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Congressional Black Caucus: ‘Dear Pope, Love Your Work’

Congressional Black Caucus: 'Dear Pope, Love Your Work'

Today, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge sent a letter to Time’s Man of the Year Pope Francis complimenting the Catholic holy leader for drawing attention to inequality. There was no ‘ask’ in the letter, nor a call to join arms. Also, no mention of race, though there is a note that “nearly 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry every night.” It’s basically a thank you letter with a message that could be summarized as “I see you over there, playa, keep up the good work.” 

From Fudge’s actual words: 

“Since the beginning of your service, you have been vocal about the need for elected officials to acknowledge the growing inequality in our world. You have called upon us to look beyond the superficial approach to problem-solving and to dig deeper in addressing the real needs of people in our society. You have asked that we work together to make the structural changes required to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor. For more than 41 years, this has also been the charge of the Congressional Black Caucus. … We stand with you in your appeal against complacency, and we admire your courage in working to make sure the Catholic Church is deeply engaged in the most pressing issues of our time.”

Read the rest of her letter to see what else Rep. Fudge had to say to him. It sounds like at least Obama has lately been paying attention to the Pope on this issue.  

WI Families Fight to End Police Investigation of Police Custody Deaths

WI Families Fight to End Police Investigation of Police Custody Deaths

Friends and family of people killed by Wisconsin police yesterday urged members of the state legislature to stop allowing police to investigate their own police-custody deaths.

Mother Sonya Moore spoke at the hearing on behalf of her son, Derek Williams, a black man who died in 2011 after begging for help and gasping for air in the back of a squad car. Police shot Michael Bell, a white man, point-blank in the head in his driveway in 2004. In these cases and at least one other, according to the Journal Sentinel, investigators from the respective departments “quickly cleared” the officers.

If passed, the new law would make Wisconsin the first state in the country to require independent review whenever anyone dies in a police confrontation.

(h/t Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Five Reasons to Love Beyoncé, The Feminist Work in Progress

Five Reasons to Love Beyoncé, The Feminist Work in Progress

You may remember earlier this year when there was a bit of an uproar against Beyonce’s song “Bow Down/I Been On.” Critics claimed that the song was soundly anti-feminist; the Washington Post even went as far as saying that the singer “sabotage[d] her female empowerment efforts.” Rahiel Tesfamariam wrote, “The release of ‘Bow Down’ suggests that the pop icon only adorns the feminist label when it suits her - dangerously straddling the line between female empowerment and subjugation.”

But on her latest album that took the world by surprise, the singer seems to answer some of those critics, an effort that’s very much appreciated by the good folks over at Crunk Feminist Collective, which lists five reasons to rock with R&B’s biggest superstar.

1.)  She’s a work in progress, as are we all. In 2010, she gave an interview saying she was a“feminist in a way,” because she valued her female friendships deeply. Earlier this year, she claimed she was a “modern-day feminist.” Now she is straight up embracing the term in her music and claiming her right to tell women to both bowdown and encouraging them to be self-confident from the moment they step out of bed… in the same damn song! I rock with that because her feminism is complicated, and ours is too. Tell the truth. If your bed and the folks you shared it with were an indicator of your politics, your card might get pulled, too. Moving on.

2.)  Sometimes bitches do need to bowdown.  Call that a hip hop generation feminist sensibility, but it’s true. It’s just like when Papa Pope gave Fitz the read of the century last night in Scandal - “Boy, I’m literally above your paygrade.” It’s like the swag I don when academic goons try to step to me even though they are clearly less qualified. Sometimes I’ve been known to tell folk “You haven’t read enough to step to me. Go back and come again.” The world would be better if women would learn that we don’t have to take everybody’s shit. Not the white man’s, not the Black man’s, not the state’s, not the hating ass next-door neighbor, not your frenemy’s. Nobody’s.

3.)  Academic feminism ain’t the only kid on the block. Confession: the first time I identified as a feminist, I was in grad school. I was able to come to an informed conclusion after reading Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s Words of Fire and Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought. But we need to stop acting like a radical feminist is the only kind of feminist to be. I mean look, I’m radical and committed to a robust structural critique. But I appreciate the good few liberal feminists in Congress who show up and actually fight for reproductive rights that can be on the books! As Meek Mill says, there’s levels to the shit. But newsflash - everybody didn’t go to college. So when women of color start waxing eloquent about how our grandmothers and mothers were the first feminists we knew and many of them would “never” use the term, I wonder then why we don’t understand Beyonce’s homegrown brand of feminism - one that honors female friendships, one that recognizes and calls out sexism and domination in her industry, one that celebrates the power of women. No, it ain’t well-articulated radical social justice feminism, but if you need a Ph.D. to be a feminist, then we’ve got bigger problems, folks. AND I’ll take a feminist that knows how to treat her homegirls before one who can spit the finer points of a bell hooks to me all day erry-day.

