful at preventing recidivism.  Even when imprisonment is appropriate, sentencing should reflect the individualized circumstances of the case.

We must also pay attention to what happens to inmates after prison.  To better prevent recidivism, it is important to reduce barriers to reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals.  This includes emphasizing reentry programs, and revisiting rules and regulations that make it harder for these individuals to find a job, an education, or affordable housing.

For more information, view the Smart on Crime Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Prisons and Detention

Maintaining safe and secure detention and prison facilities, while investing in ways to reduce recidivism, is critical to the department’s ongoing efforts to reform the criminal justice system and be Smart on Crime.  To continue this commitment, the department requests $217 million in program increases for prisons and detention.

The Administration is committed to a comprehensive strategy to contain incarceration costs over the long term by facilitating inmates’ transition into society in order to reduce recidivism rates, increase public safety, and strengthen communities.  The budget reflects these commitments and takes steps to address the cycle of incarceration by investing additional resources in the BOP re-entry programs for the approximately 45,000 federal inmates that return to our communities each year.

The request increases staffing at BOP’s 17 high security institutions.  The request would provide funding to have two correctional officers on duty in each housing unit for all three shifts, increasing officer and inmate safety at high security institutions.  The request also funds additional medical beds at Federal Correctional Institution Fort Worth that will house and treat severely ill inmates currently housed in community hospitals.  Finally, the request also increases funding for BOP to undertake essential rehabilitation, modernization, and renovation of BOP institutions, one third of which are 50 years old or older.  Adequately maintaining structures preserves capital investments and ensures sufficient security within institutions.

For more information, view the Prisons and Detention Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Immigration

The department plays an integral role in the immigration system by ensuring the fair, expeditious, and uniform application of the Nation’s immigration laws. The department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) oversees the immigration court and Board of Immigrant Appeals.  In recent years, in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) increased enforcement efforts along the borders, EOIR has sought to keep pace with the rising number of immigration cases, in order to maintain the effectiveness and efficiency of immigration enforcement, adjudication and detention programs.  But EOIR’s immigration court caseload continues to increase to record levels.

To process this increasing workload and improve the efficiency of the immigration court system, the Department requests an increase of $124 million to support additional Immigration Judge (IJ) Teams and Board of Immigration Appeals attorneys and provide for other improvements to the immigration system.  This enhancement will help IJ Teams and attorneys adjudicate rising immigration caseloads resulting from the increase in Southwest Border crossings.  Also included in this program increase are funds to expand legal representation for unaccompanied children and to improve efficiencies in immigration court proceedings by expanding the Legal Orientation Program.

For more information, view the Immigration Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Enforcement Priorities

The department’s mission and responsibility is to investigate and punish those who break federal laws and harm innocent citizens.  Continued investments to uphold its commitments and obligations are needed to strengthen the department’s ability to protect the health and well-being of our nation’s citizens, and have the flexibility to address threats as they emerge; simply maintaining existing law enforcement capacity is not sufficient.  For FY 2016, the department requests $43 million in additional investments to address violent crime and illicit drugs, along with health care fraud and environmental crime.

For more information, view the Enforcement Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement

The department strongly supports its partnerships with state, local, and tribal entities.
The FY 2016 budget maintains its commitments to state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners without reducing the department’s federal operational role.  Simultaneously, efficiencies are identified to ensure that federal resources are being targeted to the most effective grant programs.

The FY 2016 discretionary and mandatory request for state, local, and tribal law enforcement assistance is $3.5 billion.  The request for state, local, and tribal assistance includes $15 million for implementation of the Administration’s Countering Violent Extremism Initiative, discussed under National Security above.  The budget also targets $97 million for the President’s new Community Policing Initiative to build and sustain trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.  Both the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Office of Justice Programs (OJP) budgets include enhancements to support these two initiatives.

The request also includes $249.5 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program and a $14 million increase to the Office on Violence Against Women Campus Violence Program.

For more information, view the State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Public Safety in Indian Country

The United States has a unique legal and political relationship with American Indian tribes and Alaska Native communities as provided by the Constitution, treaties, court decisions and federal statutes.  The Department of Justice has an important legal and moral responsibility to prosecute violent crime in Indian Country because under current law, in much of Indian Country, the department alone has the authority to seek an appropriate sentence when a major crime has been committed.  Federal investigation and prosecution of serious violent crime in Indian Country is often both the first and only avenue of protection for the victims of these crimes.

