Newswire: Majority Whip Clyburn hails passage of H.R. 3 – Landmark legislation to lower prescription drug costs

Clyburn Effort to Expand Community Health Centers

Rep. James E. Clyburn speaking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn hailed House passage of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This landmark legislation gives Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies and extends those lower prices to Americans with private insurance too.
“This is an important step toward providing American consumers more accessible and affordable prescription drugs,” Congressman Clyburn said. “In the United States, our drug prices are nearly four times higher than in similar countries, and this legislation will provide real price reductions that will put significant money back in the pocket of consumers.”
Negotiating lower prescription drug prices has the added benefit of cost savings to American taxpayers. A portion of those savings will be reinvested in the National Institutes of Health to research new cures and treatments. Cost savings will also support an expansion of Medicare benefits to cover dental, vision, and hearing needs and sets a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for those on Medicare.
In addition, cost savings will be used to fund provisions of Congressman Clyburn’s H.R. 1943 – Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019. H.R. 3 will provide a $10 billion funding boost to community health centers, which serve 28 million Americans in communities across the United States, including over 350,000 veterans, 8 million children, and 1.4 million homeless patients.
This $10 billion includes $5 billion for capital improvements and construction to expand the footprint of community health centers and an additional $5 billion in funding over the next five years for community health center grants, allowing them to serve more people, including Americans living in rural areas, where half of the Centers are located.
“Providing robust funding to build on the success of community health centers is critically important to providing quality health care in hard-to-reach communities,” Congressman Clyburn continued. “In my district alone, where three rural hospitals have closed, there are eight federally-funded community health centers working to serve almost 190,000 patients.”
H.R. 3 passed the House on a bipartisan vote, 230-192, and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

Newswire: Soleimani Assassination: President Trump is leading America toward war without end in the Middle East News

Analysis by: Rev. Jesse Jackson

People attend a funeral procession for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Ahvaz, Iran January 5, 2020. Hossein Mersadi/Fars news agency/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

( – It has come to this. An impeached president — still pending trial in the Senate — orders the assassination of a leading Iranian general as he is meeting with the leader of Iraq, a supposed ally. He does so without consultation, much less approval, of Congress. Besieged at home, he lashes out abroad.
This president ran on the promise to end the “endless wars “in the Middle East. Earlier, he ordered and then wisely called off bombing strikes on Iran, saying that he did not want a war. Now he claims that he has acted to stop a war, not start one.
He is either deliberately misleading the American people or deluding himself. Assassination of a foreign official is not the road to peace; violence almost inevitably begets violence. He has acted on what his own officials call “razor-thin” evidence, shocking his own military advisers. U.S. presidents now claim the right — and have the capability — to target and assassinate anyone in any place, foreigner or citizen, if they decide — on the basis of secret and often scanty intelligence — that the person may be considering an attack on U.S. allies or soldiers or representatives in the future. They call this potential threat evidence of an “imminent attack,” to pay mock respect to the international law that they are trampling.
General Qassim Soleimani is portrayed as a terrorist with American blood on his hands. But he was not a stateless terrorist. He was a high official in a foreign government with which we are not at war. Assassinating him is an act of war. Ironically, Iran and the Shiite militias in Iraq that Soleimani guided were leading, if unacknowledged, allies in the fight against ISIS, who are largely Sunnis.
Similarly, those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11 were Sunnis, almost all from Saudi Arabia, funded largely by Saudi money. Taliban in Afghanistan are Sunni. The attack on Yemen was led by Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni. Iran fought against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Yet, somehow, it has become Trump’s leading target.
The road to this escalating conflict can be traced back to Trump’s perverse hatred of all things achieved by former President Barack Obama. One of Trump’s first acts was to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear pact, over the objections of our allies and his own military advisers.
He ramped up sanctions on Iran, seeking to force them to surrender to a “better deal.” The result has been escalating tension and violence, as Iran has demonstrated — in attacks on Saudi oil facilities and on tankers in the Persian Gulf — that it has the capacity to strike back. Now, after the assassination, the entire region girds itself for the retaliation that has already been promised. This is utter folly.
Under George Bush, the U.S. destabilized this region by invading Iraq. That calamity has fostered escalating violence. Obama added to the mess seeking regime change in Syria and in Libya, spreading the chaos. Trump was right when he said it was time for the U.S. to get out of the Middle East.
We have no stake in the spreading conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. We have no desire to send the hundreds of thousands of troops needed to win a war or enforce a peace. All we are doing is squandering American lives and resources in an armed presence that simply adds to the violence without leading to a resolution. Why has Trump abandoned his campaign promise? Why did he abandon his wise decision not to strike Iran earlier? The only thing that has changed is that he has been impeached. Is he ramping up violence abroad to distract from the overwhelming evidence of his offenses? Is he using the U.S. military as a political campaign prop?
The next move is in Iran’s hands. If the regime reacts predictably by striking back, the assassination will lead to escalating violence. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and soon all are left without sight and without teeth. Iran could — if its leaders can rise above their grief and their anger — use this moment to take an initiative for peace, calling on our allies to join in convening a negotiation, opening a path to less violence and greater exchange.
Trump may not wish to respond, but surely our allies in Europe would jump at the chance. Clearly Congress must assert its constitutional war powers and limit the license of this or any president to wage war or assassinate foreign leaders on a whim. It must insist on public hearings to review the basis for the assassination. We need hearings on what we are doing in the Middle East and how we begin to bring the troops home.
Congress needs to pass a renewed war powers resolution instructing the president to bring the troops home, not send more of them to the region. If Congress cannot curb a rogue president, then this republic is in deep trouble. And the American people and its soldiers are

