Newswire: Experimental drug gets green light for new Ebola outbreak

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                                                            Ebola drug vaccination

May 14, 2018 (GIN) – The Ebola virus which took thousands of lives in West Africa has resurfaced in central Africa. This time, health officials are ready to put an experimental drug to the test.

The outbreak, which has caused at least 19 deaths and 39 confirmed and suspected cases, was reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province between April 4 and May 13, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The drug, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, was developed over a decade ago by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba and is now licensed to Merck to help protect people who have not yet been infected with Ebola.

It was proven safe and effective when first used in Guinea in 2015. Some 1,510 individuals were vaccinated between March 17 and April 21. Guinea was declared Ebola virus disease-free on Dec. 29. The trial ended on Jan. 20, 2016.

Others working with WHO are Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Médecins Sans Frontières; and the DRC’s Ministry of Health to introduce the shot, a WHO spokesperson confirmed Monday.

A “ring vaccination” approach around the epicenter of the outbreak in the Congo, will be used. But because Merck’s Ebola shot hasn’t yet won regulatory approval, officials must obtain an importation license, plus establish a “formal agreement on the research protocols,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević told FiercePharma.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the world health body, said the WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses of the vaccine in Geneva; the company also has 300,000 doses of the vaccine stockpiled in the U.S.

The “ring vaccination” approach was a strategy used in 1977 to control smallpox. The idea is to vaccinate people who know someone who has been infected and the people who know those people, in an expanding “ring” around the infections.

So far, 393 people have been identified as part of the “ring” around people who are known or suspected to have been infected in the Congo.

Newswire : NAACP Statement on Santa Fe High School Shooting

By Malik Russell, Director of Communications, mrussell@naacpnet.org

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BALTIMORE, Md., May 18, 2018 /NNPANewswirePR/ The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s premier civil rights organization, issued the following statement regarding the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas:
The NAACP mourns the tragic and senseless loss of 10 lives on Friday, May 18 at Santa Fe High School in Texas. In addition to those killed, 10 individuals were also wounded. Nine of the 10 fatalities were students, studying subjects they loved and planning for their future. This is the 22nd school shooting of 2018, according to CNN.
We cannot sit back and allow gun violence to continue to take the lives of our students. The NAACP sends our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victims and everyone whose lives they touched. Talk alone is not enough to address the issue of gun violence in our communities and schools; sensible gun reform must become a priority among our politicians and policymakers.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the word are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.

Newswire : Stacey Abrams wins Democratic Primary for Georgia Governor

If elected, the former party leader in the state legislature would be the nation’s first Black female governor.

By Daniel Marans, Huffington Post

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Stacey Abrams, Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia

Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination for governor of Georgia on Tuesday, delivering a victory for the national liberal groups and elected officials who backed her historic bid.
If elected in November, the 44-year-old Abrams would be Georgia’s first woman governor and the nation’s first black woman at the helm of a state. She previously served 10 years in the Georgia House, and for much of that time was her party’s leader in the chamber.
Her primary win reflects the increasingly diverse makeup of the state’s Democratic voters, as well as the party’s turn toward a more base-centric strategy.
The landmark nature of her candidacy attracted a surge of national attention and resources that helped her clinch the nomination, according to Kerwin Swint, a Georgia politics expert at Kennesaw State University.
Her nomination “energizes the Democratic Party in Georgia to a large degree,” Swint said.
Abrams defeated former state Rep. Stacey Evans, 40, who ran as a champion of the HOPE scholarship ― a greatly-diminished free public college program from which she benefited.
In the general election, Abrams will face either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Cagle and Kemp were the top two vote-getters, but neither won an outright majority, so they proceed to a July 24 runoff. to the Politics administration impact you?
A key premise of Abrams’ bid is that in Georgia the Democratic Party no longer needs to cater to moderate white “swing” voters in the state’s suburban and rural areas who have increasingly migrated to the GOP since the 1990s.
It’s a strategy promoted by Californian Steve Phillips, author of Brown is the New White, which argues that Democrats can win with the help of a “new American majority” ― progressive whites, Latinos, Asian Americans and black voters, especially black women.
Seeing a prime opportunity to vindicate his theory, Phillips, whose wife Susan Sandler is heir to a mortgage banking fortune, has boosted Abrams’ bid both with his checkbook and his platform. PowerPAC Georgia, which is associated with Phillips’ nonprofit Democracy in Color, spent $1.5 million on Abrams’ behalf.
That money supplemented Abrams’ own considerable campaign haul of $3 million.
Abrams also benefited from an all-out bombardment of support from major progressive groups, including Democracy for America, the Working Families Party, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List.Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) campaigned for her on the stump, and both Hillary Clinton and her 2016 presidential primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), endorsed Abrams’ bid.
Abrams also enjoyed the support of nearly every labor union in Georgia, three of its four Democratic U.S. House members and almost every civil rights leader in the state.
She has run on protecting voting rights, expanding Medicaid using Affordable Care Act funds, raising the minimum wage, eliminating cash bail and allocating more needs-based college aid, among other liberal priorities.
But Abrams will need all the help she can get in a state that has not elected a Democrat as governor since 1998. And Republicans do not lack for ammunition to use against her.
For example, they are likely to seize on Abrams having more than $200,000 in personal debt, including $50,000 in back taxes owed to the IRS.
“Georgia is turning purple but it is still a red state and I think she would do very poorly outside metro Atlanta,” Swint said.
“It really depends on how big the blue wave is this year,” he added. “If it’s a tidal wave it could help her chances. If it’s a ripple, probably not.”

Newswre: Obamas sign picture deal with Netflix

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Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama

Northstar News Today Views:

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have signed a multi-year, multi-million agreement to produce films and a series with Netflix, the world’s leading internet-service company.
The Obamas will produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features for the couple’s newly established Higher Ground Productions, Netflix said in a news release.
“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life and to help share their experiences with a wider audience,” said President Obama.
Michelle Obama said, “Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others.”
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the company is happy the Obamas have chosen to make Netflix home for their storytelling abilities. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Netflix has 125 million members in 190 countries.

Newswire : Religious leaders arrested in Capitol while demanding restoration of Voting Rights Act

It’s the second week of the six-week revival of the Poor People’s Campaign.

By Kira Lerner, Think Progress

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 Rev. Barber and Rev. Jackson in protest.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Revs. Jesse Jackson, William Barber, and other prominent religious leaders were arrested for demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol on Monday, demanding the restoration of the Voting Rights Act and the end of racial gerrymandering.
Dozens of others were also arrested across the country as part of the second week of protests organized by the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement that originated in 1968 with Martin Luther King Jr. at the helm. The campaign, a coalition of progressives and faith-based organizations, plans to hold demonstrations and risk arrest every Monday for six weeks.
At a rally ahead of the demonstration in the Capitol Rotunda, Barber drew a connection between systemic racism and policies that suppress voters of color.
“America’s democracy was under attack long before the 2016 election by racist voter suppression and gerrymandering, which are tools of white supremacy designed to perpetuate systemic racism,” he said. “These laws target people of color but hurt Americans of all races by allowing politicians to get elected who block living wages, deny union rights, roll back Medicaid, attack immigrants, and underfund public education.”
Throughout the six weeks, Barber and the other organizers hope to draw attention to the policies and laws that keep 140 million Americans trapped in poverty. On Monday, voting advocates highlighted how racial gerrymandering, voter ID laws, an other suppressive voting measures keep people of color from gaining political power.
Since 2010, 23 states have passed voter suppression laws, the Poor People’s Campaign noted, including redistricting laws and measures that block certain voters from the polls, like cuts to early voting days and opportunities, voter ID laws, and purges of the voter rolls.
Jimmie Hawkins, a pastor with North Carolina’s only African American Presbyterian church, testified in court hearings in 2015 against North Carolina’s voting law that an appeals court later found targeted black voters with “almost surgical precision.” On Monday, he joined the demonstration to argue that lifting Americans out of poverty involves eliminating voting laws like the one overturned in his state.
“Those who have the most to lose when they are not unable to vote should not have barriers placed before them when they try to vote,” he said.
David Goodman, whose brother Andrew was murdered by the KKK 54 years ago next month while he was participating in the Freedom Summer, also spoke at the rally about the voter intimidation and suppression his brother was fighting.
“Here we are, again, dealing with the same issue,” he said, pointing to the Supreme Court which gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. “The struggle for which my brother died for is not over.”
As they marched, two by two, from the Capitol lawn into the rotunda, the demonstrators held signs reading, “Voter Suppression = The True Hacking of Our Democracy” and remained silent because, as Barber and Jackson noted, people in power want them to be silenced.

