Monday, December 29, 2008

Football! What a sport!

What do people see in the Dallas Cowboys that they don’t see in any other team? What is it that mesmerizes people so? Also, every team has cheerleaders, but why are the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders more talked about than any other teams? It was the same way back in the day about the Laker Girls. The Los Angeles Lakers were good, but at that time the Chicago Bulls were better and they STILL didn’t care about their cheerleaders… I say, Who cares???

Yes, there are a couple of players on there who deserve honorable mention, none of which will get any here (haha) but I just don’t get it! I hear a lot that I should rep the state in which I live, I feel the opposite, I rep the state from which I came and that is Tennessee – the Tennessee Titans have been and will be my team. I was born in Memphis and therefore, THEY will get the love from me. (By the way, I like the Houston Texans – just for argument sake.) Of course they aren’t my only teams, but they are the ones who I will bring up here.

Poor Lions! They had NO ROAR at all! They went out like some suckas this season! Frankly, I’m shocked how well the Dolphins have played and the Browns too for that matter. But 0-16, WOW!

My wild card picks are: Vikings, Falcons, Ravens and Colts! Let’s see how well I do!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Line in the Cement

Love… How do you cut if off for someone that you’ve felt for so long? How do you tell yourself that it’s over and that there is no turning back? The ultimate line has been crossed, so no matter how sad you feel, you KNOW that you can no longer allow this to continue. This isn’t a line in the sand, it’s a line in the cement and the feelings you had at that instant, must be a reminder that there is NO turning back.

There are moments when the sadness turns to anger and you know its okay to feel this way. You were hurt and this is a way your body has learned or is trying to cope. Allow these feelings; you deserve to AND it’s okay to feel this way.

Time, in this circumstance, is your friend instead of your enemy like you are so used to feeling. Do not rush yourself into thinking that the faster you get over this hurt and betrayal, the better. Instead, allow yourself to hurt. This way, you truly get all the emotion out and can truly overcome the situation.

With all that being said, why is it easier to give advice than to take it yourself?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Solace in Family and Friends

Isn’t it interesting how things could be going one way and you think everything is everything, then the next minute, your life gets flipped upside down. It’s hard to swallow when you’ve been taken aback – slapped in the face with harsh reality. At this time, this is when your will and strength are being tested. You must stay strong and allow yourself to take care of you.

If you are like me, you are used to taking care of everyone else and you are left to deal with the leftovers for yourself. Sometimes, you have to come first and quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with that. Even when your world is upside down, you still have you – no matter what.

When things are going terrible and you can’t focus on anything else, you will notice what solace you can find in your friends and family. Those special friends and family members that you know you can call no matter what and they will be there for you. These people are very important to you anyway, but at a terrible time, they can be what pull you out and who keep you strong. These people are reminders of how important you must be to them for them to stand by you no matter what. To these people that I have in my life, I say thank you and I love you and I need you now more than ever.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren to Speak at the Invocation

Rick Warren has been asked by President Elect Obama to speak at his invocation. He has said that this is going to be the most inclusive inauguration ever. Obama says, “Americans can learn to agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable”. Many people state that Rick Warren’s comments have been ignorant regarding gays, marriage, and AIDS. Others say that Obama is reaching out to those that have a different view point than the majority, trying to include everyone. He has two preachers one FOR gay rights and one AGAINIST gay rights speaking at the inauguration.

About two years ago, Warren invited Obama to speak at his church knowing full well that he disagreed with his views. Obama says of his choices for the inauguration, “During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there will be a wide range of viewpoints that will be presented and that's how it should be,'' Obama said. He said “the majesty of the country is that we are diverse, noisy and opinionated and that's the spirit in which we have put together what I think will be a terrific inauguration. And that's hopefully going to be a spirit that carries over into my administration." “I commend President-elect Barack Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn't agree on every issue, to offer the invocation at his historic inaugural ceremony,'' Warren said.

Obama can have whoever he chooses to speak on his day and I would assume that he has put a great deal of thought into these choices before asking these people to join him on his day. Do I have to be happy with his choices? No, as they say “You can’t make everyone happy all the time”. So why even try? If you can live with the choices that you make, then fine with me. However, when you are in the public eye, you must be ready for any flack that may come your way because of your choices. Yes, Warren has said plenty of things that have people against him, but so has Obama, and I’m sure both you and I have done things that someone isn’t happy about. Obama is including everyone in this, people who agree with him and those who don’t. What’s more American than that?

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Billey Joe Johnson, RIP

Billey Joe Johnson of Benndale Mississippi died of a gunshot wound to the head on Monday. He was one of the top high school football players in the country. He had been pulled over by an officer. As the officer returned to his vehicle to call in the stop, he heard a gunshot and glass shattering. As he looked up from his car, Billey falls to the floor with the 12 gauge shotgun lying on the top of him. There was a small wound behind his ear. On that day, he was to appear for an awards ceremony to celebrate his football career. The night before this happened, he texted his coach on what to wear to the event, so he had obviously planned on attending the event. Watch this video and give your thoughts.

If Billey were to shot himself in the head with a shotgun, wouldn’t you think that the wound would be larger that they are stating in the video? I don’t know, the whole situation sounds iffy to me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Caroline Kennedy, Senator?

