As of May 26, 2020 at 7:15 PM
Alabama had 15,650 confirmed cases of coronavirus
with 580 deaths
Greene County had 91 confirmed cases with 4 deaths
BIRMINGHAM – Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) on Saturday, May 23, urged Governor Kay Ivey to establish a health care manufacturing task force to explore ways for Alabama to move to the forefront of health care manufacturing for the United States.
Senator Jones’ proposal would utilize existing infrastructure to create jobs in Alabama, provide a supply chain for vital COVID-19 supplies, reduce dependence on foreign health care suppliers, revamp Alabama’s manufacturing economy.
In his letter to Governor Ivey, Senator Jones suggested utilizing existing infrastructure across the state, like shuttered factories, to build a statewide health care manufacturing sector as a way to produce critical health care items to respond to and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce our dependence on foreign health care suppliers, and revamp Alabama’s manufacturing economy as we face an uncertain period of economic hardship.
In light of the state of Alabama facing an estimated budget shortfall of more than $1 billion, this effort could also help generate new streams of revenue to support Alabama’s state and local governments.
“Just as the automotive industry has changed Alabama’s economy since Mercedes arrived in the 1990’s, a concerted effort to expand health care manufacturing in Alabama will help grow our population, raise our standard of living, and improve the quality of life for generations to come,” wrote Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Health Committee.
“For instance, it has been reported that Goodyear is unlikely to reopen its facility in Gadsden. While I had hoped that Goodyear could have found a way to keep the plant operating, its likely closing is reflective of the ongoing transition in our state’s economy and adds urgency to the need to look for new opportunities to put local residents and others throughout the state back to work.”
Many industrial parks across Alabama have available buildings that could be used to develop businesses to produce medical supplies and equipment. In the Crossroads of America Industrial Park at Boligee, Alabama, which serves Greene County, there is a 50,000 square foot building that could be used for manufacturing health care supplies.
The Greene County Industrial Development Authority built this structure a decade ago to attract industrial/manufacturing projects to Greene County.
“The shortage of PPE, ventilators, and other vital healthcare related items that we have seen in the course of dealing with this pandemic has demonstrated that our supply chains in the health care space are too dependent on foreign suppliers and not as diversified as they need to be,” he continued. “While a number of businesses in Alabama and across the country are stepping up and repurposing facilities during this pandemic to make these critical items, it is likely that they will return to their original purpose once the crisis has subsided. It is my view, however, that the United States needs to make a concerted effort to reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers of items essential to the delivery of healthcare, just as we did with foreign suppliers of oil a number of years ago.”
May 25, 2020 (GIN) – Twenty-six years after financing the Rwandan genocide, wealthy businessman and most wanted fugitive, Felicien Kabuga, was nabbed in an upscale French hideout.
It was a relief for prosecutors of the Rwandan Genocide tribunal who feared the 84-year-old Kabuga could die a free man. He stands accused of masterminding the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans, mainly minority Tutsis but also political opponents among the Hutus, over a period of 100 days, from April to July 1994, in a murderous campaign of ethnic violence.
Clues to Kabuga’s whereabouts came to light after an intelligence-sharing meeting between investigators from France, Britain, and Belgium, as well as the UN and Europe’s Europol law enforcement agency. “We realized… that the trail from his children protecting their father converged on Asnières-sur-Seine, where he lived under an assumed name,” said Col. Eric Emeraux, head of a French police unit combating crimes against humanity.
“We also discovered one of his children was renting an apartment there.”
Because the coronavirus lockdown had paralyzed many intelligence operations across parts of Europe, time was freed up to focus on the man accused of being the economic backer of the genocide.
A former tea and coffee tycoon with 28 known aliases, Mr. Kabuga is alleged to have used his personal fortune to buy protection from a corrupt official in the office of Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said it had evidence that Mr. Kabuga either visited or resided in Kenya, but successive Kenyan governments allegedly refused to hand over the wanted suspect.
“We need to know the story of his life as a fugitive, who helped and protected him, his connections to the wider diaspora and the role of his children — all this might be a by-product of the trial,” said British journalist Linda Melvern.
Called the “preventable genocide”, the killings in Rwanda exposed a “disgraceful” failure of the international community as the U.N. ordered its blue-helmeted troops to evacuate foreigners – but not intervene to save the Tutsis from slaughter.
