Debt Collection Report Captures Horror Stories

past_due_bills_mgn2015BY NISA ISLAM MUHAMMAD

A new report by the Center for Responsible Lending has revealed what many consumers have known for years.  Debt collectors often cross the line with abusive behaviors.

From coersive language to outright lies about debt to forged documents, federal and state regulator investigations into debt buyers and debt collectors revealed a pattern of abuses prevalent within the industry.

Recent investigations have forced debt collectors to pay tens of millions of dollars in fines for multiple instances of illegal activity.

The report comes as several state legislatures are considering legislation to put in place new rules-of-the-road for debt collectors to protect consumers.

“People should not be sued and they should not have their wages garnished for debts they do not owe or for stale debts,” said Lisa Stifler, a policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending and one of the authors of the analysis.

“Unfortunately, our analysis shows that consumers are often unfairly hurt by debt collectors making improper use of the court system to collect questionable debts. The burden of proof should be on debt collectors to document that a consumer owes a debt upfront before they initiate a lawsuit.”

Debt buyers and collectors purchase debt from consumer creditors and then attempt to collect. Unscrupulous collectors often engage in illegal and predatory behavior to pressure or force consumers to pay up.

The abusive debt collector’s business model often relies on pursuing quick court judgments against consumers. In many cases, consumers do not appear and the resulting default judgments result in wage garnishment. Consumers with similar names, John Smith, for example, have been sued and seen their wages garnished because of incorrect, inadequate or deliberately mistaken documentation.

The full report by the Center for Responsible Lending provides information on recent state cases brought by attorney generals and regulators in New York, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Minnesota, Colorado, Maryland and Texas.

The cases showed debt collectors sued over debt that was too old, engaged in harassing behavior, used illegal collection tactics, charged exorbitant interest and falsified or presented fake documents in court.

The abuses of debt collectors found in federal cases include what the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau called a collector with a team of only eight lawyers a “lawsuit factory” after it used “robo-signed” documents (documents mass signed with little to no review) to file 350,000 suits against consumers since 2009. The Federal Trade Commission shuttered one debt collector for engaging in abusive behavior and fined several others.

The center urged lawmakers to combat these abuses. Lawmakers have the power to require debt collectors to verify that a consumer owes a debt before initiating a collection attempt, or a court case. They also could bar collectors from suing over debts beyond the statute of limitations, could stop collectors from selling debts they know have been paid off, or debts that lack adequate documentation to verify the debt.

SBAAwards $4.4 Million To Business Accelerators

Groups helping minority start-ups among winners of annual growth accelerator fund competition

Acceleratorby Carolyn M. Brown, blackenterprise.com

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the winners of the second annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. PowerMoves.NOLA was one of 80 winners of the 2015 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. The recipients represented 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA.

PowerMoves.NOLA is an initiative to increase the number of minority-founded, venture-backed, high-growth entrepreneurial businesses in the United States. Based in New Orleans, PowerMoves.NOLA is developing a national community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors to support underrepresented entrepreneurs of color who are in the early stages of startup company growth.

[Related: Morgan Stanley Teams Up With Invest Detroit To Help Minority Entrepreneurs Get Venture Capital]

Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community. “SBA is continuing to make advances in supporting unique organizations that help the start-up community grow, become commercially viable, and have a real and sustained economic impact,” said SBA Administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet, during the announcement at the White House’s Demo Day. “Through the wide-spread outreach of this competition, we are able to reach entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country. My commitment is to make our resources available to 21st century entrepreneurs where they are and these accelerators, also known as incubators and innovation hubs, are the gathering place for today’s innovators and disruptors.”

Each accelerator will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. In accepting these funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. This will allow the SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

“We are honored to have participated in the White House Demo Day and extremely grateful to receive the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund award. Demo Day underscored that an investment in startups founded by entrepreneurs of color is an investment in the American economy, and the resources we received will help us continue to scale a national ecosystem of support for entrepreneurs of color,” states Leslie Jacobs, founder of PowerMoves.NOLA.

PowerMoves.NOLA helps participating entrepreneurs refine their business models, shape their go-to-market strategies, connect with advisors, and secure early investment to launch, operationalize and scale their businesses. In just one year, PowerMoves.NOLA has nationally sourced 100 companies from 26 major cities across the country and helped secure more than $17 million in capital commitments.

“There is an abundance of talent and drive across America, but too many of our world-class entrepreneurs don’t have access to the early-stage-friendly ecosystems and capital to grow beyond the ideation phase,” adds Earl Robinson, president of PowerMoves.NOLA. “That’s why we are working to bridge the gap and ensure that those underrepresented in entrepreneurship have the tools they need to succeed.”

The purpose of the SBA’s competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. While there are entrepreneurial activities occurring nationwide, some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others.

“The support we received from SBA will help us build our national infrastructure, allowing us to serve more entrepreneurs of color in more cities across the U.S. The result will be a robust network of mentors, founders, and funders and, ultimately, more game-changing ideas taking off in America,” Robinson continued.

Veteran Harold Lee Wilson

 

Veteran Harold Lee Wilson

Veteran Harold Lee Wilson

Veteran Harold Lee Wilson,  age  69, 507 Highway 280, Lot 67, Americus, Georgia passed Tuesday July 29, 2014 at Rosemount at Stone Mountain Nursing Home, Stone Mountain, Georgia.  

The funeral service will be conducted at 10:00 A.M., Monday, August 4, 2014 at the Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, Shiloh Road, Ellaville, Georgia.  Rev. Lem Wright, pastor, will officiate.  Interment will follow in the Andersonville National Cemetery-Rostrum, 496 Cemetery Road, Andersonville, Georgia.

Veteran Harold Lee Wilson was born in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia to the late Deacon Willie Robert Wilson, Sr. and Minnie Ruth Bivins Wilson.  He was preceded in death by his parents and three siblings, including Bernice Wilson, Sammie E. Wilson and Deacon Woodrow Wilson. 

Harold was educated the public school system of Sumter County, where he graduated from the historic Staley High School.  After completion of high school, he joined the United States Army during the Vietnam Crisis.  He was the recipient of National Defense Service Medal and was honorably discharged July 21, 1971.  

Harold was united in holy matrimony to the former Arenetta Elaine Hicks, and to this union, they were blessed with three children (Corey, Angelia and Terri).  

After being discharged from the United States Army, Harold moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he was employed as a city bus driver.  Later, he and his family moved to Flint, Michigan, where he became employed as a line technician with General Motors.

Harold’s Christian training was acquired at his family church, Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church of Schley County.  Harold was very active, a clean cut guy, and a wonderful person.  He had a delightful way of giving you advice and was always ready to give you a helping hand.

He leaves a legacy to his beloved children, Corey D. (Kimberly) Wilson, Lithonia, Georgia, Angelia Wilson, Los Angeles, California, and Terri Wilson (Eric) Batch, Carson, California; six grandchildren,  Katherine Wilson, Kendal Batch, Lauren Wilson, Douglas Robinson, Shelby Batch and Shanelle Robinson; six siblings, Camilla Wilson, Beverly Hills, California, Mary Edwards, Wichita Falls, Texas, Edith Logan (James), Hartford, Connecticut, Willie (Thelma) Wilson, Jr., Chicago, Illinois, Henry B. (Shirley) Wilson, Westchester, Illinois, Arthur James, Americus, Georgia and Edward (Sarah) Wilson, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; two loving and devoted sisters-in-law, Lillie Wilson and Barbara Wilson, both of Chicago, Illinois; aunt, Catherine Wilson, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and a host of beloved nieces, nephews, other relatives and beloved friends.

SALLIE LEE BLACK

SALLIE LEE BLACK

Ms. Sallie Lee Black was born in Sumter County, Georgia on October 11, 1942 to the parentage of the late Mr. Edd Black and the late Mrs. Ethel Davis Black. She worked in Kenilworth, New Jersey as a loyal employee at Silverline Corporation for 15 years. She also, worked as a domestic worker for over 20 years. She was fond of her grandchildren accomplishments, Anthony Black who served in the United States Military for 8 years, Di-Andrea La Pierre who graduated from Darton with a Business Degree and Courtney Black who graduated from college.

She leaves to cherish her memories, two children, Mr. Anthony Darrell Black, Tifton, GA and Mrs. Brenda B. (Sammie) White, Americus, GA; five grandchildren, Anthony Black, Jr., Sturgis, MI, Recardo Davis, Barwick, GA, Courtney Black, Atlanta, GA, MeSheck Walker and Di-Andrea La Pierre, Tifton, GA; 11 great grandchildren, Antamia Lea Black, Malea Black, Aden D. Black, Amarii Black, Rikembria Davis, Shameria Davis, Sharlimiracle Davis, Kimora Davis, DAria Davis, Collins Davis and Remysia Davis; one brother, Mr. Jewel Merritt, Jacksonville, FL; two nieces, two cousins, Ms. Victoria Mullins and Ms. Rosa B. Anthony, Americus, GA; other relatives and friends, including devoted friends the Griggs Family, Pinehurst, GA also survive.

Tiffany Tiara Ford

 

Tiffany Tiara Ford

Tiffany Tiara Ford

Tiffany Tiara Ford, age 19, 705 Mill Street, Oglethorpe, Georgia passed Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at Children Health Care of Egleston Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia.
 
The funeral service will be conducted at 3:00 P.M., Sunday, August 3, 2014 at the Oglethorpe Funeral Chapel, Inc., 607 Kaigler Street, Oglethorpe, Georgia. Interment will follow in the Oglethorpe City Cemetery, Memorial Drive, Oglethorpe, Georgia.
 
Tiffany Tiara Ford was born June 14, 1995 to Olivia Ford and Latrell Bolden, Sr. in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia.  She was educated in the public school system of Macon County and a 2013 graduate of Macon County High School. She was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America.  Tiffany attended South Georgia Technical College in Americus, Georgia studying to be an ECHO Technician.
 
Survivors are her parents, Olivia Ford, Oglethorpe, Georgia Latrell Bolden, Sr., (Shonda), Pinehurst, Georgia; her siblings, Jessica Ford, Oglethorpe, Georgia, Aaliyah Bolden, Brianna Bolden, and Latrell Bolden, Jr., all of Byron, Georgia; maternal grandparents, Elijah Ford, Sr. and Eleanor Ford, both of Oglethorpe, Georgia; paternal grandparents, Willie Bolden (Theresa), both of Pinehurst, Georgia; her aunts and uncles, Greta Carson, Atlanta, Georgia, Anna Walker, Montezuma, Georgia, Amy Harris, Fort Valley, Georgia, Terry Harris, Willie Carson, Montezuma, Georgia, Elijah Ford, Jr., Oglethorpe, Georgia, and Willie Bolden Jr., (Sherita) Unadilla, Georgia and a host of other relatives and friends

Dorothy McGill

Dorothy McGill

Memorial Service for Ms. Dorothy McGill of North Chicago, Il formerly of Americus, GA were held on Saturday, July 5, 2014, 1:00 P.M. in the Chapel of West Mortuary in Americus, Georgia.

