January 23, 2014
By Zenitha Prince
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
A federal court ruling on Jan. 14 striking down “net neutrality” could forever change consumers’ access to the full Internet experience, observers say.
Web surfers could find themselves having to pay to watch videos on YouTube or seeing traffic on their favorite news site slow to a crawl now that the court has overturned a 2010 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule meant to stop Internet service providers (ISP) from playing favorites or discriminating against specific content sources.
The FCC rule was championed by President Obama, who said in 2010 that he felt it was necessary to preserve the “democratic spirit” of cyberspace by helping to “preserve the free and open nature of the Internet while encouraging innovation, protecting consumer choice, and defending free speech.”
Supporters were afraid ISPs would, for example, bog down the websites of rival companies while boosting their own, among other abuses. Others were concerned that if premium content came with a cost, it could be prohibitive for poorer consumers thus limiting their access.
The FCC safeguard was undone, however, by its own writing of the law, which classified ISPs as information services instead of telecommunications services, exempting them from common carrier anti-discrimination rules. As a result, the agency did not have the statutory authority to enforce the policy, the court ruled in Verizon v. FCC.
“Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such,” Judge David S. Tatel, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, wrote in the opinion. “Because the Commission has failed to establish that the anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules do not impose per se common carrier obligations, we vacate those portions of the Open Internet Order.”
The decision was a win for telecommunications giant Verizon, which led the charge against the FCC rule. But Randal Milch, Verizon general counsel and executive vice president of public policy, said the company had no plans to implement a preferential access system.
“One thing is for sure: Today’s decision will not change consumers’ ability to access and use the Internet as they do now,” he said in a statement. “Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet, which provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where and how they want. This will not change in light of the court’s decision.”
Some advocacy groups remain doubtful, however, despite such assurances. Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.org, called the court’s decision a “blow,” particularly to consumers of color.
“Because the court has given Internet service providers the green light to start openly discriminating against web content they don’t want to compete with, the Internet could very soon start looking like cable TV, where one corporation holds the power to decide which content we’re able to access,” the communications advocacy group’s head said in a statement.
“Black folks’ ability to be heard is now in real danger,” he added. “Our communities rely on the Internet to speak without a corporate filter, to access information and connect to the world, and to be able to organize and hold public officials and corporations accountable. Without decisive action by the FCC, just a handful of major corporations will control which voices are heard most easily — and which may never get heard at all.”
FCC commissioners have said they will consider all options to safeguard consumers, including a possible appeal.
January 16, 2014
LAWT News Service
Sacramento – If you have a passion for public service, the Capital Fellows program may be just the ticket. The Capital Fellows programs offer a chance to prepare for a career in public service while working under a seasoned mentor. Fellows work for 10-11 months as full-time, paid staff members in the California State Assembly, State Senate, Executive Branch or California Judiciary.
Addison Peterson, a recent graduate of Cal State University Los Angeles, has been named an Assembly fellow in the office of Assemblymember Holden. Peterson was very involved in student government and served as board chair for the Cal State LA student union. He also lobbied on behalf of the California State Student Association and says his dream has been to be involved in legislative government.
The Capital Fellows Program has been rated one of the top internships in the country, and includes a very competitive selection process. Many alumni of the program have gone on to prominent positions in courts, state and national government, as well as many elected offices.
Recent college graduates, graduate students and mid-career applicants with a desire for public service are welcome to apply.
The online application deadline is February 10, 2014. For further details: www.csus.edu/calst/programs or call the office of Assemblymember Holden at 626.351.1917.
January 09, 2014
By Taki S. Raton
Special to the NNPA from The Milwaukee Courier
Always impeccably styled in a button down, creased slacks and dress shoes, our talented feature this week after school pins patterns and sews stitches. As noted in a promotional descriptor, we can find his youthful fingers on a sewing machine for hours or at least until his mother tells him it’s time for bed.
He is young, gifted and Black.
Moziah Bridges, then a fourth grader at Rozelle Elementary School located in Downtown Memphis, started his career as a fashion designer at the age of 9 in June of 2011 with his exclusive line of Mo’s Bows.
