Demetrius Tomas Lemons, Sr.


Demetrius Tomas Lemons, Sr.

Demetrius Tomas Lemons, Sr.

Demetrius Tomas Lemons, Sr., age 39, passed Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

The wake service will be held from 6:00 – 7:00 P.M. on Friday, October 31, 2014 Oglethorpe Funeral Chapel Inc, 607 Kaigler Street, Oglethorpe, Georgia.  

The funeral service will be conducted at 2:00 P.M., Saturday, November 1, 2014 at Mount Olive Baptist Church, Moody Road, Buena Vista, Georgia. Pastor Joe Oglesby will officiate. Burial will follow in the Church cemetery.

Demetrius was born June 1, 1975 to Nora N. Clark Fudge and Thomas Jefferson Lemons in Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia. He attended the public school system of Marion County and went on to receive his GED Certification. He was employed by the city of Buena Vista with the Sanitation Department, where he was Superintendent over the water and streets department.

Left to cherish his memory are his three loving and devoted children, Amanda LaTesha Thomas, Brittany Nicole Lemons, and Demetrius Tomas Lemons, Jr.; granddaughter, Kimora Naomi Thomas; his companion, Cynthia Davis, Buena Vista; his parents, Nora Ann Clark Fudge (Robert), Buena Vista, Georgia and Thomas Jefferson Lemons, Louvale, Georgia; siblings, Sharon Lemons Williams (Johnny), Buena Vista, Georgia, Antonio “Tony” Brown (Tequila), Lumpkin, Georgia, Myrtice “Peaches” Clay (Rev. Joel), Dickinson, Texas, Alma Terrell Fudge, Robert Fudge, III, Veronica Scott (Thad), and Cornelius Fudge (Debra Ann), all of Columbus, Georgia, and Antonio Fudge, Atlanta, Georgia; godsister, Syona Morton, Buena Vista, Georgia; a host of other relatives and friends.  

Theresa Dean Clark Brooks


Theresa Dean Clark Brooks

Theresa Dean Clark Brooks

Theresa Dean Clark Brooks, age 54, 916 M.L. King, Jr. Blvd, Americus, Georgia passed Wednesday, November 5, 2014.
The funeral service will be conducted at 1:00 P.M., Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at Oglethorpe Funeral Chapel, Inc., 607 Kaigler Street, Oglethorpe, Georgia. Interment will follow in Hopewell Independent Church Cemetery, Rupert, Macon County, Georgia.   
Theresa Dean Clark Brooks was born August 19, 1960 to Mary Alice Lewis and the late Samuel Pope in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia.  She was educated in the public school system of Americus, Georgia.  After many dedicated years of service, she retired as a Homemaker.
She was preceded in death by her father, Samuel Pope; husband, Aldean Brooks; stepson, Cary Fredrick; mother-in-law and father-in-law, Ollie Kate Brooks and Marvin Brooks; brother, Albert Fredrick; and aunts and uncles, Silas Bishop, Paul Bishop, Joe Tom Bishop and Hershel Bishop, preceded her in death.
She is survived by her three loving and devoted children,  Aldean Clark (Sakema), Eric Brooks, all of Perry, Georgia, and Adrian Brooks (Janice), Oglethorpe, Georgia; four loving grandchildren, Jarkea Oliver, Natasia Brooks, Caniya Ellis and Samari Brooks; one great grandson, Demarqus Ellison; eight stepchildren, Eric Hughey, Ideal, Georgia, Aldean Brooks, Decatur, Georgia, Cathy Carter (Johnny), Conyers, Georgia, Timothy  Fredrick (Cannon), Andersonville, Georgia, Tammy Watts, Americus, Georgia, Gregory Fredrick, Warner Robins, Georgia, Keith Fredrick (Pam), Americus, Georgia and Andre Bailey (Diane), Ideal, Georgia; siblings, Sharon Lewis, Cheri Lewis, Rothman Lewis, all of Americus, Georgia, Michael Lewis, Essie Lewis (Tonya), all of Columbus, Georgia, Lional Lewis, Newark, New Jersey, Alonzo Lewis, Americus, Georgia, Henry Lee Pope, Rochester, New York, Bernice Brown, Atlanta, Georgia, Tony Pope, McDuffie, Georgia, James Pope, Walter Lee Pope, both of Americus, Georgia, Thomas Pope, Atlanta, Georgia, Sandra Harris (Dwight), Shirley Hoston, Carolyn Hoston, Sarah Hoston, and George Hoston (Louise), all of Americus, Georgia; aunts and uncles, Henry Fredrick (Gloria), Mary Lee Bliss, all of Macon, Georgia, Annie Ruth Mann, Matherlene Bruce (Joe), Della Mae Lewis, Betty Joe Prince (Willie), Annie Nelson (William), all of Americus, Georgia, Emroe Bishop, Jr., Leslie, Georgia, Freddie Bishop (Joann) and Carrie Williams, all of Americus, Georgia; a host of beloved nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Mr. Joseph Clifton Angry



 Mr. Joseph Clifton Angry was born in Sumter County, Georgia on October 21, 1921 to the parentage of the late Mr. Cleveland Angry and the late Mrs. Eliza Monts Angry as the second oldest son and the fourth child. He was educated at Thalean School along with his siblings. At an early age, he joined the St. John A.M.E. Church, which is the home church of the late John Monts Clan. Doc, as he was known, was a hard worker. He worked in agriculture in Georgia, Florida and Connecticut. He decided to settle in Meridian, CT to ensure that his children could receive a quality education and not have to work as hard as he had.


           Joseph returned to Georgia for a brief time in the mid 1970’s. Following the death of his mother in 1983, he returned to Georgia and lived with his brother and sister-in-law, William & Agnes “Fannie” Angry. For more than 25 years, and during his time living with them, he often stated, “William looked out for me”. Due to changes in his health, he moved in with his beloved granddaughter, Valerie McCuller and her family in 2011. There he was loved, cherished and cared for by four generations. He attended the Senior Citizen Center faithfully for many years until July 2014. He loved to fellowship with his friends. He had a love for dancing and did not mind showing you how to get down. He won many dance contests, but was especially known  for doing the “Dirty Bird” dance, which won him 1st Place at the Senior Picnic. He is preceded in death by a son, Junior Angry; his siblings: Ms. Agnes Hollis, Ms. Exie Brown, Ms. Blanche Miller, Ms. Lula Britt, Rev. William Angry and Mr. Leroy Angry; and a beloved sister-in-law, Ms. Agnes Angry.


           He leaves to mourn his passing— his children: Ms. Ozzie Bell Angry, Ms. Bessie Angry, Ms. Delores Angry, all of Americus, GA, Mrs. Loren (Willie) Dodson, Plains, GA, Ms. Annie B. (Charlie) Stewart, Leslie, GA, Mr. Joseph C. (Dawn) Angry, Jr. and Ms. Eliza White of Meridan, CT; his sister, Mrs. Velma (Elder Johnnie) Raven, Americus, GA; a sister-in-law, Ms. Jean Angry of South Carolina; nineteen grandchildren, twenty six great grandchildren and two great great-grandchildren; he was loved by many nieces, including a devoted niece, Ms. Pamela Angry, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends, including his church family, St. John A.M.E and Pastor Strawter and his second church family, William Grove Baptist Church, also survive.

Ms. Marie Walton

Ms. Marie Walton

Ms. Marie Walton

Ms. Marie Walton, a native of Sumter County, Georgia and matriculated to Nashville, Tennessee some 50 years ago. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the Antioch Baptist Church, Plains, Georgia. Upon her return back to Georgia, she united with the Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church under the leadership of Rev. Lodenia Coleman. During her employments years, she worked as a caregiver/provider, cook and enjoyed socializing with people. She was left along as a siblings for over twenty years and lived to the rightful age of 91. She was married to the late Mr. Buck Austin. She relocated back to Georgia on February 16, 2014, and resided at the Lillian Carter Health and Rehabilitation Center until her demise.


She loved her family, her dogs and enjoyed life to the fullest. She was a no nonsense person.


She leaves to cherish her memories, her devoted nieces, nephews and caretakers, Mrs. Gloria (Anthony) Jefferson, Albany, GA, Mr. Lynn (Angelika) Walton of Colorado, Ms. Anola Hall, Ms. Susie Sanders, Americus, GA; three sisters-in-law, Ms. Ozie M. Walton, Ms. Buther Walton, Americus, GA and Ms. Mary Walton, Smithville, GA; and a host of other nieces, nephews, great nieces & nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

Mrs. Dannie Mae Jackson Snipes

Mrs. Dannie Mae Jackson Snipes

Mrs. Dannie Mae Jackson Snipes

Mrs. Dannie Mae Jackson Snipes was born in Sumter County, Georgia on October 9, 1914 to the parentage of the late Mr. Andrew Jackson and the late Mrs. Ella Goodin Jackson who was affectionately called Pure. She joined the New Lebanon Baptist Church at an early age and was a faithful member. On March 22, 1987, Sister Snipes moved her membership to Lebanon Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Hosie Waters. She worked faithfully on the Senior Usher’s Ministry. In April 2005, Mrs. Dannie Mae was honored as being the 2nd oldest living member of Lebanon Baptist Church. She was a faithful member until her death. Two sisters and five brothers precedes her in death. Mrs. Dannie Mae Jackson Snipes departed this life on October 17, 2014 in the Lillian Carter Health and Rehabilitation Center.

She leaves to mourn her passing, her devoted and caring daughter, Ms. Mae Frances Lockett, Plains, GA; one devoted grandson, Mr. Wilfred Lockett and his wife, Mrs. Carrie Lockett who was very devoted to her grandmother-in-law both of Ideal, GA; one great granddaughter, Laquasha Lockett, Jacksonville, FL; two great great grandchildren, Demetrius Jackson and Shane Tyler Jackson of Jacksonville, FL; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including her devoted friends, Ms. Mary Minion, Ms. Ethel Mansfield, Ms. Bertha Monts, Ms. Margie Thomas, Ms. Rethema Dyous, Ms. Katie Bell Jackson and Ms. Robin P. Wiley also survive.

