KELVIN T. WALTON, JR.

KELVIN T. WALTON, JR.

KELVIN T. WALTON, JR.

Mr. Kelvin Toriaho Walton, Jr. was born in Randolph County, Georgia on July 28, 1993 to the parentage of Ms. Felicia D. Angry and Mr. Kelvin T. Walton, Sr. He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Mr. Emanuel Bridges, Mrs. Bertha Bridges and Ms. Mary Dell Angry

Mookie’s greatest achievement was receiving his GED at the Zone in Sumter County. He furthered his educational goals at South Georgia Technical College before transferring to South Georgia State College. He was a fashion fanatic and enjoyed playing basketball and clowning around with family and friends.

He was reared by his grandparents, Mr. Wayne (Betty) Bridges and his devoted step-father, Mr. Eddie Brown of Americus, GA; he also leaves to cherish his memories, his pride and joy a daughter, Ms. Jalia M. Walton; a very special friend, Ms. Jalecia M. Smith, Americus, GA; a loving and devoted sister, Ms. Berlisha Walton, Americus, GA; his brothers, Mr. Eddie Brown, IV, Mr. Jahiem Walton, Americus, GA and Mr. Jykobie Brown, Leslie, GA; his great grandmother, Ms. Annie Rose Bridges, Americus, GA; four step-brothers and three step-sisters; his aunts, Ms. Elizabeth Milton, Americus, GA, Ms. Teresa Williams, Ms. Hatasha Holliness and a devoted aunt, Ms. Gennifer M. Bridges all of Fort Walton Beach, FL; his great aunts, Ms. Beulah Angry and Ms. Elizabeth Mable of Americus, GA; uncles, Mr. Anthony W. Bridges, Wrightsville, GA, Mr. William “Big Will” Morgan, Jr., Americus, GA, Mr. Michael Morgan, Valdosta, GA, Mr. Charlie L. Walton, Mr. James Walton and Mr. Willie Walton all of Americus, GA; and a host of other relatives and friends, including his devoted crew, Savion Bridges, Leroy Henderson, Junior King, Leon Walton, D. J. James, Andy Smith, Shemiah Cannon, Shy’nika Long, Berlisha Walton, Tityana Cannon and Brianna Angry also survive.

MARY ALICE LASTER

MARY ALICE LASTER

MARY ALICE LASTER

Ms. Mary A. Laster was born in Sumter County, Georgia on December 1, 1939 to the parentage of the late Mr. Robert David Laster and Mrs. Rosa Lee Mansfield Laster. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the Greater Cedar Spring Baptist Church. She was a faithful church member and sang in the choir. She worked at the Lillian Carter Nursing Center as a CNA and for the Sumter County School as a nutritionist, retiring in 2009. she is preceded in death by two brothers, Robert and Arthur Laster and three sisters, Flora Monts, Emma Hicks and Jessie Laster.

She leaves to cherish her memories, a niece, she raised as her own, Mrs. Shakedra (Sennica) Harris and their children, Felicity Walker and Londyn Harris; two brothers, Mr. John Laster and a devoted brother, Mr. Frankie Laster and a devoted sister-in-law, Minister Diane Laster, Americus, GA; four sisters, Ms. Ollie Mae Simpson, Ms. Katherine Hamilton, a devoted sister, Mrs. Retha Dean (Lorenzo) Thomas, Americus, GA and Mrs. Roxie (Rev. Franklin) Wakefield, Jacksonville, FL; three aunts, Ms. Ethel Mansfield, Ms. Susie Mae Hicks and Ms. Sylvia Hicks all of Americus, GA; her devoted caregivers, Ms. Eva Sims and Ms. Megan Harris; a host of nieces, including a devoted niece, Ms. Lois Hamilton, nephews, including devoted nephews, Mr. Terry Hamilton, Mr. Markell Stone, Mr. Jarcharvis Hunt and Mr. James Austin, III, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

DEACON FREDDIE REESE

DEACON FREDDIE REESE

DEACON FREDDIE REESE

Deacon Freddie L. Reese was born January 5, 1935 in Sumter County Georgia to the parentage of the late Mr. J.T. Reese and the late Mrs. Flora Mae Dowdell Reese. He found the Lord at an early age and was a Deacon at Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Americus, Georgia until the Lord called him home on Thursday, January 29, 2015.

Deacon Reese graduated from A.S. Staley High in the class of 1955 where he and his classmates enjoyed several class reunions and cruises. He was also a brother of the Elks Club.

Deacon Reese is preceded in death by his two sisters, Mrs. Mattie B. (Willie) Dice and Clora T. Finch, a brother, Veteran (SSGT) Johnnie L. Reese, his grandmother, Mrs. Bertha M. Dowell, and several nephews, including, Willie L Dice, Jr., Robert Dice, and Bobby Dice.

Deacon Reese leaves to cherish his memories four children; two daughters, Ms. Cynthia Reese Johnson of San Diego, Calf and Ms. Judith Reese (JJ) Rice of Melbourne, FL; two sons, Mr. Kibbee Reese of Charlotte, North Carolina and Mr. Shawn (Cassandra) Robinson, Americus, GA: six grandchildren, Ms. Yvette Rice of Melbourne, FL, Ms. Catherine Green of San Diego, CA, Ms. Myiesha Biggins, Mr. Shawn Robinson, Jr., Mr. KeShawn Robinson and Mr. RyShawn Robinson all of Americus, GA; a step brother, Bishop Leonard (Barbara)Williams, West Palm Beach, FL; a step sister, Mrs. Dorothy (Walter) Bridges of Americus, GA; six nieces, including, Ms. Melinda (Charles) Johnson, Ms. Imogene Dice of Forest Park, GA, Ms. Deborah Finch Fortune and Ms. Deborah (Charles Gordon) Dice; four nephews, Mr. Fredrick Dice, Mr. Edward Dice, Chief Eric (Tracy) Finch of Americus, GA and Mr. Torryce Dice of Forest Park, GA; a host of other nieces, nephews, cousins and friends also survive; a devoted cousin, Mrs. Annie Ruth Reese of Americus, GA and a devoted friend, Mr. Marcus Chapman of Americus, GA also survive.

EVELYN HAYES

EVELYN HAYES

EVELYN HAYES

Mrs. Evelyn Singleton Hayes, affectionately called “Walene” was born on April 2, 1923 in Lee County, Georgia to the late Mr. Abe Singleton and the late Mrs. Grace Lewis Singleton. She was joined in Holy Matrimony to the late Mr. Jimmy Lee Hayes on December 1, 1944. Mrs. Hayes was the mother of ten children, five precedes her in death, Ms. Annie Bell Hayes, Mr. Jimmy Hayes, Jr., Mr. Samuel Hayes, Mr. Walter Hayes and Mr. Roger Hayes.

She leaves to cherish her memories, five sons, Mr. Edward (Julia) Hayes, Sr., Mr. James Hayes, Sr., Cobb, GA, Mr. Jerald Hayes, Albany, GA, Mr. Abe Hayes and Mr. Aaron Hayes, Jacksonville, FL; two daughters-in-law, Ms. Johnnie Mae Hayes, Smithville, GA and Ms. Easter Mae Hayes, Americus, GA; nineteen grandchildren, Mr. Christopher Nimmons, Sgt. Edward (Monica) Hayes, Mrs. Veronica (Sherrod) Harper, Mr. Quincy Hayes, Mrs. Lorraine (Lee) Taylor, Ms. Emma Jackson, Mr. James Hayes, Jr. Mr. Samuel Hayes, Mr. Maurice Hayes, Mrs. Gracie Dean (Charles) Bradley, Mrs. Melinda (Melvin) Roberts, Mrs. Mary Ann (Jonathan) Burton, Mr. Mitchell Hayes, Ms. Latasha Hayes, Mr. Aaron, Hayes, Jr., Ms. Charlene Hayes, Ms. Debra Hayes, Shane Hayes and Ms. Latasha Hayes, Valdosta, GA; thirty great grandchildren and a host of great, great grandchildren; a god-daughter, Ms. Joann George, Leslie, GA; a god-sister, Mrs. Hattie Jones, Leslie, GA; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins including devoted cousins, Ms. Frances Ruth Nicholas, Ms. Cynthia Wright, Ms. Basilean Robinson and Mrs. Bobbie Lou (Willie) Harrington, friends, including devoted friends, Ms. Johnnie Mae Merritt and Mr. Johnny Clemons also survive.

LONNIE PAYNE

 

LONNIE PAYNE

LONNIE PAYNE

Mr. Lonnie Payne was born in Sumter County, Georgia on August 2, 1957 to the parentage of the late Mr. Hilton Payne and the late Mrs. Alice Jones Payne. He was educated in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, he joined the Shipp Chapel Baptist Church Missionary Baptist Church. Later, he moved his membership to the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. DeRienzia Johnson, where he loved worshipping on Sunday and grew to love everyone and everyone loved him. He used his Godly talents in many areas of his life. He loved working with his hands, painting, janitorial work and an around handy man. Lonnie also had a great love for all of his nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his brother, Mr. Michael Payne and a sister, Ms. Marsha Payne.

           He leaves to cherish his memories, his devoted companion and caregiver, Ms. Lorena Josey, Americus, GA; two brothers, Elder Hilton (Gloria) Payne, Jr. and Mr. Bobby (Alice) Payne, Sr., Americus, GA; three sisters, Ms. Martha P. Barnum, Ms. Jeanette Payne and Ms. Annette Payne, Americus, GA; his step mother, Ms. Ella W. Payne, Americus, GA; three step sisters, Mrs. Sarah Robinson, Americus, GA, Mrs. Annie B. (Rudy) Holloway, St. Louis, MS and Mrs. Mamie Haynes, Atlanta, GA; a step-brother, Mr. Nathan (Linda) Williams, Atlanta, GA; and a host of three aunts, Ms. Buther Walton, Ms. Juanita Jones, Americus, GA; and Ms. Mary Walker, Pompano Beach, FL, two uncles, Mr. Wiley Jones, Bridgeport, CT and Mr. Thomas Payne, Fort Pierce, FL, nieces, nephews, great nieces & nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including devoted friends, Mr. William (Carmen) Clark, Ms. Rose Peterson, Americus, GA, Ms. Mary Johnson, North Carolina and his North Side Drive Family,  also survive.

PASTOR VERNELL CARTER

PASTOR VERNELL CARTER

PASTOR VERNELL CARTER

Pastor Vernell Walton Carter was born January 16, 1941 in Americus Georgia to the parentage of the late Mr. Willie Lee (Boone) Walton and the late Mrs. Pauline Brooks Walton.

Her life was shaped for service at an early age as a member of the House Of God Church (Keith Dominion under the pastorate of Bishop Lovie Stakley, and Elder B.R Grimes.  She received her early education in Americus and Sumter County School Systems, attending both McCoy Hill and Staley High School.  She later attended Keith Bible Institute and graduated from Booker T. Washington High in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  After graduation Vernell moved to the city of New York where she served in many capacities.  Becoming a licensed Dental Assistant, the New York Stock Exchange, Gouverneeer State School, and was later employed at Brooklyn Developmental Center as a Supervisor, where she retired after 35 years of Service.

