Newswire : NAACP set to change tax status to engage politically

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Derrick Johnson
 Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

After being eclipsed in recent years by Color of Change, Black Lives Matter and other younger, more tech savvy and politically-pointed groups, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization will change its tax status.
The group’s leaders said that the new tax status would allow them to be more aggressive politically. During a call with reporters, NAACP officials announced that the civil rights group will transition from a 501(c)(3) to 501(c)(4) designation. The change will allow the organization to be more partisan and politically focused. However, the tax designation does not allow political work to be the “primary activity” of the organization.
Even though the NAACP is 108 years old, the organization is struggling to modernize and stay relevant in a rapidly-evolving, social media-driven landscape that requires speed and strategic communications skill. In October, the NAACP named Derrick Johnson as its president; Johnson was elected by the NAACP’s board to serve for three years.
In a statement announcing Johnson as the new president, Leon Russell, the board chairman of the NAACP said, “As both a longtime member of the NAACP, and a veteran activist in his own right—having worked on the ground to advocate for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, along with championing countless other issues—Derrick also intimately understands the strengths of the Association, our challenges and the many obstacles facing Black Americans of all generations, today. I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role.”
Russell continued: “In his time serving as our interim president and CEO, Derrick has proven himself as the strong, decisive leader we need to guide us through both our internal transition, as well as a crucial moment in our nation’s history. With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast than ever before.”
New NAACP President Derrick Johnson is a native of Detroit, Michigan who lives in Jackson, Mississippi. He is a long-time member of the NAACP, who was elected Vice Chair earlier this year and served as the interim president after Cornell Brooks was forced out. Johnson attended Tougaloo College before earning a juris doctor degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston.

Vote Or Die Campaign moving across state : ANSC Convention discusses youth involvement in voting and creating excitement in the build-up to Dec. 12 election

IMG_1713

Youth involvement panel at ANSC Convention includes William Scott, Moderator and panelists (l to R) Jasmine Walker, Jamia Jackson, Terri Wiggins and Azali Fortier

The Alabama New South Coalition met for its Fall Convention at the Montgomery Windcreek Casino on Saturday, November 2, 2017. The convention was well attended with over 200 delegates from twenty active chapters around the state.
The ANSC Convention was dedicated to creating interest and excitement in the December 12, Special Election for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Jeff Sessions. Democrat Doug Jones is running against Republican Roy Moore in a contest with state and national implications that is five weeks away.

