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Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

Erich Jarvis is an associate professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. He leads a team of researchers who study the neurobiology of vocal learning, a critical behavioral substrate for spoken language. The animal models he studies include songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds. Like humans, these bird groups have the ability to learn new sounds and pass on their vocal repertoires culturally, from one generation to the next. Jarvis focuses on the molecular pathways involved in the perception and production of learned vocalizations, and the development of brain circuits for vocal learning.


To accomplish this objective, Dr. Jarvis takes an integrative approach to research, combining behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological, and molecular biological techniques. The discoveries of Dr. Jarvis and his collaborators include the first findings of natural behaviorally regulated gene expression in the brain, social context dependent gene regulation, convergent vocal learning systems across distantly related animal groups, the FOXP2 gene in vocal learning birds, and the finding that vocal learning systems may have evolved out of ancient motor learning systems.

In 2002, the National Science Foundation awarded Jarvis its highest honor for a young researcher, the Alan T. Waterman Award. In 2005 he was awarded the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award providing funding for five years to researchers pursuing innovative approaches to biomedical research. In 2008 Dr. Jarvis was selected to the prestigious position of Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Jarvis received a B.A. from Hunter College and a Ph.D. from Rockefeller University......Read More

                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor


A national organization is issuing a complaint that Bank of America has contributed to continuing racial segregation. Dayton Business Journal: Groups claim BofA contributes to racial segregation.
The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, in partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance announced Tuesday it has filed a complaint against Bank of America because of its failure to maintain and market distressed properties that it owns in minority neighborhoods in Dayton, Atlanta, Dallas, Grand Rapids, Mich., Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Oakland/Richmond/Concord, Calif., Phoenix and Washington, D.C.

The national organization has previously launched investigations against U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo, but the investigation against Bank of America is the largest yet, said Shanna Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.

“Bank of America’s failures to appropriately maintain and market their properties have perpetuated the segregation that exists in our area,” said Jim McCarthy, CEO of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center.

A Dayton-area nonprofit is joining a national organization in issuing a complaint that Bank of America has contributed to continuing racial segregation in communities in Dayton.


About 60,000 Haitians were granted temporary protected status after Haiti’s January 2010 quake. Advocates say conditions are still too precarious for their return. Miami Herald: Haitians displaced by quake will be allowed to stay in U.S. an extra 18 months   .
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has extended Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in the United States for another 18 months, beginning Jan. 22, 2013.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to publish a notice in the Federal Register this week announcing the decision, which will allow about 60,000 Haitian citizens to remain in the United States until July 2014. Haitians will have 60 days to re-register from the day that the notice is published.

Haitian advocates and immigration activists welcomed the news and said they were grateful, but complained that a double standard and discrimination against Haitians continue.

“We had no doubts that TPS would be extended given the in-country conditions right now. We just were not sure if it was going to happen before or after the elections,” said Marleine Bastien, founder of Haitian Women of Miami. “We are grateful that it’s extended even though it is with the same failings that we have brought to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security.”

A little music from our friends to the South. Slate: The Godfather of Brazilian Soul.
Tim Maia would have turned 70 this Friday. The musician was a superstar in his native Brazil, but he never made it big in the U.S.—despite beginning his career here, arriving in Tarrytown, N.Y., illegally at age 17. He got deported back to Brazil after a marijuana arrest in Florida and hit it big back home a few years later. But not here.

Now David Byrne’s record label Luaka Bop is introducing him to American audiences with Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul of Tim Maia. T

Nigeria will tear itself apart unless it finds a political solution to the violence in the north. Economist: Hold your nose and talk.
More than 1,000 people have died in terror attacks there this year, an increase of more than 50% on 2011. In response the government has deployed a heavily armed security force on the streets of Africa’s most populous nation to fight the perpetrators, a Muslim extremist group called Boko Haram (“Western education is sacrilegious”). It strives, among other things, for better governance and strict adherence to Islam.

The conflict has the potential to engulf the entire country. Nigeria’s population of 160m people is evenly divided between Muslims and Christians, and many of them get along. But relations have worsened in recent years, partly because of land disputes. Clashes are increasingly common and religious ghettoes are forming in mixed cities. Boko Haram has attacked churches. Some politicians talk openly of a possible division of the country—an exceedingly dangerous prospect. When Nigeria’s territorial integrity was last in question, during the Biafran war four decades ago, 1m people died.

The insurgency is doing great economic damage, too. Foreign and domestic investors have fled. The GDP of northern Nigeria is reckoned to have shrunk by around 30% since 2010. Public services have ceased in some places because frightened civil servants no longer turn up for work. The gap between the already poor north and the wealthy south is widening fast.

The conflict may be spreading. About 300 Boko Haram fighters have been spotted in Mali, with Islamic extremists who earlier this year captured the north-east of the country. Boko Haram has links to various groups affiliated to al-Qaeda. Last year it blew up the UN head office in Nigeria. Several insurgencies in north-west Africa could fuse to create a vast ungoverned space including Niger, Chad and southern Libya—to function as a haven for militants preparing attacks.

