Sunday, February 3, 2019

Congress passes law turning over corporate media to CIA

(Watch Shocking Video) You might not be aware of July 2, 2013's implementation of a new reform passed in January, 2014. The result is an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.

Senator J. William Fulbright and President Johnson 
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences.

The restriction of these broadcasts was due to the Smith-Mundt Act, a long-standing piece of legislation that has been amended numerous times over the years, perhaps most consequentially by Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. In the 1970s, Fulbright was no friend of VOA and Radio Free Europe, and moved to restrict them from domestic distribution, saying they "should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics." Fulbright’s amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky, who argued that such "propaganda" should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. "from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity."

Zorinsky and Fulbright sold their amendments on sensible rhetoric: American taxpayers shouldn’t be funding propaganda for American audiences. So did Congress just tear down the American public’s last defense against domestic propaganda?

Lynne Weil
BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil insists BBG is not a propaganda outlet, and its flagship services such as VOA "present fair and accurate news."

"They don’t shy away from stories that don’t shed the best light on the United States," she told The Cable. She pointed to the charters of VOA and RFE: "Our journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate."

A former U.S. government source with knowledge of the BBG says the organization is no Pravda, but it does advance U.S. interests in more subtle ways. In Somalia, for instance, VOA serves as counterprogramming to outlets peddling anti-American or jihadist sentiment. "Somalis have three options for news," the source said, "word of mouth, al-Shabab, or VOA Somalia."

This partially explains the push to allow BBG broadcasts on local radio stations in the United States. The agency wants to reach diaspora communities, such as St. Paul, Minnesota’s significant Somali expat community. "Those people can get al-Shabab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn’t get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia," the source said. "It was silly."

Lynne added that the reform has a transparency benefit as well. "Now Americans will be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars — greater transparency is a win-win for all involved," she said. And so with that we have the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, and went into effect this month.

But if anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons. Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firm confessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously. Additionally, just this month, the Washington Post exposed a counter-propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing al-Shabab. "Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership," reported the Post.

But for BBG officials, the references to Pentagon propaganda efforts are nauseating, particularly because the Smith-Mundt Act never had anything to do with regulating the Pentagon, a fact that was misunderstood in media reports in the run-up to the passage of new Smith-Mundt reforms in January.

One example included a report by the late BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings, who suggested that the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act would open the door to Pentagon propaganda of U.S. audiences. In fact, as amended in 1987, the act only covers portions of the State Department engaged in public diplomacy abroad (i.e. the public diplomacy section of the "R" bureau, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.)
Rep. Mac Thornberry

But the news circulated regardless, much to the displeasure of Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), a sponsor of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. "To me, it’s a fascinating case study in how one blogger was pretty sloppy, not understanding the issue and then it got picked up by Politico‘s Playbook, and you had one level of sloppiness on top of another," Thornberry told The Cable last May. "And once something sensational gets out there, it just spreads like wildfire."

That of course doesn’t leave the BBG off the hook if its content smacks of agitprop. But now that its materials are allowed to be broadcast by local radio stations and TV networks, they won’t be a complete mystery to Americans. "Previously, the legislation had the effect of clouding and hiding this stuff," the former U.S. official told The Cable. "Now we’ll have a better sense: Gee some of this stuff is really good. Or gee some of this stuff is really bad. At least we’ll know now."

FP News Contributed to this report

Saturday, January 26, 2019

President Donald Trump Ends Shutdown, announcing deal to reopen Government

President Trump on Friday agreed to temporarily reopen the federal government without getting any new money for his U.S.-Mexico border wall, retreating from the central promise of his presidency, for now, in the face of intense public anger.

