Newsire : Key figure in divestment campaign that halted U. S. investments in South Africa passes

Minister N. Dlamini-Zuma and picture of D. Kumalo.

Feb. 4, 2019 (GIN) – In an interview for the book “No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists Over a Half Century”, Dumisani Kumalo recalled the struggle to cut off the U.S. funds that were sustaining the apartheid government of South Africa.

 “I spoke to more than 1,000 campuses all over the country in all 50 states,” Mr. Kumalo recalled.  A particular triumph came in 1986, when the U.S. Congress, overriding a veto by President Ronald Reagan, passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act.

The keys to such successes, Mr. Kumalo often said, was grassroots support of the civil resistance movement and the coming together of disparate groups to agree on the wrongs of apartheid.
After white minority rule ended in the 1990s, Kumalo spent a decade as the country’s representative to the United Nations. He died on Jan. 20 at his home in the Johannesburg suburb Midrand. He was 71.

Kumalo began working in the U.S. in 1977 after police wrecked his home and threatened him. He was soon working for the American Committee on Africa and the Africa Fund, promoting divestment.

He often opposed the powerful, including the United States. He objected to American eagerness to go to war in Iraq in 2003. Later in that decade, when he was sitting on the United Nations Security Council, he drew considerable criticism for opposing sanctions that were intended to counter President Robert Mugabe’s human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

“We didn’t want human rights to be used as a tool: ‘If I don’t like you I trot out human rights violations that you may have,’ ” he told Voice of America in 2009, explaining this and other controversial stands, “but when it is Guantánamo Bay, they keep quiet, and you know when it is Gaza, they keep quiet.”

“We didn’t do things the way the British and the Americans wanted us to do them,” he added, “and if you don’t do it like the big ones, the French and the Americans and the British, the way they want to do them, then you are a cheeky African. Well, I am happy being a cheeky African.”

Mr. Kumalo’s survivors include his wife, Ntombikayise Kumalo; a brother, Henry; two sons; and several grandchildren.

Newswire: Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, others launch campaign to remove racist symbols in Georgia

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Southern Poverty Law Center

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Southern Poverty Law Center, a premiere monitor of race hate across America, has joined other advocacy organizations and elected officials in demanding change to a Georgia state law that prohibits local communities from removing Confederate monuments.
This is the first phase of a broader statewide effort that seeks to empower local communities to determine whether they want to keep Confederate symbols in their public spaces, and – if not – to remove them.
It joins a national movement in which dozens of Confederate statues and symbols have been torn down in various states. However the issue is still being debated across the nation as thousands of the symbols remain.
“Although individuals and institutions across the country have made remarkable efforts to stop glorifying the men who fought to divide this nation and maintain slavery, backwards legislation has blocked significant progress in Georgia,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “In order to enact real change, the local community must have the ability to speak freely about the racist legacy of these symbols, and how they are still being used as emblems of white supremacy. These symbols should be understood and placed into their historical context in museums. They should not be displayed without the proper frame of reference in public spaces.”
Four days before the Georgia General Assembly session is set to begin, the SPLC, Georgia and Atlanta NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, Moore’s Ford Movement, and Concerned Black Clergy are leading the fight to remove Confederate symbols and monuments by seeking to activate a united South around racial reconciliation.
The organizations will establish statewide chapters, and are organizing a rally on Saturday, Feb. 2, to strengthen the call for change.
State Sen. Nikema Williams and state Rep. Renitta Shannon supported the campaign, urging the Legislature to grant local governments the power to decide whether to keep or remove monuments in their public spaces.
Currently, there are 1,747 Confederate symbols and 722 monuments in the United States, according to Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy, a special report of the SPLC that catalogs examples of monuments, statues, flags, city, county and school names; and other symbols that honor the Confederacy.
After Virginia and Texas, Georgia has the most Confederate symbols in the country, with at least one in 58 percent of the state’s counties.
Importantly, there is precedent for wanting to remove these symbols in Georgia. In late 2017, the Decatur City Commission voted unanimously to move a 30-foot-tall obelisk from its city square to another location. However, the city commission was unable to move forward because state law prohibits such monuments from being “relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion.”
Similarly, a 2017 petition to remove a Confederate flag from public display in downtown Kennesaw gained thousands of signatures. That city passed a resolution asking state leaders to “allow local municipalities the ability to determine, in their sole discretion and within the jurisdictional limits,” the ability to determine the fate of the Confederate symbol.
Georgia’s House of Representatives and Senate drafted legislation in response, seeking to allow local governments to take action involving monuments in their communities. If passed, the legislation would simply move power back to local control and would grant local governments the ability to make and execute decisions about the placement of Confederate symbols. Organizations that made presentations at today’s press conference will support the bill after it is reintroduced in the 2019 legislative session.

