The Clinton Dynasty

clinton

It all started in 1975 when Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham got married. Both of them were politically active for a long time and that’s why many political experts predicted bright future for this couple at least when it comes to politics and it seems that they were right. Bill Clinton has an impressive career. He was the 50th Attorney General of Arkansas (1977-1979), 40th and 42nd Governor of Arkansas (1979-1981; 1983-1992) and 42nd President of the United States (1993-2001). On the other hand, Hillary Clinton was politically active all the time so besides being the first lady of Arkansas and the first lady of the United States, she also served as a United States Senator from New York (2001-2009) and the 67th United States Secretary of State (2009-2013).

This couple had experienced their Golden Age in the 1990s and early 2000s when they were known as the Clinton Machine because they were able to eliminate their political opponents as a team. Unfortunately, their careers were not spared from scandals and this is especially true for Bill Clinton. He was one of the rare presidents who actually increased their popularity when they were finishing the first term. However, this popularity rapidly dropped once the Monica Lewinsky scandal became official. This made Bill Clinton the second US President to be impeached. What is interesting is that this scandal didn’t affect the Clinton dynasty and the marriage was unaffected too. Of course, privately, this scandal made their relationship more complicated, but the fact that they had one child together (their daughter Chelsea) made them stay together. There are some people who claim that this marriage was kept alive because of the public image especially because of the ambitions that Hillary has as a politician.

bill and hillary

In any case, after 2001, Bill Clinton remained active, but wasn’t directly involved in any process as a politician. He worked for the UN and regularly shared his opinion about current political events in the public. In 2008 he supported his wife Hillary as a presidential nominee and he is also doing this for the 2016 presidential race.

If we take a close look at their political careers, we will see that it looks like Hillary continued where Bill stopped. 2001 is the year when she became a senator and her political career is becoming more and more successful every year. editor@urbanmediatoday.com

NOTE:Hillary Clinton to open first Pennsylvania campaign office in Pittsburgh

Wolf Shares Cancer Diagnosis to Encourage Regular Checkups for Pennsylvanians

Gov. Wolf announced he has Prostate Cancer.
Gov. Wolf announced he has Prostate Cancer.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday morning that he will begin undergoing treatment for prostate cancer within the next few weeks.

Wolf, joined by his wife, Frances, met with reporters to reveal his diagnosis, giving three reasons why he would do so.

“First, I wanted to make sure you were aware of this, in the interest of clarity and transparency,” Wolf says. “Second, what I am going through is treatable and actually will not interfere with my duties as Governor.”

“Third, I just want to make the point that I found this in a routine checkup,” says Wolf. “Because I had the routine checkup, it was detected early, and I can do something about it. I want to make sure this is an example of why routine checkups matter, and make a difference.”

Wolf initially was alerted to the possible diagnosis in early fall, he says, and received confirmation “I guess two weeks ago, to what the real nature of the problem is.”

Wolf, who says he feels “great,” says his treatment will be a minor procedure because of the early diagnosis, although he declined to discuss exactly what procedure he would have.

“I don’t have all the details, but it’s not emergency surgery, it’s not emergency treatment, so this will be something that takes place in the coming months,” the Governor says.

“Prostate cancer is something older men get,” Wolf says. “A lot of older men die with prostate cancer, but not a lot die of it. It has the unfortunate moniker ‘cancer,’ but it’s a disease that, if detected early, you can do something about.”

The prostate is a gland found only in men which produces seminal fluid. According to the American Cancer Society, some cancers which affect the gland can grow very quickly, but the majority grow slowly. Autopsy studies show that many older men, and some younger men, who die of other causes also had prostate cancer which showed no symptoms. One in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease during his lifetime, with six of ten being older than 65. Diagnosis is rare before the age of 40, and one of every 38 men diagnosed will die of the disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and the second most-common cause of cancer-related death, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. African-American men are 61 percent more likely to develop the cancer, and almost 2.5 times more likely to die from it.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening for the disease for men past the age of 45 for African-American men or for those for whom a family history of the disease exists among brothers or fathers. Annual screenings are recommended beginning at 50 with a blood test called Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), which measures levels of antigens released by the prostate. A digital rectal examination by a physician is also recommended, but both the American Cancer Society and the PA Health Department call the decision to be tested a personal one which should be discussed between a patient and his doctor. Wolf says his diagnosis was made via a PSA test and a special biopsy.

