Articles & Op-Eds

California Rep: Raise State Minimum Wage To ‘$26 An Hour’

May 02, 2014

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said that she supports raising minimum wage in the state of California to $26 an hour, adding that she doesn’t think such a hike would hurt small business owners. Speaking on CNN’s “Crossfire,” the California Democrat disagreed with Republican congressmen looking to keep minimum wage the same, or in one case, to be abolished as a whole. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., said on the show that the national minimum wage “should be left where it is,” and definitely not raise… Continue Reading

Creating Better Futures for Our Children

May 02, 2014

One of my favorite Earth, Wind and Fire songs (and I have many) is Remember the Children. For many elected officials, children are often forgotten because simply they do not vote or make campaign contributions. Another problem is that it is nearly impossible to get resources to children without passing it through parents and other caretakers. Obviously poor children have poor parents who are regarded largely as failures in life for not sufficiently capitalizing on the wealth of opportunities … Continue Reading

Paul Ryan meets with the Congressional Black Caucus to make amends

May 01, 2014

A meeting between Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Wednesday has helped reduce tensions but seems to have done little to reconcile different views on how to best fight poverty. The House Budget Committee chairman was invited to attend one of the meetings after he made comments about a "tailspin of culture in our inner cities" on conservative Bill Bennett's radio show had many members of the CBC, and even the broader Democratic establishment, crying foul. Rep. B… Continue Reading

Defense Secretary Hagel Orders Army to Review Black Hair Bans

May 01, 2014

The Army and its complicated relationship with black hair are back! I’m sure before ordering the military to review its recent controversial hairstyle rules, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel probably needed several people to explain why banning locks and twists was a problem for African American soldiers, let alone a priority for him. But following a petition created by black women in uniform and protests from Congressional Black Caucus leaders like California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Le… Continue Reading

House Budget Committee to Hold Hearing on Poverty

April 30, 2014

Is the federal government responsible for lifting millions of Americans out of poverty or trapping them in it? That question has become a political Rorschach test this year, the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty. On Wednesday, Representative Paul D. Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, is holding a third hearing on the government and the poor, featuring testimony from the “front lines.” In recent months, Mr. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has loudly a… Continue Reading

Paul Ryan tries to ease tensions with black lawmakers on poverty

April 30, 2014

Republican Representative Paul Ryan, who angered black lawmakers in March with his comments about the causes of inner-city poverty, met with the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday and pledged to study its proposal to help the poor. "We didn't get a whole lot accomplished, but we do agree on a number of things," said Representative Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat who chairs the caucus. "One is that we are both concerned about the poverty in this country. We just disagree on how we address … Continue Reading

On Trial: Lyndon Johnson’s Anti-Poverty Program

April 30, 2014

Should we keep anti-poverty programs? Or should we cut them? That was the underlying question at a contentious event Wednesday that pitted Republicans’ belief that the government’s effort to help the poor are hurting them against Democrats defending the worth of federal anti-poverty programs. Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman famous for his austere budget proposals, has decided to tackle the problem of poverty. He believes President Lyndon Johnson’s… Continue Reading

Welcome to "Post-Racial" America

April 30, 2014

On November 5, 2008, the day after the country elected its first African-American president, an op-ed appeared in the Los Angeles Times written by the conservative black academic Shelby Steele titled "Obama's Post-Racial Promise." In it Steele asks: "Doesn't a black in the White House put the lie to both black inferiority and white racism? Doesn't it imply a 'post-racial' America?" Thus began a trope that has bounced around our political discourse ever since. Commentators and pundits and even… Continue Reading

After Offensive Comments, Paul Ryan Will Let Black Lawmakers School Him on Poverty

April 30, 2014

On Wednesday afternoon, anti-safety-net crusader Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in an attempt to make amends after he said on a radio show last month that urban poverty is caused by the lack of a work ethic in inner cities. At the meeting, Ryan admitted he didn't "know everything about poverty," and agreed to sit down with CBC members in the coming months to discuss specific solutions proposed by black lawmakers to address the needs of historically di… Continue Reading

Reps. pressure U.S. News & World Report to include rape stats in college rankings

April 29, 2014

A dozen members of Congress are attempting to revamp the venerable U.S. News and World Report college rankings by imploring the publisher to include campus rape statistics in the annual reports. “Institutions that fail to adequately respond to sexual violence should not receive any accolades from your publication,” says a letter signed by 10 Democrats and two Republican members of Congress. “We urge you to include violence statistics in annual Clery reports on campus crime statistics and info… Continue Reading

Hagel Seeks Review of Military Policies on Hairstyles

April 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday ordered the American military to review its policies concerning hairstyles popular with black women, telling critics of new Army regulations banning large cornrows, twists and dreadlocks that he takes “very seriously” concerns that military rules on hair have unfairly targeted black women. Responding to a complaint lodged by the 16 women of the Congressional Black Caucus, Mr. Hagel said he had given the secretaries and military leaders of … Continue Reading

Who has the best Web sites and social media outreach in Congress?

