From August 2012

Feds Dock Social Security for Unpaid Student Loans

By AnnaMaria

It’s no secret that falling behind on student loan payments can squash a borrower’s hopes of building savings, buying a home or even finding work.
Now, thousands of retirees are learning that defaulting on student-debt can threaten something that used to be untouchable: their Social Security benefits.
According to government data, compiled by the Treasury Department at the request of, the federal government is withholding money from a rapidly growing number of Social Security recipients who have fallen behind on federal student loans.
From January through Aug. 6, the government reduced the size of roughly 115,000 retirees’ Social Security checks on those grounds. That’s nearly double the pace of the department’s enforcement in 2011; it’s up from around 60,000 cases in all of 2007 and just 6 cases in 2000.
Tens of thousands of retirees have fallen behind on student loans–and the feds are coming after their Social Security benefits.
The amount that the government withholds varies widely, though it runs up to 15%. Assuming the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker of $1,234, that could mean a monthly haircut of almost $190. “This is going to catch an awful lot of people off guard and wreak havoc on their financial lives,” says Sheryl Garrett, a financial planner in Eureka Springs, Ark.
Many of these retirees aren’t even in hock for their own educations. Consumer advocates say that in the majority of the cases they’ve seen, the borrowers went into debt later in life to help defray education costs for their children or other dependents.
Harold Grodberg, an elder law attorney in Bayonne, N.J., says he’s worked with at least six clients in the past two years whose problems started with loans they signed up for to help pay for their grandchildren’s tuition.
Other attorneys say they’re working with older borrowers who had signed up for the federal PLUS loan — a loan for parents of undergraduates — to cover tuition costs.
Other retirees took out federal loans when they returned to college in midlife, and a few are carrying debt from their own undergraduate or graduate-school years. (No statistics track exactly how many of the defaulting loans fall into which category.)
The stakes involved can become very high for older people on a budget. Deanne Loonin, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center in Boston, says she’s been working with an 83-year-old veteran whose Social Security benefits have been reduced for the past five years.
The client fell behind on a federal loan that he signed up for in the ‘90s to help with his son’s tuition costs; Loonin says the government’s cuts have left the client without enough cash to pay for medications for heart problems and other ailments.
Roughly 2.2 million student-loan debtors were 60 and older during the first quarter of 2012, and nearly 10 percent of their loans were 90 days or more past due, up from 6 percent during the first quarter of 2005.

Leova Robert Rainey, 97

Leova Robert Rainey

Leova Robert Rainey, an active member of the Oakland NAACP and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, died on July 29.
Born on Jan. 26, 1915 in Omaha, TX, Rainey was the son of Isaac and Dora Rainey. After his mother died in 1918, he was raised by his grandmother in Clarksville, TX.
He completed Cheatham Clarksville High School in 1933 and went to work at one of the Civilian Conservation Corps camps to finance his college education. He earned his BA degree from Texas College.
Rainey married Mildred Hackett in 1941 in Kilgore, TX. The couple soon moved to California,  joining Beth Eden Baptist Church in Oakland under the pastorate of the late Dr. J. P. Hubbard.
Rainey was drafted in the U.S. Navy in 1943, where he served three years.
He worked 32 years for the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company and volunteered tirelessly for the NAACP, receiving his Life Member Award in Feb. 1981.
He was the past president of the Oakland NAACP branch and credit Union.  Many called him Mr. NAACP.
He was also a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and a member of Monarch Lodge #73.
Rainey is survived by his wife Mildred, who was his companion for 71 years; grandson Brian Dickerson of Dallas, TX; and nieces Janice Lindsey and Brenda Johnson Beedles, both of Texas.
A memorial was held Aug. 14 at the Beth Eden Baptist Church in Oakland.

The Dispute Over Gabby Douglas’ Hair

Gabby Douglas’ hairstyle during the London Olympics

Gabby Douglas’ hairstyle after the London Olympics where she won gold medals in gymnastics.

By Pepper

When Gabby Douglas unexpectedly captured the Olympic Gold medal in gymnastics this summer, I was elated, peacock proud and genuinely happy for the 16-year-old and her family.
It was all the more special for me because she is African American. Then, incredibly, followed flack from critics Black and non-Black about Douglas’ post-performance hairstyle!
She apparently used a chemical relaxer or heat to straighten her naturally coarse, kinky hair. At the roots was new growth that reverted to its natural state from perspiration. The combination of straight and kinky hair struggled through giant hair clips and the hairstyling gel used to maintain the same style as her teammates.
I, like many Black folk, accepted her look because we understand how our straightened hair transforms when it comes in contact with moisture. It’s OK. It’s part of our culture.
Our hair is different but not deficient.
The shallow, thoughtless, tactless criticism, especially from Blacks, was shocking, and I don’t condone the comments or the attitude they represent. But they do put a spotlight on the ongoing issue that Blacks, particularly Black women, have about their identity.
Just last year, there was a big identity/hair discussion when “Sesame Street” featured the “I love my hair” video, which has come to be one of my favorites.
The show’s head writer, Jim Mazzarino, who is white, created the video of a dark brown, kinky-haired Muppet character singing about why she loves her hair. He was motivated after his adopted Ethiopian daughter told him and his wife that she “wanted her hair to be long or blonde like Barbie or a princess.”
It was an early sign that the child was questioning her beauty, identity and self-worth through associations related to her hair. The video became an unexpected viral success.
Given society’s intrigue with Blacks’ hair, the Black community’s frequent judgment about hair, and all the challenges associated with styling and maintaining their hair, Black women are likely to spend two to three times as much money on their hair as white females.
Hair weaving — the process of adding human or synthetic hair to existing hair via braiding, sewing or gluing — has exploded. At prices ranging from $350 to more than $1,500, many black women are selling their souls for this hairstyle.
Black women see weaves as extensions of themselves and say the longer hair styles are about style options and feeling feminine. What they don’t say out loud is that long hair provides an equalizer for society that identifies long hair as the standard of beauty.
“People of color are still dealing with issues of identity, self-love and race, head on— and daily,” says Craig Brimm, blogger for kissmyblackads. He adds: “The bottom line is how unfiltered acceptance is still very important to African Americans and that hair still plays a (big) role in positive recognition.”
There is a tendency to think that in our society these issues are receding, but that is not the case. Change is happening, but at a slow rate.