Barring early detection via testing, symptoms of the disease include blood in the urine; pain or burning while urinating;  frequent urination, particularly at night or conversely, the inability to urinate; a weak or interrupted urine flow; or constant pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs.

Wolf says he has known people throughout his life who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and is familiar with the effects.

“We all know people who have gone through this,” Wolf says. “I’m convinced by people who have lived with this that I have gotten this very early on and that it is eminently treatable.”

Wolf has declined to discuss his chosen method of treatment except to emphasize that it will not include chemotherapy.

“It’s one of the normal types of treatment,” says Wolf, “but I think I will just leave it at that. I think it’s between me and my doctor, but it’s a mild, routine treatment, and the doctor is very sanguine, optimistic. It’s a quick ‘in-and-out,’ so I won’t be in the hospital for any period of time.”

Wolf says the long period of time between the initial suspicion of the disease and Wednesday’s announcement was not out of the ordinary.

“With this kind of disease, you take certain routine tests, and you get a number that says, ‘maybe you ought to check this out further.’ We did that in the fall,” Wolf says. “We did the checks, the biopsies, the echo — I don’t even know what you call the different x-rays and all that kind of thing — and all that takes us to confirm and actually understand better what the nature of the disease is. The first step was a very general, routine test.”

“The doctors are more than encouraging,” says Frances Wolf, the First Lady of the Commonwealth. “They know how to get their arms around it, they know what to do. We don’t need to be sad about this. There is every reason to expect this will be dealt with quite efficiently by the wonderful physicians. We are more than hopeful that he will beat it.”

“I want to make sure the public knows the importance of regular checkups to detect things like this, whoever you are and whatever the problem is,” the Governor says. “Regular checkups matter.”

For more information about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, the Department of Health recommends the following resources:

Department of Health Prostate Cancer
dsf.health.state.pa.us/health/cwp/view.asp?A=174&Q=198299

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/index.htm

American Cancer Society Prostate Cancer
cancer.org/docroot/lrn/lrn_0.asp

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Prostate Cancer Screening: A Decision Guide”
cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/publications/decisionguide/

 

Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network
ustoo.org/

 

By Nancy Hart

Nhart543@gmail.com

Twitter: @nhart543

Wolf Signs Bill to Seal Criminal Records, Create Economic Opportunity and Stability

Wolf Signs Bill to Seal Criminal Records, Create Economic Opportunity and Stability
Wolf Signs Bill to Seal Criminal Records, Create Economic Opportunity and Stability

“This is a jobs bill,” says Pennsylvania State Representative Jordan Harris. “This will help many of our citizens get not a handout, but a hand back into society.”

            Senate Bill 166, signed Tuesday morning by Governor Tom Wolf, creates a pathway whereby those with non-violent criminal histories can keep their records away from public view. Sponsored by Senator Stewart Greenleaf, along with 17 co-sponsors, the bill allows individuals to petition the court for “an order of limited access” for second- and third-degree misdemeanors, which would prohibit availability to employers while still being accessible to law enforcement.

            “When resources are scarce, we have to make tough decisions,” Harris says. “Our citizens deserve a second chance because it makes fiscal sense. My hope is that this is just the beginning, and not the end, for criminal justice reform.”

            Harris says the technical expungement will help to reduce recidivism, often a result of those with criminal histories’ inability to obtain employment. Greenleaf agrees.

            “A low-level misdemeanor in one’s past is often a barrier when seeking employment, long after they have completed their sentence,” Greenleaf says. “Getting people back to work is not only the right thing to do, but it also decreases the chances that they will commit another crime.”

