Newswire: Pelosi supports holding hearings on ‘Medicare for All’

By Peter Sullivan, The Hill

     Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports holding hearings on Medicare for all, her spokesman said Thursday, marking a major step forward for supporters of a single-payer health system.     Some Democrats have been talking about holding hearings on the issue, but Pelosi's backing is seen as a boost for those efforts.

Pelosi had said last year that Medicare for all would “have to be evaluated” and is “on the table.”
The Washington Post reported Thursdaythat the Rules Committee and the Budget Committee will hold the hearings.
That would leave out the main committees with jurisdiction over the issue: Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means. The chairmen of those committees have not given their backing to Medicare for all, while the chairmen of Rules and Budget have.
Pelosi’s support for hearings is a plus for the movement, but it’s unclear whether she would support further steps such as holding a vote on Medicare for all legislation.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) plans to introduce a new version of the Medicare-for-all legislation early in the new Congress.
She has been working to update the legislation and work out the concerns of some lawmakers.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) told The Hill in Novemberthat he was “hopeful” he could support the new version if issues with last year’s bill were worked out.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the incoming chairman of the Budget Committee, already said last year that he planned to hold hearings on Medicare for all.
“Chairman Yarmuth plans to hold a hearing this Congress on the various approaches to expanding coverage and making health care more affordable, which would include different Medicare for All options,” spokesman Sam Lau said Thursday.
By contrast, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has thrown cold water on the idea.
“I’ve always been an advocate for Medicare for all or single-payer, but I just don’t think that the votes would be there for that, so I think our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” Pallone said in November.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the incoming Ways and Mean chair, has been slightly more open to the idea, saying in December that Medicare for all deserved “a conversation.”
Democrats, however, face pressure from their left wing on the issue, not only from Jayapal but from a class of new members including incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Newswire : A petulant President shuts down government and insults working people

NEWS ANALYSIS by: Rev. Jesse Jackson

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s disaster relief program is
one of the essentials of the federal government. PHOTO: USDA.gov

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The partial government shutdown continued this week. Meanwhile, some 800,000 federal employees are going without pay, either furloughed and forced not to work or deemed
“essential” and forced to work without pay.

On Christmas Day, President Trump suggested that the workers supported the shutdown that he earlier said he would be “proud” to cause: “Many of those workers have said to me, communicated,
stay out until you get the funding for the wall.”

This is a billionaire’s conceit. Federal employees are not wealthy. Like most Americans, many live paycheck to paycheck. The shutdown, which started on Dec. 22, stopped all paychecks just as the holiday approached. It also terminated all paid time off for workers, even for those who have scheduled leave for the holiday and will lose the paid time off if they don’t use it by the end of the year. It is hard to imagine anything more disruptive, or more callous.

Unlike the president, Trump’s Office of Personnel Management recognizes the plight that workers face in the shutdown.
It issued suggestions on how employees might negotiate with landlords and creditors over missed payments, even suggesting that they offer to do “painting or carpentry” in lieu of rent. Even if Congress eventually votes to reimburse employees for back pay, it isn’t likely to cover the fines, penalty fees, late fees, and hit to credit ratings that the shutdown will cause. For years, conservatives have maligned federal workers as overpaid, inefficient and intrusive. Ever since President Ronald Reagan quipped that the most dangerous words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” federal workers have been scorned and mocked.

This is just plain ignorant. Federal workers are public servants — they do the public’s work. They are air traffic controllers, park rangers, border patrol officers and prison employees. They guard our coasts, they protect our air and water, they care for public lands, they administer our Social Security and Medicare.We rely on them
in big and little ways.

When Republicans cut the public servants in the Internal Revenue Service, the wealthy and corporations find it easier to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. When OSHA inspectors are cut, employees are at greater risk in the work place.When the Justice Department cuts back on anti-trust, private monopolies and fraud fleece
millions of Americans.

When we get stuck waiting in lines or find getting help from a federal official difficult, we should remember that it isn’t because the employees are incompetent, it’s because right-wing attacks on government and cuts in resources have rendered them less able to do their work. Conservatives say they believe in markets, not government, but free and efficient markets depend on government to enforce laws, break up monopolies, police against fraud. Without an active and efficient government, the criminal and the grifters drive out the honest and the decent from the marketplace, and we are
all worse off as a result.

