Newswire : In bipartisan effort Senators urge Biden Administration to halt Haitian deportations

Demonstrators protest outside the US Citizenship and Immigration Service office in Miami, on February 20, 2021, demanding that the administration of US President Joe Biden cease deporting Haitian immigrants back to Haiti. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Anoa Changa, NewsOne

Concerns about the U.S. deportation of Haitians continues as the country grapples with internal strife and unrest. In a bipartisan show of support, Sens. Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio urged the Biden administration to stop the deportations given Haiti’s current state of affairs. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the senators called for Haitians in the U.S. to remain under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation. “Haiti’s protracted political crisis exacerbates the severe and prolonged humanitarian needs sparked by the 2010 earthquake,” wrote the senators. The senators say the move would cover up to 55,000 Haitians in the U.S., including current TPS recipients. The National Immigration Center reported the number of asylum requests processed has dropped dramatically while deportations surge. In response to immigration advocates, the Biden administration announced it would review the use of the Title 42 program. But deportations have continued. As previously reported by NewsOne, immigration and human rights advocates demanded the Biden Administration stop deporting Haitians given the well-documented instability in the country. Homeland Security has previously acknowledged the likelihood of harm to Haitians sent back to the island nation. One of four witnesses to give testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Emmanuela Douyon of Nou Pap Dòmi said she remained hopeful the Biden Administration would break from the past and listen to the Haitian people. “Rather than take sides in a constitutional dispute, it will be more helpful to listen to and offer solidarity with the Haitian people,” said Douyon in her opening statement. Guerline Jozef, president of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, told the committee that over 129 asylum seekers were being deported as the hearing was happening. Over the weekend, social media users expressed outrage at ongoing conditions with the #FreeHaiti hashtag. An expression of self-determination, not a plea for help, #FreeHaiti began trending after news broke of the brutal killing of members of the Haitian National Police. Reporting for the Miami Herald, Jacqueline Charles explained the escalating situation as the United Nations demanded an explanation after an “anti-gang” operation in Port-au-Prince went horribly wrong. Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.

Newswire: Renee Montgomery makes history in purchasing WNBA’s Atlanta Dream

Rene Montgomery

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Renee Montgomery, a two-time WNBA champion and vice president of the Atlanta Dream, has purchased a stake in the franchise and is now co-owner. Montgomery is the first retired player to own and serve as an executive of a WNBA team. The superstar and her two partners, Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair of Northland Investment Corp. take over the team that was once co-owned by former U.S. Sen. Kelley Loeffler (D-Ga.). “With the unanimous WNBA and NBA [board] votes, marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Dream organization, and we are very pleased to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “I am also thrilled that former WNBA star Renee Montgomery will be joining the ownership group as an investor and executive for the team. Renee is a trailblazer who has made a major impact both in the game and beyond,” Englebert added. Selected fourth overall in the 2009 WNBA draft, Montgomery appeared in 364 games. She played in 37 playoff games and twice won the WNBA title as a Minnesota Lynx member. She matched the WNBA regular-season record with eight made three-pointers in 2018 and notched her 500th career trey in 2019 – making her just the 13th player in league history to accomplish that feat. Last November, Montgomery proved a champion in another venue: political activism. She joined Stacey Abrams and other women of color to push voter participation and inclusion, ultimately helping President Joe Biden win Georgia and the White House. Those efforts also led to Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff winning the Senate and grabbing the majority in the upper chamber. “My dream has come true,” Montgomery declared. “Breaking barriers for minorities and women by being the first former WNBA player to have both an ownership stake and a leadership role with the team is an opportunity that I take very seriously.”

Newswire: LSU picks new leader, William Tate, naming system’s and SEC’s first Black president