Dorothy was born in Americus, Ga on, May 3, 1942, to the late Elliot and Amy Roberson. Dorothy was also preceded in death by two sisters, Emma Wright and Ethel Roberson.

For her safety and wellbeing, Dorothy was raised in the home of close relatives in Americus, Ga:  Ivory and Annie L. Dowdell, Jacob Dowdell and Susie ‘Mae’ Monson.   Susie Monson became Dorothy’s surrogate mother, and a strong bond of siblings was established with Jacob S. Dowdell and Dorothy Dowdell both of Americus, GA; Shirley (Howard) Childs, Hiram, Ga; Dell Jones, Cordele Ga; Eula (Ronald) Boatwright Petersburg VA; Linda Smith also of Petersburg VA; Angie (Debra) Monson of Griffin, Ga; Lloyd Tracy (Mary) Monson, Petersburg, Va; Darrell (Terri Jo) Monson of Norcross, Ga; Fanita Phillips, Americus, Ga and Deborah (Ronald) Cunningham, Petersburg, Va.  She also leaves two nieces, Mae Dorothy Wright of Dawson, Ga; and Emma Lou Wright also of Dawson, Ga.  A host of other family and friends also survive.

Mrs. Barbara Jean Fulks

Barbara Jean Fulks

Funeral services for Mrs. Barbara Jean Fulks will be held on Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 11:00 A.M. at Mount Calvary Primitive Baptist Church in Andersonville, Georgia with Elder Walter Austin officiating. Interment will follow at Oglethorpe City Cemetery.

Mrs. Barbara Jean Fulks, daughter of the late Robert and Mina Mae Tookes Haugabook, was born May 12, 1946. Barbara grew up in Montezuma and was a 1966 graduate of D.F. Douglass High School. At an early age she confessed her faith in Christ and became a member of New Phillip Primitive Baptist Church. She was united in holy matrimony to Henry Lee “Bo” Fulks August 28, 1976. They shared twenty-seven beautiful years together until Bo passed away November 4, 2003. Barbara passed away on Friday, August 1, 2014 at her residence. She will always be remembered for her dedicated years of service to the Montezuma Nursing Home and Magnolia Health and Rehabilitation center of Americus where she retired as Director of Housekeeping in 2005, after twenty-three years of service.

Her beautiful life will forever be cherished in the lives of her two sons: Harry (Carnita Gordon) Wilson of Oglethorpe, Georgia and Eric Williams of Montezuma, Georgia; her grandchildren: Harry Wilson, Jr., Calandra Wilson, Thaddeus Wilson, De’Aundre Wilson, Niambi Wilson, Eriana Williams and Eric Williams, Jr.; great grandchildren: Jermarion Harpe, D’Zyria Harpe, Rontavious Walker, Jr., La’Quavo Wilson and Alaysia Wilson; sisters: Fannie Mae Haugabook and Mariah “Tick” Yisrael of Oglethorpe, Georgia; sisters-in-law: Virginia Fulks, Mary Fulks, Pearlie Fulks and Gwendolyn “Sue” Lockett; nieces: Chemika Harp Haugabook, Melody Felton, Mesha Lockett, Demetria Haugabook, Ashley Fulks and LaRhonda Smith; nephews: Cornelius Haugabook, De’Marco Fulks, Corey Fulks, Robcorneil Bediako and Roytavious Smith;  a host of great nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Master Brady Cantrell Brown

image5531Master Brady Cantrell Brown was born July 16, 2014 in Albany, GA to Mr. Brandon Brown and Ms. Shakena Laramore.  Although his life was brief, he was dearly loved.  He returned to heaven on July 27, 2014 from the Georgia Regents Medical Center in Augusta, GA.  Waiting there for him there are his grandfather, Franklin Laramore, and his great grand parents, Walter Mae Brown, Mary Lizzie Foster, Eddie Lee Foster, Sr., Martha Laramore and Robert Harris.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his 3 sisters, Bre`Arion Brown, Ny`Keyairria Brown, Na`Passion Brown; 2 brothers, Brandon Brown, Jr. and Bradley Brown; grand parents, Ina (Walter) Cliatt, Beverly (Ralph) Wilbon and Ernest Brown, Jr.; great grand parents, Katherine (Sylvester) Jones, Henry Wilbon and Ernest Brown, Sr.; great great grand mother, Frankie Griffin; aunts, Thaleigha (Derrick) Swain, Tashika Laramore, Whitney Bess, Brittany (Torris) Smith, Ne`Chelsey Cliatt, Charity Brown, Gloria Brown, Nykera Brown; great aunt, Tawanda Wilson; uncles, Jonathon (Brittany) Lester, Terrance Cliatt, Ernest Brown, III, Joshua Brown, and Idiris Brown; and a host of cousins, other relatives and family friends also survive.

Mr. Charlie C. Angry, Sr.

Mr. Charlie C. Angry, Sr.

Mr. Charlie C. Angry, Sr.

Funeral services for Mr. Charlie C. Angry, Sr. affectionately known as “Barbeque Man” will be held on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 11:00 A.M. at the Zion Hope Baptist Church in Sumter City with Pastor George F. Monts officiating. Burial will follow at the Israel Cemetery. Mr. Angry died on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at the Magnolia Manor Nursing Home.

Mr. Charlie Angry was born in Sumter Co. on June 6, 1920 to the parentage of the Mr. Press Angry and the late Mrs. Mae Bell Ross Angry.  He was married to Mrs. Ruth Thelma Green Angry for 39 years.  To this union eight children were born, two preceded him in death, Mr. Charlie Angry Jr., and Mr. Willie C. Angry.  He was also preceded in death by four siblings: Robert Lee Angry, Rufus George Angry, Mattie Williams and Nettie Ruth Jackson.

He leaves to cherish his memories four sons: Mr. Johnny Lee (Bernice) of Smithville GA, Mr. Sandford (Dorothy), Jessie Lee (Elaine) and Mr.  George Angry all of Americus, GA. two daughters: Mrs. Ruth Perry and Mrs. Thelma M. Brantley both of Americus, GA, and five children that he raised as his own: Miss Imogene Angry, Mr. Willie Green Jr., Mrs. Bobby L. Paul, Ms. Bernice Green and the late Mrs. Eva Green Broner all of Americus, GA; four sisters: Mrs.  Mary Lynn Rumph of Boynton Beach, FL, Mrs. Lillie Mae Merritt and Mrs. Collie M. Williams all of Americus, GA and Mrs. Bertha Mae Evans of Miami, FL; one sister-in-law, Mrs. Mary Green of Americus, GA; two brothers-in-law, Willie Green Sr. and Mr. William Green of Americus, GA; 23 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren, 10 great great grandchildren and 1 great, great, great grandchild. A host of nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends also survive.

DEACON ELBERT NASH, III

 

Deacon Elbert Nash, III

Deacon Elbert Nash, III

Deacon Elbert Nash, III was born in Sumter County, Georgia on November 10, 1952 to the parentage of the late Mr. Elbert Nash, Jr. and Mrs. Carrie Luster Nash, Leslie, GA, who survives. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. He was a graduate of Union High School, where he was a drum major and played baseball. At an early age, he joined the New Corinth Baptist Church and served on the Board of Deacons. He was dedicated to helping needy families and donating to Magnolia Manor Nursing Center.

In addition to his mother, he leaves to cherish his memories, his wife, Mrs. Janey Phillips Nash, Americus, GA; four sons, Mr. Reginald Smith and companion,  Crystal Bullard, Mr. Elbert Smith, Mr. Elvis Smith, Americus, GA and Mr. Kenneth (Pam) Phillips, Albany, GA; a daughter, Mrs. Tammy (Ernest) Lundy, Americus, GA; one brother, Mr. Jessie (Regina) Nash, Tallahassee, FL; three sisters, Ms. Pauline Luster, Ms. Diana Kleckley, Leslie, GA and Ms. Barbara Nash, Jonesboro, GA; nine grandchildren, Michael & Ashley Stewart, Warner Robins, GA, Shateria Smith, Nikeria Smith, Travious Smith, Myia Smith, Christian Smith, Kyleigh Smith, Nalania Smith and Dearia Jordan all of Americus, GA; a daughter-in-law, Ms. Tomeka Smith, Americus, GA; brothers & sisters-in-law, Mr. Willie Raybon, Americus, GA, Mr. Wayne (Carla) Raybon, Sierra Vista, AZ and Mr. Larry (Sharon) Raybon, Ellaville, GA; his aunts & uncles, five uncles, Mr. Charlie Will Bruce, Pahokee, FL, Mr. Joe Lewis (Matherlene) Bruce, Mr. John L. (Tommie Lee) Bruce, Mr. Walt Tell (Martha Kate) Bruce, Americus, GA and Mr. Randy Lewis, Smithville, GA, Ms. Pearlie Mae Bruce, Jonesboro, GA, Ms. Gladys (Jessie) Timmons, Leslie, GA and Mrs. Linda (Charlie) Thomas, Smithville, GA, Ms. Dorothy Nash, Ms. Hanna Luster, Leslie, GA and Ms. Nona Reddick, Ft. Myers, FL; and a host of nieces, including devoted nieces, Ms. Nakeidrea Kleckley and Ms. Tracy Jackson, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

CARRIE BELL WOODS EVANS

CARRIE BELL WOODS EVANS

CARRIE BELL WOODS EVANS

Carrie Bell Woods Evans was born on August 19, 1921 to Susie Hardy Williams and Thomas Woods in Plains, GA where she grew up in the Sumter City community. She attended school at Zion Hope in Sumter City. She married the late Arthur (Kye) Evans and in that union twelve children were born. Two sons precede her in death: Marzell Evans and William Freeman Evans. She was employed as a housekeeper and nursing assistant. She is preceded in death by her only sibling Marzell Uston, cousin Georgia Johnson, cousin Johnny L. Hardy and a devoted niece Rosa Bell Battle. She was a member of Lebanon Baptist Church for over 40 years and she later became a member of the Hudson Street Church of Christ.