            The bill allows any person to petition the court 10 years after the final disposition of criminal charges, whether it be the end of the case or the end of incarceration, whichever is later, in order to have the record sealed from release. Neither the courts nor their administrative offices would then be permitted to release information related not only to the conviction, but also to the arrest, indictment or other investigative information. First-degree misdemeanors as well as more serious criminal charges are excepted from the order for limited access. Three years must have passed since the date of arrest, no additional convictions during that time period may be added, and no new charges may be “in process.”

            “By giving someone a blemish on their record, it keeps someone from getting a job. It might even keep them from getting into college, or a school,” says Governor Tom Wolf. “This bill allows a judge to seal the criminal record of someone who was charged with a truly minor misdemeanor, was clean for seven to ten years, and has been duly judged worthy by a representative of the legal system to be ‘clean.’ This is good for Pennsylvania.”

            “Clearly, it’s good for the individual who is having the record sealed, but it’s also good for their families,” Wolf says. “Too often, we allow a minor offense, or the charge of a minor offense, at an early stage of life to ruin families.”

            “It’s good for companies who hire people with this misdemeanor in their background,” Wolf says. “At my company, I gave second chances, and it did two things for me: It broadened the potential talent pool I could hire from. It also gave me some really good employees because so often the thing they were charged with was truly something irrelevant to what I was hiring them to do in my company.”

            “Are we surprised that people recidivate when they get out of prison and they can’t get a job and they can’t get education,” Greenleaf asks. “There is a federal study that recently said there are about 550-some obstacles in your life if you are convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania: Not getting educational funding; not getting loans; not getting housing; not getting jobs.”

            “This will also take the burden off the Pardons Board,” Greenleaf says. “I have been hearing, over the years, that half their case load is associated with people who are trying to get an expungement on a situation such as disorderly conduct. This bill will take care of that.”

            “It’s all about giving people an opportunity to reintegrate into our society,” says Greenleaf. “It will save us money, ultimately, because they won’t become involved in the criminal process again since they have all the opportunities.”

            Harris says the bill is something he had hoped for since coming to Harrisburg in 2012.

            “Every day, in my District Office, we have people coming in who want to become gainfully employed. Sadly, many of them have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, and, until today, there was no pathway for redemption,” Harris says. “Many of them were locked out of opportunities they wanted to take.”

            “It just makes fiscal sense,” Harris says. “Just think, if we reduce the size of the budget for the Department of Corrections, just think how many young people we could send to college. Just think how many would get a quality education in Philadelphia, Allentown, Harrisburg, Reading. That’s the pathway we should be working on.”

            The bi-partisan bill resulted from compromise between the Senate and House, with the support of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, law enforcement and the American Civil Liberties Union. Representative Ron Marsico crafted an amendment in the House which allowed, Harris says, “a good bill that all sides agreed to.”

            According to statistics provided by Governor Wolf’s office, between 70 and 100 million Americans, “as many as one in three American adults, have some type of criminal record. A recent report estimated that between 33 and 36.5 million children — nearly half of all American children — have at least one parent with a criminal record.”

            Pennsylvania joins an estimated 27 states which allow some misdemeanor or felony convictions to be expunged or sealed.

            “This Act allows certain records to be sealed, meaning law enforcement and state licensing agencies will continue to have access to these records, but those records will no longer be an impediment for employment or housing,” Wolf says.

            “This is a valuable first step,” Harris says. “I look forward to continuing to work toward allowing Pennsylvanians who have made past mistakes a second chance to contribute to their communities and neighborhoods in a positive way.”

By Nancy Hart

Nhart543@gmail.com

Twitter: @nhart543

Wolf’s Second Budget Presented With Reprimand Regarding the First

download (14)

With the budget for the current fiscal year still in limbo following a failed attempt at agreement in December, Governor Tom Wolf came before a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate Tuesday to present his address offering his 2016-17 fiscal plan.

