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Teachers Invite Hate Groups to Classrooms

The Washington Times was the first to cover on the growing number of teachers who invite members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church into their classrooms.

Educators say that this kind of class activity allows students “to witness the extreme views such groups espouse and know how to avoid them.”

As for the Worthington Kilbourne High School in Columbus, Ohio, this teaching strategy is a tradition. It began in the 1970’s when their senior classes have to study “U.S. Political thought and Radicalism.” Other topics that students explore are immigration, environmentalism and abortion. Since then, for a few weeks in a semester the students get to interact with hate groups such as the Topeka, Kansas Westboro Baptist Church, a church known for their anti-gay principles and protests for the deaths of American soldiers who died in combat.

School officials explain that such interactions do not intend to endorse or convert students into the groups’ way of thinking. The sole purpose, they say, is to allow young students to identify what an extreme perspective is and learn how to avoid them.

“The kids see through their messages,” said David Strausbaugh, a teacher at Worthington Kilbourne High School. “They know. There’s nobody — nobody — who leaves and says, ‘Boy, we’ve got to join these people.’ That’s why we can bring them in, because we know the kids are going to see them for who they are.”

Apparently, Worthington is not alone. Portland State University in Oregon has a sociology class led by Randy Blazak who invites neo-Nazis to speak before his class about the role function of extremism in society.

“It’s a good idea to know what’s out there,” Mr. Blazak said. “They’re not monsters. They’re human beings, wrestling with their own issues.”

At the Central Michigan University, Professor Timothy Boudreau allows members from Westboro to speak to his journalism class because, he said, it teaches students a powerful lesson about freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment was designed to protect unpopular speech, speech exercised by people we would rather silence or muzzle,” Mr. Boudreau tells his students.

“I don’t endorse them, I don’t agree with them,” he said. “I do, however, support their right to speak and their right to be hateful and their right to offend. Like it or not, that’s their right as Americans.”

Meanwhile, other schools do not allow face-to-face interaction with these hate groups to avoid controversy. They however, permit phone conversation or Skype interaction. Andrea White, a teacher from Badger High School, said that Westboro representatives get to speak to her class via phone and has not ever visited her classroom.

If this kind of teaching method does allow students to snuff out bigotry, then the teachers are on to something. One thing is certain, though, they have to practice care as there could be a black student in their class that can get traumatized when a man wearing a white rob shows up in the class.

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L.A. Teacher: Anyone can Create a Better World

 

Recent gun shootings have been a frequent headliner. The society seemed to forget what and how it is to make a better and greater society. However, a 53-year-old Los Angeles teacher shows that the formula to a better society is “Kindness creates kindness, generosity creates generosity and love creates love.”

Recently, Tony Tolbert, a Harvard alumnus and a law professor from UCLA, handed the keys to his own home to a struggling single mother of four young children with the hope that his act will help them achieve a more secure and stable life.

Felicia Dukes and her family, the recipient of Tolbert’s generosity, will take ownership of everything inside Tolbert’s house including all of its modest furnishings. Tolbert plans to move back to his parent’s home and stay at the same bedroom where he grew up learning several virtuous acts.

In his interview with CBS News, Tolbert explained,”You don’t have to be a billionaire to do something good for someone else.” He added, “You don’t have to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or Oprah. We can do it wherever we are, with whatever we have and for me, I have a home that I can make available.”

Tolbert credits his beliefs and principles to his equally generous father, a former entertainment lawyer, who he recalls has always allowed any needy stranger to temporarily occupy their family’s spare bedroom. He remembers that their spare bedroom has always been occupied by someone totally unrelated to their family.

“It planted the seed that that’s something you do,” he still reflects. “You take care of other people who are in a position where help is needed. If I say I’m generous… then I should be generous.”

Then enter Felicia Dukes’ family, whom Tolbert never met before but knew there was something he could give them and that is his own home. Before their meeting, Felicia Dukes’ family stays in a single occupancy residence at Alexandria House, a shelter that cares for women and children. However, Felicia is having a tough time since her eldest son could no longer stay with them at the shelter.

One day, she received some wonderful news. “I got a call they (Alexandria) had a young man that wanted to donate his house for a year,” Dukes recalls. “I’m looking like, what? Are you serious?”

The news was as real as the rising sun. Tony Tolbert, whom the family now considers as a grace from heaven, was serious in giving the family a new lease on life.

“My heart just fills up and stuff,” said teary-eyed Dukes, who welcomed the New Year with her family inside their very own home.  “Um … I’m just really happy.”

Tolbert has been in search of a deserving non-profit organization and its dependents through which he could endow his home. He finally settled with Alexandria House after learning about its mission and being impressed with some of the added services its counselors provide for their clients.

