Newswire : CIA Director and Russian counterpart discuss Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan

Brittney Griner playing basketball in the WNBA

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

CIA director Bill Burns and Russia’s spy agency boss Sergey Naryshkin planned to meet this week to discuss potential consequences if nuclear weapons are used in the war against Ukraine.
But U.S. officials said Burns and Naryshkin, scheduled to meet on Monday, Nov. 14, also were expected to discuss the potential release of WNBA Star Brittney Griner and former U.S. military veteran Paul Whelan, both deemed by America as unlawfully detained citizens. The Biden administration has maintained its determination to bring home Griner and Whelan.
Russian authorities recently transferred Griner to the country’s dreaded penal colony, where many prisoners have detailed abuse along with a multitude of other human rights violations.
Russian officials jailed Griner in February when authorities arrested her at a Moscow airport after finding a small amount of cannabis oil in her luggage.
A court convicted Griner in August of trying to smuggle narcotics. She received a nine-year sentence, which an appeals court upheld last month.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that President Biden had directed all in the administration to prevail on her “Russian captors” to improve Griner’s treatment and the conditions many must endure in the country’s penal colony.
Individuals who’ve spent time at one of Russia’s infamous penal colonies reported that prisoners aren’t allowed outside contact for weeks. The colonies are notorious for corrections officers’ repeated abuse of prisoners, violence among inmates, lack of food, and inadequate sanitation.
Confirmed reports said the United States government had offered to swap the so-called “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout for Griner and another imprisoned American, Paul Whelan. Bout, who’s serving a 25-year federal prison sentence and notorious for his desire to kill Americans, reportedly has been at the top of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wish list.
“We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians,” a senior administration official said earlier this year. “We communicated that many weeks ago, in June.”
The families of Whelan, who Russia has held for alleged espionage since 2018, and WNBA star Griner, jailed in Moscow for drug possession since February, have urged the White House to secure their release, including via a prisoner exchange, if necessary, the report stated.
During her court testimony, Griner said she’s still unsure how cannabis oil ended up in her luggage. She said a doctor recommended cannabis oil for her injuries on the basketball court.
“I still don’t understand to this day how they ended up in my bags,” Griner said, adding that she was aware of the Russian law outlawing cannabis oil and that she had not intended to break it. “I didn’t have any intention to use or keep in my possession any substance that is prohibited in Russia,” Griner said.
U.S. officials continue to wait for word from the Russian government on whether they will accept the swap, and now some are hoping that the planned meeting between the two Intelligence officials could yield results.

Newswire: Noose found at Obama Presidential Center site, pausing construction, builders say

 
The Obama Presidential Center under construction on Nov. 10, 2022. Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

By Phil Helsel, NBC News

Construction has been suspended at the Obama Presidential Center after a noose was found at the site on Chicago’s South Side, the builders said last Thursday, condemning what they called an “act of hate.”
“We are horrified that this would occur on our site,” the Lakeside Alliance, the group of construction companies building the center, said in a statement.
The Lakeside Alliance said it was informed Thursday morning about the discovery at the project site and reported it to police.  A Chicago police spokesperson said the department is investigating.
The Lakeside Alliance said it is pausing construction and offering a $100,000 reward to help find the person or people responsible.
“We have zero tolerance for any form of bias or hate on our worksite. Anti-bias training is included in our onboarding process and reiterated during site-wide meetings,” it said in a statement. “We are suspending all operations onsite in order to provide another series of these trainings and conversations for all staff and workers.”
The Obama Foundation said in a statement that its priority is the health and safety of its workforce.“This shameless act of cowardice and hate is designed to get attention and divide us,” the foundation said.
The center, which will commemorate and preserve materials from Barack Obama’s presidency, will include a museum, a plaza, a rooftop garden and a new branch of the Chicago Public Library, among other features, according to its website.
The project broke ground in September 2021 and is expected to open in 2025, according to the center. 

 

COVID-19

As of November 10, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,540,329 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(6,051) more than last report, with 20,608 deaths (50) more
than last report.

