Eutaw City Council certifies election results; Mayor questioned for handling voting machines, denying entry to City Hall to Water Management consultants

By: John Zippert,

The Eutaw City Council held a special called meeting on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, to certify the results of Municipal Election on August 25, 2020.
Mattie Atkins, Election Manager, reported the results of the election to the Eutaw City Council and showed envelopes containing the result slips, printed by the voting machines for examination by the Council or the public. She recommended a series of resolutions to the Council to sign and certify the election results.
Atkins indicated that there would be a runoff on October 6, 2020 between the top two vote getters in the Mayors race between incumbent Raymond Steele and Councilwoman Latasha Johnson.
Atkins also indicated that there will be a runoff in the District 1 Council race between Valerie “Nippy” Watkins and Chondra Mayes.
She declared LaJeffrey Carpenter the winner in District 2, Tracy Hunter in District 3, Larry Coleman in District 4 and Jacqueline Stewart in District 5.
There were no legal challenges to the election results.
Council Members LaJeffrey Carpenter and Latasha Johnson questioned why Mayor Steele was seen moving and handling the voting machines before the election.
Mayor Steele said, “The Sheriff informed us that he was not going to be able to provide deputies to move voting machines to the polling places. I rented a van to transport voting machines and I drove the machines to the polling places. I did not touch the machines.” Atkins indicated that the election poll officials must run a tape with zeroes before starting the election. She said those zero result sheets are also available.
Questions were also raised about a voting machine breakdown in District 4, where incumbent Councilwoman Shelia Smith lost by five votes, 110 for Larry Coleman to 105 for her. The closest result in the election. Atkins explained that the machine malfunctioned and was replaced after ten votes. She said, “The memory stick was removed from the faulty machine and inserted in the new machine to preserve the votes cast in the initial machine and continue the count.”
After the election results were certified, Councilwoman and Mayoral candidate Latasha Johnson announced to the public that Mayor Steele had denied entry to the City Hall and Water Department records, to Kathy Horne and two staff members from Water Management Services.
“We, the majority of the City Council, dismissed Mayor Steele as water system superintendent and contracted with Water Management Services, an experienced consulting firm, to help us correct problems in the physical water system and with the billing system and procedures. Kathy Horne and her staff came this morning to start work under an approved contract. Mayor Steele refused to allow Horne to enter the City Hall and threatened her with arrest for trespassing if she came in to do the job, we contracted with her to do,” said Johnson.
Horne and her assistants decided against defying the Mayor’s orders because they are professionals, working under a board of directors, and could not risk arrest. Horne pointed out that the City’s water system did not have a manager or inspectors which endangered the health of all the system’s customers.
In an interview for this story, after the City Council meeting, Mayor Raymond Steele said, “I told the City Council from the beginning that they did not have authority to interfere in day-to-day operations of the city. I consider the operation of the water system, part of my responsibility. I suggested that we get an Attorney General’s opinion on my responsibility for the water system but the Council did not seek a clarifying opinion before they acted. We have corrected most of the problems with the water system. It is not uncommon to have billing problems with a new system like the one we just installed.”
Steele also said, “I just learned that Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter had written a letter dismissing the company that serves as certified operators and inspectors for our water system. I do not think he had authority to send that letter. All of this was arranged by the consultants that we do not need. I have informed the company that provides certified operators and inspects the water quality that they are still employed by our city. Bringing in these people from Water Management Services will cost more money and reduce the revenues from the system.”
Council members – Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell, LaJeffrey Carpenter and Sheila Smith said they were concerned about the Mayor denying access to the Water Department to the consultants they had hired to correct the problems with service, pipes, meters, leaks, billing and other aspects of the water system. The Council members said they were considering legal action to enjoin the Mayor from preventing Water Management Services from accessing the water department system and records.
Latasha Johnson said, “I am outraged at the Mayor’s disregard for the Council’s action to clean-up the water system. This is a campaign issue and I challenge the Mayor to explain his actions and protect the quality of the water system. The health of our citizens, as well as getting fair bills and revenues from the water system, is at stake in this runoff election on October 6th.”

