Category: Currents News

President Obama’s America Jobs Act 2012

Submitted by Madeline Sanders

Although the resurgence of the American Economy has been proceeding at an anemic pace, the reason being that allegedly a number of business owners are uncertain as to the direction the country will go, dependent upon whether President Obama or former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney wins the presidential race. Having reviewed and analyzed the president’s American Jobs Act (AJA) of 2012, we should be suspicious of why business owners are reluctant to hire.

As a backdrop, we must keep in mind that only bold and aggressive actions will bring the United States out of the recession, this being cognizant of the fact that we live in a capitalistic society, and the foundation upon which such a form of government exists disallows the notion of one hundred percent (100%) employment. As to what is the moral acceptability of unemployment has been only vaguely defined; some economic writings have purported to accept five percent (5%) to six percent (6%). Whatever is acceptable, President Obama has proposed some bold ideas via his AJA of 2012, the passage of which has been thwarted by numerous Republicans, Tea Partiers and some Democrats. Herewith, we examine each proposal and the merit or lack thereof of each:

Category: Reduced tax payments to enable small businesses to grow:

(1) The AJA of 2012 would cut by one-half payroll taxes up to the first $5 million for the 98% of businesses that fit this category. Such a possibility frees up money to create potential growth opportunities in, for example, research and development, advertising, info-education and seminar programs and (2) AJA 2012 would provide a payroll tax holiday for businesses that either add new workers or increase the wages of their existing workers, with the holiday tax being capped at $50 million. Such a cap creates the possibility for businesses to expand; it is tantamount to untoward money in the bank.

Category: Creating Worker Sustainability While Rebuilding and Modernizing America

(1) The AJA 2012 would increase to employers for hiring veterans from $5,600 to $9,600 for hiring “Returning Heroes” veterans who are unemployed; (2) The AJA 2012 proposes to modernize 35,000 public schools while enabling both 280,000 teachers and a large number of firefighters and police officers to maintain their employment. Moreover the Act wants the modernization of public schools to entail the upgrade of science labs, creation of internet-ready classrooms and various renovations of both urban and rural schools and (3) an infrastructure improvement program covering roads, rails, airports and waterways, (3) Rehabilitation (i.e. Project Rebuild) of residential and commercial properties in communities, an initiative desperately needed, given the millions of inventory on the market, is also in the Act. Additionally, AJA 2012 proposes the leveraging of private capital as well as land scaling banks, and (4) Enactment of AJA 2012 would span the breadth of wireless connections around more of the country. Each of these is a much needed project.

A visit to many of our schools will find them in dire need of upgrades in general, and certainly new science labs in particular. Unless science laboratories, on a broader scale, are brought into the 21st Century, the United States will continue to trail other countries as a powerhouse of intellectual talent. Additionally, great science labs require great teachers and a plethora of them to educate youngsters, and when the contingent of educators is threatened with reductions that signals an unnecessary challenge of pedagogy in the classroom because of too many students. Worse, the fact that we are in the 21st Century makes it a no brainer that every classroom in America should be internet-ready, and, for that not to be so suggests unequal education in some classrooms. Moreover, construction upgrade of schools certainly does not negate the need for similar upgrades via infrastructure projects.

Construction crews and equipment should be working everywhere. The United States has a critical need for infrastructure upgrades and the elimination of pathetic appearing properties in some communities. Such substandard communities send the wrong message to its citizens, a message that encourages aberrant behavior; the two go hand in glove. Similarly, no community should be devoid of the wireless technology. As stated elsewhere in this blog, along with the entry of updated technology concomitantly come jobs.

Category: Pathways Back to Work

AJA 2012 proposes to: (1) allow states to make better use of unemployment insurance received by permitting employers to continue paying the insurance to persons who are sharing a job , (2) create a Bridge to Work Program wherein people would be brought/hired into a work place in some appropriate capacity as temporaries, volunteers, or for on-the-job-training, (3) grant expansive power to states by allowing them to let the older unemployed start their businesses while receiving unemployment insurance, (4) disallow discrimination against any worker seeking employment, (5) Grant a $4,000 tax credit to the long-term unemployed and (6) encourage employers to hire low-income youth for summer as well as year-round jobs. Each of these sub-proposals is reasonable approaches to reducing employment in America. We should not believe that any employer desires to stagnate; growth is exemplified by either increased revenue or new workers or both. Certainly, most employers will want to add more workers to his or her production or service line.

Category: Tax Relief for Every American Worker and Family

AJA 2012 proposes to: (1) cut the payroll taxes in half of more than 160 million Americans so that each individual would receive an approximate $1,500 tax credit and (2) allow millions of Americans with mortgages the opportunity to refinance those, and thus take advantage of the 4% interest rate, an exercise that would result in every participant receiving about $2,000 for his or her pocket. Each of these ideas represents savings to the consumer, and thus money going towards an investment, however small that may be.

