Newswire : Vendors in tears as Zambia’s biggest outdoor market burns

fire-zambia market
Market in Zambia is burning

(TriceEdneyWire.com/GIN) – A fire of unknown origins raced through the largest outdoor market in Zambia, destroying the livelihood of its many vendors. Goods worth millions of kwacha – the Zambian currency – have gone up in flames. Images on social media show how the fire which began July 4 and was barely extinguished by July 7 destroyed the Lusaka market.
The market was built a decade ago with a designated police post as well as day and night guards. It is also said to be a facility that prohibits cooking and fire inside the market. Reacting to the catastrophe, Zambian President Edgar Lungu blamed arsonists and economic saboteurs who will be found out, he warned, wherever they are hiding.
But the President’s words were cold comfort for many Zambians who fear the country is sliding into dictatorship. They cite a series of incidents including the jailing of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, the suspension of 48 members of parliament for boycotting a speech by Mr. Lungu, and the imposition of a state of emergency over the apparent arson attack.
A Zambian professor, writing in the online UKZambian, wondered if 53 years of peace since independence in 1964 could be coming to an end. “Creating a nation of peace and tranquility is not easy,” noted Mwizenge S. Tempo in the news website. “When I saw the images of the massive fire in which 1,901 shops were destroyed, I was alarmed,” he wrote, adding that since August 2016 there have been over 10 such incidents with fires gutting public building and vandalism.
“I am both stunned and fearful about my home and country of Zambia. Could this be the end of peace in Zambia after 53 years?” In BusinessLive of Zambia, writer Greg Mills condemned the arrest and jailing of Mr. Hichilema on treason charges.
Critics of President Lungu are “systematically being silenced”, he charged. This “stop-at-nothing government” has closed the major opposition paper, The Post, shut down opposition rallies and constricted access to the state broadcaster, he declared. Mills heads the Brenthurst Foundation, and is the co-author of ‘Making Africa Work: A Handbook for Economic Success’.

Newswire : Harvard Study: Steep declines in Black home ownership in major cities 39 million families challenged with housing costs

