Newswire : South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott announces presidential campaign

Senator Tim Scott

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, a longtime and devoted ally of former President Donald Trump, has thrown his hat into the 2024 presidential ring.
With Trump already declared and the presumptive frontrunner, Scott joins a growing Republican candidate list that includes another Trump ally, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Ironically, Haley appointed Scott in 2013 to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate after the retirement of Jim DeMint.
The GOP already has a crowded field of candidates, including former tech and finance guru Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Many expect Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to announce his candidacy soon, and former Trump VP Mike Pence hasn’t ruled out a run.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, ex-national security advisor John Bolton, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are also said to be weighing a run for the GOP nomination.
“Under President Biden, our nation is retreating away from patriotism and faith,” Scott said, announcing his bid. “Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb. And that is why I am announcing today that I am running for president of the United States of America.”
While Biden remains popular among Black voters, Scott, an African American, has drawn the ire of Blacks and other minorities, with many in the community deriding the senator as “Uncle Tim,” a takeoff of the self-hating Uncle Tom.
“Tim Scott is 2024’s Herschel Walker, just more articulate,” commentator Eddie Smith wrote on Twitter. There was a side-by-side image of Scott and the made-up cartoon character Mush Mouth with the post.
Some knowledgeable political observers have suggested that Tim Scott and some of the other Republican candidates are actually running to be selected as Trump’s vice-presidential candidate.


Newswire: More women sue Texas saying the state’s anti-abortion laws harmed them

Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin. (photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

Sarah McCammon/NPR

Eight more women are joining a lawsuit against the state of Texas, saying the state’s abortion bans put their health or lives at risk while facing pregnancy-related medical emergencies.
The new plaintiffs have added their names to a lawsuit originally filed in March by five women and two doctors who say that pregnant patients are being denied abortions under Texas law despite facing serious medical complications. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the women, is now asking for a temporary injunction to block Texas abortion bans in the event of pregnancy complications.
“What happened to these women is indefensible and is happening to countless pregnant people across the state,” Molly Duane, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
The new group of women brings the total number of plaintiffs to 15. The lawsuit, filed in state court in Austin, asks a judge to clarify the meaning of medical exceptions in the state’s anti-abortion statutes.
The Texas “trigger law,” passed in 2021 in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, makes performing an abortion a felony, with exceptions for a “life-threatening physical condition” or “a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”
Another Texas law, known as S.B. 8, prohibits nearly all abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. That ban, with a novel enforcement mechanism that relies on private citizens filing civil lawsuits against anyone believed to be involved in providing prohibited abortions, took effect in September 2021 after the Supreme Court turned back a challenge from a Texas abortion provider.
In an interview with NPR in April, Jonathan Mitchell, a lawyer who assisted Texas lawmakers in crafting the language behind S.B. 8, said he believed the medical exceptions in the law should not have prohibited emergency abortions.
“It concerns me, yeah, because the statute was never intended to restrict access to medically-necessary abortions,” Mitchell said. “The statute was written to draw a clear distinction between abortions that are medically necessary and abortions that are purely elective. Only the purely elective abortions are unlawful under S.B. 8.”
But many doctors in Texas and other states with similar laws that have taken effect since last year’s Supreme Court decision say they feel unsafe providing abortions while facing the threat of substantial fines, the loss of their medical licenses, or prison time.

Newswire: Russian mercenaries behind slaughter of 500 in Mali village, UN report finds

Report implicates Wagner group fighters in Moura atrocity, including the torture and rape of civilians
From reports in the Guardian

First came a single helicopter, flying low over the marshes around the river outside the village, then the rattle of automatic fire scattered the crowds gathered for the weekly market.
Next came more helicopters, dropping troops off around the homes and cattle pens. The soldiers moved swiftly, ordering men into the center of the village, gunning down those trying to escape. When some armed militants fired back, the shooting intensified. Soon at least 20 civilians and a dozen alleged members of an al-Qaida affiliated Islamist group, were dead.
Over the next five days, hundreds more would die in the village of Moura in the Mopti region of Mali at the hands of troops overseen by Russian mercenaries, according to a new United Nations report. All but a small fraction were unarmed civilians.

