President Obama Set To Commute Sentences For Dozens Of Non-Violent Drug Offenders

President Obama Speaks at Georgia Tech

Following his plan to rectify the “war on drugs” that jailed thousands and destroyed communities, President Obama is expected to commute the sentences of dozens of non-violent drug offenders this summer, the New York Times reports.

The president, who has long discussed the effort to correct the tough and unfair sentencing that disproportionately affects minority men, will issue orders to free a number of federal prisoners; a move that will “commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century,” the Times writes.

In a rare Washington D.C. twist, sentencing reform seems to be a bipartisan issue, garnering support from Democrats, Republicans, and those in between.

Via the Times:

In the next weeks, the total number of commutations for Mr. Obama’s presidency may surpass 80, but more than 30,000 federal inmates have come forward in response to his administration’s call for clemency applications. A cumbersome review process has advanced only a small fraction of them. And just a small fraction of those have reached the president’s desk for a signature.

[…]

Overhauling the criminal justice system has become a bipartisan venture. Like Mr. Obama, Republicans running for his job are calling for systemic changes. Lawmakers from both parties are collaborating on legislation. And the United States Sentencing Commission has revised guidelines for drug offenders, so far retroactively reducing sentences for more than 9,500 inmates, nearly three-quarters of them black or Hispanic.

The drive to recalibrate the system has brought together groups from across the political spectrum. The Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy organization with close ties to the White House and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, has teamed up with Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, who finance Republican candidates, to press for reducing prison populations and overhauling sentencing.

According to PBS Newshour, inmates should have spent at least 10 years incarcerated and received what could be considered an unfair sentence based on current sentencing laws to be considered for commutations.

So far, President Obama has granted 33 commutations in the fiscal year 2015.

article by Christina Coleman via newsone.com

Educational Television for Preschoolers Shown to Benefit Young African-Americans

Sesame Street Cast (Photo via blogcdn.com)

Sesame Street Cast (Photo via blogcdn.com)

A new study authored by scholars at Wellesley College and the University of Maryland found that children who watched Sesame Street when it was first broadcast nearly a half century ago, did better in school as they got older. The data shows that exposure to Sesame Street was particularly beneficial to African Americans and children living in economically disadvantaged areas.

The data shows that Black children who lived in areas where Sesame Street was broadcast on stronger VHF channels where reception was more reliable and viewership was higher reduced their likelihood of being below grade level on academic assessment tests by 13.7 percent several years later when they were in elementary school.

Phillip B. Levine, an economist at Wellesley College and co-author of the study, said that “it is remarkable that a single intervention consisting of watching a television show for an hour a day in preschool can have such a substantial effect helping kids advance through school. Our analysis suggests that Sesame Street may be the biggest and most affordable early childhood intervention out there, at a cost of a just few dollars per child per year, with benefits that can last several years.”

Co-author Melissa Kearney, an economist at the University of Maryland, added that “it is quite encouraging to find that something so readily accessible and inexpensive as Sesame Street has the potential to have such a positive impact on children’s school performance, in particular for children from economically disadvantaged communities. These findings raise the exciting possibility that TV and electronic media more generally can be leveraged to address income and racial gaps in children’s school readiness.”

The article, “Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons From Sesame Street,” was published on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research. It may be accessed here.

article via jbhe.com

GBN Contest of the Week: Win an American-Made Chilton Table from Room & Board

Proud to be American (Made) Sweepstakes

Chilton table (Photo courtesy Room & Board)

Lesa Lakin GBN Lifestyle

by Lesa Lakin
GBN Lifestyle

There is nothing like a great table to anchor any room… so don’t miss your chance to enter Room & Board’s Proud To Be American Made Sweepstakes for a chance to win a Chilton table. Enter now through July 19th.

Retailer Room & Board is giving you a chance to win one of its American-made pieces of furniture. Over 90% of Room & Board’s timeless-yet-modern designs are made right here in the U.S., allowing them to support the livelihoods of people who share their passion for design and American craftsmanship.

