Monroe Pride


Monroe Pride

Monroe Pride

Monroe Pride, age 59, a native of Andersonville, Georgia passed on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at Phoebe Sumter Hospital, Americus, Georgia. 

The funeral service will be conducted at 11:00 A.M. Friday, October 10, 2014 at St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Winder Road, Andersonville, Georgia. Burial will follow in the Freeman Hill Cemetery. Reverend Norris Harris, pastor, will officiate.

Monroe was born April 22, 1955 in Andersonville, Sumter County Georgia to the late James Monroe and Juanita Hannah Pride.  He was a 1974 graduate of the historic Union High School of Leslie, Georgia. He was employed with Macon County Board of Education as a custodian. Later, he became employed with Rays Trucking Company as a Flagman.  Later, as his health began to decline, he retired in 1995. He accepted Jesus Christ during his teenage years and joined Ebenezer Baptist Church.

He leaves to cherish his memories one daughter Priscilla Streeter (Travis, Sr.), stationed in Germany; four grandchildren, Korie Streeter, Travis Streeter Jr., Ni-Kiera, Chance Streeter; five siblings, Aldyne English (Deacon Alfred), Andersonville, Georgia, Ella Hargett (Ronald), Brooklyn, New York, James Pride (Ann), Americus, Georgia, Crawford Pride (Earlene), and Bessie English (Milton), Oglethorpe, Georgia; aunts, Zola Asberry and Maxine Thomas, both of Hartford, Connecticut;  a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends including a devoted family member Tracy Ellis, Americus, Georgia.    

Mr. Eddie W. Josey

Mr. Eddie W. Josey

Mr. Eddie W. Josey

Graveside services for Mr. Eddie Will Josey of Americus, Georgia will be held on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 1:00 P.M. at the Eastview Cemetery on Ashby Street in Americus, Georgia with Elder Hilton Payne officiating.

Mr. Eddie W. Josey was born on September 8, 1949 in Sumter County, Georgia to the late Mrs. Fannie Mae Smith Josey and the late Mr. Eddie Lee Josey. He attended the schools in the Americus-Sumter County School System. He was employed for many years with Leroy Miles Heating & Repair Company and was also self-employed as a repairman.

Eddie Will departed this life on Monday, September 29, 2014 at the Lillian Carter Nursing Home in Plains, Georgia. He was proceeded in death by two sisters: Javanita Brown and Sandra J. Williams; two brothers: Wilbur G. Josey and Clarence Josey.

Left to cherish his memory are two children: Dorothy Mable & Johnathan Harvey; four sisters; Lena Josey, Mary (James) Russell, Carmen (William) Clark and Lorena (Friend Lonnie Payne) Josey; two brothers: Jimmy (Doris) Josey and James (Mary K.) Josey all of Americus, Georgia; one aunt, Ida Floyd; one uncle, William Floyd all of Americus, Georgia; one sister-in-law, Jewel Josey also of Americus Georgia; two grandchildren: Dennish Mable and Desmond Waters; A very devoted niece Amy Josey of Albany, Georgia; a host of other loving nieces, nephews, relatives and friend including Donnie Waters, and his special friends and neighbors at McCoy Hill.

Agnes Ruth Stewart Angry

Agnes Ruth Stewart Angry

Agnes Ruth Stewart Angry

Agnes Ruth Stewart Angry was born on January 26, 1924 in Sumter County, Georgia.  She was one of 18 children born into the blended family of Mr. Robert Louis Stewart and Mrs. Mary Emma Mack Sheffield Stewart.  She was the seventh child born to each of them.  She attended the Faust School along with her brother and favorite playmate, Tom.  She worked in various companies including The Basket Factory, Phillips Industries and Davidson Rubber Company (later Collins & Aikman) until she retired to care for her mother in 1988.  She became the matriarch of the Sheffield-Stewart family  and in that role stood in as mother for her nieces and nephews at weddings, special occasions and sat by many bedsides in their homes and hospital rooms.  She gave wonderful advice, solicited and unsolicited.  When she spoke, she was finished with that conversation.  During retirement, she baked cakes for others and had large orders to fill during the holiday seasons.  She loved all things beautiful and was known for the many flowers in her yard and hanging baskets on her porch.  She also enjoyed fishing, gardening and was one of the best cooks in “the entire world!”

At an early age, she joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Reverend Eli Brown.  She joined the St. John A.M.E Church in 1970 under the leadership of the late Reverend Willie B. Brown.  She became a pastor’s wife in 1971 and served faithfully in that capacity.  She was a gifted songstress and loved “good singing.”  She was a worship leader before the phrase became widely used in the church.  She loved the Master with her whole heart and taught her children to do the same.  She readily volunteered her children for any and every program and practiced them to “perfection” (her confidence in our ability will always be cherished).  She gave generously to the Kingdom of God and worked tirelessly for the building of the current sanctuary of St. John A.M.E Church (if she did not ask you for a donation at that time, you may still give to the Building Fund in her honor, Amen).

She was married to the late Mr. Wallace Sims and to this union, two children were born, Alice and Frank.  She later married her childhood sweetheart, the late Rev. William C. Angry, and became a mother to his seven children.  She raised two of them, Carl and Pamelyn, as her own.  She loved her children unconditionally and worked long, hard hours to help meet all of their needs, most of their wants and provide special surprises that she planned for months (she would hide them and we would find them months later).  Although loving and kind, she was a disciplinarian and insisted that they “do right.”  Sunday mornings were filled with the smell of biscuits baking in the oven and her sweet voice singing in the kitchen.  The friends of her children were also her children as she embraced, loved and fed them (making them eat beets) and gave long distance cooking lessons over the phone.  She was full of grace, forgiveness, love and peace.             In addition to her parents and spouses, she is predeceased by one son, Mr. Eddie L. Angry; one grandson, Mr. Jonathan Terry; and fourteen of her siblings: Mr. Joe Stewart, Mrs. Mary Stewart Hollis, Mrs. Christine Stewart Hudson, Ms. Bea Stewart, Mr. S. T. Sheffield, Mr. William Paul Sheffield, Mr. George Sheffield, Mrs. Annie Sheffield Thomas, Mr. William Stewart, Mr. James Stewart, Mrs. Bobbie L. Stewart Green, Mrs. Bertha Stewart Sims, Mrs. Gladys Stewart Sims and Mr. Tommie Stewart.

She leaves a legacy of love to her children: Mrs. Alice Sims Tutt, Decatur, GA, Mr. Charlie F. Sims, Americus, GA, Mr. William Jackson, Plains, GA, Mrs. Stella Angry Harrison, Chicago, IL, Mr. William C. (Cynthia) Angry, Jonesboro, GA, Ms. Pamela Angry, Americus, GA, Mrs. Sabrina (Ronald) Barnes, Smithville, GA and Mr. Michael Stewart, Jonesboro, GA; her devoted and beloved sister, Mrs. Martha Stewart Edwards, Smithville, GA; her brothers: Mr. Sammie (Rebecca) Stewart, Miami, FL and Mr. Lynwood Stewart, Americus, GA; devoted nephew whom she loved as a son, Mr. Lawrence (Irene) Britt; her brother and sisters-in-law: Mr. Joseph C. Angry, Mrs. Velma (Elder Johnnie) Raven and Mrs. Retha Steward, all of Americus, GA; the lights of her life and partners in mischief, her grandchildren: Mrs. Chanda (Andre’) Tutt Dowdy, Mr. Brian (Shameka) Tutt, Mr. Cedric Sims, Mr. Cory (Sherika) Sims, Mr. Reginald (Yolanda) Terry, Mr. Darrell (Angela) Terry, Mrs. Quintetter (Leon) Langford, Mr. Brandon Rodgers, Mr. Quavious Angry, E4 (U. S. Navy) Quentin Angry, Mr. Javoris Harper, Miss Jade Banks-Angry, Miss Jamila Axson, Master Ronald Barnes, III, Miss Jalia Taylor, Miss Diamond Denmark, Master Noah Hosley, Ms. Barbara Morgan, Mr. Dale Morgan, Ms. Faith Jackson and Mr. Curtis Jackson; her goddaughters: Ms. Nadine Pope, Americus, GA, Mrs. Beverly King, Americus, GA, Mrs. Brenda Cooper, Killen, TX and Mrs. Shagavia Williams, Lawrenceville, GA; beloved family friends: Ms. Willow Angry, McDonough, GA, Ms. Shirley Sales, Americus, GA, Mr. Jerome & Mrs. Deborah Clayton, Ms. Lillie R. Smith, Ms. Lucille Williams and the guys on the corner who watched over her on Ashby Street; many, many, many devoted and beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.


Mr. Eddie Asberry

Mr. Eddie Asberry

Mr. Eddie Asberry was the youngest of six children born to the late Mr. Willie Lewis Asberry and the late Mrs. Rena Bell Paul Asberry. On April 16, 1964, he made his grand entrance into this world and immediately stole the hearts of all that met him. Mr. Asberry was educated in the public schools of Sumter County. From January 2006-2012, he was employed with Middle Flint Behavior Health Care, from May 2012– 2014, Sparks Community Care Home and from January 1999 to August 2014, he was employed by Cooper Lighting/Eaton for over 15 years.

He leaves to cherish his fond and loving memories to: his 100 year old grandmother, Mrs. Rena B. Paul, who visited him on several occasions during his illness; his wife, Mrs. Latonya Asberry; two daughters, Ms. Eleanor Asberry and Ms. Ekeitha Roberts of Americus, GA; four sons, Mr. Jaylan Asberry, Mr. Jamal Asberry both of Montezuma, GA, Mr. Eddie Asberry, Jr. of Dawson, GA and Mr. De’Edward Asberry, Sasser, GA; three sisters, Mrs. Dorothy (George) Wilcher, Ms. Mary Asberry of Americus, GA and Ms. Gennie McElveen his devoted care giver and her husband John of Irvington, NJ; two brothers, Mr. Willie John (Latrenda) Asberry and Mr. Larry Gene (April) Paul of Americus, GA; his aunts, Mrs. Belinda (Curtis) Brooks, Ms. Minnie Battle, Americus, GA, Mrs. Betty (Robert) Washington, Brooklyn, NY; his uncles, Mr. George (Bobbie) Paul and Mr. James (Gloria) Paul of Americus, GA;  a devoted adopted aunt, Ms. Jessie Pearl Battle-Williams, Americus, GA; a devoted friend, Ms. Sandra Sparks; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and countless friends and acquaintances also survive.





