Category: Breaking News Written by Michael Arceneaux, NewsOne
In theory, I should be happy that a Black man is going to the Senate. Even if it is a tiny, tiny sprinkle of color, it is undoubtedly needed in the sea of Whiteness that makes up the U.S. Senate. Enter South Carolina’s Rep. Tim Scott (pictured) who was recently appointed to replace Jim DeMint as one of the state’s two representatives. Scott will be the first Black Republican senator since Ed Brooke (R-MA, 1967-1979), and yet, I’ve been happier to hear the voice of a belligerent bill collector for my private student loans than I was to read about this guy getting a bump in title.
As you’ll soon begin to hear more frequently, the 47-year-old Senate appointee has an interesting, even admirable background. Raised by a single Mother, as reported by the New York Times, “[Scott was] a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles.”
Unfortunately, therein lies much of the problem with Scott joining the Senate.
Traditional conservative values are an acquired taste (that tends to leave me feeling sour), but those who harbor them aren’t automatically political bad apples. Likewise, conservative Blacks aren’t necessarily “sell outs” or “Oreos” or whatever term you can think of to argue they are less than.
The same cannot be said of Scott’s ilk, though.
As a member of the Tea Party, Scott represents a bastardization conservatism. He is a part of the fringe element of the Republican Party that partially built its clout on exploiting racist sentiments. Not to mention, if Scott exhibits any of the behavior he displayed in Congress, he’ll be nothing more than another nuisance getting in the way of actual work being done in Washington.
Here a few examples:
A year ago, when talks over the debt ceiling were deadlocked and the country was on the brink of defaulting, President Barack Obama asserted “that the debt ceiling itself was an unconstitutional infringement on the 14th Amendment.”
Scott responded by entertaining the notion of impeaching Obama.
Two months after entering Congress, Scott would propose a bill that would kick entire families off of food stamps if even a single member went on strike. But in 2010, Scott said, “My hope is I will take that experience and help people bring out the best that they can be. Coming from a single-parent household and almost flunking out of high school.” Meanwhile, South Carolina’s Black poverty rate stands at 38 percent.
As a South Carolina state representative, Scott backed a proposal to cut the state’s entire HIV/AIDS budget, even though South Carolina ranks in the top-third of reported AIDS cases. Who he defended instead were the oil companies, helping them to keep $50 billion in subsidies. When asked if this seemed fair, Scott retorted, “Fair is a relative word.”
When asked about his South Carolina congressional colleague, Rep. Trey Gowdy said in an interview last week, “There is not a kinder, more humble, sweet-spirited person. That is somewhat antithetical to what you’d expect at this level of politics.”
Yes, the anti-poor, anti-gay, anti-diseased, pro-big-oil politician sounds like quite the sweet soul.
Black people are not a monolithic, but when you don’t look out for your own, it’s clear that you are in a position to help make it worse for other Blacks. Tim Scott may be on his way to becoming the first Black Republican senator of South Carolina, but his policies aren’t at all different from the out-of-touch, older White man he’s replacing.
It’s history, but whoopity damn doo.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 12:00
Category: News Briefs Written by Mike Campbell, WWJ
DETROIT (WWJ) - Just days since a 26 people, including 20 children, were gunned down at a Connecticut school, a student was caught with a loaded handgun on Detroit’s east side.
The 13-year-old boy, who reportedly felt threatened, brought the weapon Tuesday morning to Marquette Elementary-Middle School on Canyon St. near I-94 and Outer Dr.
The gun was seized when it set off a metal detector at the entrance.
As other students waited in line to get inside, WWJ’s Mike Campbell spoke with a parent who was dropping off his children.
He said it’s a tough neighborhood. “It’s how the school is — I mean, it’s tough in Detroit … I had three kids go through here. It’s alright, you know what I’m sayin’. It’s basically a regular school,” said the man, who identified himself only as L.A. “Kids cause problems; kids get into it. The pressure here now here is tight.”
“I’ve been born and raised here. It’s one them things. If you live here, you won’t have a problem. But people from outside the neighborhood, you usually end up with a problem,” he said. “If you don’t run your mouth and you don’t cause a problem there won’t be none.”
L.A. said this is the second time this has happened in recent months, but he doesn’t blame the school. He said people are struggling to take care of their families. “People out here are hungry right now, everybody trying to eat. You know, the jobs are scarce. No money, no jobs … people losing their homes, and don’t nobody care.”
In a statement, the Detroit Public Schools said school safety remains a priory. An email was sent to parents informing them about the incident.