Published last week after an extensive human rights fact-finding mission conducted over several months by UN staff in Mali, the report gives an hour by hour account of events during a five-day military operation in Moura in March 2022, giving details of the worst single atrocity associated with the Kremlin-linked Wagner group outside Ukraine.

Investigators from the UN human rights office concluded that there are strong indications that more than 500 people were killed – the majority in extrajudicial killings – by Malian troops and foreign military personnel believed to be from Wagner, a mercenary outfit run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, which was linked to the massacre by internal messages obtained by the Guardian last year.

The new allegations again underline the extent of human rights abuses blamed on Wagner, which has also operated in at least six other African countries as well as Libya and Syria.

In recent months, Wagner fighters have spearheaded the Russian push to seize the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has been fiercely contested by Kyiv’s forces, and suffered heavy casualties. Wagner has been accused of involvement in multiple massacres in Mali as well as elsewhere in the Sahel and central Africa. Witnesses say the group has been caught up in fierce fighting in Central African Republic in recent months.

As France and the US have shifted resources and attention away from Africa in recent years, Russia has moved to fill the gap, mounting a series of diplomatic offensives and using Wagner to win over regimes in key states by offering to bolster weak security forces against enemies ranging from Islamist extremists to pro-democracy domestic opposition parties.

Western officials allege the Kremlin is using Wagner to advance Russian economic and political interests across Africa and elsewhere. The effort is backed by an extensive disinformation campaign, they say.

Analysts have recorded a surge in violence wherever Wagner has deployed, although rarely with much military success for governments. Last month, at least nine civilians were killed and more than 60 injured in a triple suicide bomb attack in the central Mali town of Sévaré early on a Saturday, an official has said.

When the Russian mercenaries were hired in Mozambique in 2019 to fight Islamist militants there, they were forced to withdraw after suffering heavy casualties. Eventually, Rwandan regular troops were flown in, successfully countering the insurgents’ offensive.
Few of the atrocities alleged to have involved Wagner have been conclusively linked to the group, however, a lack of witnesses, resistance from local regimes, poor infrastructure and acute insecurity have made full investigation of claims difficult.
Details of the massacre in the village of Moura, in Mali
The Moura massacre is an exception, however. “These are extremely disturbing findings,” said Volker Türk, the UN high commissioner for human rights. “Summary executions, rape and torture during armed conflict amount to war crimes and could, depending on the circumstances, amount to crimes against humanity.”
Malian authorities denied requests by the team to access Moura itself but the report is based on interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as forensic and other information sources, such as satellite imagery.
Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, was toppled in August 2020 by officers angered at the failures to roll back the jihadist insurgency. In 2021, the military forced out an interim civilian government and tilted dramatically towards Moscow, concluding an agreement in which about 1,000 fighters from the Wagner group were deployed to bases across much of the country, which also received consignments of Russian weapons.

A Malian government spokesperson described the report as “biased” and “based on a fictional account”, and said an investigation by Malian judicial authorities had found “not a single civilian in Moura was killed during the military operation”, only “armed terrorists”.

The operation – described by the authorities as an anti-terrorist military operation against an Islamist extremist group, Katiba Macina, which has imposed its rigorous and intolerant version of sharia law on inhabitants, raised taxes and made local men follow their dress codes – began on 27 March 2022, a busy market day in Moura.
The accounts gathered by the UN support the testimony of witnesses who spoke to reporters last year. Amadou Barry, who lives in the neighboring village, told the Observer he was attending the market in Moura when helicopters suddenly appeared and troops disembarked, prompting a small group of Islamist militants in the village to shoot at the soldiers before fleeing on motorbikes.