Eutaw City Council holds Special Meeting Dec. 19 to handle unfinished business

The Eutaw City Council met Thursday, December 19, 2019 to complete business left over from a meeting on December 10, 2019. The City Council tries to meet on December 17 but failed to muster a quorum for that meeting.
The Mayor and all City Council members were present at the Special Meeting on December 19, 2019.
The Council took up the issue of a contract with Greene County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association for an office at the Carver School Community Center. The original proposal in the contract was for a $300 rent, which the group and some members of the Council felt was too high. Councilwomen Latasha Johnson moved that the contract with the Greene County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association be for $100 a month rent.
Mayor Steele and Council members pointed out that there needs to be a uniform policy for the rental and use of the Carver facility so that all organizations needing space will be treated fairly.
The Council took up a proposal to grant each city employee including police officers a one time pay increase of $200 to be paid by the General Fund and a special additional payment of $300 for each police officer to be paid by the DARE fund. This resolution was approved unanimously by the Council.
The Council reviewed a resolution for a maintenance agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation regarding roadway lighting at Exit 40 on Interstate Highway 59/20.
ALDOT will provide the lighting, which will enhance safety at the exit where there is significant truck traffic, related to the Love’s Truckstop.
The City will have to assist in maintaining the lights once they are constructed. The Council voted to approve the resolution.
The mayor in his remarks urged the Council to pay necessary bills to avoid cut off of service, equipment and supplies to the City.
Neither Mayor Steele nor the Council members raised the issue of problems with the city water system billing and finances. This matter was left to be considered and decided in future meetings in the next year.

200 attend National Heirs Property Conference in Atlanta

Members of opening panel to provide history and context of the problems of Heir Property among Black landowners and families. R to L: Jerry Pennick, Attorney Faya Rose Toure, Charles O. Prejean, Wendell H. Paris and John Zippert