The teen was taken to a youth facility. It was not immediately known where he got the weapon.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 10:39
Category: Breaking News Written by Holly Yan, Greg Botelho and Susan Candiotti, CNN
(CNN) -- Across this devastated town, students returned to schools Tuesday, marking the beginning of a new reality.
With their sense of normalcy shattered following last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, students at other schools are seeing more police and counselors on hand. And teachers who face a new, tremendous burden.
Classes will discuss the tragedy in an age appropriate manner, the teachers' union said.
But the young children of Sandy Hook aren't going back to school yet.
Their school is a crime scene, the site where 20 kids and six faculty members were slaughtered.
It's not clear when they'll resume classes. But when they do it'll be at a different school in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut.
Meanwhile, at least two more victims -- 6-year-olds -- will be buried Tuesday.
More details about the gunman who turned their schoolday into carnage are slowly emerging. And under the cloud of national mourning, a renewed debate about gun control is heating up.
A former director of security for Newtown Public Schools shed new light Monday night on the gunman, Adam Lanza.
Richard Novia said Lanza had Asperger's syndrome, based on documents as well as conversations with Lanza's mother, who was killed shortly before the Sandy Hook massacre.
Novia said as part of his job, which he left in 2008, he would be informed of students who might pose problems to themselves or others.
He also said he received "intake information" -- which he said "is common for any students troubled or impaired or with disabilities." The idea was to keep track of and help students who may need it.
However, Novia said he never thought Lanza was a threat and certainly never thought he was capable of such violence.
After shooting, cops take no-tolerance approach to copycat threats
Russ Hanoman, a friend of Lanza's mother, previously told CNN that Lanza had Asperger's syndrome and that he was "very withdrawn emotionally."
But CNN has not been able to independently confirm whether Lanza was diagnosed with autism or Asperger's syndrome, a higher-functioning form of autism. Both are developmental disorders, not mental illnesses.
Many experts say neither Asperger's nor autism can be blamed for the rampage.
"There is absolutely no evidence or any reliable research that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence," the Autism Society said in a statement. "To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law-abiding, nonviolent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day."
Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist and autism expert at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, also said the gunman's actions can't be linked with autism spectrum disorders.
"Aggression and violence in the ASD population is reactive, not preplanned and deliberate," he said.
For example, sometimes children with autism will get violent because they are sick or frustrated and unable to communicate how they feel.
Meanwhile, authorities are investigating the remnants of the shooter's smashed computer, trying to find e-mails he may have sent and websites he may have visited in hopes of understanding what he was thinking, a law enforcement official said.
What happened in Newtown should never happen again, advocates on both sides of the gun control debate agree. But they're at staunch odds about how to turn words into reality.
The grassroots group Newtown United is sending a delegation to Washington on Tuesday to meet with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as well as families from July's movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
The new group, which formed out of Newtown on Sunday, aims to create meaningful dialogue -- both locally and beyond -- about what may have led to the tragedy.
Two national polls conducted shortly after the Newtown shootings suggest more Americans want stricter gun control.
In a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 54% of adults favor stricter gun control laws in the country, while 43% oppose.
And a new CBS News poll indicates 57% of Americans back stricter gun laws, the highest percentage in a decade; 30% think gun laws should be kept as they are.
However, less than half of the respondents in the CBS poll -- 42% -- think stricter gun laws would have helped prevent the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia and a "proud gun owner," said he's now committed to "dialogue that would bring a total change" after the massacre in Newtown.
"Who would have ever thought, in America or anywhere in the world, that children would be slaughtered," he asked. "It's changed me."
The debate is playing out not just in Newtown and Washington, but across the United States.
John Licata told CNN's iReport there needs to be better vetting before people buy guns, and assault weapons should be banned -- something Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, says she'll propose once the new Congress convenes in January.
But some say the shooting illustrates the need for more armed guards -- and possibly armed teachers -- in schools.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said if school districts decide arming teachers is the best way to keep schools safe, so be it.
If Texas residents are duly background-checked, trained and have a concealed handgun license, "you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in the state," Perry said, according to CNN affiliate WFAA.
Gun owner Jameson Riley of Colorado said recent mass shootings have made him consider getting a concealed weapon permit.
"I have a 2-year-old daughter, and she is the light of my life," Riley said. "And I would like to protect her."
Out of respect for the Newtown victims and their families, Dick's Sporting Goods has removed all guns from its store closest to Newtown, the company said.
Dick's, one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the world, also has suspended the sale of some semi-automatic rifles nationwide, the company said.
It was unclear how long the Dick's will keep its suspension of "modern sporting rifles."
Two very premature funerals
While adults and children try to move on, two more 6-year-olds from Sandy Hook will be laid to rest Tuesday.
