Newswire: U.S. farmers and allied food justice advocates express solidarity with the historic farmer protests in India

Indian farmers’ protest

87 U.S.-based groups delivered a solidary statement to Indian farmers, calling for action from both U.S. and Indian governments

Mineapolis—Today, 87 farmer organizations and allied agroecology, farm and food justice groups in the United States delivered a solidarity statement in support of Indian farmers’ historic protests to Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a united front of over 40 Indian farmers unions. In the statement, U.S. groups express respect for the unified struggles of the farmers and farmworkers and urge both U.S. and Indian governments to support independent family farmers and localized food systems to protect food sovereignty and the livelihoods of millions.
India’s farmers have mobilized to create one of the world’s most vibrant protests in history against unjust farm laws that will increase agribusiness’ stranglehold over their food system. They have rallied around a cry for the repeal of three laws — passed without farmers’ knowledge or consultation — that aim to liberalize Indian agriculture and food sectors, not only at the cost of farmers, but also the food security of India’s poor. One key demand of the protesting farmers is for farmers to receive a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops to limit the market power of buyers in highly unequal markets.
The U.S.-based signatories of the solidarity statement recognize the role the U.S. government has played in creating the conditions that led to these repressive laws. The U.S. has been a key opponent of India’s limited use of MSP at the World Trade Organization, arguing that it represents an unfair subsidy. Yet, the U.S. government spends tens of billions of dollars on its agriculture, much of it in programs that directly contribute to low prices and commodity dumping in international markets. Under the Biden administration, the U.S. has a powerful opportunity to shift U.S. trade policy to allow other countries to support fair markets for their farmers and shift its own agricultural policy to ensure parity and environmental and racial justice in the U.S.
The signatories are concerned by several additional factors not included in this statement, such as the unconstitutional ways in which these laws were passed without following proper parliamentary rules and the Indian government’s use of authoritarian tactics to deny farmers’ right to dissent democratically.
The solidarity statement was co-sponsored by members of U.S. farm, food and racial justice organizations, including the National Family Farm Coalition, Rural Coalition, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, as well as diasporic Indians who continue to work with farmers groups in India.
“Liberalizing markets without taking into account farmers’ political voice and protecting against concentrated buyer power makes a mockery of what markets should stand for; we denounce the three farm bills, the lack of consultation with farmers and their organizations, and stand in solidarity with the brave stance India’s farmers are taking,” says Sophia Murphy, executive director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
“A majority of India’s farmers are hurting, and the draconian steps that the Indian state has taken in response to peaceful farm law protests (demanding assured returns on farm produce) and against those supporting the strike (such as the detention of 21-year-old Disha Ravi, co-founder of Fridays For Future in India) is making the fault lines of Indian democracy visible to the world. India is at a turning point: it can decide to honor the demands of its farmers or continue to stand by Indian billionaires who would benefit from these farm laws,” says Shiney Varghese, senior policy analyst at IATP.
“The Rural Coalition, which has fought for four decades for the civil and human rights for all producers and farmworkers in this nation, sends our strong support and deep respect to the heroic family farmers and farmworkers of India as you stand united together to protect the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and stop government policies that destroy the livelihood and future of family farmers, farmworkers and rural peoples,” says John Zippert, chair of Rural Coalition.
To read the statement and view the full list of signatories, please follow this link: https://bit.ly/3pA3adJ.

Newswire: Congresswoman Beatty Introduces Black History Month resolutions

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty


WASHINGTON, DC — To kickoff Black History Month, U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Chair of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, introduced three related pieces of legislation. Collectively, the resolutions formally recognize the important contributions, struggles and sacrifices of Black veterans and servicemembers throughout American history.
“We owe Black veterans and soldiers, past and present, a huge debt of gratitude,” Beatty said. “All of us know that there are countless heroes and sheroes who sacrificed everything to make our Union more perfect for everyone.” She added, “In that spirit, I call on my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike, to come together and do the same by officially recognizing that Black history is American history.”
Specifically, Beatty will introduce three resolutions: (1) recognizing the challenges Black veterans faced after their selfless service and emphasizing the need for the VA to continue to work to eliminate racial health and benefit disparities; (2) supporting the goals and ideals of Black History Month, and honoring the outstanding contributions of the 88 Black Medal of Honor recipients; and (3) expressing support for the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers

Newswire: Georgia Republicans in sweeping new effort to make it harder to vote

By Sam Levine, Guardian UK
Bill that would restrict early voting on Sundays denounced as ‘concerted effort to suppress the votes of Black Georgians’
Georgia Republicans have unveiled sweeping new legislation that would make it dramatically harder to vote in the state, following an election with record turnout and surging participation among Black voters.
The measure is one of the most brazen efforts to make it harder to vote in America in recent years. The bill would block officials from offering early voting on Sundays, a day traditionally used by Black churches to mobilize voters as part of a “souls to the polls” effort. It would place new limits on the use of mail-in ballot dropboxes, restrict who can handle an absentee ballot, and require voters to provide their driver’s license number or a copy of other identification with their application for a mail-in ballot. It would also require voters to provide the same driver’s license information on the mail-in ballot itself or the last four digits of their social security number if they do not have an acceptable ID.
The bill gives voters less time to request and return mail-in ballots, not only moving up the deadline to return an application but also limiting requests to start 78 days ahead of an election instead of the current 180. It requires election officials to reject ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct and bans organizers from offering food or water to voters standing in line to cast a ballot.
“With exacting precision, the bill targets voters of color,” said Nse Ufot, chief of the New Georgia Project, one of the groups that mobilized voters of color in Georgia. “Georgia Republicans saw what happens when Black voters are empowered and show up at the polls, and now they’re launching a concerted effort to suppress the votes and voices of Black Georgians.”
Helen Butler, the executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, one of the groups that helped mobilize Black voters last year, said there was no justification for the bill. One of the ways Butler’s group helped voters ahead of the election was by assisting them in returning their absentee ballot applications to election officials. The Republican proposal would prohibit that.
“There’s no reason for it other than this ideology and this misinformation that there was fraud. There was no fraud in the election. The governor, everyone said there was no fraud,” she said in an interview.
In a hearing on Thursday, Barry Fleming, the bill’s sponsor, said the changes to early voting were an attempt to create uniformity across the state. He said the effort to shorten the mail-in voting period was an attempt to make it overlap with in-person voting.
The effort to shorten mail-in voting comes after many voters saw severe delays in getting their mail-in ballots because of delays with the United States Postal Service and overwhelmed election offices. About one-third of early votes in the state were from Black voters and Joe Biden overwhelmingly won the mail-in vote in Georgia.
“His newfound problem with early voting is simple: too many Black Georgians used it, and Republicans were humiliated,” said Seth Bringman, a spokesman for Fair Fight action, the civic action group led by Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
“Instead of listening to desires of conspiracy theorists and insurrectionists, he should listen to the thousands of early voters in his district from both parties.”
Republicans pledged the changes in Georgia after Joe Biden narrowly carried the state in November and Jon Ossoff and the Rev Raphael Warnock, both Democrats, won stunning upsets over Republican incumbents in November.
State officials, including Republicans, have said repeatedly there was no evidence of fraud in the elections, but Republicans have vowed to impose new restrictions anyway.
A separate bill under consideration in the state senate would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, something Republicans wrote into law in 2005, allowing people to vote by mail only if they are 75 or older or have an excuse.
Republicans made the bill public a little over an hour before a hearing, giving the public and lawmakers little time to review what was in it. More than two dozen groups wrote to Fleming on Thursday, urging him to pause further consideration of the measure.
“It contains a set of proposals that would have devastating consequences for voting rights in Georgia,” they wrote. “It is absolutely unacceptable that legislators, voting rights advocates, and the people of Georgia have been blindsided by this release.”
The effort in Georgia comes amid a nationwide push, led by Republicans, to enact a wave of new voting restrictions after the 2020 election. There are at least 165 bills pending in 33 states that would make it harder to vote, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice.
“The right lost! So now they are trying to change the rules and make it harder to vote,” Deborah Scott, the executive director of Georgia Stand-Up, another group that worked to mobilize Black voters, said in an email. “It is a shame that in 2021 Black and brown people in Georgia have to continue to fight for our citizenship rights.