Does she deserve to run for the Senator of New York even though she has minimal, if any, experience? Does her family name and what they have done in government count for her because she belongs to that family? She has raised millions of dollars for schools but does that count for experience to be a Senator? Yes, she endorsed Obama while he was running for President, but so did I. Can I run?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shoe Artillery

I think there has been a time or two that most of us wanted to throw a shoe at Bush, but somehow this Iraqi reporter, Muntadar al-Zaidi, has managed to do it! I’m so embarrassed for Bush but his response to the incident was great - "I don't know what the guy said, but I saw his sole," he joked.

Apparently, this is what Muntadar said, "This is a farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

Watch the video and let me know what you think!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Trust in You

Once it’s gone; to get it back is a hard fight

One that is all uphill, one with no end in sight

The terrain is rough, steep and hard to climb

Takes love and a lot of time

If the love is there, the fight is worth the risk

Once the love is gone though, it’s easier to quit

Things worthwhile are hard to deal with

You have to be willing to put your all into it

If not, this too will end

Feelings not quick to mend

Go on to someone new

I’ll work on me, you work on you


CHOICES can be a scary thing, but it can also be GREAT if you make the right ones. What makes them scary is that once your choice is made oftentimes you can’t take it back. If the wrong choice is picked then the product of the choice can be catastrophic. Ownership of the choice made, especially if it’s a bad one, is also important. It won’t change anything but it does show maturity.

When you decide to share your life with someone, bring someone into your world, the choices you make are even MORE important because then they affect more than just you. Your partner in life is also affected. See, once you bring that person into your life, you are no longer just responsible for you - hence the word “share” used earlier. Those everyday choices that were easy to make when you were alone are easy because you were only responsible for YOU.

Sometimes all you have is yourself. YOU are all YOU got. There are people here and everywhere who will swear up and down that they will be there for you through thick and thin, but the only person looking back at you in the mirror is you. The decisions you make are ones that you will have to live with, being good ones or bad; which is why the daily choices we make are so important. Every choice has an outcome – every cause has an effect that is sure to come. Your choice may not involve you, but it is an affecting someone, somewhere.

If you have children, they are the only ones, besides you, who truly depend on you for their ENTIRE well being. Some people take care of their parents and other loved ones, but your children came into this world with nothing other than the two of you who put them here on this Earth. They should be protected, guarded, and taken care of until the day they can do it for themselves - even beyond then, if need be.

Friday, December 05, 2008

O.J. Sentenced!!

OJ Simpson has just been sentenced to a MINIMUM 15 year sentence for leading an armed confrontation last year in Vegas over sports memorabilia. He has been charged with kidnapping and robbery. The judge makes mention that this case is totally separate from the murders in the early 90’s but some feel as though he is being punished now for those crimes that he may have “gotten away with”. I’m sure the Goldman’s are happy with this outcome although I’m sure they were hoping for a longer sentence.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Auto Bailout

You know, hearing about this auto bailout is starting to get to me. Why are these companies going to the government for these large sums of money to help them out? Why is that okay? I knew that after the $700 Billion bailout was passed through Congress that companies were going to begin coming out of the wood work. Can they use the $25 billion out of this money? Not that it makes it any better. Dana Perino has said that we need to conserve that money and to use it for its intended purpose “…stabilizing and strengthening our financial system." I guess this doesn’t qualify as stabilizing/strengthening our financial system. Okay… If that’s not enough, GM executives say the $25 billion loan money would come with enough strings attached to it that they are not sure it can be used to solve their cash crisis. So, WHAT DO YOU WANT THEN?!

I do understand that if “The Big Three” (GM, Ford and Chrysler) go under that there will be approximately 2.5 million people will become unemployed if these business go under. However, while all of this is going on, I hear about the COO and CEO’s of these companies’s arriving in Washington in their privately owned jets instead of flying commercial like the rest of us struggling Americans. They are the reason we are in this mess to begin with. It was their bad business decisions and uncompetitive labor agreements which began this mess. Many people claim that the bailout will only postpone the inevitable anyway. Someone said that, “Failure of one of the companies is necessary if the economy is to work properly.” Their problems are their own doing, but now the rest of America has to save them. Where do they think this money is going to come from?

Well, and then think about this – if a bailout doesn’t happen then bankruptcy certainly will. What will happen if these companies go bankrupt?

1. Buyers would be unwilling to buy from a bankrupt automaker because of fears about resale value and warranties.

2. The company, along with credit analysts, has also questioned whether it could get financing to reorganize while in bankruptcy.

3. If GM were unable to pay its bills, it could be forced to liquidate and sell off assets rather than reorganize. And if it can't pay its creditors, auto parts suppliers would suffer and many would likely fail.

4. Still, bankruptcy would be tough. It would mean shedding numerous brands and probably thousands of dealerships, and entail closing plants and laying off tens of thousands of hourly workers.

5. 2.5 million jobs

6. Spending by auto company employees who lose their jobs would hurt stores and other businesses in cities where plants are located.