“We started running in every direction, some into the houses. The Malian army then opened fire on people running, killing so many people,” he said. Then, over the next four days, at least 500 people are believed to have been killed, says the report, which names at least 238 of these victims.
Héni Nsaibia, senior researcher at ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project), said in the weeks after the massacre that between 60 and 100 of those killed may have been unarmed Islamist militants, but the rest were civilians. Government forces found large quantities of weapons in Moura.
Witnesses reported seeing “armed white men” who spoke an unknown language operating alongside the Malian forces and at times appearing to supervise operations, the report found. It cites witnesses who claimed Malian troops were rotated in and out of Moura daily, but the foreign personnel remained.
Internal Malian army documents obtained by the Guardian last year revealed the presence of Wagner fighters – referred to as “Russian instructors” – on “mixed missions” with Malian soldiers and gendarmes around the time of the Moura massacre. Wagner were deployed near Moura at the time, and took part in other operations in which many civilians were killed.

According to the new report, on the day after the initial assault soldiers began going house to house searching for “presumed terrorists”, selecting and killing people with long beards, people wearing ankle-length trousers (a sign of religious devotion), people with marks on their shoulders – seen as evidence of firing or carrying weapons – and even those who merely showed signs of fear.
A group of men rounded up in the south-east of the village were led away by soldiers and shot in the head, back or chest, and their bodies thrown into a ditch. Witnesses said that those who resisted or tried to flee were also executed by the Malian armed forces and the “armed white men” and dumped into the ditch.
Detainees were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment during questioning, and dozens of women and girls were raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence, the report claims. In one instance, soldiers brought bedding from a house, placed it under trees in the garden, and took turns raping women they had forced there.
Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s regional director for west and central Africa, said what happened in Moura could constitute crimes under international law.
“While the [UN] notes that around 30 combatants from the armed group Katiba Macina were present in Moura on 27 March 2022 … their presence can in no way justify the extrajudicial executions, rapes and looting committed by the armed forces against the inhabitants and stallholders trapped by their siege,” Daoud said.
Analysts have expressed concerns that the recent crisis in Sudan has distracted attention from deepening problems across the Sahel, an unstable belt of desert and grazing running east from Senegal across the African continent. The zone is afflicted by extreme weather linked to climate change, displacement of millions of people, acute political instability and growing violence. Analysts fear the conflict in Sudan may lead to a “domino” effect of state collapse.


Newswire : NAACP issues travel advisory warning Black people against traveling to Florida

 Black family enjoying one of Florida’s beaches

By: Sharelle Burt, Black Enterprise

The NAACP is warning Black people to stay away from the Sunshine State.
CNN reports the historic advocacy group released a statement issuing a travel advisory in response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ deliberate attempt to erase African American history and DEI initiatives in schools.

“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP said. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
The NAACP, long an advocate for Black Americans, joined the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Latino civil rights organization, and Equality Florida, a gay rights advocacy group, in issuing travel advisories for the Sunshine State, where tourism is one of the state’s largest job sectors.
The advisory has been in the works for months as the Hillsborough County Chapter of the organization met with other NAACP members back in March and agreed to work with the national office on this advisory.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson says DeSantis’ antics conflict with the ideals that the group was founded upon. “Let me be clear–failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” Johnson said.
Since winning the governor seat, the controversial Republican politician has focused heavily on social issues. Last year, the state made headlines after DeSantis signed the “Stop WOKE Act” into legislation, putting restrictions on how race and gender are discussed in classrooms, NBC News reported.

Under his administration, several areas of “concern” have been removal including Black Queer Studies, Movement for Black Lives, Black Feminist Literary Thought, The Reparations Movement and Black Struggle in the 21st Century. Books by Bell Hooks, Angela Davis and other Black authors have also been banned.