Newswire :Chocolate multinationals charged with complicity in Mali’s child slavery ring

child worker in cocoa

Feb. 15, 2021 (GIN) – A federal class action suit filed on behalf of eight Malian citizens against Nestle SA, Cargill, Hershey and Mars, Inc. among others for their alleged complicity in the trafficking and forced labor of African children, is now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs are former child slaves trafficked from Mali to harvest cocoa beans in Côte d’Ivoire, the biggest exporter and producer. They claim they were forced to work long hours on Ivory Coast cocoa farms and kept in locked shacks at night – often for several years or more – with no pay, no travel documents and no clear idea of where they were or how to get back to their families. They finally managed to escape and return to Mali.
Their attorneys argue that the companies should have better monitored their cocoa suppliers in West Africa, where about two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown and child labor is widespread. The case is based on a law that allows victims to sue companies that participate in a venture that benefits from trafficking and forced labor.
As there are no laws in Mali to aid the plaintiffs in seeking damages or civil remedies against foreign exporters, they brought their claims under US law, specifically the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the Alien Torts Statute.
In 2001, the chocolate manufacturers signed an international agreement called the Harkin-Engel Protocol to reduce child labor in Ghana and Côte D’Ivoire by 2005. The World Cocoa Foundation, an industry body to which all the defendants belong, now aims to achieve the target by 2025.
A central allegation of the lawsuit is that the defendants, despite not owning the cocoa farms in question, “knowingly profited” from the illegal work of children. According to the submissions, the defendants’ contracted suppliers were able to provide lower
prices than if they had employed adult workers with proper protective equipment.
The business practices of these companies clearly have contributed to the use of forced and child labor in West Africa,” said Charity Ryerson, an attorney for the Corporate Accountability Lab who has traveled to Africa to investigate cocoa practices.
The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has determined that the number of enslaved child laborers working in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana has gradually increased to over 1.56 million, implying the efforts purported by the chocolate companies to reduce child labor were bogus misrepresentations.
Nestlé USA and Cargill have responded that they, too, deplore child slavery and trafficking, and that they have taken steps to eradicate such practices among their suppliers.
The companies have asked the Supreme Court to toss the lawsuit, arguing that courts in the United States are the wrong forum for the Malians’ complaint and that the applicable law permits such cases against individuals but not corporations. 

Newswire: President Biden’s Racial Equity Initiative: Moving marginalized communities toward America’s bounty

By Charlene Crowe
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On January 26, President Joe Biden took steps to bring the nation towards the long-promised, but never realized, pledge of racial justice. Four executive orders signed that day make clear that the new Administration will take meaningful and corrective actions.
 
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was directed to take steps necessary to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that have contributed to wealth inequality for generations. Similarly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was ordered to end its use of private prisons. The whole of federal government also recommitted to respect Tribal sovereignty and strengthen the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and Tribal Nations. Finally, President Biden committed to combatting xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
 
“We have never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation, to state the obvious, that all people are created equal and have a right to be treated equally throughout their lives,” said Biden. “And it’s time to act now, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because if we do, we’ll all be better off for it.”
 
“Yes, we need criminal justice reform,” he continued, “but that isn’t nearly enough. We need to open the promise of America to every American. And that means we need to make the issue of racial equity not just an issue for any one department of government; it has to be the business of the whole of government.”
 
Responsibility for implementation and oversight will rest with the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, led by Director Susan Rice, a former Obama Administration appointee who served as National Security Advisor and U.S. Representative to the United Nations and a Black woman..
 
