Newswire : African leaders confront a ‘blue wave’ demanding democratic change

Sudanese women protesting government actions

Jan. 7, 2018 (GIN) – When Democrats captured one House seat after another in the midterm elections, observers brushed it off as a “blue trickle.” Later they had to admit: it was a giant blue wave.

Africans are also yearning for change and their frustration is erupting across the continent with a new crop of activists challenging the old order.

In Ethiopia, reforms are already underway since the installation last year of 42 year old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Women have been named to some of the government’s key positions – president, chief justice and half of all ministers. Thousands of political prisoners and journalists have been freed while senior officials accused of human rights abuses and corruption no longer enjoys immunity.

Ahmed overturned bans on opposition groups. His overture to Eritrea led to the end of a long-running conflict of neighbors.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it “a wind of hope blowing in the Horn of Africa.”

Since the unpopular Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was coaxed from power in 2017, a liberation fighter and former defense minister, Joao Lourenco, next in succession, stepped into the job. Today, even the toughest critics of the government say that in just more than a year, President Lourenco has accomplished more to stop corruption than any previous administration.

In Sudan, President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is facing a determined movement of opposition on the heels of his third decade in power enabled by disputed elections. His late-arriving “reforms” fell flat as prices for bread and fuel were jacked up as per the advice of the IMF. Spontaneous, leaderless crowds are turning out in the thousands — not just in the capital, Khartoum, but countrywide.

“It’s like someone who has found himself on the back of a lion,” said one observer. “He can’t get off without the lion devouring him.”

Democratic reforms are also high on the wish list of people in Togo, who are fighting for term limits that would effectively end President Faure Gnassingbé’s nearly two decades in power. In Gabon, President Ali Bongo who remains in Morocco since suffering a stroke in October while traveling abroad, barely managed to survive a coup this week by a handful of young officers. Nigeria meanwhile goes to the polls on Feb. 16.

Finally, 46 million Congolese cast ballots on Dec. 30 only to learn that the electoral commission has counted less than half the votes and a winner will not be announced until a week or two or three, if ever.

So which way for the blue wave in the Congo? Stay tuned…. w/pix of protesting Sudanese women in the U.S.

Newswire : Tennessee Governor grants full clemency to Cyntoia Brown, sets August 7 release from prison

By Adam Tamburin and Anita Wadhwani, The Nashville Tennessean

Cyntoia Brown with her attorneys

     Gov. Bill Haslam ordered an early release for Cyntoia Brown, a Tennessee woman and alleged sex trafficking victim serving a life sentence in prison for killing a man when she was 16.

Haslam granted Brown a full commutation to parole on Monday. Brown will be eligible for release Aug. 7 on time served and will stay on parole for 10 years.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Haslam said in a statement. “Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 yearsbefore even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.

“Transformation should be accompanied by hope. So, I am commuting Ms. Brown’s sentence, subject to certain conditions.”

Brown will be required to participate in regular counseling sessions and to perform at least 50 hours of community service, including working with at-risk youth. She also will be required to get a job.
In a statement released by her lawyers, Brown thanked Haslam “for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance. I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”

“With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people. My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.”

The governor’s long-awaited decision, handed down during his last days in office, brought a dramatic conclusion to Brown’s plea for mercy, which burst onto the national stage as celebrities and criminal justice reform advocates discovered her case.

In his commutation, the governor called Brown’s case one that “appears to me to be a proper one for the exercise of executive clemency.”
“Over her more than fourteen years of incarceration, Ms. Brown has demonstrated extraordinary growth and rehabilitation,” the commutation said.

It was a remarkable victory for Brown after years of legal setbacks.
Brown said she was forced into prostitution and was scared for her life when she shot 43-year-old Johnny Allen in the back of the head while they were in bed together.

Allen, a local real estate agent, had picked her up at an East Nashville Sonic restaurant and taken her to his home.

Brown, now 30, was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder in 2006. She was given a life sentence. Had Haslam declined to intervene, Brown would not have been eligible for parole until she was 69.

The state parole board, which considered Brown’s case in 2018, gave the governor a split recommendation, with some recommending early release and some recommending she stay in prison.

Lawyers for Brown applauded the governor’s decision. “This is truly a joyful moment — for Cyntoia and for all of us who have worked to help her,” the statement from Charles Bone and J.Houston Gordon, Brown’s lead attorneys.”The governor’s decision is proof that our justice system works and it marks the beginning” of a new chapter for Cyntoia.

