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04/19/2007


Poll: 80% Of Adults In U.S. Struggle With Poverty

Poverty-Rate
The data comes via a poll released by the Associated Press over the weekend, which points to "the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend."

The economic indicator, officially dubbed "economic insecurity", defines the criteria as those adults who have experienced unemployment at any point during their careers, spent a year or more relying on government assistance such as food stamps, or having an income at least 150% below the poverty line. According to Huffington Post, "measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent." The study also marked a closing of gaps between whites and nonwhites with regard to poverty rates when compared to census data from the 1970s. It also showed:

"Marriage rates are in decline across all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of black ones."

The study also remarks on the creation of "the invisible poor", which is a term used to describe those living in suburbs or rural towns who fall into the category of experiencing "economic insecurity".

"Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America's heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains."

Help_graffitiThese invisible poor, who, more often than not, tend to be white, are less likely to be targeted by programs seeking to aid other impoverished groups in other, more urban areas. This could be one of the contributing factors to why racial gaps are closing. Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Huffington Post:

"Poverty is no longer an issue of `them', it's an issue of `us'...Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need."

Other noteworthy findings include:

  • "For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million."
  • "Since 2000, the poverty rate among working-class whites has grown faster than among working-class nonwhites, rising 3 percentage points to 11 percent as the recession took a bigger toll among lower-wage workers. Still, poverty among working-class nonwhites remains higher, at 23 percent."
  • "The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods – those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more – has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, compared with 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining."
  • "The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children went from 38 percent to 39 percent."
  • "Race disparities in health and education have narrowed generally since the 1960s. While residential segregation remains high, a typical black person now lives in a nonmajority black neighborhood for the first time. Previous studies have shown that wealth is a greater predictor of standardized test scores than race; the test-score gap between rich and low-income students is now nearly double the gap between blacks and whites."

Thus, while the economy has reportedly finished its recession from late last decade, it does not appear to be growing fast enough to sustain the record 46.2 million people reportedly living in poverty. 


Corporate Backing Shifts Gay Rights From Market To Main Street

MicrosoftstFor more than a decade, advertisers and corporate marketers have seen gays and lesbians mostly as consumers, as people with disposable income who could be tapped to boost a company's bottom line.

That said, seeing corporations pay lip service to LGBT rights has become somewhat expected, particularly around pride, when suddenly every company under the sun seems to be embracing their gay pals. So news that over 200 major corporations, including Apple, Nike, Google, Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani and Office Depot, signed Supreme Court amicus briefs opposing DOMA and Proposition 8 may seem normal and predictable. It's neither.

As James B. Stewart at the New York Times notes, this surge is quite the anomaly.

Historians told me there is little, if any, precedent for such early and extensive corporate support of a civil rights issue that remains, in at least many quarters, highly controversial. "By and large, corporations were not leaders but laggards in this process," said Gavin Wright, professor of American economic history at Stanford and author of Sharing the Prize, an economic history of the civil rights movement. "They supported a public accommodations law only after sit-ins and boycotts inflicted heavy losses and it became clear that these pressures were not going to fade away as the latest student fad…." But that changed, he said, "when they found that desegregation actually worked."

Corporations largely steered clear of the Equal Rights Amendment, and played little role decades ago in the early stages of the women's movement. And while many companies have joined in Supreme Court briefs in recent years supporting affirmative action and diversity in the workplace, those moves came long after landmark Supreme Court cases like Bakke in 1978...

By contrast, corporations are weighing in on the gay marriage issue in the first cases to reach the Supreme Court.

"I think you’ll find that, historically, most companies have had a policy against taking a stand or filing amicus briefs, and then only if there is a direct business impact," Mr. Willett said. "They don’t want to get involved in social issues. To see this many businesses rallying behind this cause tells you that it’s a real business issue."

