15 years old, sentenced to 118 years and 6 life sentences FOR A ROBBERY! We are seeking justice for Travion Blount.


Originally posted on Social Action:

15 years old, sentenced to 118 years and 6 life sentences FOR A ROBBERY! We are seeking justice for Travion Blount.

The importance of this petition is obvious and clear. A CHILD sentenced to 118 years and 6 life sentences for a robbery is very harsh. Murderers have been sentenced to a less sentence. Travion Blount should be receiving a new sentence or a conditional pardon.
To:
Virginia State Supreme Court, Common Wealth State of Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell
Virginia State Supreme Court, Common Wealth State of Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell:

“Travion Blount’s punishment may be the harshest in America for a teen who didn’t commit murder. The 15-year-old robbed a Norfolk party with two other males. He hurt no one. His friends got 10 and 13 years. But as it stands, Travion will die in prison if justice is not prevailed on his behalf”.

“A clerk stood and read 51 felony charges against Blount: among them, illegal use of a firearm, robbery, abduction. Travion said two words to each: “Not…

View original 408 more words

Sybrina Fulton Kicks Off Discussion at University of Utah


Originally posted on Blackbutterfly7:

Beauty

Sybrina Fulton

In the 30th annual Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the University of Utah is holding public discussions. This year’s theme is “Beneath the Hoodie: A Look at Racial Profiling in America.”

On Jan. 21, Jennifer Napier-Pearce of the Salt Lake Tribune will lead a panel discussion at the university about the damaging effects of racial profiling and how to combat it.   Sybrina Fulton will kick off that discussion.

Sybrina Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin who, on February 26, 2012, was profiled, followed, and killed by George Zimmerman.  In July 2013, a jury of 6 women found Zimmerman not guilty of 2nd degree murder neither manslaughter.

The best to Sybrina Fulton in her work as an advocate.

View original

Safe Journey Mr. Amiri Baraka, (October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014), Born Everett LeRoi Jones, Formerly Known As LeRoi Jones And Imamu Amear Baraka. The Struggle For You Is Over.


 

By Jueseppi B.

amiri

 

 

 

A Hat Tip/Shout Out To Mr. Walter Rhett, Writer .

 

From The LA Times:

 

Amiri Baraka, activist poet and playwright, dies at 79


Amiri Baraka died Thursday after weeks of failing health, a family spokeperson confirmed. He was 79.

 

A playwright, poet, critic and activist, Baraka was one of the most prominent and controversial African American voices in the world of American letters.

 

He was born Everett LeRoi Jones on Oct. 7, 1934, in Newark, N.J. A gifted student, he graduated from high school two years early and went to college at New York University and Howard University. After serving in the Air Force for more than two years, Baraka — then Jones — was dishonorably discharged for reading communist texts.

 

Writer and activist Amiri Baraka (Mick Gold / Redferns / Getty Images / March 17, 2013)

Writer and activist Amiri Baraka (Mick Gold / Redferns / Getty Images / March 17, 2013)

 

He then moved to New York, attending graduate school at Columbia University and becoming involved in the Beat scene. In 1958, he founded the avant-garde poetry magazine Yugen, which he co-edited with Hettie Cohen — the two were married from 1960 to 1965.

 

Yugen published works by William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Diane Di Prima, John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Gary Snyder, Gilbert Sorrentino, Barbara Guest, William Carlos Williams and others.

 

At that time he also co-edited a literary newsletter, The Floating Bear, published “Blues People: The Negro Experience in White America and the Music That Developed from It” (1963) and penned the play “Dutchman,” which explosively explored issues of race and gender.

 

“I can see now that the dramatic form began to interest me because I wanted to go ‘beyond’ poetry. I wanted some kind of action literature,” Baraka wrote in his 1984 autobiography.

 

“Dutchman” won the 1964 Obie Award for best American play.

 

After the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, Jones changed his name to Imamu Amiri Baraka, moved to Harlem and married his second wife, Amina (formerly Sylvia Robinson).

 

Inspired in part by a 1960 trip to Cuba and in part by the radical wing of the civil rights movement, he espoused separatist ideas and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School.

 

Baraka led the Black Arts Movement, an aesthetic sibling to the Black Panthers. Although the movement was fractious and short-lived, it involved significant authors such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Eldridge Cleaver, Gil-Scott Heron, Nikki Giovanni, Ishmael Reed and Quincy Troupe.

 

“[W]e wrote art that was, number one, identifiably Afro American according to our roots and our history and so forth. Secondly, we made art that was not contained in small venues,” Baraka said in a 2007 interview. “The third thing we wanted was art that would help with the liberation of black people, and we didn’t think just writing a poem was sufficient. That poem had to have some kind of utilitarian use; it should help in liberating us. So that’s what we did. We consciously did that.”

 

In Harlem, Baraka sent trucks into the community carrying people — including the artist Sun Ra — performing poetry, dance and music.

