Mrs. Lucille Johnson

image (3)Funeral services for Mrs. Lucille Johnson of Americus, GA will be held on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 12:00 Noon at the Friendship Baptist Church with Bishop Melvin McCluster officiating. Burial will follow at the Eastview Cemetery. Mrs. Johnson died on Thursday, September 11, 2014 at the Magnolia Manor Nursing Home in Americus, GA.

Mrs. Lucille Johnson was born May 6, 1916 in Preston, GA to the parentage of the late Mr. Jim Andrews and the late Mrs. Julia King- Gordon. She was educated in the public school system of Webster County, GA. For thirty-six years she worked for South Georgia Technical College as a dietician. Mrs. Johnson was a member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. She was united in holy matrimony to the late Eddie Lee Johnson. Mrs. Lucille was preceded in death by her three children: Willie Westbrook, Jim Westbrook, and C.T Westbrook; two sisters: Miller Black and Alberta Harris.

Left to cherish her memory are three stepdaughters: Linda Marshall of Americus GA, Louise Barthell of Americus GA, and Brenda Westbrook- Sedgwick of Alexandria, Virginia; five stepsons: Calvin Westbrook, Otis Westbrook, both of Desoto, GA, Eddie Westbrook, Jr. of Americus, GA and Robert Westbrook of Warner Robins, GA; three daughters in law: Nina Westbrook of Desoto, GA, Lela Westbrook of Cordele, GA, and Annette Westbrook of Americus, GA; three nieces: Angela Paden and husband Oveal Paden, Jr. of Midland, GA, Shirlene Gray of Seat Pleasant, Maryland and Diane Wilson of Atlanta, GA; two nephews: Willie Boyd Harris of Americus, GA, and Derek Black of Duluth, GA; twenty two grandchildren, thirteen great grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends also survive.

Mr. Harry Alvin Lewis

Mr. Harry Alvin Lewis

Mr. Harry Alvin Lewis

Funeral services for Mr. Harry A. Lewis age 90 of Americus, Georgia will be held on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 10:00 A.M. at his home on Laudig Lane in Americus, Georgia with Elder David Towns officiating. Burial will follow at the Eastview Cemetery.

Mr. Harry A. Lewis was born on April 26, 1924. He was the son of the late Alvin Ecot Lewis of Barbados and the late Alice Clark of Saint Kitts. Mr. Lewis lived a full, blessed and productive life. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in liberal arts.  Mr. Lewis had a long and distinguished professional career in county government and the banking industry.  Positions Mr. Lewis held during his career included operations manager of the check processing division, First Fidelity Bank and Director of Buildings and Grounds, Division of Public Works for Essex County New Jersey. Mr. Lewis was also an income tax specialist and helped many people during his lifetime. The general public perception was that Harry A. Lewis wrote the IRS tax code because his knowledge and expertise was so vast. Mr. Lewis was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey, where he once served as an acolyte and was involved in many church ministries. Harry and Della were married on May 10, 1981. To this union no children were born. Mr. Lewis died on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at the Phoebe-Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Georgia. He was preceded in death by a son Shoncliff Lewis.

Mr. Lewis leaves to cherish his memories: His loving wife, Della, of Americus, Georgia; one son, Carleton Lewis of Newark, New Jersey; two daughters: Melody Josey of Americus, Georgia, and Vanessa Josey of Americus, Georgia; nine grandchildren: Stephanie, Shoncliff (Jr.), Yanni, Ledelle, Xavier, Candace, Nina, Alana, Keliliah; nine great grandchildren: Gabrielle, Taylor, Alyssa, Caleb, Spirit, Desmond, Devin, James, Sydney; one sister, Doris Lewis of Newark, New Jersey; one brother Duncan Maughn of Barbados (preceded in death); one niece Lorraine Lewis of Newark, New Jersey; one nephew Victor Maughn of Barbados; four sisters-in-law: one brother-in-law and a host of other relatives.

Deacon Clarence “Cotton Tail” Josey

Deacon Clarence "Cotton Tail" Josey

Deacon Clarence “Cotton Tail” Josey

Funeral services for Deacon Clarence Josey affectionately known as “Cotton Tail” of Americus, Georgia will be held on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 1:00 P.M. at the Mt Olive Baptist Church with Rev. Dr. H.C. Wilson officiating. Burial will follow at the Eastview Cemetery.

Deacon Clarence Josey was born in Sumter County, Georgia on March 7, 1937 to the late Eddie & Fannie Josey. He received his education in the Americus School System. He later moved to New York and worked several years for Owens Illinois Glass Company. In 1974 he moved back to Americus and worked at Round Tree & Glovers Wholesale Grocery Company. Mr. Josey later joined the Mt. Olive Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon until his health failed. Mr. Josey died on Friday, August 8, 2014 at the Lillian Carter Nursing Home in Plains, Georgia. He was preceded in death by three siblings: Ms. Juanita Brown Josey, Mrs. Sandra Josey Williams and Mr. Wilbur G. Josey.

He leaves to mourn his passing a devoted wife of 50 years, Mrs. Jewell Greene Josey of Americus, Georgia; one son Clarence Newkirk Josey of Clinton, South Carolina; four sisters: Ms. Lena Josey, Mrs. Mary (James) Russell, Mrs. Carmen (William) Clark, and Ms. Lorena Josey; three brothers: Mr. Eddie W. Josey, Mr. Jimmy (Doris) Josey and James (Mary) Josey all of Americus, Georgia; four sisters-in-law: Mrs. Ruby Jean Brewer of Hazlehurst, Georgia, Mrs. Zadine B. Harris of Linden, New Jersey, Mrs. Barbara (Jesse) Johnson of Glenwood, Georgia and Ms. Gail Dixon of Alamo, Georgia; two brothers-in-law: Mr. George (Francis) Greene of Linden, New Jersey and Mr. Troy (Gloria) Greene of Irvington, New Jersey; one aunt, Mrs. Ida Bell Floyd; one uncle, Mr. William Floyd; two devoted friends: Mr. Benjamin Jones and Mr. John Roach. Several of relatives and friends also survive.

Mr. Henry Berry

Fimage (3)uneral Services for Mr. Henry Lee Berry of Americus, Georgia will be held on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 4:30 P.M. in the Chapel of West’s Mortuary in Americus, Georgia with Rev. Charles Miller officiating. Burial will follow at the Lebanon Cemetery in Plains, Georgia. Mr. Berry died on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at the Phoebe-Sumter Medical Center.

Mr. Henry Lee Berry was born on March 24, 1945 in Sumter County Georgia to the late Mr. Bishop “Cooper” Berry and Bertha Mae Laster.  He was educated in Sumter County, and worked and retired in West Palm Beach, Florida.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 30 years the late Mary Alice Merritt Berry, and two brothers Willie T. Berry, and Forrest Berry; three sisters Effie Mae Raven, Ruth Favors, and Rachel Simpson.

He leaves to cherish his memory a daughter Kizzy Brown of West Palm Beach, FL, a son Willie Berry, a step-daughter Carolyn Joanne Brown (Ollie) of Americus, GA; one brother, Bishop Berry of Atlanta, GA; three sisters: Charlene Merritt of Americus, GA, Gloria Beckham (Jerry) of Atlanta, GA, and Clara Thomas of Plains, GA; three sisters-in-law: Julie Hayes (Edward) of Cobb, GA, Johnnie Mae Merritt of Leslie, GA, Willie Mae Gamble of Forest Park, GA, and Ethel Berry of Atlanta, GA; three brothers-in-law: Clifford Merritt, Americus, GA, Dennis Merritt (Shirley) Americus, GA, and Leroy Merritt, Leslie, GA. A host of grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends also survive.

MR. CHARLIE WYNN WILLIAMS, JR.

MR. CHARLIE WYNN WILLIAMS, JR.

MR. CHARLIE WYNN WILLIAMS, JR.

Mr. Charlie Wynn Williams was born January 23, 1928, in Sumter County to the parentage of the late Mr. Charlie Wynn Williams, Sr. and Mrs. Ozie B. Green Williams. He was educated at the Spring Hill School. At early age, he joined the Spring Hill Baptist Church, where he served faithfully and was ordained a Deacon. Later, he joined the Friendship Baptist Church under the leadership of Bishop Melvin McCluster. He married the love of his life, Ms. Mary Ingram Williams on November 25, 1950. They celebrated 63 years together. Mr. Williams was an entrepreneur. He owned Williams Logging Company for over 50 years. He was a member of the Elks Lodge #691 and Aaron Lodge #8. In addition to his parents he is preceded in death by his siblings, Mr. Curtis Williams, Mr. Clarence Williams and Mrs. Mamie Sue Williams and a granddaughter, Catrina D. Edge.

He leaves to mourn his passing, his loving wife of 63 years, Evangelist Mary Williams, Americus, GA; three sons, Mr. Charlie (Penelope) Williams, III, Andersonville, GA, Mr. Morris Williams, Americus, GA and Minister Christopher Williams, Albany, GA; four daughters, Ms. Christine Williams Edge, Ms. Brenda Williams of Americus, GA, Ms. Dorothy Williams Spann, Fayetteville, GA and Mrs. Wanda (George) Williams Butler, Stone Mountain, GA; two brothers, Mr. Milton (Alice) Williams, Atlanta, GA, Mr. Watson (Otha) Williams, Decatur, GA; three sisters, Ms. Salathia Faye Stuldivant, Ms. Ann Grace Williams and Ms. Ozzie Bell Williams all of Atlanta, GA; two aunts, Mrs. Christine (Charlie) Harvey and Mrs. Cassie (Homer) Floyd both of Americus, GA; his brothers and sisters-in-law; Ms. Shirley Ingram, Albany, GA, Ms. Mary Williams, Decatur, GA, Mr. Willie Gene (Minnie) Ingram, Mr. Arthur (Dr. Oneida) Ingram of Americus, GA, Mrs. Doris Perry, New Brunswick, NJ and Minister Beatrice Ingram, Springfield, MA; twelve grandchildren, Schurod Edge, Adrian Williams, Morris Williams, Jr., Brandon Williams, Artrease Spann, Arthur Spann, Jr., Bianca Williams, Jasmine Surles, Amber Butler, Trevor Butler, Kelly Butler and Calandra Reese; four great grandchildren, Malashia Reese, McKenizie Reese, Caben Williams and Brylan Williams; and a host of nieces, nephews cousins and other relatives also survive.

MR. GONZO LEE BROWN

MR. GONZO LEE BROWN

MR. GONZO LEE BROWN

Mr. Gonzo Lee Brown, affectionately called “Scotty” and “Bay-Bro”, was born in Sumter County, Georgia on March 18, 1953 to the parentage of the late Mr. James Frederick and the late Ms. Lucille Brown. He moved to Hartford, Connecticut where he graduated from Hartford High School in 1971 and returned back to Sumter County that same year. At an early age, he joined Big Bethel Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Rev. E. L. Battle. He was employed at Scott Bedding and CMI Furniture. He was married to the late Annie Ruth Postell Brown.

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his brothers: R. L. Brown, Marvin Brown, Curtis Hamilton and Tony Cunningham and his sister, Pearl Brown.

He leaves to cherish his memories, his siblings: Mrs. Ella (Thomas, Jr.) Wakefield, Mr. Lamar (Mary Ann) Tarver, Mr. Larry Tarver, Mrs. Jane (Nathaniel) Dunn, Mr. Donald (Nannette) Cunningham, Rev. Michael (Teresa) Cunningham, Mrs. Yolanda (Dwayne) Worsley, Mr. James Cunningham, Mr. David (Bridgette) Frederick, Mr. Darryl Frederick, Mr. Errol (Sylvia) Frederick, Mrs. Gwen (Micha) Fulks, Mrs. Celena (Thomas) Watson, Mrs. Cathy Merritt, Ms. Tonja Hicks, and Mrs. Tami (Johhny) Walker; a step-daughter, Ms. Sherryl Postell, Americus, GA; a devoted aunt, Ms. Martha Gordon, Americus, GA; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends also survive.