Newswire : Poor People’s Campaign launches six weeks of protests around U.S.

By Associated Press

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Poor Peoples Campaign demonstration in Washington D. C.

Activists converged on state capitals around the U.S. on Monday to begin six weeks of non-violent protests calling for new programs to help the millions of Americans who live in poverty, an overhaul of voting rights laws and other social change.
Reports by police from seven state capitols and Washington, D.C., showed more than 200 people had been arrested or cited during the first day of the so-called Poor People’s Campaign. In many instances, police said protesters were cited for blocking traffic. In Washington, the two leaders of the campaign were among the protesters arrested outside the U.S. Capitol. Campaign leaders said the protests would cover 35 states.
A statement from the campaign said the Rev. William Barber and the Rev. Liz Theoharis, its two co-chairmen, were among those arrested outside the U.S. Capitol for standing in the middle of a street. Police had no immediate confirmation of arrests there or a specific number of those stopped.
“We’re living in an impoverished democracy,” Barber said. “People across the country are standing up against the lie of scarcity. We know that in the richest country in the world, there is no reason for children to go hungry, for the sick to be denied health care and for citizens to have their votes suppressed. Both parties have to be challenged — one for what it does and one for what it doesn’t do.”
Barber is a North Carolina minister and former president of the state NAACP chapter. Theoharis is co-director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice in New York.
In Alabama, twelve (12) people were arrested for blocking thec street in front of the State Capitol in Montgomery.
In Missouri, 88 people were issued summonses in Jefferson City for obstructing a lawful police order to move after they blocked a downtown street. Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, led off 49 people after they walked out into the street in front of the legislative building, held hands and refused to depart until each was taken away and cited.
Officers cited 10 protesters at the Iowa Capitol who gathered in and around the staff offices of Gov. Kim Reynolds when they refused to leave the building at the close of business hours.
The campaign cast the protests as a “reignition” of the Poor People’s Campaign, the 1968 movement started by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others to challenge racism, poverty and militarism. According to the campaign, protesters will spend the next 40 days engaged in nonviolent action, including the mobilization of voters and holding teach-ins.
The first teach-in is scheduled for Tuesday in Washington. It is to feature Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund and a part of the 1968 campaign.

Newswire : Zimbabweans cheer a musical‘lion’ returning from exile

 

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T. Mapfumo

May 7, 2018 (GIN) – Welcome home Mukanya.

After 14 long years in the U.S. state of Oregon, singer, composer and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo has come home to Zimbabwe. His recent performance, for some 20,000 ticket holders at the open-air Glamis Arena, only slowed down as the sun began to rise.

“I thought maybe I wasn’t going to be able to come back here while I was still alive,” Mapfumo confessed. “But by the grace of God, I’m here.”

After running afoul of former president Robert Mugabe, Mapfumo, known by his totem name Mukanya, took the painful decision to leave the country for the U.S., playing his last show in 2004.

“I didn’t fear for my life, all I wanted was for my children to be safe and my family,” said the 72 year old interpreter of Chimurenga – a word in the Shona language roughly meaning “revolutionary struggle.” The word entered the lexicon during the Rhodesian Bush War and was extended to describe a struggle for human rights, political dignity and social justice.

Professor Mhoze Chikowero of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, commented on the musical icon.