The advocates of a bailout insist that the risk of failure is too great - that even the best case scenario for bankruptcy would be too great a shock to the struggling U.S. economy. The critics say a bailout would be throwing good money after bad - something the government can't afford to do after already promising close to a trillion dollars for other bailouts.

So, what is the answer? What should be done?


When things become too tough for you to deal with, what do you turn to? Which vise calls you – cigarettes, food, and alcohol? There are so many (none of them good) that the choices are countless. Why don’t we ever turn to each other to solve our problems? Why is that so hard to do? The vice isn’t the problem that you are running away from. So often the vice ends up to be the problem if it’s turned to too often.

We have so much control in our lives over things we choose to control, but for some reason our minds take a back seat when it comes to controlling the urge to pick up that cigarette or eat that Zinger. (I love the chocolate ones! By the way, why do they put 3 in a pack and then say a serving is 1 – help me out Dolly Madison!)

Anywho – what is your vise?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Plaxico and a Gun

I’ve been waiting to post something about Plaxico Burress. You know, it’s crazy when we think of how these famous people make some DUMB mistakes. We somehow forget that these are PEOPLE. The mistakes they make in the public eye are just like the mistakes “regular” people make everyday. But somehow we are shocked at the mishaps the rich people make. WHY? Their circumstances put them in a situation which made their pockets fatter than the normal person, but they are no different besides that than you and I.

How many times have you heard that someone was shot in your own city at a club? Weekly? If you watch the news regularly, like I do, then it’s a “nightly” occurrence. I do agree that the moves these people make aren’t the brightest, the smartest, however, neither are the moves that us regular folk make every day either.

People are saying that he shouldn’t have taken that gun in with him – that someone could’ve gotten hurt. Well someone did get hurt and it was the one who took it in there. That IS a rare occurrence. It’s usually someone else, not the owner of the gun. Yes, I agree – a club is nowhere for a gun to be. If he didn’t feel safe there, then he shouldn’t have gone. Yes, he needs to protect himself from people wanting to hurt him, but is a gun the answer?

I’ve heard “Guns don’t kill people. Stupid people with guns kill people.” I’m not arguing the gun position here. If you own a fire arm, good for you! This day and age, the world is a dangerous place. We should all be protected and not have to worry about being hurt by anyone. My argument is taking the gun into the club - wasn’t the smartest thing to do. After all, don’t you go into the club to have a good time? How was he able to get in the place with a gun anyway? Was he not patted down? (Maybe because he’s a famous person, they didn’t see a need to search him?)

Anyway, holla at me!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Obama for CHANGE?

I was talking to one of my friends the other day and she stated that with all the talk of Obama saying that he is for change during his candidacy, he sure is hiring all the people from prior administrations – in particular the Clinton Administration. SO, the question becomes “If he is truly for change, how and why would he hire all people who have worked in administrations before, without bringing in any “new” people?”

I brought up the fact that people were using his experience (or lack there of) against him during the time when he was running for the presidency. So now, that he chooses to hire people with experience, he is now being criticized for that. I tell ya, he can’t win for loosing!

No matter who he hires for his cabinet, he is still the “change” that most of us have been waiting for! Yes, he is a black man; we can obviously see that, however that is not the only thing that he brings to the table. That is definitely a change that we all are NOT used to seeing living in that address. No matter who he has advising him, his decision will be his. Just because someone tells you to do something doesn’t mean you have too or that you will. Someone’s advice is only that – advice. Someone’s opinion remains their opinion. However, my decision is my decision. People can try to influence it all they want.

The last 8 years have been difficult, yes we know. And hopefully the next 4, hopefully 8 – we can dream can’t we) will be different. The best president that we’ve had so far, in my opinion, has been Bill Clinton. If his Administration can bring back to the economy and to all of us what they did in their time, then it can’t be anything more than a plus, right?

The article below is taken from “Clinton Presidency: Historic Economic Growth” {} Read for yourself what he’s done for this country, hopefully Obama will do the same.

The Clinton Presidency: Historic Economic Growth


In 1993, President Clinton and Vice President Gore launched their economic strategy: (1) establishing fiscal discipline, eliminating the budget deficit, keeping interest rates low, and spurring private-sector investment; (2) investing in people through education, training, science, and research; and (3) opening foreign markets so American workers can compete abroad. After eight years, the results of President Clinton’s economic leadership are clear. Record budget deficits have become record surpluses, 22 million new jobs have been created, unemployment and core inflation are at their lowest levels in more than 30 years, and America is in the midst of the longest economic expansion in our history.

President Clinton’s Record on the Economy: In 1992, 10 million Americans were unemployed, the country faced record deficits, and poverty and welfare rolls were growing. Family incomes were losing ground to inflation and jobs were being created at the slowest rate since the Great Depression. Today, America enjoys what may be the strongest economy ever.

• Strong Economic Growth: Since President Clinton and Vice President Gore took office, economic growth has averaged 4.0 percent per year, compared to average growth of 2.8 percent during the Reagan-Bush years. The economy has grown for 116 consecutive months, the most in history.

• Most New Jobs Ever Created Under a Single Administration: The economy has created more than 22.5 million jobs in less than eight years—the most jobs ever created under a single administration, and more than were created in the previous 12 years. Of the total new jobs, 20.7 million, or 92 percent, are in the private sector.