Newswire: Harris and Booker presidential races stir pride, excitement and high hopes

By Barrington M. Salmon

Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Cory Booker

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Dr. Shiela Harmon Martin said she recently got two very pleasant surprises within days of each other when Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced that they are joining the race to become America’s next president.
Harris, a former San Francisco prosecutor and California attorney general, set off serious buzz after her announcement and African-Americans have been digging into her law enforcement record and perusing her policy platforms and prior statements in order to discover what type of president she might be.
Dr. Martin, division chair and professor of Political Science at the University of the District of Columbia, said she hopes and expects both Black senators to do well.
“I hope one of them emerges as the top contender and at a minimum in second place,” Martin said. “African-Americans have been the most loyal constituency to the Democratic Party. I don’t feel that because we had one African-American president we shouldn’t have another one for the next 20 years…Hopefully the Democratic pool will look like America.”
Because both candidates have been watched by political observers for years, their formal announcements may also impact the strength of the electorate, Martin says. She hopes their candidacies will lead to increased voter registrations and voter turnout in Black communities.
The announcements of Harris and Booker are already attracting the attention of people from diverse walks of life.
Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, national director of Faith Outreach for the Democratic National Committee who served as a faith issue advisor to the Obama campaign, says both Harris and Booker will sore because of what will prove to be energetic campaigns and their donors and support will be competitive. But Harris’ first move may have given her an advantage. And the number and the excitement of the people who showed up for her Oakland announcement was reminiscent of the Obama enthusiasm.
“The energy and focus around her announcement was impressive. I haven’t seen that energy and momentum in other people,” Harkins said. “This was important to her and those waiting in the wings.”
However, political observers agree that no contender – at least not in the near future – will rise to the euphoria of the candidacy of America’s first Black president, Barack Obama.
“2008 was lightning in a bottle,” Rev. Harkins noted. “The energy, fervor and enthusiasm won’t probably be replicated in our lifetime…We’re in a different place. For them, it will probably be more ‘retail’, pushing people out there. They have to mobilize, organize to make sure people will come out.”
There is always the down side for both candidates. Because Harris has such a long record, even as a first-term senator, she is already being buffeted by scrutiny and criticism, said political analyst and media commentator Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever.
“Her challenge is that she has a long and controversial record, I will admit. But she’s being held to an extremely high level of scrutiny,” Jones-DeWeever says.
Jones-DeWeever also points out that Harris has ties to the ‘system’ that raises a lot of people’s suspicions.
“I think she needs to lay out her own criminal justice agenda, have a specific speech on this, spell out the issues and detail what she’ll do going forward,” said Jones-DeWeever, who is president and CEO of the consulting firm, Incite Unlimited, LLC. “We have to be careful not to be over-critical and not hold her to a different standard. A lot of people aren’t asking this of other candidates.”
But, for African-Americans in many quarters, Harris has struck the right chord in the way she entered the race with the announcement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day; her first news conference held at her alma mater, Howard University; and her ability to draw a large crowd to her formal announcement at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall in her hometown of Oakland, CA. She also got kudos for her remark in front of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorors in South Carolina.
But in walks the popular orator and politician Sen. Corey Booker.
Kansas City resident and political observer Emily Brown says Booker’s entrance into the presidential fray surprised her.
“I followed Sen. Booker as mayor. He’s an excellent senator, very strong,” she said. “I was shocked that he’s running but having multiple candidates of color is a very positive thing. I’ve never seen a more diverse group running. We saw that in the midterms. I am concerned but think she’s a strong candidate.”
Gloria Murry-Ford said she recently met Booker at a fundraiser for former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Adams and left impressed.
“I took a selfie with him. He’s a very nice, very personable, very smart man,” she said. “I know he’s a Rhodes Scholar but I don’t know a lot about him and I don’t know how he’s doing. They are two powerful Black people. I watched Sen. Harris. I saw the town hall and liked what I saw. I think she’s smart, she’s good, knows what questions to ask and has gotten her message together. She had a great rollout.”
Murry-Ford, a former CNN reporter and now a communications expert specializing in crisis management and strategic communications in Washington, DC, said she was less than impressed with the junior New Jersey senator’s announcement.
“Booker’s rollout was light,” she said. “Standing at a chain link fence? Optics is important and his optics weren’t as great. She had a great roll out. It was magnificent. She claimed her blackness. It’s not bad to be black anymore. With him it was a different atmosphere. He’s got to nail down his message, tighten up stuff.”
Political Scientist Dr. Harmon Martin said she’s confident that Booker and Harris will campaign well, even they deal with the rough and tumble nature of politics and the often coarse and abrasive criticism and attacks that come with it.
“Hey, cheers to Sen. Harris and Sen. Booker,” she said. “I’m a little biased because she’s my soror. She’s an African-American woman and attended an HBCU. I really like Booker too. He’s an outstanding choice, a good mayor, committed to Black people. I despise when people place a litmus test on whose Black enough. Allow both candidates to do well, and may the best woman win.”

