Photo above shows Milton Merritt in Roll Tide shirt, Jerrie Merritt in green shirt next to her parents Eloise and Howard Crawford. They are surrounded by family and friends.Attorney Joshua Swords sworn in as Eutaw Municipal Judge Eutaw City Council and Mayor reach agreement to go forward with TAP-Streetscape Grant after prodding from citizens

Attorney Joshua Swords is sworn in as City of Eutaw Municipal Court Judge by Tuscaloosa Circuit Judge John H. England, Jr. at a special ceremony held in the William M. Branch Courthouse on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Standing with Attorney Swords are his wife Kim and son Joshua, Jr. The Swords also have a daughter, Caroline. Swords has been a practicing attorney since 2004 in Tuscaloosa and opened a second office in Eutaw in 2016.

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

At its March 12, 2019 meeting the Eutaw City Council and Mayor agreed to move forward with the TAP Streetscape Grant to beautify the sidewalks, street lights and some green-spaces around the Old Courthouse Square, in the center of the city.
This issue had deadlocked the Mayor and Council for the two regular meetings in February, which surfaced concerns between the Council and the Mayor on the finances of the city, limiting the hours of staff, availability of working equipment to maintain the streets and other points of disagreement.

The TAP grant involves $640,000 of funds from the Alabama Department of Transportation to redo the external sidewalks, provide new lighting and some green-spaces on the Courthouse Square, named for Sheriff Thomas Gilmore. The Eutaw City Hall, the Greene County Courthouse, the Industrial Development Authority and other county agencies have offices in the impacted area, which is the center of downtown Eutaw and the business and civic center of Greene County.
The grant requires a match of $220,000 from the city or others including $160,000 in direct matching funds and $60,000 for engineering costs. In the two February meetings, the Council postponed action on accepting the grant because of their lack of knowledge of the city finances and concern that funds were not available to match this grant.
In its February 19, 2019 meeting the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA) agreed to provide at least a third of the $220,000 matching funds and help raise the remainder of the needed funds because of the critical benefits of the project, the GCIDA’s office location on the Square and the overall message of progress and receptivity for change that the project represents. The GCIDA has been meeting informally with officials from the City of Eutaw, the Greene County Commission and others to help find the needed matching funds.
The Eutaw Downtown Planning Committee a multi- generational, interracial group of Eutaw citizens that have been working to improve the downtown areas and the Courthouse Square presented a letter at the March 12 Eutaw City Council urging action on the TAP/Streetscape Grant. Danny Cooper who works with the Committee and also serves as Chair of the GCIDA read the letter aloud in the Council meeting.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson asked the Mayor what had he done to meet the Council concerns that the city workers be brought back to working 40 hours, to secure proper equipment to maintain the streets and provide an audit and a budget of city finances. Johnson said, “City workers are picking up trash with pitchforks. We cannot maintain the streets after the grant without proper equipment.”
Mayor Steele indicated that he had agreed for city workers to come back to work for 40 hours as of March 15. The Mayor said he was seeking funding through USDA Rural Development for new police cars, a street excavator, trucks and other equipment. The USDA grant requires an audit of city funds for the past years, so the Mayor has secured a CPA in Tuscaloosa to provide the necessary audit. Using information from the audit, the Mayor said he could do a budget projecting the income and expenses of the city and satisfying the Council’s request for a budget. The budget would allow the City to determine which new expenses, including matching the TAP grant, that it could afford in the future.
Based on the Mayor’s assurances, Councilwoman Johnson moved “that the City proceed to do the engineering for the TAP project, based on the funds offered by the GCIDA, and continue to evaluate the viability of the project based on continued progress toward the concerns raised by the Council.” This motion was approved 3-1-1 with Johnson, Joe Lee Powell and the Mayor voting in favor; Sheila Smith voting against and LaJeffrey Carpenter abstaining; Bennie Abrams was absent.
The vote allows the Mayor to move forward with engineering needed for the Streetscape project while the Council holds him accountable for changes that he promised.
In other actions, the Council approved the following items over the past three meetings:
• Approved ‘Back to School’ Sales Tax Holiday for July 19-21, 2019.

• Approved proclamation designing April as Fair Housing Month.

• Approved expenditure of $9,000 for speed bumps on the newly improved Branch Heights roads, for safety of children and residents.

• Supports Memorandum of Understanding with the Community Services Programs of West Alabama, to distribute food and other services to Eutaw residents.