Ms. Natasha Dorice Harris

Ms. Natasha Dorice Harris

Ms. Natasha Dorice Harris

 Ms. Natasha Dorice Harris was born on January 6, 1974, to the parents of the late Ms. Kattie Pearl Harris and Mr. Johnny Frank Cottle, at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.  At a very young age, she moved with her mother to Los Angeles, CA, “Tasha,” as she was known to her family, was stricken with Childhood Leukemia early in her life, however, she was a fighter and survived this disease. She attended the Public School System in Los Angeles. She was employed with the University of Southern California and after several years, she left to become a caregiver for her mother, whose health had deteriorated. After the passing of her mother in June of 2010, she and her father relocated to Americus, GA. She gained employment with the Americus Wal-Mart Store. Natasha loved her job and was a faithful worker until her own health declined. Even then, she wanted to go to work. She loved her family, but she especially loved her “dad,” as she affectionately called him, and her cousins, Blake and Deborah Hollis. Tasha had a pleasing personality that kept her family filled with love and laughter. She was a caregiver for her dad during his illness and continued to do so when she again was diagnosed with cancer. She joined the St. John A.M.E. Church under the pastorage of Rev. Shirley Strawter, in Plains, GA.  After surgery and several treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, the Lord saw, that day by day, Tasha, was getting tired and weak, and said, “enough suffering and pain,” and called his child home to rest on October 15, 2014 at the Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Americus, GA.  Her sister; Louise Harris, her brother; Elzie Harris, her aunts; Cindy Burch, Ruby Bryant, Ida Davis, and Annie Hawkins, her uncles; James Harris, and Joe Britt, her grand and great grandparents; Lula Britt, Bennie Cottle, Frank & Louisa Harris, and Cleveland & Eliza Angry, all precede her in death. 


           Left to mourn and cherish her memories are her: father, Mr. Johnny F. Cottle, Americus, GA, brother, Mr. Tommy (Betty) Harris, St. Louis, MO, sister, Ms. Jarvene Cottle, Chicago, IL, uncles: Mr. Fred (Kathleen) Harris, Norwalt, CA, Mr. Johnny (Shelly) Harris, of Compton, CA, and Mr. Lawrence (Irene) Britt, Americus, GA, aunts: Mrs. Ella Scott, Chicago, IL, Ms. Gladys Logan, Atlanta GA, and Ms. Commie Wright, Plains, GA. Great aunt and uncles: Mrs. Velma (Elder J. L.) Raven, and Mr. Clifton Angry, Americus, GA. Devoted cousins whom she loved dearly, Ltc. (Ret.) Blake (Deborah) Hollis, Ellenwood, GA, Ms. Helen Wilkins, Americus, GA, Mrs. Gwendolyn Angry, Birmingham, AL, Ms. Jacqueline Slappey, Plains, GA, Ms. Diandra Hollis, Andersonville, GA, and Mrs. Cassandra (Al) Blanks, Plainsfield, N.J. and her pooch Marley. Several other aunts, uncles, relatives and friends also survive, to include the staff of Drs. McAfee, Faulkner, and Floyd, Amedisys Home Healthcare and Phoebe Sumter Hospice.

Mrs. Carolyn Banks Snipes

Mrs. Carolyn Banks Snipes

Mrs. Carolyn Banks Snipes

Mrs. Carolyn Banks Snipes was born in Sumter County, Georgia on October 30, 1955 to the parents of Mr. George Banks, Sr. and Mrs. Mattie Mae Alford Banks. She was educated in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the Saint Paul Baptist Church, where she served until her health failed. She was last employed by the Lee County School System, Leesburg, Georgia. She was married to Mr. Calvin Snipes, Sr. and to this union four sons were born. One son, Mr. Calvin Snipes, Jr. and her only brother, Mr. George Banks, Jr. precedes her in death.

In addition to her loving parents, Mr. George and Mrs. Mattie Mae Banks of Americus, GA, she leaves to cherish her memories, her loving and devoted husband, Mr. Calvin Snipes, Sr., Americus, GA; three sons, Mr. Danny (Melitta) Snipes, Mr. James (Paige) Snipes both of Aliquippa, PA and Mr. Kenneth (Alicia) Snipes, Atlanta, GA; seven sisters, Mrs. Mattie (Johnny) Waters, Ms. Donna (Cleveland) Williams, Ms. Georgia Tyner, Ms. Mary Ann Banks, Ms. Nancy Bruce and Ms. Betty Banks all of Americus, GA and Mrs. Bobbie (Jerome) Waymon, Aliquippa, PA; her mother-in-law, Ms. Ruby Mae Basiden, Americus, GA; three sisters-in-law, Ms. Emma Jean Evans, Plains, GA, Ms. Beverly Lundy and Ms. Carolyn (William) Barnes, Americus, GA; four brothers-in-law, Mr. Eddie Williams, Mr. Robert Williams, Mr. Arthur James Baisden all of Americus, GA and Mr. Henry (Ruby) Snipes, Jr. of Vienna, GA; one uncle, Mr. Otis Alford, Americus, GA; six aunts, Ms. Willie Bell Jones, Evangelist B. Snipes both of Americus, GA, Ms. Pauline Alford, Albany, GA, Ms. Lula Mae Harvey, Aliquippa, PA and Ms. Bertha Johnson, Boynton Beach, FL; her grandchildren, Dannicha Snipes, Americus, GA, Kentavious Snipes, Vienna, GA, Jashaun Snipes, Jaylon Snipes, Warner Robins, GA, D;Mari Snipes, Darion Snipes, Rahjir Rogers, Rakwon Halmon of Aliquippa, PA, Jamie Snipes, Maya Johnson and Bryan Pata of Daytona Beach, FL and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

Alma Lavetta Baisden Banks

Alma Lavetta Baisden Banks

Alma Lavetta Baisden Banks

Alma Lavetta Baisden Banks was born January 28, 1935 in Ellaville, Georgia to the late Mr. Carl and Mrs. Pecola Baisden.  She began her education in the public schools of Schley County, GA and later graduated from A. S. Staley High School in Americus, GA, shere she was a majorette for the high school marching band.

Mrs. Banks began her work journey with Scott’s Bedding Company and Gailey’s Upholstery Company.  In total, she worked for over twenty years until her retirement.

She became a member of the Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Americus, GA, under the leadership of Rev. Walter Great.  She faithfully served as a member of the Ushers Board until she stepped down because of her health under Pastor Nathaniel Veal. 

Ms. Alma will always be remembered for her kind heart, open arms and her devotion to her family, friends and community.

She is preceded in death by two sisters, Ms. Priscilla Baiden and Ms. Annie Mae Burroughs and a grandson, James Banks, Jr. (Boo). 

She leaves her love and memories to six children: Zachary (Sharon) Draines, Jerome Drains, Elizabeth Banks, James (Norma) Banks, Lee Banks, Leon (Stephanie) Banks and devoted niece Cherie Baisden, all of Americus, GA.; five siblings: Ms. Nettie Ruth Jackson, Tampa, FLA, Ms. Rosie Mae Jackson, Orlando, FLA, Ms. Louise Jackson and Ms. Martha Black, both of Ellaville, GA, Mr. Bobby Jackson, also of Ellaville, GA;  thirteen grandchildren:  Teressa (Alfred) Degroat, LaQuandra Johnson, Janice Tucker, Travis Johnson, C’Mone Champion, Kerry Champion, Dandria Champion, Ashley Sims, Conquett (Shanita) Banks, Cameron (LaJasmine) Wilkerson, Niteshia Wilkerson, Dantavious King, Erin Sims, and Omar Clark.  She also leaves to mourn, her god son, Mr. Markel (Lateesha) Mitchell, her devoted cousin, Ms. Christen Searcy and her extended family:  Ms. Marilyn Smith, Mr. Randolph (Mary) Williams, Ms. Lou Ann Williams, Ms. Kathy Williams, Ms. Hazel Morgan and Ms. Melanie Anthony.  A host of other relative and friends, also survive. 

Glaucoma and Your Eyes


Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It’s often associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

The increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause permanent loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.

Because most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from this increased pressure, it is important to see your eye doctor regularly so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before long-term visual loss occurs.

If you are over age 40 and have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a complete eye exam with an eye doctor every one to two years. If you have health problems such as diabetes or a family history of glaucoma or are at risk for other eye diseases, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently.

 Why Does Pressure Rise in the Eye to Cause Glaucoma?

Glaucoma usually occurs when pressure in your eye increases. This can happen when eye fluid isn’t circulating normally in the front part of the eye.

Normally, this fluid, called aqueous humor, flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel becomes blocked, fluid builds up, causing glaucoma. The direct cause of this blockage is unknown, but doctors do know that it can be inherited, meaning it is passed from parents to children.

Less common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to the eye, severe eye infection, blockage of blood vessels in the eye, inflammatory conditions of the eye, and occasionally eye surgery to correct another condition. Glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but it may involve each eye to a different extent.

What Are the Types of Glaucoma?

There are two main types of glaucoma:

Open-angle glaucoma. Also called wide-angle glaucoma, this is the most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not flow properly through the drain of the eye, called the trabecular meshwork.

Angle-closure glaucoma. Also called acute or chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma, this type of glaucoma is less common in the West than in Asia. Poor drainage is caused because the angle between the iris and the cornea is too narrow and is physically blocked by the iris. This condition leads to a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye.

Who Gets Glaucoma?

Glaucoma most often occurs in adults over age 40, but it can also occur in young adults, children, and even infants. In African-Americans, glaucoma occurs more frequently and at an earlier age and with greater loss of vision.

You are at an increased risk of glaucoma if you:

  • Are of African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandinavian descent
  • Are over age 40
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have poor vision
  • Have diabetes
  • Take certain steroid medications, such as prednisone
  • Have had trauma to the eye or eyes

 What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

For most people, there are usually few or no symptoms of glaucoma. The first sign of glaucoma is often the loss of peripheral or side vision, which can go unnoticed until late in the disease. This is why glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of vision.”

Detecting glaucoma early is one reason you should have a complete exam with an eye specialist every one to two years. Occasionally, intraocular pressure can rise to severe levels. In these cases, sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision, or the appearance of halos around lights may occur.

If you have any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care:

  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Vision loss
  • Redness in the eye
  • Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the eye
  • Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)

 How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

To diagnose glaucoma, an eye doctor will test your vision and examine your eyes through dilated pupils. The eye exam typically focuses on the optic nerve, which has a particular appearance in glaucoma. In fact, photographs of the optic nerve can also be helpful to follow over time as the optic nerve appearance changes with the progression of the disease. The doctor will also perform a procedure called tonometry to check for eye pressure, and a visual field test, if necessary, to determine if there is loss of side vision. Glaucoma tests are painless and take very little time.