Newswire: Abrams blasts Trump, McConnell for ‘power grab’ after State of the Union Address

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Stacey Abrams


Stacey Abrams may not be the governor of Georgia, but she did make history on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
After patiently waiting in the wings as President Donald Trump used 90 minutes to deliver what was supposed to be a 45-minute State of the Union Address, Abrams provided a scathing Democratic rebuttal to the president’s highly-scripted speech to Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
In doing so, Abrams became the first Black woman for either party to deliver a formal response to the State of the Union. Speaking firmly and with a fervor that has earned her the national stage, the former Georgia Gubernatorial candidate said the “hopes of American families are being crushed” by Republican political leadership.
“In Georgia and around the country, people are striving for a middle class where a salary truly equals economic security,” Abrams said. “But instead, families’ hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn’t understand it.”
The response is a tradition undertaken by a representative of the president’s opposing party, who gives a speech immediately after the State of the Union to rebut claims made in his address.
According to CBS News, the first rebuttal was delivered by Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen and Rep. Gerald Ford in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1966 State of the Union. Since 2011, there have been responses in English and one in Spanish given by a separate speaker.
The address has usually been given by a member of Congress or a sitting governor, making Abrams an intriguing choice given she doesn’t currently hold a political office.
Only one other time has an elected official not holding statewide or federal office given their party’s response: Elizabeth Guzman, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, delivered the Spanish-language response for Democrats in 2018, CBS reported. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra gave the Spanish address this year.
However, since losing her gubernatorial bid, Abrams has said she is open to running for political office again. Abrams talked about family values – taught by her parents. In one instance on a cold winter night, her family went looking for her father and when they found him walking along a road, he was shivering and without a coat.
“He had given his coat to a homeless man,” Abrams said. “I knew he would still be alone when I left him, but I knew you were coming for me,” she said, relating her father’s words. “I hold fast to my father’s credo, we are coming for a better America,” Abrams said.
Abrams railed against Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the government shutdown. Abrams noted McConnell’s recent verbal assaults on a House Democratic voting rights and an election bill that he has labeled a Democratic “power grab.”
“Voter suppression is real … we can no longer ignore these threats to Democracy. We cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote,” Abrams said. “This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country,” she said. “We must reject the cynicism that says allowing every eligible vote to be cast and counter is a ‘power grab.’”
She blasted Trump and McConnell noting the missed paydays and the struggles of more than 800,000 federal workers who could still face another shutdown in just a couple of weeks because Trump wants to build a $5 billion wall on the southern border.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers. They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks,” Abrams said. “Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace,” she said.
Further driving home her point, Abrams continued: “The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values.”
Trump, who continues to garner headlines over a myriad of alleged misdeeds, misstatements, and the division that’s enveloped the country since he took office, called for bipartisanship in his address.
He claimed outstanding records on jobs and the economy and America’s global standing. He also again took credit for low African American and Latino unemployment, saying more people – 157 million – are working now than anytime in the past in America.
The president also talked about the 300 or so judicial nominees that are in the Senate, ignoring that President Barack Obama’s high court choices were blatantly disregarded by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Abrams, who was once the Democratic Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, dismissed those claims. Abrams also firmly rebutted the notion that the Trump administration has the best ideals for the country going forward. “We may come from different sides of the political aisle, but our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable,” she said.
“The Republican tax bill rigged the system against people. Wages struggle to keep pace with the cost of living. We owe more to the folks who keep our country moving.”
“We know bipartisanship can craft a 21stcentury immigration plan, but this administration chooses to cage people. Democrats stand ready to secure our borders, but we must understand America is made stronger by immigrants, not walls.”