“I think if we can share more stories about people doing nice things for other people, and fewer stories about people doing horrible things to other people, that’s a better world,” said Tolbert, who also recently began studying Tibetan Buddhism.

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Clinton Fears Black Vote Will be Doomed

Hillary Rodham Clinton was at the 100th Anniversary of the Delta Sigma Theta, a historically black women’s organization. In her speech, she told the members of the future of the Voting Rights Act. She called the Supreme Court’s decision to kill part of the law a “real jeopardy.” She said the Congress must act to preserve “fairness and equality” in the electoral system.

At the conclusion of her 30-minute speech, 14,000 members gave her celebratory chants of “Run, Hillary, Run.”

Clinton, who may well be the next presidential candidate in 2016, said that the SC decision “struck at the heart” of the landmark law and it threatens the right of any Americans to cast their vote.

“Unless Congress acts, you know and I know, more obstacles are on their way,” Clinton said, walking freely on stage instead of confining herself at the podium. “They’re going to make it difficult for poor people, elderly people, working people, minority people to be able to do what we should take for granted.”

In June, the Supreme Court trashed a key component of the Voting Rights Act. It killed the federal government’s ability to secure a fair election in all or parts of the 15 states with a history of discrimination. The stipulations that were removed required those states to seek approval before electoral changes are implemented.

Civil rights groups have been displeased with the decision claiming that it could disenfranchise groups of voters in the next election.

“Now the law’s future is in real jeopardy and so are the rights of millions of Americans,” Clinton said.

She didn’t express or hinted any plans to run for any political post. She said she will dedicate her time on campaigns that focus on early childhood development, women’s rights and economic development in her new role in her family’s presidential foundation.

In her speech, she highlighted the importance of the black vote. Such has made it possible for her husband to win the election and Barack Obama twice. The same could be true if she would also run for the presidency in 2016.

“I want to make sure that in the next election and the next election and the next and every one after that, people line up to vote and they vote regardless of those who may not want to count their vote or acknowledge their right to vote,” she said.

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Palin Sides With Donald Trump – Public Reaction & What to Expect Next

Ever since the former republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin expressed her views late last year in December that she has joined the Trump bandwagon, a lot of discussion has been taking place in the media circles. It is because she became the first current or former statewide elected official ever to endorse Trump and to which he has expressed that he is ‘proud to have her support’. Palin announced her decision to endorse the Republican frontrunner at an event that took place at Iowa State University.

 

The noteworthy aspect of her speech is that she kept on praising him during her 20-minute speech, further expressing her wishes to “Make America Great Again” while using it as an opportunity to attack both parties. She also condemned Barack Obama’s foreign policies regarding the latest US-Iran deal as she kept on throwing her traditional conservative catchphrases while doing so.

Later on, Tuesday Donald Trump expressed his views through a statement that he indeed is “greatly honored” to receive her endorsement and is gratified to have her support. However, the importance of this endorsement lies in the fact that she is a controversial celebrity like himself, rather than the factor that she once held the elected office. However, Palin is not the only Republican who has endorsed Trump so far. Other noteworthy endorsements came from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent, Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Busey, Hulk Hogan, Tila Tequila and Dennis Rodman. In the end, there’s a catch for her in endorsing Trump. Although, she’s still famous, she’s not nearly the Republican star she used to be once and she might need Trump more than Trump needs her.

After this endorsement Donald Trump has received a mixed reaction from the public especially as he visited college students after that. Often his speech was interrupted by protesters who shouted “a vote for Trump is a vote for hate” repeatedly, before being escorted out. After the endorsement internet filled with a series of tweets, memes and vines mocking Palin’s speech style. While many focused on the particular segments of her speech others commented on the larger ramifications of her endorsement.

Public fears that Palin supporting Trump might have happened because of the old-fashioned horse trading. They speculate that the expert in making deals must have offered some incentive to the former Alaskan governor to win her support – who knows maybe a vice presidential role or a cabinet position? We don’t know it as yet, but the fact can certainly not be ruled out that she would have indulged into campaigning without any sort of self-interest in this world of dirty politics.

It is also feared that as soon as Trump’s supporters will realize that, he is neither a conservative nor even a populist, they will switch sides. Conservatives will definitely turn towards Senator Ted Cruz. The populists, on the other hand, will start licking their wounds, scatter and will either continue with Trump as an idea to the bitter end or will start supporting Cruz after realizing he is the real fighter they wanted all along. Both ways their rebellion will be broken and the conservative revival will emerge.