Enter to win this gorgeous Chilton table with a spalted sugarberry top. One lucky winner will be chosen!

chilton_892212_a1_15

chilton_602545_f1_15

Giveaway details are available here:

http://www.roomandboard.com/enter‐to‐win

Chilton 72W Table in Spalted Sugarberry

http://www.roomandboard.com/catalog/dining/tables/chilton-72w-table-in-spalted-sugarberry

Check out the entire collection here:

http://www.roomandboard.com

Good Luck!

South Carolina Senate Votes to Remove Confederate Flag From State Capitol Grounds; House Vote Still Needed

Calls For Removal Of Confederate Flag Outside SC Statehouse Grow In Wake Of Race-Fueled Charleston Church Shooting

UPDATE: Monday, July 6, 2015 4:50 PM EST

In a 37-3 vote, the South Carolina Senate decided to remove the Confederate flag from State House grounds.  But the physical act of removing the flag may take some time, NBC notes.

The movement to take down the flag has two more hurdles: The bill needs to pass with a two-thirds vote in the South Carolina House, which is likely to be a tougher struggle than in the Senate. Several powerful House Republicans, including Speaker Jay Lucas, have not yet said how they’ll vote. If the bill passes the house, it would head to the desk of Gov. Nikki Haley, who has said the flag’s removal would be a way to honor the nine black victims gunned down by a white gunman at a Charleston church.

This is a developing story…

————

Weeks after a gunman shot nine people in a racially fueled attack on Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME church, South Carolina lawmakers are set to debate whether to remove the Confederate battle flag from State House grounds, or leave it flying high.

The debate to remove the flag was sparked after photographs of accused AME gunman Dylann Roof holding the storied and hurtful reminder surfaced. Days after the shooting, Gov. Nikki R. Haley called for the flag’s removal.

In a weekend interview with NBC’s Today Show, Haley said the removal would be an action of respect.

“You always want to think that today is better than yesterday — that we’re growing as a state, we’re growing as a country. When something like this happens, you reflect, and you say: Have we changed enough?” she said.

“I don’t think this is going to be easy. I don’t think that it’s going to be painless, but I do think that it will be respectful, and that it will move swiftly.”

According to the New York Times, the State Senate, composed of other elected officials who stand with Haley, will consider a bipartisan proposal to remove the flag.

If the Senate approves the measure, the debate will shift to the House; Republicans control both chambers. A survey of lawmakers by The Associated Press, the South Carolina Press Association, and The Post and Courier, a newspaper in Charleston, found last month that there was most likely enough support in the legislature to approve the plan.

There are, however, dissenters, the Times points out.

“This flag is a part of our heritage, so the people of this state should have the final say,” Mr. Bright, a Republican of Spartanburg County, told supporters on Facebook on Wednesday. Mr. Bright, who sought the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat last year, is also offering bumper stickers featuring the Confederate emblem and the message “Keep your hands off my flag” in exchange for campaign contributions.

A recent CNN poll echoes Bright’s sentiments — at least 57 percent of Americans see the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, not racism. But the flag, which flew high during a war fought to defend and justify slavery, dredges up the painful and horrific past of African-Americans in this country. On June 27, community organizer, activist, singer and North Carolina native Brittany “Bree” Newsome was arrested after she took it upon herself to scale the pole and remove the flag from State House grounds herself.

article by Christina Coleman via newsone.com

Professor Adams Bodomo Becomes 1st Black Faculty Member in the 650-Year History of the University of Vienna

Professor Adams Bodomo (Photo via chinaafricaproject.com)

Professor Adams Bodomo (Photo via chinaafricaproject.com)

Founded in 1365, the University of Vienna in Austria is the oldest educational institution in the German-speaking world. Now for the first time in the university’s 650-year history, a Black scholar has joined its faculty.