Newswire : State of the Union: Trump calls for ‘Choosing Greatness’ as Black leaders say his ‘Racist Rhetoric’ overshadows hope for change 

By Hazel Trice Edney


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Donald B. Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech, delivered Tuesday night, following a government shutdown that left many people irreparably damaged, was taken in stride by African-Americans and Democratic leaders who express little hope for change.
“We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential. As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans,” Trump said in the speech in which he never mentioned the hardships of the historic shutdown which, for weeks, put thousands of Americans either out of work or caused them to work without pay. “Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation. The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people.”
The lofty words of the President resonated little with Democrats and Black leaders as he ignored the pain of the shutdown for which he initially claimed credit. Besides that, America had heard it all before. Even during his inaugural address, he promised to be President for all the people after which his administration has become one of the most racially and culturally divisive in history.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams pointed to Trump’s sins of omission as the official Democratic respondent to his speech.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers.  They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received paychecks in weeks. Making livelihoods of our federal workers a pawn for political games is a disgrace. The shutdown was a stunt, engineered by the president of the United States, one that betrayed every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people but our values,” Abrams said.
Trump’s speech got intense applause from Republicans, especially as he mentioned his quest for a “border wall” which has become widely known as a dog-whistle to his base and a core race issue. As he pushed the need for the wall in the speech, he never mentioned his campaign promise that “Mexico will pay” for the wall.
“In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built.  I’ll get it built,” he said.
But, Abrams was clear on how millions of others view the wall. “Democrats stand ready to effectively secure our ports and borders,” she said. “But we must all embrace that from agriculture to healthcare to entrepreneurship, America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls.”
Trump laid out some key bi-partisan goals such as research to end childhood cancer and HIV/AIDS as well as successes, including economic gains, infrastructure, and criminal justice reform. Guests in the gallery included formerly incarcerated offenders who he had pardoned under new bi-partisan criminal justice reform. Those guests included Alice Johnson, who had served nearly 22 years of a life sentence as a first-time drug offender and Matthew Charles, sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs now “the first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act,” Trump said.
Despite the bipartisan highlights in the speech, Black leaders note that his “racist” views and policy omissions far outweigh the positives.
“Once again the President used the State of the Union as an opportunity to spew the same racist rhetoric, that does nothing but bolster his detachment and disinterest towards the real issues that plague our nation,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “While President Trump rallied for a wall on the border and credited his presidency for lowering unemployment numbers, which he touted after the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history, he conveniently overlooked the voter suppression, over policing, gun violence, and detrimental and xenophobic immigration policies that his administration has instituted that disproportionately affect communities of color.”
Johnson continued in his statement, “As racism continues to permeate through every level of our society, it’s clear from his failure to protect the right to vote and civil rights for ALL, that this President’s agenda represents nothing but pain and suffering for communities of color, the poor, the LGBT community, women and immigrants. Because of this, the state of our union is not strong.”
Jim Clyburn, the most powerful Black member of Congress as House majority whip, pointed out that Democrats are ready to work with the President, but their disagreement on the meaning of “greatness” is a major barrier.
“We welcome his words of comity and are hopeful there will be issues like infrastructure, prescription drug costs, and defeating the spread of HIV where we can find common ground. However, as House Democrats, we know the role we were elected to play and, as my faith teaches me, we know we will be judged on our deeds not our words.
“The President’s theme tonight was ‘Choosing Greatness,’ but I question how he defines that term. I believe that America is already great, and, like historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America, the country’s greatness ‘lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.’ Democrats stand ready to work with the President when possible, but in strong opposition when necessary, to repair our faults so we may become a more perfect union.”
 