Trump’s shutdown is simply the most recent of his assaults on the employees of the government that he was elected to run. He’s scorned them as part of the “swamp, ”sought to freeze their pay, cut their retirements and undermine their labor organizations.Instead of paying tribute to their service, he’s demeaned their capacity, even while cutting the resources needed to do their jobs. Not surprisingly, the non-partisan Best Places to Work report finds a decline in employee engagement and morale under Trump.

The shutdown will do real damage to many federal employees and their families. And it will do real damage to the services that we need and expect from our government. For Trump and the right, this is a sucker’s play.They demean federal employees, shut down parts of the government, cut back resources and staffing to do needed tasks and then use the resulting inefficiency as evidence that government can’t work.

Local Black state legislators will hold leadership positions in 2019

State Senator Bobby Singleton
Christopher England
Senator Vivian Figures

Several local state legislators will hold key leadership positions in the upcoming 2019 state legislative session.
State Senator Bobby Singleton of Greensboro (District 24), who represents Greene and surrounding counties, will serve as Minority Leader of the Alabama State Senate.
Representative Christopher England of District 70, which includes most of southern and eastern Tuscaloosa County, was chosen to head the Democratic Caucus in the Alabama House of Representatives.
Singleton, who was first elected to the state Senate in 2005, was chosen for the post by the eight members of the Democratic caucus.
“I just want to thank my colleagues for having the confidence in me to be able to lead them for the next four years,” Singleton said in a statement. “As the minority leader, we will be looking at a robust agenda; not just for the Democrats, but for the state of Alabama. Hopefully, we can work across the aisle with the majority. I look forward to working with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Greg Reed and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh.”
Singleton replaces Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton. Beasley will assume the duties of deputy minority leader.
Singleton earned his bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University and his law degree from Miles Law School. He served in the state House of Representatives from 2002-05 before being elected to the state Senate. He represents District 24, which includes parts of Choctaw, Clarke, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties.
Marsh congratulated Singleton on his appointment as Senate minority leader.
“There are many tough issues facing the Alabama Senate in the year to come and I look forward to working with Sen. Singleton as we develop legislation that improves the lives of all Alabamians,” Marsh said in a statement. “Sen. Singleton and I have worked well together for several years and I have no doubt that will continue as we strive to ensure that the Senate runs smoothly and that all Senators are represented equally.”
Representative Chris England, who begins his fourth term in the House of Representatives, said, “I am honored and humbled to serve our caucus in this capacity. I am looking forward to working with the members of the leadership team and the caucus overall to build a better Alabama,” England said in a news release.

England graduated from Howard University in 1999 and earned a juris doctorate degree from the University of Alabama in 2002. He was first elected in 2006 and ran unopposed in the November general election.
Members of the caucus also re-elected Rep. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville as minority leader and Rep. Merika Coleman of Pleasant Grove the assistant minority leader.
Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, was elected chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, which includes both senators and House members.
Figures will serve in that position for two years. A House member will chair the Black Caucus the following two years, as is customary.
Despite losing a number of influential Black legislators to retirement and election losses, including Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, Rep. John Knight and Rep. Alvin Holmes of Montgomery, there are younger leaders who are asserting themselves and coming forward to lead on critical issues facing the Black community.

Annual Kwanzaa Program celebrated in local schools and community

Community wide Kwanzaa held Dec. 28, 2018 at Eutaw Activity Center, sponsored by Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Harambe Community Youth Organization.

Kwanzaa Celebration at  Greene County High School
Kwanzaa Celebration at Robert Brown Middle School
Kwanzaa Celebration at Eutaw Primary

The annual Kwanzaa Celebrations in Greene County focused on presentations at the local schools as well as the community wide event. Kwanzaa co-sponsors, the Greene County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Harambe Community Youth Organization, conducted celebrations at Greene County High School, Robert Brown Middle School and Eutaw Primary School during the week of December 17, before students left for Christmas Holiday. The community celebration was held Friday, Dec. 28 at the Eutaw Activity Center.