The ANSC Convention featured a panel on youth involvement in politics and voting, a play about counteracting voter apathy, a report from county chapters on activities in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ and luncheon speeches from two 2018 gubernatorial hopefuls – Sue Bell Cobb and Walt Maddox- and introduction of other candidates for next year.
The youth panel spoke about ways to motivate voters 18 to 40 to more actively participate in elections by utilizing social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach out to millennials on issues of concern to them. William Scott, panel moderator said he was working as the webmaster for the Vote Or Die Campaign Facebook account and for members and chapters to mail in reports and photos of activities that they want posted to this Facebook account.
Several ANSC chapters gave short reports on their work in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ across the state.
• Sam Walker from Dallas County reported that they meet once a week on Thursdays and hold rallies holding ‘Vote Or Die’ signs as human billboards at the bridge in Selma and other sites around the city. We ask motorists to honk their horns in support of the campaign.
• Billy Billingsley of Gadsden is using voter lists from several organizations to do phone banking and door to door canvassing.
• Rebecca Marion of Tallapoosa County said her group was busy putting out Vote Or Die signs and canvassing for absentee voters.
• John Harris of Lee County said his chapter was meeting with ministers to help get out the vote. The chapter is also going into the jail, visiting barbershops, and going door-to-door for registration and absentee ballots.
• Esther Brown said her Project Hope death row prisoners were contacting family and friends to urge them to register and vote in this upcoming Special Election.
• Herman Mixon and Beulah Toney of Madison County reported on efforts to register people at community centers and A & M University. They are using social media to reach and motivate high school and college youth.
• Matilda Hamilton of Tallapoosa County had registered 153 new voters through the school system and was participating in rallies together with Lee County.
• Gus Townes reported that Montgomery County was working on voter registration; also focusing on ex-felons and working with churches to reach and register 1,000 new voters before the November 27, 2017 closing date before the Special Election.
• Rev. Hugh Morris from Talladega County said ANSC, ADC, NAACP, fraternities and sororities were working together to canvas, register and turn out voters. Michael Scales, ANSC Talladega County Chapter President said they were working with Talladega College, pastors and others on the campaign.
• Everett Wess of Jefferson County said the ANSC Chapter was partnering with other groups, had participated in the tailgating leading up to the Magic City Classic football game and other community gatherings to register voters and spread the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’.
• Carol P. Zippert reported for Greene County that 50 high school students were registered and assisted with proper photo ID’s. A large community meeting was held to explore community issues like the future of the hospital and healthcare, recreational programs for youth and voting. U. S. Senate Candidate Doug Jones listened to the discussion and made remarks at the end. Greene County is now concentrating on absentee ballots and walk-in early voters for the next four weeks.
• A Macon County representative spoke on involving Tuskegee University Students in doing voter registration and canvassing leading up to the special election.
• Senator Hank Sanders reported that he has cut radio and TV ads promoting the importance of voting that are available to be sent to stations around the state. He said he participated in human billboards in Selma to promote the “Vote Or Die Campaign’.
Faya Rose Toure and a group from Selma and other counties did a role-play skit about voter apathy and reasons people give for not voting and how to counteract those concerns. The play was well received by ANSC members.
At the closing luncheon, ANSC members heard from two Democratic candidates who are planning to run in the June 2018 primary. Sue Bell Cobb, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said she proposes an Alabama lottery to generate funds for childcare, K-12 public education and closing the gap between Pell Grants and the cost of college tuition.
Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa said he was running for Governor, “to build a brighter future for Alabama and make Alabama a better state for everyone.” He highlighted his record of rebuilding Tuscaloosa after the April 2011 tornadoes and making it the ninth fastest growing city in America.
Rev. Will Boyd of Florence announced that he was planning to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Audri Scott Williams indicated that she was running for U. S. House of Representatives for District 2 against incumbent Martha Roby. Everett Wess stated he was running for Jefferson County Probate Judge – Place 1.

Auburn Extension provides playground equipment for Eutaw City Park

 

New Parkjpg.jpg

 

Shown above at the Eutaw City Park L to R: Mt. Hebron Coalition Members Severe Strode, and Johnni Morning, Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, Extension Secretary Mary Beck, Extension Coordinator Lovie Parks and Expanded Food and Nutrition Educational Program Director Mary Henley.

The Eutaw City Park on Lock 7 Road now has state-of-the-art playground equipment, secured with an AlProHealth grant through Auburn University Extension Program coordinated by Greene County Extension Coordinator Mrs. Lovie Parks. The grant also provides fencing around the park grounds. “The total investment in the park by Auburn Extension exceeds $40,000,” stated Ms. Parks.
According to Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, this project has been in the works for some time.
“We are also committed to adding a concession stand and a large pavilion with restrooms to make the park comparable to other state-of-the art parks in the state,” he said.

The playground unit will be available to children, ages 12 and under, from 7:00 a.m. until sundown. He noted that the park is also available to the community for special events such as reunions, birthday parties and more, by contacting the city for reservations.
Other benefits to Greene County by the Auburn Extension Program include providing the benches on the old courthouse square in Eutaw.
The Mt. Hebron Coalition has also benefited from an ALProHealth grant. The SCORE Center, originally organized by Betsy and Reola Bizzell, received funds for exercise equipment and other related live well programs. The SCORE Center is open to the community, serving seniors as well as youth. Johnni Morning, a Mt. Hebron Coalition Member, stated that along with the exercise equipment, internet service is also available at the Score Center. She noted that the public is invited to join the exercise program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at the SCORE Center (old Mt. Hebron Pre-School) from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. ages 18 and older. Marvin Childs serves a president of the Mt. Hebron Coalition.
Mrs. Parks emphasized that a big component of the Auburn Extension program is building unity, bringing families and the community together. “The goal of ALProHealth includes increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, reducing obesity, and preventing and controlling diabetes, heart disease, and stroke by promoting community wellness,” she stated.
The Extension Program also sponsors after school programs, community gardens and various live well programs, partnering with churches and community groups.

