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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Speaks Out in Defense of Public Option

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) today responded to news from over the weekend that the public option - a government-run health insurance plan to expand consumer choice and compete with private health insurance companies - has all but been removed from ongoing health care reform negotiations:

“I am very troubled to hear that after months of negotiations – supposedly moving toward meaningful health care reform - the public option may in fact be off the table,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. “As I have said before, particularly in conjunction with my colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I will not be able to support a health care reform bill that does not guarantee the creation of a public option that will provide an alternative for the 47 million uninsured Americans and millions more who face rising premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

“The American people are strongly in favor of a public option as an alternative competitor to private insurance companies. How can we expect these insurance companies to expand access and make health care insurance more affordable without increased competition?

“The pressure on Congress from lobbyists who represent health care reform opponents is immense: recent reports suggest there may be as many as 6 lobbyists for each Member of Congress working to defeat meaningful health care reform. I cannot and will not sit by and quietly allow outside opposition to dismantle a program meant to provide the American people with an option so that they and their families can access quality, affordable health care.

“As part of National Health Center Week I recently attended several events in my district where nonprofit organizations such as RAM-LA and community clinics such as the South Bay Family Healthcare Center and the Venice Family Clinic offered free health screenings and other necessary medical treatments to thousands of Angelenos who simply cannot afford them. After seeing firsthand the overwhelming demand for these services - compounded by the 14,000 Americans losing their health insurance each day and by persistently high national unemployment and foreclosure rates- I have never been more convinced of the immediate need to reform our health insurance system.

“I strongly urge my colleagues involved in health care reform negotiations to join me in standing up in support of the public option and not caving in to insurance company opposition - we’ve played their game before and the losers are millions of working Americans and their families who either spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health insurance or who simply cannot afford health insurance in the first place.”

Awareness Of African Ancestry

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By Gary L. Flowers, NNPA Columnist

Many African-Americans, including this writer, have wondered exactly where in Africa our roots can be traced.

I had a heritage honor last week. That was to present to my mother’s side of our family DNA results, indicating our origin on the Motherland. Words cannot express my feelings in learning the most probable basis of our family’s lineage. In 1976, as a 13-year-old I watched with fascination Alex Haley’s Roots. I remember entire families — of all ethnicities—collectively musing about their family origins. For African-Americans, Roots began, in earnest, a nationwide discussion of exactly where on the Continent of Africa we originated. My paternal uncle used “property” records, church records, and Census data to proceed on the avenue of ancestry.

However, Roots symbolized the on ramp the genetic highway of heritage. I began my DNA journey by researching companies offering DNA testing. I found that most of the DNA companies began to test in 2003. I remember viewing television shows on which celebrities were tested and their results aired publicly.

Among the several options of DNA companies I selected one that focuses on mitochondrial DNA (tracing DNA of the mother’s side of the family). My rationale was that since European men raped an untold number of African women during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade the most reliable predictor for African origin would be found in the DNA of African-American women.

As a good researcher I also probed in to doubts of companies’ methodology.

For example, mitochondrial DNA is widely thought to be reliable for identifying a region of origin and not necessarily a specific people (tribe). However, most scholars find that DNA research combined with genealogical tools such as historical records, archeology, and folklore provides families with the best chance of identifying their ethnic origin.

As the second part of our ancestor recognition at my maternal family reunion in Richmond, Va., my cousin and I unsealed the results: our matrilineal (mother’s side) roots are most probably connected to the Balanta people of the nation of Guinea-Bissau, and to the Mende people of the country Sierra Leone. Our patrilineal (father’s side) people of origin are most likely the Bamileke people of Cameroon. A sacred silence permeated the family gathering upon learning one more piece to the puzzle of our people’s past. Relatives were provided research material that pulled demographic information form African countries genetically connected to our family. However, one of my cousins wanted to know: How are the genetic results read? Not being a scientist I explained that DNA is read in sequences.

Because most humans have similar sequences (i.e. TGTACG an TCTACA) the DNA symbol that is different is considered a mutation. DNA mutation place in the sequence is then matched with a mutation in the same place of the DNA sequence found in African countries, and among specific regions and ethnic groups.

Whew, that is as simple as I can make it!Therefore, I recommend that ALL African-American families purchase a test from some DNA company and dig deeper into their roots in African countries. As my cousin stated, “I was always wanted to know how to answer the ‘ancestor’ question without merely saying my people were ‘from Africa’. Now I can not only answer with a Continent but a country and a community.”

Awareness of African Ancestry is awesome!

Gary Flowers is executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum.

Go for the Gold: Social Networking

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By Farrah Gray, NNPA Columnist

Think of your career goals and objectives as a race. To go for the gold in your race you have to start from somewhere.

Despite today’s economic hardships, I encourage you to go for the gold in whatever it is you hope to accomplish. The first step is to use the powerful tool of networking. Effective business networking leads to building strong professional relationships and is highly beneficial in the long run.

The recent article, “Recession Got You Worried About Your Job? 6 Networking Tips for You”, on DiversityInc.com advises people to reach out to their networking circle now because the U.S. is in a recession and unemployment rates are skyrocketing.

Knowing the current state of the economy can break you if you don’t take a new direction in your life. Here are some tips on successful ways to network:

Express and utilize your passion. Your personal passion is the best guide to yourself. Whatever it is you like to do use that your advantage. Research and analyze your specific market to seek opportunities. After all, to know our strengths gives us direct access to our power. You know yourself better than anyone else, so find your niches and expand to better yourself.

