Broad Shoulders Update

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Archive for the ‘equity’ tag

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Road Home program amended to assist owners of homes of modest value,” - The Times-Picayune

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan came to town carrying a letter that could help thousands of area homeowners finally finish their renovations.

The letter, which Donovan gave on Thursday to Louisiana Recovery Authority head Paul Rainwater, approved a change to the Road Home program that could distribute $600 million in leftover program money, giving up to $34,000 in extra grant money to as many as 19,000 low- to moderate-income homeowners, Rainwater said.

States eager to power up electric car-battery industry,” - USA TODAY

DETROIT — The U.S. government has made it clear that developing a domestic auto-battery industry — for advanced batteries to power next-generation electric cars — is a priority. That has states scrambling to be sure they get a piece of the action.

This week, business leaders, politicians and entrepreneurs will gather in Detroit at a conference called “The Business of Plugging In” to discuss the future of plug-in electrics and plan how to attract and develop businesses involved in plug-in vehicle development.

Public option gains support,” - Washington Post

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public.

Americans remain sharply divided about the overall packages moving closer to votes in Congress and President Obama’s leadership on the issue, reflecting the partisan battle that has raged for months over the administration’s top legislative priority. But sizable majorities back two key and controversial provisions: both the so-called public option and a new mandate that would require all Americans to carry health insurance.

Written by Keith Forest

October 20th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

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 ”How Valid Is the Insurers’ Attack on Health Reform?,” -  TIME MAGAZINE

After months of lending its cautious, very qualified support to health-care reform, the health-insurance industry has lobbed its first bomb at the Democrats’ proposals. But many of the industry’s assertions appear to have missed their mark.

Just two days before Tuesday’s scheduled vote on the Senate Finance Committee’s health bill, a report warning that the bill would result in sizable hikes in insurance premiums was released, and then widely panned as a flawed analysis of cherry-picked information. A spokesman for the committee called the report a “hatchet job, plain and simple”; and some Democrats on Capitol Hill claimed that the insurers’ broadside would actually ease, rather than slow, passage of health reform by unifying the various factions of the party against an industry with precious little credibility among the public. (See 10 players in health-care reform.)

Public Option Is Next Big Hurdle in Health Debate,” - The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As the White House and Congressional leaders turned in earnest on Wednesday to working out big differences in the five health care bills, perhaps no issue loomed as a greater obstacle than whether to establish a government-run competitor to the insurance industry.

One day after the Senate Finance Committee approved a measure without a “public option,” the question on Capitol Hill was how President Obama could reconcile the deep divisions within his party on the issue. All eyes were on Senator Olympia J. Snowe, the Maine Republican whose call for a “trigger” that would establish a government plan as a fallback is one of the leading compromise ideas.

Obama: New Orleans not forgotten,” -   USA TODAY

NEW ORLEANS — In his first presidential visit to this city, Barack Obama praised the resiliency of residents in rebuilding their flood-wrecked homes and promised to continue flowing federal dollars to the effort.

“It is always an inspiration to spend time with the men and women who have reminded the rest of us what it means to persevere in the face of tragedy and rebuild in the face of ruin,” Obama said during a town-hall-style meeting at the University of New Orleans.

Written by Keith Forest

October 16th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

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Deficit Complicates Push on Jobs,” - The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders pressed President Barack Obama on Wednesday to extend more elements of the existing economic-stimulus package, and to possibly add tax cuts that were rejected the first time around, despite a record budget deficit that is giving some lawmakers pause.

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the federal deficit for fiscal 2009 will be $1.4 trillion. That is somewhat better than the nearly $1.6 trillion the CBO projected in August, but much of the change stems from different accounting treatments for losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies the government took over last year.

Putting America’s Diet on a Diet,” - The New York Times

On his first day in Huntington, W. Va., Jamie Oliver spent the afternoon at Hillbilly Hot Dogs, pitching in to cook its signature 15-pound burger. That’s 10 pounds of meat, 5 pounds of custom-made bun, American cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo. Then he learned how to perfect the Home Wrecker, the eatery’s famous 15-inch, one-pound hot dog (boil first, then grill in butter). For the Home Wrecker Challenge, the dog gets 11 toppings, including chili sauce, jalapeños, liquid nacho cheese and coleslaw. Finish it in 12 minutes or less and you get a T-shirt.