“(Mapfumo) rose to prominence as a guerrilla artist during Africa’s liberation struggles. Composing military songs that utilized the mbira sound demonized by Christian missionaries and proscribed by the settler state, Mapfumo helped propound the style called Chimurenga that attacked the colonial system and mobilized for the popular armed struggle that birthed Zimbabwe.

“His crusade against injustice saw him not only harassed by the colonial regime, but also the post-colonial state that inherited the same modes of governance as its predecessor.”

The 1988 song “Corruption” officially opened Mapfumo’s rift with the Mugabe regime. “Thomas bravely came forward and sang this song about corruption,” said Banning Eyre, author of the biography “Lion Songs.” Politicians were basically using their power to access limited resources, government subsidized industries, purchasing those vehicles to resell them for personal profits, added Chikowero.

In 2015 Mapfumo recorded “Danger Zone” which was immediately pirated in Zimbabwe upon its release. Mapfumo responded by urging Zimbabweans to steal the pirated copies. “Once all those pirated copies flooded the market, the theft had been accomplished. So people might as well steal from, rather than reward, the thieves,” he said with a shrug.

“Mapfumo, the Lion of Zimbabwe, stands beside Fela Kuti, Youssou N’Dour and Franco as one of Africa’s greatest and most consequential composer/bandleaders,” wrote Ron Kadish of the online rockpaperscissors.biz.

“Songs from the ‘90s stress Mapfumo’s insistence that his fellow citizens not abandon their ancestral culture, but rather find ways to integrate it into their contemporary lives.”

Newswire : Rapper Meek Mill calls for criminal justice reform

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

meek-mill-mugshot_pdc_web120.jpgRapper Meek Mill

Rapper Meek Mill sat down with NBC’s Lester Holt to talk about his experiences in the criminal justice system for a Dateline interview aired on Sunday, May 6.
“I had eight years of probation that turned [into] 16 years of probation,” Mill said in a preview of the interview. “Something is not working,” in the criminal justice system.
TMZ.com reported that Judge Genece Brinkley amended the order regarding Mill’s bail conditions, “and he now has approval to travel outside of Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County for scheduled business activities.”
According to TMZ.com, “The amended order also gives Meek approval to live in Montgomery Co. The original bail conditions required him to live in neighboring Philadelphia County. Meek still has to submit to at least one urine test per month.”
After being sentenced for violating probation and spending almost five months in prison, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill was released on April 24.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered an immediate release for Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, and also instructed the judge in his case to assign an “unsecured bail.”
On Twitter, Mill thanked God, his family and his public advocates for their love, support and encouragement.
“While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive,” Mill tweeted.

Mill added that he planned, “to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career.”

Mill was given a two- to four-year prison sentence in November 2017 for violating his probation stemming from a 2008 gun and drug case.

According to Pitchfork.com, when Judge Genece E. Brinkley sentenced Mill, she “cited a failed drug test, violation of court-ordered travel restrictions, and two misdemeanor arrests: for reckless driving involving a motorcycle in Manhattan and for an alleged altercation at the St. Louis airport.”

Pitchfork.com also reported that, “Charges in the New York case are set to be scrubbed from Meek’s record in April, if he avoids further violations; the St. Louis charge was reportedly dropped. Regardless, she gave him the two- to four-year sentence.”
Mill’s case garnered the attention of civil rights activists across the nation, and was cited as an example of a broken criminal justice system. Celebrities including Jay-Z, Colin Kaepernick, T.I. and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft also took interest in the case.
On the same day he was released, Mill was spotted at the Philadelphia 76ers playoff game against the Miami Heat. Mill sat next to comedian Kevin Hart and 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, another supporter. The 76ers won the game, which marked the team’s first playoff series win since 2012.

“We applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for directing Judge Genece Brinkley to immediately release Meek Mill from prison, underscoring what we already knew, he did not deserve to be imprisoned in the first place,” stated Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change. “This decision sets an important precedent against the unjust jailing of so many Black and Brown people for petty probation violations.”