Some cried with relief. Their 35-day nightmare of missing bill payments, working without paychecks, asking strangers for money and visiting food pantries was finally ending.
But many of the federal workers who have been furloughed or working for free since December were leery of the three-week deal reached on Friday to reopen the government. New worries gnawed: How long before they got paid? Would federal contractors see even a dime of back pay?
And most of all, after the longest shutdown in American history, would they and 800,000 other federal workers be back in the same mess in three weeks if President Trump and Democrats do not reach an accord on whether to fund his proposed border wall?
“This was all for nothing, basically,” said Angela Kelley, 51, a furloughed worker for the Bureau of Land Management in Milwaukee who picked up shifts as an Uber driver to earn money to buy gas and groceries as the shutdown dragged on.

On Friday, Mr. Trump praised federal workers as “fantastic people” and “incredible patriots” and acknowledged the toll they had suffered. But several federal employees said they still felt angry after being treated like pawns, they said, in a five-week-long Washington standoff. They said the shutdown had left deep scars on their families and finances and undermined their faith in elected leaders, and in the careers they had chosen.

The New York Times talked with more than a dozen federal workers and contractors — from wildland firefighters to Coast Guard families to museum security guards — about how they had survived the shutdown, and the uncertainty they now face.
‘They Chose to Break Faith’
John Hare, 42, is one of thousands of Coast Guard employees and retirees worried that they may find themselves in the same precarious position a few weeks from now.
Because the Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that is part of the Department of Homeland Security, it was affected by the shutdown. About 55,000 active-duty, reserve and civilian employees had already missed either one or two paychecks, while another 50,000 military retirees would have gone without a pension payment for the first time on Feb. 1.
After 22 years of service, Mr. Hare was forced to retire from the Coast Guard last August after learning he had a rare form of cancer that spread from his appendix. His wife had to stop working to care for him, and missing Mr. Hare’s pension check of $2,698 would have put a significant dent into the family budget.

“The faith in our leadership to be able to negotiate with each other has been broken,” Mr. Hare, of Rolesville, N.C., said on Friday. “And they chose to break faith with the U.S. military.”
“I certainly question the hostage-taking of government employees’ paychecks,” he said. “And nobody that was in power who had the power to stop this, none of them were injured” by the shutdown.

“It is less a sense of relief because nothing has been solved.”
‘This Has Damaged My Family’
Yvette Hicks, 40, a security guard at the Smithsonian museums, said she woke up on Friday and prayed, once again, for the shutdown to end. As a single mother, she said the shutdown had taken a toll on her family’s budget and her own mental health.

When she learned on Friday she might be returning to work, Ms. Hicks said she had been crying. Her 14-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son were due home from school soon, and she was trying to put up a brave face for them. She said her son, Kaden, had nevertheless told his teachers that his mother was now sad all the time.
John Hare is one of thousands of Coast Guard employees and retirees worried that they may find themselves in the same precarious position a few weeks from now.
Credit Eamon Queeney for The New York Times
Ms. Hicks said her family had once been homeless, and that she believed her job at the Smithsonian was a path to stability. She even saved up enough to book a spring-break vacation for her children to an indoor water park in Virginia. But as the bills piled up and her paychecks stopped, she said she canceled the trip and lost the $350 deposit she had paid for a room.

“It’s just a hurting thing,” she said. “This has damaged my family.”

‘Our Country Is Being Run by Children’
Anthony Powers, 35, had begun thinking about leaving his 15-year career as part of an elite team of wildland firefighters with the United States Forest Service in Southern California. He was that frustrated with his nation’s leaders.
“Our country is being run by children,” he said.
On Friday, he was relieved but not elated, noting that everything could shut down again soon.

Mr. Powers and his colleagues typically spend this time of year clearing away brush to help lessen fire danger in the coming year. None of that has been happening for the last month or so, and his team needs more than three weeks to get the job done. He also has a national conference set for the end of February, and the short-term opening leaves him in limbo. Is it going to happen? Should he plan for it? Not plan for it?