 

Baraka’s work during the 1960s included the plays “The Black Mass,” “The Toilet,” and “The Slave”; the poetry collections “Black Art” and “Black Magic”; and the provocative collection “Home: Social Essays.”

 

In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Baraka became deeply involved in a number of organizations working to promote and consolidate African American political power.

 

In 1980, he began teaching at the State University of New York-Stony Brook, retiring from its African Studies department in 1994. During his long academic career, he taught at Rutgers University, George Washington University, Yale University, San Francisco State University, Columbia and the New School for Social Research.

 

Baraka made his home in Newark and remained a creative and political force. In 2002, he was named New Jersey’s second poet laureate — and soon became the center of a controversy surrounding his 9/11 poem “Somebody Blew Up America.”

 

The poem — which pointed out offenses committed, mostly by whites, around the world and throughout history — included controversial lines that were considered anti-Semitic. Before Baraka could serve out his two-year term in the post, the poet laureate position was eliminated.

 

Asked by NPR in 2007 how he would define himself, Baraka said, “Well, I guess as a poet and a political activist most consistently. I’ve written in all genres. … But, you know, I guess throughout all of that, the poetry is at the base of it.”

 

Although he was frequently embroiled in political controversy, Baraka’s artistic achievements did not go unacknowledged. His awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, a PEN/Faulkner Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, and the Langston Hughes Award from City College of New York.

Thank you  The LA Times.

 

amiri-baraka-poet-e1280191504893

 

 

Amiri Baraka (October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014), born Everett LeRoi Jones, formerly known as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka, was an African-American writer of poetry, drama,fictionessays and music criticism. He was the author of numerous books of poetry and taught at a number of universities, including the State University of New York at Buffalo and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He received the PEN Open Book Award, formerly known as the Beyond Margins Award, in 2008 for Tales of the Out and the Gone.

 

Critical reception of Baraka’s poetry and writing is a conflict of extremes. Critics within the African-American community compare him to James Baldwin and call Baraka one of the most respected and most widely published Black writers of his generation. Baraka’s brief tenure as Poet Laureate of New Jersey (2002–2003), which involved controversy over a public reading of his poem “Somebody Blew Up America?” and accusations of anti-Semitism, brought Baraka’s work a barrage of negative attention from critics, politicians and the general public. Other critics, most notably Jerry Gafio Watts, explain Baraka’s expression of violence, misogyny, homophobia and racism as evidence of psychological projection to avoid personal positions or his past (i.e. homosexual relationships) that would undermine the “credibility of his militant voice.”

 

Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka, Miami Book Fair International, 2007.jpg

Baraka at the Miami Book Fair International, 2007
Born Everett LeRoi Jones
October 7, 1934
NewarkNew JerseyU.S.
Died January 9, 2014 (aged 79)
NewarkNew JerseyU.S.
Pen name LeRoi Jones, Imamu Amear Baraka
Occupation Actor, teacher, theater director/producer,

writer, activist, poet

Nationality American
Period 1961–present
Genres PoetryDrama
Children Kellie Jones, Lisa Jones, Dominque DiPrima,

Maria Jones, Shani Baraka,

Obalaji Baraka, Ras Baraka, Ahi Baraka,

and Amiri Baraka


amiribaraka.com

 

Biography

 

Early life (1934-65)

 

images

 

Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones in Newark, New Jersey, where he attended Barringer High School. His father, Coyt Leverette Jones, worked as a postal supervisor and lift operator. His mother, Anna Lois (née Russ), was a social worker. In 1967, he adopted the Muslim name Imamu Amear Baraka, which he later changed to Amiri Baraka.

 

He won a scholarship to Rutgers University in 1951, but a continuing sense of cultural dislocation prompted him to transfer in 1952 to Howard University, which he left without obtaining a degree. His major fields of study were philosophy and religion. Baraka subsequently studied at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research without obtaining a degree.

 

In 1954, he joined the US Air Force as a gunner, reaching the rank of sergeant. After an anonymous letter to his commanding officer accusing him of being a communist led to the discovery of Soviet writings, Baraka was put on gardening duty and given a dishonorable discharge for violation of his oath of duty.

 

The same year, he moved to Greenwich Village working initially in a warehouse for music records. His interest in jazz began during this period. At the same time he came into contact with avant-garde Beat GenerationBlack Mountain poets and New York School poets. In 1958 he married Hettie Cohen and founded Totem Press, which published such Beat icons as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Their literary magazine Yugen lasted for eight issues (1958–62). Baraka also worked as editor and critic for Kulchur (1960–65). With Diane DiPrima he edited the first twenty-five issues (1961–63) of their little magazine Floating Bear.