On October 19, 1921, the Lord saw fit to bless the late Ms. Minnie Perry with a baby girl who would touch the lives of many, she named her Frances Perry. She grew to be a wonderful people person, who encouraged and blessed many. She is preceded in death by her father, Will Perry, a sister, Gladys James and a daughter, Betty Jean Morgoatsane.

She was educated in the public schools of Sumter County. Frances loved the Lord and Mount Olive! She demonstrated her dedication through her service on the Usher Board, as a Sunday School teacher, as president of the Pastor’s Aid Ministry and as president of the Saving Fund Club. She would not be stopped by old age or illness, she continued to attend church after she was admitted to Magnolia Manor Nursing Center. With the faithful assistance of Deacon Joe Jones, Frances made every effort to attend service. She was also an active member of her community. She was known throughout as the cookie or doughnut lady because of her generosity. She was also crowned Ms. Magnolia Manor after one year of residency in her nursing home community.

On the Lord’s day, October 5, 2014, she was called from labor to reward. “Servant of God, well done rest from your love employ, the battle has been fought, the victory has been won, enter thy Master’s Joy”.

Ms. Frances leaves a legacy of love and precious memories to her beloved granddaughter, Ms. Guenet Beshah and her great granddaughter, Olivia Grace of Midlothian, Virginia, her son-in-law, Dr. Mammo Beshah, Greenwood, SC; a devoted and loving niece, Ms. Pearline Lembrick, Americus, GA; two great nephews, Mr. Marcus Lembrick and Mr. Gary Lembrick; two great nieces, Ms. Debbie Lembrick and Ms. Vicki Lembrick; nine great great nieces and nephews, fourteen great, great great nieces and nephews all of Americus, GA, cousins Peggy and sister of Atlanta, GA; a god-daughter, Ms. Elizabeth Robinson, Americus, GA; she has several dedicated friends, Deacon Johnny Fuller, Deacon Joe Jones, Ms. Nanelle Due, Ms. Elizabeth Lofton, Mrs. Ferrell Yates, Mr. James Tyler, Mr. Milton Gouch and his mother, Ms. Essie, Ms. Thelma Solomon, Ms. Zandra Stewart, Mr. Craig Walker, Ms. Gail German, Ms. Dee Nelson, Mrs. Susie and Mr. Henry Irvin, Mr. Robert Lee Williams, Mr. Alphonson & Mrs. Tammy Baker, Ms. Sonya Walker, Mr. Eric Patterson, the Cannon and Taylor families and many, many more also survive.



Mr. Ronald Streeter

Mr. Ronald Streeter

Mr. Ronald Streeter was born June 25, 1950, in Plains, Georgia to the parentage of the late Mrs. Johnnie Mae Ross Streeter and the late Mr. Joseph Streeter, Sr.  He attended the Sumter County Schools.  In addition to his loving parents, he is preceded in death by: his oldest brother, Mr. John “Bob” Streeter; his baby sister, Mrs. Liza Ann Streeter Sims; and his brother-in-law, Mr. Willie C. Walton.

           Ronnie, as he was affectionately called by family and friends, was a “jack of all trades” and a master of quite a few.  He was always willing to lend a helping hand.  He was an adventurous person, who loved to travel and was blessed to do extensive travel during his employment as a railroad cook. Ronnie had a love of nature and he spent many hours attending to plants, lawns and gardens.  At the time of his demise, he was retired and enjoying the fruits of his labor.

           Leaving to cherish his memory are: his loving niece, Ms. Jennifer A. Streeter and her children, Lil Miss Jenika A. Fuller and Lil Miss Jade A. Williams; his brothers and sisters:  Ms. Betty Walton; Mr. Lonnie (Mable) Streeter Sr., Plains, GA; Mr. Joseph (Sarah) Streeter Jr., Albany, GA;  Mrs. Dorothy (Joe) Jenkins, Dallas, GA; Mrs. Linda (Edward) Monts; Mrs. Beverly (Robert) Reddick, Plains, GA; Ms Tammy Tullis, Atlanta, GA;  Mr. Larry Streeter, Plains, GA;  Mr. Benjamin Streeter (Barbara Griffin), Fayetteville, NC;  Mrs. Mandy (Scotty) Monts, Sr., Plains, GA; and Ms. Eula Streeter (David Searcy), Americus, Georgia; his sister-in-law, Ms. Emmarene Streeter, Americus, GA; his brother-in law, Mr. Gregory Sims, Plains, GA; his aunt, Ms. Earline Tyson and Ms. Marie Streeter, Clayton, AL; his beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and a host of other family and friends, including Mr. Lawrence Marshall, Mr. Greg Spears, Mr. Jack Hardy, Mr. Curtis Evans Sr., and Mr. Ronnie (Vaudine) Walton.


Ms. Ashley Nicole Garry

Ms. Ashley Nicole Garry

Ms. Ashley Nicole Garry was born in Sumter County, Georgia on December 23, 1986 to the parents of Mr. Charlie Garry and Ms. Veatrice Mosley Harvey.  She received her education in the public schools of Crisp County and was graduate in the 2005 Class of Crisp County High School. At an early age, she joined the St. John Baptist Church. She was employed as ETC with Cracker Barrel in Cordele, Georgia. She is preceded in death by her grandmother, Ms. Mary Amos, her grandfather, Mr. Arthur James Mosley and three uncles, Mr. J. W. Walker, Mr. Premus Timmons and Mr. Freddie Walker.

She leaves cherished memories to her loving son, Mr. Jarmal Rashad Hill, Jr., Cordele, GA; her father, Mr. Charlie Garry, Americus, GA; her mother, Mrs. Veatrice Harvey, Cordele, GA; two brothers, Mr. Quentin Darnell Mosley and Mr. Sherman Edward Harvey, Jr. both of Cordele, GA; her sisters, Ms. Charmin Rashenna Harvey, Cordele, GA, Ms. Kathy Wilson, Waycross, GA and Ms. Camilla Garry, Perry, GA; her god-mother, Ms. Gwendolyn Lassiter, Leslie, GA; her god-family, Mr. Robert (Ikea) Fenn, Ms. Stephanie Fenn, Mr. Lance Fenn, Ms. Jalexica Fenn, Ms. Jade Fenn, Mr. Merritt Fenn and Ms. Jasmine Fenn all of Cordele, GA; her aunts & uncles, Ms. Vanessa Mosley, Minister Willie Walker, Mr. Jesse (Gladys) Timmons, Mr. Calvin (Rosemary) Jones all of Leslie, GA, Mrs. Mary (Leroy) Preston, Stone Mountain, GA, Ms. Annie Pearl Carter, Fayetteville, NC, Ms. Arlena Allen, Mr. Arthur James Mosley both of Long Island, NY and Ms. Sylvia Denise Amos of Colorado; her God sisters and brothers, Ms. LaKrystal Williams, Mr. Micah Williams and Mr. Serrell Williams, all of Leslie, GA; special friends, Ms. Shimika Ridley, Ms. Tiffany West,  Ms. Sherena Redding and Ms. Vetta Patrick other relatives and friends also survive.

’We’d have a vaccine by now if it were not for budget cuts,’ says head of NIH about Ebola

image (6)by HoundDog for SciTech, DailyKos.

Sam Stein reports Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found By Now If Not For Budget Cuts: NIH Director

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

It’s not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory.”

“We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference,” he said.

While I certainly don’t wish to introduce a political or partisan angle to this tragic outbreak, especially during the election season, (snark alert “I’m shocked, truly shocked to discover partisan politics occurring here on Daily Kos during the election season, … and by me, no less!”), the consequences of the Paul Ryan – Republican austerity approach, aka “we want a government so small we can drown it in a bathtub” couldn’t be more apparent.

Right here, right now we have evidence of how cutting essential budgets is leaving unprepared and off-stride for this crisis in a way that is costing lives.

The NIH’s “purchasing power is down 23 from what it was a decade ago.”

An even more dire  situation exists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is a subdivision of NIH.

Paul Ryan and the Republican austerity extremists talk about budget cuts in the abstract as if they are doing “good things.” Here we see the reality of what these cuts can mean in real life. Would we not be remiss not to mention this?

Collins also puts the Ebola outbreak in perspective by reminding us that 50,000 people will contract HIV this year and more people will die in one day of HIV than of Ebola in its known history.

Meanwhile concern over how the nurse at Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital became infected with Ebola even though she says she followed the proper protocol. One representative of a national nurses union complained of a “blaming the victim” mentality – criticizing the C.D.C. leadership for talking as if it is the nurse’s fault for “breaching protocols,” that she may not have been properly trained on how to strictly adhere to.

Medicaid scores high marks with customers in three red states

Yet another reason Alison Lundergan Grimes should be talking about Kynect.

Yet another reason Alison Lundergan Grimes should be talking about Kynect.

by Joan McCarter, DailyKos

Ask a Republican lawmaker or pundit, and they’ll tell you that Medicaid is the worst thing to happen to U.S. health care, that it’s poorly run and that people using the program are shunted to the worst doctors and get the worst treatment. But ask a person who is actually on Medicaid what they think, and they’re more likely to approve of their own care than people who have private insurance. Medicaid’s popularity has been proven again, in three red states, two of which expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.

A study published in the journal Health Affairs found that poor residents of Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas, when asked to compare Medicaid with private coverage, said that Medicaid offered better “quality of health care” and made them better able to “afford the health care” they needed. […]But low-income residents of all three states viewed the program similarly—about 80 percent of those surveyed in each state supported expansion of the program. And there was no major difference in the proportion that favored Medicaid or private coverage—in Arkansas, more people still preferred Medicaid to a private plan over all.

That’s very much in keeping with surveys done over the years by Kaiser Family Foundation and others. Majorities of people on and off Medicaid say the program is important to their families—partly a reflection of how many elderly nursing home patients the program supports—and support the expansion under Obamacare. But for the people on the program, this study suggests, it’s not the political issue it should be.

“The political realities were not very relevant to these people,” said Dr. Benjamin Sommers, an assistant professor of health policy and economics and one of the paper’s co-authors. […] Here’s another question to which the answers looked the same in all three states: Is your state going to expand Medicaid? Between a quarter and a third of people in all three states answered yes, even though two states were expanding, and one was not.

“The bulk of the respondents didn’t know there was a Medicaid expansion, which means these people aren’t voters,” Mr. Blendon said. “Most of them support an expansion, even though they didn’t know there was an expansion. Politically, that’s just not a powerful force.”At the same time, it could be a reflection of the lack of willingness of Democratic candidates in these states (cough, Alison Grimes, cough) to really talk about Medicaid expansion, to talk about the benefits it has brought to Arkansans and Kentucky (like the remarkable drop in the states’ uninsured rates) and what Texas is losing out on. Like the $65.6 billion it is foregoing over the next ten years. It’s hard to see how people could view Medicaid expansion politically if no one is presenting to them that way. This new survey shows how the Medicaid expansion promise could be a strong argument for Democrats in red states.

