COVID-19

As of February 17, 2021 at 10:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 483,167 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(20,229) more than last week with 9,346 deaths (767) more than last week)
Greene County had 857 confirmed cases, (29 more cases than last week), with 32 deaths
Sumter Co. had 973 cases with 31 deaths
Hale Co. had 2,031 cases with 62 deaths

Newswire :Chocolate multinationals charged with complicity in Mali’s child slavery ring

child worker in cocoa

Feb. 15, 2021 (GIN) – A federal class action suit filed on behalf of eight Malian citizens against Nestle SA, Cargill, Hershey and Mars, Inc. among others for their alleged complicity in the trafficking and forced labor of African children, is now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs are former child slaves trafficked from Mali to harvest cocoa beans in Côte d’Ivoire, the biggest exporter and producer. They claim they were forced to work long hours on Ivory Coast cocoa farms and kept in locked shacks at night – often for several years or more – with no pay, no travel documents and no clear idea of where they were or how to get back to their families. They finally managed to escape and return to Mali.
Their attorneys argue that the companies should have better monitored their cocoa suppliers in West Africa, where about two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown and child labor is widespread. The case is based on a law that allows victims to sue companies that participate in a venture that benefits from trafficking and forced labor.
As there are no laws in Mali to aid the plaintiffs in seeking damages or civil remedies against foreign exporters, they brought their claims under US law, specifically the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the Alien Torts Statute.
In 2001, the chocolate manufacturers signed an international agreement called the Harkin-Engel Protocol to reduce child labor in Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire by 2005. The World Cocoa Foundation, an industry body to which all the defendants belong, now aims to achieve the target by 2025.
A central allegation of the lawsuit is that the defendants, despite not owning the cocoa farms in question, “knowingly profited” from the illegal work of children. According to the submissions, the defendants’ contracted suppliers were able to provide lower
prices than if they had employed adult workers with proper protective equipment.
The business practices of these companies clearly have contributed to the use of forced and child labor in West Africa,” said Charity Ryerson, an attorney for the Corporate Accountability Lab who has traveled to Africa to investigate cocoa practices.
The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has determined that the number of enslaved child laborers working in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana has gradually increased to over 1.56 million, implying the efforts purported by the chocolate companies to reduce child labor were bogus misrepresentations.
Nestlé USA and Cargill have responded that they, too, deplore child slavery and trafficking, and that they have taken steps to eradicate such practices among their suppliers.
The companies have asked the Supreme Court to toss the lawsuit, arguing that courts in the United States are the wrong forum for the Malians’ complaint and that the applicable law permits such cases against individuals but not corporations. 

Newswire: President Biden’s Racial Equity Initiative: Moving marginalized communities toward America’s bounty

By Charlene Crowe
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On January 26, President Joe Biden took steps to bring the nation towards the long-promised, but never realized, pledge of racial justice. Four executive orders signed that day make clear that the new Administration will take meaningful and corrective actions.
 
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was directed to take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that have contributed to wealth inequality for generations. Similarly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was ordered to end its use of private prisons. The whole of federal government also recommitted to respect Tribal sovereignty and strengthen the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and Tribal Nations. Finally, President Biden committed to combatting xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
 
“We have never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation, to state the obvious, that all people are created equal and have a right to be treated equally throughout their lives,” said Biden. “And it’s time to act now, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because if we do, we’ll all be better off for it.”
 
“Yes, we need criminal justice reform,” he continued, “but that isn’t nearly enough. We need to open the promise of America to every American. And that means we need to make the issue of racial equity not just an issue for any one department of government; it has to be the business of the whole of government.”
 
Responsibility for implementation and oversight will rest with the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, led by Director Susan Rice, a former Obama Administration appointee who served as National Security Advisor and U.S. Representative to the United Nations and a Black woman..
 
Millions of marginalized people – many who are Black and Latino — face imminent financial disaster. When people are poor, they face compounding struggles – ranging from food insecurity, to the threat of losing utilities, and the risk of homelessness – and hardships seemingly multiply each day. During this still-raging pandemic, a new kind of poor – those who were formerly gainfully employed — are learning the harsh realities of how hard life becomes when adequate income and decent health insurance are no longer available.
 
Regardless of income – or the lack thereof – every family still needs a home, one that provides shelter and sustenance. As much as America needs vaccinations from the pandemic, its people need and have a right to housing.
 
In 2020, to address this newly urgent need, a focused and collaborative national policy endeavor began, called the Housing Playbook Project. The effort was led by Community Change, a nonprofit with the mission of changing the policies and institutions that impact the lives of low-income people – particularly those of color – with support from the Ford Foundation. The sum of the project’s insights and recommendations specific to housing challenges were contained in its report released on January 25th.
 