By Charlene Crowell

housing study
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – For the 12th consecutive year, America’s national homeownership rate has declined, according Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS)’ annual report, State of the Nation’s Housing 2017. This year’s report also found these declines vary by race and ethnicity.
As some might expect, the steepest homeownership decline occurred in Black communities, where the percentage of homeowners dropped to 42.2 percent. Among the nation’s largest metro areas, Black homeownership declined the greatest in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas and Detroit. By contrast, Latino-American homeownership is higher at 46 percent; but both communities of color severely lag behind the nearly 72 percent rate of white homeownership.
“The ability of most US households to become homeowners,” states the report, “depends on the availability and affordability of financing.”
And therein lies the crux of the problem: access and affordability.
The lack of access to mortgage financing in Black America has a long history rooted in outright discrimination by private actors such as banks, and supported by inequitable federal housing policies that favored white communities, while intentionally disadvantaging Black communities. This discrimination hindered generations of Black families from entering and remaining among America’s middle class. These practices also resulted in lower levels of both Black wealth and homeownership.
Today, applying for a mortgage means a visit to a bank where high incomes, low debt and high credit scores are among the most favored measures for loan application success. Since the foreclosure crisis, according to the JCHS report, the median credit score for an owner-occupied home purchase origination increased from about 700 in 2005 to 732 in 2016.
Just as communities of color were wrongly targeted for predatory and high-cost mortgages that pushed them into foreclosure, these same communities are the most likely to have suffered credit score declines from foreclosures, unemployment or delinquent debt – or a combination of all three.
According to a 2017 CFED report, A Downpayment on the Divide, the mortgage denial rate for Blacks is more than 25 percent, near 20 percent for Latinos but just over 10 percent for white applicants.
The issue of housing affordability is just as challenging. CFED also found that whites are three times more likely than Blacks to receive financial assistance from families to pay for down payments and other upfront costs that accompany a mortgage. The racial disparity is due to America’s history of whites being able to accumulate wealth through homeownership opportunity while Blacks were denied. As a result, Black households typically delay homeownership 8 years longer than whites, resulting in a comparable delay in building home equity.
JCHS also found that nearly 39 million American families are financially challenged with their cost of housing.
So is the American Dream of homeownership realistic for communities of color?
A June 29 public hearing before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee focused on how mortgage finance reform and government-sponsored enterprises, also known as GSEs, must live up to its “duty to serve” all communities.
“Homeownership is the primary way that most middle-class families build wealth and achieve economic stability,” testified Mike Calhoun, President of the Center for Responsible Lending. “Wide access to credit is critical for building family wealth, closing the racial wealth gap and for the housing market overall.”
In the throes of the 1930s Great Depression, Congress created the GSEs to provide stability to capital markets and to increase the availability of mortgage credit throughout the nation. They were also given a mandate: Serve all credit markets all times, ensuring access and availability across the country.
From 2003 to 2006, the years leading up to the housing crisis, the GSEs followed an unfortunate private mortgage market trend. By loosening underwriting guidelines, particularly for Alt-A no documentation loans, millions of foreclosures occurred and GSE credit losses led to conservatorship under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, also known as HERA. HERA also enacted a number of reforms that have made today’s market stronger.
Now, with far fewer foreclosures nationwide, Congress is deliberating over the future of the GSEs and $6.17 trillion in mortgages they now hold along with Federal Housing Administration issued mortgages. “Home equity accounts for only 30 percent of the net worth for wealthier households,” continued Calhoun, “but constitutes 67 percent for middle-to-low income households. Home equity accounts for 53 percent of African-American wealth as compared to 39 percent for whites.”
Homebuyers of the future will be more racially and ethnically diverse than those of the past. The JCHS reported that non-whites accounted for 60 percent of household growth from 1995-2015. By 2035, it predicts that half of millennial households will be non-white.
When communities of all sizes, colors, and economies succeed, so does America. While much of our nation has financially recovered from the foreclosure crisis that brought the loss of homes, jobs, businesses, and wealth, recovery has been uneven and left many communities behind.
Those entrusted with leadership roles in the public and private sectors must agree that it is in our national interest to ensure that the recovery is inclusive and sustainable long-term. Broad access to mortgage credit still helps families and the national economy.
Concluded Calhoun, “The goal must be to ensure that the full universe of creditworthy borrowers – regardless of where they live, including in rural areas, or who they are – have access to the credit they need to be able to secure a mortgage so that they can build their American dreams.”
Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director for the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Newswire : Study: Blacks comprise majority of defendants who are wrongfully convicted