His creations, writes Hannah Sayle in her October 27, 2011 Memphis Flyer posting, are aimed “at playground pals and adults alike.”
Sayle further reveals that Moziah – “Mo” for short – delivered one of his ties to Fox 13’s bow-tie wearing weatherman Joey Sulipeck who wore the gift on the air. Next, comments Sayle, he plans on sending a few of his bow ties to his pop idols Justin Bieber and Chris Brown.
He has been a guest on the Steve Harvey show and has been featured in British GQ, in Oprah’s O’Magazine, and in Forbes.
“Oprah is big,” said Mo as quoted in Rae Lyn Hartley’s LocalMemphis.com’s August 19, 2013 article. “Nobody is bigger than ‘O’. I thought, ‘this is really cool.’ What kind of kid gets to be in an Oprah magazine?”
Writes Karsten Strauss in the August 8, 2013 Forbes, “When you look at the short but potential packed career of Moziah Bridges, one gets the impression that this young man is in a hurry.”
Strauss adds that young Mo is carving for himself his own notch in the fashion world, “one bow tie at a time.”
In present day, Mo describes himself as a 12 year-old entrepreneur. Recalling his beginnings just three years ago, he says: “I couldn’t find fun and cool bow ties one day. So I decided to use my granny’s scrap fabric to make and sell my own.”
He adds that he likes to wear bow ties, “because they make me look good and feel good. Designing a colorful bow tie is part of my vision to make the world a fun and happier place.”
Tramica Morris, Mo’s mom, positions that “Old School” trends as mirrored by his well-dressed dad and grandpa inspired his love for fashion and instilled in her son the importance of dressing for success.
A huge selection of Mo’s bow ties are from his grandmother’s vintage fabric, respective selections of which date back more than 50 years.
And it was, in fact, his grandmother who taught him to sew. Mo’s Bows is indeed strongly guided by his mother and grandmother according to Sayle. After stopping by his grandmother’s house to pick out fabric and patterns, he settles down with his mother and grandmother and starts stitching.
“He can sew a bow tie from start to finish,” says Morris in Sayle. “But there are some things he really doesn’t like to do, like the ironing. We’ll do some of that for him.”
Says Mo, “I just pick whatever I see. It has to speak to me. It has to be fun. It has to be preppy,” as quoted in Rae Lyn Hartley’s LocalMemphis.com’s August 19, 2013 posting.
Strauss adds that Mo’s designs vary widely from traditional polka-dot and stripes to multi-colored paisley and sports team themed ties.
He tots his bows in an old suitcase.
Each bow design has its own name: “Night Magic,” “Beale Street,” “Paper Boy,” “Buster Brown,” and “Think Pink.”
I name all of my bow ties,” he reveals in Carlee McCullough’s July 12, 2012 Tri-State Defender interview. “I make and sell so many. But ‘Teachers Pet’ might be the bestseller or ‘Buster Brown.’”
Strauss cites that our youthful Memphis native has earned over $30,000 thus far as of 2013.
He sells on his own website accessible Etsy page. Founded in 2005, Etsy is an online marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods.
The Forbes account further notes that Mo’s Bows are also available in upscale boutiques in Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and in Arkansas.
Locally, as shared in the McCullough interview, Memphis has been a great market for his sales: “The churches have been so supportive and it seems like a lot of teachers buy my bow ties. I think this is so because they are proud of me making my own business. I have even sent many bow ties to New York, Las Vegas, Miami and even some to Australia.”
Looking towards the future in McCullough, he views prospects to sell his bow ties in Macy’s or Dillard’s and to see them included in New York’s fashion magazines.
He adds: “I also want a super big billboard. I just want to see Mo’s Bows really big in the sky and in a really nice store downtown. There’s another store in South Carolina that wants some of my bow ties too. Now, that’s what’s up!”
He has also created a product line that raises funds for charity.
