Newswire : Church of England bars Tutu’s Daughter from funeral

Archbishop Tutu and his daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth


( – The daughter of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu said she was “stunned” by the Church of England when they denied her the right to officiate at her godfather’s funeral because she is married to a woman.
According to the Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth, an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Washington, DC, the Church barred her from officiating despite her late godfather’s personal wish that she lead the ceremony at his funeral. Her godfather, Martin Kenyon, died in England last week. He was 92.
“You can’t speak a message of welcome and love and live a message of exclusion,” the Rev. Tutu van Furth said. “It’s incredibly sad,” she told BBC News. “It feels like a bureaucratic response with maybe a lack of compassion.”
Martin Kenyon and Desmond Tutu became friends when they were both students at Kings College. Tutu would become a voice for LGBT equality, speaking in a video released by the Free & Equal campaign.
“I cannot keep quiet when people are penalized for something about which they can do nothing,” Tutu declared. “First, when women are excluded just simply and solely because they are women. But more pernicious, more ghastly is the fact that people are penalized, killed, all sorts of ghastly things happen to them simply because of their sexual orientation. “I oppose such injustice with the same passion that I opposed apartheid.”
Mr. Kenyon, a powerful force in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, was also an early, outspoken critic of the Anglican Communion’s stance on gay rights.
However, its sister Anglican church in the US, The Episcopal Church, does allow clergy to enter into gay marriages.
Marceline Tutu van Furth, a Dutch academic who is married to the Archbishop Tutu’s daughter, said the church told them it accepts priests in same-sex relationships but not if they are married.

The Church of England and the Episcopal Church are tied together in the global Anglican Communion, which represents about 85 million worshipers around the world. The Episcopal Church has taken a stance in favor of acceptance of gay clergy and members, starting with the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, in New Hampshire in 2003.
The Church of England, however, has said that under its religious laws, while it permits same-sex civil partnerships, it does not support same-sex marriage because it would go against its teachings. Gay clergy are expected to remain celibate, and those in same-sex marriages are not permitted to be ordained.
Tutu remarked in 2013: “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”
He added: “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”
In the end, Tutu was able to fulfill her godfather’s wish as the service was moved from a church and was instead held in her godfather’s garden in Shropshire.
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Newswire : Hip Hop Icon Coolio Dies at 59


By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Coolio, whose signature song “Gangsta’s Paradise” played a vital role in securing hip-hop as the popular music of choice, has died at age 59. Born on Aug. 1, 1963, in Compton, Coolio’s real name was Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.
The artist reportedly died on the bathroom floor of a friend’s house. While paramedics suspect Coolio succumbed to cardiac arrest, the medical examiner hasn’t released an official cause of death.
He enjoyed six top Billboard hits, including 1995’s Gangsta’s Paradise, which reached 1 billion streams on Spotify earlier this year. Spending three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and 11 straight weeks on the Hot Rap Songs list, Gangsta’s Paradise earned Coolio a Grammy and a Billboard Music Award.
The hit single earned rankings among Billboard’s 100 Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs.
In addition to music, Coolio enjoyed a successful television career. He appeared on shows like “Black Jesus,” “All That,” “The Nanny,” and “Fear Factor.”
“Peaceful Journey, Brother,” Questlove tweeted in tribute following news of Coolio’s death.
“Heartbroken to hear of the passing of the gifted artist Coolio,” actress Michelle Pfeiffer wrote on Instagram while sharing a clip from the famous music video, where she sits across the table from Coolio. “A life cut entirely too short. I remember him being nothing but gracious,” Pfeiffer stated.
Tributes also poured in from stars like Snoop Dogg, who posted a picture of him and Coolio from an earlier music video. MC Hammer called Coolio one of the nicest individuals he’d known while sharing a photo of himself, Snoop, and the late Tupac Shakur.“This is sad news,” Ice Cube shared. “I witnessed firsthand this man’s grind to the top of the industry.”
Los Angeles-based artist Teddi Gold, who worked with Coolio, also mourned the icon. “I have an immense amount of gratitude and love for Coolio,” Gold wrote in a statement. “His musicianship, big heart, sense of humor, and loyalty to his friends and family were the light he shared with the world.”
He continued: “As somebody whose music I grew up listening to, the opportunity Coolio gave me to record and perform with him was a life-changing experience I will carry with me forever. I send every ounce of love I have to his family and friends at this time.”