It was being said that in the short run, it would certainly produce a lot of news coverage and Trump’s a master at that. This could be another masterstroke from him to use Palin’s endorsement only days before actual voting starts in Iowa’s caucuses. So does Palin’s endorsement mean anything? Obviously, as Senator Cruz has become a threat to Trump by getting closer in the polls. As Trump’s liberal track is exposed and public gets to know about it, the conservative supporters are definitely going to start having second thoughts about him. That’s why it makes perfect sense why Trump called for Palin’s endorsement as it would help him fight back the lead using a conservative’s endorsement. It was also being questioned that will Palin’s motivated endorsement be of any use to him when strong conservative voices like Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh are achieving more to expose Trump’s past record than to throw their conservative identifications behind him? Which is quite unlikely.

However, if we look at it historically, Palin’s support has certainly borne positive results for candidates in the past. She was seen endorsing many Tea Party candidates during the 2010 congressional elections who then she led to victory. This includes some of Trump’s biggest rivals in this current primary race i.e. Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul and Senator Marco Rubio.

It should be noted that Palin’s endorsement for Trump just came just two weeks before the Iowa caucuses are going to be held. While Trump himself has been campaigning aggressively in Iowa and is currently neck and neck with Cruz, in an attempt to win over the state’s conservative Christian base. Therefore, Palin’s endorsement is seen as the tipping point that Trump needs to finally pull ahead in the state.

At that point, it was unclear whether her endorsement carried much weight or not. In the light of Republican consultant Rick Wilson’s remarks, “Her endorsement would be meaningless” and that “it was already baked into cake”. However, regardless of its political effect, as a result, Palin’s endorsing views for Trump are likely to keep him dominating the airwaves for days to come. Hence, rising the media sensation. Latter factor has been pointed out by the New York Times that Palin’s endorsement has certainly boosted his Iowa’s campaign at least as her support is seen as a high-profile backing for any republican till now.

Analysts were of the view that endorsement doesn’t mean that it will tip the scales and push Trump to victory in the caucus, but it is being seen as a welcoming gesture and has certainly amplified his election campaign. This was proven true after Reuters released a poll on Friday showing that only in past three days — from the day before Palin’s endorsement until Friday — Trump’s standing in the polls jumped up by 7%. Meanwhile, the poll showed that Senator Ted Cruz’s fell by 6%. If we talk into numbers, Trump’s support rose 33.4% to 40.6% while Cruz’s fell to as below to 10.5% from 16.3%.

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A Man To Be Executed For “Accidental” Slaying

“Richard Masterson put to death Wednesday for a killing 15 years ago became the busy death penalty state’s first prisoner executed in 2016.Richard Masterson, 43, was pronounced dead at 6:53 p.m., 25 minutes after the lethal injection began.”

Before we give a sweeping statement regarding the case, let us first look closely at the definition of murder. Oxford dictionary defines murder as, “the unlawful killing of another human being without justification or excuse”. Murder is a serious criminal offense; depending upon the circumstances the person who has convicted murder can be sentenced several years in prison, death or prison until death. Accidental killing, however, is “a death caused by the lawful act done under reasonable belief that no harm was likely to result”.

Recently, Richard Masterson, a Texas Man was put to death due to “accidental killing”, as he claims, of Darin Shane Honeycutt fifteen years ago in 2001. Masterson had made many appeals in front of the jurors and U.S Supreme Court, but his last efforts for the rejection of execution were unheard. He was pronounced dead at 6.53pm on Jan 20, 2016. He was executed as soon as the pentobarbital effect took place; first sending his body into deep snoring and then death. His execution was watched by his family and friends from the watch room.

Richard Masterson met Darin Shane Honeycutt in a club from where they went to Honeycutt’s apartment. Honeycutt used to dress put like a woman and was interested in gay sex. Masterson claimed that while they were having sex, Honeycutt had gone unconscious and fell off the bed. Later Masterson realized that Honeycutt is dead. To flee from courts and investigation, he made Honeycutt’s apartment look like it was burglarized. After killing Honeycutt, he ran away with his car and dumped it in Georgia.

The prosecutors claimed that eight days later, Masterson met a guy at the gay club in Tampa. He tried to strangle him to death during gay sex at his apartment. When he lost his consciousness, Masterson stole his wallet and car. The same way he stole Honeycutt’s car.

Masterson’s attorney, George Gardner, argued that he was abused in childhood and had gone through brain damage. Because of the injury done to his personality during the early years of development, he began using drugs and found pleasure in activities which were at times not acceptable to the society.

According to research conducted by National Bureau of Economic Research, child abuse, and maltreatment can increase the probability of engaging in crimes. Even if two twins, one of which is maltreated when other is not, the criminal behavior may tend to appear in the maltreated twin. The more the child is exposed to different types of maltreatment including the sexual abuse, the more likely it is that the child would show criminal behaviors. A maltreated child may exhibit criminal behaviors as juveniles and as adults.