Newswire : Fats Domino, Rock ‘N’ Roll pioneer dead at 89

By Stacy Brown (The Washington Informer/NNPA Member)

 

Fats Domino
Fats Domino
Fats Domino, the rock pioneer who inspired Elvis Presley, the Beatles and countless other superstars, died Wednesday at his home in Harvey, Louisiana. He was 89.
Mark Bone, chief investigator for the Jefferson Parish coroner’s office, told NPR that Domino died of natural causes.
Born Antoine Domino, the “Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll” enjoyed a career spanning five decades that included more than 25 gold singles and 65 million records sold. His massive vault of hits includes “Blueberry Hill,” “I’m Walking,” “Ain’t That a Shame” and “I’m Walking to New Orleans.”
His unique playing style and unmistakable voice helped Domino to produce the first rock ‘n’ roll record to ever sell more than 1 million copies with the 1949 hit “The Fat Man,” a song he both produced and co-wrote. Billy Diamond, his road manager, referred to him as “Fats” because the name was a symbol of importance, according to Domino’s website.
In 1986, Domino received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was later inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. On November 5, 1998, at the White House, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts from then President Bill Clinton.
By their own admission, Domino’s influence played heavily in the careers of Presley and the Beatles. Domino reportedly was held in such high esteem that Presley refused to answer to his popular moniker, “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” when Domino was present.
As in a 2004 interview with AXS, Domino recounted the first time he met Presley. “I was playing at the Flamingo Hotel [in Las Vegas] and I went to his room and played for him. He used to call me ‘Mr. Blueberry Hill,’” Domino said. “I remember him telling me, ‘You know, Fats, I’m opening up tomorrow but when I first came here I flopped.’ I guess the first time he didn’t do good at all, but after he got back there it was all good because I was working there too, and every night it was sold out.”
In 1969, Presley returned to live performances after joining the military and when a reporter referred to him as the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” during a press conference, Presley pointed to Domino, who was in the room, noting that Domino was “one of my influences from way back.”
Domino’s influence on the Beatles was noted when Paul McCartney wrote “Blue Monday,” a 1958 hit in which he credited the New Orleans native.
Domino was married to Rosemary Hall for 60 years and the two had eight children.
“Fats Domino, another gift from New Orleans,” Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted in tribute to Domino. “An entertainer and caring man, he gave us many thrills on the ride to freedom.”

Newswire :Puerto Ricans suffer apocalyptic nightmare after Hurricanes Irma and Maria

