community Service means Business!

8 February 2008

Do Not Spend When You Are Sad
Do Not Spend When You Are Sad
Today I read an eye opening article about the effect known as "misery is not miserly". Basically, a study was conducted on two groups of people. One group was shown a sad video about the death of a boy's mentor while the other was shown a random and emotionally neutral video about the Great Barrier Reef. Then each person was given $10 and asked to put an offer on a bottle of water. The group that was shown the sad video offered $2.11 on average, while the other group offered only $0.56 on average. Even though the first group offered nearly four times than that of the second group, they say that the video had no bearings on their decision. Thus the researchers say it is a phenomenon that happens without awareness, and that is frightening...SOURCE

7 February 2008

"Jena Six" Member In School Arrest - February 7, 2008

FEBRUARY 7--One of the "Jena Six" defendants was arrested yesterday for allegedly assaulting a fellow student at a Texas high school. Bryant Purvis, 19, was busted on the misdemeanor charge following an 8:30 AM altercation at Hebron High School in Carrollton, where his family relocated from Louisiana.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Purvis assaulted a male student he apparently suspected of vandalizing his auto.
Along with choking the 18-year-old victim, the 6' 6" Purvis allegedly slammed the teenager's head on a table. Purvis, pictured in the mug shot at right, was briefly jailed before being released on $1000 bond. Purvis and five codefendants were originally charged with attempted murder in connection with the December 2006 beating of a white high school student in Jena, Louisiana.
The case, which triggered protests over the severity of charges brought against the so-called Jena Six, remains pending, with Purvis scheduled for a March trial on reduced charges of aggravated battery and conspiracy. If convicted of those felonies, Purvis could face a maximum of more than 20 years in prison...SOURCE

6 February 2008

The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog: CCA demands 5% rate increase & threatens to move prisoners out of state

Wednesday February 06, 2008
Private prisons demand 5 percent rate increase

DENVER - A private prison company is threatening to move all Colorado inmates out of one of its facilities if it doesn't get an increase in what the state pays to house them.

Corrections Corporation of America, which operates four of the state's five private prisons, including three in Southern Colorado, is demanding that the Colorado Legislature give it a 5 percent hike in the per diem it receives to house about 4,000 state inmates, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, said Tuesday....SOURCE

Sleeping in Slave Quarters - Bed and Breakfasts

Sleeping in Slave Quarters
From Elizabeth Arneson,
Your Guide to Bed & Breakfasts.

Bed and breakfasts in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

The idea of converting former slave quarters for use as guest rooms in bed and breakfasts -- which has happened
at some Southern U.S. inns, as well as a few in other countries -- is controversial...SOURCE

When poor folks have better crap than you | Wise Bread

When Poor Folks Have Better Crap Than You
Posted November 20, 2007 - 05:26 by Philip Brewer

Every notice how upset people get, when someone poorer than them has better crap?
I'm talking about the guy agonizing over whether to spring for a 32-inch flat screen who
finds out that his poorer neighbor has come home with a 42-inch one.
It's bad enough trying to keep up with the Jones; when you have trouble keeping up with
the guy living on the wrong side of the tracks, it's a source of constant aggravation...SOURCE

Should You be Ashamed to be on Public Assistance?

Should You be Ashamed to be on Public Assistance?
By Linsey Knerl

Looking back on my childhood, I wish things could have been a little different. Maybe, if we had access to the slick-looking debit cards that the government currently provides food program participants (instead of the awful perforated coupons used back then), there wouldn’t have been as much shame. Perhaps if people had been more honest about the cycle of money in this country, we all could have seen it as an opportunity and not a “hand-out.”...SOURCE -Congressional Black Caucus Grades Plummet on War, “Terror” and Trade Bills

Congressional Black Caucus

 by Leutisha Stills
"The CBC is no longer vigilant in defense of civil liberties that go beyond the right to spend money wherever one wants."

CBC Monitor notes that Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), whom we tracked because of his prominence in progressive politics but who does not fit in any of our Report Card categories, scored 90 percent - higher than any member of the CBC.