Alameda County Holds Leadership Academy

Alameda County is accepting applications for its 12th Leadership Academy, a free, six-session interactive symposium for people who live, work, or own a business in the county.
Through presentations from top county leaders and small group exercises, the academy provides an   opportunity for the community members to increase their knowledge of local government.
Participants will learn about the wide range of services provided by Alameda County, its mission  and budget development process. Sessions will emphasize leadership and communication skills such as public speaking, as well as mock budget and other public policy exercises.
Participants also will acquire knowledge on how to increase civic involvement and network with other community members.
The academy runs Oct.3, through March 6. Sessions are usually held the first Wednesday of each month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at facilities throughout the county.
Interested applicants can obtain additional information and complete an online application at, or by contacting the County Administrator’s Office at (510) 272-6510. The application deadline is Sept. 14.

Free East Bay Workshops for Small Businesses

Supervisor Keith Carson at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley.

More than 300 small business owners crowded into a ballroom at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley recently to learn from government officials and industry experts how to launch, grow and sustain a small business in the East Bay.
“Nearly 70 percent of jobs in the East Bay are created by businesses of fewer than 100 employees,” said Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Chair of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (EDA).
“Your businesses are the engine of the East Bay economy,” he told attendees.
Carson was one of the speakers at the free event, “East Bay Small Business Symposium Learn, Grow and Move Your Business to the Next Level,” which is part of series organized by EDA staff to provide business growth tools, business-to-business networking and strategic resources.
Participants, heard remarks by Elizabeth Echols, Regional Administrator, Region IX, U.S. Small Business Administration and Jim Horan, President and CEO of The One Page Business Plan Company.
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) addressed the group later in the morning.
Participants attended breakout sessions for Startup Businesses, Young Businesses, Growth Businesses and Mature Businesses. Bankers, CPAs, attorneys and government officials offered professional advice and took questions.  Discussion in the Young Business room centered on accessing capital and navigating the SBA (Small Business Administration) loan process.
Attendees in the Growth Business group discussed capital needs as well, but also delved into more advanced topics.
“The event gave me some great nuggets of advice to help me support my business,” said Vernita Naylor, Founder/CEO of Jabez Enterprise Group, a company that provides government contracting and business development consulting and workshops.
The event in Berkeley was the second in the series.  The first symposium took place in Antioch, the third is scheduled in Danville on Sept. 18, and the last will take place in southern Alameda County on Nov. 8.
The symposiums are part of the East Bay Small Business Initiative, launched in partnership with Wells Fargo, Inner City Advisors and others. For information, visit

Scams Target Young Immigrants

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris is warning Californians about potential scams targeting young immigrants seeking to participate in the federal government’s recently launched Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Certain young immigrants who were brought to United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and, as a result, may be eligible for work authorization.
To learn more about the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website:
While the California Attorney General’s Office has not yet received any citizen complaints of scams directly related to this new program, immigrants are often the target of consumer scams and should be vigilant in seeking assistance related to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
To combat the threat of scams, Harris has provided the following information and tips as eligible immigrants begin to apply for consideration:
Anyone seeking help from an attorney should find out if the person offering legal services is a lawyer licensed by the State Bar of California.Check out attorneys online at or call 1-800-843-9053.
Those who cannot afford a private attorney can contact the Board of Immigration Appeals, which provides a list of attorneys who offer immigration services either for free or for very little cost. This list is available online at  Or contact a local legal aid office. For a referral, visit and click on the Find Legal Assistance tab.
Immigration consultants are required to register with the California Secretary of State’s Office, and to post a $50,000 bond. Check out immigration consultant online at or call 1-916-653-3984.
It is against the law for an immigration consultant to give legal advice. An immigration consultant can only give non-legal help, such as translating a person’s answers to questions on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services forms.
Get a written contract signed and dated by the immigration consultant. Make sure the contract lists the full name and contact information for the immigration consultant, the services you were promised and how much you have agreed to pay.
The contract must be written in both English and your language. You have the right to cancel the contract within 72 hours of signing the contract. You must cancel the contract in writing. Give only copies of original documents to the immigration consultant; keep the originals in a safe place.
If you have a complaint against an Immigration Consultant, contact the California Attorney General’s Office. You can file a complaint online at or by mailing the complaint to Office of the Attorney General, Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550.

Tribute to Legendary Raider Willie Brown

Willie Brown

The Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, which is dedicated to honoring sports legends and community leaders of all races, will present A Tribute to Raider Willie Brown, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 28 at the Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Ave. in Alameda.
Brown has been a tireless supporter of the Bay Area community for many years and is a member of the Hall of Fame.  A pro football Hall of Famer, he is in his 42nd year with the Raiders, entering a new role in 2012 as team ambassador.
Most recently director of squad development, he spent 25 years (1995-2009 and 1979-88) as defensive backs coach, helping the Silver and Black win Super Bowls XV and XVIII.
He was head coach at Long Beach State, where he earned his master’s degree, and at Los Angeles Jordan High School.
Brown is most remembered for his playing career. Acquired by Al Davis from the Broncos in a 1967 trade, he went undrafted out of Grambling State, eventually signing with the Houston Oilers. A shutdown corner for the Raiders from 1967-78, he sealed victory in Super Bowl XI by intercepting Fran Tarkenton and scoring a 75-yard touchdown.
Donations for tickets are $75 including luncheon, $50 for the ceremony only. Tickets are available a or by check to PO Box 6363, Oakland, CA 94603
For information contact Barbara Taylor, at or (510) 436-5253. Or Arif Khatib at or (510) 508-3309.