Entitled A New Deal for Housing for Housing Justice: A Playbook for the Biden Administration, it is a road map to achieving housing justice that details bold federal actions that can effectively respond to the housing crisis and charts a path for leveraging policymaking to build power in the nation’s most neglected communities.
 
“We face a housing affordability crisis, an evictions crisis, and a homelessness crisis like this nation has never seen,” noted Julian Castro, project co-chair and former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor. “The Housing Playbook outlines a bold and ambitious blueprint to tackle these crises head-on, with housing justice and racial equity at the forefront. This is how we ensure housing is not just a commodity, but a basic need and a human right granted to every single American.”
 
“Regardless of where we come from, what we do for work, how we identify or whether we’ve been caught up in our unjust criminal system, everyone deserves a roof over their head,” added Community Change President Dorian Warren. “The Biden-Harris Administration has signaled that they would make racial justice and equity in COVID-19 relief and long- term economic policy a priority. Safe and reliable housing is the cornerstone to economic security. This proposal is a blueprint for how to help move the country toward that vision.”
 
The report’s seven specific policy recommendations include:
• Provide COVID-19 federal relief financial assistance to renters on the verge of eviction and homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Additionally, the report calls for the relief package to award community control of foreclosed and abandoned properties – a nagging blight in neighborhoods of color since the foreclosure crisis;
 
• Create a renter’s tax credit for consumers who pay more than 30% of their income on housing, thereby affording renters a comparable tax break to that of homeowners;
 
• Enact a Presidential Commission on Reparations comprised of lawmakers and diverse perspectives of community organizations and advocates who would together formulate 10-year goals to undo the legacy of anti-Black federal housing policy, establish long-term household, community, regional, and national metrics to track success in achieving the goals; and
 
• Guarantee all low-income families a home by passing legislation to make housing choice vouchers an entitlement for eligible families and create 500,000 new vouchers for families with children under age six.
 
The urgency of America’s housing needs during the pandemic are poignantly analyzed in the Harvard Joint Center for
Housing Studies’ (JCHS) State of the Nation’s Housing 2020, an annual report that analyzes the changes and challenges
in American housing.
 
As of last September, the Black-White homeownership gap stood at 31%, according to the annual report. Additionally, 49% of renters and 36% of homeowners experienced employment income loss between March and September of last year. Those marketplace dynamics contributed to late rental payments that also reflected racial disparities affecting 10% of Whites, but 23% of Blacks and 20% of Latinos.
 
The JCHS report also found that from 2019 to 2020, the total number of homeless people grew in part because 17,000 more people needed shelter. In all, America’s homeless that could be measured came in at 568,000 people.
 
“Widespread calls for racial justice have pointed out the high degree of residential segregation and economic inequality that still exists in the US,” says Daniel McCue, a JCHS Senior Research Associate. “In fact, the sharp racial disparities in housing are both a cause and a consequence of other social inequalities.”
 
For people of color, the combination of concentrated poverty and under-representation in higher income areas leads to nearly two-thirds of poor Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans living in communities with poverty rates above 20% — nearly twice that of the share of poor Whites. They also have far higher cost-burden housing rates and a disproportionately large share of the nation’s homeless.
 
For Nikitra Bailey, Executive Vice President of the Center for Responsible Lending, President Biden’s Racial Equity Initiative is “a critical first step by his Administration to address injustices that are holding our country back” and “will help to move the nation closer to its ideals and center solutions to discrimination that hinder opportunity, allowing marginalized communities to move closer to equal justice under law.”
 
“Prioritizing racial equity is needed at the outset, and fully implementing the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as part of a comprehensive racial equity agenda is essential to expanding opportunity for all Americans,” she added. “These actions give Black and Brown families an opportunity to live free of discrimination and participate fully in the economy.
 
Charlene Crowell is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at 
Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.
 