Midterm ballot initiatives mostly favor physicians

Group of african american doctor and nurseBy: GREGORY TWACHTMAN, Family Practice News Digital Network

California voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have required doctors to submit to random drug and alcohol testing within 12 hours of when an adverse event has been identified, while voters in South Dakota approved a measure to loosen insurance companies’ provider panels.

With all precincts reporting, more than 67% of California voters (nearly 3.42 million) voted no on Proposition 46, a measure that doctors in the state said would unreasonably penalize doctors unable to meet testing rules and lead to excessive suspensions. The initiative applied only to doctors who practice in hospitals or have hospital privileges.

The ballot initiative also contained two other components – a requirement that doctors consult a statewide database before prescribing schedule II and schedule III drugs and a raising of the medical malpractice cap on noneconomic damages from $250,000 to $1.1 million. Doctors argued that the database lacked the funding and staff to be effective in identifying patients engaged in doctor-shopping or otherwise abusing prescription controlled substances.

In South Dakota, 61.8% of the voters (166,351, with all precincts reporting) approved Measure 17, which allows providers who are willing to meet a health insurer’s coverage terms to provide health care services to insured patients without having to join that patient’s insurance plan network, and protects patients from out-of-network costs if they use that physician.

Voters in Arizona approved Proposition 303, which allows eligible patients with a terminal illness that has no Food and Drug Administration–approved treatment option to have access to an investigational drug, provided the drug has successfully completed phase I testing and remains under clinical investigation. The pharmaceutical manufacturer would decide whether to provide access, and insurance companies are not required under the measure to provide coverage for it. The measure also offered some liability protection for physicians who recommend the investigational treatment. More than 78% of the votes (849,350, with 97% of the precincts reporting) supported the measure.

In Illinois, voters supported a ballot initiative that would require insurance plans in the state that have prescription drug coverage to “include prescription birth control as part of that coverage.” No details were included in the text of the initiative on the scope of what needs to be included, but its passage means the state legislature must enact a law to implement the will of the voters. Sixty-six percent of the votes (2.2 million, with 99 percent of precincts reporting) were in favor of this initiative.

Residents in three states acted on abortion-related measures. In North Dakota, a ballot initiative would have amended the state constitution to provide for the “inalienable right to life” beginning at conception. With all precincts reporting, the amendment failed, with more than 64% of votes against. In Colorado, a constitutional amendment to include the unborn in the definition of “person” and “child” in the state criminal code failed, with more than 64% of the votes (nearly 1.2 million, with 94% of precincts reporting) going against the amendment.

And in Tennessee, voters approved a constitutional amendment that empowers the state legislature “to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” It passed with more than 52% of the votes (728,751 with 99 percent of the precincts reporting). The amendment was in reaction to a 2000 state supreme court ruling that struck down a number of state laws that placed limits around abortions.


Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a 3 1/2-inch-long tube of tissue that extends from the large intestine. No one is absolutely certain what the function of the appendix is. One thing we do know: We can live without it, without apparent consequences.

Appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity’s lining (the peritoneum) that can be fatal unless it is treated quickly with strong antibiotics.


Sometimes a pus-filled abscess (infection that is walled off from the rest of the body) forms outside the inflamed appendix. Scar tissue then “walls off” the appendix from the rest of the abdomen, preventing infection from spreading. An abscessed appendix is a less urgent situation, but unfortunately, it can’t be identified without surgery. For this reason, all cases of appendicitis are treated as emergencies, requiring surgery.

In the U.S., one in 15 people will get appendicitis. Although it can strike at any age, appendicitis is rare under age 2 and most common between ages 10 and 30.

What Causes Appendicitis?

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, often by stool, a foreign body, or cancer. Blockage may also occur from infection, since the appendix swells in response to any infection in the body.

What Are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?

The classic symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Dull pain near the navel or the upper abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen. This is usually the first sign.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting soon after abdominal pain begins
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Fever of 99-102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Inability to pass gas

Almost half the time, other symptoms of appendicitis appear, including:

  • Dull or sharp pain anywhere in the upper or lower abdomen, back, or rectum
  • Painful urination
  • Vomiting that precedes the abdominal pain
  • Severe cramps
  • Constipation or diarrhea with gas

If you have any of the mentioned symptoms, seek medical attention immediately, because timely diagnosis and treatment is very important. Do not eat, drink, or use any pain remedies, antacids, laxatives, or heating pads, which can cause an inflamed appendix to rupture.

How Is Appendicitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing appendicitis can be tricky. Symptoms of appendicitis are frequently vague or extremely similar to other ailments, includinggallbladder problems, bladder or urinary tract infection, Crohn’s diseasegastritis, intestinal infection, and ovary problems.

The following tests are usually used to make the diagnosis:

  • Abdominal exam to detect inflammation
  • Urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection
  • Rectal exam
  • Blood test to see if your body is fighting infection
  • CT scans and/or ultrasound

How Is Appendicitis Treated?

Surgery to remove the appendix, which is called an appendectomy, is the standard treatment for appendicitis.

Generally, if appendicitis is suspected, doctors tend to err on the side of safety and quickly remove the appendix to avoid its rupture. If the appendix has formed an abscess, you may have two procedures: one to drain the abscess of pus and fluid, and a later one to remove the appendix. However, there is some research showing that treatment of acute appendicitis with antibiotics may eliminate the need for surgery.

Appendectomy: What to Expect

Antibiotics are given before an appendectomy to fight possible peritonitis. General anesthesia is usually given, and the appendix is removed through a 4-inch incision or by laparoscopy. If you have peritonitis, the abdomen is also irrigated and drained of pus.

Within 12 hours of surgery you may get up and move around. You can usually return to normal activities in two to three weeks. If surgery is done with a laparoscope (a thin telescope-like instrument for viewing inside the abdomen), the incision is smaller and recovery is faster.

After an appendectomy, call your doctor if you have:

  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Increased pain in your abdomen
  • Dizziness/feelings of faintness
  • Blood in your vomit or urine
  • Increased pain and redness in your incision
  • Fever
  • Pus in the wound

Can Appendicitis Be Prevented?

There is no way to prevent appendicitis. However, appendicitis is less common in people who eat foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Substance Abuse and Addiction,

Is this topic for you?

This topic is about alcohol abuse and dependence in adults. For information about alcohol problems in teens or children, see the topicTeen Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

What are alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence?

Alcohol abuse means having unhealthy or dangerous drinking habits, such as drinking every day or drinking too much at a time. Alcohol abuse can harm your relationships, cause you to miss work, and lead to legal problems such as driving while drunk (intoxicated). When you abuse alcohol, you continue to drink even though you know your drinking is causing problems.

If you continue to abuse alcohol, it can lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is also called alcoholism. You are physically or mentally addicted to alcohol. You have a strong need, or craving, to drink. You feel like you must drink just to get by.

You might be dependent on alcohol if you have three or more of the following problems in a year:

  • You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.
  • You need to drink more to get the same effect.
  • You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. These include feeling sick to your stomachsweating, shakiness, andanxiety.
  • You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering from drinking, or you have given up other activities so you can drink.
  • You have tried to quit drinking or to cut back the amount you drink but haven’t been able to.
  • You continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.

Alcoholism is a long-term (chronic) disease. It’s not a weakness or a lack of willpower. Like many other diseases, it has a course that can be predicted, has known symptoms, and is influenced by your genes and your life situation.

 How much drinking is too much?

Alcohol is part of many people’s lives and may have a place in cultural and family traditions. It can sometimes be hard to know when you begin to drink too much.

You are at risk of drinking too much and should talk to your doctor if you are:1

  • A woman who has more than 3 drinks at one time or more than 7 drinks a week. A standard drink camera.gif is 1 can of beer, 1 glass of wine, or 1 mixed drink.
  • A man who has more than 4 drinks at one time or more than 14 drinks a week.
Interactive Tool: Do You Have a Drinking Problem?

What are some signs of alcohol abuse or dependence?

Certain behaviors may mean that you’re having trouble with alcohol. These include:

  • Drinking in the morning, often being drunk for long periods of time, or drinking alone.
  • Changing what you drink, such as switching from beer to wine because you think it will help you drink less or keep you from getting drunk.
  • Feeling guilty after drinking.
  • Making excuses for your drinking or doing things to hide your drinking, such as buying alcohol at different stores.
  • Not remembering what you did while you were drinking (blackouts).
  • Worrying that you won’t get enough alcohol for an evening or weekend.

How are alcohol problems diagnosed?

Alcohol problems may be diagnosed at a routine doctor visit or when you see your doctor for another problem. If a partner or friend thinks you have an alcohol problem, he or she may urge you to see your doctor.

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and past health, and he or she will do a physical exam and sometimes a mental healthassessment. The mental health assessment checks to see whether you may have a mental health problem, such as depression.

Your doctor also may ask questions or do tests to look for health problems linked to alcohol, such as cirrhosis.

How are they treated?

Treatment depends on how bad your alcohol problem is. Some people are able to cut back to a moderate level of drinking with help from a counselor. People who are addicted to alcohol may need medical treatment and may need to stay in a hospital or treatment center.

Your doctor may decide you need detoxification, or detox, before you start treatment. You need detox when you are physically addicted to alcohol. When you go through detox, you may need medicine to help with withdrawal symptoms.

After detox, you focus on staying alcohol-free, or sober. Most people receive some type of therapy, such as group counseling. You also may need medicine to help you stay sober.

When you are sober, you’ve taken the first step toward recovery. To gain full recovery, you need to take steps to improve other areas of your life, such as learning to deal with work and family. This makes it easier to stay sober.

You will likely need support to stay sober and in recovery. This can include counseling and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Recovery is a long-term process, not something you can achieve in a few weeks.

Treatment doesn’t focus on alcohol use alone. It addresses other parts of your life, like your relationships, work, medical problems, and living situation. Treatment and recovery support you in making positive changes so you can live without alcohol.

What can you do if you or another person has a problem with alcohol?

If you feel you have an alcohol problem, get help. Even if you are successful in other areas of your life, visit a doctor or go to a self-help group. The earlier you get help, the easier it will be to cut back or quit.

Helping someone with an alcohol problem is hard. If you’re covering for the person, you need to stop. For example, don’t make excuses for the person when he or she misses work.

You may be able to help by talking to the person about what his or her drinking does to you and others. Talk to the person in private, when the person is not using drugs or alcohol and when you are both calm. If the person agrees to get help, call for an appointment right away. Don’t wait.

SCOTUS will hear Obamacare subsidies case this session

Chief Justice Roberts, the newly insured nation turns its eyes to you.