By Frederick H. Lowe

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Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – African-Americans comprise the majority of defendants wrongfully convicted of murder, sexual assault and drug crimes who are later exonerated, according to a study released by the National Registry of Wrongful Convictions.
The report titled “Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States” reported that African-Americans constituted 47 percent of the 1,900 exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations as of October 2016, and a great majority of more than 1,800 additional innocent defendants who were framed and convicted of crimes in 15 large-scale police scandals and later cleared in “group” exonerations.
The report examined racial disparities for the major crime categories of murder, sexual assault and drug crimes, three crimes that produce the largest number of exonerations.
African Americans who were convicted of murder are about 50% more likely to be innocent than other convicted murderers, the report stated. “A major cause of the high number of black murder exonerations is the high homicide rate in the black community—a tragedy that kills many African-Americans and sends many others to prison,” the report stated.
Blacks imprisoned for murder are more likely to be innocent if they were convicted of killing white victims. Only about 15 percent of murders by African- Americans involve White victims, but 31 percent of innocent African-American murder exonerees were convicted of killing White people.
The convictions that led to murder exonerations with black defendants were 22 percent more likely to include misconduct by police than those with White defendants.
Police assist in convicting black murder defendants through witness tampering, which occurred in 21 percent of murder exonerations with white defendants but occurred in 39 percent of trials with Black defendants.
“Many of the convictions of African-American murder exonerees were affected by a wide range of types of racial discrimination, from unconscious bias and institutional discrimination to explicit racism,” the report stated.
Black exonerees spent three years longer in prison before release than White murder exonerees, and Black exonerees sentenced to death spent four years longer behind bars.
Black prisoners serving time for sexual assault are three and-a-half times more likely to be innocent than a White assault convict. “The major cause of this huge racial disparity appears to be the high danger of mistaken eyewitness identification by white victims in violent crimes with Black assailants,” the report stated.
Drug crimes are also those in which the majority of blacks are exonerated. Although Blacks and Whites use drugs at an equal rate, African-Americans are about five times more likely than Whites to go to prison for drug possession. And judging from exonerations, innocent Black people are about 12 times more likely to be convicted of drug crimes than innocent White people.
That is because police enforce drug laws more vigorously against African-Americans than against the white majority. Police stop Blacks more frequently, search, arrest and convict them in cases where they are innocent.
“Since 1989, more than 1,800 defendants have been cleared in group exonerations that followed 15 large-scale police scandals in which officers systematically framed innocent defendants,” the report stated. “The great majority were African-American defendants who were framed for drug crimes that never occurred.”
In Harris County, Texas, for example, there have been 133 exonerations in ordinary drug possession cases in the last few years. The defendants pled guilty, but routine lab tests showed those arrested were not carrying drugs. Houston is the largest city in Harris County.
The National Registry of Wrongful Convictions is a project of the University of Michigan Law School, Michigan State University Law School and Newkirk Center for Science & Society at the University of California Irvine.

Newswire : Now is the time to repair, not repeal, the Affordable Care Act

Alabama Arise

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday in response to the collapse of U.S. Senate efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act:

“The defeat of the Senate’s awful health care bill was a victory for Alabama families. This cruel plan would have gutted Medicaid, which provides essential health coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities in every corner of our state, to pay for huge tax cuts for rich people and big corporations. It would have hammered rural hospitals and nursing homes while sending insurance costs soaring for many older Alabamians. And it would have sent us back to the bad old days of limiting benefits and discriminating against folks with pre-existing conditions.

“Powerful advocacy from everyday people across Alabama and across the country stopped the bad Senate bill in its tracks. We urge senators to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start trying to make it work better for everyone. Our lawmakers should work together in an open, thoughtful, bipartisan way to strengthen the ACA, reduce insurance costs and extend quality, affordable health care to all Americans.”

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals promoting public policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians.

AT&T Launches Fixed Wireless Internet in Greene and Hale Counties and other Rural and Underserved Areas in Alabama

ribboncutting-gcdemocrat.jpgGreensboro, AL. July 12, 2017 — AT&T* Fixed Wireless Internet1 is now available for rural and underserved locations in parts of Greene and Hale Counties.
Joined by State Senator Bobby Singleton, State Representative Ralph Howard and members of the Hale and Greene County Commissions, AT&T announced that residents in Greensboro, Knoxville, Eutaw and other areas are included in the initial rural and underserved locations in Alabama to which AT&T has extended Fixed Wireless Internet as part of its FCC Connect America Fund commitment. As a part of this commitment, AT&T plans to reach over 400,000 locations in 18 states by the end of 2017, and over 1.1 million locations by 2020.
“In today’s world, high-speed connectivity is important,” said Alabama State Senator Bobby Singleton. “I am excited to see this newly available service bringing enhanced connectivity to Greene and Hale Counties and our rural communities in Alabama.”
“This is a great day for Greensboro, Knoxville and Eutaw,” said Alabama State Representative Ralph Howard. “It is an honor to serve these areas alongside Senator Singleton and Representative AJ McCampbell, and I applaud AT&T for their work to enhance high-speed connectivity for residents and small businesses in rural Alabama.”
AT&T plans to reach nearly 66,000 locations with this technology across Alabama by 2020, and with this initial offering, Fixed Wireless Internet is available today in parts of rural communities throughout Alabama.