During the trails, Masterson was bizarre and contradictory. He said, “Everyone has to live and die by their own actions.” 

It was later proved that Masterson deliberately tried killing Honeycutt and succeeded in doing so. He also had a criminal record which provided greater evidence of murder and a greater reason for his execution. Malcolm X says, “To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace”. His execution was witnessed by his family and friends, but no one from Honeycutt’s side witnessed it.

“I’m all right with this,” he said. “Sometimes you have to live and die by the choices you make. I made mine, and I’m paying for it.”He said he was being sent “to a better place.” He mouthed a kiss to relatives and friends who were watching the execution. Closed his eyes and was put to death.

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Racial Demographics of Abortion – The Personhood Amendment Debate

It is said that there is a very high rate of abortion in the U.S. among the black women as compared to white. If we see the figures and try to figure out the number abortions being carried out across the demographics divide of the country, we will be astonished to see how much it has to do with the race. To see how high the abortion rate among black women in comparison to white women is, we can tell that overall white women opted for 138 abortions for every 1000 births last year as compared to the black women who opted for 501 abortions for every 1000 births. To minimize this, the Republicans introduced a Personhood Bill in 2010.

Before we go into the details, it is vital to discuss the background of why such a measure was taken and why people think black women are going to be the prime victimized after this act is passed countrywide. Partly due to the reason that rate of abortions have tremendously increased in the states and according to a survey black women are likely to get four times more abortions than white. It is also important to note that it has nothing to do with hidden agendas or mal intent. It is only to do with popular practices among a certain chunk of the society.

This issue has been highlighted by many organizations. One of such organizations blackgenocide.org has concluded following points on their website:

  1. Minority women make up 13% of the female population aging 15-44 in the U.S., but they have gone approximately 36% of the total abortions.
  2. There are more than five times chances that black women will have an abortion as compared to a white woman in the U.S.
  3. On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the U.S.

It is true that abortion results in great loss of life. It is estimated that Black women have carried out approximately 16 million abortions since 1973. According to Michael Novak’s calculations, the current population of Blacks in the U.S. is 36 million while the missing 16 million represents an enormous loss. Without these abortions, America’s Black community would now be 52 million which makes it 36% larger than it is now. So like it has caused in cutting down every fourth member of the Black-American community.

The main disadvantage of having abortions is that it tremendously affects the health of the woman who undergoes an abortion. A very profound study done by the Howard University in 1993 showed that African-American women (above the age of 50) had 4.7 times more chances of getting breast cancer if they had any abortions as compared to women who had no abortions.

To change this trend, Personhood Act was initiated as a constitutional amendment in Colorado on 2nd November 2010. According to it, personhood sees every human being from the very beginning of his biological development in the fetus. In definition Personhood law is a law designed to extend the legal concept of “personhood” to pre-born humans. Specifically, this law gives legal status to a person to any fertilized human egg, from conception until birth. Therefore, now this bill is being sought to ban abortion in different states of America.

The law is being re-emphasized since March 2015 when a pregnant woman was attacked in Colorado. This can charge a person with murder who causes a pregnant woman’s fetus to die during its development stages. Although the Colorado voters have rejected it thrice now the government is determined to implement it.

The recent reintroduction of the bill by Republican’s Sen. Paul Rand is claimed that it only attempts to sidestep Birth Control Controversy and varies slightly from the one he first introduced in 2013 stating that it should not be interpreted as “a ban on in vitro fertilization, or a ban on the use of birth control or any other means of preventing fertilization.”

The Republicans are of the view that they want this bill to be implemented because it is not the first time that anyone has attacked a pregnant woman and caused the harm to the fetus. And in the past, there has been a similar bill drafted by Cadman after DynelCatrece Lane aged 34 stabbed Michelle Wilkins and cut the 7-month-old fetus out of her womb. Mother aged 26 survived but the baby couldn’t. Boulder County District Attorney Stanley Garnett filed eight felony charges against the attacker, including attempted murder, a 1st-degree assault and unlawful termination of a pregnancy. But he said he was not able to file murder charges against him because the baby never lived outside the womb.

He further explained that the purpose of his new bill is to ensure that a public prosecutor can file murder charges in such cases irrespective of the age of the fetus. The Republican lawmaker who wrote this bill explained that he was careful to write the law so that it does not affect the right of abortion that is currently being practiced by anyone in the country. It does not apply to an act performed by the mother in pure medical scenarios or to a physician performing a medical procedure or any licensed medical professional upon the request of a pregnant mother or in cases a fetus is harmed during the dispense or administration of the prescribed medication.