No Action by Selma Police Multiple death threats made to Attorney Faya Rose Toure

Attorney
Faya Rose Toure

Senator Hank Sanders of Selma held a press conference, Friday, January 25, 2019 to protest the inaction of the Selma police regarding repeated death threats to his wife Attorney Faya Rose Toure. Faya Rose is a nationally recognized civil rights and voting rights activist, who has organized the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma for decades.
Faya Rose Toure, the 73-year-old grandmother, attorney at law and wife of former state Senator Hank Sanders, has received multiple and ongoing death threats.  Her husband, Hank Sanders, said at a Selma news conference today:  “These death threats started last summer.  A person started calling our Law Offices of Chestnut, Sanders and Sanders threatening “to kill Rose Sanders” (Faya Rose Toure).  These threats were reported to the Selma Police Department, and nothing was done. 
“Subsequently, the person started calling Z105.3 FM Radio Station on multiple occasions with threats to “kill Rose Sanders” (Faya Rose Toure).  These threats were reported to the Selma Police Department by a radio personality who heard them firsthand.  Attorney Faya Rose Toure also personally went to the Selma Police Chief.  The phone number of the person calling the radio station repeatedly with death threats for Faya Toure was also provided to the Selma Police.  Nothing has been done.
Hank Sanders said that his wife was also threatened by a white man in Orville, a Dallas County rural community south of Selma, on December 12, 2017 at the conclusion of the General Election to confirm Doug Jones for U. S. Senator. “Faya Rose was driving my car and checking the voting polls in Dallas County. This man ripped the ‘Vote or Die’ signs off the car, threw the signs on the ground, started hitting on the car and said someone is going to die tonight.”
This attack and threat was reported to Dallas County law enforcement authorities. A cell photo of the man was given to the proper authorities. “We recently learned that after a year and a half, the Dallas County Grand Jury indicted the man for the misdemeanor charge of harassment, ignoring the death threat,” said Hank Sanders.
Sanders added:  “Selma has the terrible distinction of being the most dangerous city in Alabama and the eighth most dangerous city in America.  In the last year there have been 16 murders in Selma, a city of fewer than 18,000.  Some young men who have also been threatened have told us that when they are threatened, they know that the police will not do anything about it.  They believe that is why too many take matters into their own hands, resulting in injuries and deaths.”
Sanders said:  “I am sick and tired of these death threats.  I am sick and tired of the Selma Police not doing anything about these death threats. “If something is not done, we will have to take some steps.”

400 Ways to Celebrate the Bicentennial

By Dave Helms –
January 24, 2019

MoonPie over Mobile New Year’s Eve Celebration. Photo courtesy of mobile.org
Mobile’s MoonPie has dropped, New Year’s Eve tradition that it is, but there are still hundreds of other events planned in 225 cities and towns to mark Alabama’s bicentennial year.
Some of the events are quiet and humble; others will blare through the streets. One happens Feb. 23 on the state’s highest land, when bands and choirs will mark the release of a U.S. Postal Service Bicentennial stamp on Mount Cheaha. Shortly after that, the party moves to Constitution Village, where legislators crafted Alabama’s first constitution.
“From small towns to big cities, the bicentennial is going to have an enormous impact during 2019,” says Jay Lamar, executive director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission.
On March 30, Tuscaloosa will hold The Bicentennial Bash, a celebration in the heart of downtown, featuring Alabama entertainers, food trucks, fireworks and a kids’ zone.
President James Monroe, who signed a congressional resolution in December 1819 admitting Alabama as the 22nd state, made a surprise visit to Alabama months earlier. There will be a re-enactment of Monroe’s visit to Huntsville on June 1 at Constitution Village.
From July 15-20, Huntsville and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center will host a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Alabama’s role in landing a man on the moon with a variety of events, including a July 16 attempt to break the Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously at 8:32 a.m. — the exact time of the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. In addition there will be a July 16 celebration dinner featuring Apollo astronauts and a July 20 concert.
From Sept. 11-15, there will be a Ride Alabama 200 “Civil Rights Ride.” In all there will be three designated cycling routes that will take riders to historic sites throughout the state, including this four-day Civil Rights Trail ride spanning 200 miles and more than 50 historic sites.
Dec. 13-15 will mark the culmination of the bicentennial in Montgomery with parades, fireworks, music and the dedication of Bicentennial Park.
A complete schedule of events is available at ALABAMA200.org.