So much for local color. Earlier that day, Oliver met with a pediatrician, James Bailes, and a pastor, Steve Willis. Bailes told him about an 8-year-old patient who was 80 pounds overweight and had developed Type 2 diabetes. If the child’s diet didn’t change, the doctor said, he wouldn’t live to see 30. Willis told Oliver that he visits patients in local hospitals several days a week and sees the effects of long-term obesity firsthand. Since he can’t write a prescription for their resulting illnesses, he said, all he can do is pray with them.

Universal healthcare coverage appears elusive,” - Los Angeles Times

As a key Senate committee prepares today to pass its plan to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, senior Democrats are acknowledging that it may be impossible to provide coverage to all Americans — a central goal of President Obama and his congressional allies.

That is fueling growing alarm among hospitals and insurance companies, which have made universal coverage a condition of their support.

Written by Keith Forest

October 13th, 2009 at 9:29 pm

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Reducing poverty with the guidance of the poor,” - Philadelphia Inquirer

Never underestimate the power of an old blue sweater - even one with a cheesy design of two zebras in front of Mount Kilimanjaro. Maybe especially one with zebras and a mountain.

That very sweater launched Jacqueline Novogratz’s career as an international social investor, and it is the inspiration of her recently published book, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World (Rodale, $24.95).

States not meeting renewable energy goals,” - USA TODAY

Across the USA, states are falling short of their goals to increase the use of renewable energy as Congress weighs a national renewable-energy standard.

Thirty-five states have set goals to use more electricity from solar panels, windmills and other renewable forms of energy, according to a database funded by the Energy Department. There is no central clearinghouse of states’ compliance records, but USA TODAY research and interviews with state and power company officials found nine states that have failed or expect to fail to meet their energy goals.

A Better Way to Health Reform,” - The Washington Post

The American health-care system suffers from three serious problems: Health-care costs are rising much faster than our incomes. More than 15 percent of the population has neither private nor public insurance. And the high cost of health care can lead to personal bankruptcy, even for families that do have health insurance.

These faults persist despite annual federal government spending of more than $700 billion for Medicare and Medicaid as well as a federal tax subsidy of more than $220 billion for the purchase of employer-provided private health insurance.

Written by Keith Forest

October 9th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

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Detroit: The Death — and Possible Life — of a Great City,” - TIME MAGAZINE

If Detroit had been savaged by a hurricane and submerged by a ravenous flood, we’d know a lot more about it. If drought and carelessness had spread brush fires across the city, we’d see it on the evening news every night. Earthquake, tornadoes, you name it — if natural disaster had devastated the city that was once the living proof of American prosperity, the rest of the country might take notice. (See pictures of the remains of Detroit.)

But Detroit, once our fourth largest city, now 11th and slipping rapidly, has had no such luck. Its disaster has long been a slow unwinding that seemed to remove it from the rest of the country. Even the death rattle that in the past year emanated from its signature industry brought more attention to the auto executives than to the people of the city, who had for so long been victimized by their dreadful decision-making.

Geoffrey Canada’s initiative, Harlem Children’s Zone, has grown to reach 8,000 children across nearly 100 city blocks,” - The Christian Science Monitor

Geoffrey Canada still remembers the saddest day in his first nine years on earth. Back then, Mr. Canada clung to superheroes – and to Superman especially. He liked the guy, but he especially liked the idea he symbolized: immediate and dramatic salvation. In his earliest days, Superman was a social-justice hero, saving a man from a lynch mob, fighting fires, stopping robberies – rescuing people from the same kinds of dangers that seemed to lurk, in the 1960s, in Canada’s rough South Bronx neighborhood. Superman, Canada had decided, was just the guy to fix a neighborhood full of poverty and drugs, to rescue Canada and his friends, to bring a little optimism to the merciless streets.

A Brooklyn of Wealth and Needs Gets a Major Charity All Its Own,” - The New York Times

Brooklyn, which never fully recovered from merging with Manhattan and losing the Dodgers, is about to get new fuel to stoke its stubborn brand of local pride: It is now rich enough to support a major charity of its own.