Special to the Democrat by John Zippert, Co-Publisher
Over 200 interested participants attended the first National Heirs Property Conference in Atlanta, Georgia at the Airport Embassy Suites Hotel from December 4-6, 2019. The conference was co-sponsored by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, the nation’s foremost organization of Black farmers and landowners.
The two-day conference was divided into two tracks, one for landowners with heir property issues and one for community-based practioners working on land issues, government agency staff, lawyers and other professionals.
Heir property is land that is held in common by a number of family owners, when the original owners die without making a will and describing the way the land is to be passed down. More than half of the 3 million acres of farmland owned by Black families in the South is now owned in this way. Agricultural economists and other academic and professional experts suggest that this is a $2 billion problem facing the Black community in the South.
The greatest problems with heir property come when there are family disputes on the best use of the land. In some cases, a family member may sell their undivided interest to someone outside the family, allowing that person to petition the courts for a “partition sale.”
The courts will order a public sale on the courthouse steps, which often results in the sale and loss of the land to the family for less than its true value.
Heirs property and partition sales have contributed to the loss of Black land ownership in the South from 15 million acres in 1920 to 6 million in 1960 and now 3 million in 2019. Since the Civil Rights Movement, heirs property and partition sales have led to the loss of over 2 million acres of Black owned land in the South.
The owners of heir property also have problems accessing commercial bank loans and Federal USDA credit, conservation and other programs because they cannot show clear title for purposes of leveraging the land for loans and program services. The Federation working with other organizations was able to enact changes in the 2018 Farm Bill which provide a path and alternative forms of documentation to provide access to USDA programs and resources for families with land in heir property status.
The 2018 Farm Bill also includes authorization of a $10 million a year program of relending to community based organizations to provide loan assistance to families who need financial help to clear titles and use their land in the most suitable and productive ways.
Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation and Attorney Monica Rainge, Director of the Federation’s Land Retention Program convened the program and discussed the importance of the issue of heir property to the continuing community and cooperative development goals of the Federation. They also showed a video from Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, who championed getting the section providing assistance to heir property landholders into the Federal legislation.
Cornelius Blanding introduces the opening panel and had a dialogue with them on the context, history and implications of the heir property land issue on Black families.
Attorney Faya Rose Toure (Sanders) of Selma, who conducted a seminal heir property study for USDA in the 1980’s spoke on the significance of the loss of Black land coming out of slavery. She spoke on the need to curtail petition sales and deal with the root causes of the problem in racism and White Supremacy.
She said she hoped the conference would look at “land reparations” as one of the solutions to the broader problems of Black land loss and wealth inequality in the country.
Charles O. Prejean, first Executive Director of the Federation, who lives in Atlanta, spoke about the Federation’s long term view of the helping people to hold on to their land and develop cooperatives as a way of using it for beneficial progress and community betterment. He spoke to the history of the Federation’s merger with the Emergency Land Fund in 1985 to further these common agendas.Wendell H. Paris, who was the Federation’s first staff member to live and work on the land in Epes, Alabama, reminded everyone, “That land is the basis of all wealth.” He spoke about some of the Federation’s early history in dealing with land retention.
Jerry Pennick, who helped start the Emergency Land Fund and worked for many years after the 1985 merger as Director of Land Retention commented on his work with Rose on the heirs property land study. He observed that the USDA has been very slow to respond meaningfully to this problem and hoped that the government will move more swiftly to implement the new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.
John Zippert, who retired after fifty years of work with the Federation, highlighted the work of the Federation with the Panola Land Buying Association (PLBA) in saving 1300 acres of land in Sumter County, Alabama, where the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center is located.
The second day’s plenary session featured a talk by Gary Black, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, on the importance of land ownership and agricultural and forestry development to the state,
The remainder of the two-day meeting was spent in parallel tracks. The more than 100 landowners present were in Track 1, dealing with the problems and issues of heir property, how to develop a family tree to account for all of the heirs, the Uniform Heir Property Petition Act, a uniform piece of state legislation adopted by 13 states, which assists heir property owners clarify title and basics of a succession plan. On the second day, landowners heard various strategies to help utilize their land in the most productive and profitable ways.
In the estate planning section of the workshop, landowners were introduced to the idea of forming a family trust, corporation, LLC or other means to own the land in a legal structure that separates the ownership from the individuals but allows for collective and democratic decisions about its use and benefits for the family. The Federation is working with many families to institute these progressive solutions to the problems of heir property.
The community-based practioners examined many of these same issues in their parallel track and discussed ways to marshal resources too assist landowners with these problems.
At the evaluation session at the end of the program, many of the landowners expressed appreciation for the information and learning provided by the Conference. Several participants expressed that they were leaving with hope that they could work on and help to resolve their family heir property problems.
Attorney Monica Rainge, Conference Coordinator said, “This is the beginning, not the end of this process. This Conference was to give you some suggestions and a direction, for you to return home and work on your heir property issues. The Federation is ready to continue working with you and help you find options and solutions. We will be planning future conferences and events about this problem.

