Elsie Denmark

Elsie Denmark

Elsie Denmark

Ms. Elsie Denmark age 61,  passed on Monday, December 21, 2015 at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Georgia.

The funeral service will be conducted at 11:00 A.M., Monday, December 28, 2015 at Union Tabernacle Baptist Church, 900 Adderton Street, Americus, Georgia. The Reverend Larry B Sims, Pastor, will officiate. Interment will follow at Eastview Cemetery, Ashby Street, Americus, Georgia.

Ms. Elsie Denmark was born on March 22, 1954 to the parentage of the late John Arthur Denmark and Mary Denmark.  She was preceded in death by a daughter, Wanda K. Denmark; one brother Jimmy Lee Denmark; two sisters, Ruby Denmark-Jernigan and JoAnne Denmark-Carter; and two brothers-in-law, Freddie Jernigan and Calvin Carter.  She was educated in the Sumter County school system.  Over the years, she was employed with IMC Fertilizer Company as a Groundskeeper.

She is survived by one son, Thomas Denmark (Terrel) of Ellaville Georgia; a daughter Jada Carson (Freddie) of Americus, Georgia; five sisters,  Mattie Campbell (Douglas) of Meridian Mississippi, Maggie Milliner (David) of Albany, Georgia, Dora Jean Denmark, Mary Jo Denmark, Mae Peal Denmark, all of Americus, Georgia; three brothers, James Arthur Denmark, Charlie Denmark, and Robert Myrick, all of Americus, Georgia; fourteen grandchildren, and twelve great grandchildren; two devoted friends, Ms. Mary Russell and Ms. Charlie Mae Woods; along with a host of nieces and nephews other relatives and friends.

LUCIANA “SHONDA” CHILDS

LUCIANA “SHONDA” CHILDS

LUCIANA “SHONDA” CHILDS

Mrs. Luciana Shemika Stewart Childs was born in Sumter County, Georgia on May 9, 1975 to the parents of the late Mr. James Stewart and Mrs. Addie Whitlock Stewart, who survive. She received her education in the public schools of Lee County and was a graduate of the 1993 class. She also attended Georgia Southwestern College. At an early age, Luciana gave her life to Christ and joined the Green Grove Baptist Church, where she was a member of the choir.

“Big Lu or Shonda”, as she was affectionately known by, was a lover of life. She never met a stranger and always had a big smile on her face. Luciana loved spending time with her three children, cooking, shopping and having fun. Luciana had a great sense of humor and loved to dress to impress.

Luciana leaves her legacy and love to her mother, Mrs. Addie W. Stewart, Smithville, GA, her son, Mr. James Paul Jones and two daughters, Ms. A’Nasia Stallings-Shealy and Ms. Madison Stallings-Shealy all of Americus, GA; two sisters, Mrs. Detrich (Craig) Sanchez, Albany, GA and Mrs. Renee (Doug) Lloyd, Leesburg, GA; her grandmother, Mrs. Mamie Moses, Smithville, GA; her god-father, Mr. Lewis Green, Smithville, GA; her aunts & uncles, Mr. Esco Whitlock, Jr., Ms. Faye Hill, Mr. Mike Whitlock, Mr. Freddie Whitlock, Mr. Kenneth Stewart, Ms. Freddie Mae West and Ms. Annie Laura Smith; her niece, Ms. Vicario Sanchez; her nephew, Mr. Antonio Sanchez, cousins other relatives and friends, including her best friends, Ms. Nicky Champion, Ms. Lakeisa West and Mr. John L. Barnum, IV also survive.

Mrs. Katie Frank Harvey Williams

Mrs. Katie Frank Harvey Williams

Mrs. Katie Frank Harvey Williams

Mrs. Katie Frank Harvey Williams was born in Terrell County Georgia on September 10, 1933 to the parentage of the late Mr. Joe Harvey and the late Mrs. Minnie McDaniels Harvey.

Ms. Katie received her education in the public school system of Sumter County, Georgia. At an early age, she joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia under the leadership of the late Reverend Hilmon.  She was a faithful member until her health declined.

Mrs. Katie is  preceded in death by her daughter, Ms. Blanche Sheffield Glaze; two brothers, Mr. John Lee Harvey and Mr. Shelton Lee Harvey;  two sisters, Ms. Edna Harvey and Ms. Mamie Lee Harvey.

She was employed at the Koinonia Farms Candy Kitchen from 1972-1995, and she was also faithfully employed as a cook at the Koinonia Child Development Center for about ten years.

She leaves to cherish her memories, a devoted husband of 56 years, Mr. Leroy Williams, Sr., Americus, GA: three sons, Mr. Leon Harvey and his wife Debra, Albany, GA; Mr. Leroy Williams, Jr and friend Adrienne and Mr. David Lee Williams, Sr. and his wife LaShonda all of Americus, GA; two brothers, Mr. Joe Harvey, Jr. and Mr. Rufus Harvey and his wife Ruby all of Reading, PA: two sisters, Ms. Fannie Harvey, Americus, GA and Ms. Allie Maude Harvey, Reading, PA: two sisters-in-law, Ms. Lizzie Robinson and Ms. Collie Mae Williams, Americus, GA: she also leaves 11 grandchildren and a host of great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other friends and relatives also survive. Ms. Katie as she was affectionately known will be remembered for her sweet, loving and kind spirit and for her love to cook for her family and friends.

Mrs. Jeanette Dodson

image29981Mrs. Jeanette Dodson was born on December 5, 1947 in Americus, Georgia. She died December 26, 2015. Her parents were the late Mr. McArthur Sims and the late Mrs. Marie Morgan Sims. Jeanette received her education in public schools in Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church, under the leadership of Rev. Hillman. Later she began to study with the Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was married 48 years to Mr. Claud Dodson.

In addition to her husband, Mr. Claud Dodson, she leaves to cherish her memories her daughters, Ms. Velma Dodson, Ms. Latressa Dodson, Ms. Anginette (Rocky) Williams, Ms. Carla Dodson and one stepdaughter, Ms. Kimberly Goober: her sisters, Ms. Bobbie (James) Brown, Ms. Patricia Styles, Ms. Cynthia Brown and Ms. Teresa Brown: her brothers, Mr. McArthur (Essie) Sims, Jr., Mr. John Sims, Mr. Clyde Sims, Mr. Willie Fred Sims and Mr. Michael (Brenda) Styles: her aunts, Ms. Edna Mae Sims and Ms. Fannie Mae Sheffield: two uncles, Mr. Charlie Morgan and Mr. Ralph (Jurilene) Morgan: 17 grandchildren, Tony (Patricia) Johnson, Tawana Watts, Latoya Watts, Tiffany Stewart, Kenyetta Dodson, Crystal Stewart, Tayvis Dodson, Quinterrious Dodson, Shirahz Dodson, Ruhemmeion King, Jr., Dreamisha King, Mike Dodson, Lawarrior Gardner, Jr., Aiyanna Brown, Gilbert Brown, Jr.,  James Wilson, Jr. and Caleb Dodson: and a host of nieces, including devoted nieces, Tomekia King and Lakeisha King, nephews, cousins other relatives and loving friends also survive.

FRANK GLAZE, III

image2253

FRANK GLAZE, III

Mr. Frank Glaze, III was born in Sumter County, Georgia on October 25, 1948 to the parentage of the late Mr. Lee Edgar Glaze and the late Mrs. Katherine Floyd Glaze. He received his education on the public school of Belle Glade, Florida. He was employed with several companies to include, South Bay Grove Packing House as a fork lift driver, E & S Construction and the maintenance department at Magnolia Manor Nursing Center. He was a member of a Florida Masonic Lodge. He is preceded in death by a daughter, Lanette Glaze and a brother, McArthur Glaze.