While in New York City She attended the Move of God Church NYC under the leadership of Pastor Ida Robinson.  In October 11, 1970 she welcomed to the world her only biological son Terrence Anthony Dozier.

In 1994 being a Loving Daughter she returned to Americus Georgia to be closer to her mother, whose health was declining.

In January 1995 she was united in holy matrimony to her childhood sweetheart Mr. Willie Ben Carter Sr. Becoming both his wife and devoted mother to sons Corey, Ben, Michael, and Jeffery.

In October 1995 she answered the call to ministry while attending The House Of God Church Winn Street.  She was later ordained and license at Freewill Church.  Americus Georgia.

In November 1997 she was called to a new beginning to serve as pastor of Prayer Praise Preach and Deliverance Church, the name which was given to her by God. She remained as a loving and devoted Pastor until her demise.

As pastor through her ministry she has affected the lives of many in their walk with God she believed in giving and showing love unconditionally her sweet spirit will always be remembered by the many lives she touched.

She is preceded in death by two sons Mr. Terrence Dozier and Mr. Michael Carter. A sister Mrs. Virginia Ester Brown. And two brothers Mr. Willie Walton Jr. and Mr. Master Walton.

Left to cherish her memories her devoted husband of 19 Years, Mr. Willie Ben Carter Sr.  Her beloved sons Mr. Corey Carter, Americus Ga. Mr. Willie Ben Carter Jr. Germany, Dea. Jeffery Walters, Miami Fl. 4 loving and devoted sisters Mrs. Louise Kelso Detroit, MI; Ms. Evelyn Younger Staten Island, NY; Ms. Eddie Walton, Stone Mountain, GA and Ms. Bessie Walton Conyers, GA; Two devoted brothers, Ret. Col./Dr. Phillip Walton (Phyllis)  Mr. Kelvin Walton, Americus GA; Two Aunts Mrs. Mary Walton Smithville GA; and Mrs. Ozie Walton Americus GA; Sister-in-law Ms. Leola Carter. Seven grandchildren, eight great grandchildren a host of nieces and nephews, cousins, many many spiritual children, and her beloved Prayer Praise Preach and Deliverance Church family also survive.

MOZELLE JACKSON BISHOP

MOZELLE JACKSON BISHOP

MOZELLE JACKSON BISHOP

On April 24, 1935, in Sumter County, Georgia, Grace and Mercy delivered Mozelle Jackson Bishop to the late Mr. Jessie Lee Jackson and the late Mrs. Fannie Mae Sims Jackson. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior and joined Bethlehem Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia under the leadership of the late Rev. J. B. Hillsman. She worked for the Magnolia Manor Nursing Home for several years. She is preceded in death by her adoptive mother, Mrs. Rosie Lee Sims Patrick and sister, Mrs. Lillie Wright, one brother, Mr. Wallace Sims and adoptive brother, Mr. George Sheffield and her twin, Ms. Estelle Sims.

She leaves to cherish her memory, her husband, Mr. Freddie Lee Bishop, Americus, GA; her four children, Mrs. Pauline Jackson, Mr. James Earl McRae, Grand Rapids, MI, Reverend Curtis (Teresa) Bishop, Phoenix City, AL, Mr. Freddie (Willie Ruth) Bishop, Americus, GA; an adopted sister, Ms. Reather Mae Stewart, Americus, GA; one adopted brother, Mr. Ernest (Edna) Sheffield, Atlanta, GA; three loving and devoted sisters-in-law, Mrs. Annie (William) Nelson, Mrs. Betty (Willie) Prince and Mrs. Carrie Williams all of Americus, GA; one brother-in-law, Mr. Emroe Bishop, Americus, GA; two aunts, Mrs. Hattie Proctor, Albany, GA and Mrs. Minnie Everette, Americus, GA; seven grandchildren, Ta’Tanisha (Kevin) Smith, Tameka (Wayne) Woods, Tiarra Jackson all of Grand Rapids, MI, Jamarious Merritt, Kentucky, Kym Bishop, Cordele, GA, Eric Holmes, Americus, GA and Frederick Bishop, Palmetto, GA; four great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild; two devoted nieces, Ms. Jessie Pearl Lembrick, and Ms. Charlene W. Smith, two devoted nephews, Mr. Eddie (Gwendolyn) Wright and Mr. Calvin (Tammie) Wright, great nieces & nephews, cousins, including a devoted cousin, Chaplin Betty Jo (Roy) Cunningham other relatives and friends also survive.

Mrs. Walter Mae Bowens

Mrs. Walter Mae Bowens

Mrs. Walter Mae Bowens

Mrs. Walter Mae Bowens was born in Sumter County, GA on July 7, 1939 to the parents of the late Mrs. Mamie Felder and the late Mr. Walter Felder.  She was educated in the public schools of Sumter County, GA.  She was a life long member of the Big Bethel Baptist Church where she was an usher for many years.  She was married to the late Mr. Eugene Bowens, Sr. in 1958 and to this union on son was born, Mr. Eugene Bowens, Jr., who precedes her in death.  She worked for many years at the East View Elementary School in the cafeteria.  In October 2013 she moved to Atlanta, GA.

She survived by her grand daughter Ms. Cathy Denson, Atlanta, GA; devoted friends, Ms. Emma (Robert) Williams  and Ms. Brenda Powell; and her loving church family.

Mr. Otis Alford

Mr. Otis Alford

Mr. Otis Alford

Mr. Otis Alford was born in Sumter County, Georgia on February  24, 1928 to the parentage of the late Mr. John Alford and the late Mrs. Donnie Hunt Alford. At an early age, he joined the New St. Paul Baptist Church, where he served faithfully and on the Board of Deacons. He was married to the late Mrs. Bennie Ruth Colbert Alford.

He is preceded in death by a brother, Mr. Steve Alford and a sister, Ms. Canziza Lockhart.

He leaves to cherish his memories, five sisters, Ms. Bertha Johnson, Boynton Beach, FL, Ms. Lula Mae Harvey, Aliquippa, PA, Ms. Mattie M. (George) Banks, Americus, GA, Ms. Georgia Alford and Ms. Flossie Alford; two brothers-in-law, Mr. Willie Rob (Ernestine) Colbert, Andersonville, GA and Mr. Charlie (Mary) Colbert, Orlando, FL; a sister-in-law, Ms. Pauline Alford, Albany, GA; children he reared as his own, Ms. Eddie Mae King and companion, Johnny Lee Mitchell and Mr. Charles (Bertha) Colbert, Americus, GA, grandchildren he raised as his own, Sharon Colbert, Columbus, GA, Jamel Hammett, Janay Davis and Ja’Torrinne Sims, Americus, GA; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including a devoted friend, Ms. Angela Green, Americus, GA also survive.

Occupationally acquired HIV down among health-care providers

 

Occupationally acquired HIV down among health-care providers

Occupationally acquired HIV down among health-care providers

Few confirmed cases reported in the United States health-care workers since the late 1990s.

HealthDay News — Occupational acquisition of HIV has become rare in the United States, results of research published by the CDC in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicate.

To determine the rate of occupationally acquired HIV infection among health-care workers, M. Patricia Joyce, MD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined data from 58 confirmed and 150 possible cases of occupationally acquired HIV infections between 1985 to 2013.

Since 1999, only one confirmed case of occupationally acquired HIV infection has been reported to the CDC (in 2008, a laboratory technician was punctured by a needle while working with a live HIV culture). Among the 58 confirmed cases, routes of exposure resulting in HIV infection included percutaneous puncture or cut (49 cases), mucocutaneous exposure (five cases), both percutaneous and mucocutaneous exposure (two cases), and unknown exposure (two cases).

The most important prevention strategies for clinicians are following precautions for preventing exposures to blood and bodily fluids, and appropriate post-exposure management when occupational exposures to HIV occur.

“Whereas the paucity of cases could be the result of underreporting, it might indicate the effectiveness of more widespread and earlier treatment to reduce patient viral loads, combined with prevention strategies such as postexposure management and prophylaxis as well as improved technologies and training to reduce sharps injuries and other exposures,” concluded the authors.

Boarded to Death — Why Maintenance of Certification Is Bad for Doctors and Patients

Paul S. Teirstein, M.D. N Engl J Med 2015;

In January 2014, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) changed its certification policies for physicians. Instead of being listed by the ABIM as “certified,” physicians are now listed as “certified, meeting maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements” or “certified, not meeting MOC requirements.” MOC requirements include ongoing engagement in various medical knowledge, practice-assessment, and patient-safety activities, on which physicians are assessed every 2 years, and passage of a secure exam in one’s specialty every 10 years.

My personal frustration in trying to fulfill the new MOC requirements ultimately led me to create a Web-based petition that now has more than 19,000 anti-MOC signatures and contains thousands of comments against the new MOC requirements (www.nomoc.org). A recent second petition with nearly 6000 signatures advocates taking a “pledge of noncompliance” with the requirements.

Although the ABIM argues that there is evidence supporting the value of MOC, high-quality data supporting the efficacy of the program will be very hard, if not impossible, to obtain. In fact, close examination of the reports cited by the ABIM reveals that the data are ambiguous at best: in a meta-analysis of 33 studies, 16 described a significant association between certification status and positive clinical outcomes, 14 found no association, and 3 found a negative association. Moreover, the authors of the meta-analysis concluded that the research methods of most published studies on this topic are inadequate.1Almost all published studies evaluate initial board certification, not recertification or MOC,2 and the rigorous requirements for initial certification should not be equated with the busywork required for the MOC every 2 years. One of the few studies examining lapsed certification showed no effect of physicians’ certification status on patient outcomes after coronary intervention.3 Two very recent studies found no association between recertification and performance or quality measures; one, conducted by ABIM members, found a minor reduction in cost of care.4 No study provided level A data, and these findings relate only to recertification, not the controversial new MOC requirements.

The ABIM claims that a majority of certified physicians have already signed up for MOC, which they interpret as support for the program, but MOC is mandated by the ABIM for recently certified physicians and perceived as a job-security requirement by many others — physician interest is either required or motivated by fear. Indeed, in a 2010 Journal feature that allowed physicians to express their opinions on MOC, many respondents commented that “the exercise was only marginally relevant to their day-to-day practice and that it took their time away from patients and other learning activities.”5 These problems are especially frustrating in light of other ongoing tasks that hospital-based physicians are required to complete. For example, to maintain my hospital privileges I must complete 14 separate computer modules on various subjects either annually or every 2 years. In addition, my annual bonus is tied to my performance on practice-improvement activities, including formal surveys of patient satisfaction, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol control, blood-pressure control, and various core measures for hospitalized patients. Adding continuous ABIM MOC activities, which have no documented efficacy, to this already overwhelming list is onerous and diminishes the time physicians have for patient care.

