January 09, 2014
The Sullivan Museum and History Center at Vermont's Norwich University is going to be hosting a new exhibition in its Civil War series.
The title of the exhibit that opens Jan. 13 will be ``1864: Some Suffer So Much.''
Norwich is the nation's oldest private military college.
The exhibit will tell the stories of Norwich alumni during the bloody Civil War year of 1864.
It will examine the role of military surgeons who treated wounded soldiers on the battlefields and in the three Vermont Civil War hospitals in Brattleboro, Burlington and Montpelier. It also traces the history of post-traumatic stress disorder from the Civil War to the present.
Norwich alumni played a significant role in the United States Colored Troops, African American combat units that fought in 1864.
January 09, 2014
By George E. Curry
PRETORIA, South Africa (NNPA) – Nearly a month after his death, there is a bitter struggle to define – and, in many instances, re-define – the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
“There is an attempt to do in his death what they could not do in life – take away his story,” Jesse Jackson said in a speech at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. “… He did not go to jail as some out-of-control youth who needed to be matured. He went in as a freedom fighter and came out as a freedom fighter.”
The effort to soften the image of Mandela as a freedom fighter began long before his death.
Speaking at an African National Congress (ANC) celebration a year before Mandela’s death, South African President Jacob Zuma said, “Inside our country, even those who were are who are still, fundamentally opposed to the ANC, and who fought tooth and nail to keep South Africa a racist pariah state, now claim Nelson Mandel as their own.”
In in trying reclaim Mandela as their own, many Whites are trying to sanitize him image, Jackson argues.
Part of that effort begins with attributing many of Mandela’s outstanding qualities to his 27 years in prison. For example, television commentators in the U.S. and in Africa say Mandela learned to love his enemies in jail and cite his forgiveness of his former jailers as evidence to support that assertion.
However, Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, traces that lesson back to his youth.
“On this first day of classes I was clad in my new boots. I had never worn boots before of any kind, and that first day, I walked like a newly shod horse. I made a terrible racket walking up the steps and almost slipped several times. As I clomped into the classroom, my boots crashing on that shiny wooden floor, I noticed two female students in the first row were watching my lame performance with great amusement. The prettier of the two leaned over to her friend and said loud enough for all to hear: ‘The country boy is not used to wearing shoes,’ at which her friend laughed. I was blind with fury and embarrassment.
“Her name was Mathona and she was a bit of a smart aleck. That day I vowed never to talk to her. But as my mortification wore off (and I became more adept at walking with boots) I also got to know her, and she was to become my greatest friend at Clarkebury,” a Wesleyan missionary school Mandela began attending at the age of 16.
In his autobiography, Mandela gave another example of not humiliating his opponents.
“I learned my lesson one day from an unruly donkey,” he recounted. “We had been taking turns climbing up and down its back and when my chance came I jumped on and the donkey bolted into a nearby thornbush. It bent its head, trying to unseat me, which it did, but not before the thorns had pricked and scratched my face, embarrassing me in front of my friends. Like the people of the East, Africans have a highly developed sense of dignity, or what the Chinese call ‘face.’ I had lost face among my friends. Even though it was a donkey that unseated me, I learned that to humiliate another person is to make him suffer an unnecessarily cruel fate. Even as a boy, I defeated my opponents without dishonoring them.”
Many public reflections understate the depth of Mandela’s hatred of apartheid, a system where a White minority of 10 percent controlled the 90 percent Black majority.
“In their relationship with us, South African whites regard it as fair and just to pursue policies which have outraged the conscience of mankind and of honest and uprights men throughout the civilized world,” he said in his famous speech from the dock on Oct. 22, 1962, the first day of his trial. “They suppress our aspirations, bar our way to freedom and deny us opportunities to promote our moral and material progress, to secure ourselves from fear and want. All the good things of life are reserved for the white folk and we blacks are expected to be content to nourish our bodies with such pieces of food as drop from their tables of men with white skins. This is the white man’s standard of justice and fairness. Herein lies his conceptions of ethics. Whatever he himself say in his defense, the white man’s moral standards in this country must be judged by the extent to which he has condemned the vast majority of its inhabitants to serfdom and inferiority.”
In that same speech, Mandela said, “I hate the practice of race discrimination, and in my hatred I am sustained by the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind hate it equally… Nothing that this court can do to me will change in any way that hatred in me, which can only be removed by the removal of the injustice and inhumanity which I have sought to remove from the political and social life of this country.”
There have been some efforts to depict Mandela as South Africa’s version of Martin Luther King, Jr. But unlike America’s apostle on nonviolence, Mandela was in charge of the military wing of the ANC.
“Some of the things so far told to the court are true and some are untrue. I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage,” Mandela said in his statement from the dock. “I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the whites.
“I admit immediately that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto we Sizwe [the military arm of the ANC], and that I played a prominent role in its affairs until I was arrested in August 1962.”
Mandela explained, “We felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the government. We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.”
His widely-praised leadership skills were also honed during Mandela’s youth.