• Median Family Income Up $6,000 since 1993: Economic gains have been made across the spectrum as family incomes increased for all Americans. Since 1993, real median family income has increased by $6,338, from $42,612 in 1993 to $48,950 in 1999 (in 1999 dollars).

• Unemployment at Its Lowest Level in More than 30 Years: Overall unemployment has dropped to the lowest level in more than 30 years, down from 6.9 percent in 1993 to just 4.0 percent in November 2000. The unemployment rate has been below 5 percent for 40 consecutive months. Unemployment for African Americans has fallen from 14.2 percent in 1992 to 7.3 percent in October 2000, the lowest rate on record. Unemployment for Hispanics has fallen from 11.8 percent in October 1992 to 5.0 percent in October 2000, also the lowest rate on record.

• Lowest Inflation since the 1960s: Inflation is at the lowest rate since the Kennedy Administration, averaging 2.5 percent, and it is down from 4.7 percent during the previous administration.

• Highest Homeownership Rate on Record: The homeownership rate reached 67.7 percent for the third quarter of 2000, the highest rate on record. In contrast, the homeownership rate fell from 65.6 percent in the first quarter of 1981 to 63.7 percent in the first quarter of 1993.

• 7 Million Fewer Americans Living in Poverty: The poverty rate has declined from 15.1 percent in 1993 to 11.8 percent last year, the largest six-year drop in poverty in nearly 30 years. There are now 7 million fewer people in poverty than there were in 1993.

President Clinton’s Record on Fiscal Discipline: Between 1981 and 1992, the national debt held by the public quadrupled. The annual budget deficit grew to $290 billion in 1992, the largest ever, and was projected to grow to more than $455 billion by Fiscal Year (FY) 2000. As a result of the tough and sometimes unpopular choices made by President Clinton, and major deficit reduction legislation passed in 1993 and 1997, we have seen eight consecutive years of fiscal improvement for the first time in America’s history.

• Largest Surplus Ever: The surplus in FY 2000 is $237 billion—the third consecutive surplus and the largest surplus ever.

• Largest Three-Year Debt Pay-Down Ever: Between 1998-2000, the publicly held debt was reduced by $363 billion—the largest three-year pay-down in American history. Under Presidents Reagan and Bush, the debt held by the public quadrupled. Under the Clinton-Gore budget, we are on track to pay off the entire publicly held debt on a net basis by 2009.

• Lower Federal Government Spending: After increasing under the previous two administrations, federal government spending as a share of the economy has been cut from 22.2 percent in 1992 to 18 percent in 2000—the lowest level since 1966.

• Reduced Interest Payments on the Debt: In 1993, the net interest payments on the debt held by the public were projected to grow to $348 billion in FY 2000. In 2000, interest payments on the debt were $125 billion lower than projected.

• Americans Benefit from Reduced Debt: Because of fiscal discipline and deficit and debt reduction, it is estimated that a family with a home mortgage of $100,000 might expect to save roughly $2,000 per year in mortgage payments, like a large tax cut.

• Double Digit Growth in Private Investment in Equipment and Software: Lower debt will help maintain strong economic growth and fuel private investments. With government no longer draining resources out of capital markets, private investment in equipment and software averaged 13.3 percent annual growth since 1993, compared to 4.7 percent during 1981 to 1992.

To Establish Fiscal Discipline, President Clinton:

• Enacted the 1993 Deficit Reduction Plan without a Single Republican Vote. Prior to 1993, the debate over fiscal policy often revolved around a false choice between public investment and deficit reduction. The 1993 deficit reduction plan showed that deficit and debt reductions could be accomplished in a progressive way by slashing the deficit in half and making important investments in our future, including education, health care, and science and technology research. The plan included more than $500 billion in deficit reduction. It also cut taxes for 15 million of the hardest-pressed Americans by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit; created the Direct Student Loan Program; created the first nine Empowerment Zones and first 95 Enterprise Communities; and passed tax cuts for small businesses and research and development.

• Negotiated the Balanced Budget Agreement of 1997. In his 1997 State of the Union address, President Clinton announced his plan to balance the budget for the first time in 27 years. Later that year, he signed the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, a major bipartisan agreement to eliminate the national budget deficit, create the conditions for economic growth, and invest in the education and health of our people. It provided middle-class tax relief with a $500 per child tax credit and the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning tax credits for college. It also created the Children’s Health Insurance Program to serve up to 5 million children and made landmark investments in education initiatives including educational technology, charter schools, Head Start, and Pell Grants. Finally, it added 20 more Empowerment Zones and 20 more rural Enterprise Communities, included the President’s plan to revitalize the District of Columbia, and continued welfare reform though $3 billion in new resources to move welfare recipients to private-sector jobs.

• Dedicated the Surplus to Save Social Security and Reduce the National Debt. In his 1998 and 1999 State of the Union addresses, President Clinton called on the nation to save the surplus until the solvency of Social Security is assured. He also repeatedly vetoed large Republican tax cut bills that would have jeopardized our nation’s fiscal discipline. The President’s actions led to a bipartisan consensus on saving the surplus and paying down the debt.