Newswire : Georgia prosecutors open investigation into Trump’s call to Secretary of State

Fani Willis, Fulton Co. District Attorney

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Georgia prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. During the call, the former President asked him to “find” the votes he needed to overturn the state’s election results.
“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said to Raffensperger during the call.
The transcript of the phone call played a prominent role in the House of Representatives’ second impeachment of the 45th president and is expected to play a central role in the Senate trial.
Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis promises to look into Trump’s actions following the now infamous Jan. 2 telephone call.
“Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable,” Willis said in a statement last month.
“Once the investigation is complete, this matter, like all matters, will be handled by our office based on the facts and the law.”
During his Jan. 6 rally that led to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Trump told his supporters about the phone call.
“In Georgia, your secretary of state, who — I can’t believe this guy is a Republican. He loves recording telephone conversations,” Trump told the large gathering. “You know, that was a — I thought it was a great conversation, personally. So did a lot of other — people love that conversation because it says what’s going on,” he bellowed. “These people are crooked.”
According to the “Articles of Impeachment Against Against Donald John Trump,” with closing endorsement by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, “…President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
The resolution cites the call to Raffensperger urging him to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s election results.
“We cannot allow this unprecedented provocation to go unanswered,” House members said in a statement.
“Everyone involved in this assault must be held accountable, beginning with the man most responsible for it – President Donald Trump. We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic.”

Newswire: Mississippi Congressman, Black lawmakers, NAACP file suit in response to Trump’s coup attempt

By Barrington M. Salmon

Congressman Benny Thompson


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Former President Donald Trump escaped conviction by the US Senate for inciting an insurrection that came close to toppling the government. But the fallout continues.
On Feb. 16, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP filed a lawsuit naming Trump and Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, alleging that they violated an 1871 law by conspiring to incite the violent Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in the deaths of seven people. The purpose of the coup attempt was to thwart certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
“January 6th was one of the most shameful days in our country’s history, and it was instigated by the president himself. His gleeful support of violent White supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger,” Thompson said in a statement. “It is by the slimmest of luck that the outcome was not deadlier. While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the President accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned.”
The lawsuit details Trump’s pronouncements and assertions before, during, and after the November election that the vote would be stolen. Such provocative rhetoric – though untrue, animated his base – a mélange of white domestic terror groups and other far-right supporters. He told them to come to the District of Columbia on Jan. 6 to stop Congressional lawmakers from certifying the election. And after a rally on the Ellipse, Trump encouraged the mob to march to the Capital and “stop the steal.”
According to the plaintiffs, the insurrection was a coordinated, months-long attempt to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise millions of ballots that were legally cast by African-American voters.
The lawsuit claims that Trump and Giuliani, worked with right-wing groups like the Proud Boys the Oath Keepers and other far-right domestic terror groups to incite the riot in an attempt to prohibit lawmakers in Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election win. The plaintiffs say their actions violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era law that protects against violent conspiracies meant to stop Congress from carrying out its Constitutional duties. The law was passed as a counter to widespread Klan intimidation of and violence against Southern members of Congress during and after Reconstruction.
According to House managers, for as long as six hours, rioters battled police. They breached security and overran the building from several entrances, searched for lawmakers, ransacked and desecrated offices, urinated and defecated in and around the building fought with an undermanned police presence using baseball bats, flagpoles, fire extinguishers police shields, metal bars and other objects. More than 140 DC and Capitol Police officers sustained an assortment of injuries and two others committed suicide after the incident. Capital Police leadership is said to have ignored warnings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the House and Senate might be overrun by pro-Trump supporters.
The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. by the NAACP and civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll on behalf of Congressman Thompson. Other members of Congress, including Representatives Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), have indicated that they intend to join the litigation as plaintiffs shortly.
The NAACP is representing Thompson, officials said because “the events on January 6th were just one more attempt by Donald Trump and his allies to make sure that African-American voters were disenfranchised – this time, by trying to stop members of Congress from doing their job and certifying the election results.”
“Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for deliberately inciting and colluding with white supremacists to stage a coup, in his continuing efforts to disenfranchise African-American voters,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the National Association of Colored People. “The insurrection was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated, months-long plan to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of African-American voters who cast valid ballots.”
“Since our founding, the NAACP has gone to the courthouse to put an end to actions that discriminate against African- American voters,” Johnson added. “We are now bringing this case to continue our work to protect our democracy and make sure nothing like what happened on January 6th ever happens again,”
The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump, who was facing his second impeachment in a little more than a year. Only seven Republicans joined the Democratic majority to vote Trump guilty. It is theorized that Republicans fear the wrath of Trump, his base and the 74 million people who voted for him. The plaintiffs case appears to be strengthened by comments made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately after Trump’s acquittal over the weekend.
“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it,” McConnell said at the time. “… January 6th was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They use terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the center floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chatted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they’d been fed wild, falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry. He lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceded the riot … (and represent) a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
McConnell said whatever Trump claims he thought might happen a day, whatever right reaction he’s says he meant to produce by that afternoon we know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us: “A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name, these criminals who are carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could.”
“Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. The president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No, instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded. He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election.”
McConnell voted to acquit Trump, saying he believed the Senate did not have the authority to weigh in because Trump is now a private citizen. Yet while Trump was still in office, McConnell is the one who declined to bring the Senate back after the House voted one article of impeachment for inciting a riot. McConnell did however, denounce Trump’s actions and behavior, saying the ex-president could still face civil or criminal lawsuits.
“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one,” McConnell said. Thompson concurs, saying the events of Jan. 6 were instigated by Trump and “put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger.”
Thompson said in his statement: “While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the president accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned. Failure to do so will only invite this type of authoritarianism for the anti-democratic forces on the far right that are so intent on destroying our country.”
 

