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The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago learned that James Kluppelberg -- wrongfully imprisoned ...
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Walgreens is staying in the U.S., but now Burger King, the second biggest hamburger outfit ...
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Catalyst Chicago By Sarah Karp Cory Warren and a group of his classmates at Phillips ...
Chicago ‘1919 Race Riots’ By Rev. Harold Bailey Founder & President, Probation Challenge CHICAGO, IL – ...
Chicago Premiere performances in the Downstairs Theatre, June 27 – August 25, 2013 CHICAGO, ...
A second man pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights crime for tying a rope ...

Archive for May 5th, 2015

NYC Black Blind Father Denied Parental Rights

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
A devoted Black father is denied the right to parent his own children because he is blind

Defying stereotypes, then shot down by a biased judge
Christopher G. Roberts
New York, NY (BlackNews.com) — The right of the natural parent to the care and custody of his or her child is considered a fundamental right in the United States. In spite of that, a New York Kings County Supreme Judge in Brooklyn has slammed the door on an American fathers right to parent is own children solely it seems because he is blind. The judge, in this case, would insert able and in particular sighted in front of natural parent. No vision, no children sums up the Courts decision, upturning decades of civil rights progress and common sense.

Despite Christopher G. Roberts serving as his son and daughters primary caretaker, when he found himself in front of Justice Eric I. Prus, the judge informed him that because the children were young (then 3 and 2), and Mr. Roberts was blind – the judge was concerned about the children being protected from any hazard. The judge told Mr. Roberts that it was important for someone to be there asserting that Mr. Roberts was less than a full person, not quite a someone in the judges eyes. Remarkably, the judge conditioned Mr. Roberts time with his children be supervised by a sighted nanny who Mr. Roberts was to hire at his own expense. Even though Mr. Roberts was once a primary caretaker, the judge chose to allow him a scant seventeen (17) hours of time with his children and then with each second supervised. Such is the horror that unfolded on May 9th, 2014. Though we have become accustomed to and even desensitized to – custody disputes as 50% of US marriages end in divorce; in this case there was no mud-slinging in May. In fact, Mr. Roberts’ wife never even had to testify nor say a word that day. Nor were there any records by any agency be it social services or the police, nor from the childrens pediatricians or teachers, suggesting that Mr. Roberts children had ever been endangered because their father was blind. Interestingly enough, Mr. Roberts was a highly sought-after teacher in the arts where he has taught over 2,000 children from preschool through 12th grade in the NYC area. Instead of needing judicial rescue, Mr. Roberts children were both well cared-for, gifted, living in Park Slope attending private pre-school a lifestyle provided for by their blind father. Nonetheless, the judge ordered “family intervention” sending social services to the home they found nothing and ordered all of the childrens time with their father be “supervised” by a sighted nanny. Had Mr. Roberts been unable to pay for a sighted nanny he would have been unable to see his children the children he had been raising at all.

Somehow the fact that tens of thousands of blind parents raise their children every day without sighted supervision was lost to the judge. It is hard to tell how Mr. Roberts’ race (black) and gender (as the father, not the mother) played into his biased decision. Perhaps stereotypes about all of these traits continues to play a hand in this case.

The worldview undergirding the view that blind people are not capable of parenting takes us back to a dark time of US history where eugenics and moral laziness, prescribed involuntary sterilization for those persons deemed lesser than not fully someone.

Still in 2015, laws have had to be proposed from New York to South Carolina to ensure that blind parents children are not denied their natural parents even as an estimated 4 million parents with disabilities raise their children. To ensure that blind parents children are not denied custody because they are unsighted, laws have been proposed in a number of jurisdictions. In the NY state legislature in 2014, New York bill A09371 was introduced by then assembly-member Joan Millman to revise the Family Court Act to prohibit custody decisions solely on the basis of blindness. After the bill was introduced it was referred to the judiciary where no further action was taken. Also in 2014 assembly member Barbara Clark introduced bill A09223 to revise New Yorks Domestic Relations Law to likewise prohibit custody decisions solely on the basis of blindness. Neither bill has been passed yet but Mr. Roberts case shows how crucial such legislation is sadly to simply preserve one of blind parents basic human rights the right to the care and custody of ones own natural children.

