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Remembering Fanny Brown

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Fanny Marion Brown was known by her family and friends as Marion. She was a native of California born to Mary & Frank Adams on May 12, 1923, in the city of Monrovia. Marion was the fourth child of eleven chil- dren and had 4 sisters and 6 brothers. She was called home on April 26, 2012.

She attended school in Monrovia and graduated in 1943 from Monrovia Arcadia-Duarte (MAD) High School. She enjoyed visiting with her fami- ly, dancing, country western music, gardening, crocheting, playing bingo & keno, and cooking. She also enjoyed working at the family business, Adams part owner, she was able to show her warmth and love of people.

Marion moved to Riverside with her family in 1944. On November 19, 1949, she married, CMSgt Ellis G. Brown, Sr. (who preceded her in death). Out of this union, they were blessed with 5 children, Deborah Patrice Brown, Ellis G. Brown, Jr. (Doris), Tina Alise (Brown) Robinson (Eddie), Mary Ellen (Brown)–Smith (Mark), and Ronald Kirby Brown (deceased).

Marion is survived by her 3 sisters; Thelma Adams-King, Helen (Adams) Armstrong, & Eunice (Sharon) Adams-Lisberg, her 2 brothers Jerry Adams (Carolyn) & Tim Adams (Mary) and her brother–in-law Rogers Brown. She leaves to cherish her memory, her grandchildren; Ama, Trey, EJ (Eddie IV), Robert and Candies, as well as a host of nieces, nephews relatives and friends.

LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TO END – SATURDAY

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BVN Staff Report 

The most generous federal extension program for unemployment benefits, known as FED-ED in California, won’t be available after May 12. About 93,000 people will be immediately affected, according to California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).

“The week ending May 12, 2012, will be the last week EDD can pay FED-ED benefits to eligible unemployed workers, even if someone has a remaining balance on their FED-ED extension,” according to an EDD news release. The federal government took extraordinary steps in 2009 to prop up workers who lost their jobs during the recession. The normal 26 weeks of state benefits were supplemented by three types of federal extensions that added up to 73 more weeks for a total of 99 weeks of benefits, the longest on record.

Since March 2009 when the program began, more than 912,000 unemployed Californians have received $5 billion in payments.

The EDD currently pays about $310 million a week to Californians in regular and federal extension benefits, assisting unemployed workers and their families and helping local businesses where much of these benefits are spent. California’s unemployment hit 11 percent in March — that's three percent higher than the national average.

But while it remains high, the three-month average is not 10 percent higher than it was at this time last year, making California ineligible to continue to provide extended benefits, according to U.S. Department of Labor standards.

More information about the new potential maximum weeks of federal benefit extensions can be found on the EDD website, along with more information on assistance for unemployed workers.

Rwandan Prime Minister Challenges Cal. Baptist Graduates

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University graduated a record number of students

By Chris Levister

The Right Honorable Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, shook hands, kissed babies and reaffirmed his commitment to human rights and the need for widespread political reform throughout Africa during a combined visit to California and to deliver a commencement address at California Baptist University in Riverside.

From the colorful kente cloth sashes worn by several Rwandan graduates to the warm breeze that wafted over the sea of faculty and guests, Habumuremyi’s visit was a festive stop on an international campaign to strengthen ties between Rwanda and the U.S. Habumuremyi, who served as that African nation’s minister of education from May 2011 to October 2011, addressed the graduates of the private school in Riverside on Saturday. He said his presence there underscored the strong bond between his nation and the United States “and the leadership of this great university.”

In December 2011 the U.S. and Rwanda ratified the U.S.-Rwanda bilateral investment treaty (BIT) aimed at promoting open trade and investment.

The Rwandan official expressed pride in the first cohort of Rwandan students to receive their baccalaureate degrees under a presidential education agreement California Baptist University established with the East African nation in 2007.

“Rwanda’s sons and daughters, attending CBU under the Presidential Scholarship program have over the last four years carried out the unique responsibility of being Rwanda’s first ambassadors to CBU, and I am confident that they will go on to serve with distinction as CBU’s ambassadors to Rwanda when they return home,” Habumuremyi said.

Until 1994, educational opportunities for Rwandans were extremely limited. After the genocide, most primary schools and more than half of prewar secondary schools reopened, though no more than 5% of the adult population received secondary education through 1996. Although educational quality remains an issue, access to education expanded dramatically in recent years and the Government of Rwanda’s Nine-Year Basic Education policy, implemented in 2010, contributed to an increase of the primary school completion rate from 52.4% in 2008 to 79% in 2011. Free basic education was extended from 9 years to 12 years in 2012.

