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Lessons Left by Michael Jackson

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Richard O. Jones
Besides the wonderful music, charity work, record breaking album sales, and child molestation allegations Michael Jackson should also be remembered for something of a more redeeming value. Jackson inadvertently has left a valuable lesson. Whenever, if ever, his millions of fans stop mourning Jackson the super star and listen to Jackson the man, his legacy will become bigger than music and more powerful than a postage stamp in his honor.

Michael Jackson and his siblings were physically abused. Jackson publicly spoke about it during an interview a few years ago. To hear the interview go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc8HjdK7kJ8

In my view, Jackson and his siblings didn’t get beaten any worse than my siblings and me and many other African Americans that came up during the 50s, 60s, and/or 70s. Very seldom do I run across a Black person above 50 years-old that can’t recall times of severe beatingsby a parent or parental figure. Child abuse is pervasive in the Black community.  I also recall reading about the childhood physical and sexual abuse of the late great comedian Richard Pryor. It is clear to social workers and psychologists that childhood abuse is harmful in the lives of the abused for many years.  Perhaps such mistreatment led to Pryors’ well-known drug use and sexual promiscuity. Perhaps such abuse led to Jackson’s bizarre behavior. Even the convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison in the late 60s Charles Manson talks of his abuse as a child at the hands of his mother.

Since the world is now looking at the life of Michael Jackson, this would be a good time for community activists to campaign for child abuse awareness in the name of Michael Jackson. Sure a Michael Jackson stamp is fine but it would be more meaningful to an abused child to see an Anti-Child Abuse Center or new child abuse laws passed in his honor.

Michael Jackson leaves the world with a major lesson about the misuse of prescription drugs.  But he also leaves a bigger lesson about how child abuse can devastate a child for a lifetime.

Parents today that abuse their children may escape the law but they should know that their children would never forget a tormented childhood. Such parents might go to their grave hated for acts done many decades earlier. There are no parents that wish to instill such hatred in their children, yet verbal and physical child abuse continues. Perhaps in the memory of the sad personal legacy of Michael Jackson and Richard

Pryor their millions of fans can make a difference. I didn’t know Jackson or Pryor but I think they would be prouder if their legacy could lessen child abuse than be given a stamp.


The National Scene

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Linnie Frank Bailey
As the first half of the year ends, the Administration can look back on significant efforts to get America back on track, including—an economic stimulus, a revamped energy policy, the beginnings of health care reform, and a new approach to international relations. Moreover, the following legislation has been passed and signed by President Barack Obama in 2009:

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – (fair pay for women)
Signed: January 29, 2009

Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act – (continue state program SCHIP)
Signed: February 4, 2009

DTV Delay Act – (delayed implementation of digital TV until June 2009)
Signed: February 11, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – (major economic stimulus bill)
Signed: February 17, 2009

Small Business Act Temporary Extension – (temporarily extends SBA programs)
Signed: March 20, 2009

Omnibus Public Lands Management Act – (public land conservation)
Signed: March 30, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – (increases and manages community service programs and funding)
Signed: April 21, 2009

Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act – (steps to end mortgage fraud and predatory lending)
Signed: May 20, 2009

Helping Families Save Their Homes Act – (steps to prevent foreclosures and rewrite mortgage loans)
Signed: May 20, 2009
Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act – (defense procurement reform)

Signed: May 22, 2009

Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 – (consumer credit protection)
Signed: May 22, 2009

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act – (steps to prevent children and teens from smoking)
Signed: June 22, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Gets Easier

The cumbersome application process for college student financial aid has gotten a lot simpler with the newly redesigned FAFSA. Fulfilling a campaign promise, the Obama Administration announced a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that will make it easier to apply for college financial aid. The changes are designed to increase college enrollment, particularly among low- and middle-income students. They include:

Effective May 2009 -- instant estimates of Pell Grant and student loan eligibility, rather than forcing applicants to wait weeks. Links to graduation rates and other college information are also provided;

Effective summer 2009 -- enhanced logic used in the new web-based FAFSA will reduce user navigation for many applicants.  Effective January 2010 -- students applying for financial aid for the spring semester will be able to retrieve their relevant tax information from the IRS for easy completion of the online FAFSA.

The Administration will seek authority from Congress to eliminate 26 financial questions from the FAFSA form that have little impact on aid awards and can be difficult to complete.

