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"What is the Good Life?"

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In the early 1960’s, crooner Tony Bennett popularized a song called “The Good Life.” It is a very harmonious ballad, but after researching the lyrics, I did not get any help in defining the good life. What is the good life? Is it wealth, fame or fortune?

Unfortunately, if you have watched the recent news, it seems a number of the “rich and famous” end up in reputably tragic situations---Michael Jackson, Steve McNair, Bernie Madoff and etc. Perhaps the good life can be better described by our spirit, our relationships and our general well being.

Below are my thoughts on the good life, but I would be interested in hearing from you and getting your thoughts.

Faith and Hope

Faith, hope, heart, soul, and courage are all words to describe having a resolute spirit. Having the conviction and belief that you can find a way, when there is no way. It means having the ability to confront seemingly overwhelming circumstances.

When your world has been shaken by traumatic events such as the loss of a loved or a serious illness, sometimes the only thing you have to stand on is your faith. Faith and hope is the invisible magic that moves people, to think, to act, and ultimately to survive. Faith and hope are not a given and have to be nourished and fed regularly.

How do you nourish your faith and hope on a regular basis?

Family and Relationships

Our family and relationships define who we are.

A few years ago, I attended a funeral that had more than a thousand people in attendance. The deceased was not a celebrity or public official; however he had touched the lives of many through several community roles that he had performed. The program was fairly normal, with the exception of tributes by several of his nieces, nephews and close friends. All expressed their gratitude for his positive attitude, his ability to share and the care that he expressed for them as individuals. Conspicuously absent from the funeral were his manager, banker and broker. Who will be at your funeral and what will they say about you and your life?

Mental and Physical Fitness Your body is your living temple. What you read, listen to and watch will significantly impact your success or failure. The subconscious mind feeds upon random thoughts. The choice is yours, you can think your way into failure or success to a large part depending on what you allow into your mind. Likewise, our bodies will respond to what we eat, drink or otherwise injest. Like our minds, our bodies, if not exercised regularly will operate at less than peak efficiency. No amount of money or fame can compensate for poor mental or physical health. How do you care for your living temple?

Career and Finances

A large portion of our adult life will be spent on a job. If the job is one that you enjoy and you are good at, it will be a successful experience. However, if it is one that you don’t enjoy, you will only go through the motions until the end of each day. Is your job one that you are excited to go to each day? If not, how can you change it to be more exciting or do you have to move on to something more in line with you motivations?

Your finances allow you to provide for your family’s security and well being. Have you established personal financial goals? If so, are you on a track to achieve them? If not, what will you do to provide for your family’s long-term security and wellbeing? Life is a journey, not a destination. We must live each day to its fullest, for tomorrow is not promised. We cannot take life or the people in our lives for granted. Are you living the “good life” or what do you have to change to get on that path? I would like to hear from you, so please email me your thoughts.

Michael G. Shinn, CFP, is a registered Representative and Investment Adviser Representative of the Financial Network Investment Corporation, member SIPC. Visit www.shinnfinancial.com for more information or to send your comments or questions to  hinnm@financialnetwork .com. ©

Michael G. Shinn 2009.

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.

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