Newswire : Aid slow to come to the rescue of Mozambicans adrift since Idai

Flooding in Mozambique

Mar. 25, 2019 (GIN) – Since Cyclone Idai roared into the Mozambican port city of Beira on Mar. 14, devastating losses are mounting exponentially yet international aid has been slow to reach all survivors.

Severe flooding produced by Idai’s strong winds and heavy rains caused the rivers Pungwe and Buzi to break their banks. In the district of Buzi, thousands clung for their lives on trees and rooftops, as their villages turned into an ocean. Even as the rains have subsided and the waters are receding, the risk of flooding remains, as dams upstream reach full capacity.

At least 656 people have died across three countries, according to local estimates.

Dire shortages of food, water and other necessities were reported by the head of a South African rescue operation. Around 15,000 people are still missing, Land and Environment Minister Celso Correia said just before last weekend.

But delays in the arrival of assistance were fueling anger and desperation, acknowledged Connor Hartnady, rescue operations task force leader for Rescue South Africa.

“There have been three security incidents today, all food related,” he told his team, without giving further details.

The U.N. has made an emergency appeal for $282 million for the next three months to help Mozambique start rebuilding their communities.

But help has been coming in dribs and drabs – especially from those with the most resources. U.S. military personnel, for example, were en route to Mozambique on Monday, over a week after the cyclone hit, to assess damage and plan a relief mission aided by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The Pentagon has authorized AFRICOM to expend up to $6.5 million in relief funds to provide logistics support for up to 10 days. The military’s role will be to assist the U.S. Agency for International Development in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Two Portuguese Airforce C130 transport planes were due to depart Thursday to the region. The first one was taking 35 soldiers, medical personnel and a disaster relief team from the National Republican Guard.

Mozambique is home to thousands of nationals from Portugal. Santos Silva said that 30 of the country’s citizens had not yet been contacted.

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said funds for cyclone victims are starting to come through, including 29 million dollars from the United Kingdom, but this is far exceeded by the need.

Finally, ExxonMobil, which earned $6 billion in quarterly profits from African oil, is donating $300,000 for disaster relief. “The devastation has been widespread,” the company tweeted, “and this funding will help provide relief during a difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone affected.”

The Country Store in Union gets first Black owners

Photo above shows Milton Merritt in Roll Tide shirt, Jerrie Merritt in green shirt next to her parents Eloise and Howard Crawford. They are surrounded by family and friends.

Saturday, March 16, 2019, marked the grand opening by the new owners of The Country Store in Union, AL. Jerrie and Milton Merritt are currently the proud owners of The Country Store, formerly Parrish Grocery, located at the intersection of County Roads 191 and 208 in Union.
The Merritts are originally from Greene County, but now live in Los Vegas, NV. According to Jerrie Merritt, the Parrish family had been seeking a buyer for the grocery store for some time and finally got the interest of her and her husband, Milton Merritt.
The Merritts aren’t planning to re-locate to Union at this time to run the store, instead, Jerrie Merritt’s parents, Eloise and Howard Crawford, will operate The Country Store of Union.
The Country Store has had several owners/operators in the last 100 plus years. Various records, as well as community oral history, indicate that in the early 1900’s, the Miller’s family owned that store, which was one of three retail stores in Union at that time. Apparently Union was a bustling commerce center during that period with a flour mill, a cotton gin, a sawmill, a grist mill and a blacksmith shop.
Following the Miller’s, subsequent owners of The Grocery Store were Ernest Friday, Douglas Story, Duck Drummond and Mike Parrish.
The Merritts are the first African Americans to own and operate The Grocery Store.
Saturday’s grand opening of the store also included a birthday celebration for Mrs. Eloise Crawford, Jerrie Merritt’s mother.

Newswire :Southern Poverty Law Center fires co-founder Morris Dees

By Frederick H. Lowe, NorthStarNewsToday.com

Morris Dees

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Southern Poverty Law Center has announced that Morris Dees, the organization’s co-founder, has been fired, but officials of the Montgomery, Alabama-based organization did not
explain why.

“As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world,” said Richard Cohen, SPLC’s president. “When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”
Dees’ biography has been removed from the organization’s website.