MRS. PHYLLIS WHEELER

MRS. PHYLLIS WHEELER

MRS. PHYLLIS WHEELER

  Mrs. Phyllis Ann Yonko Wheeler was born April 27, 1949 in Gary, Indiana to the late Mr. George Yonko and the late Mrs. Virginia Edith Landfald Yonko, and after the passing of her mother, by her step mother, Mrs. Jessie Russell Yonko.  She spent a number of her younger years in Jackson, Mississippi.  She studied Music Education at Southern Mississippi University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree.  For several years, she taught music.  She had a love of Christian music and furthered her education at Sarritt University in Nashville, TN receiving a Master of Christian Music Education Degree.  On August 18, 1984, she married Mr. Thomas Wheeler.  That year she opened Wheeler Music Studio and for the last 30 years, trained hundreds of young people to play the piano.  For many years, she and her husband were the Ministers of Music for First Presbyterian Church.  She was currently the Children’s Choir Director at Fellowship Baptist Church.  She is preceded in death by her brother, Mr. Bud Yonko.

           Left to cherish her memories are her husband, Mr. Thomas Wheeler, Americus, GA; her daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth (Larry) Tyrer, Americus, GA; her son, Mr. Russell Wheeler, Atlanta, GA; her brother, Mr. Jerry (Marie) Yonko, Jackson, Mississippi; 2 sisters, Ms. Nancy  Yonko and  friend, Jeff Ray, Nashville, TN and Ms. Bobbie Bourne, Bend, Oregon;  a sister-in-law, Mrs. Cindi (Larry) Fuqua, New Mexico; a host of other relatives and friends; and hundreds of music students and their families.

Mrs. Annie Maude Williams Harris

 

MRS. ANNIE MAUDE WILLIAMS HARRIS

MRS. ANNIE MAUDE WILLIAMS HARRIS

Mrs. Annie Maude Williams Harris was born April 19, 1942 in Schley County, GA to the late Mr. Noah and Mrs. Annie Lou Carter.  She was educated in the Sumter County Public School where was graduate from A. S. Staley High School.   She was a long time member of the Springhill Baptist Church.  March 28, 1961, she married Mr. Arthur Willie Williams.  They were married for 30 years, until he passed in 1991.  In 1997, she married Mr. Oliver Harris.  He passed away in January of this year.  Also preceding her in death is her brother of the heart, Mr. Eddie Hayes.

She leaves to cherish her memory a large blended family; her sons: Mr. Arthur Melvin (Sharon) Williams, Mr. Byron Bernard Williams, Mr. Christopher Andre’ (Denise) Williams, Mr. John Harold Harris, Mr. Daron Foster (Doreatha) Harris, all of Americus, GA and Rev. Timothy Oliver (Sylvia) Harris and Mr. Bruce Harris of Atlanta, GA; her daughters, Mrs. Sheryl Ann Griffin and Mrs. Sharon Denise (John) Leverette, both of Americus, GA; her brother, Mr. Charles Williams, Americus, GA; her sister, Mrs. Nettie Ruth Sims, NYC;  her brothers-in-law, Mr. Alfred (Elizabeth) Harris, Mr. William Eugene (Mattie Sue) Harris, Mr. John E. (Annie Maude) Harris, Mr. Fred Albert Harris, Rev. Norris Harris and Rev. Gerald Louis (Martha Ann) Harris, all of Americus, GA; her sisters-in-law, Mrs. Bertha Mae Williams, Montezuma, GA, Mrs. Hazel (Ernest) Harp and Mrs. Mary Dean (Willie James) Harp, both of Oglethorpe, GA, Mrs. Fannie H. Butler, Ms. Kathleen H. Monts, Ms. Janice M. Harris, Rev. Sherryl H. Sneed, all of Americus, GA and Mrs. Ruby H. (Clyde) Maddox of Riverside, CA;  4 devoted grandchildren: Mrs. Lakeisha (Maurice) Grayson and Torryne Williams of Bonaire, GA, Corey Williams of Cheasapeake, VA, and Diquon Griffin of Americus, GA; 13 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and sorrowing friends, including devoted friends:  Mrs. Ella Payne, Evang. Mary Williams, Mrs. Janice Sapp, Mrs. Hazel Frederick, Mrs. Annie Bell Moss and Mr. Ben Hamilton, also survive.

Mrs. Florine White Laster

Mrs. Florine White Laster

Mrs. Florine White Laster

Mrs. Florine White Laster was born in Americus, GA on November 03, 1953 to the late Mr. Jesse White and Mr. and Mrs. Walter and Anna Edwards, who survives. She was educated in the public schools of Sumter County and was graduated from Plains High School in the class of 1972. She married Mr. David Laster on March 18, 1972 and to their union, two sons, David, Jr. and Calvin were born. She furthered her education at Georgia Southwestern College, where she attained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. She spent 22 years in Home Health Care and 20 of those years with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. At an early age she joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. M. C. Jenkins. She later joined the Zion Hope Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. George F. Monts, Jr., where she served faithfully.

She leaves to mourn her passing her beloved parents, Mrs. Anna L. Edwards and Mr. Walter Edwards, Smithville, GA; a devoted stepmother, Ms. Annie Maude Solomon Edmonds; two sons, Mr. Calvin Laster, Americus, GA and Mr. David Laster, Leesburg, GA; three grand-children, Christian Laster, Gabrielle Laster and Tabious Laster her sisters: Mrs. Bertha Covington (Ralph) Decatur, GA, Dr. Annie Edwards Howard (Rev. Dr. Joseph) Albany GA, Mrs. Carolyn Ford (Connie), Albany, GA, and Ms. Sabrina Edwards, Smithville, GA, and Ms. Hazel Jackson, Killeen, TX; her brothers: Dea. Stanley White, Mr. Richard Andrews, Mr. Thomas White, Plains, GA, Mr. Mark White (Tracy) of Arlington, GA, Mr. Jesse White (Annette), Preston, GA, and Mr. Glenn White, Riviera Beach, FL; aunts: Mrs. Martha Edwards, Ms. Ernestine Jackson, Smithville, GA, Ms. Mary Jackson, Ms. Edna Jones, Mrs. Ruby Little and Ms. Eddie Rhea Walker, all Americus, GA.; her uncles, Mr. John Monts (Ida Mae) and Elder Ed Ross (Juanita), Plains, GA, Mr. William Monts, Mr. David Monts and Mr. Albert Monts, Mr. Johnny White, Mr. Johnny Little all of Americus, GA; a host of nieces and nephews, including: Cassondra Covington, Joshua Howard, Kayla Howard, Kennedi Howard and Christal Blalock; other relatives and sorrowing friends, also survive.

What Is a Heart Attack?

The heart requires its own constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, like any muscle in the body. Two large, branching coronary arteries deliver oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. If one of these arteries or branches becomes blocked suddenly, a portion of the heart is starved of oxygen, a condition called “cardiac ischemia.”

If cardiac ischemia lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies. This is a heart attack, otherwise known as a myocardial infarction — literally, “death of heart muscle.”

Most heart attacks occur during several hours — so never wait to seek help if you think a heart attack is beginning. In some cases there are no symptoms at all, but most heart attacks produce some chest pain.

Other signs of a heart attack include shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness, or nausea. The pain of a severe heart attack has been likened to a giant fist enclosing and squeezing the heart. If the attack is mild, it may be mistaken for heartburn. The pain may be constant or intermittent. Also, women are less likely to experience the classic symptoms of chest pain than men are.

Angina: Early Warning Sign of a Heart Attack

Many heart attack victims are warned of trouble by episodes of angina, which is chest pain that, like a heart attack, is provoked by ischemia. The difference is mainly one of degree: With angina, blood flow is restored, pain recedes within minutes, and the heart is not permanently damaged. With a heart attack, blood flow is critically reduced or fully blocked, pain lasts longer, and heart muscle dies without prompt treatment.

About 25% of all heart attacks occur without any previous warning signs. They are sometimes associated with a phenomenon known as “silent ischemia” — sporadic interruptions of blood flow to the heart that, for unknown reasons, are pain-free, although they may damage the heart tissue. The condition can be detected by ECG (electrocardiogram) testing. People with diabetes often have silent ischemia.

A quarter of all heart attack victims die before reaching a hospital; others suffer lifethreatening complications while in the hospital. Serious complications include stroke, persistent heart arrhythmias (irregular heart beats), heart failure, formation of blood clots in the legs or heart, and aneurysm, or bulging, in a weakened heart chamber. But those who survive the initial heart attack and are free from major problems a few hours later stand a better chance of full recovery.

Recovery is always a delicate process, because any heart attack weakens the heart to some degree. But generally, a normal life can be resumed. Depending on the severity of a heart attack, a person may experience:

  • Heart failure, where the heart doesn’t pump well enough to meet the body’s needs
  • Arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms
  • Cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death, where the heart stops beating
  • Cardiogenic shock, where the heart is so damaged from the heart attack that a person goes into shock, which may result in damage of other vital organs like the kidneys or liver
  • Death

The Five Biggest Lies About Obamacare

1408324604077.cachedBy Michael Tomasky,
Despite its continued unpopularity, the Affordable Care Act has been a success, and conservative predictions of ‘death spirals’ and huge premium spikes just haven’t come true.

Looked at one way, it’s been another rocky summer for Obamacare. First, the Halbig v. Burwell decision by D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in which two conservative judges used an error in the act’s language to leap to the ludicrous conclusion that a law passed for the very purpose of helping all Americans get health insurance was in fact intended to allow only certain Americans to do so, was a potential body blow. The full D.C. Circuit is widely expected to reverse the two conservative judges en banc sometime this fall, but it could still wind up at the Supreme Court, and with this Supreme Court, you just never know.

Second, the law isn’t getting any more popular. It’s true that some polls, which ask respondents whether to “keep and fix” the Affordable Care Act or repeal it, generally produce majorities saying the former. But that doesn’t mean people have warmed to it, and in early August, a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll generated some inexplicably bad numbers. The basic favorable-unfavorable rating was 37 to 53 percent. That 53 percent represented a staggering eight-point negative spike since June.

The spike is odd and vexing, since the news of actual substance since June has mostly been very positive. Most obviously, there are the several million—somewhere between 6 million and 12 million, depending on which source you believe—more Americans with health insurance. Those who pay closer attention to such things might have noticed developments like one that happened at the end of July, when the Medicare trustees’ report said that the program’s solvency could extend for an additional four years, to 2030, because of savings achieved through the ACA. But of course, the percentage of Americans who know that is infinitesimal.

So, yes—jury still out and all that. Perceptions remain terrible. But it’s worth stepping back and looking at reality. And the reality is this: On the evidence available to us so far, nearly everything that the more vocal conservative critics have said about the ACA has been wrong. No. “Wrong” implies a statement made in good faith. These charges were often made in the worst possible faith. And they were lies.

And—here’s a crazy thought—maybe it’s not just dumb luck that the law seems to be working, especially in the states that took the Medicaid money and set up well-run exchanges. Maybe it’s working because bureaucrats (!) anticipated all the potential problems and planned for them in the writing of the law. Nancy-Ann DeParle, one of the administration’s chief architects of Obamacare, put it this way: “When President Obama took office, there were 42 million uninsured Americans, premiums that were unaffordable for families and businesses, a delivery system with the wrong incentives, and unsustainable cost growth. The Affordable Care Act was the product of nearly two decades of bipartisan analysis and discussions among health policy experts and economists to address these problems, and most–indeed, virtually all–of the policies in the law had widespread agreement from these experts.” In other words, writing this law wasn’t guesswork.

