Category: News Briefs - Original Written by D. Roberts
The John S. and J Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has announced $474.5 million in grants to community colleges and universities around the country for the development and expansion of innovative training programs in partnership with local employers. The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program, a multiyear, nearly $2 billion initiative to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade.
Michigan will receive a total of $26,398,466 million in grant funding to support skills training capacity building at community colleges and other public institutions across the state.
Macomb Community College received $9,615,803 and will lead a $24,999,863 consortium. The Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing will focus on the four job sectors of: CNC machining, welding/fabrication, multi-skilled technician and production operations. M-CAM will feature an advanced manufacturing competency model that promotes job readiness skills, basic skill development, pathways to certificates/degrees, employer involvement, online/hybrid courses, education plans, prior learning assessments and career services.
The other Michigan colleges participating in this consortium and their grant amounts include: Bay College ($1,473,249), Grand Rapids Community College ($4,128,382), Kellogg Community College ($2,655,476), Lake Michigan College ($1,217,576), Lansing Community College ($2,114,000), Mott Community College ($2,688,000), Schoolcraft College ($1,107,377).
Baker College in Flint received $1,398,603 as part of an $11,177,412 consortia led by Century College in Minnesota which will expand and improve the delivery of orthotics and prosthetics career education.
The 57 grants announced will support 190 projects in at least 183 schools in every state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The grants will expand programs in growing industries, such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, and encourage geographic and industry sector collaboration through the development of both statewide and multistate college consortia.
The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education. All course materials developed using these public funds will be available through the Open Educational Resources initiative so that others can access and build on successful training models. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also encouraging employers to collaborate with local colleges eligible for funding through this program.
This latest round of funding is fostering deeper partnerships between community colleges, employers and other community partners. This year’s grantees have more employer partners than in the past, and many of those employer partners will offer work-based learning opportunities. At least 10 of the individual grants will be focused on these work-based training opportunities and many consortia grants will incorporate similar strategies into their programs. Strong partnerships and work-based training will help ensure that curricula and training are aligned with the practical skills and competencies industries seek from workers.
Speaking in Colorado at Front Range Community College — the lead college in a $25 million grant to a consortium of nine schools across the state focused on developing a pipeline of skilled advanced manufacturing workers — Secretary Perez said, “These investments in demand-driven skills training bring together education, labor, business, and community leaders to meet the real-world needs of the changing global marketplace. These partnerships strengthen not only the American workforce, but the American economy as well.”
The initiative complements President Obama’s broader goals of ensuring that every American has at least one year of postsecondary education, and that the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The program is designed to have a lasting impact on higher education, emphasizing the use of evidence-based program design, collection of student outcome data and evaluation to add to the growing body of knowledge about which strategies best develop skills that lead to good jobs.
This year’s grants also build on the administration’s goal of providing individuals with the information they need to choose education and training programs. The eleven single-state consortia grantees will be required to use graduate employment and earnings data to improve their programming and to create employment results scorecards that will help prospective students make informed choices about training programs.
“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with the skills their company needs to stay competitive, and America’s students and adult workers want to be equipped to fill those roles. These grants help to meet those demands, providing critical investments in education and supporting key partnerships.”
The grants include 20 awards to community college and university consortia totaling $377,452,319 and 23 awards to individual institutions totaling $61,943,218. Fourteen states and territories, which were not funded through the competitive award process, will develop a qualifying project and receive an approximately $2.5 million grant.
“For America’s workforce to be competitive in the 21st century, our workers must possess the skills employers need for their businesses to succeed. That is why employers should partner with educational institutions and government to help develop curriculum and credentialing programs at the local level,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “This round of grants has an increased emphasis on creating the types of training programs that will prepare community college students for the jobs in which they are needed, which is good for employees, employers and the strength of our economy.”
Grantees will use these funds to transform the way they schedule, sequence and deliver education and training programs that can be completed in two years or less.
A variety of activities will be made possible, including: hiring or training instructors to expand capacity to offer in-demand courses or certifications, leveraging online learning to accelerate skills attainment, developing new curricula and training models to add additional classes and certifications, purchasing new equipment to ensure students train on what employers actually use, designing new programs based on the input and needs of local employers, and expanding career pathways in which stackable credentials are linked to industry skills and lead participants to higher-skill jobs.