Category: Joint Committee to Investigate Debt Reduction Relief Strategies

Upon passage of AJA 2012, President Obama would direct his Joint Committee to investigate methods of implementing the legislation via debt reduction in other categories. President Obama’s willingness to direct his Joint Committee to examine alternate debt reduction possibilities while putting the money towards reducing unemployment suggests his cognizance that there is fluff to weed out. We should marvel at his strategy not to keep layering up the federal government agencies, sub-agencies, departments, oversight committees, sub-committees, task forces, special task forces, adjunct groups or any layer not named herein. We look forward to the next Congress and Senate bringing unemployment down to fewer than six percent (6%), not an impossibility.

Finally, passage of AJA 2012 should have occurred during the last Congress, but it was blocked by the Republicans. The Act has tackled the matter of unemployment utilizing a number of fronts to address it. With approximately 23 million people unemployed, and with the rate even higher among blacks, it is unconscionable that the House comprising intransigent Republicans, insensitive Tea Partiers and stonewalling Democrats would not have made passage of AJA 2012 a moral issue. In other words, the suffering among so many Americans is enormous that federal politicians should have done everything possible to bring the urgently needed assistance. Therefore, as the days wind down to the 2012 Election, keep in mind that we not only need a president sensitive to the 47% of the American electorate, but also a Congress and Senate committed to pushing through legislation that will bring relief that millions of Americans need.

Englewood native put aside doubts to win Rhodes Scholarship

Reprint by Mary Mitchell November 19, 2012 7:48PM

When Rhiana Gunn-Wright walked into the Chicago History Museum as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, she was a bundle of nerves.  Despite her stellar educational background (she graduated magna cum laude from Yale, and was at the top of her class at the Illinois Math and Science Academy), there was a moment when she questioned her qualifications.  “I had serious doubts about even applying because I didn’t see people who reflected my experience, the places I had come from, the things that I am interested inpursuing,” said Gunn-Wright, who grew up in Englewood.

“My mom wasn’t a lawyer or a doctor. My parents aren’t professional. My great-grandmother was a laundress in Mississippi. I actually struggled to apply because I was like, people like me don’t win awards like this,” she said.  But on Sunday, a girl from the ’hood, whose mother never had to “chase” after her to do schoolwork, was among the 32 Americans chosen to become Rhodes Scholars. She will study at Oxford University in England.  A day later, Gunn-Wright was juggling interview requests and had even received a congratulatory phone call from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  “It is just sort of overwhelming. I haven’t done a lot of interviews, so this certainly feels like a lot . . . but not as many as Beyonce,” she said with a laugh.

Raised by a single mother, who had the help of her own mother, Gunn-Wright’s success defies the negative labels that often stigmatize Englewood residents. “All that stuff does go on, and I remember at times being scared for my safety. But that doesn’t negate the love and support that is there. Both of them exist even though it doesn’t seem like they can exist at the same time,” Gunn-Wright said.  “Personally, it makes me sad; one, that the violence is happening. But two, people make Englewood sound like the ‘Seven Circles of Hell,’ and it is not. There are families and friends there, and people still care about each other. There are still honor and sun and light and not always darkness.” Her mother, Karen Gunn, is the founder of a nonprofit youth agency, Urban Solutions. Although the family now lives in Oak Lawn, they resided in Englewood until Rhiana went off to college.

Gunn navigated the public education system to access the best opportunities for her daughter, who was admitted to the Lenart Regional Gifted Center and then the Illinois Math and Science Academy.  “When Rhiana was in eighth grade, she completed an application that would help pay for anything in high school — the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship,” Gunn said. “There are only 35 given in the entire country. Rhiana was one of them. I had to access these scholarships because I was working with limited funds.”  In her freshman year, Gunn-Wright was accepted into the Illinois Math and Science Academy, a boarding school in Aurora. “She was 14 years old and had to go away. I had to put my feelings aside and give her the best education possible,” Gunn said.  The daughter attributes her success in school, in part, to her mother showing her the “bigger picture.”  “She would take me downtown to see the lights every Christmas and take me to Cincinnati when she visited a friend from college,” Gunn-Wright recalled. “She wanted me to know the world was much bigger than what I saw around my house.”

Gunn-Wright intends to study comparative social policy when she arrives at Oxford in the fall. Specifically, she wants to compare welfare policies in the U.S. to those in other countries. She thinks U.S. welfare policies end up “punishing” people for being poor.  “I want to help make the policy more humane. People aren’t just poor because they are lazy or shiftless,” she said. “How do we structure programs that respect that poverty is something you can get into for any number of reasons, and most of those reasons aren’t under your control?” Despite the life-changing nature of her award, Gunn-Wright sees the honor as a steppingstone. “I want to create policy. I want to do the work,” she said. “This is not the end. This is just the beginning because there is so much work to do.”