Although some members of the medical community believe that it’s not unreasonable to ask physicians to formally document their fund of knowledge every 10 years, others strongly believe that the exam questions are not relevant to their practice or a reliable gauge of physicians’ knowledge. The ABIM describes its tests as using “psychometrics” leading to “high reliability and reproducibility,”2 but no clear correlation between these test results and patient outcomes has been documented. Furthermore, many physicians believe that closed-book tests are no longer relevant, since physicians can now easily turn to online resources, as well as their colleagues, while caring for patients.

The ABIM has grown into a large business enterprise. The economics of certification are exposed on the ABIM’s Internal Revenue Service Form 990, which is required of all not-for-profit organizations (www.guidestar.org). In 2012, the year of its latest filing, the ABIM received more than $55 million in fees from physicians seeking certification. Several of its board members and its chief executive officer are highly compensated. Many respondents to the Journal feature expressed the view that “the MOC program was essentially a money-generating activity for the ABIM.”5 Much of the U.S. health care system is now focused on value, and physicians are working hard to provide better patient care at lower cost. MOC provides the opposite — an activity with no proven efficacy, at a high cost. MOC fees range from $2,715 to $3,335 every 10 years; on top of these are costs for travel to testing centers, review courses, and time spent away from practice. I believe that, like the rest of the medical community, the ABIM should focus on efficacy while cutting its costs and lowering its fees.

We all support lifelong learning, but an excellent alternative to MOC already exists: continuing medical education (CME). Currently, medical licensure for physicians requires an annual minimum of approximately 25 hours of CME, depending on the state. Physicians accept this requirement because they perceive it as having value. Organizations providing recognized CME programs are regulated by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, which requires each CME offering to provide an “educational gap analysis,” a needs assessment, information about speakers’ potential conflicts of interest, and course evaluations, as well as meeting other performance standards. CME offerings must compete with one another, and they therefore provide choice. If physicians do not perceive value in a particular CME offering, they will go elsewhere — a situation in stark contrast with the ABIM monopoly on MOC.

There are many opinions about how MOC should be changed. My main recommendation would be to allow 25 annual hours of CME to be substituted for the current MOC requirements that need to be met every 2 years. Doing so would eliminate, or make optional, the busywork modules that have little practical value, including all medical knowledge, practice-improvement, and patient-safety modules. The charges for these new MOC activities should be nominal — perhaps $100 per year for tracking a physician’s annual CME attendance. I also believe that the ABIM website should be vastly simplified so that administrative tasks become less onerous. Finally, I believe that the ABIM should work to cut its costs and, correspondingly, substantially reduce the initial certification and recertification fees paid by physicians.

The ABIM is now under fire. Some 63% of respondents to the 2010 Journal feature opposed MOC.5In a survey by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), nearly 90% of the respondents opposed the new MOC requirements, and ACC leaders are now engaged in discussions with the ABIM to change MOC. The ABIM has been formally criticized for the new requirements by several important physician groups, including the American College of Physicians and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (which has formally asked the ABIM to “suspend its new MOC requirements”). The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons filed a lawsuit against the American Board of Medical Specialties (the parent organization of the ABIM) for restraining trade and causing a reduction in patient access to physicians. At a recent American Medical Association meeting in Chicago, delegates voted to oppose making MOC mandatory as a condition of medical licensure.

Regardless of how the MOC issue is resolved, the recent focus on the ABIM has shed a bright light on how medicine is regulated in the United States. The ABIM is a private, self-appointed certifying organization. Although it has made important contributions to patient care, it has also grown into a $55-million-per-year business, unfettered by competition, selling proprietary, copyrighted products. I believe we would all benefit if other organizations stepped up to compete with the ABIM, offering alternative certification options.

More broadly, many physicians are waking up to the fact that our profession is increasingly controlled by people not directly involved in patient care who have lost contact with the realities of day-to-day clinical practice. Perhaps it’s time for practicing physicians to take back the leadership of medicine.

Being sedentary may be worse than being obese

Being sedentary may be worse than being obese

Being sedentary may be worse than being obese

TheClinicalAdvisor.com

A sedentary lifestyle may be twice as deadly as obesity, results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest. However, even a small amount of exercise is enough activity to reduce the risk of early death by as much as 30%.

“Studies that have examined the combined associations between physical activity,body mass index (BMI), and mortality suggest that physical activity protects against premature death but does not eliminate the increased risk associated with high BMI,” wrote Ulf Ekelund, PhD, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues.

To examine if overall and abdominal adiposity modified the association between physical activity and all-cause mortality, the investigators conducted a cohort study with data culled from 334,161 European men and women. Over an average of 12 years of follow-up, the researchers measured height, weight, waist circumference, and self-reported levels of physical activity.

A moderate amount of physical activity, compared with no activity, was the key to lowering the chances of premature death, the study authors found. Exercise that burns between 90 and 100 calories per day could reduce the risk of early death by 16% to 30%. The effect of moderate exercise was greatest among normal-weight patients, but even overweight and obese patients saw a benefit.

Using the most recent data on deaths in Europe, the investigators found that 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths of European men and women were linked to obesity. However, twice that number of deaths could be linked to a lack of exercise, the scientists added.

“Efforts to encourage even small increases in activity in inactive individuals may be beneficial to public health,” concluded the researchers.

Healthy diet could reduce COPD risk

Courtesy of National Cancer Institute

Courtesy of National Cancer Institute

COPD-HUB.COM

People with a higher score on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 are at a lower risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to Dr. Raphaëlle Varraso and associates.

For both men and women, those in the highest quintile based on AHEI-2010 score were at the lowest risk of COPD, compared with those in the lowest quintile. For women, the third-highest quintile had the highest risk of COPD with a hazard ratio of 1.01, slightly higher than the baseline of 1. For men, the baseline quintile had the highest risk of COPD, but the second-highest quintile had the next-highest hazard ratio at 0.9.

Although efforts to prevent COPD should continue to focus on smoking cessation, these prospective findings support the importance of a healthy diet in multi-interventional programs to prevent COPD, the researchers concluded.

A Call to Action to End HIV Disease and AIDS in the African American Community

Dr. Lawrence L. Sanders Jr.,

The National Medical Association issues an Urgent Call to Action to End HIV Disease and AIDS in the African American Community today World AIDS Day December 1st, 2014 and every day that follows until HIV/AIDS is a rare occurrence in African American communities.  We commit all of our African American physicians and Call to Action each and every one of you to make this commitment with us to end the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the African American Community.

We ask you to join us in saving the lives of those most devastated by HIV/AIDS in our community: Black Gay Men; Black Women and Black Youth. This loss of life needs to cease right now! Today! We can make this happen. We must make this happen.

We must ensure that all African Americans are tested for HIV immediately. We must ensure that all of those who test positive for HIV are rapidly connected to physicians for quality HIV/AIDS care and treatment immediately. We must ensure that HIV/AIDS prevention services targeted to African American women, African American gay and bisexual men and African American youth are aggressively expanded and coupled with HIV testing. We must ensure that every African American in the United States commits to our Call to Action.

We call on our allies in Federal, State and local governments to join us today and ensure the successful implementation and evaluation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Every day lost means more HIV infections and AIDS deaths in African American communities in the wealthiest nation on earth.  HIV disease continues to devastate our communities.  We face the most severe burden from HIV. African American women account for 13% of all new HIV infections and nearly 64% of all new infections among women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV during their life time.

African American men account for 70% of all new HIV infections within our community.  African American gay and bisexual men comprise 73% of new infections among African American men. CDC estimates that 1 in 16 African American men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.

HIV/AIDS is a preventable disease, yet the statistics within the African American community are horrifying. American culture has perfected normalizing disparities of all types. Homelessness, violence, poverty and inferior health care are four human tragedies we Americans allow ourselves to ignore the most. There is no rationale, no excuse which can justify a wealthy, civilized nation permitting these inhumane conditions to persist. AIDS is intertwined in all of these conditions.

Because of advances in HIV/AIDS care and treatment and a reduction in the brutal deaths that were the harsh reality of the 1980s, we are now complacent about HIV/AIDS. This is totally unacceptable. Since the burden of HIV disease and AIDS is now within the African American Gay community and among African American women, we have somehow closed our eyes to this tragedy. To quote Hillary Clinton, “If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country….” For decades Phill Wilson, President & CEO of the Black AIDS Institute has sounded this alarm that “our house is on fire!”

Our best hope lies with African American physicians being strongly united in our fight to end the AIDS epidemic in African American communities. Today we lead this Urgent Call to Action. President Obama has led the way with our very first National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Now we must truly have the will to end AIDS in America. Our failure to do so will cost more African American lives —- in fact, more lives of all people in America. Increased testing, ensuring connection to care, and expanding prevention services can end the AIDS epidemic.  Join us!
National Medical Association Mission:  To advance the art and science of medicine for people of African descent through education, advocacy, and health policy to promote health and wellness, eliminate health disparities, and sustain physician viability.

For more information visit www.nmanet.org.

Black Principal Fires Teachers For Teaching Black History

By Desire Thompson in Black News

Parents are furious after a Black middle school principal has fired teachers for teaching Black History in her school.

Howard University Middle School is a school that I guess you wouldn’t expect this type of thing to happen. This is especially true given that the school has an African American principal.

Parents were asking questions regarding why there were so many teachers being fired or quitting in the middle of the school year.

“As parents we just want to get some answers,” said Dorothy Lowery. “We deserve to know what’s going on.”

In the past week, there have been three Social Studies teachers that handed in their two week notices.  Parents say that the new principal, Angelique Blackmon, confronted the teachers a day prior with pink slips.  According to parents, the pink slips were handed to the teachers right in front of the students.

“While students are still present in the classroom? How un-professional,” said parent Delrica Battle. “These children are crying. They said they couldn’t say goodbye. The teachers are upset, the students are upset.”

Another parent, Michelle Payne said, “They were given to them in front of our children and I think that our children do not deserve to see that type of behavior.”

This middle school is a public charter school on the campus of Howard University. Some parents described the new principal as an abrasive woman from Atlanta, Ga.

Parents found it strange that the new principal would want the teachers to stop teaching African American History, given that they are on the cam-pus of an HBCU. Many also stated that the students needed to know their culture, with the school being 90 percent African American.

Blackmon has not responded to ABC 7 News’ request to give an interview or answer any questions, and parents who have met with Blackmon say that they were not satisfied by their meeting with her.

This is strange in every way, I must admit. Why wouldn’t she want the students to know about Kwanzaa, Marion Barry, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Madam C.J. Walker, Martin Luther King or Malcolm X? This woman has a lot of explaining to do, and she may end up losing her job.

She could at least talk to the media about what happened, this press isn’t very good for her professional reputation.

What are your thoughts?

The Share-the-Scraps Economy

How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

They’re Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and Airbnb hosts. They include Taskrabbit jobbers, Upcounsel’s on-demand attorneys, and Healthtap’s on-line doctors.

