Newswire :  Rep. Karen Bass of California will lead the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history

 By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

 

 Representative Karen Bass (D-CA)

On November 27 during a long day of selecting who will lead Democrats in the for U.S. House for the next two years, members of the Congressional Black Caucus selected California Congresswoman Karen Bass to be the next Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. For the next two years, the CBC will be 55 members, the largest in history. Bass told NNPA after the vote that she wants to elevate individual members of the Caucus during her tenure. “One of my most significant goals I believe is to try to elevate the unbelievable accomplishments of individual members of the Congressional Black Caucus that I believe have not really received the attention and the acknowledgement that they deserve — that’s my agenda,” Bass told NNPA. The CBC will have more power within the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House with five full chairmanships of top committees and also two members of the CBC, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), in leadership positions. Bass will be the 26th chair of the CBC, and the eighth woman to hold the position. Bass, 65, is a popular member of the CBC. She once served as the 67th Speaker of the California Assembly from 2008–2010 and is known for being tough and savvy. “From her days in the California General Assembly where she became the first African-American woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body, to her work in Congress to address both domestic and international issues affecting people of African descent, Congresswoman Bass has demonstrated tried and true leadership,” said outgoing CBC Chair Cedric Richmond. “From fighting for criminal justice reform and child welfare to affordable health care and a stronger economy for all, Karen has devoted her life to serving California families and African-American communities across the country. Karen is a proven leader who never backs down and always stands up for the values of inclusion and opportunity for all,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a statement after Bass was elected. Also elected were: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), 1st Vice Chair; Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), 2nd Vice Chair; Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), Secretary; Congressman Donald McEachin (D-VA), Whip; and Congressman-elect Steven Horsford (D-NV), Parliamentarian.

Commission commits $126,000 for new equipment; Chairman makes committee assignments

County personnel view demonstration model of excavator equipment approved by Commission.

The Greene County Commission met in a specially called meeting, Monday, November 26, 2018 to handle some business matters that were not dealt with at the re-organizational meeting the prior week. The commissioners approved a request by County Engineer, Willie Branch, to purchase a mini excavator with mulcher attachment at a cost of approximately $126,000. According to Mr. Branch, this will replace the county’s Boom Mower. Branch indicated that he expects the equipment to arrive by the first of the year. Commission Chairperson, Tennyson Smith, issued committee assignments for each commissioner: Commissioner Lester Brown will chair the Education Committee; Commissioner Corey Cockrell will chair the Highway/Solid Waste Committee; Commissioner Roshanda Summerville will chair the Personnel Committee; Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. will chair the Industry and Public Health Committee; and Commissioner Smith will chair the Finance/Public Safety Committee. In other business the Commission acted on the following: * Approved letter of support for Greene County Industrial Authority. * Approved Proclamation for World Aids Day, Dec. 1, 2018 for the Greene County * Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. * Approved replacement of HVAC unit at Activity Center ( Extension offices). * Approved ABC License for Tobacco Permit for Dollar General store in Clinton, AL. * Approved Dec. 31, 2018 as an additional county holiday for this year. * Approved 2019 county holiday schedule. * Approved Ratification of Chairman’s actions regarding resolution for Alabama Workers’ Compensation Self Insurers Fund. * Approved following employee travel request: Licensing Clerk to attend Licensing Conference in Prattville, Jan.16-17, 2019; CFO to attend Annual Governmental & Accounting Forum, Dec. 6-7, 2018 in Hoover, AL; CFO to attend Continuing Education in Bessemer, Dec. 11-12, 2018; H.R. Personnel to attend Legislative Conference, Dec. 4-6, 2018 in Montgomery; Board of Registrars to attend Registrar’s Conference Nov. 16 in Montgomery. The meeting was officially adjourned.

Greene County Deltas provide Thanksgiving dinner for local family

On Tuesday, November 20, 2018, the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. provided a Thanksgiving dinner for the family of Alecia Jackson shown receiving the dinner with her grandchildren Armani Price 5 and Amavrion Price, 8. Mrs. Loydleetta Wabbington, who serves as Co-Chairperson of the Courtesy Committee of the DST Greene County Chapter presented the dinner. Isaac Atkins is DST Greene County Alumnae Chapter President. Mrs. Jackson would like to thank the chapter for providing Thanksgiving dinner.

Newswire :  East Africans score victory for Minneapolis’ Amazon warehouse packing workers

 

Somali women protest Amazon

Nov. 26, 2018 (GIN) – Somali women packers for the giant Amazon distribution center in Minneapolis are fired up and refusing to speed up the production line, becoming the first known group to defy Amazon management and bring them to the bargaining table. “Nobody would assume a Muslim worker with limited language skills in the middle of Minnesota could be a leader in a viable fight against one of the biggest employers in the world and bring them to the table,” said Abdirahman Muse, executive director of Awood, the Somali word for “power.” But when a worker lost her job, unable to meet crushing demands to pack more and faster when she had just finished 18 days of fasting over Ramadan, frustration was shared throughout the plant. “The new managers are like military — they don’t give you respect,” said Amazon worker Safia Ahmed Ibrahim who once worked for the U.S. and U.N. aid groups before fleeing from Somalia to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. “I worked hard and I was employee of the month,” she said with pride. But after returning from breast cancer treatment, a new manager scolded her for working slowly, seeing her only as a worker who, on one particular day, was slow. Hibaq Mohamed said Amazon let her take paid breaks to pray, as required by state law, but her managers made her keep up with the quota. Sixty percent of Amazon’s 3,000 workers in the region are East African, Awood estimates, but only one manager speaks Somali. Amazon disputes that number, saying there are a lot fewer East Africans, and four area managers who speak Somali. Amazon has now agreed to require a general manager and a Somali-speaking manager to agree on any firings related to productivity, to respond to individual complaints within five days and meet with workers quarterly, according to the New York Times. But a group of about 40 workers say this isn’t enough. Their main concern — the pace at which they are expected to work — from 160 items an hour to 230 – wasn’t addressed. They voted to stage a large protest and walkout on Dec. 14, in the middle of the holiday season. “We are not asking them to cater to East African workers,” said Awood director Muse. “We are just asking them to treat workers humanely.” A petition to Amazon to restore Safio Barrow’s job can be found on www.awoodcenter.org

Newswire : Vanishing Joshua Trees: Climate Change will ravage US National Parks, study says

 By Emily Holden, Guardian UK

 

Joshua Tree National Park

America’s national parks have warmed twice as fast as the US average and could see some of the worst effects of climate change, according to a new study. Most of Joshua Tree National park could become uninhabitable for its eponymous trees, glaciers will continue to melt away at Glacier national park, and many other of America’s most treasured beauty spots could be rendered virtually unrecognizable by climate change, Patrick Gonzalez, the lead author of the study, writes in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Even the tiniest of creatures are at risk in the worst-case predictions: the American pika, a small alpine mammal, may no longer be able to survive on park land. “We are preserving the most remarkable ecosystems, and they happen to be in extreme environments,” said Gonzalez, a climate scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. Gonzalez is also the principal climate change scientist for the US National Park Service but conducted and spoke about the research in his university capacity. The study finds that temperatures in national parks could go up 3 to 9C by 2100, under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst-case scenario, which shows what could happen without policies to decrease greenhouse gas pollution. With lower emissions, temperatures could still increase more than 2C (3.6F) for 58% of park land, compared to 22% of the US as a whole, according to the study. They are particularly vulnerable because most US park land is in areas that are heating up quicker: in the mountains, the Arctic and the dry south-west. Alaska parks would see the most extreme heat increases, and the US Virgin Islands parks face 28% less rainfall by the end of the century. In Glacier Bay national park, the Muir Glacier melted 640 meters between 1948 and 2000. In Yellowstone national park, trees are dying because bark beetles are thriving in warmer winters. Yellowstone will also become far more vulnerable to wildfires. The area burned could be up to three to 10 times higher by 2100. Joshua Tree national park in California could lose up to 90% of the habitat suitable for its namesake trees. Gonzalez explained that parks at a higher elevation have a thinner atmosphere that warms faster. Higher temperatures are also melting snow cover and making the ground darker so that it absorbs more heat. Parks in California and the south-west US have seen both high temperatures and record-low rainfall, he said. The research is the first comprehensive look at climate change impacts on national parks, Gonzalez said. He said he has been using the climate impacts research to develop plans for parks to adapt and reduce the greenhouse gas pollution they contribute. The Trump administration has rescinded government efforts to slow climate change. The interior department, where the National Park Service is housed, nixed a policy that would have urged management decisions based on science, including climate change research. Park officials in New England scrubbed references to climate change and flooding risks in a report this summer, according to Reveal. The National Park Service did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the study or climate change policies for parks. Jonathan Jarvis, the National Park Service director under Barack Obama who now works at UC Berkeley, said he relied on climate change projections to decide where to relocate and bolster structures in the Everglades national park in Florida, an area that has been hit by hurricanes and faces sea-level rise. Jarvis said he worries that under Trump parks won’t be able to plan long-term for climate change. “The park service manages these assets, these places, for the benefit of the American people, and they should be based on the best available sound science in the long-term public interest, not for some short-term political agenda,” Jarvis said.