Newswire : South African leader sees end to racism and bigotry

Dec. 16, 2019 (GIN) – President Cyril Ramaphosa struck a note of optimism in his message on Dec. 16 – the Day of Reconciliation and the anniversary of two major historical events, now celebrated as a public holiday.
Since the nation attained democracy, he said, citizens have showed the capacity to look beyond their differences ‘in the quest to achieve true nationhood’.
“As we take stock of how far we have come in healing the divisions of the past and building a united nation, we have much to be proud of,” he said.
He cited the Springboks World Cup victory in Japan and the Miss Universe competition early this month as evidence of things achieved.
Diversity in the country is evident in sports, parliament, in places of higher learning and schools, and on television screens where programming reflects the diversity, he continued.
“Racism and bigotry no longer define our nation,” he insisted. “Where they do occur, they are isolated. Where there have been manifestations of intolerance, we have been able to unite behind the values of tolerance and respect for diversity that define our Bill of Rights.”.
December 16 became the Day of Reconciliation due to its significance to both Afrikaner and African people. In 1838, white Voortrekkers proposed a meeting with the Zulu leader Dingane kaSenzangakhona Zulu, with an eye towards settling on Zulu lands. Dingane, mistrustful, took a preemptive measure and ordered an attack. Close to 400 Voortrekkers died at the hands of the Zulus.
Not long after, the Voortrekkers returned with superior weapons (Zulus, said to be strong fighters, were unable to resist the cannons and other firearms not yet in Zulu hands)
Some 3,000 Zulu soldiers were killed in this final battle, which lasted less than seven hours. Not one Voortrekker is believed to have died during the fight although some were wounded.
The bodies of fallen Zulu warriors scattered the scorched earth surrounding the Ncome river – the water itself ran red with blood.
The Battle of Blood River became a turning point in South Africa’s history. The monstrous defeat which befell the Zulu kingdom on that day destroyed Dingane’s political power base. The Zulu kingdom became embroiled in a civil war, as rival leaders vied for control. Dingane fled Natal in 1840, after being overthrown by Prince Mpande at the Battle of Maqongqe.
For the Voortrekkers, the Battle of Blood River entrenched their struggle for self-determination. This militaristic victory is seen as one of the most defining moments for the Afrikaner nation.
The second historical event was the birth of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). This was the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), launched to wage an armed struggle against the apartheid government.
MK mostly performed acts of sabotage, but its effectiveness was hampered by organizational problems and the arrest of its leaders in 1963. Despite this, its formation has been commemorated every year since 1961.

Newswire: Cory Booker announces Federal bill that bans discrimination against natural hair

