Category: Housing

Rachel Maddow’s Amazing Interview with Former Sec. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge

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Ridge on what happened during Katrina.

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Ridge and Maddow debate the decision behind the Iraq War.

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This interview was nothing short of amazing. The exchange was brilliant on both sides. Rachel Maddow is one of the most intelligent political minds in this country. Ridge elaborates on what he wrote in his book, and answers questions calmly and directly.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge appears on the show to share his interpretation of what he wrote in his book, The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…And How We Can Be Safe Again, published today. The book is well-reviewed, and I actually may pick up a copy.

Watch the video above. Enjoy as two brilliant minds who share very different viewpoints debate and discuss.

Bringing Clean Water to People in Developing Countries

This young lad deserves some serious kudos for answering the call.


When Sam Girmai-Jones was in church one Sunday in March, the priest talked about the church’s ministry to Africa where wells were being built to provide clean drinking water to the residents. Nine-year-old Sam was surprised to learn that many kids his age didn’t have safe drinking water in their homes and that some had to walk miles each day to get clean water at the nearest well.

The Park Forest, IL, resident felt compelled to help. His mother took him to the library where he researched solutions. That’s when Sam learned about LifeStraw. He was amazed by the simple device which worked like a straw while filtering out impurities to make water safe to drink. He decided to raise enough money to send 1,000 individual LifeStraw water filters to people in need. To achieve this goal, Sam will need to raise $7,000.

On June 13, just one month after Sam launched his campaign, he presented a check for the first $1,000 raised to his family church,

Sam’s mother Yvette helped her son formulate a fundraising campaign. Together, they contacted LifeStraw manufacturer, Vestergaard Frandsen, and were sent background information about LifeStraw from the company. Sam then put together a presentation he’d share with groups to convince them to donate to the cause.

Says he was at the Park Forest Library with a friend one day and saw LifeStraws featured in the book Cool Stuff 2.0: And How it Works. He says he remembered seeing a factoid at church about life in Africa, “When we first joined the church, we saw people in Africa drinking dirty water. Later, I found out about this, and remembered all the way back about that [factoid].”

I had to copy over the video above to show how this incredible product works.

Read the full story here.

And answer the call.

11-year-old Adonis Bell Saves His Family

Adonis Bell saved the lives of his family early Wednesday morning when a fire broke out in his grandma’s Roselind two-flat.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

At 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the 11-year-old woke up when a fan started pushing heavy black smoke into the room where he slept.

He was the only one in his grandma’s Roseland two-flat to notice.

Barefoot in a tank top and jogging pants, Adonis went to the kitchen where he saw the ceiling on fire near his bedroom — billowing black smoke and orange flames that were gnawing a giant hole above the kitchen stove.

The boy remained calm.

“I knew what to do,” Adonis said. “A fireman came to our school.”

He ran to wake his mother, who told him to get his 2-year-old godsister, Jordan Hobbs, out of the house.

That’s what the fireman at school said, too. “Get myself and everybody out. He told us not to grab any stuff,” Adonis remembered. “Just get out.”

Firefighters tell us every second counts in a structure fire.  I saw a controlled demonstration of such a fire once in Park Forest.  The flames grew tall and hot very fast.

Quick thinking, Mr. Bell.  Kudos to you, sir.  You saved the lives of every member of your family in the house that night.

Mayor Daley, this young man deserves official recognition from your office.  He’s one of Chicago’s finest.

Read the rest of the story here.

Obama’s Radio Address – December 13, 2008

Remarks of President-elect Barack Obama
Radio Address on the Economy
Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good morning.

Earlier this week, we learned that the number of Americans filing
their first claim for unemployment insurance rose to a nearly 30-year
high. This news reflects the pain that’s been rippling across our
entire economy. Jobs are being cut. Wages are being slashed. Credit is
tight and people can’t get loans. In cities and towns all across this
country, families enter a holiday season with unease and uncertainty.

To end this economic crisis, we must end the mortgage crisis where
it began. This all started when Americans took out mortgages they
couldn’t afford. Some were reckless, aware of the risks they were
accepting, but many were innocent, tricked by lenders out to make a
quick buck. With banks creating securities they could not value, and
regulators looking the other way, the problem began infecting the whole
economy, leading to the crisis we’re now facing.

One in ten families who owns a home is now in some form of distress,
the most ever recorded. This is deeply troubling. It not only shakes
the foundation of our economy, but the foundation of the American
Dream. There is nothing more fundamental than having a home to call
your own. It’s not just a place to live or raise your children or
return after a hard day’s work — it’s the cornerstone of a family’s
financial security.

To stem the rising tide of foreclosures and strengthen our economy,
I’ve asked my economic team to develop a bold plan that will
dramatically increase the number of families who can stay in their
homes. But this plan will only work with a comprehensive, coordinated
federal effort to make it a reality. We need every part of our
government working together — from the Treasury Department to the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the agency that protects the
money you’ve put in the bank. And few will be more essential to this
effort than the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

From providing shelter to those displaced by Katrina to giving help
to those facing the loss of a home to revitalizing our cities and
communities, HUD’s role has never been more important. Since its
founding, HUD has been dedicated to tearing down barriers in access to
affordable housing — in an effort to make America more equal and more
just. Too often, these efforts have had mixed results.

That is why we cannot keep doing things the old Washington way. We
cannot keep throwing money at the problem, hoping for a different
result. We need to approach the old challenge of affordable housing
with new energy, new ideas, and a new, efficient style of leadership.
We need to understand that the old ways of looking at our cities just
won’t do. That means promoting cities as the backbone of regional
growth by not only solving the problems in our cities, but seizing the
opportunities in our growing suburbs, exurbs, and metropolitan areas.
No one knows this better than the outstanding public servant I am
announcing today as our next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
— Shaun Donovan.

As Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development in New York
City, Shaun has led the effort to create the largest housing plan in
the nation, helping hundreds of thousands of our citizens buy or rent
their homes. Prior to joining Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, Shaun
worked both in business, where he was responsible for affordable
housing investments, and at one of our nation’s top universities, where
he researched and wrote about housing issues. This appointment
represents something of a homecoming for Shaun, who worked at HUD in
the Clinton administration, leading an effort to help make housing
affordable for nearly two million Americans. Trained as an architect,
Shaun understands housing down to how homes are designed, built, and

With experience that stretches from the public sector to the private
sector to academia, Shaun will bring to this important post fresh
thinking, unencumbered by old ideology and outdated ideas. He
understands that we need to move past the stale arguments that say
low-income Americans shouldn’t even try to own a home or that our
mortgage crisis is due solely to a few greedy lenders. He knows that we
can put the dream of owning a home within reach for more families, so
long as we’re making loans in the right way, and so long as those who
buy a home are prepared for the responsibilities of homeownership.

In the end, expanding access to affordable housing isn’t just about
caring for the least fortunate among us and strengthening our middle
class — it’s about ending our housing mess, climbing out of our
financial crisis, and putting our economy on the path to long-term
growth and prosperity. And that is what Shaun and I will work to do
together when I am President of the United States.

Thank you.