Black Expo Features “Inside the Artist Studio” Interviews

Darrin Henson

Terri J. Vaughn

Mario Van Peebles

As part of this year’s program, the Bay Area Black Expo will present three one-hour question-and-answer interviews with celebrities called “Inside the Artist Studio.”
Members of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA) will interview actor Darrin Henson of Showtime’s “Soul Food,”1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8; actor, director, filmmaker Mario Van Peebles, Saturday, Sept. 8, 3p.m.; and Actress Terri J. Vaughn, who will be interviewed by filmmaker Kevin Epps, noon, Sunday, Sept. 9.
The 2012 Bay Area Black Expo, sponsored by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, will be held 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8 and Sept. 9 at the Oakland Convention Center, 550 10th St. in downtown Oakland.
Prior to its opening, the expo will celebrate the Bay Area’s diverse community with a with a “Magnificent 7” Awards Gala on Sept. 5 in honor of community contributors.
The expo will feature empowerment workshops; healthy cooking demonstrations with Cuisine Noir Magazine and celebrity chefs; fitness classes; free eye exams and health screenings; a Greek fraternity/sorority step show; a spirit-led Sunday gospel celebration hosted by KDYA’s (The Light 1190 AM) Brotha Phil; along with special guest performers and speakers and exhibits of arts and crafts, retail, social, corporate, and healthcare vendors and other exhibitors.
Admittance is $10 general admission; $5 children, students with ID, and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online via PayPal at or at the door.

“Sparkle” Opens in Bay Area

From left to right: Carmen Ejogo, Jordin Sparks and Tika Sumpter attend a screening of “Sparkle” hosted by the Cinema Society with Circa and Alice & Olivia on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in New York. (AP)

“Sparkle,” directed by Salim Akil, was released on Aug. 17 and stars Whitney Houston in her final role and American Idol winner Jordan Sparks,
Inspired by The Supremes, “Sparkle” is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, which centered on three singing teenage sisters from Harlem who form a girl group in the late 1950s. The remake takes place in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s during the Motown era.
The film stars Sparks, Derek Luke, Houston, Mike Epps, Cee Lo Green, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Tamela Mann and Omari Hardwick. “Sparkle” features songs from the original film written by soul musician Curtis Mayfield as well as new compositions by R&B artist R. Kelly.
Houston died on Feb. 11, three months after filming ended. The film is dedicated to her memory.

Pryor leads Raiders to victory

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – The beginning of pre-season was looking pretty bleak for the Oakland Raiders.  Coming into today game, the offense was a big concern.  The lack of cohesive play and Carson Palmer’s continued streak for interceptions per game has become alarming.

But after the Raiders 31-20 victory over the Detroit Lions, the fans came breath a sigh of relief.  Third string quarterback Terrelle Pryor proved the offense is moving in the right direction.

“My time management in the huddle improved today, I could get out earlier than before and that helped a lot,” said Pryor.  “I could see the defense better and didn’t have to rush the ball.  This week I worked on memorizing the plays better and didn’t mess up.  I studied really hard and prayed a lot.”

By the end of third quarter he was the leading rusher in the game.  Terrelle waisted no time proving his ability to be the back-up quarterback to Palmer.  He opened up the second half with a scramble for 59-yards for the first down and followed with 17-yard touchdown after shaking off a sack.  In a 77-yard drive on back-to-back plays, Pryor was responsible for 76-yards.

Not bad for the former Ohio State standout who hadn’t played in year prior to Oakland’s first exhibition game almost two weeks ago.  He threw two touchdowns passes of 40 and 76 yards to rookie Juron Criner in both the third and fourth quarters.  Going 3-for-5 passing for 137 yards, Terrelle feels there’s room to become better and he is on the right path in getting that done.

“I thought he managed the huddle a lot better in this game,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.  “That was an area of improvement we were looking for, he’s still a work in progress and I thought he made some strides today.  There’s a lot of things we need to get corrected on offense and defense.”

Carson struggled again in getting into the end zone and with passes being picked off.  He threw two interceptions and completed 17-of-26 passes for 181 yards.  The offense had no spark to start the game.  Sebastian Janikowski missed a 30-yard field goal and later left after straining his groin while kicking a 66-yard kickoff return.  Oakland averaged 11.2 yards on five kickoff returns and 4 yards on three punt returns.

It’s obvious the offense needs to improve, with two weeks away from the start of the season, the Raiders see no reason to panic.  There were some advantages despite Palmer’s poor performance.  Darren McFadden crossed the goal line before fumbling the ball after getting hit.  Coach Allen challenged the call and officials overturned the play to rule in favor of the 1-yard touchdown which gave the Raiders a 7-3 lead.

The Lions didn’t go down without a fight, back-up and third string quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore had a lot of ground to pick up after losing Matthew Stafford to a hand injury in the first half.  Both back-ups threw a touchdown each.

Hill threw a 7-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew in the third quarter for Detroit’s first touchdown, he finished with 7-for-15 for 68 yards.  Moore  was 10-for19 for 87 yards with a touchdown pass to Alex Gottlieb in the fourth.

“It’s disappointing when you get to this point in camp, with roster cuts coming up, guys trying to make a good impression,” said Lions coach Jim Schwartz.  “We need to play better than that under those circumstances.”