Chief Justice Roberts, the newly insured nation
turns its eyes to you.

by Joan McCarter DailyKos,

The Supreme Court made an unexpected move into a highly politically charged case Friday, announcing that it will hear a challenge to the Obamacare subsidy structure this session.The Supreme Court, moving back into the deep controversy over the new health care law, agreed early Friday afternoon to decide how far the federal government can extend its program of subsidies to buyers of health insurance.  At issue is whether the program of tax credits applies only in the consumer marketplaces set up by 16 states, and not at federally run sites in 34 states.

Rather than waiting until Monday to announce its action, which would be the usual mode at this time in the Court year, the Justices released the order granting review of King v. Burwell not long after finishing their closed-door private Conference.

That the court didn’t wait until Monday is unusual. That the court is not waiting for the D.C. Circuit to conclude its en banc review of the companion Halbig v. Burwell case is also unusual. That this is happening the same week that Republicans swept Congress, largely on the promise of Obamacare repeal, is downright frightening. If the subsidies on the federal exchange are ruled unconstitutional, the structure of the law will be perhaps fatally destabilized. Millions who are receiving subsidies will lose them and will be unable to afford insurance.

In the Halbig case, the D.C. Circuit would almost certainly uphold the subsidies, as the lower courts have, with one exception. The exception is the 4th Circuit, which ruled for the plaintiffs on appeal. Normally, the Supreme Court would wait for a circuit split—two circuit courts ruling differently—before deciding to take a case. That they’re not waiting for that split is not an encouraging sign for the law. As the New York Times notes:It only takes four votes to add a case to the Supreme Court’s docket. They may have come from the four members of the court who were ready in 2012 to strike down the Affordable Care Act: Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Once again, it seems, the fate of the law will rest with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

This could be the four conservatives’ way of pressuring Roberts. Or it’s possible that five justices voted to hear the case now. Either way, this is not encouraging news.

Too stressed to be blessed

by Jim Clingman November 2nd, 2014

Black folks lead the nation in church-going, praise-dancing, shouting, call-and-response, and “whoopin.” We like to “get our church on” and feel good while we are there. We do our holy dances and run down the aisles to lay our money at the feet of preachers, some of whom “anoint” it, by stepping on it, before they spend it. During a 2 to 3-hour period on Sundays, Black churchgoers display their finest clothing, which in many cases pretentiously shrouds our misery, pain, anger, contempt, double-lives, and any number of issues we face during the other six days of the week.

For some, church service is a release, an ecstatic elixir for what ails us—at least for a few hours. It is a time for us to exchange pleasantries with others: “How are you this morning?” “Fine, just fine” is the usual reply, despite knowing all along that we are stressed out about something. We have the all sayings down pat. “Too anointed to be disappointed;” “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good” (That one is quite true); and “I’m too blessed to be stressed,” just to name a few. But what is really behind the masks that we wear? What is beneath the fine clothes and the forced smiles?

One would think that Black church folks would be the most content, being that many of us say we are “Sanctified and Holy Ghost baptized.” But every day many of us prove that we are not content, we are not happy, we are not satisfied, and we are far from being “too blessed to be stressed.” Rather, we are really “too stressed to be blessed.”

The vast majority of our lives is spent dealing with financial issues in the form of working a job or two, with all the overtime we can get, trying to figure out how to pay our bills when we end up every 30 days with more month than money, and studying numerology in an effort to hit the “Lootery,” better known as the Lottery.

We are stressed out about that car we bought that we could not afford or that house we purchased just to impress the Joneses. We are angry because our spouse paid too much for a pair of shoes, a suit, or a big screen TV. We argue about whose money it is, who earned it, and who will spend it. And to make matters even worse, we go on shopping binges to get even, spending money we don’t have, buying something we don’t need, to impress someone who doesn’t care.

More stress, but that’s alright, we can get a recharge at church, right? We get paid on Friday, spend it on Saturday, go to church on Sunday and fall down on our knees to pray, “Lord, have mercy on me.” Just like the song, “Stormy Monday Blues.”

Economic stress, in addition to all the other stressors in our lives, can cause us to miss out on our blessings, thus, too often we are just the opposite of the cute saying, “Too blessed to be stressed.”

We are indeed blessed each day we are allowed to live, but we take that for granted, and the rest of the day is shot because we failed to acknowledge that all-important blessing. Each morning we immediately allow stress to engulf us; we wallow in it and give in to its sinister motives. All we know is, “Gotta make that money!” “Gotta get paid!” We have already been blessed but we are too busy acknowledging our stress to recognize our blessing.

Black folks earn more than $1 trillion annually; where is it? Are we too stressed to be good stewards of that blessing? Anything someone else makes, we buy it. Is that good stewardship of our financial blessings? We fail to see our blessings because we are blinded by the stress to obtain more things. Our problem is that we give away our financial blessings in exchange for stuff other folks make, thereby denying ourselves the greater benefit of our financial blessings.

Since this is a scripturally based article, I suppose its application should begin in the Church. A very practical agenda for Black churches should include stewardship seminars, forums for members who have their own businesses and for those who may want to become entrepreneurs; and our church leaders should always do everything they can to empower the members collectively.

Being too stressed to be blessed is a sad state of affairs for anyone, especially Black folks. I know we are the most stressed people in this nation, but it does not have to stay that way. By implementing some very practical economic strategies we can start telling the truth when we say, “I am too blessed to be stressed.”

Obama chooses U.S. prosecutor Lynch to be next attorney general, ahead of expected confirmation showdown

President Obama selects Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General.

President Obama selects Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General.

President Obama, in nominating New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch on Saturday to be the country’s next attorney general, called her the most qualified public servant for the job. However Lynch will still face a difficult confirmation process in Congress.

Republicans have already told the White House that pushing any nominee through Congress while Democrats still have control of the Senate will be difficult and politically damaging.

Republicans want to oversee Lynch’s confirmation in the next Congress, after taking control Tuesday of the upper chamber.

If confirmed, Lynch will become the first African-American woman in the job, succeeding Eric Holder, who was the first African-American head of the Justice Department.

“I couldn’t be more proud to nominate Loretta Lynch as our next attorney general,” Obama said during a brief White House ceremony. “I can think of no better public servant to be the next attorney general.”

The president cited Lynch’s successful efforts as U.S. attorney for eastern New York in prosecuting terrorists, mobsters and Democratic and Republican public officials.

“It’s pretty hard to be more qualified for the job than Loretta,” Obama said.

Lynch, 55, is a Harvard Law School graduate and popular prosecutor who is currently serving her second stint as the U.S. attorney for eastern New York, which covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

“No one gets to this place — this room, this podium this moment — by themselves,” Lynch said Saturday in thanking the president, Holder, her New York colleagues, family and others.

“I will wake up every morning with the protection of the American people my first thought,” said Lynch, who must be confirmed by the Senate to get the job.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds the confirmation hearings, has already indicated that he is unhappy that Obama is making the nomination now, instead of during the new session, when Republicans will have the majority in both chambers.

“Democrat senators who just lost their seats shouldn’t confirm (a) new attorney general,” he tweeted on Friday, after news surfaced that Lynch would officially be nominated Saturday. “(They) should be vetted by (the) new Congress.”

Still, Holder express confidence on Saturday for Lynch and that she would be confirmed.

“Loretta Lynch is an extraordinarily talented attorney, a dedicated public servant, and a leader of considerable experience and consummate skill,” he said. “I am certain that she will be an outstanding attorney general, and I am delighted to join President Obama in congratulating her on this prestigious appointment.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, earlier expressed “every confidence that Ms. Lynch will receive a very fair, but thorough, vetting by the Judiciary Committee.”

“U.S. attorneys are rarely elevated directly to this position, so I look forward to learning more about her, how she will interact with Congress, and how she proposes to lead the department,” Grassley said. “I’m hopeful that her tenure, if confirmed, will restore confidence in the attorney general as a politically independent voice for the American people.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who presumably will become the majority leader in the next session, issued a statement Friday night urging the Senate to wait until January to vote on the nomination.

“Ms. Lynch will receive fair consideration by the Senate,” he said. “And her nomination should be considered in the new Congress through regular order.”

Lynch was a federal prosecutor in New York when she encountered an astonishing case of police brutality: the broomstick sodomy of a Haitian immigrant in a precinct bathroom.

The 1997 assault on Abner Louima set off street protests, frayed race relations and led to one of the most important federal civil rights cases of the past two decades. Lynch was a key part of the team that prosecuted officers accused in the beating or of covering it up.

Obama’s nomination of Lynch comes as the Justice Department she would take over continues to investigate the police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo., and seems partly intended to convey the message that police misconduct and civil rights will remain principal focus even after the departure of Holder.

Lynch has overseen corruption, terrorism and gang cases. But it’s her involvement some 15 years ago in the Louima prosecution that gave her experience that is in step with a core priority of the department.

Selecting someone with civil rights experience could reaffirm the government’s commitment to that cause.

That figures to be an especially important signal to send as community members in Ferguson brace for the real prospect that state and federal investigations into the shooting death of Michael Brown will close without criminal charges.

Holder has said he expects his federal investigation to conclude before he resigns, but Lynch would inherit a civil rights probe into the practices of the entire Ferguson Police Department.

Lynch also was the top federal prosecutor for Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Staten Island during the 2012 conviction of Najibullah Zazi for a foiled plot to bomb the city’s subway system.

Her office successfully prosecuted a New York state assemblyman caught accepting bribes in a sting operation, charged the head of a Mexican drug cartel with 12 murders and, more recently, filed tax evasion charges against Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who won re-election this month. She also worked closely with Justice Department leaders by heading a U.S. attorneys committee that advises Holder on policy.

Lynch was as U.S. attorney from 1999 to 2001, as the Louima case slogged through the courts on appeals and new trials. She left for private practice before being nominated again in 2010 to run the office.

Lynch, who grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, “rode on her father’s shoulders to his church, where students would meet to organize anti-segregation boycotts,” Obama said. “She was inspired by stories about her grandfather, a sharecropper in the 1930s, who helped folks in his community who got in trouble with the law and had no recourse under the Jim Crow system.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Robert Reich: Why Dems Lost The Election And What They Can Do About It

robert_reichby GleninCAFollow,

Today former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich gave his take on what Democrats should take away from this week’s election loss:

If you want a single reason for why Democrats lost big Tuesday it’s this: Median family income continues to drop, the first “recovery” when this has occurred. Meanwhile, all the economic gains are going to the richest Americans. If the Republicans think they can reverse this through their supply-side, trickle-down, fiscal austerity policies, they’re profoundly mistaken. The public will soon discover this.