 

Baraka visited Cuba in July 1960 with a Fair Play for Cuba Committee delegation and reported his impressions in his essay Cuba libre. In 1961 Baraka co-authored a Declaration of Conscience in support of Fidel Castro‘s regime. Baraka also was a member of the Umbra Poets Workshop of emerging Black Nationalist writers (Ishmael Reed, and Lorenzo Thomas among others) on the Lower East Side (1962–65). In 1961 a first book of poems, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, was published. Baraka’s article “The Myth of a ‘Negro Literature'” (1962) stated that “a Negro literature, to be a legitimate product of the Negro experience in America, must get at that experience in exactly the terms America has proposed for it in its most ruthless identity.” He also states in the same work that as an element of American culture, the Negro was entirely misunderstood by Americans. The reason for this misunderstanding and for the lack of black literature of merit was according to Jones:

“In most cases the Negroes who found themselves in a position to pursue some art, especially the art of literature, have been members of the Negro middle class, a group that has always gone out of its way to cultivate any mediocrity, as long as that mediocrity was guaranteed to prove to America, and recently to the world at large, that they were not really who they were, i.e., Negroes.”

 

As long as the black writer was obsessed with being an accepted, middle class, Baraka wrote, he would never be able to speak his mind, and that would always lead to failure. Baraka felt that America only made room for only white obfuscators, not black ones.

 

Baraka’s Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963) is a volume of jazz criticism, especially relating to the beginning of the free jazzmovement. His acclaimed, but controversial play, Dutchman premiered in 1964 and received an Obie Award the same year.

 

After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, Baraka left his wife and their two children and moved to Harlem. Now a “black cultural nationalist,” he broke away from the predominantly white Beats and became very critical of the pacifist and integrationist Civil Rights movement. His revolutionary poetry now became more controversial. A poem such as “Black Art” (1965), according to academic Werner Sollors from Harvard University, expressed his need to commit the violence required to “establish a Black World.” “Black Art” quickly became the major poetic manifesto of the Black Arts Literary Movement and in it, Jones declaimed “we want poems that kill,” which coincided with the rise of armed self-defense and slogans such as “Arm yourself or harm yourself” that promoted confrontation with the white power structure. Rather than use poetry as an escapist mechanism, Baraka saw poetry as a weapon of action. His poetry demanded violence against those he felt were responsible for an unjust society.

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1966–1980

In 1966, Baraka married his second wife, Sylvia Robinson, who later adopted the name Amina Baraka. In 1967, he lectured at San Francisco State University. The year after, he was arrested in Newark for having allegedly carried an illegal weapon and resisting arrest during the 1967 Newark riots, and was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison. Shortly afterward an appeals court reversed the sentence based on his defense by attorney, Raymond A. Brown. Not long after the 1967 riots, Baraka generated controversy when he went on the radio with a Newark police captain and Anthony Imperiale, a notorious white racist, and the three of them blamed the riots on “white-led, so-called radical groups” and “Communists and the Trotskyite persons.” That same year his second book of jazz criticism, Black Music, came out, a collection of previously published music journalism, including the seminal Apple Cores columns from Down Beat magazine.

 

In 1967, Baraka (still Leroi Jones) visited Maulana Karenga in Los Angeles and became an advocate of his philosophy of Kawaida, a multifaceted, categorized activist philosophy that produced the “Nguzo Saba,” Kwanzaa, and an emphasis on African names. It was at this time that he adopted the name Imamu Amear BarakaImamu is a Swahili title for “spiritual leader” in which is derived from Arabic word Imam (إمام). According to Shaw, he dropped the honorific Imamu and eventually changed Amear (which means “Prince”) to AmiriBaraka means “blessing, in the sense of divine favor.” In 1970 he strongly supported Kenneth A. Gibson‘s candidacy for mayor of Newark; Gibson was elected the city’s first Afro-American Mayor. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Baraka courted controversy by penning some strongly anti-Jewish poems and articles, similar to the stance at that time of the Nation of Islam.

 

Baraka’s separation from the Black Arts Movement began because he saw certain black writers – capitulationists, as he called them – countering the Black Arts Movement that he created. He believed that the groundbreakers in the Black Arts Movement were doing something that was new, needed, useful, and black, and those who did not want to see a promotion of black expression were “appointed” to the scene to damage the movement. Around 1974, Baraka distanced himself from Black nationalism and became a Marxist and a supporter of third-world liberation movements. In 1979 he became a lecturer in Stony Brook University‘s Africana Studies Department. The same year, after altercations with his wife, he was sentenced to a short period of compulsory community service. Around this time he began writing his autobiography. In 1980 he denounced his former anti-semitic utterances, declaring himself an anti-zionist.

 

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1980–2014

During the 1982-83 academic year, Baraka was a visiting professor at Columbia University, where he taught a course entitled “Black Women and Their Fictions.” In 1984 he became a full professor at Rutgers University, but was subsequently denied tenure. In 1985, Baraka returned to Stony Brook, eventually becoming professor emeritus of African Studies. In 1987, together with Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, he was a speaker at the commemoration ceremony for James Baldwin. In 1989 Baraka won an American Book Award for his works as well as a Langston Hughes Award. In 1990 he co-authored the autobiography of Quincy Jones, and 1998 was a supporting actor in Warren Beatty‘s film  Bulworth. In 1996, Baraka contributed to the AIDS benefit album Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip produced by the Red Hot Organization.

