In a bid to spark development in low-income and under-served communities, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced on Wednesday that it will award $3.5 billion in tax credits to several organizations. The New Markets Tax Credit will be distributed among 85 organizations that will channel the credits through 28 states and Washington, D.C. The Treasury Depatment’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) hopes this credit will assist in President Barack Obama’s commitment to spur economic growth across the United States.
From the press release:
The New Markets Tax Credit addresses one of the most significant obstacles to economic development that low-income communities face: a lack of access to patient, private investment capital,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Cyrus Amir-Mokri.
The $31 billion worth of tax credits awarded in past years have gone toward preserving hundreds of thousands of jobs and bringing community facilities and new businesses in to neighborhoods that desperately needed them. I expect today’s awardees will continue that trend.
In fact, over 70 percent of New Markets Tax Credit investments have been made in communities that meet the highest distress criteria, above even the program’s requirements, said CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell. That result effectively demonstrates how essential the New Markets Tax Credit Program is to spurring economic development in underserved areas.”
The New Markets Tax Credit was extended as part of the latest “fiscal cliff” deal for the rest of 2013. The credit was established in 2000, and it is provided to individual and corporate taxpayers who invest in what’s called “Community Development Entities.”
These private-sector entities will receive up to 39 percent in tax credits for developing projects in areas with high poverty rates or lower incomes.
The complete list of awardees for the 2012 NMTC Program Awards can be found on the CDFI website.
WASHINGTON — Amid the celebration surrounding the opening of son George W. Bush’s presidential library Thursday, former first lady Barbara Bush brushed aside talk of a Jeb Bush run for the White House in 2016.
Appearing in an interview from Dallas on NBC’s “Today” show, Mrs. Bush was asked if she thought that Jeb, the former governor of Florida, should seek the presidency.
“He’s by far the best qualified man,” Mrs. Bush said, “but no.”
“We’ve had enough Bushes,” she said, saying “it’s not just four families, or whatever.”
The Bush family matriarch went on to say she thought there were many worthy candidates, telling anchor Matt Lauer, “There are people out there” who are qualified. Mrs. Bush, who had a reputation for bluntness when her husband George H.W. Bush was president, spoke from the site of the presidential library. On Wednesday, George W. Bush told CNN he thought Jeb Bush should run.
Thirteen female correctional officers, seven inmates and five others with gang ties have been charged with plotting to smuggle drugs, cellphones and other contraband into Baltimore’s jail and other corrections facilities, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
The ring involved sex between inmates and guards that led to four of the officers becoming pregnant, one of them twice, by Tavon White (pictured), leader of a gang called the Black Guerrilla Family, according to an indictment.
The indictment unsealed Tuesday said that White, who is being held at the Baltimore City Detention Center awaiting trial on a charge of attempted murder, once boasted in a wiretapped phone call: “This is my jail …. I make every final call in this jail.”
In at least one case, a corrections officer stood guard outside a closet at the jail so a corrections officer and an inmate could have sex, prosecutors said in court documents. Some of the female officers even tattooed White’s name on their bodies, according to the indictment.
FBI agent Stephen Vogt said White “effectively raised the BGF flag over the Baltimore City Detention Center,” and the indictment brings that flag down.
The indictment claims the gang ran the scheme from inside the detention center and charges gang members and corrections officers with conspiracy, drug possession and distribution and money laundering.
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Drugs brought into the prison included marijuana, Oxycodone, Xanax, Klonopin and Vicodin, according to the indictment.
The gang was divided into “bubble regimes,” some of which had special functions such as collecting dues. Members were subjected to a code of conduct and sanctioned for breaking the rules through fines, beatings, stabbings and murder, prosecutors added.
BGF has become the dominant gang at the prison complex, where members used the contraband cellphones to arrange drug smuggling and sexual encounters as well as to warn of investigations and order assaults and murders, according to the court documents. One of the 25 charged in the scheme died April 1, one day before the indictment was returned, prosecutors said.
Authorities said imprisoned gang members paid for items, including luxury cars for the corrupt officers, by texting the 14-digit PIN numbers of reloadable prepaid credit cards. The correctional officers were able to avoid contraband screenings by using entrances other than the main entrance where employees are screened, the indictment said.
However, screening policies and procedures at the main entrance were “completely inadequate to prevent smuggling” with female officers concealing contraband in their underwear, hair and internally, according to officials. Corrections officers are also rotated through screening duties, allowing corrupt officers to wait until co-conspirators were assigned to the entrance, the indictment said.
The investigation eventually included a raid by a team that was brought from outside the Baltimore area to prevent inmates from being alerted in advance, officials said.
One of the guards charged, Tiffany Linder, is eight months pregnant with White’s child, authorities reported. A transcript of a wiretap released by the U.S. Attorney’s office shows she let White know of an upcoming raid.
“I just got a message from (Officer Tiffany Linder) saying that they was going to pull a shake down (prison search) tonight. Let me call all these dudes in my phone and let them know,” White said, according to the transcript.
A telephone call by The Associated Press seeking comment from White’s public defender was not immediately returned. Whether Linder was being represented by an attorney could not be determined.
The indictments are the latest in a series of charges brought against correctional officers and inmates in the past several years.
Gary D. Maynard, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said 54 employees have been fired over the past three or four years at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
When asked why all 13 were female, Maynard noted that more than 60 percent of the officers in the system are female, adding that women are more likely not to have criminal records and be able to pass tests needed to qualify. Gang members appear to have targeted officers they felt were vulnerable, he said.
Maynard added that policies were being tightened and internal investigations were continuing.
“I think that we will move up the chain of command and people will be held accountable,” Maynard said.
For many, first dates bring uncomfortable small talk, inquiring questions, and the possibility of what may come after it ends. For Nimeha Milien, it brought about a carjacking, according to the N.Y. Daily News.
Milien says she agreed to go out on a date with 19-year-old Donald McGee (pictured) Friday evening, after he sent her a series of texts. Even though she’d never met him before, Milien went ahead and picked up McGee in Palm Beach County, Fla. McGee reportedly asked if they could go to Milien’s home, but she opted for a stroll in nearby Ocean Intel Park.