But if the Democrats believe they can reverse it simply by raising taxes on the rich and redistributing to everyone else, they are mistaken, too.

We need to raise the minimum wage, invest in education and infrastructure, lift the cap on income subject to Social Security payroll taxes, resurrect Glass-Steagall and limit the size of the banks, make it easier for low-wage workers to unionize, raise taxes on corporations with high ratios of CEO pay to average worker pay, and much more.

In other words, we need an agenda for shared prosperity. Over the next two years the Democrats have an opportunity to advance one. If they fail to do so, we’ll need a new opposition party that represents the interests of the vast majority.

How Germany managed to abolish university tuition fees

Should others follow the lead of the country with the oldest university in Europe? Jan Beckendorf, CC BY-SA

Should others follow the lead of the country with the oldest university in Europe? Jan Beckendorf, CC BY-SA

By Barbara Kehm Professor of Leadership and International Strategic Development in Higher Education (Robert Owen Centre) at University of Glasgow,

If Germany has done it, why can’t we? That’s the question being asked by many students around the world in countries that charge tuition fees to university. From this semester, all higher education will be free for both Germans and international students at universities across the country, after Lower Saxony became the final state to abolish tuition fees.

It’s important to be aware of two things when it comes to understanding how German higher education is funded and how the country got to this point. First, Germany is a federal country with 16 autonomous states responsible for education, higher education and cultural affairs. Second, the German higher education system – consisting of 379 higher education institutions with about 2.4m students – is a public system which is publicly funded. There are a number of small private institutions but they enrol less than 5% of the total student body.

Back and forth with fees

Until 1970-71, West-German higher education students had to pay tuition fees at the level of about 120 to 150 German Marks per semester. There were needs-based exceptions but basically these fees had to be paid by every student.

When they came to power in the late 1960s, Germany’s Social Democrats supported higher education expansion by promoting widening participation and equal opportunities and by increasing the number of higher education institutions. From 1971 onwards, a system of state financial assistance for students was established and tuition fees were abolished. The assistance came first as a grant, later as a mix of half repayable-loan and half grant.

During the peak period of higher education expansion in the late 1960s, exclusive funding of higher education by the states became too much of a burden. New provisions were introduced for a framework law laying down the general principles governing higher education across West Germany. The first law, introduced in 1976, included a prohibition of tuition fees.

Despite a flirtation with the idea of re-introducing tuition fees under the conservative-liberal coalition government in the 1980s, a stalemate ensued over whether tuition fees would lead state governments to reduce their regular funding to universities.

Fees win out in late 1990s

The fall of the Berlin Wall and German Unification put all reform plans on hold for several years until the whole East German system of higher education institutions and academies had been evaluated and reformed. A new discussion about tuition fees then started around the mid-1990s, with their re-introduction seen as a solution to a number of existing problems in the higher education system.

Around the end of the 1990s, the dam of resistance broke by allowing the introduction of fees for so-called long-term students: students who had been enrolled several semesters past the regular duration of their study programme and had not finished.

Those states with a conservative government filed a law suit in 2002 against the framework law of higher education, arguing that its prohibition of tuition fees was an illegitimate intervention into the legal authority for educational matters of the states. The Federal Constitutional Court upheld the complaint in 2005; immediately, seven states introduced tuition fees.

In 2006, the framework law was abolished under wider reforms of German federalism. Tuition fees were capped at 500 Euros per semester, but Berlin and all East-German states refused to introduce them.

Excellence and crisis

Yet the same reform of federalism led the states to reclaim complete authority and responsibility for their higher education. This led the Federal Ministry for Education and Research to refuse any further co-funding with states on higher education. And it left the federal ministry with a lot of spare money. A large part of this was eventually invested into the German Excellence Initiative, a competitive funding programme launched in 2005 to support a group of universities to become global players.

But this also meant that the poorer states faced a funding crisis for their higher education institutions. The problem was aggravated by the fact the a number of the poorer states were located in East Germany, where all states had decided not to introduce tuition fees in the hopes to attract more students.

Gradual abolition

In successive years, as soon as state government elections have elected social democratic or green party governments, tuition fees have been abolished. The state of Hesse, for example, had tuition fees for only a single year. In the end only two states were left with tuition fees: Bavaria and Lower Saxony. The conservative government of Bavaria gave into the mainstream and abolished tuition fees in the winter semester 2013-14, with Lower Saxony abolishing fees in the winter semester 2014-15.

But the heads of higher education institutions negotiated with their ministries, arguing that they could not properly do their job of offering high-quality student experience if the loss of income from tuition fees was not compensated one way or another.

So most states have agreed to compensate their higher education institutions with extra money – not quite covering the loss in fees though – which was to be invested exclusively into the improvement of the quality of studies and teaching. Most ministries decreed that students had to be involved in decisions about how and for what purposes the money was going to be spent.

How funding works now

The present situation is that all higher education institutions receive a budget from the responsible ministry of the state in which they are located, based on annual or biennial negotiations. This basic budget is complemented by additional agreements between higher education institutions and the state concerning the intake of additional numbers of students and the money to compensate the loss of income from tuition fees.

There are additional funding programmes – some funded jointly by the states and the federal ministry – for supporting and promoting research, in the competition for excellence.

Of course, most higher education institutions continue to feel underfunded. The pressure on academic staff to attract external research funding has increased, as has competition for such grants. Still, compared to other countries in Europe, German higher education institutions continue to be rather generously funded by their states – an estimated 80% of their overall budgetary needs. There are also ample opportunities and considerable amounts of external research funding available.

Publicly funded, but for how long?

Despite the fact that competition for funding and accountability has increased in German higher education, there is still a general consensus that it is a public system and should be state-funded. The abolition of tuition fees, even by conservative state governments, reflects this consensus too. In fact, the new Federal Minister for Education and Research, a member of the Conservative Party, recently announced a major increase in the levels of needs-based state financial assistance to students that will start in the 2016-17 academic year.

But funding varies considerably depending on different institutional and regional factors. The winners of the German Excellence Initiative have received and are receiving considerable amounts of additional funding in the hope that more German universities will be able to achieve better positions on world university rankings. There were 12 German universities in the 2014-15 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, up from 10 the year before.

Higher education institutions in the poorer states (most of them in the east of Germany) receive less money and academic staff are being paid lower salaries while higher education institutions in the richer states (typically in the south) are better funded.

The debate about tuition fees – though dead for the moment – can easily be revived in the future. It has not been dropped from the agenda once and for all. Government policies continue to be in favour of tuition fees, most representatives of institutional leadership are as well, though for different reasons. But there is currently a lack of general public support. Once this has changed – and influential advisory bodies and think tanks are working towards such a change – the idea of tuition fees will be introduced again.

How Racism Stole Black Childhood

People who are black and poor aren’t allowed to be young and irresponsible.

When former president George W. Bush was questioned repeatedly about his cocaine use and heavy drinking as a young man, he responded jokingly, “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.” There is a wry logic to such an answer, even if Bush hardly exemplifies its most important lesson: there’s only so much maturity one can expect from those who are not fully mature. (His shenanigans continued well into adulthood. He was arrested for drunk driving when he was 30 and didn’t stop drinking until he was 40. “He tried everything his father had tried,” wrote his former speechwriter David Frum. “And, well into his forties, succeeded at almost nothing.”)

There’s a reason why car insurers have higher premiums for young drivers, and young offenders are— or, at least, should be—treated with more leniency in the criminal-justice system. Adolescence is a stage in life with its own dynamic. Young people have the capacity to perform as adults—they can produce children, drive cars and kill people—without the life experience to always put those abilities to good use. They are more likely to take risks and less likely to understand what those risks entail. They are experimenting not only with substances (alcohol and drugs) but with relationships (sexual, familial, fraternal) and lifestyles. They are working out what kind of person they want to be, and in that process they are about as likely to make sound judgments as the elderly are to make rash ones.

The trouble is that the penalty for being “young and irresponsible” is not the same for everyone. Research shows that a black job applicant with no criminal record is no more likely to get the job than a white applicant who has just been released from prison. When, like Bush, you’re white, wealthy and well-connected your parents can pay for rehab, therapy, a good lawyer, a decent education, and find a friend to put you on the payroll in the hope that you will one day sort yourself out and, who knows, maybe become president.

But when you’re black and poor—more likely to be stopped and frisked, and unable to afford a lawyer—the price for youthful transgression is not only high; it could last a lifetime. Black and white youth, for example, use marijuana at about the same rate, but black youths are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for it. That setback triggers a cascade of others. “Once you’re labeled a felon,” writes Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, “the old forms of discrimination— employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

The law is the law, and those who smoke marijuana (in most states) know it is illegal. But when the stakes are that high and the odds that skewed, black youngsters don’t have the luxury to learn from their mistakes. “The great privilege of the Americans is to be able to retrieve the mistakes they make,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his landmark book, Democracy in America. But for black youth, the great American myth of personal reinvention is more elusive.

A primary-care physician recently described to me the lengths people go to keep their children out of trouble on the South Side of Chicago. “They create cocoons for these young people. They transport them everywhere. They don’t get on public transportation. They don’t go out and hang out in the parks, because it’s just too dangerous.” Not content with hobbling their childhood with poverty, poor education and insufficiently safe places to play, racism is stealing their youth. Their transgressions are treated as evidence of a deeper, intolerable and intractable pathology. The Obamas aren’t poor, but it takes no great feat of imagination to understand how differently things would have gone if one of the Obama daughters had become a teenage unwed mother like one of the Palins.

As the reporting on recent police killings reveals, such warped reasoning follows them to their early graves. Take Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot dead by a white policeman in Ferguson.


Shariah McKenzie - (submitted photo)

Shariah McKenzie – (submitted photo)

Staff Reports,

Ever since watching the show “A Baby Story” on the Discovery Fit and Health Channel, Shariah McKenzie knew she wanted to be involved in the birth of children:

“The birth process is a miracle happening in front of your eyes,” Ms. McKenzie said. “To get a chance to be part of a sacred moment in a person’s life is a gift.”

Ms. McKenzie, a 2008 graduate of Americus-Sumter High, is in the process of completing her Master’s of Science in Nursing as a family nurse practitioner and a midwife from Emory University. In 2012, she graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She recently passed the required courses and exam to become certified as a registered nurse in the state of Georgia.