By: Cedric ‘BIG CED’ Thornton

woman with natural hair

Presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker has announced the first federal bill that bans natural hair discrimination.
The Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act makes clear that discrimination based on natural hairstyles associated with people of African descent is a prohibited form of racial or national origin discrimination. This includes hair that is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros.
“Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people,” Senator Booker said in a press release. “Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country.
You need to look no further than Gabrielle Union, who was reportedly fired because her hair was ‘too black’ — a toxic dog-whistle African Americans have had to endure for far too long. No one should be harassed, punished, or fired for the beautiful hairstyles that are true to themselves and their cultural heritage.
Our work on this important issue was enhanced by the tireless advocacy of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, Crown Coalition advocate Adjoa B. Asamoah, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.”
U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives and is joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
“For too long, black women and girls have been told that their hair is too curly, too unprofessional, too distracting,” Rep. Pressley said. “As a Congresswoman, I choose to wear my hair in twists because I want to intentionally create space for all of us to show up in the world as our authentic selves – whether it’s in the classroom, in the workplace or in the halls of Congress. I am proud to support the CROWN Act, which is a bold step towards ensuring that people can stand in their truth while removing the narrative that black people should show up as anything other than who they are.”
“It is disheartening that, in 2019, hair discrimination creates additional barriers for people of color in education and places of employment,” Rep. Fudge said. “Traditional hairstyles worn by African Americans are often necessary to meet our unique needs, and are a representation of our culture and ethnicity. To require anyone to change their natural appearance to acquire educational resources or a job is undeniably an infringement on their civil rights.
I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of the House companion of the C.R.O.W.N. Act which protects against discrimination based on hair in federally funded institutions and in the workplace.”
This year, California and New York passed laws banning hair discrimination, and at least six more states, including New Jersey, are considering similar laws.

Newswire: New court ruling should put ‘Medicare For All’ debate into perspective

All the 2020 Democrats are pushing toward universal coverage, while Trump and his judicial allies are pushing in the opposite direction