Extended Medicare Solvency from 1999 to 2025.

When President Clinton took office, Medicare was expected to become insolvent in 1999, then only six years away. The 1993 deficit reduction act dedicated some of the taxes paid by Social Security beneficiaries to the Medicare Trust Fund and extended the life of Medicare by three years to 2002. Thanks to additional provisions to combat waste, fraud and abuse and bipartisan cooperation in the 1997 balanced budget agreement, Medicare is now expected to remain solvent until 2025.

President Clinton’s Record on Trade and Globalization: In 1992, 10 million Americans were unemployed, new job creation was slow, and wages were stagnant. Other nations’ high trade barriers limited the ability of American businesses and farmers to sell their goods abroad and hampered economic recovery. Our trade policies failed to reflect our values by failing to take into account the responsibility to protect our environment, eliminate child labor and sweatshops, and protect the rights of workers around the world. But today:

• 300 Trade Agreements: President Clinton has opened markets for U.S. exports abroad and created American jobs through nearly 300 free and fair trade agreements.

• The Most U.S. Exports Ever. Between 1992 and 2000, U.S. exports of goods and services grew by 74 percent, or nearly $500 billion, to top $1 trillion for the first time.

• 1.4 Million More Jobs due to Exports: Jobs supported by American exports grew by 1.4 million between 1994 and 1998, with jobs supported by exports paying about 13 percent to 16 percent above the U.S. national average. Jobs related to goods exports pay, on average, 13 to 16 percent higher than other jobs.

• Lowest Inflation since the 1960s: Inflation is at the lowest rate since the Kennedy Administration, in part because global competition has kept prices low. It has averaged 2.5 percent under this Administration, down from 4.6 percent during the previous administration.

To Create Trade Opportunities and Expand the Benefits of Globalization, President Clinton:

• Won Ratification of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993, creating the world’s largest free trade zone of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. U.S. exports to Mexico grew 109 percent from 1993 to 1999, while exports to the rest of the world grew by 49 percent.

• Won Approval of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. In 2000, Congress ratified permanent normal trade relations with China. The agreement will integrate China into the world economy through entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), open Chinese market to U.S. exports, slash Chinese tariffs, and protect American workers and companies against dumping.

• Successfully Completed the Uruguay Round. The 1994 Uruguay Round transformed the world trading system, opening markets in a wide range of industries, enabling the U.S. to enforce agreements more effectively, and applying the rules for the first time to all WTO members (now 138 in total).

• Fought for the First-Ever African and the Caribbean Basin Trade Bills. The African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 will support increased trade and investment between the United States and Africa, strengthen African economies and democratic governments, and increase partnerships to counter terrorism, crime, environmental degradation and disease. The legislation will also create incentives for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean Basin to continue reforming their economies.

• Promoted Trade Opportunities for High Technology. The Clinton Administration completed series of trade agreements on technology, including the WTO’s commitment to duty-free cyberspace, keeping the Internet free of trade barriers, in 1998; the global WTO agreements on Financial Services and Basic Telecommunications in 1997; the global WTO agreement on Information Technology in 1996; and a series of bilateral agreements on intellectual property, high-tech products, services and other sectors. These efforts are the building blocks of the New Economy.

• Secured Historic Debt Relief. In March 1999, President Clinton presented a plan to a U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington that became the basis for the G-7 agreement in Cologne, Germany (known as the Cologne Debt Initiative). The plan would triple the amount of debt relief available for poor countries, reducing their debt by about 70 percent ($90 billion), in return for firm commitments to channel the benefits into improving the lives of all their people. In September 1999, the President announced that the U.S. would unilaterally exceed the terms of the G-7 initiative and entirely cancel the $5.7 billion in U.S. government debt owed by qualifying countries. In November 2000, President Clinton won $435 million from Congress for U.S. participation in the Cologne Initiative.

• Dramatically Expanded U.S. Efforts to Fight Child Labor and Expand Basic Education. In June 1999, the President traveled to the International Labor Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva, Switzerland, to urge adoption of an historic international convention banning the worst forms of child labor. He won $30 million for ILO enforcement of child labor laws and is fighting for a new initiative to promote basic education in areas of the world where child labor is widespread. In 2000, at U.S. urging, the G-8 countries endorsed the goal of universal basic education. President Clinton brought other issues to the forefront of the international economic agenda, including incorporating labor and environmental considerations in the work of major international economic institutions, increasing U.S. support for global efforts to fight HIV-AIDS and infectious diseases, and closing the digital divide.

• Defused International Economic Crises. In 1995, after Congress refused to act, President Clinton made $20 billion in emergency loans to Mexico to stabilize the country’s financial markets. Mexico repaid the loans in full, with interest, three years ahead of schedule. Following the Asian and Russian financial crises in 1997 and 1998, the Clinton-Gore Administration led a global effort to re-capitalize the International Monetary Fund to allow it to more effectively deal with these problems. President Clinton also insisted that the G-7 develop a set of measures to restore confidence in the world financial system.