However, the Democrats and women’s rights groups have expressed concern that the measure could still be used to charge pregnant women. Because the bill gives personhood right to fetuses. They are concerned that it might open the door to a full prohibition on abortion and even the use of birth control measures in the states. They further are of the view that such bills, whenever passed, could not ensure the protection of women and instead have caused more harm than good. It is more often that low-income women and black women have been charged with such bills, already belong from the most vulnerable populations.

As soon as the legislation was materialized, an Indianan woman, Purvi Patel, aged 33 was sentenced to twenty years in prison for felony neglect and “feticide” after a miscarriage during pregnancy and then dumping the dead fetus. Since then it has become a hot debate and people have shown an overall concern and reservations over this matter.

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Rising Number Of Rapes On Football Game Days

A woman is the most exquisite creature in the world. It is said the beauty of the entire world is nothing compared to the beauty and innocence of a woman.  But this same woman, the most exquisite creature in the world has so much to fear that at times it feels like she shouldn’t even exist in such a cruel world; the world of men.

When you’re talking about America and the status of women here, there are quite a lot of things that pop up in your head, for example, hate crimes, domestic violence, and harassment and of course rape. Yes, even though the law may try to provide protection to women, it still fails most of the time.

The US Justice Department states that every two minutes, a woman is raped somewhere in America. The most shocking part is that most of these rapes are taking place in educational institutions, particularly the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools. In fact, the rate of rape attempts increases to a considerable extent on Football game days especially when the school is hosting the event.

Let’s just not get into the details of the whole rape philosophy.  We are no strangers to the world. We see, read and hear it almost every other day, be it on social media, radio, television or the local newspaper. There are just so many bad things going on in the world and rape one of them. It’s the worst thing that could happen to a girl.

History of Rape Cases Reported On Football Game Days

Although, rape can happen to anyone, no matter what their age but observation says that most of the rape victims, if not all, are between the ages of 16-33 years and the culprit doesn’t have to be a grown up man who just can’t get a grip on his lust; it can be anyone, even that shy guy who sits in the back row of your math’s class and never says a word. In fact, that’s most likely situation.

History of FBS schools is full of cases where the students were sexually harassed and even raped on a football game day especially when the school was hosting such event.

Football games are considered crucial especially in those schools where most of the finance comes from this source that is why the football players are usually given undue privileges and unjust support by the school administration. They are shielded by their coaches and teachers most of the time even after being proved guilty.

According to Nigel Clay, one of the three players convicted of raping a girl in her dorm room at the University of Oklahoma back in 1998,
“Well, speaking for myself and a lot of other people, we felt like we were above the law…like OU would protect us from anything.”

This statement explains a lot about why most of the football players feel like they own the whole world and thus, can do whatever they want, wherever they want, with whoever they want.

It is said that almost 80% of the rape cases are not reported to the school authorities or the local police departments either due to the fear of social humiliation or further harassment from the offenders.

Research Findings

In America, school and college rapes have increased to a much greater extent especially on home football game days.

Recently, research was conducted on the increasing number of reported rape cases on Football game days held in Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Jason Lindo, one of  the co-authors of the said research who is an associate professor of Economics at Texas A&M University says,

“What we wanted to do in this study is to quantify the degree to which partying and alcohol consumption cause increases in reports of rape, and that’s why we decide to investigate the effects of Division I football games.”

According to the research, the number of reported rape cases increases up to 41% on days of Home football games in FBS schools out of which the rate of college-aged victim raped by college-aged offenders increases by 61% while the rate of rape attempts by unknown offenders rises by 61%. Not just that, the research also found that these football game days lead to about 770 rape cases, if not more, in FBS schools.

According to the research report:

“The researchers found that rapes reported by victims’ ages 17-24 increase by 28 percent on days when there are football games at Football Bowl Subdivision schools. FBS schools, previously known as D I-A schools, typically field the best teams in college football. Rape reports at FBS schools increase even more on days of home games, rising by 41 percent.”

It seems like the Home football games are serving as the breeding abode for sexual offences and harassment leading to hundreds of rape cases reported each year.

One of the most astonishing facts discovered by the researchers was the non-acquaintance of the victims with their offenders i.e. harassment by strangers, visiting football players, etc.  Liza Maatz, the Vice President of Government Relations for ASUW (American Association for University Women) was more surprised at the fact that most of the people involved in game day rapes were the offenders the victims never knew.

According to the Research:

“Researchers found that reported rapes involving an offender the victim didn’t know increased by 61 percent on home game days and by 29 percent during away games. By contrast, reported rapes involving an offender the victim did know rose by 28 percent during home games and by a statistically insignificant amount during away games.”

Liza Maatz, however, concluded that this increasing rate of rape attempts is not a football or college problem, although it is an American problem. She said,

“[The problem] is just rape culture overall, and that’s not exclusive by any stretch to college campuses,” she further stated, “It’s an important area of research, but it does not solve the problem or answer all the questions.”