Pagan sparks the offense for the win

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – It was a rocky start but the offense found a way to fight through the bloops early.  Ace Ryan Vogelsong continued to struggle but recovered in time for the offense to back him for the win.

The Giants took game two of the series with a 5-3 victory over the Braves.  With tonight’s victory San Francisco matched their season-high five-game winning streak.  The team has won 7 of their last 8 games.  And Angel Pagan has been a huge part in leading this offense.

“Right now, we’re playing, to me, the best we’ve played all season,” said Pagan.  “Our offense is pretty good.  It’s fun going out there everyday.”

A home run shy of hitting the cycle, Angel has enjoyed the responsibility as the leadoff hitter.  Since his recent promotion the outfielder has dedicated his time to becoming better than average.  He’s extended his hitting streak to eight games.

Pagan went 4-of-5 with a double, triple, RBI and scored two runs.  Matching his career-high with four hits, he wasn’t too concerned about not hitting a home run.  With the help of his teammates, Angel knows he doesn’t have to do it all to get the win.

“I’m not a selfish person,” he explained.  “I want to get on base.  I wanted to get there with the 5-3 game.  Why would I try to homer, if I can just get on base.  I can try and make something happen and keep scoring.”

Vogelsong lost his command early when he gave up two home runs.  The first was to Jason Heyward in the first frame and the second was to Freddie Freeman on the first pitch in the second inning.  But that quick 2-0 lead for Atlanta didn’t last long.

“The first home run, I thought, was right in the middle of the plate,” said Ryan.  “The second one was a first pitch, a two-seamer away, and it was running away.  He just got a good swing on it.  They’re both pretty big, strong guys and if they get the barrel on it, it’s going to go a long way.  I’m just glad we were able to come back and score some runs and get the win.”

By the bottom of the second, the Giants loaded the bases on two back-to-back errors at short stop and second base.  Hunter Pence got a base hit after Chipper Jones mishandled the ball.  Then Brandon Belt got a base hit when Dan Uggla fumbled the ball after catching it with his glove.  Gregor Blanco’s bunt allowed him to first safely.

But Vogelsong grounded into a double play to end the inning and left all three runners stranded.  With three infields hits, it’s a rare to not score in at least one run.  By the third, it was Angel who sparked the offense in scoring their first two runs.

“They’re playing great,” said Freeman.  “They are not making mistakes defensively or offensively.”

Pagan tripled in the fourth, Marc Scutaro drove him in with a single to right field.  Pablo Sandoval’s RBI double cut the lead in half and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 2-2.  Two more runs in the fourth and Buster Posey’s RBI double in the sixth extended the lead to 5-2.

The Braves final attempt to wake up the bats was Freddie’s second home run of the night.  This marked the third time in his career he has hit two homers in a game and the second time this season.  Unfortunately, for Atlanta they continue to collapse almost resembling last years struggles.

“It’s getting frustrating,” Freeman explained.  “We’re a winning team and we’re not winning right now.  That was last year and this is this year.  It’s a whole different season, we’re still in first place for the Wild Card.”

A bitter sweet victory for the Giants

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – It was a generous gesture for the Giants organization to honor one of Major Leagues best players in his final year.  Atlanta Braves short stop Chipper Jones was honored before tonight’s game with a video tribute in remembering his unforgettable career in the baseball.

After the receiving a standing ovation from the sellout crowd, Jones gracefully acknowledged the tribute by coming out of the dugout to remove his cap.  Then it was back to business.  It was a bitter sweet victory for San Francisco after they defeated the Braves 5-2.

Barry Zito had another great outing marking his sixth time in his eight career starts that he tossed at least 7.0 frames against Atlanta.  He allowed just two runs, five hits, three walks and five strikeouts.  Zito tossed eight shutout innings before departing after allowing two singles to start the ninth.

“It feels good to help the team,” Barry said.  “We had a great road trip and a difficult homestead last time, so it’s great momentum to go out there and help the team get back on track.”

Thanks to great defense, the Giants kept the Braves scoreless through eight frames.  With runners at third and first, pitcher Tommy Hanson hit a line drive to Zito who threw to third baseman Pablo Sandoval for the out after the runner stepped off base in the second.

That was Atlanta’s only opportunity to score before Michael Bourn hit a fly ball to right fielder Hunter Pence to end the inning.  In the fourth, Barry walked Dan Uggla after striking out Freddie Freeman to leadoff the inning.  The next batter flew out to center field for the out and with their only runner on base, Uggla got picked off and caught stealing second base to end the inning.

“I don’t feel like I went out there and got lit up,” said Hanson.  “I don’t feel like I went out there and they were hitting lasers all over the place.  That was just a tough one.  I don’t really know what to say.”

The leadoff man, Angel Pagan was leading by example.  In the third, he walked, stole second and scored the first run for the Giants on Sandoval’s RBI single.  He went 1-for-3 with two walks, a single and two runs scored, which extended his hitting streak to seven games.

“I feel comfortable in the leadoff position,” Pagan said.  “I’m seeing the ball really well, I’m getting very good at bats and drawing my walks.  The energy starts with me, that’s what I’m there for, you always want to score first and hope to continue in the leadoff spot.”

San Francisco’s offense soared in the third, Hunter laid down a perfect bunt and scored Pagan on the infield play.  Two back-to-back RBI singles from both Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez.  With a 5-0 lead the Giants continued to stay focused despite adversity the team has faced this season and last week.

“The ball club is playing really well coming into this homestead,” said Pence.  “It’s going to be a good series.  We’re going to play some good ball and find some ways to win.  It absolutely matters with our position because we have to be ahead of them [Dodgers] to make it into the playoffs, every game is crucial.  Today is the biggest day for us, we can control the way this series goes.”

