5 things you should be talking about

What’s up fam,

I wanted to hit a variety of topics today.

1) First off, why is there not more coverage of the relief efforts of people impacted by the earthquakes in China and Myanmar? In case you hadn’t read, nearly 70,000 people died in this earthquake and millions more are now homeless. To help put it in context, imagine instantly losing 7 people in your life without being able to say goodbye and multiply that grief by 100,000. I guess coverage of the earthquake is worth far less than what the DNC RBC planned to do with the Michigan and Florida delegates.

Empathy is the key to solving so many of the world’s problems but if you get your empathy cues from the media. Do you remember the famous line on SNL when Guiliani told us that it was OK to laugh again? This line marked the end of the grieving period and before long, claims that “We will never forget” rang hollow. Remember that more often than not, stories not widely covered by MSM are what we should really be investigating.

I am reminded again of the horrible movie, 300 where people of color were nameless, faceless, and whose vast numbers made their killing appear to be insignificant as stomping on an ant. Give of yourself and donate some money to the relief efforts.

2) While you are at it, don’t forget about the folks still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The trailers that were rushed to those impacted by Katrina put more lives at risk, many of them children, due to lapses in safety regulations. The Washington Post reports, “Formaldehyde — an industrial chemical that can cause nasal cancer, may be linked to leukemia, and worsens asthma and respiratory problems — was present in many of the FEMA housing units in amounts exceeding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s recommended 15-minute exposure limit for workers, the limit at which acute health symptoms begin to appear in sensitive individuals… A price has already been paid by trailer residents such as Nicole Esposito, 25, a full-time warehouse worker in Slidell, La. She first noticed her toddler’s symptoms after moving into a FEMA trailer in April 2006: an endless series of coughs, colds, sinus infections, earaches and pink, crusty eyes. Treatments and antibiotics had no effect, and soon Alexa, now 4, and later her newborn sister, Alyssa, now 16 months old, regularly needed atomizers to help them breathe.”

3) I support Obama BUT the most visible change you will probably ever realize takes place where you live. The greatest travesty will happen if Obama gives his inauguration address and will ask people to essentially be community organizers and the bulk of his supporters respond, “Never mind, I just wanted him to get in office.” When Obama says change from the bottom up, he is talking about you stop looking at him for change and be soldiers for change at the local level.

4) The Commonwealth fund released a report that found “There were 13.7 million Americans aged 19 to 29 without health insurance in 2006, up from 13.3 million in 2005, according to the latest federal data, the report said.” If you are reading this article and you don’t have health insurance, please do what you can to get it as soon as possible. You can’t afford to not have it if something happens to you. Not for nothing, the health care reform debate is partly fueled by this idea that only those who need it, (those who are older and typically more sick) should buy it and those that don’t need it (read: young people) shouldn’t have to. This fallacy gives young people a false sense of security and if you fall in this category, get some act right.

5) The New York Times has an article describing how banks are starting to not extend loans to students at 2-year colleges, for profit institutions, and otherwise less competitive institutions. I am livid at the gall of these companies to erect more barriers to higher education. From the article, “If we put too many hurdles in their way to get a loan, they’ll take a third job or use a credit card,” said Jacqueline K. Bradley, assistant dean for financial aid at Mendocino College in California. “That almost guarantees that they won’t be as successful in their college career.” It seems like this is where the government steps in and says to the banks, “If you won’t provide these loans, we will cut out the middle man and provide these loans directly to students because the federal government understands the strategic importance of higher education to our nation’s sense of justice, quality of life, equal opportunity, and our continued economic competitiveness.”

More from the New York Times article,

Citibank has been among the most aggressive in paring the list of colleges it serves. JPMorgan Chase, PNC and SunTrust say they have not dropped whole categories, but are cutting colleges as well. Some less-selective four-year colleges, like Eastern Oregon University and William Jessup University in Rocklin, Calif., say they have been summarily dropped by some lenders.

The practice suggests that if the credit crisis and the ensuing turmoil in the student loan business persist, some of the nation’s neediest students will be hurt the most. The difficulty borrowing may deter them from attending school or prompt them to take a semester off. When they get student loans, they will wind up with less attractive terms and may run a greater risk of default if they have to switch lenders in the middle of their college years.

Tuition and loan amounts can be quite small at community colleges. But these institutions, which are a stepping stone to other educational programs or to better jobs, often draw students from the lower rungs of the economic ladder. More than 6.2 million of the nation’s 14.8 million undergraduates — over 40 percent — attend community colleges. According to the most recent data from the College Board, about a third of their graduates took out loans, a majority of them federally guaranteed.

Let’s get back to basics,

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

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