Greene County had 2,151 confirmed cases, 2 more cases than last report), with 52 deaths

Sumter Co. had 3,002 cases with 55 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,406 cases with 109 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Democrats sweep Greene County but lose statewide

Terri Sewell
Bobby Singleton
Curtis Travis

In the November 8, 2022, General Election, Greene County voted overwhelming Democratic, while the state went for Republican candidates by a two-thirds majority.

In Greene County, Yolanda Flowers, Democratic candidate for Governor won with 2,318 votes (78%) to 608 (20%) for Republican Kay Ivey and 42 (1.4%) for James Blake, Libertarian. However, statewide Kay Ivey won with 944,850 (67%) to 411,690 (29%) for Flowers and 45,870 (3.3%) for Blake, the Libertarian.

In Greene County, Democrat Will Boyd received 2,336 (79%) to 597 (20%) for Republican Katie Britt, for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Richard Shelby. Statewide Britt won with 940,054 (67%) to 435,431 (31%) for Boyd, with 87% of precincts reporting. Britt will be the first woman elected U. S. Senator in Alabama history.

Republican candidates in Alabama, were elected to all constitutional offices on the ballot and will control the legislature in Alabama for the coming four years.

Terri Sewell, the state’s only Democratic member of the Congressional delegation was re-elected to Congress in the 7th district which includes Greene County. Efforts to create a second Congressional district in Alabama where another Black Democrat could win are currently in court litigation. The Milligan vs Merrill case about Alabama redistricting was heard by the U. S. Supreme Court in October and their decision is pending.

State Senator Bobby Singleton was re-elected from District 24. In Greene County he received 2,395 (91%) to 219 (8%) votes for Libertarian challenger, Richard Bendersen.

Curtis Travis was elected State Representative in District 72, which
Includes Greene, Hale and parts of Tuscaloosa and Bibb counties. In Greene County, Travis polled 2,224 (88%) of the votes with 300 (12%) going to a write-in candidate, likely Ralph Howard, who previously represented part of Greene County in the Legislature.

Local Greene County Democratic candidates were unopposed and easily won election. Incumbent Sheriff Jonathan “Joe” Benison was re-elected by a vote of 2,513 (98%) to 40 (1%) write-in votes. Gregory Griggers was re-elected as District Attorney and Ronald “Kent” Smith was also re-elected as Coroner.

Democratic candidates: Garria Spencer, District 1, Tennyson Smith, District 2; Corey Cockrell, District 3, Allen Turner, District 4, and Roshanda Summerville, District 5, were elected to serve for four years.

Two new members were elected to the Greene County Board of Education: Robert Davis, District 1 and Brandon R. Merriweather, District 2, both Democrat running with no opposition.

The referendum to approve the recompilation of the Alabama Constitution, with most racist language removed, passed in Greene County 1,464 (80%) yes to 380 (20%) No. This referendum passed statewide.

All ten Alabama Constitutional Amendments on the ballot were passed statewide including Amendment One, also known as “Aniah’s law, which will make it harder for persons arrested for a larger number of felony crimes to receive bail and be released from jail before their trials.

In Greene County 3,014 voters (43%) turned out to vote, a lower than usual turnout in our majority Black county. Turnout was also lower statewide.

COVID-19

As of October 27, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,534,278 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(2,982) more than last report, with 20,558 deaths (25) more
than last report.

Greene County had 2,149 confirmed cases, no more cases than last report), with 52 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,996 cases with 55 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,396 cases with 109 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Eutaw City Council approves 2022-23 budget
and Employee Handbook; honors former Mayor
Hattie Edwards

Former Mayor Hattie Edwards

The Eutaw City Council met on Monday November 7, 2022, for its first regular meeting of the month.

The Council approved a resolution honoring former Mayor Hattie Edwards, who died last week by naming February 28, her birthday as “Hattie Edward’s Day in Eutaw” and allowed flags to be flown at half-staff on Saturday, November 12, 2022, the day of her internment.

