Newswire : Massive cyclone batters Zimbabwe and Mozambique, hundreds feared dead

Flooding in southern Africa


Mar. 18, 2019 (GIN) – A powerful cyclone moving at over 100 miles per hour unleashed deadly floods in southern Africa over the weekend, leaving a moonscape of mud where the bustling port city of Beira in Mozambique had been.

“The scale of devastation (in Beira) is enormous,” said Jamie LeSueur, leader of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) team there. “It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed.”

On Sunday, the last road to the city of about 530,000 people was cut off when a large dam burst, the IFRC reported.

In Zimbabwe, the mountainous Chimanimani district was isolated by torrential rains and winds that swept away roads, homes and bridges and knocked out power and communication lines.

Zimbabwean rescuers struggled to reach people whose homes were flattened by rock falls and mudslides or washed away by the strong rains.

In Beira, where Cyclone Idai first made landfall, a 14 foot storm surge severed communication with other villages along the coast. Beira is Mozambique’s second largest port where vital shipping to the central part of the country, including Zimbabwe and Malawi, takes place.

Early Monday, rescuers launched dinghies onto chest-high waters, navigating through reeds and trees – where some people perched on branches to escape the water.

President Filipe Nyusi, speaking on Radio Mocambique, said he had flown over the affected region, where two rivers had overflowed. Villages had disappeared, he said, and bodies were floating in the water.

“Everything indicates that we can register more than one thousand deaths,” he said.

More than 1.5 million people have been affected across the three countries by Idai. Mozambique Red Cross volunteers are already on the ground as well as the IFRC’s international team,” said IFRC’s Euloge Ishimwe.

Ironically, Mozambique, like many other countries in southern Africa, suffered a major drought two years ago. Farmers lost their cattle and crops failed.

African populations are already suffering the increasing effects of climate change, said Kristalina Georgieva, acting president of the World Bank Group. “This is the case with Cyclone Idai, which has been sweeping through southern Africa since Mar. 16”.

It is not now known whether affected residents received warning of the impending storm. However images of the tropical cyclone were captured on a NASA satellite on Mar. 12 and on Mar. 19 by Mozambique’s National Institute of Meteorology.

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 Norton fighting for D.C., Black Press in new Congress

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedi

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is a living legend with more than 50 honorary degrees and a list of accomplishments the size of her beloved District of Columbia. One of the ways that Norton remains updated through her book club.
“I think the book that I enjoy is ‘On the Basis of Sex,’ about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” Norton said. “But, as far as having a favorite movie, television show or song, I don’t have time.” That’s because she’s busy fighting for the rights of her fellow Washingtonians.
It’s a battle she’s fought for nearly 30 years as the District’s representative in the House of Representatives.
“Certainly nothing can be more important than making the District a state and I don’t suppose that any member of Congress can do anything that’s more important,” said Norton, 81. “We are going to get a vote on statehood this time and I expect it to be successful in Congress. We’ll just have to see what happens in the Senate,”
Norton arrived in Congress in 1991. Already a national figure known for her work during the civil rights movement, Norton arrived with a determination that others could easily see.Her hard work helped to break barriers for Washington as she successfully fought for a bill that provided up to $10,000 annually for high school students in D.C. to attend any public U.S. college or university. That bill also provided up to $2,500 per year for D.C. students to attend many private colleges and universities.
She also gained a unique $5,000 D.C. homebuyer tax credit for residents and helped stabilize
the city’s population with various incentives during times of economic crisis. Most of that was
accomplished while Democrats sat in the minority.
Along with the many battles still ahead, Norton has also tackled the issue of federal agencies
and how they spend their combined more than $5 billion advertising budget. She said she’s gathered co-sponsors for a bill that will require all agencies in the government to produce their spending reports and detail what they have spent and will spend with black-owned newspapers and media companies.
“I introduced it the last session, but it’s a new session and [Democrats] are in the majority so there’s a difference,” Norton said, adding that she remains amazed at how black newspapers – particularly in a major city like Washington – have been able to thrive.“You just wouldn’t know what’s really going on if you didn’t have the Black Press of America,” Norton said.
“That’s why I asked for a Government Accountability Office report to detail what federal agencies spend with the Black Press. My legislation will make the government lead by example in advertising with the Black Press and make them more conscious of their obligations.“That’s why I push it the way I am pushing it now,” she said.
For Norton, it all syncs with a motto she adopted from the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” Norton said, quoting that famous document. What I love is the saying, ‘self-evident.’ Take a moment and think about that saying. I do,” she said.