Herewith, the five biggest whoppers, with special emphasis on the fifth (and most current one), and how they’re turning out to be so fantastically wrong.

1. Healthy People Won’t Sign Up

Or call this “Death Spiral Part I.” The idea here, spread lustily by many conservatives since 2010 but especially during last fall’s disastrous roll out, was that healthy people simply wouldn’t buy insurance. Senator Orrin Hatch said last November that “at this pace, the Obama administration will never be able to meet their enrollment goals.” Speaker John Boehner at the time groused that “the idea that the federal government should come in and create a one size fits all for the entire country never was going to work.”

Their hope was that only really sick people would sign up, which would lead rates to spike—the much-feared death spiral (more on that later). But lo and behold it turned out that millions of healthy people did want health insurance. As noted above, the precise numbers are hard to come by. But Gallup’s estimate is that the country has roughly 10 million newly insured citizens under Obamacare. And insurance companies report that around 80 to 85 percent of them are paying their premiums (this was another canard spread on the right, that people would sign up but never pay).

In sum, the law’s advocates were right, and its critics wrong, that health insurance was something normal Americans did in fact want. “There never was any realistic prospect of a death spiral,” says Jon Gruber of MIT, one of the country’s top health-care economists.

2. You Won’t Be Able to Choose/Keep Your Doctor/Plan

It’s true that this happened in a limited number of cases—maybe six or seven million people who bought policies on the individual market got cancellation letters from insurers telling them that their plans didn’t meet the minimum requirements under the new law, as NBC News explosively reported last fall.

It harmed the administration’s credibility, and rightly so. But it didn’t represent much of a change from the past — the “churn-rate” in the individual market has always been high. More importantly, no one seems to have followed up with this population to try to figure out what percentage did, in fact, lose coverage and/or have to pay considerably more for a new plan, so we don’t actually know how many of those six or seven million walked away satisfied or dissatisfied.

But more broadly, in a country where some 260 million people have health insurance, no one has adduced any proof that the ACA has resulted in anything remotely like the cataclysm opponents predicted. In fact, last fall, Factcheck.orgrated such claims as outright falsehoods. And Gruber noted to me that if some people are “losing” their doctors, it’s often by their own choice, because now that they have so many different coverage options, many are choosing less expensive or so-called “limited network” plans. “No one is making people buy these plans,” Gruber says. “They’re cheaper alternatives. This is capitalism at its finest. For the right to criticize that is just ludicrous.”

3. Obamacare Will Explode the Federal Deficit

You heard this one a jillion times back when the law was being debated. Still today, Republicans and conservatives are deft at cherry-picking numbers out of official reports that can convey the misleading impression that fiscal watchdogs think the law will be a disaster.

The truth is that the Congressional Budget Office said in 2010 and reaffirmed this summer that the Affordable Care Act’s budget impact would be positive. The 2010 estimate was that the ACA would cut deficits by $124 billion over its first decade. And in June, CBO head Douglas Elmendorf reported that his experts “have no reason to think that their initial assessment that the ACA would reduce budget deficits was incorrect.”

Now, he throws in a number of caveats, as any bureaucrat should, having to do with the fact that many provisions of the act will kick in later. But Elmendorf sees no hard evidence to suggest that initial estimates were wrong. In fact, says Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The CBO has estimated that the law will especially reduce the deficit in its second decade, and there’s every reason to believe that those estimates are on course.”

4. Okay, Then, It Will Bust States’ Budgets

Texas’ Rick Perry, Florida’s Rick Scott, and numerous other Republican governors have said that Obamacare will bust their budgets. They’re basing that on the fact that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of Medicaid expansion through 2016, but a little less than that thereafter (although never less than 90 percent). So states are going to have to start shelling out (that is, states that take the money in the first place, which Texas and Florida did not).

That’s true as far as it goes. But here’s the part Perry and Scott leave out. All states have, of course, an existing relationship with the Medicaid program in which states pay for some portion of the program’s implementation. And a number of studies estimate that in that pool of funds, states will save significant amounts of money that will offset most of the new expenses incurred under Obamacare. For example, Massachusetts found that after implementation of Romneycare, its costs for “uncompensated care”—charity work, basically—decreased considerably. Andone study released in June found that uncompensated care costs are already dropping dramatically under the ACA—but only in the states that have taken the Medicaid money.

Thus, Perry, Scott, et alia are perhaps agents of a self-fulfilling prophecy: Yes, the ACA might bust the budgets of their states—the states trying to kill off Obamacare. But in the states trying to make it work, the budgetary impact, say most nonpartisan experts, will be a little bit negative, but pretty small.

5. Premium Rates Will Shoot Through the Roof

This is the big enchilada, and the culmination of the alleged death spiral. The charge here is that the lack of healthy enrollees will force insurers to jack rates up to the heavens, because they’ll have all these sick and dying people on their hands. Premium hikes for this year were all over the map, because they were based on guesswork by the insurance companies about who was enrolled. But now, the companies have hard data. So just watch, critics say, as the rates go boom.

To be sure, you can go to your Google machine and enter “insurance premium increases 2015” and find a lot of scary headlines from earlier this year. But you can ignore them all, because no one really knows yet.

Here’s how it works. By roughly this past Memorial Day, insurance companies submitted their 2015 rate requests to the states. These could range from tiny to huge—but they’re just requests. State insurance commissioners are now reviewing the requests. Final, approved rates will be made public in November (before November 15, when Obamacare’s second enrollment period begins). By the way, the ACA, for the first time ever, rationalized this “rate season,” so that everything happens in almost every state at the same time and in more or less the same way. Before, there was no national logic to the process at all.

Again, to echo back to what DeParle said: The people writing the law knew all this was coming, and understood very well that rate shock would be a risk. As a result there are numerous provisions in the law designed to guard against it. The most notable one carries an obvious name: “rate review.” Under rate review, any request for an increase of 10 percent or more has to be approved by a board, to which the insurer has to offer copious documentation proving that such a hike is necessary. Prior to the ACA, there was no such review.

Before we go any further, let’s step back. What’s a typical, pre-ACA rate increase? Good question. In 2008 it was 9.9 percent; 2009, 10.8 percent; 2010, 11.7 percent. Within those broad averages, numbers were all over the map: In 2010, rates went up in Kentucky by just 5.5 percent, but in Nebraska by 21.8 percent.

The numbers released in November will similarly be all over the map. There are just too many variables to say otherwise—how much competition there is among insurers in any given state (in general, it’s increased); what the risk pool looks like in a state (how old, how sick); and other factors. So undoubtedly, there will be some isolated hair-raising increases.

We don’t know, but we do have some early indications and studies, and they are pretty hopeful. The Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers looked at rate requests from insurers that have been filed across 29 states and the District of Columbia and found that the average increase is 8.2 percent, which is impressively low and definitely not “sticker shock.” And remember, these are mostly just requests (in Rhode Island and Oregon, the rates are final), which aggressive state insurance commissioners might seek to make still lower.  “So far, the filings suggest modest increases for 2015, well below the double digit hikes many feared,” says Ceci Connolly, the managing director of the institute.

All the above is about the individual market—people buying insurance on their own, either through state exchanges or the federal marketplace. For a host of reasons, that’s the best barometer by which to measure the law’s success. But there are other markets, too, notably the small-business market, where employers with fewer than 50 employees buy for their workers. There has been some grumbling among conservatives that this “small-group” market will take an especially hard hit, but that seems not to be the case either.

Again, there will be great variance in the small-group market, according to Jon Kingsdale, of the Wakely Consulting Group in Boston. He says the biggest impact will be that, because of some technical changes made by the law, employers with older employees and larger families will likely see rates increase, while employers with younger workers and smaller families may see rates decrease.  But overall, says Kingsdale, “I do not believe there will be a significant jump in rate in the small-group market, because the underlying body of people being insured is not so different from the prior year.”

One last point on rates: This is another area where Republican saboteurs of the law can, if they choose to, make it not work. That is, Republican state insurance commissioners can approve big premium hikes just to make the law look bad. Says Sally McCarty, the former Indiana state insurance commissioner, now at the Georgetown Center on Health Insurance Reforms: “States that are in earnest about implementing the law will likely see lower increases, and states not so concerned about seeing the law succeed will see higher increases.”

So there we have it. Yes, it’s too early for firm conclusions. But certainly the preponderance of the evidence so far is that the apocalyptic predictions just aren’t coming true at all. Granted, there’s a lot of other news going on lately, but this is the real reason why Obamacare has kind of dropped out of the news cycle: Republicans aren’t bashing it quite so much anymore, because even they see it’s kind of working.

The damage they’ve already done is considerable. “Health care is a topic that people feel particularly close to as it involves the most important decisions people make; it is also a topic people can feel incredibly anxious about for the same reason,” says Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a former administration health-care official. “The right wing has preyed upon those anxieties by manufacturing one lie after another to create a veil of opposition against a bill that has so far been pretty effective at covering people and lowering costs.  It is an indictment of our policy deliberations as a country that these lies have been so effective.” Slowly, the truth is catching up.

Peyronie’s Disease and Your Sex Life

Sometimes things take a wrong turn in the bedroom … literally. That’s because about 5%-10% of men have Peyronie’s disease, in which scar tissue causes a bend in the penis when it’s erect. This kind of angle may interfere with your sex life.

Degrees of Difficulty

How big a problem Peyronie’s disease poses depends largely on how much the penis is bent.

“If somebody has a 10-degree curvature, it will have little impact on function. But when you get to 30 degrees or more, that’s when it starts to become significant,” says Ryan Berglund, MD. He’s an assistant professor of surgery at the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at Cleveland Clinic. If the angle is big enough, sex can be impossible.

Peyronie’s disease can also make erections painful. Drogo Montague, MD, is director of the Center for Genitourinary Construction in the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at Cleveland Clinic. He believes the curve and the pain are caused by minor injuries during sex. Those injuries lead to inflammation and, over time, scarring. Fortunately, the pain doesn’t last. “When healing is complete, pain always goes away,” Montague says.

By Marianne Wait
WebMD Feature

The ED Connection

Many men with Peyronie’s disease also have some degree of erectile dysfunction. “Having Peyronie’s disease doesn’t mean you have ED, and having ED doesn’t mean you have Peyronie’s disease, but very frequently, someone with Peyronie’s disease will have ED,” Berglund says.

“A classic example of that would be somebody who can get rigidity closer to the body than the scar, but beyond the scar, they don’t really get the rigidity necessary for [sex],” Berglund says.

A lot of men with Peyronie’s disease also have trouble keeping an erection. In some cases, ED drugs can help.

Ways to Approach the Curve

Treatments for Peyronie’s disease can help. Meanwhile, the condition can be awkward.

“It’s not unlikely for men with Peyronie’s disease to have a high degree of shame and embarrassment around this,” says sex therapist Ian Kerner, PhD. That’s why communication is key.

“Let your partner know what’s going on and what feels good and what doesn’t, and let your partner also have the experience of giving you pleasure, even if it’s in a nontraditional way.” Also, says Kerner, “maybe focus a little more on the giving of pleasure as opposed to the receiving of pleasure.”

Having sex may require experimenting. “In some cases there may be a sexual position that works or that’s less painful,” Kerner says. He suggests trying different positions — such as side-by-side or standing up — to see what works.

