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Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

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By Brent Wisener –

I am a business student at UC Riverside and I hope to own a business one day. I am currently enrolled in a Business Communications course and I had a very interesting first day of class.  My TA thought it would be a good icebreaker if we took turns telling the class about ourselves. He wanted us to tell our name, what year in college we were, and what our goals in life were.

About 48 out of the 50 students had life goals that were one of the following:

·         To graduate and get into a good grad school (MBA, Law, Medical, etc.)

·         To become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

·         To make a lot of money

·         To travel the world

Only two students, myself and Andy had life goals that strayed from the pack.  I told the class I wanted to make movies.

And Andy said “I want to create a product or service that could benefit society” Our TA responded “Well do you have any ideas, or are you working on anything” Andy “Nope, not yet” …and the class laughed.

So basically, what this sample of 50 2nd and 3rd year college students displayed is that 48 out of 50 students are tools. They are apathetic and have no real passion in life.

They may have a passion, like writing, music, art, but are too afraid to pursue it.  This high majority of students have become institutionalized and they have based their ‘life passion’ on their career goal. They are so heavily focused on getting a good career and extra degrees… …But what the hell do they plan to do with their career and degrees. Travel?  Reproduce? Work 50 hours a week?  Andy, the entrepreneur, was laughed at when he said he wanted to create something new.

Why did the students laugh?

Their laughter came from fear. People are afraid to walk out of the lines and blaze their own trail. They don’t want to step on a crack and break their back.  People laugh at what they don’t understand.

Society has taught the Y generation, (18-31 year olds), to go to college, go to grad school, work, have a family, vacation – then naturally we collect social security and Medicare.

There are no more cowboys - No risk-takers, no entrepreneurs, no out of the box thinkers.

Directed to the Y readers out there: Will a good-paying professional job quench your thirst for life? And, How will you better the world?

Brent Wisener is a 3rd year student at UCR.

Will These People and Corporations Stop at Nothing?

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Rev. Al Sharpton
Freedom of the press unequivocally stands at the core of fundamentals in the United States of America. It is a form of checks and balances towards the government, business and other entities in our society. But when producers, editors, journalists, executives and media conglomerates themselves begin fabricating news and openly spreading half-truths and lies, it’s time for someone else to start checking them.

Last week, news outlets began reporting on the case of Meagan Williams, the young woman in West Virginia who had claimed in 2007 that she was kidnapped, beaten, sexually assaulted, forced to eat human feces and doused with hot water all the while racial epithets were being slurred toward her. Seven individuals were convicted in the case – all of whom confessed in some form or fashion to the crime. The prosecution only pressed hate crime charges against one of the seven, despite his belief in the heinous nature of the event. Many - including myself - stepped in to support the troubled woman and her mother, who was deemed a victim even by the mainstream media.  Meagan has now recanted her story.  Reputable news outlets such as the NY Times, The Charleston Gazette and the Associated Press objectively reported on the turn of events. The AP quoted me in its piece as stating: “The Rev. Al Sharpton and Black Lawyers for Justice urged prosecutors to pursue hate-crime charges. The lawyers organized a march on her behalf. Sharpton addressed a rally in Charleston and donated $1,000 to Williams’ family as a Christmas gift … Sharpton has asked the prosecutor to vindicate anyone wrongfully convicted.”

The Charleston Gazette said in its piece: “Sharpton told the Gazette that he came down for the rally but wasn’t involved in any marches and did not represent the Williams family. He said he was involved only as a supporter of Williams.”

And the NY Times reported on October 22: “The Rev. Al Sharpton addressed a 2007 rally against hate crimes in Charleston and gave $1,000 to Ms. Williams’ family as a Christmas gift.  Mr. Sharpton said Wednesday that he had sent a letter to the current Logan County prosecutor, John Bennett, asking him to look in to Ms. Williams’ new statement.” Even those news outlets that perceived that I may have pushed for hate crime charges, did not fabricate lies or spin this latest development in the Megan Williams’ case. It was only on the right, from publications like the NY Post, where those attempting to vilify and discredit my history of civil rights work began freely spreading outright mist r u t h s .

A disservice to the field of journalism, the NY Post attempted to pass off judgments and their own biased beliefs as if they were facts.

“A troubled young woman whom the Rev. Al Sharpton championed as a victim of a horrific, racially motivated sexual assault now says she fabricated the incident …” the piece begins. This sorry excuse for reporting went on to say:

“Sharpton – who now wants a new investigation – already has a record tarnished by his drumbeating for Tawana Brawley’s discredited 1987 claim that she was gangraped by white cops.”

Instead of highlighting the notion that all I did was support a distraught woman and her family, and that I was not directly ever involved in handling her case, the Post has once again taken the liberty of printing whatever it feels like without proper research to support its biased claims. And unlike other publications that accurately reported my desire for the prosecution to reopen this case to ensure due justice for the seven white individuals who were accused of the crime, the Post attempted to juxtapose this incident with another one where once again all I did was believe a victim – not create a hoax.