He leaves to cherish his memories, his wife, Mrs. Gloria Pitts Glaze, Americus, GA; three sons, Mr. Terence Glaze, Mr. Felton Glaze both of Belle Glade, FL and Mr. Linton Glaze of Pennsylvania, three step-sons, Mr. Corey Pitts, Tifton, GA, Mr. Stanley Pitts and Rev. Adrian Pitts both of Americus, GA; three daughters, Ms. Angelicia Glaze, Americus, GA, Ms. Frankita Glaze and Ms. Selethia Glaze both of Belle Glade, FL; three brothers, Mr. Lee (Brenda) Glaze, Jr., Bainbridge, GA, Mr. Lee Luther (Dorothy) Glaze, West Palm Beach, FL and Mr. Joe Black, Americus, GA; one sister, Ms. Shirley Glaze, Belle Glade, FL; his brothers & sisters-in-law, Mr. Walter (Lillie) Pitts, Ms. Lora (Carl) Majors, Albany, GA, Rev. Cornelius Pitts & Wife, Enid, OK, Ms. Vivian Griffin, Americus, GA, Ms. Marietta Walker, Ms. Connette Pitts, Leslie, GA, Ms. Luerea Boone, Byron, GA and Ms. Alice Leonard, New York; a host of grandchildren, including, Kendallyn Glaze, Ajayla Dismuke, JyQuavious Pitts, Derrick Clark, Candace Pitts, Corey Pitts, Jr., Cameron Pitts, Sasha Pitts, Deandre Jones and Shantavia Lockhart; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

LORETTA LASSITER BASSETT

image1431Mrs. Loretta D. Lassiter Bassett was born in Lee County, Georgia on June 5, 1960 to the parent of Ms. Juanita Jones. She received her education in the public schools of Lee County. She attended South Georgia Technical & Vocational School. At an early age, she joined the New Hope A.M.E. Church and later moved her membership to the Zion Hope Baptist Church. Mrs. Bassett was employed for over 20 years as Office Manager with Flint River Hospital. She is preceded in death by a brother, Mr. Derrick Crossley.

In addition to her mother, Ms. Juanita Jones, she leaves to cherish her memories, her husband, Mr. John W. Bassett, Jr., Americus, GA; a son, Mr. Terrance (Vanesa) Lassiter, Albany, GA; a step-son, Mr. John W. Bassett, III; a daughter, Ms. Jacinta Lassiter, Warner Robins, GA; a step-daughter, Ms. Deedra Bassett, Kansas City, KS; a brother, Mr. James (Gloria) Jones, Americus, GA; three sisters, Ms. Mary Helen Stroud, Morrow, GA, Mrs. Jo Anne (Eddie) Mullins, Smithville, GA and Mrs. Regina (Chester) Stover, Miami, FL; five grandchildren, Kor’Darius Melton, Myles Melton, Daylon Peeler, Lakya Johnson and Samaria Talley; her aunts & uncles, Mr. Johnny Lee Jones, Mr. Arthur Lee Jones, Ms. Lula Mae Brown, Ms. Lizzie Mae Jones and Ms. Donna Grace; two brothers-in-law, Mr. Milton McDonald, Houston, TX and Mr. Bernard (Jannice) McDonald, Springfield, MO; and a host of nieces, nephews, including a nephew she raised as her own, Mr. Lorenzo (Tammy) Stroud, Pine Mountain, GA; cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

SISTER MARY LOUISE WALTON

SISTER MARY LOUISE WALTON

SISTER MARY LOUISE WALTON

Mrs. Mary Louise Walton was born on November 18, 1930 in Buena Vista, Marion County GA to the parentage of the late Mr. James Neal and the late Ms. Eula Mae Sampson. Sister Walton was employed with West Central Ga Headstart and retired after 40 years of service. Sister Walton love the Lord and believed in Jesus. She was not confined to building but believed in her Street Ministry and going to the people rather than the people coming to her.  She was the host of the Full Gospel of the Living Truth. For the past 40 years. She also held bible study in her home  every 2,4,5th for the past of 40 years and the prison ministry ministering the lest and the lost. She also ministered through out this community, Magnolia Village and other areas of the community and many ministers were saved in her home. She was active during the civil right movements and participated in marches in 1965. She was an avid donator to the St. Jude Children, Veterans Affairs, Americus Cancer Society and to other TV and radio ministries to keep the word going forth.  In additions to her parents 3 children preceded her in death, Willie James Sampson, Cynthia Davis Walton and Juanita Walton.

She leaves to mourn her passing one son, Leonard Walton, Jr. Americus, GA, three daughters, Margo Mitchell, Columbus GA, Karen Walton and Bernadine Brown, Americus, GA; her grandchildren, Michelle Sampson (William) Ellerby,  Latasha Brown, Taurus Sampson, Arailyus Kingdom, Nakia  Mitchell, Christopher Leonard Williams, Xavier Brown, Malik Brown, & Wellington Leonard Walton; her 5 great grandchildren, Christian Battle, Nickolas Battle, Darion Latrell Mitchell, Myrikal Mitchell and Willaim Mitchell Ellerby III and a host of nieces nephews cousins and other relatives also survive

VET. McARTHUR SCOTT

VET. McARTHUR SCOTT

VET. McARTHUR SCOTT

Veteran McArthur Scott was born in Americus, GA on April 26, 1951 to the late Mr. Arthur Daniel Scott and Mrs. Ozie Scott, who survives.  As a child, he joined the Bethesda Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Rev. R. L. Freeman.  McArthur was graduated from Americus High School in the class of 1969, one of the first to integrate the public schools of Sumter County, GA.  He attended Georgia Southwestern State University before going on the United States Navy, where he devoted 20 years to the service of his country.  After traveling the world, he and his family returned to Georgia, making their home in Athens.  McArthur worked in the U S Postal Service in Athens for over 12 years where he served as the Union Steward.  He was married to his wife, Daisy for 42 years.  They were the proud parents of five children.  One infant son, Jonathan, precedes him in death.

In addition to his mother, Minister Ozie Scott, Americus, GA and his wife Daisy Scott of Athens, GA, McArthur is survived by 2 sons, Michael Scott, Hayward, GA and Adrian McArthur Scott of Athens, GA;  2 daughters, Danita Scott, Atlanta, GA and Regina Ginee’ Scott of Athens, GA;  1 sister, Ms. Ruth Gates, Palm Gardens, Fla.; 2 aunts, Mrs. Jeanette Statum, Americus, GA and Mrs. Deloris Berry, Gary, IND; 3 uncles, Mr. Lang Statum, Atlanta, GA, Mr. Willie H. (Fatima) Statum, San Antonio, TX and Mr. James Statum, Boston, MA;  1 sister-in-law, Ms. Cynthia Scott, Atlanta, GA;  5 brothers-in-law, Rev. Jimmy (Julia) Scott, Mr. Eddie Mitchell, Mr. Lorenzo (Wanda) Scott and Mr. Leon (Stephanie)Scott all of Atlanta, GA and Mr. Julius (Blanch) Scott, Winder, GA;  his best friend and cousin, Mr. Fred Williams, Americus, GA; The Scott, Cutts and Statum families; a host of lifelong friends and classmates; numerous other relatives and friends also survive.

Deacon Gordy Bridges, Jr.

Deacon Gordy Bridges, Jr.

Deacon Gordy Bridges, Jr.

Deacon Gordy Bridges, Jr. was born in Webster County, Georgia on February 7, 1947 to the parentage of the late Mr. Gordy Bridges and the late Mrs. Retha Mae Harris Bridges. He received his education in the public schools of Webster County. He joined the Healing Temple Ministry, where he served as Sunday School Superintendent and the Board of Deacon Ministry. He was employed by Bowen Supply Company as a commercial truck driver and retired after many years of service. Not only did he enjoy playing the guitar and lifting weights around the house, but it was visiting the sick at the nursing home and picking up the saints who needed a ride to and from church that gave him the greatest joy. This is what he did to serve others until his health failed. He was married to the late Mrs. Rosa Lee Dunning Bridges for 46 years. He is preceded in death by three sons, Clyde Thomas, Michael Tatum and Jeffrey Tatum and a sister, Pearline Pickett.

He leaves to cherish his memories: three sons, Mr. Craige (Teresa) Bridges, Americus, GA, Mr. Willie (Stacy) Black, Atlanta, GA and Mr. Dave Jackson, Hiram, GA; six daughters, Mrs. Nancy (Johnny) Hawkins, Leslie, GA, Mrs. Donna (George) Maddox, Ms. Lisa Black, Warner Robins, GA, Mrs. Amy (Eljuan) Love, Americus, GA, Mrs. Kimberly (Ashley) Stout, Powder Springs, GA and Ms. Sherri Jackson, Hiram, GA: three brothers, Mr. Sammie (Alice Faye) Bridges, Mr. James (Viola) Bridges and Mr. Joe (Retha) Bridges all of Americus, GA; three sisters, Ms. Thessalonia Sanford, Ms. Leola Furlow, Americus, GA and Mrs. Ozie (Robert) Baker, Preston, GA: one aunt, Ms. Lizzie Bess, Detroit, MI: two daughters-in-law, Ms. Vonzell Thomas, Windsor, CT and Ms. Annette Tatum, Douglasville, GA: 16 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and a host of  nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including devoted friends, Mr. Marvin Reagon, Mr. James Pope, Dea. Charles Furlow, Ms. Sheila Smith, Mrs. Alma Solomon, Mr. Lee Bowen, Mr. Fred Bowen and his “good neighbors” also survive.

