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Congressman Andre Carson – Tea Party Would Love to See Blacks Hanging on a Tree!

Dear Commons Community,

The Huffington Post is reporting that Congressman Andre Carson (Dem.-Indiana) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) whip, told attendees at the CBC’s Job Tour in Miami that the Tea Party is actively taking steps to keep down the black community and other vulnerable populations.    Carson is quoted as saying:

“This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow…Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens…Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me … hanging on a tree.”

Ask to explain his comments, a spokesman for the Congressman stated:

“The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities…and referred to GOP efforts to cut funding for child nutrition, job creation and training, housing assistance and Head Start. .. as examples of ways the Tea Party agenda hurts vulnerable populations.”

There is surely truth in what the Congressman is saying but the language and imagery is fiery designed to rile up the crowd and not necessarily to seek resolutions to the problems we face.

Tony

 

Rush Limbaugh on President Obama Hoping that Hurricane Irene Would be a Disaster!

Dear Commons Community,

There is absolutely no limit to the depths that the extreme right-wing spokesman, Rush Limbaugh, will go to try to criticize President Barack Obama.  Yesterday, Limbaugh said that President Obama was “hoping” that Hurricane Irene would be a “disaster.”

Discussing how the media hyped Irene,  he said that the storm was blown out of proportion to “push the leftist agenda,” and tied it to what he said was Obama’s desire to have a huge disaster.

“I’ll guarantee you Obama was hoping this was going to be a disaster as another excuse for his failing economy,” he said. “If he’s out there blaming tsunamis, blaming earthquakes, this one [was] made to order, but it just didn’t measure up.”

What idiocy and sadly indicative of the pathetic state of talk radio in this country.

Tony

IRENE!

Dear Commons Community,

This will be brief since I do not have electricity or telephone and about 70% of the power left on the battery on my laptop.

Tony

 

 

 

Relief for College Student Debtors!

Dear Commons Community,

The NY Times has an editorial (see below) urging the US Congress to pass legislation that is pending in both houses that would make private school loans dischargeable through bankruptcy, as most of them were before Congress changed the law in 2005. It had long been the case that federally backed college student loans were protected during bankruptcy proceedings.  The editorial rightfully mentions that “far too many students enrolled in expensive for-profit schools end up dogged by ruinous debts, with little in the way of skills or credentials to show for their efforts.”   The pending bills are sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, would eliminate the unfair protections for private student lenders and give struggling borrowers a chance at a fresh start.   It will be interesting to see how Republicans especially John Boehner and Olympia Snowe  who are major supporters of the for-profit education industry, respond to the proposed legislation.

Tony

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New York Times

August 26, 2011

Relief for Student Debtors

Since the start of the recession, record numbers of Americans have enrolled in college in search of new skills that would improve their employment prospects. Unfortunately, far too many students enrolled in expensive for-profit schools end up dogged by ruinous debts, with little in the way of skills or credentials to show for their efforts.

The schools sometimes push these students into high-cost private loans that they can never hope to repay, even when they are eligible for affordable federal loans. Because the private loans have fewer consumer accommodations like hardship deferments, the borrowers often have little choice but to default.

Worse yet, these loans and the bad credit history follow the debtors for the rest of their lives. Even filing for bankruptcy doesn’t clean the slate.

Legislation is pending in both houses of Congress that would make private school loans dischargeable through bankruptcy, as most of them were before Congress changed the law in 2005. It had long been the case that federally backed student loans were protected during bankruptcy proceedings. That is reasonable, since those loans were backed by taxpayer dollars and flexibly structured so that borrowers could receive deferment in tough times and resume payments when their finances improved.

The country has a compelling interest in making it as difficult as possible for student borrowers to elude payment for federal loans. There was no reason for extending that protection to private lenders of student loans.

For starters, that gives these lenders, who often turn a huge profit, an undeserved advantage over credit card issuers, gambling casinos and other issuers of unsecured credit whose debts are still subject to discharge in bankruptcy. The change also encouraged reckless underwriting by lenders, who no longer felt compelled to determine the borrower’s ability to pay. And it led to financial catastrophe for students who were duped into signing up for pricey private loans.

Bills sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, would eliminate the unfair protections for private student lenders and give struggling borrowers a chance at a fresh start.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Weeps from His Grave!

Dear Commons Community,

Cornel West, professor at Princeton University, has a moving article in today’s New York Times.  He takes aim at the plight of the poor and working people in this country over the past several decades.

“the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule.

The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response … its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans. “

Dr. West goes on to imagine what Martin Luther King, Jr. would be doing if he were alive:

“King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.

In concrete terms, this means support for progressive politicians ..extensive community and media organizing; civil disobedience; and life and death confrontations with the powers that be. Like King, we need to put on our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready for the next great democratic battle. “

YES!

Tony

 

Batten Down the Hatches – Here Comes Irene!

 

Dear Commons Community,

Last night I heard a weather forecaster declare that the East Coast including New York City had better prepare for Hurricane Irene and start “battening down the hatches”.    A batten is a strip of wood. Ship’s hatches were often open or covered with a wooden grating to allow for ventilation of the lower decks. When bad weather was imminent, the hatches were covered with tarpaulin and the covering was ‘battened down’, that is, edged with wooden strips to prevent it from blowing off.

We may have to do a lot of “battening”.

Tony

 

 

 

Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple

Dear Commons Community,

Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple yesterday.  He has not been  in good health.  Below is his simple but elegant letter to Apple’s Board of Directors.  In my opinion, Mr. Jobs was a genius and in many ways the major figure in technology in the second half of the 20the century to the present.  He and his company were also always good supporters of education especially primary and secondary schools.  It is believed that Mr. Jobs has a form of pancreatic cancer – pancreatic islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.  We wish him well in his battle with this disease.

Tony

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To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as C.E.O. of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as C.E.O. of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

 

 

Americans Have Lost Faith In Religious Leaders – New Study!

Dear Commons Community,

As reported in an interview with the Huffington Post, Mark Chaves, a professor of sociology, religion and divinity at Duke University, conducted a study on American religious attitudes.  He found that between 1973 and 2008, the percentage of people with “great confidence” in religious leaders declined from 35 percent to less than 25 percent. He also found that two-thirds of Americans say they would prefer religious leaders to stay out of politics.

Using data from the General Social Survey and the National Congregations Study, Chaves looked at developments in American religion since 1972. The General Social Survey, which began that year, is an ongoing look at American attitudes and behaviors by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center, while the National Congregations Study — a project Chaves directed — examined congregations in the United States from several religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

“The American public has lost confidence in leaders of all sorts,” Chaves says. “But the loss of confidence in religious leaders has been more precipitous.”

Here are some other findings by Chaves, who looked at trends in religious diversity, belief, involvement, congregational life, leadership and Protestant decline.

  • In the 1950s, 99 percent of Americans said they believed in God. In 2008, only 92 percent did.
  • In 1991, 30 percent of Americans “strongly agreed” that religious leaders should not take part in politics. By 2008, that number had jumped to 44 percent.
  • The extent of an American’s religious involvement more closely predicts that person’s political leanings today than it did in the past.

“Several decades ago there was not a strong correlation between how religiously active you were and whether you voted Republican or Democrat,” Chaves says. “Now, there is. If you’re religiously active, you’re now more likely to vote Republican.”

There may be important insight here for political hopefuls who tend to use religion to support their political positions.

Tony