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8 sneaky racial code words and why politicians love them

codeword 600When Paul Ryan talked about a "real culture problem" in "our inner cities in particular" this week, he wasn't the first American politician to be slammed for using racially coded language to get a point across. Far from it.

Ian Haney López, author of "Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class," says it's not just the promotion of old-fashioned racial stereotypes that we need to worry about. Rather, he argues, it's the manipulation of racism in service of very specific goals.

López's book focuses on elected officials' ability to tap into bias without being explicit about it, all to gain support for what he calls "regressive policies," which, ironically, hurt working-class white people as much as people of color.

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NCAA bound Tigers headed to Raleigh

tigersdance 600The University of Memphis will play George Washington Friday in the Second Round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in Raleigh, N.C. The Tigers (23-9) learned their fate during the Division I Men's Basketball Selection Show broadcast by March Madness Live and CBS on Sunday.

Memphis is the East Region's No. 8 seed. The winner of Friday's game between No. 9 seed George Washington and the Tigers will take on the winner of Friday's game pitting No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Coastal Carolina on Sunday. The games in Raleigh will be played at PNC Arena.

Times for Thursday and Friday's NCAA Second Round games are still to be determined.

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It’s called class warfare

spriggclasswarfare 600Everyone knows America has a hyper inequality problem. The six Walton family heirs who own Walmart have the same wealth as the bottom 42 percent of Americans. In the latest data through 2011, researchers Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty show the top 1 percent of income earners in the U.S. get 20 percent of all the income. Both the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD-the organization of the advanced industrialized democratic countries) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recognize that high levels of inequality hurt economic growth.

The question is: What do we do about the inequality?

Understanding the need to explain inequality, we now hear from Republican House Budget chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in an interview on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show that the problem is rooted in the cultural inferiority of inner city men:

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MONEY MATTERS: Fixed-indexed annuities

CharlesSimsJr-160If you want to participate in the potentially attractive returns of a market-driven investment but would also like a guaranteed return, an indexed annuity might be worth checking out.

The performance of indexed annuities, also referred to as equity-indexed or fixed-indexed annuities, are tied to an index (for example, the Standard & Poor's 500*). They provide investors with an opportunity to earn interest based on the performance of the index. If the index rises during a specified period in the accumulation phase, the investor participates in the gain. In the event that the market falls and the index posts a loss, the contract value is not affected. The annuity also has a guaranteed minimum rate of return, which is contingent on holding the indexed annuity until the end of the term.

This guaranteed minimum return comes at a price. The percentage of an index's gain that investors receive is called the participation rate. The participation rate of an indexed annuity can be anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent. A participation rate of 80 percent, for example, and a 10 percent gain by the index would result in an 8 percent gain by the investor. Some indexed annuities have a cap rate, the maximum rate of interest the annuity will earn, which could potentially lower an investor's gain.

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