Changing the Habits That Got You Into Debt

debt-relief-pillfby Stacey Tisdale,

About half of the people surveyed in a recent study by Prudential called the African American Financial Experience cite getting out of debt as a top financial priority. This is not surprising when you consider the finding by Demos that more than 40% of black households are borrowing to make ends meet, and the fact that blacks carry higher levels of student loan debt than other groups.

[Related: Love and Money: Is Your Boo a Burden on Your Bottom Line?]

Socioeconomic challenges like higher unemployment levels, and discrimination in the job market, definitely play a role in our debt burdens. Many blacks have simply had to take on debt to level their own playing field when it comes to things like getting an education.

Still, our financial circumstances have as much to do with what we believe about ourselves, and the consequent choices we make. Changing financial patterns must be addressed in the same way as changing other patterns that don’t serve us.

“We don’t understand change,” says Dr. Sara Johnson, senior vice president of research and product development at Pro-Change Behavior Systems, Inc.

“Change is a process. The key to successfully changing behavior is knowing where you are in the change process and applying the right technique at the right time. We often get anxious and jump to action long before the environment is in place that will allow us to sustain the change,” she adds.

“Before you get there, you need to start to add up the benefits. What would happen if I put more money toward debt than buying those new shoes? When you’re ready, set a date, and come up with a specific plan.”

Jacquette Timmons, a financial behavior expert and CEO of Sterling Investment Management Inc., says the following 3 tips will help you get your debt under control.

1.  Don’t say, “No.” Instead say, “No, for right now.” If you’re in debt because you’re not good with delaying gratification, this will help.

2. Remember to save whilst you’re paying down your debt. It helps to see something growing.

3. Know if your debt is because of a spending problem or earnings problem. If you’re not solving the right problem, it will prolong your debt elimination efforts and leave you feeling defeated.

Timmons, Johnson, and other experts say that when it comes to changing patterns, it is also imperative that you enlist the help and support of someone you trust, and ask them to help you stick to your debt elimination plan.

U.S. Black Chambers Adds To President Obama’s New Executive Actions On Gun Violence

BE_Ron-Busby-Sr

Ron Busby Sr., president, U.S. Black Chambers Inc.

by Carolyn M. Brown

Recently, the White House released a fact sheetoutlining new executive actions to reduce gun violence. Upon reviewing the fact sheet, Ron Busby Sr., president of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., spoke out about a missing element.

“The correlation between economic disparity and gun violence is grossly missing from the national conversation on gun control,” says Busby.” The reality is the economic conditions facing the majority of black Americans leaves them vulnerable to crime and targets for police brutality.”

He went on say that “serious policies must be put in place to alleviate the economic conditions of those most impacted by gun violence. Policies that support the growth of black-owned enterprises, in an effort to create economic growth in communities devastated by crime and economic disparity.”

The USBC is a proponent of gun reform and promotes increasing Black-owned businesses as a logical and common sense approach to alleviating crime that is brought on by economic conditions. Last month in the nation’s capitol, Busby joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and local leadership to speak out against gun violence. This isn’t just a Black community issue, it’s an American issue that hinders America’s moral fabric and economic development, stated Busby.

“In order for there to be a healthy America, leadership and policy makers must do better to protect its citizens from gun violence as well as create an environment for businesses to thrive. Black-owned businesses simply cannot thrive under current gun-violence conditions.”

Through the creation of resources and initiatives, the USBC supports African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises. The USBC is an association of more than 100 self-sustaining viable Black Chambers and small business associations nationwide and serves close to 250,000 small businesses.

Wealthiest 1 percent own ‘half of all household wealth’

561d7150c3618815658b45d6By RT.com
Worldwide wealth inequality keeps growing, with the richest 1 percent of the global population accounting for “half of all assets in the world,” according to a new report. Meanwhile, the poorest half has just 1 percent of its wealth at its disposal.

The pace of wealth growth in the middle classes has slowed down, unlike the growth of the richest people, said the Global Wealth Report issued by the Zurich-based Credit Suisse bank.

“This has reversed the pre-crisis trend which saw the share of middle-class wealth remaining fairly stable over time,” Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of Credit Suisse wrote in the report.

“These results reinforce our findings from last year’s edition of this report, which argued that wealth inequality had widened in most countries in the years after 2008,” he added.

The number of super-rich people in the world, meaning those with a net worth of more than $50 million, went down by 800 in mid-2014 due to a stronger dollar.

There are 123,800 people worth more than $50 million, with half of them living in North America and a quarter in Europe.

“This year, the United States continued adding to global wealth at an impressive rate, with solid growth also evident in China. Elsewhere, local currency wealth gains were offset by depreciation against the US dollar, so that world wealth declined overall by USD 12.4 trillion,” the report states.

Europe saw two million people falling out of the millionaire club over the course of a year.

READ MORE: Poverty & inequality costs 550 lives each day in UK

The US was home to the opposite trend – the number of super-wealthy there increased by 3,800 and reached 58,900 for the year until mid-2015. China’s results are far more modest with only 9,000 super-rich people. However, it still fell second.

Despite this year’s financial crisis China added $1.5 trillion to its wealth. The country has seen an impressive fivefold rise in wealth since the beginning of the century, the report says.

The UK, Germany and Switzerland are also top of the superrich list.

The US is expected to remain the richest nation over the next five years, although the level of wealth growth in Europe may overtake that of the US.

“While the bottom half of adults collectively own less than 1 percent of total wealth, the richest decile holds 87.7 percent of assets, and the top percentile alone accounts for half of total household wealth,” the report goes.

The report is aimed at the “understanding of wealth creation and its implications on consumption, retirement savings, and asset allocation,” researchers claim.

The data has been collected since 2000. This is the sixth edition of the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report.

Americus-Sumter High School DECA Elects Officers for the 2015-16 School Year

Pictured are the newly elected officers for DECA: (left to right) Kahria Hadley (Secretary), Thomas Edge (Vice President of Finances), Jacob Pritchard (Vice President of Leadership), Sarah Dye (President), Ali Elyaman (Vice President of Job Creation), and Bailey Roberson (Vice President of Marketing).

Pictured are the newly elected officers for DECA: (left to right) Kahria Hadley (Secretary), Thomas Edge (Vice President of Finances), Jacob Pritchard (Vice President of Leadership), Sarah Dye (President), Ali Elyaman (Vice President of Job Creation), and Bailey Roberson (Vice President of Marketing).

-Article submitted by BAILEY ROBERSON (11)

These new officers bring many new and innovative ideas for making a name for ASHS. DECA is made up of a group of young leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, marketers, and salesmen who are preparing for region competitions that are coming around the corner. This organization is for individuals who genuinely have a talent in marketing, business, and leadership, and their aim to show that ASHS is a place with many opportunities for student involvement.

Bailey Roberson, Americus-Sumter High School Junior Takes Second Place in State Competition

Pictured with Bailey is Ms. Alicia Green, DECA adviser

Pictured with Bailey is Ms. Alicia Green, DECA adviser

-Article submitted by BAILEY ROBERSON (11)

Americus Sumter Panthers make an “EPIC” imprint at the Georgia National Fair this October. Bailey Roberson, a
junior at Americus-Sumter High School, placed second in competition with her promotional speech and earned a one hundred dollar prize. DECA is a marketing and business organization that allows young and innovative entrepreneurs to have a better understanding of the business world. Roberson says, “I aim to be larger than life; every day I try to get closer to obtaining that goal.” Americus-Sumter High School DECA has big plans for the 2015-2016 school year; many competitions and events are to be won. Americus-Sumter’s DECA chamber’s goal is to be “EPIC”; just like Georgia DECA’s goal.

ASHS Gospel Choir Performs in GSW’s Fall Concert

January-2016-16_03The Americus-Sumter High School Gospel Choir, under the direction of Ms. Kalynn Partridge, participated in the Georgia Southwestern State University’s Gospel Choir Fall Concert at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church here in Americus. Pictured with Ms. Partridge are from the top and from left to right: Rae-Quan Patterson, Darian Hall, and Dontavious Brown, Kameron Carter, Shankeria Hill, and Christopher McCoy, Morgan Butts, Jessica Clayton, Alasia Thomas, and Shanice Laster, Kierra Polk, Nykeria Marshall, Dia’qua’nashia Foster, Ta’meya Evans-Hicks, Sha’mya Evans-Hicks, D’undrea Burton, and Ms. Partridge (director)

Tyler Clark to Play in the 10th Annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl

Tyler Clark, a senior at Americus-Sumter High School

Tyler Clark, a senior at Americus-Sumter High School

by theGrio

Tyler Clark, a senior at Americus-Sumter High School, was named an Offense-Defense Diamond in the Rough and
invited to participate in the 10th-annual Offense-Defense Bowl Week festivities taking place at Municipal Stadium in
Daytona Beach, Florida. Tyler, a defensive end for the Americus-Sumter Panthers, was singled out for this honor from a group of young athletes numbering in the hundreds of thousands from across the country for his play representing the Americus-Sumter Panthers, easily validating the Bowl Selection Committee’s choice in tabbing Tyler for the Diamond in the Rough event. The Offense-Defense Diamonds in the Rough game is part of a week-long series of events including the 10th-annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, an All-Star football game showcasing 80 of the top high school seniors in the country which has featured current NFL pros such as Cam Newton, Joe Haden, Earl Thomas, and Dez Bryant among others before they were collegiate and later professional stars. Offense-Defense Sports has been running full-contact football instructional camps for the past 45 years and currently operates in approximately 40 camp locations nationwide every spring and summer.