“There’s been so much planning for this to go into the long-term,” he said. “Now it’s like, where do you reset?”
‘So Out of Touch With the American People’
Nic Trujillo, 34, a single father and collections representative for the Internal Revenue Service in Ogden, Utah, said the shutdown had done financial and emotional damage.
He had not paid rent in January because he needed to pay other expenses. On Friday, he and his 6-year-old son were just one week away from being evicted and having to move in with extended family.

Staying at home had also left him depressed. Before he was ordered to return to work without pay on Jan. 18, his natural night-owl tendencies had taken over. He would stay up late, get up to get his son off to school, then sleep for much of the day.

“I haven’t really done anything. I haven’t really gone anywhere,” he said, explaining that he didn’t want to waste gas. “It’s just been a very depressive time.”

He said he blamed both the president and Congress for the shutdown, saying that none of them knew what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck.

“They are so out of touch with the American people that it’s unacceptable.”
‘I’m Staying in Shutdown Mode’
Kim Howell, 34, whose husband is in the Coast Guard in Boston and has been working 12-hour night shifts throughout the shutdown, said she didn’t feel much relief on Friday. She said she didn’t expect that her husband would get any back pay for a week or two. And then there was the possibility that the government would shut down again in three weeks.

Ms. Howell said her family had been fortunate because she works for a tech startup. But the loss of her husband’s income strained them. They had to put off rent payments, utility bills, and cellphone, cable and internet bills.

She had visited a food pantry that had been set up in Boston for Coast Guard families. She worried about the impact on her three children, who are 9, 13 and 14. Her oldest child told her he felt helpless and anxious watching his parents try to navigate the crisis. She did not blame any particular party, but said she felt betrayed. And she worried the dysfunction was far from over.
“I’m staying in shutdown mode,” she said. “That’s the only responsible thing to do right now.”

Reporting was contributed by Julie Turkewitz and Mitch Smith.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Government Shutdown Begins to effect poor people of America

Food stamps, rent aid and the safety net for American’s poorest at risk as shutdown drags on. As the partial government shutdown continues into its third week, the impacts are falling hardest on those who can afford it the least — and the effects will grow even more punishing if key agencies remain paralyzed beyond Feb. 1 and into March. At risk: food on the table for millions of vulnerable households, rental assistance and other safety net programs.

Trump last week threatened to keep the government partially closed for months, even years, if the impasse over the border wall continues.

Under criticism, the Trump administration this week moved to shore up one of the most important pillars of the social safety net, the food stamp program, which benefits 38 million Americans and whose funding was due to run out at the end of January.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday that the agency would rely on a little-known budget provision to give states the money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the month of February ahead of time — by Jan. 20 — to circumvent the expiration of federal appropriations.

Perdue also ensured that other nutrition assistance programs, including school meals and a program for mothers and young children, would be funded through February. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides food, baby formula and breast-feeding support to 7.3 million mothers and children under 5 years old.

Callie Schneider, 11, fills plastic bags with food that will go to families in need. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
But officials could not promise that those benefits would continue if the shutdown lasts until March. The food stamp program has a $3 billion reserve, which would cover less than two-thirds of the $4.8 billion in benefits distributed each month.

Beginning in March, families could experience an average cut of at least $90, or close to 40 percent, assuming the agency spreads the $1.8 billion shortfall evenly across the 19 million households receiving SNAP benefits, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The USDA has not said what it would do in the event the shutdown lasts that long. When the SNAP contingency money runs out in April, the food assistance program will probably be closed altogether, anti-poverty advocates said.

“At that point, it will take Congress taking some sort of emergency action to fund the program if the government doesn’t reopen,” said Rebecca Vallas, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. “We will see hunger in America skyrocket. It’s going to take more than just flipping a switch to make things right after this.”

[Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work requirements grow, so does one family’s desperation.]

Already, more than 2,500 grocers and other retailers are no longer accepting food stamps because their SNAP licenses were not renewed before the shutdown started Dec. 22, according to the Food Marketing Institute, an industry group.