The voting behavior of the Congressional Black Caucus shows "by the numbers" that the CBC has been at least half-absorbed by corporate power, that it fails to reflect the near-universal African American aversion to U.S. military adventures abroad, and is no longer vigilant in defense of civil liberties that go beyond the right to spend money wherever one wants. Clearly, a grassroots purge of the congressional ranks is in order, district by district, until the CBC can once again claim to be "the conscience of the Congress." ...SOURCE

Leutisha Stills, spokesperson for the Congressional Black Caucus Monitor, can be contacted at <>

Get your REAL ID



What is the REAL ID Act?

In May 2005, the federal Real ID Act was passed by Congress and signed into law, creating nationwide standards for states to issue driver's licenses and identification cards. It requires changes to state standards, procedures and requirements for the issuance of driver's licenses and identification cards, if they are to be accepted as identity documents by the federal government. States are expected to receive the final regulations from the Department of Homeland Security in 2008. Many of the issues regarding this Act need to be clarified before the potential impact to Pennsylvania drivers and ID card holders can be determined. Please be sure to visit this Web site for updates once the REAL ID regulations have been finalized.

5 February 2008

Wal-Mart CEO Lays Out Plans to Help Other Employers Cut Health Care Costs |

Wal-Mart CEO Lays Out Plans to Help Other Employers Cut Health Care Costs

Wal-Mart CEO and president Lee Scott says that the retailer will deepen its involvement in health care
by contracting with employers to help them reduce prescription drug costs. Scott claims Wal-Mart will
save its employer customers $100 million this year...SOURCE

Afrikans in Germany

Visit the African Courier on-line Magazine

Black History and Germany - Afro Germans - Afrodeutsche

Black Germans? Non-Germans may be understandably surprised to learn that there are Afro-Germans (Afrodeutsche), but many Germans themselves are unaware of the concept of a German who is also black (ein Schwarzer). While compared to other minorities, such as the 2 million Turks living in Germany, blacks are definitely a tiny minority among Germany's 82 million people. While EU countries do not keep track of ethnicity, there are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Blacks living in Germany today.

Early History
The history of black people in Germany goes back much further than most people think. One of the first Africans known to have lived in Germany was Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-1759). Born in what is today's Ghana, Amo came under the protection of the Duke (Herzog) of Wolfenbüttel in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) and grew up in the duke's castle. He was both the first African known to attend a German university (Halle) and the first to obtain a doctorate degree (in 1729). As a professor, under his preferred name of Antonius Guilelmus Amo Afer, he taught at two German universities and published several scholarly works, including a Latin treatise entitled De Arte Sobrie et Accurate Philosophandi (1736, "On the Art of Philosophizing Soberly and Accurately"). Knowing the level of his achievements, it is all the more surprising to learn that Amo returned to Africa in 1747. Most accounts claim the reason for his return to his native Africa was the racial discrimination he encountered in Germany. Then as now, Africans in Europe were seen as something exotic and foreign...SOURCE

The doctor will see your credit now

The doctor will see your credit now
The folks who invented the credit score for lenders are hard at work developing a similar tool for hospitals and other health care providers.

The project, dubbed “MedFICO” in some early press reports, will aid hospitals in assessing a patient’s ability to pay their medical bills. But privacy advocates are worried that the notorious errors that have caused frequent criticism of the credit system will also cause trouble with any attempt to create a health-related risk score. They also fear that a low score might impact the quality of the health care that patients receive.

Fair Issac Corp., developer of the FICO credit score, is one of several investors in Healthcare Analytics, the Massachusetts start-up that is developing the hospital risk tool. Another investor is Tenet Healthcare Corp, one of the nation's largest hospital operators. Stephen Farber, who resigned as chief financial officer of Tenet in 2004, is the CEO of Healthcare Analytics.

Several published reports have described Healthcare Analytics product as a MedFICO score, computed in a way that would be familiar to those who've used credit scores. The firm is gathering payment history information from large hospitals around the country, according to a magazine called Inside ARM, aimed at “accounts receivable management” professionals. It will then analyze that data to predict how likely patients will be to pay future medical bills. As with credit reports and scores, patients who've failed to pay past bills will be deemed less likely to pay future bills.

War in Africa

Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa

By Paul Collier

Why has Africa had so much civil war?

