Public Policy Council
The National Urban League created a President’s Council of Economic Advisors to assist the league in efforts to mold national economic policy and help advance its economic empowerment agenda. The council, made up of some of the nation’s leading economists and the first of its kind at a civil rights organization, is being chaired by Bernard E. Anderson, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. It will meet twice a year to devise policy recommendations on issues central to the league’s core mission, such as job creation, education, immigration, income inequality and housing, among others. Other members are Gerald D. Jaynes, Ph.D., Department of African American Studies, Yale University; Alan Krueger, Ph.D., Department of Economics, Prince-ton; Lucy Reuben, Ph.D., Fuqua School of Business, Duke; and William M. Rodgers, Ph.D., Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning, Rutgers.
The Guiding Hand Inc., a Newark, N.J.-based non-profit organization, used its first annual pre-Father’s Day Art & Jazz Fest Fundraiser in June to launch a campaign for mentors to take an active role in the lives of at-risk youth. Smooth jazz artists Pieces of a Dream headlined the fund-raiser. The Guiding Hand enrolled attendees in their new Saturday morning mentoring program at the Newark Public Library, which will link young people with positive role models. The organization works to get the young people of Essex County off the streets, back into school and into effective participation in civil society.
Many African-Americans are taking desperate measures, such as delaying filling a prescription or skipping doses, to counter the high cost of prescription drugs, according to a new AARP national study of adults 18 years of age and older. Thirty-eight percent of African-Americans said they experienced difficulty paying for drugs and 68 percent expressed concern about their ability to pay for prescription drugs over the next two years. The study also shows that more than 87 percent of African-Americans support state legislation to allow the states to do bulk purchasing of prescription drugs and pass the savings on to those without adequate drug coverage. A large majority, 79 percent of African-Americans, also supports legislation that would require drug manufactures to report their spending on marketing to doctors.
After 43 Years
A federal jury in Mississippi found James Ford Seale, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, guilty in the kidnapping and eventual slayings of two African-American men in 1964. Seale and other Klansmen conspired to abduct, interrogate, beat and eventually murder Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charlie Eddie Moore, both 19 years old at the time. Several months after the kidnappings and murders, divers recovered from the river the badly decomposed remains of the two young men. Seale is the first and only individual to be convicted for participating in the kidnapping and murders. In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the investigation and prosecution of unsolved civil rights era murder cases.
The African-American group, Project 21, says Caterpillar Inc.’s participation in the United States Climate Action Partnership, which lobbies for energy restrictions on the U.S. economy that would hurt both low-income individuals and Caterpillar customers, is an example of “both corporate financial and social irresponsibility.” The group is urging Caterpillar to withdraw from USCAP. The Congressional Budget Office found that most of the cost of meeting a cap on carbon dioxide emissions would be borne by consumers, disproportionably harming fixed- and lower-income households. As a percentage of wages, the poorest quintile would pay nearly double the costs borne by the richest quintile. The so-called “cap-and-trade” system also would target Caterpillar customers, including Black farmers, Project 21 says.
Venture Capital-Backed IPOs
Eleven venture capital-backed companies raised $1.6 billion through initial public offerings (IPOs) on U.S. stock exchanges in May 2007, the first time monthly offerings from venture capital-backed companies has reached the double digits since October 2004, according to data from Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association. The May 2007 offerings also marked the largest amount of dollars raised since August 2004, when the IPO offer amount, bolstered by the debut of Google, reached nearly $1.9 billion. The industry composition for the first five months of 2007 shows the majority of offerings occurring in the medical, health, and life sciences industries, followed closely by information technology. Average performance is strongest for offerings in the information technology sector.
Until the end of September, U.S. travelers will be allowed to fly without a passport only if they present a State Department receipt showing they have applied for a passport and government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license. Those with receipts but no passports would receive additional security scrutiny, which could include extra questioning or bag checks. The government’s new proposal also would temporarily lift a requirement that citizens flying to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda use U.S. passports. The rule, and its suspension, does not affect Americans driving across the Canadian or Mexican borders or taking sea cruises, although those travelers are expected to need passports beginning next year.
Catholicism in Africa
Africa is the fastest growing part of the Catholic Church. In the past 25 years, the number of Catholics in Africa has increased from 55 million to 144 million and the number of priests has increased by 73 percent. In the 20th century, the continent went from a Catholic population of 1.9 million in 1900 to 130 million in 2000, a staggering growth rate of 6,708 percent, according to an article in the National Catholic Reporter. Half of all adult baptisms in the world, the surest sign of missionary expansion, are in Africa. Inexorably, pastoral and intellectual energy in the church will follow population, and this means that African leaders are destined to play an increasingly important role in the global church, the article says.
GLOBAL BUSINESS - Footwear Tax
Backed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Democratic and Republican lawmakers in June introduced in Congress the Affordable Footwear Act to eliminate high import tariffs on children’s and low to moderately priced shoes. AAFA says U.S. import tariffs on footwear cost U.S. footwear companies $1.9 billion in 2006, with the highest tariffs on lower-cost shoes. It says the cost of the tariffs is passed on to the consumer, “acting as a regressive tax on hardworking low- and middle-income families.” In some cases, the import tariff may comprise nearly 40 percent of the retail price tag on low to moderately priced shoes, while expensive luxury shoes enter the country under low duties, with many entering duty-free, AAFA says.
GLOBAL BUSINESS - Exporting to Asia
Small and medium-sized U.S. companies that wish to do business in Asia can display their products at China’s new Luichi Kunshan Trade Center, according to the Global Trade & Technology Center, of New York City. The center is scheduled to open this July just outside Shanghai. Companies can utilize its showroom space rent-free until their first export transaction. From then on, they must pay the center a monthly rent, which includes services, plus a commission on each transaction. Companies are required to first enroll in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s BUY USA program (www.buyusa.gov ). For more information, contact Myles M. Matthews at GTTC, 212-421-1015, firstname.lastname@example.org .