As the Republican Party struggles for a clear voice and more and more begin to leave the contingent for its increasingly fanatic fringe rhetoric, it seems that those on the right are facing a new era of desperation.  And desperation of course leads to a plethora of last resorts. When no one will listen to you, take your newspapers, TV outlets or conservative spin machines as legitimate news sources, you simply begin conjuring up whatever you want.  When the wool has been removed from your cacophony of deception, no one will be left to dupe. And thanks to our ability to fact-check things on our own, your lies cannot fool people anymore.

We however, must not forget that it is still our duty to stand up and point out falsehood whenever and wherever we see it. We must be courageous against those that work to silence us, silence our work and silence the cause of civil rights and justice for everyone. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the right will stop at nothing to create ridiculous shams because that’s all the ammunition they have left.

First it was Tawana, now Megan and next thing you know, they will say I created the balloon boy hoax! Will these people and corporations stop at nothing?  Apparently there’s no limit to the level they will stoop to. I simply say to them: keep creating this hoax, and we will continue calling you out every step of the way.

It's Time to Press Forward on the Public Option

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George E. Curry, NNPA Columnist
This is a defining week for Democrats who must decide whether to press for the public option in health care and risk losing the support of a lonely Republican senator or press for the measure to avoid offending an increasingly vocal segment of its base.

The Senate is expected to come up with a bill this week, after much wrangling, and send it to the Congressional Budget Office for an official pricing.  After being declared dead in the Senate, the public option – a government plan to compete with insurance companies to lower prices – saw a strong revival on the heels of public opinion polls showing more than half of all Americans favor such a plan. In order to win over some reluctant Democrats, states will be allowed to opt-out of the program.  “My guess is that the public option level playing field with the state opt-out will be in the bill,” Senator Charles Schumer of New York said on “Meet the Press.”

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has grown increasingly irritated by the mixed signals emanating from the White House. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama advocated health reform that includes the public option, saying that’s the only way to drive down escalating insurance premiums.  After assuming office, President Obama has alternately expressed support for the public option and dismissing it as a “sliver” of the overall plan to reform the $2.5 trillion annual health care system.  Savaged by misleading TV commercials sponsored by conservative groups, progressives finally started fighting back, proving that so-called death panels were never proposed and pointing out that the United States is the only country in the industrialized world without a national health plan. The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other nation, but ranks 37th in overall health, according to the World Health Organization.

The best way to make health care insurance more affordable is to offer a program similar to Medicare that would compete directly with health insurance companies.

But the Republican leadership in Congress, members who regularly extol the virtues of market-driven competition, do not want to see the kind of competition offered by a public option. Evidently, they are in a minority.

“The American people are for some alternative that will create some competition for the abuses of the insurance industry,” Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said on “Face the Nation.”

Public opinion polls support Feingold’s view. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found in October that 57 percent of Americans favor creation of a “government-administered public health insurance option.”

A poll by the Washington Post and ABC News produced similar findings.  Respondents were asked: “Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?”

Overall, 57 percent preferred the government action. As expected, the support was higher among Democrats – 77 percent – and lower among Republicans at 26 percent. A majority of independents – 57 percent – expressed support for the government option.

With clear public support behind the public option, why are Democrats acting like such wimps?

In Obama’s case, he still holds out hope that he can garner bipartisan support for health care and other programs. In fact, he has placed an inordinate amount of attention on winning the vote of Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, the only Republican who seems willing to consider supporting the administration’s health care bill.

Snowe objects to the public option, preferring to establish a triggering mechanism that will go into effect if the insurance companies fail to meet certain targets.  With Snowe’s vote, Democrats will have the 60 votes needed in the senate to overcome an expected GOP filibuster.  But Obama should not be willing to throw his core supporters overboard just to win Snowe’s vote and falsely claim that he has obtained some kind of bipartisan victory. The reality is that bipartisan, by definition, requires the cooperation of the other side. But Republican leaders have made a political calculation that the best way to regain power is to obstruct everything the administration proposes.  The GOP has become the “party of no.” No to legislation stabilizing Wall Street. No to a stimulus plan. No to true health care reform. No, no, no.

There are signs that Republicans are paying a price for strident opposition.  A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that only 19 percent of those questioned expressed confidence in Republicans’ ability to make the right decisions for America’s future; 79 percent lacked such confidence. The poll contained additional bad news for the GOP. Only 20 percent of voters consider themselves Republicans, the lowest figure since the Washington Post started collecting such data in 1983.

This week is a major test for the Obama administration. If Obama and Congressional Democrats can pass health care legislation containing the public option that will indeed be change we can believe in. On the other hand, if Democrats fail, they will be, in the words of James Brown, talking loud and saying nothing.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at twitter.com/currygeorge.