Unlike last year’s address, in which Wolf offered a message of positivity and hope for the future of the Commonwealth, this year, the Governor chose to offer a scathing criticism of legislators who have failed to commit to funding the needs of Pennsylvania’s citizens.

Noting that ordinarily the address would be an outline for the next year’s progress, Wolf instead pointed out that the state is mathematically in a budget crisis, facing a $2 billion deficit which is “a time bomb, ticking away. If it explodes — if the people in this chamber allow it to explode — then Pennsylvania will experience a fiscal catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen.”

The “explosion” which would result from the inability to meet basic obligations should the House and Senate fail to approve a budgetary plan, Wolf says, “will be felt across the Commonwealth. This year.”

Wolf says that in an effort to continue funding basic education, nearly three-quarters for all Pennsylvanians would see a property-tax increase in addition to those already added, yet “thousands of teacher will be laid off. Guidance and career counselors will be handed pink slips, as well. In all, more than 23,000 education professionals would be immediately yanked out of Pennsylvania schools. Class sizes will balloon by 30 percent.”

“Technical education programs will be cut. Special education programs will be cut,” says Wolf. “Head Start Programs will be cut.”

“Basic state services will also face devastating cuts,” Wolf says, noting that cuts would be required in prescription drug assistance and home and community based services for senior citizens; financial assistance for the mentally ill or intellectually disabled; child care funding, including matching federal funds; and domestic violence and rape crisis centers.

“Critical programs such as these make up nearly three-quarters of our human services budget,” Wolf says. “Simply put, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania cannot meet its obligations to its citizens if the General Assembly does not meet its obligation to pass a responsible budget.”

Wolf says that the budgetary crisis is the result of “kicking the can” in previous years,

“For years, our leaders tried to balance our state budget on the backs of our children and our schools,” Wolf says. “Instead of finding a sustainable way to deal with our deficit, Harrisburg chose to paper over the problem with a series of budgetary gimmicks and quick fixes. But, sooner or later, the rent is due.”

Citing repeated downgrades by credit ratings agencies as a result, Wolf says, “when Harrisburg doesn’t take our budget problem seriously, the fold who rate our credit stop taking Harrisburg seriously,” resulting in higher interest charges on the state’s $17 billon in debt and costing taxpayers and additional $39 million annually.

Urging members of the General Assembly to once again present a compromise budget for 2015-2016, Wolf says he is unsurprised that there are partisan differences of opinion about what should be funded, but is “asking that they join me in mustering the political courage to meet this crisis head on. This doesn’t require anyone to walk away from his or her principles. It merely requires we each declare that our highest principle is the responsibility each of us has to the people of Pennsylvania.”

In his address, Wolf gave no specifics about his plans for 2016-17. The proposed $32.7 budget, however, includes $1.6 Billion in mandated spending increases for debt obligation; corrections; human services and pensions. Also outlined is a planned $500 million increase in aid to school districts and another $120 million in increased spending on various other line items.       In addition to departmental cuts and consolidations in state government, funding for the increased spending would come from an increase in the Personal Income Tax from 3.07 percent to 3.4 percent; a bank share taxt increase from .89 percent to .99 percent; a near-doubling of taxes on cigarettes from $1.60 to $2.60 per pack in addition to a 40 percent tax on other tobacco products; a “promotional play” tax of 8 percent on gambling; an expansion of the sales tax base and Wolf’s long-favored Drilling Severance tax of 6.5 percent, with “Impact Fee Credit.”  This
“Sustainable Revenue Package” is projected to triple revenues.

Republicans say this year’s budget is a repeat of last year’s.

“He doubles down on his 2015-16 proposal to include even more runaway spending and massive taxes in this year’s proposal,” says Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. “Pennsylvanians certainly cannot afford Governor Wolf’s colossal proposed tax increases.”

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman called the proposal “a Groundhog Day budget.”