 It’s a thought-provoking post. Read the rest over at Crunk Feminist Collective.

TAGS: Beyonce

New Jersey DREAM Act Moves Forward Despite Christie’s Veto Threat

New Jersey DREAM Act Moves Forward Despite Christie's Veto Threat

After clearing a budget committee vote Thursday, New Jersey’s bill to grant tuition equity to undocumented students is now headed to the Assembly floor. Committee members advanced the bill in an eight to four vote despite Gov. Chris Christie’s recent refusal to sign the bill.

The vote was split along party lines—with Democrats backing the bill and the committee’s Republicans opposing. With its approval, the Assembly accepted a provision which would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid, the Burlington County Times reported. The Assembly bill is now aligned with a version passed by the New Jersey state Senate in November.

New Jersey’s tuition equity bill is modeled on laws passed by more than a dozen states which allow in-state residents, regardless of their immigration status, to pay in-state college tuition. If passed, the Garden State would become the fourth state after Texas, California and New Mexico to allow undocumented students to access state financial aid. 

Watch the Video for The Roots and Elvis Costello ‘Tripwire’

Watch the Video for The Roots and Elvis Costello 'Tripwire'

Check out this lyric video from The Roots and Elvis Costello for the song “Tripwire.” The 2013 album “Wise Up Ghost” is available on iTunes.

For Ex-Offenders, NJ Judge Opens Door to Good Jobs

For Ex-Offenders, NJ Judge Opens Door to Good Jobs

In a decision that could affect thousands of ex-offenders, a New Jersey judge last week temporarily banned enforcement of a 1998 state law prohibiting the awarding of trade licenses to anyone owing at least six months’ worth of child support. The law does not distinguish between unintentional and willful failures to pay child support, the plaintiff’s lawyers argued. As a result, the statute hurt ex-offenders like 41-year-old electrician Patrice Dowe, who racked up $31,000 in back child support while serving 10 years in federal prison.

Upon his release in 2009, Dowe, who’d taken classes in medium and low-security prisons to improve his electrician skills, discovered he was ineligible to be licensed as a tradesman. The average annual salary for an electrician, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is about $53,000.

Dowe has two sons. New Jersey could decide to appeal the ruling.

(h/t The Star Ledger)

* The post has been updated from the original.

Beyoncé’s Surprise Album Features Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Beyoncé's Surprise Album Features Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Beyoncé delivered the ultimate surprise holiday gift on Thursday night when she released a 14-track self-titled album featuring an unexpected guest: Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, whose latest novel “Americanah” is atop many year-end reading lists.

The singer dropped the album on iTunes without any promotion, save for a 15-second Instagram video. And if that’s not enough, Beyoncé’s calling the project a “visual album” that’s meant to be experienced through 17 surprise preview videos for the new album. Ngozi is on a track called “Flawless.” Watch above.

“Dreamer” Erika Andiola’s Mom To Stay in the U.S.

Just in time for the holidays, “Dreamer” Erika Andiola who a week ago quit her job as a congressional staffer to fight her mother’s deportation has won. Because of public pressure, Andiola told Buzzfeed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has extended Maria Arreola’s stay for a year

Andiola, among those featured in a 2012 Time magazine cover story, isn’t settling for just her mom’s victory, however.

“Another family was here with us — their father is going to be deported tomorrow,” [Andiola] said of Ardani Rosales. “We wanted to bring his case to their attention. Our family is really, really happy but we’re also a family now of activists and we have a bigger family now. His case is just as deserving as my mother’s; it’s just not public like mine was.”

Arreola was scheduled to be deported in January.

Watch Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz Talk About Race and Writing

Watch Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz Talk About Race and Writing

Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz will be in conversation tonight at the New York Public Library, and you can watch the whole thing live. The talk is slated to begin at 7pm EST/4pm PST (read more about it here). If you can’t make it there in person, tune in and watch the above video.