Janet Jackson to Undergo Surgery Amidst Reports of Cancer Scare

arrives at the 2012 amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Hotel Du Cap on May 24, 2012 in Cap D'Antibes, France.

Janet Jackson arrives at the 2012 amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Hotel Du Cap on May 24, 2012 in Cap D’Antibes, France.

by theGrio,

Christmas Eve, Janet Jackson announced that she’s postponing her Unbreakable world tour to undergo emergency surgery.

“Hey you guys…Happy Holidays to each and every one of you! I need you to know, I learned today, from my doctors that I must have surgery soon,” Jackson said on Instagram.

“It breaks my heart to tell you that I am forced to postpone the Unbreakable Tour until the spring,” she continued. “Please pray for me, my family and our entire company during this difficult time…There will be no further comment.”

Whispers singer, co-founder Nicholas Caldwell dead at 71

Nicholas Caldwell (Video still via YouTube, Lend A Hand Foundation)

Nicholas Caldwell (Video still via YouTube, Lend A Hand Foundation)

by Associated Press,

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nicholas Caldwell, co-founder and singer with the California R&Bgroup The Whispers, has died. He was 71.

Willette Ballard, a representative for the group, said Caldwell died Tuesday of congestive heart failure at his San Francisco home.

Formed in the San Francisco Bay area in 1963, Caldwell was an original member of the group that included brothers Walter and Wallace Scott, Marcus Hutson and Gordy Harmon. Their first top 10 R&B hit was in 1970 with “Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong.” Their first album to go platinum was “The Whispers” in 1980. It included the disco hit, “And The Beat Goes On.”

Natalie Cole’s Family Releases Statement Revealing Singer’s Cause Of Death

cole-natalie-5104b1263c34eby Mesfin Fekadu, Associated Press,

NEW YORK (AP) — Natalie Cole’s family said the singer’s cause of death was idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, which led to heart failure.

Her family said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that after Cole received a kidney transplant in 2009, she was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare lung disease that causes shortness of breath, dizziness and sometimes chest pain. Because Cole’s case was idiopathic, the exact cause is unknown.

The statement read: “(Cole) responded well to pulmonary arterial hypertension-specific agents over many years, during which she performed many concerts world-wide, but eventually succumbed to intractable right heart failure, an outcome that unfortunately commonly occurs in this progressive disorder.”

Cole died last week. She had battled drug problems and hepatitis that forced her to undergo a kidney transplant.

Lira Galore Confirms Rick Ross Breakup, Blames Meek Mill Picture

lira-galoreby theGrio,

Lira Galore says a picture of herself with Meek Mill is to blame for her breakup with Rick Ross.

The picture was taken before she began her relationship with Ross and shows her hugging Mill back when she was an exotic dancer. Although the picture was reposted on social media, she did not think that the image would hurt their relationship at the time.

“It was just a picture that I posted on my Instagram. I was at work, I used to dance, and it was just a picture,” Galore recalled.

She said that initially, Ross broke up with her as a reaction to the image but realized his mistake soon after.

“I think the initial breakup was a combination of everything from people digging up tweets when I was 17 years old tweeting about different people, to the picture of Meek,” said Galore. “I went to [Ross’] tagged photos one day and it was only that picture of Meek, and it was just that photo. Everybody just kept posting it and I felt like as a man, he just couldn’t handle it when it was just nothing. I feel like during that time apart he realized he was tripping, so we got back together.”

After they got back together, Ross proposed in September, but they ended up calling things off in November.

“We just decided to go our separate ways. I’m 22 and this was my first time in love and I put it out there,” she said. “I’m still in love with him, but some things don’t go as you would like them to go.”

Atlanta police put gun to head of rapper after he withdraws $200K from his bank

by theGrio,

An Atlanta rapper had just withdrawn $200,000 from the bank when he was surprised by police with guns pointed at his head.

Sam Benson, also known as “Blac Youngsta,” had withdrawn the money in order to pay for a new car, and he had just exited the bank when the police stopped him.

“I come out the bank, I see the police, I’m walking to my car, I see one of them point to my bag like ‘him,’” he said. “They come bum-rushing me at the car, put me on the ground, putting guns to my head.”

“I’m like ‘What I’d do,’” he continued. “A lady was like I’m not supposed to have $200,000 on me. I’m like, ‘I’m a millionaire. How can I not have $200,000 on me?’”

He posted an image of himself in handcuffs on the ground on Facebook.

He said that he wanted to pay for the car in cash because, he explained, “Where I come from,we don’t believe in taking checks to the car lot. We take cash money.”

A spokesperson for the Atlanta police department said that the police were responding to a call “at the request of the bank manager” but found when they arrived  “that no crime had been committed.”

COPD doubles sudden cardiac death risk in hypertensives

By: BRUCE JANCIN, Hospitalist News Digital Network

ORLANDO – A second, confirmatory major study has shown that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease independently increases the risk of sudden cardiac death severalfold.

COPD was associated with a roughly twofold increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in hypertensive patients with COPD, compared with those without the pulmonary disease, in theScandinavian Losartan Intervention for Endpoint Reduction in Hypertension (LIFE) trial, Dr. Peter M. Okin reported at the American Heart Association scientific sessions.

Moreover, aggressive blood pressure lowering in the hypertensive COPD patients didn’t negate this risk, added Dr. Okin of Cornell University in New York.

The impetus for his secondary analysis of LIFE data was an earlier report from the landmark, population-based Rotterdam Heart Study. Among 1,615 participants with COPD, the age- and sex-adjusted risk of SCD was 1.34-fold greater than in nearly 12,000 controls. This increased SCD risk climbed to 2.12-fold during the first 2,000 days following diagnosis of COPD and reached 3.58-fold among those with frequent COPD exacerbations during this period (Eur Heart J. 2015 Jul 14;36[27]:1754-61).

Dr. Okin’s secondary analysis of LIFE data included 9,193 hypertensive subjects with ECG evidence of left ventricular hypertrophy who were randomized to lisinopril- or atenolol-based blood pressure lowering to a target of 140/90 mm Hg or less. A history of COPD was present in 385 patients (4.2%) at enrollment.

During a mean 4.8 years of prospective follow-up, 178 patients experienced SCD, a prespecified secondary endpoint in the LIFE trial. The incidence rate was 9 cases per 1,000 patient-years in those with COPD and 3.8 per 1,000 person-years in those without the pulmonary disease.

In a univariate analysis, a history of COPD was associated with a 2.36-fold increased risk of SCD during follow-up. In a multivariate analysis extensively adjusted for potential confounders – treatment arm, age, race, gender, history of atrial fibrillation, baseline serum creatinine and serum glucose, stroke or TIA, as well as on-treatment blood pressure, heart rate, QRS duration, HDL cholesterol level, use of a statin or hydrochlorothiazide, and incident MI or heart failure – COPD remained associated with a 1.82-fold increased risk of SCD, the cardiologist reported.

“These results suggest the need for additional studies to assess whether there are targeted therapies that can reduce the risk of SCD in patients with COPD,” he concluded.

As previously reported, the main finding in LIFE was that losartan conferred benefits beyond blood pressure control (Lancet. 2002 Mar 23;359[9311]:995-1003).

Dr. Okin reported serving as a consultant to Novartis.