While at Americus-Sumter High School, she played on the basketball team, ran cross-country and track and field, was the senior editor of the yearbook and SGA president, and played trombone in the band. She took advantage of both the AP classes available at the high school and the joint enrollment program with Georgia Southwestern State University, whereby she received college credit for classes taken in high school.

Her education at the high school prepared her for the rigorous academic environment of the Emory nursing program, particularly the classes of Mrs. Lynn Heath in social studies, Karen Kinnamon in English, and Mr. Coleman Price in chemistry. She also was greatly influenced by her coach, Evelyn Wright, and her middle school teacher, LaShaunda Thomas.

Her story is one of a work ethic passed down through generations that blossomed in the halls of one of America’s most prestigious universities. But it all began shampooing hair.


After attending school and doing her homework, as well as whatever afterschool activities in which she may have been involved, Shariah ended up at her mother’s business, Dorothea’s Beauty Salon, on North Lee Street. In a building remodeled by her grandfather, and a business her mother has kept thriving for thirty years, Shariah cleaned the salon, took out hair rollers, assisted clients, and eventually graduated to the status of “shampoo girl” — cleaning the hair of customers before her mother styled it.

“Helping out around the shop helped me keep an efficient schedule,” she said. “I had to get my work done before I could play.”

But more importantly, she saw her mother, Dorothea Lusane McKenzie, working often until ten or eleven p.m. after showing up at eight a.m. each morning to teach cosmetology at South Georgia Technical College. Shariah’s grandfather, Henry Lusane, built her first salon in Sunset Park, and remodeled her current salon. At seventy-five years of age, Mr. Lusane shows no sign of retiring and is still the owner of Lusane and Son Construction.

Shariah’s grandmother, Doris Lusane, played an integral part in raising Shariah, and later in life became the manager of Dorothea’s Beauty Salon until her passing. She also influenced her granddaughter in other ways:

“My grandmother was a big promoter of education,” said Ms. McKenzie. “At sixty-six years of age, she went back to school and received her GED.”

The combined example of her family provided Shariah with a work ethic that got her through difficult classes and new environments and that led to her success as a student.

“I learned from them that if something needs to be done, you do it in a timely and professional manner,” Shariah said. “It’s not just about putting something together quickly, but instead it is about doing something you are satisfied with and something that is presentable.”


Her mother realized, too, the importance of her daughter knowing that there was a bigger world outside of her hometown. As a reward for getting good grades each year, rather than buying her a gift or giving her money, she told her daughter she would take her anywhere she wanted to go. Their trips ranged from New Orleans to Orlando to New York.

Dorothea understood that what she was doing was not only a reward for good work in the classroom, but a vital part of her child’s education:

“I always tried to get her experienced to a world outside of her own,” Dorothea McKenzie said. “It made her world bigger. It showed her great possibilities.”

For an undergraduate graduation gift, the mother and daughter got in the car and drove cross-country to Los Angeles.

“We went wherever the road led us each day,” Dorothea said. “If we saw an interesting billboard, we’d stop. But we knew we were going to end up in Los Angeles.”

Shariah continued to make travel a part of her education, going on a study abroad trip to Ghana and later a service learning trip to Eleuthera, in the Bahamas. In each Third World country, she encountered poverty unlike anything she had seen in America, but was also amazed by the spirit in people that overcame whatever challenges life set out before them:

“We are blessed in this country,” she said. “Even a poor person here has a lot more than some people there.

“But you see people there making the most with just a little. Travel has opened my eyes.”

Foreign travel began for her at Americus-Sumter High School, where she went to France on a cultural immersion trip with the French Club.


“Hard work and preparation are the most important things. You can’t just take a test and expect to pass. You have to study.”

“There is always hope. I see a lot of kids where hope is taken away from them, and that is wrong. You just have to take things one day at a time, one hurdle at a time, and you will eventually reach your goal.”

State of the Union

Rhonda Brown, 1998 graduate of Americus High School - (Submitted photo)

Rhonda Brown, 1998 graduate of Americus High School – (Submitted photo)

Submitted by Rhonda Brown, D.D,

Politics is a rather tedious game these days. After rallying together communities around the country to vote, we somehow ended up with a Republican controlled Senate and House in the midterm elections. This effectively renders President Obama’s last two years in office as ineffectual. Now it’s been nothing but a sniping contest among elected officials and talking heads over the state of the union. So let’s talk about that.

I believe the issue is that our country is being held hostage by a broken two-party system and a constituency with terrible short term memory. If you disagree, let me just refresh your mental gears for a minute: The last time the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate was 2006, despite the outrages of Hurricane Katrina, a quagmire in the Middle East, and Bush’s fiscal policy that insulated big business in 2005 before the nasty economic slump hit in 2008. The rest of us were left to fend for ourselves.

Since then, our politicians have consistently encouraged the political apathy among the populace. While we absorb prepackaged sound bytes on problems “too large to solve,” they grandstand like celebrities with performances designed to
spin national issues past the point of reality.

Here’s the deal:

If they want to talk about immigration, let’s begin with the illegal European immigrants who frequently get in through the Canadian border, stayhere on expired or nonexistent visas, and rake in $70,000 a year while collecting food stamps. I’ve met these people. Illegal immigration is not simply a Hispanic issue and never has been.

If they want to discuss education, start with why it costs triple the amount to equip American students with an education so poor that ranks near the bottom of the list of developed countries.

If they want to have a platform on healthcare, why not try acknowledging that illness is an equal opportunity employer that doesn’t give a damn about anybody’s tax bracket. Then they can explain why more of our money goes to bloated medical administrations, insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms instead of towards actual services.

If race is going to be on the table, we should ask why the subject is always spun negatively about the Big Four: Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and anybody suspected of being from the Middle East. The more explosive the story and the spin, the higher the ratings and revenue for these media corporations. And speaking of which, maybe if we stopped listening to talking heads that get paid enormous salaries to argue on 24-hour news networks and started watching actual legislative
sessions on C-Span, we might get somewhere.

To my mind, the real question is whether we want change. In 2008, our country said we did. In 2014, we’ve proven that we don’t. Being a Republican or a Democrat isn’t the key anymore. The Republicans who launched entire careers on
opposing President Obama at every turn are just as bad as the Democrats who rode into office on his coattails without giving proper acknowledgement. Besides, all these labels just keep us divided.

At the end of the day, we are all *Americans*. We will sink on this Titanic together if we don’t do something, even the ones who believe they have their first class seats on lifeboats. So if we want a functional government, we have to do more than turn out at the polls. We have to show up at local level for City Council, Board of Education, County Commissioner, District and State Office meetings to make our voices heard.

Before these people can even think about another term in office, they need to explain from their desks why they’ve failed. We need to stop giving them time to construct these pretty partisan speeches in front of the cameras.

Too many powerful people in this country have counted on our indifference, from the Corporate thugs on Wall Street to the crooked lobbyists writing checks in Washington to block progress.

Real change does not and hasn’t ever started at the polls. It begins with the daily fight to unite and better our communities and each other.

Advocacy is a responsibility that falls on us all. Our politicians are more than happy to have a constituency of sleepwalkers that remember their citizenship every 2-4 years in November. And if that’s the case, we don’t have to wait for a zombie apocalypse. We’re already there.

The Republican Senate Will Love Loretta Lynch

Loretta Lynch, Obama's nominee to replace outgoing attorney general Eric Holder. (photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee to replace outgoing attorney general Eric Holder. (photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News,

After the news broke of Eric Holder’s departure from the DOJ, I called on President Obama to nominate Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, based on his exemplary record of defending consumers and citizens from predatory banks, big oil, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical industry. My more cynical readers commented that Obama was too much of a corporatist to nominate Hood, and that whoever Holder’s successor would be, they would be completely subservient to the banks. And after the news of Lynch’s nomination and looking into her past, I can say with confidence that those readers were right.

Right after graduating from law school, Lynch went to work as a litigation assistant for the prestigious New York-based law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel between 1984 and 1990. CG&R attorneys represented some of the more notorious figures behind the Savings and Loan Scandal of the 1980s and 1990s, including a man who had personal dealings with Charles Keating. In its profile of Lynch, the DOJ’s own website describes her as someone with extensive experience in “white collar criminal defense.” It’s very likely that Lynch went from Harvard straight to defending some of the worst financial criminals the country had ever seen at the time. On CG&R’s website, the “securities litigation and white collar defense” section describes the kind of crooks the firm defends:

Recent matters include the alleged manipulation of the US Dollar London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and multi-billion dollar federal and state court class and individual actions involving subprime and structured finance products.… We have handled some of the most significant investigations arising from existing and emerging regulation in the white collar arena, including for some of the largest transnational companies and banks as well as the largest securities rating agency.… Our securities litigation and white collar defense practice is top-ranked by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 and Benchmark Litigation.

Lynch basically got her first six years of white collar criminal defense experience working at the firm that is currently responsible for keeping the bankers behind the great subprime mortgage grift out of jail. CG&R is also defending the financial institutions that jacked up interest rates on everything from student loans to home loans out of greedy self-interest. They even defended the agencies that knowingly rated worthless mortgage-backed securities as AAA, setting up millions to lose their retirement savings in a snap.

After six years of exemplary work at this soulless law firm, Lynch walked through the revolving door to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern district of New York, which plays a major part in investigating financial crimes. She gradually worked her way up the ladder, going from an assistant U.S. attorney in 1990 to becoming the unit’s Deputy Chief of General Crimes in 1993. She was chief of the office’s Long Island division by 1998, and was tapped as U.S. Attorney by June of 1999, where she remained until 2001. Then, Lynch walked back through the revolving door to return to defending the worst of America’s worst corporate criminals.

Lynch couldn’t wait to get started at the Hogan & Hartson law firm (now known as Hogan Lovells). Interestingly enough, Lynch was a partner at Hogan, working alongside John Roberts, the current chief justice of what is the most corporate-friendly Supreme Court in decades. Hogan’s website doesn’t list its past clients, but you can get a pretty good idea by visiting the site’s “financial institutions” section:

We represent banks, brokers, insurers, asset managers, investment funds, regulators, and other market participants, large and small, on the full range of legal services. This includes corporate, competition, employment, finance, IT, intellectual property, litigation, pensions, real estate and tax.

As soon as Lynch joined Hogan in 2002, she interrupted her own vacation, came to the office without pay and immediately got to work defending an Arthur Andersen partner who had helped cook the books for Enron. From 2003 to 2005, Lynch sat on the board of the New York Federal Reserve,working directly under future U.S. Treasury secretary Tim Geithner. The New York Fed has beenwidely documented for its incestuous relationships with the big Wall Street banks it’s supposed to regulate. The revolving door spun once again in 2010, when President Obama appointed Lynch to her old job as U.S. Attorney of New York’s Eastern District.

