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Minority report: Review of "Welcome to the Neighborhood"

June 20, 2005
A new reality series in which three white, self-described "Christian" families get to pick their new neighbors from among a group of minority families is already drawing fire.
     And it hasn't even aired yet.
      The show is called "Welcome to the Neighborhood" and it's coming to ABC July 10.
      "I will not tolerate a homosexual couple coming into this neighborhood," one of the neighbors, Jim Stewart, says on the show about one of the candidate families — a gay couple with an adopted baby.
      "I want a family similar to what we are," asserts another neighbor, John Bellamy, in a statement that would seem to dismiss at least six out of the seven candidate families.
      The diverse group includes African-American, Caucasian, Korean, Latino and gay families, plus one family in which husband and wife are heavily tattooed, and another in which mom and dad are devoted to the practice of Wicca, sometimes known as witchcraft or paganism.
      The show's first two episodes are filled with statements such as those above.

OPINION: New Campaign Issue: Hiding Bush's Civil Rights Record

October 06, 2004
George Bush's record on civil rights is so abysmal that his supporters are already pushing to censor a damning report card from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Hardly the "gentleman's C" that sufficed at Yale, Bush's grade from the independent, bipartisan commission on race matters is an indictment worthy of an outright F.
     That's F, for the failure to have a "clear agenda" or to make "civil rights a priority," according to the commission staff's broad report.
     The document, still in draft form and awaiting approval, found the Bush administration lacking in support for civil rights, stating that effects of past segregation and discrimination still "persist and hamper equal opportunity in education, employment, housing, public accommodations and the ability to vote."

God gave U.S. 'what we deserve,' Falwell says

September 14, 2001
Television evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two of the most prominent voices of the religious right, said liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for Tuesday's terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger against America.
     "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Falwell, appearing yesterday on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," hosted by Robertson.
     "Jerry, that's my feeling," Robertson responded. "I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population."
     Falwell said the American Civil Liberties Union has "got to take a lot of blame for this," again winning Robertson's agreement: "Well, yes." 

Arab-Americans attacked, threatened

September 13, 2001
American Muslim groups rushed Tuesday to condemn the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They cautioned other Americans not to blame followers of Islam until investigators determine who was responsible.
      "Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones on this terrible day," said one group, the Islamic Institute of Washington.
     Imam Hassan Qazwini, religious leader of the Islamic Center of America in Detroit, pleaded against rushing to link their community to Islamic terrorists.
     "We are shocked and we are stunned and we are saddened by this national tragedy," said Imam Hassan Qazwini, religious leader of the Islamic Center of America in Detroit. "We are no exception to American society. 

Rethinking segregation beyond black and white

July 29, 2001
President Bush will not encourage discrimination or leave out minorities in his plan to use religious groups in government social projects, a White House adviser said Saturday.
     "We're not trying to change the civil rights laws, traditions, landscape one iota," said the Rev. Mark Scott, associate director at the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
     Bush, who is still trying to sell the plan on Capitol Hill, is expected to seek support Wednesday from members of the National Urban League, a civil rights group. 

Citigroup relents on credit insurance

June 29, 2001
Citigroup announced yesterday that it will begin phasing out a profitable insurance offering that consumer groups and regulators say abuses borrowers, a decision that comes after months of pressure from bank regulators and Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee.
     The insurance, known as single-premium credit insurance for a home mortgage, usually is targeted at low-income borrowers, regulators and consumer groups say.
     It is significantly more expensive than other insurance, slows the rate at which borrowers build equity in their homes, increases the chance a borrower will lose his or her home, and is typically unnecessary, they say.
     Until now, Citigroup, the nation's largest banking conglomerate, has fought efforts to curtail the sale of single-premium credit insurance, which brings the company more than $500 million in revenue a year and, according to analysts, is one of its most profitable products. Consumer groups hope that its decision will increase pressure on Household Finance Corp., American General Finance Inc. and other players in the multibillion-dollar single-premium insurance industry to follow suit. 