Almost a year has passed since Mr. Roberts’ parental rights were stripped – he remains resolved to fully restoring his parental rights. Though he was once a primary caretaker of his children, he now sees them for only 17 hours each week even then his time is supervised by a sighted nanny who he has been ordered to employ. Mr. Roberts also remains physically blind, but many argue that it is the judge who cannot see.
About Christopher G. Roberts:
Christopher G. Roberts has over 23 years of experience in professional theatre. He is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Steppingstone Theatre Company (SSTC), a not-for-profit arts organization. He has an MFA degree in acting from Brooklyn College and a BA degree in theater from the University at Buffalo. As an actor, he has appeared on television in shows such as OZ, Sex in the City, “What Would You Do,” in national network commercials, as well as on several daytime dramas. In addition, his regional and international credits include Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey, Exile Theater in Northern Ireland and The Manhattan Theater Club.

Christopher is also a playwright; his first full-length play, Reflections of a Heart: The Isaac Woodard Story, was produced off-Broadway at The Clurmen Theatre in June 2010. During his tenure as a director and teacher for various arts institutions and public schools, he has taught over 2,000 children from grades pre-K through 12. Christopher was the Head Accessibility Consultant for Broadway productions such as: Finean’s Rainbow (’09), The Miracle Worker (10), and Catch Me If You Can (’11).

He is also a proud and active member of The Performers with Disabilities Guild and the National Federation of the Blind. Christopher is also featured with one of his two longtime mentors, Stephen McKinley Henderson, as well as with other various well known artists in the groundbreaking book, Acting Teachers of America: A Vital Tradition. Christopher was the Assistant Director for Julliards acclaimed production of August Wilsons Joe Turners Come and Gone, directed by his other mentor, the late Israel Hicks. Christopher’s current and most important role to date is that of a loving and devoted father to his children.
Additional Information:

1) www.inclusioninthearts.org/projects/national-diversity-forum/opinion-pieces/christopher-g-roberts/

2) Parenting Without Sight: What Attorneys and Social Workers Should Know about Blindness:
www.nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/brochures/blindparents/parentingwithoutsight.html

3) Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children:
www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/Sep272012/

4) Christopher Roberts with his children, 0-3 years old:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFG5KGEvK4o

Photo Caption: Christopher G. Roberts, a blind father, and his children playing in the park.

Vice President Joe Biden Meets Key Constituencies as 2016 Presidential Announcement Anticipation Grows

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

VP Joe Biden meets key constituencies as 2016 presidential announcement anticipation grows


Vice President Biden takes shot at 2016 Republican presidential candidates

As potential 2016 presidential candidates posture to make a run, Vice President Joe Biden continues to network with key Democratic constituencies, including the LGBT, college, and civil rights communities. On Saturday, while attending a fundraiser in Dallas to benefit the Democratic Governor’s Association, Vice President Joe Biden was also the keynote speaker for the Gill Foundation’s OutGiving conference. The annual human rights conference is focused on philanthropic efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On Sunday, Vice President Biden was the keynote speaker at the NAACP’s 60th annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner in Detroit.

At the OutGiving conference, Vice President Biden took a shot at Republicans stating, “Eleven years ago, discrimination against same-sex couples was considered really good politics,” reminding the audience that in 2004, the same year President George W. Bush was re-elected, eleven state ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage passed.

While not overtly indicating any intentions on a presidential run, Vice President Biden pointed out that 2016 Republican presidential candidates are behaving differently on the issue now. “Think of the silence that’s going on among some of our — the candidates running for President,” Biden said, “I never thought I’d say silence is an improvement, but that’s a great improvement from that team.”

At the NAACP dinner in Detroit, Vice President Biden chimed in on the national debate on policing happening around the nation. Vice President Biden promoted the importance of community policing strategies encouraging the integral process of law enforcement and their communities to improve relations between police and minorities.