Adams Bodomo, from the African nation of Ghana, was appointed professor and chair of the department of African languages and literatures. He is the former director of the African studies program at the University of Hong Kong. Earlier, Professor Bodomo was a lecturer in the linguistics and African studies programs at Stanford University in California. Professor Bodomo is the author of Africans in China: A Sociocultural Study and Its Implications on Africa-China Relations (Cambria Press, 2012).

Dr. Bodomo earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree from University of Ghana in Legon. He holds a Ph.D. in linguistics and African studies from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

article via jbhe.com

Black Women Represent Fastest-Growing Group Of Entrepreneurs In U.S.

Black businesswoman in conference room with co-workers

(Source: Getty Images)

A new report shows that the number of businesses owned by African-American women has grown 332 percent since 1997, according to Fortune magazine.

The recently published study, 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report (pdf), commissioned by American Express Open, shows that the overall number of female-owned businesses grew by 74 percent between 1997 and 2015, which is 1.5 times the national average.

From Fortune:

Women now own 30% of all businesses in the U.S., accounting for some 9.4 million firms. And African American women control 14% of these companies, or an estimated 1.3 million businesses. That figure is larger than the total number of firms owned by all minority women in 1997, the report found.

“The only bright spot in recent years with respect to privately-held company job growth has been among women-owned firms,” according to the report. These businesses have added an estimated 340,000 jobs to the economy since 2007, while employment at companies owned by men (or with equally shared ownership) has declined…

The highest concentrations of black woman-owned businesses are in Georgia, Maryland, and Illinois, but African American women are launching companies in growing numbers across the country. In Detroit, where city leaders, foundations, and even President Obama have promoted entrepreneurship as an economic development tool, a tiny nonprofit is making outsize efforts at helping black women become business owners. Since it was formed in 2012, the Build Institute has graduated nearly 600 students from its eight-week courses, which teach the basics of starting and running a business, including such topics as money management and how to determine your break-even point. Nearly 70% of those students are women, and 60% of them identify as a member of a minority group.

This is a bit of good news that comes at a time when America is awakening from the slumber that has long tried to subjugate women of color in the workplace, and as progress in the so-called post-recession era appears to elude Black women. Congrats, sistas!

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

EDUCATION: For Future Filmmakers, A List of the Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Around the World

blacklily

(Image via philebrity.com)

Where would black cinema be in the 21st century without the films of NYU’s Spike Lee (“Do The Right Thing”, “School Daze”) and Dee Rees (“Pariah”, “Bessie”), or USC’s John Singleton (“Boyz N The Hood”, “Poetic Justice”) and Rick Fukiyama (“The Wood”, “Dope”), to name a few famous African-American film school graduates?  From New York to New South Wales, the list of film schools below earn accolades for their filmmaking, television and animation programs, and may interest African-American filmmakers of the future:

U.S. PROGRAMS:

American Film Institute
Los Angeles
AFI’s Conservatory is training 260 Fellows that are all, per the school, “worthy to watch.” The school’s participants create between four and 10 movies during the two-year program, and 37 alumni have received Oscar nominations in the past decade alone. An additional 118 have participated in award-winning projects ranging from “Boyhood” to “Mad Men.”

Art Center College of Design
Pasadena, Calif
The venerable private college’s film and graduate broadcast program continues to establish itself as an influential entity through its immersive curriculum and close working relationships between students and faculty. Its list of celebrated alumni includes director Zack Snyder and conceptual designers Ralph McQuarrie (“Star Wars”) and Syd Mead (“Blade Runner”).

Boston U. Department Film & Television, College of Communication
Boston
2015 saw the establishment of a one-year MFA program, as well as the Spelling Scholarship, named for producer Aaron Spelling, that will benefit up to 10 students. Nora Grossman is the latest BU alum to receive an Oscar nomination with her best picture nom for producing “The Imitation Game.”

California Institute of the Arts
Valencia
Generations of top animators and live-action filmmakers have benefited from CalArts’ diverse educational spectrum. Film/Video alum have won nine Oscars for animated film between 2003 and 2015, while domestic and international box office grosses from animated features helmed by alum directors rose to more than $31 billion.