Robinson continued: “Meek’s case is just one example of how the excessively punitive criminal justice system targets Black people every day and turns prisons into profit-generating institutions.”
Robinson noted that thousands of people are illegally detained in Philadelphia jails on unjust probation and parole violations every day without a hearing or the possibility of posting bail.
“Together with money bail, probation detainers are one of the largest drivers of mass incarceration,” Robinson said. “With the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, we proved that when our communities hold those in power accountable, we can expose our racist criminal justice system and stop its disproportionate impact on the lives of Black people.”
This article was originally published at BlackPressUSA.com.

Newswire: Ben Carson sued for trying to destroy low-income communities

Written By Parker Riley, Newsone
Dr. Ben Carson.jpg  Dr. Ben Carson, HUD Secretary
Ben Carson is the arguably heartless secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The polices passed since he stepped into the position have done little to nothing to help the people he is supposed to serve. From a proposal to raise the rent on low-income people to blocking Obama’s Small Area Fair Market Rent rule, which was supposed to begin January 1 and would give marginalized people better access to jobs and school. Now, Carson is being sued.
One of the great things HUD did under the Obama administration, with Julian Castro as the secretary, was to work to ensure that neighborhoods were not segregated. Studies have shown that when neighborhoods are segregated, Black and brown communities receive less funding and resources. This 2015 rule required over “1,200 communities receiving billions of federal housing dollars to draft plans to desegregate their communities — or risk losing federal funds,” according to The Washington Post. However, Carson suspended the rule in January calling it, per The Post, “failed socialist experiments,” thereby allowing local and state governments “to continue receiving HUD grants without compliance with the full requirements of the Fair Housing Act.”
As a result, fair-housing advocates were expected to file a lawsuit against Carson on Tuesday. According to The Washington Post, “The lawsuit alleges Carson unlawfully suspended the 2015 rule by not providing advance public notice or opportunity for comment.”
Lisa Rice, president and chief executive of the National Fair Housing Alliance, one of three housing advocacy groups that joined the lawsuit, said to The Washington Post, “HUD has continued to grant federal dollars to municipalities even when they know the municipalities are engaging in discrimination. They are rewarding cities for bad behavior.”
`Madison Sloan, director of Texas Appleseed’s Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing project, another advocacy group that joined the lawsuit, stated, “My fear is that HUD’s rescission of the rule tells communities, ‘You’re off the hook. We’re going to keep giving you money even while you keep perpetuating segregation.’”
Let’s hope this lawsuit can force Carson to do his job and not actively dismantle the very core of fair housing, which — to ensure there isn’t discrimination in housing. This is an important fight considering Carson claims low-income people are “too comfortable” in poverty and wants to kick people out of HUD via a work requirement of 32 hours per week. As much as Carson wears his religion on his sleeve, he needs to consult his God on his policies. This is not what Jesus would do.

Newswire : Black jobless rate was 6.60% in April, the lowest since 1972, But…

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

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 April Jobless Rate Chart: North Star News

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – April’s jobless rate for Black men and Black women improved to 6.60 percent, down from 6.90 percent in March as the nonfarm business payroll increased by 164,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

The jobless rate for blacks was the lowest since 1972 but that was because some African Americans stopped looking for work. There was a lower labor-participation rate in April for African Americans compared to March, according to BLS.
The labor-participation rate was 61.9 percent in April, down from 62.7 percent in March. The labor-participation rate measures the number of people who are employed or are looking for work.
The government counts a person as unemployed if he or she is out of work but looking for work. BLS reported that 18.9 million blacks were employed in April down from 19.0 million in March. The number of blacks not in the labor force in April was 12.4 million, up from 12.2 million in March.
Although the unemployment rate for African Americans improved, it was still higher compared to whites, which was 3.60 percent. The jobless rate for Hispanics was 4.80 percent. Asians had the lowest unemployment rate of 2.80 percent.
The overall unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent from 4.1 percent.
The unemployment rate in April for black men 20 years old and older was 6.4 percent, up from 6.10 percent in March, BLS reported. The jobless rate for black women 20 years old and older in April was 5.30 percent down from 6.00 percent in March.
BLS reported that employment increased in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care and mining.