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Opinion

Amnesty for illegals can’t be defended

raynarrd 600I am totally perplexed by Republicans who advocate amnesty for those who entered the U.S. illegally. We Republicans are supposed to be the party of law and order, a party that stands on clearly defined principles. Let's cut through the pompous rhetoric: The issue of amnesty is only about cheap labor. All the other arguments are merely background noise.

With the national unemployment rate just under eight percent, how can you argue that illegals are doing jobs that Americans refuse to do? With all the unemployed engineers (partly because of the shutdown of NASA's Space Shuttle program), how do you justify increasing the number of H-1B visas? The special visa allows companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations for up to six years. How can six years still be considered temporary?

How do you explain to a kid in Virginia that he or she has to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the University of Maryland while a student in the country illegally is allowed to pay in-state tuition? Why should someone in the country illegally be able to obtain a benefit that even an American citizen can't have? Aren't these Republicans supporting discrimination against American citizens in their lust of the Hispanic voter?

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No, after the Schuette case, Affirmative Action isn’t going to be OK

aabill 600Above the Law's Elie Mystal doesn't think that affirmative action supporters need to hyperventilate over Tuesday's Supreme Court decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action—which upheld Michigan's ban on race-conscious admissions policies at state colleges—because, he writes, the justices, in fact, "didn't rule that affirmative action is unconstitutional."

And indeed, they didn't—not this time, anyway.

Short term, all the court said was that it didn't violate 14th Amendment equal protection when Michigan voters did away with race-conscious admissions.

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Are U.S. schools becoming more segregated again?

SchoolSegregation 600Nearly sixty years have passed since the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which prohibited Southern states from segregating schools by race.

The Court's decision in Brown sparked a disruption of white supremacy and Jim Crow in the South and forced the federal government to pass civil and voting rights legislation.

However, a new report by the Economic Policy Institute makes the argument that while the 1954 Supreme Court decision did achieve the goal of raising awareness about the inherent segregation and unfairness in the separate but equal concept, it has failed miserably at its central mission: to desegregate schools in the United States.

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Minister Farrakhan is no terrorist

muhammad 600The news cycle April 14th was filled with reports of the murders of three people in Overland Park, Kansas. That these killings occurred during a time of religious observation, the Jewish celebration of Passover, and the killer may have targeted victims for their religious faith or presumed faith makes the loss of life even more reprehensible.

That a grandfather and his grandson could be shot down in the streets says something about the sickness of this society, the prevalence and continued cancer of hatred and an unhealthy and deadly obsession with guns and solving problems or disputes with violence.

Such activity is woven into the history of this nation and America cannot deny that her history is bathed in blood and oppression from the slaughter of the Native peoples to the April 13th killing of Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood.

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Students should withdraw from some credit card programs

Charlene Crowell-160As 21st Century employers continue to seek a highly-trained workforce, the marketable value of a college education has never been higher. At the same time, the rising costs of a college education force growing numbers of families and students to seek federal financial aid.

In FY 2012, according to the Department of Education (DOE), federal student aid programs provided about $142 billion in grants and loans to 15 million students. Although a large portion of these funds are paid directly towards tuition, many students also receive a portion of their aid to cover the costs of textbooks or living expenses. To facilitate these direct student payments, many colleges have partnered with financial firms that provide debit cards and/or bank accounts.

These disbursement products can serve as a revenue opportunity for colleges; but they may not be the best deal for students.

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Is a sex tape key to a successful relationship?

Myron-Mays-160Big talk this week is the leaked sex tape between "Love and Hip Hop Atlanta" stars Mimi and Nikko. If you haven't heard about this or at least heard, seen or read a "shower rod" joke in the past few days, you must be living underneath a rock...a very large one.

Admittedly, I've been spending a little time under that rock myself. I have never watched an episode of the show. Before this week I couldn't have picked Mimi or Nikko out of a line up. However, I know them both quite well now. Possibly more than I'd really like.

OK, first off, it's not really a sex tape; it's a "DVD." A sex tape is a video between two people that is meant to be kept private. This was a production with a professional cameraman that was made for retail. Ever since Kim Kardashian made the spotlight for a "sex tape" there seems to be never-ending quests for 15 minutes of fame...or the extending of it, that is.

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Government as innovator? You bet!

randd 600Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it's down to $134 billion.

People who believe in public belt-tightening applaud drops like that. I understand why: there are many reasons to reduce government spending. But in this case they're wrong. We need to boost the government's investment in R&D, not slash it.