The Independence Community Foundation, long the largest private charity based in the borough, is changing its tax status so it can raise money rather than simply rely on income from its roughly $50 million endowment.

Written by Keith Forest

September 29th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

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Cash Incentive Program for Poor Families Is Renewed,” -  The New York Times

An experimental antipoverty program that pays poor families up to $5,000 a year for going to regular medical checkups, attending school and keeping jobs has been extended for a third year.

Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, said she was encouraged by some early results in the education component of the program that showed students improved their attendance and passed more exams when they were rewarded with cash.

Experts: Penny per ounce soda tax to fight obesity, health costs,”   - Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — In a bid to ramp up the public health battle against obesity, a group of nutrition and economics experts are pushing for a tax of 1 cent on every of ounce of sodas and other sweetened beverages.

Proposals for a hefty soda tax though have repeatedly fallen flat. The idea was even floated as a way to help pay for health care reform, but government officials on Wednesday said that’s not likely to happen.

 ”As farm incomes drop, grocery deals rise,” - USA TODAY

Consumers are reaping some benefits as farmers take their biggest hit in 35 years: lower food prices at the supermarket. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts farm income of $49.1 billion in 2009 when adjusted for inflation. That would be a 39% drop from 2008, a record year when U.S. farmers earned $80.4 billion after expenses.

It would also be the worst annual percentage drop since 1983. In dollars, it would be the worst since 1974, adjusted for inflation.

Written by Keith Forest

September 22nd, 2009 at 9:33 pm

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Van Jones, Patriot,” - Washington Post

It makes me sad and a little sick that Van Jones, the White House Green Jobs Czar, was forced to resign after being targeted by a vicious smear campaign. The Obama administration lost a brilliant mind who worked day and night to, as Van would say, “get the greenest solutions to the poorest people”. Indeed, Van did as much as anyone to put the concept of the Green Collar Economy on the map, including publishing a best-selling book with that title. More than that, he was one of the nation’s most pragmatic environmental visionaries, someone who was always thinking up practical, pattern-changing solutions to massive climate problems.

Van grew up in a small town in Tennessee, went to a provincial college, and wound up graduating from Yale Law School, launching a number of important nonprofit organizations, and winning way too many awards to count, including being named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list. He’s a remarkable American success story, eloquently captured in Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker profile.

The Social Side of Obesity: You Are Who You Eat With,” - NEWSWEEK

Sending your kids back to lunch-lady land this fall? Careful, your child’s dining mates may be upping his chances of packing on the pounds. A study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that how much tweens and teens eat can be influenced by how much their friends weigh.

In the study, 130 kids ages 9 to 15 were allowed to snack as much as they wanted while hanging out with a friend or with a peer they did not know. All the kids ate more when they were with a friend than with a stranger. But the overweight children ate the most when paired with an overweight friend - an average of 300 more calories than when they spent time with leaner friends. The research also found that friendship itself makes the appetite grow stronger: when overweight kids ate with similar-weight kids who were already their pals, they threw back an extra 250 calories than when they ate with chubby kids they had just met.

‘24 hours in the ER’ shows challenges of health system,” - USA TODAY

Dr. Robert O’Connor had taken charge of the emergency room only minutes earlier when the cellphone in his pocket rang: The Western Albemarle Rescue Squad was on its way with a 14-month-old girl who had suffered a possible seizure.

Ten minutes later, Tyler McNeely climbed out of the ambulance, her face frantic and her pale, subdued baby in her arms. Shana Crabtree, a third-year resident in green scrubs, waited for them at the University of Virginia Medical Center. EMT Andrew Todhunter delivered a staccato summary of Clara’s vital signs.

Written by Keith Forest

September 8th, 2009 at 9:12 pm

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U.S. Economy Gets Lift From Stimulus,” -  The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Government efforts to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy appear to be helping the U.S. climb out of the worst recession in decades.

But there’s little agreement about which programs are having the biggest impact. Some economists argue that efforts such as the Federal Reserve’s aggressive buying of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, as well as government efforts to shore up banks, are providing a bigger boost than the administration’s $787 billion stimulus package.