William Tate

By The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana State University chose its new leader Thursday, naming William Tate as the university system’s first Black president. Tate, provost at the University of South Carolina, was the unanimous pick of the LSU Board of Supervisors after public in-person interviews with three finalists and 90 minutes of closed-door debate among board members. He’ll start the job as LSU president — overseeing multiple campuses and serving as chancellor of the flagship campus in Baton Rouge — in July. “We set about to find a great leader, and we found one,” said Robert Dampf, chairman of the LSU board. In addition to becoming LSU’s first Black president, Tate will be the first African American university president in the Southeastern Conference, Gov. John Bel Edwards said. The Democratic governor, whose appointees fill the LSU board, issued a statement congratulating Tate and saying he’s confident Tate “is the right person to lead LSU.” “He has expressed a desire to ensure that more students have the opportunity for higher education at the schools in LSU’s system, including more minority students, those from rural areas and those who face financial challenges. He will also be charged with attracting first class researchers and research funding to our state as we seek to continue and expand LSU’s role as a national leader in innovation and discovery,” Edwards said. Tate, 56, will take charge of a system in the midst of several controversies, including an independent report that found widespread mishandling of sexual misconduct claims at LSU’s main campus in Baton Rouge and separate allegations of sexual harassment against the leader of LSU’s medical school in Shreveport. Terms of Tate’s contract with LSU have not been finalized, Dampf said. “For me, this position is all about what we can do to help students and give people access and opportunity in higher education,” Tate said in a statement. “That’s really in my DNA, how do we help people regardless of their background — we find the money, get you here and give you the opportunity to live your dream. I think there is no better place in the United States to come find your dream and to make it happen then right here at LSU.” Tate has been executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina since July 2020. Before working there, the new president worked as graduate school dean and vice provost for graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis, was a professor at Texas Christian University and served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics education, master’s degree in psychiatric epidemiology and a bachelor’s degree in economics. The LSU System includes campuses in Baton Rouge, Alexandria and Eunice, medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport, a law school, an agricultural center and research facilities spread across the state.

Newswire: GOP state lawmaker slammed for saying 3/5 Compromise aimed to end slavery

Howard Chandler Christy’s scene at signing of the Constitution in 1787

By Josephine Harvey, Huffpost

Tennessee state Rep. Justin Lafferty (R) has been fact-checked by historians and accused of trying to distort U.S. history after he argued in a state House floor speech Tuesday that the Three-Fifths Compromise was established “for the purpose of ending slavery.” The Three-Fifths Compromise was an agreement reached at the nation’s founding that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person when determining a state’s population. Slave states wanted to count their entire enslaved population for representation in Congress, and Northern states did not want them counted at all. The agreement ultimately gave slaveholders outsized representation and influence in government. “The Three-Fifths Compromise was a direct effort to ensure that Southern states never got the population necessary to continue the practice of slavery everywhere else in the country,” said Lafferty, who is from Knoxville. He argued that “by limiting the number of population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slaveholding states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery.” It was a “bitter pill” that was necessary to limit the power of slave states, he argued. Lafferty was speaking in favor of a Republican-backed amendment to a bill that would withhold funding from schools that teach critical race theory, an academic framework that examines how historical racism in the U.S. led to laws and institutions that perpetuate and uphold racial inequities. It follows a wider effort by Republicans across the country to deny that racism was a key component of the nation’s roots and led to pervasive racial inequities. Conservatives in a number of other states have proposed similar legislation. “The Three-Fifths Compromise was a direct effort to ensure that Southern states never got the population necessary to continue the practice of slavery everywhere else in the country,” said Lafferty, who is from Knoxville. He argued that “by limiting the number of population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slaveholding states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery.” It was a “bitter pill” that was necessary to limit the power of slave states, he argued. Lafferty was speaking in favor of a Republican-backed amendment to a bill that would withhold funding from schools that teach critical race theory, an academic framework that examines how historical racism in the U.S. led to laws and institutions that perpetuate and uphold racial inequities. It follows a wider effort by Republicans across the country to deny that racism was a key component of the nation’s roots and led to pervasive racial inequities. Conservatives in a number of other states have proposed similar legislation. His speech was met with applause from Republican lawmakers. Several historians weighed in after a clip of Lafferty’s address was shared widely online. Manisha Sinha, a historian who holds the Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut, told HuffPost in an email that Lafferty’s comments “are completely incorrect and would be discredited by any respectable historian or even a middle schooler who knows American history.” “It certainly was not an antislavery clause but a pro-slavery one that gave slavery extra protections and recognition in the U.S. Constitution, just like the fugitive slave clause that sought to implement Southern laws of slavery in the North,” Sinha said.  Lafferty was not only whitewashing U.S. history but giving “an alternative history with alternative facts and arguments,” she said. Sinha called this sort of misconstruction of history dangerous, noting that it can have only bad consequences.  “To propagate such lies is to deny the long history of slavery and racism that we have yet to fully overcome,” she said. .Other historians, including Joanna Freeman, a tenured professor of history and American studies at Yale University; and Kevin M. Levin, a historian, author and history educator; also spoke up to correct Lafferty’s claims. Levin also noted that “one of the ways you convince Americans that racism and white supremacy is not central to our history is by politicizing and distorting it.”

