Daily Archive: July 27, 2011


Healthy minds in a sick economy

(NNPA)—Amy Winehouse seemingly had everything to live for. An exceptionally talented songbird, a phenomenal writer, with two best-selling albums under her belt, she was also manic-depressive and amazingly troubled, living out her issues in the headlines. Every time she had an “episode,” a fight with a fan, an incoherent performance, you wanted to just scream at her “get help.” And she had been in and out of rehab for her drug and alcohol addictions; apparently she didn’t get the help she needed for her mental illness. Since I didn’t know Amy Winehouse personally, I probably have no business writing about her. But her death haunts me because she was so young, so talented. It also haunts me because we don’t talk enough about mental health and mental illness in the African-American community, and yet we must.


Guest editorial…Social Security has no role in the deficit

Putting Social Security on the table in debt ceiling negotiations is perhaps the most serious mistake President Obama has made since taking office. First, Social Security hasn’t contributed one dime to the federal deficit. In fact, the U.S. Treasury owes the Social Security Trust Fund $2.6 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. So the deficit would actually be much higher if the treasury hadn’t been dipping into Social Security. Second, Social Security is fully funded to 2037, and minor adjustments—say, for instance, removing the cap that allows taxpayers to pay 6.2 percent of their incomes up to $107,000 annually into the trust fund—would make it fully funded into the 22nd century.


Civil rights?

As the two supposed premier civil rights groups gather this week and next for their annual conventions (the NAACP and the National Urban League, respectively), I want to challenge their agendas and then pose a few questions for them to answer. When civil rights are discussed in the media, you never have the reporter define what civil rights are? When you see Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton described as civil rights leaders, what does that really mean? Who made them leaders and what is their leadership based on? How did civil rights come to mean protections and rights based on sexual preference, gender identity, and illegal status in a country? If civil rights theory is based on the protection of the individual and his rights; how do you then explain the constant demand for inclusion in the definition of civil rights by all kinds based on group identity?


Arts & Culture Calendar

Friday 29 Lunchtime Concert ­Series The Allegheny County Special Events Office and BNY Mellon Jazz presents the Final Friday Lunchtime Concert Series from 12-1 p.m. at the Courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse, 436 Grant St., Downtown. The last Friday of each month through August there will be free concerts. It is free and open to the public. For more information, call Bill Deasy at 412-350-2528.


Bank payday loans lead to long-term indebtedness

(NNPA)—As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau begins operations, the Center for Responsible Lending is releasing new findings on the growth and effects of a new short-term and high-cost loan product. Big Bank Payday Loans, a new CRL research brief, details how mainstream banks have entered the triple-digit interest rate payday loan market with a product that on average virtually guarantees repayment within 10 days. Yet for consumers, these loans lead to 175 days of indebtedness for the average borrower—twice as long as the maximum length of time the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has advised. With many banks allowing up to half of a customer’s monthly direct deposit income, or up to $750, an average 44 percent of a bank payday customer’s next deposit is used to repay bank payday loans. For older borrowers already living on fixed incomes, the average bank payday loan repayment from a Social Security check was 43 percent. Senior customers are also 2.6 times more likely to have used a bank payday loan than bank customers as a whole.


Business Calendar

Federal Contracting Workshop JULY 27—The U.S. Small Business Administration will host a Federal Contracting workshop that includes 8(a), HUBZone and Women Certifications from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Riverside Center for Innovation, 700 River Ave., 1st floor Conference Room, North Side. Minority, Women and Veteran-owned businesses are encouraged to attend this session. Registration is requested, it is free and open to the public. For more information, e-mail Marisa Fentzel at marisa.fentzel@sba.gov or Judith Kirby at ­Judith.kirby@sba.gov.


Inside Conditions…Things that daze and amaze me

Here are some things that daze and amaze me. Aren’t you amazed that the Pittsburgh Public Schools lowered the G.P.A for athletic participation when the levels of academic achievement are already appalling, atrocious, mind boggling, and all of the other definitions of negativity that we can think of. We can’t blame John Thompson or Mark Roosevelt for this garbage pickin’ academic achievement plan. They should have hired a surgeon instead of a new superintendent to stop the internal bleeding and the fiscal, social, and educational bloodletting that our student-athletes are experiencing. Forget about a syllabus, what they are creating is a “sillybus.” Busing kids all around the freakin’ city for what? Just to create the illusion that they are being educated.


McDonald makes impact on field and in the community

by Malik Vincent Since being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, right-handed starting pitcher James McDonald has been a key part of a much-improved Pirates rotation in 2011. Principally, it is the team’s starting rotation that’s responsible for a pennant race push this season, and the hope of rupturing a nasty 18-year streak of futility. STRONG PERFORMANCE—James McDonald works against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning, July 25, in Atlanta. McDonald struck out a career-high nine in 5 1/3 scoreless innings as the Pirates kept pace in the tight NL Central race defeating the Braves 3-1. McDonald (6-4) has the most strikeouts by a Pirates pitcher in almost two years. He gave up eight hits but did not walk a batter and ended each of the first five innings with strikeouts. McDonald has not allowed a run in two straight wins. (AP Photo/John Amis) An 11th round pick of the Dodgers in 2002, McDonald played in every level of their minor-league system. He joined the Pirates in On July 31, 2010 and made his first start, on Aug. 5 against the Rockies. In that 5-1 victory, he racked up a career-high eight strikeouts, while pitching six scoreless innings. “(The Dodgers) got me prepared to pitch in the big leagues,” McDonald said. “They gave me an opportunity to learn the thing that I needed to, to be effective. They basically taught me how to pitch. I’m always thankful for them.” This year, McDonald leads the club in strikeouts with 85 and is 6-4 on the season with a 4.15 ERA.


Steelers prep for post-lockout transition period

PITTSBURGH (AP)—New Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake walked through the team’s practice facility on Pittsburgh’s South Side late Monday afternoon with a purpose. “Now,” Lake said as he headed up the stairs to the coaches’ offices, “the real work begins.” Hours after the NFL’s four-and-a-half-month lockout was officially lifted, things weren’t quite back to normal yet at Steelers headquarters. But they were at least on the way to getting there. By Tuesday morning, players were permitted to report to the team facility for voluntary workouts. And like the other 31 teams, the Steelers were to open negotiations with unsigned players.