Daily Archive: August 5, 2011


Black advanced placement students increase sought

According to a study done by the College Board, in 2007, African-American students made up 7.4 percent of all students participating in advanced placement programs. The study also found that White students were more than twice as likely as Blacks to receive a qualifying grade on AP tests. Last year in the Pittsburgh Public School District, 27 percent of the students taking AP classes were African-American, yet Blacks make up 57 percent of the total student body. In an effort to increase this number and to help prepare all students taking AP classes, the Pittsburgh Public Schools created the first AP Summer Academy. SUMMER ACADEMY—From left: Hasaun Blair, Breonna Westry and Khadijha Berry provide feedback on the program. (Photos by J.L. Martello) “Overall it was hard and challenging, but my teacher helped me get through it,” said 17-year-old Hasaun Blair. “Not every student wants to be out in the streets. There are kids who want to do well in school. This helps them better their life before school starts.”


Neighborhood Watch…eyes of community

Allegheny County has seen its fair share of crime. Everyday there are new reports of shootings, drug busts, home invasions and more. While the police cannot be everywhere, there are several other tools used to be their eyes and ears in the community. They are the local Neighborhood or Block Watch programs. Since the ’60s, groups of individuals have been doing their part to provide residents of their communities with a safer, quality neighborhood, even at times when police could not. While many may think that the days of neighborhood watch programs have gone away, police and community members say they are very much alive. They may be fewer than in the past, but they still do exist. “Community block watch programs still do exist. The community is the eyes and ears of police departments,” said Officer Michael Gay, community relations officer for the Pittsburgh Police Zone 5 station. “The community is there everyday, we are there when we are called. We are on the reactive side. We would like to be proactive and in a perfect world we would be, (but) that’s why we look to the community to be proactive.”


Healthcare price war from a broker’s perspective

Once UPMC began inking deals in January to grant major national insurers access to all its hospitals and physicians, insurance brokers for local businesses quickly saw an increase in inquiries and offers. “I’m telling employers to negotiate because this is the best year for employers in a long time,” said one broker, who asked not to be identified. “Everyone with more than 50 employees will see a discount, so will those under 50 employees—except those with Highmark. It’s keeping that rate the same.” The reason for deals is competition. Cigna, United Healthcare, Aetna and HealthAmerica are now offering insurance packages that offer clients in-network access to both UPMC’s and West Penn Allegheny Health System’s hospitals and doctors.


2011 annual FROGS ­formal

It was a radiant evening as the FROGS (friendly rivalry often generates success) held their annual FROGS Formal at the beautiful Omni William Penn Hotel. With the New Show Band providing the soundtrack and Elaine Effort as emcee, more than 300 witnessed the crowning of the newest FROG queen, Sahaar Turner, by her grandfather and FROG member George Webb. PROUD GRANDFATHER—Sahaar Turner, FROG Queen 2011, and George Webb. (Photos by Debbie Norrell) Sahaar is a graduate of Westinghouse High School and graduated with three gold seals: for business and finance, centers for advance studies and academic achievement.


Coverage with no copay extended to birth control

by R. Alonso-Zaldivar WASHINGTON (AP)—A half-century after the advent of the pill, the Obama administration on Monday ushered in a change in women’s health care potentially as transformative: coverage of birth control as prevention, with no copays. Services ranging from breast pumps for new mothers to counseling on domestic violence were also included in the broad expansion of women’s preventive care under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Since birth control is the most common drug prescribed to women, health plans should make sure it’s readily available, said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots,” she said.


Dems capitulate to Tea Party’s ‘raw extortion’

(NNPA)—Democrats blew it. They control the White House and the Senate. Yet, it was the Republican-controlled House—which is itself increasingly controlled by Tea Party zealots—that defined the terms of deficit debate and provided us with another example of Democratic ineptness. The last-minute deal between President Obama and congressional leaders amounted to, in the words of economist Paul Krugman, “raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, controls one house of Congress.” Writing in Monday’s New York Times, Krugman said the deficit deal amounts to “an abject surrender on the part of the president. First, there will be big spending cuts, with no increase in revenue. Then a panel will make recommendations for further deficit reduction—and if these recommendations aren’t accepted, there will be more spending cuts.”



Little league baseball is no place for Ugandans

(REAL TIMES MEDIA)–It’s been a pretty lousy year or so for African Sports on the global stage. First you had a heartbreaking and questionable loss last year during the world Cup. Ghana’s national team made if further than any other African country in the world cup only to lose to Uruguay in a frustrating series of penalty kicks. Then you had the case of Caster Semenya, the 19 year old South African track and field phenom who was knocked out of international competition under the most racist and questionable of circumstances. After winning the 800 meters in the 2009 World Championships Russian and Italian runners questioned whether she was ‘truly female’ and the resulting ‘gender tests’ she was subjected to cost her almost a year of competition. And now we have the case of the Ugandan Little league team where again questionable rules that seem to only apply to Africans might cost kids a chance of a lifetime.


Wealth gap and angry White folk

(NNPA)—The report recently released by the Pew Research Center that showed that the wealth gap between White families on the one hand, and African-American and Latino families on the other was greater than at any time in the last 25 years, caught many people by surprise. It should not have. We have been witnessing an expansion of this gap for some time. The so-called Great Recession has exacerbated this tendency. Yet when I read this report, actually the first thing that came to mind was a discussion I recently had with a White friend of mine. They were telling me about their son, a 20-something who has been looking for work. He has gotten into the frame of mind that goes like this: White men have it rough out there and, in fact, White men face discrimination compared with—hold onto your hat—Black women. My friend, who is progressive, has had constant debates with their son but to no avail. He continues to believe that the decks are stacked against White men.