This could either be because the players from other colleges are treated as VIP guests upon whom the rules and regulations of the host college don’t apply or because they have this idea that they can do anything in an unknown place and get away with it as smoothly as butter.  And, because the host school would be so packed with the teams from several other colleges and the school staff would also be so busy looking after the event management etc. that they’ll hardly notice what’s going on in a room located on the other side of the institute.

What to Do

The increasing rate of rapes in schools places a question mark on the efficiency of the college administration and the grooming of the offenders. Teachers, coaches and other administration staff members should have an indiscriminate attitude towards all. They should provide security and justice to the victims instead of blaming and humiliating them for their misery. If a girl is not safe in a school; a place that helps make you a better person, how can we expect her to be safe anywhere else?

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How a Failed Fiscal Negotiation May Affect You

The nation is at it again. This time the country is bracing on a much quicker impact. If by Jan. 1 and the country’s leaders have not come up with an agreement, then the nation will head down the fiscal cliff.

With the fate of the entire nation at stake, lawmakers had to be called back to work to deliberate the issue throughout the entire holiday week. President Obama had to cut short his family vacation and head back to Washington with the intention of ending the stalemate between him and GOP House Speaker John Boehner.

So far both parties are not willing to enter into any compromise.

Experts say that even without a deal is reached, retroactive fixes and other dealmaking could still save everyone from the most devastating effects of the fiscal cliff.

Meanwhile, the Tax policy Center, a non-partisan think tank, maintains that 9 out of 10 Americans would immediately feel the impact beginning Jan. 1 should no deal is sealed. The most tangible effect will happen first on everyone’s paycheck as they will no longer enjoy any tax holiday.

The Tax Policy Center illustrates the effect of a failed negotiation come midnight of Jan.1:

  • Americans in the lowest 20 percent of the income scale could pay an average of about $400 more in taxes.
  • Middle-income households could pay about $2,000 more in taxes, on average.
  • The top 20 percent of taxpayers could pay about $14,000 more a year in taxes, on average.
  • The top 0.1% could pay an average of $120,000 more in taxes.

Other changes include an increase in the tax for capital gains from 10% to 20%, dividends will be taxed as ordinary income, and inheritance tax will increase to 55% for estates above $1 million.

 

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Former Armed Serviceman Shares Two Tales of Homeless Veterans

Mohammed Salarbux of the Huffingtonpost shared his experiences as a National Guard and the time he spends on a food pantry. One of his earlier realizations about being in the armed services came from a suicide attempt by a fellow National Guard recruit in a bathroom next to his stall. He said the incident taught him, “Our armed services are just like most of us: haunted by emotions from our past that sometimes morph into actions that can leave our loved ones puzzled.”

Unexpectedly while serving in the food pantry years later, he’d have a few more interesting life stories from other veterans who unluckily ended up homeless and needy. He said that one of the most noteworthy visitors that their soup kitchen had was a veteran they only know of as Steve. It was just last summer when Steve started visiting their pantry, he recalled. During the man’s first visit, he was limping and barely able to walk. The first thing the man did was to find the nearest chair available and rest his battered feet which was unlike other visitors who would come and feed their empty stomachs first. Upon close inspection, Salarbux noticed that the man appears to have walked for miles with nothing but worn-out plastic slippers. When they attended to the man, the man begged for any used pair of shoes.

Fortunately, the pantry has a pair of old shoes which was donated to them. Steve’s eyes welled up in tears upon receiving the shoes followed by relentless thanks and praises. Since then, Steve has been occasionally appearing at the food pantry.

One cold morning around Christmas, Steve arrived at the food pantry wearing several layers of shirts. Salarbux came up to him that day and asked Steve, “How do you keep warm? Do you have a jacket? Do you have at least a blanket?”

In response, Steve pulled up his shirts and said, “All I have is this plastic under my clothes.” That day, Steve got an early Christmas gift of a new winter coat and a new blanket.

Apart from Steve, the food pantry located at second floor of a building in the Pine Hill’s area of Orlando has another veteran guest. The man’s name is Tony, a 15-year veteran, who fell through the cracks due to domestic problems.

Presently, Tony is receiving livelihood training assistance from the Veterans Association. The organization is funding his studies to become an electrician. However in his current state, he finds it difficult to come up with the fare to get to his classes. Momentarily, he has been continually searching for a job in local restaurants or businesses but not one has even given him the chance to face an interview.

“A sad reality of our system today is that, when someone falls through the cracks, there are no safety nets for them, so that his/her life just continues to spiral downward out of control,” Salarbux discussed what Tony’s story tell us about.

