Yearly Archives: 2012

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson resigns

Environmental Protection Agency Administration Lisa Jackson says she’s stepping down after nearly four years on the job.

Jackson announced her departure in a statement Thursday. She gave no particular reason for leaving but said she was ready for new challenges, time with her family and new opportunities to make a difference.

Jackson’s tenure was marked by high-profile brawls with industry and congressional Republicans over such issues a global warming pollution, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and new controls on coal-fired plants.

She says she’s leaving the agency, in her words, “confident the ship is sailing in the right direction.”

Jackson is expected to leave after the State of the Union address in late January. Cabinet members looking to move on often leave at the beginning of a president’s second term. (AP)

Black offensive assistants encounter roadblocks to becoming NFL head coaches

Two Sundays ago, nearly an hour after completing a dubious debut as the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell waited outside the visitors’ locker room at M&T Bank Stadium, hoping to get a few words with Peyton Manning.

When the Denver Broncos’ future Hall of Fame quarterback learned that Caldwell, his close friend from their decade together with the Indianapolis Colts, was in the hallway, he had a team official escort the 57-year-old coach into a small, adjacent room, where the two men spoke for nearly 15 minutes.

Afterward, as he walked to the team bus outside the stadium, Manning talked about the awkward position into which Caldwell had been placed. After Baltimore suffered consecutive defeats to slip to 9-4, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired, reportedly at the urging of owner Steve Bisciotti. And though Cameron’s replacement had been the head coach of the Colts’ 2009 team that lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, Caldwell had never called plays on any level. (Yahoo! Sports)

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A new Black senator and the risk of becoming a political footnote

Recently, Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Republican governor, made an announcement of historic significance. The governor said she was filling the seat in the United States Senate being vacated by Jim DeMint by appointing Tim Scott, a 47-year-old African American congressman with strong conservative credentials.

With his upgrade to the Senate, Scott becomes the first Black senator from South Carolina and the only Republican to serve in that body since Edward Brooke of Massachusetts left the Senate in 1979. To say the least, Scott has the opportunity to become a major figure in the nation’s political landscape.

The appointment makes Scott only the seventh African American to have ever served in the United States Senate. He will run in a special election in 2014 to serve the final two years of DeMint’s term. If Scott wins, he will be the first African American to be popularly elected to the Senate from a Southern state.

There is a lot of history here and the potential for Scott to become an outstanding senator. But unless he unshackles himself from some of the right-wing zealotry he has embraced so enthusiastically, he is more likely to relegate himself to footnote status. (New York Amsterdam News)

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Chicago reaches 500 homicides with fatal shooting

Chicago has logged its 500th homicide of 2012.

The last time the city reached the 500-homicide mark was in 2008, when the year ended with 512 killings. Last year, city records show Chicago had 435 homicides.

On Thursday, officials with the Chicago Police Department said the city was one homicide away from the 500 mark. Hours later, a 40-year-old man was fatally shot in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side. Police say Nathaniel Jackson was found on the sidewalk outside a convenience store with a gunshot wound to the head late Thursday.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office says Jackson was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital early Friday.

Jackson’s death remains under investigation. No arrests have been made. (AP)

Hiring of Black College Football Coaches Still Lagging

Every college student knows the end of November marks the ending of a semester, which also means grades. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released a report card on the hiring of minority football coaches at the Division I level on November 29, which showcased mixed results.

The report shows there were 18 coaches of color at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools in the 2012 season. That number included three African-American coaches and one Polynesian that were hired prior to the season.

At the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, there are nine coaches of color, bringing the total of qualifying coaches of color to 27. These totals exclude FCS coaches employed at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The study found that just six of the 39 hiring searches in the 2011-2012 hiring cycle resulted in the hiring of minority coaches. Texas A&M’s hire of former Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin was the only minority hire out of 12 openings at the FBS level during that period. (Diverse Issues in Higher Education)

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‘Django’ an unsettling experience for many blacks

Tracey White’s initial impression of “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino’s new slave-era shoot-’em-up extravaganza, could be summed up in three words: smart, funny and ugly. Sitting through a recent screening in Beverly Hills, the L.A. costume designer was mostly absorbed and found herself laughing aloud at particularly outrageous moments.

But White, who is black, said her feelings evolved significantly. Two days after reflecting on the matter of slavery and Tarantino’s treatment, she pronounced the movie mostly ugly.