• Approved contract with RDS to collect sales taxes and business license fees.

• Approved ordinance to declare building adjacent to the National Guard Armory surplus, so that it can be used for other purposes.

• Approved letter to State Legislative Delegation in support of Sunday liquor sales in the City of Eutaw.

Newswire : Massive cyclone batters Zimbabwe and Mozambique, hundreds feared dead

Flooding in southern Africa


Mar. 18, 2019 (GIN) – A powerful cyclone moving at over 100 miles per hour unleashed deadly floods in southern Africa over the weekend, leaving a moonscape of mud where the bustling port city of Beira in Mozambique had been.

“The scale of devastation (in Beira) is enormous,” said Jamie LeSueur, leader of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) team there. “It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed.”

On Sunday, the last road to the city of about 530,000 people was cut off when a large dam burst, the IFRC reported.

In Zimbabwe, the mountainous Chimanimani district was isolated by torrential rains and winds that swept away roads, homes and bridges and knocked out power and communication lines.

Zimbabwean rescuers struggled to reach people whose homes were flattened by rock falls and mudslides or washed away by the strong rains.

In Beira, where Cyclone Idai first made landfall, a 14 foot storm surge severed communication with other villages along the coast. Beira is Mozambique’s second largest port where vital shipping to the central part of the country, including Zimbabwe and Malawi, takes place.

Early Monday, rescuers launched dinghies onto chest-high waters, navigating through reeds and trees – where some people perched on branches to escape the water.

President Filipe Nyusi, speaking on Radio Mocambique, said he had flown over the affected region, where two rivers had overflowed. Villages had disappeared, he said, and bodies were floating in the water.

“Everything indicates that we can register more than one thousand deaths,” he said.

More than 1.5 million people have been affected across the three countries by Idai. Mozambique Red Cross volunteers are already on the ground as well as the IFRC’s international team,” said IFRC’s Euloge Ishimwe.

Ironically, Mozambique, like many other countries in southern Africa, suffered a major drought two years ago. Farmers lost their cattle and crops failed.

African populations are already suffering the increasing effects of climate change, said Kristalina Georgieva, acting president of the World Bank Group. “This is the case with Cyclone Idai, which has been sweeping through southern Africa since Mar. 16”.

It is not now known whether affected residents received warning of the impending storm. However images of the tropical cyclone were captured on a NASA satellite on Mar. 12 and on Mar. 19 by Mozambique’s National Institute of Meteorology.

Newswire :Southern Poverty Law Center fires co-founder Morris Dees

By Frederick H. Lowe, NorthStarNewsToday.com

Morris Dees

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Southern Poverty Law Center has announced that Morris Dees, the organization’s co-founder, has been fired, but officials of the Montgomery, Alabama-based organization did not
explain why.

“As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world,” said Richard Cohen, SPLC’s president. “When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”
Dees’ biography has been removed from the organization’s website.

Dees, who is 82, co-founded SPLC in 1971 and was the chief litigator.

The organization tracks hate groups and regularly publishes “Intelligence Report.”
The issue, which was published in Spring of 2019 was titled “The Year in Hate: Rage Against Change: White Supremacy Flourishes amid Fears of Immigration and the Nation’s Shifting Demographics.”

The magazine published articles, photographs, and maps where most hate groups operate. The SPLC blew the whistle on the rise of white hate groups that were often ignored by law enforcement officials because some of their employees were members of the hate groups.

The groups listed were the Klu Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, Skinheads, white nationalists. Under his leadership, the SPLC bankrupted the nation’s largest Klan organization.

The SPLC also said Chicago-based Nation of Islam was involved in hate speech.
“The black nationalist movement is a reaction to centuries of institutionalized
white supremacy in America,” SPLC explained.

Dees could not be reached for comment, but a series of articles in Montgomery Advertiser newspaper reported Dees was more concerned with raising money than fighting hate. In 2017, SPLC had $450 million in assets according to federal tax records.
SPLC’s black employees also charged that Dees was a racist.