• Promoted U.S. Competitiveness. The Clinton-Gore Administration has made key investments in education and training for American workers and research and development. It has also maintained federal fiscal discipline, helping to reduce interest rates, encourage private-sector investment, and keep productivity high. President Clinton’s Record on Rewarding Work: In 1992, unemployment reached 7.5 percent, the highest level in eight years. Unemployment and poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanics were alarming: unemployment reached 14.2 percent for African Americans and 11.8 percent for Hispanics, and poverty rates for both groups were nearly 30 percent. But today:

• Higher Incomes at All Levels: After years of stagnant income growth among average and lower-income families, all income brackets have experienced double-digit income growth since 1993. The bottom 20 percent saw the largest income growth at 16.3 percent.

• Lowest Poverty Rate in 20 Years: Since Congress passed President Clinton’s Economic Plan in 1993, the poverty rate declined from 15.1 percent to 11.8 percent last year, the largest six-year drop in poverty in nearly 30 years. There are now 7 million fewer people in poverty than there were in 1993. The child poverty rate has declined more than 25 percent, the poverty rate for single mothers is the lowest ever, the African American and elderly poverty rates dropped to their lowest level on record, and the Hispanic poverty rate dropped to its lowest level since 1979.

• Lowest Poverty Rate for Single Mothers on Record: Under President Clinton, the poverty rate for families with single mothers has fallen from 46.1 percent in 1993 to 35.7 percent in 1999, the lowest level on record. Between 1980 and 1992, an additional 2.1 million households headed by single women were pushed into poverty.

• Smallest Welfare Rolls Since 1969: Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, the welfare rolls have dropped dramatically and are now the lowest since 1969. Between January 1993 and September of 1999, the number of welfare recipients dropped by 7.5 million (a 53 percent decline) to 6.6 million. In comparison, between 1981-1992, the number of welfare recipients increased by 2.5 million (a 22 percent increase) to 13.6 million people.

To Help All Americans Benefit from Prosperity, President Clinton:

• Ended Welfare as We Knew It. In 1996, President Clinton signed legislation requiring welfare recipients to work, limiting the time they can stay on welfare, and providing child care and health care to help them begin work. It also enacted tough new child support enforcement measures proposed by the President. In 1997, President Clinton won the welfare-to-work tax credit to encourage employers to hire long-term welfare recipients and $3 billion in additional resources to help communities move long-term welfare recipients into lasting, unsubsidized jobs.

• Rewarded Work by Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. In 1993, President Clinton succeeded in winning passage of an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, giving a tax cut to 15 million of the hardest-pressed American workers. In 1999, the EITC lifted 4.1 million people out of poverty, nearly double the number lifted out of poverty by the EITC in 1993.

• Created Empowerment Zones. The 1993 Clinton-Gore economic plan created nine Empowerment Zones and 95 Enterprise Communities to spur local community planning and economic growth in distressed communities through tax incentives and federal investment. The President won expansions of the program in 1994, 1997, and again in 2000. To date, the 31 Empowerment Zones and 95 Enterprise Communities have leveraged over $10 billion in new private sector investment, creating thousands of new jobs for local residents.

• Created Community Development Financial Institutions. In September 1994, the President signed legislation creating the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, a Clinton campaign proposal to support specialized financial institutions serving often-overlooked customers and communities. The Fund has certified over 400 CDFIs. It has provided over $427 million to match investments in CDFIs and to encourage traditional financial institutions to increase their lending, investment and services in under-served markets.

• Strengthened the Community Reinvestment Act. In 1995, the Administration updated the Community Reinvestment Act regulations to focus on banks’ actual service delivery, rather than on compliance efforts. From 1993 to 1998, lenders subject to the law increased mortgage lending to low- and moderate-income families by 80 percent—more than twice the rate they increased mortgage lending to other income groups.

• Encouraged Investment in America’s New Markets. In 1999, the President went on two historic "New Markets" trips to highlight the continuing need to bring investment to impoverished inner cities, rural communities and Native American tribal lands. In 2000, the President and Congress worked together to pass this bipartisan initiative to stimulate new private capital investments in economically distressed communities and build network of private investment institutions to funnel credit, equity and technical assistance to businesses in America’s new markets.

• Raised the Minimum Wage. In 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore fought for and won a 90-cent per hour increase in the minimum wage, helping 10 million workers.

• Helped People with Disabilities Work. In 1999, President Clinton insisted that Congress pass the Work Incentives Improvement Act as a condition of the budget agreement. This bipartisan law allows people with disabilities to maintain their Medicare or Medicaid coverage when they work.

To Capitalize on the Information Technology Revolution, President Clinton and Vice President Gore Have:

• Modernized Financial Services Laws. In 1993, the laws that governed America’s financial service sector were antiquated and anti-competitive. The Clinton-Gore Administration fought to modernize those laws to increase competition in traditional banking, insurance, and securities industries to give consumers and small businesses more choices and lower costs. In 1994, the Clinton-Gore Administration broke another decades-old logjam by allowing banks to branch across state lines in the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994. President Clinton fought for and won financial modernization legislation, signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999.

• Reformed Telecommunications. In 1996, President Clinton signed legislation to open up competition between local telephone companies, long distance providers and cable companies. The law also requires the use of new V-chip technology to give families greater control over which television programming comes into their homes.