Newswire :  Questions remain in Alabama mall shooting

 By Kim Chandler / The Associated Press

Galleria Mall protestors

HOOVER, AL — The father of a Black man killed by a police officer during a shooting at an Alabama mall said his son had a permit to carry a gun for self-defense, adding it was hurtful police initially portrayed his son as the shooter. Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., 21, was fatally shot by the officer responding to the Thanksgiving night shooting that wounded an 18-year-old man and a 12-year-old female bystander. Hoover police initially said they thought Bradford, who was carrying a handgun, was responsible but later retracted that statement. They subsequently said it was unlikely that Bradford had done the shooting. Bradford’s father, Emantic Bradford Sr., speaking Saturday night with The Associated Press, said the family wants to know if there is police body camera footage from the shooting. Police have not confirmed to AP whether such footage exists. Hoover Police Captain Gregg Rector said investigators now believe that more than two people were involved in the initial fight ahead of the shooting, and that “at least one gunman” is still at large who could be responsible. Police said while Bradford Jr. “may have been involved in some aspect of the altercation, he likely did not fire the rounds that wounded the 18-year-old victim.” Rector said police regret that their initial statement about Bradford was not accurate and added the shooting remains under investigation. About 200 demonstrators marched Saturday evening through the Riverchase Galleria mall in suburban Birmingham. Bradford’s father called his son “a good kid, a very good kid.” Bradford Sr. said his son had a permit to carry a weapon in self-defense. He said he doesn’t know exactly what happened at the mall but added: “They were so quick to rush to judgment. … I knew my son didn’t do that. People rushed to judgment. They shouldn’t have done that.” Hoover police said Friday morning that the girl was in stable condition.

Newswire:  Oral arguments scheduled for HBCU-Maryland inequality case

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

Students at Maryland HBCU’s protest

A coalition of HBCU students, alumni and others from Maryland are planning to pack the Fourth District Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia next month for oral arguments in a decades-old lawsuit over inequality in public higher education. “We are reaching out and calling on at least 200 HBCU supporters to join us in Richmond on Dec. 11,” said HBCU Matters Chairman, Marvin “Doc” Cheatham. The coalition has chartered buses to leave from each of the four HBCU campuses in Maryland on the morning of the arguments. “The students are very actively advocating on behalf of all four of the HBCUs in Maryland. Morgan State has held two rallies thus far and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore had their Rally Saturday the 17th,” said Zattura Sims-El, one of many advocates for HBCUs in Maryland. “Bowie and Coppin are currently planning rallies for each campus. The students from all four universities are communicating with each other for one purpose and that is the have Gov. Hogan withdraw the appeal, he and only he has the power and authority to do so,” Sims-El said. A coalition of alumni from Maryland’s four HBCUs have been involved in a lawsuit since 2006 with the state. Coalition members argue that Maryland has underfunded Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and allowed other state schools to duplicate their programs, placing pressure on enrollment. Published reports suggest that over the years, the coalition has called for increased funding and merging the University of Baltimore with Morgan State, the state’s largest public historically black school, to achieve parity. A year ago, a federal judge asked the state to remedy the lack of investment in Maryland’s HBCUs, ordering the state to establish a set of new, unique and high-demand programs at each historically black institution, the judge declared. Despite that court order, settlement talks have stalled, and Maryland hasn’t accepted the court-ordered remedies for HBCUs. “While the Maryland HBCU case is still in mediation, due to the State’s refusal to accept the judge’s ruling, the Maryland HBCU Matters Coalition is hard at work,” Cheatham said. In 2013, Judge Catherine Blake, U.S. District Court of Maryland, found the state in violation of 14th Amendment rights of its HBCU students and alumni. Her ruling said Maryland continues to operate vestiges of a de jure system of segregation, specifically by continuing a longstanding practice of duplicating academic programs offered at HBCU’s, rather than investing in making the HBCU programs attractive to a diverse range of students. By June 2017, after initial failed mediation between HBCU advocates and the state of Maryland, Blake ordered parties back into court. In November of 2017, Blake reportedly issued an order providing for an administrator known as a special master to coordinate a comprehensive plan ensuring Maryland’s HBCU’s would be home to high quality academic programs. “The Plan should propose a set of new unique and/or high demand programs at each HBI, taking into account each HBI’s areas of strength, physical building capacity and the programmatic niches suggested by the plaintiff’s experts,” Blake wrote in the November 2017 ruling. According to The Afro, which has covered the story more extensively than any other media outlet, in December 2017, state Attorney General Brian Frosh gave notice that the state would appeal Blake’s ruling.