Newswire: McDonald’s sued for racial discrimination by 52 Black former franchisees

By: Dee-Ann Durbin, AP

McDonald’s restaurant

More than 50 Black former McDonald’s franchise owners are suing the burger chain, saying the company steered them to less-profitable restaurants and didn’t give them the same support and opportunities given white franchisees.
The 52 plaintiffs, who owned around 200 U.S. stores before being forced to sell them over the last decade, are seeking compensation of $4 million to $5 million per store, according to the lawsuit. The suit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, where McDonald’s is based.
According to the lawsuit, McDonald’s steered Black franchisees to stores in inner-city neighborhoods with lower sales volumes and higher security and insurance costs. The company would provide them with misleading financial information or push them to decide quickly when a store became available, the lawsuit says.

Once Black franchisees owned a store, they would be asked to rebuild or remodel within a shorter period of time than white franchisees without the rent relief and other financial support given to white franchisees, the lawsuit says. Black franchise owners were also denied the chance to buy more profitable stores in better neighborhoods, it says.

As a result, the plaintiffs averaged sales of $2 million per year. By comparison, McDonald’s average U.S. store brought in $2.7 million annually between 2011 and 2016 and $2.9 million in 2019, the lawsuit says.

“Revenue is determined by one thing and one thing only: location,” said James Ferraro, the Miami-based attorney representing the plaintiffs. “It’s a Big Mac. They’re the same everywhere.”

Ferraro also noted that the number of Black McDonald’s franchisees has fallen by half over the last two decades. The chain had 377 Black franchisees in 1998; it has 186 now. At the same time, the number of franchised restaurants has more than doubled to 36,000.

McDonald’s Corp. denied the allegation and defended its history with Black franchisees.

“These allegations fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization and as a partner to communities and small business owners around the world,” the company said. “Not only do we categorically deny the allegations that these franchisees were unable to succeed because of any form of discrimination by McDonald’s, we are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald’s System, including across our franchisees, suppliers and employees.”

McDonald’s has a troubled history with Black franchisees. In 1969, activists boycotted four McDonald’s in Cleveland until the company sold them to Black owners. In 1983, a Black franchise owner from Los Angeles sued the company for discrimination; McDonald’s eventually paid him $4.5 million.

In 1996, McDonald’s leadership acknowledged that Black franchisees weren’t achieving parity with their white counterparts and resolved to make changes. Don Thompson, the company’s first Black president and CEO, served from 2012 to 2015.

But charges of discrimination continued. In January, two Black McDonald’s executives sued the company. They claimed McDonald’s shifted advertising away from Black customers, graded Black-owned stores more harshly than white ones and implemented business plans that had a discriminatory impact on Black franchisees.

At the time, McDonald’s said it disagreed with the characterization of its actions. It noted that 45% of its corporate officers and all of its field vice presidents are people of color.

