Newswire : Germans fail to pay up for sacking Namibia’s indigenous lands

Protest of Germany’s action toward Africa

 

May, 2, 2022 (GIN) – Reparations—a system of redress for egregious injustices—are not a foreign idea imposed from the outside on the United States. On the contrary, the U.S. has given lands to Native Americans, paid $1.5 billion to Japanese Americans interned in the U.S. during World War II, and helped Jews receive reparations for the Holocaust, including making various investments over time. 
But the U.S. has yet to compensate descendants of Black Americans enslaved for their labor nor has it atoned for the lost equity from segregated housing, transportation and business policy. And no one will forget that American slavery was particularly brutal. 
Calls for justice are now resounding ever more loudly in the U.S. and around the world. European countries which benefited greatly from wealth stolen in the colonial era are struggling to respond. While several are taking initial steps to return some of what was seized, much more needs to be done.
One country that has managed to dodge financial restitution is Germany. Last year, Europe’s biggest economy offered just over $1 billion over 30 years for what Berlin said “from today’s perspective, would be called genocide” of indigenous communities. 
Much of the stolen wealth is in art and artifacts. More than 90 percent of the most prominent sub-Saharan African pieces of art are currently outside of the continent, writes Rokhaya Diallo in the Washington Post. To keep such pieces of art on French soil, she noted, France made them untransferable. Pressure from African countries made France acknowledge the unfairness, passing a law to return cultural goods to Benin and Senegal.
Madagascar was given back the crown of Queen Ranavalona III – one of the most precious symbols of Malagasy national pride.
Last but not least, more than a century after the horrendous genocide perpetrated in Namibia that killed 80 percent of the Herero and 50 percent of the Nama population, Germany started a discussion with the Namibian government in 2015 to “heal the wounds” caused by the historical cruelty.
A token amount was promised to the Namibian people, after years of activism from Namibian and Black German organizations. But the declaration failed to mention “reparations” or “compensation,” and Germany avoided any direct discussion with the Herero and the Nama. Parliamentarian Inna Hengari called this “insulting.”
While Namibian President Hage Geingob’s government accepted the offer, parliament did not, calling it insufficient. The deal is now on hold.
“That deal was never about us,” said Nandi Mazeingo, chair of the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation. “You kill 80 percent of a community and offer a billion dollars spread over 30 years?” Germany, he said, must talk to communities directly.
According to the Namibia Statistics Agency, white farmers own 70 percent of commercial farmland, while “previously disadvantaged” groups own 16 percent. “Land is what made (Germans) rich,” Mbakumua Hengari told the Financial Times. “For the Herero and Nama, it was the start of trans-generational impoverishment.”
Meanwhile, Uganda has been ordered to pay the Democratic Republic of Congo $325 million for the occupation and plundering of its Eastern province more than 20 years ago – the largest reparation award by an international court for gross violations of human rights and for violations of international humanitarian law. 

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins celebrates
‘milestone” for diversity in space industry

By Char Adams and Donna M. Owens, NBCNews


NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins made history Wednesday when she and a crew launched into space aboard the SpaceX Dragon, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watkins will be the first Black woman to serve a long-duration mission on the International Space Station. 
Watkins is working alongside NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines, and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
The crew will embark on a six-month stint in the ISS laboratory conducting research and doing maintenance on the station, the space agency said. 
She gushed about the coming trip in a previous interview, agreeing that her mission is both a barrier-breaking moment and the natural progression of the field. 
“We have reached this milestone, this point in time, and the reason we’re able to arrive at this time is because of the legacy of those who have come before to allow for this moment,” Watkins said. “Also, recognizing this is a step in the direction of a very exciting future. So to be a part of that is certainly an honor.” 