Watch: The Biggest Stories of 2013

Watch: The Biggest Stories of 2013 Play

As 2013, draws to a close, we’re waxing reflective about the last 12 months. As part of our year-in-review experience, we’ve already recapped the top ten racial justice wins of the year (http://fw.to/6XVvOgH). Now, we’re talking to some of your favorite Colorlines writers, including host Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) and panelists Jamilah King (@jamilahking), Julianne Hing (@juliannehing), Imara Jones (@imarajones), and Seth Freed Wessler (@sethfw) about covering the biggest stories of 2013 in the arenas of education, pop culture, immigration, the economy and more. 

Join us live at 12:30PM EST and tweet your questions and comments to @Colorlines during the chat for a chance to hear them answered on air!

‘12 Years a Slave’ Leads This Year’s Golden Globe Nominations

'12 Years a Slave' Leads This Year's Golden Globe Nominations

This year’s Golden Globe nominations are out, and it’s no surprise that Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” is out to win big. In total the film is nominated for seven awards, including best picture. 

Kerry Washington is also up for an award for her role in “Scandal,” while Idris Elba is up for a best actor nomination for his role in “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom.”

Check out the full list of nominations below:

Best motion picture, drama

“12 Years a Slave”

“Captain Phillips”

“Gravity”

“Philomena”

“Rush”

Best motion picture, musical or comedy

“American Hustle”

“Her”

“Inside Llewyn Davis”

“Nebraska”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Actress in a motion picture, drama

Cate Blanchett “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock - “Gravity”

Judi Dench - “Philomena”

Emma Thompson - “Saving Mr. Banks”

Kate Winslet - “Labor Day”

Best Actor in a motion picture, drama

Chiwetel Ejiofor - “12 Years a Slave”

Idris Elba - “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”

Tom Hanks - “Captain Phillips”

Matthew McConaughey - “Dallas Buyers Club”

Robert Redford - “All Is Lost”

Best Actress in a motion picture, musical or comedy

Amy Adams - “American Hustle”

Julie Delpy - “Before Midnight”

Greta Gerwig - “Frances Ha”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - “Enough Said”

Meryl Streep - “August: Osage County”

Best Actor in a motion picture, musical or comedy

Christian Bale - “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern - “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio - “The Wolf Of Wall Street”

Oscar Isaac - “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Joaquin Phoenix - “Her”

Best supporting Actress in a motion picture

Sally Hawkins - “Blue Jasmine”

Jennifer Lawrence - “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong’o - “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts - “August: Osage County”

June Squibb - “Nebraska”

Best supporting Actor in a motion picture

Barkhad Abdi - “Captain Phillips”

Daniel Brühl - “Rush”

Bradley Cooper - “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender - “12 Years a Slave”

Jared Leto - “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Director - motion picture

Alfonso Cuarón - “Gravity”

Paul Greengrass - “Captain Phillips”

Steve McQueen - “12 Years a Slave”

Alexander Payne - “Nebraska”

David O. Russell - “American Hustle”

Best Screenplay - motion picture

Spike Jonze - “Her”

Bob Nelson - “Nebraska”

Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan - “Philomena”

John Ridley - “12 Years a Slave”

Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell - “American Hustle”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Blue is the Warmest Color”

“The Great Beauty”

“The Hunt”

“The Past”

“The Wind Rises”

Best Animated Feature film

“The Croods”

“Despicable Me 2”

“Frozen”

Best TV series, drama

“Breaking Bad”

“Downton Abbey”

“The Good Wife”

“House of Cards”

“Masters of Sex”

Best TV Series, Comedy

“The Big Bang Theory”

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

“Girls”

“Modern Family”

“Parks and Recreation”

Best TV movie or mini-series

“American Horror Story: Coven”

“Behind the Candelabra”

“Dancing on the Edge”

“Top of the Lake”

“The White Queen”

Best Actress in a TV series, drama

Julianna Margulies - “The Good Wife”

Tatiana Maslany - “Orphan Black”

Taylor Schilling - “Orange is the New Black”

Kerry Washington - “Scandal”

Robin Wright - “House of Cards”

Best Actor in a TV series, drama

Bryan Cranston - “Breaking Bad”

Liev Schreiber - “Ray Donovan”

Michael Sheen - “Masters of Sex”

Kevin Spacey - “House of Cards”

James Spader - “The Blacklist”

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy

Zooey Deschanel - “New Girl”