South Side Unity Center

Submitted by Wanda Carter

You are cordially invited to join your local Unity World Wide Ministries center for a day of Peace.

 South Side Unity is excited to participate in the Birth 2012 event focused on co-creating our community in a consciousness of Peace.

Become an important part of a planetary shift to a new earth expression on Saturday, Dec. 22nd.

 Join SSU at 9320 S. Ashland for a day of activities centered on Individual and Community Peace.

Events include the birth 2012 global broadcast, film screenings, community youth non violence initiatives, relationship workshops, a few surprises and concluding with a special candlelight ceremony.

There will be refreshments available and a joyous attitude of re-birth in the atmosphere.

RSVP truly appreciated………………..

Rev. R. Ken Phone (312) 253-7314 option 2 or visit our website ssunity.org for more information.

The Most Threatened President in History

 

 By Nathaniel Patterson, Causes

 27 November 12

Secret service says the number of threats against the president is overwhelming. President Barack Obama is the target of more than 30 potential death threats a day and is being protected by an increasingly over-stretched Secret Service. He is the most threatened President in history.  Since the President took office in 2008, the rate of threats against the president has increased 400% cent. Some threats to the President have been publicized, including the well known alleged plot by white supremacists in Tennessee to rob a gun store, shoot 88 black people, decapitate another 14 and then assassinate the first black president in American history.

Most however, are kept under wraps because the Secret Service fears that revealing details of them would only increase the number of copycat attempts.  According to the U.S. Secret Service agents, their goal is to immediately respond to any direct threat against the president, the first family, the vice president, or visiting heads of state. Agents are then responsible for determining the credibility of the threat.  Each time there is a threat, the Secret Service consults with the Protective Intelligence Division in Washington, D.C., to decide how far an investigation is going to go. If a federal arrest takes place, it will lead to the most serious or extreme of the end results.

Recently, when Anton Caluori, 31, allegedly emailed the FBI on the morning of August 21st to say he would “kill the president,” a Secret Service agent was immediately dispatched to his residence. According to the Department of Justice, Caluori was armed with multiple weapons, making his threat not only credible, but viable.  “This case had all the troubling ingredients: threats of violence and explosive devices, multiple weapons with hundreds of rounds and even brandishing of a weapon at law enforcement,” said U. S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Caluori was subsequently arrested and charged in federal court with making a threat against the president and assault of a federal agent. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Seattle Monday for a detention hearing.

Recent national events are a stark reminder that the Secret Service has to take these threats of death or violence seriously. While the Secret Service says they take every threat against the president seriously, not all will end in arrest. Threats will come our way from high school students, even junior high school students in the way of prank type calls. There are threats on Twitter and on Facebook and other social sites that allow such comments, but they have to look at them all. People need to know that any type of threat against the president is a violation of federal law.

The Secret Service says that many of those who make such threats are mentally ill, and it is the goal of the Secret Service to find them help. It can be “sobering,” they said, when agents show up at their door.  According to the Secret Service, the president is the most threatened person in the U.S., regardless of political party. The President is not made aware of all threats against him, however, because as the Secret Service says, “the sheer number would be overwhelming and, frankly, distracting.”

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Convicted Killer Sentenced to Church Instead of Prison

Posted by Ericka Sóuter

 

So much for do the crime, pay the time. A teenager in Oklahoma, who was convicted of manslaughter after getting in an accident that killed his friend, was sentenced to attend church instead of prison. Seventeen-year-old Tyler Alred, who had a blood alcohol level slightly below the legal limit that night, must go to church services regularly for the next 10 years to avoid getting locked up for the crash that killed passenger John Luke Dum. So much for the separation of church and state.

It’s an unusual sentence, to be sure. He must also graduate from high school and welding school and wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his alcohol use. Is it just me or does this not actually seem so bad? I mean, is this even a sentence? Of course there are plenty of people who would balk at being made to go to a religious service, but it sure sounds a heck of a lot better than prison.

Is this an acceptable punishment for such reckless behavior? I don’t always feel that locking someone up is the answer, but this certainly doesn’t seem like a particular hardship for a kid who wrapped his pickup around a tree. “My client goes to church every Sunday. That isn’t going to be a problem for him. We certainly want the probation for him,” his attorney said. No kidding. Who wouldn’t want it. But again, is this fair to his victim or the victim’s family, no doubt still reeling from the crash?

I imagine the judge is trying to save who he likely deems a decent kid from total ruin. Prison, of course, is a horrible place, but it’s supposed to be. That is what makes it a deterrent. Going to church is a walk in the park in comparison. Why not make him work with at-risk kids or spend time helping victims hurt in drunk driving accidents too. Not that I don’t think religion is a good thing. I do. I think it’s important. I just don’t think it should be used as a get out of jail free card. I wonder if Luke’s family feels this is justice. I know I sure don’t.

Do you think this sentence was fair? Is it wrong for a court to impose religion on someone?

 

 

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