The FY 2016 President’s budget requests $417 million in total resources for public safety initiatives in Indian Country.  Investments include significant and versatile grant funding for addressing a range of criminal justice issues, among which is a $5 million request for a new Tribal Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction program authorized by Congress in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.  This program would provide grants to tribal governments and their designees to support tribal efforts to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders who commit violence against Indian spouses, intimate partners or dating partners, or who violate protection orders, in Indian Country.

For more information, view the Public Safety in Indian Country Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Infrastructure

In order to maintain an effective and efficient Department of Justice, the department must invest in its physical and non-physical infrastructure to support its investigative and prosecutorial enterprises.  The department’s request addresses gaps in critical infrastructure including information technology systems, facility construction and maintenance, litigation support services, operational oversight and other investments.

The investments requested for FY 2016 build on many DOJ investments already made and will allow the department to make significant strides in several areas.  With these investments, the department will be able to make forward progress in consolidating its data centers, reduce the significant backlog for U.S. Marshals Service construction projects in federal courthouses, direct and oversee administration and operation of the department activities, and provide data transparency to the public.

For more information, view the Infrastructure Fact Sheet at http://www.justice.gov/about/fy16-budget-fact-sheets.

Source: Department of Justice

Black History Month: Remembering “Civil Rights Pioneers Who Led the Fight for Political Change and Equality…”

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

CBC Chair G. K. Butterfield’s Statement on Black History Month

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair G. K. Butterfield released the following statement in recognition of Black History Month:

“Black History Month is an opportunity for us to reflect on the countless contributions that African Americans have made to this nation.

“During the month of February, we remember civil rights pioneers who led the fight for political change and equality.  We remember courageous African American visionaries who were relentless in their pursuit of technological and scientific discoveries that have made the world a better place.  And, we remember African American vanguards that pushed the boundaries of art, literature, music, and sport.

“Black History Month reminds our nation of where we’ve been and helps to focus us on where we’re headed in the future.  Let us use this month for not only celebration, but also for a recommitment to the values our nation holds dear like equal access to the voting booth, economic equality, and fairness.”

www.TheCongressionalBlackCaucus.com

NEW REPORT: #BlackLivesMatter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

From Marc Mauer

The Sentencing Project

I’m pleased to announce a new publication from The Sentencing Project highlighting initiatives in more than 20 states designed to address the criminal justice system’s high rate of contact with people of color. Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System provides a comprehensive review of programs and policies across the nation and identifies a broad range of initiatives that can address racial disparities at all levels of the criminal justice system.

In the wake of the tragedies in Ferguson and other cities, excessive police contact has been identified as a major cause of the disproportionate rate of fatal police encounters for African Americans and Latinos. Policing is just one of many stages of the justice system in which people of color are disadvantaged relative to whites.

The report identifies four key features of the criminal justice system that produce racially unequal outcomes, beyond the conditions of socioeconomic inequality that contribute to higher rates of some crimes in marginalized communities, and showcases initiatives to abate these sources of inequity in adult and juvenile justice systems around the country. In many cases, these reforms have produced demonstrable results, including:

  • Indiana amended its drug-free zone sentencing laws, which imposed harsh penalties on a defendant population that was over 75% African American in Indianapolis.
  • Multnomah County (Portland), OR, revised and removed bias in its risk assessment instrument for determining juvenile detention, reducing African American and Latino youth detention levels by half.
  • Berks County, PA, reduced the number of youth in secure detention – who were primarily youth of color – by 67% between 2007 and 2012 in part by increasing reliance on alternatives including non-secure shelters and expanding use of evidence-based treatment programs.
  • The Milwaukee County prosecutor’s office eliminated racial disparity in charges of possession of drug paraphernalia by instituting case oversight and emphasizing diversion to treatment programs and dismissals.

We hope that this report will serve as a blueprint for policymakers and criminal justice practitioners ready to end both excessive policing and excessive punishment of people of color.

Regards,

Marc Mauer

Why African-Americans are in Desperate Need of Mortgage Help

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Op-Ed By Marcia Griffin

Buying a house or a piece of property to call your own is part of the American Dream. But, if you’re African-American, that dream is becoming further and further out of reach.
Whether you’re a renter trying to buy your first home or a homeowner looking for a modification to avoid foreclosure, it has become more difficult than ever to get approved for a loan and just as challenging to understand the nuances of what lenders are looking for.
For African-Americans, the mortgage landscape is particularly harrowing.