She is survived by 11 children: Hazel Adams, Springfield, MA; Arthur Lee Evans, Lillie Bell (Al) Parker, Mae Bell Evans, Hartford, CT, Beulah Jowers and Mollie Dukes, Homestead, FL; Curtis (Mae Lizzie) Evans Sr. and Donna (Kenneth) Hawk, Plains, GA; Johnnie (Freddie) Evans, Americus, GA and Henry (Cynthia) Evans, Rex, GA and Marvin (Annie) Wilson, Americus, GA. Daughter-n-Laws: Carmen Evans and Allison Evans. Grandchildren she raised: Susie Jackson Ingram, Gregory (Kristen) Evans, and Nathaniel (Cheryl) Jowers, Plains, GA and Allen (Erica) Jowers, McDonough, GA. Devoted Nephews and Nieces: Henry Frank (Pearl) McGarrah, Fannie Lou Clark, Wiley Battle, Bonita (James) Martin, Jenelle Davis, and Martin (Joy) Jackson. A host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends, including two devoted overnight sitters grandchildren Jaylen Hill and Tae Davis, childhood friend Bernice Green, devoted friends Virginia Reddick, Rachel Trice, Michael (Rhonda) Stewart, Carol Dyson, Marthenia Henry, Diane Bridges, Mary Hunt and The Gardner Family.

Ms. Lisa Renee Lundy

Ms. Lisa Renee Lundy

Ms. Lisa Renee Lundy was born in Sumter County, Georgia on May 17, 1967 to the parentage of the late Mr. James A. Lundy and Mrs. Vadie L. Turner Lundy Mann, who survives. At an early age, she joined the Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. She is preceded in death by a brother, James Lundy, Jr.

In addition to her mother, she leaves to cherish her memories, her son, Mr. Cedric (Marika) Johnson, Finland; a granddaughter, Nia Johnson; three brothers, Mr. George (Christine) Lundy, Mr. Dwayne (Mary) Lundy of Chamblin, MN and Rev. Jeffery (Patricia) Lundy, Fort Valley, GA; six sisters, Ms. Catherine Nelson, Ms. Elaine Sims, Mrs. Anita (Willie) Lyles, Mrs. Maria (Terrell) Coley, Ms. Beverly Carter and friend Mr. Earl McCray all of Americus, GA and Ms. Sherronda Ross, Kennesaw, GA; a sister-in-law, Ms. Brenda Lundy, Americus, GA; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including devoted friends, Mr. Frank Glaze and Ms. Eddie Mae King also survive.

Walking may be protective against diabetes

SAN FRANCISCO – People who live in “walkable” neighborhoods have a 15% lower rate of diabetes, compared with those who live in areas that require reliance on automobile transportation, a large Canadian study found.

“It’s become clear that the way we build and design our cities has an important impact on our health,” Dr. Gillian L. Booth said at the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association. “Neighborhoods that were designed for pedestrian use are more conducive for walking. They tend to be older areas that are more densely populated, have more street connections, and are zoned in a way that retail and other services are embedded within residential areas. That means that there are more walkable destinations.”

Sprawling suburban communities, on the other hand, tend to be more sparsely populated, and have fewer connections between streets, “and the zoning is such that retail and other services are separated and far away from where people live, thus increasing one’s reliance on automobiles for transportation,” continued Dr. Booth, an endocrinologist and research scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto “There’s mounting literature that these types of neighborhood features are associated with lower rates of walking and physical activity and higher levels of obesity. They also lead to more time spent in cars, which in itself has been linked to a higher risk of becoming obese.”

Until recently, there have been few prospective studies looking at neighborhood design and the development of diabetes. Limitations to previous studies include the fact that those who prefer to live in one neighborhood over another may differ systematically from those who choose to live in other neighborhoods. To account for this, Dr. Booth and her associates used Inverse Probability of Treatment Weighting to create balanced groups of adults aged 30-64 years living in high- and low-walkability areas.

“We asked the question, are individuals living in more walkable areas at a lower risk of developing diabetes? If this is true, does that still hold after we account for other confounders?” These confounders included age, sex, presence of comorbidities, previous hypertension, stroke, health care use, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity.

The study area consisted of 15 Canadian municipalities, including Toronto, which have a combined population of more than 7 million people. The researchers used anonymous health data from provincial databases of people who were free of diabetes and living in high- or low-walkability neighborhoods in April 2002, and followed them through March 2012 for the development of diabetes. The investigators excluded people with a prior diagnosis of diabetes.

Dr. Booth and her associates identified new cases of diabetes via the Ontario Diabetes Database, an electronic registry based on hospital and physician service claims. The walkability index was based on four features: population density (number of residents per square kilometer); residential density (number of dwellings per square kilometer); street connectivity (number of intersections per square kilometer), and walkable destinations (the number of stores and services within a 10-minute walk).

The study population consisted of 958,567 Canadian residents; their mean age was 49 years and 49% were male. Over the 10-year follow-up period, 90,922 new cases of diabetes were observed, for an incidence rate of 1.03/100 person-years. The researchers observed a 15% lower diabetes incidence among those living in the highest-walkability areas, compared with the lowest-walkability areas, in all study regions (hazard ratio of 0.85). They observed similar findings when they stratified people by income (HR of 0.86 and 0.82 for lower- and higher-income areas, respectively) and immigration status (HR of 0.85 among long-term residents and 0.87 among those who had been Canadian citizens for fewer than 10 years).

She concluded that high neighborhood walkability appears to be protective against the development of diabetes in young and middle-aged urban populations. “This suggests that changes in zoning, urban planning, and design that promote walking and other forms of active transportation may help to curb the ongoing rise in obesity and diabetes,” she said. “Further research is needed to understand the full impact that such interventions will have.”

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Booth said that she had no relevant financial conflicts to disclose.

dbrunk@frontlinemedcom.com

Eating Tilapia is Worse Than Eating Bacon

Fish-Farm-300x218We all have the notion that eating fish would be the better option over bacon when it comes to health. And the truth is, it really is! Fish is a low fat, high protein food that has a range of health benefits. However, given what we know of fish and its sources today, we may have to re-examine this statement.

Fish can either be one of the best foods for you or detrimental to your health depending on where it is sourced. There is a world of difference between fish that is caught in the wild, farm-bred or farm-raised fish. The most common farm-raised fish are: salmon, tilapia, sea bass, catfish, and cod.

So why would farm raised fish be toxic to our health? What are the dangers of eating farm-raised fish? We’ll answer all of those queries below!

Why Farm-Raised Fish is So Bad for You

  1. Recent Studies have found that farm-raised Tilapia may cause more inflammation – Farm-raised tilapia has always been a popular source for fish, not only because it is widely available in the US, but it is also very inexpensive. However, before you stock up on Tilapia, you may want to know about its correlation to inflammation. Recent studies have concluded that eating Tilapia may worsen inflammation that can lead to heart disease, arthritis, asthma and a world of other serious health problems. People who resort to eating more fish as a way to get their dose of omega-3-fatty-acids and lessen their risk of heart attacks may want to hold off on the tilapia. In fact, scientists have found that the inflammatory potential of tilapia is far greater than that of a hamburger or pork bacon! 1
  2. Farmed salmon may have at least 10 times the amount of cancer causing organic pollutants compared to the wild variety – This can most likely be attributed to the feeds that are used on farm raised fish. If you knew what went into the feeds of farm raised fish you would be horrified. Apparently, chicken feces is one of the main ingredients that go into farm fish feed. Not only that, the transfer of pig and duck waste to fish farms is also a very common practice.
  3. Farm-bred fish have been found to have high concentrations of antibiotics and pesticides – Where do farm-bred fish get their antibiotics? The crowded conditions of fish farms cause the fish to be more susceptible to disease. To keep them alive, farm owners give antibiotics to the fish to stave off disease. Farm-bred fish are also treated with pesticides to combat sea lice.2 The pesticides used to treat these fish are so deadly that they have been caused to kill wild salmon that are accidentally exposed to them. These pesticides are also eventually released in the ocean where they get into the bodies and systems of other marine life.
  4. Farm-bred fish also have lower levels of healthy nutrients– Many of us consume fish, hoping to reap the omega-3 fatty acid benefits that come with it. However, did you know that the omega-3-acids that are found in farm-raised fish are less usable to our bodies compared to wild bred fish. Farm-raised fish also has a lower protein content. Not only that, because farm-raised fish are kept in cages, they have the tendency to be fattier, and can have a higher concentration of omega-6 acids. The problem with getting too much omega 3 and omega 6 acids is that they may cause inflammation to the body.3
  5. Dibutylin levels, a chemical used in PVC plastics is said to be 6 times higher in farm-raised mussels compared to wild ones – Dibutylin is toxic and can impair immune system function while also contributing to inflammation. Dibutylin may be the reason as to why there is a rise in asthma, obesity, allergies and other metabolic disorders in recent years.
  6. Dioxin levels are 11 times higher in farm-bred salmon compared to wild salmon – Dioxin is actually a very toxic chemical that can contribute to cancer and other complications. The problem with dioxin is that once it enters our system, it can take a very long time until it is let out. The half life of dioxin is about 7 to 11 years.4

These are only some of the dangers that have been linked back to eating farm-raised fish. What does this tell us? The biggest lesson that we can get from this is that we should find out where our fish is coming from. Not all fish are created equal, and sad to say, farm-raised fish, instead of helping us, may even harm us.

In addition to farm-raised fish being bad for you, there is actually one other creature of the sea that is even more toxic. That creature is shrimp.

Shrimp actually holds the designation of being the dirtiest of all seafood, says Marianne Cufone director of Food and Water Watch. She says it’s hard to avoid, as 90 percent of shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported. “Imported farmed shrimp comes with a whole bevy of contaminants: antibiotics, residues from chemicals used to clean pens, filth like mouse hair, rat hair, and pieces of insects,” Cufone says. “And I didn’t even mention things like E. coli that have been detected in imported shrimp.”5

Part of this has to do with the fact that less than 2 percent of ALL imported seafood (shrimp, crab, catfish, or others) gets inspected before its sold, which is why it’s that much more important to buy domestic seafood.

Fish can be an incredible health building food if you go with wild -caught fish liked Sockeye Salmon. It’s loaded with the Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA and has incredible health benefits.

Plus, Salmon contains astaxanthin which has been proven to be more powerful than almost any other antioxidant at absorbing free radicals. If you are not consuming Salmon or another wild caught fish during the week then I highly recommend you consume ahigh quality fish oil with astaxanthin or fermented cod liver oil.

When I eat out, I also ask my server if the fish is farm-raised or wild caught. Most servers know this answer or can quickly go ask the head chef. As a quick rule of thumb for salmon, if it’s Pacific or Alaskan, it’s most likely wild caught, if it’s Atlantic salmon, it is almost always farm-raised.