Newswire : Congresswoman Norton fighting for D.C., Black Press in new Congress

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedi

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is a living legend with more than 50 honorary degrees and a list of accomplishments the size of her beloved District of Columbia. One of the ways that Norton remains updated through her book club.
“I think the book that I enjoy is ‘On the Basis of Sex,’ about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” Norton said. “But, as far as having a favorite movie, television show or song, I don’t have time.” That’s because she’s busy fighting for the rights of her fellow Washingtonians.
It’s a battle she’s fought for nearly 30 years as the District’s representative in the House of Representatives.
“Certainly nothing can be more important than making the District a state and I don’t suppose that any member of Congress can do anything that’s more important,” said Norton, 81. “We are going to get a vote on statehood this time and I expect it to be successful in Congress. We’ll just have to see what happens in the Senate,”
Norton arrived in Congress in 1991. Already a national figure known for her work during the civil rights movement, Norton arrived with a determination that others could easily see.Her hard work helped to break barriers for Washington as she successfully fought for a bill that provided up to $10,000 annually for high school students in D.C. to attend any public U.S. college or university. That bill also provided up to $2,500 per year for D.C. students to attend many private colleges and universities.
She also gained a unique $5,000 D.C. homebuyer tax credit for residents and helped stabilize
the city’s population with various incentives during times of economic crisis. Most of that was
accomplished while Democrats sat in the minority.
Along with the many battles still ahead, Norton has also tackled the issue of federal agencies
and how they spend their combined more than $5 billion advertising budget. She said she’s gathered co-sponsors for a bill that will require all agencies in the government to produce their spending reports and detail what they have spent and will spend with black-owned newspapers and media companies.
“I introduced it the last session, but it’s a new session and [Democrats] are in the majority so there’s a difference,” Norton said, adding that she remains amazed at how black newspapers – particularly in a major city like Washington – have been able to thrive.“You just wouldn’t know what’s really going on if you didn’t have the Black Press of America,” Norton said.
“That’s why I asked for a Government Accountability Office report to detail what federal agencies spend with the Black Press. My legislation will make the government lead by example in advertising with the Black Press and make them more conscious of their obligations.“That’s why I push it the way I am pushing it now,” she said.
For Norton, it all syncs with a motto she adopted from the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” Norton said, quoting that famous document. What I love is the saying, ‘self-evident.’ Take a moment and think about that saying. I do,” she said.

Newswire: Congresswoman Maxine Waters statement on the New Zealand terror attack

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement today in response to the terrorist attacks on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand:

“I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the horrific and hate-filled terrorist attacks that took place in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 49 people and seriously injured 20 people. This merciless shooting targeted innocent Muslim worshipers during Friday prayers. My heart goes out to all of the victims, their families, and the Muslim community in New Zealand as they recover from this senseless act of violence.
“Vicious attacks on Muslims like the one in New Zealand are meant to incite fear, discourage tolerance, and threaten religious freedom around the world. It is my sincere belief that the international community must work together to confront xenophobic terrorism and all forms of hate whenever and wherever they occur.
“America stands in solidarity with the people of New Zealand, and we will continue to keep the Muslim community of New Zealand in our thoughts and prayers.”

Greene County hospital board and staff ask commission for 3 mil tax for local health services

On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, five members of the board of the Greene County Health System (GCHS) led by Chairperson, John Zippert and Eddie Austin, Lucy Spann, Pennia Hines and Margarite Bir, as well as several GCHS senior staff, attended the Commission Work-session at which items are discussed before being placed on the Commission’s regular meeting agenda.
The GCHS delegation asked the Commission to approve a three (3) mil increase in the Greene County ad valorem property tax for the benefit of the Hospital, Nursing Home and Physicians Clinic. Zippert explained that this increase would yield $500,000 in new revenues to support the work of the hospital in covering its financial deficit for providing an average of $100,000 per month in ‘uncompensated care’ to Greene County residents who are too poor to afford health care or health insurance.
After approval of the tax increase by the County Commission, the measure would have to be advertised as local legislation for four weeks, then approved by the Legislature, signed by the Governor and placed on the ballot for a vote by the citizens of Greene County in the next General Election (November 2020).
The Commission listened carefully to the proposal and then said that they would not place the request for a tax increase on the main agenda until a more comprehensive proposal could be developed. Commissioner Allen Turner, speaking for the Commission said, “We will not put forth a tax increase for one agency, like the hospital. We want to present a tax increase for the hospital and other needs of recreation for youth, nutrition for senior citizens and general support for the work of the Commission. We feel a single issue tax request will not be approved by the voters of Greene County.”
GCHS Board members expressed some disappointment with the actions of the Commission but said they would monitor the situation and continue to push for needed tax revenues to keep the hospital open and operating without a deficit.

County Commission Meeting

In its monthly meeting held Monday, March 12, 2019, the County Commission approved hiring an employee for the County’s Probate Office. The individual was recommended by the county’s newly elected Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth. The commission took action on the following:

  • Approved parking lot stripes at the courthouse, highway department, activity center and library.
  • Approved re-appointment of Debbie Duncan to Industrial Development Authority.
  • Approved travel to various conferences for the county engineer, assistant engineer, human resource coordinator and coroner.
  • Approved financial report, payment of claims and budget amendments.
    The commission declined to hire a bus drive for the Eutaw Nutrition Site.
    The meeting was adjourned following an executive session and public comments.

Newswire : Cops in two cities not charged in shooting deaths of unarmed Black men

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

Stephon Clark

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said yesterday that he will not charge two Sacramento, California, police officers who shot to death an unarmed black man in the backyard of his grandmother’s home.
An independent investigation into the shooting death of Stephon Clark found that no criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting can be sustained, Becerra said in a statement.

Sacramento police officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal, who is black, shot to death the 22-year-old Clark in March of 2018. The cops said they believed Clark was armed with a gun. They were wrong. He held only a cell phone in his hand.
An independent autopsy found that Clark was shot eight times —- six times in the back, once in the side and once in one arm.
Becerra announced his decision two days after Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she would not charge the two cops.

During the same time period, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday that it would not pursue civil rights charges against former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Joe Shelby, who shot to death Terrence Crutcher, 40, on September 16, 2016. Crutcher’s car was disabled. Crutcher had his hands raised in the air to surrender when Shelby murdered him.

Newswire : If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you

By Steven Mufson and Tracy Jan, The Washington Post

If you’re a poor person in America, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal is not for you.
Trump has unveiled a budget that would slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.
These cuts to smaller programs that are targeted to poor people are in addition to major cuts of $735 billion in Medicare, $250 billion in Medicaid and $250 billion in Social Security benefits.
During the presidential campaign last year, Trump vowed that the solution to poverty was giving poor people incentives to work. But most of the proposed cuts in his budget target programs designed to help the working poor, as well as those who are jobless, cope.
“This is a budget that pulled the rug out from working families and hurts the very people who President Trump promised to stand up for in rural America and in small towns,” said Melissa Boteach, vice president of the poverty to prosperity program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.
The White House budget cuts will fall hardest on the rural and small town communities that Trump won, where one in three people are living paycheck to paycheck – a rate that is 24 percent higher than in urban counties, according to a new analysis by the center.
The budget proposes housing “reforms” that add up to more than $6 billion in cuts while promising to continue assisting the nation’s 4.5 million low-income households. If enacted, the proposed budget would result in the most severe cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development since the early 1980s, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
It would also eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies.
The administration’s reforms include eliminating funding for a $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continuously run HUD programs that’s been in existence since 1974.
The program provides cities and rural small towns with money to address a range of community development needs such as affordable housing, rehabilitating homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures, and preventing or eliminating slums and community blight. It also provides funding for Meals on Wheels, a national nonprofit that delivers food to homebound seniors.
Robert Rector, a senior fellow who focuses on welfare at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, calls the community block grants a “slush fund for urban government.”
The White House touts its cuts to what the administration characterizes as “a number of lower priority programs” as a way to “promote fiscal responsibility.” In actuality, it guts federal funding for affordable housing and kicks the financial responsibility of those programs to states and local governments.
Gone would be $35 million in funding for well-known programs such as Habitat for Humanity and YouthBuild USA, fair housing planning, and homeless assistance, among other housing help for needy Americans.
Poor people need not lean on community banks for financial help either, because Trump plans to eliminate the $210 million now dedicated towards Community Development Financial Institutions. The program, administered through the Treasury Department, invests in community banks that provide loans and financial services to people living in some of the most distressed communities of the country.
“Cutting that program would be nothing short of a disaster and the ripple effect would be felt in urban areas and some rural areas all over America,” said Michael A. Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, a lobbying group for black-owned banks.
The administration would also eliminate the Energy Department’s weatherization assistance program, which dates back to 1976 when Gerald Ford was president. Since then, it has given grants to states that have helped insulate the homes of about 7 million families with low-cost techniques that have large payoffs, saving money for those families and curtailing U.S. energy consumption. It has also helped establish weatherization job training centers in states such as Utah and New York.
Also on the chopping block: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known widely by its acronym LIHEAP. This program, part of the Health and Human Services budget, helps homeowners cover monthly energy costs, or repair broken or inefficient furnaces and air conditioners. The program is usually underfunded; LIHEAP says that on average, only about 20 percent of the households that qualify for assistance receive benefits before the money run out. Congress sometimes adds funding during emergencies or energy shortages when costs spike.
Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, a $715-million program within HHS that funds more than 1,000 local anti-poverty organizations around the country. The organizations provide services ranging from job training to food assistance to more than 16 million people in 3,000 counties. The grants also help communities respond quickly to natural disasters, plant closures and other economic shifts.
Without the grants, there would be little coordination between faith groups, local governments, private companies and nonprofits in addressing the needs of the poor – “just a few unconnected programs that don’t have nearly the impact they have now,” said David Bradley, who founded the National Community Action Foundation and wrote the legislation behind the grants in the early ’80s.
The Trump budget would also target the Legal Services Corp., an independent agency that provided $343 million to 134 legal aid organizations for the poor who are tangled up in cases of wrongful eviction, custody disputes, child support or domestic violence.
In 2015, Legal Services offices closed 755,774 cases – more than 100 for every lawyer and paralegal employed. About 70 percent of its clients are women, and the majority of its clients are white and between the ages of 36 and 59. The program provides lawyers only to people earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is currently $15,075 for an individual and $30,750 for a family of four.
The budget would also zero out funds to help native Alaskan villages obtain access to clean drinking water and modern sewage systems.
Cuts to the Agriculture budget also eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority that encourage economic growth in distressed rural communities. And while the budget allocates $6.2 billion to “serve all projected participants” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, that is $150 million less than USDA had budgeted.
The White House proposed shrinking Job Corps, a program administered by the Labor Department that provides education and job training to more than 60,000 young and disadvantaged youth. The proposal called for closing centers that do a “poor job” of preparing students for the workforce, but did not elaborate how many of the 125 centers nationwide would be targeted.
Job Corps, which was created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s anti-poverty agenda, helps young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 earn high school diplomas and receive vocational training.

Senator Doug Jones and Terri Sewell introduce bills to incentivize Alabama, 13 other states to expand Medicaid

Birmingham, Ala. – U.S. Senator Doug Jones last week led a press conference with Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) and community health care leaders to discuss their Medicaid expansion legislation, the States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019, and to call on leaders in Alabama to take action to expand Medicaid. 
This legislation would ensure that states that chose to expand Medicaid after 2014 are eligible for the same level of federal matching funds as states that expanded Medicaid earlier. Alabama, along with 13 other states, has yet to expand Medicaid.
 “I’m not sure that there is anything more important to the future of Alabama than the expansion of Medicaid. We’re losing dollars, and we’re seeing rural hospitals closing year after year, and other hospitals are struggling. This should be a non-partisan issue. Fourteen states with Republican governors have expanded Medicaid, including the state of Indiana under our Vice President, then-Governor Mike Pence,” Senator Jones said.
Senator Jones continued, “Now, we have the evidence that states that expanded Medicaid had better health outcomes, and was a boon to those states’ economies. We can grow the economies of those communities, and grow the economy of Alabama. We really just can’t afford to let another hospital shutter its doors because of this issue…. It is a no-brainer for the state of Alabama.” 
Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) said,  “I want to stand with Senator Jones and these folks on the front lines to try to get Alabama to expand Medicaid. I think it’s critically important that state and federal officials work together, and with this bill we have a chance to do that. I can’t tell you of a more critical problem that we have in Alabama than our rural hospital situation. It’s dire straits in the Black Belt. I stand with Doug Jones today, and I stand with practitioners and other officials who are just asking the state to do the right thing and expand Medicaid. I beg Governor Ivey to take a look at this bill.”

Rural Hospitals issue warnings

For years, leaders at Alabama’s rural hospitals have been warning public officials about the financial cliff they are facing, in large part as a result of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Since 2011, 13 hospitals have closed in Alabama, and seven of those hospitals have been in rural areas. Even now, approximately 88 percent of rural Alabama hospitals are operating in the red. The Alabama Hospital Association estimates that some 326,000 Alabamians would gain health care coverage if Medicaid were expanded in the state.

 “By refusing to expand Medicaid, Alabama has turned away $14 billion of our own taxpayer dollars. For years, those dollars could have helped keep our hospitals open, support good jobs in our communities, and provide health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Alabamians. This isn’t a partisan issue – expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do,” Senator Jones said. “Alabama can no longer afford not to expand, and our SAME Act legislation would ensure that states will get a fair deal when they do. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Capitol Hill, to support this common sense bill.”
Numerous studies have shown that expanding Medicaid benefits states economically by increasing jobs and earnings growth, generating federal revenue, increasing Gross State Product, increasing state and local revenues and reducing uncompensated care and hospital costs. If Alabama had expanded Medicaid five years ago, it could have yielded a $935 million net increase in tax revenue for the state, and could have led to approximately 12,000 new jobs across all sectors of Alabama’s economy in 2016 alone.
 “It’s crazy that for so many years, Virginia taxpayers were footing the bill for states that had already expanded Medicaid. Today, Medicaid expansion is bringing billions of tax dollars back home to Virginia, and more than 400,000 Virginians have gained access to quality, low-cost or no-cost Medicaid coverage,” said Senator Warner, a former Governor of Virginia. “This bill will bring even more federal dollars back to Virginia by making sure that we get the same deal from the federal government as states that expanded back in 2014.”
 The States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019 is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). The bill was recently re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and co-sponsored by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07). This bill may be combined with others seeking to improve and reorganize the Affordable Care Act.
 
Background
 
Medicaid is a joint federal and state insurance program that covers medical costs for eligible low-income Americans. In 2010, states were given the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Under this deal, the federal government would cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, and gradually step down to cover 90 percent permanently. 
 The SAME Act would ensure that any states that choose to expand Medicaid get a second chance to receive these same levels of federal funding. Under this bill, a state would receive three years of full federal funding, phasing down to a 95 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) in Year 4; a 94 percent federal contribution in Year 5; 93 percent in Year 6; and, 90 percent for each year thereafter. Alabama alone would receive $2 billion in federal dollars the first year after expansion.
 Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have already expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and three more states – Idaho, Utah and Nebraska – have passed ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid. Fourteen states, including Alabama, have not yet expanded their programs. In states that have failed to expand Medicaid, more than 2 million low-income adults fall into a “coverage gap,” due to incomes that are too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but are too low to meet the limit that would allow them to receive tax credits to purchase affordable coverage in the health care marketplace. Without Medicaid expansion, most of these individuals are likely to remain uninsured, as they have limited access to employer coverage and frequently find the cost of unsubsidized marketplace coverage to be prohibitively expensive.

Newswire : Thousands uprooted from safe haven now desperate for food, water and shelter

Nigerian refugees


Mar. 4, 2019 (GIN) – An estimated 30,000 refugees have been uprooted by officials in Cameroon and Nigeria this month and sent to known hotbeds of insurgents including Boko Haram on the Nigerian side of the border.

Humanitarian groups including Action against Hunger are questioning the wisdom of forcing refugees to move to the city of Rann in Borno state, the epicentre of the decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 27,000.

“Reports from sources on the ground indicate that these people are in dire need of aid,” a UN briefing note stated.

There were also questions about whether the returns complied with international law on refugees, which require returns to be voluntary, the Agence France Press reported.

International and national humanitarian organizations abandoned Rann in January due to ongoing insecurity.

Shashwat Saraf, the country director of Action Against Hunger in Nigeria, said it was “difficult to imagine” it being safe for anyone to return. “Alarming” levels of severe acute malnutrition were found among children under five, he said.

The mass movement of internally displaced people comes as President Muhammadu Buhari takes office for a second term, having been declared the winner of a national election marred by mechanical errors with the voter card readers, a weeklong postponement, reports of vote-buying, and extremist attacks in the northeast.

Voter turnout was at a historic low at 35.6 percent of the population.

“The numbers alone are indicting,” said Adewunmi Emoruwa of The Election Network. “We have witnessed a record number of cancelled votes – more than double the numbers from the previous poll – and which is only a reflection of the widespread irregularities across every part of the country. We all observed as thugs had a field day unleashing terror on demographically profiled voters, which led to the suppressed turnout that has been recorded.”

Buhari won in 19 states – including the two most populous, Lagos and Kano – while the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was victorious in 17.

The two men are both northern Muslims in their 70s who have long been in politics. Buhari is seen by many as a strict, inflexible but personally incorruptible figure, while many hoped Atiku, a wealthy businessman and former vice-president, would enact policies to help boost Nigeria’s struggling economy.The opposition has rejected the vote outcome.