Eutaw City Council approves ordinance for police officers to drive cars home; Sunday liquor sales; and tables action on matching funds for downtown development

Shown above Mayor Raymond Steele, City Council members and Eutaw Police Officers.

The Eutaw City Council took action on a variety of outstanding issues but tabled a major downtown development and beautification project until Mayor Steele provides more information on the city’s finances and budget.
The Council approved a resolution allowing members of the Eutaw Police Department to drive their official police car home and to use the car to commute back and forth to work from their home location, even if it is in another county. The cars are not to be used for personal purposes but only for the commute from work to home and home to work.
The TS Police Support Foundation, a local charity connected with the Palace Bingo in Knoxville, agreed to pay the additional mileage, gas and maintenance costs for cars used by police officers to commute to work. The resolution acknowledges the contribution of the TS Police Foundation to make this resolution possible. Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith, who also works as an officer of the charity helped spearhead this effort.
The Council approved a first reading of an ordinance to permit alcohol sales on Sunday in the city limits of Eutaw. Eutaw Bait Shop and 12 Roots Restaurant, a new restaurant under renovation at the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square, requested this ordinance. The original resolution, which must be approved by the Alabama Legislature, named only the two establishments that requested the change. The City Council decided that this opportunity should be extended to all businesses that request expanded Sunday alcohol sales.
The Council also approved a policy that the City would no longer accept cash payments effective the first week of February. Only checks and money orders will be accepted for water bills and other municipal charges to reduce the chance for losses. Councilman Bennie Abrams inquired if the council members had checked on the impact of this policy on low-income people who did not have checking accounts. The other Council members felt this policy was best for the city. The Council also approved Joe Lee Powell, LaJeffrey Carpenter and City Clerk Kathy Bir as signatories on the municipal bank accounts.
The Council approved an ordinance to declare a storage building adjacent to the National Guard Armory as surplus not needed for public use. Councilwoman Latasha Johnson has been pushing this ordinance as a way to allow the City to lease this building to REACH Inc. for its used furniture distribution service, which has been evicted from the Robert H. Young Civic Center (formerly Carver School).
Mayor Steele objected to the resolution because he contends that the storage building is used and needed for storage of the city’s Christmas lights, ornaments and other supplies. The Council approved the resolution as a first reading as an ordinance subject to a second reading and approval at the next City Council meeting. In the public comments section, some nearby residents said they did not want a furniture business on the grounds of the Armory.
Mayor Steele requested approval to begin engineering work on the TAPNU-TA grant, a $600,000 grant awarded to the city for sidewalks, lanterns and other improvements to the downtown Courthouse square area of Eutaw. The Mayor indicated that he was seeking $210.000 in matching funds for this project by grant and loan funds. The Council tabled further action on this TAPNU-TA grant until the Mayor responds to their questions on city finances and a budget.
The Council felt that without clarity on the city’s finances, including revenues and expenses, in a budget, it could not determine the affordability of borrowing to do new projects. This concern over the City’s finances has been a recurring theme of Council opposition to the Mayor’s plans to revitalize and improve the city.
Council members Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell and LaJeffrey Carpenter made a motion to approve the appointment of Attorney Joshua Swords as Municipal Judge for Eutaw. Councilman Bennie Abrams asked if the other council members had discussed this choice with the Police Department. Councilwoman Sheila Smith asked if the current Municipal Judge, Attorney William ‘Nick’ Underwood, had retired or resigned and why we needed a new judge. The appointment of Swords was approved on a 3 to 1 vote with Abrams abstaining. Mayor Steele also objected to this appointment but it was approved by a majority vote of the City Council.
The Council approved travel for the Court Clerk to a regional seminar for municipal court officials in Birmingham on April 4 and 5, 2019. It also approved an increase in the travel mileage rate to $0.58 per mile in conformity with Federal standards.
Mayor Steele reported that resurfacing of the roads in Branch Heights had been completed and that Central Asphalt did a good job;
clearing of the site for the Love’s Truck Stop has begun and the sewer extension project will begin on January 25, 2019 . He further stated that he was working to pay the most urgent outstanding bills first and work on a report for the Council so they will understand the city’s financial situation.