Ebola, fear, and us

Like HIV, the Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person or through exposure to infected objects such as needles.

Like HIV, the Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person or through exposure to infected objects such as needles.

By: A. MARIA HESTER, M.D.,

Recently, two American missionary workers in Liberia made headlines when they became infected with the Ebola virus, which causes a highly fatal hemorrhagic fever. They both received an experimental “secret serum” called ZMapp while in Africa and have since been flown back to the United States to be cared for at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

The response to their return has been mixed. While some hail their incredible selflessness and the mission they set out to accomplish, others are lukewarm, indifferent, or even very opposed to their return – so opposed that security was heightened in response to threats. I, of course, am among the former.

I once went on a 5-day missionary trip to Nicaragua. Optimistic about the potential to help the poor and hurting, my biggest challenges were the long plane ride and the hotel accommodations, which were not quite to my liking. The thought of contracting a potentially fatal disease and never returning home to my family never, ever crossed my mind.

Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, both missionary workers, were of a completely different mindset; they had different goals, they faced different challenges. They willingly boarded a plane to fly thousands of miles away from the comfort of their homes, the love of their families, the security of their close friends. They risked everything to care for complete strangers, strangers who posed a real threat to their lives. They never expected to receive any earthly thing in return. Interestingly, after contracting Ebola, Dr. Brantley did receive a unit of blood from a 14-year-old who had survived his fight with the Ebola virus while under his care.

Personally, I can only hope that one day I will have even half of the compassion and servant’s heart that these brave, incredibly selfless individuals possess.

I have to believe that those who object to their presence on American soil are afraid. They do not know what to expect and fear the epidemic spreading to the United States. I remember when I first started treating HIV/AIDS patients in the early ’90s. It was new and it was very, very scary. In those days, we donned protective garments above and beyond what we now know is necessary. Still, at times I, along with countless other health care workers, was overwhelmed by fear.

Like the human immunodeficiency virus, the Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person or through exposure to infected objects such as needles. It is not airborne, nor is it spread by contaminated food and water. Unlike with HIV, however, Ebola can be fatal within days. Another difference is that it is believed to be transmissible only if the individual is symptomatic, while countless cases of HIV were the result of exposure to seemingly healthy individuals.

While some in the American public still decry that Dr. Brantley and Mrs. Writebol were brought to a hospital in the United States, I have to believe that the great majority of Americans keep these two incredible individuals in their thoughts and prayers.

Citizens are Dying and Hospitals are Closing Gov. Deal

healthcompBy Jay Bookman,

What can you say, except congratulations?

Gov. Nathan Deal, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Attorney General Sam Olens and the Georgia Legislature have approached the implementation of ObamaCare with one overriding goal: Deny access to health-care coverage to as many uninsured Georgians as possible.

In fact, it was a year ago this month that Hudgens made it explicit:

“Let me tell you what we’re doing (about ObamaCare),” he bragged to a crowd of fellow Republicans: “Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

Their effort has been wildly successful. In fact, if our leaders had been half as successful at, say, improving education, growing the economy or solving transportation as they have been at denying health coverage to their own citizens, Georgia would be in high cotton instead of in long-term decline relative to the rest of the country.

This week, we got a peek at the true scale of their success with the release of state-by-state datacompiled by Gallup. The numbers tell us that a year ago, before implementation of ObamaCare, Georgia had the nation’s 7th highest rate of citizens without health insurance.

Today, we have the 3rd highest rate of uninsured. Well done, gentlemen.

However, their success really comes into focus when we compare Georgia’s performance to that of Arkansas and Kentucky. Both are red states; both are considerably poorer than Georgia**. Nonetheless, leaders of those states approached ObamaCare not as an opportunity for ideological preening, but as an opportunity to help their own people. They agreed to expand Medicaid to cover their lower-income workers; Georgia refused. They set up their own state exchanges; Georgia refused, and instead threw up obstacles to the functioning of the federal alternative.

Here’s what happened:

— Arkansas cut its uninsured rate from 22.5 percent — the second highest in the country — down to 12.4 percent, the 29th highest. That’s a dramatic drop of 10.1 percentage points.

— Kentucky cut its uninsured rate from 20.4 percent — the 10th highest — to 11.9 percent, the 33rd highest. That’s a drop of 8.5 percentage points.

— Georgia cut its uninsured rate from 21.4 percent to 20.2 percent, a drop of 1.2 percentage points.

Of course, those are mere numbers. They don’t reflect the human beings behind them. But if you do the math, it tells us that if Georgia had pursued the course taken by Arkansas and Kentucky, some 730,000 to 900,000 more of our fellow citizens today would have access to health insurance that many of us take for granted.

Arkansas and Kentucky are enjoying other benefits as well. As Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson told his state Legislature, emergency room visits are down in Arkansas, the number of uninsured people seeking care in emergency rooms is down 24 percent, and the number of uninsured being hospitalized is down 30 percent.

“On all three of these indicators, we’re going in the right direction to improve the fiscal stability and well-being of our hospitals,” Thompson said. “But more importantly we’re removing a financial burden for individuals who have needed care.”

So again, congratulations to Georgia’s leaders for avoiding all that. I do hope they’re proud of themselves.

Time For The CBC and our Black Political Class Denounce Apartheid and Ethnocracy in Israel-Palestine

Congressional Black Caucus

Congressional Black Caucus

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon,

Two weeks ago, Black Agenda Report asked why black America’s enlightened and powerful political class of preachers, politicians, media figures, celebrities and business leaders were conspicuously silent while US F-16 fighters, drones and artillery bombarded defenseless Palestinians penned up in Gaza, an open air prison with six times the population density of Manhattan. Last week, Black Agenda Report pointed out that even as Israeli ground troops invaded Gaza and the death toll climbed toward a thousand civilians, disproportionately children, the Congressional Black Caucus unanimously endorsed the ongoing massacresin the name of Israel supposedly “defending itself.”

We explored the three reasons for their silent, and in come cases their very loud complicity in the crimes of apartheid Israel;

  1. The black political class, from the CBC, the NAACP, NAN, the Urban League and even NNPA, the organized voice of black owned newspapers, nowadays consistently represents the interests of their funders over their supposed constituents. A fair number of those funders are zionists and pro-zionists.
  2. The black political class has always been slavishly subservient to the Democratic party. They place its interests so far above their own that when the CBC members refused to demand or take part in hearings around the Katrina disaster almost a decade ago, even after it was clear that authorities intended to force the exile of more than one hundred thousand African Americans from the New Orleans area. Now that a black Democrat sits in the White House, cowardly CBC members would rather chew off their own feet than contradict him. After all, if a black president can be denounced by other black politicians, how safe are their own careers?
  3. Israel is an open ethnocracy, in which full membership in society is only granted to Jews. It’s the 21stcentury’s premiere apartheid state, surrounded by walls and barbed wire, crisscrossed with Jewish-only roads between settlements overlooked by military outposts, on land that was the villages, farms, graveyards and orchards of Palestinians only 60 years ago, sometimes only a year or two ago. Israeli politicians make open appeals to anti-Arab and anti-black racism, and talk about removing Arabs is ordinary stuff. For idle amusement, Israeli youth forms mobs to terrorize Palestinian villages, or assault Arabs and Africans on the street, and Israeli grandmothers gather on the hillsides overlooking Gaza to cheer as white phosphorus rains down on Palestinian children. The massacres in Gaza are only an intensification of Israel’s daily violence of occupation, settlement and ethnic cleansing.For the black political class, the first two are reasons not to criticize the state of Israel, or the president.

The third is an insoluble contradiction between reality and the myth of their own origin as having emerged from the just struggle of the Freedom Movement against racism and Jim Crow in the US. It’s a contradiction they wish fervently to ignore, one they wish someone else would solve, or that would just go away before too many people notice. But it’s already too late for that.

There’s a dead dog in the room. No matter how intently the CBC, the black political class, and even the black church, whose uncritical embrace of corporate funded black political leaders make it as guilty as every other part of that class – the longer and harder they hypocritically pretend to ignore the stink of ethnocracyand apartheid the more it clings to them.

The only force that can free our black political class from its embrace of racist apartheid and genocidal occupation in Israel is us — all of us down here on the ground. Our leaders, from the Al Sharptons, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the big black pastors, to the Urban League and NAACP, all of whom claim they once opposed apartheid in South Africa but are its willing collaborators with it in Israel, must be called out and forced to publicly choose which side they’re on.

It’s past time for equivocation, it’s past time for politeness. They can join the global movement to boycott, to sanction and to divest from the apartheid settler state of Israel. They can become allies of millions of Jews, Muslims, Christians and others working for a single, secular government of all the people of Israel-Palestine, or they can remain on the wrong side of morality and history. They can be remembered and reviled with their allies, the racists, the colonialists, the warmongers and imperialists.

This is no time for a lofty declaration of principles, of which there are several going around. A declaration of principles calls nobody out, and is directed at nobody in particular, as if the discourtesy of calling some culprit or collaborator’s name outweighs the deaths of innocent children in Gaza. It’s no time for causes.comor change.org petition, another Facebook page or Twitter hashtag. All these tropes of social media activism are dead ends for the well-intentioned provided by corporate social media to make us feel as if we’re doing something, but all of them impede rather than help any actual organizing.

Not of these corporate social media platforms, not Facebook, not Twitter, not change.org nor causes.comprovide organizers with the email contact info of the people who sign the petitions, who “like” the Facebook page, who retweet and use the hashtag of the day. All of them keep the signer, retweeter, liker emails for their own lists, not yours. Each and every one sells analyses of the patterns of people you influence and are influenced by to the highest bidder. What bamboozled kind of “organizer” uses tools that prevent her from recontacting the people she has supposedly “organized”?

We at Black Agenda Report bill ourselves as the black left’s journal of political thought and action. So here’s some action. We’re launching a petition demanding that the Congressional Black Caucus denounce the Israeli occupation, the racist ethnocracy that Israel has made itself into, and the apartheid policies of the Israeli government. We’d like to see ten thousand signers, and those signers WILL be recontacted by us and our allies directly. The petition will be live and online at 8AM Eastern Time tomorrow morning.

If you’re on our email list, you’ll receive notice of this tomorrow morning, along with a link to our article on James Brown. Thanks.

Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: The U.S. Is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference on March 20, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo credit: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference on March 20, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo credit: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

By ,

The U.S. government has long lavished overwhelming aid on Israel, providing cash, weapons and surveillance technology that play a crucial role in Israel’s attacks on its neighbors. But top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza.

Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC.