Obtaining Inner Peace When There is No Outer Peace

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Many of the people I encounter in traffic and supermarkets seem to be stressed out or frustrated. These negative vibes seep into our personal relationships and gradually creates chaos or distance. Contrary to popular thinking, being at peace isn’t something you earn; it’s something you recognize. Your peacefulness is not established by your surroundings, it’s established by the God within you. Inner peace is the ultimate truce against past and present chaos. Sometimes in life we get so caught up in doing the daily tasks in the home and at work we stop noticing the most important thing, our connection with our self.

In everyday life it is so easy to get caught up in the ‘doing’ of things, the drive to the destination, the achievement of the goal or task. We are so busy doing tasks or thinking about the past or the future, we don’t enjoy the experience of now or the life we are spending getting to the outcome we have chosen.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our thoughts that we miss the whole journey home from the office - we can’t remember driving through all the suburbs along the way, stopping at traffic lights or seeing people on the side of the road? In fact, we can’t remember anything at all!  It’s a wonder we even get there safely and sometimes we don’t.

The reality is we spend a great deal of our time thinking about the past or the future - planning, worrying about foreseeable problems in our minds and rehashing past regrets that we waste the present moment, the conversation with someone we love, our children showing us their painting or talking about something that is important to them. We miss the sunsets, the smell of the rain, the sound of the birds in the trees outside, the feel of a gentle breeze on our skin. We miss the joy in the journey of life because we are so absorbed in everything but the present moment.

One very simple way while driving to reconnect is to first turn off all the sound (radio, music, etc.) in your vehicle and take time to breath focusing on your breath as thoughts come up just letting them go and refocusing just on your breath. To begin with, you may like to do this just for a few minutes at the beginning and end of your day, maybe just as you wake and as you drift off to sleep.

You will find that stillness and peace can be found in any moment and does not only exist when there is external quiet or calm. You need no props or special places to practice being present in the moment, connecting to your inner peace and stillness.  All that is required is a desire to rediscover that place. Give yourself the gift of living in the moment and you will truly discover that the joy is in the journey not the destination.

Website: www.richardojoneslive.com

More Than Just a Pink Ribbon

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By Julianne Malveaux, NNPA Columnist –

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. If you flew Delta Airlines this month, you saw flight attendants with pink t-shirts, pink uniforms, as well as the ever-present pink ribbons.

A number of department stores have breast cancer awareness “sales” or passes, with dollars raised being donated to breast cancer research. In Washington, DC, women walked a whopping 60 miles over a 3-day period to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

There are billboards and public service announcements about breast cancer awareness.

Why? Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, after lung cancer. African-American women are more likely that White women to die from breast cancer at every age. Although Black women are less likely to have breast cancer after 40, we are more likely to have breast cancer before 40. Since many health plans don’t suggest or even allow a mammogram before 40, many young Black women go undiagnosed with breast cancer too long, which increases their likelihood of dying from breast cancer.

One of my personal sheroes is a woman named Zora Brown. She started a group, Rise, Sister, Rise, to educate African-American women about breast cancer. A 20-year survivor of breast cancer, Zora has authored books, produced television programs, and been a valuable resource around breast cancer awareness and education.

She lived in Washington, DC decades before she relocated to Oklahoma City where she continues to work on health care issues. There are far too few Zora Browns in our world, agitators in the African- American community around health care issues.

While I appreciate the people wearing pink ribbons to raise awareness about breast cancer, we need to do a lot more than just wear ribbons. We need to ensure that women, especially young black women, are doing everything they can to take care of their bodies. Most doctors will show women how to check their breasts for lumps, which is an important way to detect cancer possibilities early. Mammograms aren’t painless, and some of us avoid them, but they are an important way to detect cancers and to ensure breast health.

Concern about breast cancer ought also be concern about health care.  Indeed, while breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women, more women die from heart attacks than breast cancer. An amazing number of Americans do not get annual checkups, often because they simply cannot afford them. How many of the people wearing pink ribbons are also opposing health care reform, as proposed by President Obama?

How many who say they oppose a public role in health care want to keep their Medicare benefits? There is a lot of hypocrisy in this health care reform debate. It makes no sense to wear a pink ribbon without acknowledging health care as a basic human right.

We in these United States are experts at awareness. December 1 is World AIDS Day, and attention then will be focused on HIV and AIDS. Easter Seals campaigns have us focusing on people with disabilities. We raise awareness about polio, diabetes, and any number of other illnesses, and perhaps that is a good thing. But awareness does not equal treatment. Awareness does not equal access to health care. I wish we had ribbons to wear for health care reform.

Maybe they should be green ribbons since some of the interests opposing health care reform are moneyed interests.  Or maybe they should be black ribbons for the number of folk who die because they don’t have access to health care.  Maybe there shouldn’t be ribbons at all, maybe armbands. Mostly, there should be action, not just awareness.

The pink ribbons are better than nothing.  They recognize the need for women to be more health-aware, and the challenges that young African American women face around breast health and the early diagnosis of breast cancer. But it would be interesting to ask some of the pink ribbon wearers where they stand on health care reform. On that question, we need people to do a lot more than just wear ribbons.

Julianne Malveaux is President of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

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