Federal funding has also been shut off for cash welfare benefits, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), for 3.4 million of the poorest Americans, the majority of whom are children. For now, states are picking up the financial burden — $4.2 billion they were to have received from the Department of Health and Human Services to cover January through March. States are providing benefits by cobbling together previously unspent federal funds with state dollars.

“We don’t know at what point states will start to panic and that will start to affect people relying on TANF,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, an expert on the social safety net at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

If the government does not fully reopen by Feb. 1, nearly 270,000 rural families who receive federal rent subsidies through the USDA would also be at risk of eviction because their landlords would no longer be paid, said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition.

“These are the poorest rural people in the country,” Rapoza said. “They’re farmworkers, they’re senior citizens, they’re disabled.”

An additional 2.2 million low-income households receiving rent assistance could be put in jeopardy in March when funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 voucher program runs out.

State and local public housing agencies would also stop receiving money to operate more than 1 million public housing units in March.

And another 100,000 low-income tenants are already at risk because HUD did not have staff in place during the shutdown to renew at least 1,150 affordable housing contracts that expired in December.

That means apartment owners will not be paid and must now dip into their reserves to cover their mortgages — which they may not be able to do indefinitely.

HUD officials told The Washington Post this week that furloughed staffers have been called back to work to scour agency accounts for money that could be used to cover contracts that expired before the shutdown. But those that expired after Dec. 22 remain in limbo, with payments possible only after renewal of the earlier batch of contracts. The agency sought to downplay the impact of the expired contracts.

“No one has ever been evicted because of a shutdown, and the landlords have always been made whole,” said HUD spokesman Jereon Brown.

But he acknowledged that more contracts expire with each day that the government remains closed. Another 500 contracts are scheduled to expire by the end of January, and 550 in February, the agency said.

The risk of eviction for low-income tenants grows the longer the government remains closed, housing advocates say.

“The longer the shutdown continues, the more the lowest income people will be hard hit,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “If we get to March, we’re going to be looking at a potentially significant number of evictions.”

HUD also announced Wednesday there could be major delays in the disaster relief funding it is sending to Puerto Rico, Florida, and a number of other places because of the shutdown, saying it likely would not be able to meet a timeline set by Congress .

The shutdown has hit Native American tribes especially hard because so many of their basic services depend on federal funding, as a legacy of their negotiated treaties with the U.S. government.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) — a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and one of two Native American congresswomen newly sworn in this month — said one tribe witnessed a member die during the shutdown because road crews did not plow snow-filled roads and an ambulance could not get through. She did not provide further details, saying she wanted to respect the tribe’s privacy.

Several tribes have reallocated funds to keep hospitals and clinics open on their lands. But staff at those hospitals has already grown thinner, Davids said.

“For many in these communities, this is the only way people can access health care,” she said.

[Already reeling from tariff war, some farmers aren’t receiving government support checks amid shutdown]

Kerry Hawk Lessard, executive director of Native American Lifelines — a Baltimore-based group that provides health assistance to Native Americans living in urban areas — said she has needed to turn away members seeking rides to doctor’s appointments and halt funding for previously promised eyeglasses as a result of the shutdown.

Nonprofit groups in Washington say they are making contingency plans after facing an uptick in calls from furloughed federal workers — with 362,000 of them living in the area — as well as families starting to panic about losing a slew of social safety benefits.

The Capital Area Food Bank in Northeast Washington revamped its website to lead with a tutorial on how to get food during the shutdown. The food bank sought assurances from federal authorities that the government will continue supplies of food and is trying to persuade grocery stores and other partners to help shore up dwindling supplies.

“We’re hearing from first-timers trying to understand how we work, what the hours are, whether there’s any near their homes,” said Radha Muthiah, the food bank’s president and chief executive.

Valerie Beaudin, 51, who was furloughed from her job as U.S. Census geographer, spent Tuesday morning handing out supplies at a food pantry in Huntingtown, Md., during a special event for federal workers.