They’re Mechanical Turks.

The euphemism is the “share” economy. A more accurate term would be the “share-the-scraps” economy.

New software technologies are allowing almost any job to be divided up into discrete tasks that can be parceled out to workers when they’re needed, with pay determined by demand for that particular job at that particular moment.

Customers and workers are matched online. Workers are rated on quality and reliability.

The big money goes to the corporations that own the software. The scraps go to the on-demand workers.

Consider Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk.” Amazon calls it “a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence.”

In reality, it’s an Internet job board offering minimal pay for mindlessly-boring bite-sized chores. Computers can’t do them because they require some minimal judgment, so human beings do them for peanuts — say, writing a product description, for $3; or choosing the best of several photographs, for 30 cents; or deciphering handwriting, for 50 cents.

Amazon takes a healthy cut of every transaction.

This is the logical culmination of a process that began thirty years ago when corporations began turning over full-time jobs to temporary workers, independent contractors, free-lancers, and consultants.

It was a way to shift risks and uncertainties onto the workers – work that might entail more hours than planned for, or was more stressful than expected.

And a way to circumvent labor laws that set minimal standards for wages, hours, and working conditions. And that enabled employees to join together to bargain for better pay and benefits.

The new on-demand work shifts risks entirely onto workers, and eliminates minimal standards completely.

In effect, on-demand work is a reversion to the piece work of the nineteenth century – when workers had no power and no legal rights, took all the risks, and worked all hours for almost nothing.

Uber drivers use their own cars, take out their own insurance, work as many hours as they want or can – and pay Uber a fat percent. Worker safety? Social Security? Uber says it’s not the employer so it’s not responsible.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turks work for pennies, literally. Minimum wage? Time-and-a half for overtime? Amazon says it just connects buyers and sellers so it’s not responsible.

Defenders of on-demand work emphasize its flexibility. Workers can put in whatever time they want, work around their schedules, fill in the downtime in their calendars.

“People are monetizing their own downtime,” Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s business school, told the New York Times.

By Robert Reich,

But this argument confuses “downtime” with the time people normally reserve for the rest of their lives.

There are still only twenty-four hours in a day. When “downtime” is turned into work time, and that work time is unpredictable and low-paid, what happens to personal relationships? Family? One’s own health?

Other proponents of on-demand work point to studies, such as one recently commissioned by Uber, showing Uber’s on-demand workers to be “happy.”

But how many of them would be happier with a good-paying job offering regular hours?

An opportunity to make some extra bucks can seem mighty attractive in an economy whose median wage has been stagnant for thirty years and almost all of whose economic gains have been going to the top.

That doesn’t make the opportunity a great deal. It only shows how bad a deal most working people have otherwise been getting.

Defenders also point out that as on-demand work continues to grow, on-demand workers are joining together in guild-like groups to buy insurance and other benefits.

But, notably, they aren’t using their bargaining power to get a larger share of the income they pull in, or steadier hours. That would be a union – something that Uber, Amazon, and other on-demand companies don’t want.

Some economists laud on-demand work as a means of utilizing people more efficiently.

But the biggest economic challenge we face isn’t using people more efficiently. It’s allocating work and the gains from work more decently.

On this measure, the share-the-scraps economy is hurtling us backwards.

Detroit-Style Black Removal Coming to New Jersey

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“If you can ethnically cleanse Detroit, then little Atlantic City should be a piece of cake.”

Kevin Orr, the Black corporate lawyer dispatched by Michigan’s Republican governor to preside over the bankruptcy and degradation of Detroit, has sold his urban executioner skills to Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey. Orr’s next victim is Atlantic City, the town built around boardwalks and casinos, whose full-time residents, as in Detroit, are overwhelmingly non-white and poor. The immediate cause of Atlantic City’s financial crisis is loss of its employment and tax base. Four of the city’s 12 big casinos have closed, putting more than 8,000 people out of work.

Atlantic City’s top elected officials oppose the imposition of an emergency manager, and no governor has ever tried to force bankruptcy on a city in New Jersey. But Detroit worked out so well for the bankers, it’s now the textbook model for how to destroy any semblance of democracy in mostly Black and brown cities. Kevin Orr proved, in Detroit, that it’s always best to put a Black man out front when your mission is to disenfranchise the residents of a chocolate city.

Atlantic City council president Frank Gilliam says Governor Christie is usurping the sovereignty of the community. But that, of course, is precisely the purpose of establishing an emergency manager dictatorship: to strip the targeted population of an effective vote and, ultimately, to push them out of town, altogether. The State of New Jersey will probably never succeed in bringing Atlantic City’s casinos back to their former profitability, just as Detroit can never relive its days as a world center of manufacturing. However, there are other potential uses for Atlantic City’s seaside properties – if only all those poor Black and brown people could be cleared out of the way. If you can ethnically cleanse Detroit, a city of 700,000 with an 82 percent Black majority, then little Atlantic City, with only about 40,000 residents – 70 percent of them Black and Latino – should be a piece of cake.

Christie and Orr – What a Team!

Detroit is right now preparing to evict 100,000 people from their homes for being behind in taxes; that’s two and a half times the total population of Atlantic City. Detroit authorities have cut off running water to 40 percent of the city, and are shutting the valves on 3,000 homes every week. The United Nations calls that a “human rights violation,” but its not even an issue for the Democratic Party or the First Black President. Therefore, it is no wonder that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, is eager to replicate the Michigan model for Black urban removal. Remember, that Christie’s political career took off when he put the Black mayor of Newark on the road to prison, back in 2008. If he can disenfranchise the voters in Newark, Jersey City, Camden, Trenton, and Patterson – just as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder did in all the largely Black cities of his state – then Governor Christie will be hailed as a hero by every white racist in the country.

And, the Democrats won’t do a damn thing to stop him – just like in Detroit.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

Trial of LAPD Officer for the Death of Alesia Thomas Set To Begin This Month

#BlackWomenAreMurderedByPoliceToo

Mary O’Callaghan, an 18-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, will stand trial in mid February of this year for the July 2012 death of 33-year old Aleasia Thomas. Charged with Abuse Under Color of Authority, O’Callaghan possibly faces a maximum of one year in county jail and/or a fine of $10,000 if convicted.

Thomas left her two small children at the 77th Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department around 2 a.m. the morning of July 22, 2012. The children reportedly had a note with them that said their grandmother should be called.

Police officers eventually ended up at the door of Thomas’ apartment a few hours later to question her about the abandonment of her children. A report of the incident from the LAPD’s Board of Commissioners says that at some point during their questioning of her, Thomas told police that she “wanted to leave.” Police made the decision at that point to take Thomas into custody, where a struggle ensued. Officers struggled to get Thomas out of her 2nd floor apartment building and then struggled to get her into a police car.

The report goes on to state that Thomas was eventually put into the back of the police car but her legs were reportedly hanging outside of the door. O’Callaghan and her fellow officers were having difficulty getting Thomas all the way into the back seat, and at one point O’Callaghan was overheard by one fellow officer to threaten to kick Thomas “if she kept it up.” O’Callaghan eventually “utilized her feet seven times on three separate occasions to push or kick the Subject, in the upper thigh, groin and abdomen area” into the police car according to the report.

The report also notes that once Thomas was secured in the back seat an officer turned on the vehicle’s dash cam and rear seat video recorders. Neither the audio or video from the car has been released to the public yet however, the report also notes that Thomas appears to try to sit up and asks for an ambulance and can be heard saying “I Can’t Breathe” on the tape. Thomas’s eyes eventually roll back in her head, and an officer checks on her approximately 30 seconds later and determines that she is in need of an ambulance.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says he made the decision to recommend the charges against O’Callaghan after reviewing the tape of the incident along with the report of the Board of Commissioners.

A crowd-funding site has been set up to support the independent coverage of this trial. Go tohttp://bit.ly/1C1Tg5Q for more information.

Thandisizwe Chimurenga is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles and the author of No Doubt: The Murder(s) of Oscar Grant. She covered the Detroit trial of Ted Wafer for the murder of Renisha McBride in 2014 for Black Agenda Report dot com and Color of Change dot org.

Trickle-Down Was Nothing More Than the Politics of Helping the Rich and Powerful Get Richer and More Powerful

Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Getty Images)

Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Getty Images)

By Elizabeth Warren,

Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages. The text of Senator Warren’s remarks as prepared for delivery follows, and a PDF copy of her remarks is available here:

Good morning, and thank you MaryBe for the introduction, and for your work with the North Carolina AFL-CIO. Your efforts make a real difference for our families.

I want to start by thanking Rich Trumka and Damon Silvers for your leadership on economic issues, for your good counsel, and, for a long time now, your friendship. I also want to give special thanks to my good friends from the Massachusetts AFL-CIO who are here today, Steve Tolman and Lou Mandarini.

I love being with my labor friends, and I’m especially glad to join you today for the AFL’s first-ever National Summit on Wages. You follow in the best tradition of the American labor movement for more than a century-always fighting for working people, both union and non-union. Today you’ve spotlighted an economic issue that is central to understanding what’s happening to people all over this country.

I recently read an article in Politico called “Everything is Awesome.” The article detailed the good news about the economy: 5% GDP growth in the third quarter of 2014, unemployment under 6%, a new all-time high for the Dow, low inflation.(i)

Despite the headline, the author recognized that not everything is awesome, but his point has been repeated several times: On many different statistical measures, the economy has improved and is continuing to improve. I think the President and his team deserve credit for the steps they’ve taken to get us here. In particular, job growth is a big deal, and we celebrate it.

I’ve spent most of my career studying what’s happening to America’s middle class, and I know that these four widely-cited statistics give an important snapshot of the success of the overall economy. But the overall picture doesn’t tell us much about what’s happening at ground level to tens of millions of Americans. Despite these cheery numbers, America’s middle class is in deep trouble.

Think about it this way: The stock market is soaring, and that’s great if you have a pension or money in a mutual fund. But if you and your husband or wife are both working full time, with kids in school, and you are among the half or so of all Americans who don’t have any money in stocks,(ii) how does a booming stock market help you?

Corporate profits(iii) and GDP are up. But if you work at Walmart, and you are paid so little that you still need food stamps to put groceries on the table, what does more money in stockholders’ pockets and an uptick in GDP do for you?

Unemployment numbers are dropping. But if you’ve got a part-time job and still can’t find full-time work — or if you’ve just given up because you can’t find a good job to replace the one you had — you are counted as part of that drop in unemployment,(iv) but how much is your economic situation improving?

Inflation rates are still low. But if you are young and starting out life with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt locked into high interest rates by Congress, unable to find a good job or save to buy a house, how are you benefiting from low inflation?

A lot of broad national economic statistics say our economy is getting better, and it is true that the economy overall is recovering from the terrible crash of 2008. But there have been deep structural changes in this economy, changes that have gone on for more than thirty years, changes that have cut out hard-working, middle class families from sharing in this overall growth.

