Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rev. Jesse Jackson: Unemployment At “State Of Emergency”

jesse jacksonMIAMI — Taking the microphone at a church in a predominantly black neighborhood of Miami, the Rev. Jesse Jackson asked how many in the crowd knew someone looking for a job.

Most of the several hundred people in the televised town hall gathering stood up. How many knew someone facing foreclosure? Student loan debt? In jail? Considered suicide? Crowds of people stood up in answer to each of his questions.

“This is a state of emergency,” the civil rights leader and one-time Democratic presidential candidate declared.

The Congressional Black Caucus organized a town hall gathering in Miami to address black unemployment rates Monday evening, one of five taking place in August in distressed communities across the country. At issue is the stubbornly high unemployment rate in the black community, now at 16.8 percent nationwide, more than double that for whites and a figure that doesn’t even include those who’ve stopped looking for work.

U.S Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. and the caucus chairman, said representatives are frustrated at being unable to advance bills in Congress aimed at encouraging job growth. Caucus members have introduced more than 40 such bills since January and none of them have passed. Republicans took control of the House nearly nine months ago.

Now, the lawmakers are taking to the road to ensure angry constituents that they are doing all in their power to help, while offering a job fair in each city as assistance. In Atlanta, Cleveland and Detroit, the events have drawn thousands, and more than 1,000 people streamed into a downtown convention center Tuesday morning for the Miami job fair. Another will be held in Los Angeles at the end of the month.
“We left the complaint counter and that’s why we’re on this tour,” Cleaver said.

The mounting frustration over jobs is beginning to have political repercussions in the black community.
“Unemployment in South Florida, especially in the black community, is no longer a crisis,” U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said before the event. “It’s an epidemic.”

The job fairs come amid a growing debate within the black community about the Obama administration’s urban agenda. While black lawmakers have been reluctant to criticize the country’s first black president, some are beginning to voice concern about the administration’s focus on deficit reduction at a time of high joblessness and poverty in urban areas.

“I think our politicians need to step up and do a better job of helping people,” said Lavern Eli, the executive director of Curley’s House of Style in Miami’s Model City neighborhood. “It’s really like they’re playing games with people’s lives because people are hurting. The community is hurting. People are so desperate, just trying to survive.”

Cleaver said he shares the community’s frustration.

“I’m frustrated with the president, but I’m frustrated with me,” Cleaver said in an interview Monday. “I’m frustrated with the tea party. Maybe I should have used my communications skills better to try to convince some of them to work with us. I’m frustrated with the Democratic leadership. The Republican leadership. The president. I think all of us bear some responsibility, some more than others, however.”

At the town hall on Monday, congressional leaders, a White House representative, Jackson and a church leader fielded questions from an MSNBC moderator about what they’ve done to create jobs, reduce unemployment, push for another stimulus, and address the influence of tea party Republican legislators.
Don Graves, executive director of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, told representatives and constituents that President Barack Obama is focused on every community in the nation, but acknowledged some have bit hit harder than others.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told him to be more specific: the black community.
“We’ve got to target where the greatest need is,” she said.

Wilson said the job fair on Tuesday is expected to offer up to 3,000 jobs, from custodians to janitors, and draw upward of 5,000 people. She said unemployment in her district is about 17 percent, and as high as 40 percent for black males.

“I think the president is doing as much as he can, and I’m anxious to hear his proposal when we go back in September,” Wilson said, referring to the president’s job creation plan. “But if it includes any funding, we’re going to have to fight. Because the tea party will stop him.”

As the economy has struggled to recover, minorities have been disproportionately affected. An analysis of Census data released in July found that wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century, with whites on average having 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics.

Algernon Austin, director of the race, ethnicity and economy program at the Economic Policy Institute, said a number of factors are pushing up the black unemployment rate, including a somewhat younger labor force, less-educated workers and discrimination. He pointed to several studies in which black and white workers presented the same qualifications to prospective employers. The black candidate consistently received less favorable responses.

“Even in good economic times, African American communities experience very high levels of unemployment,” Austin said.

Tracey Turner, 40, of North Miami, came to Monday’s event hoping to get some information on jobs. She has been out of work for nearly two years, after being laid off from her job as an accountant for Wal-Mart in September 2010.

Turner’s unemployment benefits have expired and she is supporting four children. She has been working temp jobs but hasn’t had any the last four months.
“It’s killing me,” she said.

Jaron Taylor, an 18-year-old Miami resident, said Tuesday he is desperately looking for work to help pay for college. Among the booths he visited was one set up by Starbucks.

“I have a good feeling,” Taylor said. “The energy in this room is something. There’s a good vibe. People are addressing the issue. They are making sure something will be done.”