Grantees in this round were also required to demonstrate: local labor market need for enhanced training in specific industries; strong engagement with employers in the design and delivery of training activities and work-based learning; a commitment to evidence-based program design and rigorous third-party evaluation; the use of stacked and latticed credentials; a clear plan for the transferability and articulation of course credit, application of advanced online and technology-enabled learning; strategic alignment with the workforce system, philanthropic organizations and other community partners; and the ability to leverage previously funded TAACCCT projects.
Learn more about the grant program at http://www.doleta.gov/taaccct.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:46
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Donald James
Amid the hustle and bustle of a downtown Detroit in transformation, African-American business owners, along with other minority-owned companies, stood in harmony at a recent press conference to make a compelling case for inclusion in the city’s expanding economic rebirth.
Organized by the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC), the press conference made it loud and clear that Black businesses, women-owned businesses and businesses representing an array of other ethnicities all want an end to the systematic lockout process that’s keeping these businesses from becoming a part of the economic resurgent in the Motor City.
“Billions of dollars in economic growth has occurred in Detroit over the last several years,” said Tony Stovall, president of the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce. “In a city that is more than 80 percent African-American and has more than 32,000 Black-owned businesses, this situation is deplorable and must change immediately.”
Ken Harris, president and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, echoed Stovall’s sentiments: “We have skin in the game but are not full partners in Detroit’s economic growth. Shockingly, up to now, no one is advocating the need to include Blacks, women and other minority-owned companies in the economic boom in the city. This is absolutely unacceptable in 2013.”
Harris pointed to such major redevelopment projects that are being planned, or that are already ongoing, to include the construction of a new hockey arena and entertainment district, the M-1 Rail Line, public lighting initiatives, and road infrastructure and construction initiatives, all of which will constitute billions of dollars in economic windfall and growth.
According to Harris, there are more than $3 billion worth of public and private economic development and commerce activities in Detroit. He said that many contractors contend that they can’t find qualified, metro Detroit minority-owned companies to do the needed work for redevelopment and economic projects.
“That is an excuse,” Harris said emphatically. “We (the MBCC) have amassed the largest Black and minority-owned business databases in the United States.”
Harris announced that the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce will release an economic blueprint and fairness doctrine for the city of Detroit during MBCC’s Urban Economic Conference, to be held on Nov. 7, 2013 at the Renaissance Center. The report, said Harris, “will lay out an aggressive strategy for fairness and oversight as it relates to sustaining economic growth and fostering inclusivity of African-American and other Detroit-based minority businesses.”
In addition to the doctrine, Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP, announced that the branch of the storied civil rights organization will release corporate and business report cards in the first quarter of 2014, which will monitor and report on the inclusion, or lack of inclusion, of Black and other minority-owned businesses in the city’s economic redevelopment.
“It is a travesty of economic justice to pay witness to all of the development in this city that is absent of African-American and minority participation,” said Anthony. “It is offensive in a city composed of over 83 percent African-Americans that the doors of economic opportunity are being rapidly closed to the local citizens. While we welcome new investment, construction, and development at every level, we are compelled to remind the governor of this state, the emergency manager of this city, and both the mayor and city council that “we want in.”
Wayne County Sheriff and mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon was on hand and said that “people of good will must be serious about diversity and the inclusion of African-Americans and other minorities in all economic opportunities in the city of Detroit.”
Other stakeholders in attendance agreed.
“It’s important that we let contractors and others involved with creating economic opportunities know that people of color must be involved in all commerce that goes on, not only in Detroit, but throughout Michigan and the United States,” said Art Blackwell, a local radio show host, entrepreneur and political consultant. “We must be included.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:43
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Innovative good governance summit to address public trust, private sector role
Detroit, there is an urgent need for an open, transparent and an integrity driven government at city hall, especially at a time when Detroit, come November, will be seeking political leadership in a new mayor and new city council by districts.
Truth be told, Detroit has gone through countless trials and tribulations both historical and contemporary- but nothing perhaps has been more painful and disturbing than the “pay to play” reputation it garnered in the last decade, to the point that hardly anything passes the smell test.