“Number one, cops have a right to go home and see their families at night. And number two, everyone — regardless of race, ethnicity or immigration status — has a right to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Biden, “And the only way that happens is if we see one another…and that only happens if we know one another.”

In light of the Vice President’s recent activities, William Pierce, Executive Director of Draft Biden 2016 stated, “Joe is doing what he is supposed to be doing: serving as Vice President. However I see it as major movement with the Vice President coming out and making strong statements on two crucial issues that will be at the forefront of the 2016 presidential debate.”

Last month, Vice President Biden received the 2015 Green Jobs Champion Award from the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation, which unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations. Vice President Biden also spoke at the New Democrat Coalition PAC retreat in Cambridge, a group of 50 some members of Congress and traveled to the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus to deliver a speech on the importance of preventing sexual assault on college campuses across the country.

“Along with trips to Iowa and New Hampshire earlier this year, the Vice President is attending events with key Democratic constituencies, including the LGBT, college, and civil rights communities,” said William Pierce, Executive Director of Draft Biden 2016, “Despite other candidates announcing, the Draft Biden petition has garnered close to 30,000 signatures in just over a month. We at Draft Biden are working to ensure that once he announces, the Vice President will have strong foundations in place in the early primary and caucus states.”

About Draft Biden

Draft Biden 2016, a SuperPAC organized to draft Vice President Joe Biden into the 2016 presidential race, is spearheading the charge to help ensure that Vice President Biden has the necessary amount of support needed to be able to run for President in 2016.

Beginning last month with former staffers and campaign veterans, Draft Biden 2016 is pushing their online petition with supporters and allies. The petition has gathered close to 30,000 signatures so far.

The group’s future plans are to organize in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in anticipation of the Vice President entering the race.

For more information, contact:

Ahmed Khan

Telephone: 202-559-8749

E-mail: Media@RunBidenRun.com

Tri-Caucus Chairs Call on Department of Defense to End Racial Hazing in Military

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In March, the Army Times reported allegations of a practice in which soldiers in a given battalion were given a “free pass” to use racial slurs. In response, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Rep. G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Rep. Linda Sánchez (CA-38) sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter calling on the Department of Defense to end long-standing and continued instances of racial hazing within the military.

The text of the letter is below and a PDF copy can be found here.

The Honorable Ashton B. Carter

Secretary of Defense

U.S. Department of Defense

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1400

Dear Secretary Carter:

As leaders of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)—also known as the Tri-Caucus—we write to express our deep concern over reports of longstanding and continued racial-based hazing in the military.

Last month, Army Times reported a shocking practice in the 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment known as “Racial Thursdays.” This terrible practice allows the platoon’s soldiers to use racial slurs against each other on Thursdays, without consequence. Allegedly, the unit not only condoned “Racial Thursdays,” but also encouraged such racial hazing amongst its soldiers.

We were even more appalled to learn that this behavior came from the same unit to which Army Private Danny Chen belonged. Private Chen committed suicide on October 3, 2011 while deployed to Afghanistan. Military investigators found that Private Chen was subject to racial taunts over his Chinese ethnicity and endured physical attacks on a daily basis for six weeks before he took his own life.

We uphold the military to the highest moral standards, and the fact that hazing continues without impunity in your ranks is completely incompatible with the ideals of equality and respect we champion as a nation. Our brave service members risk their lives to serve our country, and it is unacceptable that they continue to face the threat of hazing and racial taunting from their fellow soldiers, with little to no intervention from their command.

We are encouraged that the Army is investigating the allegations surrounding “Racial Thursdays” and request that you update us on what steps the military is taking to eradicate hazing at all levels of its branches. We would like to discuss this urgent matter with you and respectfully request a meeting at your earliest convenience. We must put an end to this demeaning culture of racism and hazing in the military, and we look forward to working with you to find effective solutions.

Illinois Departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice Honor Fallen Heroes

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice are paying tribute to their fallen heroes. Thirty five men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the line of duty. Each of their names is listed on a memorial wall at the Illinois Department of Corrections campus in Springfield.