Killing US for Profit: Big ‘Pharma’ Out of Control

Pharmaceutical drug companies limit U.S. citizens access to affordable life-saving drugs. | Photo: Reuters This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address:   "http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Killing-US-for-Profit-Big-Pharma-Out-of-Control-20150930-0037.html". If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. www.teleSURtv.net/english

Pharmaceutical drug companies limit U.S. citizens access to affordable life-saving drugs. | Photo: Reuters

By: Jack Rasmus

Pharmaceutical drug companies in the U.S. are out of control, raising their prices for potentially life saving drugs to astronomical levels, in the process condemning millions of U.S. citizens to suffering and earlier death. Last week, attention focused on the latest scandal by the renegade ‘Big Pharma’ industry, as a company called Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price on its drug, Daraprim, by 5000 percent. The medicine is critical to prevent the life-threatening infection, toxoplasmosis, which kills women with pregnancy related infections and others with cancer and AIDs. Daraprim has been around for more than 60 years. Turing Pharmaceuticals’ new CEO, Martin Skrelli, purchased the company, Impact laboratories that had previously owned the medicine. As part of the acquisition, Impact Labs had to agree to take all its product off the market to prevent the development of generic alternatives, to ensure that Turing would thereafter have a monopoly on the medicine. Once it purchased Impact labs and Daraprim, Turing jacked up the price 5000 percent, from the former $13.50 per pill to Turing’s new $750 per pill. Big Pharma’s Political Power; Washington’s Political Indifference Skrelli and Turing are not just a rogue example of practices in the industry.  They represent a trend that has been growing, as the lobbying spending and election campaign contributions by U.S. Big Pharma have also risen to record levels, and as U.S. governments and politicians turn a blind eye to the practices that are condemning millions of U.S. citizens to pain and earlier death. Since 2008, the 1,425 officially recognized ‘Big Pharma’ lobbyists in Washington D.C. have spent close to $2 billion dollars on lobbying activity, making the industry among the largest of lobbying spenders, according to the source, ‘OpenSecrets.Org’. Since 2008, the industry has also contributed more than $150 million dollars to political candidates as well—not counting the further amounts hidden by U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2010 allowing unlimited corporate campaign spending. With government and elected politicians sitting on the sidelines, examples of Turing behavior have been proliferating across the industry in the U.S. There’s the recent case of Gilead Sciences, a company with a prescription drug that effectively cures victims of the widespread disease, Hepatitis C. Its drug, Solvaldi, costs $1000 per pill. A treatment to cure the disease now costs between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.   Another recent scandal case is Rodelis Corporation, which bought the drug, Cycloserine, one of the few antibiotics able to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis which is becoming a new worldwide epidemic. Once it purchased Cycloserine, Rodelis raised the price by 2,000 percent. A 30 day treatment for tuberculosis used to cost $500.  Now it costs $10,800 for just one month. A full treatment costs $500,000.  It is interesting to note that outside the U.S. the drug costs $20 per 100 pills. Other examples of out of control U.S. Big Pharma companies abound, such as Alexion Corporation’s new drug for treating blood disorders which costs $500,000 per patient; Biogen Corporations drug for treating multiple sclerosis costs $55,000 per year; Valeant Corporation’s price gouging of its newly acquired heart disease drugs, and other drugs from companies that treat cancer that have surged in price and today cost typically $80,000 per treatment. The list is long and growing. Big Pharma Now Morphing Into Big Finance The problem with Big Pharma price gouging ‘out of control’ is not just that its companies have been allowed to operate as monopolies due to patent protection. Patent protection has been around for decades, well before the industry began its price gouging and profits at the expense of life practices.   A good part of the problem has become the growing ‘financialization’ of the industry by Wall St. and global finance capital in general in recent decades.  That takeover has led to new ways to inject price volatility into the prescription drug market in order to manipulate pricing to extract excessive speculative profits.   This has transformed, and continues to transform, the pharmaceuticals industry into what is sometimes called a ‘rentier capitalist’ sector.  By ‘rentier’ is meant the ability of the industry, or a company, to gain excess profits share at the expense of consumers and even other companies.  Banking and finance, itself a ‘rentier’ industry, is thus successfully transforming ‘Big Pharma’ into its own image as finance increasingly penetrates the industry. The connections between Wall St. and Big Pharma are strikingly evident, and not untypical, in the case example of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Turing’s CEO, Martin Skrelli, is a former hedge fund manager who crossed over to the Pharma sector. He started the hedge fund, Elea Capital, back in 2006. Sued for shady practices during the 2008-2009 crash, he started another hedge fund, MSMB Capital Management, and made millions by what is called ‘short selling’—i.e. speculating on falling prices of stocks. Targeting drug companies at the time, Skrelli clearly saw a new opportunity to manipulate prices and make millions. He bought a pharma company called, Retrophin, with older but obscure drugs that were prices low. He then jacked up the prices.  Retrophin profits were then creatively redirected to his hedge fund. Leaving Retrophin, he then formed Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2014, and immediately began what is becoming increasingly  a practice in the Pharma industry by shadow bankers like Skrelli who are taking over more companies—i.e. manipulate the price of what were once low cost ‘orphan’ drugs, like Daraprim, to extract excess rentier profits at the expense of consumer patients in desperate need of life-saving medicines.   The transition from speculating by ‘short selling’ falling prices of pharmaceutical stocks to speculating by ‘price gouging’ with astronomical price hikes is an easy transition for hedge fund and other finance speculators now penetrating the pharmaceutical industry.  Their business model is all about manipulating prices to obtain excess profits. Pharma is thus an easy transition. Wall St. is in effect transforming the industry for purposes of speculative profits in other ways as well.  Pharmaceutical companies are now a prime global sector for Wall St. Investment banks mergers and acquisitions activity.  Wall St. investment banks make big bucks in managing M&As. The pharmaceuticals industry is also among the leading practitioners of what is called ‘tax inversion’, as this writer noted in a previous teleSUR piece published August 13, 2014. Tax inversions, simply put, are a way for U.S. corporations to avoid paying U.S. taxes by purchasing a small company offshore, moving its global headquarters operations to the new company and diverting its U.S. profits there, and thereby avoiding paying U.S. taxes on ‘offshore’ profits. Big Pharma has become increasingly integrated with Wall St. and has been focusing on various forms of Wall St. driven financial speculation.  Price gouging of life-saving drugs is but the latest trend. Profits for the Few vs. Lives of the Many The effect the price gouging on U.S. health care is already devastating. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.9 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 and older, about 32 million, now don’t take medicines prescribed by their doctors because they can no longer afford the price of the drugs. At least 4 million are those in dire need of life-saving TB, hepatitis, heart, and cancer medication.   As more money buys more votes for the few in the U.S., it does so at the expense of even more lives of the many—especially the poorest and those least able to afford necessary medicine often needed just to survive.

A Perfect Storm: Racial Disparities In Breast Cancer Survival

By: BOBBY DALY, MD, MBA, AND OLUFUNMILAYO I. OLOPADE MD, FACP, OON

This is the first installment of a five-part monthly series that will discuss the pathologic, genomic, and clinical factors that contribute to the racial survival disparity in breast cancer. The series, which is adapted from an article that originally appeared in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians,1 a journal of the American Cancer Society, will also review exciting and innovative interventions to close this survival gap. This month’s column reviews the scope of this important health care issue.

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER) has estimated that 231,840 new cases of female breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2015, representing 14% of all new cancer cases among women. The NCI also has estimated 40,290 deaths from breast cancer, representing 6.8% of all cancer deaths among women.2 Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women after lung cancer. It is well known that there has historically been a significant racial divide in breast cancer incidence (rate of new occurrences of breast cancer) and mortality (death) rates. Caucasian women were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but African American women were more likely to die from it.

However, in a recently released study by DeSantis et al. this incidence trend no longer holds, and in 2012 there was a convergence of breast cancer incidence rates at 135 cases per 100,000 women for both Caucasian and African American women.3 In addition, this recent analysis revealed that the mortality disparity between African American and Caucasian women has continued to increase, with a death rate 42% higher in African American than in Caucasian women in 2012. While overall improvements in therapy have led to a decrease in breast cancer death rates in the United States since 1990, the decreases in death rates began earlier and have been larger in proportionate terms for Caucasians than for African Americans.4,5 According to SEER data from 1975 to 2011, Caucasian women had a 23% increase in breast cancer incidence and a 34% decrease in mortality, whereas African American women experienced a 35% increase in incidence and a 2% increase in mortality.6

Beyond national statistics and on a more-local level, several studies have explored regional variations in breast cancer mortality by race. One such study analyzed mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics from 1975 to 2004.5 The researchers discovered that trends in breast cancer death rates varied widely by region. While breast cancer death rates in Caucasian women decreased in all 50 states, among African American women in 37 states analyzed, breast cancer death rates increased in 2 states, were level in 24 states, and decreased in only 11 states. Many of the states in which African American breast cancer death rates were level or rising were in the South and Midwest.