“He [Tarantino] gets a good product out of it in terms of wit and a visual look,” said White. “But when it was over I found myself wondering, ‘What is he trying to do?’ I enjoyed the movie when I was in there, but I still have a problem with Tarantino when he deals with our race.” (Los Angeles Times)

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Blacks are taken for granted

African-American Republicans catch a lot of flak, but they can also be an illuminating force in the American political system.

The reaction they often generate shows that liberals aren’t as progressive as they pretend to be. The left will not hesitate to come after anyone who threatens to weaken its hold on black voters.

The reaction also shows that many African-American activists aren’t completely sincere about wanting the community to achieve political power and break barriers. In the end, the only people they want to see arrive at positions of influence are those beholden to the Democratic Party.

The same is true with Hispanics, where most of the activists on the left are Democrats first and Hispanics second. They tend to put their party before their community, often with disastrous results.

In the African-American community, black Republicans are regarded with suspicion. The few African-Americans who aren’t Democrats are considered unrepresentative and out of step. (Statesman Journal)

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A Look At Childhood Cancer And African Americans

Childhood cancer is rare—children with cancer account for less than 1 percent of all new cancer cases in the United States. But did you know that cancer is the second leading cause of death (after accidents) among children ages 1 to 14? It is estimated that in 2012 in the United States, more than 12,000 children (ages 0­ to 14) will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 1,300 will die from it.

But there is good news, too. Over the past 20 years, childhood cancer deaths overall have dropped, and many more children are surviving a cancer diagnosis. For example, only 58 percent of children ages 0 to 14 diagnosed in 1975–1977 lived at least 5 years after diagnosis, whereas it is estimated that more than 80 percent of those diagnosed today will make it to the 5-year mark. This improvement is due to remarkable advances in treatment and to the high participation of children with cancer in clinical trials.

Although African American children are less likely than white children to develop cancer, their 5-year survival rate is poorer, according to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program.

The most common types of childhood cancer are leukemias (blood cell cancers) and cancers of the brain and central nervous system. The causes of childhood cancers are largely unknown, and researchers are trying to learn about possible risk factors. You can learn more about childhood cancers at NCI’s website. Just go to http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/childhoodcancers.

Despite the improvements in outcomes overall, some types of childhood cancer remain very difficult to treat and have low cure rates. NCI continues to try to find more effective treatments for all childhood cancers through research and clinical trials. If you have a child with cancer, have you thought about enrolling your child in a clinical trial? It is important to take the time to learn about cancer clinical trials and what benefits they may offer, even if you ultimately decide that a trial is not for your child. You can learn more about clinical trials at NCI’s website. Just go to http://cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/learningabout.

Remember, when it comes to your child’s health, knowing the facts and the options about treatment are critical. In the fight against cancer, clinical trials can offer hope and promise, but the only way to know whether a clinical trial is right for your child is to educate yourself and get the facts.

For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI web site at www.cancer.gov/espanol (or m.cancer.gov from your mobile device) or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). More articles and videos in the culturally relevant Lifelines series are available at www.cancer.gov/lifelines. (PR Newswire)

White House meeting a last stab at a fiscal deal

Amid partisan bluster, top members of Congress and President Barack Obama were holding out slim hopes for a limited fiscal deal before the new year. But even as congressional leaders prepared to convene at the White House, there were no signs that legislation palatable to both sides was taking shape.

The Friday afternoon meeting among congressional leaders and the president — their first since Nov. 16 — stood as a make-or-break moment for negotiations to avoid across-the-board first of the year tax increases and deep spending cuts.

Obama called for the meeting as top lawmakers alternately cast blame on each other while portraying themselves as open to a reasonable last-minute bargain.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid all but conceded that any effort at this late date was a long shot. “I don’t know timewise how it can happen now,” he said.

For Obama, the 11th-hour scramble represented a test of how he would balance the strength derived from his re-election with his avowed commitment to compromise. Despite early talk of a grand bargain between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner that would reduce deficits by more than $2 trillion, the expectations were now far less ambitious.

Although there were no guarantees of a deal, Republicans and Democrats said privately that any agreement would likely include an extension of middle-class tax cuts with increased rates at upper incomes, an Obama priority that was central to his re-election campaign. The deal would also likely put off the scheduled spending cuts. Such a year-end bill could also include an extension of expiring unemployment benefits, a reprieve for doctors who face a cut in Medicare payments and possibly a short-term measure to prevent dairy prices from soaring, officials said.

To get there, Obama and Reid would have to propose a package that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell would agree not to block with procedural steps that require 60 votes to overcome.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said he still thinks a deal could be struck.