He congratulated all of the graduates on behalf of Rwanda’s president, His Excellency Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan people.

“As your friends and family, we share in your joy and are very proud of what you have accomplished in the course of your undergraduate education, both in and outside the classroom,” Habumuremyi said. “It is now incumbent upon you all to put to good use the knowledge and skills you have acquired from CBU and your passion to learn.” California Baptist University (CBU) graduated a record number of students during spring commencement ceremonies surpassing the 1,000-graduate mark for the fourth consecutive year. The Class of 2012 numbered 1,330 graduates, the largest in the 62-year history of CBU.

Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, CBU President, conferred degrees on a total of 281 graduate students and 786 undergraduates in separate ceremonies on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Another 263 students were eligible to graduate at the December 2011 commencement ceremony.

Dr. Richard L. “Rick” Miller, Superintendent of Riverside Unified School District spoke at graduate ceremonies held Friday evening. Miller told students receiving master’s degrees that they were “joining the top 10 percent nationally in educational attainment” and said that privilege comes with a responsibility. “As a member of the top 10 percent you will be responsible for leadership in our society,” Miller told the graduates. “You have been equipped by your professors and staff here at CBU, so there is little question that you know what to do. Now the question becomes, what will you do and will you make a difference?”

Walking While Black

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By Marian Wright Edelman

Every parent raising Black sons knows the dilemma: deciding how soon to have the talk. Choosing the words to explain to your beautiful child that there are some people who will never like or trust him just because of who he is—including some who should be there to protect him, but will instead have the power to hurt him. Training him how to walk, what to say, and how to act so he won’t seem like a threat. Teaching him that the burden of deflating stereotypes and reassuring other people’s ignorance will always fall on him, and while that isn’t fair, in some cases it may be the only way to keep him safe and alive.

But sometimes it isn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to protect Trayvon Martin. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon’s English teacher said he was “an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” Trayvon loved building models and taking things apart, his favorite subject was math, and he dreamed of becoming a pilot and an engineer. Instead, he was gunned down by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain vigilante who profiled him, followed him, and shot him in the chest. His killer, George Zimmerman, saw the teenager on the street and called the police to report he looked “like he’s up to no good.” At the time Trayvon was walking home from the nearby 7-11 carrying a bottle of Arizona iced tea and a bag of Skittles for his younger stepbrother, leaving many people to guess that the main thing he was doing that made him look “no good” was wearing a hooded sweatshirt in the rain and walking while Black. George Zimmerman’s decisions made that suspicious enough to be a death sentence.

Now there is widespread outrage over the senseless killing of a young Black man who was doing nothing wrong and the fact that the man who killed him has not been arrested. People are trying to make sense of the series of gun laws that allowed George Zimmerman to act as he did—starting with the Florida laws that allowed someone like Zimmerman, who had previously been charged for resisting arrest with violence and battery on a police officer, to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the first place. Many more questions are being raised about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which also has been described as the “shoot first, ask questions later” law, and gives the benefit of the doubt to Zimmerman and others claiming “self-defense” by allowing people who say they are in imminent danger to defend themselves. Some states limit this defense to people’s own homes, but others, like Florida, allow it anywhere.

As Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, says, this law “has turned common law—and common sense—on its head by enabling vigilantes to provoke conflicts, resolve them with deadly force, and avoid ever having to set foot in a courtroom.” The fear in Trayvon’s death is that this is exactly what has happened so far: that the story told by witnesses, phone records, and Zimmerman’s violent past and earlier complaints during his neighborhood patrols shows an overzealous armed aggressor who followed Trayvon even after police told him to stop, chased Trayvon down when the frightened boy tried to walk away from the stranger following him, and then shot the unarmed, 100-pounds-lighter teenager while neighbors said they heard a child crying for help. The prospect now that Zimmerman might never set foot in a courtroom for the shooting has caused widespread frustration and fury.

Just as sadly, Trayvon’s death was not unique. In 2008 and 2009, 2,582 Black children and teens were killed by gunfire. Black children and teens were only 15 percent of the child population, but 45 percent of the 5,740 child and teen gun deaths in those two years. Black males 15 to 19 years-old were eight times as likely as White males to be gun homicide victims. The outcry over Trayvon’s death is absolutely right and just. We need the same sense of outrage over every one of these child deaths. Above all, we need a nation where these senseless deaths no longer happen. But we won’t get it until we have common-sense gun laws that protect children instead of guns and don’t allow people like George Zimmerman to take the law into their own hands. We won’t get it until we have a culture that sees every child as a child of God and sacred, instead of seeing some as expendable statistics, and others as threats and “no good” because of the color of their skin or because they chose to walk home wearing a hood in the rain. And we won’t get it until enough of us—parents and grandparents—stand up and tell our political leaders that the National Rifle Association should not be in charge of our neighborhoods, streets, gun laws, and values. In Trayvon’s case, his father Tracy speaks for what his family needs: “The family is calling for justice. We don’t want our son’s death to be in vain.” I hope that enough voices will ensure that it is not.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.