Millions of marginalized people – many who are Black and Latino — face imminent financial disaster. When people are poor, they face compounding struggles – ranging from food insecurity, to the threat of losing utilities, and the risk of homelessness – and hardships seemingly multiply each day. During this still-raging pandemic, a new kind of poor – those who were formerly gainfully employed — are learning the harsh realities of how hard life becomes when adequate income and decent health insurance are no longer available.
 
Regardless of income – or the lack thereof – every family still needs a home, one that provides shelter and sustenance. As much as America needs vaccinations from the pandemic, its people need and have a right to housing.
 
In 2020, to address this newly urgent need, a focused and collaborative national policy endeavor began, called the Housing Playbook Project. The effort was led by Community Change, a nonprofit with the mission of changing the policies and institutions that impact the lives of low-income people – particularly those of color – with support from the Ford Foundation. The sum of the project’s insights and recommendations specific to housing challenges were contained in its report released on January 25th.
 
Entitled A New Deal for Housing for Housing Justice: A Playbook for the Biden Administration, it is a road map to achieving housing justice that details bold federal actions that can effectively respond to the housing crisis and charts a path for leveraging policymaking to build power in the nation’s most neglected communities.
 
“We face a housing affordability crisis, an evictions crisis, and a homelessness crisis like this nation has never seen,” noted Julian Castro, project co-chair and former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor. “The Housing Playbook outlines a bold and ambitious blueprint to tackle these crises head-on, with housing justice and racial equity at the forefront. This is how we ensure housing is not just a commodity, but a basic need and a human right granted to every single American.”
 
“Regardless of where we come from, what we do for work, how we identify or whether we’ve been caught up in our unjust criminal system, everyone deserves a roof over their head,” added Community Change President Dorian Warren. “The Biden-Harris Administration has signaled that they would make racial justice and equity in COVID-19 relief and long- term economic policy a priority. Safe and reliable housing is the cornerstone to economic security. This proposal is a blueprint for how to help move the country toward that vision.”
 
The report’s seven specific policy recommendations include:
• Provide COVID-19 federal relief financial assistance to renters on the verge of eviction and homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Additionally, the report calls for the relief package to award community control of foreclosed and abandoned properties – a nagging blight in neighborhoods of color since the foreclosure crisis;
 
• Create a renter’s tax credit for consumers who pay more than 30% of their income on housing, thereby affording renters a comparable tax break to that of homeowners;
 
• Enact a Presidential Commission on Reparations comprised of lawmakers and diverse perspectives of community organizations and advocates who would together formulate 10-year goals to undo the legacy of anti-Black federal housing policy, establish long-term household, community, regional, and national metrics to track success in achieving the goals; and
 
• Guarantee all low-income families a home by passing legislation to make housing choice vouchers an entitlement for eligible families and create 500,000 new vouchers for families with children under age six.
 
The urgency of America’s housing needs during the pandemic are poignantly analyzed in the Harvard Joint Center for
Housing Studies’ (JCHS) State of the Nation’s Housing 2020, an annual report that analyzes the changes and challenges
in American housing.
 
As of last September, the Black-White homeownership gap stood at 31%, according to the annual report. Additionally, 49% of renters and 36% of homeowners experienced employment income loss between March and September of last year. Those marketplace dynamics contributed to late rental payments that also reflected racial disparities affecting 10% of Whites, but 23% of Blacks and 20% of Latinos.
 
The JCHS report also found that from 2019 to 2020, the total number of homeless people grew in part because 17,000 more people needed shelter. In all, America’s homeless that could be measured came in at 568,000 people.
 
“Widespread calls for racial justice have pointed out the high degree of residential segregation and economic inequality that still exists in the US,” says Daniel McCue, a JCHS Senior Research Associate. “In fact, the sharp racial disparities in housing are both a cause and a consequence of other social inequalities.”
 