Newswire: Study finds Community College System fails to produce equitable outcomes for Black students

Black Community College students

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

More than one in three Black community college students are in poverty, and widespread inequality in community colleges deepened throughout the pandemic for Black students facing basic needs insecurity.
According to a new report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies on the state of Black students at community colleges, an alarming 70 percent of Black students experienced food or housing insecurity or homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report highlighted that while Black students remain disproportionately represented in community colleges, policy barriers prevent the system from producing equitable outcomes.
“Black workers are struggling to make ends meet during this health and economic crisis. Community colleges provide a path forward to ensure workforce readiness for all, but there are barriers holding back Black students from reaching their full potential,” Dr. Alex Camardelle, the director of workforce policy at the Joint Center, said in a news release.
“On average, Black students at community colleges experience lower graduation rates and earn tens of thousands of dollars less after graduation while having to take on more debt than their peers to pay for school,” Camardelle stated.
He noted that things should be different. “With targeted basic needs support, child care, improved transfer pathway policies, and better evaluations of community college outcomes by race, our policymakers can do right by Black community college students,” Camardelle added.
“And the biggest takeaway of all — making community colleges tuition-free will benefit Black students the most.”
Joint Center researchers said basic needs insecurity is also closely associated with enrollment declines. “While COVID-19 emergency funds authorized by Congress pushed community colleges to introduce more support for meeting students’ basic needs, barriers to accessing those supports remain,” study authors found.
For example, 68 percent of Black male students at community colleges experience basic needs insecurity. Still, only 31 percent of those with need accessed on campus resources meant to connect students with aid because too few knew they were available or do not know how to apply, the researchers discovered.
Meanwhile, the authors concluded that Black student enrollment at community colleges has steadily declined over time and has dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the chief findings:
From fall 2019 to fall 2021, enrollment fell 18 percent for all Black students and 23.5 percent and 15 percent for Black men and Black women, respectively.
Black community college students experience the lowest graduation rates when compared to their peers of other races and ethnicities.
The gap between Black and white graduation rates more than doubled from a four-percentage point gap in 2007 to an 11-percentage point divide in 2020.
The typical Black community college graduate earns $20,000 less per year than their classmates.
White households with workers who hold a high school diploma earn $2,000 more than Black community college graduates.
Over two-thirds (67 percent) of Black students borrowed money to pay for community college compared to 51, 36, and 30 percent of white, Hispanic, and Asian students, respectively.

Further, researchers found that Black community college graduates owe 123 percent of the original amount they borrowed 12 years after beginning their community college journey.

Newswire: Supreme Court to hear Alabama voting rights case that could impact Black voters everywhere

By: Ray Marcano, The Grio.

The U.S. Supreme Court, on October 4, 2022, will hear a case that could upend voting rights and dilute the power of the Black vote in Alabama but potentially across the country.
The maps as drawn “are purposeful attempts to reduce the impact of Black voters and the preference and will of minority voters in Alabama,” Tish Gotell Faulks, the legal director of the Alabama ACLU, told theGrio.
Alabama’s legislature passed its redistricting maps in 2020, but a coalition of voters, including Milligan, sued the state, claiming the maps violated the Voting Rights Act. A federal court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor and enjoined the state from implementing the maps for the 2022 midterm election.
In Merrill v. Milligan, the court will determine whether Alabama’s redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Plaintiffs argue that Alabama’s congressional map for its seven districts unfairly weakens the votes and influence of Black people, who make up nearly 27% of the state population.
The maps, as currently drawn, contain one majority-Black district, represented by Congresswoman Terri Sewell. However, opponents of the plan argue that there should be two such districts based on the state’s Black population.
Evan Milligan, the lead plaintiff, told theGrio, “This case will be a defining moment for voting rights as traditional civic engagement in our country.” The maps as drawn “are purposeful attempts to reduce the impact of Black voters and the preference and will of minority voters in Alabama,” Tish Gotell Faulks, the legal director of the Alabama ACLU, told theGrio.
Alabama’s legislature passed its redistricting maps in 2020, but a coalition of voters, including Milligan, sued the state, claiming the maps violated the Voting Rights Act. A federal court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor and enjoined the state from implementing the maps for the 2022 midterm election.
“We conclude that the Milligan plaintiffs are substantially likely to establish that the plan violates Section Two of the Voting Rights Act,” the United States District Court in Northern Alabama wrote in its preliminary injunction.  The court also concluded that, based on several factors, “Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress.”