Let's begin with the federal government's record, which is nothing short of impressive:

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Whitewashing Republican support of civil rights

raynard jacksonOne of the best-kept secrets over the past 50 years is that, proportionately, Republicans in Congress supported passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act by a much wider margin than Democrats.

As CNN.com reported, "The Guardian's Harry J. Enten broke down the vote, showing that more than 80 percent of Republicans in both houses voted in favor of the bill, compared with more than 60 percent of Democrats. When you account for geography, according to Enten's article, 90 percent of lawmakers from states that were in the union during the Civil War supported the bill compared with less than 10 percent of lawmakers from states that were in the Confederacy."

This is from a report from CNN, not FOX, the network despised by liberals.

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Memories of LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton

presidents 600Covering the three-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the University of Texas last week brought back a string of memories – some fond, some bitter. As a son of the South –Tuscaloosa, Ala., to be specific – I saw first-hand how the region was transformed from America's version of apartheid to one that is perhaps more genuinely accepting of African Americans than any other geographical section of the country.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – all white Southerners who grew up in the Jim Crow South – played a significant role in the region's transformation. But that didn't happen in a vacuum. Each was pushed and challenged by the modern civil rights movement, a multi-racial movement, with blacks serving as chief architects that prodded the U.S. to have its deeds mirror its professed ideals. (George W. Bush, a wealthy Texan, is omitted from this discussion because he did nothing significant to advance civil rights. In fact, his appointment of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court represented a setback to the cause of civil rights.)

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); Whitney Young of the National Urban League; NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins; John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Roy Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) receive the lion's share of publicity about the movement, the true heroes were the everyday men and women of the South who risked their jobs and lives to be treated as equals.

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African-American women and paycheck fairness

Julianne-malveaux-160When John and Ann started working on Jan. 1, 2013, John had an immediate advantage. Because women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, it took Ann until last Friday (April 11, 2014) to earn the same amount of money that John earned in the calendar year of 2013.

The issue of unequal pay is so important that President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago. While we have come a long way, baby, the pay gap has remained stubborn. This is why President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act as soon as he assumed office.

This year, to commemorate National Equal Pay Day (that's the day Ann finally earns as much as John), the president signed an Executive Order protecting workers from retaliation when they speak of unequal pay in the workplace (one of the ways employers can maintain unequal pay is to make discussing pay grounds for firing). The president, through the Secretary of Labor, is also requiring federal contractors to provide data on pay, race, and gender to ensure that employers are fairly paid. Furthermore, the Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which may pass the Senate, but not the House of Representatives.

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‘Regular black’ vs. ‘ethnic black’: Why the divide?

black 600I first heard someone at a black student union party refer to herself – and to me, by extension – as a "regular black." The music had made a quick turn from the latest rap song to a Caribbean dancehall mix.

"Oh, I'm regular black; I don't dance to this music."

Well, this "regular black" continued dancing, but I was intrigued by the term.

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Who cares if Al Sharpton was an FBI informant 30 years ago?

aboutal 600Like many people living in New York, I saw the Rev. Al Sharpton's face plastered over copies of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, roasting him for being a "rat" and a "mob snitch." Apparently, Sharpton served a role as an FBI informant against mob bosses in the 1980s. That was around the time I was either wearing diapers or serving as nothing more than a figment of my mother's imagination.

In response to the reports, Sharpton hastily organized a press conference at the National Action Network's headquarters in Harlem to address the reports. Sharpton, very much a black preacher, cleverly refuted the stories by noting, "Rats are usually people that were with other rats. I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn't with the rats. I'm a cat. I chase rats."

Let me repeat that for the folks in the back pews. Reverend Sharpton isn't Master Splinter, he's Heathcliff, ya dig? Can I get an amen?

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Actually, Obama’s record compares just fine with LBJ’s

obamasrecord 600The tenuousness of making comparisons between President Lyndon B. Johnson's vaunted vote-wrangling prowess and the allegedly ineffectual legislative skills of President Barack Obama was nicely summed up on Wednesday with this tweet:

LOLGOP @LOLGOP
In 30 years, the left will be asking why current Democrats don't get things done like Obama did & the right will say Obama was a Tea Partier

Although it's meant to get a laugh – and it's hard to imagine a future where Obama's remembered as a Tea Partier – the upshot – that perceptions change over time – actually holds up pretty well.

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