And none of the candidates running for various offices in the city have adequately addressed the cancer of public malfeasance that has eaten deep into the fabric of a machinery that is supposed to cater to the wellbeing of its hard-pressed taxpayers. Very seldom do we hear about any effort to address the internal inconsistencies that have led to widespread dishonesty and fraudulent conduct among those who occupy public office.
THAT IS why the first Leadership Summit on Good Governance for Detroit, convened by U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade and taking place Oct 21, 9-3 pm at Wayne State Law School, is very timely and richly deserving of support from Detroit taxpayers who have seen their confidence and hope in public officials shattered by a stubborn “pay to play” culture in high places.
Sponsored by the Federal Bar Association (FBA) and Wayne State University Law School, the summit theme, “Building An Honest & Open Government in Detroit: Why Public Integrity Matters,” strikes at the very core of the sometimes negative designation of Detroit as a corruption cesspool.
But to change that designation is to first build a culture of an honest and open government where all stakeholders, from regular Detroiters to civic, political and business leaders, embrace public integrity as the defining model for any effective and functioning government.
If we care about how the next mayor or city council will address public integrity, public trust, the role of the private sector and community, and the rule of law, it begins with the Oct. 21 dialogue at Wayne State where U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will open the summit with videotaped remarks, followed by a “Media Gatekeepers Roundtable” featuring Paul Anger, publisher of the Detroit Free Press, and Rob Davidek, program and news director of WWJ 950 AM CBS Radio, among others.
A SERIES of interesting panel discussions on where public and private sector governance meets the rule of law, fighting public corruption among hot button topics and featuring speakers from a broad range of backgrounds will be the focus of the summit.
Detroit’s inspector general, James Heath, and Rev. Bertram Marks, general counsel of the Detroit Council of Baptist Pastors, are among some of the summit speakers.
Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans founder and Chairman, will appear for a special conversation about Detroit, its prospects and the future in light of its current struggles.
Often bad governance has prevented reputable individuals in the community from seeking office because they don’t want to be tainted or become part of any regime that fails to do business with the citizens and the private sector in a way that is above board. They don’t want to be part of any department that cannot address the needs of the residents without clean hands. They refuse to be on a political bandwagon that accepts that public corruption is too often the rule and you have to know the rule to play the game. That is unacceptable. Integrity and probity should be the cardinal rule on which any serious minded government or public official should conduct the business of taxpayers.
SO OFTEN the failure to identify intelligent, results-driven and creative talents who will serve in our local government is directly tied to the carnage of public malfeasance we witnessed in the lost decade in Detroit, that permeated every level of city hall evidenced by the number of convictions in this city by authorities.
The unbelievable tales of how business was done, why it was done, the meeting places where it was done and who was pulling the strings to get it done, provided an unusual insight into the mindset of those who were charged with governing the affairs of this great city. The tales, as laid out in the pages of newspapers, were sometimes stranger than fiction.
Certainly it would be unfair to talk or condemn that level of public arrogance by wrong-headed officials who felt inoculated by power without their sit-tight external collaborators, those in the private sector who felt comfortable and powerful enough, thought they were larger than life and sometimes initiated the practice of defrauding the public trust, the ultimate symbol of public confidence in government.
We should no longer accept the premise that integrity must be sacrificed to do business with Detroit’s government. Accepting that notion means we are seriously and sadly capitulating to the idea that we cannot fight for integrity and honesty to protect taxpayer investments.
ATTORNEY Marks, one of the Leadership Summit speakers, said public trust is key for Detroit’s comeback.
“Detroiters need to be inspired that a resurgence of the city is what is really occurring. The key to providing this desperately needed inspiration is transparency and a true commitment to honest, service oriented government,” Marks said. “It is truly amazing what people will support when they believe that their well-being is the goal of a person they have elected to represent their interests. The element of integrity in politics is missing not only in Detroit but also in big city governments across the nation. Detroit has a real opportunity for a major paradigm shift.”
The whole notion of government accountability is rooted in the idea of strong democratic governance. That those who seek public office must bring with them accountability as a virtue and a way of life. That elected and public officials sworn to protect the public’s interests must conduct themselves always in and outside of their offices in a way that shows accountability, qualities and attributes deserving of anyone who should be trusted with the public coffers.
BUT GOVERNMENT accountability is also a process of how our officials do business interpreting statues and laws that are supposed to be the abiding principles for carrying out the business of the people. And in some cases those public officials who want to violate the written rules have a tendency to give themselves a free ride by ensuring that it applies to everyone else working in a government bureaucracy except them.