Dr. James Douglas Anderson, noted scholar of American education and Stillman College Commencement speaker, is a native son of Greene County

John and Carol Zippert interview Dr. James D. Anderson at the Democrat office



Exclusive Interview with the Greene County Democrat

By: John Zippert, Dr. Carol P. Zippert and Dr. Monty Thornburg

Dr. James D. Anderson visited his hometown of Eutaw, Alabama on Friday, May 5, 2023, just before presenting the commencement address at his alma mater, Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the next day. The Co-Publishers of the Greene County Democrat and an associate had the honor of interviewing this native son of Greene County on his life and important intellectual view of the changes in Black education in the South over his life time.
Anderson attended Carver School in Eutaw, from 1950 to his graduation in 1962. At that time, the school had grades 1 to 12 and was a segregated school for Black students. “ We had great and dedicated Black teachers, who were genuinely concerned about their students. There was no social promotion and many students were failed and had to repeat grades until they mastered the subjects.”
Anderson lived on Kentuck, a neighborhood north of the Eutaw City Hall. “My mother worked as a cook for the Wilkes Banks family. We lived in a small shack out behind the Banks’ house.

Until my junior year in high school, I walked to school, with my brothers, about two miles. It was an adventure and we learned along the way. But you could not be late because the principal locked the school door at the start of the school day. We did get school buses, like the white children already had, in 1960.”
Anderson recounted a story that speaks to his growing up in poverty in Greene County. “My mother was very upset, this was when I was in high school, when Wilkes Banks told her that her son had a future after school as his ‘yardman’, taking care of mowing his grass. My mother had greater expectations for me and did not want me to aspire as a servant for white people.”

Stillman College

He was a good student and graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1962. Anderson had not made any college applications because he did not have funds to attend college. Herman Hughes, his math teacher at Carver, who was a graduate of Stillman, went to speak with the Dean of Stillman and arranged a full scholarship for him to attend.
“As I was preparing to make my graduation speech at Carver, Mr. Hughes and the principal called me aside and into the office. I was fearful that they were going to tell me that I could not graduate but instead they explained that I had been awarded a full scholarship to attend Stillman.
This was the start of my academic career,” said Anderson.

Mr. Hughes was part of the family of Judge and Alverta Hughes of Mantua community of Greene County. Hughes went on from teaching math in Greene County to get a Ph.D. in Computer Science and became a Professor at Michigan State University. Anderson later reconnected with Hughes, when both served on the Stillman College Board of Trustees. He said that Hughes was a great inspiration to him as a math teacher and peaked his interested in majoring in math at college.
There is a fountain on the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square honoring Ms. Alverta Hughes for her contributions to Greene County.Anderson attended Stillman College during the turbulent 1960’s. “ I was among the Stillman students that joined Rev. T. Y. Rogers, civil rights campaign in Tuscaloosa. Rogers was the pastor of First African Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa and a close colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I was with Rogers on ‘Bloody Tuesday’ when police and deputized white citizens attacked peaceful marchers trying to hold the city to its promise not to have segregated water fountains and restroom facilities in a newly constructed Federal courthouse.
‘Bloody Tuesday’ in Tuscaloosa is often compared with ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Selma as milestones in the civil rights movement in Alabama.
Anderson graduated from Stillman College in 1966. He switched majors from mathematics to sociology. He went on to graduate school in social studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. In 1967, he graduated with a teaching certificate and went to teach social studies in Chicago.” I was in a bookstore in Chicago) and purchased a book on the history of Black education. It raised more questions for me than gave answers. I went back to a fellowship at the University of Illinois, to study and answer my questions about the history of Black education. I found my passion. I stumbled into the field where I have made a lifetime contribution.”

Educational Leader and Scholar

Dr. James D. Anderson is the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutsell Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His scholarly career has focused mainly on the history of American education with a specialization in the History of African American education.