Student Loan Interest Rates Could Double This Summer

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Advocates weigh risking cutbacks in the Pell program for low-income students

By Chris Levister

Americans owe almost $1 trillion in student loans. As if paying off students loans wasn't tough enough, interest rates could double this summer. On July first, the interest rate on federally subsidized loans will go from 3.4% to 6.8%. That means the more than 7 million students taking out loans for the next school year will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay them off.
If Congress does nothing, the cost to students borrowing the maximum $23,000 in subsidized loans is an extra $5,000 over a 10-year repayment period.
President Barack Obama is launching a major campaign to convince Congress to extend the lower interest rate, including a Twitter campaign, an appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show and multiple speeches on the increase. The President used his weekly radio address and a round of visits to large universities in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa to call on Congress to put forward and pass legislation to prevent the loan hike.

The partisan flavor of the debate is all but sure to be on display at Obama's college events, which are likely to feel more like re-election rallies.

At a time when Americans owe more on student loans than on credit cards — student debt is topping $1 trillion for the first time — and the Occupy movement has highlighted the rising furor over spiraling student debt, the issue has moved higher on the political agenda. But the question of what to do about the looming interest rate increase has landed deep in the chasm separating Democrats from Republicans, who accuse the president of using the issue in a fiscally irresponsible way, in an attempt to buy the youth vote.

The White House insists Obama's events are driven by the need for college affordability and his view that education is an economic cornerstone.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement, millions of students would be financially squeezed if rates go up, to the cost of an additional $1,000 on average. "More and more middle-class families are starting to think college might not be for them," Duncan said. "It's for rich folks. That's a real problem."

Another problem: The cost of keeping the interest rates frozen on these subsidized Stafford loans could run $6 billion a year.

Subsidized Stafford loans are low-interest loans for eligible students that help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade and technical schools.

It is unclear how that cost would be paid. Duncan said the administration will work with Congress on the answer. For now, the White House is pushing a one-year extension, not a permanent fix.

“Bad policy based on lofty campaign promises has put us in an untenable situation,” said John P. Kline Jr., the Minnesota Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The low interest rate stemmed from the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which reduced interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans over the following four academic years — from 6.8 percent to the current 3.4 percent — with the proviso that the rates would revert to 6.8 percent this July.

Mr. Kline, who earlier this year called the interest-rate hike a “ticking time bomb set by Democrats,” said he was exploring other options in hopes of finding a solution that served borrowers and taxpayers equally well. For Obama, the matter gives him a platform to position himself as a defender of the middle class or those working to make their way into it. He is shifting from the issue of tax fairness, which he has hammered for weeks, to education in front of young voters who helped fuel his winning coalition in 2008.

The president carried voters between the ages of 18-29 by a margin of about 2-to-1 in 2008, but many recent college graduates have faced high levels of unemployment, raising concerns about whether they will vote in large numbers for Obama again. Outside Congress, even some of the strongest student-aid advocates debate the question. While nearly everyone is in favor of the broad goal of college affordability, some experts point out that even 6.8 percent is lower than the rate on most private student loans. And they question whether it is worth risking cutbacks in the Pell program for low-income students, one possible consequence of using more federal money to keep interest rates low on the Stafford loans, which are in wide use by middle-income students.

When the 2007 law was passed, 77 Republicans — most of whom are still in Congress — voted for it. But in the current climate of fractious partisanship, new legislation introduced by Representative Joe Courtney to extend the lower rate has 127 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats. Mr. Courtney said he was hopeful that some Republican support would be forthcoming as the political stakes became more apparent. "President Obama believes we must reward hard work and responsibility by keeping interest rates on student loans low so more Americans get a fair shot at an affordable college education," the White House said in a statement.

Polling shows Obama holds a sizable lead over his presumed opponent, Mitt Romney among registered voters under 30. In Obama's first run for the White House, young voters helped him carry GOP-leaning states like North Carolina and Indiana thanks to major voter registration drives on college campuses.

Obama campaign officials have estimated a universe of about 8 million voters between the ages of 18 and 21 who weren't old enough to vote in 2008 but could be tapped to support the president this time. Yet Obama may be a tougher sell to young people this time.

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