In addition, Whitehouse.gov lists the following activities the Administration has pursued to improve access to higher education and make it more affordable:

Expanding Pell Grants and College Tax Credits: The Recovery Act increased Pell Grants by $500 to $5,350 for 2009-2010 and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a new $2,500 tax credit for four years of college tuition.  Modernizing and Expanding the Perkins Loan Program: The President’s 2010 Budget proposes to make this vital program available to over 2,600 additional schools and an estimated 2.7 million additional students each year. By providing an additional $5 billion in Perkins Loans and continuing the low five percent interest rate, President Obama hopes that the neediest of students will have access to federal financial resources they did not have before.  Creating a New College Access and Completion Fund: In his 2010 budget proposal, President Obama proposes a five-year, $2.5 billion fund to build federal-state-local partnerships aimed at improving college access and completion, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
To help families in special circumstances during these challenging economic times, the Administration sent a letter in early April to financial aid administrators reminding them of their authority to make adjustments, on a case-by-case basis, to address circumstances, such as unemployment, not reflected on the original application.

More information on financial aid for college is available at http://studentaid.ed.gov.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

President Addresses Immigration Reform

President Obama and Vice President Biden met with Congressional leaders to discuss immigration reform. The bi-partisan group included Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), Rep. Luis Guitierrez (D-Illinois), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (DNew York), Rep. James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), Sen. John McCain (RArizona), and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). The Administration indicated this is the first of more working meetings to come up with practical solutions to immigration problems. President Obama also announced a new website that will allow immigrant applicants to get updates on the status of their applications online, or via e-mail or text message.

Summer Community Service – “United We Serve”

The Administration’s summer community service project—“United We Serve” continues until the National Day of Service on September 11, 2009. The First Family participated in packing backpacks for children of our armed forces at Fort McNair in D.C. The First Family was joined by several members of Congress and their families, with the goal of packing 15,000 backpacks for the children to bring with them to camp. The backpacks were filled with letters, healthy snacks, Frisbees, and a Bo Jackson baseball card!  The President encouraged all American families to get involved with community service, saying: “We want to ask every American to take some time out this summer to do something for others. Parents, take your kids….once a week, take them down—whether it’s to a soup kitchen or to volunteer on a community project -- teach them what it means to be a real citizen. You’ll find that actually the kids love it, and it’s going to make a lasting impression on them.”

Friday, June 26, 2009

President Applauds House for Passing Energy Bill

In a close vote, the House of Representatives passed an Energy Build supported by the President. Obama saluted this effort saying: “For more than three decades, we’ve talked about our dependence on foreign oil. And for more than three decades, we’ve seen that dependence grow. We’ve seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security. We’ve seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet. And most of all, we’ve seen that others countries realize a critical truth: The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy…..Now, make no mistake—this is a jobs bill. We’re already seeing why this is true in the clean energy investments we’re making through the Recovery Act. In California, 3,000 people will be employed to build a new solar plant that will create 1,000 jobs.”

The bill must now past the Senate. The President hopes to sign it in early fall.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another White House First – Welcoming the Deaf and Blind

President Obama became one of the few sitting Presidents to greet and welcome persons who are deaf and blind to the White House Oval Office. The group, from the Helen Keller National Center, received a tour of the White House in addition to meeting with the President.

Official Bee-Keeper Brings Honey to White House

Speaking of Obama first’s White House carpenter Charles Brandts—a beekeeper in his spare time—has brought beehives to the White House.  The hives, tended by Brandts, pollinate the First Lady’s garden and provide honey to the White House kitchen.

Time for Immigration Reform is Now

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The White House and members of Congress must move quickly on enacting a just and humane immigration reform package that will reunite families, reinvigorate the economy, and remove the term “illegal or undocumented immigrants” from the dialogue in this country.  Ethnic media, which reaches over 60 million adults in the United States, calls on Congress to move decisively on immigration reform because there are few issues as important to the nation’s well-being as an overhaul of the inefficient, inhumane and economically debilitating immigration system. More importantly, we are also urging our readers and viewers to contact their Senators and Congressmen and let them know that immigration reform must be a national priority.

The immigration system is broken not just for 12 million undocumented immigrants, but also for specialized workers blocked from joining the American economy because of narrow quotas, and mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who must wait for years before being reunited with their families.