Secretary of State John H. Merrill appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the high court overturned the lower court ruling by a 5-4 vote and allowed Alabama to implement the maps in the November election. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal judges in the minority dissent.
Yurij Rudensky, senior counsel at the Brennan Institute, said Alabama’s legal argument comes down to a desire to weaken the Voting Rights Act, which would further disenfranchise voters who already have difficulty getting fair representation.
Alabama isn’t arguing against the merits of the lower court’s ruling, Rudensky said. Instead, the state wants the Supreme Court to “rewrite the Voting Rights Act to weaken it, to change decades of precedent (and) safeguards that have protected communities of color around the country … against discriminatory redistricting and other election schemes,” he explained.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits any voting “practice or procedure” that discriminates based on race and reinforces the 15th Amendment, which in 1870 granted Black men the right to vote.
The plaintiffs argue the state should have a second majority Black district to ensure fair representation for a demographic that grew faster than any other between 2010 and 2020, adding nearly 88,000 residents.
“Now, (Alabama) is saying that despite the growth of the Black community over the last 10 years, their population should be denied Congressional representation,” Milligan, the executive director of the coalition-building group Alabama Forward, said.
Alabama’s 1.3 million Black residents account for 27% of the state’s population. Currently, 16% of the districts (one in seven) have a majority Black population. Two of seven districts would increase the figure to nearly 29 percent.
But the state, among its arguments, says it drew race-neutral districts and called race-based districts unconstitutional. “Requiring racial preferences in single-member districts exceeds any remedial measure the Fifteenth Amendment could authorize,” Alabama said in its brief.
Rudensky referred to the race-neutral argument as “audacious” and flips the purpose of the voting rights act “on its head.” Alabama’s thinking “fails from a logical standpoint, that you could have a law that targets discriminatory schemes but can’t take race into account when undoing the discriminatory harm,” he added.
Another plaintiff, Letetia Jackson, lives in a Republican area of Alabama and remains frustrated by the lack of representation.  “I have not had a congressional member come to our community, talk to us about resources, and who even care what our issues are,” Jackson told theGrio. She said after the lawsuit, she did get an invitation to town hall events that weren’t in her community.
“The stake, in this case, is huge, greater than just the state of Alabama,” Jackson said. “The outcome of this case will determine whether the language of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act will be upheld. Because if it isn’t, democracy, as we know it, the ability to vote and have elected representation as we know it, will be forever changed

Community rallies behind Greene County
ambulance services (EMS)