Newswire: Rep. Bennie Thompson wins efforts to make Medgar Evers Home National Monument

Meager Evers

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

On June 12, 1963, voting rights activist Medgar Evers was shot dead outside his home in Jackson Mississippi. Evers, who was a World War II veteran, was the NAACP field secretary in Mississippi.

He was murdered by Byron de la Beckwith, a white supremacist, Klansman and member of the White Citizens’ Council. Evers’ killer would not be convicted until 1994, after an all-white jury deadlocked in 1964 allowing de la Beckwith to roam unpunished for Evers’ murder for three decades.
Because of the work of Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the Evers’ house at 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive in Jackson, will now become a national historic landmark. The house where Medgar Evers’ was fatally shot was built in the first planned middle-class subdivision for African-Americans in Mississippi after World War II. Thompson has been working on the honor for Evers for over ten years.

The home was owned by Tougaloo College and later restored for tours. In 2017, Edgars’ home was designated a National Historic Landmark. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed March 12, 2019, included language that designates Evers’ home as a national monument.

On January 14, Rep. Thompson reintroduced the Medgar Evers Home National Monument Act. “In my capacity as Congressman of the Second Congressional District of Mississippi, to author this legislation to honor the sacrifice of Civil Rights Icon Medgar Evers and his widow, Myrlie, by designating their home as
a National Monument. This legislation is of great personal importance to me. I, like many others, was inspired by the magnitude of determination Mr. Evers showed by dedicating himself to others and fighting against adversity. The designation of his home is an everlasting tribute to his legacy.”

Evers worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and end the segregation of public places. Ironically, the hospital that Evers was admitted to, after a delay, was the first time that an all-white hospital in Mississippi admitted an African American.

In October 2009, then Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, announced that USNS Medgar Evers, a cargo ship, would be named in his honor. The ship was christened by his wife, Myrlie Evers-Williams on November 12, 2011.
Medgar Evers, who served in the U.S. Army, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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.”

Newswire : Thousands gather in Nairobi to clean up the Earth

Joyce Msuya, UN Environment Program Director

Mar. 11, 2019 (GIN) – Heads of state, government ministers, business leaders, senior UN officials and grassroots activists are gathering in Nairobi this week for the fourth UN Environment Assembly – the world’s top body on the environment.

This year’s theme is “Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production.”

The assembly is expected to draw the largest gathering in the group’s short history – with attendance almost double the last event in December 2017. Prominent world leaders will attend, including the Presidents of France and Kenya, Emmanuel Macron and Uhuru Kenyatta, and CEOs from major corporations.

Resolutions on the table will address sustainable consumption and production patterns, protection of the marine environment from plastic pollution, food waste, and technological innovation that combats climate change, and reduces resource use and biodiversity loss.

Decisions have a profound impact on the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as paving the way towards the UN Climate Change Summit 2019 and impacting the overall UN agenda.

UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director, Joyce Msuya of Tanzania, appealed to nations to step up and start delivering real change.

“Time is running short. We are past pledging and politicking. We are past commitments with little accountability. What’s at stake is life, and society, as the majority of us know it and enjoy it today,” she wrote in a policy letter.

“It’s clear that we need to transform the way our economies work, and the way we value the things that we consume,” said Msuya. “The goal is to break the link between growth and increased resource use, and end our throwaway culture.”

This year, it is reported that India will be leading two global resolutions at the assembly: one on nitrogen pollution and the other on the use of plastics. It will be a historic event as India has not pushed for such important resolutions at the UN in recent times.

India is the third region to have assessed the environmental implications of nitrogen pollution after the U.S. and the European Union. In 2017, India completed this assessment under the leadership of N. Raghuram, the current chairman of the International Nitrogen Initiative.

Agriculture has been the main source of nitrogen pollution as cereals like rice and wheat use only one-third of the nitrogen applied through fertilizers discharging the rest into the surrounding environment.