The program participants included members of the sponsoring organizations and students from the respective schools. The participants at the community event also included DST Debutants of the 2019 Season and the Greene County Community Choir.
Kwanzaa, a Swahili word meaning First Fruits, is a harvest celebration honoring the culture and heritage of African Americans. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga during the Black Power Movement to honor African American people, our struggles in the United States, our heritage and our culture. During Kwanzaa Celebration, family and community gather together to give thanks for the harvest, which brings us good things from the earth. We remember the past and our ancestors who worked the earth and we celebrate hope and promise for the year to come.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 through January 1. Each day a candle is lit and a Kwanzaa Principle is discussed. On the first day the black candle is lit representing the principle Umoja (Unity). On the following days, alternating red and green candles are lit from the black candle for the remaining principles – Kujichagulia (Self-determination); Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility); Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics); Nia (Purpose); Kuumba (Creativity; and Imani ( Faith).
The community shared the Talking Stick for expressions and applications of the Kwanzaa Principles. A harvest feast was shared by all.

2018 – Year in Review

In this article, we will review the highlights of local news stories that affected Greene County during the past year – 2018.

Love’s Truckstop planned

The most notable development for Greene County during 2018 was the announcement that Love’s corporation had secured an option to purchase land at the Exit 40 intersection with Interstate Highway 20/59 on the outskirts of Eutaw. Love’s plans to build a truck stop with 87 spaces, a convenience store with three fast food outlets and other services for trucks and travelers.
The development of the project was contingent upon the City of Eutaw extending sewage lines about a mile to the project site at an estimated cost of $900,000. In July, Mayor Steele announced a $400,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) toward the sewage project. This was followed in August by an announcement by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) of a grant of $372,425 for the project.
The Greene County Industrial Development Authority agreed to loan the City of Eutaw, the balance of funding needed to complete the sewer line. At its December meeting, the City of Eutaw accepted bids for construction of the sewer line.
On October 15, 2018 a groundbreaking was held at the site, where Love’s confirmed that it was building its 470th Travel Center and Country Store in Greene County at the Interstate 40 interchange.
Governor Kay Ivey, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, State Senator Bobby Singleton, members of the Love’s family and management, and many other dignitaries attended the groundbreaking
The $16 million travel stop will be built on a 13.9-acre site and is expected to bring an estimated 43 permanent jobs to the area with a projected 1,000 trucks per day. The facility is expected to sell 8 to 10 million gallons of fuel and have retail sales of $4 to 6 million per year, which will significantly increase tax revenues to Greene County and the City of Eutaw.
Construction of the Lowe’s project is expected to begin in January 2019 and be completed by late Fall of 2019.

Electronic Bingo

The Greene County Community continued to benefit from a gaming and tourist industry authorized by local voter approval of Alabama Constitutional Amendment 743 in 1986.
Five bingo parlors at Greenetrack, Green Charity, Frontier, River’s Edge and the Palace provide 600 or more jobs and over $4.5 million in revenues to the Board of Education, County Government, Sheriff’s Department, Municipalities and the Greene County Hospital and Health System. Additional contributions to E-911, the Greene County Volunteer Firefighters Association and other civic charities are also made.

Each month, the Democrat had a photo and story on the basic fee distribution by the Greene County Sheriff’s Department. The monthly distributions averaged over $370,000 each month for the year.
The Greene County Hospital and Health System received $540,000 in bingo fees ($25 per bingo machine) for 2018, the first full year it was included in the monthly bingo fees distribution. This helped stabilize the finances of the Greene County Health System and insured the continued operation of these critical health facilities.
Electronic bingo in Greene County and throughout the state is under attack as “illegal slot-machine gambling” by State Attorney General Mike Marshall, who was re-elected in November. In September 2018, we reported on a status conference, in front of special Circuit Judge James Moore of Fayette County with representatives of the State and all five bingo operators, to discuss a calendar of future motions and hearings in this critical case.
State AG Marshall is continuing to push the case to end electronic bingo in Greene County despite the catastrophic implications for this industry in lost jobs and revenues, in a historically persistent poor county of the Alabama Black Belt.

2018 Local and Statewide Elections

The past year was a major election year for state offices and the Legislature in Alabama and also local elections for Sheriff, Circuit Clerk, Probate Judge, Coroner, County Commission and other political positions.
Numerous candidates for state and local offices qualified by February 9, for the Democratic and Republican primaries on June 5. Several positions were uncontested: Terri Sewell for Congress in the 7th District, Bobby Singleton for State Senate, A. J. McCampbell and Ralph Howard for State House seats involving Greene County.
In the June 5 primary, Greene County voters chose to re-elect Sheriff Jonathan ‘Joe” Benison, Ronald Kent Smith for Coroner, Veronica Morton Jones for Circuit Clerk and for Commissioners: Lester Brown for District 1, Tennyson Smith for District 2, Corey Cockrell for District 3 and Allen Turner for District 4.
Six weeks later after the July 17th primary run-off, Rolanda Wedgeworth triumphed over Jeremy Rancher for Probate Judge and Roshanda Summerville was chosen to be the nominee for District 5 County Commissioner. Since there were no Republican challengers on the local level, all Democrats running for local and legislative positions were elected subject to no independent or write-in challenges in the November General Election.
At the statewide level, Greene county voters helped Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa, to be the Democratic nominee for Governor and Joe Siegelman to be nominee for Attorney General, in the June primary. However, despite strong support in the November 6 General Election, in the Black Belt, Maddox was defeated by incumbent Governor Kay Ivey and Siegelman was defeated by AG Mike Marshall,
In November, Alabama voters continued Republican control of all major statewide offices and a solid majority in both houses of the State Legislature. This despite Maddox’s promise to “expand Medicaid to 300,000 uncovered people in the state on my first day in office” and Ivey’s
Promise to protect Confederate monuments where they were in the state.
Alabama Congressional delegation remained with six Republicans and one Democrat – Terri Sewell.
In June 2018, Governor Kay Ivey appointed Barbara McShan, longtime Revenue Clerk to the position of Greene County Revenue Commissioner to serve out the term of Brenda Goree, who retired.
In November, the five County Commissioners were sworn-in and selected Tennyson Smith as Chair and Roshanda Summerville as Vice Chair for the next four years.

Mayor Raymond Steele and Eutaw City Council often at odds

From the very first meetings of the Eutaw City Council in January 2018 there were fissures and disagreements between Mayor Raymond Steele and City Council members. The disagreements centered around use of city facilities and vehicles, development of a budget for city finances, payment of bills, operation of the water department, repair of roads in Branch Heights, and the addition of items to the meeting agenda without prior consultation with the Mayor.

The Mayor and City Council generally agreed on support for the Love’s Truckstop project but disagreed on practically everything else. There were concerns about the use of the National Guard Armory after a shooting in the –parking lot after a January party at the facility that ended after midnight. City Councilman Jeffrey Carpenter, also a sheriff’s deputy was injured in the shooting.
In March, Mayor Steele purchased the Carver School from the Board of Education for $213,000 with a $50,000 down payment and four years to pay the balance. The Mayor wants to use the school classroom and gymnasium facilities for after-school and weekend youth programs, adult education and cultural programs and other community activities. Council members argue that the purchase is too costly, no operational plan or regulations exist for use of the facilities, and the purchase should have been coordinated with the County Commission and other agencies.
The Mayor and Council have disagreed about the closing-out of the $3.1 loan and grant package with USDA Rural Development for improvement of the water tower and water system. Many of the water meters were incorrectly installed and may not be providing accurate billing reports. Billing has been behind and late which has placed financial hardships on the City in paying its bills.
Several Council members have called for a budget to determine how city finances are being used, when decisions were made such as using $115,000 of funds set aside for Branch Heights roads to pay other bills. Later funds were contracted for Brach Heights roads repairs but the contractor has not started work as yet. Council members are also calling for an audit of city finances but the cost seems high in relation to the benefits.

Other News and
Developments

Greene County Board of Education continued to make progress during 2018 on improving student learning and performance. LaVonda Blair was hired early in the year to be CSFO to handle school finances after the departure of her predecessor. The TieTying for new ninth graders at the High School continued. New courses in welding, auto mechanics and computer coding were added to the curriculum. A virtual high school program was added to serve persons who dropped out or could not attend classes. At its last meeting the Greene County Board of Directors voted 3 to 2 not to continue the contract of Superindent James H. Carter. Unless this decision is rescinded, the Board will spend much of 2019 searching for and interviewing candidates to replace Carter.