Our nation needs comprehensive immigration policies that will replace a broken system of raids and roundups with one that protects all workers from exploitation, improves America’s security and builds strong communities. It’s time to end the division between workers, which has allowed big business to exploit both sides. Clearly, working-class citizens and immigrant workers have much in common – dreams of better homes, education for their families and quality healthcare. There is more that brings us together, than separates us. United we can be a strong force for change, changes that that bring more workforce safety and humane conditions.

Immigration is often portrayed as an explosive, divisive issue. In reality it’s not. Since the repeal of the national origins quota system in 1965, which discriminated against certain immigrants, a consensus has been building towards an immigration system that respects the country’s core values. These include economic opportunity, equality under the law regardless of ethnic background, and an embrace of the world’s most innovative, energetic and ambitious workers. Now, with the country facing serious competition from workers abroad, it’s more important than ever to create a world-class immigration system. It’s good for families, good for communities and good for America.

Editor’s Note: This editorial was produced in association with New America Media (www.newamericamedia.org), a national association of ethnic media, and was published by ethnic media across the country this week to bring attention to the urgency of immigration reform.

No Excuse For Not Passing Civic Engagement Bill

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My Assembly Bill 796 recently passed the Senate Education Committee on a vote of six to one.  If it is signed into law, eligible students would be able to be excused from school without penalty to participate in civic engagement and leadership activities. Joining the list of excused absences would be serving on a community committee, an advisory board or task force, attending a town hall meeting or an educational conference on the legislative or judicial process, or becoming a member of a youth commission. An excused absence could not include participation in a demonstration or political campaign.

There is no better example of my bill’s intent than President Barack Obama’s cute, human gesture at a Wisconsin town hall-style meeting on health care. He penned 10-year-old Kennedy Corpus a memorable note excusing her from her from the last day of school as her father stood to ask a question about health care reform. John Corpus told him that his daughter was missing school to attend a public meeting to see the President and that he hoped she wouldn’t get in trouble. “Do you need me to write a note?” President Obama asked.

If AB 796 passes, California students in Kennedy’s situation wouldn’t have to worry. But for now, you can’t really argue with a hand-delivered note from the President of the United States: “To Kennedy’s teacher,” he wrote, “Please excuse Kennedy’s absence...she’s with me.” Kennedy will never forget this experience with her father. It’s important that we encourage such activities so that students make civic engagement a lifetime commitment.

Wilmer Amina Carter
Assemblymember, District 62

Bass: Californians Must Come First In Budget

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Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)
This week, the Assembly and Senate sent the Governor a comprehensive package of cuts and other solutions that would have resolved California’s entire $19 billion deficit, which was caused by the national recession. The package that was put forward by Democrats left a healthy reserve and avoided a cash crisis and IOUs. Unfortunately, the Governor and Senate Republicans rejected this responsible solution and have now led California over a financial cliff.

There is too much work to do to waste time assigning blame, but resolving the deficit just got at least $6 billion harder thanks to their blocking the cash solutions passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly.  Solving the deficit is a job we must and will finish.

The Assembly will continue pursuing comprehensive solutions to the deficit crisis California is sharing with so many of our sister states. We will continue to do so in a way that prevents the elimination of California’s safety net and the evisceration of our public schools.

Throughout the process my Democratic colleagues and I fought the worst aspects of governor’s budget, specifically his outlandish proposals to totally abolish the safety net in California.

This is what I’m talking about:

The Governor’s budget would mean 950,000 kids lose Healthy Families health care.

The Governor’s budget would kick 587,000 poor families off of CalWorks. CalWorks has been working.

Until the current recession, CalWORKs caseloads have declined 50% since 1995.

The Governor’s budget would basically eliminate In Home Supportive Services and make it more likely that 400,000 elderly Californians would lose their independence and get forced into nursing homes.

The Governor’s phased-in elimination of CalGrants would mean 75,000 to 100,000 kids scheduled to start school in September will have their grants taken away. CalGrants make the opportunity to go to college as accessible to underserved and middle class families as it is to the children of millionaires.

One young African American woman -- 24 years old and born HIV positive testified that the governor’s proposal will cut her off from lifesaving anti-viral drugs.

We will continue to work in the coming days to find solutions to our budget deficit that don’t come by sacrificing the most vulnerable in our society. And while deep cuts to services I care deeply about were inevitable in these tough times, we can’t let California become the only government in the first world without a safety net.

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BVN National News Wire