Friday, May 26, 2006

Memorial Day and Fleet Week

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor Veterans who gave their lives for this country and to a certain extent, men and women who are active in the U.S. Military. It's not just about chillin' and grillin', however, it is the day we use to signal that summer is right around the corner--so we blend the two. I heard that the end of May was chosen because it was thought that by that time, flowers would be in bloom all over the world.

Former POW Cpl. Joseph Hudson (right) presented the then U.S. Military Academy Commandant Brig. Gen. Leo Brooks with an American flag on behalf of all who serve and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation's freedom during the 2003 pre-game events of the 104th Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia. Brooks now works for another branch of the U.S. Government.


A 10th Mountain Division Soldier uses binoculars to look for enemy activity while a fellow Soldier unfurls an American flag near the village of Loy Karezak, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Gul A. Alisan. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.


In 1866, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the birthplace of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Linda Patterson, founder of America Supporting Americans, applauds the U.S. Army Drill Team during a Twilight Tattoo in her honor on the White House Ellipse. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, chief of Public Affairs, applauds on left and on the right is Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Galen B. Jackman.

But what about Fleet Week? I was led to believe it was a time to be as friendly as possible with all of the seamen.

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,Fleet Week is a United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard tradition in which active military ships recently deployed in overseas operations dock in a variety of major cities for one week. Once the ships dock, the crew can enter the city and visit its tourist attractions. At certain hours, the public can take a guided tour of the ships. Often, Fleet Week is accompanied by military demonstrations and airshows such as the Blue Angels.

Well, it all seems like a fine reason to celebrate to me. Pull out the grills, balance the veggies with the pork, beef and fish and have all the fun you want.

Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks salutes a fallen Soldier display for Sgt. DeForest Talbert, an Alexandria native who was killed in Iraq this year while on patrol. Talbert was memorialized during a Veterans Day program at Alexandria's Black History Museum.

These days were set aside for Americans to enjoy being in this country because of the hard work of many who have come before us. That would be Africans brought over from Africa enslaved then later freed, European, Hispanic, and Asian immigrants who willingly traveled to this country and anyone else who wants to be here.
Because of those who gave their time and lives in the U.S. Military, we get to chill and grill, kick back and enjoy. Just don't forget who made all of this possible.
##yeah##

Monday, May 22, 2006

Legends Ball

Oprah is so wonderful. Her parties, I thought, were usually a

private affair. It wasn't until I saw all of the love and power

under one roof did I really truly think of how wonderful a person

Oprah has become and what a wonderful gift she has given television

viewers by broadcasting the Legends Ball.

She can have all of the parties she wants and never reveal what happens

to the public but she shared the Legends Ball.
I was moved by the tribute because I understand how
the road to success for women and minorities is paved. It's not a crystal staircase at all. There are insults to endure, wrongs slow to be made right, hurt feelings rushed to heal and tears. Most of this is held inside and turned into either destruction or resilience. Oprah and the Legends she honored Monday night defined the latter. Success is a hard road for anyone but for Oprah to remember to thank these women gave me strength to do better.

She is such a positive role model.

Before the show came on, I was in a mood and a little tired. But after a homemade

pizza, clothes washed and children bathed, I found

it was one of the few shows of interest my 14-year-old daughter and

I could watch together and not feel uncomfortable.

No one but Oprah could do this kind of work and make it work. Tears

flowed when they passed the mic. I had never seen anything like the

Legends Ball in my life and now Oprah will have to bless the Lord

and make it a regular televised event--Amen--because no one can

ever get all of those voices together but Oprah!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Whooweeee Barry Bonds is the Man!

Congratulations Barry Bonds on tying Babe Ruth's record with your 714th career homerun.
...and it was all on Marshaund's Birthday!
Happy Birthday and I hope it was a good one!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Power 92 Morning Jump Off

Listening to WPWX Power 92.3 on the Morning Jump Off, the Chocklit Jok Trey, cast doubt on the validity of America's greatest tragedy--Sept. 11, 2001.
He said a plane crashing into the Pentagon could not have vaporized on contact. He said he looked it up and that 12 tons of steel and titanium couldn't burn up completely on jet fuel alone (although he said kerosene but I don't what comprises jet fuel).
Is this just another conspiracy theory or are these valid concerns of our braintrust?
Anyways...
Shout out to Trey in the morning because he stepped up and raised the bar in morning drive time hip-hop radio. Generation X has a brain and we have to use it to listen to him.
Thanks Trey!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Please.