There are also differences in age and stage at diagnosis between African American and Caucasian women. Although the overall incidence of breast cancer has been historically higher in Caucasians, the incidence profile changes when the data are looked at by age. Among African American women with breast cancer, 33% are diagnosed at an age younger than 50 years, compared with 21.9% among Caucasian women.7 In women younger than 35 years, the incidence of breast cancer in African Americans is 1.4-2.0 times that of Caucasians.8 In addition, African American women present with more advanced-stage disease. Again, using the SEER program and examining data from 2005-2011, 62% of Caucasians had localized disease (cancer confined to the breast and potentially curable) versus 53% of African Americans. In all, 5% of Caucasians had distant disease (cancer outside the breast and treatable but not curable), compared with 9% of African Americans.9 A recent study in JAMA of 373,563 women with breast cancer during 2004-2011 found that African American women were less likely to be diagnosed with stage I breast cancer than were non-Hispanic white women across all age groups (non-Hispanic white women, 50.8%; African American women, 37.0%).10The researchers examined further those women with small breast cancers (breast tumors ≤ 2 cm) and the percentages of nodal metastases (cancer in the lymph nodes) and distant metastases (cancer outside the breast) by race/ethnicity. The authors found that an African American woman with a small-sized breast tumor was more likely to present with lymph node metastases and distant metastases. Significantly, African American women were also more likely to die of breast cancer with small-sized tumors than were non-Hispanic white women.

These differences in age and stage highlight important differences in tumor biology, genomics, and patterns of care that contribute to the disparity in breast cancer survival between Caucasian and African American women. The February installment of this column will explore tumor biology – the first element in the perfect storm.

Patient income may affect specialist access

By: RICHARD FRANKI, Internal Medicine News Digital Network

Poor patients with multiple chronic conditions are more than twice as likely to have trouble seeing a specialist as are middle- and high-income patients, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported.

Among adults with multiple chronic conditions who needed to see a specialist in 2012, 22.6% of those who were poor said that access was not always or usually easy, compared with 9.9% for those of high income, 10.1% for middle-income patients, and 15.8% for those of low income, according to data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

he high-income patients, however, were the most likely to say that they needed to see a specialist in 2012, with 65.6% reporting such a need, compared with 59.7% of poor patients, 57.6% of low-income patients, and 56.9% of middle-income patients, the AHRQ noted.

The report used the following definitions for the four income groups:

Poor: Persons in families with incomes up to 125% of the poverty line.

Low income: Persons in families with incomes over 125% through 200% of the poverty line.

Middle income: Persons in families with incomes over 200% through 400% of the poverty line.

High income: Persons in families with incomes over 400% of the poverty line.

Why The FDA Has Never Looked At Some Of The Additives In Our Food

supermarket-cacb5a9fa7e79a3b17c7698d2e4d81427d05f338-s800-c85By Erin Quinn, Chris Young

This piece comes from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.

Companies have added thousands of ingredients to foods with little to no government oversight. That’s thanks to a loophole in a decades-old law that allows them to deem an additive to be “generally recognized as safe” — or GRAS — without the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s blessing, or even its knowledge.

The loophole was originally intended to allow manufacturers of common ingredients like vinegar and table salt — when added to processed foods — to bypass the FDA’s lengthy safety-review process. But over time, companies have found that it’s far more efficient to take advantage of the exemption to get their products on shelves quickly. Some of these products contain additives that the FDA has found to pose dangers. And even ingredients the agency has agreed are GRAS are now drawing scrutiny from scientists and consumer groups that dispute their safety.

Critics of the system say the biggest concern, however, is that companies regularly introduce new additives without ever informing the FDA. That means people are consuming foods with added flavors, preservatives and other ingredients that are not reviewed at all by regulators for immediate dangers or long-term health effects.

The vast majority of food additives are safe. Some, however, have proved to cause severe allergic reactions or other long-term health effects. Scientists and advocates worry about the growing number of ingredients that the FDA doesn’t know about and is not tracking.

Rather than going through the painstaking FDA-led review process to ensure that their new ingredients are safe, food companies can determine on their own that substances are “generally recognized as safe.” They can then ask the FDA to review their evaluation — if they wish. Or they can take their ingredients straight to market, without ever informing the agency.

“FDA doesn’t know what it doesn’t know,” said Steve Morris of the Government Accountability Office, which published a report in 2010 that found that “FDA’s oversight process does not help ensure the safety of all new GRAS determinations.”

And even when a company does go through the FDA review process, safety decisions have been criticized. For example, advocacy groups and lawsuits allege that mycoprotein, a type of fungus used in vegetarian products, has caused consumers to suffer a range of reactions, including nausea and anaphylactic shock. The complaints prompted the Center for Science in the Public Interest to urge the FDA in 2011 to revoke the ingredient’s GRAS status.

For a company to determine that an ingredient is “generally recognized as safe,” it must establish that the additive’s safety is commonly understood by qualified scientific experts.

But some ingredients defy consensus, as consumers, scientific groups and sometimes even the FDA have pointed out. Even GRAS additives that have been used in food for decades are now coming under fire as their uses expand and scientific research emerges that casts doubt on their safety.

This is true of one of the most known — and vilified — GRAS additives: partially hydrogenated oil, a form of trans fat. Widely used in food products including fried foods and cake mixes, trans fats have been named by public health experts as a contributor to heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Despite strong pushback from industry, the FDA in November 2013 made a tentative determination that artificial trans fats should not have GRAS status, and the agency is likely to make that determination final this summer.

But it’s the ingredients the public doesn’t know about that have critics of the GRAS system most worried.

Researchers for the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Natural Resources Defense Council say that allowing companies to make safety determinations without telling the FDA makes it nearly impossible to identify whether there are health effects caused by long-term exposure to certain ingredients.

Their concerns are heightened because safety decisions often rest in the hands of a small group of scientific experts selected by companies or consulting firms with a financial incentive to get new ingredients on the market. Several of these scientists, a Center for Public Integrity investigation found, previously served as scientific consultants for tobacco companies during the 1980s and 1990s, when the tobacco industry fought vigorously to defend its products.

The GRAS loophole was born in 1958. Americans were growing concerned about the increased use of preservatives and other additives in food, so Congress passed — and President Dwight Eisenhower signed — the first law regulating ingredients added to food.

To restore confidence, the law set up a system requiring companies to submit new ingredients to an extensive FDA safety review before going to market.

“Congress had a clear understanding of what ‘generally recognized as safe’ means, but that’s not the understanding that basically prevailed,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group seeking reforms to the GRAS system. “There are plenty of ingredients that are receiving GRAS status the safety of which are in dispute.”

In the past five decades, the number of food additives has skyrocketed — from about 800 to more than 10,000. They are added to everything from baked goods and breakfast cereals to energy bars and carbonated drinks.

Meanwhile, the FDA’s food additive approval system has slowed to a crawl — the average review takes two years, but some drag on for decades.

“The food additive review process is a highway that is constantly gridlocked. If the food additive road doesn’t go anywhere, what do I do?” asked Stuart Pape, a Washington, D.C., attorney who consults for companies that manufacture food additives. “GRAS is the other pathway.”

The FDA has publicly acknowledged the GRAS system’s shortcomings.

“We simply do not have the information to vouch for the safety of many of these chemicals,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, told The Washington Post last year.

Meanwhile, industry scientists and lawyers contend that safety concerns are overblown, and that major reforms designed to increase government oversight would cripple the resource-depleted FDA and stifle food innovation.

“It isn’t the Wild West out there,” said Stanley Tarka, a toxicologist and industry consultant. “We have the safest food supply in the world.”

What Happened to the White Working Class?

Hard_Hats_AP_imgBy Barbara Ehrenreich

The white working class, which usually inspires liberal concern only for its paradoxical, Republican-leaning voting habits, has recently become newsworthy for something else: according to economist Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the winner of the latest Nobel Prize in economics, its members in the 45- to 54-year-old age group are dying at an immoderate rate. While the lifespan of affluent whites continues to lengthen, the lifespan of poor whites has been shrinking. As a result, in just the last four years, the gap between poor white men and wealthier ones has widened by up to four years. The New York Times summed up the Deaton and Case study with this headline: “Income Gap, Meet the Longevity Gap.”

This was not supposed to happen. For almost a century, the comforting American narrative was that better nutrition and medical care would guarantee longer lives for all. So the great blue-collar die-off has come out of the blue and is, as The Wall Street Journal says, “startling.”

It was especially not supposed to happen to whites who, in relation to people of color, have long had the advantage of higher earnings, better access to health care, safer neighborhoods, and of course freedom from the daily insults and harms inflicted on the darker-skinned. There has also been a major racial gap in longevity—5.3 years between white and black men and 3.8 years between white and black women—though, hardly noticed, it has been narrowing for the last two decades. Only whites, however, are now dying off in unexpectedly large numbers in middle age, their excess deaths accounted for by suicide, alcoholism, and drug (usually opiate) addiction.

There are some practical reasons why whites are likely to be more efficient than blacks at killing themselves. For one thing, they are more likely to be gun-owners, and white men favor gunshots as a means of suicide. For another, doctors, undoubtedly acting in part on stereotypes of non-whites as drug addicts, are more likely to prescribe powerful opiate painkillers to whites than to people of color. (I’ve been offered enough oxycodone prescriptions over the years to stock a small illegal business.)