He explained that the story he wrote about the lives of this two men do not intend to put into bad light the military or any agencies. He wishes that the story of the two veterans will “touch others and move them to be more conscious about donating to their local food pantry. Most of us could easily go through our closet and realize there are many things we no longer need. Old shoes or clothing sitting around maybe donated to others who will be more than happy to have our discarded clothing.”

He said if no one has donated that old pair of shoes the day that Steve came to the food pantry; the man wouldn’t have walked out of there happy and hopeful.

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Punitive Attitudes & Racial Typification – The Setting In Trend Of Racially Typifying Individuals In US

America is facing a lot of social issues these days, whether it’s the field of education or employment, the most critical issue is the racial typification and the punitive attitude of the American people towards these racially typified individuals.

 According to Letty Cottin Pogrebin,

 “America is a nation fundamentally ambivalent about its children, often afraid of its children and frequently punitive towards its children.”

 

The word “punitive” refers to inflicting punishment in a very severe or unfair way. Thus, the term “punitive attitude” means to have a punishing, severe or unfair attitude towards someone or something or some matter.

Racial typification, as a term, can be defined as the act of representing or typifying something; some act, attitude or characteristic on the basis of one’s race. It is one of the most critical issues of the American society.

Racial typification is generally used in terms of criminal justice system and the crime typification in the USA. According to a dissertation written by Kelly Welch in 2002, it is believed that the American criminal justice system is the most punitive justice system in the world.

According to her survey and research, the punishing policy adopted by the American criminal justice system is quite brutal. But the sad part is that the public seems to support these policies without any remorse.

In her research, she says that the general public seems to blame the black people for most of the criminal activities; the blacks are being typified as criminals. This typification is caused by a number of factors; media representation of the blacks as criminals on certain crime dramas or serials, punitive attitudes of the general public and their racial prejudice.

She says in her report,

“Findings support the initial hypothesis of this research. Those who typify blacks as criminals are significantly more punitive in their criminal justice policy preferences than those who do not share similar racial perceptions. The relationship appears to be especially relevant for whites, and particularly for whites who are non-Southerners, less racially prejudiced, less concerned about crime, perceive crime to be less violent, and conservative. “

She further explains,

“Results indicate that watching more local television news increases the black typification of crime for minorities, while whites typify crime as a black phenomenon more when they pay closer attention to television crime news. In addition, the present analyses show that media consumption is not indirectly associated with punitive attitudes through the racial typification of crime.”

The fragments of the report, give us an idea about the racial typification of crime and the possible causes behind this phenomenon, but they don’t fully elaborate the theory behind this punitive and biased attitude of the general public.

Racial typification not only affects the lives and future prospects of the community being typified but it also creates opportunities for the extremists to disrupt the peace and harmony of a state.

According to me, one of the most basic reasons behind this punitive attitude and racial typification of crime is racism or racial prejudice.

In order to understand the reason behind the punitive attitude of the people towards criminals or crime suspects and the racial typification of crime, we shall go through another research paper.

The Research was based on the results of an earlier research conducted in the nineties (Roberts and Doob, 1990; Surette, 1998).It focuses on the relationship between media consumption and the attitude of the general public.

Kelly Welch, in her dissertation paper, mentioned that “media consumption is not indirectly associated with punitive attitudes through the racial typification of crime.” This simply means that the relationship between media consumption and the attitude of the general public is direct; the more media consumption of criminological dramas and stories, the more will be the severity of the people towards crime issues.

The report starts with the statement that people get most of the awareness of crime and justice issues from the media. There are specified crime channels where only crime based dramas and series are run. People who watch news on the television or radio or are fond of watching crime and justice dramas are more aware of the dangers of the world. These people are more likely to develop a fear of crime and lead extra careful and cautious lives. The main focus of the paper is the impact of media consumption on one’s:

  • Fear of Crime
  • Punitive Attitude
  • Perception of police effectiveness.

According to the report,

“Employing OLS regression, the results indicate that respondents who are regular viewers of crime drama are more likely to fear crime. However, the relationship is weak. Furthermore, the results indicate that gender, education, income, age, perceived neighborhood problems and police effectiveness are statistically related to fear of crime. In addition, fear of crime, income, marital status, race, and education are statistically related to punitive attitudes. Finally, age, fear of crime, race, and perceived neighborhood problems are statistically related to perceived police effectiveness.”

We all have our unique fears. Some fears are as harmless as a fly while others are the fears about the gravest realities of life.

The research has proved that people who watch news or crime based dramas on a regular basis are more prone to developing a fear of crime.

Crime talks are also quite common in the western world. Crime dramas get more viewer ratings than any other genre. That is why it is believed that most of the awareness about crime issues comes from the media.