Some were young, newly hired workers with no savings. Others were couples who both worked for the federal government.

“They were grabbing everything from luncheon meat to oranges to diapers and baby supplies,” Beaudin said.

Muthiah said Capital Food Bank has started talking about creating a fund for future shutdowns.

“We have an emergency cushion we use for natural disasters like floods, tornadoes,” Muthiah said. “We’ve never had to allocate for shutdowns before, but given how things are shaping up, this may be the new norm.”

Jeff Stein, Damian Paletta and Amy Goldstein and NY Times contributed to this report.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Things you should know about Global Poverty

World poverty is at an all time high, and the Poverty Shared Prosperity series provides a global audience with the latest and most accurate estimates on trends in global poverty and shared prosperity. The 201,8 edition — Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle —broadens the ways we define and measure poverty. It presents a new measure of societal poverty, integrating the absolute concept of extreme poverty and a notion of relative poverty reflecting differences in needs across countries. It introduces a multi-dimensional poverty measure that is anchored on household consumption and the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day but broadens the measure by including information on access to education and basic infrastructure. Finally, it investigates differences in poverty within households, including by age and gender. 

Extreme Poverty

The world has made tremendous progress in reducing extreme poverty. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty globally fell to a new low of 10 percent in 2015 — the latest number available — down from 11 percent in 2013, reflecting continued but slowing progress. The number of people living on less than $1.90 a day fell during this period by 68 million to 736 million.
Despite the tremendous progress in reducing extreme poverty, rates remain stubbornly high in low-income countries and those affected by conflict and political upheaval. In the 25 years from 1990 to 2015, the extreme poverty rate dropped an average of a percentage point per year – from nearly 36% to 10%. But the rate dropped only one percentage point in the two years from 2013 to 2015. In fact, the total number of poor in Sub-Saharan Africa has been increasing. In 2015, more extreme poor lived in that region than in the rest of the world combined.  By 2030, under all but the most optimistic scenarios, poverty will remain in double digits in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Shared Prosperity

On shared prosperity — defined as the growth in income of the bottom 40 percent in each country — the picture looks mixed. In 70 of the 91 countries for which data were available, incomes of the bottom 40 percent improved between 2010 and 2015. In addition, in 54 percent of those 91 countries, their income grew faster than the average. Progress in East and South Asia has been more impressive with the bottom 40 percent growing annually by 4.7 percent and 2.6 percent respectively from 2010 to 2015. Latin America and the Caribbean saw less growth in shared prosperity than in the recent past, but at 3.2 percent per year the bottom 40 experienced sizeable income growth. Strong income growth among the bottom 40 is also observed among various Baltic countries, as they recover from the crisis in the late 2000s. 

However, slow economic progress is hindering shared prosperity in some regions, particularly in some Europe and Central Asia which experienced negative or low levels of shared prosperity. More worrying, among poorer economies monitored in which extreme poverty rates remain high (particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa), income growth at the bottom has on average been lower than in the rest of the world. In two-thirds of the 14 extremely poor countries, average incomes are increasing at an annual rate below the global average of 2 percent. Another worry is that data needed to assess shared prosperity is weakest in the very countries that most need it to improve. Only one in four low-income countries and four of the 35 recognized fragile and conflict-affected states have data that allows us to monitor shared prosperity over time. Since a lack of reliable data is associated with slow income growth for the poorest, the situation could be even worse than currently observed.

Higher Standards for a Growing World
Higher Poverty Lines

As the world grows wealthier and extreme poverty becomes more concentrated, there are legitimate questions over whether $1.90 is too low to define whether someone is poor in all countries of the world. In half of the countries in the world, extreme poverty is at or below 3 percent, but that doesn’t mean the fight to eradicate poverty is over in these countries. The World Bank now reports on two higher-value poverty lines: $3.20 and $5.50 per day. These lines, which are typical of standards among lower- and upper-middle-income countries, respectively, are designed to complement, not replace, the $1.90 international poverty line. Data suggest that the rapid gains against extreme poverty have not been matched by reductions in the number of people living below these higher levels of income. In 2015, over a quarter of the world’s population survived on $3.20 per day and nearly half of the world still lived on less than $5.50 per day.