But the 21-year-old says she couldn’t anticipate what would come next.
After dropping him off at a Wendy’s, McGee allegedly produced a .380 caliber handgun and forced Milien out. He then drove off with her car.
Milien immediately ran to a local gas station and called 911. Police reportedly chased McGee on I-95 for eight miles before his vehicle got stuck in dirt.
Watch news coverage of McGee allegedly carjacking Milien here:
Officials have charged McGee with armed carjacking, robbery with a firearm, marijuana possession, driving without a license, and fleeing police.
BOSTON — Sixteen hours after investigators began interrogating him, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings went silent: He’d just been read his constitutional rights.
RELATED: NewsOne’s Boston Bombing Coverage
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (pictured right) immediately stopped talking after a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s office entered his hospital room and gave him his Miranda warning, according to a U.S. law enforcement source and four officials of both political parties briefed on the interrogation. They insisted on anonymity because the briefing was private.
Before being advised of his rights, the 19-year-old suspect told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, only recently had recruited him to be part of the attack that detonated pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon finish line, two U.S. officials said.
The CIA, however, had named Tamerlan to a terrorist database 18 months ago, said officials close to the investigation who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case with reporters.
The new disclosure that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was included within a huge, classified database of known and suspected terrorists before the attacks was expected to drive congressional inquiries in coming weeks about whether the Obama administration adequately investigated tips from Russia that Tsarnaev had posed a security threat.
Shortly after the bombings, U.S. officials said the intelligence community had no information about threats to the marathon before the April 15th explosions that killed three people and injured more than 260.
Tsarnaev died Friday in a police shootout hours before Dzhokhar was discovered hiding in a boat in a suburban back yard.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis had said earlier that shots were fired from inside the boat, but two U.S. officials told the AP that no gun was found inside, raising questions about how he was injured. The homeowner who called police initially said he saw a good amount of blood in the boat.
Asked Wednesday whether Dzhokhar had a gun in the boat, Davis said, “I’m not going to talk about that.”
Washington is piecing together what happened and whether there were any unconnected dots buried in U.S. government files that, if connected, could have prevented the bombings.
Lawmakers who were briefed by the FBI said they have more questions than answers about the investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said lawmakers intend to pursue whether there was a breakdown in information-sharing, though Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said he “hasn’t seen any red flags thus far.”
U.S. officials were expected to brief the Senate on the investigation Thursday. That same day, the suspects’ parents, Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, plan to fly to the United States from Russia, the Father was quoted as telling the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. The family has said it wants to take Tamerlan’s body back to Russia.
It is unclear whether the issue of their younger son’s constitutional rights will matter since the FBI say he confessed to a witness. U.S. officials also said Wednesday that physical evidence, including a 9 mm handgun and pieces of a remote-control device commonly used in toys, was recovered from the bombing scene.
But the debate over whether suspected terrorists should be read their Miranda rights has become a major sticking point in the debate over how best to fight terrorism. Many Republicans, in particular, believe Miranda warnings are designed to build court cases, and only hinder intelligence gathering.
Christina DiIorio Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, said in an e-mail late Wednesday, “This remains an ongoing investigation and we don’t have any further comment.”
Investigators have said the brothers appeared to have been radicalized through jihadist materials on the Internet and have found no evidence tying them to a terrorist group.
U.S. investigators traveled to the predominantly Muslim province of Dagestan in Russia and were in contact with the brothers’ parents, hoping to gain more information.
They are looking into whether Tamerlan, who spent six months in Russia’s turbulent Caucasus region in 2012, was influenced by the religious extremists who have waged an insurgency against Russian forces in the area for years. The brothers have roots in Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya but had lived in the U.S. for about a decade.
Dzhokhar told the FBI that they were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims there, officials said.
Dzhokhar’s public defender had no comment on the matter Wednesday. His father has called him a “true angel,” and an aunt has insisted he’s not guilty.
Investigators have found pieces of remote-control equipment among the debris and were analyzing them, officials said. One official described the detonator as “close-controlled,” meaning it had to be triggered within several blocks of the bombs.
That evidence could be key to the court case. And an FBI affidavit said one of the brothers told a carjacking victim during their getaway attempt, “Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that.”
Officials also recovered a 9 mm handgun believed to have been used by Tamerlan from the site of an April 18th gunbattle that injured a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer, two U.S. officials said.
In other developments:
- Vice President Joe Biden condemned the bombing suspects as “two twisted, perverted, cowardly, knockoff jihadis” while speaking at a memorial service Wednesday for Sean Collier, a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was ambushed in his cruiser three days after the bombing. More than 4,000 mourners paid tribute to the officer.
- The Office of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts confirmed a Boston Herald report Wednesday that Tamerlan, his wife, and toddler daughter had received welfare benefits up until last year, when he became ineligible based on family income. The state also says Tamerlan and his brother received welfare benefits as children through their parents while the family lived in Massachusetts.
- The area around the marathon finish line was reopened to the public.
Obama says he and his wife, Michelle, have told 14-year-old Malia and 11-year-old Sasha that if they ever decide to get a tattoo then “mommy and me” will get the same tattoo in the same place on their bodies and show it off on YouTube as a “family tattoo.”
Obama commented in an interview taped last week and broadcast Wednesday on NBC’s “Today.”
The president also dismissed the first lady’s recent reference to herself as a single mom during a separate television interview.
Obama suggested the comment was a slip of the tongue. But he also acknowledged there have been times in his political career when she probably did feel like a single parent.
SEE ALSO:Chechnya And The Tsarnaev Brothers: An Unfair Connection Focusing On Prevention And Neuroscience, President Ends Reagan’s War On Drugs
PETERSBURG, Va. — Police arrested three men and sought a fourth Tuesday after two Virginia State University freshmen were swept away while trying to cross a swift, rain-swollen river as part of an initiation rite.