Why is there a trend in men not marrying the mother of their children?
Why is it that women are willing to allow this to happen?
(I am NOT speaking about anyone in the Entertainment industry because they can afford to do as they please.)One way to stop this is to stop getting pregnant out-of-wedlock. Men believe inpregnating a woman as a manly right of passage but never really stop to think about the child who has to live with the desicions their parent's have made.
MEN: What woman is good enough to have your child but not good enough to marry? How is that logical?
Many men say that the woman that they marry has to, "bring something to the table," because they don't intend on financially supporting them during the marriage. These are the same men who will get angry when their women makes eyes at other men.
One cannot have it both ways.
Either you are going to be a complete man and care for your wife or you are going to be a young boy looking for a girlfriend (or prom date) the rest of your lives. Desperate women often find themselves settling for the prom date.
They're not happy, whole or complete but in the back of their minds they are saying, 'he's good enough--for now' or 'I wanted a baby anyway,' without ever thinking about their or their children's future.
Stupid women think, 'he'll always be mine now. I got his baby!' or 'He'll change. I'll just wait him out.'
These women spend their time going through the their man's pockets for evidence of infidelity and calling strange women looking for their husband.
That mess is embarrassing. It's like leasing a man but forgetting that the lease will end and you'll have to give him back to Cupid or something.
People, just stay single and childless if you have to because any man that wants you to be his baby's momma without the benefit of marriage is nuts.
Marriage is an old world tradition of melding backgrounds and families to build stronger familes. If you are not willing to play by those rules then don't just take the parts you like--as if you are a child--but take the whole good with the bad.
My next tirade will be on men who finally marry their baby momma or girlfriend and then decides to start being mean to her.

##yeah!##

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

ACORN Fights for Seniors

g-nipsco 05-03-06
Copyright LJM 2006

GARY--The first leg in the race for justice has been run.
A midday protest Wednesday by the Northwest Indiana Association of Community Organizations
for Reform Now at the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, drew at least 30 supporters
and garnered a promise of a meeting from NIPSCO executives.
"We have a meeting with Mike Suggs at the local office. He wants to resolve some issues. In the immediacy, we will work out the problems of our members and from there...meet with the president of NIPSCO. That is what we came down here for today, we wanted to get a meeting," the Rev. Eric Weathersby, NWI ACORN leader, said.
He and his wife Katherine, are members of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago.
Tom Cuddy, a NIPSCO spokesman, said said a protest won't resolve the issue of high natural gas prices.
"We're going to meet Thursday to find out what (Weathersby's) issues are and work with him to resolve them," he said.
Cuddy said NIPSCO doesn't charge customers on energy assistance a deposit greater than two months service and in some instances, one. Customers pay a deposit when they have bad credit or a poor payment history with the company.
"Our goal is to keep our customers connected," Cuddy said.
Weathersby told ACORN members at their headquarters located 624 Broadway, that the bills that ACORN will negotiate will be for members of the group.
"We'd like it to be much broader but people have to come out and come together. These
people took time out because they believe in what ACORN is doing," he said. Membership in
ACORN is $20 per month.
Although local ACORN organizers are helping members with bills, they still have a broader
agenda. They want NIPSCO to allow a portion of deposits to be used to pay off winter
heating bills, make deposits affordable--no more than seven percent of a low to moderate
family's income--and provide a payment plan option that allows families to gradually pay
off their debts without fear of service disconnection.
Glen Park resident, Walter Avery--who was not a part of the protest--said the state should consider taking control of NIPSCO.
"There should be a lot more federal and state control. Illinois took over their
(power company). Now it's either pay or be in the dark," he said. No one helped him pay his $2,000 bill in spite of a lengthy hospitalization, he said.
Protesters walked from their headquarters to NIPSCO holding signs that read, "Seniors Are
in the Dark! Stop Shut-offs Reconnect Now" and "When You are Poor, You Pay More." They
circled in front of the NIPSCO building drawing support from passersby in the form of horn honking.
"We have seniors and working families in danger of shut-offs," the Rev. Weathersby's wife, Katherine said. Emma Robinson, 75 and her sister, an 86-year-old Alzheimer patient, live in a home owned by Robinson's son, but have had the gas shut off. The electricity was kept on because Robinson is on oxygen, she said. A six-day stint in the hospital with a bout of pneumonia, led to her $1,488 bill, she said. Energy costs for her are $200 to $400 a month. She doesn't want to ask for help but she needs it.
Diane Austin, said because of non-payment of a past bill, she is negotiating repayment of her daughter's bill in the house that they share. She now regrets not paying the $260 past-due account in her name.
"They wouldn't give me a plan because it's in my daughter's name and some programs don't
help," she said.
A few members shared stories of making minimal payments or no payments at all. Some feigned
ignorance of cut-off notices received but say a cut-off notice is necessary in order to get
assistance from some groups.
###

$40,000 per year the new Poor?

g-uninsured 05-01-06
Copyright LJM 2006

GARY--There are more than 500,000 uninsured residents in Indiana and the state wants to do something about it.
Representatives from the Indiana Family and Social Service Administration held a
listening session Monday inside the Multi-purpose room at Ivy Tech Community College, as part of a statewide listening tour. Members from the social service, legislative and business community as well as citizens in Lake County were invited.

