Good news for people who like good news

Good news for people who like good news April 9, 2013

• “One man’s fight against foreclosures in Carpentersville

Tom Roeser is on a one-man mission to save Carpentersville, Ill., from falling into the fate of so many post-industrial Midwestern towns, where neighborhoods have become littered with vacant, foreclosed homes.

Over the past several years, the 60-year-old president and co-owner of the town’s largest employer, a maker of switches and communications gear called Otto Engineering, has bought 193 foreclosed homes, completely rehabilitated them and is either selling or renting them at a discount to local residents.

• Harris County, Texas, realizes it’s better — smarter, cheaper, more just and more humane — to help the mentally ill get treatment than to put them in jail.

• “Feds Shut Down Telemarketing Scam Aimed at Elderly

• Occupy Wall Street’s Rolling Jubilee has now raised “enough money to abolish $11,226,570 of personal debt.”

• “UAE Launches 100 Megawatt Solar Energy Plant, Largest in Mideast

• “Wind power is poised to kick nuclear’s ass

• The Overdraft Protection Act has 42 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s bill would prevent overdraft “protection” fees from snowballing in a cascade of legalized theft that currently transfers more than $30 billion each year from workers to banks. This is money — the equivalent to the annual income of more than half a million American households — simply taken from people’s bank accounts and kept by banks. Banks, of course, would like to continue taking this money from people. And Congress, of course, would like to continue allowing banks to do so — which is why Govtrack only gives this bill a 1-percent chance of being enacted. But still, it’s a start.

• Murmurings of conservative support for fully funding public defenders.

• Rabbi Jason Klein has been elected to lead the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. He becomes the first openly gay man to lead a national rabbinic association in the U.S.

Maryland has repealed the death penalty, becoming the sixth state to do so in the last six years.

• Southern Baptists in Texas and Mississippi are beginning to act against predatory lending.

Students at Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, Georgia, are pushing for an integrated prom.

Since this is 2013, I suppose I should explain that “integrated” here doesn’t refer to some high-tech initiative to integrate social media into the students’ prom experience or to some new “wholistic” approach to decorating the school gym for a big spring dance. “Integrated” there means the same thing it meant back in the mid 20th Century — racially integrated, as opposed to racially segregated.

And even though it is 2013, Wilcox County High School has never had a racially integrated prom. The Constitution may have forced Rochelle, Georgia, to integrate its public schools, but the good white Christian people of Georgia still cling vehemently to their right to bar non-white students from attending prom (and homecoming) — a tradition of racial discrimination enforced by the local police.

But as effed-up as the alleged adults apparently are in Rochelle, the kids are alright. This year, for the first time, they opted to elect only one “homecoming court” — with a white student chosen as “king” and a black student chosen as “queen.” And the kids, correctly, think it’s pretty dumb that the adults won’t allow the homecoming king and queen to attend the same dance:

So the girls are taking matters into their own hands.

“If we don’t change it nobody else will,” said Keela.

They’re part of a group of students organizing a prom for everyone to attend, called the “Integrated Prom.”



"Building muscle mass is good advice for achieving weight loss because it lets you burn ..."

Advent Calendar Day 15: Magnificat is ..."
"I didn’t know the origins of the word, and it sounds like a character from ..."

Advent Calendar Day 15: Magnificat is ..."
"At about the "if I have to kill to get your attention" part, I realized ..."

LBCF, No. 214: ‘Bruce’s sermon, part ..."
"Most days I do two 20-minute cardio sessions plus one 10-minute session, usually fast walking ..."

Advent Calendar Day 15: Magnificat is ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The integrated prom is unfortunately doomed to be a private affair, much like the “White Proms” already held in the area.

    In other news, Rick Santorum has uncovered the problem with the Republican party: It’s the GOP. “They’re not letting us be conservative enough,” he claims. “If we want to be part of the Republican party, we need to push these liberals out, or we’ll be the ones pushed out.”

  • Where do the alright kids come from?

    What is it that makes them have better morals that the adults around them? Is it just that there’s more ways to get outside of the bubble of their community with advancing technology, or is there something else at work that could be looked into, understood, and applied to a wider swath of the country?