SEE ALSO: Yes, They’re White And Muslim
The body of one freshman, identified as Marvell Edmonson, 19, of Portsmouth, was recovered Monday. The search continued Tuesday for the second, Jauwan M. Holmes, 19, of Newport News.
The four suspects are connected to an organization known as “Men of Honor” that conducted an initiation Saturday that required seven male VSU students to walk through the rushing rapids of the Appomattox River, police said. While some were pulled to safety, two were swept away.
Chesterfield County police identified the three in custody as James A. Mackey Sr., 35, of suburban Richmond; Eriq K. Benson, 19, of Quinton; and Cory D. Baytop, 26, of Newport News. Each has been charged with five counts of hazing. Police were seeking Charles E. Zollicoffer II, 29. An address was not provided.
Benson and Baytop are VSU students. Benson’s attorney did not immediately return a telephone message. It was not clear if the other suspects had attorneys.
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Police Lt. Randy Horowitz described Men of Honor as a social club or “group whose mission is to build the character of young men.” He said he was not familiar with the organization beyond that, and said it was not sanctioned by VSU.
University spokesman Thomas Reed said Men of Honor was not affiliated with VSU and he could provide no additional information on it. Students are provided with information about sanctioned groups on the campus, he said.
SEE ALSO: Is Retirement Really An Option Anymore?
Reed declined to discuss the arrests or the two students accused, citing the investigation. He acknowledged that the school has had problems with hazing in the past and has taken steps to eliminate it.
In April, the president of the student government association was charged with hazing related to an incident off campus in neighboring Petersburg in August 2012.
In 2009, six VSU students and two nonstudents were accused of hazing after another student sought medical treatment for severe bruising. In a plea agreement, the defendants agreed to prepare and present information sessions for students at VSU in exchange for the eventual dismissal of the charges.
The historically black university has about 5,300 students in Ettrick, about 25 miles south of Richmond.
After a week of reporting on Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev – and subsequently, Chechnya – we know no more about this complex part of the world or its people than we did before the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15th.
As soon as Chechnya was identified as the suspects’ homeland of origin, the entire region became a symbol of age-old conflicts, mass stereotyping, and incomplete, Wikipedia-style reporting. Before the Tsarnaev brothers carried out the Boston Marathon bombings, very little attention was concentrated on the region. Now it’s a “breeding ground of terror,” whose 200-year-old independence struggle against Russia and domestic terrorism issues are now supposed to make Americans shake in their boots.
Such a fear has little basis.
For four years, I lived in the former Soviet Union. More than two of those years were spent in the Caucasus nation of Georgia, mostly as a Peace Corps volunteer and, subsequently, a Georgian language student. I was also in the country when it was engaged in an eight-day war with Russia over several conflict regions, Osetia and Abkhazia. My area of concentration for my Master’s in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies focused on ethnic conflict in the Caucasus.
While much reporting has been done on the issue, I still believe there are some misunderstandings about the region. Below, I address some of them.
1. Are Chechens Ethnically Russian?
No. They’re nationality is Russian, but ethnically they are part of the Nakh peoples of the North Caucasus. The Nakh people are one of many ethnic tribes of the Caucasus region. Russians, on the other hand, are ethnic Slavs.
Short Documentary On Chechnya:
2. Are Chechens “Dark-Skinned”?
Well, I can open my family photo album and point to an uncle who looks like Louis Armstrong and right next to him is an aunt who could pass for a much lighter-skinned version of Jennifer Lopez. Both would tell you that they are Black. All ethnicities have various shades of skintone, including Chechens. Regionally, Chechens and other Caucasus peoples are often referred to as “dark-skinned” because most do not have Slavic facial features like their Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian comrades, although some actually can pass for Slavs.
Point being, Chechens and other people of the Caucasus region can pass for a lot of things other than “dark-skinned.” If we knew nothing about the Tsarnaevs’ roots, one could argue that they could pass for frat boys on any college campus in America.
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3. Is The Caucasus Region “Volatile”?
For the most part, no.
Keep in mind that the region is a huge area nestled between the borders of Europe and Asia and is situated between the Black and Caspian Seas. Its largest ethnic groups are from the countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan of the South Caucasus. All of these nations are free of terrorism and tourists mostly from Europe visit them regularly. Some regions in the North Caucasus are volatile, with Dagestan and Chechnya, the regions of the Tsarnaev’s family roots, being the worst case scenarios.
4. Is Chechnya A Country?
No, it is not. Officially, it is an autonomous Republic within the borders of Russia. It has certain political rights to govern itself as a semi-state. For example, the people can vote for their own president, but like most elections in Russia, Chechnya’s elections are mere formalities and highly predictable. Moscow “supports” its own presidential nominee and other political candidates and they almost always win.
Map Of The Caucasus:
5. “Has Radicalization Extended Into The Chechen Community?”– U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY)
First, this comment is reckless.
Though King admitted that he had not heard of the Chechen community in the United States being radicalized, he still posed a sweeping question that perhaps it was. Moreover, he cited no intelligence to back up his assumption. Second, according to the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington D.C.,-based foundation that focuses on Chechnya and the rest of the region, there are fewer than 200 Chechen refugees in the United States.
Moreover, the United States does not admit that many Chechen immigrants green cards anyway. Of the 80,000 people resettled into the United States in 2011, for example, Chechens got a stab at 2,000 spaces allotted to the entire Europe and Central Asia area, where Chechnya is located. In 2012, only 197 people from all of Russia resettled to the United States.
So, to answer Rep. King’s question, I doubt it.
6. Is Chechnya A “Breeding Ground of Terror”?
It depends on your outlook. As I have written on the subject before:
Chechnya is no more a ‘hotbed’ or ‘breeding ground’ for terrorism than any other nation conquered by a superior enemy left to build itself back up with little help from its oppressor. It has been the victim of a particularly bloody conquest, and has created one of the world’s most brutal separatist groups. But the separatists’ violence has always been aimed at Russia, not at America or other targets of global Jihad.