Pakistan may raise the issue of Indian air strikes at the assembly calling it ‘eco-terrorism’. The air strikes carried on February 26 have allegedly damaged around 15 pine trees.

The UN Environment’s report highlights five major issues of emerging global concern: synthetic biology, permafrost peatlands, ecological connectivity, the nitrogen fix, and maladaptation to climate change. If not addressed urgently, these issues can accelerate climate change and compromise ecosystem resilience—having detrimental impacts on our economy.

The meeting opened with a statement by organizers on the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302. It was a terrible loss for the United Nations, for our member states and for the environmental community.

“The environmental community is in mourning today. Many of those that lost their lives were en-route to provide support and participate in the UN Environment Assembly. We lost UN staff, youth delegates travelling to the Assembly, seasoned scientists, members of academia and other partners.

“We join the Secretary-General in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims who perished in this tragedy.
“The entire UN Environment Assembly will honor them in our efforts this week.”

Newswire : NBA legend Abdul-Jabbar holds auction to support foundation to help youth

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the NBA in 1989 at age 42, no NBA player had ever scored more points, blocked more shots, won more Most Valuable Player Awards, played in more All-Star Games or logged more seasons.
NBA.com reported that Jabbar’s list of personal and team accomplishments is perhaps the most awesome in league history: Rookie of the Year, member of six NBA championship teams, six-time NBA MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 19-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, and a member of the NBA 35th and 50th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
He also owned eight playoff records and seven All-Star records. No player achieved as much individual and team success as did Abdul-Jabbar.
On Saturday, March 2, Jabbar auctioned off his championship rings, MVP and All-Star trophies and other rare items to benefit Jabbar’s Skyhook Foundation, whose mission per Jabbar, is to “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked.”
“We do this by sending children from economically challenged schools to five days in the Angeles National Forest to experience the wonders of nature and learn the basics about science, technology and engineering, Jabbar told NNPA Newswire in an exclusive interview.
He said the children participate in an “immersive hands-on experience that takes kids out of school for five days and four nights.”
They go from auditory learning to utilizing all of their senses in the great outdoors.
“Our hope is not just to get them out of the city to commune with the outdoors, but to stimulate an interest in the sciences that might lead them to fulfilling careers,” Jabbar said.
He said he decided to sell the items because his foundation has struggled for a number of years and can use the funds.
“I need to keep it working and I have these wonderful mementos of my career and they take up space, need to be insured and you have to take care of them,” Jabbar said.
“I’d rather use these to make sure the foundation gets the funding,” he said.
At auction, Jabbar’s 1971-72 NBA MVP Trophy sold for more than $76,000 while his 1987 NBA Championship went fetched more than $260,000.
When final accounting is performed, the auction should easily net more than $1 million for the foundation.
The funds will keep the foundation afloat, allowing underprivileged children a chance at an education in the STEM field.
“So many young people think they have to be extremely talented like a LeBron James, Stevie Wonder, or Beyoncé. They don’t have realistic ideas on what their potential is and giving them this opportunity is showing them where the best jobs will be in the 21st century,” Jabbar said.
“It gives them a leg up and hopefully [helps them] make connections,” he said.
Foundation officials have discovered recent research that shows that 97 percent of girls and 92 percent of boys give up on science because of peer pressure and what’s hot in popular culture, Jabbar said.
His mission is the change that.
“When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple – sell it. Besides I was there, I lived it,” Jabbar said.
“Instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating and celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child. Everybody has an ego and I’m no different,” he said, laughing.
“But, I can’t take this stuff with me so it’s better that I share it in a way that enables me to do something really neat and the benefits I think far outweigh anything else.”

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.

Newswire : Thousands uprooted from safe haven now desperate for food, water and shelter

Nigerian refugees


Mar. 4, 2019 (GIN) – An estimated 30,000 refugees have been uprooted by officials in Cameroon and Nigeria this month and sent to known hotbeds of insurgents including Boko Haram on the Nigerian side of the border.

Humanitarian groups including Action against Hunger are questioning the wisdom of forcing refugees to move to the city of Rann in Borno state, the epicentre of the decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 27,000.