Mills Pharmacy opened for business in July in Eutaw in the old Solomon Drug location giving residents a choice in purchasing their drugs. The General Dollar in Eutaw was remodeled giving more space for food items. A new General Dollar opened in the Clinton community at the end of the year. The Super Dollar store closed and the Family Dollar store burned down and the remains cleared away during the past year.
Greene County celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday on January 17 with a breakfast, a march through downtown and a rally at the Courthouse, which featured Dr. Cynthia Warrick, President of Stillman College. In March, many Greene Countians participated in the 53rd. Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Alabama to celebrate and agitate for voting rights. In July, the Alabama Civil Rights Museum sponsored the 49th anniversary of the 1969 Special Election in Greene County, which was the beginning of Black political control of Greene County.
In August, the community celebrated National Night Out and Back to School Rally on the Courthouse Square. At the end of the month, the 43rd annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival was held on the Courthouse Square. In December the Chamber of Commerce sponsored the annual Christmas Parade.

Many other news and community events were held during 2018 – too many to mention in this summary.

Newswire: Emeralds, Rubies score big profits for foreign firms as African countries go broke

     Dec. 24, 2018 (GIN) – Foreign mining companies extract more than a quarter of the world’s production of rare emeralds in Zambia yet declare losses to make themselves tax exempt.

        So far, charges of tax evasion filed against Kagem mine, a subsidiary of the London-listed gemstone miner Gemfields, have been unsuccessful - dismissed by the Zambian Revenue Authority.

        Gemfields owns 75% of the world’s largest emerald mine in Kagem, northern Zambia. Auctions of 30 Zambian emeralds and 11 Mozambican rubies have brought the company over $1 billion of combined auction revenue, according to the Creamer Media Mining Weekly.

        The UK company stated this was a remarkable benchmark for the colored gemstone sector.

        Yet Gemfields and the other foreign gem firms are fighting tooth and nail against Zambian efforts to curb corruption in ways that would cut into profits.

        A proposed tax increase of 1.5 percent to reduce Zambia’s mounting public debt was met with threats by an industry lobbying group to cut $500 million in capital spending and lay off 21,000 workers, according to the Bloomberg news wire.

        Each year, the Zambian government is believed to lose billions in illicit financial flows mainly related to its mineral resources sector. The Kagem probe was part of a government effort to capture more benefits from the sector.

        Zambia is also Africa’s second-biggest copper producer with ownership concentrated in a few foreign hands. In 2018 the revenue authority carried out an audit of all major mining companies and, according to Reuters, slapped the India-based Konkola Copper Mines with an $18 million bill.

        Suspicions about Konkola were raised when founder Anil Agarwal told a business forum that its Zambian mines made $500 million a year yet declared a loss at the end of the financial year.

        In a separate development, Gemfields faces serious allegations of human rights abuses at the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. Charges leveled at Gemfields and its management cite abuses allegedly carried out since 2012.

        These included claims by 112 Mozambicans of alleged killings of family members, torture, abuse and humiliation at the hands of security employed by the mine and the state.

        A statement by the Mozambique Bar Association’s human rights commission cites “acts of torture” seen in videos showing people bound to trees and beaten with thick wooden sticks, lined up in stress position – images they called “macabre, degrading and inhuman.”  

Newswire : Hotel employees fired after calling police on Black guest using his phone in lobby