Watkins’ mission has drawn praise from diversity and inclusion experts, but it shows just how far Black women still have to go in the white, male-dominated profession. 
“You know there’s not enough of us. Women are underrepresented in science, although it’s getting better in some ways,” said Mae Jemison, who made her own headlines in 1992 when she became the first Black woman to go to space.
“There is a lot of gatekeeping, both conscious and unconscious, that keeps people out. But once you are there, it’s ‘where do you fit?’ People hold you to a stereotype of what they consider a scientist. There’s this unrelenting requirement that you prove you have the right to be there. Many times I think that we achieve in these fields in spite of, not because of. ”Watkins will be the fifth Black woman to have gone to space. The others are Jemison; Stephanie Wilson, who, at more than 42 days, has spent more time in space than any Black other woman; Joan Higginbotham; and Sian Proctor, the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft. 
Watkins joined NASA as an intern and held several positions as a researcher and geologist before she was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2017. Watkins earned her bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences at Stanford University and her doctorate in geology at UCLA. Her career with NASA has been long and full of accomplishments: She has held roles at the agency’s Ames Research Center and studied near-Earth asteroids at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and she was was part of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity.
While Watkins’ accomplishment is a great step forward for the space industry and evidence of its strides in diversity, there is still work to be done.
A report this year from the Space Frontier Foundation, a space advocacy organization, found that nearly 90 percent of people who have been to space are white men. And the space industry as a whole — from researchers and managers to writers and photographers —  is “only marginally better,” the researchers said. The report also found that white people in the space industry are more likely to make six-figure salaries than Black employees. 
“The fact that it’s taken this long to get African American folks on the ISS is disappointing. But it’s nice to see this focus is finally happening,” said Kim Macharia, a Black woman who is the chair of the foundation’s board. She highlighted that even though crews began living on the ISS in 2000, it took more than a decade for a Black astronaut, Victor Glover Jr., to serve a long-term mission on the station. Bernard Harris Jr. in 1995 became the first Black person to walk in space. Just nine years earlier, Ronald McNair became the second Black astronaut to go to space; he died in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. 
“Less than 12 percent of all astronauts have ever been women, specifically. And then when you look at the number of people of color, the number is even lower there,” Macharia said. “But in the actual workforce at large, about 20 percent of the industry’s workforce is women. So, there’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to addressing these demographics.”
Most recently, Jemison was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her widely recognized accomplishments in the field. Since leaving NASA, she has prioritized diversity in her own endeavors. She leads 100 Year Starship, a global initiative to support human travel to another star within the next 100 years. “I actively bring in people who embody that word ‘inclusion’ — across ethnicity, gender and geography — as well as across disciplines,” she said. 
Jemison isn’t the only former NASA employee to have taken on such a task. John Hines, a former NASA researcher, founded the Hines Family Foundation to provide resources and opportunities for children from disadvantaged communities interested in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. 
Now, as Watkins continues her career with a growing NASA, Jemison is using her recognition to push the industry forward. 
“Very frequently we have a tendency to forget that we have to continue to grow. And we don’t hold ourselves to that. I do,” she said. “I always hold myself to continuing to grow, learning new things and contributing in a different way.

President Biden issues first pardons, including first
Black to serve on a Presidential Secret Service detail

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

On April 26, President Biden used his pardon powers as President for the first time.
The White House announced three pardons and the commuted sentences of 75 nonviolent drug offenders. The move by President Biden follows calls by justice reform activists to use the pardon power to correct disproportionate justice impacting minorities in the U.S.
Biden’s pardon list included Abraham Bolden, Sr., an 86-year-old former U.S. Secret Service agent who was the first African American to serve on a presidential detail.
“In 1964, Mr. Bolden was charged with offenses related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, and following his conviction at a second trial, even though key witnesses against him admitted to lying at the prosecutor’s request, Mr. Bolden was denied a new trial and ultimately served several years in federal custody. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence, arguing that he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service.
Mr. Bolden has received numerous honors and awards for his ongoing work to speak out against the racism he faced in the Secret Service in the 1960s, and his courage in challenging injustice. Mr. Bolden has also been recognized for his many contributions to his community following his release from prison,” a statement from the White House regarding Bolden’s pardon read.
Dexter Eugene Jackson, 52, of Athens, Ga., was pardoned by Biden for his 2002 conviction for using his business to facilitate the sale of marijuana. “Since his release from custody, Mr. Jackson has converted his business into a cell-phone repair service and hired local high school students through a program that seeks to provide young adults with work experience. Mr. Jackson has also worked to build and renovate homes in a community that lacks quality affordable housing,” the White House release stated.
Betty Jo Bogans, 51, of Houston, received a pardon for her 1998 conviction of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Bogan, a single mother with no record, received a seven-year sentence because of harsh penalties at the time. “At the time of her conviction, Ms. Bogans was a single mother with no prior record, who accepted responsibility for her limited role in the offense. Because of the harsh penalties in place at the time she was convicted, Ms. Bogan received a seven-year sentence. In the nearly two decades since her release from custody, Ms. Bogans has held consistent employment, even while undergoing treatment for cancer, and has focused on raising her son.”
The number of pardons indicate Biden may have many more to come. The use of the pardon power varies from President to President. Donald Trump used it several times to send political messages and celebrity cases.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

GCHS Valedictorian Whitney Spencer receives a Nissan Versa among multiple awards and scholarships

L to R: Superintendent Dr. Corey Jone, GCHS Assistant Principal Mrs. Janice Jeames Askew, GCHS Valedictorian Whitney Spencer, GCHS Principal Ms. Andrea Perry, NIVAG Ministries International, Inc. Director Mr. Gavin Lynn Stewart