His book, ‘The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935’, won the American Education Research Association (AERA) outstanding book award in 1990. The AERA is the largest academic research organization in the nation.
Anderson has also authored hundreds of articles in educational journals about the issues of Black education from Reconstruction to the present day.
Anderson has served as an expert witness in a series of federal desegregation and affirmative education cases, including Jenkins vs Missouri, Knight vs Alabama, Ayers vs Mississippi, Gratz vs Bollinger and Grutter vs Bollinger. He has also served as an advisor to documentaries and PBS television programs on the history of education and African American schools over the past twenty years.
At the interview, Anderson observed, “My book on Black education has
already been banned in Florida by the actions of Governor Ron Desantis and the Florida State Legislature. This is part of an effort by some states to take our nation backwards and to remove the truth about Black history and Black education from our schools and colleges.”
In October of 2014, Dr. James D. Anderson delivered the AERA’s Brown Lecture, an annual commemoration of the Supreme Court’s historic 1954 school desegregation decision. In his lecture, Anderson speaks to the equivalence in work toward equality in education with work toward voting rights in our nation. He suggests that the periods of greatest educational equality were matched with the greatest periods of voting rights and progress for democracy.
He cites the progress during the Reconstruction period, after Emancipation until the turn of the century, when Black people championed public education for all people. This was also a period when Black people were able to vote and did vote, especially in the South, where there were large numbers of Black people. When Reconstruction ended and southern states adopted Jim Crow legislation limiting the Black vote and imposing school segregation, democracy and social change were stifled and reversed.
Anderson specifically laments the failure to adopt the first versions of the 14th amendment which would have guaranteed a right to vote for all men.
“We do not have a Constitutional right to vote, which has made it once again possible to weaken and destroy the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by the Supreme Court in the Shelby vs Holder decision and voter suppression legislation in many states. In many areas, the local politicians are discouraging voters by telling us that our vote doesn’t count or will not be counted. We have to go back to door-to-door organizing to educate and mobilize Black people to vote in every election,” said Anderson.

As the interview ended, so Dr. Anderson could meet with relatives still living in Eutaw, he said that, “The Black teachers that I had at Carver, were truly dedicated and interested in the students. We need more Black teachers in our schools. Some young people go through their whole K to 12 educational experience, without seeing a single Black teacher. We need to change this.