Kabuga, now confined to La Sante Prison in central Paris, appeared this week in court in a wheelchair, dressed in jeans and wearing a face mask. Prosecutors are seeking his transfer to U.N. custody for trial in international courts.
After his arrest, Valerie Mukabayire, the leader of the Rwanda widows’ group Avega, told the BBC: “Every genocide survivor is happy he is arrested. Everyone has been waiting for this news. It is a good thing that he is going to face justice.”
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
Roger Goddell and Troy Vincent
National Football League teams must now interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching positions under new resolutions that the league hopes will improve diversity among its 32 teams.
In an expansion of its Rooney Rule, which had previously called on teams to interview minority candidates, the league said teams must also interview at least one minority candidate for coordinator openings and one external candidate for positions in teams’ front offices.
“While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said during a media conference call.
“The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league.”
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations and second-in-command to Goodell, said the league is now in a better position to not only hire minorities and women but to retain their services.
“What the chairman (Art Rooney II) and the commissioner did today and what the ownership voted on today has been a fight for decades to get mobility that has disproportionately affected people of color,” Vincent stated.
“Just the ability to get an interview, you don’t get hired unless you have an interview. The mobility resolution today was significant and historic because it has been a fight for decades. That’s the foundation. Frankly, we would call that the linchpin of these inequalities. With these initiatives, the enhancement of the Rooney Rule, which is a tool; it just allows us to have a broader scope of how we look at things.”
The new rules include a provision that begins in 2021, which states that teams will no longer restrict staff from interviewing with other clubs for “bona fide” coaching or front office positions. Goodell called the commitment to improving diversity throughout the league is “critical” for future success.
“While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more,” Goodell said.
“The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league.”
Clubs also will be required to “include minorities and, or, female applicants in the interview processes for senior-level front office positions such as club president and senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology, and security positions,” according to the expanded rule.
Also, league officials stated that they would use an advisory panel to further strategies aimed at fostering an inclusive culture of opportunity both on and off the field.
Goodell also promised to improve the league’s pipeline for minority coaching and player personnel candidates with assistance from its Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
“This fight has been going on for a long time,” said Vincent, who could one day become the league’s first African American commissioner.
“The facts are we have a broken system, and we’re looking to implement things to change the direction in where we’re going, and it’s been south. Not a gradual south but a direct south.”
More than 20 million jobs were lost in March because of the pandemic
It is the worst of times for blacks workers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the jobless rate for the blacks was 16.7 percent in April, a giant leap backward from 6.7 percent in March, as the Covid-19 pandemic caused nonfarm employment to fall by 20.5 million jobs last month.
The overall unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in April, the highest since the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939. The number of jobs fell sharply in all major industry sectors, particularly in leisure and hospitality.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in for black men 20 and older in April was 16.1 percent, up 7.0 percent in March. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black women 20 and older in April was 16.4 percent, way up from 5.2 percent in March.
BLS reported that the sharp increases reflect the Covid-19 pandemic and efforts to control it, such as furloughing workers.
The number of individuals who work full time declined by 15 million and the number who worked part-time dropped by 7.4 million.
Employment in the leisure and hospitality industries plummeted by 7.7 million. The jobless rate in education and health services declined by 2.5 million. Professional and business services shed 2.1 million jobs and manufacturing dropped 1.3 million jobs. Employment in the services industry declined by 1.3 million jobs and government employment dropped 900,000.
McKinsey & Company reported that the March 14 household survey data from BLS show that racial minorities make up 20 percent of the labor force but 25 percent of the newly unemployed.
The unemployment rate for major worker groups was 14.2 percent for whites, 14.5 percent for Asians and 18.9 percent for Hispanics, the highest rate for all racial groups.
April’s unemployment rate is still an underestimate of the actual number of unemployed workers. It would be higher if all the people who lost their jobs had actually remained in the labor force, said Elise Gould, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C.
By Associated Press
Judge Robert Hinkle says the current law is unconstitutional but his ruling is likely to face Republican challenge in key battleground state
The law in Florida requiring felons to pay legal fees as part of their sentences before regaining the vote is unconstitutional for those unable to pay, or unable to find out how much they owe, a federal judge has ruled.
The 125-page ruling, issued by US district court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee on Sunday, involves a state law to implement a 2016 ballot measure approved by voters to automatically restore the right to vote for many felons who have completed their sentence.