Drawing on her past experience of standing up for white collar crooks, Lynch has spent the last four years treating big banks with kid gloves. Under Lynch’s oversight, the U.S. government allowed HSBC to pay a fine that amounted to five weeks of profit for the bank after they admitted tolaundering $800 million for Mexican drug cartels. Lynch was also responsible for Citibank paying a $7 billion settlement– $3.8 billion of which was later billed to U.S. taxpayers – rather than going to jail over misleading millions of investors about mortgage-backed securities that were doomed to fail.

There’s really no question about whether or not Lynch will survive her senate confirmation hearing. Senator Dick Durbin once referred to his chamber as overly subservient to the big banks, saying, “They own the place.” Bankers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the president’s pick for the nation’s top lawyer won’t try to put any of them in jail. The senators they sponsored in the last election cycle will likely confirm her with haste.

No Matter What, We Fight

Elizabeth Warren calls on Democrats to continue to fight. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Warren calls on Democrats to continue to fight. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Elizabeth Warren, Reader Supported News,

The polls just closed here in Massachusetts, and we’re all expecting a long night as the results come in across the country. Before we find out the final tally, I wanted to take a moment to say a heartfelt thank you.

In 2012, you defied the odds, helping a first-time candidate raise money from more small donors than any Senate campaign in the history of this country. You’ve always had my back, and I’ve worked hard to always have yours.

But here’s what I’m most proud about from that historic campaign: You didn’t stop when the polls closed on November 6, 2012. You knew that this was never just about me – it’s about fighting for what we believe in.

It’s about standing up to the big banks when they break the law, and fighting to help our students getting crushed with debt. It’s about protecting and expanding Social Security for our seniors, raising the minimum wage, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work and access to birth control.

It’s also about fighting for candidates who will stand by our side in the U.S. Senate. This election cycle, our grassroots supporters pulled together to help raise an incredible $6 million for Democratic campaigns and committees across the country. You raised critical funds that our candidates needed if they were going to have a fighting chance against Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and all those Super PAC attack ads.

And it wasn’t just about the money – it was about our values. I crisscrossed the country to 16 states to fight for the Democratic majority and to talk about who we are as a people, and what kind of country we want to be, and tens of thousands of you volunteered your time to knock on doors and make phone calls.

We made this about our values and about our democracy. We worked hard to get people to the polls, to encourage those who are losing faith in the political process, to remind everyone that we have power when we vote.

The political pundits wrote us off weeks ago. Shoot, some of them wrote us off months ago. They said the map this year was just too tough – that Democrats should give up and not even try. But when we were up against the ropes, you just fought back harder. You fought for yourself, for your family, and for working families all across the country.

Change is hard, especially when the playing field is tilted so far against us. But I know that if you don’t fight, you can’t win – and we fought for every last vote. No matter what happens tonight, be proud of what you’ve worked for. We’re going to keep fighting every day to level the playing field for working families.

Obama’s Last Chance

By Robert Parry,

The Democrats clearly deserved to lose on Tuesday, though the Republicans may not have deserved to win. Indeed, there was almost a yin-yang quality to the Democratic rout/Republican victory in which the Democrats played into almost all the Republican themes, making the outcome feel inevitable.

Most notably, President Barack Obama and the Democrats shelved all the “contentious” issues that might have rallied their “base” to turn out and vote. Immigration reform was put on hold; release of the Senate report on “torture” was postponed; what to do about “global warming” was ignored; the argument about the value of activist government was silenced; etc., etc., etc.

On a personal level, supposedly polarizing “liberal” candidates, such as actor Ashley Judd in Kentucky, were pushed aside in favor of supposedly more “electable” candidates, like Alison Lundergan Grimes. Unwilling to say whether she had voted for President Obama in 2012, Grimes managed to win only 41 percent of the vote against the perennially unpopular Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Obama himself was virtually sidelined from many races in what was an implicit Democratic admission of the Republican theme that Obama was a failure and that he deserved an electoral repudiation. The smell of fear pervaded the Democratic ranks – and panic is not the most inspiring of emotions.

In some states, the Democrats seemed enamored with what might be called the “nepotism strategy,” counting on the “magic” of political names and family connections to somehow overcome their lack of message and their image of timidity: Pryor in Arkansas, Grimes in Kentucky, Nunn in Georgia – all went down to decisive defeat.

In the bigger picture, the Democratic failure seems part and parcel with the broader weakness of progressivism in the United States. The Right continues to dominate in areas of media and messaging, investing billions upon billions of dollars in a vertically integrated media apparatus, from the older technologies of print, radio and TV to the newer ones around the Internet. The Right also has layers upon layers of think tanks and other propaganda outlets.

By comparison, the Left has never made anything close to a comparable investment. And, even the ostensibly “liberal” network MSNBC and the purportedly “liberal” New York Times fall into line behind neoconservative foreign policy initiatives at nearly every turn, such as the “regime change” campaigns in Syria, Iran and Ukraine. So, too, do many of the supposedly “liberal” think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation.

Indeed, a remarkable reality about U.S. policy circles is that six years after the end of George W. Bush’s disastrous neocon-dominated presidency, the neocons continue to dominate America’s foreign policy thinking, albeit sometimes rebranded as “liberal interventionism.”

A ‘Closet Realist’

Though President Obama may be something of a “closet realist” – hoping to work quietly with foreign adversaries to resolve international crises – he has never taken firm control over his own foreign policy.

Obama apparently thought that neocon holdovers from the Bush years, like Gen. David Petraeus or Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, and Democratic neocons, such as his first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would somehow drop their ideological certitudes and cooperate with his approach.

Instead, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies burrowed deep into the foreign policy bureaucracy and pop up periodically to press for their war-mongering agendas. A distracted President Obama always seems outmaneuvered – from the 2009 Afghan “surge,” to the 2010 stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, to the 2011 civil wars in Libya and Syria, to the 2014 Ukrainian coup d’etat.

Arriving late at each new crisis, Obama usually signs off on what the neocons want, although he intermittently pushes for his “realist” approach, such as collaborating with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in avoiding a U.S. war on Syria in 2013 and negotiating a peaceful settlement to Iran’s nuclear program, which could be completed in 2014 if Obama doesn’t lose his nerve.

The big question now is whether the Democrats’ humiliating defeat on Nov. 4 will teach Obama and the party any meaningful lessons – or will the Democrats just kid themselves into thinking that “demographics” will save them or that they will prevail in 2016 by avoiding controversial stands and putting up another famous “name,” in Hillary Clinton.

Will Obama finally realize that he has to revert back to his inspiring messages of 2008 on issues such as his promise of government transparency? For the past six years, transparency has worked only one way: the government gets to look into the secrets of citizens while the citizens have no right to know about the government’s secrets.

There is a fundamental disconnect between this image of an intrusive federal government spying on everyone and the progressive concept that an active federal government is necessary to address fundamental problems facing the American people and the world, such as what to do about global warming, income inequality, corporate power, racial injustice, etc.

What I’m hearing from many young progressives is that they are so resentful of government intrusions into their lives that they are veering more toward libertarianism, even though it offers no solutions to most environmental, economic and social problems. If Obama hopes to stanch this flow of progressive youth to the right, he needs to finally recognize that the people need transparency on the government and the government must learn to trust the people.

An obvious first step would be to override CIA objections and release the report on torture during the Bush years. And while Obama is at it, he should make public the secret pages from the 9/11 report relating to Saudi funding for al-Qaeda terrorists.

I’m also told that Obama has information that contradicts his administration’s early claims blaming the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack on the Syrian government and faulting Russia for the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. Those two incidents fueled dangerous international confrontations – with the United States nearly going to war against the Syrian government in 2013 and starting a new Cold War with Russia in 2014.

If Obama has U.S. intelligence information that points the finger of blame in different directions, he should correct the impressions left by Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials. The neocons won’t like that – and some “liberal interventionists” may have egg on their faces, too – but misleading propaganda has no place in a democracy. False information must be removed as quickly as possible.

Similarly, Obama should commit his administration to expediting release of historical secrets. Currently, it takes many years, even decades, to pry loose embarrassing “secrets” from the U.S. government, often allowing false historical narratives to take hold or creating a hot house for conspiracy theories. It’s way past time for the U.S. government to give the American people their history back.

By releasing as much information as possible about important topics, Obama could finally begin to win back the people’s trust, not just in him but in the government. Nothing is as corrosive to democratic governance as a belief by the people that the government doesn’t trust them – and that they, in turn, have no reason to trust the government.

How We Punish People for Being Poor

by Rebecca Vallas,

Rebecca Vallas

Rebecca Vallas

This past weekend, I was part of a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perrywith New York Times reporter Michael Corkery, whose reporting on the rise in subprime auto loans is as horrifying as it is important.

In what seems a reprisal of the predatory practices that led up to the subprime mortgage crisis, low-income individuals are being sold auto loans at twice the actual value of the car, with interest rates as high as 29 percent. They can end up with monthly payments of $500—more than most of the borrowers spend on food in a month, and certainly more than most can realistically afford. Many dealers appear in essence to be setting up low-income borrowers to fail.

Dealers are also making use of a new collection tool called a “starter-interrupter device” that allows them not only to track a borrower’s movements through GPS, but to shut off a car with the tap of a smartphone—which many dealers do even just one or two days after a borrower misses a payment. One Nevada woman describes the terrifying experience of having her car shut off while driving on the freeway. And repossession of their cars is far from the end of the line for many borrowers; they can be chased for months and even years afterward to pay down the remainder of the loan.

Predatory subprime auto loans are just the latest in a long line of policies and practices that make it expensive to be poor—something I saw every day representing low-income clients as a legal aid attorney.

Low-income individuals are much more likely to be hit by bank fees, such as monthly maintenance fees if their checking account falls below a required minimum balance—balances as high as $1,500 at leading banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo—not to mention steep overdraft fees. For the more than 10 million U.S. households who lack a bank account, check cashers charge fees as high as 5 percent. This may not sound like much, but consider a low-income worker who takes home around $1,500 per month: She’d pay $75 just to cash her paychecks. Add in the cost of money orders—which she’ll need to pay her rent and other bills—and we’re talking about $1,000 per year just for financial services.