School year ends with scholars engaging in multiple activities

The Greene County Board of Education held it regular monthly meeting, Monday, May 15, 2023, with all board members present. Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones began his report to the board with the Positive News of each school. He noted that across the district, all principals are engaged in leadership professional development focusing on instructional practices. He reported that all Spring State Assessments have been completed. Relating to Greene County High School, Dr. Jones stated the it has been recognized as a Chapter Member of the Alabama Junior Academy of Science by Samford University. Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships, participate in competitions and attend the science camps sponsored by Samford University.
In collaboration with CDC, the Youth Advisory Committee Team at GCHS will host the Minding Your Mental Fair on Wednesday, May 24 from 5-7 pm. GCHS 9th and 10th graders enjoyed an evening of fun at the Sneakers Ball on April 15. The high school prom was held April 21 with the theme: Golden Dreams. At College and Career Decision Day, held May 1, seniors shared their plans after high school.
On May 10, five scholars from Greene County Career Center graduated in Welding from Wallace Community College Selma. They are 11th grade students who received their Associate Degrees in Welding before graduating high school.
Dr. Christopher Crawford, a graduate of Greene County High School, works with scholars to build physiological computing applications. Dr. Crawford is conducting a study designed to help software developers understand ways to create future educational applications.
Positive News from Robert Brown Middle School highlighted the Creative Girls Rock, with girls grades 5-8, participating in the end of year brunch and activities on June3, 2023. The Young Teens Asthma Wellness Virtual Camp is designed to help students recognize the triggers, discuss feelings and understand the basics of asthma. Participants will receive camp gear for healthy eating and monitoring exercises. On May 11, the after school tutorial program visited the Georgia aquarium.
Eutaw Primary School held Honors Day for various classes: Kindergarten, May 15; First Grade, May 16; Second Grade, May 17; Third Grade, May 18. Pre-K end of year celebration is scheduled for May 19.
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
Employment of the following teachers for Summer School June 5 – 30, 2023.
Greene County High School: Veronica Moore, Tameshia Porter, Angela Harkness – Special Services, Drenda Morton – Assistant, Brittany Jenkins, Janice Jeames-Askew – After Completion of Contract, Clifford Reynolds.
Robert Brown Middle School: Vanessa Bryant, Raven Bryant, Felecia Smith, Demetris Lyles, Quentin Walton, Tyletha Lord, Valencia Moore-Miller – Paraprofessional/Aide, Denise Horton – Paraprofessional/Aide, Mary Hobson – Special Services Aide, Pinkie Travis – Aide,
Eutaw Primary School: LaShaun Henley, Gwendolyn Webb – Paraprofessional/Aide, Kaleigha Jemison, Pamela Pasteur, Gloria McGhee, Keisha Williams, Montoya Binion, Charlease Smith, Carla Durrett.
Child Nutrition Program: Burnia Cripin, Sandy Wilson, Romanda Askew, Jacqueline Pickens, Rosie Davis.
Non- renewal: Tracy Hinton, Biology Teacher, Greene County High School; Alanda McEwen, Counselor, Robert Brown Middle School.
Resignation: Ralph Marshall, History Teacher, Greene County High School.
Brenda Lawrence will serve as school nurse for the Greene County schools summer Learning Program, June, 2023.
The board approved the following administrative items recommended by the superintendent.
* Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. Marquita Lennon, CSFO.
* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
* FY 2023 Budget Amendments
* Approval for Shamyra Jones to travel to the JAG National Training Seminar, July 10 -14, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky.
* Approval of Barbara Martin to Attend 2023 Model School Conference, Orlando Florida June 25 – 28, 2023.
* Approval of Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Kim Herren, for Provision of Developmental Delayed Services for 2023-2024 School Term.
* Contract between Cooks Pest Control and Greene County Board, for Termite Treatment at Greene County High School.
* Approval of four-day work week for all extended employees beginning June 5, 2023, and ending July 18, 2023.
* Memorandum of Understanding between Greene County Schools and Skilled Trades of West Alabama Apprenticeship Programs.
* Approval of McKee and Associates Architects, INC. Repairs for Robert Brown Middle School Press Box.
Approval of Contract Between Greene County Board and H&H Educational Services, LLC.
CSFO, Marquita Lennon, gave the following financial snapshot report ending April 30, 2023.
The combined General Fund Reserve total 5.05M; Cash Reserve totaled 2.86M; (All bank accounts have been reconciled); General Fund Bank balance – $3,427,655.81; Accounts Payable Check register – $286,934.04; Payroll Register – $933,558.23; Combined Ending fund Balance – $6,101,091.19. Local revenue: Property Taxes – $60,694; Sales Taxes – $133,729; Other Taxes – $3,971; Bingo – $55,839; total Local revenue – $254,233. The board also approved FY 2023 Budget Amendments from categories including ESSER II, ESSER III, CNP, UAB COVID Grant, and Cyber Security.

Newswire: African migrants finding sanctuary in Maine

African women farmers in Maine

May 15, 2023 (GIN) – An African migrant crisis in southern Maine?

Newly arrived asylum seekers have been overwhelming several Maine cities, straining municipal budgets to the breaking point. Surprising to some, many of the migrants are from Africa, notes Luc Kuanzambi, a Congolese refugee.

Kuanzambi is the founder of Xenos Communications Consulting and a former aide to foreign governments in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. With specific knowledge of Angolan and Congolese history, he’s been explaining to local Mainers the historical, political and economic roots of the state’s refugee crisis.

It’s a crisis driven by European colonialism, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and more recently various regime change operations in the DRC and elsewhere that fueled political discord and empowered brutal political leaders, he says.

“I will say, there are humane policies here,” said Kuanzambi. “Some of my American friends have called them lenient policies.”