“This retread budget proposal offers superficial changes to his sizable tax-and-spend plan,” Corman says. “The Governor is doubling down on his failures to provide leadership on accomplishing a bipartisan budget agreement and is being disingenuous on the starting point for his ‘new’ proposal.”

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody says the body should first worry about passing a budget for the current fiscal year.

“We are at least at a half-a-billion dollar deficit if we don’t enact that,” Dermody says. “We need a responsible budget for 15-16, then to move forward with 16-17 on the Governor’s plan.”

Joseph Markosek, Democratic Chair of the Appropriations Committee, says the Governor’s speech “was right on. I don’t know how much you can emphasize it, but we have a huge, huge crisis, and I think there is a disconnect between what we see up here in Harrisburg and what people back home feel. Many of them think there is a crisis, but many of them don’t, and I think what the Governor told was tell the entire Commonwealth that we have a major crisis, but it’s not political, it’s math. We are roughly $2 billion in the hole. We have failed to do the right thing, and we need new revenues, we need sustaining revenues.”

“When you have good, family-sustaining jobs across the Commonwealth, you will have good communities and good schools,” says  Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, emphasizing that Republicans feel the Wolf proposal will be harmful to “job creators.”

“Right now, we have an economic growth rate that is less than one percent,” says Turzai. “Unfortunately, the Governor didn’t offer a ‘vision.’ He didn’t put forth the details of his budget. Unfortunately, there was just fear-mongering.”

“The Governor still wants an additional $600 million more in spending for 15-16, but if he were concerned about a gap between spending and revenues, spending an additional $600 million in 15, which multiplies again in 16-17 to $1.2 billion is not closing the gap between revenues and expenditures,” Turzai says.

“It’s absolutely absurd,” says Majority Leader Dave Reed. “The Governor keeps talking about this ‘framework budget,’ but the only part of it he is still proposing is greater taxes and greater spending. I was hoping [the Governor] would come back from Fantasyland, but instead, he left for Neverland. We are not going to rubber-stamp $3.6 billion in higher taxes, for $3 billion in higher spending, and ignore priorities for people across the Commonwealth.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa says he hopes the Governor’s speech “opened the eyes of the Legislature and of people across the Commonwealth. We have a crisis, and we have to get serious about it.”

“The bottom line is we have to get together and carve out what to do for the people of Pennsylvania, recognizing we have a significant structural deficit that needs to be resolved,” Costa says. “It’s not the Governor telling us that, it’s the Independent Fiscal Office, it’s the ratings agencies telling us we have to get our house in order.”

“Lawmakers have choices to make about Pennsylvania’s future; deal with tough issues up front or watch Pennsylvania wither as a consequence of self-inflicted fiscal wounds,” says Costa. “We need to come together and negotiate a bipartisan budget with the governor that makes key investments in education and deals with a $2 billion structural deficit.”

Corman says “proposals like today’s drive us further apart. He needs to show leadership to bring us together, not delve into politics to drive us apart.”

Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack says “we have to get this solved, and as soon as possible. The bottom line is, we should all be locked up in rooms and no one allowed to leave until this is accomplished. The Governor has had some good conversations with Republicans in the Senate, but the tone in the House is not a good one. It’s not all one-sided.”

“It’s time for the people in this Chamber to get back to work,” Wolf says, addressing the General Assembly. “We are going to have to stop playing games with our fiscal future.”

“If you can’t agree to the budget reforms I have proposed, then help me find a sustainable alternative,” Wolf says. “But if you ignore that time bomb ticking, if you won’t take seriously your responsibility to the people of Pennsylvania, then find another job.”

By Nancy Hart

Nhart543@gmail.com

Twitter: @nhart543

 

Heinz History Center Complements Commitment to Black History with Free Film Series

UMT Top Stories

Pittsburgh’s Senator John Heinz History Center has a long-term exhibit on the fourth floor titled “From Slavery to Freedom.”