For people of color, the combination of concentrated poverty and under-representation in higher income areas leads to nearly two-thirds of poor Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans living in communities with poverty rates above 20% — nearly twice that of the share of poor Whites. They also have far higher cost-burden housing rates and a disproportionately large share of the nation’s homeless.
 
For Nikitra Bailey, Executive Vice President of the Center for Responsible Lending, President Biden’s Racial Equity Initiative is “a critical first step by his Administration to address injustices that are holding our country back” and “will help to move the nation closer to its ideals and center solutions to discrimination that hinder opportunity, allowing marginalized communities to move closer to equal justice under law.”
 
“Prioritizing racial equity is needed at the outset, and fully implementing the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as part of a comprehensive racial equity agenda is essential to expanding opportunity for all Americans,” she added. “These actions give Black and Brown families an opportunity to live free of discrimination and participate fully in the economy.
 
Charlene Crowell is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at 
Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.
 

Newswire : Georgia prosecutors open investigation into Trump’s call to Secretary of State

Fani Willis, Fulton Co. District Attorney

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Georgia prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. During the call, the former President asked him to “find” the votes he needed to overturn the state’s election results.
“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said to Raffensperger during the call.
The transcript of the phone call played a prominent role in the House of Representatives’ second impeachment of the 45th president and is expected to play a central role in the Senate trial.
Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis promises to look into Trump’s actions following the now infamous Jan. 2 telephone call.
“Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable,” Willis said in a statement last month.
“Once the investigation is complete, this matter, like all matters, will be handled by our office based on the facts and the law.”
During his Jan. 6 rally that led to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Trump told his supporters about the phone call.
“In Georgia, your secretary of state, who — I can’t believe this guy is a Republican. He loves recording telephone conversations,” Trump told the large gathering. “You know, that was a — I thought it was a great conversation, personally. So did a lot of other — people love that conversation because it says what’s going on,” he bellowed. “These people are crooked.”
According to the “Articles of Impeachment Against Against Donald John Trump,” with closing endorsement by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, “…President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
The resolution cites the call to Raffensperger urging him to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s election results.
“We cannot allow this unprecedented provocation to go unanswered,” House members said in a statement.
“Everyone involved in this assault must be held accountable, beginning with the man most responsible for it – President Donald Trump. We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic.”

Newswire: February 20, National Day of Solidarity with Bessemer, Alabama warehouse workers

Amazon Bessemer warehouse

Between Feb 8, and March 29, approximately 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama will begin voting by mail on whether to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Workers Union (RWDSU).
The Southern Workers Assembly has issued a call for a National Day of Solidarity with Alabama Amazon Workers on Saturday, February 20. Actions are being planned across the South and the U.S. on that day at Amazon facilities (warehouses, distribution centers, Whole Foods, etc.). There is a demonstration planned at the Whole Foods Store at 1450 Taylor Road, near Eastchase Shopping Center in Montgomery, Alabama, at Noon on Saturday February 20th.
The harsh working conditions at Amazon warehouses, along with Amazon’s refusal to adopt measures that protect workers from COVID 19, have pushed Amazon and Whole Foods workers every- where to step up organizing and fighting back.
These predominantly Black workers who have in recent months formed the BAmazon Workers Union (www.bamazonunion.org), are on the cusp of launching a history-changing workers organization against one of the biggest and most powerful transnational corporations in the world, and its super rich union busting owner, Jeff Bezos.
In addition, these workers are standing up to the racist, anti-union laws that suppress labor across the South. Bessemer is a majority Black city in the Birmingham metro area.
Many of the workers at Bessemer warehouse are Black and the city has a history of labor union support dating back to the 1930’s when the CIO was organizing coal miners and steel workers in and around Birmingham.
Solidarity from every corner of the labor and progressive movements is needed now to show the workers in Bessemer that they are not alone, that all eyes are on the historic struggle that they are leading. This is especially needed as Amazon ramps up their union-busting tactics.
“The union struggle in Bessemer is not only about worker rights, wages and working conditions but also about civil rights, human rights and dignity for Black workers and all workers for large multi-national companies that are trying to dominate and control the lives of people,” said Mike Foster, union organizer.
The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) is supporting and co-sponsoring Saturday’s solidarity protest at Whole Foods in Montgomery and encourages its members to attend.