Symptoms of Brain Aneurysms

Ruptured Cerebral Aneurysm Symptoms

When an aneurysm ruptures, called subarachnoid hemorrhage, people often complain of “the worst headache of their life.” Other ruptured cerebral aneurysm symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck or neck pain
  • Blurred vision or double vision
  • Pain above and behind the eye
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of sensation

Unruptured Cerebral Aneurysm Symptoms

Most aneurysms are asymptomatic, particularly ones that are small. Occasionally, large aneurysms may cause the following symptoms related to pressure on the adjacent brain or nerves:

  • Peripheral vision deficits
  • Thinking or processing problems
  • Speech complications
  • Perceptual problems
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Decreased concentration
  • Short-term memory difficulty
  • Fatigue

Because the symptoms of brain aneurysms can also be associated with other medical conditions, diagnostic neuroradiology is regularly used to identify both ruptured and unruptured brain aneurysms.

Diagnosis of Brain Aneurysms

Aneurysms rupture at about 1-2% per year but varies with the size, location and history of previous aneurysm rupture. Unfortunately, most aneurysms present because they have ruptured. Occasionally, large aneurysms can present with vision changes, pain above and behind the eye, nerve paralysis, localized headache, neck pain, nausea and vomiting, or other neurological symptoms. Fortunately, an increasing number of aneurysms are found pryor to rupturing because CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) are now used commonly to assess patients with these complaints. These are noninvasive methods a radiologist uses to look at the blood vessels in the head. A physician will determine which is the better option for each patient. MR does not involve radiation or contrast risks, while a CT produces better resolution and is better for operative planning. Patients suspected of having a ruptured aneurysm typically undergo a CT scan of the head and a CT angiogram, which shows subarachnoid hermorrhage and the aneurysm.

 

The Ferguson Grand Jury Will Love Officer Darren Wilson

Grand juries have a shameful role in the criminal justice system.

Grand juries have a shameful role in the criminal justice system.

By Bill Simpich,

When that prosecutor finishes with that police officer in that grand jury, they’re going to love him.”

This is not a quote from the Ku Klux Klan.

This quote is from Jerryl Christmas, a local Ferguson defense attorney, talking about the Michael Brown case.

How is that possible?

Historically, grand juries follow the lead of the prosecutor, and do what the prosecutor wants. Prosecutors generally want indictments. Police cases are the exception. Prosecutors work with police every day. It’s a very close relationship.

Prosecutor Bob McCulloch comes from a police family. He wanted to be a policeman himself before a severe injury forced him to become a lawyer instead.

It takes nine jurors out of twelve to obtain an indictment – the same number can decide that no indictment should be issued. There are nine white members of the grand jury. Three members are black.

Indictments are virtually automatic in grand jury cases. The joke is that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

There’s one exception to this rule. Police shootings of citizens.

McCulloch has the power to file charges without a grand jury. But he says he won’t.

Governor Jay Nixon has the power to replace McCulloch with a special prosecutor. But even after receiving a MoveOn petition to that effect with more than 100,000 signatures, he’s afraid of a political backlash. So he says he won’t.

“Bob McCulloch is a very experienced prosecutor, and he knows how to manipulate the system so that when it’s done, it will appear the grand jury did the ‘no true bill’ and that it was their decision,” Christmas said.

Christmas knows this because he used to do it himself when he was a prosecutor. “They knew my cues, whether or not I liked a case or didn’t like a case. I trained them on how to evaluate these cases,” he said. “If I didn’t like a case and felt like there should have been ‘no true bill,’ I knew how to present the witnesses and give the cues to the grand jury, and they would vote to no true bill it.”

McCulloch has said that “absolutely everything will be presented to the grand jury. Every scrap of paper that we have. Every photograph that was taken.” He says the grand jury investigation must take at least until October.

This strategy has provoked criticism as a disaster waiting to happen. Former federal prosecutor Alex Little says that this decision to present all of the evidence, and to use up such a long period of time, indicates that McCulloch is using the grand jury as a “delaying tactic.”

It’s hard to think of anything more cynical. The prosecutor has almost complete discretion as to what evidence the grand jury hears. There is no obligation to present defenses or alternative theories of the case, and because the grand jury is not an adversarial proceeding, there is no cross-examination of witnesses.

Officer Darren Wilson can walk into the grand jury room, tell his tale, and no trained opposing force will be challenging his story.

Why are grand juries still allowed in the United States? Every other country has banished them to the dustbin of history.

It’s hard to believe, but the Fifth Amendment actually mandates the federal government to use the grand jury in capital cases. Most of the states still use grand juries, although they have fallen into disfavor.

In most places, the grand jury question comes up every time a police officer kills a citizen.

Grand juries are an essential element of the new Jim Crow.

Only a new civil rights movement can end this abuse of power.

A New Book by Venus and Serena’s Father

by Norman (Otis) Richmond

“His nose was broken three times, his teeth were knocked out, he was beat up with sticks, bats, and chains, not to mention how many times guns were involved.”

After reading Richard Williams, new memoir Black and White: The Way I See It, I thought about Black Uhuru’s song, “Sponji Reggae.” Williams is the “genuine character“ that Michael Rose, their lead singer, sang about.

If there is one word that captures Williams it is “driven.” Williams is the father of Venus and Serena Williams, two of the world’s greatest tennis players.

His new autobiography is a must read for African youth. It is the story of the Shreveport, Louisiana born Williams’ struggle against white supremacy.

When Williams was born on February 16, 1942, he may as well have been born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Williams was born a few months before Chris Hani. Hani who was regarded as one of the most militant leaders of the African National Congress of South Africa.

Paul Mooney who was also born in Shreveport, pointed out in his memoir, Black is the New White: “Shreveport, Louisiana. The deep, deep South. So deep the Confederates there keep right on fighting for weeks after the Civil War ends. Shreveport is where Jefferson Davis is running to when they catch his ass. One of the last die-hard outposts of the Old South.”

It was in Shreveport that Sam Cooke was jailed. Mooney continues: “Shreveport is also where the great soul singer Sam Cooke gets arrested in 1963 for making a public disturbance, trying to check into a whites-only Holiday Inn. Cooke pulls up in a $60,000 Maserati, with his band following in a Cadillac limo, and they won’t let him in.”

“Shreveport is where Jefferson Davis is running to when they catch his ass.”

Shreveport is also the birthplace of some of the most militant of the militants born in Babylon. Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, deputy minister of defense of the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party; Raymond “Maasi“ Hewitt, the party’s minister of education; and the lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who represented the Louisiana born Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt, who replaced Carter as the deputy minister of defense of the Southern California chapter.

Unlike Carter, Hewitt, Pratt, Cochran and Mooney, Williams remained in the apartheid south until he was 18 years old. It is a miracle that he lived to document his life story. Williams writes, “Life was a battlefield, win or die.” He documents how he lost two of his childhood friends to southern fried lynchings. Chili Bowl, his best friend, was killed by a white lady who hit him with her car while he was riding his bicycle and “just kept going.” Chili Bowl was eight and Williams was six.

A few years later, his second best friend Lil Man suffered the same fate as Chili Bowl. Lil Man’s lifeless body was found hanging from a tree. Both his hands had been cut off. He was suspected of stealing a white man’s pig.

Williams says: “The Klan caught Lil Man and decided to make an example of him. They bound his hands and feet and tied a handkerchief around his mouth. They cut off both his hands with an ax and lynched his shocked body from a tree. Then they hung Lil Man’s hands on the fence as a warning to other niggers who thought about stealing.”

The death of Lil Man helped Williams grow into a young man filled with rage. He says if he couldn’t get the white man’s respect, he dishonored him by stealing from him. He had no sense of guilt or remorse. At one point Williams even infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. His episode with the Klan alone is worth the price of his autobiography.

“They cut off both his hands with an ax and lynched his shocked body from a tree.”

Williams was personally subjected to violence. Howard Stern wigged out when he interviewed Williams on his talk show. Stern ran down a litany of things that happened to Williams in Shreveport, Chicago and Compton: His nose was broken three times, his teeth were knocked out, he was beat up with sticks, bats, and chains, not to mention how many times guns were involved.

In this volume Williams reveals that he planned to raise two daughters to become world champion tennis players even before they were even born. Venus was born on June 17, 1980 in Lynwood, California. Serena was born on September 26, 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan.

Williams married Oracene Price from Saginaw, Michigan who had three daughters by a previous marriage. He points out this was just like he grew up. Says Williams, “As a child, I had lived with my mother and three sisters. Here I was again, living in a house filled with four women – and I loved it.”

Williams talked about how he wooed Oracene Price. He says in his book, “I told her I had a son named Richard, by a lady named Betty Johnson. I explained I had left Betty because of the presence of gambling and alcohol, but I was doing all I could to take care of my son, and wanted to bring Richard up the right way.”

Williams worshiped his mother, Julia Metcalf Williams, who died in 1985. His mother picked cotton and raised him and his four sisters. The same cannot be said about Williams’ father R.D., who he described as “a man with a terrible reputation for living off women and having babies all over Shreveport.” Williams witnessed his father being beaten by white hooligans. However, he told Howard Stern his father was afraid because he had been conditioned to be.

Black and White: The Way I See It is a must read for Africans and all oppressed people, especially the youth.

New Report Says U.S. Health Care Violates U.N. Convention on Racism

Patients and doctors at a free temporary health clinic in Los Angeles on October 20, 2011. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Patients and doctors at a free temporary health clinic in Los Angeles on October 20, 2011. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

By Miriam Zoila PØrez,

report released in August by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective paints a distressing picture of the health conditions facing black and Latina women in the United States. The report, “Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care,” was written for U.S. government officials and the United Nations committee tasked with reviewing compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). It makes a compelling case that the U.S. is in direct violation of ICERD based on the health care access and health outcomes associated with certain populations in the U.S.

One of the more frightening findings in the report, which focuses on black women in Georgia and Mississippi and Latinas in South Texas, is one that has received increased attention in recent years—the continued crisis of maternal mortality in the United States, particularly for black women. I’ve written about this topic before for Colorlines, but the situation continues to worsen with each new examination of our statistics.

Between 1990 and 2013, the overall maternal mortality ratio grew by 136 percent, from 12 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births to 28 for every 100,000 live births. That increase coincides with a period during which a majority of other countries dramatically reduced their mortality rates. Our rates put us way behind most other developed nations. For instance, we have twice the rate of Saudi Arabia and three times that of the United Kingdom.

When you look at these statistics based on race and geography, the picture becomes even bleaker. According to “Reproductive Injustice,” over the last 40 years, the rate of black women dying in childbirth has been three to four times the rate of their white counterparts. And in many places where the white maternal mortality rate is so insignificant it can’t even be reported, black maternal mortality rates are way above the national average. For example, in Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta, there are 94 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for black women—three times the national average. The white maternal mortality rate in the same county is essentially zero—too insignificant to report. In Chicksaw County, Mississippi, the maternal mortality rate is higher than those in countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya and Rwanda.

“Reproductive Injustice” names various factors as contributing to the problem. There’s poverty: Citing a 2010 Amnesty International report, it says that high-poverty states had maternal mortality rates that were 77 percent higher than states with a higher percentage of people living above the poverty line.

According to “Reproductive Injustice,” women of color are much more likely than white women to live in poverty and lack health insurance—barriers to health care that can lead to diabetes and heart disease, chronic health conditions that put women at greater risk for dying in childbirth.

“Reproductive Injustice” also identifies poor health care quality as a factor in maternal mortality. Black women and Latinas, it says, are more likely to receive poorer quality health care than white women. Based on the 2013 National Healthcare Disparities Report, “Reproductive Injustice” says that African-Americans and Latinos received worse care on 40 percent of measures compared to whites. Poor people, it found, received worse care on 60 percent of measures compared to higher income people.