California State U. Northridge, Department of Cinema and Television Arts
Northridge
CSUN’s Film Production alum have amassed an array of laurels from the screen industry, including awards from the Cannes Film Festival, DGA and Television Arts and Sciences Academy. The TV production program, too, has prepared students to work on series ranging from “The Amazing Race” to “Law & Order: SVU.”

Chapman U., Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
Orange, Calif.
Chapman’s Dodge College continues to provide both production and business-oriented culture to students interested in all facets of film, media and digital arts. Its production company, Chapman Filmed Entertainment, saw its first theatrical release, “The Barber,” open in theaters nationwide.

Colorado Film School
Denver
Colorado Film School hosts just 500 students, but produces more than 1,000 films yearly at its facility in Denver. It’s also one of the few institutions to offer a fully accredited university BFA professional training degree in production, and has partnered with ICM and top advertising agencies to offer internships.

Columbia U. School of the Arts
New York
An impressive array of film and television figures have received training from SoA’s MFA programs, which include visual arts, theater, film studies, writing and sound arts. Among its acclaimed alumni are directors Kathryn Bigelow, Nicole Holofcener and James Mangold, while past faculty includes producers Barbara De Fina and James Schamus.

Columbia College Chicago
Chicago
Practice and theory are emphasized at Columbia College Chicago’s Cinema Art + Science program, which offers nearly 200 specialized courses – the most comprehensive curriculum of any American film school. Students can also take advantage of its Semester in L.A., the only such program situated on a Hollywood studio lot.

DePaul U.
Chicago
The university’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media offers programs on every aspect of filmmaking, from directing to post-production. Students can take advantage of its exceptional digital media production equipment, and gain practical experience through its partnership with Cinespace Chicago, the largest film studio in the Midwest.

Emerson College Visual & Media Arts School
Boston
The Boston-based communications school further established itself as a direct conduit to the entertainment industry with its state-of-the-art Emerson Los Angeles building on Sunset Boulevard, which offers undergraduate, post-graduate and professional studies, as well as crucial internship opportunities. Alumni include Norman Lear and former MTV Networks president Doug Herzog.

Florida State U., College of Motion Picture Arts
Tallahassee
The film school’s selective admittance policy has paid off handsomely for FSU. Film school participants have won more Student Oscars and College Television awards in a single year than any other school — and the DGA recognized its “distinguished contribution to American culture through the world of film and television.”

Ithaca College, Roy H. Park School of Communications
Ithaca, N.Y.
Park School students are treated as industry professionals through close interaction with alumni and a full range of production scenarios through the student-run Studio, which allows them to develop, fund and distribute their own content. Student films have screened at or been honored by the American Society of Cinematographers, among others.

Loyola Marymount U., School of Film and Television
Los Angeles
LMU’s School of Film and Television is flush with impressive numbers, from the 400 partner companies who have hired alumni, including Disney, Sony and NBCUniversal, to the $1 million contributed to the local economy from 792 student productions — 41 of which were shot on the Red One digital camera.

New York U. Tisch School of the Arts
New York
The Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television offers training to undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of cinematic storytelling media, from dramatic writing and interactive telecommunications to photography and imaging. Its prestigious roster of alumni includes Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Joel Coen and Ang Lee.

Northwestern U., School of Communication
Evanston, Ill.
Northwestern’s multidisciplinary arts education has produced major figures in nearly every aspect of film and television production, from three-time Oscar-nominated writer John Logan and Emmy-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus to “Arrow” and “Flash” producer Greg Berlanti and such acclaimed producers and executives as Sherry Lansing, Jason Winer and Ken Kamins.

Pratt Institute
New York
The Brooklyn-based arts college has significantly increased its presence by relocating into a 17,000-sq.ft. space in Clinton Hill that will add 150 students to its 50-person film/video department. New additions can take advantage of Pratt’s expansive media curriculum, as well as the abundant internship opportunities inherent to New York City.