“I am thankful for the leadership of our elected officials who work to ensure a pro-consumer business environment and am delighted the rural residents of Greene and Hale Counties are among the first in the nation to access this innovative technology,” said Philliis Belcher, Executive Director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority.
“The more than 5,300 men and women who work for AT&T and call Alabama home, are proud to work with our local, state and federal leadership to provide the connectivity Alabama’s residents and businesses demand,” said Ty Fondren, Regional Director of External Affairs for AT&T Alabama. “Through this innovative service, we are helping close the remaining connectivity gap in Alabama.”
Fixed Wireless Internet service delivers a home internet connection with download speeds of at least 10Mbps. The connection comes from a wireless tower to a fixed antenna on customers’ homes or businesses. This is an efficient way to deliver high-quality internet to customers in rural and underserved areas.
After a controlled launch in Georgia in April, AT&T has is also launching service in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana. Additional states where the company plans to launch this year are Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.
AT&T will provide updates about additional availability in parts of Alabama, and other states, as it expands Fixed Wireless Internet to more locations.
For more information on Fixed Wireless Internet from AT&T, visit att.com/internet/fixed-wireless.html.
Includes 160GB monthly data allowance. Req’s installation of AT&T outdoor antenna & indoor Residential Gateway. $10/50GB of additional data up to a max of $200/mo.
Cautionary Language Regarding Forward Looking Statements:  Information set forth in this news release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T Inc.’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update or revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise.
*About AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) helps millions around the globe connect with leading entertainment, business, mobile and high speed internet services. We offer the nation’s best data network** and the best global coverage of any U.S. wireless provider. We’re one of the world’s largest providers of pay TV. We have TV customers in the U.S. and 11 Latin American countries. Nearly 3.5 million companies, from small to large businesses around the globe, turn to AT&T for our highly secure smart solutions.
AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. Additional information about AT&T products and services is available at about.att.com. Follow our news on Twitter at @ATT, on Facebook at facebook.com/att and on YouTube at youtube.com/att.

© 2017 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the Globe logo and other marks are trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

 

Dr. Remona Peterson coming to Greene County Health System to begin family medicine practice on July 24

Special to the
Democrat by:
John Zippert, Co-Publisher

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Dr. Remona Peterson

“ I am very excited about coming to Greene County Physicians Clinic to practice family medicine and serve the people of Greene County. I have been planning to come for many years and now that I have completed my medical studies, practice rotations and a residency in Tuscaloosa, I am ready to come,” said Dr. Remona Peterson.
Dr. Peterson is Board Certified in Family Medicine. Her practice will be located in Eutaw, AL at the Greene County Physician’s Clinic and Hospital. As a family physician, she is uniquely trained to care for you as a whole person, regardless of your age or sex. In addition to diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, she will provide routine health screenings and counseling on lifestyle changes in an effort to prevent illnesses before they develop.
“We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Peterson to our staff starting next week. I also want to compliment our Greene County Health Services Board of Directors for their foresight in making an agreement six years ago to help support Remona with a monthly stipend for her medical studies, in exchange for her promise to practice at the Physicians Clinic. This decision by our Board provides us with a homegrown physician at a point when we need her,” said Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System.
Dr. Peterson is the daughter of Charles and Shelia Peterson of Thomaston, AL, granddaughter of Willie M. Peterson of Greensboro, Alabama, and granddaughter the late Carrie and James Norwood, Sr.

She was Valedictorian of the Amelia L. Johnson’s High School Class of 2002. She is an Alumni of Tuskegee University where she earned a Bachelors degree in Biology and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She also earned a Master’s degree from the University of Alabama in Rural & Community Health. She completed her medical education through Texila American University School of Medicine located in Georgetown, Guyana and the University of Alabama Medical Education System.
During her Masters Degree studies at the University of Alabama, Dr. John Wheat encouraged her to serve an internship in Agromedicine, with Black farmers, at the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center in Epes. She did rotations at Emory University and Grady Hospital in Atlanta and her family residency was spent at the Capstone Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. “I am a child of the Alabama Black Belt and have already served many Greene County people as part of my education and training,” said Dr. Peterson.
Dr. Peterson is trained in several major medical areas and patient populations:
• Care for all ages from infants to elderly
• Care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease
•Emergency medical care
•Minor surgical procedures
•Minor skin procedures
•Mental and behavioral health care
•Joint injections
•Bone and joint care
•Vaccinations
•Preventive Exams
•X-rays
•Well-woman care, reproductive counseling, and family planning
Dr. Peterson is accepting new patients beginning July 24, 2017 at the Greene County Physicians Clinic, 511 Wilson Avenue, Eutaw, Alabama, phone: 205/372-1260.