Whether or not they have a bank account, very few low-income families have emergency savings, and more than two-thirds report that they’d be unable to come up with $2,000 in 30 days in the event of an emergency expense such as a broken water heater or unexpected medical bill. Out of options, many turn to payday loans for needed cash. Jon Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, gave this important issue perhaps the best treatment I’ve seen in some time, detailing how families who turn to predatory payday loans can end up trapped in an inescapable cycle of debt at 400 percent annual interest.

Then there’s the rent-to-own industry.  Through weekly installments, low-income families with bad credit or no credit can end up paying as much as two and a half times the actual cost of household basics like a washer and dryer set, or a laptop for their teen to do his homework.

Grocery shopping can bring added costs too. For families who can’t afford to buy in bulk, the savings Costco offers are out of reach. And for those without a car, living in low-income neighborhoods without a convenient supermarket, it’s either cab or bus fare to haul groceries back, or swallowing the markup at the neighborhood corner store.

And then there’s the issue of time. Something I heard about frequently from my clients when I was in legal aid was how much extra time everything takes when you’re poor. Many told of taking three buses to work and back, and spending as many as five hours in transit to get to and from their jobs every day. Those who needed to turn to public assistance to make ends meet would describe waiting at the welfare office all day long simply to report a change in their income.

Also worth noting is the criminalization of poverty and the high costs that result. In a nationwide trend documented by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, a growing number of states and cities have laws on the books that may seem neutral—prohibiting activities such as sidewalk-sitting, public urination, and “aggressive panhandling”—but which really target the homeless. (The classic Anatole France quote comes to mind: “The law in its majestic equality forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”)

Arresting a homeless person for public urination when there are no public bathroom facilities is not only a poor use of law enforcement resources, it also sets in motion a vicious cycle: The arrested individual will be unable to afford bail, as well as any fees levied as punishment, and nonpayment of those fees may then land him back in jail.

In an extreme example, in the state of Arkansas, missing a rent payment is a criminal offense. If a tenant is even one day late with the rent, his landlord can legally evict him—and if the tenant isn’t out in 10 days, he can wind up in jail.

In yet another penny-wise and pound-foolish trend, states and localities are increasingly relying on enforcement of traffic violations—as well as fines and feeslevied on individuals involved with the criminal justice system—as sources of revenue. In Ferguson, Missouri, the city relied on rising municipal court fines to make up a whopping 20 percent of its $12.75 million budget in 2013. Ability to pay is often ignored when it comes to these types of fines and fees, leaving individuals stuck in a cycle of debt long after they’ve paid their debt to society. While debtor’s prison waslong ago declared unconstitutional, failure to pay can be a path back to jail in many states.

It’s good to see the New York Times, Melissa Harris-Perry, and others paying attention to these injustices. But that’s just the first step. If we are truly interested in building an America that is defined by opportunity, we must commit to enacting public policies that support rather than impede upward mobility.

Triumph of the Wrong

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman,

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eveof another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.

I’ll talk in a bit about some of the reasons that may have happened. But it’s important, first, to point out that the midterm results are no reason to think better of the Republican position on major issues. I suspect that some pundits will shade their analysis to reflect the new balance of power — for example, by once again pretending that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are good-faith attempts to put America’s fiscal house in order, rather than exercises in deception and double-talk. But Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda.

So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

First, there’s economic policy. According to conservative dogma, which denounces any regulation of the sacred pursuit of profit, the financial crisis of 2008 — brought on by runaway financial institutions — shouldn’t have been possible. But Republicans chose not to rethink their views even slightly. They invented an imaginary history in which the government was somehow responsible for the irresponsibility of private lenders, while fighting any and all policies that might limit the damage. In 2009, when an ailing economy desperately needed aid, John Boehner, soon to become the speaker of the House, declared: “It’s time for government to tighten their belts.”

So here we are, with years of experience to examine, and the lessons of that experience couldn’t be clearer. Predictions that deficit spending would lead to soaring interest rates, that easy money would lead to runaway inflation and debase the dollar, have been wrong again and again. Governments that did what Mr. Boehner urged, slashing spending in the face of depressed economies, have presided over Depression-level economic slumps. And the attempts of Republican governors to prove that cutting taxes on the wealthyis a magic growth elixir have failed with flying colors.

In short, the story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle — made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances.

Then there’s health reform, where Republicans were very clear about what was supposed to happen: minimal enrollments, more people losing insurance than gaining it, soaring costs. Reality, so far, has begged to differ, delivering above-predicted sign-ups, a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, premiums well below expectations, and a sharp slowdown in overall health spending.

And we shouldn’t forget the most important wrongness of all, on climate change. As late as 2008, some Republicans were willing to admit that the problem is real, and even advocate serious policies to limit emissions — Senator John McCain proposed a cap-and-trade system similar to Democratic proposals. But these days the party is dominated by climate denialists, and to some extent by conspiracy theorists who insist that the whole issue is a hoax concocted by a cabal of left-wing scientists. Now these people will be in a position to block action for years to come, quite possibly pushing us past the point of no return.


Have White voters forgotten what happened at the end of the George W Bush administration with Republican control? Our government was considered worst than the Great Depression at the beginning of President Obama’s administration. Have the White voters forgotten what the Republicans did in 2008? Do they know that every Republican president since the Herbert Hoover Great Depression have never had a successful economy. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama have all been very successful in managing the economy.

Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. They did everything they could to suppress the Black and Brown vote, cut early voting, Voter ID, even trash 50,000 registered voters in Georgia. And they have the nerve to be proud of winning big on November 4th. Don’t forget how the Republican governors and legislators in several Northern states wiped out the Unions. But they act like they won on the merits.

Let not your hearts be troubled Black people because the Republicans will not be able to govern in the House of Representatives, the Senate and as Governors. Mitch McConnell, the new Senate leader, said he wants the Keystone Pipeline, Tax cuts, and decreased regulations. White voters probably don’t care if the Republicans don’t mention jobs, healthcare, etc. Black people did not vote for Republicans, but we will suffer along with the suicidal Whites who have forgotten who the Republicans are.

Democrats failed to see the great work of President Obama. They chose to avoid him because of the polls which had the Congress in much worse shape than the president. They could have picked up far more Black voters if President Obama was on the campaign trail in the battleground states. As Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said, “you can’t win as a Democrat if you campaign as a Republican.” President Obama made available for Democrats to campaign on the success of the Affordable Care Act, unemployment down, graduation rates up, stock market up, less dependence on oil, gas prices are down and many more. Democrats blew it by running away from their Democratic president.

We are so proud of our voters in Sumter County because we went totally blue. No Republican carried Sumter County. Even the liquor store owner, Republican Mike Cheokas was unable to carry his own county. We of the Observer would like to thank all who voted. We don’t want our voters to be discouraged by the Republicans winning in this midterm because we just need to get ready for 2016.

Americus Native Matt Kimbrough Dies in South Carolina Car Crash

Matt Kimbrough - (Barnum Photo)

Matt Kimbrough – (Barnum Photo)

Staff Reports,

Matt Kimbrough came to our newspaper office while in high school with his friend Amos Hayes. Both of them said they are planning to go to medical school. Dr Cleveland Mann and I suggested Fort Valley State University but Matt went to South Carolina State and Amos went to Georgia Southwestern State. Unfortunately, neither student reached their goal of becoming doctors. Matt was so determined and he never gave up trying. He was still planning to become a doctor up until the fatal accident in South Carolina, says Dr John Marshall. Matt worked at the Americus Sumter Observer newspaper while in high school. I will miss this young man and we were devastated to hear the news of his death.

I was his late mother’s physician and I currently care for his father. So, I was very close to this family. My prayers are that God will bring peace to Matt’s family, Marshall concluded.


Mr. Matt Kimbrough was born in Sumter County, Georgia on September 01, 1983 to the parentage of Mr. William Green and the late Mrs. Mattie Mae Brown Kimbrough. He was a graduate of the Americus High School Class of 2002, where he was in numerous clubs such as, Key, Beta, Science, Literary, and Panther club. He also was on the Math Team, Health and Medical Youth Apprenticeships, National Honor Roll, Society of Distinguished High School Students, All American Scholar, National Eagle Scouts and Upward Bound. He was a member of William Chapel A.M.E. in Orangeburg, SC.

Matt furthered his education at South Carolina State University in Biology Pre-Med. While attending SCSU, he became the SGA president in 2005 and was a member of both Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honorary Society and WK Kellogg Public Health Scholar. He earned his bachelor’s in Biology Pre-Med and graduated Cum Laude at South Carolina State University in 2006. On February 16, 2008 Matt pledged the Alpha Omega Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; Incorporated in Washington, D.C. Matt was a spontaneous and ambitious visionary. He worked in both the public and private sectors particularly in health care services. He previously worked for the DC Department of Health as a Graduate Assistant, Howard University Hospital as a Patient Access Associate, and Computer Lab Associate at American University. He interned for a Plethora of Policy and non-profit organizations such as the American Telemedicine Association,
Joint Center for Political Economic Studies, Democratic National Committee, and SC State Legislature. He also was a member NAACP. He spent most of my time volunteering for charitable organizations such as the National Eagle Scout Association, AME Church Association, and Boy Scouts of America. He was currently employed at Providence Hospital in Columbia, SC as a Patient Access Specialist.

Matt loved his family dearly and always wanted them to be proud of him. His dream of becoming a doctor ended here on earth October 31, 2014 but will continue on in heaven where he went on to join his beloved mother Mattie and sister Amanda Kimbrough who preceded him in death. He leaves to mourn his passing to his fiancé Jocelyn McCallister, Florence, SC; Father, Mr. William Green of Americus, GA; Two Sisters, Cornelia (Thomas) Wade, Tampa, FL, Elisa Kimbrough of Albany, GA; Six brothers, Sgt. William (Corrina) Green Jr. of Preston, GA, Mr. Raymond Kimbrough Albany, GA, Dwight (Katrina) Kimbrough, Bernard (Willie Ann) Kimbrough, Gabriel (Crystal) Kimbrough, and Felix Kimbrough all of Americus, GA; Four aunts, Mrs. Mary Green of Americus, Mrs. Gertrude (Wesley) Cooper, Mrs. Daisy (Rupert) Ashley of Belle Glade, FL and Mrs. Hattie ( William) Henry of Tampa, FL; an Uncle, Willie Lee Green of Montezuma, GA; a devoted cousin Robert Brown of McDonald, GA; a special niece Ms. Jasmine Dawkins, Belle Glade, FL; a special nephew LaTarus Josey of Tampa, FL. A host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives and friends also survive.