County Commission ratifies appointments to EMS Board; work session ends following disruptive behavior

At its regular monthly meeting, held Monday, February 8, 2021, the Greene County Commission ratified its appointments of Dr. Marcia Pugh and Mr. Joe Lee Powell to the Greene County EMS Board of Directors. The Greene County EMS Governing Body Bylaws (Article II) defines the composition and appointment of its Board of Directors: “ The Board of Directors shall be composed of seven members appointed in the manner prescribed in the Greene County Commissioners Ordinance.” The Ordinance clearly states that the County Commission shall have two appointments, the City of Eutaw shall have two appointments, the Town of Forkland has one appointment, the Town of Boligee has one appointment and the Town of Union shall have one appointment.
The newly appointed EMS Board Members from the local municipalities are as follows: from the City of Eutaw – Mr. Rodney Wesley and Mr. John Hann; from the Town of Union – Mrs. Ardelia Colvin; from the Town of Forkland – Mr. Mike Westmoreland; from the Town of Boligee – Mr. Walter Staples. The appointments were effective February 1, 2021.
The organizing meeting of the newly elected EMS Board is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 5:30 pm at the William M. Branch Courthouse. The Covid-19 guidelines will be followed.
County Commission Work Session

The County Commission held is monthly work session as a conference call on Feb. 3, the Wednesday before its regular monthly meeting, at which time the commissioners share reports from their districts, receive reports from the engineer and the CFO, and decide on what items should go to the agenda for the upcoming commission meeting.  At the Feb. 3 work session (conference call) the commissioners discussed the new appointments to the Greene County EMS Board.  Commissioner Brown expressed concern that the EMS Director and perhaps some members of the outgoing EMS Board would resist the board changes.  Mr. Brown stated that traditionally White folk have a problem taking directions from Black folk. He explained that in the past the EMS staff has not complied with the County Commission’s request of all county boards that regular reports are submitted to the commission.  Commissioner Turner suggested that the commissions’ appointments to the EMS Board be ratified. The commissioners agreed to “send it to the agenda.Once the Commission Chairperson, Rolanda Summerville had adjourned the work session, EMS Director Nicholas Wilson spoke up saying that the meeting was not adjourned; this was a public meeting and he was entitled to speak. Wilson continued to take issue with Commissioner Brown’s statement concerning White Folk.  At this point others on the call were talking over one another.  Commissioner Corey Cockrell stated to Wilson that he could not  just try to take over someone else’s meeting.  Commissioner Summerville asked Attorney Hank Sanders to clarify the procedures for the commission’s work sessions.

Attorney Sanders attempted to explain that anyone desiring to get on the agenda for the work session may submit such a request, however, Wilson interrupted with Attorney Sanders asking him to allow him to finish. Wilson, in a seemingly angry voice, stated that he was going to finish and continued his disruption. Commissioner Summerville declared again that the meeting was adjourned and Wilson declared that it was not. Summerville then asked everyone to disconnect themselves from the call.
In other business of the February 8 meeting, the commission approved the following:

  • Levying of all county ad valorem taxes including the 4 mil tax approved by voters of Greene County in the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election.
    *Agreement with Terracon regarding the required 6” cover at the landfill in the amount of $5,775.

*Engineer Willie Branch to solicit proposals to resurface CR 133 from the interstate bridge to the intersection with CR 131.

*Purchase of 1/2 page AD in the Democrat’s Annual Black History Edition.

