Good karma

In my never-ending quest to find some hopeful news (because this line of work really sucks the joy out of you), I ran across this story from Laffy at the Political Carnival. Seems that some years ago, pop singer Usher founded something called the New Look Foundation, and now he’s teaming up with Accenture to develop leadership skills in teens around the world:

Usher’s New Look, a non-profit organization founded by Usher Raymond IV, today announced their partnership with Accenture to help New Look reach its goal of training and certifying 50,000 youth as global leaders. The effort reflects Accenture’s Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative.

Over two years, Accenture is supporting New Look with a more than $900,000 contribution, which includes a cash grant as well as pro bono support to develop iLEAD – an online, interactive, curriculum-based platform that will provide data management and tracking for students and parents as they move through New Look’s four leadership pillars – talent, education, career and service.

Through the iLEAD platform, New Look will be able to better track the progress of enrolled students. It will also support developing leaders in schools, raising graduation rates and preparing youth for college and career readiness.The platform will align with national public school, career training and development standards.

It’s always nice to hear about a celebrity who wants to give something back, who uses his fame and fortune for something besides partying and extravagant living. Hopefully this program will plant seeds that will sprout and spread.

And maybe Accenture can make a large enough deposit in the karma bank to make up for past sins.

Going after NRA Dems

I was on Mark Thompson’s “Make It Plain” on Sirius XM last night (I’m on every Wednesday night), and we were talking about how urban people and rural people have such different opinions on guns because they have different experiences of guns. Urban gun violence is so random, and so interwoven with the drug trade (that’s a whole other discussion), that city dwellers just want to make it stop. (Although the only time I’ve had a loaded gun pointed right at me was in the Hellmouth, by my Iraqi vet neighbor who was having a PTSD episode. A little unnerving!)

So no, it’s not that we want to take away your guns. We just want gun violence against other human beings to stop. We want better odds against being a victim, and against our children being victims. We love living in the city, but we don’t want to be so afraid of guns.

When I lived in Mt. Airy, my apartment was on a main city artery, with an iron gate across the front entrance, and I don’t know that I would have moved in without it. Shortly after I moved in, a neighborhood woman was shot in the head from a stray bullet — while she was asleep in her bed. (This was a few blocks from me.) I said to myself, “Well, my bedroom is in the back of the building, so I’m less likely to get hit.” Because that’s how you think when you live in the city.

Because I live in the city, there’s part of me that still can’t believe we even have to call our representatives and push for such a “controversial” idea as protecting children from gun violence. That the discussion in our country is so very slanted toward fear and paranoia, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill is what passes for radical.

That’s why I’m happy that we have these outside groups to turn up the political heat. Check out this hard-hitting ad from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. They’re now going after conservative Dems who support the NRA in opposing gun controls, and they’re linking Rep. John Barrow’s stance to the recent slaughter at Newtown:

One week ago, Barrow declared that “no new [gun] laws will have a big chance of passing in the House.” Yesterday, he commented on President Obama’s reform package, saying, “We need to find practical solutions to gun violence that are consistent with the Second Amendment, rather than having another political debate in Washington that divides Americans.”

According to CSGV executive director Josh Horwitz, “Representative John Barrow has decided to put his love of the NRA above his concern for his fellow Americans. That is not acceptable.”

Noting that Barrow has received $27,250 in NRA campaign contributions over his eight-year congressional career, Horwitz added, “Rep. Barrow has been bought for the price of a new truck. It would be laughable if his lack of regard for our families’ safety wasn’t so dangerous.”

[…] The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is encouraging concerned citizens to call Representative Barrow at (202) 225-2823 to tell him to support the President’s gun policy proposals.

The CSGV also went after the newly-elected Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for calling the White House’s effort to reform our gun laws “extreme.”

The Heitkamp ads, signed by four parents who lost their children in mass shootings, stated “SHAME ON YOU.” They urged Americans to call Senator Heitkamp to express their disgust, and enough of them did that Heitkamp changed her position, saying, “We have a responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”

My point is, we can stop gun violence. Finally, the tide of public opinion is overwhelmingly with us. Call your reps, call your senators, write letters to the editor. Call talk radio. Get involved.

The time is now.

Is it just me?

Or is this a little… overblown? Everyone at Notre Dame is so upset about a Notre Dame football player being punked (the school even hired a private investigator to look into it.)

The school didn’t hire an investigator when Lizzy Seeberg reported being raped by a football player. She ended up killing herself. Hear about it? Didn’t think so.

You probably didn’t hear about the other student who was too afraid to report her rape after she saw how Seeberg was treated.


We already know what will happen to the equipment: It will make the leasing terms of the property more attractive to the for-profit charters that will inevitably rent the schools:

When Superintendent William Hite sits down with Phillies star Cole Hamels later this month, it won’t be to talk baseball.

The pitcher, along with his wife and staff from the Hamels Foundation, will be trying to find out what will happen to more than $400,000 worth of playground and library equipment that the foundation has donated to three schools now slated for closure. The foundation will also be seeking assurances that future donations won’t meet a similar fate.

Hamels Foundation operations officer G-N Kang said she and other officials were “shocked and surprised” to find that three Hamels-supported schools were on the district’s list of 37 proposed closures. The schools include Bayard Taylor Elementary, whose new $317,000 playground opened last summer; Wilson Elementary, which received a $50,000 playground in 2010; and Shaw Middle School, which received a $50,000 “family resource and professional development center” for its library in 2011.

Cole Hamels is a smart guy. I hope he figures this out, and I hope he starts speaking out about the politically incestuous world of for-profit charters.

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