That is the reason why whistle blowers have served the public diligently as a checkmate to those who believe that they have to define what ethics and accountability means, irrespective of what the law requires, and what the limits are.
In our current political dispensation, the most visible and important example in seeking an honest government is the saga of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was convicted in a sweeping federal corruption trial and is now awaiting sentencing in early October.
Looking back, a lot of things went wrong with the Kilpatrick administration and even administrations that date back to the early sixties. Some attribute the Kilpatrick era to hubris, others say it was youthful exuberance, and some politicos describe it as pure political machination that just did not work in favor of those who were in power.
There is a lesson to be learned from that era which still lingers on. Because the price that honest men and women pay for keeping quiet is to have dishonest, easily manipulated and incompetent and compromised officials rule over them. The price that most Detroit’s civic leaders paid for being silent was to watch the city’s reputation disparaged. So much hope was squandered. So much opportunity was missed. So much inspiration was killed. So much of what Detroit represented to inspire a new generation was taken away in the lost decade.
THE LEADERSHIP challenge the city now faces owes itself to that era. And the challenge for the next leadership is to ensure that such a thing never happens again.
The current candidates must be pushed to give an extensive accountability plan because what existed before in city government failed. It did not deter officials from crossing the red line in a bid to satisfy their personal ends while giving the public a rosy picture of a government that was supposedly at work for taxpayers. This was the ultimate political deception.
“Public corruption is so harmful because it erodes trust in government, which makes government less effective. This forum will provide an opportunity to share ideas about ensuring the honest government that all of our citizens deserve,” said McQuade.
FEDERAL BAR Association Chapter President Michael K. Lee stated, “The power of elected officials is derived solely from the willingness of the people to agree to that governance. That willingness is contingent on the credibility of those in public office as seen through the eyes of that populace. A primary tool that a populace uses to measure that credibility is transparency, by which a populace can measure honesty and integrity.”
Wayne’s Law Dean Jocelyn Benson said this about the summit:
“An honest and open government is the most basic part of maintaining the public trust and reinforcing the democratic process. Wayne Law School is thrilled to be hosting this event focused on how the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to ensure municipal government in Detroit is transparent and accountable.”
As the moderator of the summit, I look forward to an engaging forum that achieves one thing — sets Detroit on a new course of accountability, fairness and integrity in local government.
To register for the summit contact the Wayne State University Law School Community Relations Department at (313) 577-2733.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 12:16
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Gail Turner (left) and Brenda Goss Andrews have both given decades of service to the city of Detroit. – Andre Smith photos
Roughly 25,000 retirees stand to lose their pensions and health care in a city that is in bankruptcy now, trying to decipher its future in bankruptcy court.
That is the message leaders of the Retired Detroit Police Members Association (RDPMA) want the community to know as the crucial Oct. 23 date approaches when U.S. District Judge Steven Rhodes will hold a special hearing to determine if Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr did due diligence in finding Detroit eligible for bankruptcy before seeking chapter 9 protections in federal court.
Gail Turner, vice president of the police officers group and one of nine members on the Retiree Committee selected by the U.S. Trustees Office to advocate for retirees in court, said Orr “needs to do a better job with collections. There are so many other avenues you can go after for money and you don’t have to balance the city’s budget on the backs of retirees.”
Since his appointment by Gov. Rick Snyder to manage and oversee Detroit’s finances, Orr has indicated that the city’s ballooning deficit, reported to be in the billions, lies squarely within the pensions and health care benefits of retirees.
In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle, former federal bankruptcy judge Ray Reynolds Graves presented several scenarios of what could possibly happen in bankruptcy negotiations.
“The fate of retirees has been a major issue in chapter 9 whether or not the city cancels its retiree pension plan and force modification,” Graves said. “In a chapter 11 (bankruptcy) the parties must negotiate that and there is a process in chapter 11 you must go through before you can make any changes in employee pension agreements that is not available in chapter 9.”
What would happen to thousands of city retirees and current workers whose earnings could be canceled instantly to satisfy creditors has been a thorny issue in discussions about how to address the financial calamity facing Detroit.