Dees, who is 82, co-founded SPLC in 1971 and was the chief litigator.

The organization tracks hate groups and regularly publishes “Intelligence Report.”
The issue, which was published in Spring of 2019 was titled “The Year in Hate: Rage Against Change: White Supremacy Flourishes amid Fears of Immigration and the Nation’s Shifting Demographics.”

The magazine published articles, photographs, and maps where most hate groups operate. The SPLC blew the whistle on the rise of white hate groups that were often ignored by law enforcement officials because some of their employees were members of the hate groups.

The groups listed were the Klu Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, Skinheads, white nationalists. Under his leadership, the SPLC bankrupted the nation’s largest Klan organization.

The SPLC also said Chicago-based Nation of Islam was involved in hate speech.
“The black nationalist movement is a reaction to centuries of institutionalized
white supremacy in America,” SPLC explained.

Dees could not be reached for comment, but a series of articles in Montgomery Advertiser newspaper reported Dees was more concerned with raising money than fighting hate. In 2017, SPLC had $450 million in assets according to federal tax records.
SPLC’s black employees also charged that Dees was a racist.

Newswire: Congresswoman Maxine Waters statement on the New Zealand terror attack

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement today in response to the terrorist attacks on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand:

“I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the horrific and hate-filled terrorist attacks that took place in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 49 people and seriously injured 20 people. This merciless shooting targeted innocent Muslim worshipers during Friday prayers. My heart goes out to all of the victims, their families, and the Muslim community in New Zealand as they recover from this senseless act of violence.
“Vicious attacks on Muslims like the one in New Zealand are meant to incite fear, discourage tolerance, and threaten religious freedom around the world. It is my sincere belief that the international community must work together to confront xenophobic terrorism and all forms of hate whenever and wherever they occur.
“America stands in solidarity with the people of New Zealand, and we will continue to keep the Muslim community of New Zealand in our thoughts and prayers.”

Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. celebrates 40th Anniversary

In a three day celebration that included a Grand Ball on Friday, March 8, Community Impact Day, Saturday, March 9 and A Sisterhood Luncheon, Sunday, March 10 at Embassy Suits in Tuscaloosa, the Greene County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority observed its 40th chapter anniversary. The chapter, organized in 1978 currently has an active membership of 32. Isaac N. Atkins serves as chapter president. Nancy Cole served as 40th Anniversary Committee chairperson. Photo above shows the majority of participants at the Sisterhood Luncheon on Sunday, with chapter members and guests. The Greene County DST Chapter sponsored a Community Impact Day, as part of its 40th year celebration, for local residents in appreciation of the support the chapter receives for its projects and programs. Impact Day, held at the Eutaw Activity Center, included service booths, games, food and fellowship. The Sisterhood Luncheon gave tribute to charter members of the chapter and the former chapter presidents. — Photo by Cythina Crawford


Greene County hospital board and staff ask commission for 3 mil tax for local health services

On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, five members of the board of the Greene County Health System (GCHS) led by Chairperson, John Zippert and Eddie Austin, Lucy Spann, Pennia Hines and Margarite Bir, as well as several GCHS senior staff, attended the Commission Work-session at which items are discussed before being placed on the Commission’s regular meeting agenda.
The GCHS delegation asked the Commission to approve a three (3) mil increase in the Greene County ad valorem property tax for the benefit of the Hospital, Nursing Home and Physicians Clinic. Zippert explained that this increase would yield $500,000 in new revenues to support the work of the hospital in covering its financial deficit for providing an average of $100,000 per month in ‘uncompensated care’ to Greene County residents who are too poor to afford health care or health insurance.
After approval of the tax increase by the County Commission, the measure would have to be advertised as local legislation for four weeks, then approved by the Legislature, signed by the Governor and placed on the ballot for a vote by the citizens of Greene County in the next General Election (November 2020).
The Commission listened carefully to the proposal and then said that they would not place the request for a tax increase on the main agenda until a more comprehensive proposal could be developed. Commissioner Allen Turner, speaking for the Commission said, “We will not put forth a tax increase for one agency, like the hospital. We want to present a tax increase for the hospital and other needs of recreation for youth, nutrition for senior citizens and general support for the work of the Commission. We feel a single issue tax request will not be approved by the voters of Greene County.”
GCHS Board members expressed some disappointment with the actions of the Commission but said they would monitor the situation and continue to push for needed tax revenues to keep the hospital open and operating without a deficit.