In all other regions of the world the incidence of civil war has been on a broadly declining trend over the past thirty years: but in Africa the long term trend has been upwards. Of course, every civil war has its ‘story’ – the personalities, the social cleavages, the triggering events, the inflammatory discourse, the atrocities. But is there anything more? Are there structural conditions – social, political or economic - which make a country prone to civil war? Might it be that the same inflammatory politician, playing on the same social cleavages, and with the same triggering events, might ‘cause’ war under one set of conditions and merely be an ugly irritant in another?..SOURCE

Education Week: Bush’s Latest ‘Voucher’ Idea May Face Same Fate as Others

State of the Initiatives
President Bush's education proposals from his past State of the Union addresses have had a mixed record of success.
PROPOSALS: Touted the then-just-passed No Child Left Behind Act as a bipartisan effort to craft new school accountability requirements. Urged Congress to improve Head Start, but didn't propose any specifics.
RESULTS: Head Start was finally reauthorized last year, but without many of the Bush administration's key ideas.
PROPOSALS: Called for spending $450 million over three years to recruit and train mentors for middle school students and children of prisoners.
RESULTS:Congress created two mentoring programs, funded at $50 million each.
PROPOSALS: Unveiled a "Jobs for the 21st Century" initiative that included a $100 million reading-intervention program for middle and high school students. Also proposed larger Pell Grants for students who take challenging courses in high school, and a program to encourage math and science professionals to teach in K-12 classrooms.
RESULTS: In 2006, Congress approved Academic Competitiveness Grants, which give extra Pell Grant money to students who take a rigorous high school curriculum. Congress financed the Striving Readers program, although only at $25 million. The proposal on math and science professionals in the classroom hasn't come to fruition.
PROPOSALS: Called for increasing the maximum amount of the Pell Grant. In budget, proposed increasing the frequency of testing for high school students under the NCLB law.
RESULTS: In 2007, lawmakers approved the College Cost Reduction Act, which is increasing maximum Pell Grants to $5,400 over five years. But the high school proposal hasn't gained traction.
PROPOSALS: Called for extra help for students who struggle with math and money to help train teachers to lead Advanced Placement courses. Reiterated call for attracting math and science professionals to teach in K-12 schools.
RESULTS: Congress in 2007 authorized the Math Now program, aimed at helping improve instruction in that subject, but provided no funding for it in the fiscal 2008 budget. Under the America Competes Act of 2007, lawmakers authorized additional funding for training AP teachers.
PROPOSALS: Urged Congress to reauthorize the NCLB law. White House proposals included permitting students in underperforming schools to use federal funds to transfer to private schools.
RESULTS: The NCLB reauthorization stalled in Congress last year, although the chairmen of the House and Senate education committees have pledged to renew work on the law.
SOURCE: Education Week

Rules of Thumb
Rules of Thumb
Memorable estimates

"A rule of thumb is a homemade recipe for making a guess. It is an easy-to-remember guide that falls somewhere between a mathematical formula and a shot in the dark. Rules of thumb are a kind of tool. They help you appraise a problem or situation. They make it easier to consider the subtleties of the topic at hand; they give you a feel for a subject. A rule of thumb is not a joke or a ditty. It is not a Murphy's Law. Murphy says that things will take longer than we think; a rule of thumb says how much longer. While a proverb says that a stitch in time saves nine, a rule of thumb says to allow one inch of yarn for every stitch on a knitting needle."

I've spent a lot of time reading through these over the years. I now subscribe to the Rules of Thumb RSS feed from Parker's site. My new rule of thumb: "One in 25 rules of thumb will be useful to you." YMMV, but I find that a pretty good hit rate.....SOURCE

-- KK

Rules of Thumb

Sample excerpts:

The best way to make money in residential real estate is to buy the worst home on the best street.

The moon covers half a degree of sky.

When digging a grave by hand, haul away 17 wheelbarrow loads of dirt and pile the rest by the hole. You will have just the right amount to backfill.

For marketing purposes, elderly consumers think they are 15 years younger than they actually are.

The price of a telescope increases proportionately to the cube of the lens diameter.

Recovering an unused physical skill takes one month for each year of layoff.

If you walk into a bar where a lot of people wear baseball caps, it's a good place to sell lottery tickets.