  • My theory is that unless kids are actively taught to pick up their parent’s prejudices, they’ll go through a period of years where they’ll be open to new experiences before frequent reinforcement of values and judgments causes them to become jaded. If they can capitalize on that stage of their life and meet people and have good experiences, they don’t incorporate that jaded prejudice into their ideology and it seems just as natural to them as the prejudice does to their parents.

  • P J Evans

    I do so hope the wingnut Republicans like Santorum get pushed out. I know it will take a long time.

  • Lori

    Man do I hope Santorum succeeds at this. If he finally manages to split the unholy, hateful alliance of oligarchs and Christianists that is the modern GOP I won’t be able to think well of him, because he’s horrible, but I will feel some measure of gratitude.

  • Yup, because if that happens, odds are good that their voter base will get split too — and both versions of Republicanicity will suffer the fate of third parties.

  • fredgiblet

    Who wants to take bets that “cheaper” was the biggest part of Harris County’s decision?

  • “It costs around $137 per day to keep someone behind bars, as opposed
    to $12 per day for community mental health services,” Huffman said in a
    statement announcing the legislation.

    My suspicion? A lot of the mental health experts who work for the prison will wind up transferring into these mental health facilities and we’re going to see the costs see-saw.

  • Cathy W

    Don’t complain! If the way to get mentally ill people into treatment rather than jail is to point out how much money can be saved, then sell it on the price tag!

  • Lori

    Even with personnel moves a mental health facility is cheaper to run than a prison.

  • From the sounds of it, a lot of the cost comes from all the things needed to provide mental health services. If most of that shifts to another sector, it’d stand to reason that most of the cost would go with it. It’s still better than keeping them in prison, mind — I’m not disputing that for a minute. They’re not criminals, and they shouldn’t be housed with criminals. I just suspect Harris County is going to discover that the overall cost won’t actually be going down, just getting shuffled into a different ledger.

  • Now I’m imagining Richard Crenna trying to comfort Santorum as he sobs “They wouldn’t let us win!”

  • reynard61

    “Feds Shut Down Telemarketing Scam Aimed at Elderly.”

    Oh. Yay. I guess. But will any of the scammers actually *go to jail?* Or will they just be slapped on the wrist with a fine and be sent on their merry way to scam more old people. Considering how we currently can’t seem to put anyone in prison for anything other than the most heinous violent crimes, terrorism or the most petty drug crimes; I’m not terribly optimistic about the outcome.

  • My opinion on these:

    1. Good
    2. Good
    3. Good
    4. Good
    5. Neutral
    6. Bad
    7. Bad
    8. Good
    9. Neutral
    10. Neutral/Good
    11. Bad
    12. Good, and WTF, most older residents of Rochelle!?

    Total: 5 Good, 1 Neutral/Good, 2 Neutral, 3 Bad

  • Alternatively, nothing but good is spoken about the Civil Rights Movement in the Georgia government-owned schools.

  • Lori

    Considering how we currently can’t seem to put anyone in prison for
    anything other than the most heinous violent crimes, terrorism or the
    most petty drug crimes;

    This is not true. We can also put people in jail for owing money. Because debtor’s prison was such a good idea the first time.

    No, I am not making that up.

  • “Wind power is poised to kick nuclear’s ass.”

    Maybe we ought to be more worried about how it’s doing against coal and other fossil fuels? Last I checked it wasn’t nuclear power that was causing global warming. Don’t get me wrong, I think wind power is one of the best energy options out there, but the tone of anti-nuclear gloating in this piece really doesn’t sit well with me. This attitude on the left seems to have more to do with mid-20th century horror movies than actual evidence of the risks involved in nuclear power. Nuclear energy isn’t perfect, but we’re making the best the enemy of the good. It’s not as if renewable energy is going to take up the majority of the slack from nuclear plants that shut down; as with much of our energy consumption, that’s going to be coal, which means more carbon emissions, more lung-clogging air pollution, more of pretty much everything that we in the environmental movement ostensibly oppose.

    Consider the following:

  • Mary

    “I just suspect Harris County is going to discover that the overall cost won’t actually be going down, just getting shuffled into a different ledger”

    Maybe, or maybe not. If these people can get proper mental health treatment through in-patient treatment, and good support through out-patient services then they are less likely to end up back in the system. Many would be able to work again and that would ease the burden on the system as well.

