Obama Speaks Out Against Slavery Reparations

August 2, 2008

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama opposes offering reparations to the descendants of slaves, putting him at odds with some black groups and leaders.

The man with a serious chance to become the nation’s first black president argues that government should instead combat the legacy of slavery by improving schools, health care and the economy for all.

“I have said in the past – and I’ll repeat again – that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed,” the Illinois Democrat said recently.

Some two dozen members of Congress are co-sponsors of legislation to create a commission that would study reparations – that is, payments and programs to make up for the damage done by slavery.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People supports the legislation, too. Cities around the country, including Obama’s home of Chicago, have endorsed the idea, and so has a major union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Obama has worked to be seen as someone who will bring people together, not divide them into various interest groups with checklists of demands. Supporting reparations could undermine that image and make him appear to be pandering to black voters.

“Let’s not be naive. Sen. Obama is running for president of the United States, and so he is in a constant battle to save his political life,” said Kibibi Tyehimba, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. “In light of the demographics of this country, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect him to do anything other than what he’s done.”

But this is not a position Obama adopted just for the presidential campaign. He voiced the same concerns about reparations during his successful run for the Senate in 2004.

There’s enough flexibility in the term “reparations” that Obama can oppose them and still have plenty of common ground with supporters.

The NAACP says reparations could take the form of government programs to help struggling people of all races. Efforts to improve schools in the inner city could also aid students in the mountains of West Virginia, said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau.

“The solution could be broad and sweeping,” Shelton said.

The National Urban League – a group Obama is to address Saturday – avoids the word “reparations” as too vague and highly charged. But the group advocates government action to close the gaps between white America and black America.

Urban League President Marc Morial said he expects his members to press Obama on how he intends to close those gaps and what action he would take in the first 100 days of his presidency.

“What steps should we take as a nation to alleviate the effects of racial exclusion and racial discrimination?” Morial asked.

The House voted this week to apologize for slavery. The resolution, which was approved on a voice vote, does not mention reparations, but past opponents have argued that an apology would increase pressure for concrete action.

Obama says an apology would be appropriate but not particularly helpful in improving the lives of black Americans. Reparations could also be a distraction, he said.

In a 2004 questionnaire, he told the NAACP, “I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say, ‘We’ve paid our debt,’ and to avoid the much harder work.”

Taking questions Sunday at a conference of minority journalists, Obama said he would be willing to talk to American Indian leaders about an apology for the nation’s treatment of their people.

Pressed for his position on apologizing to blacks or offering reparations, Obama said he was more interested in taking action to help people struggling to get by. Because many of them are minorities, he said, that would help the same people who would stand to benefit from reparations.

“If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because they’re disproportionately uninsured,” Obama said. “If we’ve got an agenda that says every child in America should get – should be able to go to college, regardless of income, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because it’s oftentimes our children who can’t afford to go to college.”

One reparations advocate, Vernellia Randall, a law professor at the University of Dayton, bluntly responded: “I think he’s dead wrong.”

She said aid to the poor in general won’t close the gaps – poor blacks would still trail poor whites, and middle-class blacks would still lag behind middle-class whites. Instead, assistance must be aimed directly at the people facing the after-effects of slavery and Jim Crow laws, she said.

“People say he can’t run and get elected if he says those kinds of things,” Randall said. “I’m like, well does that mean we’re really not ready for a black president?”

Article by Christopher Wills

iNPLACENEWS

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Ford Motor Company Taking a Dive

July 24, 2008


Ford Motor Co. posted the worst quarterly performance in its history Thursday, losing $8.67 billion in the second quarter.

The company also said it will retool two more North American truck and sport utility vehicle plants to build small, fuel-efficient vehicles, and it announced plans to bring six new small vehicles to North America from Europe by the end of 2012.

The net loss includes $8.03 billion worth of write-offs because the sharp decline in U.S. truck and SUV sales has reduced the value of Ford’s North American truck plants and Ford Motor Credit Co.’s lease portfolio. Even excluding those items, Ford lost 62 cents per share, worse than Wall Street expected. Twelve analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, on average, expected a 27 cent loss per share.

Including the write-downs, Ford lost $3.88 per share in the April-June quarter, compared with net profit of $750 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

The second-quarter loss surpassed Ford’s previous record quarterly loss, $6.7 billion in the first quarter of 1992.

Second-quarter revenue was $38.6 billion, down $5.6 billion from the year-ago period. Analysts expected $34.6 billion.