Last year — with some 400 migrant families in hotels — it was reported that the Greater Portland Council of Governments would be raising $1.5 million to build 200 transitional units for migrant families over the next two years.

“People are connected, because of the service that they’ve received here, because of their families. Some have family roots here, some have just people that they know, speak their language, and their culture,” added Mufalo Chitam, executive director of the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition.

More so than most states, Maine provides welfare benefits to asylum seekers who arrive in the state, including General Assistance through municipal governments, state-run welfare programs, housing benefits, and education.

And the legislature is currently considering a proposal that would allow asylum seekers, refugees, and even illegal immigrants to receive free and low-cost healthcare.

Maine is home to a community of Somali Bantus who are practicing sustainable farming at the 30-acre New Roots Cooperative using traditional methods from Somalia.

Meanwhile, at the southern border, over three thousand citizens of Senegal, Angola, Congo, Ghana and neighboring countries requested humanitarian visas in Mexico during the first six months of 2022, compared to 1,901 requests in all of 2021, said Andres Ramirez, director of Mexico’s Refugee Commission, or COMAR.

Wilner Metelus, president of the Citizen Committee in Defense of Naturalized and Afro-Mexicans, said an international commission is necessary to oversee what is happening at the southern Mexican border, which he described as a living “hell” for African and Haitian migrants.

In addition to those lawfully seeking refuge, the Mexican immigration enforcement agency has detained 1,436 African migrants who were either coming with smugglers or trying to avoid detection. Of those, 348 were minors or family units and routed to the Children’s and Families Development agency.

A video of Kuanzami’s presentation can be seen on YouTube at “From Africa to Maine: The History of the DRC and Angola.”   

Newswire: IRS admits targeting Black taxpayers for audits

 Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, D. C.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel has acknowledged what many have known for some time: Black taxpayers face an IRS audit exponentially more than other groups.
Werfel acknowledged the disparity in a letter this week in which he responded to a request for information about the “apparent racial disparity” in selecting tax returns for audit, along with a plan to address the issue.

“Let me start by stressing that the IRS is committed to enforcing tax laws in a fair and impartial manner,” Werfel said in the letter addressed to the U.S. Senate.
“When evidence of unfair treatment is presented, we must take immediate action to address it. It is also important to reiterate that we do not and will not consider race as part of our case selection and audit processes.”

He continued: “Nevertheless, a recent study estimated, using imputed race values, that Black taxpayers are audited at three to five times the rate of non-Black taxpayers. “The research further suggests that most of this disparity is driven by differences in correspondence audit rates among taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“We are deeply concerned by these findings and committed to doing the work to understand and address any disparate impact of the actions we take.”

Werfel noted that as soon as Congress confirmed his appointment, he met with an IRS team that had already studied the issue of race discrimination in audits. He noted that the research has continued as authorities try to pinpoint what drives the disparity and how to fix the issue.

Researchers discovered that Black taxpayers are five times more likely to face an audit when filing federal returns than any other race.

When President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS received $80 billion, which the agency pledged to use to determine a better system to eliminate such discrimination.

“Back in March, my colleagues and I raised alarms with the new IRS boss about Black taxpayers being over-audited, and today he confirmed our suspicions,” tweeted Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.). “The IRS is making strides, but extra audits of Black Americans are disgraceful and must end.”

Werfel promised that the IRS would accelerate an existing research effort to detect and ensure compliance among “ghost preparers,” individuals who are paid to prepare returns for others but do not identify themselves to the IRS.

“Initial evidence confirms that unscrupulous and ghost preparers disproportionately prepare returns in minority communities,” Werfel noted.
“We are making broad efforts to advance our commitment to fair and equitable tax administration and evaluating the best ways to address bias within our audit program.”