According to sociologists from Rice and Cornell Universities, African-Americans are 45 percent more likely than Whites to go from owning their homes to renting them.
There are many factors contributing to this startling statistic. Among them:

* African-Americans are more likely to lose their homes to foreclosure.
* African-Americans have been more targeted by predatory lenders.
* African-Americans have less wealth to put toward homeownership in the first place.

During the Great Recession, between 2007 and 2010, wealth for Blacks dropped by an average of 31 percent, home equity dropped by 28 percent and retirement savings dropped by 35 percent. During that same period, Whites lost only 11 percent in wealth, 24 percent in home equity and actually gained 9 percent in retirement savings.

So are African-Americans destined to fall further behind? Not if they are aware of the statistics and trends and how to overcome them.

For example, in inner cities, conveniently located houses will go to non-minority people who can afford the down payment and have excellent credit. Meanwhile, African-Americans will be pushed further and further out, making it increasingly difficult to get to work plus; stuck with sky high rents and slum landlords.

Already, Wall Street investors have bought thousands of foreclosed homes once owned by African-Americans. They are now the owners and we are the renters. This is the scheme. Rents are predicted to go up 20 percent per year.

To make matters worse, when investors sell the properties, African-Americans are not the buyers. The mortgage approval requirements are exceedingly high. Today, the average mortgage denial has a 722 credit score. The average score for the people we serve is 630. Since 96 percent of African-American wealth is in our homes, we lose.

While these statistics and trends are grim, they are certainly not insurmountable. With goal-oriented financial education and information, thousands of homeowners have achieved their financial goals in recent years. Not only that, but many families have achieved 0 percent foreclosure rates – a remarkable feat in the recent economy.

Here is some valuable information that could lead in that direction:

* Remember, the mortgage industry is in business to make lots of money by any means necessary. The less you know, the fewer your options and the more you can be taken advantage of.

* Non-profit counseling and credit assistance for distressed homeowners and prospective homebuyers is available, but rarely marketed. A lot of this is valuable, free information from experts in mortgage and credit fields.

* In many states, there is government home buying money that goes unused. This money is also not marketed. Call your Department of Housing as soon as possible.

* Limit the financial information you get online. Speak to a professional over the phone or in person so you can check out their credentials.

* Without some guidance and information the mortgage process can be confusing, difficult and misleading. One wrong decision and thousands of dollars can be lost. So get the information you need.

Marcia Griffin is founder of HomeFree-USA, a leading intermediary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, committed to turning around home-ownership rates for African-Americans and other minorities. For more information: marciaghfusa@msn.com; 202 288 8510; or call toll free: (855) 493-4002. Also visit HomeFreeUSA.org; Twitter: @marciahomefree

State Senator Collins Observes 150th Anniversary of Amendment Abolishing Slavery

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Urges Illinois, first state in the nation to ratify the 13th Amendment,“to continue the struggle against all forms of injustice threatening our common humanity”


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) sponsored a resolution designating February of 2015 as Thirteenth Amendment Ratification Month in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the amendment’s ratification by Illinois’ legislature. At a ceremony recognizing the 24th General Assembly’s courage in making Illinois the first state to ratify, Collins, herself the great-granddaughter of a slave, made the following remarks:

The abolition of slavery was long overdue. But we can be proud that on February 1, 1865, our state’s leaders wasted no more time in demanding that the laws of this nation no longer allow one man or woman to own another. Their courageous vote set us on a path we still walk today, and it is my hope that on this anniversary, we will turn our attention to that path – how far we’ve come, how far we must still go and what each one of us can do to get there.

It is with great pride in my state and my colleagues and with determination to continue the struggle against all forms of injustice threatening our common humanity that I urge the adoption of this resolution.

Black Boys Empowered by Urban Principal’s You Tube Series

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Principal Baruti Kafele
Boys all over America being empowered by Principal Kafele’s “Message To Your Son” Series


Jersey City, NJ (BlackNews.com) — Renowned educator, Principal Baruti Kafele states emphatically that he has witnessed over the years enough mothers crying over their sons whom they have either lost to the streets or are slowly but surely losing to the streets. In an effort to help mothers rescue their sons and to in turn help them to develop the willingness to strive for excellence, he launched a YouTube video series entitled, Message to Your Son. It is comprised of over 150 short 3 6 minute “no frills, no edits, one-take” video clips where Principal Kafele speaks directly to boys of all ages and ethnicities about living productive lives.