The Democrat told NBC’s “Today” show Friday that he believes the “odds are better than people think.”

Schumer said he based his optimism on indications that McConnell has gotten “actively engaged” in the talks.

Appearing on the same show, Republican Sen. John Thune noted the meeting scheduled later Friday at the White House, saying “it’s encouraging that people are talking.”

But Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., predicted that “the worst-case scenario” could emerge from Friday’s talks.
“We will kick the can down the road,” he said on “CBS This Morning.”

“We’ll do some small deal and we’ll create another fiscal cliff to deal with the fiscal cliff,” he said. Corker complained that there has been “a total lack of courage, lack of leadership,” in Washington.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell cautioned: “Republicans aren’t about to write a blank check for anything the Democrats put forward just because we find ourselves at the edge of the cliff.”

Nevertheless, he said he told Obama in a phone call late Wednesday that “we’re all happy to look at whatever he proposes.”

If a deal were to pass the Senate, Boehner would have to agree to take it to the floor in the Republican-controlled House.

Boehner discussed the fiscal cliff with Republican members in a conference call Thursday and advised them that the House would convene Sunday evening. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an ally of the speaker, said Boehner told the lawmakers that “he didn’t really intend to put on the floor something that would pass with all the Democratic votes and few of the Republican votes.”

But Cole did not rule out Republican support for some increase in tax rates, noting that Boehner had amassed about 200 Republican votes for a plan last week to raise rates on Americans earning $1 million or more. Boehner ultimately did not put the plan to a House floor vote in the face of opposition from Republican conservatives and a unified Democratic caucus.

“The ultimate question is whether the Republican leaders in the House and Senate are going to push us over the cliff by blocking plans to extend tax cuts for the middle class,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said.

“Ironically, in order to protect tax breaks for millionaires, they will be responsible for the largest tax increase in history.”

Boehner, McConnell, Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi are all scheduled to attend Friday’s White House meeting with Obama. Vice President Joe Biden will also participate in the meeting, the White House said.

Despite the urgency to act, the rhetoric Thursday was quarrelsome and personal.

The House of Representatives is “being operated with a dictatorship of the speaker,” Reid said on the Senate floor. He attributed Boehner’s reluctance to put a version of Senate bill that raised tax rates on incomes above $250,000 for couples to fears he could lose his re-election as speaker next week.

“Harry Reid should talk less and legislate more if he wants to avert the fiscal cliff,” countered Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner.

If a deal is not possible, it should become evident at Friday’s White House meeting. If that occurs, Obama and the leaders would leave the resolution to the next Congress to address in January.

Such a delay could unnerve the stock market, which performed erratically Thursday amid the developments in Washington. Economists say that if the tax increases are allowed to hit most Americans and if the spending cuts aren’t scaled back, the recovering but fragile economy could sustain a traumatizing shock.

But a sentiment is taking hold that despite a black eye to its image, Congress could weather the fiscal cliff without significant economic consequences if it acts decisively next month.

“Going over is likely because at this point both sides probably see a better deal on the other side of the cliff,” Jared Bernstein, Biden’s former economic adviser, wrote in a blog post Thursday.

By letting current tax cuts expire and rise, Bernstein and others say, Republicans would be voting to lower taxes next month, even if not for all taxpayers. Democrats — and Obama — would be in a stronger position to demand that taxpayers above the $250,000 threshold pay higher taxes, instead of the $400,000 threshold that Obama proposed in his latest offer to Boehner.

And the debate over spending cuts, including changes to politically sensitive entitlement programs such as Medicare, would have to start anew. (AP)

African-American women shouldn’t have to defend hairstyles

Several years ago when I reported a story about an African-American woman who was getting flak about her hairstyle from her employer, I felt the issue of black hair represented the last frontier of African-Americans settling into the corporate lifestyle. But the recent firing of Rhonda Lee, a meteorologist for KTBS TV in Shreveport, La., for defending her hair on the station’s Facebook page, proved my assessment was premature.

This on the heels of the Gabby Douglas Olympics onslaught, which saw the teen gymnast curtsy to public scrutiny and emerge with the standard European long-hair look.

Rhonda Lee, who sports a short, natural style, seems to have concluded that enough is enough. She says she was previously denied an interview with a station in California because the news director had advised her that her hairstyle looked “too aggressive.” She says another station asked her to change her hair to make it more appealing to a mass audience. (MPR News)

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