By Barrington M. Salmon (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

It’s been nearly a month since two, historic hurricanes savaged Puerto Rico, and despite the utter devastation left after the storms, the island’s 3.4 million residents are still waiting for substantive relief from the federal government.
Help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been slowed, because of glaring lapses in coordination, a lack of guidance of medical and other personnel, as well as what critics and Puerto Rican officials have said was an almost total breakdown in distribution and supply chains. The result has been a yawning gap between the burgeoning humanitarian disaster and the urgent life-and-death needs of the shell-shocked populace.
Nearly 85 percent of the island is still in darkness, because the storms destroyed the electrical grid. Governor Ricardo Rosselló estimates that it will cost about $5 billion to repair the island’s power grid that was decimated by Hurricane Maria. Cellphone service towers across the island are slowly being restored; there is a critical shortage of food, medicine and other basic supplies; meanwhile, more than half of the commonwealth’s residents are living without potable water.
The official death toll is 48, but there are reports that the medical examiner’s office in San Juan is holding 350 bodies. There are also fears that, as the authorities reach the most remote parts of the island and as water-borne and other diseases take hold, that the death toll will inevitably rise.
Last week, FEMA scrubbed important statistics about the availability of clean drinking water and the paucity of electricity on the island, from its website.
The fierce winds of Hurricanes Irma and Maria left catastrophic damage, tore roofs from buildings, toppled power lines and transformers; stripped trees bare; triggered mudslides and flooding; flattened and demolished trees; and blocked roads. Beleaguered Puerto Ricans can only buy food, supplies and other materials in what is now a mostly cash-only society.
Yet, in the midst of all this need, more than 10,000 shipping containers loaded with food, medicine and other needed supplies have sat idle at the Port of San Juan and elsewhere, because of red tape, bureaucratic bungling and logistical logjams.
Aurora Flores, a New York-based activist, painted a harrowing picture that is slowly emerging as information seeps out of the soaked island. n“Oh, my God! I have such a combination of feelings. This is outrageous,” said Flores, a noted cultural historian and musician. “This is Trump’s Katrina. We’re in a dire situation. There is no electricity; people are waiting in line eight, nine hours for gasoline, food and other needs. Right now, we need the United States Army trucks and drivers. There’s no housing…we need cruise ships to come in.”
Flores continued: “We also need to secure the streets. Armed gangs are roaming. This is horrific. We’ve been shunned, pushed to the side.” Flores said that she had been in contact with family in Puerto Rico, despite the communications difficulties. She assailed the Trump administration for its slow response and castigated Trump for his constant congratulatory comments to first responders, FEMA, and others in his administration.
“He’s patting himself on the back. [Trump found time] to put down Black athletes over the weekend and not once did he say anything about Puerto Rico,” she said. We’ve been shunned, pushed to side. We don’t need any more excuses. Puerto Rico needs help right now. You don’t do this to other Americans. We need the federal government to come to the rescue. We need compassion and leadership to come together. We’ve fought for and bled for this country. We’re part of America.”
Critics have chided Trump for ignoring the crisis for the first week after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island. He spent more time tweeting to demand that NFL players kneel for the anthem than expressing any compassion or concern for Puerto Rico’s plight. And to add insult to injury, Elaine Duke, acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security crowed at the end of the first week that the federal efforts on the island as a “good news” story.
Trump’s nonchalance has angered Puerto Ricans and a raft of other critics, including singer Marc Anthony and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. “Mr. President, shut the f*** up about the NFL. Do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico. We are American citizens, too,” the singer tweeted on September 25.
During a recent interview on CNN, Yulín Cruz lambasted attempts by the White House to spin the situation in Puerto Rico as a “good news story.” “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a ‘good news story.’ When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a ‘good news story,’” she said. “When you have to pull people down from their buildings because—you know, I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me.”
Yulín Cruz continued: “This is – damn it, this is not a ‘good news’ story. This is a ‘people-are-dying’ story. This is a ‘life-or-death’ story. This is a ‘there’s-a-truckload-of-stuff-that-cannot-be-taken-to-people’ story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.”
Latinx activist and community organizer Rosa Clemente said Puerto Ricans have been given the middle finger by Trump and his administration.
“What’s going on in Puerto Rico is definitely terrifying. People are on the precipice of panic,” said Clemente, during a recent interview. “Right now there are shipping containers stuck on wharfs, because drivers are isolated. Bridges have collapsed, people are trapped…I don’t think Trump would help any people of color. This is who he is. The big issue right now is for Congress to release the aid package.”
Reuters reported that the Republican-controlled House approved $36.5 billion in in emergency relief for Puerto Rico and other areas hit by recent disasters. “Senate approval is expected in coming weeks,” according to Reuters. “Trump is expected to sign the latest emergency package,” even though the president also suggested that there would be limits on how much federal aid Puerto Rico would receive.
Clemente, a revolutionary Hip Hop journalist and lecturer—who is the first Black Puerto Rican/Afro Latina to run for vice president of the Green Party—made arrangements to travel with a group of friends to Puerto Rico to hear and document stories from survivors on the ground and to continue to sound the alarm of the catastrophe that has befallen the island.
In an Oct. 11 Facebook Live post, Clemente detailed the devastation. “What we have now is a total catastrophe—both humanitarian and political. Disaster, crisis, catastrophe, none of these adjectives are describing what we’re seeing,” she said soberly. “People are sick, dying. People are getting infections, babies are sick. The situation in San Juan is bad and in the Western part of the island things are isolated, cut off. This situation is past the critical level. It’s not about getting clothes, food or water. We need generators and chainsaws, SUVs and trucks. We need nurses and doctors.”
Clemente continued: “They’re letting us die here, but everyone in Puerto Rico is doing everything they can to save themselves. They’ve helping each other, saving each other. Anyone not doing all they can to raise hell is complicit. We need to stop sending things. We need to pressure politically. We cannot talk about rebuilding, if this nation is allowed to collapse.”

Newswire : Colin Kaepernick files collusion grievance against NFL owners

Many analysts have commented that Kaepernick’s inability to sign with a team is a clear result of his protests.