In recent years, celebrities have highlighted her case, fueling intense interest and a renewed legal fight to get her out of prison.
Activists, lawmakers and celebrities, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, have cited Brown’s case as an illustration of a broken justice system. Brown was a victim herself, they said, and didn’t deserve her punishment.

Her impending release sets the stage for her to join their ranks.
During her time in prison, Brown completed her GED and got a college degree from Lipscomb University. Her allies say she hopes to apply her education by supporting social justice issues through her own nonprofit.

Newsire: Congresswoman Maxine Waters makes history: First Black, First Woman to Chair House Financial Services Committee

By Charlene Crowell

Congresswoman Maxoine Waters

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – As 2019 begins, there is also a new Congress with leadership in the House of Representatives that makes history for people of color and women alike.

Long-time California Representative Nancy Pelosi returns as Speaker of the House – the first time in 50 years that a Member of Congress has achieved this feat. On a gender note, Speaker Pelosi becomes the most powerful woman on Capitol Hill and the only female in the nation’s history to do so.

There’s also another key woman and legislator that is making history. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is now the first Black and the first woman to chair the powerful House Financial Services Committee. Having served on this committee since 1995, and its Ranking Member in the previous Congress, Waters will set the committee’s agenda in key areas affecting the economy, banking, housing, insurance and securities.

The House Financial Services Committee oversees the activities and responsibilities for major financial regulators, agencies, and the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve. These agencies include but are not limited to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – that insures monies in depository institutions, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission that is charged with maintaining fair and efficient investment markets.

In other words, the fiery and bold Black lawmaker who earned a reputation for challenging Wall Street and major lenders during the housing crisis will now set the direction for a range of financial players, regulators, and institutions. From monetary policy to the production and distribution of currency, and expanding financial access to affordable housing options, a progressive and principled committee chair is running the show. She is also expected to set standards of performance that level the financial playing field and hold lenders accountable when they take advantage of consumers or discriminate in their lending.

With the right kind of regulation and committee oversight, the nation may be able to change financial trends that have worsened both racial and gender wealth gaps.

For example, a December 2018 report by the Asset Funder’s Network analyzed racial and gender disparities in wealth and found that Black and Latina women have “lost substantial amounts of wealth in the last two decades”.

From 2007 to 2016, Black women ages 45-65 had a 74 percent drop in median wealth, compared to that of White women who experienced a 28 percent drop. Further, the Asset Funders Network concluded the median “quasi-liquid” savings for single Black and Latina women aged 45-50 was $0.
Earlier in 2017 the Federal Reserve found that nearly 1 in 5 black families have zero or negative net worth — twice the rate of white families. Additionally the median net worth of Black families was one-tenth of that held by White families.

These wealth disparities continue to plague communities of color in large part because of disparities in home ownership that enable consumers to build wealth. Year after year, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) report has consistently found that consumers of color are denied access to mortgages, especially private conventional loans that remain the most sustainable and affordable loans.

Last year, the Center for Investigative Reporting published its analysis of the most recent HMDA report. “It found a pattern of troubling denials for people of color across the country, including in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio,” states the report. “African Americans faced the most resistance in Southern cities – Mobile, Alabama; Greenville, North Carolina; and Gainesville, Florida – and Latinos in Iowa City, Iowa.”

A second but equally harmful trend is predatory lending that targets these same consumers with high-cost credit that creates debt traps. When consumers find themselves short of cash before paydays, overdraft fees, payday and car title loans are among the most predatory due to their extremely high interest rates and failure to consider whether borrowers have the financial capacity to repay the loans without taking on additional debt.

For all of Black America, as well as consumer advocates and others who believe financial fairness should be the nation’s watchword, an expectation of a new era of accountability, access and transparency is hoped to soon unfold.

“She is a tough and savvy defender of consumer protection and holds the feet of the banks and the Trump administration regulators to the fire,” said Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending in a recent interview.

Should anyone doubt the resolve of Congresswoman Waters, consider her reaction last fall when she and other prominent progressives faced a series of bomb threats and other violence.

“We have to keep doing what we’re doing in order to make this country right,” Waters told the Washington Post. “That’s what I intend to do. And as the young people say, ‘I ain’t scared.’”

Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s Communications Deputy Director. She can be reached atCharlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Newswire: Pelosi supports holding hearings on ‘Medicare for All’

By Peter Sullivan, The Hill

     Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports holding hearings on Medicare for all, her spokesman said Thursday, marking a major step forward for supporters of a single-payer health system.     Some Democrats have been talking about holding hearings on the issue, but Pelosi's backing is seen as a boost for those efforts.

Pelosi had said last year that Medicare for all would “have to be evaluated” and is “on the table.”
The Washington Post reported Thursdaythat the Rules Committee and the Budget Committee will hold the hearings.
That would leave out the main committees with jurisdiction over the issue: Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means. The chairmen of those committees have not given their backing to Medicare for all, while the chairmen of Rules and Budget have.
Pelosi’s support for hearings is a plus for the movement, but it’s unclear whether she would support further steps such as holding a vote on Medicare for all legislation.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) plans to introduce a new version of the Medicare-for-all legislation early in the new Congress.
She has been working to update the legislation and work out the concerns of some lawmakers.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) told The Hill in Novemberthat he was “hopeful” he could support the new version if issues with last year’s bill were worked out.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the incoming chairman of the Budget Committee, already said last year that he planned to hold hearings on Medicare for all.
“Chairman Yarmuth plans to hold a hearing this Congress on the various approaches to expanding coverage and making health care more affordable, which would include different Medicare for All options,” spokesman Sam Lau said Thursday.
By contrast, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has thrown cold water on the idea.
“I’ve always been an advocate for Medicare for all or single-payer, but I just don’t think that the votes would be there for that, so I think our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” Pallone said in November.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the incoming Ways and Mean chair, has been slightly more open to the idea, saying in December that Medicare for all deserved “a conversation.”
Democrats, however, face pressure from their left wing on the issue, not only from Jayapal but from a class of new members including incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Newswire : A petulant President shuts down government and insults working people

NEWS ANALYSIS by: Rev. Jesse Jackson

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s disaster relief program is
one of the essentials of the federal government. PHOTO: USDA.gov

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The partial government shutdown continued this week. Meanwhile, some 800,000 federal employees are going without pay, either furloughed and forced not to work or deemed
“essential” and forced to work without pay.

On Christmas Day, President Trump suggested that the workers supported the shutdown that he earlier said he would be “proud” to cause: “Many of those workers have said to me, communicated,
stay out until you get the funding for the wall.”

This is a billionaire’s conceit. Federal employees are not wealthy. Like most Americans, many live paycheck to paycheck. The shutdown, which started on Dec. 22, stopped all paychecks just as the holiday approached. It also terminated all paid time off for workers, even for those who have scheduled leave for the holiday and will lose the paid time off if they don’t use it by the end of the year. It is hard to imagine anything more disruptive, or more callous.

Unlike the president, Trump’s Office of Personnel Management recognizes the plight that workers face in the shutdown.
It issued suggestions on how employees might negotiate with landlords and creditors over missed payments, even suggesting that they offer to do “painting or carpentry” in lieu of rent. Even if Congress eventually votes to reimburse employees for back pay, it isn’t likely to cover the fines, penalty fees, late fees, and hit to credit ratings that the shutdown will cause. For years, conservatives have maligned federal workers as overpaid, inefficient and intrusive. Ever since President Ronald Reagan quipped that the most dangerous words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” federal workers have been scorned and mocked.

This is just plain ignorant. Federal workers are public servants — they do the public’s work. They are air traffic controllers, park rangers, border patrol officers and prison employees. They guard our coasts, they protect our air and water, they care for public lands, they administer our Social Security and Medicare.We rely on them
in big and little ways.

When Republicans cut the public servants in the Internal Revenue Service, the wealthy and corporations find it easier to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. When OSHA inspectors are cut, employees are at greater risk in the work place.When the Justice Department cuts back on anti-trust, private monopolies and fraud fleece
millions of Americans.

When we get stuck waiting in lines or find getting help from a federal official difficult, we should remember that it isn’t because the employees are incompetent, it’s because right-wing attacks on government and cuts in resources have rendered them less able to do their work. Conservatives say they believe in markets, not government, but free and efficient markets depend on government to enforce laws, break up monopolies, police against fraud. Without an active and efficient government, the criminal and the grifters drive out the honest and the decent from the marketplace, and we are
all worse off as a result.

Trump’s shutdown is simply the most recent of his assaults on the employees of the government that he was elected to run. He’s scorned them as part of the “swamp, ”sought to freeze their pay, cut their retirements and undermine their labor organizations.Instead of paying tribute to their service, he’s demeaned their capacity, even while cutting the resources needed to do their jobs. Not surprisingly, the non-partisan Best Places to Work report finds a decline in employee engagement and morale under Trump.