Manual labor—from waitressing to construction work—tends to wear the body down quickly, from knees to back and rotator cuffs, and when Tylenol fails, the doctor may opt for an opiate just to get you through the day.

THE WAGES OF DESPAIR

But something more profound is going on here, too. As New York Timescolumnist Paul Krugman puts it, the “diseases” leading to excess white working-class deaths are those of “despair,” and some of the obvious causes are economic. In the last few decades, things have not been going well for working-class people of any color.

I grew up in an America where a man with a strong back—and better yet, a strong union—could reasonably expect to support a family on his own without a college degree. In 2015, those jobs are long gone, leaving only the kind of work once relegated to women and people of color available in areas like retail, landscaping, and delivery-truck driving. This means that those in the bottom 20% of white income distribution face material circumstances like those long familiar to poor blacks, including erratic employment and crowded, hazardous living spaces.

White privilege was never, however, simply a matter of economic advantage. As the great African-American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in 1935, “It must be remembered that the white group of laborers, while they received a low wage, were compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage.”

Some of the elements of this invisible wage sound almost quaint today, like Du Bois’s assertion that white working-class people were “admitted freely with all classes of white people to public functions, public parks, and the best schools.” Today, there are few public spaces that are not open, at least legally speaking, to blacks, while the “best” schools are reserved for the affluent—mostly white and Asian American along with a sprinkling of other people of color to provide the fairy dust of “diversity.” While whites have lost ground economically, blacks have made gains, at least in the de jure sense. As a result, the “psychological wage” awarded to white people has been shrinking.

For most of American history, government could be counted on to maintain white power and privilege by enforcing slavery and later segregation. When the federal government finally weighed in on the side of desegregation, working-class whites were left to defend their own diminishing privilege by moving rightward toward the likes of Alabama Governor (and later presidential candidate) George Wallace and his many white pseudo-populist successors down to Donald Trump.

At the same time, the day-to-day task of upholding white power devolved from the federal government to the state and then local level, specifically to local police forces, which, as we know, have taken it up with such enthusiasm as to become both a national and international scandal. The Guardian, for instance, now keeps a running tally of the number of Americans (mostly black) killed by cops (as of this moment, 1,209 for 2015), while black protest, in the form of the Black Lives Matter movement and a wave of on-campus demonstrations, has largely recaptured the moral high ground formerly occupied by the civil rights movement.

The culture, too, has been inching bit by bit toward racial equality, if not, in some limited areas, black ascendency. If the stock image of the early twentieth century “Negro” was the minstrel, the role of rural simpleton in popular culture has been taken over in this century by the characters in Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. At least in the entertainment world, working-class whites are now regularly portrayed as moronic, while blacks are often hyper-articulate, street-smart, and sometimes as wealthy as Kanye West. It’s not easy to maintain the usual sense of white superiority when parts of the media are squeezing laughs from the contrast between savvy blacks and rural white bumpkins, as in the Tina Fey comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. White, presumably upper-middle class people generally conceive of these characters and plot lines, which, to a child of white working-class parents like myself, sting with condescension.

Of course, there was also the election of the first black president. White, native-born Americans began to talk of “taking our country back.” The more affluent ones formed the Tea Party; less affluent ones often contented themselves with affixing Confederate-flag decals to their trucks.

ON THE AMERICAN DOWNWARD SLOPE

All of this means that the maintenance of white privilege, especially among the least privileged whites, has become more difficult and so, for some, more urgent than ever. Poor whites always had the comfort of knowing that someone was worse off and more despised than they were; racial subjugation was the ground under their feet, the rock they stood upon, even when their own situation was deteriorating.

If the government, especially at the federal level, is no longer as reliable an enforcer of white privilege, then it’s grassroots initiatives by individuals and small groups that are helping to fill the gap—perpetrating the micro-aggressions that roil college campuses, the racial slurs yelled from pickup trucks, or, at a deadly extreme, the shooting up of a black church renowned for its efforts in the Civil Rights era. Dylann Roof, the Charleston killer who did just that, was a jobless high school dropout and reportedly a heavy user of alcohol and opiates. Even without a death sentence hanging over him, Roof was surely headed toward an early demise.

Acts of racial aggression may provide their white perpetrators with a fleeting sense of triumph, but they also take a special kind of effort. It takes effort, for instance, to target a black runner and swerve over to insult her from your truck; it takes such effort—and a strong stomach—to paint a racial slur in excrement on a dormitory bathroom wall. College students may do such things in part out of a sense of economic vulnerability, the knowledge that as soon as school is over their college-debt payments will come due. No matter the effort expended, however, it is especially hard to maintain a feeling of racial superiority while struggling to hold onto one’s own place near the bottom of an undependable economy.

While there is no medical evidence that racism is toxic to those who express it—after all, generations of wealthy slave owners survived quite nicely—the combination of downward mobility and racial resentment may be a potent invitation to the kind of despair that leads to suicide in one form or another, whether by gunshots or drugs. You can’t break a glass ceiling if you’re standing on ice.

It’s easy for the liberal intelligentsia to feel righteous in their disgust for lower-class white racism, but the college-educated elite that produces the intelligentsia is in trouble, too, with diminishing prospects and an ever-slipperier slope for the young. Whole professions have fallen on hard times, from college teaching to journalism and the law. One of the worst mistakes this relative elite could make is to try to pump up its own pride by hating on those—of any color or ethnicity—who are falling even faster.

Federal Drug Policy Softens as Whites Become Face of Heroin Addiction

LISBON, ME    JUNE 16:  Shawn Cross is photographed at his home in Lisbon, Maine, on Thursday, June 18, 2015.  Cross made the switch from opiate painkillers to heroin and became an addict. He now works at Catholic Charities and helps recovering addicts. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

LISBON, ME JUNE 16: Shawn Cross is photographed at his home in Lisbon, Maine, on Thursday, June 18, 2015. Cross made the switch from opiate painkillers to heroin and became an addict. He now works at Catholic Charities and helps recovering addicts. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By David Fonseca | Takepart.com

The numbers speak loud and clear about who’s suffering from America’s current heroin crisis—white people. The American Medical Association reports that 90 percent of first-time heroin users in the last decade were white.

But that didn’t stop Maine Gov. Paul LePage from using racially coded language to blame his predominantly white state’s heroin problem on outsiders.

“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty—these types of guys—they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home,” LePage said during a town hall meeting on Thursday. “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing, because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

In addition to prompting accusations of racial insensitivity, LePage’s comments also betray a lack of understanding about who is most affected by the crisis. Heroin addiction disproportionately impacts white families, and U.S. drug policy is changing as a result—reversing long-standing trends in which drug addiction was largely perceived as a problem for racial minorities and seen as grounds for stricter law enforcement and prison sentencing. 

The move, which was spearheaded by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., signaled a surprising change of heart for the party that once equated such harm-reduction programs to surrender.

Asked to explain why he chose to champion funding for needle exchange programs after publicly opposing them, Rogers told TakePart in an emailed statement that he “still [opposes] the use of federal funds to subsidize illicit drug use, but also believes many organizations administering syringe exchange programs at the state and local level are uniquely poised to provide much-needed intervention for those struggling with addiction.”

According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, heroin overdose claimed the lives of 233 residents in 2014, as compared with 22 deaths there in 2010. Across the country, heroin deaths have increased from approximately 2,000 in 2002 to nearly 11,000 in 2014, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In hard-hit Ohio, Libby Harrison, director of the Cincinnati Exchange Project, welcomed the federal funding, saying she now keeps clean syringes in the hands of addicts by “nickel-and-diming to the nth degree.”

Through the ban on using federal funds to purchase syringes remains in place, the measure allows money to flow toward staffing, vans, educational materials, and other line items crucial to the daily function of needle exchange programs.

“A good portion of addicts don’t want to be using anymore,” Harrison said. “If they are comfortable, I’ll take their number, and we’ll sit down and talk about what programs work best for them. We connect people to HIV care, hepatitis C care, domestic abuse programs, and housing programs. I’m not a social worker, but I’m pretty good at getting you to the right social worker.”

Jelani Kerr of the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences said the high rate of hepatitis C in Kentucky and the HIV outbreak in neighboring Indiana demonstrate the risks of sharing needles and the urgent need for effective harm-reduction programs.

“[These crises] necessitate evidence-based strategies to combat the threat of these diseases, and syringe exchange is considered an effective evidence-based strategy to reduce HIV and hep C risk,” Kerr said.

The data on needle exchange programs has been clear since at least April 1998, when then–Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced, following an extensive study, that “needle exchange programs can reduce the transmission of HIV and save lives without losing ground in the battle against illegal drugs.”