By Jonathan Cohn, Huffington Post
Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate was nearly over when the inevitable happened: The candidates started fighting about “Medicare for All.”
This time the discussion didn’t go on forever, as it had in previous debates. And just two of the candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Vice President Joe Biden, did most of the talking.
Still, the arguments were basically the same as before, with Sanders talking about how Medicare for All would cover everybody, with no out-of-pocket costs, and Biden warning that it would mean forcing people who like employer coverage to give it up.
But this version of the debate was different than previous ones in one important respect. It came one day after a federal appeals court declared a key element of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, putting the entire law in jeopardy.
That put the argument over Medicare for All into a very different context ― or, at least, it should have.
In particular, the court ruling is a reminder that disagreements among Democrats over how to achieve universal coverage probably matter less than disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over whether universal coverage is even a goal worth pursuing.
The Republican Way: Millions Lose Coverage
The ruling was for a case called Texas v. U.S., which a group of Republican state officials brought two years ago. According to the lawsuit, President Donald Trump and the Republicans rendered the law’s “individual mandate” unconstitutional when, as part of the 2017 tax cut, they reduced the mandate’s financial penalty to zero. And if the mandate is unconstitutional, the lawsuit claims, the entire law must go.
The logic of the case is so far-fetched that even conservative lawyers who brought previous challenges to “Obamacare” think the courts should reject it. The case is basically a laughing stock within the legal provision, or it would be if not for the fact that Reed O’Connor, a federal district judge in Texas, agreed with it and ruled, last year, in favor of the plaintiffs. That prompted an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is the court that ruled on Wednesday.
That decision, by two Republican-appointed judges, did not go as far as the district court opinion had. Although the judges agreed with O’Connor about the mandate’s constitutionality, they said he might have been a little hasty in throwing out the whole statute and asked him to think more carefully about whether at least some parts can stay.
But their instructions were vague, and legal experts like Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan professor who co-authored a brief in the case, thinks it’s likely O’Connor will conclude that only small portions of the law can remain on the books.
O’Connor won’t get the last word, because the Supreme Court is nearly certain to hear the case eventually. But it could be two or three years before the case makes it to the high court, depending on whether the Democratic state officials defending the law ask for an immediate appeal and, if they do, whether the Supreme Court decides to take it.
As for the final outcome, the high court has already rejected two challenges to the 2010 health care law, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s four Democratic appointees each time. The chances of this latest, less legally plausible lawsuit prevailing would seem to be pretty small, though it could depend in part on whether all five of the justices who upheld the Affordable Care Act previously are still on the bench.
The Democratic Way: Millions Gain Coverage
Whatever happens with the case, its very existence is a reminder that Trump, who supports the lawsuit, remains committed to rolling back the Affordable Care Act any way he can. And it is quite a contrast to the Democratic presidential candidates, each of whom opposes those efforts.
That alone is a pretty stark divide. Roughly 20 million people could lose insurance if the lawsuit is successful, according to estimates by the Urban Institute, to say nothing of the guarantees of coverage for people with preexisting conditions that would also go away.
But the Democratic candidates agree on a lot more than opposition to repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Each one of them recognizes that, even with the law in place, tens of millions of Americans still can’t afford medical care, either because they still don’t have insurance or the insurance they have leaves them with some combination of premiums and out-of-pocket costs they cannot afford.
The differences among the candidates is in how they would address these problems. Medicare for All would wipe away existing insurance arrangements and enroll everybody into a new government-run plan, with essentially zero out-of-pocket costs. The financing would come through some kind of taxes, but the idea is that most people would end up spending less money ― in many cases, a lot less ― than they do today. The new system would also be simpler for both patients and providers, especially when it comes to billing.
The proponents of this approach are Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), although she has said she would move first to create a transitional plan and then ask Congress for a full-blown version of Medicare for All two years after taking office.
The more incremental approaches other Democrats, including Biden, have proposed vary from candidate to candidate. But in general they seek to make the Affordable Care Act’s financial assistance more generous and, then, to create a new, government-run program open to anybody who wants to enroll. Most of these plans also envision some form of automatic enrollment for lower-income Americans for whom coverage would basically be free.
The number of people without insurance would fall, so that coverage would approach universal levels, and even people with employer-sponsored coverage would have access to more generous benefits.
The more incremental plans also envision the federal government negotiating over drug prices directly with manufacturers and setting limits on what doctors and hospitals can charge patients even when they are not part of private insurance networks. That last part is important, because it would mean government is regulating health care prices, which is what Medicare for All would also do.
In all of these respects, the more incremental plans would push the U.S. health care system in the same direction that Medicare for All would: There would be more financial protection, a bigger role for government-provided insurance, and more federal regulation of health care prices. And remember, this is now the consensus position even for the Democratic candidates who are “moderates.”
The Differences Matter, But So Do The Similarities
To be clear, the differences between Medicare for All and the more incremental approaches still matter. And they matter a lot.
Estimates suggest that while Medicare for All really would mean virtually every person in the U.S. has health insurance, an incremental plan like Biden’s would still leave about 10 million without coverage. Medicare for All would also mean zero out-of-pocket costs for everybody, not just low-income Americans, and more aggressive cost control.
Naturally, all of those features would come with trade-offs ― like more disruption, swapping private payments for taxes, more government influence over a big section of the economy ― that might not appeal to all Democrats, let alone all Americans.
Similarly, it is fair to assume that a candidate like Sanders, who not only “wrote the damn bill” but has also made Medicare for All the main focus of his agenda for most of his career, would pursue comprehensive health care reform more aggressively and seriously than a candidate like Biden, who in early 2009 was among those members of the Obama administration urging the president to delay a push on health care in order to focus more on the economy.
By the same token, a presidency that made Medicare for All an immediate priority would likely have less time and attention for other issues, like climate change or child care, because presidential attention is a limited resource and something as big and controversial as Medicare for All would not leave room for pushing much else.
Of course, even a newly elected President Sanders would have a hard time passing Medicare for All, given that Democrats would be lucky to have a bare majority in the Senate and already several more conservative members have said they oppose the idea.
Health care represents more than one-sixth of the economy and, every day, millions struggle with medical bills in ways that cause real harm. Democratic candidates are right to argue about the best way of addressing those problems and Democratic voters are right to take those differences seriously.
But literally any of the major Democratic presidential candidates want government doing a lot more to help people get insurance, while Republicans prefer it doing a lot less. And the Republicans are making serious headway ― more, perhaps, than many Democratic voters realize.

Newswire : Kamala Harris: Will McConnell let the Senate hold a fair impeachment trial?