The shutdown will do real damage to many federal employees and their families. And it will do real damage to the services that we need and expect from our government. For Trump and the right, this is a sucker’s play.They demean federal employees, shut down parts of the government, cut back resources and staffing to do needed tasks and then use the resulting inefficiency as evidence that government can’t work.

Local Black state legislators will hold leadership positions in 2019

State Senator Bobby Singleton
Christopher England
Senator Vivian Figures

Several local state legislators will hold key leadership positions in the upcoming 2019 state legislative session.
State Senator Bobby Singleton of Greensboro (District 24), who represents Greene and surrounding counties, will serve as Minority Leader of the Alabama State Senate.
Representative Christopher England of District 70, which includes most of southern and eastern Tuscaloosa County, was chosen to head the Democratic Caucus in the Alabama House of Representatives.
Singleton, who was first elected to the state Senate in 2005, was chosen for the post by the eight members of the Democratic caucus.
“I just want to thank my colleagues for having the confidence in me to be able to lead them for the next four years,” Singleton said in a statement. “As the minority leader, we will be looking at a robust agenda; not just for the Democrats, but for the state of Alabama. Hopefully, we can work across the aisle with the majority. I look forward to working with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Greg Reed and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh.”
Singleton replaces Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton. Beasley will assume the duties of deputy minority leader.
Singleton earned his bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University and his law degree from Miles Law School. He served in the state House of Representatives from 2002-05 before being elected to the state Senate. He represents District 24, which includes parts of Choctaw, Clarke, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties.
Marsh congratulated Singleton on his appointment as Senate minority leader.
“There are many tough issues facing the Alabama Senate in the year to come and I look forward to working with Sen. Singleton as we develop legislation that improves the lives of all Alabamians,” Marsh said in a statement. “Sen. Singleton and I have worked well together for several years and I have no doubt that will continue as we strive to ensure that the Senate runs smoothly and that all Senators are represented equally.”
Representative Chris England, who begins his fourth term in the House of Representatives, said, “I am honored and humbled to serve our caucus in this capacity. I am looking forward to working with the members of the leadership team and the caucus overall to build a better Alabama,” England said in a news release.

England graduated from Howard University in 1999 and earned a juris doctorate degree from the University of Alabama in 2002. He was first elected in 2006 and ran unopposed in the November general election.
Members of the caucus also re-elected Rep. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville as minority leader and Rep. Merika Coleman of Pleasant Grove the assistant minority leader.
Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, was elected chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, which includes both senators and House members.
Figures will serve in that position for two years. A House member will chair the Black Caucus the following two years, as is customary.
Despite losing a number of influential Black legislators to retirement and election losses, including Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, Rep. John Knight and Rep. Alvin Holmes of Montgomery, there are younger leaders who are asserting themselves and coming forward to lead on critical issues facing the Black community.

Newswire: Emeralds, Rubies score big profits for foreign firms as African countries go broke

     Dec. 24, 2018 (GIN) – Foreign mining companies extract more than a quarter of the world’s production of rare emeralds in Zambia yet declare losses to make themselves tax exempt.

        So far, charges of tax evasion filed against Kagem mine, a subsidiary of the London-listed gemstone miner Gemfields, have been unsuccessful - dismissed by the Zambian Revenue Authority.

        Gemfields owns 75% of the world’s largest emerald mine in Kagem, northern Zambia. Auctions of 30 Zambian emeralds and 11 Mozambican rubies have brought the company over $1 billion of combined auction revenue, according to the Creamer Media Mining Weekly.

        The UK company stated this was a remarkable benchmark for the colored gemstone sector.

        Yet Gemfields and the other foreign gem firms are fighting tooth and nail against Zambian efforts to curb corruption in ways that would cut into profits.

        A proposed tax increase of 1.5 percent to reduce Zambia’s mounting public debt was met with threats by an industry lobbying group to cut $500 million in capital spending and lay off 21,000 workers, according to the Bloomberg news wire.

        Each year, the Zambian government is believed to lose billions in illicit financial flows mainly related to its mineral resources sector. The Kagem probe was part of a government effort to capture more benefits from the sector.

        Zambia is also Africa’s second-biggest copper producer with ownership concentrated in a few foreign hands. In 2018 the revenue authority carried out an audit of all major mining companies and, according to Reuters, slapped the India-based Konkola Copper Mines with an $18 million bill.