Newswire: Income inequality fueling backlash and elites across the World are worried

Winnie Byanyima, Director Oxfam International

     Jan. 28, 2019 (GIN) – The rich are getting richer, businesses are thriving, but it’s hard not to notice that discontent is growing among the expanding poor and middle class and could soon pose a threat to the well-to-do.

     At the exclusive World Economic Forum, an annual event held in Davos, Switzerland, income inequality was the talk among many corporate leaders, and the good jobs being lost to trade and automation.

     “We’re living in a Gilded Age,” said Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, which manages more than $265 billion in assets. “I think, in America, the aristocrats are out of touch. They don’t understand the issues around the common man.”

     In fact, a new Global Risks Report declares that humanity is “sleepwalking its way to catastrophe” referring to extreme weather, failure to act on climate change, among other threats.

     For the jobless poor, a new buzzword - “upskilling” - was bandied about. Training could help people obtain better jobs in the digital economy, some assert.

     Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, doubled down on the need for digital education which would lessen the inequalities that people have in terms of job opportunities.

     It’s “up to the grown-ups” to make digital upskilling happen in K-12 schools, said Schwarzman, whose net worth is estimated at $13 billion.

     But what most of the elites are uniformly against is a solution to be found in taxing wealth.

     Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, couldn’t disagree more. “We’re in a world where governments do not tax wealth enough, do not tax the rich enough.”

     Billionaire fortunes are spiraling by $2.5 billion daily, according to Oxfam in a new report. The share of wealth held by billionaires increases by $2.5 billion a day, while the share of wealth among the 3.8 billion of the world’s poorest decreases by $500 million a day.

     “Our economy is broken,” said Byanyima, originally from Uganda. “Hundreds of millions live in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top.

     Governments are fueling this inequality crisis, she insists. “They are under-taxing corporations and wealthy individuals, while underfunding vital public services like healthcare and education… The human costs are huge, with women and girls suffering the most.”

     Countries cited by Oxfam with the greatest income inequality gap were Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana and Kenya.

     The Forum runs from Jan. 22 to 25. To read the Oxfam briefing paper released this month, visit www.oxfam.org   

Newswire: The National Park Foundation brings iconic civil rights site into the National Parks system

The home where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. raised his family with Coretta Scott King will be made accessible to the public for the first time as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, a part of the National Park System. (Katie Bricker Photography for the National Park Foundation)

By PR Newswire
The National Park Foundation, National Park Service, and King family have announced that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s home in the historic Vine City neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, will be made accessible to the public for the first time as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, a part of the National Park System.
The addition of the home helps to tell a more complete story about the King family’s experiences and contributions to our nation’s history. The National Park Foundation purchased the home, via private philanthropy, from the estate of Coretta Scott King on January 8, 2019, and immediately transferred it to the National Park Service. This follows the National Park Foundation’s purchase and transfer of Dr. King’s birth home in late 2018.
“African American history is U.S. history, and the family home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King is a touchstone for us all to better understand our shared heritage,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “The acquisition of both Dr. King’s birth home and the family home he shared with Coretta Scott King and their children advances the National Park Foundation’s commitment to telling a more comprehensive American story through national parks. With greater access to Dr. King’s life and legacy, we can learn more about this country’s past and how his work continues to echo through time.”
“The National Park Service’s dedication to preserving historic properties is unmatched,” said Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., on behalf of the King family. “We are very pleased to have worked with the National Park Foundation to ensure that the family home that my siblings and I grew up in will be open and available to the public. My brothers and I are honored to have fulfilled my mother’s wish to allow future generations to know the story of our dad as a father, a husband, a minister, and a civil rights leader.”
“The addition of the homes where Dr. King was born and where he raised his family with Coretta Scott King provides the National Park Service sacred spaces to more fully tell the story of Dr. King’s life and legacy,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “Thanks to the efforts of the National Park Foundation and the generosity of the King family, these areas are now among the many civil rights sites that are preserved as part of the National Park System and will be accessible to the American people in perpetuity.”
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle.