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Howard University made right call in honoring P. Diddy

BenChavis 600Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have had a long tradition of pursuing and encouraging excellence. Howard University in Washington, D.C. is considered by many to be the flagship of HBCUs. It one of the leading institutions of higher education in United States with a global brand of high achievement and historic contributions to the empowerment of Black America and to all who strive for human progress.

I am a proud graduate of Howard University and a strong proponent of the evolution of hip-hop culture and entrepreneurship. Therefore, I am extremely pleased that Interim President Wayne A. I. Frederick selected Sean John "P. Diddy" Combs to deliver the 2014 commencement keynote address. This is another example of President Frederick, a well-respected faculty member and an accomplished scholar, providing Howard University with effective leadership during a period that the university is searching for a new president.

As soon as President Frederick made the announcement that Sean Combs would be the commencement speaker, there was an immediate outcry by those who felt that Combs, who dropped out of Howard before graduating, was an inappropriate choice. I beg to differ. A true education is not strictly defined by whether one graduates from college.

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How to start savings

CarleeMcCullough-160Many people live paycheck to paycheck. This means that there is no savings and most of the previous check is gone before the next check is received. The goal of most should be to save as much as possible for a rainy day. However, saving eludes most people because folks buy today and figure out how to pay for it later. Unfortunately later comes faster than many expected. Understanding how to start the saving process is the first step to establishing and growing savings.

Create a budget

The first step is to create a budget. The budget will help identify all of the bills that have to be paid monthly and the associated income available to do so. Determine if there is enough income to pay the bills with anything left over. Then evaluate the bills and expenses to see if there are any that can be eliminated immediately and not have an ongoing expense. If so, eliminate those bills. Now calculate what we have left over that can be earmarked for savings or debt reduction.

After documenting your income and expenses, evaluate to see if there are any places where the income can be increased or the expenses decreased. Be sure to include all of the little purchases as well including coffee, gas and fast food. This allows you to fully identify where every cent is spent in order to ascertain the potential cutbacks.

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NEW STUDY: 4 percent of people sentenced to death are likely innocent

deathpenalty 600WASHINGTON, D.C. – At least 4.1 percent of defendants sentenced to death in the United States are innocent, according to new peer-reviewed research published Monday (April 28th) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world's most respected and cited scientific journals.

"(N)o process of removing potentially innocent defendants from the execution queue can be foolproof. With an error rate at trial over 4 percent, it is all but certain that several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent," the study concludes. The article, "Rate of False Conviction of Criminal Defendants who are Sentenced to Death," is available at: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1306417111.

"This study provides the first rigorous estimate of the rate of conviction of innocent criminal defendants in any context. It shows that the number of innocent people sentenced to death is more than twice the number of inmates actually exonerated and freed by legal action," said Bruce Levin, Ph.D., an expert in statistics who did not participate in the research but is familiar with the study. Dr. Levin is professor and past chair, Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University, and author of "Statistics for Lawyers" (2001, with Michael O. Finkelstein); "Statistical Methods for Rates and Proportions," 3rd Edition (2003, with Joseph L. Fleiss and Myunghee Cho Paik); and "The Biostatistics of Aging" (2014, with Gilberto Levy).

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The silent wars of African-American girls

blackgirls 600WASHINGTON – March 1st was the last time eight-year-old Relisha Rudd was seen, leaving a local hotel here with Kahlil Tatum, a 51-year-old custodian who had been tasked to babysit her. Exactly a month later, Tatum was found dead; Rudd remains missing and the trail has gone cold.

The same week Tatum's death was announced, the body of 30-year-old, first-year medical resident Teleka Patrick was pulled from a lake in Indiana. In the days leading up to her December disappearance, she and others expressed concern over her mental health. The circumstances of her death remain unclear.

One week after Patrick's body was found, 22-year-old Karyn Washington, founder of For Brown Girls, a well-known blog dedicated to combatting colorism and promoting self-love for Black women, was found dead in an apparent suicide.

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Why MATA should hold up on ‘piecemeal’ proposal to solve financial woes

mata 600First, I am not surprised that the MATA administration is proposing an elimination of all game shuttles to the Liberty Bowl and FedEx Forum. In the dark shadow of a failed vote on a gas tax referendum for MATA, cuts in government funding and a lower ridership, I am just grateful that MATA is still surviving on her deathbed for those who are transit dependents. There is no doubt in my mind that the fact MATA is still breathing is an example of miracles.

As a sports fan, I join other sports fans who believe that providing bus shuttles to the Liberty Bowl and FedEx Forum is a valuable service to the city of Memphis. At the same time, as a longtime advocate for bus riders, I know that public transportation is so bad that transit dependent riders are spending up to four hours on buses on a daily basis as a result of tough economic times at MATA. Some are being forced to walk blocks to and from their destinations because there is little or no bus service in their neighborhoods or at their destinations.

In an effort to be fair to the regular bus riders and the sport fans, I believe that the MATA Board should not cast a "Yea " or "Nay" on eliminating bus shuttles or changes in bus service while budget talks are about to take place with the Memphis City Council at City Hall. I believe that any considerations of any proposals of MATA should be delayed until the end of June.

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