Frosh, who in prior years urged a mediated resolution to the long-standing HBCU lawsuit, attempted to explain why he’s now extending the legal battle. “It’s my job to defend the state when it gets sued,” Frosh told HBCU protestors who rallied outside his office in the months following the State’s appeal. In January, Gov. Larry Hogan, further complicated the State’s message toward HBCU’s by writing to Del. Cheryl Glenn, former chair of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus (LBC), offering a $100 million-dollar settlement offer, according to The Afro. While the LBC supports HBCU advocates, the Caucus is not an official party to the lawsuit. Hogan’s $100 million proposal would be split between Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, The Afro reported. His settlement offer stipulates a 10-year allocation period and relieves the State of responsibility for court costs. Each institution would receive approximately 2.5 million per school, per year. However, the estimated cost of the Coalition’s Plan to remedy the imbalance in quality academic programming offered at HBCU’s is in the $1-2 billion range. Hogan’s offer also falls short of the $500 million settlement between the State of Mississippi and plaintiffs representing Mississippi’s three public HBCU’s almost 20 years ago, back in 2001, ending higher education desegregation litigation dating back to the 1970’s in that state. “The decision by Frosh to appeal the decision from Federal District Court Judge Blake has elevated this issue to the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit,” said Maryland advocate Brandon F. Cooper. “If that Appeals Court also upholds the District Court decision, Frosh could decide to appeal again and then it lands in the U.S Supreme Court. Any decision from the U.S Supreme Court would impact every HBCU, not just those in Maryland,” said Cooper, a member of the Maryland Republican Party Executive Committee. Cooper said the matter counts as a bipartisan issue and he brought the HBCU attorneys in to testify before the Republican Caucus in the Maryland legislature. “HBCUs have long enjoyed bipartisan support in states, Congress and the White House,” Cooper said. “However, President Donald Trump has sent mixed signals on his continuance of the historically bipartisan support of HBCUs,” he said.