Installed in 2012, the multi-media exhibit sponsored in a minimum 10-year commitment by BNY Mellon focuses on the history of African-Americans from origins in Africa to their arrival in North America on slave ships to today, with a special emphasis on Pittsburgh.

The exhibit includes textiles and artifacts from Africa, as well as actual artifacts, re-creations, pictorial, video and immersive descriptions of the history of American blacks throughout history, including “original hardware of slavery,” manumission, indenture and freedom papers discovered by the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds Office and interactive displays featuring the abolitionist movement and Underground Railroad.

“A section on the Civil War briefly talks about the hundreds of African-American men who fought in the Civil War, and highlights Congressional Medal of Honor Winner Alexander Kelly from Pittsburgh,” says Samuel W. Black, the History Center’s Director of African-American Programs.

“A section on the Reconstruction,” Black says of the period following the Civil War, “focuses on the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and how those impacted not just black America, but blacks in Greater Pittsburgh.”

A section focusing on the Great Migration and the Civil Rights movement “from the early 20th Century to the early 21st Century,” Black says, “features a rendition of the monument at Pittsburgh’s Freedom Corner [at Centre and Crawford in the Hill District] which features all the names of the Civil Rights activists in Pittsburgh.”

Accompanying the exhibit at the Strip District museum, the History Center also sponsors a series of films focusing on elements of Black History at the Homewood Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Previous years have featured dramatic recreations or films of a biographical nature, including documentary presentations on W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Jack Johnson in 2015, and Ida B. Wells in 2014. Black says the Wells documentary was particularly popular, especially because it is one of few which focus on women.

“We have been making our way through history,” Black says, noting that he has attempted to group films chronologically as the annual series continues.

This year, the series kicks off on Wednesday, February 10 with the 5:30 showing of The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords. The film focuses on the history of the black press, including the stories of journalists who risked their lives to bring the news to African-Americans. As part of this examination, Black hopes to bring a moderator from the New Pittsburgh Courier to speak at the event, particularly as a nod to the significance of the Courier as a “paper of record” for African-Americans across the country.

On April 27, the series continues with the biographical Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun, exploring the life of the first black woman to earn popular recognition for her literary achievements. In addition to interviews with scholars, the film includes “rare footage of the rural South, some of it shot by Hurston herself.” Black hopes to have a University of Pittsburgh-based Hurston scholar moderate this presentation.

On August 17, Jazz: The American Art Form J will be presented. An episode of New York City’s ABC-TV show Like It Is, hosted by the late Gil Noble, the show discusses major influences on mid-20th Century jazz, many from Pittsburgh including Billy Eckstine, Roy Eldridge, Art Blakey, Erroll Garner and Kenny Clarke.

Black says he had seen the television program years earlier in NYC while in graduate school, and, when seeking films for this year’s series, remembered “it was very focused on artists from Pittsburgh.”

The fourth and final film in the 2016 series is A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom, an examination of the labor unionist’s early life and career which influenced him to become a proponent of African-American labor. The film will be shown on November 9.

Black says it is his hope to connect audiences with the films via moderators who are relevant to the topics, but many who attend the screenings are already versed in the subjects. He welcomes suggestions from audience members for future subjects.

All films in the series are free of charge, open to anyone who wishes to attend, and no reservations are required to attend. Attendees will be asked to complete an evaluation at each showing, however, which enters them into a drawing for History Center admissions, books or other printed materials, or other relevant prizes. In addition to the History Center and Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, the film showings are also sponsored by the United States Department of Education and BNY Mellon.

For more information about the Heinz History Center’s exhibit, “From Slavery to Freedom,” visit heinzhistorycenter.org/exhibits/from-slavery-to-freedom. A related “micro-site” offers a more in-depth review at heinzhistorycenter.org/fromslaverytofreedom/. Further information on the films is available on the History Center Events page: heinzhistorycenter.org/events.

By Nancy Hart

Nhart543@gmail.com

Twitter: @nhart543