Greene County Schools establish tutorial partnership with Stillman College

From the Office of School Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones


Greene County Schools and Stillman College have established a partnership with the goal of supporting students during this unprecedented time. The system’s academic program has been virtual since the opening of the 2020-2021 school year.
Greene County School System has solicited the assistance of Stillman College to assist in filing the gap that has occurred with our students during the COVID 19 pandemic. The tutoring program focuses on those students in grades 4-12 needing assistance in successfully navigating online learning as well as assisting students who need more practice in all core subjects.
The Peer Tutors are members of the special Harte Honors College, the scholarship program at Stillman, who major in Education, Journalism, History, or Psychology and are selected by each Academic Dean. The Peer Tutors are assigned to students at a ratio of one tutor per five students for elementary students (Grades 4 & 5) and one tutor per three students for middle school and high school students (Grades 6-12). Ratios are subject to change and depend upon the number of students in Greene County Schools who take advantage of this amazing opportunity.
Currently there are 35 students from Robert Brown Middle School and 25 students from Greene County High engaged in the Stillman Tutorial Program.
To ensure the success of this endeavor, Stillman has also provided a Program Administrator selected from the college faculty who will appropriately assign peer tutors to students receiving the tutorial services. The Program Administrator will review the daily and weekly progress reports on the program outcomes for each elementary, middle, and high school student enrolled in the program.
In addition to providing tutoring services to students in grades 4-12, Stillman College and the Stillman Foundation also provide a weekly update on the academic status and improvements on each student participating in the program as well as recommendations and suggestions for specific course work assignments.
The program is virtual and is in session Monday – Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For More Information regarding the Greene County Schools/Stillman College Tutoring Program, contact Dr. Charla Jordan-Riley, at 205-346-9540 or cjordan@greene.k12.al.us.

COVID-19

As of February 9, 2021 at 10:00 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 462,938 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(11,628) more than last week with 8,579 deaths (685) more than last week)
Greene County had 828 confirmed cases,
(18 more cases than last week), with 29 deaths
Sumter Co. had 957 cases with 28 deaths
Hale Co. had 1,998 cases with 56 deaths

Newswire: Biden’s new message to Africa clears way for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head World Trade Organization

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Feb. 8, 2021 (GIN) – At a virtual meeting this past weekend with members of the African Union Summit 2021, President Joe Biden shared his vision for more trade and investment opportunities while advancing peace and security.
 “The United States stands ready now to be your partner in solidarity, support and mutual respect,” Biden said in a video address, his first speech to an international forum as U.S. president.
 He described a future “committed to investing in our democratic institutions and promoting the human rights of all people, women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and people of every ethnic background, religion and heritage.”
 The message was warmly welcomed by Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat. The African Union looks forward to “resetting the strategic AU-USA partnership,” he said.
 Biden’s tone was a major departure from that of the previous administration, which framed its Africa policy within the context of U.S. competition with China or as a theater for fighting violent extremism.
 On his first day in office, Biden repealed the Trump administration’s ban on travelers from Muslim-majority and African countries, including Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
 “Just the very fact that Biden did it [addressed the African Union] changes the tone immeasurably from the previous administration,” said Michael Shurkin, a senior political scientist focusing on Africa at the RAND Corporation told the Voice of America.
 “By focusing on Africa for Africa’s sake, Africans for Africans’ sake, that’s actually a far more effective way to compete with the Chinese,” he added
 In January 2018, President Donald Trump was criticized for allegedly using a derogatory term in describing African nations.
 Last week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He expressed his grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region and urged immediate, full, and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life.
 The State Department is also reportedly considering action against President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, a staunch U.S. military ally who recently won his sixth term through a bloody election.
 In other news, the Biden administration has ended the deadlock over the next head of the World Trade Organization by expressing its “strong support” for Nigeria’s ex-finance minister.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was frontrunner for the role until the Trump administration last October said it wanted South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.  Ms Yoo has now withdrawn her candidacy. If confirmed, Dr Okonjo-Iweala would be the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO. 
 

Newswire: African American Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman performs at Inauguration and Superbowl

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Amanda Gorman was born in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard University.
In 2017, the now 22-year-old became the first national youth poet laureate.
On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Gorman, an African American, was the youngest poet to perform at a presidential inauguration. Gorman performed alongside Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.
The young poet delivered “The Hill We Climb,” which included lines about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. / And this effort very nearly succeeded. / But while democracy can be periodically delayed, / It can never be permanently defeated,” Gorman has written.
It is not the first time Gorman will have a national stage. In 2017, she read at the inauguration of the 22nd U.S. poet laureate, Tracy K Smith. She has also performed for Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Gorman read a poem at last Sunday’s Superbowl which was the first time a poem had been performed at the football classic.
Reportedly, Dr. Jill Biden selected Gorman to perform during President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration.
“I wasn’t trying to write something in which those events were painted as an irregularity or different from an America that I know,” Gorman told the Los Angeles Times.
“America is messy. It is still in its early development of all that we can become. And I have to recognize that in the poem. I cannot ignore that or erase it. And so, I crafted an inaugural poem that recognizes these scars and these wounds. Hopefully, it will move us toward healing them.”