Eclipses often come in pairs. A lunar eclipse is followed frequently by a solar eclipse two weeks later, and vice versa.

If the cats aren't sleeping on the radiators, turn down the heat.

One chemical toilet serves 15 employees per week.

It takes two minutes for the sun to drop out of sight once it touches the horizon.

If a woman can walk around during contractions, she is not fully dilated.

When you are working in the vicinity of high voltage, keep 1 foot of distance between you and the power source for each 1,000 volts. For instance, stay 13 feet away from a 13,000 volt power source.

BBC NEWS | UK | 'Work or lose home' says minister
'Work or lose home' says minister
 Flint interview
"Unemployed council and housing association tenants should seek work or face losing their homes, housing minister Caroline Flint has suggested.
She said new applicants for social housing might sign "commitment contracts" pledging to seek employment.
In a speech, Ms Flint said:
"Social housing should be based around the principle of something for something."
Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said the idea was "meaningless" as it could not be legally enforced.
In her first speech as housing minister Ms Flint told the Fabian Society that she wanted to "begin a debate"
about how to best serve the needs of people who live in social housing."...SOURCE

4 February 2008

GroundReport | United States | A Haitian Blogger on the Next American President

A Haitian Blogger on the Next American President
Pascale, a Haitian living in Abu Dhabi who blogs at Natifnatal, writes about the American presidential election from a “Third World” perspective. Given America's impact, the outcome of this election matters not just for U.S. voters, but people around the world.
…America has tried to style itself the arbiter of individual rights, to champion equality for all, [but] issues of discrimination and inequality remain intact. I have never felt more segregated than when I was in the United States. Here in Haiti world music, art, and science are accessible to all. There's nothing out of the ordinary about a young Haitian to be mad about Celine Dion, Bocelli, Monet or the human genome; or for him or her to discuss inside out the Ilyad, the Odyssey and surrealism; for he or she to analyze David Copperfield while fantasizing about Beyonce and Brad Pitt. What I learned is that in the United States, if you are Black and you listen to George Michael, for example, you are considered “black with white taste,” that there are movies for Whites and movies for Blacks, music for Whites and music for Blacks, etc.
Les Etats-Unis, c'est une société qui d'après moi doit se pencher sur ses malheurs avant de se faire les militaires du monde. Avec les classes moyennes s'appauvrissant, les familles enfoncées jusqu'au cou dans les dettes, des visions altérées et irréalistes de la notion de limite que tout homme sensé est supposé avoir pour pouvoir faire une bonne allocation de ses ressources, avec la crise de l'immobilier, les marchés boursiers s'effondrant sous le poids des signes avant-coureurs d'une récession, la hausse des prix des produits de première nécessité, et le sceptre du terrorisme hantant comme une épée de Damoclès le quotidien, le prochain président aura du pain sur la planche...SOURCE

Non-Profits Times

Branding ...
Reshaping a recognizable name without changing it

"When drawing up a new logo and graphics package, leaders at the United Negro College Fund had to wrestle with a touchy subject: its name.

Although mainstream in 1944, when the Fairfax, Va.-organization was founded, the term "negro" had gone out of favor by the 1970s, said President & CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. In approaching what he termed the "sensitive issue" of the name, he said, "We didn't want to lose our heritage, but we didn't want it to be a barrier to attracting the attention and engagement of a new generation."

The solution, unveiled on Jan. 17, was to place just the acronym next to a restyled torch and above the signature tagline, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Going forward, the organization will use UNCF as a first reference in all its public materials. However, added Lomax, "We are, as far as I know, always going to be the United Negro College Fund" when it comes to the legal name.

The new logo caps a four-year organizational review that began when surveys identified an age problem: the World War II and baby boomer generations understood the UNCF's mission, but the iPod generation was hazier about it. "That was somewhat troubling," Lomax said.

That led to a revamping of the communications strategy two years ago, including freshening up the "Evening with the Stars" annual fundraiser. Last year, the UNCF turned to graphics, recasting the previously black-and-white torch in light blue, yellow and burnt orange, as well as changing the typeface.

The fund not only underwrites scholarships -- amounting to about $80 million for 8,000 students -- but also sends money to 39 historically black colleges and universities and runs education advocacy arms."...SOURCE


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