The loss of two of their best players to drug test and the injuries that have sideline several players has taken a toll.  But the team has found ways to their success and maintain their first place position in the National League West and hope to make sure their road to the playoffs is uninterrupted.

“I’ve been very impressed and proud of these guys,” manager Bruce said.  “Especially with what they went through last week (losing Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension) and bounce back form the road trip.  To keep their focus on winning games, we got a bad break losing quality players but this club knows the choice we have is to move forward without comment or concern.”

San Francisco got challenged in the ninth after Zito’s exit.  The Braves got back into the game, after Freeman’s two-run double ended a almost perfect shutout night and cut the lead 5-2 with no outs.  It took the Giants bullpen to shut down Atlanta’s offense to seal their victory.

“We didn’t have very good approach against him early on in the game,” said manager Freddy Gonzales.  “But the good thing is we came back and they used what four guys in the ninth to try to get that win.  We didn’t play very good, Tommy got himself in some trouble but he didn’t pitch that bad, some balls got through there.”

Bringing Solar Lighting to Africa

Images from the “Bringing light to Africa” YouTube video. Top row: Girls studying under solar lights, the solar light kit, an infant being cared under solar lights. Bottom row: Pastor Akognon, boys studying together under a solar light lamp.

By Godfrey Lee

Many homes in rural Africa will be lit by solar energy, thanks to Dr. Emmanuel O. Akognon, Pastor of Village Baptist Church in Marin City, who is working to light up the homes of 1,000 families in villages in Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.
Akognon believes the introduction of solar lighting will help transform the lives of families who will not have to face the dangers of fire and unhealthy fumes associated with lighting homes with candles or kerosene, which can also be expensive.
Rural villages and homes are often on their own when it comes to accessing sources of energy. The government does not always supply rural areas with energy, and political and system-wide problems can prevent commercial energy companies from serving the villages.
While being easier to produce, solar energy is also cleaner and safer than energy from coal, gas, or nuclear power.
Because blackouts are common in many larger African cities, a localized source of electricity may be more reliable. “You don’t need somebody with a degree to operate a solar panel. Just put the panel on the house, connect the converter, battery, and bulb and you are on,” he said.
“It is a lot easier to do. It may cost a little bit more for a family with heavy-duty usage,” said Pastor Akognon. “But the rural African home does not have a refrigerator, washer, or dryer that consume a lot of electricity. So buying the solar equipment is easier, cheaper and not as complicated,” he said.
The goal of Pastor Akognon’s organization, Better Africa Foundation, is to find 1,000 sponsors who will donate  $100, which will provide each family with solar lighting for five years.
So far, the group has found sponsors for about 100 families.
Pastor Akognon is asking for the public to help. An individual may sponsor one or more families, or friends or a group may sponsor a family together. Donations will also be accepted.
To find out more about the project, watch the YouTube video at, or visit the websites:,, or
For information call (707) 762-6125 or contact Pastor Akognon at Donations can be sent to: Better Africa Foundation, 1011 Allen St., Petaluma, CA 94954-1837.

10 Candidates in District 5 Race

Christina Olague

London Breed

Julian Davis

Daniel Everett

By Lee Hubbard

The race for the District 5 supervisor seat in San Francisco has brought out a large number of challengers to take on incumbent Supervisor Christina Olague.
Olague was appointed interim supervisor of District 5 in January by Mayor Ed Lee after former supervisor Ross Mirkarimi was sworn in as Sheriff.
Olague was a community organizer with the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition in the 1980s and a long time planning commissioner.  Her selection as supervisor by the mayor was seen by some as a way to help him garner progressive support in San Francisco
However, she faces nine other candidates who are vying for the District 5 seat, which represents parts of Lower Pacific Heights, Haight Ashbury, Fillmore, Western Addition and Japan Town.
While Olague is the front-runner, other candidates are picking up traction in the race such as Thea Selby, Andrew Resignato and Hope Johnson.
There are three Black candidates in the race: London Breed, Julian Davis and Daniel Everett.
“District 5 is the most politically progressive district in the city,” said Corey Cook, a political scientist professor at the University of San Francisco. “You would think Olague would have an easy time, but if she is to lose this election, it will either be Davis challenging her from the left or Breed challenging her from the center.
“Julian is very bright, and London has built up an impressive campaign.”
District 5 is the seat Ella Hill Hutch first won when San Francisco went to district elections in the 1970s.  According to Cook, Olague has built in advantages as an incumbent, but that the race could go down to the wire.
“As the only native of district 5 running, I know what it takes to make things happen,” said Breed, executive director of the African American Cultural Center, which is in the district.
Breed, 37, grew up in the Plaza East housing development in the Western Addition, spending half of her life living in public housing.  She graduated from UC Davis with a political science.
She worked for Mayor Willie Brown, as an intern in the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, before taking over as the head of the African American Cultural Center.
Davis is president of the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center. He graduated from Brown University and earned a law degree at UC Hastings College of Law.
“We are building a grassroots campaign, neighbor to neighbor, block by block and shop by shop,” he said.  “People are looking for a person who will keep San Francisco real for everyday people.”
Everett, a defense attorney and host of the radio show “Folk Law,” is a political newcomer. On the campaign trail he says he speaks for the common San Franciscan. He is alarmed about the lack of parking in San Francisco and the excessive fines dealt to drivers.
“It’s an effort by the city to raise revenue off of the backs of people who can afford it the least,” said Everett.  “This is a systematic effort to move people out of their cars, which is unfair.”
While the race is just now heating up, Breed has raised almost $100,000 in the and recently received the number one endorsement from the District 5 Democratic club.
Olague is focusing on improving conditions in District 5.
“We are just getting started, regarding getting things done in many of the neighborhoods,” she said. “We want to continue a lot of the work we have done, to make things better in District 5.”