Whitney Elizabeth Spencer, the 2022 Greene County High School Valedictorian, was awarded multiple academic and cash scholarship awards presented today, May 4, 2022 at the GCHS Honors Day Program, however, the most acclaimed award given Whitney was the presentation of a 2010 Nissan Versa Cobalt Blue vehicle awarded by Mr. Gavin Stewart, Director of Nivag Ministries International based in Chattanooga, TN. Please note that coverage of special awards and presentations of other GCHS graduating seniors as well as 2022 graduates of Robert Brown Middle School and Eutaw Primary School, will be covered in the Democrat’s Annual Graduation Edition.

Alabama Civil Rights Freedom Museum celebrates Black History and Political Rallies around the county

Alabama Civil Rights Freedom Movement Museum in Eutaw, Alabama has been sponsoring a series of Black History and Political rallies since February leading up to the May 24th primary elections in Alabama.

Pictured above, Spiver W. Gordon, President of the Museum, presents award to Attorney Ida Tyree-Hyche Hill at Sunday’s meeting at the Knoxville Fire Department. Tyree-Hyche Hill is an attorney in Birmingham, who is a native of the north Greene County area and serves as Legal Counsel for the Town of Union.

In her talk Attorney Tyree-Hyche Hill discussed some of the voter suppression legislation enacted in Alabama and other states since the Shelby vs Holder decision in 2014, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Museum has been holding these programs weekly to present information on Black History and allow candidates who are running in the upcoming May primary to speak with voters. Meetings have been held in Eutaw, Union, Mantua, Springfield, Forkland, Knoxville and others are planned for other communities.

At the meeting, Spiver reminded people that Monday May 9, is the last day to register before the May 24th primary; Tuesday May 17 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot; all absentee ballots must be returned by May 23, properly signed and witnessed to be counted in the election on May24, 2022.

COVID-19

As of May 2, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,301,171 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(2,034) more than last week with 19,570 deaths (29) more
than last week)

Greene County had 1,875 confirmed cases, (2) more cases than last week), with 48 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,586 cases with 51 deaths

Hale Co. had 4,731 cases with 106 deaths

Note: has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

COVID-19

As of April 19, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 1,298,473 confirmed cases of coronavirus, (1,422) more than last week with 19,513 deaths (134)
more than last week)
Greene County had 1,871 confirmed cases, (2) more cases than last week),
with 48 deaths
Sumter Co. had 2,578 cases with 51 deaths
Hale Co. had 4,722 cases with 106 deaths
Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19; Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Eutaw City Council seeks new engineer, passes zoning ordinance for Courthouse Square, plans for next round of ARPA funding

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher and Editor

The Eutaw City Council met for two regular meetings on April 12 and 26, 2022 to carry out city business and deal with the physical and financial health of the city.

At the April 12th meeting, the City Council approved a motion, originated by Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter and approved by all the members to terminate the contract of Babbs Engineering and request return of unspent funds on a $40,000 contract for a mapping the city’s utility systems. Carpenter said, Babbs took too long in generating the promised maps.

Torris Babbs of Babbs Engineering, an African-American firm, in an interview with the Democrat said he had completed the mapping paid for by the $40,000 contract. “We located more than 10,000 points of digital information to construct our maps. The city did not have the computer software until recently to read and display our maps, that was part of the delay,” said Babbs.

Babbs said he continued to work on coordinating the map he developed of above ground and underground utilities with the Google Earth Maps to insure they were congruent, up-to-date and showed the proper location and elevations of properties in the city. “There is a misunderstanding of the engineering work I did and the work I continued to do, under my monthly retainer. I will still give this information to the city, but I do not think the Council understands or appreciates the task we were doing and the complex map we were developing, which would help the city with planning and projects into the future.”

The Mayor said the City of Eutaw was advertising for a new engineering firm. At the April 12 meeting, the Council authorized the Stan Nelson and Jonathan R, Bonner of Insite Engineering of Tuscaloosa, to pursue two $30,000 grants from USDA Rural Development to evaluate the city’s water and sewer systems. To this reporter, the work that these engineers were seeking to do was very similar to the work that Babbs says he has already done.

These engineers said they did not charge a fee but would be paid out of the grants if they were obtained. These engineers said that the city needed to get audited financial statements to enhance the chances for government grant assistance going forward.

At the April 26, 2022 Council meeting an agenda item: “Approve Engineer Services Agreement between the City of Eutaw and Craig P. Williams, P. E.” was tabled because council members said they wanted to meet and speak to this engineer before he was employed. Mayor Latasha Johnson said she would arrange the meeting and that it may require a special called meeting because an engineer was needed to help with the many grant applications that the City planned to submit.