It wasn’t always this way.

Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class unlike anything seen on earth. From the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up pretty much across the board. In fact, 90% of all workers-everyone outside the top 10%-got about 70% of all the new income growth.(v) Sure, the richest 10% gobbled up more than their share-they got 30%. But overall, as the economic pie got bigger, pretty much everyone was getting a little more. In other words, as our country got richer, our families got richer. And as our families got richer, our country got richer. That was how this country built a great middle class.

But then things changed.

By 1980, wages had flattened out, while expenses kept going up. The squeeze was terrible. In the early 2000s, families were spending twice as much, adjusted for inflation, on mortgages as they had a generation earlier. They spent more on health insurance, and more to send their kids to college. Mom and dad both went to work, but that meant new expenses like childcare, higher taxes, and the costs of a second car. All over the country, people tightened their belts where they could, but it still hasn’t been enough to save them. Families have gone deep into debt to pay for college, to cover serious medical problems, or just to stay afloat a while longer.(vi) And today’s young adults may be the first generation in American history to end up, as a group, with less than their parents.(vii)

Remember how up until 1980, 90% of all people-middle class, working people, poor people-got about 70% of all the new income that was created in the economy and the top 10% took the rest? Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero. In fact, it’s worse than that. The average family not in the top 10% makes less money than a generation ago.(viii) So who got the increase in income over the last 32 years? 100% of it went to the top ten percent. All of the new money earned in this economy over the past generation-all that growth in the GDP-went to the top.(ix) All of it.

That is a huge structural change. When I look at the data here – and this includes years of research I conducted myself – I see evidence everywhere about the pounding that working people are taking. Instead of building an economy for all Americans, for the past generation this country has grown an economy that works for some Americans. For tens of millions of working families who are the backbone of this country, this economy isn’t working. These families are working harder than ever, but they can’t get ahead. Opportunity is slipping away. Many feel like the game is rigged against them – and they are right. The game is rigged against them.

Since the 1980s, too many of the people running this country have followed one form or another of supply side – or trickle down – economic theory. Many in Washington still support it. When all the varnish is removed, trickle-down just means helping the biggest corporations and the richest people in this country, and claiming that those big corporations and rich people could be counted to create an economy that would work for everyone else.

Trickle-down was popular with big corporations and their lobbyists, but it never really made much sense. George Bush Sr. called it voodoo economics.(x) He was right, and let’s call it out for what it is: Trickle-down was nothing more than the politics of helping the rich-and-powerful get richer and more powerful, and it cut the legs out from under America’s middle class.

Trickle-down policies are pretty simple. First, fire the cops-not the cops on Main Street, but the cops on Wall Street. Pretty much the whole Republican Party – and, if we’re going to be honest, too many Democrats – talked about the evils of “big government” and called for deregulation. It sounded good, but it was really about tying the hands of regulators and turning loose big banks and giant international corporations to do whatever they wanted to do-turning them loose to rig the markets and reduce competition, to outsource more jobs, to load up on more risks and hide behind taxpayer guarantees, to sell more mortgages and credit cards that cheated people. In short, to do whatever juiced short term profits even if it came at the expense of working families.

Trickle down was also about cutting taxes for those at the top. Cut them when times are good, cut them when times are bad. And when that meant there was less money for road repairs, less money for medical research, and less money for schools and that our government would need to squeeze kids on student loans, then so be it. And look at the results: The top 10% got ALL the growth in income over the past 30 years-ALL of it-and the economy stopped working for everyone else.

The trickle-down experiment that began in the Reagan years failed America’s middle class. Sure, the rich are doing great. Giant corporations are doing great. Lobbyists are doing great. But we need an economy where everyone else who works hard gets a shot at doing great!

The world has changed beneath the feet of America’s working families. Powerful forces like globalization and technology are creating seismic shifts that are disrupting our economy, altering employment patterns, and putting new stresses on old structures. Those changes could create new opportunities-or they could sweep away the last vestiges of economic security for 90% of American workers. Those changes demand new and different economic policies from our federal government. But too many politicians have looked the other way. Instead of running government to expand opportunity for 90% of Americans and to shore up security in an increasingly uncertain world, instead of re-thinking economic policy to deal with tough new realities, for more than 30 years, Washington has far too often advanced policies that hammer America’s middle class even harder.

Look at the choices Washington has made, the choices that have left America’s middle class in a deep hole:

  • the choice to leash up the financial cops,
  • the choice in a recession to bail out the biggest banks with no strings attached while families suffered,
  • the choice to starve our schools and burden our kids with billions of dollars of student loan debt while cutting taxes for billionaires,
  • the choice to spend your tax dollars to subsidize Big Oil instead of putting that money into rebuilding our roads and bridges and power grids,
  • the choice to look the other way when employers quit paying overtime, reclassified workers as independent contractors and just plain old stole people’s wages,
  • the choice to sign trade pacts and tax deals that let subsidized manufacturers around the globe sell here in America while good American jobs get shipped overseas.

For more than thirty years, too many politicians in Washington have made deliberate choices that favored those with money and power. And the consequence is that instead of an economy that works well for everyone, America now has an economy that works well for about 10% of the people.

It wasn’t always this way, and it doesn’t have to be this way. We can make new choices – different choices – choices that put working people first, choices that aim toward a better future for our children, choices that reflect our deepest values as Americans.

One way to make change is to talk honestly and directly about work, about how we value the work that people do every day. We need to talk about what we believe:

  • We believe that no one should work full time and still live in poverty – and that means raising the minimum wage.
  • We believe workers have a right to come together, to bargain together and to rebuild America’s middle class.
  • We believe in enforcing labor laws, so that workers get overtime pay and pensions that are fully funded.
  • We believe in equal pay for equal work.
  • We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.

We also need a hard conversation about how we create jobs here in America. We need to talk about how to build a future. So let’s say what we believe:

  • We believe in making investments – in roads and bridges and power grids, in education, in research – investments that create good jobs in the short run and help us build new opportunities over the long run.
  • And we believe in paying for them-not with magical accounting scams that pretend to cut taxes and raise revenue, but with real, honest-to-goodness changes that make sure that we pay-and corporations pay-a fair share to build a future for all of us.
  • We believe in trade policies and tax codes that will strengthen our economy, raise our living standards, and create American jobs – and we will never give up on those three words: Made in America.

And one more point. If we’re ever going to un-rig the system, then we need to make some important political changes. And here’s where we start:

  • We know that democracy doesn’t work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power – and that means it’s time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians that they don’t work for the big banks, they work for US!

Changes like this aren’t easy. But we know they are possible. We know they are possible because we have seen David beat Goliath before. We have seen lobbyists lose. We’ve seen it all through our history. We saw it when we created the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, when we passed health care reform. We saw it when President Obama took important steps to try and reform our immigration system through executive order just weeks ago. Change is difficult, but it is possible.

This is personal for me. When I was 12, my big brothers were all off in the military. My mother was 50 years old, a stay at home mom. My daddy had a heart attack, and it turned our little family upside down. The bills piled up. We lost the family station wagon, and we nearly lost our home. I remember the day my mother, scared to death and crying the whole time, pulled her best dress out of the closet, put on her high heels and walked to the Sears to get a minimum wage job. Unlike today, a minimum wage job back then paid enough to support a family of three. That minimum wage job saved our home-and saved our family.

My daddy ended up as a maintenance man, and my mom kept working at Sears. I made it through a commuter college that cost $50 a semester and I ended up in the United States Senate. Sure, I worked hard, but I grew up in an America that invested in kids like me, an America that built opportunities for kids to compete in a changing world, an America where a janitor’s kid could become a United States Senator. I believe in that America.

I believe in an America that builds opportunities. An America that ensures that all hardworking men and women earn good wages. An America that once again grows a strong, vibrant middle class.

I believe in that America, and I will fight for that America! And if we fight-side-by-side-I know we will build that America again.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Republicans Now Take Credit For The Recovery They Sabotaged

Mitch-McConnell-12-10By Cynthia Tucker,

This is unlikely to prompt anyone to break out the bubbly in the Oval Office, but last week’s poll numbers are nevertheless good news for President Obama. Since Democrats were thrashed in November’s midterm elections, the president’s approval ratings have been on the upswing.

As he prepares to deliver his sixth State of the Union address on Jan. 20, Obama’s approval has crept up to 47 percent, according to a new survey from Pew Research. That’s up 5 points since December.

Most analysts believe Obama’s recovering fortunes are the result of a much-improved economy — the one gauge that’s reliably important to voters. It’s taken a few years, but average workers are finally beginning to put the Great Recession behind them.

Take note of this now. Keep it in a spare file in your memory bank. Remember that the economy has been advancing for the six years of Obama’s tenure — a frustratingly slow process that is finally bearing fruit. The unemployment rate is now at 5.6 percent, the lowest since 2008. Foreclosures are down to pre-recession levels. The stock market is in historically high territory.

Why do I want you to remember this? In a stunning show of chutzpah, the president’s harshest critics, the hyper-conservatives who’ve done everything they could to wreck his presidency, want to take credit for the recovery they tried to sabotage.

Just take a look at the speech Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell gave on the day he took the helm of the Senate as the new majority leader.

“After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope. The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress,” he said.

According to his logic, consumers spent more money and businesses hired more workers starting back in the summer because they expected Republicans to win a majority in Congress. That’s nonsense.

Obama inherited a mess from George W. Bush — a financial crisis brought on by the excesses of Wall Street. President Bush started the bailout, but most of the work was left for the Obama administration. Obama continued the Wall Street bailout, passed a massive stimulus package and rescued the auto industry. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, fought him every step of the way. That the economy has bounced back anyway is testament to its underlying resiliency.

Perhaps the greatest driver of consumers’ new optimism is the free-fall in gas prices, which haven’t been this low since the Great Recession drove down demand worldwide. Obama didn’t spur the investment in domestic oil drilling, but he has encouraged it, noting that it would help to free us from a dependence on foreign oil.

None of these hard-won gains have come a moment too soon. And, yes, there’s still much work to be done to revive the American middle class. The growing gap between the comfortable and everybody else remains one of the biggest threats to domestic tranquility. Wages are still stagnant.

Obama is well aware of that. In his State of the Union speech, he is expected to announce an ambitious new proposal to provide free access to the nation’s two-year community colleges. It’s an excellent plan.

Education experts say there are about 8 million community college students, and their average annual tuition is around $3,800. To the comfortable classes, that might not seem like much. But it presents a barrier to many working-class students trying to change their circumstances. It’s an investment that the nation can afford to make — and should make.

But like the other proposals the president has made to boost the economy, this one is likely to meet resistance from the Republicans in Congress. They want to take credit when things go well, but they’re only too willing to block a good idea if it comes from Obama.