SF State Holds Free Lectures on Presidential Election

Professor of Political Science Joel Kassiola.

San Francisco State University will hold a free series of public lectures of experts who will analyze the upcoming presidential election.
The lectures, which will also be available to watch online, feature panels of SF State faculty providing analysis of the presidential election, followed by group discussion.
The 14-session series will explore how campaigns operate, including media coverage and campaign finance, and will discuss such issues as the economy, health care, immigration and foreign policy.
The first two sessions coincide with the Republican National Convention (Aug. 30) and the Democratic National Convention (Sept. 6), and participants will have the opportunity to watch the presidential nominees’ acceptance speeches and hear expert analysis from faculty.
“In their acceptance speeches, the candidates share the script that their campaign will be based on; so it should provide a fascinating starting point for our lectures,” said Professor of Political Science Joel Kassiola. “Throughout the series our faculty will provide insightful analysis and will do so in a non-partisan way.”
The lectures will be held Aug. 30 through Dec. 13, Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. The first two lectures (Aug. 30 and Sept. 6) take place 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. No lectures will be held on Nov. 8 and Nov. 22.
The lectures will be held in the Humanities Auditorium, room 133 of the Humanities Building, SF State campus, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco. Video of the lectures can be watched at
For more information go to:

Affordable Housing at Mary Helen Rogers Senior Community

The Mary Helen Rogers Senior Community in San Francisco’s Western Addition.

By Carla

The Mary Helen Rogers Senior Community in San Francisco’s Western Addition is a new affordable housing project scheduled to open in 2013, which is being built by the Chinatown Community Development Center, Tabernacle Community Development Corporation and UrbanCore, LLC.
Located at 701 Golden Gate Ave., the 100-unit project is named for Western Addition community activist Mary Helen Rogers and will include artistic tributes to her and her legacy.
The building will include business suites, 28 studios and 72 one bedroom units along with 20 units dedicated to the homeless through the Department of Public Health’s Direct Access to Housing program.
Units will offer granite countertops, appliances, underground parking and on-site resident services along with a community room, kitchen and computer-learning center.  Studios rents range  from $696 to $870, with one bedroom units priced at $795-$994.
To qualify, an applicant’s minimum income level must be twice the monthly rent, with one of the household members age 55 and older.
This development offers SFRA certificate holders preference – a certificate given to those displaced from the community during the redevelopment era of the 1960s. This housing opportunity will allow those displaced persons to re-locate to the community affordably.
Other project partners are the Bayview Hunters Point Multi Purpose Senior Center, Rev. Amos Brown, San Francisco Urban CDC and Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services.
Archbishop Gregory Richardson, Felisia Thibodeaux and Cathy Davis, executive director of the Bayview Multi Purpose Senior Center, describe this opportunity as a “dream come true” for displaced residents of the 1960s in the Bay View and Western Addition.
Application assistance is available at the Western Addition Senior Center.
Application assistance is also available at Bethel AME Church, Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Center, Dr. George Davis Senior Service Center and the San Francisco Christian Center through August 24.
“When re-development came into the community and requested people to move out, they gave them a certificate of preference (SFRAA certificate),” said Richardson.
Applicants will be selected by lottery, and applications can be obtained at or 12 other Bay Area locations. “We are very excited to provide outreach and extend this opportunity,” said Gordon Leung of the Chinatown Community Development Center.
Return applications by mail to P.O. Box 423120, SF, CA 94121-3120 and postmarked no later than midnight Aug. 31.
The TTY phone number is 415-984-9910.  First priority will be given to certificate preference holders. Those who believe they are entitled to an SFRA Certificate of Preference should call 415-701-5613.

Rev. Rufus and Amy Bradford Turn 90

Amy and Rev. Rufus Bradford. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC).

Rev. Rufus Bradford and his wife Amy celebrated their 90th birthdays with 100 family members and friends on Sunday, Aug. 12 at Maple Hall in San Pablo.
The couple has lived since 1965 in Richmond, where they are active in the community.
They have four children, four grandchildren and six great grand children.
Rev. Bradford served as pastor of Holy Ghost Temple C.O.G.I.C. in Richmond from 1966 until he retired in 2011.

Thurmond Will Not Seek Reelection to School Board

Tony Thurmond

By Chanelle

West Contra Costa County school board member Tony Thurmond announced this week he will not run for re-election
Thurmond, whose term expires in December, says he is not giving up on Richmond and plans to run at a future date for a full-time public service position.
He has not made any final decision on what public service position he will go after but knows he will seek a job where he can make the most impact. Thurmond has been working with youth and education for 20 years and wants to dedicate his time to public service but says he cannot afford to do it part time.
“It has been a pleasure serving, and I am thankful for the voters for letting me do it,” he said.  “I would like to dedicate another 20 to 30 years of my life to public service if I am allowed.”
When he was elected to the school board, he immediately had to cope with the closing of 10 schools in the Richmond and San Pablo area that primarily served kids of color and those of need.
“I resisted the idea, and I reached out to five different cities and held a meeting that resulted in cash. That cash helped us save five schools,” said Thurmond.
He also started the first-ever youth commission in the district. “It is the first time that we have had a youth voice advising the board and helping make decisions from the youth perspective,” he said.
While proud of his accomplishments, he sees many hurdles local schools and students are facing.
“Every district, especially urban districts, has an achievement gap. Every student deserves a quality education because it is key to his or her future,” he said.
Many minorities are not reaching the same levels of academic success as their white counterparts, and part of the reason is the lack of resources that go to schools in urban districts.
Among the local issues that have aroused political passions this year in Richmond are the soda tax and parcel tax. Thurmond strongly supports both taxes and believes they are beneficial to the Richmond community.
“We have used a bond measure tax to rebuild almost every school in our district and a parcel tax to help fund the running of the schools,” he said.
He also says the soda tax will help the 50 percent of Richmond children that are obese.  “If it takes a soda tax to curb behavior and make people think about their sugar intake, then I am all for it,” Thurmond said.
But he said he also believes that in order for the soda tax to work effectively, implementation should be delayed until a similar measure is passed statewide in order to ensure that Richmond businesses do not suffer.

Ennis Chapel Pastor Opposes Sugar Tax

Pastor Keith Williams. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC).

By Kia

Keith Williams, pastor of Ennis Chapel Church of God in Christ in Richmond, recently spoke out to  oppose the Sugary Sweetened Beverage Tax, which will appear on the November ballot.
“The community doesn’t need a tax, which will primarily affect people of color,” Williams said.
While he says he agrees with the proposed benefits associated with the tax, such as improved health and fitness programs, a tax is unnecessary.
“The goals are wonderful, but to create a tax for this is absurd,” he said.
Williams says local politicians advocating for the proposed tax should adjust their priorities. “We need to focus on health as a whole and create programs that promote health, affordable housing, jobs and violence reduction,” he said.
Ennis Chapel is active in city and countywide efforts  to make changes related to a number of social issues affecting Richmond and surrounding neighborhoods. The church is committed to partnering with leaders from the faiths, nonprofit and business community to make changes at all levels of government, he said.
Over the summer, he joined representatives of the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) and more than 300 clergy members to speak to the Governor’s office about the impact of proposed 2012-13 tax initiatives.
Williams has served as pastor of Ennis Chapel for nine years. During his tenure, the congregation successfully financed the building of a sister church—Ennis Chapel in Ghana.
A native of Chicago, Williams served in the U.S. Navy for four years and attended UC Berkeley, earning a degree in criminal justice. He continued his studies at Patton Bible College.
Williams worked as a correctional officer at the San Quentin Prison and ultimately became Associate Warden. After 30 years of service, he retired in 2011 from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Pastor Williams and his wife Vannette have three children and three foster children.
For information about Ennis Chapel visit or call (510) 235-4217.
Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.

No Beverage Tax Says Richmond NAACP

NAACP Officers. front row, left to right: Texanita Bluitt, Cora Ward and Sara Grant; Back row: Steven Bates, Rhonda Harris, Willie Robinson, La Sonda Robinson, and Otheree Christian. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC).

The local branch of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) announced this week it opposes the proposed tax on businesses selling sugar-sweetened beverages in Richmond because it would hit people of color hardest without doing anything significant to reduce sugar consumption.
“It will impose an economic hardship on small local businesses within the city limits, which will not necessarily have a meaningful impact on reducing the consumption of sugar products in the African-American community of Richmond,” the organization said in a written statement.  “Therefore, we…oppose the soda tax ballot measure to be voted on by the residents of Richmond.”
If passed, the tax would lead to price increases, not just on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the Richmond NAACP.
City estimates of the revenue to be raised by the tax have ranged from $3 million to $8 million annually. The measure would create a one-cent per ounce tax on soda and other sugary fruit drinks with less than 10 percent juice.
Though the proposal says all revenue collected from the tax to fund childhood obesity programs, it does not specify how that should be done and to what programs the money should go.
According to the NAACP chapter, the money raised by the city would flow into the general fund where it could be used for any legitimate municipal purposes—not necessarily for anti-obesity or other public health, nutrition or recreation programs and services the tax backers promise.
The Richmond NAACP branch was chartered in 1944 and is dedicated to fighting injustice in politics, education, social services and the local economy.

Romney and Fla. Governor Clash Over State’s Economy

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and Gov. Rick Scott celebrate their election victory in November 2010. | Walter Michot/Miami Herald/MCT

By Mary Ellen Klas and
Toluse Olorunnipa
The Miami Herald

Numbers may not lie, but Republicans Mitt Romney and Florida Gov. Rick Scott are using them to portray two very conflicting points of view about the state’s economic picture.
In a new television ad, the Romney campaign plays melancholy music as it describes “Obama’s Florida” as a state with “8.6 percent unemployment, record foreclosures, 600,000 more Floridians in poverty.”
Scott greets the same 8.6 percent unemployment number as a sign of rapid improvement, proclaiming on his website that it is “the lowest it’s been since December 2008!”
Unlike Romney, Scott has carefully avoided criticizing the president and instead turned the data into promoting his record of creating jobs.
The governor also tells audiences that “the number of unemployed has gone from 568,000 to 320,000,” “median home prices are up,” and Florida’s job growth rate “has been positive for 23 consecutive months.”
It’s a dissonance that may become more distinct as Romney and Scott take the stage during the Republican National Convention this month and as Romney tours Florida on Monday, with a late-day stop in Miami.

“What I’m going to talk about is pretty much what I do every day, what I ran on,” Scott said last week when asked what he’ll say during his convention speech. “It’s how do we get our state back to work.”
But the numbers he cites don’t jibe with the narrative that Romney’s campaign wants Floridians to hear.
Romney’s team is carefully scripting a convention playbook that would persuade voters that the economy is still in the tank after 3 1/2 years under President Obama.
With an abundance of statistical data, each candidate can cherry-pick the numbers to best fit his Florida narrative.
With 29 electoral votes, Florida is considered a must-win state for Romney — and, his advisors say, he’s not likely to change his message.

