Monday, April 7, 2014

The Blackboard Report - 4/7/14

White House
·       President Obama faces increasing scrutiny over deportation policies earning the nickname “deporter in chief”. See coverage of this issue in Mother Jones and The Nation as they dig into the deportation of 2 million immigrants.

·       Affordable Care Act Update:  The White House is reporting an uptick of millions who are now have health insurance through marketplace exchanges, coverage on parent policies and Medicaid.

·       The Supreme Court has struck down the overall limits on political contributions with 5-4 decision.  Individuals can now give the maximum contribution to as many candidates or political committees as they wish.  See coverage of the dramatic decision at PBS, SCOTUS blog, Democracy Now, and Columbia Law School. 
·      Congressman Paul Ryan releases new budget containing billions in cuts.  See the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis on the Cong. Ryan's budget proposal.
·      The National Urban League (NUL) releases new report: State of Black America 2014 where the theme is the economy and Black unemployment.
·      Veteran journalist Chuck Stone joins the ancestors.

·      Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington DC is now a lame-duck, after suffering defeat to D.C. Councilperson, Muriel Bowser.
·      Incarcerated former Congressman Jesse Jackson has been transferred to a prison camp in Montgomery, Ala., according to the Bureau of Prisons.  See coverage in the Chicago Tribune here
·     UPS has decided to fire 250 drivers after they protested the dismissal of an employee, who worked there for 24 years.  

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Friday, April 4, 2014

More Clinton papers released - shows thinking on race

Courtesy, William J. Clinton Presidential Library
The Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas has released a third set of confidential correspondence from the Bill Clinton presidency.  The public can now view, for the first time, about seven files containing about 3,400 pages.  According to Politico, these files don’t appear to include some of the more sensitive and scandal-related documents believed to be in the set of about 33,000 pages of documents. These documents were initially withheld under restrictions that expire 12 years after a president leaves office.

There’s a broad sweep of presidential events covered in the recently released papers related to both domestic and foreign policy. From preparing for the State of the Union address in 1996 and 1997, the president’s farewell address in 2001, the World Trade Organization 50th anniversary, plans for the second term, to drafts of speeches to business leaders and college graduates.

So what you’ll see in this installment of White House documents are vivid reminders of the hot button issues that unfolded during the Clinton presidency such as crime (that’s adult and juvenile), welfare reform, poverty, and the global economy.  Internal memos and handwritten notes offering political advice as well as staff engaging in debate as positions are argued.  There were strategic plans around using commencement addresses to serve a political purpose. See the following from an April 1996 memo: “This memorandum outlines themes and topics for this spring's commencement addresses. We propose that you do a total of four such speeches -- the three currently scheduled, plus an additional speech at a site to be determined. These speeches would give the press and public a sense of what your goals for the nation would be during a second term, and would show how those goals flow from the goals you ran on in 1992 and the policies that you have put in place since then.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Blackboard Report - March 31, 2014

By Charles Brooks

White House
•See coverage in The Guardian about President Obama and his continuing battle of wills with Russian Vladimir Putin.
•With the March 31st deadline looming, there is a renewed focus on the Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare signup numbers. But are the uninsured getting health insurance?

Ray Jasper and Anthony Doyle were executed thus reigniting the debate around the death penalty.
•The Georgia State legislature passed HB60 (by a vote of 112-58) significantly expanding gun laws in Georgia
•In The Final Call, Sisters under siege - The plight of Black males was brought back into attention with a presidential declaration and initiative but what about the status of Black girls and young women, are they at risk and what needs to be done about it?

•Election 2014: What are the changing demographics in New Orleans and what are the voting implications?
•A recent report by UCLA's Civil Rights Project cites New York with the most segregated public schools in the nation.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Blackboard survey - The death penalty

UPDATED JUNE 19th 2014
You may have noticed the death penalty in the news lately especially around what happened in Oklahoma, Florida, and in Tennessee. There was the execution in Oklahoma that went terribly wrong, the Supreme Court decision that ruled against Florida in their use of the death penalty on the intellectually disabled, and Tennessee reinstating the electric chair. Consider that 22 have been sent to their death as a result of the death penalty - two were executed in just the past week in Georgia and Missouri.

On March 19, 2014, Ray Jasper was executed by the state of Texas. He was the 11th person executed thus far in 2014 -all by lethal injection. Since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, Mr. Jasper is the 1,370th person to be executed.

The Blackboard wants to hear from you on this topic. What do you think about the death penalty? Take the Blackboard survey - do you support the use of the death penalty? Are you against the use the death penalty? What role, if any, does race play? Click here to take survey.

Thanks in advance to taking the time to take THE BLACKBOARD's survey on this topic.

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Photo credit: wootom via photopin cc

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Secret Clinton papers released

By Charles Brooks

The Clinton’s are in the news again as thousands of pages of confidential communications from the Clinton days in the White House has finally been released for public view after legal restrictions expired.  During the last two weeks, about 73 files containing documents such as internal memos, handwritten notes and drafts of speeches were made available by the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. The public can now see the president's handwritten notes clarifying his thoughts, internal memos from White House staff outlining political strategy and political advice for the president.

Monday, March 10, 2014

But is it enough...

By Charles Brooks

Just a few days ago, President Obama announced his new My Brother’s Keeper initiative designed for young African-American and Latino young men although it’s billed for “young men of color”. Nevertheless, President Obama told the nation, “Today, I'm pleased to announce that some of the most forward-looking foundations in America are looking to invest at least $200 million over the next five years, on top of the $150 million that they have already invested, to test which strategies are working for our kids and expand them in cities across the country.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

President Obama wants to be My Brother's Keeper

By Charles Brooks

                                  (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Sandwiched in between the applause and cheers during the 2014 State of the Union address delivered just over a month ago, was the stoic silence from the audience when President Obama said,”…and I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.” Although at the time, you could hear a feather drop, a month later we now know that President Obama was referring to his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, announced February 27th to widespread enthusiasm and praise. “Today, I'm pleased to announce that some of the most forward-looking foundations in America are looking to invest at least $200 million over the next five years, on top of the $150 million that they have already invested, to test which strategies are working for our kids and expand them in cities across the country,” said the President. He went on to talk about why he’s embarking on this new initiative, “This is an issue of national importance. This is as important as any issue that I work on. It's an issue that goes to the very heart of why I ran for president.”