The relationship has, on at least one occasion, entailed the covert payment of a large amount of cash to Israeli operatives. Beyond their own surveillance programs, the American and British surveillance agencies rely on U.S.-supported Arab regimes, including the Jordanian monarchy and even the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, to provide vital spying services regarding Palestinian targets.

The new documents underscore the indispensable, direct involvement of the U.S. government and its key allies in Israeli aggression against its neighbors. That covert support is squarely at odds with the posture of helpless detachment typically adopted by Obama officials and their supporters.

President Obama, in his press conference on Friday, said ”it is heartbreaking to see what’s happening there,” referring to the weeks of civilian deaths in Gaza – “as if he’s just a bystander, watching it all unfold,” observed Brooklyn College Professor Corey Robin. Robin added: ”Obama talks about Gaza as if it were a natural disaster, an uncontrollable biological event.”

Each time Israel attacks Gaza and massacres its trapped civilian population – at the end of 2008,in the fall of 2012, and now again this past month – the same process repeats itself in both U.S. media and government circles: the U.S. government feeds Israel the weapons it uses and steadfastly defends its aggression both publicly and at the U.N.; the U.S. Congress unanimously enacts one resolution after the next to support and enable Israel; and then American media figures pretend that the Israeli attack has nothing to do with their country, that it’s just some sort of unfortunately intractable, distant conflict between two equally intransigent foreign parties in response to which all decent Americans helplessly throw up their hands as though they bear no responsibility.

“The United States has been trying to broker peace in the Middle East for the past 20 years,” wrote the liberal commentator Kevin Drum in Mother Jones, last Tuesday. The following day,CNN reported that the Obama administration ”agreed to Israel’s request to resupply it with several types of ammunition … Among the items being bought are 120mm mortar rounds and 40mm ammunition for grenade launchers.”

The new Snowden documents illustrate a crucial fact: Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government, which is anything but a neutral, peace-brokering party in these attacks. And the relationship between the NSA and its partners on the one hand, and the Israeli spying agency on the other, is at the center of that enabling.

Last September, the Guardian revealed that the NSA “routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.” The paper published the full top secret Memoranadum of Understanding between the two agencies governing that sharing. But the NSA/ISNU relationship extends far beyond that.

One newly disclosed top secret NSA document, dated April 13, 2013 and published today by the Intercept, recounts that the “NSA maintains a far-reaching technical and analytic relationship with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU) sharing information on access, intercept, targeting, language, analysis and reporting.”

Specifically, “this SIGINT relationship has increasingly been the catalyst for a broader intelligence relationship between the United States and Israel.” Moreover, “NSA’s cyber partnerships expanded beyond ISNU to include Israeli Defense Intelligence’s [Special Operation Division] SOD and Mossad.”

Under this expanded cooperation, the Americans and Israelis work together to gain access to “geographic targets [that] include the countries of North Africa, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, South Asia, and the Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union.” It also includes “a dedicated communications line between NSA and ISNU [that] supports the exchange of raw material, as well as daily analytic and technical correspondence.”

The relationship has provided Israel with ample support for both intelligence and surveillance: “The Israeli side enjoys the benefits of expanded geographic access to world-class NSA cryptanalytic and SIGINT engineering expertise, and also gains controlled access to advanced U.S. technology and equipment via accommodation buys and foreign military sales.” Among Israel’s priorities for the cooperation are what the NSA calls “Palestinian terrorism.”

The cooperation between the NSA and ISNU began decades ago. A top secret agreement between the two agencies from July 1999 recounts that the first formal intelligence-sharing agreement was entered into in 1968 between U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and informally began in the 1950s. But the relationship has grown rapidly in the last decade.

In 2003 and 2004, the Israelis were pressuring the NSA to agree to a massively expanded intelligence-sharing relationship called “Gladiator.” As part of that process, Israel wanted the Americans to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fund Israeli activities. The specific proposed “Gladiator” agreement appears never to have been consummated, derailed by Israeli demands that the U.S. bear the full cost, but documents in the Snowden archive pertaining to those negotiations contain what appear to be two receipts for one or more payments of $500,000 in cash to Israeli officials for unspecified purposes:

The surveillance-sharing relationship with Israel has expanded to include the NSA’s British and Canadian counterparts, GCHQ and CSEC, both of which actively participate in feeding the Israelis selected communications data they have collected. Several documents from early 2009, at the height of the Israeli attack on Gaza called “Cast Lead” that left more than 1,000 people dead, detail some of this cooperation.

One top secret 2009 GCHQ project named “YESTERNIGHT” involved “Ruffle,” the British agency’s code name for ISNU. According to the document, the project involved a “trilateral (GCHQ, NSA and Third Party RUFFLE) targeting exchange agreement covering respective COMSAT accesses.” One of the “specific intelligence topics” shared between the parties was “Palestinians”, although the GCHQ document states that “due to the sensitivities” of Israeli involvement, that particular program does not include direct targeting of Palestinians and Israelis themselves. Another GCHQ document from February, 2009, describes “a quadrilateral meeting for RUFFLE, NSA, CSEC and GCHQ.”

The British agency noted in early 2009 that it had been spying on emails and telephone numbers specifically requested by ISNU, “and they have thanked us many times over.”

The NSA and GCHQ receive intelligence about the Palestinians from many sources. The agencies have even succeeded in inducing the U.S.-supported Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF) to provide them with surveillance and intelligence about other Arab groups in the region. One July 2008 GCHQ document states:

Guilty verdict in Renisha McBride porch shooting: Her life ‘mattered’

Renisha McBride, 19, who was shot and killed by a Detroit homeowner in the early morning hours of, November 2, 2013..

Renisha McBride, 19, who was shot and killed by a Detroit homeowner in the early morning hours of, November 2, 2013..

By Patrik Jonsson,

Detroit jury drew a line on the controversial home-defense “castle doctrine” Thursday, finding Theodore Wafer of Dearborn Heights guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Renisha McBride, an unarmed black teenager seeking help at his door after a car accident.

The seven-man, five-woman jury took less than a day to find Wafer guilty after a 10-day trial ended Wednesday. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 21.

Prosecutors said Wafer was itching for a confrontation when he opened his door in the early morning hours after an intoxicated Ms. McBride, who had been in a nearby car accident, beat so hard on the door that the coroner found her hands swollen.

Wafer, taking the stand in his own defense, agreed that he was full of “piss and vinegar” over the loud noise, but only because, as he said, “I didn’t want to cower.… I didn’t want to be a victim in my own house.” He said he fired out of fear for his life. According to testimony, no words were exchanged between the two.

Despite racial tension over the case – in a city that’s 80 percent black, Wafer was a middle-aged white man and McBride a black teenager – the subject didn’t come up in the trial. Wafer told jurors that he didn’t know McBride’s gender or race until after he had shot her through a locked screen door.

The case threw a spotlight on crime tensions in Detroit, a city with the highest rates of justifiable homicide in the US. Many of those homicides include homeowners defending their homes against intruders.

Michigan, as with most states, protects homeowners from liability in cases of legitimate self-defense, as long as they meet a standard: that they respond with deadly force only after “honestly and reasonably” believing they were in imminent danger.

The verdict also became another milestone in America’s larger debate over liberalized gun rights and self-defense laws, some of which critics, including the prosecutor in this case, have said can create a “shoot first, ask questions later” dynamic that can lead to the death of innocent people.

“We have gun issues in this country and people are shooting other people, and some of them are doing it purposely and some of them are doing it accidentally, but some of them are just doing it based upon wrong impressions,” says New York City attorney Barry Slotnick, whose successful defense of “subway vigilante” Bernhard Goetz in 1984 hinged on changing attitudes toward armed self-defense in America.

“If a [defendant] says, ‘It was 4 in the morning, I heard banging, people were trying to break into my house and come kill me, so I shot them first’ – if a jury believes that’s what that person believed, he gets acquitted.”

At least according to the jury in the Wafer trial, the homeowner in this case failed to meet the standard of justifiable use of deadly force.

During the trial, Wafer’s attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, told jurors that McBride’s pounding on Wafer’s home caused walls to shake and pushed windows to the breaking point. Prosecutor Patrick Muscat countered that Wafer treated the weapon “like a toy” and came to his front door “want[ing] a confrontation.”

Commentators noted several problems with Wafer’s defense, including the fact that he first told police that the shooting was an accident, only later changing it to self-defense. At one point during the trial, he even conceded to prosecutors that, “I should’ve called [the police] first.”

Mr. Slotnick says the defense made a major error in putting Wafer on the stand, noting that if George Zimmerman – who was acquitted last year in the Trayvon Martin shooting, also involving an unarmed black teenager being killed by a zealous gun carrier – “he would’ve been toast.”

The verdict was cathartic for at least some in the strife-ridden city, where Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson noted that Wafer’s “suburban home straddles a shifting demographic fault line where whites, blacks, and immigrants from three continents share working-class challenges and a sense of post-industrial anomie.”

Monica McBride, Renisha’s mother, told reporters that the jury’s verdict showed that “[her] life mattered.”

Florida to Begin Redrawing Unconstitutional Congressional Maps

Florida congresswoman Corrine Brown speaks during a public rally at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, Florida March 22, 2012. Florida legislative leaders said they plan to call a special session after a judge ordered them to redraw the state's U.S. congressional maps and held open the possibility of delaying general elections in November. The focus will be on the congressional districts represented by Corrine Brown, a Democrat in a serpentine district stretching from Jacksonville in north Florida to Orlando in the central state, and Daniel Webster, an Orlando-area Republican.

Florida congresswoman Corrine Brown speaks during a public rally at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, Florida March 22, 2012. Florida legislative leaders said they plan to call a special session after a judge ordered them to redraw the state’s U.S. congressional maps and held open the possibility of delaying general elections in November. The focus will be on the congressional districts represented by Corrine Brown, a Democrat in a serpentine district stretching from Jacksonville in north Florida to Orlando in the central state, and Daniel Webster, an Orlando-area Republican.

By Bill Cotterell, 

(Reuters) – Florida legislative leaders said on Sunday they plan to call a special session on Thursday after a judge ordered them to redraw the state’s U.S. congressional maps and held open the possibility of delaying general elections in November.

The decision to reconvene the legislature, which is out of session, was in response to a ruling on Friday by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis that required lawmakers to redraw the maps by Aug. 15.

Three weeks ago, Lewis ruled that two of the state’s 27 congressional districts must be revised because Republican leaders improperly conspired to rig the boundaries to protect the party’s majority in Washington.

After that ruling, Florida’s legislative leaders asked that changes be delayed until after the 2014 elections.

“We continue to maintain our strong objection to any attempt to disrupt the current election process,” Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford wrote to all members on Sunday.