Two Journalists Killed in Somalia

A man dressed as a high school student shot and killed Yusuf Ali Osman as he walked to work on Sunday. Somalia’s information minister confirmed the killing and said in a statement that the government was “appalled by the murder” of Osman. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

By Abdi Guled,
Associated Press

Two more Somali journalists were killed in Mogadishu, the nation’s capital, bringing the number of journalists slain in the country this year to nine and highlighting the dangers media workers continue to face in the Horn of Africa nation despite increased security.
Yusuf Ali Osman, a former journalist working for the federal transitional government’s ministry of information, posts and telecommunications, was also killed in Mogadishu on Sunday.
Known as “Farey,” he was gunned down in the district of Dharkenley. The onetime director of Radio Mogadishu, he was in charge of media affairs at the ministry.
A man dressed as a high school student shot and killed Yusuf Ali Osman as he walked to work on Sunday.
Reporters Without Borders announced that Mohamud Ali Keyre, a journalist also known as “Buneyste,”was killed by a gunshot in Mogadishu.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the entire Somali journalistic community and we urge the authorities to do everything possible to find those responsible and punish them severely,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Keyre was hit in the head by a bullet that, according to witnesses and fellow journalists, may have been fired by a government soldier. He was taken to Mogadishu’s Madina hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.
Aged 23, Keyre worked as a freelancer for the news website.
He used to work for Voice of Democracy, a Mogadishu-based radio station, until he fled to Kenya after getting death threats. He had recently returned after deciding that the security situation had improved in the Somali capital.

“Do 4 Self African Bookstore and Internet Lounge” Opens in East Oakland

Isaac Taggart and Crystal Bing, are collaborating to start the Do 4 Self African Bookstore and Internet Lounge in Oakland. Photo by Stephen Brooks, Jr

By Aneesah

Oakland boasts a colorful assortment of different cultures and communities, including taquerias and bridal shops in the Frutivale District, Chinatown markets ands eateries and boutiques in the Rockridge District.
But according to Isaac Taggart, owner of the newly opened Do 4 Self African Bookstore and Internet Lounge,  “What is lacking is the presence of  a thriving African-American community.
“Everyone else is displaying their pride,” said Taggart. “But we are not connected to our roots.”
“We’re out of touch with our greatness,” he said. “And we are losing our space. This (store) is a sign that we love who we are and are willing to fight for our existence.”
To make a positive change in this situation, Taggart is collaborating with Crystal L. Bing’s K.E.Y.S. Inc. Youth Learning Center to start the business, which opened  three weeks ago.
In the bookstore, tables are lined with African cloth, and walls are covered with iconic images of revolutionaries like Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton. Racks of books are filled with authors like E. Lynn Harris and Toni Morrison.
Upstairs, children’s books sit on shelves, and flags of Historically Black Colleges and Universities decorate the walls.
Taggart’s ambitious plans include an upstairs youth area, spoken word poetry nights, and a film club. He looks forward to working with schools and organizations and building a Do 4 Self bookmobile for festivals and special events.
The bookstore also provides shipping services to prisons.
The bookstore first began in 1993 but closed in 2001. Since then, Taggart says he has learned lessons from the closing of the last endeavor.
He went back to school, earned associate degrees in African-American Studies and Labor Studies at Laney College, while also studying business management at Holy Names University.
He also participated in Operation Hope’s 12-week business program.
Taggart developed his plans to reopen the book story and community center while working as re-entry employment specialist for the City of Oakland
The “Do 4 Self Bookstore and Internet Lounge” is located at 5272 Foothill Blvd. in Oakland.  The grand opening is 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25.  For information, call (510) 842-8300 or (510) 842-8291.

Dolores Elizabeth Sullivan, 77

Dolores Elizabeth Sullivan

Dolores Elizabeth Sullivan, a nurse and an active member of the High Street Presbyterian Church, died Aug. 9. She was 77.
She was born on Oct. 2, 1934 to Joseph and Essie Barnes in Winston Salem, NC.
She married the late George W. Sullivan and together they had nine children. The couple moved to Oakland in 1957.
Sullivan attended Merritt College and graduated as a Licensed Vocational Nurse. She worked at Highland Hospital in Oakland, retiring after 20 years of service.
She died in Antioch where she lived with her son and daughter in-law, Reginald and Debbie Sullivan.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Essie Barnes; her husband, George W. Sullivan; her daughter, Giana Dejohnette; her sisters Jacqueline Barnes and Vivian Neal; and her brother, Joseph B. Barnes (JB).
She is survived by her children: Debra Ratliff of Chicago; Gwendolyn Jackson of Oakland; Portia Sullivan of El Sobrante; Reginald Sullivan of Antioch; Belinda Sullivan of Oakland; Rickey Sullivan of Antioch; Michelle Sullivan of Castro Valley; and Tina Sullivan of Oakland.
She is also survived by her four siblings and their spouses: Harold Barnes of Winston-Salem NC; Rev. Maurice Barnes and his wife Ester Canty Barnes of Crosswick, NJ; Barbara Paschall of Poconos, PA; and Patricia Garnett of Philadelphia.
In addition, she had 17 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and numerous great-great grandchildren.

Actor Omar Gooding Gives Back

Bishop J. E. Watkins of Overcomers With Hope and actor Omar Gooding at the West Oakland Community Information Center.

Omar Gooding serving food to the youth.

Acclaimed actor Omar Gooding stopped by the Peralta College Digital Arts Media Technology Training Program in West Oakland Thursday afternoon to offer words of encouragement and praise to the young students.
The program, which serves youth ages 16 to 24, is operated by Bishop J. E. Watkins, executive director and founder of Overcomers with Hope.
Best known for his roles in “Baby Boy” and “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” Gooding visited the program to give back to the youth. Earlier the same day, he served food to youth at the “Hood Kitchen” BBQ Showdown from the TV show “Hood Kitchen.”
All the food went to feed young people and the community. No one left hungry.