The IDOC and IDJJ will also be honoring current employees who have demonstrated leadership and professionalism over the past year.  More than 40 people were nominated for the highest honor of Correctional Officer of the Year, Parole Agent of the Year, Juvenile Justice Specialist of the Year, and Juvenile Justice Aftercare Specialist of the Year.

The ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5th at 1301 Concordia St. in Springfield.

Gilberto Lozano to Visit Chicago to Talk About Mexico and Political Options

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Gilberto Lozano Visits Chicago to talk about Mexico and political options beside electoral system. The  tour includes stops in LA, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and  New York

Mexico is facing an important challenge socially, politically y and economical. The international press has been reported stories that involve human rights violation and involvement of local and federal authorities in acts of corruption.

Gilberto Lozano is approaching this paradigm and is trying to present an option to the Mexican dilemma of prosperity and political stability. Gilberto proposal is a Congreso Ciudadano where all people are represented without political parties.

This approach is happening in many communities like Cheran, Caracoles Zapatistas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, an approach where the political organization relay on the community.

Press Conference and Talk with the press

Where:

Café Efebrinas

1640 S Blue Island Ave, Chicago, IL

When:Wednesdey May 6, 2015 Time: 10 a.m.

Talk with the Community

La Catrina

Address: 1011 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608  2:00 a.m.

LINKS OF INTEREST

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRVKXHHHtiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKa4WN2PXmM

http://congresonacionalciudadano.org/

All New “Crime Scene: The Next Chapter”, the next chapter in Collaboraction’s 3-yr campaign to confront Chicago’s crime epidemic, 5/21-6/21

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

All New Crime Scene: The Next Chapter, May 21 – June 21

The Next Chapter in Collaboraction’s Three-Year Campaign to Use Theater to Confront Chicago’s Crime Epidemic

The cast for Crime Scene: The Next Chapter includes (from left) Antonia Arcely, Esme Ayvar-Perez,
Luis Crespo, Kristin E. Ellis, Monique Johnson, Melvin Lyons, Scott Merchant and Michele Stine.

CHICAGO, Il – Collaboraction, the Ambassadors of Hope, are premiering an all-new, world premiere installment of Crime Scene, the hit show that ignited the company’s now three-year campaign to link immersive, hyper-local live theater crowd-sourced with community activists and organizations to combat violence in Chicago.

Titled Crime Scene: The Next Chapter, Collaboraction’s new spring production is the 2015 chapter to Chicago’s history of violent crime and a call to discover what it might take to create lasting change.

Previews start May 21. Press opening is Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. Performances run through June 21 at Collaboraction, in the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave, Room 300, in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets are $15-$30. For tickets and information, visit collaboraction.org or call (312) 226-9633.

Crime Scene: The Next Chapter asks audience to look in the mirror while taking them through five, all-new intimate portraits of real Chicagoans who have used their first-hand experiences with violence to become peacemakers and be a positive impact in the lives of others. The five portraits are of:

Sir Taylor, an original member of the Jesse White Tumblers who found his way out of Cabrini Green, became a member of the USA Gymnastics Team, performed in Broadway’s The Lion King, and today leads the youth group Example Setters Youth Poetry. In addition to inspiring one of its stories, Taylor also performs in the show.

Mike and Karen Trout, who moved into a home without heat in Lawndale in 1992 and founded Y-Men, an organization that has been preparing young men in North Lawndale for mature, responsible leadership, academic excellence and outstanding service to others since 1996.

Mariame Kaba, founder and director of Project NIA, a grass-roots organization that promotes restorative and transformative justice with a vision to end youth incarceration.

Luis Crespo, a cast member in the original Crime Scene whose father founded the Villalobos, a Puerto Rican street gang in Pilsen in 1969. Crespo used theater as a way to get and keep him out of trouble, and today he directs Collaboraction’s Teen Ensemble with After School Matters. Crespo also performs in the show.

Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old King College Prep high schooler who was lost to tragic gun violence in 2013, and her parents, Cleo and Nathaniel Pendelton, who have leveraged the national spotlight to keep Hadiya’s spirit alive and inspire millions across the country.