For more than 200 years, Chechnya, along with every other Caucasus nation, endured one external conquest after another. When they weren’t fighting the Ottoman Empire or the Mongols from the East, they were fighting the Russian Empire. The Caucasian War of 1817-1864 ended with Chechens and roughly a dozen other ethnic groups divided into their own autonomous regions — all forcibly incorporated into southern Russia (or the South Caucasus).
The terror did not stop there. Between 1941-1944, Stalin deported 1.4 million people from western regions of the former USSR — including some 387,000 Chechens — to Central Asia.
Why? With Stalin, you never knew for sure, but he reportedly accused them of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II.
And let’s not forget those two wars Chechnya fought against Russia over the course of 15 years, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. During that period, human rights groups documented severe human rights abuses carried out by Russian security forces against innocent Chechen civilians.
More than 80,000 Chechen civilians died during the two wars, according to several estimates.
The Chechen response has indeed grown increasingly radical, and brutal. The worst act of Chechen terror was probably the 2004 Beslan Massacre, where Chechen terrorists raided a school in a bloody takeover that left more than 300 children dead. Chechen extremists also took over a Moscow theater in 2002, leaving more than 100 innocent people dead. There are many more.
These horrible attacks were carried out on Russian soil. Chechen extremism has not had a global focus. And most Chechens are not Muslim extremists who wake up with Jihad on their minds.
However, some may argue that, because of Chechnya’s bloody history with Russia and acts of domestic terror against its northern neighbor by Chechen separatists, the republic as a whole deserves to be labeled as a terrorist nation. Then again, some Chechen Mothers who have lost their sons to alleged Russian military abuses may argue that such an outlook would be akin to looking at the Civil Rights Movement from the perspective of Bull Connor.
7. Is there a connection between Chechnya and the Tsarnaev’s alleged acts of terror?
Anecdotally speaking, sure.
But we’re not talking about anecdotes. We’re talking about facts. And all we know so far is that Dzhokhar is a naturalized American citizen who seems to have limited knowledge of Chechnya. As for his brother, Tamerlan, it’s being reported that he had traveled to the region for training that prepared him to carry out the Boston Marathon bombings.
Even if that is true, to suggest that Chechnya is America’s new enemy is a stretch. Remember that 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers were Saudi citizens, yet Saudi Arabia is not considered an enemy of the state.
The truth of the matter is no one knows what motivated these young men to carry out the horrible acts they are accused of committing, even though the narrative floating around is that their motivations stem from their homeland’s complicated, misunderstood history with terrorism and battles with Russia. The connection is most unfair.
As Caucasus expert Sarah Kendzior, keenly points out, “Do not look to a foreign country to explain a domestic crime. Look to the two men who did it – and judge them by what they have done, not from where their ancestors came.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Mustapha Farrakhan (pictured left), the son of controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan (pictured), is reportedly under investigation by the Illinois Police Standards and Training Board for enjoying all of the privileges of a part-time cop with the Harvey Police Department (HPD) even though he allegedly hasn’t worked in years, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
SEE ALSO: Is Deval Patrick America’s Governor?
A Chicago Sun-Times newspaper story claims that Mustapha drives an unmarked HPD squad car and is registered as an officer with the police department — even though he has not worked a shift in about four years. According to Kevin McClain, the executive director of the Illinois Police Standards and Training Board, “We opened a preliminary investigation after the Sun-Times told us about their investigation,” he told the Associated Press.
According to the agency’s investigation, Mustapha’s alleged unending affiliation with the police department allows him to carry a badge and a concealed weapon on his person. It also allows him to drive the official unmarked city-owned vehicle in question, which he reportedly uses to control traffic whenever his 79-year-old father travels in his motorcade.
During his stint with HPD, Mustapha supposedly didn’t clock in a substantial number of work hours, working only 23 hours in 2007 and 132 in 2008, which was the last recorded shifts.
The 52-year-old Mustapha sits at the helm of his father’s security team and is expected to succeed him as the leader of the powerful religious faction.
Alphonza Bryant (pictured), a 17-year-old Bronx teenager was fatally shot while hanging out with friends Monday evening, the N.Y. Daily News reports.
After returning home from playing basketball, Bryant reportedly changed and went back outside to meet his friends. While standing with them on Fox St. in the boro’s Foxhurst area, two young men reportedly walked past.
Soon after, they returned, with one of them armed.
The armed individual allegedly fired nine shots at the group.
One of them hit Bryant in his midsection, killing him.
The news hit Bryant’s mother hard, especially since he was set to graduate from Urban Assembly Bronx Studio For Writers And Artists, and attend senior prom.
“We were talking about limos,” Jenaii Van Doten said Tuesday. “We just got to remember who he was, if he made you laugh or made you smile.”’
Doten suspects her son was caught up in ongoing gang battles.
“It’s Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings — and we’re right in the middle. My son didn’t belong to any of them,” she noted. “[The gunmen] just shot at whoever was standing there. The problem is the guns. I can go get a gun quicker than I can go get a job.”
She also wonders if she could’ve prevented the tragedy. Earlier that afternoon, Bryant had asked her if he was supposed to hand in an application for a fast food job. Via text, Doten replied that she would take in the application for him.
“Maybe, if I told him different that would have changed his course for the day. “He was going to get his first job. The application is still right there [on the table].”SEE ALSO: ‘Love And Hip-Hop’s’ Lil’ Scrappy Arrested For Refusing Urine Test
WASHINGTON — U.S. students are falling behind their international rivals. Young people aren’t adept at new technology. America’s economy will suffer if schools don’t step up their game.
“A Nation at Risk,” the report issued 30 years ago by President Ronald Reagan’s (pictured) Education Department, was meant as a wake-up call for the country. It spelled out where the United States was coming up short in education and what steps could be taken to avert a crisis.
But its warnings still reverberate today, with 1 in 4 Americans failing to earn a high school degree on time and the United States lagging other countries in the percentage of young people who complete college.
Watch a news report about America’s declining education system here:
“A Nation at Risk” spooked the public, urged an overhaul of how and what children are taught, and sparked the school reform movement in the country. Current reform advocates such as Michelle Rhee, the former District of Columbia schools chancellor, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush can trace their work back to the report.