“Ignorance is bliss.” So goes the saying. People who don’t watch crime dramas are less likely to develop a cautious attitude towards their surroundings.

Media consumption also affects the public perception of police effectiveness. Generally there are two perceptions about the police. Crime dramas represent the police as honest and sincere officers who spend their entire lives trying to protect their fellow men. While the daily newspapers and broadcasts represent policemen as dishonest and incompetent officials. Although the general attitude of the people is quite positive and they seem satisfied with the police. Yet there are people who are not satisfied with the criminal justice policies.

Similarly, when it comes to racial typification, research shows that crime dramas have typified the black as the criminals. So the general attitude towards the minority has changed. And so the society adopts a punitive attitude towards the typified race.

Another issue with the media consumption is that the crime dramas seem so real and violent, that a person develops a fear of being victimized. Especially, if there is news about a crime in a particular area, the people living that area will take more safety precautions than those living in some other place. These days, people are more afraid of being sexually assaulted, beaten up or murdered especially if they live in an area where such crimes occur on a daily basis. The fear gets so high that people feel dissatisfied with the performance of the police.

If a particular racial or gender group is being victimized by the opposite gender or racial group, the former group will be typified as a victim while the later as a criminal. Thus, the conflicts between the two groups will rise and public will develop a more punitive attitude towards the suspected criminal.

According to this research,

“Police effectiveness, fear of crime and punitive attitudes are important aspects of public attitudes toward crime and justice in the United States. First, police strategies reflect departmental values, which reflect community values. Negative or positive attitudes towards the police may influence police policy making and strategy. Second, citizen attitudes toward the police may influence decisions to report crime. Third, both fear of crime and punitive attitudes may influence policy making and law making by government agencies, as public support or opposition may determine policy.”

The results of the report state a number of factors that determine the punitive attitudes of the people towards crime and justice policy of the United States of America and the public opinion of the effectiveness of the American police. For example, race, income level, gender, education level, location and media consumption etc.

“The results indicate that white, married, and low-income (15k to 30k) respondents are more likely to have punitive attitudes, whereas black, college educated, and respondents with low appraisals of police effectiveness are less likely to have punitive attitudes. The results also indicate that older respondents, males and respondents with low perception of neighborhood problems are more likely to have low fear of crime, whereas, younger respondents, female, Hispanic, college-educated and respondents with low appraisals of police effectiveness are more likely to fear crime. Finally, bivariate results suggest that Hispanic, African-American, urban, and younger respondents are more likely to have negative or low appraisals of police effectiveness. Conversely, respondents with punitive attitudes, with a medium income (30k to 60k), older, white, with low perceptions of neighborhood problems are more likely to have positive or high appraisals of police effectiveness. However, there may be a number of factors that mitigate or enhance the relationships. Thus, it is necessary to conduct multivariate techniques to further address these relationships.”

The report closes with the following conclusion:

“Regular viewers of crime shows are more likely to fear crime. Although statistically significant, the strength of this finding is minimal. In addition, there are a few limitations with regard to the measures of media consumption. First, the type of crime show that the respondent is viewing is unknown. There are numerous types of crime shows that may focus on different aspects of the criminal justice system. For example, crime shows may focus on police, courts, private investigators, defense lawyers and sometimes even the criminals. In addition, some shows are more realistic, while others routinely portray violence, and consistently misinform viewers about the nature of the criminal justice system and criminality. It would be prudent to know which dramas the respondents are viewing. Second, employing television hours watched is problematic, since there is no way of determining what type of programs the respondent is viewing. There are a number of different programs that may or may not address criminal justice issues and address them in substantially different ways. Finally, examining newspapers as the primary source of crime news suggests that only newspapers influence respondents. It would be naive to suggest that respondents are not affected by a number of sources; for example, respondents who receive their primary crime news from newspapers may also be affected by presentations of crime from other sources such as films, television and/or personal experiences.”

Conclusion:

What I understand from the above-mentioned reports is that punitive attitudes and racial typification rise from our fears of crime and victimization and our dissatisfaction with the justice policy. We need to understand that the acts of a person cannot be used to define his entire nation. Just as there are good white people, so are there bad ones too. Same is the case with other racial groups. Virtue cannot be attributed to a single class of people. The crime dramas represent the criminals as insensitive and monstrous people who get pleasure in hurting and killing others. That’s why people develop a feeling of fear and hostility towards the criminals or crime suspects. This fear and hostility is the main reason behind the punitive attitudes of the general public. We should remember that crime needs to be eradicated, not the criminals.

The most basic cause of these attitudes is racism. If there is no racism, there will be no fears of being victimized by the opposite racial groups. We should erase the concept of racism from our minds. The need of the hour is to define each other not on the basis of race or gender but on the basis of humanity.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr,

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”