Newswire: The sports strikes against racism have not been coopted

By: Dave Zirin, The Nation

The Washington Mystics each wear white T-shirts with seven bullet holes drawn on the back protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida, on Wednesday., Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The story of the 2020 wave of sports strikes against racism is already one of both inspiration and cooptation. It’s also a story that is being written in pencil, not pen. In other words, it’s a story that still does not have an ending, and we should be wary of anyone who thinks they have an ironclad analysis of where all of this is headed. But to even have a sense of where it might go, we need to understand why it detonated in the first place.
It starts by understanding the impact of the police murder of George Floyd—which has led to the most important social uprising in decades and the largest series of marches in the history of the United States, a social uprising that’s been met with terrible violence thanks to this president, his cohorts in the police, and the violent white militia movement.
The NBA and WNBA players argued back in June about whether to play in this Covid-free bubble or if they should just sit out the season so as not to distract from the demonstrations in the streets. They did, of course, decide to go back and, as part of the deal, the owners and commissioner Adam Silver incorporated Black Lives Matter into their messaging, with “BLM” written on the court, players kneeling during the anthem, and slogans written on the uniforms. Call it woke capitalism. Call it woke marketing—if you like. It was corporate symbolism in the model of so many companies that put out statements against racism following Floyd’s killing.
But after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, that contradiction became too intense. Players in the NBA and the WNBA—which have led on all of these political questions—felt like chumps. They were in a figurative and literal bubble away from their families and friends, living in dorms, saying to one another, “Here we are playing with BLM on our uniforms and nothing changes.”
That led to the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision not to play Wednesday in their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Other NBA teams followed suit. Then the WNBA teams announced that they would be sitting out, which was stirring, but not surprising. Then Major League Baseball joined the strike, which really was stunning given its conservative history and paucity of Black American players. Then Major League Soccer and, gobsmackingly, the National Hockey League. Naomi Osaka, the tennis star of Japanese-Haitian descent, also bowed out of her tournament and tweeted the following, which summed up so many of the feelings across the sports world:
Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman/And as a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis. I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.
She continued, adding hashtags: Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I’m exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?
The sports media largely called these “boycotts.” But they are not boycotts. They are strikes. These athletes are not consumers but workers, and they were withholding their labor in protest of police murder and white supremacy. Some people on the left have cynically rolled their eyes at this. After all, as they say, these are very wealthy people. They’re not real workers… What could they really accomplish? (This dismissiveness, unfortunately, mirrors the racist drivel from Jared Kushner and his implication that the players’ efforts are somehow inauthentic because of their wealth and fame.)
This analysis, in addition to ignoring that racism affects all Black and brown people and not just the poor, misses three objectives that the players have already achieved:
• Recentering the conversation around Jacob Blake and not on “anarchists” burning cities and all the ways the right has tried to reframe what is happening.
• Capturing people’s imagination about labor striking for Black lives.
• Giving a sense of hope during a period of profound sadness and helplessness—from the Kenosha shootings to that feeling that we marched after Floyd’s murder yet here we are. Nothing changes.
That is all incredibly important. Especially the second point. As I wrote before, I received half a dozen calls from labor folk asking how to contact the players. It raises a challenge to labor officialdom to no longer be on the sidelines in the fight for Black lives.
But the radical potential of this moment also means that within hours of these strikes, the forces of cooptation were also working overtime. Sports owners, who tend to be to the right of Ghengis Khan, were scrambling to show their support for the players. Entire teams started putting out statements and talking about action plans that came out of conversations between management and labor. Instead of players striking, it was teams announcing that they would not be playing: “labor and management against racism!” The Baltimore Ravens are a great example of this, putting out on the team letterhead a statement decrying racism, calling for the arrest of Breonna Taylor’s killers, all with the aim—at least for now—of appeasing some fed-up football players whose season is supposed to start in less than two weeks.
The players in all the leagues, in an absence of a lead from the broader labor movement, have been left operating in a vacuum, trying to wrest concessions from ownership to join the struggle for Black lives. As one could imagine when dealing with billionaires, this had led to tamping down of demands, with much of the energy being channeled toward the November election and electoralism, most notably an agreement to open up stadiums as voting centers.
There has also been a great deal of publicity about the appearance of President Barack Obama, who spoke with LeBron James and Chris Paul, encouraging them to go back to work, use their platform through playing basketball, and start a social justice committee. This is Obama trying to neutralize a struggle and channel it in a safer direction, less likely to offend the white majority, and less likely to spread.
But the intervention of Obama has also led to an analysis that this is a story that has ended with cooptation, of selling out. That is wrong. Again, this is a story written in pencil, not pen. We still don’t know where this is going. We need to understand that this situation is on a knife’s edge. The players now have incredible leverage to use their spotlight, to extract concessions from management, or to go back out on strike again, especially if police and militias aren’t brought to heel. And of course, they haven’t been.We don’t know where this is heading. Instead of decrying this for what it isn’t, we need instead to be holding up these players’ example to inspire the rest of the labor movement to act with similar urgency at this political moment, and not expect athletes to do it for us. What we can also do, though, is acknowledge that any action that lays down a gauntlet and challenges the labor movement to act should be seen as a step forward. Striking for Black lives is now on the table, not as an abstraction but as a goal worth fighting for.