“Reports from sources on the ground indicate that these people are in dire need of aid,” a UN briefing note stated.

There were also questions about whether the returns complied with international law on refugees, which require returns to be voluntary, the Agence France Press reported.

International and national humanitarian organizations abandoned Rann in January due to ongoing insecurity.

Shashwat Saraf, the country director of Action Against Hunger in Nigeria, said it was “difficult to imagine” it being safe for anyone to return. “Alarming” levels of severe acute malnutrition were found among children under five, he said.

The mass movement of internally displaced people comes as President Muhammadu Buhari takes office for a second term, having been declared the winner of a national election marred by mechanical errors with the voter card readers, a weeklong postponement, reports of vote-buying, and extremist attacks in the northeast.

Voter turnout was at a historic low at 35.6 percent of the population.

“The numbers alone are indicting,” said Adewunmi Emoruwa of The Election Network. “We have witnessed a record number of cancelled votes – more than double the numbers from the previous poll – and which is only a reflection of the widespread irregularities across every part of the country. We all observed as thugs had a field day unleashing terror on demographically profiled voters, which led to the suppressed turnout that has been recorded.”

Buhari won in 19 states – including the two most populous, Lagos and Kano – while the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was victorious in 17.

The two men are both northern Muslims in their 70s who have long been in politics. Buhari is seen by many as a strict, inflexible but personally incorruptible figure, while many hoped Atiku, a wealthy businessman and former vice-president, would enact policies to help boost Nigeria’s struggling economy.The opposition has rejected the vote outcome.

Newswire: New interactive website featuring Henry Louis Gates, tracks slave voyages

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Henry Louis Gates and images from a slave ship; diagram of a slave ship

In his PBS series, “Finding Your Roots …” Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents guests whose roots cover the globe – from Samoa, Nigeria, Taiwan and Sicily to Iran, Ireland, India and Cuba – and almost everywhere in between.
Each episode weaves together their stories, gleaned from cutting-edge DNA analysis and old school genealogical detective work.
And, at the center of it all and guiding every discovery is Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
Gates is also now featured on a newly updated website, slavevoyages.org, which contains databases of the Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American slave trade.
The databases are the culmination of several decades of independent and collaborative research by scholars who draw upon information in libraries and archives around the world, according to a news release.
The new slave voyages website counts as the product of three years of development by a multi-disciplinary team of historians, librarians, curriculum specialists, cartographers, computer programmers, and web designers, in consultation with scholars of the slave trade from universities in Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.
Among the many unique features are an African names database.
The producers of the site note that during the last 60 years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, courts around the Atlantic basins condemned over 2,000 vessels for engaging in slave trafficking and recorded the details of captives found on board those ships, including African names.
Links are provided to the ships in the Voyages Database from which the liberated Africans were rescued, as well as to the African Origins site where users can hear the names pronounced and help us identify the languages they think the names originated from or are used.
The site also takes a deep look at the slave trade within the Americas, which, after the initial disembarkation of African captives in the New World, has received scant attention from historians, especially for the period prior to the abolition of transatlantic slave traffic.
An article on the site examines similar types of intra-American trafficking as an introduction to the launching of the Intra-American Slave Trade Database, which aims to document evidence of slave voyages throughout the New World.
“The site now offers access to details of more than 36,000 slave trading voyages between Africa and the New World; 11,000 voyages from one part of the Americas to another part; and 92,000 Africans who were forced to take the voyage,” Gates said.
“Users can analyze data and view video and they can contribute corrections and add information on voyages the editors don’t even know about,” he said. The website allows viewers to explore the dispersal of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic world.
According to the website, the digital memorial raises questions about the largest slave trades in history and offers access to the documentation available to answer them.
It recounts how European colonizers turned to Africa for enslaved laborers to build the cities and extract the resources of the Americas. Also, how those colonizers forced millions of mostly unnamed Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas, and from one part of the Americas to another.
Those viewing the website can analyze these slave trades and view interactive maps, timelines, and animations to see the dispersal.
Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the work on the site was done at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of California at Santa Cruz with the Hutchins Center of Harvard University providing support.
“I find it inspiring that our fellow Americans are so determined to explore their own ancestral heritage,” Gates noted.