 

In July 2002, Baraka was named Poet Laureate of New Jersey by Governor Jim McGreevey. Baraka held the post for a year mired in controversy and after substantial political pressure and public outrage demanding his resignation. During the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Stanhope, New Jersey, Baraka read his 2001 poem on the September 11th attacks “Somebody Blew Up America?”, which was criticized for anti-Semitism and attacks on public figures. Because there was no mechanism in the law to remove Baraka from the post, the position of state poet laureate was officially abolished by the State Legislature and Governor McGreevey.

 

Baraka collaborated with hip-hop group The Roots on the song “Something in the Way of Things (In Town)” on their 2002 album Phrenology.

 

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante included Amiri Baraka on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

 

In 2003, Baraka’s daughter Shani, aged 31, and her lesbian partner, Rayshon Homes, were murdered in the home of Shani’s sister, Wanda Wilson Pasha, by Pasha’s ex-husband, James Coleman. Prosecutors argued that Coleman shot Shani because she had helped her sister separate from her husband. A New Jersey jury found Coleman (also known as Ibn El-Amin Pasha) guilty of murdering Shani Baraka and Rayshon Holmes, and he was sentenced to 168 years in prison for the 2003 shooting.

 

Death

Amiri Baraka died January 9, 2014 at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey after being hospitalized in the facility’s intensive care unit for one month prior to his death. The cause of death was not mentioned, but it is reported that Baraka had a long struggle with diabetes.

 

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Controversies

Baraka’s writings, and the covers of his early notebooks with large images of erect penises which were in open display in the Greenwich Village cafes where he sat, have generated controversy over the years, particularly his advocacy of rape and violence towards, at various times, women, gay people, white people, and Jews. Author Jerry Gafio Watts contends that Baraka’s homophobia and misogyny stem from his efforts to conceal his own history of same-sex encounters. Watts writes that Baraka “knew that popular knowledge of his homosexuality would have undermined the credibility of his militant voice. By becoming publicly known as a hater of homosexuals, Jones was attempting to defuse any claims that might surface linking him with a homosexual past.” Critics of his work have alternately described such usage as ranging from being vernacular expressions of Black oppression to outright examples of the sexismhomophobiaantisemitism, and racism they perceive in his work.

 

The following is from a 1965 essay:

Most American white men are trained to be fags. For this reason it is no wonder their faces are weak and blank.…The average ofay [white person] thinks of the black man as potentially raping every white lady in sight. Which is true, in the sense that the black man should want to rob the white man of everything he has. But for most whites the guilt of the robbery is the guilt of rape. That is, they know in their deepest hearts that they should be robbed, and the white woman understands that only in the rape sequence is she likely to get cleanly, viciously popped.

 

In 2009, he was again asked about the quote, and placed it in a personal and political perspective:

Those quotes are from the essays in Home, a book written almost fifty years ago. The anger was part of the mindset created by, first, the assassination of John Kennedy, followed by the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, followed by the assassination of Malcolm X amidst the lynching, and national oppression. A few years later, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. What changed my mind was that I became a Marxist, after recognizing classes within the Black community and the class struggle even after we had worked and struggled to elect the first Black Mayor of Newark, Kenneth Gibson.

 

In July 2002, ten months after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Baraka wrote a poem entitled “Somebody Blew Up America?” that was controversial and met with harsh criticism. The poem is highly critical of racism in America, and includes angry depictions of public figures such as Trent LottClarence Thomas, and Condoleezza Rice. It also contains lines claiming Israel’s involvement in the World Trade Center attacks:

Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
To stay home that day
Why did Sharon stay away?
[...]
Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion

And cracking they sides at the notion

 

Baraka said that he believed Israelis and President George W. Bush had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks, citing what he described as information that had been reported in the American and Israeli press and on Jordanian television. He denied that the poem is antisemitic, and points to its accusation, which is directed against Israelis, rather than Jews as a people. The Anti-Defamation League though, denounced the poem as antisemitic, though Baraka and his defenders defined his position as anti-Zionism.

 

After the poem’s publication, then-governor Jim McGreevey tried to remove Baraka from the post of Poet Laureate of New Jersey, to which he had been appointed following Gerald Stern in July 2002. McGreevey learned that there was no legal way, according to the law authorizing and defining the position, to remove Baraka. On October 17, 2002, legislation was introduced in the State Senate to abolish the post which was subsequently signed by Governor McGreevey and became effective July 2, 2003. Baraka ceased being poet laureate when the law became effective. In response to legal action filed by Baraka, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that state officials were immune from such suits, and in November 2007 the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal of the case.

 

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Honors and awards

Baraka served as the second Poet Laureate of New Jersey from July 2002 until the position was abolished on July 2, 2003. In response to the attempts to remove Baraka as the state’s Poet Laureate, a nine-member advisory board named him the poet laureate of the Newark Public Schools in December 2002.