Newswire: Thousands descend on the Nation’s Capital for the 2020 March on Washington

By Barrington M. Salmon

Thousands showed up to demonstrate their disdain for the unrelenting police killings and shootings around the nation. Because of the coronavirus, most wore masks. (PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire)

Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 12, encouraged young people to stay involved, but peacefully. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

( – On the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, tens of thousands of protestors gathered again at the Lincoln Memorial to protest the continued killings of African-American women, children ad men by law enforcement and vigilantes and others.
The march, convened by The Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and Martin Luther King, III, brought together parents and relatives of victims of police-involved murders and vigilantes, a wide cross-section of social justice activists, representatives of civil society and the Civil Rights movements, congressmen and women, members of the clergy and people just tired of the relentless attacks on African-Americans by state-sanctioned agents.
“Demonstration without legislation will not lead to change,” Sharpton told the crowd. “We didn’t come out and stand in this heat because we didn’t have nothing to do. We come to let you know if we will come out by these numbers in the heat and stand in the heat, that we will stand in the polls all day long … what we need is change, and we’re at a point where we can get that change. But we have to stand together. We have to vote.”
Rev. Sharpton announced the march shortly after Minneapolis cops handcuffed George Floyd, a total of four officers held him down and one cop kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, killing him. Floyd’s death precipitated multi-racial protests in cities and towns all over the United States. Demonstrators have been demanding justice, an end to systemic racism, and that cops be held accountable for murdering primarily unarmed people. Others have called for the defunding of police departments and abolition of the criminal justice system.
African-Americans and their allies are angry, frustrated and exhausted from the constant assaults, steeped in racism and discrimination. And as police officers continue to kill Black people, marches proliferate. Those at the march were also honoring Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by officers in her Louisville home while she slept. The cops broke down the door, Taylor’s boyfriend, thinking they were burglars fired a shot and the plainclothes officers shot and killed Taylor.
Elijah McClain of Aurora, Colorado, died after a clerk called the police saying he looked suspicious. Several police tackled him, put him in a chokehold and he suffered a heart attack. Authorities say first responders injected McClain with the sedative, ketomine,  which may also have contributed to his death.
More recently, widespread protests erupted again after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake seven times in front of his three children as he opened his car door. Blake survived the shooting, but is paralyzed. 
Relatives of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Blake and several others were on hand.
“There are two systems of justice in the United States,” an emotional Jacob Blake Sr., said. “There’s a White system and a Black system — the Black system ain’t doing so well.”
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, exhorted the crowd to remain firm and committed in the march toward justice.
“Even though we’re going through a crisis, even though it looks dark, I want to tell you to be encouraged,” she said. “Don’t stop saying ‘Black lives matter.’ Don’t stop peaceful protesting,” she said. “Stand up. We were built for this.”
March organizers said there were so many families of victims present that there wasn’t time for all of them to speak.
Participants in the event – called the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington – offered speeches on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and then the throng marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Marchers on the National Mall wore t-shirts and masks emblazoned with “8:46.” Family members and others carried signs with “Say Her Name” recognizing Taylor and large placards with photos of Martin, Taylor, Tamir Rice, McClain, and countless others killed at the hands of police or White vigilantes.
The youngest speaker, Yolanda Renee King, the 12-year-old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., encouraged young people to continue taking a stand.  “My generation has already taken to the streets — peacefully and with masks and social distancing — to protest racism,” she said. “And I want to ask the young people here to join me in pledging that we have only just begun to fight, and that we will be the generation that moves from me to we.”
The presence of coronavirus – the global pandemic of which the United States is the epicenter – affected the number of people who were on the Mall. Many people in other parts of the country who planned to be in Washington, erred on the side of caution and stayed home. NAN volunteers handed out gloves, masks and hand sanitizer with the majority of demonstrators wearing masks and they exercising social distancing to comply with requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The march occurred against the backdrop of COVID-19, which has so far infected more than 6 million Americans and resulted in the deaths of more than 183,000 people. This public health crisis is accompanied by an economic meltdown and recession caused by the pandemic; more than 56 million unemployed Americans; and anywhere from 10-30 million people who are on the verge of being evicted from their apartments and houses.
Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee spoke to the gathering via video. She said that Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph and the rest of those who organized the March on Washington in 1963 would be disenchanted and saddened that more than 50 years later, African Americans are still demanding justice and equality under the law.
“I have to believe that if they were with us today, they would share in our anger and frustration as we continue to see Black men and women slain in our streets, and left behind in our economy and justice system that has too often denied Black folks our dignity and rights,” she said.
Sharpton emphasized the importance of voting in November to get rid of Donald Trump, spoke of the need to commit to pursuing a new agenda that prioritizes equity, justice, and opportunity for all and said it’s time for a different type of national conversation.
” … The conversation. Well, we’ve had the conversation for decades,” he said. “It’s time to have a conversation with America. We need to have a conversation about your racism, about your bigotry, about your hate, about how you would put your knee on our neck while we cry for our lives. We need a new conversation.”

