Mourning an icon: Nelson Mandela dead at 95

150341522.jpg.CROP.rtstoryvar-largeThe former South African president, who spent 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid, has died.

On Feb. 11, 1990, South African political leader Nelson Mandela walked out of a prison after 27 years to fulfill his mission: dismantling the country's apartheid regime. By 1994 the Nobel Prize winner had achieved just that by establishing the first democratic elections in South Africa and becoming its first black president. The towering statesman died today at the age of 95.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in a tiny village in rural South Africa, known as Mvezo. "Rolihlahla" in the Xhosa language means "pulling the branch of a tree," or more commonly refers to "troublemaker." Mandela's mother -- Nosekeni Fanny -- was the third of his father's four wives.


President Obama: wage & income gap eroding American dream

5minimumwageS029297760-300 600WASHINGTON – The growing gap between rich and poor Americans is threatening the ideals the country was founded upon, President Barack Obama said in remarks Wednesday that appeared to signal a leftward turn in his economic agenda.

Making sure that the U.S. economy works for every working American is "the defining challenge of our time," Obama said in a speech at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. He later said the "dangerous and growing" income and opportunity gap is jeopardizing the notion that if people work hard, they can get ahead.

"The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking enough, but the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty, because she lacks a decent education or health care or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us," Obama said during his remarks.


Nonprofit whisperer takes helm at Ford Foundation

Darren-Walker 600In September, Darren Walker became the second African American and 10th president of the Ford Foundation, America's second largest philanthropy organization with $500 million in annual giving.

After a stint in international law and banking, Walker served as the COO of a non-profit agency in New York before moving to the foundation world, first arriving at the Rockefeller Foundation before being tapped to fill a vice president slot at Ford in 2010. He was interviewed in his New York office by Khalil Abdullah, national reporter for New America Media.


With back to wall, Fisk seeks fresh accreditation

5fisk 600NASHVILLE – Fisk University President Dr. H. James Williams and a team of top Fisk administrators are set to visit Atlanta in early December to make the institution's final pitch to the powerful Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to give Fisk a clean bill of heath on its accreditation.

The outcome of the Fisk meeting with SACSCOC officials, to be announced December 10, will have a profound impact upon Fisk. The 77-member board of SACSCOC is to decide whether to remove Fisk from membership in the group or continue its accreditation without conditions. Fisk is Nashville's oldest institution of higher education.

Accreditation by SACSCOC, the premier panel of higher education peers who set performance standards for college and universities across the South, is the yardstick used by the federal government in determining whether an institution of higher learning is eligible to receive federal student aid funds.


Merriam-Webster’s 2013 word of the year is ... science, not ‘selfie’

science 600Sorry, folks. Merriam-Webster's word of the year is not "selfie." And twerk is nowhere on the list, either.

Unlike the lads and ladies over at Oxford, Merriam-Webster has declared "science" its 2013 word of the year.

Its number 2 word is cognitive.


Obama to push for minimum wage hike in economy remarks

obama 600WASHINGTON – The growing gap between rich and poor, and its effect on Americans' ability to achieve their goals, will be President Barack Obama's focus Wednesday as more attention falls on the plight of low-wage workers, according to White House officials.

In an address sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, Obama will again return his focus to the persistent issue of his presidency: an economy that's still struggling to recover from the downturn of 2008.

In his speech, the President will argue that income disparity threatens the wellbeing of middle class Americans as well as the larger chance for upward mobility, and he'll make another pitch for raising the minimum wage.


African artifacts net $23,000 in Goodwill auction

goodwill 600Thank you for shopping Goodwill, your total is $23,472.

That is a line most thrifty shoppers will never hear. Maybe $23.47, but certainly not 23 grand.

While most think of Goodwill as a great place to buy really cheap shirts or gently used shoes, maybe even some furniture, the charity has an online auction site called shopgoodwill.com.


Exonerated: Cases by the numbers

usstats 600(CNN) -- During the past two decades, the Innocence Project and other advocates have been utilizing rapid advances in the scientific testing of genetic materials.

DNA testing of evidence in criminal cases has resulted in freedom for hundreds of prisoners across the United States who were wrongfully convicted.

Many of these prisoners spent years behind bars -- some even faced the death penalty -- for crimes they didn't commit.


Judge Rules Detroit Eligible For Bankruptcy

kevynsynder 600Federal court Judge Steven Rhodes ruled in a historic decision that the city of Detroit is eligible for Bankruptcy.

According to a live blog from Fox 2 News, Rhodes stated:

The City of Detroit is insolvent and bankrupt, and I find that Kevyn Orr and Governor Rick Snyder has successfully filed petition for Bankruptcy.

Several comment and statements are being made on the official judicial ruling.

Mayor Dave Bing made the following statement:

With the crisis we had this was inevitable, I don't think anyone wanted to go in this direction, but now that we are here, we need to work together...It's very important that we respect the fact that the emergency manager has the key to the city at this time. We don't agree on everything, but we do it in a very respectful way.

There will be alot of negotiations yet to come, I don't think we have final conclusion to what all the elements will be in this process. But we have to take care, because there is going to be pain for alot of people.

But in the long run, I think the future of the city will be bright.

Mayor-elect Mike Duggan made the following statement:

This is a day in Detroit's history that none of us wanted to see. Now that Judge Rhodes has ruled the city eligible for bankruptcy, we are about to move into the Plan of Adjustment phase that is likely to define our city government for years to come.