Superintendent Carter assures board personnel in place for new school term

At the regular school board meeting held Monday, July 17, 2017, Superintendent James Carter assured the board members that all necessary personnel were on board to begin the next school term. Dr. Carter explained that we lost a couple of teachers due to re-location. “ One of our Math teachers said he hated to leave the Greene County school system, but he was getting married and would be relocating with his bride.” According to Superintendent Carter, “It was not easy securing a qualified Math teacher, but persistence and prayer were on our side.”
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
* Employment at Robert Brown Middle School: Deborah Yvette Sommerville – 7th Grade Science teacher.
* Employment at Greene County High School: Jerria Prince – Math teacher; Karon Coleman – In-School Suspension Specialist.
* Recall at Robert Brown Middle School: Raven Bryant – Special Education teacher; Vassie Brown – Adjunct Instructor (Drama)
* Transfer: Dorris Robinson from P.E. teacher at Eutaw Primary School to P.E. Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School due to certification issues; Jeffery Wesley from P.E. Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School to P.E. Teacher at Eutaw Primary School.
* Reassignment: Fentress Means from In-School Suspension Specialist/GC Learning Academy to Physical Education Teacher at Eutaw Primary School.
* Leave of Absence: Tammy Anderson, teacher at Eutaw Primary School, to complete requirements of a ten day residency as required by the University of West Alabama – December 6 – 12, 2017.
* Additional Service Contracts 2017 – 2018 for the following employees at Robert Brown Middle School: (Separate Contract) Corey Cockrell – Head Football Coach; Henry Miles, Jr. – Asst. Football Coach, Asst. B-Team Basketball Coach.

Additional Service Contracts 2017 – 2018 for the following employees at Greene County High School: (Separate Contract) Karon Coleman – Head Football Coach; Rodney Wesley – Asst. Football Coach; Fentress Means – Asst. Football Coach.
Non-Renewal at Robert Brown Middle School: Wanda Blakely – Special Education Teacher. * Resignation Eutaw Primary: Gentrel Eatman, Physical Education teacher, effective July 6, 2017.

* Resignation Greene County High: Micheal Williams, Mathematics Teacher, effective June 23, 2017.
Employment of Chuck Jackson as Bus Driver for the system.
Catastrophic Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave: Cindy Taylor.
The board approved the following administrative services recommended by Superintendent Carter.
* Federal Funds – Conflict of Interest Policy.
* Travel for the following to Atlanta, Ga. to attend School Nutrition Association Annual Conference on July 9 – 12, 2017 (Gloria Lyons and Sandy Underwood.
* Change Order submitted by Dallas Air Conditioning in the amount of $24,100 for heat/air at Robert Brown Middle School
* Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Criterion K-12 Consulting for Formative Administrator Evaluation Support Services for 2017 – 2018 school year.
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Woods Therapeutic Services, Inc. to provide Behavior Aides for the 2017 – 2018 school year.
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Amy Wilson Quitt to provide speech-language therapy services to preschool children at Greene County Head Start, Eutaw Primary, and Warrior Academy for the 2017 – 2018 school year
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Kim Herren to provide developmental services to children at Greene County Head Start for the 2017 – 2018 school year
* Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. Katrina Sewell, CSFO
* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
Under instructional items, the board approved the Greene County Board of Education Strategic Plan 2017 – 2018.
In his report Superintendent Carter announced that Institute Day for all employees of the Greene County School System is scheduled for August 2, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. The start date for students will be August 7, 2017. This will be a full day. National Night Out and Back to School Rally is scheduled for Tuesday, August 1, 2017 on the town square.