Judge Graves said in chapter 9 the city can cancel the benefits and the court can’t do anything about it. Even though the Michigan Constitution protects pensions, the federal bankruptcy code supersedes.
“We get into this argument of federalism where state law has stated that as a matter of the right of the state, it must protect its pensioners who are municipal employees. Does that sovereignty take precedence over any federal law? It’s to the contrary,” Graves said.
Canceling the pensions of retirees would be devastating according to Turner because they are also taxpayers.
“If you lose half of your pensions you can’t pay your taxes. A lot of our retirees will work away from their homes if their benefits are cut and their health care gone,” Turner said. “They (city officials) are not looking at the total picture. A lot of retirees live in the city.”
She said it was only a few years back that retirees under 65 were made to start paying 4 percent tax on their pensions.
“So now cutting our pensions will be unacceptable. We don’t receive Social Security as police officers or firefighters,” Turner said. “It is hard to ask a person who is on a fixed income to take a cut.”
Turner, a former deputy police chief with over 31 years of service to the Detroit Police Department, said she and other retirees met with Orr whose team proposed that instead of the current health care plan, the city would give each retiree a monthly stipend of $125.00 to search for health coverage in the insurance market.
“He (Orr) said that’s the best they can do for those under 65 years old. That doesn’t add up. We were shocked in the meeting and just couldn’t believe it,” Turner said. “I don’t think the city or Kevyn Orr did any shopping for health insurance for us in good faith. When I asked his team if they did any shopping before arriving at the monthly $125.00 they said no.”
Brenda Goss Andrews, who is president of the Retired Detroit Police Members Association, said Detroit needs to put a face on the financial crisis in the city, to show how much suffering is about to be meted out on “people who have worked hard, earned their pensions.”
Andrews, who just returned from the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in Washington last week, said the bankruptcy in Detroit and the fate of retirees are causes for concern among attendees of the legislative gathering.
She said she met a concerned citizen whose 97-year-old relative, a former City of Detroit sanitation worker now living in Arizona, expressed grave concern about his pensions possibly disappearing in the wake of the bankruptcy.
“We need to have a voice as it relates to our pensions and health care,” Andrews said. “Let’s put a face on this; look at that 97-year-old wondering how he is going to live his life. The reality is that a lot of lives will be affected.”
For Andrews, there is a conspicuous silence on the part of majority of the city’s elected office holders about voicing support for retirees.
“We need to hear from our political leaders,” she stated.
Her group is planning to declare Oct 23 National Retiree Day, the day all parties to the bankruptcy will be in court for the eligibility hearing before Judge Rhodes.
To Orr, Andrews has some advice for revenue generation.
“The city has made a lot of loans that it has not collected. Let’s look at all of the revenue streams. We have buildings in the city with absentee landlords that are not paying their taxes,” Andrews said. “Unfortunately, we are not hearing a lot of talk and emphasis about how we are aggressively going after those dollars. Instead they are going for a quick fix to address the legacy cost — cut health care and benefits of retirees.”
Turner said she didn’t believe the city negotiated in good faith before filing for bankruptcy.
“I don’t think they took time to do their homework. I think they came in here and glossed over the books,” she said. “Normally in negotiations you look for the weakest avenue and that is why they are going for the benefits of retirees who worked hard and paid their dues to the city. We are going to fight. It is not over.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:38
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Jason Johnson
In any movie, tv show or book, the toughest guy is always the one that never actually has to draw his weapon. In old western movies, you always knew who the tough guy was, he just walked into the bar and everybody started finishing their drinks and running. You watch “The Wire” and all somebody had to yell was “Omar’s coming” and folks scattered. By the time Samuel L. Jackson shows up in any scene most people are already looking for an escape route (even the snakes). The point is, that in the movies, just like real life, the tough guy is the one who makes things happen without having to lift a finger, his mere presence or even the vaguest threat is enough to get things done. Even though we all know the Hollywood tropes, some political analysts and Washington D.C. insiders insist on attacking President Obama about his Syria policy. The reality is, he is now and has been the tough guy throughout this crisis even though very few are willing to give the President any credit for it.