The Republican-led legislature stipulated that fines and legal fees must be paid as part of the sentence, in addition to serving any prison time.
Hinkle has acknowledged he is unlikely to have the last word in the case, expecting the administration of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to launch an appeal.
The case could have deep ramifications in the crucial electoral battleground given that Florida has an estimated 774,000 disenfranchised felons who are barred because of financial obligations. Many of those felons are African Americans and statistically more likely to vote for the Democratic party. Florida was also the scene of the infamous “hanging chad” controversy in the 2000 US election.
The judge called the Florida rules a “pay-to-vote system” that was unconstitutional when applied to felons who were otherwise eligible to vote but genuinely unable to pay the required amount.
A further complication was how to set the exact amount in fines and other kinds of legal fees owed by felons seeking the vote. Hinkle said it was unconstitutional to bar any voter whose amount owed “could not be determined with diligence”.
Hinkle ordered the state to require election officials to allow felons to request an advisory opinion on how much they owe, essentially placing the burden on election officials to seek that information from court systems. If there was no response within three weeks, then the applicant should not be barred from registering to vote, the ruling said.
Hinkle said the requirement to pay fines and restitution as ordered in a sentence is constitutional for those who are able to pay if the amount can be determined.
The case, Kelvin Jones vs Ron DeSantis, consolidates five lawsuits filed by advocates of disenfranchised felons, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“This is a tremendous victory for voting rights,” Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with ACLU’s voting rights project, said in a statement. “The court recognized that conditioning a person’s right to vote on their ability to pay is unconstitutional. This ruling means hundreds of thousands of Floridians will be able to rejoin the electorate and participate in upcoming elections.”
The 2018 ballot measure, known as Amendment Four, does not apply to convicted murderers and rapists.
As of May 20, 2020, at 9:00 AM
Alabama had 12,701 confirmed cases of
Greene County had 86
with 4 deaths
The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting on May 12, 2020. The meeting with full attendance met at the Carver School gymnasium to allow for property social distancing of Council members and the audience.
Most of the City Council meeting was devoted to a continuing discussion of the need to correct problems of water meters, computers and software to read the meters, conformity in water billing and making sure that the water was generating sufficient revenues to support the City budget.
The City Council reaffirmed its decision by a 4 to 1 vote to remove Mayor Steele as Superintendent of the Water System, however, there was dissension relative to taking the next steps to correct the problems in the Water Department.
Council members, led by Sheila Smith and LaTosha Johnson, want to declare an emergency in the Water Department and contract with a company, headed by Kathy Horne, to come in and correct the management and billing problems. Horne’s firm and the Alabama Rural Water Association presented a report to the City Council in February recommending changes to improve the city’s water system.Mayor Steele insists that although he is no longer Superintendent of the Water Department, as Mayor he still has day-to-day supervision of the water system. He says that he is reluctant to bring in consultants to correct problems that he says have already been resolved.
The Mayor says that the current corrected water bills that have been sent to residents will generate an additional $30,000 in revenues for the city. He also says 90 of the new digital water meters have been reinstalled properly or replaced.
City attorney, Zane Willingham, backed the Mayor and said if the Council wants to bring in consultants, they must advertise and bid out these services under the laws governing municipalities like the City of Eutaw. The City Council voted to bid out a contract for management of the water system, however, at press time the Democrat has received no legal notice to print soliciting bids for management of the water system.
The Council also discussed the need to build more storm shelters to protect the residents of the city from storms and tornados. Councilman Joe Powell brought some cost estimates for shelters. There was a discussion of building shelters in different sections of the City with grants from FEMA. The Council voted to table the discussion of shelters until electronic bingo resumes operations, after the coronavirus, to provide matching funds for the construction of shelters.
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
• approved a resolution honoring first responders and frontline health care workers, scheduled for May 14, 2020;
• approved a resolution supporting the renovation of Elmwood Manor;
• approved a “Back to School – Sales Tax Holiday”, scheduled for July 14-19, 2020;
• agreed to pave M & M Drive as soon as funds are available;
• discussed pending insurance claims;
• requested a list of all purchases made by the City, since the beginning of 2020, to determine if supplies are adequate;
• discussed street washouts in the City and how to contract, with FEMA funding for their repair.