Focus groups conducted by Sistersong document racial discrimination experienced by black women in health care settings. The women in these groups described the ways in which negative stereotypes about black women impacted how their health providers treated them, what information they were offered, and even the likelihood of being questioned about drug use during pregnancy. One woman from Jackson, Mississippi, shared that her doctor had assumed she wouldn’t be able to use birth control effectively: “After I had the baby, and I went back for my checkup…[the doctor] told me, ‘I’ll see you in six weeks.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said I’d be pregnant again.” Others described prenatal and labor experiences where they didn’t feel their providers adequately informed them of their options. Another woman from Jackson had this to say: “We really don’t have a lot of good experiences when it comes to having childbirth, especially because we’re poor…Why are all these women having caesareans? Was it really necessary for me?…You have more black women having caesareans. Now I’m questioning.”

Recent policy developments, primarily the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, have the potential to improve access to health care for women who aren’t eligible for Medicaid under current requirements. But 19 states, including most in the South where maternal mortality rates are higher, have opted out of Medicaid expansion. Georgia, for example, has 838,000 uninsured women, more than 25 percent of whom are black,according to SPARK Reproductive Justice Now

With the Latina immigrant women in “Reproductive Injustice,” the major issue was denial of health care based on immigration status, which the report deems a form of discrimination. Recent Texas policies have eliminated funding for women’s reproductive health care that many could receive regardless of immigration status or a lack of insurance. The report states that “immigrant women of reproductive age are approximately 70 percent more likely than their U.S-born peers to lack health insurance.”

Even documented immigrants are barred from accessing health care benefits. Federal policy imposes a five-year waiting period for documented immigrants before they can be eligible for Medicaid. Texas goes a step further and refuses to extend Medicaid coverage to legal immigrants even after five years. Recent cuts to family planning funding in Texas have had a significant impact on immigrant women who live there. For example, in the Rio Grande Valley, the Southernmost part of Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border, the funding cuts and resulting closure of clinics has resulted in a 72 percent decrease in women receiving services, according to “Reproductive Injustice.”

The report points out that the last time the ICERD committee evaluated the United States, it “recommended that the U.S. not only revise policies that inhibit low-income women’s access to health insurance, but also to take steps to increase access to reproductive health services, education and information.”

Making the case that the U.S is violating its commitments to human rights conventions such as ICERD is one mechanism for trying to create accountability among policymakers, says Monica Raye Simpson, executive director of Sistersong. “I had the opportunity to go to Geneva and read the statement from the health disparities and reproductive justice working group,” she says. “These world leaders do really hold the U.S. government accountable. It’s important to the U.S. to have a good report card. Being there in the room and seeing that helped me to understand how much of a difference that makes.”

Both Simpson, and Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, say that being involved at the United Nations level allow their constituents to have more leverage when lobbying their state representatives.Activists with the organization have been using “Reproductive Injustice” in their legislative visits to the Texas state capitol, and the women whose stories were included in the report have been acting as spokespersons, says González-Rojas.”We believe the women most impacted [by these disparities] are the best agents of change,” says González-Rojas. “This [report] is a tool that allows them to bring their voices to the Capitol to fight for change.”

In today’s political climate, where, to quote González-Rojas, “politicians are playing politics with women’s health,” it can be difficult to see the path forward to improving health outcomes for women of color. The good news is that as the situation worsens, the level of attention placed on the problem increases. “Reproductive Injustice” concludes with a series of recommendations for actions to be taken by the U.S. government to address the situation, including increasing access to health insurance for low-income women (regardless of immigration status), improving monitoring and accountability mechanisms for maternal mortality rates and addressing race and gender stigma in health care.

US Economy Continues Strong Growth, But Obama Doesn’t Get Credit

 obama-student-loan-300x200By  

The success of U.S. presidents over time is frequently linked to the success of the economy under their tenure, but not so much with President Obama. As new figures released today indicate that the U.S. economy did even better in the second quarter than economists realized, with gross domestic product rising at a rate of 4.2 percent, Obama is still fighting a growing perception that his is a failed presidency.

Events at home and abroad beyond his control, like the rise of ISIS in Iraq and the explosion of Ferguson after the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown, have given commentators the impression that Obama has lost control of the narrative of his presidency. But all the while, the U.S. economy is showing significant improvement and strong performance across the board.

In other words, Obama is not getting the benefit of economic success that was enjoyed by his predecessors such as Bill Clinton, who was widely hailed for seeing the federal budget to a surplus.

Economists expected the GDP, which is the broadest measure of the economy’s health, to grow at a rate of 4 percent for the second quarter, but in actuality it grew at an annualized rate of 4.2 percent for the three months to the end of June, according to the Commerce Department’s revision of the number.  Reuters polled a cross-section of economists who predicted that number for the second-quarter GDP growth pace to be revised down to 3.9 percent.

Where did the economy outperform expectations?

For one, business spending grew more in the second quarter than initially estimated. In addition, U.S.-based corporations posted higher profits. While corporate after-tax profits were $1.735 trillion in the first quarter, they showed a jump in the second quarter up to $1.8 trillion.

The rise in two consecutive quarters came after two consecutive quarters of declining profits.

There was also an increase in real personal consumption expenditures in the second quarter of 2.5 percent, following a rise in spending of 1.2 percent in the first quarter.

As pointed out by the Guardian, the economic recovery after the Great Recession is now in its fifth year. And while the general perception has been the recovery has been sluggish, things have picked up this year after a slight contraction during the winter cold.

“Demand in the second quarter was revised higher, indicating that businesses and consumers are buying,” Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank, told the Guardian. ”And the contribution to growth from inventories was revised lower, which means that inventories will be less of a drag on growth in the second half of this year, as businesses are less concerned about having too much stock on hand…Businesses have bounced back after the bad winter disrupted production and demand, and consumers are gradually earning and spending more.”

PNC estimates that growth will continue in the second half of 2014 at a rate of about 3 percent.

The Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Division of America

ROBERT REICH

ROBERT REICH

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog,

Detroit is the largest city ever to seek bankruptcy protection, so its bankruptcy is seen as a potential model for other American cities now teetering on the edge.

But Detroit is really a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they’d otherwise share with poorer and darker Americans.

Judge Steven W. Rhodes of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan is now weighing Detroit’s plan to shed $7 billion of its debts and restore some $1.5 billion of city services by requiring various groups of creditors to make sacrifices.

Among those being asked to sacrifice are Detroit’s former city employees, now dependent on pensions and healthcare benefits the city years before agreed to pay. Also investors who bought $1.4 billion worth of bonds the city issued in 2005.

Both groups claim the plan unfairly burdens them. Under it, the 2005 investors emerge with little or nothing, and Detroit’s retirees have their pensions cut 4.5 percent, lose some health benefits, and do without cost-of-living increases.

No one knows whether Judge Rhodes will accept or reject the plan. But one thing is for certain. A very large and prosperous group close by won’t sacrifice a cent: They’re the mostly-white citizens of neighboring Oakland County.

Oakland County is the fourth wealthiest county in the United States, of counties with a million or more residents.

In fact, Greater Detroit, including its suburbs, ranks among the top financial centers, top four centers of high technology employment, and second largest source of engineering and architectural talent in America.

The median household in the County earned over $65,000 last year. The median household in Birmingham, Michigan, just across Detroit’s border, earned more than $94,000. In nearby Bloomfield Hills, still within the Detroit metropolitan area, the median was close to $105,000.

Detroit’s upscale suburbs also have excellent schools, rapid-response security, and resplendent parks.

Forty years ago, Detroit had a mixture of wealthy, middle class, and poor. But then its middle class and white residents began fleeing to the suburbs. Between 2000 and 2010, the city lost a quarter of its population.

By the time it declared bankruptcy, Detroit was almost entirely poor. Its median household income was $26,000. More than half of its children were impoverished.

That left it with depressed property values, abandoned neighborhoods, empty buildings, and dilapidated schools. Forty percent of its streetlights don’t work. More than half its parks closed within the last five years.

Earlier this year, monthly water bills in Detroit were running 50 percent higher than the national average, and officials began shutting off the water to 150,000 households who couldn’t pay the bills.

Official boundaries are often hard to see. If you head north on Woodward Avenue, away from downtown Detroit, you wouldn’t know exactly when you left the city and crossed over into Oakland County — except for a small sign that tells you.

But boundaries can make all the difference. Had the official boundary been drawn differently to encompass both Oakland County and Detroit – creating, say, a “Greater Detroit” – Oakland’s more affluent citizens would have some responsibility to address Detroit’s problems, and Detroit would likely have enough money to pay all its bills and provide its residents with adequate public services.

But because Detroit’s boundary surrounds only the poor inner city, those inside it have to deal with their compounded problems themselves. The whiter and more affluent suburbs (and the banks that serve them) are off the hook.

Any hint they should take some responsibility has invited righteous indignation. “Now, all of a sudden, they’re having problems and they want to give part of the responsibility to the suburbs?” scoffs L. Brooks Paterson, the Oakland County executive. “They’re not gonna’ talk me into being the good guy. ‘Pick up your share?’ Ha ha.”

Buried within the bankruptcy of Detroit is a fundamental political and moral question: Who are “we,” and what are our obligations to one another?

Are Detroit, its public employees, poor residents, and bondholders the only ones who should sacrifice when “Detroit” can’t pay its bills? Or does the relevant sphere of responsibility include Detroit’s affluent suburbs — to which many of the city’s wealthier resident fled as the city declined, along with the banks that serve them?

Judge Rhodes won’t address these questions. But as Americans continue to segregate by income into places becoming either wealthier or poorer, the rest of us will have to answer questions like these, eventually.

Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.

Carol Anderson is an associate professor of African American studies and history at Emory University and a public voices fellow with the Op-Ed Project. She is the author of“Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960.”

When we look back on what happened in Ferguson, Mo., during the summer of 2014, it will be easy to think of it as yet one more episode of black rage ignited by yet another police killing of an unarmed African American male. But that has it precisely backward. What we’ve actually seen is the latest outbreak of white rage. Sure, it is cloaked in the niceties of law and order, but it is rage nonetheless.

Protests and looting naturally capture attention. But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials redraw precincts to dilute African American voting strength or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment. It goes virtually unnoticed, however, because white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.

White rage recurs in American history. It exploded after the Civil War, erupted again to undermine the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision and took on its latest incarnation with Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House. For every action of African American advancement, there’s a reaction, a backlash.

The North’s victory in the Civil War did not bring peace. Instead, emancipation brought white resentment that the good ol’ days of black subjugation were over. Legislatures throughout the South scrambled to reinscribe white supremacy and restore the aura of legitimacy that the anti-slavery campaign had tarnished. Lawmakers in several states created the Black Codes, which effectively criminalized blackness, sanctioned forced labor and undermined every tenet of democracy. Even the federal authorities’ promise of 40 acres — land seized from traitors who had tried to destroy the United States of America — crumbled like dust.

Influential white legislators such as Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (R-Pa.) and Sen. Charles Sumner (R-Mass.) tried to make this nation live its creed, but they were no match for the swelling resentment that neutralized the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, and welcomed the Supreme Court’s 1876United States vs. Cruikshank decision, which undercut a law aimed at stopping the terror of the Ku Klux Klan.

Nearly 80 years later, Brown v. Board of Education seemed like another moment of triumph — with the ruling on the unconstitutionality of separate public schools for black and white students affirming African Americans’ rights as citizens. But black children, hungry for quality education, ran headlong into more white rage. Bricks and mobs at school doors were only the most obvious signs. In March 1956, 101 members of Congress issued the Southern Manifesto, declaring war on the Browndecision. Governors in Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and elsewhere then launched “massive resistance.” They created a legal doctrine, interposition, that supposedly nullified any federal law or court decision with which a state disagreed. They passed legislation to withhold public funding from any school that abided by Brown. They shut down public school systems and used tax dollars to ensure that whites could continue their education at racially exclusive private academies. Black children were left to rot with no viable option.