AMERICUS-SUMTER COUNTY SCHOOLS PROFILE IN EXCELLENCE: THE ENTREPRENEURIAL CLASS OF 1993

Lee Pinnell, Eshonda Blue, Alex Saratsiotis

Lee Pinnell, Eshonda Blue, Alex Saratsiotis

Staff Reports,

An entrepreneur has nobody to complain to. If something does not go right on the job, if things don’t work out the way they were supposed to, there are no grievances forms to fill out; no supervisor with whom to air their complaints. They just have to fix the problem.

In a world of corporations and franchises, it is increasingly rare to find a person willing to create a name that has never been used before and put it out into the open market for allthe world to see. But Americus-Sumter High School class of 1993 produced three such innovators.

Eshonda Blue settled on the name “Innovative Senior Solutions.” The company provides nurses to assist senior citizens who want to still live at home but need some help to do so. She and her sister, Jessica Wright, were inspired to create the company when faced with the decision about putting their own grandmother in the nursing home. Prior to that point, the two of them had been working with nursing homes.

“My grandmother told us she never wanted to go to a nursing home,” said Ms. Blue. “Working in the nursing home business, we saw so many seniors who didn’t really need to be there. They just needed someone to help them get out of bed,
get dressed, and get them going. We saw a need and we developed a company to address it.”

“Innovative Senior Solutions” has one-hundredand-four employees, sixty-five of them are full-time. It is one of three thriving business to come out of the class of 1993 along with Clinic Drugstore and Accelerated Physical Therapy.

Lee Pinnell bought from his father a majority share in the business that he had grown up in. Although the stresses of owning his own store may be greater than collecting a paycheck at someone else’s, the rewards to him are far greater:

“The buck stops with me,” he said. “If I see something is wrong, I have the ability to change it. It is very self-gratifying. You can see the results of what you are doing in helping patients and creating good jobs for the community.”

Clinic Drugs employs thirtyfour people, fifteen of which are full-time.

Alex Saratsiotis and his business partner Tracy Law worked together at Sumter Regional Hospital as physical therapists before deciding to break away and create their own business.

“I have always had the notion I wanted to work for myself,” Mr. Saratsiotis said. “I like the autonomy and felt like I could get things done.”

He points out that as an entrepreneur, your circle of responsibility grows exponentially.

“It’s not just our families we have to worry about, but our employees depend on the decisions we make every day to provide for their families,” he said,

Interestingly, all three business owners had family members who modeled the entrepreneurial spirit. Alex is the son of George Saratsiotis who owns George’s Menswear downtown, a thriving clothing store and tailor shop in Americus for
more than forty years. His story is the story of the American dream.

“Dad came to the states from a small town in Greece with a trade and very little grasp of the English language,” Alex said. “He showed that through passion, determination, and hard work, you could pretty much make it. I am sure that inspired me.”

“Alex, Eshonda and I were all real close growing up,” said Mr. Pinnell . “The common characteristic between the three of us was that our parents were all leaders. Everyone came from a good house with good parents.”

Eshonda Blue came from generations of entrepreneur. Her father owns a construction business and his father owned a mechanics shop in New Jersey. Her mother, Evelyn Wright, was a teacher and girls’ basketball coach at Americus-Sumter County High School, but her mother’s father owned a farm in Lee County.

“They all worked hard, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day,” she said, adding a comment about the joy that being an entrepreneur provides her:

“I get to put into practice the things I can come up with,” she said. “I enjoy being able to be me. Because I love what I do, it doesn’t feel like work.”

But along with these joys come unique responsibilities: “You have nothing to fall back on,” said Mr. Saratsiotis. “You enjoy your successes, but you also have to own up to your failures.”

All three credit the education they received through the Sumter County School system as preparing them for the challenges they faced in college and after that. In particular, the AP classes and the classes offered through Georgia Southwestern gave them a step-up on the other students:

“I feel like my teachers really cared about me,” said Ms. Blue. “I feel like I had a great education, had great teachers, our classrooms were controlled and it was a good environment.”

“I felt like I had really good study habits from high school,” said Mr. Saratsiotis. “When I went to college it made studying easier for me.”

KEYS TO SUCCESS:

Eshonda Blue:

“Hire people who are smarter than you and who bring something different to the table.”

“Find something that you are passionate about. If it’s something you love, it doesn’t feel like work. You’ve also got to have leadership skills, which means sometimes you are not the most popular person.”

Lee Pinnell:

“Try to mimic positive attributes of successful people”

“Try to look at whoever is doing something with their lives and is making a difference. Learn from the mistakes of others, as well. When you see people make bad decisions, try to understand what they did wrong.”

Alex Saratsiotis:

“Find something you are interested in and work your tail off and it all works out well for you.”

“You have to have drive and determination or you will get caught in the 9-5 grind.”

Nathan Deal to Strip 11,500 School Workers of Health Insurance

(L-R) Sekeithia Lewis, Bobette Davis, Calvin Smyre, Gail Edwards and Diane Monts

(L-R) Sekeithia Lewis, Bobette Davis, Calvin Smyre, Gail Edwards and Diane Monts

Examiner.com,

State spends $1.2 million to subsidize health insurance for part-time state legislators. Gov. Deal plan to ax coverage for part-time bus drivers, cafeteria workers.

Gov. Nathan Deal says it’s only fair to cut health insurance subsidies to school bus drivers and cafeteria workers because thousands of similarly part-time state employees don’t get coverage.

But one group of part-time state employees, and their families, enjoy taxpayer-subsidized health insurance and aren’t likely to loose it: Georgia legislators. The same part-timers who are now deciding whether to keep part-time school bus drivers and cafeteria workers on the State Health Benefit Plan rolls.

The state spends about $1.2 million each year subsidizing the health insurance of lawmakers, according to figures obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the Department of Community Health. DCH runs the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP), which covers 650,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, school personnel, and legislators.

Lawmakers are getting an ear full about Deal’s proposal to eliminate funding to cover 11,500 part-time school workers, which would save the state about $103 million.

“We are part-time employees of the state and we have access to the State Health Benefit Plan,” said state Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta. “Why on earth would we throw school bus drivers under the bus?”

Many others just think cutting off school staffers is a bad idea, arguing that it could lead to a severe shortage of drivers.

“I am a supporter of giving them insurance,” said state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta. “There is nothing more important than children. If they get in a school bus, I want to make sure they have an excellent, qualified driver.”

Deal made the proposal last month when he released his $21.8 billion state budget for fiscal 2016, which begins July 1. The state would no longer subsidize insurance for “noncertified” school staffers who work less than 30 hours a week, starting Jan. 1.

DCH officials said the part of the insurance plan that covers “non-certified” school staffers — which also includes administrative staff — has been bleeding money, accounting for a $135 million loss last year.

But Deal said cutting parttimers off the state subsidy is also a “fairness” issue.

“We have to be mindful that to require someone to work at least 30 hours (to receive coverage) is also a requirement we have for other state employees,” Deal said. “And if we make exceptions …. then in fairness, we have to look at employees who are in the state system.

“I think more and more people are asking the question why is it that people who work less than 30 hours a week are being able to participate when some other state employees could not.”

Asked about the apparent double-standard regarding lawmakers getting coverage, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson responded, “Certain jobs are treated differently by Georgia law.

“Part-time school workers are part of SHBP, people doing similar jobs in state agencies are not.

“The governor is seeking a way to keep SHBP sustainable long term. What he proposed is a starting point for negotiations that will go through the process of debate and amendment in the Legislature. The Legislature will have a deciding role in how this plays out.”

 

How Government Helps The 1 Percent

E.J. DIONNE

E.J. DIONNE

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

You may think that government takes a lot of money from the wealthy and gives it to poor people. You might also assume that the rich pay a lot to support government while the poor pay a pittance.

There is nothing wrong with you if you believe this. Our public discourse is dominated by these ideas, and you’d probably feel foolish challenging them. After Mitt Romney’s comments on the 47 percent blew up on him, conservatives have largely given up talking publicly about their “makers vs. takers” distinction. But much of the right’s rhetoric and many of its policies are still based on such notions.

It is thus a public service that the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has issued a report showing that, at the state and local level, government is indeed engaged in redistribution — but it’s redistribution from the poor and the middle class to the wealthy.

It’s entirely true that better-off people pay more in federal income taxes than the less well-to-do. But this leaves out not only Social Security taxes but also what’s going on elsewhere.

The institute found that in 2015 the poorest fifth of Americans will pay, on average, 10.9 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes and the middle fifth will pay 9.4 percent. But the top 1 percent will pay states and localities only 5.4 percent of their incomes in taxes.

When you think about it, such figures should not come as a surprise. Most state and local governments rely on regressive taxes — particularly sales and excise levies. Poor and middle-class people pay more simply because they have to spend the bulk of their incomes just to cover their costs.

This gets to something else we don’t discuss much: Public policies in most other well-to-do countries push much harder against inequality than ours do. According to the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), the United States ranks 10th in income inequality before taxes and government transfers. By this measure, Ireland and Britain, and even Sweden and Norway, are more unequal than we are. But after government transfers are taken into account, the good old USA soars to first in inequality. Norway drops to sixth place and Sweden to 13th.

It’s not a matter about which we should be proud to shout, “We’re No. 1!”

Actually, things may be a bit worse for us even on pre-transfer incomes, said LIS Director Janet Gornick, because people in the other rich countries tend to draw their pensions earlier.

The overall story is that we are not very aggressive, with apologies to Joe the Plumber, in spreading the wealth around. “Our inequality is already high because of the low minimum wage, the weakness of unions and very high levels of private-sector compensation at the top,” Gornick, a professor at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, said in a telephone interview from Luxembourg. “But on top of that, we are redistributing less than other countries and also have lower taxes on the highest incomes, particularly income from capital.”

And at the state and local level, our governments are exacerbating inequality. The ITEP study concludes that “every single state and local tax system is regressive and even the states that do better than others have much room for improvement.” The five states with the most regressive systems are Washington, Florida, Texas, South Dakota and Illinois. Of the five, only Illinois has an income tax, and it uses a flat rate.

On its face, the property tax would seem progressive, because big houses are taxed more. But the study finds that on average, “poor homeowners and renters pay more of their incomes in property taxes than do any other income group — and the wealthiest taxpayers pay the least.”

There is also an unanticipated consequence of growing economic disparities: Because states and localities tax the wealthy less, “rising income inequality can make it more difficult for state tax systems to pay for needed services over time. The more income that goes to the wealthy, the slower a state’s revenue grows.”

Political debates are typically driven by cliches, but at the very least, we can expect our cliches to be true. We need to stop claiming that we have a massively redistributive government. We need to stop pretending that poor people are “takers” when they in fact kick in a lot to the common pot. And we need to replace arguments about “big” and “small” government with a debate over what governments at all levels are doing to make our society more just — or less.

Wall Street’s Threat to the American Middle Class

ROBERT REICH

ROBERT REICH

Robert Reich’s Blog,

Presidential aspirants in both parties are talking about saving the middle class. But the middle class can’t be saved unless Wall Street is tamed.

The Street’s excesses pose a continuing danger to average Americans. And its ongoing use of confidential corporate information is defrauding millions of middle-class investors.