“I made this bow tie called ‘Go Mo! Scholarship Bow Tie’ and 100 percent of the proceeds are to help kids go to summer camp because I feel like it’s good to help the community. And that’s what I’m doing.”
His next step as a manufacturer per the Defender writing are pocket squares, cologne, and later on down the line, suspenders.
He is even looking to make neck ties since they are a part of his sixth grade school uniform.
“Actually,” he adds, “I really plan to have my own clothing line by the time I’m 15 years-old. I think that can happen.”
“I’m very proud of him. It’s still sinking in,” said Morris who in published accounts left her career in retirement services to spend more time building her son’s business.
She also works part time for her mom’s trucking company, in between sewing, organizing trunk shows and press trips. Balancing academics with fashion seems to be a “breeze” for Mo as cited in noted articles. But, he admits that he owes it all to mom.
Hartley writes that Morris “makes sure her pint-size businessman stays grounded” and that homework and chores are priority as, she says for example, the lawn still needs to be mowed.
Quoting Morris, “One of my close friends says to this point, ‘Mo mows?’ Absolutely, I replied. Mo mows.”
With a birthday in November, now that our dapper 12 year-old has a successful run in fashions; is a profitable business owner, and is looking to be bigger than Ralph Lauren, he has his sights on Parsons School of Design for college.
“You don’t have to wait until you’re older,” his mother said. “If you have a dream and you have a passion, we say go for it.”
But as Mo passionately pursues his goals in the world of fashion commerce, Rheana Murray in the New York Daily News reminds us that in this journey towards the realization of his dreams, he must first finish sixth grade.
By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – The unemployment rate for Blacks dipped to 11.9 percent in December, according to the Labor Department, largely because likely workers, discouraged after months of searching for jobs with little prospects, have simply stopped looking.
According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate for Black men over 20 dipped from 12.1 percent in November to 11.5 percent in December and the jobless rate for White men fell at half that rate, from 5.9 percent in November to 5.6 percent in December. The unemployment rate for Black women over 20 was 11.1 percent in November and 10.4 percent in December.
The unemployment rate for White women over 20 remained flat from November to December at 5.3 percent, the lowest rate for all adult worker groups.
“The unemployment rate gave a false impression,” said Valerie Wilson, an economist and vice president of research at the National Urban League Policy Institute. “People have left the labor force.”
Steven Pitts, economist at the Labor Center at the University of California at Berkeley, Calif., agrees.
“A good portion of the drop in the unemployment rate came from people dropping out of the labor force,” he said.
The labor force participation rate, the measure of workers who are employed and actively looking for work, was 62.8 percent in December, the lowest rate since 1978.
Considered a more accurate barometer of the workforce than the unemployment rate, the participation rate for Blacks was 60.5 percent in November and 60.2 percent in December compared to Whites who also experienced a decline from 63.2 percent in November to 63 percent in December. The economy shed more than 300,000 workers in December and only added 74,000 jobs.
December’s jobs report comes on the heels of back-to-back months that added more than 200,000 jobs to the economy.
“This report is disappointing,” said Wilson. “There were a lot of expectations that things would continue on this level.”
The average unemployment rate for Blacks was 13.8 percent in 2012 and decreased to 13.1 percent in 2013. The average jobless rate for Whites was 7.2 percent in 2012 and 6.5 percent in 2013.
The average participation rate for Blacks was 62.6 percent in 2012 declining to 61.2 percent in 2013. The participation rate for Whites fell from 64 percent in 2012 to 63.5 percent in 2013.
“In December there were 20.6 million workers who were either unemployed or underemployed (10.4 million officially unemployed, 7.8 million involuntary part-time workers, and 2.5 million marginally attached),” wrote Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “Racial and ethnic minorities have been particularly hard-hit by underemployment.”
According to EPI, the underemployment rate for Blacks was 21 percent and the underemployment rate for Whites was 11 percent.
Not only do Blacks suffer disproportionate rates of underemployment, long-term unemployment, due to a number of factors including discrimination in hiring practices, continues to plague the Black community.