Newswire: Mississippi Congressman, Black lawmakers, NAACP file suit in response to Trump’s coup attempt

By Barrington M. Salmon

Congressman Benny Thompson


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Former President Donald Trump escaped conviction by the US Senate for inciting an insurrection that came close to toppling the government. But the fallout continues.
On Feb. 16, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP filed a lawsuit naming Trump and Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, alleging that they violated an 1871 law by conspiring to incite the violent Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in the deaths of seven people. The purpose of the coup attempt was to thwart certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
“January 6th was one of the most shameful days in our country’s history, and it was instigated by the president himself. His gleeful support of violent White supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger,” Thompson said in a statement. “It is by the slimmest of luck that the outcome was not deadlier. While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the President accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned.”
The lawsuit details Trump’s pronouncements and assertions before, during, and after the November election that the vote would be stolen. Such provocative rhetoric – though untrue, animated his base – a mélange of white domestic terror groups and other far-right supporters. He told them to come to the District of Columbia on Jan. 6 to stop Congressional lawmakers from certifying the election. And after a rally on the Ellipse, Trump encouraged the mob to march to the Capital and “stop the steal.”
According to the plaintiffs, the insurrection was a coordinated, months-long attempt to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise millions of ballots that were legally cast by African-American voters.
The lawsuit claims that Trump and Giuliani, worked with right-wing groups like the Proud Boys the Oath Keepers and other far-right domestic terror groups to incite the riot in an attempt to prohibit lawmakers in Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election win. The plaintiffs say their actions violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, a Reconstruction-era law that protects against violent conspiracies meant to stop Congress from carrying out its Constitutional duties. The law was passed as a counter to widespread Klan intimidation of and violence against Southern members of Congress during and after Reconstruction.
According to House managers, for as long as six hours, rioters battled police. They breached security and overran the building from several entrances, searched for lawmakers, ransacked and desecrated offices, urinated and defecated in and around the building fought with an undermanned police presence using baseball bats, flagpoles, fire extinguishers police shields, metal bars and other objects. More than 140 DC and Capitol Police officers sustained an assortment of injuries and two others committed suicide after the incident. Capital Police leadership is said to have ignored warnings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the House and Senate might be overrun by pro-Trump supporters.
The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. by the NAACP and civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll on behalf of Congressman Thompson. Other members of Congress, including Representatives Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), have indicated that they intend to join the litigation as plaintiffs shortly.
The NAACP is representing Thompson, officials said because “the events on January 6th were just one more attempt by Donald Trump and his allies to make sure that African-American voters were disenfranchised – this time, by trying to stop members of Congress from doing their job and certifying the election results.”
“Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for deliberately inciting and colluding with white supremacists to stage a coup, in his continuing efforts to disenfranchise African-American voters,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the National Association of Colored People. “The insurrection was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated, months-long plan to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of African-American voters who cast valid ballots.”
“Since our founding, the NAACP has gone to the courthouse to put an end to actions that discriminate against African- American voters,” Johnson added. “We are now bringing this case to continue our work to protect our democracy and make sure nothing like what happened on January 6th ever happens again,”
The Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump, who was facing his second impeachment in a little more than a year. Only seven Republicans joined the Democratic majority to vote Trump guilty. It is theorized that Republicans fear the wrath of Trump, his base and the 74 million people who voted for him. The plaintiffs case appears to be strengthened by comments made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately after Trump’s acquittal over the weekend.
“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it,” McConnell said at the time. “… January 6th was a disgrace. American citizens attacked their own government. They use terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of domestic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the center floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chatted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they’d been fed wild, falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry. He lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceded the riot … (and represent) a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
McConnell said whatever Trump claims he thought might happen a day, whatever right reaction he’s says he meant to produce by that afternoon we know he was watching the same live television as the rest of us: “A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name, these criminals who are carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could.”
“Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. The president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. No, instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded. He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election.”
McConnell voted to acquit Trump, saying he believed the Senate did not have the authority to weigh in because Trump is now a private citizen. Yet while Trump was still in office, McConnell is the one who declined to bring the Senate back after the House voted one article of impeachment for inciting a riot. McConnell did however, denounce Trump’s actions and behavior, saying the ex-president could still face civil or criminal lawsuits.
“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one,” McConnell said. Thompson concurs, saying the events of Jan. 6 were instigated by Trump and “put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger.”
Thompson said in his statement: “While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the president accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned. Failure to do so will only invite this type of authoritarianism for the anti-democratic forces on the far right that are so intent on destroying our country.”
 