A recipient of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) Hall of Fame Award, Principal Kafele knows something about motivating boys; particularly those labeled at-risk. As a former 14-year “Turnaround High School and Middle School Principal” in Newark and East Orange, NJ, he understood clearly the power in daily positive messages to students toward creating positive attitudes. He therefore took this approach to leading schools and applied it to development of Message to Your Son. Topics include but are not limited to: attitude, goal setting, planning, purpose, vision, determination, self-esteem, self-respect, decision-making, school behavior, bullying, distractions, temptations and so much more in an effort to motivate, educate and empower boys for success.

Parents are encouraged to watch theses videos along with their sons daily and to engage them in discussions over the topics viewed. Educators are also encouraged to show these videos in their schools and classrooms (girls love them too) as often as possible and to engage the boys, or all of the students in follow up discussions. All content is most appropriate for school.

Message to Your Son is now 150+ videos strong, with a new video posted every Saturday morning. To view the entire series, please visit Principal Kafele’s website at www.PrincipalKafele.com and click the link to “Principal Kafele’s Message to Your Son” on his homepage which will take you directly to his YouTube channel.
About Principal Kafele,br> Milken National Educator, international-renowned speaker, educational consultant and best-selling author, Principal Baruti Kafele has excelled in the capacity of teacher and principal. As a teacher in NJ, he was selected as the district and county teacher of the year. As a principal, he led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban public schools, including Newark Tech, which was three times recognized by U.S. News and World Report Magazine as one of America’s best high schools. He is also the author of six books including his national best-seller, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life.

Follow him on:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/principalkafele
Twitter – www.twitter.com/principalkafele

Photo Caption: Renowned High School Principal, Baruti Kafele

Probation Challenge Offers No Cost On-Line ‘Special Edition of True Black History’

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Chicago ‘1919 Race Riots’


By Rev. Harold Bailey

Founder & President, Probation Challenge


CHICAGO, IL – Not having the luxury of time on this planet called earth, I’ve decided to make a conscious decision to release to the public (especially youth) matters of blatant hard core truth! In my research for The Challenge News Magazine, I discovered interesting facts that most adults don’t know or remember.  I trust to share these documented materials with you! •Read the Challenge News Magazine.

In regard to criminal behavior; I honestly believe black youth would do better if they knew they were playing directly into the hands of the oppressors. These oppressors go back to ‘1919’ where white youth hated ‘colored folk’ enough to rob, steal and kill them. These horrible events were applied to anyone not of the white persuasion.  •Read the Challenge Magazine.

I have exhausted time, energies, and finances for over 37 years agonizing with troubled youth through the vehicle of education and noted it to be an educational success.  Perhaps that’s why they came after me to terminate my efforts to educate not only youth … but adults! Keep in mind that youth are not the only individuals sidetracked by orchestrated criminal acts … many adults have been led astray by their foreparents who winked at back-of-the-yard community behavior because some of those residents in the Bridge Port Community sat in a seat of authority over city government.

•Read The Challenge Magazine.

I have set forth without cost to the reader, documentation that brings to the forefront massive criminal behaviors that were activated by white youth, while the City of Chicago public agencies were prohibited to respond accordinly! •Read The Challenge Magazine.

Perpetrators of these horrible in-your-face crimes were white youth who for trills and an act of hatred… sought to demean colored people.  •Read The Challenge Magazine.

From the foundation of hatred has come evil facets that we now see everyday coming from black and white. Youth without understanding of the past are doomed to emulate past evil behaviors!

Youth: African Americans shouldn’t take on the lifestyle of hoodlums and thugs who sought to destroy the fabric of African-American DNA… We are simple Kings and Queen who were spiritually chosen to render a great work. Youth: Take note of such greatness as: Akenaton (1375-1358) B. C … One of African’s first Pharaohs.  I invite all to read the ‘Special Edition of True Black History’ in ‘The Challenge Magazine’.

On-line reading at: WWW.ProbationChallenge.org. There is no cost for this service.

• Andre Crouch Remembered  • Do Spiritual Prostitutes Profit?

• 25 Richest People to Ever Live  • “A Crowd of Howling Negroes’

Read page by page and when completed, present it to others as suggested educational materials.

WWW.ProbationChallenge.org

Rev. Harold E. Bailey, president of Probation Challenge

Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council Hosts 2015 Red or White Ball to Benefit Steppenwolf For Young Adults on April 10, 2015 at Venue One

Posted by Admin On February - 4 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council hosts one of Chicago’s most exciting spring events, the 2015 Red or White Ball on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 9pm (with the highly anticipated VIP Reception beginning at 7:30pm). Hundreds of young arts supporters will gather at Chicago’s sleek, contemporary Venue One (1034 W Randolph St) for a high-energy celebration supporting Steppenwolf’s nationally recognized arts education program, Steppenwolf for Young Adults (SYA).