By Doha Madani, Huffington Post
Colin Kapernick kneeling

Colin Kaepernick kneeling with teammates during playing of National Anthem at football game

Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the National Football League, accusing owners of colluding to keep him from playing, according to reports from 6 ABC and Bleacher Report.
Kaepernick received national attention last year when he knelt at a football game during the national anthem. Then a San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Kaepernick explained that his act was a form of silent protest to raise awareness about police brutality and racial injustices in the United States. Critics of the quarterback have claimed that the act of “taking a knee” is disrespectful to the American flag and the military.
At the end of last season, the quarterback opted out of his contract with the 49ers and entered free agency, allowing him to play with other teams. But Kaepernick has yet to sign with a new team. His grievance accuses team owners of violating the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, released a statement on Sunday.
“If the NFL … is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government,” Geragos said.
It’s highly unusual for quarterbacks to spend so long in free agency, especially one with Kaepernick’s record. Kaepernick, 29, managed to throw 16 touchdowns with four interceptions in a matter of 12 games with the 49ers.
FiveThirtyEight analyzed the length of free-agency periods for quarterbacks in March and again in August in the last five years, showing that Kaepernick’s situation was an outlier. Kaepernick was most recently snubbed by the Tennessee Titans, who denied him the chance to work after the team’s current quarterback was injured.
Many sports fans and analysts have remarked that the quarterback’s inability to get a job is a blatant result of the NFL kneeling protests. President Donald Trump further fanned the flames after he implicitly called Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” and called on NFL fans to boycott games when kneeling occurred.
Trump’s words only pushed more players to kneel in protest.
While most Americans support the idea of free speech, polls have shown that their opinions don’t necessarily support the NFL players’ peaceful protest.

Newswire : Sens. Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray reveal outline of health insurance deal

By: Associated Press
Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander
Senator Patty Murray and Senator Lamar Alexander

Two leading senators said Tuesday they have the “basic outlines” of a bipartisan agreement to resume federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. The agreement also includes funding for advertising and navigators for the ACA healthcare marketplaces that were also cut by the President. Both Senators said in separate interviews that they still have unresolved issues but expressed optimism that a compromise was near.
The agreement would involve a two-year extension of federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last week, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Unless the money is quickly restored, insurers and others say that will result in higher premiums for people buying individual policies and in some carriers leaving unprofitable markets.
In exchange, Republicans want Congress to give states “meaningful” flexibility to ease some coverage requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law. “The definition of meaningful,” Alexander said when asked what the remaining stumbling blocks were.
Alexander agreed with his negotiating partner, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who said the two lawmakers “have the basic outlines” of an agreement but have differences to bridge.
The two senators planned to brief colleagues in separate GOP and Democratic Senate lunches. Alexander chairs the Senate health committee and Murray is that panel’s top Democrat.
Murray and Alexander began talks on extending the payments months ago, when Trump was frequently threatening to stop the subsidies. Both said they were close to a deal, but GOP leaders shut the effort down in September when the Senate revisited the Republican drive to repeal Obama’s law. The repeal effort failed, as did an earlier GOP attempt to dismantle the law in July.
Trump’s halt of the payments and worries about its impact have galvanized lawmakers in both parties to take action to prevent it.
Even so, strong opposition by some conservatives means the congressional fate of a compromise would be uncertain. For their part, Democrats believe Republicans in control of Washington will be blamed by voters for future health care problems and are reluctant to bend too far toward GOP demands for opening loopholes in Obama’s law.
Alexander said Trump has twice in recent days urged him to reach a deal with Murray. “He says he doesn’t want people to be hurt in this interim,” said Alexander, a reference to Trump’s desire to revisit the effort to scrap Obama’s statute next year.
Trump repeated his gloomy assessment of a law that’s expanded health coverage to 20 million people and required insurers to cover specified services and limit costs, but has also seen premiums rise and limited competition in some regions.
“Obamacare is virtually dead. At best you could say it’s in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don’t get to use it. Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obamacare,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump’s stoppage of the payments “showed that he’s willing to take a wrecking ball to our nation’s health care for the sake of politics.” He said congressional support for an agreement between Alexander and Murray would show lawmakers have “no intention of going along with President Trump’s reckless sabotage of the nation’s health care law.”
Under Obama’s 2010 overhaul, the government must pay insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for lower-earning customers. A federal judge has ruled that Congress hadn’t legally approved the payments, but Obama — and initially Trump — continued them anyway. Trump halted them last week, even though by law insurers must continue reducing costs for lower-income consumers.
Trump and some Republicans consider the payments to be bailouts to carriers. But Democrats and some Republicans say halting them will create chaos in insurance market places.
The so-called cost-sharing reductions cost around $7 billion this year and lower expenses like co-payments and deductibles for more than 6 million people. The people receiving this marketplace subsidy live in states carried by Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.