Societal Poverty Line

Similarly, as countries grow, their definitions of what constitute basic needs change. The cost of performing the same function may differ across countries depending on their overall level of income. To monitor this, the World Bank has introduced a societal poverty line based on the typical level of consumption or income in each country. By this yardstick, in 2015, 2.1 billion people were poor relative to their societies, three times the number of people living in extreme poverty. With over half of the population societally poor, Sub-Saharan Africa has substantially higher rates of societal poverty than other regions. In contrast, East Asia & Pacific has seen its societal poverty rate drop by 38 percentage points. Since 1990, societal poverty declined across all developing regions, but has remained stubbornly static in high-income countries.

Multidimensional Poverty Measure

As we seek to end poverty, we also need to recognize that being poor is not just defined by a lack of consumption or income. Other aspects of life are critical for well-being, including education, access to basic utilities, health care, and security. The multidimensional view reveals a world in which poverty is a much broader, more entrenched problem, underlining the importance of stronger, inclusive growth and of investing more in human capital. At the global level, the share of poor according to a multidimensional definition that includes consumption, education, and access to basic utilities is approximately 50 percent higher than when relying solely on monetary poverty. 

In a sample of 119 countries for the years around 2013, only one in eight are poor in monetary terms, but among them eight out of nine are also deprived in at least one other dimension, lacking education or basic infrastructure services. In Middle East & North Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean, despite the low prevalence of monetary poverty, almost one in seven people lack adequate sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than in any other region, shortfalls in one dimension go hand-in-hand with other deficiencies. Even though South Asia has made progress in poverty reduction, shortfalls in education remain high for both adults and children and aren’t strongly associated with monetary poverty. In addition, the number of people in the region living in households without access to electricity is far greater than those living in monetary poverty.

Inside the Household

People experience poverty differently even within the same household. Traditional measures haven’t been able to capture variations because the surveys stop at the household level. Measuring poverty as experienced by individuals requires considering how resources are shared among family members. While data are limited, there is evidence that women and children are disproportionately affected by poverty in many — but not all — countries.  Sex differences in poverty are largest during the reproductive years, when, because of social norms, women face strong trade-offs between reproductive care and domestic responsibilities on the one hand and income-earning activities on the other hand. Worldwide, 104 women live in poor households for every 100 men. However, in South Asia, 109 women live in poor households for every 100 men. Children are twice as likely as adults to live in poor households. This primarily reflects the fact that the poor tend to live in large households with more children.

There is evidence from studies in several countries that resources are not shared equally within poor households, especially when it comes to more prized consumption items. There is also evidence of complex dynamics at work within households that go beyond gender and age divides. More surveys are needed to capture consumption patterns of individuals so that governments can implement policies to bridge the inequalities within households. Read More

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Terence Crutcher shot by Tulsa officer Betty Shelby caught on cam

A videotaped police shooting of a black man in Tulsa on Friday has prompted the chief of police to ask the Justice Department to investigate and has the man's family crying foul.

Graphic video showing the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, 40, on Friday, went viral, adding the case to the list of police-involved shootings raising questions about relations between law enforcement in the United States and black men.

Police said they were responding to a call of a vehicle abandoned in the middle of the roadway. In video from officers' dashcams and also from a helicopter, four officers are seen responding as Crutcher holds his hands up in the air and walks away from officers, toward his stalled vehicle.

In the video taken from the helicopter, a male is heard to say, "That looks like a bad dude too. He might be on something."

Crutcher is then seen to fall to the ground.

Police said Crutcher did not respond to their comments and that one officer used a stun gun on him and another shot him.