In the past four months, since mid-May, the Greene County Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) has made major progress with solid support from the Greene County community.
GEMS has secured funding for two new ambulances; moved to a new office, across from the Greene County Hospital; hired a new director and staff; secured a new billing agency and higher reimbursement rates from Medicare and insurance providers; and with the help of supporters was able to raise its basic operating budget.
At its May 23, 2022, meeting the board selected Chris Jones as its new director and asked the Greene County Commission, City of Eutaw, Towns of Boligee, Union and Forkland, the Sheriff, as well as other agencies and businesses to help save and support the county’s ambulance service.
This meeting was held after the prior director informed the state that the GEMS service was closing, and he resigned. The board wrote the state to rescind his letter and started to rebuild.
Prior to the May board meeting, the Greene County Commission pledged $125,000 in American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward acquisition of a new truck engine and chassis to mount and renovate the service’s existing ambulance box. The service secured a loaner ambulance until the newly refurbished ambulance is delivered later this year.
At its September 13, 2022, meeting, the Eutaw City Council approved a contribution of $26,000, of its ARPA funding as matching funds to acquire a second ambulance and stretcher from the Alabama Council on Emergency Medical Services. Joe Lee Powell, Chair of the GEMS Board says, “We will soon have two working ambulances that we need to provide services to the residents and visitors of Greene County.” The Eutaw City Council previously used $62,000 of CARES funds to provide lifesaving equipment to the service.
Chris Jones, GEMS Director, put together a plan asking the Commission and municipalities to help cover the $40,000 monthly payroll of the ambulance service for three months while a new billing agency was brought onboard and up to speed to provide the operating revenues for the system.
The Greene County Commission approved three months of operating support at $18,356 a month – a total of $55,068. The City of Eutaw has provided $36,000 in operating support since the beginning of 2022. The Town of Boligee has contributed $10,000 in support this year, including $1,500 a month, pledged for the three-month period. The Town of Union has also pledged support. Sheriff Benison from bingo funds has contributed $65,000 and pledged $8,500 a month for the three-month special operating fund campaign.
The Greene County Health System has provided a house across the street from the hospital as an office and staging area for the ambulance staff including showers, kitchen and sleeping facilities. The GCHS Board agreed to provide seven months rent at $550 a month, from June through December 2022 as a $3,850 contribution to the ambulance service operating budget.
The Greene County Industrial Development Authority contributed $5,000 towards the ambulance service. Danny Cooper, GCIDA Chair said, “You never know when you will need an ambulance – so we must support our emergency service. We must have a functional ambulance service to assist businesses and industries that may have on-the-job accidents and injuries, needing ambulance services.”
The RockTenn Corporation, owners of the Eutaw box plant have given $5,000 toward the GEMS operating budget and other businesses in the county are expected to follow this example. The services has received other small contributions from individuals.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, vice chairperson of the GEMS board and Hospital CEO, said “We are grateful to the agencies, businesses, and people of the community for coming forward to help us stabilize and support our ambulance service. We are determined to have an emergency service that can serve the people spread around our rural county. We may need continued assistance to provide timely and quality ambulance services.”

School board learns benefits of National Math and Science Initiative

The Greene County Board of Education held its monthly meeting, Thursday, September 22, 2022. The schedule for September was changed from the third Monday due to an annual School Board District Workshop sponsored by the Alabama Association of School Boards.
As part of his report Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones invited representatives from the Alabama Rural Learning Accelerator (ARLA), a National Math-Science Initiative, Dr. Florence Williams and Ms. Mirial Alim to give an overview of the project, which is associated with UAB Teach.
Dr. Williams stated that the overall goal of ARLA is to support hiring and retaining fully certified math and science teachers and provide long term solutions to fill those gaps and connect more students to potential careers based in science, technology, engineering and math.
The presenters explained that the six components of ARLA focuses on the following: Power Hours in Action – UAB Teach interns will meet with student small groups daily; utilize New Classroom’s Teach to One, creating individualized math acceleration for each student. Hybrid Teaching involves innovative curriculum that highlights conceptual math understanding and student investigation. Integrating Innovative Technology to Support Instruction will equip teachers with digital tools needed to effectively teach in a synchronous, yet virtual classroom. The other components of ARLA include Family and Community Engagement, Partner School Expectations, and Teacher and Student and System Benefits. ARLA will focus of grades 6 – 9 and is no additional costs to the school system.
Mr. Garry Rice, Greene County Schools Math Specialists, also gave a presentation on the various student scoring levels, proficiency and performance, as of the State Testing, Spring 2022.
Dr. Jones announced that Eutaw Primary School received a $10,000 grant from BlueCross BlueShield for preventative health related education workshops. Principal Brittany Harris was also awarded an additional $500 for continued professional development.
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by Superintendent Jones.
Employment – 2022-2023 School Term – Ms. Glenda Hodges, Long-term Substitute Teacher for the Department of Special Services; Ms. Vivian Carpenter, Substitute Cook, for 2022-2023 School Year; Mr. Stanley Lucious, Bus Driver, for Department of Transportation; Ms. Jamirea Gaitor, 6th grade Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School.
The board approved one time stipends, Professional Development Sessions for ELA and Math Pacing Guides for the following. Eutaw Primary School: Genetta Bishop, Carolyn Beck, Danielle Sanders-Williams, Cheryl Morrow, Walter Taylor, LaShaun Henley, Charlease Smith, Carla Durrett, Pamela Pasteur, Sherita Pickens. Robert Brown Middle School: Katoya Quarles, Ashley Moody, Felecia Smith, Dr. Sharron Martin, Quentin Walton, Leanita Hunt. Greene County High School: KaNeeda Coleman, Dr. Aslean Jones, Sylvia Williams, Tura Edwards, Dr. Dutchess Jones, Brittan Jenkins.
The board approved additional Pay for After School Tutorial Program, 2022-2023 School Term. Eutaw Primary School: Carla Durrett, Pamela Pasteur, Sherit Pickens, Gwendolyn Webb, Keisha Williams. Greene County High School: Brittany Jenkins, Angela Harkness, Tameshia Porter, Dutchess Jones, Kaneeda Coleman, Drenda Morton, Janice Jeames-Askew, Assistant Principal; Ms. Tyesha Weeks, Parent Involvement Coordinator, compensated an additional $2,000 plus benefits on her existing salary to assist with the homeless program and perform additional duties as the Homeless Liaison for one year, beginning October 1, 2022, and ending September 30, 2023; Retention Bonus for school bus drivers, substitute bus drivers, and bus aides; Approval of one-time Supplemental Stipend for CNP Workers (No Kid Hungry Grant); Additional Pay for After School Tutorial Program, 2022-2023 School Term. Robert Brown Middle School: Felecia Smith–Lead Teacher; Quentin Walton–5th Grade; Raven Bryant–ELA 6th -8th Grade or Special Services; Elroy Skinner–Math 6th-8th Grade; Vanessa Bryant–4th Grade; Pinkie Travis Classroom Aide; Mary Hopson Special Services Aide ( Need Based).
The board approved the following administrative services recommended by Superintendent Jones.
* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
* Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. Marquita Lennon, CSFO.
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and National Math and Science Rural * Learning Accelerator Program.
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Formative Partner License, for Greene County High School Students, Teachers and Administrators.
* Contract between Greene County Board and Alabama High School Athletic Association Official, Robert Brown Middle School, 2022 School Year.
* Contract Between Greene County Board and West Central Volleyball Officials Association for 2022-2023 School Year.
* Approval of Professional Leave for Major Davis, to travel to Kentucky, for JROTC Training.
* Approval of Capital Plan Five Year Plan.
* Approval of School Resource Officers Contract for 2022-2023 School Term.
Extended Contract for Ms. Evelyn James, from 2021 until Calendar Year 2022.
In other board business, the board approved the nomination of Ms. Verlanda Jones, Hale County School Board Member, for AASB District 7 Coordinator.