“We opened the genie from the bottle and said, `You aren’t doing so well,’” said Xavier University of Louisiana President Norman C. Francis, a member of the commission that produced the dire warning. “For us, we felt good about the fact that we wrote something that needed to be said. We had the research. And we hoped we would have a greater measure of return.”
At times, President Barack Obama has seemed to take his cues from the report.
“What is at stake is nothing less than the American dream,” he said in 2009, calling for education overhaul to keep pace with other countries.
“Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us,” he said.
Russ Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution and a former senior Education Department official, calls the report prescient. “The themes that it stressed — the increasing role of technology, globalization — is now the everyday stuff of education. But it wasn’t at the time.”
“I can’t think of anything that painted with quite as broad a stroke as `A Nation at Risk,’” he added.
Its impact, however, was not as broad.
The commissioners urged extending the school year from 180 days to up to 220 days. The report also suggested an 11-month contract for teachers so they could spend their summers preparing for the next year. Neither recommendation has been put into widespread use.
The commissioners also said teacher salaries should be increased to be “professionally competitive.” Again, there hasn’t been near the movement commissioners sought. In today’s dollars, the average teacher earned $46,700 in 1983 and $54,900 in 2010, according to the Education Department.
But some of the commission’s other recommendations were put into practice, including a more rigorous curriculum. For instance, students graduating in 1982 had an average of 2.2 science credits on their transcripts. In 2009, that average number rose to 3.5 credits.
And the class of 1982 left high school with 2.6 math credits, compared with the 2009 graduates’ 3.9 credits, according to Education Department data.
“The results are mixed,” said William Bennett, who served as Reagan’s second-term education secretary. “We have progress being paid to the right things: content, accountability. … It was right about how we needed to beef up courses and how we needed to be stronger.”
But when Bennett compares U.S. results with those of other nations, there’s no reason to celebrate.
“If you look at those numbers, you get the story for 30 years,” he said. “If there’s a bottom line, it’s that we’re spending twice as much money on education as we did in ’83 and the results haven’t changed all that much.”
American fourth-graders are 11th in the world in math in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the measure of nations against each other. U.S. eighth-graders ranked ninth in math, according to those 2011 results.
The Program for International Student Assessment measurement found the United States ranked 31st in math literacy among 15-year-old students and below the international average. The same 2009 tests found the United States ranked 23rd in science among the same students, but posting an average score.
It’s impossible to compare the rankings before 1995, when these international math and science tests were first given. The first international math literacy and science tests were given in 2001.
Yet domestic tests show there have not been major changes in students’ scores.
Between 1980 and 2008, 13-year-old students posted only a 2-point gain in reading scores and 17-year-old students saw just a 1-point gain during that time. The tests were scored on a scale of 0 to 500, meaning the change was statistically insignificant.
Similarly, 13-year-olds saw a 12-point gain in math scores between 1982 and 2008. Seventeen-year-old students saw an 8-point gain during the same time on math scores. Again, the tests followed a scale of 0 to 500.
“We haven’t yet gotten near the payoff that we want and need in terms of achievement in 30 years,” said Chester Finn, a former senior Education Department official who now heads the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank.
“The fact that 30 years later, despite all of the reforming, the gains are so modest, they ought to serve to energize and even panic today’s policymakers,” he said.
Of course, stagnant scores don’t automatically mean stagnant learning; higher standards could yield lower scores.
Domestic measurements comparing U.S. students to one another are relatively new and tests aren’t given every year. Also, tracing changes isn’t as simple as looking at the United States’ standing compared with other countries today.
What is clear is that “A Nation at Risk” cast the United States as on the precipice of collapse, not unlike the warnings that followed the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of the Sputnik satellite, which caught Americans by surprise.
While other education studies urged action, none was as intentionally alarming as this one.
“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war,” the commissioners wrote. “As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. … We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.”
In a brisk 36 pages, the authors warned that schools were not preparing students for their future and cautioned that the country would suffer. In some ways, the same warnings have appeared in most reports on education in the last decades.
The report continued, “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.”
Last year, another commission borrowed that indictment of mediocrity in similar language.
“The sad fact is that the rising tide of mediocrity is not something that belongs in history books,” concluded a Council on Foreign Relations panel led by former New York City schools chief Joel Klein and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
When the Reagan-era commission began its work, no one expected the report to be so critical. In fact, Reagan campaigned for president on a pledge to dismantle the same Education Department that convened these leaders.
Instead, the commissioners brought together experts and original research to make the case for an expanded role for education. They wrote a document that Reagan eventually would wrap himself in, travel the country to promote, and use as a rhetorical prop during the final decade of the Cold War.
“This was much more a political document. … A lot of this was just bombastic, plug-and-play rhetoric,” said Frederick Hess, director of education policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Where it excelled at language, it came up short on specifics, he said.
The data the commissioners used to reach their conclusions and recommendations 30 years ago pale in comparison to what researchers today have. The report sparked volumes of tests and rankings now common to measure students.
“Gosh, I think they got the message right, but the facts weren’t strong enough to back them up,” said Whitehurst, the Brookings scholar who was the first chief of the Education Department’s current research arm. “A report trying to draw the same conclusions today would have more research.”
Even so, the report has its place in history.
“It’s been the most influential report on education in my lifetime. It was so blunt,” said Michael Rebell, a professor of law and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “It gave us the whole standards movement.”
Francis, a member of the original commission, said the report should have scared Americans into much more sweeping action.
“We were saying in 1983, `This is a global society emerging and you need to worry about this now,’” he said.
Yet, despite the urgency, the report yielded no significant legislation and many of the problems it identified have not been solved.
“I still think we made a contribution,” Francis said. “But maybe it could have been much more. But you never look back.”
White supremacist and extreme-Right organization the Ku Klux Klan began their reign of terror in Tennessee in 1865. Early on, it was a group made of largely southern Democrats who rallied against Black and White Republicans in the South and championed the suppression of equal rights for all. With many members enraged by the Reconstruction of the South after the events of the Civil War, Blacks would be terrorized by the Klan for decades to come. On this day, the Klan held its first national meeting in a bid to build structure among the loosely banded and often lawless group.