Behind the scenes of Crime Scene: The Next Chapter

The 2013 debut of Crime Scene drew much attention and played to sold-out houses. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, wrote “Crime Scene, far and away the best Collaboraction show I’ve seen these past 14 years, is indeed a call for collaborative action. The ensemble piece probes the current epidemic of violent crime in this city, (and) offers a veritable plethora of problems, contexts and solutions.”

Following is mainstage debut, Crime Scene returned that summer via the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program, toured targeted neighborhoods including Englewood, Austin, and Rogers Park, was brought back to the same parks in summer 2014 by popular demand, and spawned Collaboraction’s current series of Let Hope Rise monthly peace variety shows with the Chicago Park District.

The cast for Crime Scene: The Next Chapter includes Antonia Arcely, Esme Ayvar-Perez, Luis Crespo, Kristin E. Ellis, Monique Johnson, Melvin Lyons, Scott Merchant, Michele Stine and Sir Taylor.

Meet the Cast of Crime Scene: The Next Chapter
Meet the cast of Crime Scene: The Next Chapter

The production team includes Anthony Moseley (writer/director), Adam Seidel (co-writer), Ashley Ann Woods (set), Jeremy Getz, (lights), Liviu Pasare and Chris Owens (co-video designers), Elsa Hiltner (costumes), Matt Reich (sound), Sara Engel (props), David Wooley (violence), John Wilson (technical director), Patrick Fries (production manager), Johanna Polzin (stage manager) and Sarah Moeller (producer).

Anthony Moseley (director) serves as the Founding Executive and Artistic Director of Collaboraction, where he has produced over 50 productions, 13 SKETCHBOOK Festivals and over 250 events since the company’s founding in 1999. Moseley’s most recent productions include This Is Not a Cure for Cancer in 2014, and the 2013 debut of Crime Scene:  A Chicago Anthology. In 2000 Moseley co-founded the annual SKETCHBOOK Festival, which was lauded by Kerry Reid of the Chicago Reader as “the premiere short play festival in the Midwest.” Under Moseley’s direction, SKETCHBOOK has produced 158 world premiere short plays in a mixed media environment with music and visual art. Moseley’s other Collaboraction directing credits include the world premieres of El Grito Del Bronx (a co-production with Teatro Vista in association with the Goodman Theatre), The Pull Toy (and His Pasian), and Heroes and Villains; Chicago premieres of dark play or stories for boys by Carlos Murrillo, Be a Good Little Widow by Bekah Brunstetter, Refuge (2000 Jeff Citation nomination for Best Direction), The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union, Trueblinka and Guinea Pig Solo; as well as Mud, To Kill a Mockingbird, and numerous world premiere short plays for the SKETCHBOOK Festival.

Crime Scene: The Next Chapter – times, dates and ticket information

Previews of Crime Scene: The Next Chapter are May 21-26:  Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 3 p.m., no show Monday, and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Press opening is Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m.

Performances run through June 21: Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. Added Industry Nights are Monday, June 1 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. All performances will be followed by a Town Hall Discussion co-hosted by Collaboraction community partners.

Tickets are $15-$30. Collaboraction is located in Chicago’s historic Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave, Room 300, in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. For tickets and information, visit collaboraction.org or call (312) 226-9633.


Collaboraction’s Let Hope Rise series updates

Collaboraction’s new production of Crime Scene: The Next Chapter syncs up perfectly with the company’s current Let Hope Rise series, a community variety show born from Crime Scene, rotating monthly every second Saturday through July at Chicago Park District facilities in Englewood, Austin and Roger’s Park.

Following are the remaining Let Hope Rise dates and locations:

May  9 Hamilton Park in Englewood, 513 West 72nd St.

June 13 Austin Town Hall in Austin, 5601 W. Lake St.

July 11 Loyola Park in Rogers Park, 1230 West Greenleaf Ave.

Each Let Hope Rise event starts at noon with a free community meal sponsored by Connie’s Pizza. At 1 p.m., Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley hosts a fast-paced, fun and audience involved variety show dedicated to increasing the peace, art, love, hope and fun in Chicago. All events feature inspirational guest performers including local theater and dance troupes, slam poets, break dance crews, drum lines, gospel choirs and more. Visit collaboraction.org for information on updates about event line-ups.