“Florida’s supervisors of elections have raised serious concerns over changing the elections process at this late date.”

Absentee ballots have already been mailed for the Aug. 26 primaries.

Under the proposed special session schedule, most members of the House and Senate would return on Aug. 7 then leave immediately leave. Only members of the redistricting committees would work through the weekend.

The full legislature would then return on Aug. 13 to debate and pass the new maps in time to meet Lewis’ deadline.

The focus will be on the congressional districts represented by Corrine Brown, a Democrat in a serpentine district stretching from Jacksonville in north Florida to Orlando in the central state, and Daniel Webster, an Orlando-area Republican.

Lewis ruled that the legislature packed Brown’s district with black voters, overwhelmingly Democrats, to help the two-decade incumbent win re-election. The result left adjoining districts, including Webster’s, heavily white and Republican.

In a July 10 ruling, Lewis found the result “made a mockery” of a state constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2010, prohibiting legislators from protecting incumbents.

Although Democrats outnumber Republican voters in Florida, the congressional map produced by the legislature resulted in the election of a congressional delegation with 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Lewis scheduled another hearing on Aug. 20 to consider rescheduling the affected elections.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, which successfully sued the state for favoring incumbents in its 2012 congressional redistricting plan, has argued that it is still possible to fix the boundaries before the election.

Republicans become party of ‘Deport ’em All’

A girl wears a "Don't Deport My Mom t-shirt" as she joins immigrants and activists as they chant and march to urge congress to act on immigration reform, on Capitol Hill in WashingtonBy Joan McCarter

Republicans are getting less than rave reviews for their performance last week in answering the latest immigration flashpoint: the thousands of Central American refugee children entering the country. In case you missed the fireworks last Thursday and Friday, Republican leadership was trying to figure out a way to respond to the humanitarian crisis at the border. Responding to that crisis wasn’t something that hard-line tea party Republicans are interested in, unless that response involves deporting as many people as is humanly possible, and they were emboldened by de facto Speaker Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

After the leadership’s first attempt to bring bills to the floor on Thursday failed, Speaker Boehner and his team just gave up and handed the mess over to the crazies. The result was two bills basically crafted for Cruz and his House minions, Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN). And, of course, the rest of the Republican caucus followed along behind, passing legislation that even the Republican stalwart Wall Street Journal finds deplorable.

The House GOP looked ready Friday to pass a bill to address the influx of children over the Southwest border, though not before providing another spectacle of internal disarray. The bill should have been a moment to redirect attention to President Obama’s cynical handling of the border problem and to the Democratic Party’s immigration divisions. Instead the GOP again gave the country the impression that its highest policy priority is to deport as many children as rapidly as possible back from wherever they came.

That’s not just an impression the Republicans are giving, that’s their policy. Nothing says that more clearly than the fact leadership caved to Cruz and turned policy-making over to Bachmann and King. Not everyone in the conference might have been happy with that, but almost all of them voted for it. Republicans now own the fact that their official policy is, in the words of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) “Deport ’em all.” They own that, and they carry it into November.

It might not be a disaster for them this year, in a midterm election where just one Senate race—in Colorado—has a substantial Hispanic voting bloc. But it sure as hell will hurt them in a national race in 2016, something Sen. Marco Rubio is well aware of. Rubio, a sometimes 2016 hopeful, tried to make lemonade out of the fiasco on the Sunday shows. Forget comprehensive immigration reform, he says, this reform needs to be done in stages.

“We’re not debating what to do. We’re debating how to do it,” Rubio said. “We will never have the votes necessary to pass one bill with all those things. It just won’t happen. So, our choices are: We can continue to beat our heads against the wall and try a process for which we will never have the support, or we can try another way that we could perhaps make progress on.”

That’s an interesting rewrite of Senate history right there, where there most certainly was the votes to pass comprehensive reform because they did it. All it would have taken in the House would be for Boehner to take the already-passed Senate bill to the floor. It would pass with Democratic and Republican votes. Or it would have, before Republicans decided they had to become the party of Deport ’em All.

S&P: Income inequality slowing economy

US income inequality is harming US economic growth by excluding large swaths of the population from its cumulative benefits, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services says in a new report.

The growing gap between the nation’s richest and the poor is actually slowing down the economic recovery, according to new research from Standard & Poor’s.

The rating agency said Tuesday that it had trimmed its economic outlook for the U.S. in part due to the record discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor. Five years ago, the rater anticipated 2.8 percent economic growth, and has now trimmed it to 2.5 percent.

“At extreme levels, income inequality can harm sustained economic growth over long periods. The U.S. is approaching that threshold,” the agency warned.Tackling economic inequality has become a common refrain for Democrats and the White House ahead of the midterm election. But S&P cautioned against extreme policy steps to rectify the situation. Changes to the tax code to close the gap between the rich and the poor could have “do more damage than good” by reducing incentive to work and hire, the agency warned. However, S&P did say that changes in federal tax policy over the years has exacerbated inequality, as tax rates for top earners have fallen faster than rates for average Americans.

Rather, S&P said improved access to education was key to U.S. economic growth, estimating that the economy could climb by 0.5 percent more a year if the average American spent one more year in school.

The study also warned that increasing inequality could contribute to boom-and-bust cycles in the economy, as the nation’s poorer rely more and more on increased debt loads to keep up their spending habits.

From 2009 to 2010, the Congressional Budget Office found that after-tax average income for the top one percent climbed 15.1 percent, compared to less than one percent for the bottom 90 percent of Americans. And when real mean household income grew 0.2 percent from 2011 to 2012, the gains were found exclusively in the top fifth of all American earners.

50 Years of Happiness and Love

submitted photo Rev. Marcelious Willis,Sr. and his loving wife Mrs. Anna P. Willis celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on July 26, 2014.

Staff Reports,

Rev. Marcelious Willis,Sr. and his loving wife Mrs. Anna P. Willis celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on July 26, 2014. Rev. Marcelious Willis, Sr. and Mrs. Anna P. Willis were married on July 26, 1964. They had six children together, three girls and three boys. Rev. Marcelious Willis and his sons and son-inlaws were all dressed in white and gold. Mrs. Anna P. Willis and her daughters and daughter-in-law were all dressed in white. Mrs. Willis was presented with a golden tiara by her daughter, Cathy Merritt. They were honored with two praise dances performed by their grandchildren: The song, “My God is Awesome” by Charles Jenkins, praise dance was performed by Jayden Hill, Adrian Willis, Andrea Willis, and Kierra Lassiter. Pictures were taken by Lajuana’s Photography in Abbeville, GA. They were given a dinner catered by “Glady’s Kitchen”, “Food Lion”, and other family members. A “Memories of a Lifetime” anniversary cake was catered by Publix. The six children of the couple dedicated a song by Debra Snipes, “Daddy and Mama” to their parents. The Gospels Stars of Lily, GA were entertainers for the anniversary dinner. They were transported to and from “The Clarence Jordan Center”, Americus, GA by Dave Limousine Services. Rev. Marcelious Willis and his wife Mrs. Anna P. Willis enjoyed
their dinner with family and friends.

Brenda Oates Pickett Day in Plains Declared with Bench Re-Dedication

submitted photo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  On July 26, 2014, the family, friends, and constituents of the Late Councilwoman Brenda Oates Pickett gathered in celebration of “Brenda Oates Pickett Day” in Plains, Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Dr. Andrea Oates,

On July 26, 2014, the family, friends, and constituents of the Late Councilwoman Brenda Oates Pickett gathered in celebration of “Brenda Oates Pickett Day” in Plains, Georgia. The event occurred on the 10th anniversary of a bench dedicated in her honor posthumously in Logan Park in Plains. The City of Plains and the Brenda Oates Pickett Memorial Organization repaired the bench, added a cement base, and replaced the signage with one that features a picture of the first African-American female elected to office in Plains. Proclamations were presented by the City of Plains and the Office of Congressman Sanford Bishop. The latter forever established July 24th as “Brenda Oates Pickett Day” henceforth and forever more. Dr. Kenneth Cutts, the representative from Congressman Bishop’s office, also recounted the Congressman’s original speech delivered ten years ago that noted a bench was being dedicated in honor of someone that never sat down.

Councilwoman Pickett tirelessly served the City of Plains for fifteen years as an elected official and also has a street named in her honor. The Brenda Oates Pickett Memorial Organization continues her legacy of serving the
senior citizens, youth, and those in need in the community.

Pvt. Green coming home six decades after fatal crash

submitted photo Pvt. James Green, Jr. found in wreckage on Alaskan Glacier identified as missing military plane from 1952..

submitted photo
Pvt. James Green, Jr. found in wreckage on Alaskan Glacier identified as missing military
plane from 1952..

Special to The Wheeler County Eagle, June 25, 2014

After more than six decades, the remains of Army Pvt. James Green, Jr. have been returned to Wheeler County after the airplane he was in crashed on a glacier in Alaska.

In June 2012, 60 years of an Air Force transport plane, the wreckage had been discovered on the glacier. Military officials soon confirmed that it was the wreckage of the 1952 crash killed all 52 people on board.

The Department of Defense announced today 17 service members have been recovered from a C- 124 Globemaster aircraft that was lost on Nov. 22, 1952.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lawrence S. Singleton, Pvt. James Green, Jr., and Pvt. Leonard A Kittle; U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Earl J Stearns U.S. Navy Cmdr. Albert J Seeboth; U.S. Air Force Col. Noel E Hoblit, Col. Eugene
Smith, Capt. Robert W. Turnbull, 1st Lt. Donald Sheda, 1st Lt. William L. Turner, Tech Sgt. Engolf W. Hagen, Staff Sgt. James H. Ray, Senior Airman Marion E. Hooton, Airman 1st Class Thomas S. Lyons, Airman 1st
Class Carroll R. Dyer, Airman 1st Class Thomas C. Thigpen, and Airman Howard E. Martin have been recovered and were returned to their families for burial with full military honors. On Nov. 22, 1952, a C-124
Globemaster aircraft crashed while en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Ala. From McChord Air Force Base, Wash. There were 11 crewmen and 41 passengers on board. Adverse weather conditions precluded immediate
recovery attempts. In late November and early December 1952, search parties were unable to locate and recover any of the service members.

On June 9, 2012, an Alaska National Guard (AKNG) UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew spotted the wreckage and debris while conducting a training mission over the Colony Glacier, immediately west of Mount Gannett. Three days later another AKNG team landed at the site to photograph the area and they found artifacts at the site that related to the wreckage of the C-124 Globemaster. Later that month, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and Joint Task Force team conducted a recovery operation at the site and recommended it continue to be monitored for possible future recovery operations. In 2013, additional artifacts were visible and JPAC conducted further recovery operations.