Suicide? Recent College Grad Found Dead; Left Apology Note

roswell friend temple university owlsThe body of a recent Temple University graduate who was reported missing Friday was found in the Delaware River in New Jersey Monday morning, police say.

Roswell Friend, the 22-year-old who was a member of Temple’s track team, was found dead by the New Jersey State Police marine unit in the Delaware River in Riverton, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.
The Baltimore Sun reported Friend wrote, “Sorry guys” on a note board in his house and posted “I’m sorry everyone” on his Facebook page before he disappeared.

Warren Buffett’s Taxing Hypocrisy

By Bill Wilson

The Obama Administration has turned to billionaire Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of financial giant Berkshire Hathaway, to make the case for raising taxes on the rich because, says Buffett, he can afford it. On Aug. 22, the White House reportedly chatted with Wall Street’s most famous investor to get his thoughts about the sputtering economy.

What likely got the Administration’s attention was Buffett’s oped in the New York Times. Buffett proposed that “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” He implied he would like to see the capital gains be treated equally as income.

To wit, he wrote of the so-called “super-rich”, which he apparently defines as households earning $1 million or more a year: “Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.” Isn’t that nice of Mr. Buffett?

But if he were truly sincere, perhaps he might simply try paying the taxes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says his company owes? According to Berkshire Hathaway’s own annual report — see Note 15 on pp. 54-56 — the company has been in a years-long dispute over its federal tax bills.

According to the report, “We anticipate that we will resolve all adjustments proposed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (‘IRS’) for the 2002 through 2004 tax years at the IRS Appeals Division within the next 12 months. The IRS has completed its examination of our consolidated U.S. federal income tax returns for the 2005 and 2006 tax years and the proposed adjustments are currently being reviewed by the IRS Appeals Division process. The IRS is currently auditing our consolidated U.S. federal income tax returns for the 2007 through 2009 tax years.”

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Hurricane Irene Now Category 4; New England Braces Itself

The U.S. National Hurricane Center has reported maximum winds of 115 mph (185 kph) as Irene advances through the Caribbean toward the U.S.

The hurricane has been building momentum as a tropical storm since last week and finally hit land in Puerto Rico on Monday. In the midst of torrential rains, heavy winds, flooding and collapsed trees and power lines, among other destruction, no injuries have been reported.

Currently, Irene is out-skirting southeast of the Bahamas islands after pummeling through the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos, where street signs were ripped out of the ground and several buildings were destroyed.

Associated Press reports that the storm is currently about 335 miles (540 kilometers) southeast of Nassau, Bahamas and is moving west-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph). It will move through the Bahamas in the next two days.

Bahamian residents are doing their best to prepare for the storm, clearing out shelves in Nassau convenience stores. Many hurricane veterans are nervous about the fact that Irene is now Category 4.
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"I just want to blink my eyes and have it be Friday so I can see what's left," Pamela Klonaris, who has lived through several storms over 41 years, told Palm Beach Post.

"We've stayed through every hurricane, but I don't know about a Category 4."
The NHC projects that Irene will soon become a Category 4 hurricane; they expect to see 125 mph (201 kph) winds in the northwest Bahamas as early as midday Thursday; which is just 5 mph below the criteria for Category 4.

In the U.S., several southern and southeastern states are also preparing for Irene's destruction.
Tourists and residents of Ocracoke Island, a small barrier island off North Carolina, have been ordered to evacuate.

Irene is expected to affect a great deal of the east coast, and may cause flooding and power outages as far as Maine, according to ABC News.

Manager of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate has warned that residents from the Mid-Atlantic region to New England should also be preparing for Irene hitting land in the U.S.
"It's going to be close and whether we get a brush or whether we have a landfall, it's too early to say," he said.
"Go ahead and make sure you're ready and then if evacuations are required, heed those evacuation orders. The Hurricane Center says this storm is going to grow and strengthen...and it's really something people need to be prepared now for so they can be ready if they have to act."

Pro-Gadhafi forces try to halt rebels’ momentum – CNN

Pro-Gadhafi forces try to halt rebels' momentum
By the CNN Wire Staff Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan rebels weathered resistance from pro-Moammar Gadhafi forces in several volatile pockets across Tripoli on Wednesday, and a few dozen journalists kept hostage for days by the strongman's armed ...

Al Qaida Trying To Co-Opt Syrian Revolution

Al-Qaida’s new senior leader is trying to co-opt Syria’s revolution with a message of anti-Americanism and hate, in a new video translation recently released to jihadi forums.

Zawahiri: Syria,  are you listening? Hello?