Jessica Rekos was obsessed with horses -- horse books, horse movies, drawing horses and writing stories about them. She was eagerly anticipating a pair of cowgirl boots for Christmas.
As her relatives grieve, they are also "trying to help her brother Travis understand why he can't play with his best friend," her family said.
Charlotte Bacon was a bundle of energy under her distinctive red curls. She also loved school and dresses, her grandmother told CNN affiliate WCCO in Minnesota.
The series of funerals will carry on for days. Some residents in this emotionally drained community plan to attend multiple funerals this week.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 10:33
Category: Breaking News Written by Ron Dicker, The Huffington Post
McDonald's is pushing its franchise owners to open their stores on Christmas, and the fast-food chain won't be paying workers holiday overtime at company-owned stores, AdvertisingAge reports.
The trade publication obtained an internal memo from McDonald's Chief Operations Officer Jim Johannesen urging franchisees to "ensure your restaurants are open throughout the holidays. Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas Day."
Workers at the company-owned restaurants volunteer for burger-flipping duty that day and do not receive holiday pay, a spokeswoman confirmed to AdAge. Franchisees can make their own decisions about overtime pay.
The Huffington Post asked McDonald's for comment on the memo and AdAge's story Monday. Spokeswoman Danya Proud wrote in an email, "The story is based on leaked information obtained through unauthorized means. As such we are not in a position to confirm or deny the speculation."
In October, McDonald's suffered its first monthly sales decline in nine years, prompting the Wall Street Journal to ask, "Is the golden era over for the Golden Arches?"
But Reuters reported the fast-food chain bounced back in November, in part by emphasizing its lower-priced options. AdAge said that gain was also due to McDonald's exhorting more stores to stay open on Thanksgiving.
One former franchisee told the outlet that the strategy represented a shift in corporate culture -- four or five years ago, he said, opening on Christmas simply wasn't expected.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 10:11
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) - They’re making their melodious voices heard.
The North End Woodward Community Coalition and friends have taken to the web with their own rendition of some classic Christmas carols, hoping to draw attention to the increased wait times for buses because of cuts made by the Detroit Department of Transportation earlier in the year.
The coalition recently presented Mayor Dave Bing with petitions from hundreds of Detroiters asking him to rescind this year’s cuts in DDOT bus service. Members of the group say North End residents are twice as likely as other Detroiters to depend on the buses to get to work.
“The increased wait times were bad enough when people are trying to get to work and school even in good weather,” said Rev. Joan Ross, Director of NEWCC, in a statement. “But cold weather is upon us and it’s getting darker much earlier. The cuts in bus service are especially bad this time of year.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 09:53
Category: News Briefs Written by The Huffington Post
Gun violence is nothing out of the ordinary to Detroit's wearied residents, as raging crime rates threaten the troubled city's long-term future.
It's been named America's most dangerous city four years running by Forbes Magazine, recording 375 homicides so far this year, compared to 344 for the whole of 2011. Assaults with guns have also risen steadily over the past few years; 532 armed crimes were logged for every 100,000 residents in 2010, according to FBI statistics. Shaken by the violence, several of the city's funeral directors were inspired to hold a hearse parade through several neighborhoods blighted by crime in January.
While much of Detroit's gun violence can be attributed to disputes between people who know each other, it's the city's children who are often caught in the crossfire, as evidenced during last winter's rash of juvenile shootings. A six-year-old boy was shot with an AK-47 during a carjacking committed by two 15-year-olds; a 12-year-old boy was hit when a traffic accident between several men turned into a shootout. Kade'jah Davis was completing her homework when she was fatally struck by bullets aimed through the front door of her home in January. Police say the shooter's motive stemmed from an argument over a cell phone. And a nine-month-old infant named Delric Miller lost his life in February, when an assailant peppered the front of the home with rounds shot from an AK-47.
Random gunfire inspires fear. But so do cold-blooded murders of the city's young people. Cops say that 18-year-old Abreeya Brown and 22-year-old Ashley Conaway of Hamtramck, a smaller city located within Detroit's borders, refused to stay silent after witnessing a shooting between several young men. The two women were then kidnapped outside their home in what the Detroit Free Press called "a hail of gunfire." Both Brown and Conaway's bodies were found in a shallow grave, each shot once in the head. Jourdan Bobbish, 17, and Jacob Kudla, 18, both of nearby Westland, disappeared after possibly buying marijuana in the city. They were both found shot to death and positioned face-down in an empty field near City Airport.