By: Carla Herreria, Huffington Post

Jermaine Massey

     The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Portland, Oregon, fired two employees days after they were accused of racially profiling a black hotel guest who was taking a call on his cellphone in the lobby. 
     In a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday, the hotel issued another apology and announced that it fired the two men “involved in the mistreatment” of Jermaine Massey, who captured parts of last week’s confrontation on camera. 
     The decision to fire the employees came after the hotel announced it would investigate the discrimination claims.
     “Their actions were inconsistent with our standards & values,” the hotel tweeted. “We reiterate our sincere apology for what he endured & will work with diversity experts to ensure this never happens again.”
     Jacob Benjamin, the hotel’s general manager, did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for the employees’ full names.
     Last weekend, Massey posted a series of videos showing DoubleTree staff members and a police officer asking him to leave the hotel, despite his having booked a room. Massey was eventually forced to give up the room. 
     “Tonight I was racially profiled and discriminated against for taking a phone call in the lobby of my hotel room at the @doubletreepdx @doubletree,” Massey wrote in an Instagram post. “They already had in their minds that they didn’t want me there so I waited for the cops to show up and when they did, I explained my side of the story and they didn’t want to hear it.”
     The hotel first apologized on Wednesday, then again on Friday, in a pair of statements obtained by HuffPost detailing the company’s plans to launch an internal investigation and reach out to Massey.
     Massey, who was in Portland to see rapper Travis Scott perform, said he received a call from his mother who is on the East Coast after the concert. Thinking it was an emergency, Massey said he found a “remote area” of the hotel’s lobby to answer the call.
     In Massey’s videos, a security guard identified as Earl can be seen telling Massey that the police have been called and he is no longer welcome at the hotel. Meanwhile, Massey, who is seated on a couch, accuses the security guard of harassing him while he was on the phone.

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Later, speaking to a hotel manager identified as Luis, Massey said he was a guest of the hotel and needed privacy to take the call.
“I needed some privacy, I had a family emergency going on and this gentleman decided to come over here and harass me and ask me where I was staying,” Massey says to the hotel employees.
When Earl accuses Massey of loitering by sitting in the lobby, Massey says: “So this area is off limits after a certain time?” Earl replies, “Only if you’re a guest.”
“I am a guest,” Massey says. “You didn’t tell me that,” the security guard responds. “I asked you what room you’re in and you refused.”
Later in the videos, a police officer can be seen asking Massey to leave the hotel. The Portland Police Bureau confirmed to HuffPost that officers responded to a trespassing call at the hotel late Saturday and asked Massey to gather his personal belongings from his room and leave.
Massey’s Instagram posts, which have since gone viral, reignited a national conversationover people who call the police on people of color who are doing mundane or normal activities, such as throwing a picnic or going home.
In a video message to his Instagram followers, Massey called attention to the racism he experienced.
“Racism is still alive and well. It’s sad that people have to go through these things and I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the first, and I’m not the last but I will not stand for injustice,” he said.
Throughout 2018, white people have called or threatened to call the police on an 8-year-old black girl who was selling water on a sidewalk, a pair of Native American brothers who joined a college campus tour, a black youth mentor who was babysitting two white children, a black man at a bank trying to cash his own paycheckand a black man trying to enter his own apartment building.

Newswire : First member of Congress calls for Trump’s resignation amid month of chaos

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)

        On Christmas Eve, Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore became the first sitting member of Congress to demand that President Donald Trump resign from the presidency. She made her comments as the Dow dove 500 points on December 24 in worst Christmas Eve trading day ever.As of Christmas, the market was on track to suffer its worst December since the Great Depression.
        “Some of this money for the doggone wall, I wish they would put into places like Flint and Milwaukee,” said Rep. Moore during the interview. The Congresswoman worked to secure millions of dollars to remove lead from America’s water infrastructure.
        During an interview on the Scott Dworkin report, Rep. Moore said that President Trump “resigning is a dignified way for him to leave as opposed to being impeached or as opposed to being indicted or having the 25th amendment evoked. It’s really a very palliative approach to ask him to just go quietly and spare us all this pain.”
        December 2018 featured a turbulent series of events around the 45th President.His Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James Mattis, resigned. The White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, set a time for his departure.The federal government partly shut down as Trump reportedly became angry with a budget bill that didn’t include billions in funding for a wall at the U.S. and Mexican border. Two children died in U.S. custody as Trump Administration policy on immigration was led by relative policy novice, Stephen Miller.
        Though many other members of Congress have been consistently critical of the President, Moore is now the first member of Congress to actually call for him to resign. Nine members of the House have either stated on the record that President Trump should be impeached or assisted in moving articles of impeachment to the floor of the U.S. House.
        The impeachment effort against Trump has been led by Rep. Al Green of Texas. In October 2017, Rep. Green drafted an impeachment resolution and articles of impeachment and attempted to have it considered on the House floor against the wishes of Democratic leadership.
        Rep. Green would be joined a year later by Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). Non-CBC members Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.).
        Currently President Trump’s approval rating is only 40 percent. Democrats will take control of the U.S. House on January 3rd.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

Newswire : Cigars and Whiskey – America’s oldest veteran, Richard Arvin Overton, dies at 112

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

President Barack Obama greets Richard Overton, with Earlene Love-Karo, in the Blue Room of the White House, Nov. 11, 2013.