 

Baraka received honors from a number of prestigious foundations, including: fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Langston Hughes Award from the City College of New York, the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Before Columbus Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

A short excerpt from Amiri Baraka’s poetry was selected to used for a permanent installation by artist Larry Kirkland in New York City’s Pennsylvania Station.

 

I have seen many suns
use
the endless succession of hours
piled upon each other

 

Carved in marble, this installation features excerpts from the works of several New Jersey poets (from Walt WhitmanWilliam Carlos Williams, to contemporary poets Robert Pinsky and Renée Ashley) and was part of the renovation and reconstruction of the New Jersey Transit section of the station completed in 2002.

 

Layout 1

 

Works

Poetry

  • 1961: Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
  • 1969: Black Magic
  • 1970: It’s Nation Time
  • 1970: Slave Ship
  • 1975: Hard Facts
  • 1980: New Music, New Poetry (India Navigation)
  • 1995: Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones
  • 1995: Wise, Why’s Y’s
  • 1996: Funk Lore: New Poems
  • 2003: Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems
  • 2005: The Book of Monk

Drama

  • 1964: Dutchman
  • 1967: The Baptism and The Toilet
  • 1966: A Black Mass
  • 1978: The Motion of History and Other Plays

Fiction

Non-Fiction

  • 1963: Blues People: Negro Music in White America
  • 1965: Home: Social Essays
  • 1971: Raise Race Rays Raize: Essays Since 1965
  • 1979: Poetry for the Advanced
  • 1981: reggae or not!
  • 1984: Daggers and Javelins: Essays 1974-1979
  • 1984: The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka
  • 1987: The Music: Reflections on Jazz and Blues
  • 2003: The Essence of Reparations

Edited works

  • 1968: Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing (co-editor, with Larry Neal)
  • 1969: Four Black Revolutionary Plays
  • 1983: Confirmation: An Anthology of African American Women (edited with Amina Baraka)
  • 2008: Billy Harper: Blueprints of Jazz, Volume 2 (Audio CD)

Filmography

  • One P.M. (1972)
  • Fried Shoes Cooked Diamonds (1978) …. Himself
  • Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement (1978) …. Himself
  • Poetry in Motion (1982)
  • Furious Flower: A Video Anthology of African American Poetry 1960–95, Volume II: Warriors (1998) …. Himself
  • Through Many Dangers: The Story of Gospel Music (1996)
  • Bulworth (1998) …. Rastaman
  • Piñero (2001) …. Himself
  • Strange Fruit (2002) …. Himself
  • Ralph Ellison: An American Journey (2002) …. Himself
  • Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004) …. Himself
  • Keeping Time: The Life, Music & Photography of Milt Hinton (2004) …. Himself
  • Hubert Selby Jr: It/ll Be Better Tomorrow (2005) …. Himself
  • 500 Years Later (2005) (voice) …. Himself
  • The Ballad of Greenwich Village (2005) …. Himself
  • The Pact (2006) …. Himself
  • Retour à Gorée (2007) …. Himself
  • Polis Is This: Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place (2007)
  • Revolution ’67 (2007) …. Himself
  • Turn Me On (2007) (TV) …. Himself
  • Oscene (2007) …. Himself
  • Corso: The Last Beat (2008)
  • The Black Candle (2008)
  • Ferlinghetti: A City Light (2008) …. Himself
  • Motherland (2010)

 

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Thank you Mr. Walter Rhett, Writer .

 

cropped-b4peace-header obamabottomheader

Barack’s World™: Michelle’s 50th. The White House Blog Post. President Obama’s Promise Zones Initiative.


 

By Jueseppi B.

barackworld

 

 

John P. Holdren, Cecilia Muñoz, and Ernest Moniz
January 09, 2014
03:40 PM EST

 

Today, President Obama signed a memorandum establishing the federal government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) process, fulfilling an important commitment from his Climate Action Plan and ensuring that federal energy policies continue to meet the nation’s economic, environmental, and security goals. Over the next four years, the QER will provide a comprehensive review of these policies in the context of a changing energy landscape.

 

The ways that this country produces and uses energy are changing in ways that few people could have predicted a decade ago. As an Administration we’ve pursued an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and, as a result, we are now more energy secure than at any time in recent history, and we have cut our carbon pollution in the process. We have more than doubled our production of electricity from wind and solar since the President took office, and we have set a goal to double it again by 2020.

 

We are also producing more of our own conventional fuels. The United States is now the number one natural gas producer in the world, and, for the first time in decades, the United States is now producing more oil at home than it imports from abroad. These are important steps to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and responsibly leverage our nation’s home-grown energy resources.

 

Read More

 

President Barack Obama reads a document in the Oval Office, Jan. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama reads a document in the Oval Office, Jan. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

Obama Administration Launches Quadrennial Energy Review

 

 

Obama Administration Launches Quadrennial Energy Review

First QER Will Focus on Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure

Today, President Obama signed a Memorandum directing his Administration to conduct a Quadrennial Energy Review (QER).  This first QER will focus on the development of a comprehensive strategy for the infrastructure involved in transporting, transmitting, and delivering energy. The QER will be developed through robust interagency dialogue and engagement of external stakeholders and will help to build on the Nation’s progress toward greater energy and climate security.