Former Confederate soldier General Nathan Bedford (pictured below right) called the meeting at the Maxwell House Hotel in the city of Nashville. It was thought that the various chapters needed to band together and report to a national chapter. Considering many Klan members were former fighters, the new national chapter was seen as a way to restore order and discontinue the actions of the wayward offshoot members.
It would all be a ruse, though, as Klan members saw the reversed fortune of Blacks as an affront to their dominance. Using mob tactics and violence to instill fear, the Klan began to rise in infamy as an oppressive and dangerous force.
By the 1870s, Klan members began to attack Black voters and this forced Republicans in Congress to pass laws that protected the rights of African Americans.
Unfortunately, the government’s efforts would crumble in 1883, after the Supreme Court ruled that Congress no longer held the authority to outlaw discrimination and abandoned the 14th Amendment.
The Klan would rise again to power in the early 20th Century, with Atlanta minister William J. Simmons finding inspiration in the 1915 film “Birth Of A Nation,” which demonized Black men as sexually aggressive toward White woman and cast the KKK as heroes. Using the power of a growing nationwide membership numbering in the millions, the Klan began to turn their collective anger on individuals other than Blacks: Catholics, Jews, immigrants, and even southern Whites who criticized them, felt the Klan’s violent wrath.
With a reported membership high at 7 million, the Klan had amazing political clout and strength. The group elected politicians kind to their cause, particularly during the years before the Great Depression. Due to the lean times of Depression, though, the Klan’s activity dwindled dramatically.
It wasn’t until the mid-1950s and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement did the Klan become a barrier to advancement for African Americans. Many members of Klan factions in the South were police officers, so when marches and demonstrations took place, they would use their authority to exact their power.
Their underhanded tactics would be outed as a growing liberal presence and more investigative journalism highlighted the Klan’s many atrocities. The deaths of Medgar Evers; the only White woman killed for participating in the Civil Rights Movement, Viola Luizzo (pictured at left); and the Birmingham church bombings were all tied to the KKK.
Learn about the murder of Luizzo here:
By 1987, federal authorities took down major elements of the Klan and tied the group to the acts of a few loose cannons within the organization. The group’s relevance began to significantly wane as the 20th century came to a close, with several Klan members, some four decades removed from their crimes, finally seeing justice.
Times have changed drastically in the South, and the Ku Klux Klan is a mere shell of its former self. No longer dominating the landscape with intimidating propaganda, violence, and rhetoric, the group has aligned with various White supremacist groups that have since sprung up like the Aryan Nation and other extreme-Right groups.
And while they’ve largely faded, they still represent how racism and terrorism against Blacks ran rampant and unchecked in this country.
At Wayman AME Church in Minneapolis, folks gather in anticipation of hearing the gospel preached by one of its most senior pastors, Noah Smith (pictured), who at 105 years young still manages to belt out a sermon that sends chills down the spines of his devoted congregants, reports CBS Minnesota.
Smith, who claims that he got his spiritual calling at age 49, was an artist, shined shoes, and a musician for most of his adult life until a friend suggested that he consider getting righteous and serving the Lord:
“I said, Minister? I’m 49 years old. God wanted me to be a minister. Why didn’t he tell me before now? He said, ‘He did tell you, you was too dumb to listen,’” said Smith.
Watch Smith’s story here:
And even though Smith is a centenarian, he has no plans on kicking back anytime soon and boasts that his life now is in fact pretty hectic, “My life is so busy with church and things now. I don’t even get to read the paper sometimes,” said Smith.
What also fuels Smith on is his 95-year-old wife, Hallie, whom he married 22 years ago. The couple met after losing their respective spouses. According to Smith, he and Hallie work together and are devoted to each other.
Case in point, not a day goes by that Smith doesn’t get in to the kitchen to whip up a hot breakfast for Hallie. She, in turn, makes it her business to get dinner on the table every day.
What does the future hold for Smith?
The Bible-toting preacher admits that he does not give death a second thought, even though he realizes that he’s lived a life that is fuller than most people can expect to live. So as far as having any trepidation about the grim reaper knocking on his door any time soon, Smith said, “I look forward to it…to the good part where it leads to.”
As far as kicking back and relaxing for the rest of his time here on earth, Smith jokingly said he tried retirement at age 90 and it was a bust.
So for now, Smith is living his best life, loving his wife, his job, and most importantly, the Lord.
Being a college student at the time, I clearly remember when Nancy Reagan and the conservative wave in national government helped usher in the nation’s War on Drugs in the 1980s.
Television news images of drug busts, large and small, along with the wholesale arrests and stiffer sentencing for anyone even suspected of drug involvement sent a clear message that government intended to empty the streets and fill the prisons until drugs were no more.
But subversives like me and my Rutgers University cohorts viewed the so-called war as a heavy-handed, law-enforcement driven, prison complex-building effort to harass, arrest, and ultimately mark for life two groups of people: those who did small amounts of recreational drugs and were generally no threat to society and those with serious drug dependencies who needed a good rehab program instead of a jail cell.
It may have taken 30 years to prove, but it seems we were on the right track way back when: on Wednesday, the White House announced a new direction in the War on Drugs, where stopping drug use before it starts and treating drug addiction as a health issue will now be priorities.
“Drug policy should be rooted in neuroscience, not political science,” said Gil Kerikowske, director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy.
With NewsOne in attendance, Kerikowske said in a conference call that while law enforcement will still play a role in overall national drug policy, evidence-based public health and safety approaches aimed at reducing drug use will also be employed.
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Kerikowske said the drug-fighting plan will be guided by the notions that addiction is a disease that can be treated, that people with substance-use disorders can recover, and that criminal justice reforms can stop the revolving door of drug use, crime, incarceration, and rearrest.
“Too many people are cycling through the (criminal justice) system,” Kerikowske said. “We cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.”