A little more than half a century after Brown, the election of Obama gave hope to the country and the world that a new racial climate had emerged in America, or that it would. But such audacious hopes would be short-lived. A rash of voter-suppression legislation, a series of unfathomable Supreme Court decisions, the rise of stand-your-ground laws and continuing police brutality make clear that Obama’s election and reelection have unleashed yet another wave of fear and anger.

It’s more subtle — less overtly racist — than in 1865 or even 1954. It’s a remake of the Southern Strategy, crafted in the wake of the civil rights movement to exploit white resentment against African Americans, and deployed with precision by Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. As Reagan’s key political strategist, Lee Atwater, explained in a 1981 interview: “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N—–, n—–, n—–.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘n—–’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights’ and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that.” (The interview was originally published anonymously, and only years later did it emerge that Atwater was the subject.)

Now, under the guise of protecting the sanctity of the ballot box, conservatives have devised measures — such as photo ID requirements — to block African Americans’ access to the polls. A joint report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the NAACP emphasized that the ID requirements would adversely affect more than 6 million African American voters. (Twenty-five percent of black Americans lack a government-issued photo ID, the report noted, compared with only 8 percent of white Americans.) The Supreme Court sanctioned this discrimination in Shelby County v. Holder , which gutted the Voting Rights Act and opened the door to 21st-century versions of 19th-century literacy tests and poll taxes.

The economic devastation of the Great Recession also shows African Americans under siege. The foreclosure crisis hit black Americans harder than any other group in the United States. A 2013 report by researchers at Brandeis University calculated that “half the collective wealth of African-American families was stripped away during the Great Recession,” in large part because of the impact on home equity. In the process, the wealth gap between blacks and whites grew: Right before the recession, white Americans had four times more wealth than black Americans, on average; by 2010, the gap had increased to six times. This was a targeted hit. Communities of color were far more likely to have riskier, higher-interest-rate loans than white communities, with good credit scores often making no difference.

Add to this the tea party movement’s assault on so-called Big Government, which despite the sanitized language of fiscal responsibility constitutes an attack on African American jobs. Public-sector employment, where there is less discrimination in hiring and pay, has traditionally been an important venue for creating a black middle class.

So when you think of Ferguson, don’t just think of black resentment at a criminal justice system that allows a white police officer to put six bullets into an unarmed black teen. Consider the economic dislocation of black America. Remember a Florida judge instructing a jury to focus only on the moment when George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin interacted, thus transforming a 17-year-old, unarmed kid into a big, scary black guy, while the grown man who stalked him through the neighborhood with a loaded gun becomes a victim. Remember the assault on the Voting Rights Act. Look at Connick v. Thompson, a partisan 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2011 that ruled it was legal for a city prosecutor’s staff to hide evidence that exonerated a black man who was rotting on death row for 14 years. And think of a recent study by Stanford University psychology researchers concluding that, when white people were told that black Americans are incarcerated in numbers far beyond their proportion of the population, “they reported being more afraid of crime and more likely to support the kinds of punitive policies that exacerbate the racial disparities,” such as three-strikes or stop-and-frisk laws.

Only then does Ferguson make sense. It’s about white rage.

Americus Police Department Partners with Local Schools

Pictured: Sgt. John Brown instructs sixth graders at Staley Middle School.(submitted photo)

Pictured: Sgt. John Brown instructs sixth graders at Staley Middle School.(submitted photo)

Staff Reports,

The Americus Police Department continues to partner with local schools in an effort to build community relationships and encourage young people to choose to resist gangs and violence. The department uses the G.R.E.A.T (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program. This program is a thirteen-week program that has officers in the school instructing students for the entire school year. The program is a research based program intended to teach students in middle school to resist violence, gang activity, and delinquent behavior. These partnerships encourage positive relationships among the community, parents, schools, and the law enforcement community. Sgt. John Brown of the Americus Police Department is shown here at Staley Middle School in Mr. Hicks’ 6th grade class. According to Sgt. Brown, this is one of the most important parts of his job as a police officer. He also stated that he is “equipping young people with the skills to protect their communities from gangs and violence.”

Georgia NAACP Calls Foul on Atlanta Hawks Owner Bruce Levenson Racist Email Symptomatic of Deeper Problem

NAACP President Francys Johnson (middle) and other civil rights leaders speak in front of the Georgia Secretary of State's office Thursday.

NAACP President Francys Johnson (middle) and other civil rights leaders speak in front of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office Thursday.

Staff Reports,

Atlanta, Georgia – The NAACP is pleased that the Bruce Levenson is stepping away from the Atlanta Hawks and the NBA. However, that does not solve the problem nor will it end the matter. “Mr. Levenson’s comments are not the isolated racist ramblings of a man looking to maximize profits. Instead, those despicable comments are symptomatic of the deeper and more subtle nuances from which racism persists in the corporate enterprise of entertainment” said Francys Johnson, President of the Georgia NAACP.

“Apologies and excuses will not suffice. The NAACP is eager to meet with Commissioner Silver to discuss the influence and impact of racism in the National Basketball Association,” stated Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “The remarks of Mr. Levenson remind us that racism and bigotry are still alive and well in all corners of society – including professional sports.”

According to Dr. R. L. White, President of the NAACP’s Atlanta Branch, the harm inflicted by these comments has “damaged the players, the fans and the NBA brand in Atlanta”. While the NAACP empathizes with the athletes, vendors and fans who were the target of Mr. Levenson’s rants; we look forward to working with the NBA Commissioner to examine how we can address these critical issues in a comprehensive way” said Francys Johnson.

The NAACP calls on vendors and sponsors to reevaluate their position with the Atlanta Hawks even as we remain vigilant in our fight to address racism in all forms and commit to moving our country towards achieving a society that is
socially, economically and politically equal for all.

CONGRESSMAN BISHOP INVITES STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN 2014 SERVICE ACADEMY NOMINATION PROCESS

100721_bishop_376ALBANY, GA – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) calls the young men and women from Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District to participate in the start of the United States service academy nomination process. This year’s opportunity is open to all high school students and will close on October 31, 2014.

“Once again, I am honored to have the privilege nominating strong, extraordinary young men and women from Middle and Southwest Georgia to our nation’s service academies.” said Congressman Bishop. “This opportunity provides motivated students not only a chance to receive a fully-funded education from one of our nation’s top universities, but to also serve America as an officer in our Armed Forces.”

Though the nomination process is competitive, top tier students from the Second Congressional District have been able to receive appointments to each of the service academies in the past. Each applicant’s process begins by sending one personal letter to Congressman Bishop specifying interest in joining the academy nomination process as well as specific interest in each academy: The U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Merchant
Marine Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Eligible candidates for a Congressional nomination must be United States citizens, reside in the Georgia’s Second Congressional District, and be between the ages of 17 and 22 in the year admitted. It is beneficial to begin the application
process in the junior year of high school. All individuals may also pursue service academy nominations through their Senator’s office. Active duty military and the National Guard can pursue nomination through their direct Commanding Officer, and individuals with parents serving on active military can also pursue a nomination through the White House.

To request an application packet and apply, candidates should contact Toni Pickel in the Albany office at 229-439-8067 or by email at toni.pickel@mail.house.gov. In order for applications to be reviewed and processed in a timely manner, applications must be submitted to the district office by October 31, 2014 of the student’s senior year.

The Human Price of Neocon Havoc

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

By Robert Parry, Consortium News,

Whether the tragedy is four boys getting blown apart while playing on a beach in Gaza or nearly 300 killed from a suspected missile strike on a Malaysian Airliner over Ukraine or the thousands upon thousands of other innocent victims slaughtered in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other recent war zones, the underlying lesson is that the havoc encouraged by America’s neocons results in horrendous loss of human life.

While clearly other players share in this blame, including the soldiers on the ground and the politicians lacking the courage to compromise, the principal culprits in the bloodshed of the past dozen years have been the neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies who can’t seem to stop stirring up trouble in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”

Rather than work out reasonable – albeit imperfect – compromises with various foreign leaders, the neocons and their liberal allies insist on ratcheting up demands to such unrealistic levels that conflict becomes inevitable and the outcomes are almost always catastrophic.

In Iraq in 2003, the neocons and many liberal fellow-travelers insisted that the only acceptable solution was the violent removal of Saddam Hussein through an unprovoked U.S. invasion. Though Hussein was ousted and hanged, the collateral damage included hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, including many children, along with the complete destabilization of the country.

In Syria and Libya, many of the same U.S. actors – although in this case led by the liberal “responsibility-to-protect” crowd – pushed for the overthrow of the existing governments, supposedly to save lives and spread democracy.

In Libya, the U.S.-led air war did cause Muammar Gaddafi to be overthrown and murdered but the ensuing chaos has led to many more deaths, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, plus the spread of Islamic militancy across the region.

In Syria, the U.S.-backed “regime change” bid failed to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad but the resulting chaos has left more than 100,000 people killed and has given rise to an ultra-violent jihadist group called the Islamic State, which first emerged from the U.S.-created war in Iraq and has now boomeranged back onto Iraq as the jihadists have seized major cities and spurred more sectarian killings.

But there may be a method to the apparent neocon madness. The neocons have always been committed to protecting Israel and enabling its oppression of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, one can understand pretty much every confrontational policy pushed by the neocons as being designed to serve Israeli interests.

These “regime change” schemes can be directly traced to the work of prominent U.S. neocons on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign for Israeli prime minister. Rather than continuing inconclusive negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s neocon advisers – including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Mevray Wurmser – advocated an aggressive new approach, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

Essentially, the neocon thinking arose from Israeli frustration over negotiations with the Palestinians. The Israelis were angry at Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the militant group Hamas as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. So the “clean break” scratched negotiations and replaced talking with “regime change” in countries supporting those groups, whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria under the Assad dynasty or Iran, a leading benefactor of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Two years later, in 1998, came the neocon Project for the New American Century’s call for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. PNAC was founded by neocon luminaries William Kristol and Robert Kagan. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Helpful Chaos

Though many of the neocon plans have not worked out as advertised – the promised “cakewalk” in Iraq turned into a bloody slog – the neocon strategy could still be labeled a success if the actual intent was to destabilize and weaken Middle Eastern countries that were perceived as threats to Israel.

Through that lens, it’s not entirely bad that old sectarian hatreds have been revived, pitting Sunni against Shiite and ripping apart societies such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In the end, the regional chaos has helped Prime Minister Netanyahu starve the Palestinians of the financial support that they once had, supposedly making them more susceptible to whatever demands the Israelis choose to make. And it has given Netanyahu a freer hand to engage in periodic slaughters of Gazan militants, a process that Israelis call “mowing the grass.”

When the 1.7 million Palestinians packed into the Gaza Strip lash out at their Israeli oppressors – as they periodically do – the neocons who remain very influential in Official Washington are quick to dominate the U.S. media, justifying whatever levels of violence that Netanyahu chooses to inflict. But raining bombs down on this densely populated area is sure to kill many children and other innocents.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military targeted a shed on the beach in Gaza. According to reports, the first missile hit the shed and killed one small boy playing in the vicinity. When three other boys began running, the Israelis blew them away with a second rocket. New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks explained the events this way:

“A small shack atop a sea wall at the fishing port had been struck by an Israeli bomb or missile and was burning. A young boy emerged from the smoke, running toward the adjacent beach. I grabbed my cameras and was putting on body armor and a helmet when, about 30 seconds after the first blast, there was another. The boy I had seen running was now dead, lying motionless in the sand, along with three other boys who had been playing there.”