Zoning Ordinance change

At the April 12 meeting, the City Council approved a recommendation from the Eutaw Planning Commission on an Ordinance amending Chapter 98, Section 98-5 and Section 98-87 of the Code of the City of Eutaw. This ordinance would amend the zoning of the business area of the Thomas E. Gilmore Square (old Courthouse Square) to prohibit businesses that derived more than 50% of their revenues from the sale of alcoholic beverages from locating in this downtown area, adjacent to the William M. Branch Courthouse and Eutaw City Hall.

This ordinance raised some controversy, because the REACH Inc. church related corporation, has purchased a number of vacant properties on the Courthouse Square and around Eutaw, for the purpose of rehabilitating the properties and leasing them to businesses. REACH purchased three adjoining buildings of the Square including the ‘John’s Bar Building’, which they were planning to lease to some people to open a “sports bar”.

Sandra Walker of REACH says, “We feel this ordinance was adopted to prevent us from using the properties we purchased, to help the city’s growth and development, be used for its best purposes.” Mayor Johnson said that the John’s Bar property had never been issued an alcoholic beverage license.
However, the Greene County Democrat newspaper reported that the Eutaw City Council voted at its February 27, 2018 meeting to grant Raymond Steele, former mayor, a “liquor license for John’s Bar”.

At the 12th.meeting, in the Public Comments section, Fanny Granthum also of REACH, read a December 7, 2020 letter on City of Eutaw stationery, signed by Mayor Latasha Johnson, confirming that Steele had been granted a liquor license for John’s Bar and Grill in Eutaw. The Democrat has received a copy of this letter. Steele never utilized the permission to get a liquor license or opened John’s as a bar for the public.

Walker said, “REACH is disappointed by the actions and statements of the Mayor and Council. It seems that they adopted the ordinance to prevent us from opening a sports bar on the Square. They went to the Planning Commission not the Zoning Commission to get the recommendation for the ordinance. They never really officially had a hearing where the public could make its views known. The Mayor denied that a license had been issued but we have a letter from her saying the City did approve the license and placed it in its official minutes.”

“REACH has been trying to help revitalize the city by buying up vacant properties, rehabilitating them and leasing the buildings to attract new businesses to Eutaw. We will locate the sports bar in one of our other buildings or we will open a combination restaurant and sports bar that will comply with the new zoning requirements,” said Walker.

At the April 26th meeting the Council approved a budget for $309,000 of city improvement projects to be paid for with the city’s second installment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) COVID relief funds from the Federal government. The budget proposal may be revised based on the most pressing needs. The City also adopted a list of nine storm sewer and street repair and improvement projects to recommend for infrastructure funding from ALDOT, ADECA and ADEM state agencies. Before the council meeting ended, other needed road and street projects were recommended for the list.

In other actions, The Eutaw City Council:

• Opening of bids and sale of surplus items, with some exceptions where the bids were too low.
• Authorized the Mayor and City attorney to negotiate contract with the Town of Boligee on water and sewer services; and a water/sewer billing with Consolidated Catfish Company.
• Approved Lease-purchase with John Deere Sun South for 4 mowers, tractor, bushhog and accessories.
• Approved quote to repair/replace values for Armory Water Tank.
• Approved payment of claims for Anthony Taylor and Earl Purse Jr.
• Approved “Strength in Numbers”, A Black Belt Gathering for Sexual Assault Victims, on Saturday, April 30 at Carver School, starting at 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM.
• Approved 2022 “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday.
• Approved 2022 Spring Clean-up Day for Saturday, April 30, 2022 from 8:00AM until Noon.
• Set May 17, 2022 at 4:00 PM for City Handbook Work Session.
• Approved payment of all bills.

Long awaited verdict handed down for murder of Thomas Sankara, leader of Burkina Faso, who was known as ‘Africa’s Che Guevara’

Miriam Sankara, widow of Thomas Sanka

 

 
Apr. 11, 2022 (GIN) – In what appeared to be a “cold case” after a standstill of over 30 years, a military tribunal has finally ruled in the case of Thomas Sankara, one of the youngest presidents in modern African history, whose life was brutally ended in 1987 by a one-time close friend and ally.
 
Blaise Compaore, who grabbed power upon Sankara’s death, was sentenced for the killing in absentia. Toppled by public protests in 2014, he fled to the Ivory Coast where it is believed he continues to hide out. The tribunal found him guilty of an attack on state security, complicity in murder and concealment of a corpse after his body was found buried in an unmarked grave.
 