The Nigerian government’s response is not helping. That is partly because of corruption. A quarter of the national budget is spent on security. Some of that money goes on the purchase of sophisticated weapons whose purpose is more to line the pockets of corrupt officials than to defeat insurgents. The government is also heavy-handed. More Nigerians are killed by the police every year than by Boko Haram. Paramilitary forces, known as “go and kill” units, undermine popular support for the government in the north.


The power of black consumers continues to grow. Washington Informer: Nielsen, NNPA Release 2nd Report on the Growth of the African-American Consumer.
A consumer group which continues to experience population growth, has unique generational behavioral trends and characteristics, and a projected buying power of $1.1 trillion by 2015, African-Americans are still a viable market segment full of business opportunities, according to the African-American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing 2012 Report released by Nielsen and the NNPA today.

Released during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's (CBCF) 42nd Annual Legislative Conference, the report is the second of three annual installments of a collaboration between Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a 72-year-old federation of 200 Black community newspapers.

Key insights from the report include:

� Advertising spending in Black media totaled $2.10 billion in 2011, compared to $120 billion spent with general market media during the same time period.

� 91% of Blacks believe that Black media is more relevant to them.

� Brand name products represent 82% of Black households' total purchases compared to 31% for private labels.

� 81% of Blacks believe products advertised on Black media are more relevant to them.

� 54% of African-Americans own a smartphone, a 21% increase from last year's ownership.

� 54% of the Black population is under 35; compared to 47% of the general population.

� 48% of Black grandparents live with their grandchildren and serve as primary caregivers.

� African-American Baby Boomers (45-64) spend more time at the stores or grocers, fast food restaurants and the gym, and they prefer television and print as primary media sources.

� Generation Y (18-34) African-Americans are more likely to spend time at someone else's home and select radio, mobile phones and gaming consoles as their media of choice.


Let's stop pretending that marriage equality will affect Obama's African-American turnout. The Root: Gay Marriage Won't Stop Black Voters.
As soon as ABC aired President Obama's May sit-down with Robin Roberts in which he gave his personal endorsement to same-sex marriage, the concern-trolling started: Will this stance hurt him with black voters, who are crucial to his re-election success? Black folks, so the conventional wisdom goes, are conservative on this issue and might stay home rather than re-up with Obama.

North Carolinians voted to ban gay marriage just a few days before the president's statement, and a lot of hay was made over the fact that black voters supposedly voted 2-to-1 for the ban. See! This could be a serious electoral problem for Obama among his base! (Roberts herself even said to the president that this was "a difficult conversation to have" in the black community.)

And so it went. Last week The Root's Keli Goff posed the question to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), the head of the Congressional Black Caucus. Then the Associated Press spoke to a bunch of black pastors who said it was possible that black Christians might sit out this election. Just Monday, NPR chatted with the Rev. Derek McCoy, a Maryland pastor who runs a group opposed to same-sex marriage and is trying to defeat a ballot initiative there that would legalize it. McCoy said that he has heard pastors call for people to sit out this November.

But this hypothetical voter sit-out is not a real thing.

Tellingly, Cleaver told Goff that the number of people who might not vote would be "insignificant"; none of the pastors the AP spoke to named a single Obama supporter who said that he or she would abstain from voting; and McCoy was left awkwardly trying to explain how this was a serious issue for people of faith but, uh, he totally wasn't advocating that people stay home and not vote.

And what about all those black North Carolinians who voted to ban gay marriage? That number appears to have been made up. No, seriously: The Politico story in which that number first appeared didn't say where it came from, and ABC reported that there was no exit polling done in North Carolina for that vote.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Dogs across America are barking...race, drudge, and the "Obama Phone". The Atlantic: Just How Racist Is the 'Obama Phone' Video?.
There was a video leading the Drudge Report on Thursday afternoon of a poor black woman with messed-up teeth saying she's voting for President Obama because he gave her a free phone, and perhaps you have some questions about it. Questions like: Is this video racist? Is Obama really giving away phones? Is anyone really bothered by these Obama Phones? And, come on, this is just blatant racism, right? We'll try to answer them.

Is this Obama Phone phone real?

Sort of. The Federal Communications Commission has a program called Lifeline that provides low-cost or free phone service. The agency's website says this is because it and Congress "recognize that telephone service provides a vital link to emergency services, government services and surrounding communities." Who qualifies varies by state, but "in general," to qualify you must have an income that  is no more than 135 percent of the federal poverty line, or be enrolled in assistance programs like Medicaid, public housing assistance, discounted school lunch, or yes, food stamps. (This piece has a good overview of the issue.) Strictly speaking, it's not a government-funded program: the telephone companies make payments to a fund administered by a non-profit called the Universal Service Administrative Company, but anyone with a phone bill chips in through a surcharge on their service.

Is the Obama Phone Obama's doing?

No. The universal service requirement dates back at least to the Communications Act of 1934. The Lifeline program specifically was started in 1984 under President Reagan and was expanded in 1996 under President Clinton to allow qualifying households to choose to apply the benefit to either a landline or a cell phone. So no, it's not an Obama handout.

Shockingly, despite the bipartisan origins of the service, the idea of an "Obama Phone" for the undeserving has existed for a long time.

Welcome to the Front Porch


If you are new, introduce yourself, grab a chair, a bite to eat and rap with us for a while.

Originally posted to Black Kos on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Black Kos community and Barriers and Bridges.

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