  • Also, I think prejudices and stereotypes naturally come to humans and that only an environment which actively discourages prejudices and stereotypes can cause people to reject them.

  • So Wrestlemania 29 was a few days ago, and because the Undertaker is one of the only reasons I still care about pro-wrestling in the slightest (and he never does televised matches outside of Wrestlemania anymore), I watched it. During the show, I was introduced to a manager character named Zeb Coulter, a deliberately offensive racist and xenophobic southern patriot persona who drives to the ring in a camouflage ATV and delivers speeches that could come straight out of a Tea Party rally.

    Coulter’s champion, Jack Swagger (“the All-American American”, a character of similarly arrogant, spiteful behavior) was set to do battle with Alberto Del Rio, a character who had formerly been a major heel himself, portrayed as being a wealthy, arrogant, condescending Mexican aristocrat. Instead, Del Rio delivered a speech about the meaning of the Statue of Liberty to immigrants: freedom, equality and a new life.

    I have to contrast this with classic WWE/WWF behavior. Wrestling storylines tend to occur with specific trends — Foreign Wrestling Heel and All American Face clashes are historical (to the point that the phrases “Foreign Wrestling Heel” and “All American Face” are TVTropes articles), and the crowd has always, always been intended to side with the All American character. This is the first occasion I can ever think of to have a foreigner character doing battle with a “patriot” — and the foreigner is not only the face, the crowd was solidly behind him.

    In a promo for their match, I took note that Zeb Coulter has a youtube channel (wethepeoplezeb) which is, as you might expect, character trolling in the form of a collection of promos and microphone rants about how far the United States has fallen thanks to foreigners and weakling politicians. In the middle of the videos, though, there was one that caught my eye- Zeb / Swagger Glenn Beck.

    Tell me they didn’t actually manage to get Glenn Beck to do a promo with them about the evils of minorities,” I said to myself and clicked because… how could I not? But to my surprise, I thought it was great. Dutch Mantel, the man behind Zeb Coulter’s character, stepped out of character for a few minutes to specifically address his role as being a work of fiction intended to be controversial and implied that certain political commentators who blur the lines between “reality and entertainment” might be less aware of the difference than their audience.

    When pro-wrestlers are telling you that you’re not in touch with reality…

  • Considering the Georgia government-owned schools discontinued proms altogether in the early 1980’s rather than have an integrated prom?

  • It sounded like they were actually getting comparable services in the jail–

    The jail’s medical budget is $47 million a year, and half or more is used to provide mental health experts, purchase and dispense psychotropic medication, as well as train and pay salaries of jail staff who are assigned to work with the mentally ill. At any one time, 24 percent of the jail’s nearly 9,000 inmates are receiving medication for mental health reasons.

    But hopefully having facilities which are specifically for the purpose of mental health care will wind up being more effective and wind up properly addressing their needs, leading to a better outcome as we hope.

  • What they do and what they teach may be different things. According to , students are taught about the Civil Rights Movement as early as third grade.

  • AnonaMiss

    Yyyeaaah, as much as I’d like to think the Overdraft Protection thing would end up well, this is one of those situations in which legislation just can’t keep pace with the speed of business. When it was made illegal for “overdraft protection” to be the default on linked checking & savings accounts, my bank (Chase) instituted policies which were more explicitly charging you for being poor (or for being an ex-customer who didn’t get their account closed properly): a $12/mo fee for having less than $5000 in your savings account at any time during the month, presumably with some sort of savings-overdraft fee if they charged you when had less than $12 in the account.

    As I was unemployed at the time, I much preferred overdraft protection (which I could at least micromanage) to a monthly charge for being poor. Happily when I explained the situation to my parents they extended me a small loan to keep my balance up, in addition to the other support they were giving me at the time. I considered changing banks, but the other banks were instating similar policies for the same reasons, and Chase was the only ATM in reasonable walking distance = no gas expenses.