As the verdict was read, the heavily protected courtroom in the capital, Ouagadougou, erupted in applause, bringing an end to the six-month trial that came after years of campaigning for justice by his family and supporters, BBC West Africa correspondent Lalla Sy reported.
 
Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, who attended the trial throughout, said the verdict represented “justice and truth” after a 35-year wait.
 
A firebrand Marxist revolutionary in a military red beret, Sankara was known to many as the African “Che Guevara”. He led the nation for four years from 1983, campaigning against corruption while authorizing huge increases in education and health spending.
 
He cut his own salary and that of top civil servants and sold off a range of luxury cars.
 
He promoted pan-Africanism, self-sufficiency, real independence from former colonial power France and gender equality by banning female circumcision, forced marriage and polygamy. He rolled out mass vaccination campaigns against polio and was one of the first African leaders to publicly recognize the growing AIDS epidemic as a threat for the continent.
 
Saying “he who feeds you, controls you”, he opposed foreign aid, denounced  “the neocolonialist penetration of Africa through Western trade and finance,” and called for a united front of African nations to repudiate their foreign debt. He argued that the poor and exploited did not have an obligation to repay money to the rich and exploiting.
 
He changed the name of his country from its colonial one, Upper Volta, to Burkina Faso, meaning the Land of Honest People.
 
In their closing statement on April 2, the prosecution recounted in grim detail how Sankara and his closest followers were ambushed at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.  His body was riddled with bullets, according to ballistics experts who testified during the trial.
 
Compaoré’s security chief Hyacinthe Kafando and Gilbert Diendere, were also sentenced to life in prison.
 
Sankara’s spirit was also behind a protest movement known as “the citizens’ broom” or Le Balai Citoyen, which opposed efforts by Campaore to extend unlawfully extend his time in power. Of the 14 men prosecuted, three were acquitted while the others received sentences ranging from three years to life in prison.

Newswire: Elon Musk buying Twitter: 5 reasons why Black people should be wary

By Bruce C.T. Wright, NewsOne

The sale of Twitter to Elon Musk has prompted a number of questions about what will become of the popular social media platform once the ultra-billionaire gains complete control of the micro-blogging app. Both sides closed the deal on Monday afternoon to allow the world’s wealthiest man agreed to buy Twitter for a whopping $43 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Black Twitter, a group of influential users whose tweets spotlight issues affecting Black people, is among those who have reason to be concerned about the direction in which Musk could take the app now that the sale is official.
Musk’s intentions for Twitter remained unclear. But if his past commentary and the way he’s run his other businesses are any indications, Black people who use Twitter — and there are millions of them — have reasons to be wary.
Twitter moderation
There are fears Musk could change the way Twitter moderates content from its users, whose words have been policed more aggressively in recent months and resulted in permanent suspensions, like former President Donald Trump. (More on that later.)
The Washington Post described Musk’s social media ambitions in part as wanting “a free speech utopia,” but that could mean allowing misinformation, lies, racism and threats of violence with impunity.
“What Musk seemingly fails to recognize is that to truly have free speech today, you need moderation,” said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director and CEO of consultancy Anchor Change, recently told the Post. “Otherwise, just those who bully and harass will be left as they will drive others away.”
Racial discrimination
Musk’s main company, automaker Tesla, has been accused and sued by its workforce of and for racial discrimination for years now in a situation that has not been corrected. The implication for Twitter is that same administrative approach that prompted accusations of racism against Tesla will come to Twitter, which already has a disproportionately white workforce. At worst, that suspicion could become true as Musk —  allows racists like Marjorie Taylor Greene to not only regain access to their banned accounts but also resume spewing their white supremacy drivel.
Social media accountability
The free press and other groups have been pushing for accountability on social media platforms for a while now to no avail. But making any inroads in that area with Twitter is not likely to happen if Musk takes over, a prospect that is especially concerning since we are just months away from the pivotal midterm elections.
Political implications
Building off the above sentiment, without any accountability in place, the potential for the aforementioned misinformation could run rampant. Twitter is a major part of the political infrastructure now, but without any accountability for misinformation that has been proven effective, it could revert back to its former Wild Wild West-like environment that fostered the type of propaganda that helped hand Trump his presidency. Conversely, Black Twitter and its attempts to highlight political issues affecting people of color could be censored.
Donald Trump
And speaking of Trump, it’s no secret that his own social media endeavor has been a spectacular flop. If Musk buys Twitter, chances are likely that the racist narcissist and accused traitor will be handed the keys back to his shuttered account that was banned two days after the deadly Capitol Riots for what Twitter called “the risk of further incitement of violence.”This is America.