• Created the E-Rate. With the leadership of Vice President Gore, the Telecommunications Act contained the E-Rate initiative, which provides low-cost Internet connections for schools, libraries, rural health clinics and hospitals. More than 80 percent of America’s public schools have benefited from the E-rate, which has helped connect 30 million children and up to 47,000 schools and libraries to the Internet. The percentage of public schools connected to the Internet has increased from 35 percent in 1994 to 95 percent in 1999. The percentage of classrooms connected to the Internet has increased from 3 percent in 1994 to 63 percent in 1999.

• Increased Resources for Educational Technology by Over 3,000 Percent. President Clinton and Vice President Gore increased our investment in educational technology by over 3,000 percent, from $23 million in FY 1994 to $769 million in FY 2000, including training over 600,000 new teachers to use technology effectively in the classroom.

• Paved the Way for Electronic Commerce. President Clinton fought to eliminate legal barriers to using electronic technology to form and sign contracts, collect and store documents, and send and receive notices and disclosures, while ensuring that consumers on-line have the same protections that they have in the paper world. He signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act on June 30, 2000.

• Creating Market Opportunities for Technology Firms. The Clinton-Gore Administration adopted a market-led approach on e-commerce, making spectrum available for digital wireless, and reforming Cold War export controls.

• Worked to Close the Digital Divide. Since 1992, the President and Vice President have tripled funding for Community Technology Centers, which provide access to computers and the Internet to low-income urban and rural neighborhoods. President Clinton also challenged the private sector to develop new business models for low-cost computers and Internet access to make universal access at home affordable for all Americans. The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund has provided $1 billion in federal resources to help schools work with businesses and community organizations to put modern computers, high-quality educational software, and affordable connections to the Internet in every classroom. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 created a temporary tax deduction for donations of computers to elementary and secondary schools.

• Forged Trade Agreements on High Technology. The Clinton Administration completed series of trade agreements on technology, including the WTO’s commitment to duty-free cyberspace, keeping the Internet free of trade barriers, in 1998; the global WTO agreements on Financial Services and Basic Telecommunications in 1997; the global WTO agreement on Information Technology in 1996; and a series of bilateral agreements on intellectual property, high-tech products, services and other sectors; all soon to be capped by the opening of a major networked economy initiative.

President Clinton’s Record on Investing in Americans:

• More Americans Are Enrolling in College: 66 percent of 1998 high school graduates enrolled in college or trade school the next fall, compared to 60 percent in 1990.

• More High School Students Are Preparing for College: The percentage of high school graduates who have taken four years of English and three years each of math, science, and social studies increased from 38 percent to 55 percent between 1990 and 1998. Research shows that high-quality academics in high school is key to college success.

• More Americans Are Earning College Degrees: Over 32 percent of 25- to 29-year-old high school graduates had earned at least a bachelor’s degree in 1999, up from 27 percent in 1990. In particular, white and African American women have seen their college opportunities grow.

• Americans Are Becoming Lifelong Learners: 50 percent of adults participated in formal learning in the year prior to a 1999 survey, up from 38 percent in 1991.

To Provide Americans with More, Higher-Quality Education and Training, President Clinton:

• Created the College Tax Credits, the Largest Single Investment in Higher Education since the G.I. Bill. A $1,500 tax credit for the first two years of college, the Hope Scholarship will pay for nearly all of a typical community college’s tuition and fees. The $1,000 Lifetime Learning Tax Credit reimburses families for 20 percent of their tuition and fees (up to $5,000 per family) for college, graduate study, or job training. Starting in 2003, the credit will reimburse families for 20 percent of their costs up to $10,000, for a maximum value of $2,000. This year, 10 million American families will save over $7 billion through the college tax credits.

• Doubled Student Financial Aid. Students will receive over $50 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study aid this year, up from $25 billion in 1993. President Clinton has consistently supported budget increases for Pell Grants; this year, over 3.8 million needy students receive a Pell Grant scholarship of up to $3,300, a $1,000 larger maximum grant than in 1993. The President won another increase for Pell Grants in the FY 2001 budget, bringing the maximum grant to $3,750. The President also won increases in work-study funding to help one million students pay for college.

• Created Direct Student Loans and Reduced Interest Rates. In the Student Loan Reform Act of 1993, President Clinton won the Direct Student Loan program to improve customer service and compete with guaranteed lenders. It has saved taxpayers over $4 billion so far by eliminating lender subsidies. President Clinton also fought to reduce interest rates and fees in the Student Loan Reform Act of 1993 and the Higher Education Amendments of 1998. As a result, students can expect to pay $1,300 less in interest and fees for the average $10,000 loan than they would have in 1992. The student loan default rate is now 6.9 percent, down from 22.4 percent eight years ago.

• Created New Paths to College through GEAR UP, AmeriCorps, and TRIO. President Clinton won the new GEAR UP initiative in the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 which is already helping 700,000 low-income middle school students prepare for college. Over 150,000 Americans have earned money for college while serving their communities through President Clinton’s AmeriCorps program, a campaign promise enacted in 1993. To help disadvantaged youth prepare for and succeed in college, the TRIO programs have grown by $342 million over the past eight years.