DoD scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used forensic tools and circumstantial evidence in the identification of 17 service members. The remaining personnel have yet to be
recovered and the crash site will continue to be monitored for future possible recovery.

According to Green’s family members, they were notified that his remains were positively identified.

Last week, Green’s remains were turned over to the family in Savannah. A memorial service was held June 21 at Spalding Grove Baptist Church.

According to family members, during the recovery operation workers found Green’s Social Security Card, class ring, wallet, boots and money still in the pockets of his clothing.

Private James Green, Jr., was the son of George and Ever Lee Green of Glenwood and had five sisters, Ruby Jean Brewer of Hazelhurst, Ga., Jewel Josey of Americus, Ga., Zadine Harris of Linden, NJ, Barbara Johnson of
Glenwood, Ga., and Gail Dixon of Alamo, Ga.: and two brothers, George Green of Linden, NJ, and Troy Green of Irvington, NJ.

After graduating from Dixon Training School in Vidalia, Green moved to Long Branch, NJ where he met his wife, Vera Lee.

Contributions to the story made by Jonathan Finley.

Con Men Aren’t Stupid

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

Brad DeLong finds Larry Kotlikoff fulminating about how mean I am — so mean that he apparently could’t bring himself to read what I wrote. No, I didn’t say that Paul Ryan is stupid. I did imply — and have said explicitly on many other occasions — that he is a con man. Why did I do that?

Not as a way to avoid having a substantive discussion. I’ve documented Ryan’s many cons very extensively, showing in particular that his budgets were sold on false pretenses — all the alleged fiscal responsibility lay not in the much-hyped changes to Medicare, but in magic asterisks claiming huge but unspecified savings from discretionary spending and huge but unspecified revenue gains from closing loopholes he refused to name.

Still, why not pretend that we’re having a nice, honest discussion? Because I’m trying to inform readers about what’s going on — and the attempt to sell right-wing goals under false pretenses is an important part of the story. If you fell for the carefully crafted image of Ryan as an honest wonk, you were being taken in — and it’s my job to ensure that you’re properly informed.

I wish we lived in a world in which you could presume that major figures are arguing in good faith, in which what they claim to be doing in their policy proposals was what they were actually doing. But wishing doesn’t make it so, and I would be acting in bad faith myself if I pretended that the world was like that.

Impeach Obama, We Dare You

Damn the House’s insane response: Obama’s plan for relief to undocumented immigrations is the best way forward

 

Next month, while Congress is out on vacation for the August recess, President Obama will act on his own — most likely in the form of an executive order — to offer relief to millions of undocumented immigrants currently living under threat of deportation. “I’m beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress,” the president told reporters in the Rose Garden on Monday. The announcement comes a week after House Speaker John Boehner told Obama immigration reform would not get a vote in the chamber this session.

You can already see the steam shooting out of Tea Partyers’ ears. As House Republicans prepare to sue the administration — ironically, for extending an Obamacare deadline they’d prefer he’d have blown off altogether — and right-wing groups demonstrate against illegal immigration around the country, the president’s unilateral action is bound to ramp up calls for his impeachment. The move will also likely affect the midterm elections, in which 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs are held by Democrats.

Obama should go it alone anyway — and go big. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which started in 2012, the administration has already granted two-year deportation deferrals and work permits to more than 500,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors. Under one proposal the White House is considering, their parents would get the same treatment; another would grant relief to those with U.S.-citizen children.

But either of these options would only cover about 5 million of the 9 million who would have qualified for legalization under the immigration bill the Senate passed last year. If indeed the president seeks to address as much of the problem as he can on his own — and since the whole point is to remedy the House’s failure to act on the Senate bill — there’s no principled reason his executive order shouldn’t cover the full 9 million. Any short-term political consequences are far outweighed by the long-term support such a move will garner among Latino voters. But more important, it’s the only sensible policy alternative short of congressional action.

For those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of our immigration system, such broad action on the part of the president may seem like an overreach. But that’s because, while it’s commonly said our immigration system is “broken,” most members of the public have no idea just what a disaster it is. That’s largely because all most of us had to do to become citizens was be born.

At heart, the presence of 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country today is not a failure of enforcement. It’s a policy failure. The last time Congress amended our country’s immigration laws — in 1996 — it failed to anticipate our economy’s demand for unskilled labor. While many other countries have standing commissions that adjust quotas to respond to the economy and broader migration trends, the U.S.’s approach has been to set the rules every 20 years or so and undergo a massive overhaul only once the system is falling apart.

The economic expansion of the 1990s created demand for millions of unskilled jobs, largely in the service and construction industries. But our immigration system only allots a total of 5,000 visas for unskilled workers per year. No, that’s not a typo, and that’s not per country — that’s overall.

The U.S. does offer an unlimited number of temporary work authorizations for low-skilled workers in the agriculture industry, and up to 66,000 temporary permits for low-skilled workers in other fields. But besides needing a job offer before coming to the U.S., these short-term permits must be renewed every year. They also require you to leave the country every three years. But even the temporary work authorizations are insufficient to meet demand — we reach the 66,000 cap for low-skilled, non-agricultural workers almost as soon as the filing period starts. And the truth is most of those who work in the U.S. for years on end — those who’ve built a life here — will want to stay. Neither of these work authorizations offer you the chance to become a citizen.

So when someone says, “I’m fine with legal immigration; it’s illegal immigration I don’t like,” that should be your first clue they have no idea what they’re talking about. Because for low-skilled workers, we’ve made it basically impossible to immigrate legally. When your Italian or Irish great-grandfather came to America, we didn’t have these crazy restrictions in place.

With economic demand so high and immigration levels set so low, what’s happened? Immigrants and employers alike simply went around the system — and, contrary to popular belief, most people didn’t sneak across the border; they’ve overstayed visas. With economic conditions improving in Mexico and the recession in the U.S., net migration from Mexico has now fallen to zero. But we now have millions of people who’ve lived and worked for decades in the U.S. They have deep ties to their communities, and their children have grown up as Americans. And yet many can’t get a driver’s license or get jobs that aren’t under the table. If your parents brought you to the country as a kid, in most states you can’t get in-state tuition, much less qualify for financial aid. The cliché from immigrant-rights folks is that the 12 million are living “in the shadows,” but it’s no exaggeration — to be undocumented is to live in constant fear of being deported or having a family member deported.

The comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate last year tried to address the failure of our immigration system to handle the economic realities of the 1990s by offering those who came to the country without papers a shot at legalization. But House Republicans, in part because they hate President Obama and because they don’t like immigrants all that much, either, have failed to act on the Senate bill. Instead, they’ve called for all 12 million people to be deported — including kids who’ve grown up as American as any citizen.

Quite simply, the president has nothing to lose with Republicans by taking action on immigration on his own. Short of passing comprehensive immigration reform, offering temporary relief to the 12 million is the best way to account for the system’s past failures, which is both the humane thing to do and allows us to focus our resources on dangerous criminals and drug activity. Law-and-order types love to point out that undocumented immigrants have broken the law by coming here, but Obama’s proposed executive action on immigration is a frank acknowledgment that our system is just as much at fault for the mess we’re in today.

The Nightmare in Gaza

By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet

Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm.

For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence.

For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.

The latest Israeli rampage was set off by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited little attention, which is understandable, since it is routine.

“The institutionalized disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.”

In an interview, human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, said, “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about cease-fire: Everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: Everybody is saying that.”

In January 2006, Palestinians committed a major crime: They voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of Parliament to Hamas.

The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, Hamas leaders have repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel for 40 years.

In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.

The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The U.S. and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence.

The U.S. and Israel quickly initiated plans for a military coup to overthrow the elected government. When Hamas had the effrontery to foil the plans, the Israeli assaults and the siege became far more severe.

There should be no need to review again the dismal record since. The relentless siege and savage attacks are punctuated by episodes of “mowing the lawn,” to borrow Israel’s cheery expression for its periodic exercises in shooting fish in a pond as part of what it calls a “war of defense.”

Once the lawn is mowed and the desperate population seeks to rebuild somehow from the devastation and the murders, there is a cease-fire agreement. The most recent cease-fire was established after Israel’s October 2012 assault, called Operation Pillar of Defense .

Though Israel maintained its siege, Hamas observed the cease-fire, as Israel concedes. Matters changed in April of this year when Fatah and Hamas forged a unity agreement that established a new government of technocrats unaffiliated with either party.

Israel was naturally furious, all the more so when even the Obama administration joined the West in signaling approval. The unity agreement not only undercuts Israel’s claim that it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestine but also threatens the long-term goal of dividing Gaza from the West Bank and pursuing its destructive policies in both regions.

Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm.

For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence.

For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.

The latest Israeli rampage was set off by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited little attention, which is understandable, since it is routine.

“The institutionalized disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.”

In an interview, human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, said, “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about cease-fire: Everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: Everybody is saying that.”

In January 2006, Palestinians committed a major crime: They voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of Parliament to Hamas.

The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, Hamas leaders have repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel for 40 years.

In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.

The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The U.S. and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence.

The U.S. and Israel quickly initiated plans for a military coup to overthrow the elected government. When Hamas had the effrontery to foil the plans, the Israeli assaults and the siege became far more severe.

There should be no need to review again the dismal record since. The relentless siege and savage attacks are punctuated by episodes of “mowing the lawn,” to borrow Israel’s cheery expression for its periodic exercises in shooting fish in a pond as part of what it calls a “war of defense.”

Once the lawn is mowed and the desperate population seeks to rebuild somehow from the devastation and the murders, there is a cease-fire agreement. The most recent cease-fire was established after Israel’s October 2012 assault, called Operation Pillar of Defense .

Though Israel maintained its siege, Hamas observed the cease-fire, as Israel concedes. Matters changed in April of this year when Fatah and Hamas forged a unity agreement that established a new government of technocrats unaffiliated with either party.

Israel was naturally furious, all the more so when even the Obama administration joined the West in signaling approval. The unity agreement not only undercuts Israel’s claim that it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestine but also threatens the long-term goal of dividing Gaza from the West Bank and pursuing its destructive policies in both regions.

Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm.

For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence.

For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.

The latest Israeli rampage was set off by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited little attention, which is understandable, since it is routine.

“The institutionalized disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.”

In an interview, human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, said, “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about cease-fire: Everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: Everybody is saying that.”

In January 2006, Palestinians committed a major crime: They voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of Parliament to Hamas.

The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, Hamas leaders have repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel for 40 years.