Relativity School
Los Angeles
The academic training arm of Relativity Media is a throwback to the studio system’s finishing schools, but with a significant difference: it benefits from both direct funding from the studio as well as an active production facility that offers students access to soundstages and production facilities on its 20-acre campus.

Ringling College of Art and Design
Sarasota, Fla.
The private, non-profit college has become a talent pool for studios seeking up-and-coming computer animators and designers. Ringling alumni captured Oscars for both animated feature (“Big Hero 6”) and short (“Feast”) at the 2015 ceremony, while students have won 11 of the past 13 student Academy Awards.

Rhode Island School of Design
Providence, RI
A diverse array of film and television talent, from Seth MacFarlane to Gus Van Sant, has graduated from RISD’s film/video/animation program, which is the largest in the state. Students study all three departmental disciplines in their sophomore year, which alumni have credited with expanding their visual and storytelling skills.

Sarah Lawrence College
Yonkers, N.Y.
Intimate seminar and workshop environments, an expansive and comprehensive program that incorporates screenwriting and media arts, and one-on-one mentorship with faculty advisors are among the high points of Sarah Lawrence’s film program. Notable graduates include J.J. Abrams, Peter Gould (“Better Call Saul”), Joan Micklin Silver and producer Amy Robinson.

Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah, Ga.
Opportunities for prospective film and television students at SCAD are plentiful. The school features state-of-the-art technology and facilities, including a 60,000-sq.-ft. Digital Media Center and Savannah Film Studios; the annual Savannah Film Festival, which is the largest university film festival in America; and workshops and presentations with television professionals at TVfest.

Stanford U.
Palo Alto, Calif.
The lauded university’s film and media studies program is anchored in the visual arts. True to its reputation for selectivity, the MFA in documentary film and video admits only eight students per year, preaching artistic expression, aesthetics and social awareness as well as endeavors into new media.

Syracuse U., College of Visual and Performing Arts
Syracuse, N.Y.
Budding filmmakers in animation at Syracuse can look to celebrated alumni for inspiration, including directors Chris Renaud (“Despicable Me”) and Henry Selick (“Coraline”). The program’s ties with the Syracuse Intl. Film Festival open doors for student involvement.

UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television
Los Angeles
Consistently considered one of the world’s best program’s, UCLA’s film program has hatched a platoon of filmmaking legends, from Francis Ford Coppola to documentarian Alex Gibney. Jeff Skoll’s recent gift of $10 million for the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment refocuses the school on promoting social change through entertainment.

U. of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts
Los Angeles
This beacon of excellence in filmmaking education continues to grow and expand. In Aug. 2013, construction began on the IMAX lab/theater space, which features two full-size IMAX projectors. This march, USC was voted best game design school in the country.

U. of Texas at Austin, Moody College of Communication
Austin
Moody College’s prestigious department of Radio-Television-Film offers a curriculum that focuses on the intersection of production, screenwriting and media studies. Home to the country’s first comprehensive 3-D production program, nearby festivals like SXSW provide inspiration and opportunity for both students and alumni.

Vanderbilt U.
Nashville, Tenn.
Located in the country’s homegrown arts mecca, students of the Nashville school’s Cinema and Media Arts program can hone in on a smorgasbord of topics like soundtracks, digital cinematography or 16mm shooting. The Vandy Meets Hollywood spring break program transports students to L.A. for studio visits and alumni networking.

Wesleyan U.
Middletown, Conn.
A leader in undergraduate film studies since the 1970s, the recent establishment of Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image has only expanded the umbrella program, which includes Wesleyan’s department of film studies, its cinema archives and the student-run film series. In April, the College of Film and the Moving Image announced a $2 million challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Yale U.
New Haven, Conn.
Offering both undergrad and graduate degrees, Ivy Leaguers at Yale are trained in film history, theory, criticism and production. Students can also take advanced screenwriting courses, use resources at the university’s Digital Media Center for the Arts and study abroad at Prague’s famed Famu.

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