Teenagers themselves have obtained weapons to commit terrible crimes. Police say 19-year-old Brian Douglas White of Livonia shot his ex-girlfriend's mother to death and slayed the girl's new boyfriend with an axe before turning the gun on himself. 14-year-old Joshua Smith was sentenced to 25 to 50 years after allegedly using a shotgun he found in the home to kill his mother after an argument. He was charged as an adult, as was Nathanial Abraham, the 11-year-old Pontiac boy whose story received national attention after he was tried as an adult and convicted of murder in 1997. Michigan has sentenced more juveniles to life in prison than almost any other state.
The staggering number of crimes involving children has made authorities and community groups pledge to stop the violence. But the city's financial struggles and looming possibility of bankruptcy mean there are a lack of resources to do so. A budget shortfall has led the city to impose a 10 percent pay cut across the Detroit Police Department and institute 12-hour shifts. When surburbanite baseball fans attended a Tigers game in the downtown neighborhood the city has worked to revitalize, they were warned by the protesting police officer's union that they were entering Detroit "at their own risk."
New programs are attempting to curb the culture of violence.
At a gun buyback held in August, people were encouraged to trade weapons for cash, no questions asked. An assault weapon could fetch $100. Mayor Dave Bing has opened about half of 13 "mini-stations" throughout the city that will focus on community policing and improving relations between officers and residents. The Motor City is also one of six urban areas across the nation participating in a youth violence prevention program that's been supported by the Obama administration.
Still, Bing has said that police can only do so much.
"You can't expect the police to be in every home, on every corner, responding to things that we as parents and adults ought to be responsible for," he said. "Let's let these young people know that we care about them, but at the same time, we aren't going to allow them to create havoc."
A controversial coalition of volunteering residents and businesses called the Detroit 300 has begun tracking down suspected killers on their own. "We don't care what gang, crew or clique you claim. When you kill babies in this city, you are our enemy," said founder Raphael Johnson.
Federal authorities are also trying to pick up some of the slack for the overburdened police department, which has been operating under federal oversight since 2003. The city's east side is now included in a pilot program to assign harsh federal penalties to repeat offenders and known criminals. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told reporters her "personal resolution" was driving down the city's homicide rate this year.
But the murder toll have already outpaced that of 2011, and rebirth -- or relief -- may not come soon enough for residents leaving the city in droves. In a recent poll commissioned by the Detroit News, 40 percent of respondents said they planned to move away within the next five years. Of the 800 respondents surveyed, 49 percent said crime, not education or unemployment, was the greatest challenge they faced every day.
And if they could, the poll reported, more than half of Detroiters said they'd pick up and leave the city today.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 14:23
Category: News Briefs Written by Sandra McNeill, WWJ
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WWJ) – Some parents may still keep their kids at home — but schools in Newtown, Connecticut are opening their doors today for the first time since Friday’s deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which will remain closed.
The tragedy at Sandy Hook is having an effect on children here in Michigan. Many were in attendance last night at a vigil attended by about 100 people on the campus of Lawrence Technological University. As the names of each of the victims were read, a flower was placed on a rock painted with the words “Sandy Hook.” It was clear that even several states away, emotions are still raw as a result of the shootings.
“How could you do that to kids,” asked Melanie Tracy, who brought along her 11-year-old daughter and two neighbor children. “I don’t understand it at all,” she said while choking back tears.
“I feel sad that the kids died, and the teachers and stuff … and I hope my grandpa takes care of ‘em cause he’s in heaven,” an eight-year-old girl told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.
Eleven-year-old Sydney Tracy said she’s scared, too.
“Yeah, I’m kinda scared cause I don’t want this to happen, and my mom and dad — once I go to middle school — they’re gonna have me bring a cell phone with me at all times,” Tracy said.
Both children say their schools are now locking doors and reinforcing safety drills.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 10:09
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
DETROIT (WWJ) - A former Detroit cop has pleaded guilty to forging time sheets to get $30,000 for hours she didn’t work.
Kim Mosby-Colbert, 52, was charged with defrauding a program receiving federal funding — a crime that carries up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
Per a deal with prosecutors, Mosby-Colbert will serve up to 6 months in prison and will pay just under $30,000 in restitution.
“We hope that prosecutions like this one will let public servants know that they will be held accountable for their conduct, and will deter them from stealing public funds to which they are not entitled,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, in a statement.
Added FBI Special Agent in Charge Foley stated, “The falsifying of records for the purpose of stealing money from tax payers is a criminal abuse of public trust. The FBI led Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force is committed to ensuring citizens have honest government.”
A sentencing hearing is set for March 19 at 2 p.m.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 09:24
Category: Breaking News Written by The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama, with his latest fiscal cliff offer, proposes extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone earning less than $400,000 a year, and paying for it by increasing taxes on the middle class and cutting Social Security and Medicare.