  • Citizen Alan

    The segregated prom situation is a little more complicated than just saying “oh those awful racists.” In a lot of small Southern towns, segregated proms started because black students wanted to have their own proms in the immediate aftermath of desegregation. In school systems were blacks were in the minority, there was effectively no possibility for, say. a black Prom Queen and very little opportunity for black students to have much say in how the prom would be set up. After all it’s not like black Southern kids and white Southern kids circa 1966 would have picked the same band to play. Obviously, the “tradition” lasted far too long, and everywhere it is erased, we’re all better for it. Now we can move on the the vexing questions of whether it is the end of the world if a 16-year-old lesbian in Fulton, Mississippi can be allowed to wear a tuxedo to the prom.

    For what it’s worth, my high school prom in 1987 was fully integrated and, at 43, I am not old enough to remember segregated proms at my old high school, if, in fact, it ever was.

  • Citizen Alan

    I assume you looked into credit unions and smaller, local banks, but it never hurts to put the suggestion out there.:)

  • Lori

    Kids learn a lot more from what adults do than from what they say. Whatever caused those kids to less assholish than their elders it wasn’t the fact that their school did a bang up ob teaching them about Civil Rights.

  • I really think it’s most parents’ inability to completely shelter their children in a provincial bubble of bigotry. The rest of the world gets in, and many children learn different lessons from that than their parents would have them learn.

    But I agree with AnonSam in that how explicitly and deliberately the parents pass on their bigotry has something to do with it. On the same side of my (white) family, I have one cousin in a mixed-race marriage… and another (now deceased) who once had to be physically prevented from strangling a black boy to death, all the while yelling predictable slurs. While none of that batch of siblings who are our aunts/uncles/parents on that side of the family are sparklingly progressive when it comes to racism*, and none of them tolerate hearing criticism of their siblings (you know how it is with family: Nobody talks bad about my brother but ME), only that one uncle seemed to be comfortable actively and explicitly teaching racism to his sons. The difference between how some of us grew up more “all right” than others has a lot to do with what our different though closely related parents taught, or failed to teach, us.

    *These days I’m constantly astonished by the racist attitudes my own parents harbor–astonished I didn’t pick up on those attitudes as a child, and astonished that, given Mom and Dad seem to feel quite justified in those attitudes today, they nevertheless decided not to communicate them to me directly when I was growing up. And they sent me to a liberal and secular private school at great expensive to themselves, where despite the prevailing whiteness and upper-classness of the student body, the teaching philosophy was bent aggressively towards justice. It’s like my parents went to great lengths to make sure they’d raise someone they could have knock-down, drag-out political arguments with or something. I’m grateful for the upbringing, but the arguments are no fun. (These days, Mom’s on notice that the next time she brings up how resentful she is about the supposed “culture of entitlement” among the poor black demographic in New Orleans, I will hang up the phone.)

  • I’m having a hard time matching up your reactions with the things Fred posted. He doesn’t number them. When I tried to assign numbers to them myself, I arrived at more than twelve.

    Maybe it would be simplest if you expounded more on which you think are bad, and why? It would be an interesting and nuanced conversation, considering that all of the items Fred presented as being “good news” in some way. (The title of the recurring blog feature would imply that not finding these to be good news would be a symptom of not liking good news, but I suspect it’s more complicated than that.)

  • “Kids learn a lot more from what adults do than from what they say.”
    “Whatever caused those kids to [be] less assholish than their elders[,] it wasn’t the fact that their school did a bang up [j]ob teaching them about Civil Rights.”
    -The very fact government-owned schools teach about Civil Rights tells us something about the values they hold. Civil Rights legislation prevents plenty of potential overt acts of racism from being committed by school staff. There is far less of a culture of racism in the South then there was 50 years ago. Certainly part of this is due to Federal coercion. Dismissal of education as a contribution to the decline of racism in America is unwarranted.

  • Kirala

    I would take a wild stab that the jail’s mental medical budget is entirely irrelevant to the potential cost savings. Prison housing is expensive, expensive, expensive. This source estimates the state cost of prison at $26K per year, vs. parole at around a tenth of that cost. I can’t find any decent numbers on health care cost directly, but if we spent an entire half of the 2006 U.S. mental health costs on the 2006 U.S. incarcerated population, it would come out to less than $19K per person – which might be a somewhat modest savings, but a savings nonetheless. I suspect hard numbers would yield far more impressive results. I know that numerous studies have shown that treating addiction through Drug Courts (rehab+accountability rather than prison, for nonviolent addicts) yields a 90% savings per capita for the government.

