Selma Attorney Faya Rose Toure arrested for removing a campaign sign illegally placed in front of Tabernacle Baptist Church

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Toure Remains in Jail Protesting the Unjust and Illegal Actions of the City of Selma Against Her and Other Selma Residents

Editors Note: We are printing this press release as it was received from Senator Hank Sanders concerning the unjust arrest of his wife, and the unjustifiable $2,000 cash bond imposed by the City of Selma for her release. We are also pleased to report that Jimmy Nunn, Black candidate for Probate Judge of Dallas County, was successful in winning the Democratic nomination in yesterday’s runoff election by a vote of 6,305 to 4,635 for his opponent Nicolas D. Switzer.

Statement of Senator Hank Sanders, Toure’s Attorney and Husband

Montgomery, AL –Several weeks ago, someone called our law office multiple times and threatened to kill Faya Rose Toure. The same person also called the Z105.3 FM radio station and threatened to kill Faya Rose. Complaints were made to Selma’s Chief of Police, and Faya has not heard anything back from the police in dealing with the death threats against her.
But on July 16th, the Selma Police Department had someone follow Faya Rose in an unmarked city vehicle. Prior to this, Faya Rose had complained on multiple occasions to Selma city officials that they were discriminatory in their removal of campaign signs on public right of ways. They were leaving the signs of White candidates on the right of ways while removing the signs of Black candidates placed in the same areas. Toure told them that if they continued to discriminate in enforcement of the law, she would then remove the signs left on public right of ways. The City of Selma has an ordinance that holds that political signs cannot be on public right of ways.
On Monday, July 16th, Faya Rose was driving by Tabernacle Baptist Church with our 11-year-old granddaughter, and there was a sign right in front of the Church on a public right of way. She stopped the car, got out and removed the sign. A Tabernacle Church Deacon thanked her for removing the sign. He said they had objected to the sign’s being there to no avail, but because it was on public right of way they had not removed it.

Tabernacle Baptist Church is a very historic church and was central and critical to the Voting Rights Movement of the 1960s. Tabernacle was the site of the first mass meetings for Voting Rights during the Movement during times when mass meetings meant great risk, including the risk of death, for all involved.
As Faya Rose left Tabernacle, someone in an unmarked vehicle began to follow her, and, when he turned on flashing lights, Toure decided not to stop until she was in a location where other people were. When she stopped, she was in front of the campaign office of the African American candidate for probate judge, Jimmy Nunn, who is now Probate Judge-elect for Dallas County.
Because she had ensured that the “Vote or Die” campaign was in no way affiliated with any individual’s campaign, Faya decided to move her car and circled the block to an area where more people were. She pulled into a parking spot at the corner of Selma Avenue and Broad Street. Eventually, nine or so policemen came in masse to arrest her, one 73-year-old Black woman.
Because she had our 11-year-old granddaughter with her, she asked them if she could call someone to come and pick her up. The police refused, and they left our 11-year-old granddaughter alone downtown with people she did not know. Faya also told the police that her wrist had been broken and was still painful, so she asked them to put the handcuffs on in front of her instead of behind her so her injury would not be aggravated. Instead, they went ahead and put the handcuffs on behind her back and then forcefully tightened them.
The police report states she was arrested for shoplifting in the fourth degree for removing a sign illegally placed on a public right of way in front of Tabernacle Baptist Church. When I learned of her arrest, I went the site of her arrest and got our granddaughter, who was crying, and comforted her and made sure she was safe. Our car was still there, so I asked the police if I could move it to our law office. They said it was evidence and refused to allow me to move it. However, they did not take it to the police station but had a tow truck come to move it to a tow yard, where one of my daughters immediately went and paid $150 to get it.
I then went to the city jail to see Faya Rose as her attorney as well as her husband. The police refused to allow me to see her or talk to her. The police asked me several times if I was going to make the $2,000 cash bond for her. I told them: “I don’t know. You will not let me meet with her.”
Later, she briefly appeared and asked me to go find the witnesses at Tabernacle Baptist Church who had thanked her for removing the sign. The police subsequently moved her to the Dallas County Jail, where she has spent the last two nights and where she remains right now. She has refused to post an unjust $2,000 cash bond for an unjust and illegal arrest. She was and is protesting her own situation as well as the unconstitutional, much more outrageous bond conditions that others in Selma and Dallas County have endured for years. She also was and is protesting the fact the police prohibited her from calling anyone to take care of her 11-year-old child whom the police just left on the street corner.
All of this reminds me of the arrest of the Selma City Councilman, who has disagreed with the Mayor on various occasions, for allegedly urinating in the street, which he has denied. There is a pattern of the city police department targeting individuals. Faya Rose’s arrest was not an isolated incident. I also believe the timing of it – the day before the Run-off Election for the Democratic Primary – was not coincidental. Throughout this election the city has selectively enforced its laws regarding political signs against Black candidates while ignoring them as to White candidates. Moreover, the City has the manpower to send nine or so policemen to arrest one 73-year-old Black woman while murders go unsolved and while death threats are completely ignored.
I saw Faya Rose this morning, and she was encouraged by Jimmy Nunn’s election and the support she has received from so many people. She remains in jail protesting the unjust and illegal practices done to her and to many others by the City of Selma. Faya hopes her circumstances will bring attention and change to the injustices that have been ongoing in the city.

Bipartisan Senate 2018 Farm Bill turns the tide for historically underserved Farmers and Ranchers

The Rural Coalition and the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association see strong progress for this nation’s African American, Asian Pacific, Latino, and Tribal Farmers and Ranchers and rural communities in the strongly bipartisan Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, which passed the U. S. Senate in late June by a vote of 86-11. The bill preserves nutrition programs, leaves largely intact conservation and other key programs, and preserves clean water protections. Of great significance to our communities, it makes critical investments in tribal farmers and food systems and programs supporting the nation’s historically underserved, veteran and young farmers and ranchers, improves transparency in credit programs and removes barriers to cultivation of industrial hemp.
“The Agricultural Improvement Act passed yesterday is a huge step forward,” said Rural Coalition Board Member Rudy Arredondo, President of the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association. “We are extremely happy that the Senate Agriculture Committee leaders were able to stay focused on the essentials of as good a bipartisan farm bill as we can get in this political climate.”
“This bill turns the tide for African American and all other historically underserved farmers and ranchers,” said Rural Coalition Vice Chairperson Georgia Good, Executive Director of the Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecroppers Fund, which has worked since 1937 to improve the quality of life in rural communities in the South. We are grateful to Senator Tim Scott (SC) and Doug Jones (AL) for opening a critical new door to allow families of multiple generations operating on inherited land to be allowed in to the programs of USDA that all farmers need to thrive with their bill, S. 3117.

We further thank Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (KA) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (MI) for their patient and persistent leadership to work with us all to include these bills in a landmark package that values all rural communities and peoples.”
According to Rural Coalition Chairperson John Zippert of the Alabama Association of Cooperatives, “The Federation of Southern Cooperatives estimates more than 40% of black owned land is in heirs property status ; including the Fair Access Act in this bill enables people in states that have the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property laws to access USDA programs more directly with less red tape.”
On behalf of our entire Coalition, we also thank Senators Robert and Stabenow, and also Senators Chris Van Hollen (MD), Tina Smith (MN), as well as Senator Jones for their diligent efforts to not only protect but improve the Outreach for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (OASDVFR), which has struggled for funding since first authorized in 1990, and since military veteran farmers and ranchers were added in 2014. The Senate bill links OASDVFR with the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program and strengthens and provides permanent authority to both programs. Under the new bill, the programs would equally share permanent direct funding of $50 million and will be improved with strong peer review processes.”
“We have been working hard for decades to bring equity to the farm bill in terms of treatment for Black farmers and other farmers of color to build cooperatives and to uplift low-wealth communities. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 addresses continuing inequities and supports the quality hands-on assistance needed to make sure the 2018 farm bill reaches everyone,” said Rural Coalition Chairperson John Zippert, based in rural Alabama.
“The passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 out of the Senate with strong bipartisan support shows opportunity for young people to shape the future of their tribal, urban, and rural communities,” said Marc Grignon, Co-Director of Hempstead Project Heart, a Rural Coalition member group. “There are numerous provisions in the legislation passed which open the door for revitalization of the hemp industry to thrive in the United States again. We look forward to the House and Senate producing a conference bill that upholds tribal sovereignty, provides permanent support to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and lifts the barriers for the American Hemp Industry.”
“Everyone in our nation, who cares about a future for farmers, ranchers and rural communities needs to contact your Congressional delegations- and your Representative in particular – to rally behind the much stronger Senate bill as a solid base for a final 2018 Farm Bill.”
The next step is for the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives to hold a Conference Committee to merge and reconcile differences in the two bills. The Conference Committee is likely to convene in August to produce a final bill for passage in both houses before the end of September when the prior Farm Bill provisions expire.

Newswire : Rep. Barbara Lee considers run for Chair of the Democratic Caucus

By Freddie Allen (Editor-in-Chief, NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com)
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Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said that she’s seriously considering running for Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-highest ranking position in Democratic leadership in the United States House of Representatives.
“Given where our party is and the direction that it needs to go in…my history and experience demonstrate that I really can help unify the Democratic Party,” Lee said.
As an example, Lee noted her work leading up to the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Lee said that she didn’t endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. And it wasn’t because of ideological differences; Lee said that she wanted to help craft the party’s agenda.
“I helped negotiate a very progressive, very inclusive Democratic Party platform and both sides—the Clinton delegates and the Sanders delegates—thanked me for that,” Lee said, adding that, bringing people together from diverse backgrounds to accomplish common goals is a role that she has played her entire life.
When it comes to her political career in the U.S. Congress, Lee was instrumental in authoring or co-authoring “every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation including the legislative frameworks for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” during President George W. Bush’s administration.
According to her official biography, in 2007, Congresswoman Lee worked with a diverse coalition of members to create the “Out of Poverty Caucus” and she has long advocated for legislative action to end poverty.
As the chair of the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income, Inequality and Opportunity, Congresswoman Lee guides more than 100 members of Congress in crafting and advancing legislation to lift millions of American families out of poverty and into the middle class.
“As a Black woman who has been on public assistance and who has also owned and run a business creating jobs for about 350 people…I think that I can bring a unique perspective to Democratic leadership that can help strengthen the Democratic caucus,” Lee said. “I’m considering running, because I would like to have that perspective at the leadership table to represent a broader and deeper perspective within the country, as chair of the Democratic caucus.”
Lee said that the Democratic Party must focus on “all of the issues that people care about” including challenges facing low-income and working-class families, racial and economic justice, and criminal justice reform.
Congresswoman Lee currently serves on the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending, according to her congressional website.
“She serves on three subcommittees (State and Foreign Operations; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs) of the Appropriations Committee and she currently serves as Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus,” Lee’s biography said.
As a priority, Lee said that she’s focused on wresting control of the House from the Republican Party during the 2018 midterm elections. The New York Times reported that, “Democrats, who have been sidelined as the House minority party since 2010, need to flip 24 Republican seats while keeping the 194 seats they currently hold.”
To regain control of the House, Democrats will rely heavily on increasing voter turnout, especially Black voter turnout, during the midterm elections.
Historically, voter turnout in the U.S. is lower during midterm elections compared to presidential elections. Black voter turnout decreased significantly during the 2016 presidential election.
According to an NPR article on voting trends in the U.S., “Many analysts say a natural drop-off was expected in the post-Barack Obama era. But the 2016 voter turnout for African-Americans was not just lower than the Obama years, it was even slightly lower than the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry.”
Despite the challenges associated with mobilizing voters in a post-Barack Obama era, political analysis shows that energizing Black voters remains critical to the Democratic success at the polls.
NPR reported that Black voters, particularly Black women, were key to Democratic victories in both the Virginia gubernatorial race and the Alabama senate race in 2017.
“Black women are the most loyal and the most consistent Democratic voters and we have never been at the leadership table in the history of Congress,” Lee said.
For many Black voters, that dynamic must change in order for the Democratic Party to remain viable and credible in the Black community.

Newswire: Rep. Sewell invites U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to Alabama to confirm UN study findings on U.S. Poverty

Rep. Sewell responds to Ambassador Haley’s dismissal of U.S. poverty

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) sent a letter to United Nations (UN) Ambassador Nikki Haley, calling on Ambassador Haley to visit Alabama and confirm the findings of a recent study conducted by the UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty. Rep. Sewell’s letter is in response to Ambassador Haley’s claim that it was “patently ridiculous” for the United Nations to examine poverty in America.

“It is not ‘patently ridiculous’ to call attention to extreme poverty in America, but it is ridiculous and shameful to disregard it and do nothing,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “Every day, millions of American families struggle to put food on the table for their families or afford basic necessities like a working wastewater system or primary health and dental care.

Before Ambassador Haley dismisses the realities of severe poverty in America or families living in extreme distress, she should see for herself the economically marginalized and forgotten communities that struggle under the weight of generational poverty. In Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, the failure of wastewater infrastructure in some rural communities has created a health crisis that should not exist in modern-day America. I invite Ambassador Haley to my district to see firsthand the suffering that I have seen, and the issues that my constituents confront every day.”

The full text of Rep. Sewell’s letter to Ambassador Haley is available on her website.

The letter follows a response from Ambassador Haley after Rep. Sewell and Sen. Sanders wrote to the Ambassador urging a plan of action from the Trump Administration for addressing poverty in the wake of the U.N. report exposing poverty in the United States. Rep. Sewell met with Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty during his visit to the United States last year to investigate extreme poverty and make recommendations.

Newswire : Alabama Senator Doug Jones introduces legislation to mandate release of Civil Rights Cold Case Records

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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) introduced legislation on July 10 mandating the review, declassification, and release of government records related to unsolved criminal civil rights cases. Legislation is necessary because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as implemented, has prevented the timely and adequate disclosure of executive branch records, and congressional records are not subject to public disclosure under FOIA.

In addition, some of these records, although almost 50 years old, remain classified unnecessarily or shielded from public view. The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 remedies this problem by requiring the National Archives and Records Administration to create a collection of government documents related to civil rights cold cases and to make those documents available to the public. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.

“Having prosecuted two civil rights cold cases in Alabama, I know firsthand the importance of having every available piece of information at your disposal,” said Senator Jones, a former U.S. Attorney. “This bill will ensure public access to records relating to these cases and will expand the universe of people who can help investigate these crimes, including journalists, historians, private investigators, local law enforcement, and others. We might not solve every one of these cold cases, but my hope is that this legislation will help us find some long-overdue healing and understanding of the truth in the more than 100 unsolved civil rights criminal cases that exist today.”

Jones, who successfully prosecuted two of the former KKK members responsible for the bombing of the 16thStreet Baptist Church, has long been an advocate for greater access to civil rights cold case records. In 2007, he testified to the House Judiciary Committee in support of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act that established a special initiative in the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate civil rights cold cases. He spoke about the difficulty of prosecuting these cases so many years after the crimes were committed and pointed to the importance of sharing information in order to find the truth.

“We’ve made progress ensuring these heinous acts of violence and hatred are able to be brought to justice—but we have more work to do,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, former Jackson County Prosecutor. “Helping families and advocates get access to these documents could help their push towards justice for these long unsolved cold cases.”

“It is hard to overstate the positive impact that Sen. Doug Jones’s proposed Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act would have on thousands of families who, 40 to 60 years later, have no idea how a father, grandfather, aunt or brother came to a violent death in the modern civil rights era,” said Hank Klibanoff, Director, Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University. “As a journalist and historian who relies on government-held records in these civil rights cold cases, it’s important to know that our purposes are simple: To learn the truth, to seek justice where there may be a living perpetrator, to tell the untold stories, and to bring closure to families of victims, and find opportunities for racial reconciliation.”

The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 will:

· Require the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to establish a collection of cold case records about unsolved criminal civil rights cases that government offices must publicly disclose in the collection without redaction or withholding.

· Establish a Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board as an independent agency of impartial private citizens to facilitate the review, transmission to NARA, and public disclosure of government records related to such cases.

Senator Jones’ bill was modeled after the President John F. Kennedy, Jr. Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which created an orderly and effective process for reviewing, declassifying, and releasing thousands of documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy. Read a detailed overview of the legislation here.

The legislation Senator Jones introduced was originally envisioned by students from Hightstown High School in Hightstown, New Jersey, and their teacher, Stuart Wexler.

Newswire: ‘Treasonous’ and ‘disgraceful’: critics slam Trump’s performance at Summit with Putin

By Igor Bobic, Huffington Post

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Trump and Putin, at joint news conference at end of summit in Helsinki, Finland

President Donald Trump’s performance during a press conference after a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday left critics of all stripes howling.
Trump refused to blame Putin for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and told reporters that “both countries” were responsible for the poor state of their relations.
“I think we’ve all been foolish. I think we’re all to blame,” Trump said.
He reiterated that there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia, slammed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the election as a “disaster” and shared conspiracy theories about why it’s important for the FBI to take the Democratic National Committee’s computer server.
Putin agreed with Trump on many points, and Trump’s comments drew fierce criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.
John Brennan, a CIA director under Barack Obama, called Trump’s performance “treasonous”. In a tweet, Brennen said,
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you ? “

Moments after the press conference, CNN’s Anderson Cooper said it was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader.”
On Fox Business Network, several guests reacted by saying that Putin
outmaneuvered Trump at the Summit. On the channel, the network’s Neil Cavuto termed Trump’s performance “disgusting.”
Ari Fleisher, President George W. Bush’s Press Secretary, who often justifies Trump’s statements indicated in a tweet that he understood how Democrats could feel that Putin and the Russians must have some damning information about him.

Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View” and a daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), tweeted that she was “horrified” by the press conference.
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a Republican, said Trump
“failed America today.”“It’s a sad day for America,” Hagel said Monday during an appearance on CNN. “It’s a sad day for the world.”

County Commission agrees to opt-in PILT Class Action Lawsuit

At its regular meeting held Monday, July 9, 2018, the Greene County Commission approved joining the Payment In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Class Action Law Suit and authorized Chairman Tennyson Smith to sign all necessary documents. This law suit relates to payments due to a local government for federal lands within its borders. The U.S. Government does not pay taxes on land it owns in a county, therefore, Congress passed a law mandating the federal government to make substitute payments in lieu of taxes.
The statue explains the following: “PILT payments provide compensation to certain units of local government within whose borders lie lands that are owned by the federal government and which are therefore immune to state and local taxation. The statute sets forth specific formulas to calculate the amount of the payment that each eligible unit of local government will receive.”
Due to insufficient appropriations for 2015–2017, PILT recipients did not receive the full amount to which they were entitled under the PILT statute based on the Department of the Interior’s full payment calculation.
As a result, Kane County, Utah filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in June 2017, seeking to recover its own underpayments and the underpayments of all other PILT recipients nationwide for the period 2015 -2017.
To participate in the class action lawsuit and collect possible amounts due them, each underpaid PILT recipient had to complete and submit a form “opting into” the lawsuit. If a county does not elect to join the class, they will not be included in the class action lawsuit—and will not receive any recovered funds. Counties will have until mid-September to opt into the class.
In other business the County Commission approved Commissioner Allen Turner’s re-appointment of Ms. Shirley Scott Isaac to the Greene County Health Services Board for District 3, as well as Commissioner Corey Cockrell’s appointment of Jonathan Woodruff to the E-911 Board for District 3. Commissioner Smith did not have an appointment from District 2 to the E-911 Board.
The commission also took action on the following:
* Approved Gas Tax Revenue Enhancement Agreement, authorizing chairman to sign all necessary documents.
* Approved Chairman Smith’s appointment to the Association of County Commissioners Legislative Committee.
* Approved budget amendments and payment of claims.
* Approved travel for one employee to the Alabama Association of Assessing Officials conference in Orange Beach, August 7-10, 2018.
Bank balances as of June 18, 2018, reported by the CFO Paula Bird, were as follows:
Citizen Trust bank – $2,610,588.56; Merchants & Farmers Bank – $4,677341.42; investment funds in CD’s – $806,571.43; Bank of New York – $918,088.04.

School board hires principal for Greene County High School

At its recent meeting held Monday, July 9, 2018, on the recommendation of Dr. James H. Carter, School Superintendent, the Greene County Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Willie S. Simmons, of Birmingham, AL, as Principal of Greene County High School. Simmons will vacate the position of Assistant Principal at Center Point High School, a role he has held since 2006.
Other Greene County High personnel approved by the board included the following: Wesley Russell, a 2017 graduate of the University of Alabama was hired as Mathematics Teacher; Josef Stancer, as Music Teacher / Band Director for GCHS and Robert Brown Middle School.
The board approved the following additional personnel for Robert Brown Middle School:
Yvonne Turner as Special Education Teacher; Demillia Snyder as Science Teacher; Tyrecia Mack as Elementary Teacher and Josef Stancer, as Music Teacher.
Additional personnel approved for Eutaw Primary School include the following: Gwendolyn Webb, Pre-K Aide; Danielle Sanders as 1st Grade Teacher; Courtney Williams as 1st Grade Teacher and Chandra Toney as 3rd Grade Teacher.
Joseph Patrick was approved as Lead Teacher at the Greene County Learning Academy.
The board accepted the Non-Acceptance of Position by Kianga Austin.
Additional Service Contracts (separate contracts) were approved for the following:
Joseph Patrick as Assistant Football Coach (GCHS); Russell Rivers as Assistant Football Coach (GCHS); Justin Booth as Head Baseball Coach (GCHS); Fentress Means as Assistant Baseball Coach (GCHS); Danielle Sanders as Head Girls Basketball Coach (GCHS); SuKova Hicks as Assistant Girls Basketball Coach (GCHS).
The school board also approved the purchase of two 72 – passenger school buses for the school system’s Department of Transportation at an investment of $170,494.

Newswire : Ethiopian dam threatens destruction of World Heritage Site

 

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Hippopotamuses – among the many species affected by the threat to Lake Turkana, says the UN.

(TriceEdneyWire.com/GIN) – Lake Turkana, the reputed birthplace of mankind, has been designated an endangered environmental hotspot by a UNESCO panel.
Currently designated a World Heritage Site, Kenya’s Lake Turkana stands among such treasures as the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China.

It’s the world’s largest desert lake, a spectacular site whose fossil finds have contributed more to the understanding of human ancestry than any other site in the world.

But the environmental group International Rivers warns that Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam and expansion of large, irrigated plantations in the Lower Omo basin threaten food security and local economies that support more than half a million people in southwest Ethiopia and along the shores of Kenya’s Lake Turkana.

“Construction on the dam began in 2006 with flagrant violations of Ethiopia’s own laws on environmental protection and procurement practices, and the national constitution,” the Oakland, California-based group wrote. “The project’s US$1.7 billion contract was awarded without competition to Italian construction giant Salini, raising serious questions about the project’s integrity.”

In February 2015, the filling of the dam’s reservoir began. The same year in October, Gibe III began generating electricity.

The Rivers group continued: “Project impact assessments were published long after construction began and disregard the project’s most serious consequences. Despite the huge impacts on vulnerable people and ecosystems, NGOs and academics in Ethiopia familiar with the region and the project don’t dare speak out for fear they will be shut down by the government.”

The Committee mentioned other changes affecting the hydrology of the Lake Turkana Basin, namely the Kuraz Sugar Development Project, and the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSETT) Corridor Project.

The List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions threatening the very characteristics for which a property has been inscribed on the World Heritage List and to encourage corrective measures.

The 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee continues until July 4.

Newswire: AME Church and Black banks launch new partnership for Black wealth

By Hazel Trice Edney

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AME Church Bishops pose with Black bankers and business leaders after announcing historic partnership. PHOTO: Klarque Garrison/Trice Edney News Wire

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Black church, among the most prosperous institutions in America, has long led movements for the spiritual, social and civic uplift of Black people. When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he had just launched the Poor People’s Movement, which quickly fizzled after his death.
With this historic backdrop, the African Methodist Episcopal Church – with a legacy of leadership in its own right – has announced an innovative economic partnership with Black-owned banks across the country. The partnership aims to be a catalyst to spur business development, homeownership and wealth in the Black community.
“We are now pleased to announce a partnership with the presidents of the nineteen (19) Black banks in the United States, with the goal of increasing Black wealth,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops. “This initiative will strengthen Black banks across the United States and increase their capacity to lend to small businesses, to secure mortgages, to provide personal lines of credit, and to offer other forms of credit to AME churches and our members. This, of course, includes enabling members and their families to become homeowners.”
Bishop Jackson made the announcement during a press conference held during the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting in Atlanta June 26. The specific details of a memorandum of understanding are being formulated and will be announced this summer. But the goals are as follows:
· Increase deposits and loans with Black banks;
· Increase Black homeownership to over 50 percent nationwide. This means 2,000,000 more Black homeowners than now exist; and
· Grow the number of Black businesses from 2.6 million to 4 million and total gross receipts from an average of $72,500.00 to $150,000.00.
“The spirit in which you all have shared the commitment to the community, to the banks and to what we can do together is outstanding,” responded Preston Pinkett, III, chairman and CEO of the City National Bank of New Jersey and chairman of the National Bankers Association. “Thank you for your willingness to step outside of the norm to do something that I would say is extraordinary here in America and extraordinary in the world.”
Pinkett says the church-bank partnerships are already beginning around the nation. “It is safe to say that this kind of commitment; this kind of demonstration will go a long way in supporting our banks and the banks to be able to support the community…With God’s blessings, we will accomplish great things.”
Amidst an atmosphere of excitement, the bankers, bishops and supporters of the movement packed into a meeting room in a Downtown Atlanta hotel. Jackson was surrounded by all 20 Bishops of the 231-year-old denomination as well as supporters of the movement. They included principals of the growing economic movement, Black Wealth 2020, which Jackson credited as inspiration for the idea.
“This partnership grows out of an initiative formed in Washington, DC in 2015, called Black Wealth 2020 which is providing an economic blueprint for Black America,” Jackson said.
Michael Grant, one of the founders of Black Wealth 2020, presided at the press conference. He connected the new partnership directly with the movement begun by Dr. King.
“The great civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others has now morphed into a full-fledged movement for economic empowerment,” Grant said. “The offspring of African slaves and their unrewarded labor have catapulted a small Colonial outpost into the greatest industrial giant the world has ever known. Now, as a people, we are turning our efforts toward our own enrichment. We must now create those economic opportunities for ourselves.”
Opening the press conference, Grant underscored the historicity of the moment. “For those of you who are students of history, you would not be surprised that the Church of Richard Allen would be leading an effort to close the wealth gap across the United States of America.” Allen, among America’s most influential Black leaders, founded the AME church in 1794. It was the first independent Black denomination in the U. S. “And we do this with malice towards none,” stressed Grant.
Bishop James L. Davis, of the Second Episcopal District, likened the partnership to a marriage – a marriage between a church and its community. “It is a marriage that says a church that is concerned about its people, concerned about the good and the bad, all of the things our people have had to go through.”
The prophetic voices of Black church leaders not only articulate ideas, but strategies.
“In the next decade in the global church and in the AME church and in Black banking, we will see both evolution and revolution. Banks must reinvent themselves, not just to respond to the pressures of the day, but to be flexible enough to adapt to the world of tomorrow. The ecclesia, the church, must also evolve its business knowledge, educational platform, and its missional thrust without losing its stance in the Word of God,” said General Board Chair Bishop Vashti Murphy Mckenzie. “Both of our institutions are dealing with increasing assertive governmental intrusion, higher membership and customer demands along with increasing change in the wider world.”
The announcement of the new partnership was met with applause from national civil rights leaders.
“Thank you and your fellow bishops for making economic development a priority of your denomination,” wrote civil rights icon Georgia Congressman John Lewis in a letter to Bishop Jackson. “Hopefully, your visionary leadership will inspire other denominations to replicate your efforts nationwide.”
National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial also weighed in with a letter: “I want to express the support of the National Urban League for your leadership and initiative in addressing the challenges of Black homeownership and the need to increase the support, viability and profitability of our African-American businesses,” he wrote.
Morial is among economic leaders who have determined that among the reasons homeownership among African-Americans is disparately low is, in part, because of discriminatory lending practices.
Mortgage Banker Lois Johnson, president/CEO of Salt Lake City-based United Security Financial, said she takes “great pride in our HUD designation as a fair practice lender. We provide loans to all who meet the minimum criteria, especially people of color who have been denied the opportunity to have their own homes.”
Johnson, who is licensed to operate in 49 states, says she intends to travel to each of the AME church’s episcopal districts to “create hope and opportunities.”
The principals agreed that the key to the success of the partnership must be mutual respect for Black spending power and mutual support of Black businesses.
“We hear about Black folks have a trillion dollars in spending power,” said Ron Busby, president/CEO of the U. S. Black Chamber, Inc. and co-founder of Black Wealth 2020. “But that’s usually White folk talking about our dollar sand how can they get their share of it. We came together to say how can we deal with the Black wealth, the gap of it and really to move our agenda forward inside our own community.”
Busby pointed to the USBC’s new AP called the USBC Mobile Directory with 109,000 Black-owned businesses in order to help consumers make targeted purchases inside the Black business community.
Robert James, CEO of the Carver State Bank in Savannah discussed how the movement will be sustained. “There was a time that no church got financed in Savannah Georgia unless we financed them at Carver State Bank,” James said to applause. “This program will get us back on the path.”
James says he knows the relationship can be sustained because the bishops have authority to oversee and encourage AME church leaders to do business with Black-owned banks. “We can talk to the Bishops about those local churches. And you can talk to your elders and your preachers,” he said.
Bishop Jackson underscored the fact that the U. S. partnership is only the beginning. He indicated that the movement will also expand abroad. “The possibilities extend throughout the Diaspora. The African Methodist Episcopal Church has over 4,000 churches in Africa, the Caribbean, West Indies and Europe. These churches and members can also benefit from this partnership,” he said.
To augment this expansion, Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, ambassador for the African Union, spoke to the Bishops the day before the press conference, promising to encourage Africans in America to also put their deposits in Black banks. She stressed the need for Black-owned institutions to unify, cooperate and not turn on one another.
“I hope we will all come together and support the idea of putting all of our money in Black banks. I have already taken the initiative and listed all of the Black banks in the country on our website. I’m already encouraging all Black people when I do presentations to say we’ve been stupid for too long. We drive past Black banks to give our money to people who don’t give a hoot about us. And they take our money so they can get rich; not only here, but in Africa. We’ve got to change this.”