Newswire : Pelosi announces push for staff diversity for new U.S House

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

With the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history along with a historic number of women entering the U.S. House in 2019, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced plans for a new emphasis on staff diversity in the U.S. House. The effort will call attention to the ongoing diversity problem on Capitol Hill. Very few senior staff positions on the Senate side are held by Blacks or Latinos. On the House side of Capitol Hill most staff top positions are employed by member of the CBC. “We know that the diversity in our ranks is a strength and a reflection of the American people,” Pelosi wrote to colleagues last week. She is expected to run for Speaker and lead Democrats once again when the new Congress convenes in January. A new House Diversity Initiative would create a permanent office in the House with sufficient staff to help recruit and retain diverse employees according to staff. Much of the pressure over the last few years regarding the diversity issue on Capitol Hill has come as a result of study and effort by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies headed by Spencer Overton. The Joint Center applauded Pelosi’s letter to her Democratic House colleagues emphasizing the importance of staff diversity. The letter featured several Joint Center recommendations. “Leader Pelosi deserves credit for laying down an early marker on the need to take action to increase top staff diversity in Congress,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “This is a good start, and we look forward to continuing to work with Leader Pelosi to diversify congressional top staff.” Pelosi’s letter encouraged members of Congress to hire diverse staff. She also announced her hope that the Democratic Caucus would formally adopt the Rooney Rule, which requires interviewing at least one person of color for every top staff position. The top positions, or “senior staff” positions in each congressional office are: chief of staff, legislative director, communications director. “The incoming majority of the U.S. House of Representatives will be the most diverse in our nation’s history,” said Don Bell, Director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center. “Leader Pelosi’s letter is a good beginning toward the work ahead to ensure that the senior and mid-level staff of the U.S. House reflect the diversity of America.” The Joint Center published a report in September 2018 that found that although people of color account for 38 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 13.7 percent of the top staffers of the U.S. House of Representatives (161 out of 1174 top staffers). Nine new members of the Black Caucus will likely include Lucy McBath (GA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Lauren Underwood (IL14), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Colin Allred (TX-32), Illhan Omar (MN-08) and Jahanna Hayes (CT-02). There will also likely be five new African American full committee Chairmen and Chairwomen when the new Congress convenes in January.

Griggers returns to work after shooting incident

Greg Griggers, District Attorney for the 17th. Judicial District, encompassing Greene, Sumter and Marengo Counties, was shot outside his office in downtown Demopolis on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 12:45 PM. Former Alabama State Trooper Steven Smith, Jr. who was standing across the street shot at Griggers several times with a shotgun. He was injured in the face when struck with automobile window glass that shattered when the shots were fired. Griggers was taken to the Bryan-Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis but released the next day. Smith was shot by two officers who were with Griggers and had just returned from lunch at Stacey Café, down the street from the office. Steven Smith, Jr. was identified as the same person who in 1996 shot into the Livingston home of 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway. Smith was fired from the Alabama Department of Public Safety later that year. Demopolis Police Chief Tommy Reese who is investigating the shooting said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the ambush. At a short press conference held Friday, after his release from the hospital, Griggers said, “ I am alive and well and doing good. I want to thank the two officers who responded to my shooting and for saving my life. I and my family will never be able to thank them enough.” Griggers said he would return to work on Monday of this week and continue his work as District Attorney.

County Commission re-organizes: Tennyson Smith selected as Chair; Roshanda Summerville selected as Vice Chair

Shown L to R: Greene County Commissioners Lester Brown, Allen Turner, Jr., Roshanda Summerville, Tennyson Smith and Corey Cockrell.

 

At the Greene County Commission’s annual organizational meeting, held Wednesday, Nov.14, 2018, Commissioner Tennyson Smith was selected as Chairperson and newly elected Commissioner Roshanda Summerville was selected as Vice Chairperson. Attorney Hank Sanders, who presided over the process, opened the floor for nominations for Chairperson. Commissioner Corey Cockrell nominated Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. and Commissioner Lester Brown nominated Commissioner Tennyson Smith. Smith received three votes and Turner received 2 votes.

For Vice Chair, Commissioner Turner nominated Commissioner Cockrell and Commissioner Brown nominated Commissioner Summerville. Summerville received four votes and Cockrell received one vote. Following each nomination and vote, Attorney Sanders asked for a motion and second on the selection of officers for the record. Brown moved and Summerville seconded that Smith serve as Chairperson. The vote was again three to two for Smith. Brown moved and Cockrell seconded that Summerville to serve as Vice Chairperson. The vote was four to one for Summerville. The commission approved the second Monday of each month at 6:00 pm as its regular meeting schedule. The Chairperson’s appointment of Commissioners to chair various committees was tabled. The body also agreed to maintain the same designation of bank depositories, with Chairperson Smith and Vice Chairperson Summerville serving as signatories for checks. Smith and CFO Paula Bird will remain as signatories for the safety deposit box. The standard Rules of Procedure were approved. In other business the commission received and approved the finance report and payment of claims as presented by CFO Bird. The following bank balances as of October 18, 2018 were noted: Citizen Trust Bank $2,048,536.88; Merchants & Farmers Bank $4,351,360.62; Bank of New York $358,896.59; Bond Investments $921,428.30. The meeting was adjoined and public comments were invited.