The Syrian Civil War is a legitimate concern for the United States even though like most Mid-Eastern policy the majority of the country has no idea what is going on in that part of the world. After decades of rule the Syrian people grew tired of Bashir Al Assad’s family running the country like their personal fiefdom (he has been in power since 2000 essentially taking over for his father). Generally a civil war in a nation that funds terrorists (according to the U.S.) would be a good thing, unfortunately the situation has become so volatile that nobody, including Assad’s neighbors really knows what to do. The Civil War has been going so badly for the Assad regime that after years of denying he even know how to spell the word “chemical weapons” Assad used them on a group of rebels in late August. At that point President Obama felt he needed to get involved.
Most Americans aren’t aware of the facts above, and certainly our national economy, healthcare and other issues take up more of our time and energy. However the president doesn’t have the luxury of only focusing on the United States, his job is to take a look at everything all of the time and determine how that might affect America. The last month of Syrian statements and speeches from the White House and hearings from Congress have been Obama’s attempt at making it clear why America has a vested interest in Syria and why using military bombing on Assad’s weapons capacity would be in our best interest. Nevertheless the narrative from most of the press over the last month falls into the following three categories. 1.) That Obama was unclear and confusing in his foreign policy goals for Syria. 2.) That Obama was going to “lose Congress” on any authorization vote. And then after last week’s 11th hour deal brokered through Russia that 3.) Obama was outmaneuvered and essentially ‘Punked’ by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. None of these things could be further from the truth.
The President said he wanted to punish Bashir Al Assad for using chemical weapons, get rid of the chemical weapons and at some point get Assad out of power. These are neither conflicting nor unrealistic goals. At this point it looks likely that both goals one and two were accomplished without firing a shot. The president was likely going to win approval for Air Strikes on Syria in the Senate, at least until Secretary of State John Kerry’s awful performance in the Senate Foreign Relations committee. However there are a couple of things to remember regarding the president and Congress. First, (at that point) using the War Powers act of 1973 Obama could have sent air strikes to Syria and not needed Congressional approval for 30 days (Clinton did that in 1999 with the Balkans.) Second, Congress, especially the House of Representatives universally votes against anything the president calls for, which explains why Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John McCain and several other Republicans in the House and Senate were all in favor of military action against Syria UNTIL President Obama was on board. Then suddenly it was bad politics. Finally this notion the Vladimir Putin outmaneuvered President Obama is not only patently not true but brings us back to our “Tough Guy” rhetoric that we all know too well. The President merely threatened the use of force in Syria, and suddenly the Russians, Syria’s most powerful ally comes running with a peace plan to avoid conflict. That’s right, Obama didn’t have to lift a finger and the Russians jump in to provide a peace plan. There is absolutely no way that the Russians would have gotten involved in this crisis if they didn’t fear American military force under Obama. What many analyst fail to acknowledge is that many of Syria’s weapons systems are coordinated by Russian engineers, so any attack on Syrian weapons would have killed Russian citizens and Putin did not want to show and prove his tough guy image against the United States. In other words, the president brought two powers to the negotiating table without firing a shot. That doesn’t sound like a weakened presidency to me, and certainly not to anyone else who actually paid attention to what has happened over the last month without an axe to grind. The President’s policies on Syria have not always been great, or pretty, and we know they have as much to do with natural gas as with a humanitarian crisis, but he certainly comes out of this situation still looking like the Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful military. Even with a hostile congress, skeptical public and muddled narrative he can still send nations running just by opening his mouth, and by most American standards that should be ‘tough enough’.
Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College. You can reach him at Drjasonjohnson.com and on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 01:16
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by CNN News
Chrysler Group filed for an initial public offering on Monday, potentially setting the stage for the automaker's return to the public market.
The shares being sold in the proposed offering come from the stake of a trust established to cover medical benefits for retired workers that now owns 41.5% of the company.
The trust was set up in 2007 as a way of reducing Chrysler's financial burden of paying these health care costs. It was never supposed to have a large share of its assets in the form of a privately held stock, but with Chrysler running out of cash the following year and falling into bankruptcy in 2009, the only asset it could offer was its own stock.
Similar trusts were set up at General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) and Ford (F, Fortune 500) as the U.S. auto industry reeled during the economic downturn. GM announced plans Monday to to repurchase 120 million preferred shares from its trust.
Related: The demise of the minivan
The price range and number of shares in the Chrysler offering haven't yet been determined. The company's registration document with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicated that the trust would continue to hold a stake after its sale of shares to the public.