Health law will lead to big drop in free hospital care

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary
Sylvia Burwell

By Jayne O’Donnell, USA TODAY,

The Affordable Care Act will lead to $5.7 billion in savings in uncompensated hospital care costs this year, the Obama administration said Wednesday, reducing one of the biggest financial challenges hospitals face.

The states that expanded Medicaid so all low-income residents would have medical coverage will reap about 74% of the savings nationally, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.

Nearly 8 million additional individuals are now enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), compared with the number before open enrollment in the ACA Marketplace began in October 2013. Pennsylvania and New Hampshire recently joined the 25 states and the District of Columbia to expand coverage.

The savings from Medicaid expansion occur because hospitals are reimbursed by Medicaid for patients they used to have to treat for free. This uncompensated care includes charity care, which hospitals never expected to be paid for, and bad debt, which is incurred when patients can’t or won’t pay their bills.

Burwell’s announcement was paired with one by Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, about the reductions in health care spending increases that the administration says are attributable to the health law. The three years after the ACA took effect in 2010 had the slowest growth in real per capita national health spending on record, Furman said.

Furman called the ACA “one of most important developments in the economy in recent years,” and one that has major implications for job growth. The slower growth in premiums for employer coverage will make it easier for companies to hire workers and pay good salaries, he said.

Farzan Bharucha, health care consultant with the firm Kurt Salmon, says the new numbers on uncompensated care, which track with what his hospital clients have seen, will add “a little bit more pressure” on governors to expand Medicaid coverage to their poorest residents.

But some health care experts, including Chip Kahn, CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, say the new numbers may not be enough to sway governors opposed to Medicaid expansion.

“I think it shows that the act can work for low-income Americans” who are now “seeking the care they need, which is a good thing for them and a good thing for the hospitals, ” says Kahn.

On the other hand, it will still be “a tough political slog” to persuade many of the remaining governors who fundamentally disagree with health care reform to expand Medicaid, he says.


Sugar Substitutes Linked to Obesity

Bebeto Matthews/AP Soft drinks are just some of the many products that use artificial sweeteners.

Bebeto Matthews/AP
Soft drinks are just some of the many products that use artificial sweeteners.

by Alison Abbott Nature,

The artificial sweeteners that are widely seen as a way to combat obesity and diabetes could, in part, be contributing to the global epidemic of these conditions.

Nature this week (J. Suez et al. Nature; 2014). Smaller studies have previously purported to show an association between the use of artificial sweeteners and the occurrence of metabolic disorders. This is the first work to suggest that sweeteners might be exacerbating metabolic disease, and that this might happen through the gut microbiome, the diverse community of bacteria in the human intestines. “It’s counter-intuitive — no one expected it because it never occurred to them to look,” says Martin Blaser, a microbiologist at New York University.

The findings could cause a headache for the food industry. According to BCC Research, a market-research company in Wellesley, Massachusetts, the market for artificial sweeteners is booming. And regulatory agencies, which track the safety of food additives, including artificial sweeteners, have not flagged such a link to metabolic disorders. In response to the latest findings, Stephen Pagani, a spokesman for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, says that, as with all new data, the agency “will decide in due course whether they should be brought to the attention of panel experts for review”.

A team led by Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, fed mice various sweeteners — saccharin, sucralose and aspartame — and found that after 11 weeks, the animals displayed glucose intolerance, a marker of propensity for metabolic disorders.

To simulate the real-world situation of people with varying risks of these diseases, the team fed some mice a normal diet, and some a high-fat diet, and spiked their water either with glucose alone, or with glucose and one of the sweeteners, saccharin. The mice fed saccharin developed a marked glucose intolerance compared to those fed only glucose. But when the animals were given antibiotics to kill their gut bacteria, glucose intolerance was prevented. And when the researchers transplanted faeces from the glucose-intolerant saccharin-fed mice into the guts of mice bred to have sterile intestines, those mice also became glucose intolerant, indicating that saccharin was causing the microbiome to become unhealthy.

Elinav’s team also used data from an on­going clinical nutrition study that has recruited nearly 400 people in Israel. The researchers noted a correlation between clinical signs of metabolic disorder — such as increasing weight or decreasing efficiency of glucose metabolism — and consumption of artificial sweeteners.

But “this is a bit chicken-and-egg”, says Elinav. “If you are putting on weight, you are more likely to turn to diet food. It doesn’t necessarily mean the diet food caused you to put on weight.”

So his team recruited seven lean and healthy volunteers, who did not normally use artificial sweeteners, for a small prospective study. The recruits consumed the maximum acceptable daily dose of artificial sweeteners for a week. Four became glucose intolerant, and their gut microbiomes shifted towards a balance already known to be associated with susceptibility to metabolic diseases, but the other three seemed to be resistant to saccharin’s effects. “This underlines the importance of personalized nutrition — not everyone is the same,” says Elinav.

He does not yet propose a mechanism for the effect of artificial sweeteners on the micro­biome. But, says Blaser, understanding how these compounds work on some species in the gut might “inspire us in developing new therapeutic approaches to metabolic disease”.

Yolanda Sanz, a nutritionist and vice-chair of the EFSA’s panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies, says that it is too soon to draw firm conclusions. Metabolic disorders have many causes, she points out, and the study is very small.

Voter suppression is un-American

6732116487_dfcf68c87c_oby Ian Reifowitz for Daily Kos.

It does seem a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? That we still have to fight for voting rights, fight against laws that seek to suppress the vote, laws that will have a disproportionate impact on those Americans who — had they been of voting age before 1965 — would likely have been barred because of their race? Ridiculous is one word for it.Infuriating is another. These tactics violate everything for which our country is supposed to stand. As President Obama put it, “The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? un-American.”

Republican-dominated states from Arkansas to North Carolina, from Texas to Ohio to Wisconsin, have implemented various restrictions on voting that have been wendingtheir way through the courts this fall. Just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowedNorth Carolina’s law to stand — one that might well be the nation’s most awful, although the court did, thankfully, put a temporary hold on Wisconsin’s law — for this election cycle only — while it considers whether to take the case.

North Carolina’s law severely limits the forms of identification that are acceptable for one to present in order to register to vote. How severely? An analysis of data from the state Board of Elections by Democracy North Carolina revealed that blacks, women, and Democrats are disproportionately likely to lack one of the acceptable forms of ID, while whites, men, and Republicans are disproportionately likely to possess one of them. Need I remind you that this new law was enacted by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and a Republican-controlled legislature? The folks who sued to block the lawnoted “that it surgically eliminated the precise forms of registration and voting that had enabled significant expansion of African-Americans’ civic participation in North Carolina over the previous decade.”

How about Ohio? In 2010 Republican John Kasich became governor, Jon Husted became secretary of state, and their party took over the legislature. They immediately set about undoing the measures implemented to ease the long lines at the polls that so embarrassed the Buckeye State in 2004, measures that ensured relatively smooth sailing on Election Day in 2008. What was their problem with what happened in Ohio in 2008? Barack Obama won, and those new laws helped him win by getting too many of the, ahem, “wrong” sort voting.

As Dale Ho — he runs the ACLU’s voting rights project — explained, early voters had, before 2008, typically been middle class and wealthy people, as well as being older than average, because those were the folks who were more likely to know about the option to vote before Election Day. And for which party do people who fall into those categories disproportionately vote? Take a wild guess. But in 2008, Ho noted, “the script got flipped.” And — all of a sudden — Republicans became desperate to limit early voting.

Republicans claim that these laws are necessary to prevent “voter fraud.” Let’s address that lie head on. Voter impersonation fraud — the only kind of fraud that voter ID laws can address — is negligible. Essentially, it doesn’t exist. In a case that led to a Texas law being struck down last week by a federal judge, the evidence showedthat, over 14 years, there were two (2) instances of in-person, voter impersonation fraud out of 62 million ballots cast. Loyola University Law School professor Justin Levitt found a grand total of 31 “credible incidents” (some of which may still end up being disproven) in which voter impersonation fraud was perpetrated, incidents that involve about 200 voters. This is out of over a billion votes cast in elections nationwide since 2000.

How about voter fraud more broadly? A five-year investigation conducted by the George W. Bush-era Department of Justice found a few dozen instances out of the hundreds of millions of votes in federal elections. As Kevin Drum wrote, “Voter fraud is literally less likely than being hit by lightning.”

These voting restriction laws are not about fraud. They never have been. They are about winning. Florida Republicans were apparently open — to one another — about this. And sometimes they even slip up in public, as when Pennsylvania Republican Mike Turzai crowed that the laws on voting restrictions he helped pass as his party’s state House leader would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Too bad that didn’t work out for him, but the intent is clear nonetheless.

In reality, these voter suppression tactics reflect more than three decades of right-wing thinking on voting. They have always understood that increasing voter participation does not serve the partisan interests of Republicans. In 1980, right-wing guru Paul Weyrich said:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

We see this thinking revealed whenever right-wingers are being honest about voter participation. Fox News hosts had this to say the other day:

“Do we want them [young people] to vote if they don’t know the issues?” Harris Faulkner asked Wednesday afternoon.

“No!” Lisa Kennedy Montgomery answered. “You absolutely don’t!”

“Do you really want to motivate them to vote and be ignorant at the polls?” Faulkner continued.

And if you want to know what conservatives really think, just ask a tea partier. Judson Phillips is the president of Tea Party Nation (which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), and in 2010 he offered a stroll down history lane in order to argue for even more restrictions on the right to vote:

The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners.

And don’t forget about Republicans’ true base (as George W. Bush called them, the “have-mores”)–people like billionaire Tom Perkins:

The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes…But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?

Now the truth is coming out about the impact of these voting restriction laws. A recent study conducted by the nonpartisan Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that restrictive voter ID laws passed in Kansas and Tennessee were responsible for reducing voter turnout by about 2 percent in 2012–with turnout among blacks dropping a few percent more than among whites in both states–more than enough to swing a close election. The report compared turnout data in those two states to data in four other states (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, and Maine) that had not changed their voting laws prior to that election.

Judge Nelva Gonzales, in her opinion striking down the Texas law mentioned above,noted: “There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combatting voter fraud in Texas,” and added that the evidence presented demonstrates that the law’s supporters “were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law’s detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.” In other words, Republicans knew exactly what they were doing when they passed these laws.