The Five Biggest Lies in the Health Care Debate,” - NEWSWEEK 

To the credit of opponents of health-care reform, the lies and exaggerations they’re spreading are not made up out of whole cloth—which makes the misinformation that much more credible. Instead, because opponents demand that everyone within earshot (or e-mail range) look, say, “at page 425 of the House bill!,” the lies take on a patina of credibility. Take the claim in one chain e-mail that the government will have electronic access to everyone’s bank account, implying that the Feds will rob you blind. The 1,017-page bill passed by the House Ways and Means Committee does call for electronic fund transfers—but from insurers to doctors and other providers. There is zero provision to include patients in any such system.

Weight-Loss Surgery Breaks Families’ ‘Obesity Cycle’,” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) — Obese mothers have children who are likely to be obese, but a new study concludes that weight-loss surgery can break the cycle.

Researchers found that women who had weight-loss surgery before becoming pregnant had children who were less likely to be heavy when compared with siblings who were born before the weight-loss surgery.

Written by Keith Forest

September 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 pm

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Grass Roots Put New Orleans Back on Its Feet,” - The Wall Street Journal
With Federal Aid Finally Flowing to Hurricane-Ravaged City, a Flurry of Rebuilding Helps Shield It from U.S. Downturn

NEW ORLEANS — This once-ravaged city is finally mending from Hurricane Katrina after years of administrative delays and political disputes that choked the flow of millions of dollars in federal aid.

Money now flowing through the city is beginning to deliver the most visibly widespread improvements since Katrina struck four years ago today. Scores of public works projects are under way. The last police precinct using a FEMA trailer as temporary headquarters moved into real offices earlier this year. More than half the public schools in New Orleans have been turned into higher-performing charter schools. Returning residents have pushed the population to 76% of its prestorm total of about 455,000.

Yes, We Can Afford Health-Care Reform,” - Washington Post

“Moderate” opponents of health-care reform like to say that we cannot afford it, particularly in the midst of a recession that has widened the deficit with both reduced tax revenue and the fiscal stimulus package. This was the argument advanced by Sen. Joe Lieberman on TV a week ago and repeated by Michael Gerson in this newspaper: “Obama’s massive spending, intended to stabilize the economy, also drained the Treasury, making it more difficult to propose major new expenditures.”

 ”Report maps out solutions to child obesity,” -  USA TODAY

To make it easier for children to eat healthfully and move more, local governments in towns and cities across the country need to help create a better environment, a new report says.

Children and their families should have access to grocery stores that offer plenty of healthful food such as fruits and vegetables, and schools shouldn’t be surrounded by fast-food restaurants. Children should be able to ride their bikes or walk safely to school, and they should have safe places to play afterward, says the report out today from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council.

Written by Keith Forest

September 1st, 2009 at 6:13 pm

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Stars Aligning on School Lunches,” - The New York Times

ANN COOPER has made a career out of hammering on the poor quality of public school food. The School Nutrition Association, with 55,000 members, represents the people who prepare it.

Imagine Ms. Cooper’s surprise when she was invited to the association’s upcoming conference to discuss the Lunch Box, a system she developed to help school districts wean themselves from packaged, heavily processed food and begin cooking mostly local food from scratch.

  ”Inmates grow, gather crops to feed the hungry,” - Times-Picayune (AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The nation’s food banks, struggling to meet demand in hard times, are turning to prison inmates for free labor to help feed the hungry.

Several states are sending inmates into already harvested fields to scavenge millions of pounds of leftover potatoes, berries and other crops that otherwise would go to waste. Others are using prisoners to plant and harvest vegetables.

The next healthcare battle: cutting Medicare Advantage,” - Los Angeles Times

President Obama, struggling to discredit bogus charges that his healthcare overhaul would create “death panels,” soon could face another emotionally charged obstacle — a plan to trim the federal subsidy for a program used by nearly a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries.

The program, known as Medicare Advantage, pays insurance companies a hefty premium to enroll senior citizens and provide their medical services through managed-care networks.

Written by Keith Forest

August 20th, 2009 at 7:48 pm