SOS continues the struggle for Medicaid Expansion with demonstrations in Montgomery

SOS members kneel in prayer placing banner saying “Black Lives Matter
and Expand Medicaid” in the street in front of the State Capitol.

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy has continued its fight for Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature to Expand Medicaid especially in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
On August 6, 2020, on the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, about 50 members of SOS held a demonstration and press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.
Despite the presence of over twenty Montgomery Police Department officers, SOS members carried a banner saying “Black Lives Matter and Expand Medicaid” and placed the banner in the street in front of the Capitol, where its members had previously been arrested in July for writing those same words in the street with yellow spray paint.
On August 20, 2020 SOS members held a “Shout Out to Save Lives” in front of the Governor’s Mansion in the Garden District of downtown Montgomery. When SOS demonstrators arrived at Noon, the police had barricaded the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Governor’s Mansion for 400 feet.
SOS set up its speaking podium on the sidewalk in viewing and hearing distance of the Mansion and began our shout-out for Medicaid Expansion despite the barricades and the police insistence that we move our cars that were parked across the street from the Mansion or risk having them towed.
Former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, who also serves as Co-Chair of the SOS Health Committee, said “Health rights are the Civil Rights issue of our times. In this time of COVID-19 there is a need for great Federal and state support of health care for all people but especially people of color who are dying at disproportionately higher rates.”
Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of the Ordinary People’s Society in Dothan, Alabama and an advocate for prisoners, said “I do not understand why Gov. Ivey and the State Legislature is ready to accept money from Federal sources for building prisons and every other purpose but will not accept funds to expand Medicaid. We must also work to release prisoners from jails and prisons so they will not contract the coronavirus.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “An Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) poll released three weeks ago shows a majority of the people of Alabama – Democrats and Republicans and Independents –support Medicaid expansion. Alabama is one of only 12 states in the nation that has failed to act. The people of Alabama know we need Medicaid expansion and want Medicaid expansion in Alabama NOW. All it takes is leadership.”
Greene County Health System Board Chair and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert said: “There is a reason why the Alabama Hospital Association has been campaigning and fighting so hard for the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid expansion will not only save lives and improve the health of those Alabamians who need and should be getting health care in our state. It will also save Alabama hospitals, both rural and urban, which Alabama has been killing at an alarming rate. Every time a hospital closes in a community, all people with insurance as well as those without insurance are detrimentally affected, and too many times this results in failed health and death. This is wrong, and Governor Ivey is a murderer for intentionally refusing to expand Medicaid. All it takes is leadership to end this wrong.”
Since July 23th, 2020, 13 Alabamians have been arrested by the Montgomery City Police for civil disobedience misdemeanors to save lives in our state, improve health in Alabama and secure justice for people in Alabama. They include: Kumasi Amin with Black Lives Matter; former Tuskegee Mayor and state Representative Johnny Ford; Community Advocate and Civil Rights activist Karen Jones; attorney and Civil Rights activist Faya Rose Toure; Board Chair of the Greene County Health Systems and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert; Stef Bernal-Martinez with the Poor People’s Campaign; attorney Ellen Degnan with the Southern Poverty Law Center; Judson Garner with Black Lives Matter and SOS; Yomi Goodall, a community leader based in Montgomery and Selma; Alabama Law Professor Emerita and attorney Martha Morgan; Hank Sanders, an attorney and former 35-year Alabama State Senator; Dana Sweeney with Alabama Appleseed; and Queen Tate, a film specialist.  
Law enforcement, after calling their superiors, originally assured the peaceful protesters at the Capitol on July 23rd that no one would be arrested. Then hours later City Police issued two arrest warrants for Black leaders Karen Jones and Johnny Ford that night. When SOS pointed out the next day the Montgomery City Police only issued writ of arrests for two Black people, instead of summons as advised by the Governor in her 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Proclamation, and also not for the White man who painted “Expand Medicaid” on a small patch of pavement with no traffic in front of the Capitol at the same peaceful event.
The next evening three more writs of arrest were issued, including for John Zippert. Those five, who learned of their arrests from the media and not the City Police, voluntarily turned themselves in on signature bonds on July 27th and were held in a jail with City employees and inmates who were not masked for more than five hours. 
 Nine additional misdemeanor arrests were made on July 30th by the Montgomery City Police, with five of those arrests being for people simply standing on the pavement in front of the Capitol and nothing more. While in custody on July 27th, only two individuals who turned themselves in on misdemeanors were strip searched – Black women Karen Jones and Faya Toure. During the later July 30th arrests, the City started strip searching White man Judson Garner but suddenly halted that.
City Police also threatened to arrest two Whites on July 30th for legally parking in a public parking space only after they realized they were with members of SOS. Similar intimidating actions by the City of Montgomery Police continued today even though all protestors were peaceful. The City again said, as they did on July 23rd, that no arrests would be made today, and no arrests have been made and no arrest warrants have been issued thus far. SOS and the other groups will continue their work to ensure Medicaid is expanded in Alabama so no one else has to needlessly die due to inaction by Alabama elected officials.