Speaking historically, voter suppression is anything but un-American. Apple pie and Chevy have got nothing on it. But when we say that voter suppression is un-American, we are talking not about what we have been, but what we ought to be. Equality for all stands at the very core of our country’s ideals, even though it took two centuries for our laws to get right with that principle. We have come a long way from the days when people had to bleed and die for the right to vote, but the voter suppression tactics that conservatives employ today seek, without question, to trample on that sacred and hard-won right.

Tea party types can wear all the Colonial-era costumes they want, but those who fight to ensure that every adult citizen can vote are the ones who truly represent America’s founding values. We do what Martin Luther King Jr. did when he wrote that the Civil Rights movement would overcome because “the goal of America is freedom,” anddeclared that his dream was “deeply rooted in the American dream.” We do what Harvey Milk did when he proclaimed: “All men are created equal. Now matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.” We do what Barbara Jordan did when she called for “an America as good as its promise.” Those who would deny equality, who would deny democracy–they are the ones who are un-American. When we fight for equality and for democracy, we fight for America, and for all Americans.

Rolling Stone: Obama Is One Of The ’Most Successful Presidents In History’ + Krugman Interview

Slide11by Leslie Salzillo, DailyKos

Earlier this week, Nobel Prize winner, and harsh critic of President Obama, Paul Krugman,made a turnaround and praised the president in his Rolling Stone article. Also a Princeton Professor of Economics, Krugman writes:

“Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history.”

The author of 20 books and writer for the New York Times, Krugman goes on to list several key achievements Obama has made during, what Krugman calls, a ‘wave of Obama-bashing’ by ‘mainstream pundits and talking heads.’

“His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it’s working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it’s much more effective than you’d think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.”

On a very positive note, Krugman believes Democrats are doing better than expected in the Red states, which signifies a president who has done well:

“Obviously the midterm election hasn’t happened yet, but in a year when Republicans have a huge structural advantage – Democrats are defending a disproportionate number of Senate seats in deep-red states – most analyses suggest that control of the Senate is in doubt, with Democrats doing considerably better than they were supposed to. This isn’t what you’d expect to see if a failing president were dragging his party down.More important, however, polls – or even elections – are not the measure of a president. High office shouldn’t be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better. Has Obama done that? Do his achievements look likely to endure? The answer to both questions is yes.”

This is good to hear. We still have a very tough and extremely close election ahead. By continuing to join together to fight the GOP/Tea Party extremists (visit this Act Blue site) we can save this country from further damage by a party of obstruction and greed, that plays up to the richest individuals and corporate powerhouses. Republicans have stepped on, then spat on, America’s working class, veterans, women, children, the poor, climate change… and blocked equal pay, veterans benefits, raising the minimum wage, and helping college students with their hefty debts … The list goes on, showing Republicans have been on the wrong side of history for too long, and w can, and will, change this November 4th.

Please Note: The original title, “Most Successful President In History” has been changed toOne of the Most Successful Presidents In History.” There is a very big difference in syntax and meaning. My apologies, and thank you to Kossack Empty Vessel for pointing out my error.

Racism in the Secret Service


A Secret Service agent keeps an eye on President Barack Obama

A Secret Service agent keeps an eye on President Barack Obama

by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez,

After the recent news release about bullets fired into the White House back in 2011, I though I’d revisit some of the worrisome thoughts I’ve had for years about the Secret Service and the safety of President Obama and his family. Why are we supposed to automatically trust those assigned to the protection of the President when it is patently clear that security has been lax? Could racism inside the agency be one of the variables that comes into play? In the spate of news articles and blogs about the Secret Service screw-ups recently, I find it interesting that few have linked the ongoing suit in the courts by black agents to what seems to be only slipshod security as a potential factor.

We have been paying attention to racism in police departments. We know the history of racism in the FBI, promulgated by the now deceased (racist) J. Edgar Hoover. Back in 2001 the FBI had to settle a discrimination suit, brought by black agents.

Wending its way through the courts is this class action suit against the Secret Service:

Moore, et al v. Napolitano

The Secret Service has a long history of racial discrimination.  African-American Special Agents describe: African-American Agents being referred to as “ni–er” by peers and supervisors; an African-American Agent receiving a phone message after he transferred to a new office stating “You little Ni–er.  You better leave Philly or you’ll never leave alive;” a high-performing African-American Agent being referred to as “Super Ni–er;” a swastika and the word “Ni–ers” being painted on the wall of a field office; and communications between African-American Agents being referred to as “ni–er talk.” The environment of racial discrimination and hostility continues today in the Secret Service.  In April, 2008, a noose was found hanging in a secure building at the Secret Service’s James J. Rowley Training Center in Beltsville, Maryland.  That same month, the Secret Service produced a series of racist emails that were sent to and from Secret Service e-mail accounts in just the last few years and involve at least twenty current or former Secret Service supervisors.

(n-word edits are mine)

When I read news reports of the investigations, like this one – they give me pause.
Agents Discuss Alleged Racist Acts in Secret Service

Leroy Hendricks, currently assigned to Vice President Al Gore’s detail, described his first assignment while in the Springfield, Ill., field office — advance work for Marilyn Quayle. He sat through a dinner with fellow agents and local police who told racial jokes all evening. “I thought it was an initiation,” he said. Attorney Ron Schmidt said black agents assigned to protect Gore complained about the racial atmosphere on the detail, but the agency would not divulge its report on the complaints.

‘Good Ole Boys’

Shaffer also revealed new evidence of Secret Service members being involved in the “Good Ole Boy Roundup” in Tennessee.The roundup has been described as a “whites-only” gathering of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and other federal law-enforcement officers and at which these agents discriminated against blacks by posting racist signs, wearing racist T-shirts, performing racist skits and playing racist music. The roundup was allegedly held annually in Tennessee over a period of 16 years. “The roundup was the good ole boy roundup,” Shaffer said, “and the good ole boys of the Secret Service still run this agency. They just do it covertly and secretly in private meetings held in Washington.”

The lawsuit claims in two separate years a white Secret Service agent was elected president of the roundup, and one year an agent was elected, “Redneck of the Year.”
At this morning’s press conference, two agents who worked in the Atlanta field office said they knew of co-workers who attended the roundup and saw flyers promoting the event.
“They taunted me: ‘You should come, you’d get a bang out of it,’” said former agent Janelle Walker Clark.

I know the Secret Service is promoted as an agency where every agent is willing to “take a bullet for the President” and agents are reportedly free from the taint of political positions. Interesting that a former agent, Dan Bongino is currently running for congress in Maryland as a TeaPublican wingnut, and is a current Fox favorite guest.

One of the most vocal congressional critics of the Secret Service has been the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-Miss). He has been following the discrimination suit, has been a part of investigations of the “slip-ups” and recently called for the agency to be headed up by someone brought in from the outside, rather than someone who is part of the Secret Service culture. During the hearings and subsequent resignation of agency head Julia Pierson, he made this clear.

Several senior Democrats joined Republicans in saying the next director should come from outside the agency’s insular culture.“The Secret Service needs a seasoned law enforcement professional who is not a product of the Secret Service to bring about needed reforms,” Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

Insular culture, from my perspective can also mean a culture in which racism is a factor in how well the agency protects a black President and his family.

What do you think?

Sen. Meredth, North Carolina Republican Got Welfare While Making Six Figures

Senator Wesley Meredith

Senator Wesley Meredith


The fact that Republicans are largely responsible for perpetuating the stereotype of the welfare queen who lives it up while receiving government benefits makes the case of North Carolina Republican Senator Wesley Meredith an interesting one.  According to ABC11, Meredith’s challenger for the 19th District Senate seat revealed that Meredith’s family received Medicaid benefits during the late-1990s when Meredith’s annual salary was more than six-figures.  Bill Richardson, the challenger, released financial and public assistance documents proving his claims.

Meredith’s ex-wife, Elizabeth, confirmed that the documents and information were authentic.  The couple apparently applied for and receive both Medicaid and WIC benefits in 1996 despite Wesley Meredith having a gross income of more than $100,000.  To receive the government assistance they applied for, requirements were for income to be less than $19,800.

This revelation is particularly interesting as North Carolina Republicans have consistently blocked Medicaid expansion through Obamacare that would extend health coverage to thousands of North Carolina residents who desperately need it.  Meredith has blamed his ex-wife Elizabeth for the application for benefits, but Elizabeth says that the two went to Cumberland County Social Services and applied for Medicaid benefits together.  Meredith has said that the release of the documents amount to a personal attack by his opponent and that his name did not appear on any documents Richardson provided to the Department of Social Services (DSS).

An investigation was opened by DSS and expedited.  Meredith is reporting that the case has been closed, but no information has been provided about whether or not the case was founded or unfounded or whether there was some kind of settlement.  Neither state or county officials have confirmed the closure saying they are unable to comment due to state law protecting personal information.  Medicaid fraud is considered a civil matter and can therefore be resolved through voluntary repayment or property liens without any criminal charges resulting.

In response to how the allegations have been handled, Richardson says there are still many unanswered questions and that voters deserve to know the truth.  Richardson states, “We have someone who may have worked the system to help himself, while slashing funds for working families who need help.”

If the GOP has thoroughly accomplished one thing in the past 6 years, it’s this

by Rachel, DailyKos,

In six years of professional “No-ing,” the GOP has accomplished very little. They’ve shut down the government, accused the president of trying to destroy the country, cooked up every sort of conspiracy theory you can imagine, attacked women, gays and minorities…but that really seems more like “activity” than something accomplished: petulant disagreeableness, throwing a wrench in the workings of the country because they’re not in charge, and tearing down their scapegoats du jour.

But looking back at all Republicans have done, they seem to have achieved one goal really well: convince Americans making just enough that if only those with not enough had less, they’d be doing much better. Put another way, they’ve trained a certain segment of the population to kick downwards. Instead of looking at a system that makes it difficult to survive, instead of looking at the portion of the population that keeps getting richer and richer, instead of looking at how many hundreds and even thousands of times those above them make than everyone else…they look at the people just below them, getting poorer and poorer. Republicans have instilled such a level of contempt in people for unskilled laborers and the poor, that they do the work of justifying paying them less than enough to survive for the party.

Bear in mind, we’re not talking about people who don’t work; we’re not talking about people who earn a lousy living, but a living. We’re talking about people who work hard, and do not earn enough for the basic necessities. And as far as Republicans are concerned, this is good enough: the unskilled laborer’s comfort, standard-of-life, independence, self-respect, health and ultimately life are worthy of only disdain. He is a failure by virtue of being unskilled, and as such deserves contempt. A cheap Big Mac is more important than the person making it being able to afford to pay his rent and put food on the table after working 40 hours a week.