 

Building on the foundation provided in the President’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future and his Climate Action Plan, this QER will study the opportunities and challenges that our energy infrastructure faces as a result of transformations in energy supply, markets, and use; issues of aging and capacity; impacts of climate change; and cyber and physical threats.  The QER will provide rigorous analysis in a focused, actionable document for policymakers across all sectors.

 

The development of the QER will include broad outreach, including to the private sector; state, local and tribal governments; labor and other non-governmental organizations; and the academic community.  The QER will be conducted by an interagency task force that is co-chaired by the leaders of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy, and includes representation from all relevant executive departments and agencies.  The Department of Energy will play a key role in providing analytical support to the QER.

 

As the Presidential Memorandum outlines, the QER will provide an integrated view of, and recommendations for, Federal energy policy in the context of economic, environmental, occupational, security, and health and safety priorities; review the adequacy of existing executive and legislative activities and recommend additional executive and legislative actions as appropriate; assess and recommend priorities for research, development, and demonstration programs to support key goals; and identify analytical tools and data needed to support further policy development and implementation.

 

Since President Obama took office, domestic oil production has increased more than 50 percent and natural gas production is now the highest it has ever been. Today, America is not just leading the world in energy production but it is also leading the world in energy innovation: Investments in research, development, and deployment have more than doubled the renewable electricity that we generate from wind and solar, even as the prices of those technologies continue to drop, and advances in energy efficiency are making our energy system cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable.  All this change tests an aging infrastructure that must keep pace both with the transformations in energy supply, climate change and security.  In this context, the QER will help U.S. policymakers across all sectors make decisions based on unbiased data and rigorous analysis.

 

obama-biden-lunch1

 

 

Readout of the President’s Meeting with Members of Congress

 

President’s Meeting with Members of Congress

Today President Obama met with Members of Congress to discuss the Administration’s ongoing review of signals intelligence programs, including our study of the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies report. In August, the President committed his Administration to working with Congress to pursue reforms to our nation’s surveillance programs and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This meeting was an opportunity for the President to hear from the Members about the work they have been doing on these issues since they last met and solicit their input as we near the end of our internal review. The President thanked the Members for their ongoing work on these challenging issues.

 

The following Members of Congress attended:

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, Vice Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT, Chairman, Judiciary Committee
  • Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee
  • Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-CT
  • Senator Mark Udall, D-CO
  • Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR
  • Representative Mike Rogers, R-MI, Chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Representative Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, Chairman, Judiciary Committee
  • Representative John Conyers, D-MI, Ranking Member, Judiciary Committee
  • Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ, Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Representative Peter Visclosky, D-IN, Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Representative Adam Schiff, D-CA

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI

 

 

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Katherine Vargas
Katherine Vargas

January 09, 2014
11:31 AM EST

 

January 1 marked a new day in health care for millions of families and individuals throughout the country. For the millions of Americans who signed up for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, they now have the security and peace of mind that comes with access to quality and affordable health coverage. From now on, insured Americans won’t be forced to put off a check-up or worry about going broke if they get sick. And for those who already have insurance, additional protections and benefits kicked in thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

 

Now, it is against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage or charge you more because of a pre-existing medical condition. And they will no longer be able to drop you from coverage just because you get sick or get into an accident. Most plans must cover preventive services like cholesterol and cancer screenings, at no out-of-pocket cost. Better access to prevention and wellness services is important for reducing health disparities among Latinos who suffer from high rates of chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.

 

Andrew Santiago is one of the 10.2 million Latinos who stand to benefit from the new protections provided by the Affordable Care Act. Andrew is a comedy writer from Brooklyn who works freelance jobs in television production. Andrew signed up for coverage under the Health Insurance Marketplace and qualified for a tax credit that allows him to purchase medical and dental insurance for only $87 a month.

 

Before the Affordable Care Act, Andrew didn’t think it was possible for him to secure or maintain health insurance given his financial situation and now he has a quality plan at an affordable price. Now, Andrew can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with health insurance because he can get the care that he needs when he needs it. A report from the Department of Health and Human Services released in October shows that half of single young adults are eligible for coverage for $50 a month or less. That means that young people everyone just like Andrew can get quality and affordable coverage for about the same cost as a monthly cell phone bill.

 

Now is the time to spread the word with family, friends and neighbors, tell them about the new health care choices and benefits that are available to them. For more information or to enroll visit HealthCare.Gov or CuidadoDeSalud.Gov You can also join in the conversation by following our bilingual Twitter account @LaCasaBlanca, or use the hashtag #OurSalud to share your health care story, we’d love to hear them.

 

Katherine Vargas is the Director of Hispanic Media

 

Learn more:

 

Related Topics: Health Care
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I have never been more proud of a First Couple in my 54 years of life. Happy 50th Michelle LaVaughn Obama.

I have never been more proud of a First Couple in my 54 years of life. Happy 50th Michelle LaVaughn Obama.