Watch news coverage of America’s failed War on Drugs here:
The War on Drugs has been especially hard on Black Americans who suffer the highest arrest and incarceration rates for drug-related offenses of any demographic group.
Kerikowske said that 45 percent of incarcerated Blacks are locked up for drug offenses while that number shrinks to 29 percent for Whites and 20 percent for Hispanics. At the same time, Black women are more than twice as likely to be imprisoned for drug offenses than White women.
Early detection of drug use problems by health care professionals along with greater access to treatment programs under the new Obamacare national health plan will provide a road to treatment “for millions of Americans,” Kerikowske added.
The announcement comes at a time when the public seems to be in agreement that the time is right to end the Reagan-styled War on Drugs.
Earlier in the month, a group of 100 entertainers, ranging from Lil Wayne to “Opie” from the “Andy Griffith Show” (movie director Ron Howard), sent an open letter to President Barack Obama calling for a change in drug laws.
Organized by rap mogul Russell Simmons, the group voiced its support for drug incarceration reform and added that “the time is right” to move toward replacing jail sentences with intervention and rehabilitation for non-violent offenders.
Drug offenders comprise nearly half of the federal prison population in the United States.
Meanwhile, a national poll released earlier this month revealed for the first time that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana; 45 percent to 52 percent of adult Americans back legalization, according to Pew Research Center.
Just 10 years ago, only about one-third of American adults backed the legalization of marijuana.
And by an overwhelming 72 percent to 23 percent margin, respondents said the federal government’s efforts against marijuana “cost more than they are worth.”
With pressing issues on his plate, such as getting people back to work, protecting us from terrorist attacks, and fixing our broken immigration system, the President must be given the credit he deserves for ending the so-called War on Drugs that did little more than make billionaires out of prison builders.
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“President Obama has done more than any president in history for women’s health and rights,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement announcing that Obama will deliver the keynote address at the organization’s “Time For Care” dinner in Washington. “We are honored to have President Obama join us…at this pivotal moment for women’s health.”
Richards also served as a surrogate for Obama’s reelection campaign, touting the president’s record on women’s issues during the heat of the campaign.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and HBO’s “Girls” creator Lena Dunham will be honored the event.
Planned Parenthood provides a variety of services for women, including contraception, cancer screenings and abortions.
Obama reaffirmed just last week that he favors abortion rights.
“What I can say is this: You know, I think, President (Bill) Clinton said it pretty well when he said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s Today show.
SEE ALSO:Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Reveals Past As A Prostitute 3 Murder Charges Against Philly Abortion Doc Tossed
During over an hour of intense debate over the repeal of the state’s gay marriage ban on Monday, Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas) officially came out as a gay man, reports the Huffington Post.
“I’m black. I’m gay,” he said, in what the Las Vegas Sun described as a “trembling” voice. “I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male.”
The vote to repeal the ban on gay marriage passed the state senate by a vote of 12-9 paving the way for the status of the ban to be determined by Nevada voters in 2016. While it first has to pass through a heavily Democratic Assembly, it seems as if Nevada is on the verge of realizing marriage equality.
That fact is one that divided both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.
The Las Vegas Sun has more:
“I don’t know if I’ll be allowed in church on Sunday,” said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, a Catholic, who said his “more progressive” girlfriend often berated him for resisting gay marriage rights. He ultimately voted in favor of SJR13.
Sen. Justin Jones, a Mormon, said he sees his gay brother-in-law each Sunday at church and couldn’t bring himself to vote against extending him marriage rights despite a threat from one of the earliest proponents of the gay marriage ban.
“I would rather lose an election than look my brother-in-law in the eye every Sunday and tell him he doesn’t have the same rights as I do,” Jones said.
Sen. Joe Hardy, also a Mormon, took a different tack, saying marriage is “ordained of God” and that such relationships “perpetuate beyond the grave.”
“I do not believe this measure will strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society,” he said.
Sen. Mark Hutchison, also a Mormon, decried efforts to paint those who oppose gay marriage as intolerant.
“Until about a year ago this was the view of the president of the United States,” Hutchison said of President Barack Obama’s initial opposition to gay marriage on religious grounds. “I do not recall his supporters labeling him as intolerant, or insensitive or hypocritical or unenlightened. He had a different view than others.”
As previously reported by NewsOne, during a poll we conducted after President Obama announced that his “evolution” on gay marriage was complete, over 63 percent of our readership disagreed with him.
Atkinson had some stern words for those lawmakers and voters who would deny citizens equal rights under the law based on “tradition”:“If this hurts your marriage,” said Atkinson, “then your marriage was in trouble in the first place.”
Antwan Rayvon James, 27 (pictured left), is suspected of fatally shooting his stepfather, Washington, D.C. police officer, Joseph Burrough Newell, 46 (pictured right) because he asked him to do yard work, reports the Washington Post.
Authorities are currently searching for him.
According to court documents, there Burrough requested that his James put fertilizer on the lawn and then turned to complete another task in the garage.
James, allegedly upset by being asked to do manual labor, said, “Oh, yeah, watch this.” He then proceeded to shoot his step-father, who was standing on a ladder, in the back . According to the Post, when Burrough fell, James stood over him and continued to shoot as he laid on the ground.
“It was an execution,” said Kevin Davis, Prince George’s assistant police chief.
The Washington Post has more:
Davis said James used a handgun — not his stepfather’s service weapon — in the crime, and detectives have not yet recovered it. They believe James, a former D.C. firefighter, is still in the area and possibly armed with the weapon.
Newell, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, was a 24-year veteran of the District’s police force. He was pronounced dead at the scene, county police said.
Officers responded to the home around 8 p.m. Monday night. Believing the suspect was still inside, they set up a barricade. But by 3 a.m., police had determined that James had left the immediate area.
The suspect is described as a black man, 6 feet tall and 170 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and black boots. Police said he is believed to be armed with a gun and dangerous.
“This is a very tragic situation and my entire department is mourning our loss,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said.
Read more at the Washington Post.