The Council approved the 2022-23 budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2022, and the Employee Handbook, which governs human resource issues in the city.

The 2022-23 budget as presented by Ralph Liverman, Financial Consultant is 27 pages covering all funds handled by and through the city.
The budget covering 11 funds projects $5,483,783 in revenues with expenses of $4,390,622 and a surplus of $1,093,161.

Liverman said, “The $5 million total is a new record for the City of Eutaw. This includes a $3 million-dollar General Fund, which is also a record.”

Liverman pointed out that the projections were based on the prior year’s income and expenses and that it was up to the Council to implement any salary increases for the new fiscal year.

“I have projected a large surplus of $493,394 in the General Fund which can be used for salary increases and additional capital improvements,” said Liverman.

The current budget includes $175,000 in road and street repairs from the 4-cent gas tax fund and $225,000 in improvements from the 7-cent gas tax fund. This includes $110,000 for the Streetscape project for the downtown Courthouse Square which is matching for a $600,000 ALDOT grant. The Streetscape project also has matching funds from the Greene County Commission and Greene County Industrial Development Authority.

The budget also has allocations of COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan for the new firetruck ($50,000), repairs to the Carver School Building for roof and cafeteria ($61,000) and Employee Cost of Living Adjustment in December 2022 ($53,000).

The budget includes servicing of the USDA Rural Development loan for the water system, with required reserve funds, and servicing a five-year loan taken last year, from Merchants and Farmers Bank, to purchase new trucks and equipment. The water system may require an annual rate adjustment and the sewer system is being partially subsidized with bingo funds.

The Council approved $9,800 to P&M Roofing for additional repairs to the roof of the R. H. Young Community Center, which was the former Carver School.

The Council approved a ten-year Memorandum of Agreement for leasing two classrooms at the R. H. Young Center to the Alabama Forestry Commission for $450 rent per quarter. Councilman Carpenter objected to this agreement because it would bind future councils to an agreement made by this city council.

 

Councilman Carpenter offered a motion to require that city vehicles, including police cars be parked behind City Hall daily and not used by the police to drive home. This led to a heated argument with Police Chief, Tommy Johnson, who said that parking the cars daily would result in slower response times when there was an emergency. The motion died for lack of a second, which further angered Carpenter.

The Council also approved an MOU between the City and Greene County EMA; a contract with Tri-State Consulting for creation of a Geodatabase for the city; and a new Fire Hydrant Ordinance, required by the State of Alabama.

The Council voted to pay bills and claims and approve travel to training for various employees.

In a prior meeting on October 11, the City Council:

• Approved $6,200 for a contract with Supreme Electrical LLC to install LED lighting in the Cafeteria at R. H. Young Community Center.

• Declared surplus and returned a strip of land to C. T. and Joyce Solomon, at the old Family Dollar location, which was a right of way, to facilitate the possibility of locating a Jack’s Restaurant at this location.

• Approved a bid of $20,100 to Jasper Means Construction to repair Robert’s Street drainage problem.

• Approved a contract with Alabama Power Company for LED street light installation in the City of Eutaw.

First Black Astronaut to walk in space visits Greene County schools

Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris views scholars classwork along with GCHS Principal Andrea Perry and ARLA Program Manager, Dr. Florence Williams.

Greene County School System was excited and honored to have a piece of history in the area.   National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) Executive Director, Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American to walk in space, spoke to students about the importance of STEM education and his experience as an Astronaut with NASA. Dr. Harris visited with Greene County High School 9th graders and Robert Brown Middle School 4th graders on Thursday, November 3, 2022.
Dr. Harris said that he was 13 years old when the first astronauts walked on the moon. “I made up my mind then that I wanted to walk in space one day and I never gave up on that dream.” When asked by students how did he prepare to be an astronaut, Dr. Harris said that it is necessary to focus on the STEM courses – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. He emphasized that scholars must go to college and earn at least a Master’s Degree. “Growing up my family physician was a great influence on me, so from college I went to medical school focusing on internal medicine, then I applied to NASA,” he explained. He shared that part of his NASA training certified him as a jet pilot and a scuba diver.
Greene County High School and Robert Brown Middle School are two sites for the Alabama Rural Learning Accelerator (ARLA) project.  ARLA services students in grades 6-9.  The Alabama Rural Learning Accelerator (ARLA), powered by NMSI, offers remote co-teaching, math support, and science coaching with ARLA project teachers housed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  