“Peace be upon you while you teach the rebellious, treacherous, traitorous system severe lessons on how to resist him, his corruption and treachery, his compliance in favor of the global hegemony and his desertion of Golan,” Ayman al-Zawahiri says in his attack on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. “Peace be upon you, O champions and heroes! Indeed you have presented a great example, teaching your Arab and Islamic Ummah lessons about sacrifice, resilience and fighting injustice.”

In the clip, “The Glory of the East Begins with Damascus,” Zawahiri paints America as responsible for pulling the strings of Syria’s brutal regime. His conspiracy theory alleges America wants to manipulate the region for its own interests and to protect Israel from the wrath of the revolution.

Notably, Zawahiri tries to blend traditional al-Qaida ideas with Syrian resistance to the regime. This means praising the martyrs in Islamist strongholds like Homs and Hama, showing local bravery as a rejection of American intervention in the Middle East, and manipulating popular grievances against Israel to strike out against the United States.

The propaganda includes reciting a long line of salutes and poetry about Syria’s famous warriors and conquerors, and also incorporating modern martyrs into the list. “Peace be upon you, O courageous and fierce, free and noble, in Daraa, Jisr ash-Shugur, Ma’arrat al-Numan, Baniyas, Homs, and Hama, the land of heroism and martyrdom,” Zawahiri said, recognizing places where Syrians had staged protests.

Most important was the mention of Hama, an Islamist stronghold that witnessed repression of modern Islamist protests and the brutal crushing of a Muslim Brotherhood revolution in February 1982. “Whenever a martyr falls from amongst you, hundreds of others present themselves for martyrdom, and whenever someone is imprisoned, hundreds of others offer themselves, ready to sacrifice,” Zawahiri said in praise of the revolution’s fallen.

Al-Qaida has traditionally rejected the Muslim Brotherhood’s approach of removing un-Islamic regimes through civil activity and elections, so the salute to the MB’s martyrs may show a warming of ties toward either the Islamist groups or protesters in general. Such a warming would be consistent with Zawahiri’s first statement as al-Qaida’s leader, where he pledged, “we offer our hands and open our hearts to cooperate with everyone working on supporting Islam in the Islamic groups and organizations and outside of them” – even those that are not Jihadist groups.

Staples of al-Qaida’s ideology were also part of Zawahiri’s exhortation to Syrian protesters. “Say to him [Assad]: In fact it is you who is the leader of the gang of criminals… the partner of America in the war against Islam, which they call the ‘war on terror,’ and the guardian of the Israeli borders,” Zawahiri stated, reinforcing the American “war on Islam” narrative.

As part of his praise of Syrian resistance, Zawahiri sounded an optimistic note that protesters had supposedly not been impressed by American sanctions. “I believe you not to have been fooled by the plots of the global hegemony and the ruses of the new Crusades,” he added. “America, who worked with Bashar al-Assad throughout his tenure, now claims to be on your side, after it has seen the earth overcome with the tremors of your anger and after its plans were foiled in Tunisia and Egypt by the loss of two of their most important agents!” The United States has had sanctions on Syria since 2004 and hasincreased them in recent months.

Zawahiri also accused Washington of trying to take control of the revolution to protect Israel, a country which is universally unpopular in Syrian society. “Washington today seeks to replace Assad, who sincerely guarded the borders of the Zionist entity, with another regime which will end your uprising and Jihad, a government which will grant the Ummah some of their rights, but in essence will still be obedient to America and will safeguard the interests of Israel,” he said.

Syrians have a responsibility to rise up and shout out to America about its hypocrisy, al-Qaida’s new leader said.

“Tell America and Obama that you are the children of great conquerors, the progeny of Mujahideen… Tell them you are waging a war of liberation and freedom – liberation from the corrupt idolic tyrants and liberation for the Muslim lands.

“Tell them that your blessed anger and awesome uprising will never settle, Allah willing, until you raise the victorious flag of Jihad over Mount Scopus in our beloved and usurped land of Jerusalem,” he stated, focusing on a target that had been a part of Israel since its founding.

One of the obvious gaps in al-Qaida’s propaganda is its lack of a physical presence in Syria. Zawahiri addressed this by claiming that his fighters were busy fighting against the “new crusades,” and that they were held back by “borders and restrictions penned by Sykes and Picot, then sanctified by our [Arab] rulers.” However, he consoled Syrian Islamists by saying that Syria is “the land of Islam and martyrdom” and it “has enough mujahideen for themselves as well as others.”

If al-Qaida has its way, Syrian efforts to topple Assad will open a new battlefront with America and Israel. “May Allah reward you with the best of rewards, on behalf of Islam and the Muslims,” Zawahiri concluded. “May the Majestic reward you, O sons of Damascus, the Glory of the East begins with Damascus!”