In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.

The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The U.S. and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence.

The U.S. and Israel quickly initiated plans for a military coup to overthrow the elected government. When Hamas had the effrontery to foil the plans, the Israeli assaults and the siege became far more severe.

There should be no need to review again the dismal record since. The relentless siege and savage attacks are punctuated by episodes of “mowing the lawn,” to borrow Israel’s cheery expression for its periodic exercises in shooting fish in a pond as part of what it calls a “war of defense.”

Once the lawn is mowed and the desperate population seeks to rebuild somehow from the devastation and the murders, there is a cease-fire agreement. The most recent cease-fire was established after Israel’s October 2012 assault, called Operation Pillar of Defense .

Though Israel maintained its siege, Hamas observed the cease-fire, as Israel concedes. Matters changed in April of this year when Fatah and Hamas forged a unity agreement that established a new government of technocrats unaffiliated with either party.

Israel was naturally furious, all the more so when even the Obama administration joined the West in signaling approval. The unity agreement not only undercuts Israel’s claim that it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestine but also threatens the long-term goal of dividing Gaza from the West Bank and pursuing its destructive policies in both regions

Why Israel Lies

  Palestinians evacuate a survivor of an Israeli airstrike that hit a family building Sunday in Rafah, in southern Gaza. AP/Eyad Baba

Palestinians evacuate a survivor of an Israeli airstrike that hit a family building Sunday in Rafah, in southern Gaza. AP/Eyad Baba

By Chris Hedges

All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories—required under the rules of American journalism—although we know they are untrue.

I saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others. I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire. I was in Gaza when F-16 attack jets dropped 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on overcrowded hovels in Gaza City. I saw the corpses of the victims, including children. This became a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory. I have watched Israel demolish homes and entire apartment blocks to create wide buffer zones between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops that ring Gaza. I have interviewed the destitute and homeless families, some camped out in crude shelters erected in the rubble. The destruction becomes the demolition of the homes of terrorists. I have stood in the remains of schools—Israel struck two United Nations schools in the last six days, causing at least 10 fatalities at one in Rafah on Sunday and at least 19 at one in the Jebaliya refugee camp Wednesday—as well as medical clinics and mosques. I have heard Israel claim that errant rockets or mortar fire from the Palestinians caused these and other deaths, or that the attacked spots were being used as arms depots or launching sites. I, along with every other reporter I know who has worked in Gaza, have never seen any evidence that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields.”

There is a perverted logic to Israel’s repeated use of the Big Lie—Große Lüge—the lie favored by tyrants from Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin to Saddam Hussein. The Big Lie feeds the two reactions Israel seeks to elicit—racism among its supporters and terror among its victims.

By painting a picture of an army that never attacks civilians, that indeed goes out of its way to protect them, the Big Lie says Israelis are civilized and humane, and their Palestinian opponents are inhuman monsters. The Big Lie serves the idea that the slaughter in Gaza is a clash of civilizations, a war between democracy, decency and honor on one side and Islamic barbarism on the other. And in the uncommon cases when news of atrocities penetrates to the wider public, Israel blames the destruction and casualties on Hamas.

George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” called this form of propaganda doublethink. Doublethink uses “logic against logic” and “repudiate[s] morality while laying claim to it.” The Big Lie does not allow for the nuances and contradictions that can plague conscience. It is a state-orchestrated response to the dilemma of cognitive dissonance. The Big Lie permits no gray zones. The world is black and white, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. The Big Lie allows believers to take comfort—a comfort they are desperately seeking—in their own moral superiority at the very moment they have abrogated all morality.

The Big Lie, as the father of American public relations, Edward Bernays, wrote, is limited only by the propagandist’s capacity to fathom and harness the undercurrents of individual and mass psychology. And since most supporters of Israel do not have a desire to know the truth, a truth that would force them to examine their own racism and self-delusions about Zionist and Western moral superiority, like packs of famished dogs they lap up the lies fed to them by the Israeli government. The Big Lie always finds fertile soil in what Bernays called the “logic-proof compartment of dogmatic adherence.” All effective propaganda, Bernays wrote, targets and builds upon these irrational “psychological habits.”

This is the world Franz Kafka envisioned, a world where the irrational becomes rational. It is one where, as Gustave Le Bon noted in “The Crowd: A Study of the Public Mind,” those who supply the masses with the illusions they crave become their master, and “whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” This irrationality explains why the reaction of Israeli supporters to those who have the courage to speak the truth—Uri Avnery, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Cook, Norman Finkelstein, Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Ilan Pappé, Henry Siegman and Philip Weiss—is so rabid. That so many of these voices are Jewish, and therefore have more credibility than non-Jews who are among Israel’s cheerleaders, only ratchets up the level of hate.

But the Big Lie is also consciously designed to send a chilling message to Gaza’s Palestinians, who have lost large numbers of their dwellings, clinics, mosques, and power, water and sewage facilities, along with schools and hospitals, who have suffered some 1,650 deaths since this assault began—most of the victims women and children—and who have seen 400,000 people displaced from their homes. The Big Lie makes it clear to the Palestinians that Israel will continue to wage a campaign of state terror and will never admit its atrocities or its intentions. The vast disparity between what Israel says and what Israel does tells the Palestinians that there is no hope. Israel will do and say whatever it wants. International law, like the truth, will always be irrelevant. There will never, the Palestinians understand from the Big Lie, be an acknowledgement of reality by the Israeli leadership.

The Israel Defense Forces website is replete with this black propaganda. “Hamas exploits the IDF’s sensitivity towards protecting civilian structures, particularly holy sites, by hiding command centers, weapons caches and tunnel entrances in mosques,” the IDF site reads. “In Hamas’ world, hospitals are command centers, ambulances are transport vehicles, and medics are human shields,” the site insists.

“… [Israeli] officers are tasked with an enormous responsibility: to protect Palestinian civilians on the ground, no matter how difficult that may be,” the site assures its viewers. And the IDF site provides this quote from a drone operator identified as Lt. Or. “I have personally seen rockets fired at Israel from hospitals and schools, but we couldn’t strike back because of civilians nearby. In one instance, we acquired a target but we saw that there were children in the area. We waited around, and when they didn’t leave we were forced to abort a strike on an important target.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in a Big Lie of his own, said last month at a conference of Christians United for Israel that the Israeli army should be given the “Nobel Peace Prize …  a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.”

The Big Lie destroys any possibility of history and therefore any hope for a dialogue between antagonistic parties that can be grounded in truth and reality. While, asHannah Arendt pointed out, the ancient and modern sophists sought to win an argument at the expense of the truth, those who wield the Big Lie “want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality.” The old sophists, she said, “destroyed the dignity of human thought.” Those who resort to the Big Lie “destroy the dignity of human action.” The result, Arendt warned, is that “history itself is destroyed, and its comprehensibility.” And when facts no longer matter, when there is no shared history grounded in the truth, when people foolishly believe their own lies, there can be no useful exchange of information. The Big Lie, used like a bludgeon by Israel, as perhaps it is designed to be, ultimately reduces all problems in the world to the brutish language of violence. And when oppressed people are addressed only through violence they will answer only through violence.

Work and Worth

ROBERT REICH

By ROBERT B. REICH,

What someone is paid has little or no relationship to what their work is worth to society.

Does anyone seriously believe hedge-fund mogul Steven A. Cohen is worth the $2.3 billion he raked in last year, despite being slapped with a $1.8 billion fine after his firm pleaded guilty to insider trading?

On the other hand, what’s the worth to society of social workers who put in long and difficult hours dealing with patients suffering from mental illness or substance abuse? Probably higher than their average pay of $18.14 an hour, which translates into less than $38,000 a year.

How much does society gain from personal-care aides who assist the elderly, convalescents, and persons with disabilities? Likely more than their average pay of $9.67 an hour, or just over $20,000 a year.

What’s the social worth of hospital orderlies who feed, bathe, dress, and move patients, and empty their ben pans? Surely higher than their median wage of $11.63 an hour, or $24,190 a year.

Or of child care workers, who get $10.33 an hour, $21.490 a year? And preschool teachers, who earn $13.26 an hour, $27,570 a year?

Yet what would the rest of us do without these dedicated people?

Or consider kindergarten teachers, who make an average of$53,590 a year.

Before you conclude that’s generous, consider that a good kindergarten teacher is worth his or her weight in gold, almost.

One study found that children with outstanding kindergarten teachers are more likely to go to college and less likely to become single parents than a random set of children similar to them in every way other than being assigned a superb teacher.

And what of writers, actors, painters, and poets? Only a tiny fraction ever become rich and famous. Most barely make enough to live on (many don’t, and are forced to take paying jobs to pursue their art). But society is surely all the richer for their efforts.

At the other extreme are hedge-fund and private-equity managers, investment bankers, corporate lawyers, management consultants, high-frequency traders, and top Washington lobbyists.

They’re getting paid vast sums for their labors. Yet it seems doubtful that society is really that much better off because of what they do.

I don’t mean to sound unduly harsh, but I’ve never heard of a hedge-fund manager whose jobs entails attending to basic human needs (unless you consider having more money as basic human need) or enriching our culture (except through the myriad novels, exposes, and movies made about greedy hedge-fund managers and investment bankers).

They don’t even build the economy.

Most financiers, corporate lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants are competing with other financiers, lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants in zero-sum games that take money out of one set of pockets and put it into another.

They’re paid gigantic amounts because winning these games can generate far bigger sums, while losing them can be extremely costly.

It’s said that by moving money to where it can make more money, these games make the economy more efficient.

In fact, the games amount to a mammoth waste of societal resources.

They demand ever more cunning innovations but they create no social value. High-frequency traders who win by a thousandth of a second can reap a fortune, but society as a whole is no better off.

Meanwhile, the games consume the energies of loads of talented people who might otherwise be making real contributions to society — if not by tending to human needs or enriching our culture then by curing diseases or devising new technological breakthroughs, or helping solve some of our most intractable social problems.

Graduates of Ivy League universities are more likely to enter finance and consulting than any other career.

For example, in 2010 (the most recent date for which we have data) close to 36 percent of Princeton graduates went into finance (down from the pre-financial crisis high of 46 percent in 2006). Add in management consulting, and it was close to 60 percent.

The hefty endowments of such elite institutions are swollen with tax-subsidized donations from wealthy alumni, many of whom are seeking to guarantee their own kids’ admissions so they too can become enormously rich financiers and management consultants.

But I can think of a better way for taxpayers to subsidize occupations with more social merit: Forgive the student debts of graduates who choose social work, child care, elder care, nursing, and teaching.