SELMA, AL – May 19, 2020: Through support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and a national donor, the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) has been funded to create two new grant application opportunities to help individual artists and arts organizations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis across BBCF’s 12 county service area of the Alabama Black Belt.
BBCF’s “Artist Relief Fund” allows individual, professional working artists (age 18 and older) who are having trouble meeting their basic needs to apply for up to $575 in a one- time grant.
The second grant application announced is BBCF’s “Black Belt Joy” grant whereby arts organizations can receive up to $1,000 each by sharing creative ways to spread joy across the Black Belt through the arts. This special grants process also includes a video application option.
In addition, BBCF will be offering extension support to arts grantees already funded in the last 2019 Arts Grants cycle. This support helps arts projects already underway to continue operations during this crucial time where all cultural activity has been critically impacted or, in many cases, grounded to a complete halt.
How to apply? Applications are available online at the BBCF website. These can be filled out and submitted in real-time on the website (www.blackbeltfound.org). There are two different applications available. All of the requirements and rules for the grant applications are outlined there.
BBCF President Felecia Lucky states, “Thank you to our long-term support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the NEA by helping BBCF to quickly aid artists and arts organizations who are hurting across the Black Belt. Our goal with these new grants is to get relief out to those who need it the most in the simplest and least stressful way possible, so our process offers a streamlined way to apply. Through this, we look forward to spreading some comfort and joy as we continue supporting the many artists and arts organizations already granted in our last cycle.
How to Connect in this Crisis? How to Help?- If you are an organization or someone that is actively working in the community looking to join forces for greater outreach, BBCF wants to hear from you. E- mail BBCF at email@example.com. Individual donors can immediately contribute to the COVID-19 Relief Fund here: http://www.blackbeltfound.org.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $169,425.05 (1/2 payment) for the month of March, 2020 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 March 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 Policy Council, Fire Department, Greene County Golf Course, Branch Heights Housing Authority, Department of Human Resources and the Greene County Library.
Sheriff Benison’s bingo rules provide that the Association of Volunteer Fire Departments, headed by Hodges Smith, receives between $,3400 and $3,500 each month from bingo operators, however, Mr. Smith refuses to cash the checks and states that he has been advised not to accept the money from the Sheriff’s rules.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $33,386.25 to the following: Greene County Commission, $8,875.20; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,798.45; City of Eutaw, $2,685.45; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $1,125; Greene County Board of Education, $3,048.45; Greene County Health System, $3,629.10. Sub Charities, $329.10.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $55,082.64 to the following: Greene County Commission, $14,643.03; Greene County Sheriff’s 16,166.25; City of Eutaw, $4,430.75; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $1,856.13; Greene County Board of Education, $5,029.50, and the Greene County Health System, $5,987.50. Sub Charities, $542.87.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $80,956.16 to the following: Greene County Commission, $21,521; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $23,760; City of Eutaw, $6,512; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $2,718; Greene County Board of Education, $7,392 and the Greene County Health System, $8,800; Sub Charities, 797.86.
Sheriff Benison set guides for re-opening bingo facilities
Due to the COVID-19 virus, March and April 2020 fees under Electronic Bingo amendment 743 were delayed or not received in the electronic bingo office that is regulated by Sheriff Jonathan Benison. The fees are required in the rules and regulations set out in amendment 743 which is regulated by the Sheriff of Greene County.
Although the electronic bingo halls were closed because of the virus, the electronic bingo licensees and operators saw some of the citizens’ needs in the county. Some of the licensees and operators decided to meet some of these needs by paying some of the required amendment 743 fees to the charities.
The electronic bingo licensees and operators who met this challenge were Frontier-Dream, Palace (T.S. Police Support League and Rivers Edge – Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Non- Profit Organization.
In the meantime Sheriff Jonathan Benison has sent a letter to each licensee and operator asking them to submit in writing a safety sanitation plan for employees and patrons that will be returning to the electronic bingo halls to play and work.
The safety of all future patrons is at stake. Face masks, gloves, plastic face shield may be necessary as a future expense that each operator may have to incur, due to the close proximity of each patron.With face masks, ‘No smoking’ would be a problem to some patrons. Hand wipes/sanitizing each machine after each player quits playing to insure the next player is at a ‘clean’ machine.
This virus pandemic may require additional employees to make sure that the halls are kept sanitized.
Submitted by Sheriff Jonathan Benison