I'm going to do everything I can to advocate on behalf of Detroit's future in this process. We need to make sure the retirees are treated fairly on the pensions they earned and we need to make certain we come out of bankruptcy in a way we can afford to provide the quality of city services the people of Detroit deserve."

Although the 140-page ruling by Judge Rhodes was very detailed, speculation of several appeals from retirees and creditors are expected.

The pitfalls of parenting

parenting 600Hitting your child is bad. (But don't yell at me for writing it. Yell at science. Multiple studies say so.)

Most school districts have moved away from corporal punishment entirely, and even though you will find some very staunch pro-"whoopings" enthusiasts, they remain greatly outnumbered by the multitudes who think that any hitting of a child is abuse.

But you have to do something as a parent to get your kids to behave. Some parents have simply traded one technique (hitting) for another (yelling).



From South Central LA to President Bush’s photographer

draper 600Who'd ever think that a black kid from South-Central Los Angeles could grow up to become the personal photographer of a Republican President of the United States? But that's precisely the unlikely career path enjoyed by Eric Draper, who served as head White House shutterbug from 2001-09.

How did he get the job? Well, after covering the 2000 campaign for the Associated Press, he was invited by George Bush to a Christmas party at the Texas governor's mansion. Taking a page out of the President-elect's own playbook, Eric summoned up the gumption while shaking his hand and looking him straight in the eye to paraphrase one of his popular stump-speech refrains: "I want to be your personal photographer."

Bush took the inquiry seriously, and hired Eric a week later, after closely examining his portfolio. And over the next eight years, Draper would be a constant companion and an eyewitness to history, accompanying the Chief Executive on trips to 70 countries and 49 states.


6 Ways Obamacare can help end America’s HIV/AIDS epidemic

obamaaids 600With politicians, public health experts and epidemiologists announcing that the United States is at the beginning of ending the AIDS epidemic and that we will soon usher in an AIDS-free generation of youths, each World AIDS Day, on Dec. 1, takes on increasingly special significance, especially for African Americans.

Because the nation's HIV/AIDS epidemic is unfolding disproportionately in black communities, black America has the most to gain by ending it. Getting there requires that more HIV-positive people are diagnosed (currently, almost 20 percent of black people with HIV don't know it) and then linked to care, retained in care and prescribed HIV-fighting medications (called anti-retrovirals)—and, ultimately, that they get their virus under control (viral suppression), a sequence called the HIV care continuum, or HIV treatment cascade.

Although African Americans are more likely to get tested than whites, once they do test positive, many don't get the health care they need. And a mere 21 percent of black people who have been diagnosed with HIV have their virus under control, fewer than whites and Latinos. Which is critical, because people whose virus is suppressed both protect their own immune systems and are 96 percent less likely to transmit HIV to others, meaning that treatment is also prevention.

Each step along the HIV care continuum involves going to the doctor. But while black people make up 13 percent of the population, 19 percent of us don't have health insurance, and scores of Americans—of all backgrounds—have health insurance policies that don't offer prescription coverage or aren't worth the paper they're printed on. This remains a serious problem, considering that HIV meds can easily cost upward of $12,000 per year.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," addresses many of these problems, bringing us closer to ending America's HIV/AIDS epidemic. Here's how:

1. Requiring that all Americans have health insurance increases the odds that the roughly 240,000 Americans who don't know that they have the virus will get tested for HIV and diagnosed, receive appropriate care and treatment and reach viral suppression.

2. Young adults under age 26 can already be covered on a parent's health insurance policy, including those who have HIV. Black teens and young adults ages 13 to 24 represent 57 percent of new infections in that age demographic.

3. The ACA prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, including HIV/AIDS, and from kicking people off their plans or raising their rates astronomically if they get sick. Such practices had prevented many people with HIV from accessing both the care and prescription medications they need—meds that help reduce the black community's viral load.

4. The ACA requires that all health insurance be of good quality. So from hospitalization to maternity care to mental-health services, Obamacare establishes a minimum set of 10 essential health benefits that all insurance policies must offer, including prescription benefits that include lifesaving HIV drugs.

5. Obamacare eliminates annual and lifetime caps on health insurance coverage, which is particularly important with HIV, which can be tremendously expensive to treat.

6. Expanding Medicaid to cover people often labeled the "working poor" disproportionately benefits African Americans and other people of color, who are overrepresented among the un- and underinsured (pdf). Unfortunately, many governors have refused to expand Medicaid, and nearly 60 percent of uninsured black people with incomes below the new Medicaid-expansion limit live in states not expanding Medicaid at this time. They are disproportionately located in the South, where the HIV epidemic is worst.

(To learn more about how Obamacare affects people with HIV, visit Greater Than AIDS' Obamacare and You website.)

(Hilary Beard is co-author of Health First! The Black Woman's Wellness Guide and has led the Black AIDS Institute's volunteer journalists to the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., and Vienna. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.)

Selling while black: Racism revealed in online shopping study

Online shopping_racism.jpg.CROP.rtstory-largeAre you black? Considering making some cash by selling unwanted items online this holiday season? You might not want to show any of your skin in the photos of your goods.

The Daily Mail reports that according to the results of a newly released yearlong study tracking the sales of iPods on Craigslist, shoppers are more likely to make a purchase when they think the seller is white.

Not only that, but researchers found that black sellers received lower offers than white sellers, and that buyers' correspondence with them "indicated lower levels of trust."