That same year, then–Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, responded to President Bill Clinton’s proposal to eliminate the funding ban by proclaiming that “there can be no middle ground in the war on drugs.”

President Barack Obama would lift the ban in 2009, only to see it reinstated by Republicans after their takeover of the House of Representatives during the 2010 midterm elections.

Harrison says the change of heart experienced by Republicans can be at least partly attributed to heroin’s effects on white middle-class families.

“It’s all over the demographic map, from long-term addicts in their 60s and 70s to very wealthy kids pulling up in Mercedes-Benzes,” Harrison said. “Some of the legislators are upset because suddenly it’s a family member who’s affected. It does hit closer to home.”

Kenney Miller, the executive director of the Health Equity Alliance in Ellsworth, Maine, said a similar scenario is playing out with the predominantly white residents of his state, despite LePage’s attempt to tie the heroin crisis to insidious outsiders. 

“People in general tend to be more impacted when they can connect with the victims, and by and large, Congress is still predominantly composed of Caucasian middle-class people with advanced levels of education, and they’re much more able to connect to people that they know,” Miller said. “I think that more and more there’s a growing recognition that substance abuse affects everybody, and there’s been a dispelling of the myth of the strung-out junkie living on the streets.”

RELATED:  Can the White House’s New Plan End the Heroin Epidemic?

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, a research analyst at Washington, D.C.–based The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice advocacy group, said it’s worth questioning whether rehabilitation-based approaches would be embraced if heroin were perceived as an epidemic among African Americans and Latinos.

“The more people associate drug crime with people of color, the more likely they are to support punitive policy solutions. Usually as a result of a perceived epidemic, we see predominantly terrible polices as a result. But in this case we are seeing a move in the treatment direction, which is a really positive outcome,” Ghandnoosh said. “So the question is, how much is this about race? And how do we replicate this next time, if those impacted by the perceived epidemic aren’t white?”

Growing Evidence that Charter Schools Are Failing

'While there's little difference in the overall performance of charter schools and public schools,' explains Buchheit, 'charters are riddled with fraud and identified with a lack of transparency that leads to more fraud.' (Photo: Dean Hochman/flickr/cc)

‘While there’s little difference in the overall performance of charter schools and public schools,’ explains Buchheit, ‘charters are riddled with fraud and identified with a lack of transparency that leads to more fraud.’ (Photo: Dean Hochman/flickr/cc)

by Paul Buchheit, www.commondreams.org

In early 2015 Stanford University’s updated CREDO Report concluded that “urban charter schools in the aggregate provide significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their TPS peers.”

This single claim of success has a lot of people believing that charter schools really work. But there are good reasons to be skeptical. First of all, CREDO is funded and managed by reform advocates. It’s part of the Hoover Institution, aconservative and pro-business think tank funded in part by the Walton Foundation, and in partnership with Pearson, a leading developer of standardized testing materials. CREDO director Margaret Raymond is pro-charter and a free-market advocate.

The 2015 CREDO study received much of its input, according to a Louisiana source, from the New Orleans Recovery School District and charter promoter New Schools for New Orleans, who together had “embarked on a bold, five-year journey to standardize, validate and export the New Orleans charter restart model…addressing the problem of failing schools by restarting them with schools operated by charter operators.”

Regarding national findings, a review of the CREDO study by the National Education Policy Center questioned CREDO’s statistical methods: for example, the study excluded public schools that do NOT send students to charters, thus “introducing a bias against the best urban public schools.”

Charters Are Underperforming 

The inadequacies of charter schools have been confirmed by other recent studies, one of them by CREDO itself, which found that in comparison to traditional public schools “students in Ohio charter schools perform worse in both reading and mathematics.” Another recent CREDO study of California schools reached mixed results, with charters showing higher scores in reading but lower scores in math.

In a study of Chicago’s public schools, the University of Minnesota Law School determined that “Sadly the charter schools, which on average score lower that the Chicago public schools, have not improved the Chicago school system, but perhaps made it even weaker.”

In general, as concluded by the nonpartisan Spencer Foundation and Public Agenda, “There is very little evidence that charter and traditional public schools differ meaningfully in their average impact on students’ standardized test performance.” Another report from Data First, part of the Center for Public Education, stated that “the majority of charter schools do no better or worse than traditional public schools.”

But there’s a lot of data that leans toward “worse” rather than “better.” A Brookings report showed underperformance in Arizona’s charter schools. An In the Public Interest group found that an analyst for the District of Columbia “could not provide a single instance in which its strategy of transferring a low-performing school to a charter management organization had resulted in academic gains for the students.” The Minnesota Star Tribune reported that “Students in most Minnesota charter schools are failing to hit learning targets and are not achieving adequate academic growth.” Over 85 percent of Ohio’s charter students were in schools graded D or F in 2012–2013. In the much-heralded New Orleans charter experiment, the Investigative Fund found that “eight years after Hurricane Katrina…seventy-nine percent of RSD charters are still rated D or F by the Louisiana Department of Education.”

Charters Won’t Tell Us What They’re Doing

Performance aside, charters have other serious issues. The Nation called them “stunningly opaque…black boxes.” Indeed, the federal government has spent billions on charter development without basic forms of accountability, even for the causes and details of school closings. The charter system is so unregulated that oversight often comes from whistleblowers who feel disturbed enough, and courageous enough, to report abuses.

The report Cashing in on Kids notes that the Walton Foundation, one of the biggest charter school supporters, has “supported the unregulated growth of a privatized education industry.” The Walton-funded New York Charter School Association, which takes considerable public money and advertises itself as “independently-run public schools,” refused state audits, arguing that they were run by boards outside the public domain. Charter operators want the best of both worlds. As Diane Ravitch explains, “When it is time for funds to be distributed, they want to be considered public schools. But when they are involved in litigation, charter operators insist they are private organizations.”

Many Charter Systems Are Mired in Fraud 

According to Integrity in Education, $100 million (ballooning in the past year to $200 million) in taxpayer money was lost, misused, or wasted in just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools. The abuses are well documented. The report states: “Charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more.”

Mounds of evidence reveal the fraud in states around the country: Schoolchildren defrauded in Pennsylvania; “out-of-control” charters in Michigan and Florida; rampant misspending in Ohio; bribes and kickbacks, also in Ohio; revenues directed to a for-profit company in Buffalo, NY; subpoenas for mismanaged charters in Connecticut.

In California alone, $100 million in fraud losses are expected in 2015. The California Charter Schools Association noted in response that the “charter school sector, authorizers and legislators have come together to put into place real solutions.” The solutions were not cited.

In a Nutshell: Charter Schools Are Failing 

While there’s little difference in the overall performance of charter schools and public schools, charters are riddled with fraud and identified with a lack of transparency that leads to more fraud.

In a Nutshell: Public Education Is Working 

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has confirmed that math and reading skills have improved for all levels of public school students since the 1970s, with the greatest gains among minority and disadvantaged students. Other results indicate that our schools achieve even greater success when properly funded.

But the education reformers, who have a lot of money but little knowledge of the real world of education, don’t want to provide that funding. They frighten America with words from people like Rupert Murdoch: “The failure rates of our public schools represent a tragic waste of human capital that is making America less competitive.”

A better reason for fright is the rapid progress made by the charter school reformers. They want our children to be their human capital.

President Obama Just Put The Democratic Party on Notice

2016-01-05T175613Z_01_WASW201_RTRIDSP_3_USA-OBAMA-GUNSBy biancardi,

I looked in the diaries to see if anyone had written about this and didn’t see it ~ if it is out there, please forgive me for a duplicate diary, but I also feel very passionate about gun control.

I grew up with guns and I was taught to respect them.  My parents kept the guns and ammo separate and under lock & key.    Fast forward to today…  People are reckless.  They parade around at malls, colleges, out door events with their guns, scaring most people (or at least ones I know).  I see someone who isn’t a police officer (and maybe even an officer too, come to think about it) carrying a gun, I put as much distance as I can from them.  I know, it’s sad, isn’t it?

But that is what it has come down to.  The constant deaths.  Murders, suicides (and some people want to take out a few citizens before they go).    This has to end.  It has to.   I saw President Obama’s speech on taking control.   Do I want more?  Sure, but this is a step in the right direction.  I saw him talk about this on Anderson Cooper’s show yesterday.

And now, he wrote a NYT’s op ed and he has put all of us, including democrats who refuse to support gun control, on notice.

Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen. I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.

No more excuses about our gun culture.  No more excuses.

Those moments represent American democracy, and the American people, at our best. Meeting this crisis of gun violence will require the same relentless focus, over many years, at every level. If we can meet this moment with that same audacity, we will achieve the change we seek. And we will leave a stronger, safer country to our children.

I agree, Mr President.  I stand with you.   Thank you for your courage.