Thus we see things like this (this particular image has been shared by almost 200K people, but there are many other variants around the net):

attribution: None Specified

First of all, the false comparison is just a way to heap scorn on the working poor: you  just make fries, and you think you should be treated the same as an American hero?! It ignores benefits that are attached (health, etc.) to military service (still needed, but not found in fast food work…), and casts these as mutually exclusive options. Should we pay our military better? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay minimum wage employees more, either.

But that’s not the worst part of this. Look at the smug contempt this person piles on fast food employees. Throughout the piece, she refers to fast food workers in only demeaning terms:

– Johnny Fry-Boy

– Sally McBurgerflipper

– Baconator

They have “failed,” and if they “don’t want minimum wage” they shouldn’t “have minimum skills.”

And, it bears repeating, this is not one bitter, hateful person spewing her contempt for her fellow man on the internet. Once upon a time, the GOP line was “get a job, earn money, it doesn’t matter what it is, just get off your butt and work.” It’s now morphed
from “the dignity of work” to “make my burgers, b*tch. And hell no, you don’t get paid enough to survive, because you’re just a burger flipper!”

If a minimum wage worker cannot afford to live, that is his fault, because he should simply better himself. Despite the fact that, you know, he can’t afford to live, much less acquire higher education….

Germany Just Made College Tuition Free? Why Won’t Our Black Political Class Fight For Free Tuition Here?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon,

If you depend on TV and the corporate news outlets in your town you probably missed the news that this summer Germany made college tuition free for everybody, including foreign students. That’s right, free. We’re not talking about socialist Cuba here, or third world Sri Lanka here, we’re talking Germany, the most capitalist of all European countries other than Britain. And we’re talking free.

It says a lot that the news was not covered at all in the corporate press or broadcast media on this side of the water. Even more tellingly, the liberal academics and think tanks like the Center For American Progress and black outfits like the United Negro College Fund, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, National Action Network and others have nothing to say on the subject.

Is free tuition even possible?

Of course it is. It’s not just possible, free tuition at the nation’s public colleges and universities would actually cost LESS than the federal government now pays to those institutions, accordingDepartment of Education stats quoted in two very useful articles by Jordan Weismann in The Atlantic in 2013 and 2014. Public colleges and universities, he points out, account for 75% of college grads while sub-prime for-profit colleges, which are basically machines capture low-income students and walk them through applications for subsidized guaranteed loans account for a tiny percentage of grads but eat a full quarter of all the federal aid dollars.

The skyrocketing cost of tuition has hit nobody harder than African American families. Our glittering, successful and tirelessly self-promoting black political class never tires of telling the black masses that education is the way out of poverty. But you have not and you will not hear a word from the Jesse Jacksons or the Al Sharptons, or the Urban League or the NAACP, and certainly not from black college presidents, or the United Negro College Fund on how much our people have to gain by following the example of Germany. It’s not even on their horizon.

What the eyes and hearts of black college presidents, and civil rights leaders are fixed upon is not making higher education affordable for all who want it. They don’t seem to care either about lifting the decades-long debt sentence that often goes with attempting a college education, whether you complete it or not. Key members of the Congressional Black Caucus sell their vote on a regular basis to the sub-prime for-profit college racketeers, and under President Obama the Department of Education has become dependent on the billions each year that it collects in student loan repayment, a great chunk of it from the sub-prime for profit colleges which get paid for how many students they enroll, not how many they graduate.

Back in June, I wrote about how the United Negro College Fund, another tentacle of our black political class chose, instead of fighting the political decisions to continue cutbacks in direct aid and in loans that go to students attending historically black colleges with a political campaign to make college tuition free for everyone, chose to double down on its dependence upon the charity of fickle white philanthropists, namely the infamous Koch Brothers.

Thanks to the United Negro College Fund, the Koch Brothers will literally be able to dictate what faculty are hired and promoted and which courses are taught at historically black colleges and universities. Other tentacles of the Kock Brothers vampire squid are pushing for the bans on teaching primary and secondary school students about climate change. What restrictions would folks like these apply to black colleges and universities? What gags and limitations will the institutions put on themselves to keep the money?

The money is there to forgive all outstanding student loans and do as the Germans do, make public college tuition free for everybody. What’s not there is number one, the political will on the part of white and black leadership, and number two, a long-term grassroots mobilization, a popular movement demanding the reallocation of the nation’s resources in this way. It’s do-able financially, it’s advantageous socially. And it’s not even remotely revolutionary. Germany is a capitalist country.

Why doesn’t our black political class doesn’t see this as an opportunity?

That’s an easy question. Our black political class of politicians, preachers, business drones, academics and empowered wannabees are jelly makers, not tree shakers, selfish and short-sighted jelly makers at that. Their definition of an opportunity is something somebody in authority has already put on the table. This ain’t on no table they know of, it’s not even discussed in the building where they have that table, so for them it’s not worth thinking about. Besides, a long-term self-aware, 24-7 grassroots movement is, as Glen Ford has observed, a mortal threat to their brand of leadership, which only wants the masses mobilized just enough to vote Democratic in election years and then go home.

The opportunity for a successful mass movement is there. But it’s a challenge that can only be taken up by a new generation of black leadership, not blinkered and bound by obligations to the existing political system, to corporate philanthropy, to our backward-thinking prosperity gospel preachers or our self-seeking black business class. Free tuition won’t make anybody rich, but it will build collective wealth, community wealth, a concept outside the universe of the current black political class.

The challenge is there. Who will take it up? Who will begin to organize for free tuition, for the right to an education? We already know who won’t.

Quitman 10+2 defendant acquitted

submitted photo: Attorney Chevene King and Lula Smart after her aquittal.

submitted photo:
Attorney Chevene King and Lula Smart after her aquittal.

By Kevin Moran, Worker’,

Quitman, Ga. — On Sept. 17, after three trials held over four years, Lula Smart, the first of the Quitman 10+2 to be tried, was found not guilty on all thirty-two counts.

The main issue in the 19-day trial related to the use of absentee ballots by Black voters to insure that their votes were counted accurately. A small group of eleven African-American women and one man organized an effort to elect African-American candidates to the Brooks County school board in the summer of 2010. They accomplished this by helping registered African-American voters to apply for and vote with absentee ballots.

Their efforts were successful. Three highly qualified Black educators were elected, changing the racial composition of the Brooks County, Georgia School Board to majority African-American for the first time.

Quitman is a small city in southern Georgia in Brooks County, along the Florida border. Despite African Americans making up at least 60 percent of the population, an entrenched aristocracy of white businessmen and politicians had held the power for generations.

This odyssey began when a white school board member who was also the senior assistant attorney in the district attorney’s office complained to the local DA of the impending absentee ballot-driven victory.

Following the election, voter fraud charges were leveled against the leaders of the absentee ballot campaign.

Within months, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal removed the newly elected school board members and replaced them with the defeated white incumbents.

In two subsequent elections, these African-American candidates were re-elected with over 60 percent of the vote. They serve on the school board ­today.

However, the charges of vote fraud in the 2010 election continued to be pressed by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, at the behest of the governor. In three separate trials, with hung juries in the first two, Smart was accused of illegally touching or transporting ballots, a felony under Georgia law. It was never suggested that she tampered with a single ballot.

The prosecution’s case relied on the testimony of a postal clerk, John Boone, who claimed to have observed the defendant delivering bundles of ballots to the Quitman post office. He testified that on several occasions he removed these ballots from the mail receptacle and wrote down the names and addresses of the voters. He later provided these lists to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Cross examination established that half the people on the list submitted at trial either delivered their own ballots to the registrar’s office, didn’t return their ballot or didn’t receive one, according to the county registrar, who keeps track of absentee requests and ballots returned.

GBI lead investigator, Special Agent Amy Braswell, testified that she questioned over 400 absentee voters at their homes or their workplace.

Defense witnesses described how intimidating these “interviews” were, with armed agents appearing at their doorstep or job, demanding to know who they voted for and why they used an absentee ballot. Some who went through this experience expressed their reluctance to vote again.

The trial judge on multiple occasions criticized the prosecution for the lack of specificity of the indictment, asking “What act makes it vote fraud?” The multiracial jury likewise could find no evidence of a criminal act and delivered a resounding defeat for the prosecution.

Lula Smart’s acquittal in Quitman, along with the exposure of this strategy of candidate intimidation and voter suppression, may have wider ramifications. What will happen with the charges against the remaining members of the Quitman 10+2?

While this trial was taking place in south Georgia, Kemp made highly publicized allegations of voter registration irregularities against the New Georgia Project’s campaign, which has registered over 86,000 African Americans in the last six months. At a packed Sept. 17 public meeting of the State Elections Board, it was revealed that 26 registration forms had been found to have incorrect, false or unverifiable information, with a similar number still being investigated. There was no suggestion that the New Georgia Project had deliberately engaged in any illegal practices despite Kemp’s repeated, blanket assertions of fraud to the press.

It is evident that in this 50th anniversary year of the Civil Rights Act, racism continues to reveal itself in crass and open efforts to block voting rights in Georgia.


Featuring a student, teacher or alumni from the Sumter County Schools

submitted photo: Tom Detitta Rodney Shelton along with his wife Trisha, daughter Madison, Sumter Middle School Principal Stacy Favors, and School Superintendent Donnie Smith.

submitted photo: Tom Detitta Rodney Shelton along with his wife Trisha, daughter Madison, Sumter Middle School Principal Stacy Favors, and School Superintendent Donnie Smith.

By Tom DeTitta PR Director, Sumter County Schools,

Rodney Shelton was recently named Teacher of the year in the Sumter County Schools. A teacher of business and computer science as well as engineering and technology at Sumter Middle School, “Coach” is also known for his success on the playing field. As head football coach at Americus Sumter County Middle School, his teams have won multiple championships. He is also a successful coach of Sumter County Middle School Basketball and the combined middle school golf program.

Mr. Shelton described himself as a true Americus person: raised in Americus, attending public schools here where he graduated with honors from Americus High School before graduating from Georgia Southwestern State University with a degree in business and human resource management. He has been teaching at Sumter Middle School for sixteen years.

The youngest of nine children whose parents worked at Textron and at the Manhattan Shirt Factory, his story shows how perseverance, a desire to learn and a desire to excel can take a person wherever they want to go.


Just a few positive influences can go a long way in shaping the life’s direction of a young mind. This was particularly true in the case of Mr. Shelton.