Next year’s 15th and Final SKETCHBOOK Festival at the Chopin Theatre in January 2015

Collaboraction’s 15th and final SKETCHBOOK Festival will return to where it all started: the Chopin Theatre Mainstage, January 14-24, 2016, reuniting many of the Chicago artists who have participated over the years, including co-creators, Wesley Kimler (painter) and John Cabrera (tv and film producer/writer/actor.)

SKETCHBOOK will also return to its classic format of 16 short plays, visual arts and music, reuniting and further growing a diverse community of artists and audience for a grand finale bacchanal of provocative new works and immersive staging in a multi-disciplinary environment.

About Collaboraction

Collaboraction (collaboraction.org) collaborates with artists, community leaders, health professionals and citizens from throughout the city to create original theatrical experiences that push artistic boundaries and explore critical social issues with a diverse community of Chicagoans. For tickets and information, visit collaboraction.org or call (312) 226-9633.

Collaboraction is supported by The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation via the MacArthur Foundation, and the Wicker Park & Bucktown SSA #33 Chamber of Commerce. This program is partially funded by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

National Black Church Initiative Says NO to AT&T-Direct TV Merger

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

NBCI’s 34,000 Black Churches Say NO to the AT&T-Direct TV Merger
Your Cable Bill Will Skyrocket!

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans, strongly opposes the AT&T-Direct TV merger. The FCC and the Justice Department should reject this merger on the grounds of antitrust guidelines and prior consumer fraud charges. To permit this merger to go forward, the government inevitable forsakes its role to protect vulnerable consumers given the history of both companies’ engagement in fraudulent practices. The advancement of this merger will allow AT&T-Direct TV to do what they do best–steal and overcharge consumers. We urge all Christians to oppose this merger.

As President Obama has expressed continuously, companies do not need to steal from their consumers as a business model. Because of consistent forms of trickery and stealing, we have served public witness to lawsuits Direct TV has embattled because of their immoral practice of overcharging consumers and attaching cancellation fees to all of its customers. In a recent settlement with 50 states and the District of Columbia, an article reported how settlements served as a vindication of the ongoing practice of stealing from customers.

The article reports “the settlements are supposed to end the long-vilified DIRECTV policy of imposing hundreds of dollars in cancellation penalties even if the reason for the customer canceling was due to the inability to receive a DIRECTV signal.” AT&T, too, is guilty of the same immoral practice according to the FTC. AT &T has been convicted of cramming and fined $105 million. An article reports according to the “FTC, AT&T Mobility, LLC allegedly charged consumers’ mobile phone bills for third-party subscriptions or services that they never ordered or authorized. Many consumers weren’t aware they had been paying – up to $9.99 per month – for seemingly random horoscope text messages, flirting tips, celebrity gossip, wallpaper or ringtones that showed up on their phones.”

Both of these companies are currently under federal monitoring because of their fraudulent practices. Simply put, how can the government allow for this? This is why NBCI must oppose this merger.

Additionally, they continuously target African American and other minority communities with these schemes in their deceptive, fraudulent consumer practices. Thus, to allow AT&T-Direct TV to merge, the government will be responsible for creating one of the biggest telecommunication consumer fraud machines ever.

Rev. Anthony Evans, President of the National Black Church Initiative, states “we have gotten tens of thousands’ complaints on the fraudulent practices of AT&T-Direct TV. We predict that consumer cable bills will go through the roof. We urge FCC and the Justice Department to kill this merger.”

According to the experts, there are other legal grounds in stopping this merger. In fact, antitrust authorities such as the U.S. Department of Justice actually have a guidebook to follow in these cases – the Horizontal Merger Guidelines. Those guidelines include the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), the analytical tool that regulators use to evaluate these deals to determine if the transaction is likely to be anticompetitive. The HHI is a measure of market concentration that factors in the number of firms in a given industry and their respective market shares. Drawing on decades of experience, the regulators are able to use the HHI to gauge whether a deal will enhance market power and lead to trouble.