Lena Dunham - “Girls”

Edie Falco - “Nurse Jackie”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - “Veep”

Amy Poehler - “Parks and Recreation”

Best Actor, TV Series Comedy

Jason Bateman - “Arrested Development”

Don Cheadle - “House of Lies”

Michael J. Fox - “The Michael J. Fox Show”

Jim Parsons - “The Big Bang Theory”

Andy Samberg - “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Best Actress in a mini-series or TV movie

Helena Bonham Carter - “Burton and Taylor”

Rebecca Ferguson - “White Queen”

Jessica Lange - “American Horror Story: Coven”

Helen Mirren - “Phil Spector”

Elisabeth Moss - “Top of the Lake”

Best Actor in a mini-series or TV movie

Matt Damon - “Behind the Candelabra”

Michael Douglas - “Behind the Candelabra”

Chiwetel Ejiofor - “Dancing on the Edge”

Idris Elba - “Luther”

Al Pacino - “Phil Spector”

Best Supporting Actress in a series, mini-series, or TV movie

Jacqueline Bisset - “Dancing on the Edge”

Janet McTeer - “White Queen”

Hayden Panettiere - “Nashville”

Monica potter - “Parenthood”

Sofia Vergara - “Modern Family”

Best Supporting Actor in a series, mini-series or TV movie

Josh Charles - “The Good Wife”

Rob Lowe- “Behind the Candelabra”

Aaron Paul - “Breaking Bad”

Corey Stoll - “House of Cards”

Jon Voight -” Ray Donovan”

(h/t Los Angeles Times)

Miami Area Police Chief Resigns Amid Racial Profiling Charges

Miami Area Police Chief Resigns Amid Racial Profiling Charges

Police chief Matthew Boyd of the Miami Gardens Police Department resigned yesterday amid charges that officers racially profiled both customers and employees at a local convenience store. According to the Miami New Times, one employee was arrested 419 times for trespassing in the past five years.

The Florida chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) two days ago called on the Department of Justice to investigate “a systemic pattern and practice of intimidation by officers … against African American residents…”. 

Miami Gardens, with a population of about 100,000, is a majority black suburb of Miami. It has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

What Tech Startup CEO Greg Gopman Doesn’t Know About SF’s ‘Degenerates’ He Insulted

What Tech Startup CEO Greg Gopman Doesn't Know About SF's 'Degenerates' He Insulted

Silicon Valley startup CEO Greg Gopman set back by miles the already bitter relations between the tech industry and, well, everyone else in the Bay Area when he took to Facebook Tuesday night to post a screed about San Francisco’s poor who dot the city’s main downtown thoroughfare. He’s since removed his post, which opened thusly:

Just got back to SF. I’ve traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down market st in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little.

Gopman laments that the poor in other “cosmopolitan cities,” “realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests,” but San Francisco’s “degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city.” 

“You can preach compassion, equality, and be the biggest lover in the world, but there is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us.”

Gopman’s words are so cruel and hysterical they sounds like satire, but they’re not. By this morning he’d thought better and wrote, “I’m really sorry for my comments. I trivialized the plight of those struggling to get by and I shouldn’t have.” He asked for some dialogue, “an open discussion on what changes we can make to fix these serious problems.”

So let’s get to it.

Here’s what Gopman may not realize. The tech boom of which Gopman’s a part has spurred an influx of wealth into the Bay Area, and with it, a class of new arrivals who want a piece of the small city’s charm. Swift market forces and the absence of protective regulations have spurred skyrocketing rents and no-fault evictions. Evictions, according to San Francisco’s Eviction Defense Collective’s 2012 report (PDF), are a leading cause of homelessness in the city. Ellis Act evictions in particular increased by over 100 percent in 2012, coinciding exactly with the recent tech boom. “Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated that immediately prior to becoming homeless they lived in a home owned or rented by themselves or their partner,” the report’s authors write. 

Put another way, people like Gopman may actually be contributing to the, ahem, degeneration, of the lives of the city’s most vulnerable.

And even besides the facts, there’s the very clearly emotional nature of the city’s gentrification debate. It’s particularly tough for longtime San Franciscans who are being priced out of their hometowns to stomach derisive remarks from people like Gopman who lay claim to the city and yet who, by their own account, are not even from it. According to his own Facebook profile, Gopman is from Aventura, Florida.