By Kamala D. Harris, U.S. Senator (D-CA)

December 18 — Today the House of Representatives will vote on whether to impeach President Trump. If it votes yes, sometime early in the new year I will take an oath on the Senate floor to uphold the Constitution, review evidence and follow the facts wherever they lead, regardless of party or ideology. Every one of my colleagues will be required to do the same.
As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of holding powerful people accountable. I know that every trial requires fairness and truth. Having worked my whole life serving the people, I know that any trial that abandons the pursuit of truth cannot be considered fair or just.
But the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, appears more interested in covering up the president’s misconduct than in pursuing truth and fairness. He is already trying to limit the impeachment trial by preventing witnesses from testifying, and he has all but announced a verdict. In doing so, he showed the American people that he has no intention of honoring his oath.
Let’s be clear: Mr. McConnell doesn’t want a Senate trial. He wants a Senate cover-up.
Fortunately, Mr. McConnell does not have the power to unilaterally undermine this trial. Every single senator will be empowered with an equal vote on how the trial will proceed. Though in just the past year, Mr. McConnell has used his position to unilaterally block legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, lower the prices of prescription drugs and address the gun violence epidemic, he cannot wield the same authority in a Senate impeachment trial.
In this trial, senators will be far more than jurors. Every one of us will vote to determine the rules for the trial, decide which witnesses testify and ultimately serve as both court and jury. Each of us will be called on to uphold our oath with every decision we make. We will all be held accountable by the American people if we refuse to discover the facts relevant to the articles of impeachment.
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, has made a reasonable request to hear from four additional witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the president’s misconduct and to review documents that shed light on why the administration initially decided to cut off military aid to Ukraine.
We need to hear from Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, who admitted to Mr. Trump’s bribery scheme on live television, and from the former national security adviser, John Bolton, who has been shopping stories about Mr. Trump to book publishers instead of speaking with Congress. Every senator should want to hear from anyone who can speak directly to the president’s misconduct related to the articles of impeachment.
Even Richard Nixon allowed the key figures behind the Watergate scandal to speak to Congress, and he eventually turned over incriminating portions of his Oval Office recordings to investigators. But Mr. Trump has stonewalled Congress and inhibited our ability to seek justice by demanding that those closest to the center of the Ukraine scandal stay silent.
Senators must be allowed to subpoena relevant witnesses and submit questions to them directly. The Senate should not vote on any article of impeachment or consider a motion to dismiss the trial until we have reviewed the additional testimony and evidence that Mr. Schumer has requested.
I have never been in a courtroom where the accused can unilaterally block witnesses from testifying or prohibit prosecutors from asking witnesses questions. No court would allow a trial to proceed this way, and neither should any member of the Senate.
Ensuring the integrity of this trial is a solemn responsibility for every senator, with consequences that extend far beyond any one presidency. My colleagues and I have a duty to use our voice and our vote to insist on a fair trial, rooted in the pursuit of truth. We must demonstrate to the American people that in our system of justice all are equal under law, and that there are not two sets of rules, one for Donald Trump and another for everybody else. We must conduct the Senate impeachment trial in a way that is fair and that reflects impartial justice.
History will judge the actions taken by the United States Senate at a time when our Constitution and the rule of law were at stake. I’ll be fighting for justice and accountability, and my colleagues should too.
Kamala D. Harris is a Democratic senator from California. The above article was originally published as a letter to the editor by The New York Times. The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. The article is reproduced here by request.