Most of the CEOs and executives and management types within these supportive companies frame the matter not as one of emotions, as when politicians cite a gay child — Dick Cheney, for example — but one of hard facts: LGBT people are employees whose happiness and stable home lives help the business grow.  It is, to use one lawyer's phrase, "a business imperative."

LGBT people are no longer just a consumer base to be approached with cold calculation, to be marketed to and manipulated. We're actual people with emotions and loves and passions; we're people with jobs, whose happiness impacts our employers's success; we live down the road or around the bend, just on Main Street. We are, put simply, fellow humans, not faceless shoppers. And in a society where consumption and marketing have an oversized role in shaping our culture, corporate support could very well be just the ticket for discounting homophobia from coast-to-coast.


Illinois Business Leaders: Marriage Equality Makes Cents

6a00d8341c730253ef017c357d6694970b-200wiThe Chicago Tribune reports that more than 40 Illinois-based companies and their leading executives have penned an open letter making the economic case for marriage equality in the Land of Lincoln:

"To be competitive, a state must create an equitable, fair and respectful environment for all of its citizens," the letter said. "For this reason – among others — it is vitally important that Illinois lawmakers enact marriage equality soon."

In addition to Google Inc., Orbitz Worldwide Inc. and Groupon, individual signers of the letter include Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, Lance Chody, CEO of Garrett Popcorn Shops, Fred Eychaner, chairman of the Newsweb Corporation and Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs. Eychaner and Ricketts are both openly gay executives who reportedly have funded the statewide push for same-sex marriage.

"States with the metro areas of New York City, Seattle, Boston, and Baltimore have already legalized marriage equality," the letter said. "Here in the Midwest, Iowa has granted full marriage equality, while Minnesota is poised to do the same later this year. Illinois simply cannot afford to be less competitive than other states."

Lawmakers in Illinois plan on currently getting their votes together for a forthcoming vote.


News: Boehner's Potty Mouth, Shirtless Jude, Sci-Fi Faith, Shojo

1NewsIcon Stacie Laughton, the first transgender person elected to office in New Hampshire, will not run for the seat she resigned after it was revealed she was convicted of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud.

BoehnerReid1NewsIcon House Speaker John Boehner had some choice words for Sen. Harry Reid during the fiscal cliff negotiations at the White House: "Go f*ck yourself."

1NewsIcon Meanwhile, right-wing website Breitbart is starting to beat the "oust Boehner" drum.

1NewsIcon Here's a fun interactive graph about where the 50 United States stand on LGBT rights.

1NewsIcon Richard Socarides on the push for marriage equality in Illinois: "Illinois, being the President's home state and containing four per cent of the total U.S. population, would be a big win for marriage-equality advocates."

1NewsIcon Hillary Clinton has left New York Presbyterian as she continues to recover from a blood clot near her brain.

1NewsIcon Natural born smooth talker: "Just hours after they're born, babies seem to be able to tell the difference between sounds in their native tongue and a foreign one, according to a new study that suggests language learning begins in utero."

Judebeach1NewsIcon A shirtless Jude Law looks fit and fine vacationing in Maui.

1NewsIcon Anne Hathaway looks lovely on the cover of Harper's Bazaar UK.

1NewsIcon Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly tied the knot on Christmas.

1NewsIcon NYE fireworks in reverse.

1NewsIcon Take some time to read my old friend Cord Jefferson's wonderful piece about depression, adventure and finding clarity in life.

1NewsIcon Katie Holmes and Jake Gyllenhaal are not a couple.

1NewsIcon New track from Azaelia Banks, "Bad Bitches Doin'."

1NewsIcon Lindsay Lohan has been evicted from her home in Hollywood. Hopefully this will inspire her to get the help she so desperately needs.

1NewsIcon "Whatever happened to comic books?"