County Commission Meeting

In its monthly meeting held Monday, March 12, 2019, the County Commission approved hiring an employee for the County’s Probate Office. The individual was recommended by the county’s newly elected Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth. The commission took action on the following:

  • Approved parking lot stripes at the courthouse, highway department, activity center and library.
  • Approved re-appointment of Debbie Duncan to Industrial Development Authority.
  • Approved travel to various conferences for the county engineer, assistant engineer, human resource coordinator and coroner.
  • Approved financial report, payment of claims and budget amendments.
    The commission declined to hire a bus drive for the Eutaw Nutrition Site.
    The meeting was adjourned following an executive session and public comments.

School board into superintendent search; begins interviews with AASB consultant

At its monthly meeting held Monday, March 11, 2019, the Greene County Board of Education continued its preparations in search of a new school superintendent. At its February meeting, the board engaged the Alabama Association of School Boards to assist in its superintendent search.
To move the process forward, the board approved the following: Contract between Board and AASB; Set Superintendent’s Minimum Salary; Qualifications for Superintendent; Board Members one on one meeting with Dr. Linda Ingram; Superintendent Search Timeline and Superintendent Search Survey.
Dr. Linda Ingram, representing the AASB, was present to begin individual interviews of each board member. Dr. Ingram will also conduct surveys and interviews in the local community. According to AASB, “The purpose of these interviews is to allow the consultant to gather information from the community on what it believes to be the strengths of the system, the challenges a new superintendent will face coming into that system and the qualifications and characteristics the community expects in a new superintendent.”
In other business the board approved the following personnel items:

  • Reassignment – Maintenance Staff: Jerome Jackson from Robert Brown Middle School to Eutaw Primary School; Jamar Jackson, from Greene County High School to Robert Brown Middle School; Samuel Newton, from Eutaw Primary School to Greene County Career Center.
    Supplemental contracts – Greene County High School – These contracts will conclude at the end of this school year: Karon Coleman, Head Football Coach; Corey Cockrell, Assistant Head Football Coach; Russell Rivers, Defense Coordinator; Justin Booth, Assistant Football Coach; Jocephus Patrick, Assistant Football Coach; Jacob Sullivan, Assistant Baseball Coach.
    Termination: Latoya Consentine, School Bus Driver, Department of Transportation.
    The board approved the following Administrative Services recommended by the superintendent.
  • First reading for Greene County School System Medication Policy; Automated External Defibrillator Policy and Health Policy.
  • School calendar for 2019-2020 school year.
  • Payment of all bills and payroll.

Newswire : Cops in two cities not charged in shooting deaths of unarmed Black men

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

Stephon Clark

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said yesterday that he will not charge two Sacramento, California, police officers who shot to death an unarmed black man in the backyard of his grandmother’s home.
An independent investigation into the shooting death of Stephon Clark found that no criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting can be sustained, Becerra said in a statement.

Sacramento police officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal, who is black, shot to death the 22-year-old Clark in March of 2018. The cops said they believed Clark was armed with a gun. They were wrong. He held only a cell phone in his hand.
An independent autopsy found that Clark was shot eight times —- six times in the back, once in the side and once in one arm.
Becerra announced his decision two days after Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she would not charge the two cops.

During the same time period, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday that it would not pursue civil rights charges against former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Joe Shelby, who shot to death Terrence Crutcher, 40, on September 16, 2016. Crutcher’s car was disabled. Crutcher had his hands raised in the air to surrender when Shelby murdered him.