At age three, his great grandmother, who couldn’t read, instilled in him the importance of learning:

“She would make me read the newspaper to her while she babysat for me each day,” he said. “She died when I was three but I still remember many of the things she taught me.”

His older sister was in college before he went to kindergarten. By taking him to observe her college classes, she made it a point to develop in her youngest brother a respect for learning and an intellectual curiosity.

“Then, when I was in school, over the summers she taught me the things I needed to know for the next year,” Mr. Shelton said. “She always wanted me to be ahead.”

He remembered the role of public television shows like “The Electric Company” where he first learned to spell and to read.

“If you can read well, it makes everything that much easier,” he said. “If you can’t read well, it makes everything more difficult.”


Once the desire to learn had taken root at a young age, it continued to play out over a lifetime. In an age before the internet, Mr. Shelton remembered growing up with a set of 1968 World Book Encyclopedias always opened, always used.

“I’d go to sleep reading encyclopedias,” he said. “If something happened at school that triggered a question in me, I found the answer in those books.”

He graduated with a degree in business and worked as a manager of a Pizza Hut before realizing that his true passion would be in front of a classroom. In making the transition through the Georgia Teacher Alternate Preparation program, he relied heavily on the experience and insight of educators at Sumter Middle School such as Sandra Dantes, Stacy Favors, Maybelle Thomas and Carolyn Hamilton.

“Not being an education major, I needed additional support especially in areas such as classroom management,” Mr. Shelton said. “It became much easier for me to manage a class because I got to watch those people.”

Even after sixteen years as a teacher, Mr. Shelton says he still has to continually learn new things and adapt to the ever-changing world of education.

“Every time you feel as a teacher you’re on top of your game and everything is in line, something happens to change it,” he said. “Change is a constant in education. As a teacher you have to adapt or become extinct.”


Like most successful people, Mr. Shelton finds great joy and satisfaction in the work he does. Teaching middle school students provides its own unique challenges:

“The middle school kids need to understand things that they don’t know they need to understand,” Mr. Shelton said. “People know what they want when they come into a store or a restaurant. But they don’t know what they want when they come into school. As a teacher, you have to create the ‘want.’

“Teachers are most effective when they engage students in such a way that they learn and don’t realize they are learning,” he continued.

As a coach and as a teacher, his measure of satisfaction is the success of the students he has helped along life’s journey.

“Anytime I come in contact with a student I taught, I always want to figure out what they are doing,” he said. “When they seem to be doing well, it is always rewarding. When I read about former students who graduated from college, it is always rewarding.”


“Set goals. Then you have to be persistent in order to obtain those goals. When things don’t go as well as you planed you figure out a way to make it better next time. You’ll never be a success if you don’t try or if you quit.”

“If you shoot to pass and you come up short, then you fail. But if you shoot for the best and you come up short, you’re still better than most.”

Americus Native, Melissa Bryant: “How She Fought

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

Submitted by Melissa Bryant,

I have a story and God is amazing. He’s doing amazing things in my life. It took me to lose everything to see how real God is. I just want to help encourage other peoples out that.

My book” How She Fought” is mainly for women, who are hurting, but men hurt too, therefore my book will bless others along the way.

Could you imagine waking up and find out that you lost everything? What would you do? How would you handle it? Who would you call on? Would you fight and hold on to your faith? Would you let the disappointment and hurt take you down?

The hurt is so deep and the bitterness defiles so many, but God can help us. God can energize us to do the impossible.” I couldn’t go back to the way I was even if I wanted too.

I love this life I’m walking in with the Lord. When you go from having everything then you even up losing everything it will change you. I had to keep the faith because I had five children depending on me.

Everyone at some point of time go through trials and tribulations, some worse than others. But always know that God has your back. When everyone else turns away from you, God is always waiting with his arms open wide, all we have to do is turn to him.

Always know that you are a survivor and you will come out victorious as long as God is for you who could be against you. Be encouraged and be blessed and know that God loves you and so do I, God bless.

In spite of all the things that I have been through, or may go through God survive me; I went through this to survive for someone else who may be feeling like giving up and I want to let them know. There is hope for tomorrow. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

It’s easy to be grateful when things are well, not so easy when things are falling apart. Jesus is the light of my life even in my darkest of hours without him it would be impossible for me to keep going, keep hoping, and keep the faith. Keep the love of God in your hearts no matter what the world says keep your faith in things above and not on things on earth. God has a plan for you even when you can’t see it.Just when you think satan is busy, God is busier. He knows where you are and exactly what you are going through. He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.

I have a story and would love to be on your show.I was almost homeless. I could even get things right because I was so busy giving my all to the devil back and forth. I was letting the devil win. When I got my life right with God, that’s when things start changing for me.

Thank you Lord! I am free, delivered, healed, I have peace and I am not dead. Thank you Jesus and I won’t go back. So many wonderful things have happened since I gave my life to Jesus. I will never go back. He has done so much. He is the reason I stand today, alive and well, with family, friends and fans.God is a sure hope and faithful in all things count on his grace and love. You can find my book How She Fought on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Books-of-millions. You can find me on Facebook as well or follow me on twitter Melissa Bryant@ MzFokus. Thanks for all the love and support.

Mitch McConnell Is the Cancer of the U.S. Senate

Senator Mitch McConnell's seat is in play. (photo: AP)

Senator Mitch McConnell’s seat is in play. (photo: AP)

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News,

ever before in our history has the U.S Senate been as unproductive as the U.S. Senate post-2008. Even the staunchly obstructionist Republicans during FDR’s tenure got more done than our current Senate. Most Americans, by and large, regardless of party affiliation, agree that we need more jobs; that veterans need better healthcare; that the current minimum wage is insufficient; that our infrastructure could use some upgrading; that politicians are too beholden to their benefactors; and that there’s too much bickering instead of legislating. One man has continuously denied the necessary progress to the American people out of sheer political bitterness, and that one man alone can take all the credit for the complete lack of action on all of those fronts – Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell is the shittiest Senator in the history of Washington. And there are numbers to back that up. Since he became the Republican leader in the Senate, McConnell has filed more than a quarter of all cloture motions ever filed as long as the Senate has existed. To put that in perspective, this means McConnell, in just his most recent term, is responsible for over 25 percent of all the Senate filibusters since 1787. McConnell is literally a cancerous tumor on the Senate, collecting a six-figure paycheck while depleting all hope of progress as long as he’s in office.

On the flip side, McConnell is quite productive if you’re willing to write him a fat check. One week after Amgen, a pharmaceutical multinational, hosted a fundraiser for McConnell in December of 2012, one of their lobbyists, who was in charge of monitoring the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, wrote a $3,000 check to McConnell’s campaign. By the time the negotiations were finished, McConnell had secured a $500 million Christmas present for Amgen that came directly out of Medicare. But even that wasn’t McConnell’s foulest moment of corruption.

This past July, McConnell took time out of his busy day to have a breakfast date with Richard Anderson, the CEO of Delta Airlines, in the exclusive Senate dining room. Just a day after the breakfast, Anderson and his wife wrote over $10,000 worth of checks to McConnell’s campaign. McConnell’s spokespeople of course denied the allegations that McConnell solicited the donations in the Senate dining room, which would be a felony.

Nevertheless, the donations to McConnell’s campaign could be easily interpreted as a quid pro quo in a relationship where McConnell will likely return the favor by continuing to block closing unfair corporate tax loopholes that cost U.S. taxpayers billions each year. Delta Airlines has used an accounting loophole called “deferral,” which allows them to carry their losses forward for several years. This means that despite making billions in profit, Delta Airlines pays $0 in taxes on those profits, and is likely to continue dodging all U.S. income taxes for several more years, at least. If McConnell keeps his job after November, the tax dodging will continue, as will the checks Delta’s CEO writes to McConnell’s campaign.

Mitch McConnell’s position as a politician who puts out depending on how much you’re willing to put in is a far cry from what he used to stand for. Ironically, McConnell used to be a proponent of full disclosure when it came to campaign donations several decades ago.

“What we ought to do is eliminate the political action committee contributions, because those are the ones that raise the specter of undue influence. And those can be gone tomorrow. We can pass a bill tomorrow to take care of that problem,” McConnell was quoted saying in 1987.

“We Republicans have put together a responsible and Constitutional campaign reform agenda. It would restrict the power of special interest PACS, stop the flow of all soft money, keep wealthy individuals from buying public office,” McConnell said in 1988.

Now, McConnell is the personification of the insidious culture that exists among Washington politicians and their big donors. Thanks to Lauren Windsor’s surreptitiously-recorded audio of McConnell’s address at a Koch Brothers-funded gathering of GOP politicians and corporate oligarchs this past summer, the Senate minority leader’s deference to big money is well-documented. McConnell, who has received over $41,000 from Koch Industries in this campaign cycle, shamelessly genuflected to the oil barons in front of the entire audience, acknowledging their role in keeping the Republican Party well-funded.

“I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David [Koch], for the important work you’re doing,” McConnell said. “I don’t know where we’d be without you.”

At the summit, McConnell assured benefactors of his continued servility, promising not to spend any time on “gosh-darn” minimum wage increases, eases in student loan debt, or extensions of the safety net for the long-term unemployed. Instead, McConnell vowed in his speech to defund the Environmental Protection Agency, eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and repeal the Affordable Care Act – all of which are greatly pleasing to billionaires who profit from polluting air and water, jacking up interest rates on millions of unwitting college students and credit card holders, and denying health insurance to sick and injured people who depend on it. Mitch McConnell can be counted on to make the rich richer, as well as himself, through his votes.

McConnell increased his own personal wealth from $3.4 million in 2004 to $27.2 million in 2010. Oddly enough, that was a time when most Americans were seeing their wealth dissipate during the greatest recession in modern history. The Washington Post reported that most of McConnell’s gains during that time were due to stock trades, though he’s also voted to increase his own Congressional salary six times. Interestingly enough, The New York Times reported that the investment portfolios of U.S. senators consistently outperform the rest of the market by a full 10 percentage points, seeing even more growth than hedge fund managers. Given that most Americans were caught completely off guard by the crash resulting from the banks’ misleading investors on subprime loans, it’s curious that politicians like McConnell reaped such a massive windfall while everyone else saw their life savings get flushed away. It’s almost like he knew what would happen ahead of time.

Even ignoring all allegations of corruption and insider trading, McConnell is still a paragon of sleaziness. CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has named McConnell to their most corrupt politicians list four times now, most recently over what smells like Congressional aides doing campaign work on taxpayer time. Mother Jones obtained secret recordings of a McConnell campaign strategy meeting in which the senator lauded opposition research on his potential 2014 challengers obtained by his legislative assistants. Had this research been done using McConnell’s office resources, during the work week, it would certainly merit, at the very least, an ethics investigation if not an indictment.