     Born on May 11, 1906, Richard Arvin Overton, a member of what is often called America’s “Greatest Generation,” died on December 27th in Austin, Texas. At 112 years and 230 days, Overton was believed to be the oldest living man in the United States as well as America’s oldest veteran.
     He enlisted into the Army on September 3, 1940 at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. Overton then fought in World War II, serving in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion. He fought in the South Pacific from 1940 through 1945, a time which included battle in Iwo Jima. He retired from the U.S. Army in October of 1945 as a technician fifth grade. He then worked at a furniture store and then took a job at the Texas Department of the Treasury.
    “He was there at Pearl Harbor, when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God said former President Barack Obama in 2013 during a Veterans Day ceremony honoring Overton at Arlington National Cemetery.
     The second World War was the deadliest conflict in modern military history as over 70 million people lost their lives and the U.S. suffered over 407,000 deaths in battle.
     As the years went by Overton became a local and then national celebrity. In 2013, at the age of 107, Overton won widespread media attention after telling Fox News he would spend Memorial Day “smoking cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee.” He was later invited to the White House.
     Overton had been hospitalized with pneumonia but was released from the hospital on December 24, Christmas Eve according to family member Shirley Overton. He had become known in his community for driving others to church well after turning 100 years old.
     “With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him,” wrote Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a statement on December 27 after hearing the news of Overton’s death.
     The Governor added that Overton was, “an American icon and Texas legend. Richard Overton made us proud to be Texans and proud to be Americans. We can never repay Richard Overton for his service to our nation and for his lasting impact on the Lone Star State.”
     Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Newswire: Congress moves to help inmates in Federal prisons but not in predominately Black state prisons

By Frederick H. Lowe

California prison

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Congress has passed legislation reducing sentences for some inmates serving time in federal prisons, but the law won’t affect state prisons and jails where the majority of black men are serving time.
The legislation called “First Step Act,” Senate bill 2795, passed by a vote of 87 to 12. The House of Representatives passed the legislation 358-36. Now it will go to President Trump who has promised to sign it.
First Step is designed to reduce recidivism, according to GovTrac, which monitors federal legislation.
The bill also would place inmates in prisons close to their homes to increase the likelihood of more family visitation, order home confinement for low-risk prisoners, prohibit the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners, expand adult employment for returning prisoners through federal programs and treatment of prisoners for heroin and opiod use and addiction, and ease federal sentencing laws.
The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based advocate for a fair and effective justice system by promoting reforms, called the Senate’s passage of First Step “an important milestone in the long road to ending mass incarceration and curbing the excesses and harm in the federal justice system.”
“The last time Congress passed legislation to reduce sentences was in 2010 when Congress reformed the racially disparate mandatory minimum penalties governing crack cocaine offenses,” The Sentencing Project reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, also praised the legislation, but the Law Center said the legislation will have no impact on state sentencing laws or on people who are incarcerated in state prisons or local jails.
In 2016, The Sentencing Project published “The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons,” which noted that African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites.” In some states, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin the disparity is 10 to 1. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 35 percent of state prisoners are white, 38 percent are black and 21 percent Hispanic. Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate of black males, which is 1 in 29 adults and 1 in 15 for black boys 18 to 21.
At the end of 2017, there was an estimated 1,489, 600 inmates in state and federal prisons, according to the Vera Institute of Justice, which is based in New York.
There were 1, 306,300 inmates in state prisons, 9,900 fewer than in 2016, and 183, 300, or 5, 900 fewer in federal prisons than in 2016. As of December 13, the figure was 180,790 in federal prisons.
The decline in the number of inmates in state prisons is not across the board. Some state prisons have added inmates.