SEE ALSO:Jim Jones: ‘White Cops Harassed Me Because I’m Black!’ Boston Bombing Suspect’s First Hearing From Hospital Bed [FULL TRANSCRIPT]
Lil Scrappy (pictured) of VH1′s hit reality show, “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” was hauled off to jail Tuesday morning after Atlanta police claim that he failed to submit to a court-ordered urine test, according to TMZ.
According to police reports, Lil Scrappy, whose real name is Darryl Kevin Richardson II, violated his probation last March after he attempted to give authorities a urine sample that was cold to the touch. The possibly tampered sample reportedly made the cops believe something about it was shady. When ATL police ordered the 29-year-old rapper to submit yet another urine sample, he flatly refused to abide by their demand.
En route to the courthouse, Scrappy was accompanied by his reality show co-star, fiancée and resident baby momma, Erica Dixon (pictured). Tagging along was Scrappy’s ride or die mother, known to viewers of the show as “Momma Dee (pictured).”
The overprotective and devoted mother, who refuses to snip Scrappy’s apron strings already had “Free Scrappy” tee shirts made up in support of her baby boy.
PHILADELPHIA — Three of eight murder charges were thrown out Tuesday against a Philadelphia abortion provider whose clinic was called a “house of horrors,” apparently because the judge had not heard sufficient evidence from prosecutors that the three babies were viable, born alive and then killed.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, still faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in four remaining infant deaths. Prosecutors have argued that the babies were viable and that Gosnell and his staff cut the back of their necks to kill them. The judge also upheld murder charges in a patient’s overdose death.
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart did not explain why he granted some of the defense motion to acquit Gosnell after more than a month of prosecution testimony. Such motions are routine but rarely granted.
The defense questioned testimony from staffers who said they had seen babies move, cry or breathe. McMahon argued that each testified to seeing only a single movement or breath.
“These are not the movements of a live child,” McMahon said. “There is not one piece – not one – of objective, scientific evidence that anyone was born alive.”
The trial resumed Tuesday afternoon with character witnesses testifying for Gosnell’s co-defendant, Eileen O’Neill. She is charged with three counts of theft for practicing medicine without a license. Minehart dismissed six additional counts of that charge Tuesday.
The jury will also ponder third-degree murder charges against Gosnell for the 2009 overdose death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, a recent refugee to the U.S. who died after an abortion at hiss Women’s Medical Society.
McMahon argued that third-degree requires malice, or “conscious disregard” for her life.
“She wasn’t treated any differently than any of the other thousands of other people who went through there,” McMahon argued Tuesday, in a preview of his likely closing arguments.
Prosecutors might concede that point themselves at closings, and argue that patients were routinely exposed to unsanitary, intentionally reckless conditions at the clinic. Former staffers have testified that patients received heavy sedatives and painkillers from untrained workers while Gosnell was offsite, and were then left in waiting rooms for hours, often unattended, before Gosnell arrived for the late-night surgeries.
Despite that, the workers testified that they had never seen a woman go into distress before Mongar. Yet a 2011 grand jury report alleges that dozens of women were injured at Gosnell’s clinic over the past 30 years, calling it a “house of horrors.” Some left with torn wombs or bowels, some with venereal disease contracted through the reuse of non-sterilized equipment, and some left with fetal remains still inside them, the report alleged. And the report blamed Gosnell for an earlier maternal death that was not charged.
Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron, in defending the Mongar charge, said it stemmed from the totality of the circumstances at Gosnell’s clinic. They included the repeated medication dosages given by medical assistants; the doctor’s absence during most of her two-day visit; and the hour it took to open a locked side door and take her by stretcher to an ambulance.
And the prosecutor questioned why else Gosnell and his staff would “snip” babies if they were not born alive. The brains were intact, so it was not done to make the delivery easier, he said.
“Why would you cut a baby in the back of the neck unless you were killing it?” Cameron argued.
Gosnell had also been charged with five counts of abuse of a corpse, for removing the feet from aborted fetuses and storing them in specimen jars. McMahon argued that his client did so to keep DNA samples, and Minehart agreed to dismiss those counts.
Minehart upheld charges that Gosnell violated Pennsylvania’s abortion laws by performing abortions after 24 weeks and failing to counsel women 24 hours before the procedure.
Linda Fondren (pictured) is running for mayor of Vicksburg, a 50,000-plus-populated city in Mississippi. So what’s the big deal? The candidate recently acknowledged the fact that she is not only a former prostitute but that her husband was one of her clients, reports the Huffington Post.
When Fondren first got wind of the fact that her lurid past and connection to Sagebrush Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada, might have caught up with her, she initially attempted to deny the accusations, “These are rumors, and politics is really a business that people do whatever it takes to get things said about people instead of discussing the issues, what concerns people the most,” Fondren told the Clarion Ledger on March 29th.
Eventually, Fondren realized that she could no longer keep her past behind her so she admitted to working as a “lady of the night” some 30-plus years ago at the Nevada brothel:
“I was a working girl in a legal brothel over 30 years ago. It’s true, my husband was my client. My husband and I have been married for 28 years,” Fondren told WLGBT-TV. “I knew it would surface because it was around. I just didn’t think it would surface, and I would be sitting here doing an interview with you today.”
Watch news coverage of Linda Fondren coming out as a former prostitute here:
Prostitution is legal in 11 of Nevada’s 17 counties and is heavily regulated. The New York Times reported in 2012 that around 500 women worked as legal independent contractors in just under 30 brothels in the state.
When asked if she would support prostitution if elected mayor, Fondren says that she was actually vehemently opposed to the controversial profession back when she was participating in it; consequently, she would NOT support it.
Fondren also claims that as a young teen without guidance, she did not freely chose to be a prostitute. Instead, she stumbled in to it due to her mother’s death and the fact that she was a young Mother at age 14, leaving her penniless with no other alternatives.
Since her days as a working girl, Fondren has managed to earn national acclaim in her fight against obesity in Vicksburg. Her 17-week weight loss challenge later evolved into a walking club, which has been touted across the nation.
Fondren was even named a finalist for CNN Hero of the Year in 2010.
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