If Kentuckians are still planning to vote for McConnell despite well-documented instances of his serving billionaire donors over citizens, the highly-questionable rapid growth of his net worth during a recession, and potential violations of basic ethics, even his record as a true-blue Kentuckian can be called into question. The Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Covington, Kentucky, to Cincinnati, Ohio, is badly in need of repairs. Many Kentuckians who work in Cincinnati depend on the bridge for their daily commute. However, the Cincinnati Enquirer recently called the bridge “one of the most hazardous bridges in the nation.” In true Mitch McConnell fashion, the senator opposes allotting new funds to repair the bridge unless a law protecting a prevailing wage for federal contractors is repealed. In other words, Mitch McConnell won’t do anything to help workers in Kentucky unless it comes at the expense of screwing workers in Kentucky.

If that weren’t bad enough, McConnell’s campaign even mistakenly included footage of the Duke University men’s basketball team celebrating its 2010 title win in a campaign ad. His campaign team tried to fix the mistake by splicing in an image of 2013 Kentucky star player Julius Randle where the Duke celebration was. But using a current player’s likeness in a political ad is forbidden by the NCAA, so the ad had to be pulled altogether. As a native Kentuckian and UK fan, I know full well that rooting for Duke anywhere in the commonwealth is a criminal offense. I also know that using the image of a Kentucky Wildcats basketball player for political purposes without his knowledge is sacrilege for Big Blue fans, which is pretty much the entire state outside of Louisville. The icing on the cake? Mitch McConnell doesn’t even know the words to “My Old Kentucky Home,” our state anthem.

Kentucky voters, I’m talking to you. It’s on you to forcibly remove this disgustingly corrupt, parasitic, cancerous tumor from the Senate this November. He’s done literally nothing for anyone who hasn’t directly put money in his pocket. And he’ll continue to screw you in favor of his corporate sponsors the longer you allow him to collect a paycheck. He’s already down in the latest polls. Finish the job, ditch Mitch, and make your nation proud of you.

Our ignorance of Africa is more dangerous than Ebola

Left, Fox News host Andrea Tantaros says African Ebola victims may seek "witch doctors." Right, Nowa Paye, 9, is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of the Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia, Tuesday Sept. 30, 2014. Three members of District 13 ambulance service traveled to the village to pick up six suspected Ebola sufferers that had been quarantined by villagers. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Left, Fox News host Andrea Tantaros says African Ebola victims may seek “witch doctors.” Right, Nowa Paye, 9, is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of the Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia, Tuesday Sept. 30, 2014. Three members of District 13 ambulance service traveled to the village to pick up six suspected Ebola sufferers that had been quarantined by villagers. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

by Luvvie Ajayi |,

OMG EBOLA IS HERE! EVERYBODY PANIC. No. Don’t. I’m just kidding. Although many people already have started, so this might be a little too late.

The first case of the Ebola virus diagnosed on American soil is here with Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas. The Liberian man came into the United States last week and unknowingly brought the deadly illness with him, shattering everyone’s safety bubble in one instant (even though there shouldn’t be one but more on that later). He is one of thousands who the current epidemic has touched, but his diagnosis here seems to have created something that looks like ramping hysteria as people freak out that maybe they were next.

Last month, two Americans who got infected while treating patients were airlifted out of Liberia and taken to Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The panic actually started then as people wondered why the virus was being brought closer to home. Apparently, while it was in certain regions of West Africa, it was ok because that was far away. People wondered why the CDC wouldn’t want to “keep that in Africa.” Oh ok. Let’s not use modern medicine and the best scientific minds to see how it can be handled better everywhere.

We should be glad they did bring those doctors, because now that someone has been diagnosed here, we’ll need whatever they used to treat those doctors and whatever lessons they learned in the process to ensure that it is contained.

Ebola wasn’t “our” problem before, but we forget that the entire world is pretty much a 20-hour plane ride away. Air travel makes the world tiny, and something on one side of the world is not as distant as we all think. So we were not protected, because the disease was just on the other side of the globe before 2 weeks ago.

We felt a bit better about it, but now it’s not just a problem for Africans to deal with. And now that it went past our doorstep, we need to face the facts without hysteria.

The Ebola virus is not the flu, and it should be taken very seriously because it is deadly, with an estimated 70% mortality rate. However, panicking is not (and has never been) productive in fighting (and winning) any battle. With it comes misinformation, stigmatizing and the vilifying of an entire regionand people. The media is especially complicit in that process, as reporters do the most with the absolute least.

Andrea Tantaros, a FOX News host had the unmitigated gall to tell viewers that “in these countries they do not believe in traditional medical care, so someone could get off a flight and seek treatment from a witch doctor who practices Santeria. This is a bigger fear. We’re hoping they come to the hospitals in the U.S., but they might not!”


All the NOPES that ever NOPED in NOPELAND. I already know that FOX News broadcasts are the place where logic goes to die a slow painful death, but that’s EXTRA ignorant, even for them. That foolishness is a bridge to folks also wondering whether travel from West Africa needs to be barred until further notice. No amount of facepalming is sufficient enough to express my disgust about this. NONE.

The narrative about Africa has always been a simple, singular picture of the poor helpless, disease-ridden child with mosquitoes all over it. The continent is seen as one huge Sally Struthers commercial pleading for help, and the media will not let go of that depiction. While Africa does need aid, Africa is also rising. However, right now it’s seen as the Ebola zone. Like my shero Chimamanda Adichie said, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

The entire continent is being stigmatized, and people are making stupid comments like, “You’re going to South Africa? Aren’t you worried about Ebola?” Yes, uninformed ignoramus. Because an Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone surely means you can’t visit anywhere else. Because Africa is one giant country.

As someone who was born and bred on the continent, I do feel extra sensitive about this, because I grew up hearing the bad jokes and the “did you all wear clothes?” teases. As if folks need one more thing to add to their pot of moronic jokes about Africans, this crisis has allowed them to double up.

What we need right now is for everyone to be educated on how the Ebola virus is transmitted. We also need governments from around the world to help the ones in West Africa who are in need of help in addressing and containing this epidemic. Communities are struggling, children are being orphaned and the disease is spreading, because in certain rural areas, there’s lack of adequate infrastructure to handle Ebola. We need the world’s brightest minds to help keep it from getting to pandemic proportions.

What we DO NOT NEED is panic. Although, if y’all keep freaking out and not wanting to go to anywhere on the continent of Africa, then prices for flights headed there will drop and the rest of us will buy these cheap tickets and go see the world.

While we’re on the topic of health, have you been tested for HIV lately? I mean … you have a greater chance of getting that than Ebola. In 2012 alone, 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related complications around the globe. You know how many have died from Ebola TOTAL? 4,000.

Come on, Saints and Aints. Chill.


Why Ordinary People Bear Economic Risks and Donald Trump Doesn’t



Thirty years ago, on its opening day in 1984, Donald Trump stood in a dark topcoat on the casino floor at Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza, celebrating his new investment as the finest building in Atlantic City and possibly the nation.

Last week, the Trump Plaza folded and the Trump Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy, leaving some 1,000 employees without jobs.

Trump, meanwhile, was on twitter claiming he had “nothing to do with Atlantic City,” and praising himself for his “great timing” in getting out of the investment.

In America, people with lots of money can easily avoid the consequences of bad bets and big losses by cashing out at the first sign of trouble.

The laws protect them through limited liability and bankruptcy.

But workers who move to a place like Atlantic City for a job, invest in a home there, and build their skills, have no such protection. Jobs vanish, skills are suddenly irrelevant, and home values plummet.

They’re stuck with the mess.

Bankruptcy was designed so people could start over. But these days, the only ones starting over are big corporations, wealthy moguls, and Wall Street.

Corporations are even using bankruptcy to break contracts with their employees. When American Airlines went into bankruptcy three years ago, it voided its labor agreements and froze its employee pension plan.

After it emerged from bankruptcy last year and merged with U.S. Airways, America’s creditors were fully repaid, its shareholders came out richer than they went in, and its CEO got a severance package valued at $19.9 million.

But American’s former employees got shafted.

Wall Street doesn’t worry about failure, either. As you recall, the Street almost went belly up six years ago after risking hundreds of billions of dollars on bad bets.

A generous bailout from the federal government kept the bankers afloat. And since then, most of the denizens of the Street have come out just fine.

Yet more than 4 million American families have so far have lost their homes. They were caught in the downdraft of the Street’s gambling excesses.

They had no idea the housing bubble would burst, and didn’t read the fine print in the mortgages the bankers sold them.

But they weren’t allowed to declare bankruptcy and try to keep their homes.

When some members of Congress tried to amend the law to allow homeowners to use bankruptcy, the financial industry blocked the bill.

There’s no starting over for millions of people laden with student debt, either.

Student loan debt has more than doubled since 2006, from $509 billion to $1.3 trillion. It now accounts for 40 percent of all personal debt – more than credit card debts and auto loans.

But the bankruptcy law doesn’t cover student debts. The student loan industry made sure of that.

If former students can’t meet their payments, lenders can garnish their paychecks. (Some borrowers, still behind by the time they retire, have even found chunks taken out of their Social Security checks.)

The only way borrowers can reduce their student debt burdens is to prove in a separate lawsuit that repayment would impose an “undue hardship” on them and their dependents.

This is a stricter standard than bankruptcy courts apply to gamblers trying to reduce their gambling debts.

You might say those who can’t repay their student debts shouldn’t have borrowed in the first place. But they had no way of knowing just how bad the jobs market would become. Some didn’t know the diplomas they received from for-profit colleges weren’t worth the paper they were written on.

A better alternative would be to allow former students to use bankruptcy where the terms of the loans are clearly unreasonable (including double-digit interest rates, for example), or the loans were made to attend schools whose graduates have very low rates of employment after graduation.

Economies are risky. Some industries rise and others implode, like housing. Some places get richer, and others drop, like Atlantic City. Some people get new jobs that pay better, many lose their jobs or their wages.

The basic question is who should bear these risks. As long as the laws shield large investors while putting the risks on ordinary people, investors will continue to make big bets that deliver jackpots when they win but create losses for everyone else.

Average working people need more fresh starts. Big corporations, banks, and Donald Trump need fewer.

$22 Billion to Fight ISIL in same Year Congress cut $8.7 bn in Food Stamps

By  ,

It was all the way back in February, so the memory of this headline has faded:

” Congress passes $8.7 billion food stamp cut

By Ned Resnikoff

It’s official: 850,000 households across the country are set to lose an average of $90 per month in food stamp benefits.