Police Chief Chuck Jordan, meeting with reporters, assured that justice would be done and said he called in the Justice Department to ask for an investigation.

"I'm going to tell you right now that there was no gun on the suspect or in the suspect's vehicle," Jordan said. "I want to assure our community and I want to assure all of you and people across the nation who are going to be looking at this: we will achieve justice."

The chief added, "I would like to see us be a better city than some of the other cities we’ve seen. I hope some of my performance in the past has shown you we will do the right thing."

Crutcher's family and lawyer also held a press conference. They said they'd viewed the video and they saw no justification for Crutcher's shooting.

Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said the family demands to know what happened and wants charges pressed against police officer Betty Shelby, who shot and killed Crutcher.

"We ask for facts, we ask for answers, and we clearly got it through the video and we are devastated," she said. "The entire family is devastated."

Tiffany Crutcher, playing on the words of the male on the video shot from the helicopter, said her brother was a good man who loved God.

"That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College," she said. "He just wanted to make us proud. That big bad dude loved God."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

American States Making The Most Racial Progress

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said those words in his famous "I Have A Dream Speech" in 1963. Now, 52 years later, he might be heartened to know Mississippi is making progress.
Mississippi ranks third out of the fifty states and the District of Columbia for the amount of racial progress it has made over time, according to a recent WalletHub study. Georgia ranked as the top state for racial progress, while New Mexico came in second.

States ranked by racial progress:

The study looked at 10 historical indicators in each state (things like homeownership, median income and poverty rates) for both black and white people, then compared the gap between them as a measure of inequality. States whose gaps shrank the most over time were deemed to have made the most progress.
In terms of racial integration alone, Hawaii was found to be the most unified, followed by New Mexico, Texas and Maryland. Hawaii also had the second-lowest gap in median annual income between black and white populations, the lowest gap in the poverty rate, and the lowest gap in the rate of business ownership.

States ranked by racial integration:

From a policy perspective, what sets the more successful states apart, and how can that be implemented elsewhere?
“Racial inequality takes place in employment, housing, education, policing, in accessing affordable quality health care, and in many more arenas," Meghan Burke, an associate professor of sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University,explained in the report. "States are bound to vary in those inequality levels because of the different demographics, economies, and policies."
"However, one thing seems clear: race-conscious and proactive, intentional policy to create and sustain equal opportunity is always better than policies favoring the free market or those that are color-blind in other ways," she added. "Pretending racism and inequality doesn’t exist, or that it can be solved through individual (market) choices, will only continue to grow these already-deep inequalities.”
Race-conscious and proactive, intentional policy to create and sustain equal opportunity is always better than policies favoring the free market or those that are color-blind in other ways.
The handful of experts interviewed in the report largely supported that basic premise, though they differed in their assessments of how much progress the country has actually made.
Nearly all agreed we must prioritize -- and fund -- quality education, and remove a wide variety of barriers to homeownership, which traditionally has been the greatest builder of wealth for American families. 
“Because wealth can be transmitted across generations, what has occurred in the past still reverberates in the present," Margaret Anderson, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware, explained in the report.
"Bank redlining, predatory lending practices, and the greater likelihood of racial minorities receiving subprime loans means that they have been unable to accumulate assets (mostly in the form of home ownership) to the same extent as whites,” she continued.
We're still a long way from realizing the vision laid out in King's dream, but we're making progress. Or, as he said, more eloquently:
“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"
Read the full report on racial progress, here.
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Andrew Harris ·
Institutionalize racism (the major cause) is virtually impossible to quantifiably measure. Therefore any attempt to calculate racial progress is a red herring mean to divert attention from the real problem at hand. The real problem is White supremacy; the belief that members of the Caucasian race are superior in all ways to other groups or races in the world.
Unlike · Reply · 8 · Jan 18, 2016 5:18pm
Ian Monteith ·
Okay, but if it's impossible to quantify, how would you ever be able to tell if measues introduced to lessen "while supremecy" are working or not? Or is it just a hopeless, terrible thing that will be with us always? Just trying to focus on solutions here as perhaps a more useful approach than a verbal beat down on a racial group.
Like · Reply · Jan 19, 2016 12:09pm
Theresa Parrott ·
We are in the 21st century and we arl talking about 'Racial Progress'.