(via Valleywag)

Joe Biden: No, Obama Won’t Stop Deportations

Joe Biden: No, Obama Won't Stop Deportations

It was the usual “get to the back of the line, pay your dues, get right with the law, failed CIR is the Republicans’ fault” ho hum from the White House today when Vice President Joe Biden and Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz sat down for a live chat today hosted by Bing and Skype.

Biden was his chatty uncle self and Muñoz played the policy wonk straight man, and the two fielded questions on E-Verify, border enforcement, green cards, and undocumented youth. But two questions in particular highlighted the current deportation debate. With immigration reform dead in Congress, some in the immigrant rights community are calling on President Obama to use his executive authority to stop deporting those who are undocumented. They include undocumented immigrants and supporters who’ve been using their bodies to block exits for deportation vehicles at ICE detention centers around the country.

A Twitter user asked about this very issue, and Muñoz responded, “The president doesn’t have the authority to suspend deportations.” She took a detour to talk about deferred action, the Obama administration’s move to block the deportations of a select class of undocumented youth, then returned to the real question she knew watchers were interested in. “I will say what some people want to know is whether or not we can use that authority more broadly, and the answer to that is: … You can’t just use enforcement authority to fix this problem. The paythway to fix this is going straight through Congress.”

Biden chimed in: “He doesn’t have the authority to do that. What I get and what [Muñoz] gets all the time is, ‘Since the system is broken and Congress won’t fix it, why don’t you suspend everything. The president does not have the authority to do that.”

Advocates rebut the White House’s remarks by citing congressional documents which reiterate the President’s authority to stop deportations, and the words of former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau who wrote in a New York Times op-ed last week, “President Obama seriously understates his ability to mitigate the effect of immigration law while he confronts Republican intransigence in the House.”

Your Favorite Singer Erykah Badu Is The New Face of Givenchy

Your Favorite Singer Erykah Badu Is The New Face of Givenchy

Erykah Badu is the new face of the luxury French brand Givenchy. 

“Erykah, she’s an icon—come on!” designer Riccardo Tisci told Style.com by phone from Paris. “What I want to do with my advertising campaign is spread the love. Already now it’s been three seasons that I’ve been using people that express something—they are great artists, or beautiful women, or stylish women, or models that I really believe in. It’s kind of a family portfolio.”

Tisci said he worked with Badu’s image in mind on the brand’s Spring 2014 line, which is influenced by African and Japanese styles. You can read more at Style.com.

Kerry Washington, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o Get SAG Award Nods

Kerry Washington, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o Get SAG Award Nods

This year’s Screen Actor’s Guild nominations were announced for feature films and television and some big names made the list. Kerry Washington was nominated for her role in ABC’s “Scandal” while Angela Bassett got the nod for her appearance in the Lifetime TV movie “Betty and Coretta.” Lupita Nyong’o, this year’s breakout star from “12 Years a Slave” also nabbed a nomination for her supporting role in that film.

The awards will take place on Saturday, January 18 and the list of nominees itself is a big deal because it often mimics the Oscar nomination list. Read more about black actors of note over Shadow and Act.

Airport Protest Targets Dominican Republic Tourism

Airport Protest Targets Dominican Republic Tourism

An airport protest led by a group of young people of Haitian descent is aiming to hit the Dominican Republic where it hurts: its USD $4.5 billion tourism industry. One image from the early morning prank in a Montreal airport, captured by photographer Darwin Doleyres, shows a white woman in a bikini with red paint or, “blood on her hands,” sunning against a blue-skied backdrop. The Dominican Republic denationalizes more than a quarter of a million human beings, the sign below reads.

The small protest is just the latest against the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation’s high court ruling that could strip citizenship from an estimated 200,000 people. The vast majority are of Haitian descent, and the ruling retroactively applies to children born in the Dominican Republic after 1929. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the same island, have a long and tense history.

Protest images are making the rounds on French and Creole-speaking Twitter under #DroitsHumainsRD.

 

New U.S. Budget Proposal is Promising (Seriously!)

New U.S. Budget Proposal is Promising (Seriously!)

Last night with the words “in divided government you don’t always get what you want” House Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), alongside his Senate counterpart Patty Murray (D-Wash.), gave the working poor and historically marginalized the best budget news to come out of Washington in three years. The two-year fiscal deal announced by the two leaders who oversee the federal budgeting process in their respective Congressional branches erases sequestration until 2016, restores funding to badly needed social programs, and allows for new investments in critical areas necessary to grow the economy. As important for economic justice is the fact that their announcement points towards a climbdown from the GOP’s, Tea Party-fueled ideology which shut down the government and held back economic growth at a crucial time.