"We want to get a better feeling on how those in the state feel about
expanding Medicaid to the uninsured population," Brian Carnes, a FSSA media specialist said.

Of the state's uninsured, 70% are families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, which is $40,000 for a family of four. Indiana has the highest per capita rate of medical bankruptcies in the nation, amounting to more than 77,000 affected Hoosiers, according to information from the FSSA.
More importantly, between 1999 to 2004, Indiana had the nation’s second highest
percentage drop in workers who receive employer-sponsored health insurance.


Joseph A. Wszolek, a Highland councilman and owner of a real estate appraisal and consulting service, said he pays about $16,000 a year for health coverage at his business.

He's looking for a way to not become bankrupt. He speculated that if he were
Medicaid eligible, he wouldn't have to go broke paying for health insurance. He
said the Highland town council pays $1 million a year for health care out of a $12 million annual budget.

He is not alone. Each Indiana family with health insurance paid an additional
$953 in premiums to help cover the costs that providers incur serving the uninsured,
according to information from the FSSA. Additionally, projected health care costs will become more of a burden for the state.

However, those in the session seemed concerned about how the expansion could affect hospitals.
Beth Wrobel, Executive Director of Hilltop Community Health Center said by the
time an uninsured patient seeks treatment, the condition is sometimes worse, costing the state and the medical center more money.

Both John C. Diehl Chief Compliance Officer for the Methodist Hospitals, and St.
Catherine hospital Chief Financial Officer, Lou Molina, said if the Medicaid expansion will take funding away from what the state gives hospitals for indigent and Medicaid patients, it can severely affect their bottom line.

"I applaud the Governor for finding ways to pay for the uninsured
population, however...it may take money from safety net hospitals," he said.
Safety net hospitals have a high Medicaid and indigent patient population.
Hospitals can wait up to two years to receive Medicaid payments for patients. Meanwhile, there are indigent funds paid to hospitals by the state that may be used. The Medicaid expansion plan may get funding from a portion of those funds.

Many ideas were batted around. It helped FSSA Secretary, Mitch Roob get a better
feel of how the Medicaid expansion can best work for the entire state.
"This was tremendously helpful to get insight into the issues in Northwest
Indiana--which are different than they are in Indianapolis, or Madison, Indiana.
Our research shows that an increasing number of Hoosiers are without health
insurance for a variety of reasons," Roob said.
State Senator Earlene Rogers, said information gained at the listening sessions
may be incorporated into information that will later be presented to
legislators.
###

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

U.S. Army Thrift Savings Plan helps New Recruits

The Army’s Thrift Savings Plan is now offering matching funds to new recruits willing to fill critical job specialties within the Army as part of a pilot program that runs to Sept. 30.

All non-prior service enlistees who elect to serve five or more years on active duty in a critical specialty designated by the Secretary of the Army will receive matching funds on the first five percent of pay contributed from each pay period during their initial enlistment term. The first three percent of pay that is contributed will be matched dollar for dollar, and the remaining two percent will be matched at 50 cents on the dollar. Only those who sign up during the recruitment process and make regular contributions into their TSP account will receive the matching funds.

This incentive is only one part of a new campaign to increase enrollment in the TSP program, Army officials stress. The TSP is a government-sponsored savings and investment program that offers tax-deferred opportunities similar to the civilian sector’s 401 (k) plan. All Soldiers have the opportunity to participate in TSP at any time.

Following this pilot test, using matching-funds incentives for recruitment will be studied with the possibility of making it a more permanent part of the Army’s recruitment policies.


Currently, a Soldier can elect to contribute any percentage from their basic pay, incentive, special or bonus pay up to the IRS annual tax-deferred limit of $15,000. A Soldier pays no taxes on this money until it’s withdrawn. A special feature of TSP is that money contributed while in a combat zone will never be taxed, even if it is withdrawn early out of the account. The only taxes paid on combat-zone contributions are on the earnings, rather than the balance.

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