Dr. Williams stated that the overall goal of ARLA is to support hiring and retaining fully certified math and science teachers and provide long term solutions to fill those gaps and connect more students to potential careers based in science, technology, engineering and math.

L to R:  Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, School Board President Dr. Carol Zippert, Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, Curriculum Coordinator Mrs. Barbara Martin, GCHS Principal Ms. Andrea Perry, ARLA Program Manager, Dr. Florence Williams.
L to R:  Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, County Commissioner Corey Cockrell, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, School Resource Officer Steve Davis, Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson, Eutaw Police Chief Tommy Johnson, School Board Member Leo Branch, School Board President Dr. Carol Zippert.
Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris speaks with 4th grade scholars at Robert Brown Middle School
Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris is show with Robert Brown Middle School Principal Mrs. Shawnta Owens

Newswire:Attorney Ben Crump files lawsuit on behalf of user of chemical hair straightening products

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Back photo of flawless charming young brunette lady hands touch long straight healthy hair isolated beige background.

Researchers have discovered that hair products used predominately by Black women are likely to contain hazardous chemicals with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties.

Armed with that information and research by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined forces with lawyer Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann to file a lawsuit against beauty products giant L’ Oréal USA.
Crump and Zimmermann filed the suit on behalf of Jenny Mitchell, a woman with no family history of cancer but who received a uterine cancer diagnosis after years of using L’ Oréal products.

The lawyers declared that the defendants also would include “entities that assisted in the development, marketing, and sale of the defective products including Motions, Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil Relaxer, and Organic Root Stimulator.”

“Black women have long been told they must use chemical hair straightening products to meet society’s standards,” Crump declared. “Companies took advantage of this and marketed their dangerous products to women without any regard for the serious health risks. We need justice.”

Crump said Mitchell started using the products around 2000 and continued until 2022. In August 2018, Mitchell – with no family history of uterine or other cancer – was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a complete hysterectomy, Crump noted. Mitchell attended mandatory medical appointments every three months for two years and has appointments scheduled every six months.

Crump cited a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week.The study concluded that frequent users of chemical hair straightening products, defined in the study as more than four uses a year, were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than those who didn’t use those products.
The National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences conducted the study.

Uterine cancer rates and deaths are reportedly on the rise in the U.S. Death rates are highest among non-Hispanic Black women, who are more likely than other populations to be afflicted with aggressive subtypes of uterine cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health, which tracked data from 34,000 women in the Sister Study for more than a decade.

“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” said Crump. “Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but Black women have been told they have to use these products to meet society’s standards. Unfortunately, we will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of the countless cases in which companies aggressively misled black women to increase their profits.”

Chemical hair straighteners typically contain products associated with higher cancer risk, including formaldehyde, metals, phthalates, and parabens, which may be more easily absorbed by the body through scalp burns and abrasions often caused by chemical straighteners, study authors determined.

Zimmermann added that companies like L’ Oréal “targeted Black and Latin women for their own profit motive and without regard to the serious health risks that these hair-straightening products cause is a serious wrong that needs to be corrected.”
“We have commenced this important litigation to seek and obtain justice for those women and their families.”