• Strengthened Elementary and Secondary Education. In 1994, President Clinton reformed federal education initiatives in the Improving America’s Schools Act and the Goals 2000 Act. The President’s new approach was grounded in the principles that all of America’s students should meet high academic standards and the federal government should make new investments to help them meet those standards. The President has also fought to hire 100,000 teachers, promote educational technology, support charter schools, build K-16 partnerships, and focus on early reading through America Reads.

• Passed the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. In 1992, President Clinton and Vice President Gore proposed to streamline and bring greater accountability to our nation's job training system. In 1998, they won legislation to meet the needs of both America’s workers and businesses by encouraging local control of training and employment programs; helping customers locate assistance through one-stop centers; and empower adults to receive the training they need.

The Clinton Record on Reducing Taxes for Working Families:

• Lowest Federal Income Tax Burden in 35 Years: Federal income taxes as a percentage of income for the typical American family have dropped to their lowest level in 35 years.

• Higher Incomes even after Taxes and Inflation: Real after-tax incomes have grown for Americans at all income levels, much faster than they did prior to the Clinton-Gore Administration. Real after-tax incomes grew by an average of 2.6 percent per year for the lower-income half of taxpayers between 1993 and 1997, while growing by an average of 1.0 percent between 1981 and 1993.

To Cut Taxes for Working Americans, President Clinton:

• Expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit. In 1993, President Clinton succeeded in expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, giving a tax cut to 15 million of the hardest-pressed American workers. In 1999, the EITC lifted 4.1 million people out of poverty, nearly double the number lifted out of poverty by the EITC in 1993.

• Created the $500 per Child Tax Credit. In 1997, President Clinton secured a $500 per child tax credit for 27 million families with children under 17, including 13 million children from families with incomes below $30,000.

• Won the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit. President Clinton proposed tax credits for college tuition in 1996 and signed them into law in 1997 as part of the balanced budget agreement. The Hope Scholarship provides a tax credit of up to $1,500 for tuition and fees for the first two years of college, roughly equal to the cost of the average community college. It will save American families $4.9 billion this year.

• Won the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. Also enacted in 1997, the Lifetime Learning tax credit provides a 20 percent tax credit on $5,000 of tuition and fees (to be raised to $10,000 in 2003) for college and graduate students and adults taking job training. It will reduce the cost of college and job training for American families by $2.4 billion this year.

• Established Education IRAs. The 1997 balanced budget agreement also created Education IRAs. For each child under age 18, families may now deposit $500 per year into an Education IRA in the child's name. Earnings in the Education IRA accumulate tax-free and no taxes will be due upon withdrawal if the money is used to pay for college. The law also allowed taxpayers to withdraw funds from a traditional IRA without penalty to pay for higher education for themselves or their spouse, child, or even grandchild.

• Created Empowerment Zones. President Clinton created Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities in 1993 and expanded them in 1994, 1997 and again in 2000 to spur economic growth in distressed communities through tax incentives and federal investment. To date, the 31 Empowerment Zones and 95 Enterprise Communities have leveraged over $10 billion in new private sector investment, creating thousands of new jobs for local residents.

• Simplified Pension Rules. In 1996, President Clinton signed the SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) plan into law, simplifying and expanding retirement plan coverage for small businesses.

• Simplified Tax Laws and Protected Taxpayer Rights. President Clinton signed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 to simplify the tax laws and enhance taxpayers’ rights. The law has saved families and businesses millions of hours be simplifying and reducing paperwork, such as allowing a tax exclusion for income from the sale of a home.

• Closed Tax Loopholes. To ensure that all taxpayers pay their fair share, the Clinton Administration addressed the use and proliferation of corporate tax shelters by proposing several remedies to curb the growth of such shelters by increasing disclosure of sheltering activities, increasing and strengthening the substantial understatement penalty, codifying the judicially-created economic substance doctrine, and providing consequences to all parties involved in an abusive sheltering transaction.

Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008

There are many of us who have known someone who has passed on due to AIDS. Today marks the 20 anniversary of “WORLD AIDS DAY”.

Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.

Leadership is the theme for World AIDS Day 2007 and 2008, promoted with the campaigning slogan, “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.” Leadership encourages leaders at all levels to stop AIDS. Building on the 2006 theme of accountability, leadership highlights the discrepancy between the commitments that have been made to halt the spread of AIDS, and actions taken to follow them through. Leadership empowers everyone – individuals, organisations, governments – to lead in the response to AIDS.

 At the end of 2003, an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS.

 In 2006, 35,314 new cases of HIV/AIDS in adults, adolescents, and children were diagnosed in the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting. CDC has developed a new and innovative system designed to estimate the number of new HIV infections (or incidence) for the United States in a given year. Using this new technology, CDC estimates that 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in the United States in 2006.

 In 2006, almost three quarters of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among adolescents and adults were for males.

 Although blacks, or African Americans, made up only 13% of the population in the 33 states, they accounted for almost half of the estimated number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses made during 2006.

 In 2006, persons aged 25–34 and persons aged 35–44 accounted for the largest proportions of newly diagnosed HIV/ AIDS cases.

The red ribbon is an international symbol of AIDS awareness that is worn by people all year round and particularly around World AIDS Day to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.