Commentary: Blame the Feds for a house divided

April 17, 2001
In recent days, census officials have furiously issued press releases touting figures that show the United States is more racially diverse than ever. The implication is that the nation is closer to attaining an integrated, open society. 
     A recent report from Harvard's Civil Rights Project, however, shatters this myth. According to the report, big U.S. cities are more segregated than a decade ago. Most whites still live in white enclaves, and most blacks and Latinos live in inner-city ghettos and barrios. 
     Worse, it's not racist white landlords, lenders or real-estate agents who are responsible for housing apartheid. Surveys show that whites are more tolerant than ever of nonwhite neighbors. The federal government is the real culprit.
     There are 2 million reported housing discrimination violations yearly. Yet during the Bill Clinton years, the Justice Department filed a paltry 20 housing discrimination lawsuits a year. Tell me if you think that President Bush will do any better.
     The reluctance of federal officials to crack down on housing discrimination is buried deep in decades-old federal housing policies that enshrine the belief that blacks ruin property values and wreck neighborhoods. 

Black Muslims are Bush's faith-based Achilles heel

April 17, 2001
Few religious organizations have more experience transforming outlaws into upstanding citizens than the Nation of Islam. 
     Allah -- the Nation of Islam's iron-handed god -- brooks none of the anti-social behavior commonly associated with the poor underclass. The self-discipline he requires, coupled with the Nation's insistence on black self-reliance, has reformed thousands of lives. For example, the Nation's most famous convert, Malcolm Little, forsook drugs and petty crime to become the family man and civil rights leader Malcolm X after several terms in prison. 
     Since then, several Washington patricians have praised the Nation's good work, some of it government sponsored, in America's ghettos. While running for vice president in 1996, Jack Kemp told the Boston Globe he valued the Nation's advocacy of "responsible fatherhood, individual initiative, of not asking the government to do everything for you." 
     But one of the things Black Muslims say makes them successful at rehabilitating black outlaws -- their message of black empowerment through black separatism -- also puts them at odds with Washington policy-makers. 
     It comes as no surprise, then, that President Bush -- who is undertaking an initiative to fund religious non-profits doing just what the Nation of Islam does, fix social problems -- has openly expressed reservations about funding the Nation. On the campaign trail, the Austin-American Statesmen reports, Bush said that because "Louis Farrakhan preaches hate," the Nation would probably not be eligible for funding under his initiative. 
     Yet because Black Muslims have been rehabilitating black convicts and other outlaws for decades, nothing exposes the Achilles heel of President Bush's faith-based initiative than this blanket reluctance to fund them. 

Lenders try to fend off laws on subprime loans

April 04, 2001
Advocates in more than a dozen states and cities are pressing to pass laws limiting so-called predatory lending, rousing lenders into a coordinated counterattack that has managed to fend off or weaken some of the farthest-reaching proposals.
     The latest battle is in Philadelphia, where Citigroup, Household International and other lenders are seeking to derail a measure scheduled for a vote in the City Council tomorrow.
      The spate of proposals is in response to what advocates of the measures say is the spread of unscrupulous lending practices and rising foreclosures of inner-city homes. While similar legislation has floundered in Congress, advocates have scored victories in several places, including North Carolina, Chicago and Washington. 
     Lenders say the proposals will curtail access to credit for many families and create an awkward patchwork of regulations across the country. Among the industry's advisers are Connie Mack, the former Republican senator from Florida, and Thomas F. McLarty, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. 

Gay couples stranded between love and country

March 14, 2001
Barbara Dozetos and her Canadian girlfriend met online four years ago, got together in person shortly thereafter and have been living together for the last two years. But come September, when her partner's student visa expires, Dozetos, who lives in Vermont,
could be forced to choose--give up her lover, leave the U.S. for Canada or continue the relationship long distance. 
     In similar circumstances, a heterosexual couple would have the option of marriage as a means of gaining legal immigration status for a noncitizen. But for gay and lesbian Americans in binational relationships, that alternative is not available.
     "It's comical that a country that prides itself on being so socially advanced is so far behind the curve when it comes to this law," said Dozetos, 37, a writer for PlanetOut, a gay and lesbian lifestyle Web site. 
     Dozetos and her partner are among an estimated 100,000 same-sex binational couples in the U.S, according to Immigration Equality, the L.A. offshoot of the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force.
     There are potentially tens of thousands more, as many gay Americans' foreign partners are living here illegally and are unwilling to identify themselves for fear of deportation, according to the task force. 


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