For example, the DOJ considers markets with an HHI below 1,500 to be “unconcentrated.” This is equivalent to a market with roughly seven firms of equal size, and a merger here wouldn’t raise many, if any, competitive concerns. Markets with HHIs above 2,500 are considered “highly concentrated.” This is equivalent to a market with four equal-sized firms (or those with just a couple of really big firms and a bunch of much smaller ones).

Mergers that result in this level of concentration are concerning as they usually come with enhanced market power. Consider the AT&T/T-Mobile transaction: the post-merger HHI for this deal would have been 3,100, an increase of nearly 700 points from the pre-merger value.

According to the Merger Guidelines, “[m]ergers resulting in highly concentrated markets that involve an increase in the HHI of more than 200 points will be presumed to be likely to enhance market power.” While the DoJ is careful to note that its HHI analysis is not “a rigid screen,” it’s going to look skeptically on any deal that concentrates markets to this level.

NBCI will not stand for its constituents to be subjected to this type of immoral practice of an AT-T-Direct TV merger. And we urge the National Action Network, NAACP, the National Urban League, Operation PUSH, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to stand up for those whose backs are against the walls and give voice to the poor.

About NBCI

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 African American and Latino churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. Our methodology is utilizing faith and sound health science.

NBCI’s purpose is to partner with major organizations and officials whose main mission is to reduce racial disparities in the variety of areas cited above. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the-box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work. Visit our website at www.naltblackchurch.com.

C4 Mental Health Workers Protest Company Closure; Defend Clients

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

C4 Mental Health Professional Workers, joined by community allies

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) workers will protest the abrupt closure of their company and seek justice for the clients they care for.  Local workers’ rights organization, Arise Chicago, and SEIU Local 73, are joining the workers to show them support.

The protest will be held today, Tuesday, 5/5/15, at 4740 N. Clark St., Chicago, 12:30 P.M.

Background:  Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, one of the largest mental health service providers in Chicago, abruptly announced on April 23 that it would be closing its doors May 31.  Employing over 300 professionals and serving over 10,000 at-risk individuals and families, the news came as a shock.  C4 workers were given 4 days of notice that their own health care would be terminated on May 1st, and have not been offered any severance compensation.  Nor has the company informed C4 clients of any plan to transition their care to elsewhere, despite having promised one.

Contact:

Anna Goldberger, C4 Staff Therapist

annagoldberger@hotmail.com | 773 485-4006

Adam Kader, Arise Chicago Worker Center Director

adam@arisechicago.org | 773-937-1826

W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 2015 America Healing Conference – All Children Must Thrive

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

More than 500 community-based leaders, civil rights advocates, academics and journalists come together to discuss racial healing and equity in America

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – As events in Baltimore raise the nation’s consciousness about racism’s impacts on human relationships, systems, structures and communities, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) will hold its fourth America Healing Conference, bringing together more than 500 community-based leaders, civil rights advocates, academics and journalists from more than 350 organizations to discuss the ways our nation must come together to heal and work toward racial equity and justice for children and families. The conference will be held Monday, May 4, through Thursday, May 7, at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

WKKF’s America Healing initiative was launched in 2010, to foster racial healing and racial equity and to change hearts, minds and the deeply held and often unconscious biases that cause structural inequities for children and their families, especially children of color. Now in its fifth year, the effort has invested more than $135 million in a national network of hundreds of partner organizations deeply committed to creating conditions for the optimal development of children, rejecting racism and discrimination and beginning a process of healing across the country.

“This conference could not be timelier as communities, families and children all across America are rising up in fear, sadness and frustration and asking to be seen and heard. This is a cry for healing and we must all acknowledge the resulting effects of the legacy of racism on this nation and work together to create change,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. “America Healing has been creating space for healing and developing leaders to champion efforts to overcome racism and divisiveness.”

According to the U.S. Census, by 2020, more than half of the nation’s children will be children of color. The Kellogg Foundation’s work as a leader and convener for racial equity and healing work proactively responds to this reality – recognizing that for all children to thrive in this nation, we must help change the conditions and systems around us so they can have opportunities to contribute meaningfully to society.