    And if Disqus kills my links, the state cost for prisons is cribbed from the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s June 2010 paper “The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration”, the US mental health costs from a 2009 U.S. News article “U.S. Spending on Mental Health Care Soaring”, and the incarceration population from the Department of Justice’s “Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006”. Drug court data is from my dad ranting about his program being cut, so I suppose it might be biased, but I’ll ask him for the actual source of those numbers if any are curious.

  • Citizen Alan

    Okay, a few points. (1) I think it unlikely that the state of Georgia micro-manages proms state-wide. This is a local custom in one very rural school system. (2) The decision to not have official proms was apparently made many years ago and, while obviously racial in nature, probably was not made out of some malignant white fears about race-mixing. Rather, I suspect that the school system didn’t want to be responsible for any liability issues arising from a dance held off-campus during the time of racial tensions in the immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights movement. (3) The “segregated proms” are, in fact, a couple of rival private functions whose private sponsors describe them as proms. At the end of the day, however, they are still private parties and they can, like it or not, exclude who they like. (4) According to this public statement, the school itself is extremely supportive of these young ladies’ efforts and the school board may take up the issue in the next week or so.

  • There are fourteen links, and I’m counting the 13th and 14th as part of 12.

  • It sounds from the article like they have “a white prom and there’s an integrated prom” (rather than a white prom and a non-white prom) so it would seem that another tool at least for the white kids to use in protesting this segregation is to “boycott” the white prom and attend the integrated prom. Meanwhile, make some noise on facebook and on fliers and the like dubbing the white prom as the “racist prom” or the “kkk prom”. Between the kids who honestly want to end segregation and the kids who just don’t want to be perceived as racist, I think the white prom would die out fairly quickly.

    But is this actually happening? The article only seemed to mention the prom royalty selection strategy. Seems like to enact that strategy, you need progressive white kids to attend the no-people-of-color-allowed prom in order to run the voting there.

  • I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t immediately run up to the top of the page and recount. It’s hard on the eyes, and also rather unenlightening. I’m much more interested in why you think, say, wind power outpacing nuclear power is bad (going off memory here).

    I guess I just don’t find it interesting to rate Fred’s ability to distinguish good news from bad on the Enopoletus Harding Scale. The scoring metrics are biased and not well defined.

  • Jamoche

    The early 80s was when I was in high school in Texas, ignoring my own prom; I wouldn’t have described it as the “immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights movement”.

  • Lori

    The very fact government-owned schools teach about Civil Rights tells us something about the values they hold.

    That depends on what they teach and how it’s framed. You can teach the facts about Civil Rights in a way that produces racists just as easily as you can do it in a way that produces progressive racial attitudes. I saw that first hand when I lived in South Carolina.

    Dismissal of education as a contribution to the decline of racism in America is unwarranted.

    I’m not dismissing the contribution of education. I’m just not sold on the idea that a school system that still has segregated prom and homecoming in 2013 is doing a such a fabulous job teaching Civil Rights that it deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the fact that some of its students finally decided to raise a fuss about that segregation.

  • I wish more people could comprehend that a nuclear power plant produces terrible and radiation pollution when it fails, while a coal plant produces pollution and radiation the entire time it is operating. (Coal ash is radioactive, and coal plants produce a lot more ash per megawatt than nuclear plants produce nuclear waste). Fukishima freaked people out (Rightly so, since it was a BIG deal), but: it took the fifth most powerful earthquake on record to do that. A coal-fired plant produces pollution every hour of every day for its entire lifetime.

  • Lori

    Yes, the “proms” are private parties and as such they can be as racist as they want to be. The thing is, those private parties have been able to continue as “proms” because the school never resumed the practice of sponsoring an official one. I suspect money played a part in that, but I’m guessing not the biggest part. It’s good that the school board is supportive of the girls. It would have been better if leadership on the issue hadn’t fallen to the girls in the first place.