Presumably, the Israeli pilots or whoever targeted the missile deserve the immediate blame for this atrocity. But the far-worse criminals are the Israeli leaders who refuse to address the longstanding injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people. Also, sharing in this crime are the American neocons who justify whatever Israel does.

Similarly, it has been the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies who have been stoking the crisis in Ukraine in part out of a desire to drive a wedge between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has assisted Obama in defusing crises in Syria and Iran, two areas where the neocons hoped to engineer more “regime change.”

By last September, leading neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, had identified Ukraine as the geopolitical instrument for punishing Putin. Gershman deemed Ukraine “the biggest prize” and hoped that grabbing it for the Western sphere of influence might undercut Putin at home as well.

Gershman’s NED funded scores of Ukrainian political and media organizations while Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland estimated that the U.S. government had invested $5 billion in the cause of pulling Ukraine into the West. Nuland, a neocon holdover who had been a top adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, is the wife of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan.

Nuland went so far as to show up at mass demonstrations in Kiev’s Maidan Square passing out cookies to the protesters, while neocon Sen. John McCain stood with the far-right Svoboda Party – under a banner honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera – to urge on the protesters to challenge elected President Viktor Yanukovych. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What the Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Wreaking Havoc

The political crisis in Ukraine reached a boiling point Feb. 20-22 as the demonstrations turned increasingly violent and the death toll among police and protesters mounted. On Feb. 21, three European foreign ministers reached an agreement with Yanukovych in which he agreed to limit his powers and accept early elections to vote him out of office. He also pulled back the police, as Vice President Joe Biden had demanded.

At that point, however, well-trained neo-Nazi militias – organized in brigades of 100 – took the offensive, seizing government buildings and forcing Yanukovych’s officials to flee for their lives. Instead of trying to enforce the Feb. 21 agreement, which would have safeguarded Ukraine’s constitutional process, the U.S. State Department cheered the unlawful ouster of Yanukovych and quickly recognized the coup regime as “legitimate.”

The Feb. 22 coup set in motion a train of other events as “ethnically pure” Ukrainians in the west were pitted against ethnic Russians in the east and south. The crisis grew bloodier as the ethnic Russians resisted what they regarded as an illegitimate regime in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the U.S. mainstream press – always enthralled to the neocons – pushed a false narrative about Ukraine that put nearly all the blame on Putin, though he clearly was reacting to provocations instigated by the West, not the other way around.

Still, the neocons achieved one of their chief goals, alienating Obama from Putin and making the two leaders’ collaboration on Syria, Iran and other trouble spots more unlikely. In other words, the neocons have kept alive hope that those problems won’t be resolved through compromise, but rather might still lead to more warfare.

While some Machiavellians might admire this neocon “always-say-die” determination, the human consequences can be quite severe. For instance, the violence in eastern Ukraine may have led to the Thursday crash of a Malaysian Airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with all 295 people onboard killed.

It was not immediately clear which side in the fighting – if any – was responsible for the suspected shoot-down of the plane. The various parties to the conflict all denied responsibility. But it would not be the first time that an international conflict has contributed to the destruction of a civilian airliner.

On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people onboard, after apparently mistaking the airliner for a warplane.

While Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko was quick to call the crash “a terrorist act” – and implicitly blame the ethnic Russian rebels – the reality is almost assuredly that it was an accident (assuming that a missile did bring down the airliner). Presumably, the same is true about the Israeli twin missile strikes killing those four boys on a beach in Gaza. The Israeli military most likely misjudged their ages.

But the overriding lesson from these tragedies should be that the real villains are people who opt for chaos and war over progress and peace. And, in the case of the Middle East and Ukraine, the greatest purveyors of this unnecessary warfare are America’s neocons.

No, Obama Has Not Failed

013163-barak-obama-072214By Charles Pierce, Esquire,

Almost everyone has had their whack at Thomas Frank’s piece in Salon that argues that Barack Obama has been an incompetent, a sellout, or an incompetent sellout. Here’s Scott at LGM, and here’s Kevin Drum, who lands a roundhouse punch at the essential premise. Generally, I agree with these guys. The president’s political opposition turned up the pressure to 11 on every institutional choke-point in the American government, and even a few choke-points we didn’t know were there. (Backing a lawsuit that trimmed the president’s power on recess appointments? Shutting down the government over the ACA? Suing the president now for doing exactly what the opposition has said it wanted to happen ever since the law was passed? Rejecting their own previously held ideas, over and over again?) It’s also very hard to argue that the president has shirked his responsibility to do what he must with the powers of his office since he gets called a tyrant every day for issuing executive orders less often than most of his predecessors.

However, on the issue of the economy, and the people who wrecked it and then sold off the pieces, and then, by and large, got away clean, there were some things the president could have done, and didn’t do, that lead me to believe that, on this issue, Frank is more right than he is wrong. For example, there was no reason to involve Bob Rubin in the transition team, much less to staff the Treasury Department with Rubin-esque clones. Hell, Tim Geithner didn’t have to be Treasury Secretary. There was nothing stopping the president in 2008 from appointing a tough assistant U.S. Attorney to be an assistant secretary of the Treasury tasked with vigorously investigating the causes of the economic meltdown, and whatever crimes were involved therein. The Republicans would have raised hell, but they were going to do that anyway. It’s hard to see a Democratic Congress defunding the Treasury Department, but I admit there’s no telling what mischief Max Baucus might have concocted. The president faced unprecedented opposition employing unprecedented tactics. However, “looking forward, not back” on many issues was a conscious governing strategy. To say that the president did more than he’s given credit for is not to say that he did everything that he could.

Is It Ever Okay For A Woman To Hit A Man?

By Cecily Michelle,

As Americans, we are raised in a society that condemns violence against women at the hands of men. We teach our sons to never strike little girls, and lecture our daughters about staying away from any man who even thinks to raise his hand
to her face. Men who abuse women are frowned upon and deemed as weak and cowardly; and they’re the first—and most times only ones–jailed in cases of domestic disputes gone awry—no hesitation.

But what about women? You know the ones: women who find comfort in bullying men; they’re the ones who enjoy slapping around their partners, jumping in their faces and resorting to belligerent behavior as a way to resolve conflict. Are abusive females who pummel on their men just as spineless as men who use the face of their partner as punching bags?

Even if you aren’t the crazy combative type, sometimes we as women can allow anger to get the best of us and cause us to behave in inappropriate ways. Ladies, I’m sure there have been times where your man—or a man in general—has pissed you off to the point where you couldn’t help but slap his face. (I am guilty of this myself.) There are moments in our lives when we feel disrespected by our male companions and use their behavior/words to justify our decision to react with violence.

Catch your man with another woman in bed? Society tells us it’s okay to attack. If he calls you out your name, there is no harm in letting him meet an open fist. (Or a closed one.) We see it all the time. But if we are justified in practicing violence in certain situations, why doesn’t the same go for our male counterparts?

If men popped us every time we said or did something crazy, a lot of us would be permanently black and blue and he’d be the bad guy. So should we continue to get passes for what some see as simple slaps and light pushes? Some women walk around with the attitude that it’s okay to put their hands on men and expect no consequences. We can smack a brother up all day long, but he better not retaliate. Growing up—even to this day—I witnessed females slap, punch and kick men during the course of an argument and get away with it. It’s no big deal. We are women. We lack the strength of a man, therefore men who are hit by women should just suck it up and walk away. But this is NOT acceptable
behavior. In most cases, people who are struck in any situation often wind up striking back, and because such situations can spiral out of control in violent ways very quickly, we all need to learn how to keep our hands to ourselves.

But what do you think? Have you ever found yourself losing control and striking your partner? Even in extreme circumstances, is it ever okay for a woman to lay hands on a man?

West Coast Rising Since Obamacare

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

By 

The states, Justice Brandeis famously pointed out, are the laboratories of democracy. And it’s still true. For example, one reason we knew or should have known that Obamacare was workable was the post-2006 success of Romneycare in Massachusetts. More recently, Kansas went all-in on supply-side economics, slashing taxes on the affluent in the belief that this would spark a huge boom; the boom didn’t happen, but the budget deficit exploded, offering an object lesson to those willing to learn from experience.

And there’s an even bigger if less drastic experiment under way in the opposite direction. California has long suffered from political paralysis, with budget rules that allowed an increasingly extreme Republican minority to hamstring a Democratic majority; when the state’s housing bubble burst, it plunged into fiscal crisis. In 2012, however, Democratic dominance finally became strong enough to overcome the paralysis, and Gov. Jerry Brown was able to push through a modestly liberal agenda of higher taxes, spending increases and a rise in the minimum wage. California also moved enthusiastically to implement Obamacare.

I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Needless to say, conservatives predicted doom. A representative reaction: Daniel J. Mitchell of the Cato Institute declared that by voting for Proposition 30, which authorized those tax increases, “the looters and moochers of the Golden State” (yes, they really do think they’re living in an Ayn Rand novel) were committing “economic suicide.” Meanwhile, Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute and Forbes claimed that California residents were about to face a “rate shock” that would more than double health insurance premiums.

What has actually happened? There is, I’m sorry to say, no sign of the promised catastrophe.

If tax increases are causing a major flight of jobs from California, you can’t see it in the job numbers. Employment is up 3.6 percent in the past 18 months, compared with a national average of 2.8 percent; at this point, California’s share of national employment, which was hit hard by the bursting of the state’s enormous housing bubble, is back to pre-recession levels.

On health care, some people — basically healthy young men who were getting inexpensive insurance on the individual market and were too affluent to receive subsidies — did face premium increases, which we always knew would happen. Over all, however, the costs of health reform came in below expectations, while enrollment came in well above — more than tripleinitial predictions in the San Francisco area. A recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund suggests that California has already cut the percentage of its residents without health insurance in half. What’s more, all indications are that further progress is in the pipeline, with more insurance companies entering the marketplace for next year.

And, yes, the budget is back in surplus.

Has there been any soul-searching among the prophets of California doom, asking why they were so wrong? Not that I’m aware of. Instead, I’ve been seeing many attempts to devalue the good news from California by pointing out that the state’s job growth still lags that of Texas, which is true, and claiming that this difference is driven by differential tax rates, which isn’t.

For the big difference between the two states, aside from the size of the oil and gas sector, isn’t tax rates. it’s housing prices. Despite the bursting of the bubble, home values in California are still double the national average, while in Texas they’re 30 percent below that average. So a lot more people are moving to Texas even though wages and productivity are lower than they are in California.

And while some of this difference in housing prices reflects geography and population density — Houston is still spreading out, while Los Angeles, hemmed in by mountains, has reached its natural limits — it also reflectsCalifornia’s highly restrictive land-use policies, mostly imposed by local governments rather than the state. As Harvard’s Edward Glaeser has pointed out, there is some truth to the claim that states like Texas are growing fast thanks to their anti-regulation attitude, “but the usual argument focuses on the wrong regulations.” And taxes aren’t important at all.

So what do we learn from the California comeback? Mainly, that you should take anti-government propaganda with large helpings of salt. Tax increases aren’t economic suicide; sometimes they’re a useful way to pay for things we need. Government programs, like Obamacare, can work if the people running them want them to work, and if they aren’t sabotaged from the right. In other words, California’s success is a demonstration that the extremist ideology still dominating much of American politics is nonsense.

When Whites Just Don’t Get It

By 

IN my column a week ago, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” I took aim at what I called “smug white delusion” about race relations in America, and readers promptly fired back at what they perceived as a smugly deluded columnist.