Newswire: Biden-Harris Administration delivers funds to support older Americans’ health

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living has released $1.4 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan for Older Americans Act programs, including initiatives to support vaccine outreach and coordination, address social isolation, provide family caregiver support, and offer nutrition support. The department also plans to fund justice programs to ensure the safety and protection of older adults. According to a White House fact sheet released on May 3, officials plan to distribute the funds as follows:

• $750 million for meals for older adults. With this funding for Older Americans Act nutrition programs, states will be able to continue home-delivered meals as well as “drive-through” or “grab-and-go” meals for older adults who typically would participate in meal programs at community centers that have been closed due to the pandemic. It will also allow states to re-open meal program locations safely that might have closed during the pandemic.

• $460 million for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) through the Older Americans Act. This funding provides help to those who need it for help with household chores and grocery shopping; transportation to essential services (such as grocery stores, banks, or doctors); and case management. The funding can also be used to vaccinate older Americans and address the effects of extended social isolation.

• $44 million for evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention. This includes programs to address fall prevention, managing a chronic disease, and programs to detect and reduce depression among older Americans.

• $145 million to help family caregivers support their loved ones. This funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program will assist family and informal caregivers to provide in-home supports, including counseling, respite care, training and more.

• $10 million to safeguard the health and welfare of residents in long-term care facilities. These funds will support State Long-term Care Ombudsman programs to advocate on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities across the country. This money will allow ombudsman programs that are advocating for residents to safely go back into facilities after they had to discontinue that support during the pandemic, and continue to promote the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents.

• The announcement coincided with a presidential proclamation honoring May 2021 as Older Americans Month. “The proclamation recognizes that older Americans and families have faced substantial challenges during the last year, and their resilience and strength have made our country stronger,” administration officials stated. “Older adults deserve to age with dignity and have equitable access to the long-term care system, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, or socioeconomic status. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to expanding access to health care, nutrition services, caregiving, and opportunities to age in place for all older Americans.” “The funding will take significant steps to help older adults get high-quality care in their homes and communities.”

Eutaw City Council hires new City Clerk, continues work to improve water system

At its regular meeting on April 27, 2021, the Eutaw City Council approved the Mayor’s recommendation to hire Shakelvia Spencer, as the new City Clerk. Mayor Latasha Johnson said Spencer had been working in a clerical position with the police department and wanted to promote within the existing staff to secure a new clerk. The Council approved a new ordinance for the payment of per diem, at $75 a day for Council members and employees traveling on city business to conferences and training workshops. At the suggestion of Zane Willingham, Legal Counsel, the City Council voted to suspend the rules, requiring two readings of the ordinance at successive meetings, to pass it on a unanimous roll call vote, at the April 27th meeting. Corey Martin, Water Department supervisor, reported on continuing improvement to the City’s Water Department. He indicated that water loss for the entire system had been reduced to 41% in March from previous levels of 50.2% in January and 68% in February. Water loss is the difference between the water pumped each month and the water billed. This means more of the water is being accounted for and billed. Martin also said, “ We have received more revenue for water, sewer and garbage in the past six months under Mayor Johnson than we received in the previous year.” After the meeting, Martin said the City took in $845.000 in payments since the beginning of the current fiscal year on October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, compared with a total of $808,000 for the past fiscal year. He and the Mayor indicated improvements and closely monitoring the system has yielded significant benefits. The Council also approved a series of routine items including:

• Approved travel and per diem for police to attend training. • Approved resolution for Tier 1 employees of the Retirement System of Alabama (RSA).

• Approved the Municipal Water Pollution Prevent Annual Report for 2020.

• Approved payment of three claims against the city, Truddie Cox for $732.50; Cindy Taylor for $39.00 and Barbara McShan for $615.19. • Approved closing of the Eutaw Downtown Revitalization Community Account and donate its $1,054.65 to the Eutaw Garden Club for beautification efforts.

• Approved travel and per diem for Robert Geter and Austin Whitehead to attend Birmingham Police Academy, July 12 to 16, 2021.

• Approved Belinda Vanable for usage of the City Park on May 8 for a Cancer Memorial Ride.

• Approved payment for Mayor, Council and Administrative Assistant to travel to a League of Municipalities meeting in Huntsville on May 11-15, 2021.