Commission approves FY 2022-2023 Budget; Sheriff charged for additional staff positions and SRO supplement

The Greene County Commission met in a called session, Tuesday, September 26, 2022 to consider and act on three particular items: Approval of the FY 2022-2023 Budget; The School Resource Officers contract; The sheriff’s supplemental contract which includes additional funds for SRO’s and the Sheriff’s funded staff positions (additional employees).
The discussions focused mainly on the County’s FY 2023 General Fund Budget.
According to CFO Macaroy Underwood the County’s total revenue and transfer budget for FY 2023 is $12, 349,593 and total expenditure and transfer is $11, 407,454, which means fund balance is budgeted to increase by $942,139. Bingo funds make up $900,000 of the projected surplus or increase in fund balance. Macaroy also noted that the County’s General Fund revenue and transfer total is. $4,027,161 with expenditures totaling $3,989,303. There is a General Fund surplus of $37,858.
The School District is requesting five SROs for the current school year (187 instructional days) at the previous basic rate. The Greene County Board of Education entered into an agreement with the Sheriff of Greene County for the purpose of establishing terms under which the Sheriff and the County agree to provide the School District School Resource Officers and the compensation (contracted rate) for the same is paid to the County by the School District. The Sheriff provides SRO pay beyond the 187 instructional days paid by the school system.
The Sheriff Department is allocated 51% from the County’s General Fund Budget, however, the Sheriff’s Supplemental Agreement with the County includes payments totaling $189,992, which the sheriff will provide to the County Commission for five additional employees in the Sheriff’s Department and $35,558 for additional pay and benefits for the School Resource Officers.

BBCF Greene County Community Associates collect and ship water donations to Jackson

Shown Darlene Robinson, BBCF Board President, Community Assoicates Mollie Rowe, Miriam Leftwich, Geraldine Walton and John Zippert.
Volunteers load truck with water
L to R: Employee of Stay N On the Move Trucking Co. Amos Dewayne Cameron, his Dad Daniel Gill UHaul Driver and Rev. Wendell H. Paris of Jackson, MS, upon arrival in Jackson.