The Senate on Tuesday voted 68-32 to send the 2014 Farm Bill – which includes an $8.7 billion cut to food stamps – to President Obama’s desk. Nine Democrats opposed the bill, and 46 members of the Democratic caucus voted for it, joining 22 Republicans.”

The GOP Congress’s assault on the American working class has been waged with the pretext that the Federal government has no money (what with being in debt and all). This despite the money being owed to the American people on the whole, and despite the long tradition of deficits in government budgets, which have seldom in history been balanced. But note that when there was a Republican president in the zeroes, the same voices did not demand austerity, but ran up the deficit with obvious glee.

In contrast, Congress has no problem with the war on ISIL in Iraq and Syria, which could cost from $18 bn to $22 bn a year. Admittedly, in military terms this expense is relatively small. The point is that the same people who have trouble justifying a safety net for the working poor and find it urgent to cut billions from the programs that keep us a civilized society rather than a predatory jungle– the same people have no difficulty authorizing billions for vague bombing campaigns that are unlikely to be successful on any genuine metric.

The failure of an air campaign in Syria where there is no effective fighting force on the ground allied with the US, which could take advantage of the bombings, is becoming evident at Kobane. Despite US and other aerial bombings, ISIL fighters have moved to only a couple of miles from the besieged Kurdish city.

In contrast, in Iraq the Kurdish Peshmerga have taken a few villages and a border crossing with Syria back from ISIL in the past couple of days, and may have benefited in this push from close air support from the US and other governments. Even there, while intervention to stop the Kurdish capital of Erbil from falling to ISIL might be justifiable, helping the Kurdish Peshmerga capture Sunni Arab towns is a more delicate proposition.

In any case, all of a sudden I guess cost is no object for the Tea Party and its fellow travelers.

Greenberg, Carville: House Democrats May Top 2012 Gains

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

By Gregory Giroux ,

Several factors point to Democrats falling well short of winning a majority of House seats in the 2014 election.

Republican-drawn congressional maps narrowed the universe of politically competitive districts. Democrats saturate big population centers, diluting their influence, while Republicans are more efficiently distributed among the nation’s 435 districts. The White House’s party almost always loses ground in Congress in lower-turnout midterm election years.

Republicans, who control the House by a margin of 234 to 201, are poised to gain two to seven seats in 2014, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report said earlier this month.

Not so fast, say Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville.

“Republicans are at least as vulnerable” as in 2012, when Democrats made a net gain of eight House seats, and there’s a “significant probability of Democrats making gains” in 2014, Greenberg said today on a conference call with reporters and political analysts.

Greenberg said his company’s survey of 1,250 likely voters in 80 politically competitive districts point to an election year in which Democrats may at least replicate their 2012 gains.

In 49 Republican-held districts, Republicans led Democrats by 47 percent to 42 percent, compared to 54 percent to 44 percent in last November’s balloting, the survey said. Republicans led Democrats by 43 percent to 42 percent in the 24 most competitive Republican-held districts and by 50 percent to 41 percent in the other 25 districts.

The Republican Party’s poor public image and its association with Tea Party activists help Democrats, Greenberg and Carville said.

The Republican “brand is really, really in trouble and has deteriorated even since the election of 2012,” Carville said.

Neither Greenberg nor Carville predicted Democrats would win back the House in 2014, which would require a net gain of 17 seats. That’s more than twice the number they won last November, when President Barack Obama won the popular vote by 5 million.

Republicans “are going to lose some seats in their 25 most vulnerable,” Carville said. “In their next 25, probably not. But I think it’s pretty clear that, as of right now, the Democrats would net out with some seats.”

“I’m certainly not suggesting to you that it’s enough to take the House back,” Carville said. “I don’t think it’s impossible, but that’s not the suggestion that I’m making, and I don’t think it’s the suggestion that Stan is making right now either.”

Republicans are targeting some Democratic-held districts, including nine that backed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over Obama. In 31 competitive Democratic-held districts, Democrats led Republicans by 44 percent to 42 percent, the survey found.

Democrats led Republicans by 9 points in Democratic-held suburban districts, which accounted for half of the 31 districts surveyed. They trailed Republicans by 1 to 7 points in the other districts, according to the survey.

Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Political Capital that Democrats are “having trouble not only in their turf, but also are going to have a tough time recruiting candidates and winning races” in competitive districts “where the president’s approval rating is upside down.”

Ministers and Citizens Protests Mayor Blount and City Council

Sumter County NAACP Will Take the City to Court

Barry Blount Mayor of Americus

Barry Blount
Mayor of Americus

Staff Reports,

A packed City Council Administrative Briefing with ministers and citizens asking why the Council would prevent citizens from speaking to their own representatives.

Reverend Larry Sims led the effort and granted the Americus Sumter Observer an interview. He told our reporter that, He had questions and comments concerning the action by the mayor and council members. “I am hurtful to think this could come from people who represent us. People died to be able to speak to their elected officials. This move is unconstitutional which robs our citizens of their right to speak to the city council,” said Rev. Sims.

NAACP former vice president, Craig Walker told our newspaper that Mayor Barry Blount was asked to move the meeting to the larger courtroom in the Municipal Building but he refused. Blount violated Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Public Accommodation Act). So, citizens packed the small conference room and spilled over into the halls. Blount supports this unconstitutional action with four of his councilmembers, Shirley Green Reese, Carla Cook, Walton Grant, and Lou Chase. Councilpersons, Nelson Brown and Juanita Wilson condemned the vote to silence our citizens.

NAACP leaders are prepared to file a complaint in Federal Court against the Mayor and City Council if they vote to stop citizens from speaking at the meetings.

The meeting would only allow a citizen to speak three minutes. The other clergy, Rev Elijah Smith, Reverend Carl Colquitt, Reverend DeRienzia Johnson, Minister Johnny Pool were there to support Reverend Sims and the concerned citizens.

“The city has gone far beyond its boundaries. We are not about give up our rights for freedom of speech. If they don’t have the time to listen, then they need to retire,” said Rev. Elijah Smith, past president of the NAACP.

“Jimmy Skipper, the city attorney, tried to concoct a deceitful trick which makes the citizens send a letter to the council asking to be put on the agenda. Once the letter is received, three of the council members have to agree that the citizen can speak. There are four council persons who oppose having citizens address the council; so how can anyone speak when there are only two councilpersons who will allow them to speak,” said Dr. John Marshall, past president of the NAACP.

That is why we know the city attorney is pulling a fast one which amounts to no speaking to the council, says Dr. Marshall.

Former County Attorney NeSmith Attacks Mathis Wright

Millard Fuller’s widow questions the cost to our citizens

William NeSmith Former County Attorney

William NeSmith Former County Attorney

Rev. Mathis Wright Americus-Sumter NAACP President

Rev. Mathis Wright Americus-Sumter NAACP President

Staff Reports,

Attorney William D. NeSmith, III wrote a newspaper article published in the Americus Times-Recorder (ATR) on Friday Oct. 10, 2014 entitled; “To The Citizens of Sumter County.” NeSmith’s article addressed the ongoing lawsuit of Mathis Wright vs. Sumter County Board of Elections.

The Americus Sumter Observer contacted Rev. Mathis K. Wright, Jr., and asked for comments concerning Attorney NeSmith’s ATR article which mentioned Millard Fuller’s widow.

Wright said that he agrees that Mrs. Linda Fuller Degelmann is a valued person in Americus and Sumter County. She and her late husband, Millard Fuller made great contributions to Americus, Sumter County and around the world. She is concerned about the cost of litigation when mediation seems logical. “Rev. Wright wants to elect Board of Education members from 7 distinct districts, not elect 5 from 5 districts and the other 2 members at large (county wide),” said Fuller Degelmann. “More furloughs of teachers and other pulic service workers.”

According to Mr. Wright, if the case is tried in court, it could cost tax payers a million dollars or more. However, settling the matter out of court could be as little as $100,000.

However, Americus and Sumter County is ‘no shining city on the hill,’ at least not yet. Mrs. Degelmann stated what I said to her because she knew that I would tell the truth and not be concerned about me changing my story.

Many in our community want to talk about police brutality, a new police chief, social events, whether or not someone can speak at and/or attend public meetings, etc, but not many want to address the “quiet racism” happening in our community; and until that happens and is resolved, the city cannot shine.

Wright continued by saying that his efforts are not to ‘force’ the Court to make any change, but rather to have the Court to ‘enforce’ the law as is provided by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The racial makeup of the existing public boards for various entities in our community reflects a return to the racism of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Wright said that he didn’t have any idea as to who Mrs. Degelmann talked to besides him. Mr. NeSmith said in March that my lawsuit had no merits, and stated it again in his article, but that is just another lie he has told. Simply, if that was true then the lawsuit would not have been granted a continuance by the Court to be resolved on the merits according to Judge Sands.

Wright said that it is true that he and NeSmith discussed mediation. Mr. NeSmith suggested five single member districts without the two at-large seats, and I suggested seven single-member districts without any at-large seats. Wright said that he and Nesmith also discussed who would draw the new district lines.

NeSmith and my counsel talked and discussed settlement whereby he offered the same five single-member districts with no at-large seats. I informed my counsel that the offer was unacceptable for obvious reasons and we have not heard anymore from NeSmith about settling the case.

Wright said that NeSmith maybe right that a Section 2 Voting Rights Act lawsuit can be hard to settle, but, “it can be settled.” Judge Sands stated during the initial hearings that he would like to see the two parties work this out. However, NeSmith and his attorneys have gone out and hired another person who is a political science expert at a rate of $250.00/hr. The expert’s charges are added to the law firm that is charging a $million to litigate the case against me.

NeSmith is correct in saying that I can dismiss the lawsuit at anytime and seek a negotiated solution, Wright said. However, the Defendants [led by NeSmith] in the lawsuit have the same opportunity to negotiate and settle at anytime.

Wright said NeSmith is correct that only the Board of Education through the General Assembly or a Judge (Sands in this case) can make settlement happen. We can present Judge Sands with a joint proposed settlement for his approval.

Wright concluded by saying that, “It is NeSmith, his attorneys and their expert who are running-up the bill for all of Sumter County taxpayers. When NeSmith said that I appeared to be “shocked, shocked” that suing a county requires it to spend money on its defense;” the only thing I was shocked about was that he wasn’t qualified to defend the county and he burdened our citizens with a $million law firm. We still can’t understand how NeSmith got a state position after hiring a law firm that represents the governor; could it be the reason why NeSmith opted to leave town?”