1NewsIcon A completely sci-fi prediction about religion in 2060 from homophobic hate leader David Barton: "Conservative Christians will be treated as second class citizens, much like African Americans were prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Family as we know it will be drastically changed with the state taking charge of the children beginning at birth. Marriage will include two, three, four or any number of participants. Marriage will not be important, with individuals moving in and out of a 'family' group at will. Church buildings will be little used, with many sold to secular buyers and the money received going to the government. Churches will not be allowed to discuss any political issues, even if it affects the church directly." Yeah, right.

Manga1NewsIcon A look at the wild popularity of shojo manga, a genre that focuses on teen boys' gay love, among straight women in Japan: "The genre of boys' love, in other words, allows [authors and] readers to place themselves in a position of power and aggrandizement that is rare for women—as the distanced, masterful position, letting his (or her) eyes roam across variegated objects of desire."

1NewsIcon "The Private War That Killed Spencer Cox."

1NewsIcon If you can, pick up this week's edition of The New Yorker to read Daniel Mendelsohn's incredible piece about how historical novelist Mary Renault's work helped him come to terms with his own sexuality. The magazine's abstract elaborates: "Reading her books, the writer felt a shock of recognition... After reading Renault’s The Charioteer, which is set during the Second World War and wrestles with the issue of 'Greek love,' the writer wrote in his diary, 'I know what I am. Now I must think what to do with it.'"

1NewsIcon From "The Catholic Church’s new gay insult:" "It would be unrealistic to expect the Catholic Church to make a sudden about-face on the issue of equality. It’s been doing the 'Homosexuality is an offense to God' shtick a really long time and that’s a hard habit to break. But the religion whose pope declared in 1866 that slavery wasn’t necessarily against 'natural' law does have a track record of sometimes evolving in light of compelling social change."


Bank Of America Settles With Lesbians Denied Mortgage

BoasignThe Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that Bank of America has settled a discrimination claim filed by a Florida lesbian couple denied a mortgage because they're not legally married, something they can't do in Florida.

This is the first time HUD's new rules prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, particularly those who are unable to get married.

Details about the claim from HUD:

HUD claimed BOA denied a loan to a Florida couple seeking to obtain an FHA-insured mortgage because of their sexual orientation and marital status.  Because one partner was not employed, the applicant enlisted her partner’s mother as a co-applicant on the loan. The couple worked with BOA for several weeks to provide all of the necessary loan application documents and the couple was assured by BOA that they were likely to receive a mortgage.

One business day prior to closing, BOA denied the mortgage because it did not consider the loan applicant and the co-applicant directly related because the applicant and her partner were not married. As a result of BOA’s actions, the couple was not able to close on the loan.

BOA will pay HUD $7,500 for its violation and has agreed to inform all mortgage agents of the new rules.

HUD General Counsel Helen Kanovsky said the "agreement demonstrates that HUD will vigorously enforce its Equal Access rule and pursue lenders that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status."

She went on, "By the same token, BOA should be commended for stepping up and taking immediate corrective action after HUD notified BOA of the violation."


Watch Obama Explain The Fiscal Cliff Deal: VIDEO

Obamafiscalvideo

Democrats and Republicans performed a seemingly impossible feat by striking a deal to prevent the United States from plunging off the fiscal cliff of their creation this week. Well, for now.

From CBS News:

Ultimately, yesterday's "fiscal cliff" deal didn't address the issue at all. In the remarks he gave after the House passed the deal, Mr. Obama once again warned against a debt ceiling fight: "I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they passed," he said. "We can't not pay bills that we've already incurred."

Around the same time Washington will hit its debt limit, the "continuing resolution" by which Congress is funding the federal government will expire. Since Congress has been too dysfunctional to pass a real budget, it passed short-term "continuing resolutions" to keep the government running. The current resolution is set to expire on March 27, leaving open the threat of a government shutdown.

AFTER THE JUMP, watch President Obama discuss how this stop-gap plan will help the unemployed, impact middle class taxes and what it means for wealthier Americans not being asked to pay a fairer share.

Continue reading "Watch Obama Explain The Fiscal Cliff Deal: VIDEO" »


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