“The biggest challenge besides the labor force participation rate is long-term unemployment that affects African Americans disproportionately,” said Wilson. She said, “It was very short-sighted of Congress to allow unemployment compensation to expire.”
Shortly after Christmas, Congress let the benefits expire for 1.3 million Americans. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, if Congress fails to reach a deal to extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, almost 5 million jobless workers will lose that economic lifeline by the end of the year.
Some critics of the EUC program argue that it encourages dependence on the government and that workers lack the skills required for available jobs, which increases the unemployment rate.
Shierholz countered that in today’s economy the “lack of demand for goods and services makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring”
“In order for people to get hired, demand has to increase,” said Wilson. “If people have jobs they will spend more money.”
By Kenneth D. Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
Longtime Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca who has been under siege with FBI investigation and deputy misconduct will resign after 48 years, he announced on Tuesday.
Baca will leave the department at the end of January, he said.
Flanked by deputies, family and supporters, Baca made it official at Sheriff Department Headquarters.
“I’ve been proud and honored to serve the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the people of this greatest of counties, Los Angeles County, for the past 48 years,” Baca said, his voice occasionally cracking with emotion.
“I can’t even imagine anyone working 48 years at anything, but I’ve done that, which has made this decision in my life probably the most difficult.”
Baca, 71, was first elected in 1998 and was facing a tough re-election campaign this year for his fifth term, including a challenge from one of his former deputies.
Baca denied that his decision to step down was prompted by the possibility of federal charges against him, but the looming allegations have brought about the darkest cloud during his tenure.
Eighteen current and former deputies were recently indicted on a variety of charges, including mistreating jail inmates.
“My decision is based on the highest of concern for the future of the sheriff’s department,” Baca said.
He said he was recommending that the Board of Supervisors appoint Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald to oversee the department once he steps aside.
Baca had announced Monday January 6 that he would support a citizens' commission to oversee department operations.
He described the citizens’ commission as “consistent with my view on strengthening transparency and accountability.”
A local newspaper in December revealed that the department hired dozens of officers in 2010 despite evidence of significant misconduct found during their background checks.
Subsequently, Federal prosecutors filed charges against current and former deputies in December, accusing them of beating jail inmates and visitors and trying to intimidate an FBI agent.
The charges related to a long-standing corruption investigation of the jail system, which was administered by the sheriff’s department.
The department is also facing civil lawsuits relating to the actions of some of the deputies charged with misconduct.
Additionally, the U.S. Justice Department last year accused sheriff's deputies of engaging in widespread unlawful searches of homes, improper detentions and unreasonable force as Antelope Valley authorities conducted an effort to discriminate against African Americans who received low-income subsidized housing.
However, Baca was considered as an advocate of the African American community, frequently implementing policies such as educational programs for inmates and launching the innovated Sheriff Clergy Council, hailed as a national model for law enforcement.
County Supervisor Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas said he spoke with Baca on January 6 and that the sheriff gave him “no indication” he was thinking of stepping down from his post. The supervisor said his feelings about Baca's decision were mixed.
“He’s seen as one of the most enlightened law enforcement officials in the nation and I think in many ways he is,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Somewhat unpredictable, typically progressive, he tried his best to be responsive, so it’s mixed. You can’t deny the problems that are stalking the department.”
City Councilman Bernard Parks hailed Baca as “a remarkable public servant for almost 50 years.”
“There are very few that get the opportunity to start at the entry level of an organization and eventually reach the top leadership position,” Parks said. “Sheriff Baca should be commended for his many achievements and personal sacrifice. I wish him well in retirement and he will soon find out there, but there is life after LASD.”
The Board of Supervisors will need to appoint a successor to Baca, and staffers are researching the requirements for the post.
Ridley-Thomas said the list of potential appointees would include all the assistant sheriffs, adding Assistant Sheriff Cecil Rhambo’s name to the speculation. But the supervisor said he wasn’t ready to comment on the campaign.
Four challengers are declared to run for the post in a primary election on June 3, and a potential general election on Nov.4.
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