Ford has been successful selling cars in Europe, and the company is banking on the new European models to boost sales and revenue as it deals with a market shift from trucks to cars brought on by high gasoline prices.

The company said it has sufficient liquidity to weather the latest downturn in the U.S. auto market without additional borrowing. Ford borrowed $23.4 billion in 2006 to fund its North American turnaround.

“We are pleased that we went to the capital markets at the right time,” Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said in a conference call with investors and media. “We have the scale, the expertise and the financing to execute our plan.”

Wall Street wasn’t impressed, at least initially. Ford shares dropped 58 cents, or 9.6 percent, to $5.45 in morning trading.

The company said it will retool the Michigan Truck plant in suburban Detroit, shifting its products from large SUVs to make global vehicles off the European Focus platform by 2010.

The SUVs made at Michigan Truck — the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition — will be shifted to the Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville, which makes Ford Super Duty pickups.

The company also will retool the Louisville Assembly Plant, which now builds the Ford Explorer midsize SUV, to produce vehicles on the European Focus frame, starting in 2011.

The company had previously announced it would retool its pickup truck factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico, to build the Fiesta subcompact for North America starting in 2010.

Ford also said its Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minn., will continue producing the Ranger small pickup through 2011. The plant was scheduled to close next year, but Ranger sales are down just 4 percent in the first half of this year, versus 18 percent for the U.S. light truck market as a whole.

The company also plans to revamp the body shops in nearly all its North American assembly plants so that they will be more flexible and able to respond more quickly to changes in market demands. Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair said it costs about $250 million per plant to make those changes.

Leclair said Ford’s capital expenditures will reach $6 billion annually between now and 2010 because of the cost of revamping plants and introducing new products and engines. Ford plans to upgrade or replace all of its engines by 2010.

“What you’re seeing is kind of a bubble that we’re going to go through … but early on we’re going to see cost savings because of the economies of scale that we’re getting as we develop more and more vehicles off of fewer platforms,” he said.

Cost cuts also will come from employee layoffs. Ford said 4,000 U.S. hourly workers took buyouts in the second quarter, and the company will continue offering buyouts at targeted U.S. plants. Ford also has announced plans to cut its salaried costs by Aug. 1 through voluntary and involuntary layoffs.

The company said its write-offs included $5.3 billion in North American auto operations and $2.1 billion for Ford Credit because of the drop in the value of the plants and equipment that make trucks and SUVs, and the lower price Ford Credit can fetch for them at auction when leases expire. Leclair said 85 percent of the Ford Credit write-down was triggered by the drop in truck and SUV values.

Ford reported a pretax loss of $1.3 billion in North America because of the deteriorating U.S. market and the shift away from trucks. U.S. sales overall were down 10 percent in the first half of the year, with Ford’s sales down 14 percent.

The company, though, continued to be profitable overseas, posting a $582 million profit in Europe and $388 million in
South America. The company also made $50 million at its Asia-Pacific-Africa division.

“The second half will continue to be challenging, but we have absolutely the right plan to respond to the changing business environment and begin to grow again for the long term,” Mulally said in a statement.

Ford said it does not expect a U.S. economic recovery to start until early 2010.

The company identified only three of the European small vehicles it will bring to North America: the Transit Connect small van, the European Focus and the subcompact Fiesta. Most will be built in North America, and Leclair said some might be exported. Ford already has announced that the Transit Connect will be imported from Turkey.

Ford said the other three vehicles would be identified later, including one that is unique within its segment.

Other possible vehicles are the Kuga small crossover, the C-Max small van and the Mondeo midsize car.

Ford also announced that the next-generation Ford Explorer midsize SUV will come out in 2010 and be built on car underpinnings, making it more fuel efficient than the current truck-based model. And it announced it will build a seven-passenger car-based crossover vehicle for Lincoln in mid-2009.

This story was originally posted on Yahoo News

Andre Jetmir for iNPLACENEWS

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Bush’s Real Agenda For America

May 20, 2008

Barbara Harvey climbs into the back of her small Honda sport utility vehicle and snuggles with her two golden retrievers, her head nestled on a pillow propped against the driver’s seat.

Californian Barbara Harvey says she is forced to sleep in her car with her dogs after losing her job earlier this year.
A former loan processor, the 67-year-old mother of three grown children said she never thought she’d spend her golden years sleeping in her car in a parking lot.

“This is my bed, my dogs,” she said. “This is my life in this car right now.”