Newswire : Five tech giants linked to ‘cruel and brutal use of children’ in Congo mines

Child working in African mine

(GIN) – Do kids work in coal mines?
In 1910, an estimated 2 million American children under the age of 15 were working in factories and mines for low wages and long shifts. Photographs by Lewis Hine of New York revealed the depraved exploitation of children, some as young as 8 years of age, in fields and in mines. Child labor was finally outlawed in 1938.
A century later, 15 year olds are digging tunnels in unsafe cobalt mines. Not in the U.S. but out of sight, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where protective gear is not provided and shifts may run 24 hours or more.
This month, five major companies were named in a federal class action suit filed by the Washington-based International Rights Advocates (IRA) for “knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children.”
The companies named are Apple, Alphabet (Google), Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla – allegedly part of a chain starting with a UK mining company selling cobalt extracted by African youths to a Brussels-based trader who then sold battery-grade cobalt to the 5 major tech companies.
A major Chinese cobalt firm was also named in the suit.
The claim was filed on behalf of 14 anonymous plaintiffs who are either guardians of children killed in tunnel or wall collapses or children maimed in such accidents.
In court documents seen by The Guardian newspaper, the Congolese families describe how their children were driven by extreme poverty to seek work at large mining sites where they worked 12-hour days, some for just $2 a day, digging and hauling sacks of cobalt-rich rocks.
The DRC has the world’s largest deposits of cobalt, an essential element of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used to power smartphones, laptops and electric cars. “Put simply, the hundreds of billions of dollars generated by the defendants each year would not be possible without cobalt mined in the DRC,” the legal complaint says.
Lauren Lee, a spokeswoman for Dell, told Fortune magazine this week that the company was investigating the allegations in the lawsuit. “We have never knowingly sourced operations using any form of involuntary labor, fraudulent recruiting practices, or child labor,” Lee said in an email. “We work with suppliers to manage their sourcing programs responsibly.”
But IRA took issue with tech company claims: “Rather than step up to help these children with a negligible portion of their vast wealth and power, these companies do nothing but continue to benefit from cheap cobalt mined by kids robbed of their childhoods, their health, and for far too many, their lives.”
“We will do everything possible to get justice quickly for the children we represent,” said Terry Collingsworth, lead counsel for the child victims.

Newswire: Report: Police killings are a leading cause of death of Black men

By Frederick H. Lowe

Protestor hold banner of Blacks killed by police

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from
( – Police violence is a leading cause of death among young men, especially young Black men, according to a scientific report published recently.
The study, which looked at police use of force, found that Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than White men.
“Our models predict that 1 in 1,000 Black men and boys will be killed by police over the life course,” the report said.
The report titled “Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race-ethnicity, and sex” reported that 1 in every 1,000 Black men can expected to be killed by police. In 2018, police killed 1,018 people, not all of them Black men, according to the database “People Killed by Police.”
The report is contained in the August 20, 2019, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States or America ( PNAS). “Police in the United States kill far more people than do police in other advanced countries industrial democracies,” PNAS reported.
The report listed the names of Black-male victims of police violence. The are: Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Charleena Lyles, Stephon Clark and Tamir Rice and many others who have been murdered by the police.
The killings have sparked protests, and the U.S. Attorney General William Barr angrily reacted.
Recently, at an awards ceremony in Washington honoring policing, Barr warned that critics of policing must display more deference or risk losing police protection.
The PNAS report challenged the widely accepted belief promoted by corporate media that more murders of young Black men were committed by other young Black men but in reality it’s the police who are killing large numbers of Black men.
The murders also affect Black men’s mental health and reinforce inequality in society between blacks whites, according to The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal. In a report titled “Police killings and their spillover effects on the mental health of Black Americans: a population-based, quasi-experimental study” it was reported that police killings of Black men affects the mental health of people not directly affected.
“Our estimates therefore suggest that the population mental health burden from police killings among black Americans is nearly as large as the mental health burden associated with diabetes,” Lancet wrote.
“Violent encounters with the police have profound effects on health, neighborhoods, life changes and politics. Policing plays a key role in maintaining structural inequalities between people of color and white people in the United States,” the study reported. “Our results show that people of color face a higher likelihood of being killed by police than do White men and women, that risk peaks in young adulthood, and that young men of color face a nontrivial lifetime risk of being killed by the police.”
PNAS researchers from Rutgers University, Washington University and the University of Michigan estimated the risk of being killed by race and sex using data from 2013 to 2018.