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Let’s reach 100,000 strong wishing Michelle Obama a happy birthday!
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January 9th, 2014: Photo of the Day

 

President Barack Obama, with Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., holds a meeting with intelligence community leaders in the Situation Room of the White House, Jan. 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama, with Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., holds a meeting with intelligence community leaders in the Situation Room of the White House, Jan. 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

Partnering With Local Communities: The First Five “Promise Zones”

 

Today, President Obama will announce five “Promise Zones” — partnerships with local communities to work to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.

 

These five communities — in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma — have committed to use existing resources on proven strategies, and make new investments that reward hard work. Because as the President noted, in a country as great as this one, a child’s zip code should never determine their opportunity.

 

Learn more about these Promise Zones

 

Today President Obama will announce the first Promise Zone locations. They’re in San Antonio, Texas; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

 

The White House says Obama believes investing in and rebuilding economically challenged communities is crucial to helping children have a chance at success.”

 

Obama will announce the first Promise Zone locations. They’re in San Antonio, Texas; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

 

 

 

Fact Sheet: President Obama’s Promise Zones Initiative

For decades before the economic crisis, local communities were transformed as jobs were sent overseas and middle class Americans worked harder and harder but found it more difficult to get ahead.  Announced in last year’s State of the Union Address, the Promise Zone Initiative is part of the President’s plan to create a better bargain for the middle-class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.  Today, the President announced the next step in those efforts by naming the first five “Promise Zones”.

 

The first five Zones, located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, have each put forward a plan on how they will partner with local business and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.  In exchange, these designees will receive the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.

 

Each of these designees knows and has demonstrated that it takes a collaborative effort – between private business and federal, state, tribal and local officials; faith-based and non-profit organizations; children and parents – to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American, in every community.

 

THE FIRST 5 PROMISE ZONES AND THEIR PLANS:

 

San Antonio, TX (Eastside Neighborhood)

 

The City of San Antonio’s key strategies include:

  • Focusing on job creation and training, including through a partnership with St. Philip’s College, in key growth areas including energy, health care, business support, aerospace/advanced manufacturing, and construction.
  • Empowering every child with the skills they need by increasing enrollment in high quality pre-K programs; installing a STEM focus in the local school district; expanding enrollment in Early College Programs; and improving adult education opportunities.
  • Expanding public safety activities to facilitate neighborhood revitalization; improved street lighting and demolishing abandoned buildings; and integrated public safety activities with social resources.

 

Los Angeles, CA (Neighborhoods of Pico Union, Westlake, Koreatown, Hollywood, and East Hollywood)

 

The City of Los Angeles’s key strategies include:

  • Increasing housing affordability by preserving existing affordable housing and partnering with housing developers to increase the supply of affordable new housing to prevent displacement.
  • Ensuring all youth have access to a high-quality education, and are prepared for college and careers through its Promise Neighborhoods initiative, by partnering with the Youth Policy Institute and L.A. Unified School District to expand its Full Service Community Schools model from 7 schools to all 45 Promise Zone schools by 2019.
  • Ensuring youth and adult residents have access to high-quality career and technical training opportunities that prepare them for careers in high-growth industries through partnerships with career and technical training schools and the Los Angeles Community College District.
  • Investing in transit infrastructure including bus rapid transit lines and bike lanes, and promoting transit-oriented development (TOD) that attracts new businesses and creates jobs.
  • Charging its Promise Zone Director and Advisory Board with eliminating wasteful and duplicative government programs.

 

Philadelphia, PA (West Philadelphia)

The City of Philadelphia’s key strategies include:

  • Putting people back to work through skills training and adult education; classes on small business development to support entrepreneurs; loans and technical assistance for small resident-owned businesses; and the development of a supermarket providing both jobs and access to healthy food.
  • Improving high-quality education to prepare children for careers, in partnership with Drexel University and the William Penn Foundation, through increasing data-driven instruction that informs teacher professional development; developing school cultures that are conducive to teaching and learning; mentoring middle and high school youth with focus on college access and readiness; and increasing parent engagement.
  • Preventing and reducing crime in order to attract new residents and long-term investments, through strategies such as focused deterrence, hot spots policing, and foot patrol.

 

Southeastern Kentucky (Kentucky Highlands)

In Southeastern Kentucky, the Kentucky Highland’s Investment Corps’ key strategies include:

  • Implementing a sustainable economic effort across eight counties in the Kentucky Highlands region, focused on diversifying Southeastern Kentucky’s economy to make it more resilient.
  • Creating jobs and growing small businesses by leveraging $1.3 million of private sector funds in a revolving loan fund targeted within the Promise Zone.
  • Creating leadership and entrepreneur training for youth and industry-specific re-training opportunities for local skilled workforce, through the University of Kentucky Economic Development Initiative, the East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, and the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation.
  • In order to ensure all youth have access to a high-quality education Berea College will run evidence-based college and career readiness programs for high school students in the Zone, while Eastern Kentucky University will expand technical education programs.