April 29, 2014

The Congressional Management Foundation recognized more than 80 lawmakers this week with Golden Mouse Awards for “excellence in online communication.” Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy (D) earned one for creating a photo contest that highlighted polluted waterways in his state. Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R) landed one for using Twitter to share his recovery from a stroke. And Pennsylvania Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D) picked up one of the top prizes for Web-site development. Those are just a… Continue Reading

‘Our hair is kinky’: Black women cry racism after U.S. army bans dreadlocks and cornrows among its troops

April 21, 2014

Black women and their hair have been a topic of discussion for years by people like Maya Angelou, Al Sharpton and Salt-N-Pepa. Now add Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to that list. In reaction to a new Army regulation banning numerous hairstyles — twists, dreadlocks and large cornrows — popular with black women, the 16 women of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked Mr. Hagel to overturn the regulation on behalf of the 26,700 African-American women on active duty in the Army. The regulation… Continue Reading

GOP and the wuss factor

April 21, 2014

Wuss is the term that comes to mind when I think about recent Republican presidential tickets and would-be GOP presidential candidates. I can still recall the skittish behavior of Mitt Romney who anxiously avoided giving offense to his opponent in the last two presidential debates. Romney avoided any vigorous response to charges by Democratic operatives that he had been complicit in the death of a woman in Michigan. The husband of this woman, who died of cancer, had lost his medical ins… Continue Reading

Contest to Design Nelson Mandela Monument in Bay Area

April 21, 2014

Nelson Mandela's death in December 2013 was mourned by billions of people, and now the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa, the Oakland faction of the NAACP, and two cemeteries based in the Bay Area have joined together to create a monument to honor Mandela's life and legacy. And they want you to create it. Bay Area artists and designers over the age of 18 are invited to submit their design for a monument to commemorate Mandela and his vast international contributions. All designs mu… Continue Reading

Bay Area airport workers learn how to identify human trafficking victims

April 16, 2014

Workers at Oakland International Airport on Tuesday began training on how to spot victims of human trafficking as part of a regional effort to stamp out what's become the world's fastest-growing criminal enterprise. Thousands of victims of sex and labor trafficking are shepherded through airports, but they are very rarely rescued there, said Betty Ann Boeving, executive director of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition. Officials are sharing this message with airport workers across the boar… Continue Reading

Congresswomen meet with Dirks, student sexual assault survivors on campus

April 15, 2014

Two U.S. congresswomen visited UC Berkeley on Tuesday to meet with Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and a group of student survivors of sexual assault who have been advocating improved sexual harassment and violence policies on campus. Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, are currently working to introduce federal legislation to combat cases of sexual assault on college campuses. At a press conference following their meeting with the chancellor, Speier said Dirks was committ… Continue Reading

Students connect with Vietnam

April 14, 2014

Travis Atwater and Jaime Morrill grew up in Irondequoit and are graduating this spring with social work degrees from The College at Brockport. But their college experience has taken a global turn, with both of them completing their schooling this semester more than 8,300 miles away in Da Nang, Vietnam, as participants in the Brockport Vietnam Program. The program — established 15 years ago — is unusual in several respects. It is known as the oldest program connecting a college in the Unite… Continue Reading

Anti-Narendra Modi Congressional resolution now has 51 co-sponsors

April 11, 2014

A controversial Congressional resolution, which among other things asks the American administration to maintain its policy of not issuing visa to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, now has more than 50 co-sponsors. Rush Holt from New Jersey and Barbara Lee from California are the two lawmakers to have signed onto the resolution (H Res 417), thus taking the number of co-sponsors to 51. The bipartisan resolution was introduced by Congressmen Keith Ellison from the Democratic Part… Continue Reading

USAID chief defends 'Cuban Twitter' on Capitol Hill

April 08, 2014

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah made the trip to Capitol Hill Tuesday to defend President Barack Obama’s budget request for foreign aid spending in fiscal 2015. Significant portions of both the House and Senate Appropriation Committee hearings focused on last week’s revelation that USAID sought to build a “Cuban Twitter” platform, supposedly to provide Cubans with greater access to lifestyle information, but which some - including the Associated Press report… Continue Reading

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