“As a leader, I have always followed the principles I first saw demonstrated by the regent [the man who took him in after his father died] at the Great Place. I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the regent’s axiom: a leader, he said, is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
January 02, 2014
City News Service
A 22-year-old man was charged two days after Christmas with murdering his girlfriend, whose body was found buried in a Compton backyard. Devion Keith Anderson — who allegedly confessed to killing the 18-year-old woman —was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $1 million bail while awaiting arraignment Jan. 17 in Compton Superior Court. The woman’s name and cause of death had not been released pending notification of her next-of-kin.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies sent to a home in the 400 block of South Pannes Avenue at 10:53 p.m. Monday December 23 to investigate a domestic violence report learned that a woman’s body may be buried in the backyard, sheriff's homicide Lt. John Corina said. After spotting a mound of freshly dug dirt, authorities excavated the area and found the body of a young woman, Corina said. Anderson, a Compton resident, was arrested after going to the Compton sheriff's station about 3 a.m. Tuesday and allegedly admitting that he had killed and buried his girlfriend, Corina said.
Anderson faces a maximum of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
January 02, 2014
By Dorothy Rowley
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin, have reportedly met with two publishing executives to discuss writing a book.
The book would be the first time since their son’s death that the couple publicly recounts his character and share their personal struggles and experiences during the trial of George Zimmerman, according to the New York Times.
Zimmerman, 30, was acquitted in July of second-degree murder in Trayvon’s February 2012 shooting death in Florida. He has had several subsequent minor run-ins with law enforcement.
One publishing executive told the Times that Martin and Fulton spoke extensively of race and religion during one meeting.
Publishers described meetings with Fulton and Martin as “somber” and “moving,” according to the Times report.
January 02, 2014
By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Nearly 50 years after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty, a new report finds that robust social safety net programs are slowly leading the nation to victory.
According to the report, “Trends in Poverty With an Anchored Supplemental Poverty Measure,” the poverty rate has dropped 40 percent since 1967, as a result of provisions such as housing vouchers, free school lunch unemployment benefits, Social Security, food stamps, and more. Without these programs, the researchers find, the percentage of Americans living in poverty would be twice as high.
“Our research tells us that these programs are important for families struggling to put food on the table and find adequate shelter,” says study co-author Christopher Wimer, a research scientist at the Columbia Population Research Center. “For a family of four our measure puts the poverty threshold higher at about $25,000 a year, which is not going to go so far.”
The Census Bureau introduced the official poverty measure (OPM) in 1963 to aid in distributing federal aid. At that time it was based on income and the cost of food. Today, the measure is based on a family’s size, cash income, and ages of its members.
The study’s authors say that it’s an outdated and insufficient measure—not only are there non-cash types of income (such as food stamps or housing subsidies), but also the OPM excludes tax burden, and only considers families linked by blood, marriage, or adoption (same-sex partners or cohabiting couples with children, for example, do not count as family).
It seems the Census Bureau picked up on these deficiencies; in 2010 it introduced the supplemental poverty measure (SPM). This measure uses an improved threshold, a more inclusive tally of a family’s expenses and resources, and a broader definition of “family.”
Although the SPM is only intended for research use (the OPM is still used for federal spending), the authors contend that it offers a better picture of American poverty.
According to the OPM, the poverty threshold is around $23,000, and has been since the late ‘90s. The SPM offers a higher threshold, largely because it reflects changes in cost of living more acutely—and it also means more people qualify as poor.
To study poverty trends over the last 45 years, the researchers used today’s SPM threshold and applied it to American families’ household data since 1967 (adjusting for inflation). That year, the official poverty rate was 14 percent; and it hasn’t changed much since then, lingering between 11 and 15 percent over 45 years of data. But with the SPM, the poverty rate has steadily declined—in 1967 it would have been 26 percent. It’s come down to 16 percent as of 2012, which means that poverty has fallen 40 percent since 1967.
The measure also reveals the impact of anti-poverty programs and policies by examining the effect of taxes (tax requirements, breaks, and credits) and transfers (in-kind federal income, such as housing vouchers and free school lunch). Without including taxes and transfers in the SPM measure the poverty rate would have been 27 percent in 2012. In other words, tax breaks and safety net programs have saved 13 percent of lower-middle income Americans from poverty.
Elise Gould, an economist with think tank nonprofit, Economic Policy Institute also believes in the potential of this measure.
“We absolutely see that if we look at measures—even just the OPM—that if it had not been for these economic programs more people would be in poverty. All these programs like sick days, housing vouchers, child care credits, help lift people out of poverty,” she says. “And the SPM is absolutely the best thing today to examine that. Trying to recreate it back in time is a great undertaking.”
The researchers also calculated SPM-based poverty rates for the elderly, working age people, children, and for those in deep poverty (who live on 50 percent or less of the poverty threshold). Taxes and transfers have kept deep poverty around five percent since the ‘70s. Without them, that rate would be closer to 15 and 20 percent.
This study comes at a time when media spotlight has focused on the rising tide of poverty, especially for urban children. But this month Congress approved nearly $40 billion of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) over the next decade, starting last month. One in seven Americans will be affected.
“It’s not that we’ve solved the problems through these programs—there’s still 15 or 16 percent of the country living in poverty under our measure,” Wimer says. “But our research shows that programs like SNAP do a decent job of helping families meet their food costs, which clears room in the budget to pay rent.”
Gould, who also studies economic mobility, believes that while safety net programs are essential, they’re only half the battle.
“Government support has done an incredibly good job in helping people, but pre-tax and pre-transfer income for people really hasn’t changed a lot,” she explains. “You have to really think of ways to increase people’s income and that usually means better wages. When the economy is not doing a great job of serving and providing jobs for ordinary people, the government has to step in. With both aspects, you can do a fair amount to alleviate poverty in this country.”