Yet most presidential aspirants don’t want to talk about taming the Street because Wall Street is one of their largest sources of campaign money.

Do we really need reminding about what happened six years ago? The financial collapse crippled the middle class and poor — consuming the savings of millions of average Americans, and causing 23 million to lose their jobs, 9.3 million to lose their health insurance, and some 1 million to lose their homes.

A repeat performance is not unlikely. Wall Street’s biggest banks are much larger now than they were then. Five of them hold about 45 percent of America’s banking assets. In 2000, they held 25 percent.

And money is cheaper than ever. The Fed continues to hold the prime interest rate near zero.

This has fueled the Street’s eagerness to borrow money at rock-bottom rates and use it to make risky bets that will pay off big if they succeed, but will cause big problems if they go bad.

We learned last week that Goldman Sachs has been on ashopping binge, buying cheap real estate stretching from Utah to Spain, and a variety of companies.

If not technically a violation of the new Dodd-Frank banking law, Goldman’s binge surely violates its spirit.

Meanwhile, the Street’s lobbyists have gotten Congress to repeala provision of Dodd-Frank curbing excessive speculation by the big banks.

The language was drafted by Citigroup and personally pushed by Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Not incidentally, Dimon recently complained of being “under assault” by bank regulators.

Last year JPMorgan’s board voted to boost Dimon’s pay to $20 million, despite the bank paying out more than $20 billion to settle various legal problems going back to financial crisis.

The American middle class needs stronger bank regulations, not weaker ones.

Last summer, bank regulators told the big banks their plans for orderly bankruptcies were “unrealistic.” In other words, if the banks collapsed, they’d bring the economy down with them.

Dodd-Frank doesn’t even cover bank bets on foreign exchanges. Yet recent turbulence in the foreign exchange market has causedhuge losses at hedge funds and brokerages.

This comes on top of revelations of widespread manipulation by the big banks of the foreign-exchange market.

Wall Street is also awash in inside information unavailable to average investors.

Just weeks ago a three- judge panel of the U.S. court of appeals that oversees Wall Street reversed an insider-trading conviction, saying guilt requires proof a trader knows the tip was leaked in exchange for some “personal benefit” that’s “of some consequence.”

Meaning that if a CEO tells his Wall Street golfing buddy about a pending merger, the buddy and his friends can make a bundle — to the detriment of small, typically middle-class, investors.

That three-judge panel was composed entirely of appointees of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

But both parties have been drinking at the Wall Street trough.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, the financial sector rankedfourth among all industry groups giving to then candidate Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee. In fact, Obama reaped far more in contributions from the Street than did his Republican opponent.

Wall Street also supplies both administrations with key economic officials. The treasury secretaries under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson, respectfully, had both chaired Goldman Sachs before coming to Washington.

And before becoming Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner had been handpicked by Rubin to become president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York. (Geithner is now back on the Street as president of the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus.)

It’s nice that presidential aspirants are talking about rebuilding America’s middle class.

But to be credible, he (or she) has to take clear aim at the Street.

That means proposing to limit the size of the biggest Wall Street banks;  resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act (which used to separate investment from commercial banking); define insider trading the way most other countries do – using information any reasonable person would know is unavailable to most investors; and close the revolving door between the Street and the U.S. Treasury.

It also means not depending on the Street to finance their campaigns.

 

“The Long Walk Home”

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

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

by Rhonda Brown, D.D.,

From the moment our people first set foot on the North American continent, we were at a disadvantage. Stripped of our native language, culture and religion, we struggled to find equilibrium with our new surroundings while being enslaved.
There are some that like to think Black America’s history only began with this era. But we know better.

Our actual history was intercepted, interrupted and interchanged with that of European culture. We were denied a chance to properly learn their methods of education for centuries. Yet those among us still managed to adapt, survive and flourish. We kept our knowledge secret and withstood things that made the angels weep. Back then, they said this xenophobic treatment was deserved due to our ignorance. Of course, we know better.

While European culture struggled to accept that its creed of equality must apply to all races, cultures, and genders, there have been many pitfalls fur us. Black America is one of the only surviving cultures in the world to have been so thoroughly indoctrinated into a conquering culture that we have few, if any, lingering traces of our original ties to our African homeland. America used to tell us that this lack of knowledge was better for us. But we know better.

Despite this legacy of overwhelming hardship, our ranks have produced a multitude of society’s professionals, intellectuals, artists, musicians, and athletes. When told that we could not achieve, we did so anyway without permission from any
authority. Instead, we gave permission to ourselves. In turn, American society said our achievements were not valid and that our accolades were only inflated to placate us. But we know better.

You see, Black History is a volume that sings the haunting words of old spirituals with pages that bleed. Our challenge today is not simply to remember where we’ve been and how much we’ve struggled. The task now is, remember who
we are. Throughout all of this we have been making the long walk home to become reacquainted with our roots. For a long time, only the European opinion of our origins could be considered important. But, of course, we know better.

No matter where we are and what we’ve done in life, we can’t forget that the original place of our creation is Africa. Before slavery, our people were kings and queens with their own tribes, lands, languages and customs. Today, our people are a diverse flood of color with a spiritual legacy that will not be denied. Our historical strength and perseverance have been the steady light in the distance while we’ve been walking through layers of oppression. They will sustain us on this journey still.

So this month as we remember those of our people, who have flourished and fallen, let us also renew our commitment to achieve the reality our ancestors had: true freedom. We must help each other on the journey home, where freedom is not just an external concept. In 2015, the goal is to free our minds as well, one liberated step at a time. In doing so, we will unite our communities and uplift humanity. Why? Because, we know better. We are better. And so, we will be.

The Fiery Cage and the Lynching Tree, Brutality’s Never Far Away

by Bill Moyers

They burned him alive in an iron cage, and as he screamed and writhed in the agony of hell they made a sport of his death.

After listening to one newscast after another rightly condemn the barbaric killing of that Jordanian air force pilot at the bloody hands of ISIS, I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept roaming the past trying to retrieve a vaguely remembered photograph that I had seen long ago in the archives of a college library in Texas.

Suddenly, around two in the morning, the image materialized in my head. I made my way down the hall to my computer and typed in: “Waco, Texas. Lynching.”

Sure enough, there it was: the charred corpse of a young black man, tied to a blistered tree in the heart of the Texas Bible Belt. Next to the burned body, young white men can be seen smiling and grinning, seemingly jubilant at their front-row seats in a carnival of death. One of them sent a picture postcard home: “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.”

The victim’s name was Jesse Washington. The year was 1916. America would soon go to war in Europe “to make the world safe for democracy.” My father was twelve, my mother eight. I was born 18 years later, at a time, I would come to learn, when local white folks still talked about Washington’s execution as if it were only yesterday. This was not medieval Europe. Not the Inquisition. Not a heretic burned at the stake by some ecclesiastical authority in the Old World. This was Texas, and the white people in that photograph were farmers, laborers, shopkeepers, some of them respectable congregants from local churches in and around the growing town of Waco.

Here is the photograph. Take a good look at Jesse Washington’s stiffened body tied to the tree. He had been sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman. No witnesses saw the crime; he allegedly confessed but the truth of the allegations would never be tested. The grand jury took just four minutes to return a guilty verdict, but there was no appeal, no review, no prison time. Instead, a courtroom mob dragged him outside, pinned him to the ground, and cut off his testicles. A bonfire was quickly built and lit. For two hours, Jesse Washington — alive — was raised and lowered over the flames. Again and again and again. City officials and police stood by, approvingly. According to some estimates, the crowd grew to as many as 15,000. There were taunts, cheers and laughter. Reporters described hearing “shouts of delight.”

When the flames died away, Washington’s body was torn apart and the pieces were sold as souvenirs. The party was over.

Many years later, as a young man, I visited Waco’s Baylor University, often referred to as the Texas Baptist Vatican. I had been offered a teaching position there. I sat for a while in the school’s Armstrong Browning Library, one of the most beautiful in America, containing not only the works of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the acclaimed Victorian poets, but also stained glass windows, marble columns, and elegant ceilings that bring to mind the gorgeous interior of Michelangelo’s Laurentian library in Florence.

Sitting there, I found it hard to reconcile the beauty and quiet of that sanctuary with the photograph that I had been shown earlier by a man named Harry Provence, publisher of the local newspaper. Seeing it, I realized that as young Jesse Washington was being tortured, students his own age, some of them studying for the ministry, were just finishing their spring semester. In 1905, when another black man had been lynched in Waco, Baylor’s president became a leader of the anti-lynching movement. But ugly memories still divided the town.

Jesse Washington was just one black man to die horribly at the hands of white death squads. Between 1882 and 1968 — 1968! — there were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the US. About a quarter of them were white people, many of whom had been killed for sympathizing with black folks. My father, who was born in 1904 near Paris, Texas, kept in a drawer that newspaper photograph from back when he was a boy of thousands of people gathered as if at a picnic to feast on the torture and hanging of a black man in the center of town. On a journey tracing our roots many years later, my father choked and grew silent as we stood near the spot where it had happened.

Yes, it was hard to get back to sleep the night we heard the news of the Jordanian pilot’s horrendous end. ISIS be damned! I thought. But with the next breath I could only think that our own barbarians did not have to wait at any gate. They were insiders. Home grown. Godly. Our neighbors, friends, and kin. People like us.

 

Republicans Don’t Really Care About Inequality

By John Stoehr

The Republican Party appears to accept that poverty and the inequities of wealth and political piwer that have prevailed over the last 15 years are issues it can no longer ignore. Not without paying a price. After all, Mitt Romney’s cool indifference to the everyday struggles of working Americans went a long way toward sinking his 2012 campaign.

But expressing concern about inequality is one thing. Doing something about it is another. The GOP so far appears more worried about its reputation as being the party of the very, very rich, not so much the empirical reality of its being the party of the very, very rich.

At a recent Republican gathering, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas gave voice to the party’s incongruity of perception and reality. “I think Republicans are and should be the party of the 47 percent,” he said. Later at that same event, the Koch Brothers Trust—the political network of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch—announced plans to spend nearly $1 billion in the next race for the White House, virtually all of it going to the Republican Party’s nominee.

If the GOP were truly troubled by historic rates of income and wealth inequality, it would rubber-stamp President Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy and use the proceeds to fund infrastructure projects—roads, bridges, waterways, sewer systems. Public investments like these have historically garnered broad support, because they are neutral vehicles for achieving the goals of statecraft. Not only would such expenditures create hundreds of thousands of seasonal jobs, as well as many thousands of permanent jobs, and stimulate economic activity on a national scale. And they’d pay for themselves over time.

The president’s $4 trillion fiscal budget would tap into offshore accounts and Wall Street transactions that only the very, very rich possess and thus care about. In addition to public works, which Obama has been calling for since his took office, increased revenues would be used for free community college and universal child care.