The offering is being led by JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500).
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 01:09
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by New York Times
Detroit had a bit of rare good fortune as it hurtled toward bankruptcy last summer — a couple of banks were willing to let it out of some expensive financial contracts, called interest-rate swaps, without paying in full the usual steep termination fees.
But since then, an insurance company has been seeking to block the deal, lining up allies among Detroit’s other creditors. The insurer, Syncora Guarantee, contends that Detroit’s good deal was struck at its expense, improperly stripping it of cash that Detroit now wants to use to tide itself over as it goes through the biggest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy case in American history. Continue to New York Times ...
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 00:56
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by News One
Talk show maven Oprah Winfrey (pictured) recently admitted that she experienced symptoms of a nervous breakdown last year while filming her most current work, “The Butler,” reports Access Hollywood.
Sitting with ”Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson in an interview that will air beginning September 24th, Winfrey, who juggles a number of businesses, admitted that co-starring in “The Butler” and multi-tasking all of her ventures proved to be too much for her.
Winfrey reportedly told Robinson that she “was in the middle of [her] struggling network” when she was called to appear in the film.russell The media titan said she went from conducting her celebrity interviews for her OWN Network’s “Oprah’s Next Chapter” to working on scenes for the movie.
The “Ah-ha” moment for Winfrey regarding her sanity, though, came during an interview with Jason Russell of the Kony 2012 movement.
Russell, an activist and maker of the Invisible Children’s film that went viral, “Kony 2012,” reportedly suffered a very ‘brief psychotic episode,” when he ran naked through the streets of a Pacific Beach, Calif., neighborhood (pictured below) allegedly interrupting traffic and ranting incoherently as he struck the sidewalk with his fists. By the time police arrived, Russell reportedly put his underwear back on and allowed them to subdue him.
For Winfrey, Russell ‘s vivid description of his mental episode rang eerily close to what she had been feeling about herself, “I was sitting and listening to Jason Russell describe his symptoms…saying, Um, this sounds pretty familiar to me,” Winfrey told Robinson who then asked, what her symptoms were at the time.
“In the beginning, it was just sort of speeding and a kind of numbness and going from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. I will tell you when I realized that I thought, All right, if I don’t calm down I’m gonna be in serious trouble. I was in the middle of doing voiceovers, you know? And I remember closing my eyes in between each page because looking at the page and the words at the same time was too much stimulation for my brain.”
Winfrey realized she had better slow her roll when she interviewed former member of the Black Eyed Peas Fergie. “I mean, I wasn’t ready to go run naked in the streets. Let’s make that very clear,” Winfrey said, referring to the Russell incident. “But I had reached a point where I just couldn’t take in anymore stimulation. Ok? That’s what I meant by that.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 00:41
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WJBK) -
Kyle Thompson appears to be a typical 14-year old boy, but there's something about his life right now that's a little different. He's not going to school because he was kicked out.
The story begins last March at Harrison High School in Farmington Hills and ends with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioning for his return to school. Thompson tells the ACLU he and his fellow football players came up with a "hit list" - a list of players they would like to hit on the football field. He and his friends say the list was just a joke, and even gave their teacher a peek when she asked what they were laughing at.
That's when the trouble began.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 00:08
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The wait is over.
Wonder Bread is back.
The iconic bread brand returned to store shelves Monday, said Flowers Foods (FLO), the company that snatched it up earlier this year along with most of the other breads from the now-defunct Hostess for $360 million.
Flowers said Wonder and other former Hostess brands like Merita and Home Pride would be available throughout its delivery markets, which encompass roughly 77% of the U.S. population. The bread is being packaged with a retro logo from Wonder's early days.
"We are using the same recipes and paying close attention to quality and freshness," Keith Aldredge, Flowers' vice president of marketing, said in a statement.
Flowers also produces Tastykake snacks and Nature's Own bread.
The news comes months after a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Wonder, Twinkies and other assets from Hostess Brands.
Former Hostess snack brands like Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs were sold for $410 million to a joint venture of private equity firms Apollo Global Management (APO) and Metropoulos & Co. Twinkies resumed sales in July.
Hostess suspended production in November of last year, moving to liquidate after years of financial distress and a failure to reach a new contract with its bakers' union.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 00:00
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