Newswire: Biden’s new message to Africa clears way for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head World Trade Organization

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Feb. 8, 2021 (GIN) – At a virtual meeting this past weekend with members of the African Union Summit 2021, President Joe Biden shared his vision for more trade and investment opportunities while advancing peace and security.
 “The United States stands ready now to be your partner in solidarity, support and mutual respect,” Biden said in a video address, his first speech to an international forum as U.S. president.
 He described a future “committed to investing in our democratic institutions and promoting the human rights of all people, women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and people of every ethnic background, religion and heritage.”
 The message was warmly welcomed by Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat. The African Union looks forward to “resetting the strategic AU-USA partnership,” he said.
 Biden’s tone was a major departure from that of the previous administration, which framed its Africa policy within the context of U.S. competition with China or as a theater for fighting violent extremism.
 On his first day in office, Biden repealed the Trump administration’s ban on travelers from Muslim-majority and African countries, including Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
 “Just the very fact that Biden did it [addressed the African Union] changes the tone immeasurably from the previous administration,” said Michael Shurkin, a senior political scientist focusing on Africa at the RAND Corporation told the Voice of America.
 “By focusing on Africa for Africa’s sake, Africans for Africans’ sake, that’s actually a far more effective way to compete with the Chinese,” he added
 In January 2018, President Donald Trump was criticized for allegedly using a derogatory term in describing African nations.
 Last week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He expressed his grave concern about the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region and urged immediate, full, and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life.
 The State Department is also reportedly considering action against President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, a staunch U.S. military ally who recently won his sixth term through a bloody election.
 In other news, the Biden administration has ended the deadlock over the next head of the World Trade Organization by expressing its “strong support” for Nigeria’s ex-finance minister.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was frontrunner for the role until the Trump administration last October said it wanted South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.  Ms Yoo has now withdrawn her candidacy. If confirmed, Dr Okonjo-Iweala would be the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO. 
 

Newswire: African American Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman performs at Inauguration and Superbowl

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Amanda Gorman was born in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard University.
In 2017, the now 22-year-old became the first national youth poet laureate.
On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Gorman, an African American, was the youngest poet to perform at a presidential inauguration. Gorman performed alongside Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.
The young poet delivered “The Hill We Climb,” which included lines about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. / And this effort very nearly succeeded. / But while democracy can be periodically delayed, / It can never be permanently defeated,” Gorman has written.
It is not the first time Gorman will have a national stage. In 2017, she read at the inauguration of the 22nd U.S. poet laureate, Tracy K Smith. She has also performed for Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Gorman read a poem at last Sunday’s Superbowl which was the first time a poem had been performed at the football classic.
Reportedly, Dr. Jill Biden selected Gorman to perform during President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration.
“I wasn’t trying to write something in which those events were painted as an irregularity or different from an America that I know,” Gorman told the Los Angeles Times.
“America is messy. It is still in its early development of all that we can become. And I have to recognize that in the poem. I cannot ignore that or erase it. And so, I crafted an inaugural poem that recognizes these scars and these wounds. Hopefully, it will move us toward healing them.”