 

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

 

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s key strategies include:

  • Improving skills for tomorrow’s jobs, through workforce training for skilled trades and professionals and more rigorous summer and after-school programs.
  • Leveraging its role as the largest employer in southeastern Oklahoma to create a strong base for economic revitalization by working with partners, like Oklahoma State University, Eastern Oklahoma State College, and the Kiamichi Technology Center to improve workforce training for skilled trades and professionals, with a focus on providing nationally-recognized STEM certifications.
  • Investing in infrastructure that lays the foundation for economic growth, including water and sewer infrastructure; these infrastructure challenges have been identified as impediments to investment in an area with otherwise strong growth potential.
  • Improving educational outcomes by working across 85 school districts throughout the region to share data for continuous improvement, and bolster early literacy and parent support programs.
  • Pursuing economic diversification by utilizing natural, historic, and cultural resources to support growth, including evaluation of market capacity for local farmers’ markets, as well as implementation of technology-enhanced “traditional” farming and ranching, and large-scale greenhouses and specialized training in business plan development, marketing, and financing to support the development of women-owned businesses in the Promise Zone.

 

THE PROMISE ZONES INITIATIVE

The five Promise Zones announced today are part of the 20 that will be announced over the next three years. These unique partnerships support local goals and strategies with:

 

  • Accountability for Clear Goals: Each Promise Zone has identified clear outcomes they will pursue to revitalize their community, with a focus on creating jobs, increasing economic activity, improving educational opportunities, increasingaccess to quality, affordable housing and reducing violent crime.  All Promise Zones will continuously track those outcomes, and have committed to sharing data across their community partners (private-sector, non-profits, federal, state, and local agencies, etc.)  so that each partner can work towards improvement and accountability.  The Administration will work with the Promise Zones and third party experts to track progress and evaluate results.
  • Intensive Federal Partnership: Modeled after the Administration’s successful Strong Cities Strong Communities and Strike Force for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiatives, which have created unique partnerships between local stakeholders and the federal government, these first five Promise Zones will benefit from intensive federal support at the local level to help them implement their economic and community development goals.
  • Help Accessing Resources: Where necessary to achieve their goals, Promise Zones will get priority and be able to access federal investments that further the goals of job creation, additional private investment, increased economic activity, improved educational opportunity, and reduction in violent crime.
  • National Service:  Each Promise Zone will be provided five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to support their strategic plan.  These VISTAs will recruit and manage volunteers, and strengthen the capacity of Promise Zones to expand economic opportunity.
  • Investing in What Works: In order to be designated as a Promise Zone, these five communities have already demonstrated that they are pursuing strategies that have data proving their effectiveness. This same data will also help direct future federal investments to these Zones.

 

Cutting Taxes for Businesses: Finally, President Obama has proposed, and called on Congress to act, to cut taxes on hiring and investment in areas designated as Promise Zones – based upon the proven model of Empowerment Zones tax credits – to attract businesses and create jobs.

 

 

This Is The Affordable Care Act: Giving Women At High Risk For Breast Cancer Access To Free Chemoprevention Medication


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Dr. Jill Biden
Dr. Jill Biden

January 09, 2014
11:30 AM EST

 

More than 20 years ago, my personal involvement in the fight against breast cancer started after four of my friends were diagnosed with the disease in the same year. After one of those friends lost her battle, I saw just what a ruthless adversary breast cancer could be. Far too many of us have lost a loved one to breast cancer or seen a colleague or friend endure painful treatments to fight the disease.

 

That is why I am so pleased that today the Administration is making clear that most health insurance plans must soon cover chemoprevention medications like tamoxifen and raloxifene that can reduce the risk of breast cancer for women who have an increased chance of developing the disease. In addition, these health plans will have to cover the medications at no cost to these women.

 

Women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer face many questions. Now, if their doctor recommends that the benefits of this treatment outweigh the risks, one question women across the country won’t have to ask is whether they can afford it.

 

This is just one more way the Affordable Care Act is helping fight breast cancer. Already, the ACA ensures that about 47 million women have access to free mammograms every year or two, that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage or increase premiums due to pre-existing conditions like breast cancer, and new health plans can no longer set an annual or lifetime cap on someone’s health insurance benefits – meaning women diagnosed with breast cancer will not max out their insurance benefits while seeking treatment.

 

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For breast cancer survivors, these changes can make all the difference. I met Myrna Rodriguez Previte, in 2012. In 2003, Myrna, a self-employed real estate broker, was refused health coverage when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. Thankfully, Myrna eventually got covered on her husband’s policy, but because of the Affordable Care Act, it is now illegal for an insurance company to drop people like Myrna from coverage because they receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

 

This fight is personal for so many of us, including me. Not just for the friends and family who have already received a breast cancer diagnosis, but for our friends, sisters, daughters, and mothers who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer.

 

Learn more:

 

Dr. Jill Biden is Second Lady of the United States. She is a lifelong educator and a proud military mom.

 

Related Topics: Health CareWomen

 

 

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