Senator Doug Jones and Terri Sewell introduce bills to incentivize Alabama, 13 other states to expand Medicaid

Birmingham, Ala. – U.S. Senator Doug Jones last week led a press conference with Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) and community health care leaders to discuss their Medicaid expansion legislation, the States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019, and to call on leaders in Alabama to take action to expand Medicaid. 
This legislation would ensure that states that chose to expand Medicaid after 2014 are eligible for the same level of federal matching funds as states that expanded Medicaid earlier. Alabama, along with 13 other states, has yet to expand Medicaid.
 “I’m not sure that there is anything more important to the future of Alabama than the expansion of Medicaid. We’re losing dollars, and we’re seeing rural hospitals closing year after year, and other hospitals are struggling. This should be a non-partisan issue. Fourteen states with Republican governors have expanded Medicaid, including the state of Indiana under our Vice President, then-Governor Mike Pence,” Senator Jones said.
Senator Jones continued, “Now, we have the evidence that states that expanded Medicaid had better health outcomes, and was a boon to those states’ economies. We can grow the economies of those communities, and grow the economy of Alabama. We really just can’t afford to let another hospital shutter its doors because of this issue…. It is a no-brainer for the state of Alabama.” 
Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) said,  “I want to stand with Senator Jones and these folks on the front lines to try to get Alabama to expand Medicaid. I think it’s critically important that state and federal officials work together, and with this bill we have a chance to do that. I can’t tell you of a more critical problem that we have in Alabama than our rural hospital situation. It’s dire straits in the Black Belt. I stand with Doug Jones today, and I stand with practitioners and other officials who are just asking the state to do the right thing and expand Medicaid. I beg Governor Ivey to take a look at this bill.”

Rural Hospitals issue warnings

For years, leaders at Alabama’s rural hospitals have been warning public officials about the financial cliff they are facing, in large part as a result of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Since 2011, 13 hospitals have closed in Alabama, and seven of those hospitals have been in rural areas. Even now, approximately 88 percent of rural Alabama hospitals are operating in the red. The Alabama Hospital Association estimates that some 326,000 Alabamians would gain health care coverage if Medicaid were expanded in the state.

 “By refusing to expand Medicaid, Alabama has turned away $14 billion of our own taxpayer dollars. For years, those dollars could have helped keep our hospitals open, support good jobs in our communities, and provide health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Alabamians. This isn’t a partisan issue – expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do,” Senator Jones said. “Alabama can no longer afford not to expand, and our SAME Act legislation would ensure that states will get a fair deal when they do. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Capitol Hill, to support this common sense bill.”
Numerous studies have shown that expanding Medicaid benefits states economically by increasing jobs and earnings growth, generating federal revenue, increasing Gross State Product, increasing state and local revenues and reducing uncompensated care and hospital costs. If Alabama had expanded Medicaid five years ago, it could have yielded a $935 million net increase in tax revenue for the state, and could have led to approximately 12,000 new jobs across all sectors of Alabama’s economy in 2016 alone.
 “It’s crazy that for so many years, Virginia taxpayers were footing the bill for states that had already expanded Medicaid. Today, Medicaid expansion is bringing billions of tax dollars back home to Virginia, and more than 400,000 Virginians have gained access to quality, low-cost or no-cost Medicaid coverage,” said Senator Warner, a former Governor of Virginia. “This bill will bring even more federal dollars back to Virginia by making sure that we get the same deal from the federal government as states that expanded back in 2014.”
 The States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019 is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). The bill was recently re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and co-sponsored by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07). This bill may be combined with others seeking to improve and reorganize the Affordable Care Act.
 
Background
 
Medicaid is a joint federal and state insurance program that covers medical costs for eligible low-income Americans. In 2010, states were given the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Under this deal, the federal government would cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, and gradually step down to cover 90 percent permanently. 
 The SAME Act would ensure that any states that choose to expand Medicaid get a second chance to receive these same levels of federal funding. Under this bill, a state would receive three years of full federal funding, phasing down to a 95 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) in Year 4; a 94 percent federal contribution in Year 5; 93 percent in Year 6; and, 90 percent for each year thereafter. Alabama alone would receive $2 billion in federal dollars the first year after expansion.
 Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have already expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and three more states – Idaho, Utah and Nebraska – have passed ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid. Fourteen states, including Alabama, have not yet expanded their programs. In states that have failed to expand Medicaid, more than 2 million low-income adults fall into a “coverage gap,” due to incomes that are too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but are too low to meet the limit that would allow them to receive tax credits to purchase affordable coverage in the health care marketplace. Without Medicaid expansion, most of these individuals are likely to remain uninsured, as they have limited access to employer coverage and frequently find the cost of unsubsidized marketplace coverage to be prohibitively expensive.

Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee attended by thousands; Pushes theme of “Lift Our Vote 2020-Voting Rights Under Fire”

Before the re-enactment of the 1965 Blood Sunday March, 400 marchers in orange vests lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate the 400th anniversary of importation and enslavement of African people in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. When the protestors stood up they each had a Manifesto to end voter suppression and reclaim voting rights in their hands.

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher
Despite stormy weather, thousands attended the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, this past weekend in Selma, Alabama. Part a commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday March for Voting Rights”; part a celebration of civil and voting progress in our nation; and part a recommitment to social change activism to correct voter suppression and bring more equity and dignity to the struggle for human rights in America.
The Jubilee was a combination of more than 40 events including workshops, a parade, a golf tournament; a unity breakfast, several award presentations, the “Foot Soldiers breakfast”, a beauty pageant, a mock trial, the “Freedom Flame dinner”, and the March re-enactment on Sunday afternoon.
Former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said at the opening Mass Meeting, at Tabernacle Baptist Church, on Thursday night, “the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee is the largest civil rights gathering in the nation, dedicated to furthering voting rights and human rights for people in our country and around the world.”
Sanders recalled that over 80,000 people attended the 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday in 2015, when President Obama attended and 110,000 people came to march that Sunday.
Attorney Faya Rose Toure (Sanders) who coordinates the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, said, “ We want to celebrate the courage of the people in the 1960’s who led the voting rights movement from Selma, but we must also recognize the current day’s rampant voter suppression in this country and the fact that Selma is the ninth poorest city in America with a high rate of crime and homicides.”

Faya Rose also pointed out that 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the enslavement of African people in north America, with the importation of twenty Black workers to the British colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. There was an event where 400 people lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate this anniversary. The lay-in was delayed by bad weather and a tornado warning but did take place before the larger crowd of thousands re-enacted the 1965 Bloody Sunday Voting Rights March. “We were beaten on the bridge in 1965 but we are lying down in 2019 and rising up to end voter suppression and lifting our voices and votes to change oppressive conditions for all people,” said Faya Rose Toure.
A highlight of the Jubilee was Sunday morning’s Unity Breakfast held at Wallace Community College in Selma. More than a thousand people attended to witness Hillary Clinton receive the International Unity Award, as well as to meet and listen to several Presidential candidates including Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown. The breakfast also heard greetings from civil rights leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. William Barber, Charles Steele and other local leaders like newly elected State Senator Malika Sanders Fortier and Congresswomen Terri Sewell.
In presenting the International Unity Award to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Hank Sanders said, “Secretary Clinton was elected President in 2016, but the election was stolen from her by the FBI reporting on her emails, the Russians hacking into the Democratic Party and sending false messages on social media. She deserves this award for standing up for women’s rights and human rights across the globe.”
Faya Rose Toure inducted Hillary Clinton into the Women’s Hall of Fame at the National Voting Rights Museum.
In her remarks, in accepting the awards, Clinton said, “ I am honored and humbled to receive these awards for my work for women, voting and human rights. But we have urgent unfinished work to protect fundamental rights, freedom of the press, and ending voter suppression. There is a crisis in this country and it is up to us to address it.”
“We must show up and vote every time in every election. We must di this step by step, year by year, door by door, to reclaim our democracy,” said Clinton.
In his remarks, Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said, “ I must express my thanks to Faya Rose and Hank Sanders for keeping this Bridge Crossing Jubilee going year after year and to the people of Selma, the birthplace of modern democracy in America. Since the 2018 elections, we have 55 Black Congress-people, 38 Latino and Latinas, 20 Asian Americans and over 100 women. All of these people, and many more state and local public officials, owe their positions to the voting rights struggle in Selma in 1965. But Selma is still suffering with a 40% poverty rate. We need to push the government for a ’rural reconstruction plan and project in Selma and surrounding counties of the Alabama Black Belt’, just like we rebuild Europe with the Marshall Plan after World War II,” said Rev. Jackson.