Submitted by Miriam Leftwich

Cities across the county had been collecting water donations since the beginning of September, after the clean water crisis broke out in Jackson, MS. The Greene County Community Associates, of the Black Belt Community Foundation, took the lead in Eutaw, Alabama to help our neighbors in Jackson get bottled water. We knew that we needed to help out however we could.
Special thanks to our Mayor Latasha Johnson, who allowed the trailer to be parked on the premises of the Robert H. Young Community Center which was also the collection site.
Stay N On the Move Trucking, LLC allowed use of a trailer and transported the collected bottled water to Jackson, Mississippi. Donations poured in from the beginning of the Water Drive up until minutes prior to departure.
I am so grateful to this community, to all of the Pastors and the church families who took part in this drive, and to the Pastors and Deacons that helped to load and unload water from various destinations, to all of the Greek Letter organizations, Volunteer Fire Departments, Masonic and Eastern Star Lodges, Greene County High School Principal, students, and staff, Flowers Bakery, Tishabee Senior Citizens, Eutaw Housing Authority, Greene County Retired Educators Association, McInnis Mortuary, Greene County Ushers Alliance, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr., Black Belt Law. All of the support that you showed was absolutely great.
There were approximately 38 organizations and 45 families that represented by showing up and donating numerous cases of water. Donations poured in from as far as California. We even had donations shipped via FED EX. Hale, Sumter, Choctaw, and Tuscaloosa counties also contributed. All of the love that your residents showed us will never be forgotten.
Approximately 325,000 bottles of water were collected. We are forever thankful to each and every one of you. We collected enough water to fill the trailer and had to get a second vehicle for the excess water. To our Sheriff and his staff, we tip our hats to you for such a wonderful sendoff. The Sheriff escorted the trucks from the Community Center to the Boligee exit.
The drivers had a safe trip; water was delivered and those on the receiving end were grateful to have it and expressed their appreciation for a job well done.

Newswire : Kenyan youth seek compensation from rich countries responsible for climate change

Kenyan climate protest

Sep. 26, 2022 (GIN) – Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Nairobi over the weekend to demand that wealthy countries pay more in the fight against climate change.
 “We need the Global North to pay for the damages they are causing,” said Duncan Omwami, an activist who joined the protest.
 “Ninety six percent of the emissions are being emitted by the Global North,” he said, “while four percent is emitted by the Global South. We are not able to make any great contribution to these emissions so we are demanding that the Global North pay for the loss and damage.”
 The march was part of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a youth-based movement that holds street marches and protests as it highlights the need for wealthier countries to pay for the huge damage done to lands of smallholder farmers and pastoralists across Africa.
 PACJA climate activists point to the ongoing drought which has been described by locals as the “worst in 40 years”.
 “It unimaginable that communities can lose livelihoods due to the climate crisis and yet governments are too incapacitated to intervene,” said Mithika Mwenda, executive director of PACJA.
 Protestor Elizabeth Wathuti commented: “These disasters and these challenges are not just happening in Kenya, they are happening across the African continent. And this is a continent that has done the least to cause the climate crisis but still continues to bear the biggest brunt.”
 “So we are asking that countries which have contributed the most to this crisis should definitely not abandon these communities on the frontline to their fate but they should step up and fulfil the pledges they have made on climate finance,” she said in a press interview.
 In September 2021 almost 3.5 million Kenyans became victims of extreme weather with the government declaring it a national disaster. In the same period, around 200,000 people were displaced by flooding.
 Meanwhile, at the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) taking place in Dakar, Senegal, African climate activists expressed disappointment with the presentation of John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s Special Climate Envoy, accusing him of a lack of comprehension of the magnitude of climate change.
 “John Kerry came to AMCEN without coming out strongly to deliver a bold commitment that would offer hope to families in the Horn of Africa, Sahel and the rest of Africa whose livelihoods have been turned upside down by a problem they have very little to do with,’ said Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director of PACJA.
 In his speech during the African Ministerial Conference, Kerry urged every country to bear the burden of its impacts. Kerry acknowledged that the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa emit only 0.55% of global harmful emissions, but said that every nation had to pull together in the face of crisis. “And is there a disparity in that? Yes, there is. Is there an unfairness built into that? Yes, there is,” Kerry said.
 “Mother Nature does not measure where the emissions come from,” he said. “They don’t have a label of one country or another on them. And it’s important for all of us to now come together to figure out how we’re going to compensate for that and deal with it.”
 “The challenge of the climate crisis comes from the crisis of emissions in every country.”
 Mithika said African community-based organizations consider it a mockery to the people on the continent when a top US diplomat spews out what Africans have heard over the years without telling them why his country continues to churn out tons of carbon emissions across the Atlantic and on its failure to honor its commitments on climate finance.
 “Kerry’s mere recognition of the ‘climate crisis facing the African continent’ is just a tired rhetoric which we hardly want to hear.”