How long should we wait, another 500yrs? I think not!

The fact is this country foundation was formed on racism, violence and greed. The oppression and labeling of black people around world was mostly created by Europeans.

Just like any other problem, it cannot be resolved until the root cause and origin of the problem is dealt with. The problem and origin of racism is white surpremacy, plan and simple.

I don't want to hear this 'making progress' bs. Because what happened to the descendants of the continent of Africa should have never happened in the first place.

Looking at history and what the Europeans has done to people of color around the world, I wonder where did they come from. What is their true origin because they are heartless,no soul, no spirit. To call myself a Christian would be a slap in the face to my ancestors.

It is time black people to start thing for ourselves and to let go of the slave mentally our people have been indoctrinated into.

We have allowed others to dictate who voices we hear and the voices we don't hear. What is militant or radical talk.

Introduce yourself to Dr. Ben, Dr. Clarke, Dr. Amos.
Unlike · Reply · 2 · Jan 19, 2016 7:04am
Stan Woods ·
Barack Obama's presence, in the minds of white Americans, has evened the score and wiped away their sins, so now they can release their pent up racism.
Thanos Perlegas ·
If you have not visited the MLK Monument in Washginton DC I encourage you to do so. Especially at night. Follow that visit with a walkthru of the FDR Monument and that is a great evening.
Nsa Jones
No one has a solution here that I've seen. This idea of oppression has to do with the justice system, their cops, a mismanaged education of the people, and frankly the automization of the planet through computer software and robotics. Not to mention the Governments sponsoring terroism, shipping drugs, intentional poisinging of people.

Yes humans are being phased out. Were all getting very poor, quickly. And all the above OPRESSION doesn't care what color you are. Does it? Doesn't give a shit if you call yourself left or right. And now its getting hard to breath in this horrid environ...See More
Ronald Bruce Robinson
The State of Denial will always rank higest among riightwiingwhiites.
Like · Reply · 4 · Jan 18, 2016 7:08pm
Heyward Johnson ·
Progress takes time but Black Americans have been on this soil before the majority of White Americans. This nation should be embarrassed that racial hatred, injustice and economic disenfranchisment of Black Americans is still an issue. Racism is a White American problem that no one can help thems solve but themselves. Don't ask non White folks to solve the problem they caused and imposed on non Whites.
Like · Reply · 2 · Jan 19, 2016 11:37amEdited
Napoleon Smith ·
Black culture should be ashamed to follow Dems that keep them as a victim for their own political gain.
Like · Reply · Jan 19, 2016 11:35am
Heyward Johnson ·
Napoleon Smith The fact is Black Americans are victims of a racist America who never have come to terms or attempted to end her institituional racsim and war on Black Americans. Don't blame Black people for being what you made us.
Like · Reply · Jan 19, 2016 11:46am
Napoleon Smith ·
Heyward Johnson is is whites that tell black men that they don't have to take care of there kids at a rate of over 78%. It is whites that tell blacks that they don't need an education at rate of a little over half graduating. Is it whites that promote gang culture in their entertainment and music. Is it whites that have blacks committing half the homicide shootings. No.

I am black and was raised in a predominantly white upper class neighborhood. Guess what. I am successful. Sure I have seen racism here and there. But not to any level that could impact me. What was the difference. I did not live in the victim culture that unfortunately other blacks did.

Stop blaming and look at the real problems blacks face.
Like · Reply · 1 · Jan 19, 2016 12:18pm
Stan Woods ·
No offense but this guy's not even a minority. How was this measured?
Marcus Jackson ·
I don't know about this ranking ...