Readers grudgingly accepted the grim statistics I cited — such as the wealth disparity between blacks and whites in America today exceeding what it was in South Africa during apartheid — but many readers put the blame on African-Americans themselves.

“Probably has something to do with their unwillingness to work,” Nils tweeted.

Nancy protested on my Facebook page: “We can’t fix their problems. It’s up to every black individual to stop the cycle of fatherless homes, stop the cycle of generations on welfare.”

There was a deluge of such comments, some toxic, but let me try to address three principal arguments that I think prop up white delusion.

First, if blacks are poor or in prison, it’s all their fault. “Blacks don’t get it,” Bruce tweeted. “Choosing to be cool vs. getting good grades is a bad choice. We all start from 0.”

Huh? Does anybody really think that we all take off from the same starting line?

Slavery and post-slavery oppression left a legacy of broken families, poverty, racism, hopelessness and internalized self-doubt. Some responded to discrimination and lack of opportunity by behaving in self-destructive ways.

One study found that African-American children on welfare heard only 29 percent as many words in their first few years as children of professional parents. Those kids never catch up, partly because they’re more likely to attend broken schools. Sure, some make bad choices, but they’ve often been on a trajectory toward failure from the time they were babies.

These are whirlpools that are difficult to escape, especially when society is suspicious and unsympathetic. Japan has a stigmatized minority group, the burakumin, whose members once held jobs considered unclean. But although this is an occupational minority rather than a racial one, it spawned an underclass that was tormented by crime, educational failure, and substance abuse similar to that of the American underclass.

So instead of pointing fingers, let’s adopt some of the programs that I’ve cited with robust evidence showing that they bridge the chasm.

But look at Asians, Mark protests on my Google Plus page: Vietnamese arrived in poverty — and are now school valedictorians. Why can’t blacks be like that?

There are plenty of black valedictorians. But bravo to Asians and other immigrant groups for thriving in America with a strong cultural emphasis on education, diligence and delay of self-gratification. We should support programs with a good record of inculcating such values in disadvantaged children. But we also need to understand that many young people of color see no hope of getting ahead, and that despair can be self-fulfilling.

A successful person can say: “I worked hard in school. I got a job. The system worked.” Good for you. But you probably also owe your success to parents who read to you, to decent schools, to social expectations that you would end up in college rather than prison. So count your blessings for winning the lottery of birth — and think about mentoring a kid who didn’t.

Look, the basic reason young black men are regarded with suspicion is that they’re disproportionately criminals. The root problem isn’t racism. It’s criminality.

It’s true that blacks accounted for 55 percent of robbery arrests in 2012,according to F.B.I. statistics. But, by my calculations, it’s also true that 99.9 percent of blacks were not arrested and charged with robbery in 2012, yet they are still tarred by this pernicious stereotype.

Criminality is real. So is inequity. So is stereotyping.

The United States Sentencing Commission concluded that black men get sentences one-fifth longer than white men for committing the same crimes. In Louisiana, a study found that a person is 97 percent more likely to be sentenced to death for murdering a white person than a black person.

Mass incarceration means that the United States imprisons a higher proportion of its black population than apartheid South Africa did, further breaking up families. And careful studies find that employers are less likely to respond to a job inquiry and résumé when a typically black name is on it.

Society creates opportunity and resiliency for middle-class white boys who make mistakes; it is unforgiving of low-income black boys.

Of course, we need to promote personal responsibility. But there is plenty of fault to go around, and too many whites are obsessed with cultivating personal responsibility in the black community while refusing to accept any responsibility themselves for a system that manifestly does not provide equal opportunity.

Yes, young black men need to take personal responsibility. And so does white America.

County Attorney William NeSmith Resigns, WHY?

At some point after County Attorney NeSmith hired a well-known Republican Atlanta law firm that stands to make several millions of Sumter County taxpayers’ money, he resigns for a lucrative state position. NeSmith landed a Deputy General Counsel position for the State Bar of GA. Strickland, Brockington, and Lewis, the firm hired by NeSmith, represents the Georgia’s Republican Party. And one of the lawyers at the law firm of Strickland, Brockington, and Lewis of Atlanta, sits on GA Governor Nathan Deal’s Judicial Nomination Committee. Strickland has high-level connections in the state that NeSmith can benefit from. We can’t prove any quid pro quo by NeSmith, but we are very concerned that a deal could have been made.

NeSmith was the county attorney who represented the Elections Board in the lawsuit brought by Rev. Matt Wright of the Sumter County NAACP and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). NeSmith quit the case leaving the County Commissioners without a lead council. The Chairman of the County Commissioners, former Sumter County Sheriff Randy Howard has voted to keep the multi-million law firm. The two Black commissioners voted not to hire the expensive law firm. And the three Whites refused to try mediation.

The ACLU would not take the case if it did not have merit. The school board districts were changed to include five single districts and two at-large seats. This plan violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. NeSmith led the commissioners into court to fight Black people who have been violated by Whites who came up with a local legislative bill that changed the school district to 5 seats and 2 At-Large seats. NeSmith led them through two elections resulting in a White majority replacing the Black school board majority.

NeSmith’s resignation surprised most observers that he would resign his position when the county is embroiled in a controversial lawsuit that will cost Sumter County citizens several $ millions. Wright, the plaintiff in the lawsuit against the county, told our newspaper that NeSmith missed a critical meeting with Federal Judge Louis Sands. Wright said he noticed NeSmith acted as if he was not interested in the case.

Several calls made to our office by citizens asking if former Sheriff Randy Howard will benefit from a deal that will extract $millions of taxpayers’ dollars. Howard has a history of alleged mishandling of prisoners’ money dealing with
prisoners’ phone calls. Our readers are curious as to why he would insist on spending $3 to $4 million to fight a case the county commissioners can’t win. The law firm Strickland, Brockington, and Lewis will be paid even if the commissioners lose the case against Rev. Matt Wright and concerned Black citizens.

The public applaud the actions of the two Black Sumter County Commissioners who voted against hiring an expensive law firm. And, they know that this Republican law firm has a long history of trying to disenfranchise Blacks and minorities rights. The GA State NAACP President, Dr. Francys Johnson, informed us that there are two counties where the Strickland firm is fighting for racist Whites against Black people.

Americus City Council Votes to Stop Citizens Speaking at Meetings

Walton Grant District 6

Walton Grant District 6

Shirley Green-Reese District 5

Shirley Green-Reese District 5

Lou Chase District 3

Lou Chase District 3

Carla Cook District 4

Carla Cook District 4

Staff Reports, The Americus Sumter Observer was given a Facebook post signed by Attorney Tim Lewis. The statement was by City Councilperson Carla Cook. She says, “Now, imagine that you, City Councilwoman, immediately after casting your vote to stop citizen speech realize that the vote was wrong. I did the wrong thing. I sent the wrong message. “She said she wanted to stop the harassment from a few annoying citizens. [She could be referring to Craig Walker who attends the agenda setting, work session, and the City Council meetings.] Attorney Tim Lewis says at the end of the post that, “I completely disagree with this decision and will stand with my fellow citizens to force it to change. I am grateful to hear that you recognize the folly of this attempt to squelch the citizens’ right to speak.” We asked Councilman Nelson Brown what he thought of the City Council blocking the citizens’ right to speak, he said, “The Council is totally wrong using an excuse because we don’t have the law on our side. We would be violating all of our citizens’ first amendment rights. He says he is totally against this vote against our constituents’ rights.” Councilwoman Juanita Wilson says, “She believes this move will violate the first amendment rights of all of our citizens. Our constituents have the right to express their opinions. I voted for what I strongly believe in and it is not to block our citizens from speaking at the City Council meetings. Craig Walker, a past Vice President of the NAACP in Sumter County gave his comments. He reminded us that Councilwoman Shirley Reese spoke at his father’s funeral. She said, James Walker gave her the first job she had in her life. Craig asked the question, how is she repaying his father by attacking his son who speaks at the City Council.” Craig also notes that he overheard Councilman Walton Grant telling Shirley Reese to not second a motion to give residents assistance with the buzzards in Mayo Street area. Shirley did not second the motion as Grant instructed. Reese has voted with the Whites every time but never with her Black colleagues. What else can Blacks think if she votes with Whites but they have never voted with the Blacks on issue that concern Black citizens,” Walker concludes. Reverend Mathis Wright, president of the Sumter County NAACP, said “We are waiting for the vote to block citizens input at the City Council meetings so that we can file a complaint in Federal Court.”

Dr Busman is a Disgrace to his Jewish Heritage

Dr. Mike Busman School board member(Rotary File Photo)

Dr. Mike Busman School board member(Rotary File Photo)

Staff Reports,

Historically, many of our Jewish citizens have been active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. There were Jewish citizens when the NAACP was founded during the Niagara Movement. A story in the July 2014 issue of the Americus Sumter Observer showed how Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman two Jewish Civil Rights activists were murdered in Mississippi while working with Blacks to fight for desegregation. That is why the Sumter County NAACP is shocked to see Dr Busman  doing all he can to take away any gains made by Black people in Sumter County, says President Mathis Wright.

Busman was elected to the school board and joined the majority White board members and removed the first Black Sumter County Superintendent, Dr Franklin Perry. Along with Dr. Perry we lost three Black males with doctorates in our school system as Busman was the leader of the Whites on the board. Then he brought a weak White superintendent from South Carolina who is a friend of his mother. That superintendent began the decline of our school system. Under Dr. Perry, we had more schools make AYP (Average Yearly Progress) than any previous superintendent. Under Dr. McMahon we only had two schools to make AYP.

Then the citizens of Sumter County elected a majority Black school board and Dr. Busman joined with three White board members and several other Whites in the community who did everything they could to remove Blacks and replace them with White board members.

Dr. John Marshall, publisher of the Americus Sumter Observer newspaper was also stunned to see Busman, a member of the Jewish community go after Black people like Busman has. Marshall said, “Busman allegedly conspired with the Sumter County District Attorney, Plez Hardin to come after the Blacks on the school board. The DA convened a grand jury to investigate alleged misconduct on the part of the Black school board members. The intimidating onslaught went further, they managed to have SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) put the Sumter County school system on probation for feeble and questionable charges. Some of the same complaints Black board members had when Whites were in the majority were not addressed by SACS but they trounced on the Black majority board.

At some point, the State School Board had a hearing on the Black leadership of the Sumter County school board. None of these tactics worked with Busman in the lead followed blindly by two White board members who went along with this Jewish school board member.

Finally, the White board members and other co-conspirators made a move that did work by recruiting Liquor Store owner Mike Cheokas, the owner of two liquor stores (the Party Shop and Big A). Cheokas, a Republican who changed from Democrat, introduced a local bill in the GA legislature. The Bill was House Bill 836 which required signatures of the two GA state senasenators to pass. One state senator, Freddie Powell Sims, a Black woman who promised President Matt Wright of the NAACP, that she would not sign the Cheokas bill. She signed the bill anyway.

The local Bill created five school board seats with two At-Large seats which is a violation of Section 2 of the Civil Rights Act. Busman and his gang, along with County Attorney William Nesmith moved to call for the school board elections. The final result was the election of Whites who now outnumber the Blacks on the school board.

At a recent school board meeting with Whites in the majority, the first thing Dr. Busman did was to make a motion to remove the first Black Sumter County school board attorney, Maurice King of Albany, GA. Marshall concludes, I watched Dr. Busman at that meeting and I couldn’t believe a Jewish person would be so hateful of Black people. He appeared Demon possessed at that meeting and hell bent on reversing any progress that Blacks struggled to obtain as
leaders of the school system. We appeal to our Jewish friends to put this man in check as he will destroy Black Jewish relations in this community.”