  • Thanks for that! After/during Fukushima, I was doing some similar back-of-the-envelope calculations, and figuring that in order for nuclear power to catch up to the number of people killed by fossil fuel pollution since (somewhat arbitrarily) the ’50s, about half the people in Japan would have to be killed by it. The main thing I hadn’t allowed for was how much energy had been produced by the two over the decades, and adjusting for that, but it was pretty clearly not such a vast ratio as the deaths.
    Basically, I feel that until we have enough renewable power generation that the very last fossil fuel plant is shut down, it’s still worth building more nuclear power.

  • I hate that approach. It’s always that they’re just not conservative enough. It’s never that maybe they scare voters too much with their militant religiosity and seeming disdain or indifference for the poor.

  • AnonaMiss

    Happily I am since employed so it’s no longer an issue, but I will be shopping around for a new bank after an upcoming move :).

  • AnonaMiss

    Is it really that they restrained themselves while you were growing up, or has newstainment brought out the worst in them over the last decade or so?

  • AnonaMiss

    What do you mean, “out of character”? Are you insinuating that wrestling is fake?!

    Snark aside, I’m surprised they’re taking that angle. This might be my privilege speaking, but don’t they have a chance of alienating their key demographics by casting a Tea Partier as the villain?

  • They can get away with it in this case. For whatever reason, many people do cheer for the villains, no matter how big a scumbag they’re portrayed to be. More people will continue watching in hopes the villains win than will boycott the show for any reason.

    The nWo were definitely the prime this in the days of WCW, somehow popular despite a long record of… really making the evening pretty unbearably terrible. Long, long promos (more than one 15-20 minute promo from the same person in a two hour show), constant match disruptions, even one occasion where the first 25 minutes of the show were the nWo ripping apart the arena and taking down all the WCW logos while absolutely no one explained what the hell was going on. They “took over” the show, meaning they did the commentating, insulting all the wrestlers and the audience while refusing to play entrance themes or pyro and letting their own theme run on in the background on and off. I’m sure people who bought tickets were thrilled — but I’ll be damned if there weren’t a lot of nWo t-shirts in the crowd that night and next week.

    Sometimes it’s not even clear why anyone’s cheering at all. I remember a segment with Kurt Angle going up against John Cena (who at the time was suffering what’s called X-Pac Heat, named after a wrestler who was almost never popular no matter whether they tried to portray him as a hero or antagonist) who could do no right with the audience and while Angle himself was a jerkwad, his mere association as Cena’s opponent made him so popular that he used a promo to prove how absurdly true that was:

    Interviewer: Ladies and gentlemen, my guest at this time: Kurt Angle!
    Crowd: *Cheers*
    Commentator: Kurt, later tonight, you’ll be in your first ever elimination chamber match for the WWE title; what’s going through your head right now?
    Kurt Angle: Well, before I get into that, first of all, I’d like to say that I hope the US loses the war in Iraq.
    Crowd: *Cheers*
    Kurt Angle: And uh, while I’m at it: I think the greatest country in the world is France.
    Crowd: *Cheers*
    Kurt Angle: And you know, truth to be told, I’m not a very big fan of black people!
    Crowd: *Cheers*
    Kurt Angle: And if I could go back in time, the one person in history I’d like to make tap out would have to be… Jesus.
    Crowd: *Cheers*
    Interviewer: Kurt… what are you talking about?!
    Kurt Angle: The point is, I could say anything I want to these idiots and they would still cheer for me.
    Crowd: *Cheers louder than ever*

  • See Citizen Alan’s longer comment.

  • Well, sort of.

    The thing that you get out of the school is that now, if a parent wants to make their kid grow up to be a racist, they have to work for it. They have to make a distinct and positive endorsement of racism when their kid says “Hey, dad, at school they told us that black people and white people are equal. Is that so?”

  • In a way, it really was. When I was in high school, I thought of the 1960s as a long time ago, but to adults of the time, it was recent history, more recent than the fall of the Soviet Union is now.

    They grew up prior to a strong legal civil rights regime in the US; we were the very first generation to grow up with it. Now the change is another generation in the past, and the attitudes kids grow up with are correspondingly more affected by the new world.

  • You can see why Andy Kaufman was fascinated by wrestling.

  • reynard61

    Well, I tend to see that more as an abuse (albeit an inteolerable one) of civil law than a Criminal thing; but, yeah, point taken.