• Approved payment of city matching funds for lighting at the Exit 40 on Interstate 20/59.

• Approval of rental of space at R.H. Young for Elegant Beauty Supply LLC and This Belongs to US Inc. • Approval to pay bills including to Layne Services for well repair.

New Families USA report finds lack of health insurance heightened COVID-19’s impact on Alabama communities, underscoring need for Medicaid expansion

SOS members rally in front of the Alabama State House on April 29th to urge Governor Ivey and State Legislature to Expand Medicaid Now! They stressed that $700 to $940 million were available in the American Recovery Act to assist and incentivize the State of Alabama to Expand Medicaid. (Photo by Jacque Chandler, Picturethismagazine)

From a Cover Alabama press release MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Lack of health insurance coverage was a key factor in the spread and toll of COVID-19 in Alabama, according to a Families USA report, The Catastrophic Cost of Uninsurance, updated last month. The report shows how the impact of uninsurance extends beyond uninsured individuals to the communities where they live. “When people without health insurance begin to feel sick, they often delay seeking medical care or forgo care altogether because of cost concerns,” the report finds. “Not only does this place the individual patient in danger, it lets disease spread undetected and unchecked to family members, neighbors, co-workers, and others.” The Families USA report is based on a groundbreaking, peer-reviewed study published late last year finding that each 10% increase in the proportion of a county’s residents who lacked health insurance was associated with a 70% increase in COVID-19 cases and a 48% increase in COVID-19 deaths. The updated version includes more recent data through Feb. 1, 2021, and county-level numbers in every state, highlighting the 40 hardest-hit counties in several categories. More than 2,900 COVID-19 deaths or 38% of all COVID-19 deaths in Alabama through Feb. 1, 2021 were associated with high community rates of uninsurance, the report finds. The vast majority of uninsured Alabamians would qualify for coverage if the state expanded Medicaid. Medicaid expansion would provide health insurance to adults with low incomes who make too much to qualify for Alabama’s Medicaid program but not enough to afford a private health insurance plan. More than 200,000 Alabamians are in the coverage gap, and an additional 140,000 are struggling to pay for coverage they cannot afford. “Alabama’s failure to expand Medicaid left us more vulnerable than many states to the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jane Adams, campaign director of Alabama Arise and director of the Cover Alabama Coalition. “Because hundreds of thousands of Alabama families lack health insurance, they are more at risk of delaying care — both for chronic conditions and for infections like COVID-19. “The best way for Governor Ivey to honor the lives of those we lost in the pandemic is to expand Medicaid coverage, as 38 other states have done, and finally open a pathway for Alabama families to get affordable and consistent care.” The report finds that 21 Alabama counties saw more than half of their COVID-19 cases tied to high rates of uninsurance, resulting in higher rates of community spread: Barbour, Blount, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne, Cullman, DeKalb, Escambia, Franklin, Geneva, Henry, Jackson, Lawrence, Marshall, Monroe, Pike, Sumter, Washington and Winston. DeKalb County was hit especially hard, with 63% of COVID-19 cases and 52% of COVID-19 deaths linked to a high rate of uninsurance. “It is hard to believe, but despite the deadliest pandemic in more than a century, far too many politicians still haven’t figured out that we’re all in this together ‒ that if some of us can’t afford health care, all of us are at risk,” said Stan Dorn, the report’s author and director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families USA. “People without insurance often delay going to the doctor even if they start to feel sick. Not only are they in danger, the virus spreads, undetected, to everyone whose paths they cross. “It’s finally time to make sure that, in the country with the world’s best medical research and treatment, no one has to worry that they can’t afford health care or has to choose between going to the doctor when they get sick and feeding their family.” The Cover Alabama Coalition is a nonpartisan alliance of more than 110 advocacy groups, businesses, community organizations, consumer groups, health care providers and religious congregations advocating for Alabama to provide quality, affordable health coverage to its residents and implement a sustainable health care system.

COVID

As of May 5, 2021 at 10:00 AM (according to Alabama Political Reporter) Alabama had 529,446 confirmed cases of coronavirus, (2,363) more than last week with 10,930 deaths (51) more than last week) Greene County had 923 confirmed cases, (2 more cases than last week), with 34 deaths Sumter Co. had 1,043 cases with 32 deaths Hale Co. had 2,222 cases with 76 deaths Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has Johnson and Johnson, one dose vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 18 and up.