Harvey was forced into homelessness earlier this year after being laid off. She said that three-quarters of her income went to paying rent in Santa Barbara, where the median house in the scenic, oceanfront city costs more than $1 million. She lost her condo two months ago and had little savings as backup.

“It went to hell in a handbasket,” she said. “I didn’t think this would happen to me. It’s just something that I don’t think that people think is going to happen to them is what it amounts to. It happens very quickly, too.”

Harvey now works part time for $8 an hour, and she draws Social Security to help make ends meet. But she still cannot afford an apartment, and so every night she pulls into a gated parking lot to sleep in her car, along with other women who find themselves in a similar predicament.

There are 12 parking lots across Santa Barbara that have been set up to accommodate the growing middle-class homelessness. These lots are believed to be part of the first program of its kind in the United States, according to organizers.

The lots open at 7 p.m. and close at 7 a.m. and are run by New Beginnings Counseling Center, a homeless outreach organization.

It is illegal for people in California to sleep in their cars on streets. New Beginnings worked with the city to allow the parking lots as a safe place for the homeless to sleep in their vehicles without being harassed by people on the streets or ticketed by police.

Harvey stays at the city’s only parking lot for women. “This is very safe, and that’s why I feel very comfortable,” she said.

Nancy Kapp, the New Beginnings parking lot coordinator, said the group began seeing a need for the lots in recent months as California’s foreclosure crisis hit the city hard. She said a growing number of senior citizens, women and lower- and middle-class families live on the streets.

“You look around today and there are so many,” said Kapp, who was homeless with her young daughter two decades ago. “I see women sleeping on benches. It’s heartbreaking.”

She added, “The way the economy is going, it’s just amazing the people that are becoming homeless. It’s hit the middle class.”

She and others with New Beginnings walk the streets looking for people and families sleeping in their cars. The workers inform them about the parking lot program.

New Beginnings screens people to make sure they won’t cause trouble. No alcohol or drugs are allowed in the parking lots.

“What we are trying to do is we pull bad apples out, and we put good apples in the parking lots and really help people out,” said Shaw Tolley, another coordinator with New Beginnings.

Most of the time, the lots are transition points. New Beginnings works with each person to try to find a more permanent housing solution.

“It saddens me when they live in their vehicles,” Tolley said. “It is not the most ideal situation for senior citizens and families, but it is reality.”

He added, “We need to engage this problem. This is reality.”

John Quigley, an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said the California housing crisis has left many middle-class families temporarily homeless or forced them to go to food banks to feed their families.

“Part of the reason why it’s so painful in Santa Barbara is there’s so little in the way of alternative housing,” Quigley said. “If there were alternative low and moderate housing and rental accommodations that were reasonably close by, you can imagine it wouldn’t have this desperate look to it as people living in their cars.”

At the only lot for women in Santa Barbara, it’s a tough existence. There are no showers or running water. On the night CNN visited, a half-dozen women already were in the parking lot before nightfall.

Linn Labou, 54, lives in her car with four cats. She used to be in the National Guard and is on a waiting list for government housing, but the wait is a year long.

“I went looking for family, but I couldn’t get them to help me,” she said.

As for Harvey, she begins each day by walking her two dogs before going to her part-time job. She leaves the dogs in her car with its windows cracked while she works.

It’s another chapter in her life that she’s certain she’ll get through, even though she said she knows it pains her children. Her 19-year-old daughter moved in with friends to avoid being homeless.

“My daughter especially is very unhappy. Sometimes she’ll cry and she’ll call and say, ‘Mom, I just can’t stand it that you are living in a car,’ ” Harvey said. “I’ll say, ‘You know what? This is OK for right now because I’m safe, I’m healthy, the dogs are doing OK and I have a job and things will get better.'”

This was originally posted @ CNN.com

iNPLACENEWS


“Mayor Charged, Bodies Found, Meat Plant Explodes, and Prior knowledge of Bridge Issues”

March 24, 2008

YouTube, Google, Revver, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Veoh, Crackle, Stupid Videos, Sclipo and Viddler


“Do-overs, Governors’ Affairs, and Collapsed Cranes”

March 18, 2008

YouTube, Google, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Veoh, Crackle, Stupid Videos, Sclipo and Viddler


“Delegates, Chaos, and Bombs”

March 9, 2008

YouTube, Google, Revver, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Veoh, Crackle, Stupid Videos, Sclipo and Viddler


Bush Says NO to OIL? WTF??!!

March 5, 2008

YouTube, Revver, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Veoh, Crackle, Stupid Videos, Sclipo and Viddler