Newswire:New York City to pay $25 Million to two men falsely convicted of killing Malcolm X

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam

In 1965, Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam were wrongfully convicted of killing Malcolm X and spent over 20 years behind bars after being wrongfully convicted.
Even though the February 21, 1965 murder of Malcolm X at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan was one of the most reported on assassinations of the 1960s, the trial of his assailants was botched because of racism, expediency and political considerations.
The documentary Who Killed Malcolm X, which premiered on Netflix in 2020, revealed in detail that there was something wrong with the convictions. The investigative journalism of Washington, D.C. journalist Abdur-Rahman Muhammad spent decades combing through documents and analyzing evidence from Malcolm X’s murder. He also tracked down those who knew what had really happened. Muhammad is a journalist, tour guide and historian, documentary film makers revealed what he studied over 20 years investigating Malcolm X’s murder.
What was revealed was that Talmadge Hager, a convicted assassin of Malcolm X, stated that the two men convicted with him were in fact innocent. Hagan, who is now 81, (over the years he has changed his name to Talmadge X Hayer and then Mujahid Abdul Halim) was granted parole and released from prison in 2010.
In 2021, Hagan expressed support that the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam would be overturned which matched his original claims that they were not involved in the murder of Malcolm X.
Decades earlier, the late journalist Les Payne and his daughter Tamara Payne, in their book, “The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X,” asserted that Malcolm X’s killers were members of the Nation of Islam’s Newark, New Jersey mosque. The book claimed that William 25X (also known as William Bradley) fired a shotgun at Malcolm X and were joined by Leon Davis and Thomas Hagen.
Both Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, who died in 2009, were exonerated last year. When the allegations were tossed out as the result of a two-year investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Lawsuits were filed against the City of New York by Aziz and the family of Islam. The settlements arrive three months after the suits were filed in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
The case of the wrongful convictions on such a notorious high-profile murder prompts many to ask how many other false convictions could be out there. Several studies have been conducted that note that Black men are falsely accused at a much higher level than other groups for crimes.
In 2020, The Innocence Project released the report, “From Emmett Till to Pervis Payne — Black Men in America Are Still Killed for Crimes They Didn’t Commit.”
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

Newswire:October U.S. jobs report proves better than economists predicted

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The latest government report shows widespread job gains across various industries, including health care, professional and technical services, and engineering. The report issued on Friday, Nov. 4, revealed that the market remains robust, even more so than what financial experts predicted.
More than 261,000 jobs were added by employers in October, while the unemployment rate came in at 3.7 percent. Economists had predicted about 205,000 new jobs. Leading the way, health care realized a gain of 53,000 new jobs, while professional and technical services added 43,000.Additionally, manufacturing saw 32,000 new jobs, while the leisure and hospitality industry added 35,000.
“Today’s jobs report – adding 261,000 jobs with the unemployment rate still at a historically low 3.7% – shows that our jobs recovery remains strong,” President Joe Biden said. “With jobs now added every single month of my presidency, a record setting 10 million job increase, a record 700,000 manufacturing jobs added which puts us at 137,000 more manufacturing jobs than we had before the pandemic, historically low Black and Hispanic unemployment rates, the gross domestic product increasing, and incomes on the way up, one thing is clear: while comments by Republican leadership sure seem to indicate they are rooting for a recession, the US economy continues to grow and add jobs even as gas prices continue to come down.”
The president called inflation America’s top economic challenge. “I know that American families are feeling squeezed. The global inflation that is raging in other countries is hitting us as well,” Biden stated.
“I’ve got a plan to bring costs down, especially for health care, energy, and other everyday expenses. And we’re already making progress – the cost of gas at the pump is down over $1.20 a gallon since this summer.” He said the plan Republicans have put forth “is very different.”
“They want to increase prescription drug costs, health insurance costs, and energy costs, while giving more tax breaks to big corporations and the very wealthy,” Biden asserted. “Here’s the deal: cutting corporate taxes and allowing big pharma to raise prices again is the Republican inflation plan and it’s a disaster.”The president concluded:
“Let me be clear. We’re going to do what it takes to bring inflation down. But as long as I’m president, I’m not going to accept an argument that the problem is that too many Americans are finding good jobs. “Or that too many working Americans finally have more dignity in the workplace. Or that our largest, most profitable corporations shouldn’t have to pay their fair share.
“I will continue to work for an economy built from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down as my Republican friends would have.”