“This conference serves as an important inflection point for national and community-based leaders to recharge their spirits, identify best practices and develop strategies for making positive, social change for our nation’s children and communities of color,” said Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president for policy and senior advisor at WKKF. “All of us will benefit from being a more inclusive nation that recognizes the value in all people, especially the most vulnerable among us, children.”

Key topics and sessions at the conference will include:

* In light of recent events, an important Livestreamed panel will focus on “Healing Relationships between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color” on Tuesday, May 5, from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. EST.

Moderated by Joy Reid, national correspondent, MSNBC and featuring panelists:

o Jeffrey Blackwell, chief of police, Cincinnati, Ohio

o Melanca Clark, chief of staff, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) , U.S. Department of Justice

o Rachel Godsil, director of research, Perception Institute

o Sherrilyn Ifill, president and direct-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

o Joseph Scantlebury, vice president for program strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Livestreamed panel is open to media and available at: http://wkkfevents.org/americahealing/livestream/.

* Established and next-generation leaders from WKKF’s racial equity anchor institutions will explore the fierce urgency of capturing this historic moment to eliminate inequities and ensure all children thrive. Moderated by Arantxa Loizaga, news anchor and reporter, Noticiero Univision Fin de Semana, featuring panelists:

Judith Browne Dianis, co-director, Advancement Project; Thena Robinson Mock, director of the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Campaign, Advancement Project; Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum; Minh Nguyen, founder and executive director, VAYLA New Orleans; Janet Murguía, president and CEO, National Council of La Raza; Luis Avila, board member, National Council of La Raza and vice president, 270 Strategies; Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director, National Congress of American Indians; Brian Howard, legislative associate, National Congress of American Indians; Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Getachew Kassa, voting rights manager, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Marc Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League; Brandi Richard, president, National Urban League Young Professionals; Rev. Alvin Herring, deputy director of faith and formation, PICO National Network; Anthony White (T Dubb O), hip-hop artist; Heather McGhee, president, Demos; Brenda Wright, vice president of legal strategies, Demos; Phil Tegeler, president and executive director, Poverty & Race Research Action Council; Gina Chirichigno, co-creator and co-director, One Nation Indivisible; Brian Smedley, co-founder and executive director, National Collaborative for Health Equity; Candace Jackson, equity and partnerships workgroup co-chair, Public Health – Seattle & King County; Rinku Sen, president and executive director, Race Forward; Leslie Grant-Spann, senior program associate for convenings, Race Forward.

Additional information about the conference agenda, speakers and more can be found at:

http://wkkfevents.org/americahealing.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create the conditions where vulnerable children can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

AMP to Celebrate Palestinian Heritage With Chicago Parade

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

UPDATE: Parade route change: The parade will begin from Columbus and Roosevelt and proceed to Columbus and Monroe in Chicago. It is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. and continue until 2 p.m.

CHICAGO, IL —American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a national education and advocacy organization based in Palos Hills, IL, will hold the first-ever Palestinian heritage parade in downtown Chicago, beginning at noon on Saturday, May 9.

The event, celebrating Palestinians’ cultural and historical heritage in the Holy Land, also commemorates 67 years since the Palestinian Nakba, or “the Catastrophe” — the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland. The parade will feature floats, folk dancing and songs, a recreation of a Palestinian wedding and models of Palestinian religions sites.

WHAT: First-ever Palestinian heritage parade

WHEN: Saturday, May 9 at 12:00 pm

WHERE: The parade will begin from Columbus and Roosevelt and proceed to Columbus and Monroe. It is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. and continue until 2 p.m.

WHO: American Muslims for Palestine celebrate Palestinian heritage and culture through song, dance and other cultural festivities.

The American Muslims for Palestine is a national, grassroots organization whose mission is to educate the public about issues related to Palestine and it’s rich cultural and historical heritage. AMP has chapters throughout the country and offices in Palos Hills, IL and Washington DC. For more information, go to www.ampalestine.org.

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