Make a name for yourself. Once you’ve found opportunities in your field, use them to make a name for yourself by promoting yourself. Carrying business cards at the age of seven, lead me to become co-founder of Urban Neighborhood Enterprise Economic Club, in my hometown in South Side Chicago. It is well deserved to stand out from others and set standards to what makes unique. Be confident. Prepare an introduction speech on who you are and what you represent to other business professionals at networking functions.

This lets them know that you mean business and that you believe in yourself. It’s always good to be yourself and have a positive attitude no matter what you do in life. Take advantage of online social networks. Although some online social networks are first made with personal connections, they can lead to many professional opportunities. Online social networks allow you to connect with people that have the same interests and career objectives as you. This is a great way to get advice from people who have succeeded in your field.

Seize and conquer. Seize and conquer every networking opportunity that come your way. By networking with many business professionals you’ll be one step closer to achieving your goals. After all, your success may be to own a million-dollar corporation or to reach to the top in management at your dream company. I too have had economic hardships before reaching success, but along the way I believed in my market, my products and my contacts. I know what I know. I know how to fill the “in betweens.” Now it’s your turn to take the steps to achieving your dream and go for the gold medal waiting for you at the end of the finish line.

Farrah Gray is the author of The Truth Shall Make You Rich: The New Road Map to Radical Prosperity, Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success and the international best-seller Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out. He is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. Dr. Gray can be reached via email at fg@drfarrahgray.com or his web site at http://www.drfarrahgray.com.

NAACP: To Glenn Beck’s Comments Calling President Obama A Racist

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We deplore the statement of Glenn Beck on Fox and Friends that President Obama is a “racist.”

Mr. Beck’s statement was irresponsible and inflammatory at a time when as a nation we are attempting to engage in a constructive dialogue on race. Beck’s statements are an attempt to divide when we need to be united, an attempt to inflame with rhetoric when we need to discuss with thoughtfulness the serious question of race. It is a futile effort to distract from the serious issues of health care, the economy and the environment – issues that President Obama is tackling with foresight and fortitude. How could the President be a racist? A man of both African American and white heritage; a man who inspired millions of Americans to unite across the divide of race, religion and age in his historic run for the presidency.

We commend President Obama for having the courage to discuss an issue that all too many Americans consider a third rail. We applaud President Obama for extending the invitation to Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley to have a respectful dialogue as a way to open the door for all of us to begin a conversation that ultimately can lead to healing the racial divide. Mr. Beck’s hate filled comments, on the other hand, would take us back to the days of enmity and division. We hope that rather than following the example of Mr. Beck, the American people will embrace the example of President Obama and be willing to sit down and discuss the tough question of race with the hope of finally healing the painful divide that has haunted our nation for far too long.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Don’t Launch A Probe Based On Rumors, Gossip

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Josie Gonzales, San Bernardino County Supervior, 5th District

It’s disappointing to say the least to see a San Bernardino County Supervisor team up with a criminal defendant in a shameless attempt to discredit and punish the district attorney for prosecuting corruption. But that’s exactly what Supervisor Neil Derry did last week when he helped out his disgraced ex-chief of staff, Jim Erwin, by calling for the county to launch an investigation of DA Mike Ramos based solely on rumors and gossip.

Less than a week after a local newspaper refused to publish a story focusing on the gossip because it couldn’t find reliable evidence, Derry used the bully pulpit of his office to call for a county investigation of Ramos, forcing the media to cover the story and publish the rumors.

It looks too much like Derry did nothing more than help Erwin carry out a vendetta against the man trying to bring him to justice.

The timing is suspicious and raises too many questions, considering the rumors about Ramos center on alleged events that occurred several years ago.

Derry has argued the Board of Supervisors’ reluctance to embark upon an investigation of Ramos is part of an imaginary pattern by the county of looking the other way when officials are suspected of wrongdoing.

PROOF ISN’T THERE

The fact is that the county has consistently proven that it will conduct and investigation when there is credible evidence to suggest an investigation is warranted. The county filed suit in 2000 in relation to the James Hlawek scandal. The county conducted an investigation in 2005 concerning a questionable land deal and the purchase of a jail. And the county most recently took swift and responsible action in response to the evidence of misconduct in the office of ex-assessor Bill Postmus, who now faces multiple felony charges ranging from grand theft to drug possession. There is no credible evidence to suggest an investigation of the DA is warranted at this time. An account contained in a tabloid based solely on un-named sources, and subsequent posting on blogs, amount to gossip and do not constitute credible evidence. At this point there is nothing to even suggest that the DA misused county resources or did anything else to compromise the county or his office. If there were, the county would not hesitate to launch an investigation. If Derry has such evidence, he should present it to the board in a public meeting, rather than simply issue a news release.

ENOUGH MEDDLING

I am certain that if credible evidence surfaces that the rumors about the DA may be true, some will take the opportunity to blame the county for not acting sooner. However, I will not regret refraining from an irresponsible investigation based solely on gossip, especially when such an investigation could very well disrupt the prosecution of Erwin and the others involved in the Postmus scandal.

Last year, Derry ran a commendable campaign based on a call for reform and ethics. Rather than continuing to carry water for Erwin, Derry should allow the justice system to do its job free from political interference.

And as a Board of Supervisors, the five of us should be united in our stance against corruption. It confuses the public and slows our progress when we have one board member, Derry, calling for ethics one day, and attempting to thwart the prosecution of corruption the next.

I understand the public’s frustration. Justice can be a slow and confusing process, especially when wrongdoers throw up smoke screens. But I am confident that when all is said and done, the truth will be known and those who have cheated the public will be held accountable. Josie Gonzales is vice chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

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