Monthly Archives: January 2014

Tobacco marketing targeted Blacks with ‘devastating effects’

Black media now seeks inclusion in tobacco settlement 
News Analysis

By George E. Curry

Contributing Writer


The National Association of Newspaper Publishers (NNPA) and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB), two industry trade associations whose members reach more than 95 percent of African Americans, filed a friend-of-the-court brief objecting to the exclusion of all Black media companies in a proposed settlement that requires the tobacco industry to run ads and TV commercials to correct their misleading assertions about the harmful effects of smoking. The amicus brief was filed last Friday in federal court in Washington, D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler is expected to review the proposed agreement Wednesday and consider the merits of the brief filed by NNPA and NABOB. An agreement was reached January 9 between the U.S. Justice Department, the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, and the four major tobacco manufacturers — Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA — on what “corrective statements” the tobacco industry should be forced to make in “corrective statements.” These ads would address the falsehoods the manufacturers have disseminated about the harmful effects of smoking, the addictiveness of smoking, the dangers of second-hand smoke, and claims that low-tar and light cigarettes are healthier than regular cigarettes. The Justice Department sued the tobacco companies in 1999, charging that they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Judge Kessler found them guilty in 2006. Continue Reading →

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Race discrimination persists in school discipline practices

By Mary Turck

Contributing Writer


In early January, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder jointly announced new federal guidelines on school discipline. Why? “Racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem today, and not just an issue from 40 to 50 years ago,” said Duncan. Want numbers? The new guidelines have plenty:

“The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), conducted by OCR, has demonstrated that students of certain racial or ethnic groups tend to be disciplined more than their peers. Continue Reading →

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Modeling agency offers positive images of women of color

“No one,” highly-skilled veteran actor Lisa Gay Hamilton (Honeydripper, Jackie Brown) told my MSR colleague Charles Hallman for an article on the scarcity of work for Black women, ”is making millions of dollars — maybe one or two…are but the rest of us are struggling to make it work. It’s an awful casting wheel that you would like to get off of. “I graduated from Julliard in 1989. Things have gotten worse since I graduated from school.”

Fact is, there’s more than one or two bagging the biggest paychecks. But, yes, it’s a short list — you’ve got Beyoncé, Halle Berry, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, Paula Patton — a lot shorter than the one for men, i.e. the likes of Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith and more. Continue Reading →

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Financial disaster for Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority

When Douglass Mann filed his motion with the Minnesota Supreme Court, early Friday morning, January 10, 2014, no one knew his motion was being sent to the State Supreme Court, raising serious constitutional issues with regard to the funding of the $1 billion “people’s stadium.”

As of the writing of this column, three days after the filing, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) did one of the most peculiar things in the modern legal history of Minnesota: asked to be a defendant in this landmark constitutional case, peculiar because one thing that never happens in America is for people to rush into court to be a defendant, especially when there are allegations of constitutional violations. Besides obviously believing they can’t/won’t lose, the MSFA is employing a shrewd strategy: requesting that the Minnesota Supreme Court impose a $50 million bond upon the Mann group to stop their pursuit seeking justice and fairness for the taxpayers of the City of Minneapolis, and, by extension, the taxpayers of Minnesota, The MSFA, in about 16 months or less, has gone through $74 million, including the $50 million in cash provided by Ziggy Wilf and the Minnesota Vikings. Before the Supreme Court does anything, it should require a forensic audit as to how the MFSA conducted its business from July of 2012 through December of 2013, and how it has spent its money ($74 million) and doesn’t have money to pay the bills due ($28 million) later this month (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board says one in three company audits have “high levels of deficiencies.” How high for government agencies?). The MSFA is paying more for the foreign steel they purchased than they are confirming, and have apparently consummated contracts that are $50 million beyond what they have ever had in their bank accounts. And Thursday evening, Jan 9, MSFA Equity Director Alex Tittle not only pointed out that 46 percent of current stadium work force were women and minorities (hard to believe), but that “to date more than $120 million have been awarded in contracts.” Really? Continue Reading →

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Holder and Duncan reform outdated school discipline policies



By Marc H. Morial
Guest Commentator

“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct.” — Eric Holder, United States Attorney General


On January 8, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan came to Baltimore’s historic Frederick Douglas High School to announce a comprehensive set of guidelines to tackle the problem of “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies in our schools. As the National Urban League and others have been pointing out for years, students of color and students with disabilities receive disproportionately more and markedly harsher punishments for the same misbehaviors as other students. This obviously discriminatory treatment is not only denying an education to thousands of minority students, it is funneling too many of them into the criminal justice system and feeding the school-to-prison pipeline. According to data collected by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, African American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as their White peers without disabilities to be expelled or suspended. The New York Times, in its Sunday editorial, called the treatment of disabled students “a national disgrace.” The Times cites a finding by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California that “in ten states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware and Illinois, more than a quarter of black students with disabilities were suspended in the 2009-10 school year.”

The National Urban League has long stood with parents and others who have challenged so-called “zero-tolerance” policies that have unfairly targeted students of color and done more harm than good in many public schools. Continue Reading →

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Over 100,000 Black parents are now homeschooling their children




By Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu
Guest Commentator

We hear so much about the plight of Black children and their low test scores. We have not heard that African American children who are homeschooled are scoring at the 82 percent in reading and 77 percent in math. This is 30-40 percent above their counterparts being taught in school. There is a 30 percent racial gap in schools, but there is no racial gap in reading if taught in the home and only a five percent gap in math. What explains the success of African American students being taught by their parents? Continue Reading →

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What are skin tags?








Skin tags are extremely common. In fact, they likely affect 25-50 percent of people over the age of 40. They occur as small, soft bumps located most commonly under the arms, around the neck, on the eyelids, and sometimes in-between the legs on the upper thighs. Skin tags can also be darker in color with respect to the surrounding skin. Sometimes there are many lesions (50 or more) that can be present. Continue Reading →

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New Year’s resolutions: a catalyst for change?







“I will lose weight, I will exercise more, and I will spend less, stop smoking, stop drinking, get organized and so on and so on.”

Holidays have passed, the decorations are packed away, and this is the time when people make resolutions for the coming year. After January 1, people tend to take stock of the previous year, looking at their successes and challenges and identifying what they want to change. A resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not do something and is developed to solve problems. About half of the population makes resolutions annually, but only 10-30 percent achieves their goal during the year. Approximately 75 percent are able to adhere to their resolution through the first week, but by six months, this rate falls to 46 percent. Age appears to be a factor: For those over 50, the failure rate drops to 86 percent, with only 14 percent succeeding. Continue Reading →

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Keith meets Butch and Sundance







Keith was so absorbed in his reveries that it surprised him when he found himself outside his apartment building. He greeted Jesse at the desk and was headed to the elevator. “Mr. Jackson?”

Keith turned. “Yeah?”

“Do you like cats?”

He thought of Lesli’s Bruno. “Can’t stand ’em. Why?”

“Uh…never mind.” Jesse looked sad, approaching pathetic. Keith liked the guy. He walked over and leaned on the desk. “Why?” Then heard the mewling. And peeked behind the reception counter. Continue Reading →

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