The signature event for the city’s most influential young professionals begins with a VIP Reception with Steppenwolf artists and food presented by Chicago’s leading chefs, followed by a party with open bars, food, exciting auction and raffle packages and D.J. Matt ROAN spinning late into the night. This year’s Red or White Ball celebrates SYA’s season-long exploration of the art of revolution. Proceeds from the Red or White Ball benefit SYA, a program which annually impacts more than 15,000 students, teachers and families.

VIP Reception tasting and cocktail stations will feature creations from Arami and Chef Frederick Despres, Chef Justin Ferguson of Executive Chef of Ideology Entertainment, Blue Door Farm Stand and La Storia Ristorante, Cantina de la Granja and Chef Diana Davila. Main event partners include Cheesie’s, Cookie Bar, III Forks, The Dawson and Tesori. The 2015 Red or White Ball Kick Off partner is The Tie Bar. The Red or White Ball is sponsored by Ice Miller and the After Party sponsor is Nellcote. Raffle prizes include a private arena tour of the United Center for four and drinks at The Ogden, a Steppenwolf Premium Package with two seats at an Opening Night Celebration of your choice with dinner, show and after-party, the chance to win an iPad Mini 3 and more. Raffle tickets are $10 each or three for $25.

Tickets for the 2015 Red or White Ball are on sale now. Individual tickets are $125; a limited number of $250 VIP tickets are also available and include an exclusive cocktail reception at 7:30pm, chef tasting stations, VIP gift bags, special access to Steppenwolf artists and other perks. Also available is a $540 rate for groups of six tickets when purchased together and $1,000 Arts Education Circle sponsorships for 10 tickets. Tickets and tables can be purchased online at  www.bidpal.net/redorwhiteball or via e-mail by contacting Development Associate Karyn Todd at ktodd@steppenwolf.org.

The 2015 Red or White Ball Chair is Tanya Stanfield. Co-Chairs include Jon Blanc, Isaac Colunga and Julia Luscombe.

Last year’s Red or White Ball raised nearly $60,000 for Steppenwolf’s nationally recognized arts education programming. Steppenwolf for Young Adults is a comprehensive educational initiative that annually serves 15,000 students, teachers and families. The program provides access to the theater for a broad base of Chicago’s youth, ages 12 – 19, and schools throughout the Chicago metropolitan area with a strong focus on partnering with Chicago Public Schools.

Name of Event               Red or White Ball

Date                               Friday, April 10, 2015

Time                              9pm, Exclusive VIP Reception at 7:30pm

Location                        Venue One (1034 W Randolph St)

Description         The premier event for Chicago’s most active young philanthropists, benefiting Steppenwolf for Young Adults. The evening includes cocktails, food, music, dancing and an exciting auction and raffle.

Ticket Prices $125 Individual Tickets

$250 VIP Tickets, includes exclusive reception with chef tasting stations, VIP gift bags and more

$540 Group Rate, includes six individual tickets when purchased together

$1,000 Arts Education Circle corporate sponsorships, include 10 individual tickets and recognition

The Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council is a dynamic group of young professionals dedicated to civic leadership. The Council is made up of more than 100 energetic leaders with a shared mission to support Steppenwolf’s arts education program for high school students. Since its inception in 2000, the Auxiliary Council has raised nearly $1.5 million in contributions.

Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ (SYA) unique approach combines play production with educational components to enhance arts education for young audiences, as well as their teachers and families. SYA creates two full-scale professional productions each season specifically for teens. Working closely with the Chicago Public and metropolitan area schools and other community partners, SYA annually ensures access to the theater for more than 12,000 participants from Chicago’s diverse communities. The initiative also includes post-show discussions with artists; classroom residencies led by Steppenwolf-trained teaching artists in more than 30 classrooms in 12 public high schools; professional development workshops for educators; and the Young Adult Council, an innovative year-round after school initiative that uniquely engages high school students in all areas of the theater’s operations.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America’s longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces—the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat Garage Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 44 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming at Steppenwolf includes a five-play Subscription Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season and two repertory series: First Look Repertory of New Work and Garage Rep. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Off-Broadway, Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. Martha Lavey is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Managing Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre and twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr.

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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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