Newswire: ANC could have done more to stamp out corruption in South Africa says President Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

May 3, 2021 (GIN) – In riveting testimony before a South African commission investigating corruption and graft, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged that the ruling ANC party did little to prevent corruption, including by his predecessor Jacob Zuma. “State capture and corruption have taken a great toll on our society and indeed on our economy as well,” Ramaphosa said. “They have eroded the values of our constitution and undermined the rule of law. If allowed to continue they would threaten the achievement of growth, development and transformation of our country.” “The governing party ‘could and should’ have done more to prevent corruption,” he admitted. The South Africa Commission on State Capture is probing allegations of graft during former president Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power, including claims that Zuma allowed businessmen close to him – brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – to influence policy and win lucrative government contracts. The Guptas have also been accused of influencing the hiring and firing of ministers. Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene had resisted Zuma’s plans for the government to build expensive nuclear plants and was removed in 2015. Zuma and the Guptas have repeatedly denied the allegations against them. According to the current president, it took time for the ANC to recognize high-level corruption during the period, but that he would not try to “make excuses or to defend the indefensible”. He did not mention Zuma by name. In recent months, former president Zuma defied a court order to appear before the commission, prompting its chief investigator to seek a two-year prison sentence for contempt of court. When the country’s top court heard that case last month, Mr. Zuma again refused to appear — a move that many saw as open defiance of the country’s democratic institutions. Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta arrived from India in the 1990s and set up a small computer business before taking large stakes in uranium, gold, and coal mines. They also set up a luxury game lodge, an engineering company, a newspaper, and a 24-hour TV news station. All three brothers are reported to be billionaires in the country’s rand currency. Atul Gupta was listed by the research company, Who Owns Whom, the richest person of color in South Africa in December 2016 with 10.7 billion rands. Atul arrived in South Africa in 1993, selling shoes and computers from the trunk of his car. Rajesh and Ajay followed their brother, and in 1997 the family, which already had business interests in India, set up Sahara Computers. In 2007, new laws made it essential for big companies to have Black directors — especially if they were bidding for government contracts. Zuma’s son Duduzane began working as a 22-year-old trainee at the Guptas’  Sahara Computers, and he was quickly appointed to the boards of several Gupta companies. One of Zuma’s daughters was a director at Sahara Computers, and one of his wives worked at the Guptas’ JIC Mining Services. The corruption allegations have led to the popular use of the term “state capture” to describe the Guptas’ undue influence of private business interests over government institutions.

Newswire: Environmental activist begins fifth week of hunger strike to stop dredging of Texas coastal bay

Kakays in Matagorda Bay protesting dredging

Diane Wilson, 4th generation fisher from Seadrift, Texas has begun the 29th day of her hunger strike to call attention to the dredging of the Matagorda and Lavaca Bay ship channel which will disrupt plans for a fishing cooperative planned for the Texas coastal area. Wilson hopes to stop the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) from widening and deepening the maritime channel in the bay to accommodate large tankers reaching a proposed crude oil export terminal at Port O’Connor, at the head of the bay. The export terminal is owned by Max Midstream, a pipeline company seeking foreign markets for fracked oil from west Texas. Earthworks and other environmental organizations have been supporting Wilson’s hunger strike and held a recent rally and ‘kayakaton’ in the bay to support and call attention to her efforts. The USACOE conducted an Environmental Impact Statement in 2009, for a LNG project that was never built, with much more rigorous standards for the disposal of the 14 million tons of dredged materials. In the waning days of the Trump Administration, the USACOE pursued an expedited approval process for the crude oil depot. The newly approved disposal plan involves dumping the dredged materials on oyster beds and recreational beaches. The Matagorda and Lavaca Bay Foundations have written Commander Timothy Vail of the USACOE Galveston Office a detailed letter explaining why the Corp’s expedited approval process will do serious harm to the ecology of Matagorda Bay. They are asking for the USACOE to pause the project and conduct a new Environmental Impact Study before allowing the dredging of the ship channel. Diane Wilson points out, “The dredging of this ship channel will also impact an EPA Superfund site, with deposits of mercury from a now closed Alcoa plant. The dredging will stir up the mercury and make it difficult to market or eat fish caught in the bay. This will also hurt our efforts to develop a fishing cooperative in the area.” Diane Wilson urges her supporters to write or call the USACOE in Galveston and Washington, D.C. to stop the Matagorda Bay dredging project.