The good news came with the budget duo’s joint press conference where they stated that the federal budget for 2014 year would rise to $ 1.012 trillion from $967 billion. Under the agreement, it would rise slightly to $ 1.014 in 2015. The $85 billion increase in spending will be equally divided between defense and non-defense areas of the budget.

The rollback of sequestration for at least two years will allow the 50 percent of Americans living on the economic edge to have the breathing space necessary to stabilize their lives after six years of crisis and instability. On the heels of the worst economic crisis in almost a hundred years, sequestration piled on the pain for the poor and near poor with the loss of over 100,000 housing vouchers, a similar reduction in the number of kids able to access Head Start, and close to a million fewer people who received critical care in local community health centers. Not only did these and other devastating cuts in education, housing and health care cause chaos in the lives of those who can least afford it but sequestration hampered our economy by preventing the creation of over 1.5 million jobs this year alone.

The restoration of government funding is also potentially important news for the unemployment picture in communities of color. Given the disproportionate employment by people of color in the public sector, the layoffs prevented by the budget additions will help stave off new mass reductions in employment. This is particularly true for African Americans where public sector job cuts have been a key driver in the double-digit black unemployment crisis.

Not only will these new funding levels help stop things from getting worse, they might even allow them to improve. The added resources now provide a pathway for President Obama to enact his goal of providing pre-school to all Americans. It also gives added financial room for his federal infrastructure bank initiative which would create badly needed jobs in the construction industry for black and Latino men laid off during the recession.

But despite the signs off hope in the deal last night, there are also signs of caution and concern.

The first is that the money to pay for these higher levels of investment is generated by extending for two years an existing 2 percent cut in Medicare and an administrative crackdown on certain types of Medicaid expenditures, such as for children who might be able to have access to healthcare through a non-custodial parent. It also requires younger federal workers to contribute more to their pensions and reduces annual cost of living increases to military retirees under the age of 62. The agreement will also raise TSA airline ticket fees. In fact, even with the new federal spending, these changes will mean that the deficit is actually cut by an additional $28 billion more than would have been the case under the limits of sequestration.

The second cautionary note is that the Ryan-Murray budget pact must still pass both the House and the Senate. While Tea Party standard-bearer Paul Ryan might now see the necessity in making sure the country’s health, education, housing and infrastructure needs are met, many of his colleagues do not. In fact key conservative group Heritage Action opposed the deal even before it was announced saying that they “cannot support a budget deal that would increase spending the near term.” And given the independent streak of the Republicans in Congress, anything is possible.

But perhaps the most worrisome feature is what is left out agreement.

In just two weeks one out of four of the nation’s long term unemployed—over a million people—will lose their unemployment insurance unless Congress takes action.

It also leaves immigration reform to the side which, if passed, would reduce the deficit by $200 billion and increase economic growth by 30 percent.

Though gridlock around the budget may have loosened, it still remains on key areas necessary to get our economy back on track. And even though the budget agreement may be the clearest sign yet that the Tea Party’s “cut our way to growth” ideology may be in reverse, ongoing issues of how the deal is paid for combined with the looming unemployment insurance crisis and stalled immigration reform effort underscore that the reversal may not be total.

Despite last night’s positive news, there’s still a long way to go.

Flying Lotus Just Dropped a Whole Bunch of Free Music

Flying Lotus Just Dropped a Whole Bunch of Free Music

Following up on his most recent release “Until the Quiet Comes,” composer and producer Flying Lotus just released a free 24-track download of remixes called “Ideas + drafts + loops” featuring folks like Earl Sweatshirt, Mapei, Viktor Vaughn and DJ Mehdi. Here’s one track from the release, a remix of Kanye West’s “Black Skinheads.” 

Download it here.

(h/t Okayplayer)

Watch Singer Jane Lui and Actress Lynn Chen Cover TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ With Friends

Watch Singer Jane Lui and Actress Lynn Chen Cover TLC's 'Waterfalls' With Friends

So this looks like tons of fun. Blogger Angry Asian Man joined a group of friends, including singer Jane Lui and actress Lynn Chen, to sing a merry version of TLC’s “Waterfalls.”

TAGS: TLC Video
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