Obama's offer would allow the payroll tax holiday to expire, meaning middle class workers will see smaller paychecks in 2013. Economists have warned that the recovery is too fragile to risk a broad tax hike on workers. It would also gradually reduce Social Security, pension and Medicare benefits seniors are due to receive, taking a small bite up front, but building up to much larger cuts over time.
Obama's concession to Republicans is opposed by a majority of Americans, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents said the payroll tax cut should be extended to avoid raising taxes on the middle class, while 22 percent said that it should be allowed to expire to help pay down the debt. Extending the payroll tax cut received bipartisan support: 64 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans in the survey said they supported the extension.
MoveOn.org, the largest online progressive organization in Washington, reacted angrily Monday night to reports that Obama was softening. The group's quick reaction to a possible deal that has yet to be announced publicly shows there will be fierce opposition to cuts that hit Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries.
One top GOP aide predicted a deal, within the next day, that House Republicans would have no choice but to accept. A second said that many details still needed to be filled in, and that the president was dug in at $1.2 trillion in revenue, more than Republicans wanted.
Obama, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), had previously told fiscal cliff negotiators that "Social Security is not going to be part of this." That turned out to be a false assertion, given Monday's offer to target the elderly. The proposed Social Security reform is known as "chained CPI" and is an alternate measure of inflation that accounts for the way consumers react to higher prices by switching to similar products that are less costly. Or, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics put it, "If the price of pork increases while the price of beef does not, consumers might shift away from pork to beef."
The chained CPI proposal is unpopular across the political spectrum. Fifty-six percent of Republicans, along with 67 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents, said they thought the proposal was a bad idea. Older Americans were most likely to oppose the measure, with 77 percent of those age 65 and older saying that the proposal was a bad idea. Adults under 30 were the least likely to have an opinion: 50 percent said they weren't sure whether the proposal was a good or bad idea, while 21 percent said it was a good idea and 29 percent said it was a bad idea.
Justin Ruben, head of MoveOn.org, said in a statement that the group's members agree. "MoveOn members overwhelmingly oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits, and they've made clear that they would see any fiscal agreement that cuts such benefits as a betrayal that sells out working and middle class families -- whether the cuts come via a chained CPI, increased Medicare eligibility age, or in some other form," Ruben said.
Ruben said that his organization would encourage Democrats to block such a bargain. "If such a deal were proposed by the president and speaker, MoveOn members would expect every Senate and House Democrat to do everything in their power to block it," Ruben said. "Senate Majority Leader Reid would play a crucial role, as MoveOn members would count on him and other senators to remain true to their repeated promises to keep Social Security benefits off the table."
Reid has indeed been adamant. "I have made it very clear, I have told anyone that will listen -- including everyone in the White House, including the president -- that I am not going to be part of having Social Security as part of these talks relating to this deficit," Reid told reporters earlier.
Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, which opposes cuts to the program, said the chained CPI is painful policy. "Almost every elected official just spent an entire election season saying they wouldn't cut the benefits of those 55 and older. The truth is the chained CPI hits everyone's benefits on day one," he said. "It hits the oldest of the old and disabled veterans the hardest. If it wasn't being bandied about as being 'on the table,' I would guess that it was created as an office joke to see who could create the most noxious and offensive policy possible."
Boehner included the chained CPI in his counteroffer to Obama earlier, which also called for broader reform of social insurance programs. In 2011, Boehner and Obama reportedly agreed to a "Grand Bargain" that included the chained CPI, but the deal fell apart.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 09:35
Category: Breaking News Written by Tim Skubick, WWJ
LANSING, Mich. (WWJ) – Clergy across metro Detroit and the state of Michigan will converge in Lansing today and use the power of prayer against the concealed weapons bill now on Governor Snyder’s desk.
Members of Michigan Prophetic Voices and the Metro Coalition of Congregations say they will hold a prayer vigil this afternoon outside the governor’s office. They want him to veto legislation that would allow those with extra training to carry a concealed weapon in a gun-free zone, including schools, churches, stadiums and other public venues. The governor says he taking a closer look at the bill, given his concerns with public safety following the mass shooting in Newtown Connecticut that left 26 people — including 20 children — dead at Sandy Hook Elementary.
The head of the Michigan Education Association, meanwhile, is also speaking out on that concealed weapons legislation.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports that MEA President Steve Cook wants Snyder to veto the bill.
“There are too many guns in the streets,” Cook said. “There are too many guns in schools, and schools have to have the option to keep the guns out.”
Cook, himself a gun owner, says he doesn’t buy the argument from the NRA that guns in schools could actually save lives.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 09:03
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