This, or something like it, is what serious people talk about if they are serious about combating inequality. Progressive redistribution, however bitter-tasting the phrase may be, must be on the table. But all we are likely to hear, especially from Republicans aiming high, are platitudes steeped in conservative morality, homilies to the power of private enterprise freed from the bonds of bureaucratic red tape, or the benefits of cutting taxes. Really. Anything. Anything at all to avoid tax hikes even on the treasonous few who hide their money offshore.

All one needs to do to see the difference between what Republicans are saying and Republicans are doing is look at the current session of Congress. The very first item on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s to-do list was passing a bill authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. That project would indeed create thousands of seasonal jobs but only about 40 permanent ones. It would have virtually no impact on the U.S. economy. Moreover, the public would get nothing in return, unless you count greater levels of global warming.

That’s not to mention other items being pushed having nothing to do with serving the greater good. A short list: House Republicans have introduced legislation to restrict abortion (the melodramatically titled “fetal-pain bill”), on dismantle part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and on starve to death the president’s modest executive action on illegal immigration.

Even if the Republicans really did believe, as Jeb Bush is trying to convince us, that addressing inequality is the right thing to do, don’t bet on any action. Doing the right thing had rarely been an incentive, because this is a party now committed to total warfare against Obama and the Democratic agenda. The only way the Republicans will take action on inequality is if they are forced to, but even then, they’ll likely do everything short of raising taxes on the very, very rich.

That’s why we should keep our eyes on minimum wage and paid sick leave. House Speaker John Boehner has said he’d rather kill himself than raise the minimum wage. Conservatives are poised to attack Republicans entertaining mandated sick days. But in terms of inequality, these are the easiest way to say you’ve done something without raising taxes on the very, very rich.

So yes, inequality is emerging as a major issue in the 2016 presidential race, and Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and others are going to try hard to convince us that the Republican Party cares, really cares, about the plight of the poor and an ever-shrinking middle class. But remember the last time a major candidate talked about such “compassionate conservatism.” By the end of his second term, the greatest beneficiaries of that compassion were the very, very rich.

We Have Had “AN EYE FOR US” 18 Years In Americus

We have been blessed to be able to publish the Americus Sumter Observer (ASO) these past 18 years. We thank you for your support over the past 18 years. Our first newspaper hit the newsstands during “Black History Month” in 1997 with an article on Dr Martin Luther King, gracing the front cover. Reverend Fer-Rell Malone, Mary Williams, Reverend Ernest Davis, and Dr. John Marshall, founded ASO.

Thanks in part to Americus Times Recorder (TR) and its editor, Beth Alston, for helping launch the Americus Sumter Observer (ASO). ASO was established mainly to balance TR’s negative reporting of local Blacks and to inform them
of accurate local news.

Dr. Marshall recalls how Alston put him on the front page of the TR about a lawsuit she knew was dropped. Alston wanted to show him that she can shut up anyone who challenges her reporting because Sumter lacked a Black newspaper. Marshall had criticized Alston’s for sensationalizing a death in her article entitled, “The Cornbread Murder.” The article was about an elderly Black lady who was shot by her insane husband for burning the cornbread.

Alston failed to report that several Black and White physicians who were sued and lost their cases. She knew that Dr Marshall was the Sumter County NAACP president and wanted to show him how powerful she could be. But, she never imagined that Dr. Marshall would start his own newspaper. The rest is history.

Alston’s paper has descended from a daily local newspaper to a once a week paper. ASO challenged the TR and Alston daily negative reporting of prominent Blacks in Sumter County. This community would never forget how she raked Rev. Fer-Rell Malone over the coals who led the successful effort to name U.S. Highway 19 Martin Luther King Boulevard. She derided City Police Commander Nelson Brown who dared to run for sheriff against the notorious ex-Sheriff Randy Howard; harassed Dr. Franklin Perry the first Black school superintendent; and scandalized Sumter High School Principal Juanita Wilson and Middle School principal Victoria Harris. Many more Blacks’ reputations were damaged or marginalized by Beth Alston. Her years of reporting lacked coverage on Whites in our county who participated in serious wrongdoings such as former Sheriff Randy Howard and Dr. Michael Busman.

The Americus Sumter Observer brought the truth to our community by reporting the good and the bad, regardless of the person’s race. We truly believe the reason for our 18-year survival is that we tell the truth. Since the publishing ASO, we have stopped Beth Alston from reporting racist distorted articles because ASO counters with the truth. And there is never a response from Alston proving that ASO is lying. The ASO has built a legacy of fair, balanced, and true reporting.

We thank our readers, supporters, and our advertisers, some of whom have advertised the entire 18 years. We solicit your prayers that we can continue to fight for those who cannot fight themselves. We try to inform our readers with local
news to include obituaries, birthdays; national news, Black History, and sports. Write or email us at SumterObserver@Bellsouth.ne t or mail us at P.O. Box 1755, Americus, GA 31709 or call us at 229. 924. 0880.

 

 

Family Violence Council – Introduces Tami Peavy-Owen

Tami Peavy-Owen, husband Patrick Owen

Tami Peavy-Owen, husband Patrick Owen

Judge Rucker Smith

Judge Rucker Smith

AMERICUS, GA – The Southwestern Judicial Circuit Family Violence Council (FVC) recently announced that Tami Peavy-Owen is the new Executive Director and Legal Advocate for the nonprofit organization.

Born and raised in Lumpkin, the second of four children, Peavy-Owen is a 2007 graduate (with honors) of Georgia Southwestern University. She attended law school at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where her studies focused on Advocacy and Dispute Resolution. While in law school she further developed her desire to serve her community by working with the Legal Aid of Middle Tennessee, the Office of the General Counsel of THE University of Tennessee and even
returned to Americus for a summer internship at the Southwestern Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office. Throughout her academic career, she worked as a server at The Station restaurant in Americus, even commuting from Tennessee during breaks from school.

Since her admission to the Georgia Bar in 2011, Peavy-Owen worked in Albany, Georgia for Gardner, Sweat, Willis and Handelman focusing, primarily, on insurance defense. While she enjoyed her valuable experience with the prestigious firm, she says she was compelled to pursue this unique opportunity with the FVC, which is based in Americus.

“I am extremely excited to collaborate with the community and work to create effective resources to help protect our citizens,” said Peavy-Owen in a recent interview. “By providing services for some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens, the chance to give back to an area that has given me so much was compelling.”

FVC is a non-profit program providing advocacy and resource referral to victims of domestic violence throughout the six-county circuit (which includes Lee, Macon, Schley, Sumter, Stewart, and Webster counties). As one of the only domestic violence programs in the state to provide a lawyer-centered model of advocacy and management, the program has become a unique rural model for services spanning all of Georgia.

Chief Superior Court Judge R. Rucker Smith said he is looking forward to working with Peavy-Owen in her role with the advocacy program. “We wholeheartedly endorse her appointment and welcome her into our justice system,” said Smith. “We are delighted to welcome Tami and (her husband) Patrick back to our community”.

Peavy-Owen and her husband recently purchased a home in the historic district just blocks from their families. Her husband, born and raised in Americus, is a local fixture in his own right as an accomplished musician who many have seen playing his guitar around town.

The Americus Sumter Observer Turns 18 Years Old

John Marshall, MD, Publisher, Rev. Mathis and Minister Linda Wright, Writers, Ms. Sybil Patterson, Office Manager and seated Christophe Davis, Paginator (layout).

John Marshall, MD, Publisher, Rev. Mathis and Minister Linda Wright, Writers, Ms. Sybil Patterson, Office Manager and seated Christophe Davis, Paginator (layout).

John D. Marshall, MD Publisher,

It is unimaginable that our community’s newspaper, the Americus Sumter Observer (ASO) has turned 18, and since its 1997 inception, has survived so many challenges and attacks during its 18 years. Even more surprising is our dedicated, small staff that writes articles, performs interviews, and distributes ASO to nearby counties and selected out-of-state locations, are still committed. The staff prides itself that ASO has played a major role in exposing and combatting injustices, regardless of the individuals or issues. And after 18 years, ASO remains at the forefront of truthfulness and balance in reporting the news. Our news reporting principles are what make us a beacon that has sustained us for so long. Readers can trust us to condemn or praise individuals and it will be truthful.

ASO has a dedicated, seasoned, active writing staff that sniffs out wrongdoings in our community, and write unbiased facts. This is especially true with our elected officials and prominent county individuals whose actions affect the community. Our local writers consist of husband and wife team, Reverend Matt Wright and Minister Linda Wright; Samuel A. Christie of Savannah, GA, a contributing editor; and Millard Ives of Ocala, FL, the paper’s main reporter; and
Rhonda Brown, contributing editor. Our administrative staff has been just as dedicated over the years; they are Mrs. Sybil Patterson who manages the office; Christopher Davis who lays out the newspaper; Calvin Minter and Brandon Morgan
distribute the newspaper; and Breanca and Diamond Denmark handle all mailing.

We cannot thank our advertisers enough, especially those who supported us when many others fought against our newspaper and tried to intimidate them from advertising. After 18 years, our mission remains the same: to inform the community with truthful reporting. We can boldly state that no one has shown that we are dishonest in our 18 years of reporting.

During our 18 years, we have had to fight with the Americus Times Recorder(TR), a former daily newspaper that has been reduced to once a week printing. We would like to think we had something to do with their near demise. TR has always reported unflattering or inaccurate news about the county’s Black community.

Blacks and Whites of the community have been very supportive by reading the Observer. Our paper’s motto is, “An Eye for Us” which we think we have lived up to it. And the Eye is not just for Black people in Sumter County, many Whites have been better informed because of our reporting as well. ASO exposed many politicians who have betrayed the Black community during the 18 years. We challenged the crookedness of Representative Michael Cheokas who Blacks voted for as a Democrat, and he switched to the Republican Party. Labeled an “Uncle Tom” by our editorial board on many occasions, Councilwoman Shirley Reese displays a readiness to always vote against her Black colleagues on the City Council. And Dr. Michael Busman, the school board chairman, by far has generated the most negative articles in our 18 years because of his continuous misconducts in office and in his private life.

We pray that God will guide our path and help deliver justice to those who suffer under these ruthless politicians for many more years. In the meantime, we will continue to report news that peels back the layers of those who try to deceive this community. As with all efforts to improve the lives of our community, we will win some and we will lose some. But we expect to win more than we lose because we report the facts.

We support the lawsuit in federal court which challenges the unfair redistricting of the school board districts which changed the leadership from Black to White. Rev Matt Wright is joined in his suit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Laughlin McDonald who knows that the redistricting violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The District change was made possible by Republican Rep Mike Cheokas and Black Democrat State Senator Freddie Powell Sims
with what is called a “Local Bill.”

Finally, thanks to our local readers and readers beyond Sumter County. Our subscribers are all over the country, and we don’t have any idea how many people we reach on the Internet: www.americusumterobserver. com

We can be reached by email: sumterobserver@bellsouth.net or mail us at P.O. Box 1755 or call us at 229 924 0880.