Newswire : Cameroon reconsiders plan to strip last intact forest in central Africa

Tool using monkey in the forest

Aug. 17, 2020 (GIN) – Good news is rare for those toiling to save the environment, but this week environmentalists could finally share the excitement of a hard-won success.

The government of Cameroon just announced it was canceling plans to log some 170,000 acres of the Ebo Forest, home to hundreds of rare plant and animal species, including the tool-using Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, the western gorilla and giant frogs.

The decision to save the forests followed organized pressure from indigenous communities, conservation groups and scientists.

In addition to its rich biodiversity, the Ebo Forest, located in southwestern Cameroon, is culturally and societally important for the Banen Indigenous people, who consider it their sacred ancestral home.

The Banen were ousted from the forest in the 1960s, but settled just a few miles from its borders and still rely on it for food and medicine. The community has fought for decades to return to their native villages.

“We have always lived in harmony with this forest and its diversity, but people just want to make money,” Chief Victor Yetina, a ruler among the Banen, told The Guardian newspaper. “Much of our history can still be found [in the forest]. You can still find our cocoa plantations, even after 60 years. Our dead are buried there.”

The clock to save Ebo began to tick in July, when Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute signed a decree that turned half of the Ebo Forest into a “forest management unit,” allowing the government to sell logging concessions.

But on August 11, Ngute, at the direction of President Paul Biya, withdrew the decree, suspending any logging plans, according to the news site Afrik21. President Biya also ordered a delay to reclassify an additional 160,000 acres of the Ebo, which could have potentially opened up even more forest for logging.

The government’s “intervention to halt the imminent destruction of this unique forest is hugely welcome,” said Bethan Morgan, head of the San Diego Zoo’s Global Central Africa Program who has worked to protect the forest’s great apes, in a statement.

“We hope that the international community will seize this opportunity to work with the government of Cameroon to make Ebo a showcase for long-term conservation in harmony with very challenged communities.”

Newswire: The Black Belt’s population decline explains why Alabama may lose a Congressional seat in 2022

by Stephen G. Katsinas, Noel E. Keeney, Emily Jacobs, and Hunter Whann

The Educational Policy Center at the University of Alabama issued the first of several reports on the Alabama Black Belt this week. The first report was on the impact of the declining population, as measured by the U. S. Census, in the Alabama Black Belt on the State of Alabama.
Will Alabama lose its seventh congressional seat after the 2020 Census? In this issue brief, the first in a series of eight The University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center will publish on demographic, economic, and education issues, challenges, concerns, and options facing the Black Belt, we argue that if our state loses a seat, it will be the direct result of stagnant or declining population in Alabama’s 24 Black Belt counties. The challenges of rural life in Alabama, and indeed rural America, are driving away its most valuable resource: its people. Economics, lower access to information-age broadband and healthcare, as well as the inability of 19th century systems of governance and taxation frozen in Alabama’s antiquated, race-based 1901 Jim Crow state constitution are key forces underlying this decades-long trend.
This is the policy context for the critically important 2020 Census, which cannot be divorced from any discussion of the Black Belt’s population decline. Losing a congressional seat will jeopardize billions in federal investment dollars over the next decade. This is why Alabama policymakers on a bipartisan basis are working tirelessly to insure a full and complete count for the Census.
Chart 2 isolates just the 24 Black Belt counties. It reveals the region lost over 40,000 residents from 1998 to 2018. The decline was from 730,000 in 1998 to less than 690,000 in 2018. Sadly, this trend may continue in for the foreseeable future, as persistent issues such as hospital closures and lack of broadband access drive people away. The sudden requirement for remote learning due to the pandemic exposed crevasses in available broadband services that echo the gulf in electricity access in the 1930s between the rural have-nots and an urban America that had been wired for nearly two generations. Here is link to an interactive map of the counties listed in various Black Belt reports:
The report shows the importance of Greene County residents participating in the 2020 Census to raise the count. You can post your information by calling 844-330-2020 or contacting on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Newswire: At DNC: Obamas, Colin Powell, Kamala Harris start battle for ‘Soul of America’ as Biden becomes official Democratic Presidential nominee

By Hazel Trice Edney

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

( – Former Vice President Joseph “Joe” Biden officially became the Democratic Party’s candidate for president this week, receiving the nomination on Tuesday night after a string of speakers, led by former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Second Lady Jill Biden among dozens of other political stars and grassroots activists.
Wednesday’s line up was set to feature President Barack Obama and Vice Presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris.
The virtual convention, televised around the nation and world, echoed the Biden campaign slogan, “Build Back Better.” In order to protect people from the Coronavirus, the DNC went virtual with the convention, instead of meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as originally planned. Squares showing diverse people applauding in their living rooms and various places in states around the nation took the place of the live audience.
Surrounded by balloons, Biden accepted the nomination as Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” song blared in the background. He will deliver his acceptance speech on Thursday at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, likely elaborating on his personal theme, “This is a battle for the soul of America.”
The Republican National Convention will follow on Monday Aug. 24 through Thursday, starting in Charlotte, N.C. on the first day and then held remotely. President Trump and Vice President Pence, hoping to win a second term, will have their say, but not without the sting of the blistering Democratic speeches this week.
“So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” a poised Michelle Obama said in a pre-recorded speech Monday night. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”
She continued, “So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t
make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”
Biden supporters are mostly stressing his “good guy” image, stressing his reputation for decency and relatable to common people. Video images during the convention showed him riding the train home everyday in order to be there for his young sons after his first wife and their daughter were killed in a car accident. They also referred to his pain and resiliency amidst the death of his adult son, Beau, who succumbed to a brain tumor in 2015.
Prospective First Lady Jill Biden was perhaps his best witness in this regard. “Four days after Beau’s funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit. I saw him steel himself in the mirror—take a breath—put his shoulders back—and walk out into a world empty of our son. He went back to work. That’s just who he is,” she said in her speech. “There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it: For the daughter who convinces her mom to finally get a breast cancer screening and misses work to drive her to the clinic, for the community college student who has faced homelessness and survived abuse—but finds the grit to finish her degree and make a good life for her kids, for the little boy whose mom is serving as a marine in Iraq, who puts on a brave face in his video call, and doesn’t complain when the only thing he wants for his birthday is to be with her, for all those people Joe gives his personal phone number to, at rope lines and events—the ones he talks to for hours after dinner—helping them smile through their loss—letting them know that they aren’t alone. He does it for you.”
She concluded, “Joe’s purpose has always driven him forward. His strength of will is unstoppable. And his faith is unshakable—because it’s not in politicians or political parties—or even himself. It’s in the providence of God. His faith is in you—in us.”
Among the most unusual aspects of the convention – other than it being held remotely – was the number of high profiled Republicans who spoke on Biden’s behalf.
“I support Joe Biden because on Day One he will restore America’s leadership and our moral authority,” said Powell, who served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bush and Democratic President Bill Clinton. “He’ll be a president who knows America is strongest when, as he has said, ‘We lead both by the power of our example and the example of our power.’ He will restore America’s leadership in the world and restore the alliances we need to address the dangers that threaten our nation, from climate change to nuclear proliferation.”
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican and a former presidential candidate, weathered criticism from fellow Republicans for his open support of Biden.
“I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country. That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” Kasich said in his speech. “Yes, there are areas where Joe and I absolutely disagree. But that’s OK because that’s America. Because whatever our differences, we respect one another as human beings, each of us searching for justice and for purpose.”
A video was shown highlighting Biden’s friendship with the late Republican Sen. John McCain. It was narrated by McCain’s wife, Cindy, ending with his words to Biden, thanking him for his friendship: “My life and the lives of many have been enriched by it.”
Millions anticipated Biden’s remarks at the close of the DNC convention Thursday night. But, even more so, the race between him and Trump. The issues at hand in the Black community, including health care, criminal justice, police brutality and economic
justice will be foremost as America goes to the polls or mail in their ballots.

Newswire: More police shooting of Black Men sparks protests as “Knee Off Our Necks” March is scheduled for Saturday

By Hazel Trice Edney

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back in front of his children. (Credit: family photo.)

( – A 29- year-old Black man remains in stable condition today after being shot seven times in the back by a White police officer for unknown reasons on Monday, Aug. 24.
Jacob Blake, shot by a Kenosha, Wisconsin policeman, was reportedly leaving the scene of an altercation between two women as police followed him on foot, one holding a gun to his back. Blake had reportedly broken up the fight between the two women.
When Blake attempted to get into the driver’s seat of the car where his 8, 5, and 3-year-old sons were seated, the officer with the gun grabbed the back of his t-shirt; then opened fire, appearing to shoot Blake seven times in the back.
According to reports, Blake was paralyzed from the waste down after undergoing several surgeries but remained in stable condition. Two of the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending investigations.
In Lafayette, Louisiana, Trayford Pellerin, was shot to death by police at a gas station on the Evangeline Thruway, on Friday August 21, 2020. Peaceful protestors returned to the same gas station over the weekend, Some of the protestors continued to march to block the major highway through Lafayette. Police in riot gear then attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Wisconsin’s governor called on the National Guard in anticipation of possible violent protests. This incident comes after a summer of heated protests after the killings of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor both killed by police. It also comes just before the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network’s “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” march this Saturday, August 28, “citing racial climate as the urgent need to still mobilize.”
Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, along with Attorney Benjamin Crump and the Families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and others will convene with NAN, NAACP and others for the march on Washington in protest of police brutality. For more information on this march, go to
Protestors quickly hit streets around the country as the Blake family pleaded for peaceful demonstrations only. Despite their pleas, buildings were set afire in Kenosha. Nothing was mentioned of the shooting by President Donald Trump during the first day of the Republican National Convention. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joseph Biden issued a statement.
“This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force,” Biden said. “This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable.”
DNC Chairman Tom Perez concluded, “A bullet in the back. A knee on the neck. When will it end? Yet again, our nation is hurting. Yet again, Black communities are hurting. Our hearts go out to Jacob Blake and his family as we pray for his recovery. Sadly, we know he is not the first to be viciously gunned down by law enforcement. He is one of countless Black Americans who have suffered at the hands of bigotry with a badge.

Bingo distribution totals $379,643.45 for July 2020

On Friday, August 14, Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $379.643.45 from three licensed bingo gaming operations in the county. The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace.
The recipients of the July distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Fire Department, Greene County Golf Course, Branch Heights Housing Authority, Department of Human Resources and the Greene County Library.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,924.98 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,500; 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.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $110.165.19 to the following: Greene County Commission, $29,286.06; Greene County Sheriff’s $32,332.50; City of Eutaw, $8,861.50; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,712.25; Greene County Board of Education, $10,059, and the Greene County Health System, $11,975.00. Sub Charities, each $1,085.73.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $154,533.28 to the following: Greene County Commission, $41.086.68; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $45.360; City of Eutaw, $12,432; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $5208.00; Greene County Board of Education, $14,112 and the Greene County Health System, $16,800; Sub Charities each, $1523.20.