Newswire: Study reveals staggering toll of being Black in America:1.6 million excess deaths over 22 years

Sick Black person in hospital

By Liz Szabo | KFF Health News

Research has long shown that Black people live sicker lives and die younger than white people.
Now a new study, published Tuesday in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) casts the nation’s racial inequities in stark relief, finding that the higher mortality rate among Black Americans resulted in 1.63 million excess deaths relative to white Americans over more than two decades.
Because so many Black people die young — with many years of life ahead of them — their higher mortality rate from 1999 to 2020 resulted in a cumulative loss of more than 80 million years of life compared with the white population, the study showed.
Although the nation made progress in closing the gap between white and Black mortality rates from 1999 to 2011, that advance stalled from 2011 to 2019. In 2020, the enormous number of deaths from Covid-19 — which hit Black Americans particularly hard — erased two decades of progress.
Authors of the study describe it as a call to action to improve the health of Black Americans, whose early deaths are fueled by higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and infant mortality.
“The study is hugely important for about 1.63 million reasons,” said Herman Taylor, an author of the study and director of the cardiovascular research institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine.
“Real lives are being lost. Real families are missing parents and grandparents,” Taylor said. “Babies and their mothers are dying. We have been screaming this message for decades.”
High mortality rates among Black people have less to do with genetics than with the country’s long history of discrimination, which has undermined educational, housing, and job opportunities for generations of Black people, said Clyde Yancy, an author of the study and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Black neighborhoods that were redlined in the 1930s — designated too “high risk” for mortgages and other investments — remain poorer and sicker today, Yancy said. Formerly redlined ZIP codes also had higher rates of Covid infection and death. “It’s very clear that we have an uneven distribution of health,” Yancy said. “We’re talking about the freedom to be healthy.”
A companion study estimates that racial and ethnic inequities cost the U.S. at least $421 billion in 2018, based on medical expenses, lost productivity, and premature death.
In 2021, non-Hispanic white Americans had a life expectancy at birth of 76 years, while non-Hispanic Black Americans could expect to live only to 71. Much of that disparity is explained by the fact that non-Hispanic Black newborns are 2½ times as likely to die before their first birthdays as non-Hispanic whites. Non-Hispanic Black mothers are more than 3 times as likely as non-Hispanic white mothers to die from a pregnancy-related complication. (Hispanic people can be of any race or combination of races.)

Racial disparities in health are so entrenched that even education and wealth don’t fully erase them, said Tonia Branche, a neonatal-perinatal medicine fellow at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago who was not involved in the JAMA study.
Black women with a college degree are more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women without a high school diploma. Although researchers can’t fully explain this disparity, Branche said it’s possible that stress, including from systemic racism, takes a greater toll on the health of Black mothers than previously recognized.
Death creates ripples of grief throughout communities. Research has found that every death leaves an average of nine people in mourning.
Black people shoulder a great burden of grief, which can undermine their mental and physical health, said Khaliah Johnson, chief of pediatric palliative care at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Given the high mortality rates throughout the life span, Black people are more likely than white people to be grieving the death of a close family member at any point in their lives.
“We as Black people all have some legacy of unjust, unwarranted loss and death that compounds with each new loss,” said Johnson, who was not involved with the new study. “It affects not only how we move through the world, but how we live in relationship with others and how we endure future losses.”
Johnson’s parents lost two sons — one who died a few days after birth and another who died as a toddler. In an essay published last year, Johnson recalled, “My parents asked themselves on numerous occasions, ‘Would the outcomes for our sons have been different, might they have received different care and lived, had they not been Black?’”
Johnson said she hopes the new study gives people greater understanding of all that’s lost when Black people die prematurely. “When we lose these lives young, when we lose that potential, that has an impact on all of society,” she said.
And in the Black community, “our pain is real and deep and profound, and it deserves attention and validation,” Johnson said. “It often feels like people just pass it over, telling you to stop complaining. But the expectation can’t be that we just endure these things and bounce back.”

KFF Health News, formerly known as Kaiser Health News (KHN), is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF — the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism.