Newswire :Black leaders applaud Biden’s infrastructure signing, but make clear there’s more work to be done

President Biden signs the Infrastructure Act

 

By: April Ryan, The Grio

President Joe Biden has a major victory under his belt after he signed into law the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.   
Reverend Al Sharpton attended the White House signing ceremony on a cold Monday afternoon located on the South Lawn, where the Grio was also in attendance. After the event, Sharpton told the Grio that this moment is “important and it is a deposit on the first part” of President Biden’s physical and human infrastructure legislative agenda.

But the civil rights activist also emphasized that “we are not paid in full until” Biden and Democrats are able to pass critical voting rights legislation. As for the infrastructure bill that was just passed into law, Sharpton noted that there is a need to “make sure some of these contracts go to Black communities.” He added, “broadband is good but we need to keep going further.”
Taking the stage at the signing ceremony before President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris said there is indeed more to come from the Biden-Harris administration. Clad in her staple pant suit, Vice President Harris said “this bill is one of two,” the second half of the bill being the social infrastructure component to include extended tax credits for children, significant climate investment, among other things, is expected to be voted on in Congress at the end of the week or sometime next week.


Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is tasked as the Implementation Coordinator for this new law. President Biden said Landrieu will make sure the federal dollars are dispersed as expected in the structure laid out for each line item in the bill from roads, to lead pipe removal to money for Amtrak to fix dilapidated infrastructure.  
President Biden will begin his victory lap on Tuesday as he travels with Landrieu to New Hampshire and the site of a “broken down bridge,” according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. The presidential spokesperson said it is all “in efforts to help people understand how the infrastructure bill will impact their lives.”
Ultimately, Psaki said, President Biden and Vice President Harris will be crisscrossing America to educate the nation on the infrastructure law and how Americans stand to benefit from its investments.
U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, who was in the audience at Monday’s ceremony, told the Grio “this is physical infrastructure, which is something North Carolina needs desperately.” He said at the top of the list of necessary investments is rural broadband followed by roads and bridges. The congressman also vowed that next up on the agenda for him and his Democratic colleagues is passing the second arm of Biden’s infrastructure agenda in the Build Back Better Act.

The signing event drew a swarm of recognizable faces and names like U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah along with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Congressional Black Caucus Chair U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida along with a contingent of Republican and Democratic members of Congress, Republican and Democratic governors, civil rights leaders, union leaders, clergy and others who traveled for this moment. 
However, there were some dark clouds hovering over Monday’s signing with President Biden’s recent approval rating at its lowest levels. In response to Biden’s approval rating, Press Secretary Psaki said, “this is an opportunity” amid COVID fatigue for the administration to get to work and to help Americans on various domestic issues. 
“Can they do better? Of course. That is why we are out here protesting everyday,” said Melanie Campbell of the Black Women’s Roundtable in response to public criticisms over the job performance of both Biden and Harris. Campbell will be marching Tuesday from the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women to the U.S. Capitol building to push for passage of voting rights legislation. 
“[It] has to get done and it needs to get done,” said Campbell, who has the ear of both President Biden and Vice President Harris. “The administration needs to get the filibuster reform done so they can pass legislation that is important to all of us.”
Campbell was also in attendance at the bill signing. She and Rev. Sharpton are of one mind on voting rights and this administration. Sharpton contends, ”I think we had to be here to insist that we also move forward on the voting rights bill. In the great spirit of bipartisanship I hope they also include the John Lewis [Voting Rights] Advancement bill.”

Newswire: Black voters stray from African National Congress in South Africa in recent elections, due to jobs, water and corruption


Political campaigning in South Africa


Nov. 8, 2021 (GIN) – The party that governed South Africa since the end of apartheid appears to have lost its grip on Black voters who turned away from the party of Nelson Mandela this month in large numbers.
 
For the first time in the country’s post-apartheid democracy, the African National Congress received only 46% of votes – less than half of the national vote and an 11% drop from the last election – in polls for mayors and councilors.
 
Although the turnout ended up being slightly better than initially feared, at 12.3 million voters, it amounts to fewer than half of those registered.

News media around the world pounced on the famed party most recently headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa with such headlines as: “ANC suffers worst electoral performance”, and ANC Suffers Worst Election Setback Since End of Apartheid.”
 
The disappointing turnout was blamed in economic stagnation, record unemployment and the aftermath of civil unrest. But contributing factors included rampant corruption and a rot in state institutions.
 
“The grassroots collapse of services such as water and power in ANC-run municipalities lies behind voter frustration with Ramaphosa,” wrote Johannesburg reporter Joseph Cotterill. The popular leader struggled to overcome infighting in the party which exploded into the country’s worst post-apartheid unrest in July after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for defying a court order to attend a judicial inquiry.
 
The party lost outright control of Johannesburg and will maintain control of only two of the country eight big cities.
 
“We’re not a loser here,” insisted Jessie Duarte, the party’s deputy secretary general, at a news briefing on the floor of the results center in Pretoria. “As far as we’re concerned, we are the winning party on that board.”
 
But Ms. Duarte acknowledged that voters had sent a message. “The electorate has spoken,” she said. “The low voter turnout, especially in traditional ANC strongholds, communicates a clear message – the people are disappointed in the ANC with the slow progress in fixing local government, in ensuring quality and consistent basic services and tackling corruption and greed.”
 
Power will now devolve among newly energized parties, such as the Inkatha Freedom Party which used its history of Zulu nationalism to win nearly a quarter of the vote in the largely rural province.
 
The Freedom Front Plus, a historically Afrikaner nationalist party that repositioned itself as a bulwark for all minorities against the A.N.C., increased its support across the country,
 
The Economic Freedom Fighters of Julius Malema, which presents itself as the “government-in-waiting”, ended up with about 10.42%, a small but respectable development from 2016’s 8.19%.
 
Other parties picking up seats include the Patriotic Alliance, One South Africa, and ActionSA.

 

Newswire: Record $1.7 Trillion student debt drowns HBCU borrowers

Calls for Loan Forgiveness Gain Support

By Charlene Crowell

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – As the cost of a college education continues to rise, an estimated 45 million consumers collectively owe a record $1.7 trillion dollars in student debt, according to the Federal Reserve, — a $905 billion increase in just the past decade.
 
For Black America, the struggle to gain a college education is an even more daunting challenge. While historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue to provide value-priced higher education compared to non-HBCU institutions, financing college often means students and families alike taking on loans that can take decades to retire.
 
An October 28 virtual panel of student debt experts and cancellation advocates discussed how the ongoing student debt crisis has generally impacted Black borrowers nationwide, and particularly Black borrowers at HBCUs. Co-convened by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), and funded by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, the forum emphasized the need for across-the-board student loan cancellation, as well as increased HBCU funding.
 
“We were taught early on if you go to college, you do well, you can have a great life, only to find ourselves in a debt cycle that many will not be able to get out of,” said Derrick Johnson, a panel participant and President of the NAACP. “Almost half of Black graduates owe more on their undergraduate student loans four years after graduation than they did when they received their diplomas.”
 
“Not only do they have less wealth to borrow on to pay back loans because of the racial wealth gap, but the underfunding of HBCUs compound the financial challenges which result in higher debt for students who attend these schools,” said Rep Alma Adams.
 
The North Carolina Congresswoman speaks from experience. An HBCU graduate and professor for 40 years before joining Congress, Adams is also the founder and chair of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus. Since its inception in 2015, this bipartisan and bicameral caucus has procured $1.3 billion for HBCUs to rebuild campus infrastructure, and $40 million in HBCU scholarships for land grant colleges through the Farm Bill.
 
For the estimated 300,000 HBCU students attending one of the 101 accredited campuses spread across 19 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, these funds help but do not fulfill the escalating costs of securing a college degree. Among these students, 80% are Black, 70% are from low-income families and 41% are the first generation of their family to attend college, according to UNCF.
 
As a result, many HBCU students and their parents often need a combination of student loans, Pell Grants, and jobs to offset limited family contributions to college educations.
 
As students increase job hours as part of financial aid packages, the amount of time required to complete a traditional four-year degree is also increasing.  Today, most students – 60% — earn their baccalaureate degrees in six years. Only 39% graduate in the traditional four years. And the longer it takes to graduate, the number of loans and their indebtedness increase as well.
 
Pell Grants, a needs-based federal program designed to serve low-income students and their families, has also failed to keep pace with rising college costs. The maximum annual Pell Grant award for the 2020-2021 school year is $6,345; due to the program’s sliding scale that takes family income, size, and contributions into account, this aid can be as low as $639. In the 2019-2020 academic year, approximately 6.9 million students received a Pell Grant that averaged $4,117.
 
While this amount of financial assistance is helpful, the actual annual cost of college surpasses the financial capabilities of most Black Americans. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the annual average cost of attending a moderately-priced, in-state public four-year institution is $26,820. For out-of-state students attending the same college, the annual cost jumps to $43,280, and the average cost of attending a private, four-year college is even higher at $54,880.
 
By comparison, the annual average cost of attending an HBCU is 28% less than that of a non-HBCU institution, according to UNCF. Average public HBCU tuition and fees for the same academic year are $7,195 for state residents and $14,966 for out-of-state students. At private HBCUs, like Howard University, Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, annual costs run higher, but are still less than $30,000.
 
When median family incomes are compared by race, the ability to finance college education shows stark differences. In 2020, Black median family income was $57,480, while that of white families was $96,170, according to the College Board, a nonprofit institution that since 1900 has been dedicated to promoting excellence and equity through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators, and schools.
 
In response to these and other educational concerns, a growing chorus of stakeholders are calling for federal student loan forgiveness to alleviate decades-long debt and give all college graduates the opportunity to build wealth.
 
Graduates from many HBCUs earn starting salaries in excess of $50,000. Further, for STEM graduates, starting salaries can bring more than $60,000. At face value, these salaries seem sufficient to begin a career – until the cost of student loan repayment takes several hundred dollars each month away from net earnings.
 
“HBCUs are known for their culture, homecomings, but more importantly, they produce the world’s greatest and top black doctors, lawyers, engineers, and STEM graduates,” said Jaylon Herbin, panel moderator and a CRL Outreach Associate. “Without our HBCUs, Black America would not be what it is today. We must continue to leverage the support and funding for HBCUs, so that the graduates that they produce are not burdened by student debt.”

 

Two Greene County teachers honored at memorial to educators who died from COVID-19

Mrs. Alisa Ward Allen
Mrs. Sandra Gordon
Leo Branch, Greene County School Board member places a flower on memorial bench for educators lost in coronavirus pandemic.
Two Greene County teachers – Mrs. Alisa Ward Allen and Mrs. Sandra Gordon – were honored as part of a memorial service held by the Alabama State Association of School Boards (AASB) at their October 17th Fall training conference in Montgomery.

The AASB honored sixty Alabama school board members, educators and school staff lost to the COVID-19 pandemic with a special space on the grounds of its Montgomery headquarters office at the corner of South Jackson and Houston Streets.

The association chose to create a permanent memorial space to commemorate the loss of those who dedicated their time to schools and school systems statewide. The new memorial features a special bench, oak tree and garden that will serve as a public space of reflection and remembrance for all whose lives they touched.

“Our school systems have experienced so much unprecedented adversity due to the pandemic – the most difficult of which has been the loss of so many dedicated school employees and leaders, and we felt compelled to recognize that in a meaningful way,” said AASB Executive Director Sally Smith. “We hope this memorial will serve as a poignant tribute to these education heroes who touched so many lives. We invite all to join us for this moment of reflection.”
State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and AASB President and Baldwin County Board of Education Member Shannon Cauley delivered remarks at the ceremony. Leo Branch, Greene County School Board member, attended and represented Greene County at the memorial ceremony.
Mrs. Alisa Ward taught Language /Art and Mrs. Sandra Gordon was a Reading Coach both taught at Robert Brown Middle School.

Newswire: Medicaid issues, not Medicare’s, get fixes in Biden budget;

By Associated Press
Medicaid issues are turning up as winners in President Joe Biden’s social agenda framework even as divisions force Democrats to hit pause on far-reaching improvements to Medicare.
The budget blueprint Biden released Thursday would fulfill a campaign promise to help poor people locked out of Medicaid expansion across the South due to partisan battles, and it would provide low-income seniors and disabled people with more options to stay out of nursing homes by getting support in their own homes. It also calls for 12 months of Medicaid coverage after childbirth for low-income mothers, seen as a major step to address national shortcomings in maternal health that fall disproportionately on Black women.
No Consensus on Lower Prescription Drug Prices

But with Medicare, Democrats were unable to reach consensus on prescription drug price negotiations. Polls show broad bipartisan support for authorizing Medicare to negotiate lower prices, yet a handful of Democratic lawmakers—enough to block the bill—echo pharmaceutical industry arguments that it would dampen investment that drives innovation. Advocacy groups are voicing outrage over the omission, with AARP calling it “a monumental mistake.” Some Democratic lawmakers say they haven’t given up yet.
The immediate consequence: Without expected savings from lower drug prices, Medicare dental coverage for seniors is on hold, as is vision coverage. The Biden framework does call for covering hearing aids, far less costly. Also on hold is a long-sought limit on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare recipients.
While Medicare has traditionally been politically favored, Medicaid was long regarded as the stepchild of health care programs because of its past ties to welfare. Just a few years ago, former President Donald Trump and a Republican-led Congress unsuccessfully tried to slap a funding limit on the federal-state program.
In that battle, “many people realized the importance of Medicaid for their families and their communities,” said Judy Solomon of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income people. “I think there was a new appreciation of Medicaid, and we are seeing that.”
As Medicaid grew to cover more than 80 million people, nearly 1 in 4 Americans, it became politically central for Democrats. Biden’s Medicaid-related provisions have a strong racial justice dimension, since many of the people who would benefit from access to health insurance in the South or expanded coverage for new mothers across the land are Black or Hispanic.
Expanding Medicaid has been the top policy priority for Democrats in Deep South states for years, citing the poverty and poor health that plagues much of the region. The decision by some Republican-led states to reject expansion of Medicaid under the Obama health law meant that 2 million poor people were essentially locked out of coverage in a dozen states, and another 2 million unable to afford even subsidized plans. Texas, Florida, Georgia and Alabama are among the Medicaid hold-outs.
Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff campaigned on closing the Medicaid coverage gap, and it was their election that put the Senate in Democratic hands this year. Warnock made getting a Medicaid fix his signature issue.

Back to Obamacare
“Georgians showed up in historic numbers to change the shape of our federal government, and many did so with the hope that Washington would finally close the circle on the promise of the Affordable Care Act [otherwise known as Obamacare] and make health care coverage accessible to the hundreds of thousands of Georgians who are currently uninsured,” Warnock, the state’s first Black U.S. senator, said in a statement Thursday.
Delivering a big achievement is most urgent for the freshman, as he faces reelection next year in a quest for a full six-year term. Multiple Republican opponents including former football great Herschel Walker are vying to face him. Warnock argues that it’s unfair that Georgians can’t access the federally subsidized care available to residents of 38 other states that expanded Medicaid, calling it “a matter of life and death.”
Under the Biden blueprint eligible uninsured people in states that have not expanded Medicaid could get subsidized private coverage through HealthCare.gov at no cost to them. The fix is only funded for four years, a budgetary gimmick intended to make the official cost estimates appear lower. Biden would also extend through 2025 more generous financial assistance that’s already being provided for consumers who buy “Obamacare” plans.
Another major element of Biden’s framework would allocate $150 billion through Medicaid for home- and community-based care for seniors and disabled people. That’s less than half the money Biden originally had sought for his long-term care plan, but it will help reduce waiting lists for services while also improving wages and benefits for home health aides.
The plan “marks a historic shift in how our country cares for people with disabilities and older Americans,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Getting this crucial care won’t just be for the lucky few who can get off a wait list.”
About 4 million people receive home and community-based services, which are less expensive than nursing home care. An estimated 800,000 people are on waiting lists for such services.
The coronavirus pandemic underscored the importance of a viable home care option for elders, as nursing homes became deadly incubators for COVID-19.
In a coda of sorts, the Biden framework also provides permanent funding for Medicaid in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. And it would permanently reauthorize the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, avoiding periodic nail-biting over coverage for nearly 10 million kids.

Sheriff distributes $616,765.70 in bingo revenue for September, including supplemental funds totaling $163,732.92

On Wednesday, October 27, Greene County Sheriff Department issued a listing of the distributions for September, 2021, totaling $616,765.70 from five licensed bingo gaming facilities. The September distribution reported by the sheriff does not include the additional $71,000 from Greenetrack, Inc. distributed to the same recipients, independent of the sheriff.
The bingo facilities distributing through the sheriff include Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace, Bama Bingo and Marvel City. The recipients of the September distributions from bingo gaming include Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, and Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Guadalupan Multicultural Services, Greene County Golf Course, Housing Authority of Greene County (Branch Heights), Department of Human Resources, the Greene County Library and newly added Eutaw Housing Authority.
Bama Bingo gave a total of $115,857.50 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities, each received $1,132.50.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,990 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,132.50.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $114,990 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,133.33.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $155,933.22 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $45,765; City of Eutaw, $12,543; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $5,254.50; Greene County Board of Education, $14,238 and the Greene County Health System, $16,950; Sub Charities each, 1,536.80.
Marvel City gave a total of $114,990 to the following: Greene County Sheriff’s $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities, each received $1,132.50.
In the Sheriff’s September distribution report, supplemental funds totaling $163,732.92 were provided by each of the five licensed facilities. Bama Bingo, Frontier, River’s Edge and Marvel City each contributed $30,570 in supplemental funds. Palace Bingo contributed $41,452.92.

 

 

 

NNO draws large crowd

Shown above District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne greeting the crowd along with Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson, Boligee Mayor Hattie Samuels, Assistant Clerk Joe Powell, and Mayor Pro-tem LaJeffery Carpenter.
Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson and the Eutaw Police Department sponsored their annual  America’s Night Out Against Crime  This event  was held Thursday, October 21, 2021 from 4-6 p.m.  at the former Carver Middle  School. Neighborhoods throughout the City of Eutaw were invited to join forces  for the  Annual National Night Out (NNO), a crime and drug prevention event. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and the Police Department has an open door policy stated Eutaw Police Chief Tommy Johnson. Lots of fun, food and games were available. 

Newswire: COVID-19 scams target Blacks, other People of Color

FTC report reveals new and continuing financial fraud

By Charlene Crowell

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Just as the annual holiday season of shopping and celebrating nears, a major federal financial regulator released new research detailing how communities of color not only are targeted by well-known types of predatory lenders, but new forms of fraud seek to exploit consumers in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Serving Communities of Color summarizes the agency’s five-year effort focused on the financial ills imposed upon communities of color. Since 2016, FTC filed more than 25 actions alleging conduct that either targeted or disproportionately impacted communities of color. Cases challenged unlawful practices by auto sellers, for-profit schools, money-making opportunities, student debt relief schemes, and more.

Beyond these financial transactions, the report also notes that many of the payment methods used by Black and Latino consumers provide fewer fraud protections, such as debit cards, cash, and money orders. Although credit card payments afford greater consumer protections, very few complaints filed with FTC by people of color involved this type of payment.

“What has become abundantly clear based on research and experience is that fraud, as well as certain other business practices, have a disproportionately negative impact on communities of color, as compared to White communities,” states the report. “An examination of 23 FTC cases shows that predominantly Black communities are overrepresented in the pool of consumers who lost money.”

For example, this June, FTC and the State of Arkansas jointly filed a lawsuit against a scam operation that explicitly appealed to Black applicants who were suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit alleged that the “Blessings in No Time” program was in fact a pyramid scheme that falsely promised members investment returns as high as 800%. The alleged scam’s minimum “investment” required $1,400, but some members paid as much as $67,700. The Texas-based defendants also falsely assured participants they wouldn’t lose money and could withdraw at any time with a full refund.

More recently, the FTC on October 15 stopped a prison calling scheme that deceived family and friends of incarcerated individuals with marketing and advertising that promised unlimited minutes on call plans to keep in touch with loved ones while in-person visits were suspended due to COVID-19. Instead, no call time was ever provided. The defendants, inmatecall.com and inmatecallsolutions.com, posed as companies authorized to provide calling services to prisons and jails to bolster the credibility of their false claim. A federal court order now requires that all duped consumers be notified and bans the defendants from future activities.

When these financial losses are combined with the effects of a national racial wealth gap that found Blacks have only 22 cents for every dollar of wealth held by whites, it becomes disturbingly clear how deceptive and predatory lending significantly diminishes the ability of Black consumers to effectively manage their financial lives. Just as redlining limited where Black people could live, today’s predatory lending, like fringe financial services, restricts the ability of Black communities to build wealth.

For example, approximately twice as many consumers in predominantly Black communities, compared to that of white consumers, purchased student debt relief programs and payday loans. But the two top complaints filed by Black consumers with FTC were credit bureaus (21%) and impersonator scams (12.5%). In 2020 alone, the FTC filed or resolved seven debt collection cases against 39 defendants and obtained $26 million in judgments for harmed consumers.

Other types of predatory and deceptive lending include debt collection, bank lending, and auto sales and financing. The agency also found evidence of fraud in health care, identity theft, as well as alleged jobs and money-making opportunities.

For many consumers, car purchases and financing represent the second-largest consumer transaction – after housing costs. Ample evidence of blatant discrimination against Black, Latino, and Native American car buyers included false information on the applications and contracts, and deceptive ads in Spanish.

“Research indicates that consumers of color experience discrimination in the sale and financing of cars, and often pay higher prices as a result,” states the report.

During the past five years, FTC has brought multiple enforcement actions against auto dealers for deceptive tactics that include advertised prices that were never available to prospective buyers, falsifying financial information in sales, false and/or misleading information, and unfair practices.

Identity theft was discovered in cases where scammers often gain credibility by posing as someone official. For example, one defendant marketed prepaid cards to Black and Latino customers, allegedly saying their cards were like Visa or MasterCard. Instead, consumers either could not use the cards or lost all the money they loaded onto them.

For consumer advocates, these and other recent findings on financial abuses confronting consumers of color deserve even more aggressive enforcement, particularly at the federal level.

“Never in United States history have Black and other families of color experienced a fair financial playing field,
” testified the Center for Responsible Lending’s Ashley Harrington before the House Financial Services Committee this spring. “And the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing disparities. In fact, in many cases, white families will have 5.5 times more savings than Black families to financially withstand the pandemic.”

The evidence of financial abuses is ample. The nation needs a new reckoning to correct the wrongs.

Charlene Crowell is a senior fellow with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org

 

 

Newswire: Ugandan Environmentalists jailed for opposing 900 mile oil pipeline

Protestors of oil pipeline in Uganda

 
Oct. 25, 2021 (GIN) – Mere hours before the opening of the U.N. Climate Change Conference – a major environmental confab drawing world leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden – Uganda has arrested six activists who are challenging a $3.5 billion oil pipeline project that stretches 900 miles through two East African nations, shipping crude from fields in western Uganda to international markets.
Hard to imagine worse timing.
The activists have been detained without charge at a police station outside Kampala, according to the global watchdogs Amie de la Terre France (Friends of the Earth) and Survie (Survival). The two groups have called for the immediate release of the activists.
The arrests fit a pattern of harassment against critics of the multi-billion dollar oil venture, the groups say.
The U.N. conference – a major climate summit – is being held in Glasgow, Scotland, and runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. It is known as COP26 and brings together 120 world leaders including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the UK, Her Majesty the Queen of the UK, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, U.S. President Joe Biden and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland. Some 25,000 delegates are expected to attend.
Special Climate Envoy John Kerry will lead the effort at the international conference.
According to the environmentalists, the pipeline will threaten ecologically sensitive areas along its route, including wildlife reserves and water catchment areas for Lake Victoria. The project could pose immense threats to local communities, water supplies, and biodiversity in Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.
The oil industry routinely claims that pipelines are the safest, cleanest way to transport oil and gas from one place to the next. They claim that leaks and spills are “uncommon.” The problem is, their own pipelines have resulted in widespread harm to people and the surrounding environment.
Pipelines leak, spill, rupture, and explode all the time. We’ve seen countless images of crude oil spills on the news, which are particularly devastating to surrounding wildlife. Oil sticks to everything, killing wildlife that wander through it or ingest it, poisoning the ground and polluting local water supplies.
Worst of all, though, crude oil can linger in the environment for years after it’s been effectively “cleaned up,” according to the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.
Someone tell Uganda.
So far, the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments have signed agreements with French oil major Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to build the pipeline from Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park to the Tanzanian port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean.
First oil exports are anticipated in 2025. The pipeline’s critics say 770 square miles of protected areas will be impacted and 12,000 families displaced from their land.
If completed, the $3.5 billion pipeline will transport heavy crude from more than 130 wells inside Uganda’s largest national park, which is home to threatened African elephants and lions, a formidable population of Nile crocodiles, and more than 400 bird species.
Conservationists say it won’t just threaten wildlife but that it flies in the face of efforts to curb global warming by locking in investment in a dirty fuel.
“We have been working in the oil-rich subregion of Uganda. It’s not a desert, like many oil mining spaces, but rather a high biodiversity area,” Atuheire Brian at the African Initiative on Food Security & Environment (AIFE) told the website Mongabay in an email. “We can’t afford to have agreements signed in secrecy, and that’s the case for Uganda.”
“Total is taking into the highest consideration the sensitive environmental context and social stakes of these onshore projects,” Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné said.
 
But a coalition of NGOs opposing the pipeline says the pipeline planning process has been opaque throughout, disregarding judicial and parliamentary procedures.
 
Meanwhile, in Senegal, hundreds of women are marching through Dakar to highlight climate change. Their objective is to promote their participation in the climate debate and encourage people to consider their specific climate concerns as Senegalese and African women at next month’s climate summit in Glasgow.
 

Newswire : American Bridge and Gov. Deval Patrick announce multi-million-dollar investment in grassroots organizing

NNPA Newswire
American Bridge 21st Century Foundation announced the launch of BridgeTogether, a new c(3) and c(4) fund established to support year-round local grassroots organizing. Conceived by American Bridge 21st Century Co-Chair Gov. Deval Patrick, BridgeTogether will invest in local community groups that are doing critical work to build and sustain a lasting grassroots infrastructure in their states and regions – beginning with Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.

“Organizing has to go deeper than getting out the vote on the eve of an election cycle,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

“It has to be about forming relationships of trust and support year-round and about listening to and learning from local communities. Civic engagement is the foundation for lasting change and real political power. I want donors who support progressive politics to value and invest in that.”
“Our research has made it clear: women are key to winning elections, and they are exhausted after four years of Donald Trump and a global pandemic. And, we know Democrats wouldn’t have won in 2020 without numerous grassroots organizations led by women and people of color.

Grassroots outreach and community building is only more important than last year—not less—and it’s needed now,” said American Bridge 21st Century President Jessica Floyd.

“Whether it’s people who don’t have voting booths in their neighborhoods or those who have never had someone knock on their door, BridgeTogether will invest in grassroots organizations that organize and mobilize their communities to ensure that people from every corner of America are represented.”

The first group of organizations to receive grants will include:

• Vote Riders, which Howard University Professor Carol Anderson called “[an organization that] makes the difference in whether thousands of people get to vote or are disenfranchised”
• 1K Women Strong, who contacted nearly 40,000 households through canvassing and phone banking in Georgia for the 2020 election
• Fair Count, a group founded by Stacey Abrams, which ensures that historically overlooked communities are counted accurately in the U.S. Census
• Unity in the Community, who recently helped thousands of people in South Philadelphia on Election Day by registering people to vote, giving rides to the polls, educating the community on candidates, and much more.
• VetsForward, a voting advocacy group based in Arizona that equips and mobilizes veterans to defend the ideals of our democracy.