Newswire: Report: number of Black Americans serving long prison sentences far exceeds other groups

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

While Black Americans remain vastly overrepresented in the prison population, a new report found that the disparity widens among those serving lengthy sentences.
The Sentencing Project found that in 2019, Black Americans represented 14% of the total U.S. population, 33% of the total prison population, and 46% of the prison population who had already served at least ten years.
In its extensive research, the organization discovered that the over-representation of people of color magnifies further among those serving even longer sentences in some jurisdictions.
For example, three-quarters of Californians serving over 15 years in prison are people of color—69% are Black or Latinx. In Washington, DC, 96% of those serving 15 years or longer sentences in 2020 were Black men. In Texas, Black people represented 34% of the total prison population in 2020, but 45% of people with 25 or more years served in 2021.
“The over-representation of Black Americans among the prison population serving lengthy sentences stems in part from racial disparities in serious criminal offending,” Nazgol Ghandnoosh, a senior research analyst at The Sentencing Project and co-author of the new report, told the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Let It Be Known live morning news broadcast. Tackling this problem requires significantly ramping up crime preventative interventions in areas with concentrated urban poverty, Ghandnoosh stated.

She added that it’s no small feat given that the public’s association of crime with people of color lends support for more punitive approaches to public safety. “Biased criminal justice policies and practices exacerbate the over-representation of Black Americans among those serving lengthy prison terms,” Ghandnoosh asserted.
The report, headlined “How Many People are Spending Over a Decade in Prison,” revealed that more than 260,000 people in U.S. prisons had already been incarcerated for at least ten years in 2019, comprising 19% of the prison population.
Further, nearly three times as many people – over 770,000 – were serving sentences of 10 years or longer. Researchers said the figures represented a dramatic growth from 2000 when mass incarceration was already well underway.
The Sentencing Project reported that the United States remains an outlier among western democracies in its heavy and growing reliance on lengthy prison terms.
For example, in Germany, for all but 0.01% of prison sentences, officials have abolished the maximum sentence length is 15 years and life-without-parole and death sentences.
In contrast, U.S. policies respond to a far higher homicide rate by prioritizing punishment rather than prevention, Ghandnoosh stated. One in every seven people in U.S. prisons is serving a life sentence, and nearly half of U.S. states maintain the death penalty, with some continuing to carry out executions.
“Extreme sentences are so common in America that ten years behind bars can seem like a relatively short imprisonment,” Ghandnoosh explained.
“But it’s an incredibly long period – one in which people can experience profound change. After a decade of imprisonment, many incarcerated people mature, take accountability for their actions, and acquire skills to support their successful re-entry.”
Ghandnoosh continued: “Unfortunately, people with excessive sentences are rarely allowed to show how they have changed and have their sentences re-evaluated. That’s a major flaw in our legal system.”
The author noted that several legislatures and prosecutors’ offices have begun reducing lengthy prison terms, such as by scaling back truth-in-sentencing requirements and implementing second-look reforms which allow for reconsideration of imposed sentences.
These efforts reflect growing awareness that ending mass incarceration and tackling its racial disparities require scaling back long sentences, Ghandnoosh offered.
To further align criminal justice laws and policies with evidence on public safety, The Sentencing Project recommends downsizing the inflated sentencing structure by repealing mandatory minimum sentences and scaling back sentencing guidelines – and applying these reforms retroactively.
The organization also recommends reducing overcharging and promoting lower plea offers by prosecutors, expediting minimum eligible release dates through good time credits, earned time credits, and parole – and increasing the use of discretion to curb excessive prison terms.
Ghandnoosh also champions creating an automatic judicial sentence review process within a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment and limiting virtually all maximum prison terms to 20 years.