        Suspicions about Konkola were raised when founder Anil Agarwal told a business forum that its Zambian mines made $500 million a year yet declared a loss at the end of the financial year.

        In a separate development, Gemfields faces serious allegations of human rights abuses at the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. Charges leveled at Gemfields and its management cite abuses allegedly carried out since 2012.

        These included claims by 112 Mozambicans of alleged killings of family members, torture, abuse and humiliation at the hands of security employed by the mine and the state.

        A statement by the Mozambique Bar Association’s human rights commission cites “acts of torture” seen in videos showing people bound to trees and beaten with thick wooden sticks, lined up in stress position – images they called “macabre, degrading and inhuman.”  

Newswire : Hotel employees fired after calling police on Black guest using his phone in lobby

By: Carla Herreria, Huffington Post

Jermaine Massey

     The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Portland, Oregon, fired two employees days after they were accused of racially profiling a black hotel guest who was taking a call on his cellphone in the lobby. 
     In a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday, the hotel issued another apology and announced that it fired the two men “involved in the mistreatment” of Jermaine Massey, who captured parts of last week’s confrontation on camera. 
     The decision to fire the employees came after the hotel announced it would investigate the discrimination claims.
     “Their actions were inconsistent with our standards & values,” the hotel tweeted. “We reiterate our sincere apology for what he endured & will work with diversity experts to ensure this never happens again.”
     Jacob Benjamin, the hotel’s general manager, did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for the employees’ full names.
     Last weekend, Massey posted a series of videos showing DoubleTree staff members and a police officer asking him to leave the hotel, despite his having booked a room. Massey was eventually forced to give up the room. 
     “Tonight I was racially profiled and discriminated against for taking a phone call in the lobby of my hotel room at the @doubletreepdx @doubletree,” Massey wrote in an Instagram post. “They already had in their minds that they didn’t want me there so I waited for the cops to show up and when they did, I explained my side of the story and they didn’t want to hear it.”
     The hotel first apologized on Wednesday, then again on Friday, in a pair of statements obtained by HuffPost detailing the company’s plans to launch an internal investigation and reach out to Massey.
     Massey, who was in Portland to see rapper Travis Scott perform, said he received a call from his mother who is on the East Coast after the concert. Thinking it was an emergency, Massey said he found a “remote area” of the hotel’s lobby to answer the call.
     In Massey’s videos, a security guard identified as Earl can be seen telling Massey that the police have been called and he is no longer welcome at the hotel. Meanwhile, Massey, who is seated on a couch, accuses the security guard of harassing him while he was on the phone.

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Later, speaking to a hotel manager identified as Luis, Massey said he was a guest of the hotel and needed privacy to take the call.
“I needed some privacy, I had a family emergency going on and this gentleman decided to come over here and harass me and ask me where I was staying,” Massey says to the hotel employees.
When Earl accuses Massey of loitering by sitting in the lobby, Massey says: “So this area is off limits after a certain time?” Earl replies, “Only if you’re a guest.”
“I am a guest,” Massey says. “You didn’t tell me that,” the security guard responds. “I asked you what room you’re in and you refused.”
Later in the videos, a police officer can be seen asking Massey to leave the hotel. The Portland Police Bureau confirmed to HuffPost that officers responded to a trespassing call at the hotel late Saturday and asked Massey to gather his personal belongings from his room and leave.
Massey’s Instagram posts, which have since gone viral, reignited a national conversationover people who call the police on people of color who are doing mundane or normal activities, such as throwing a picnic or going home.
In a video message to his Instagram followers, Massey called attention to the racism he experienced.
“Racism is still alive and well. It’s sad that people have to go through these things and I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the first, and I’m not the last but I will not stand for injustice,” he said.
Throughout 2018, white people have called or threatened to call the police on an 8-year-old black girl who was selling water on a sidewalk, a pair of Native American brothers who joined a college campus tour, a black youth mentor who was babysitting two white children, a black man at a bank trying to cash his own paycheckand a black man trying to enter his own apartment building.

Newswire : First member of Congress calls for Trump’s resignation amid month of chaos

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)

        On Christmas Eve, Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore became the first sitting member of Congress to demand that President Donald Trump resign from the presidency. She made her comments as the Dow dove 500 points on December 24 in worst Christmas Eve trading day ever.As of Christmas, the market was on track to suffer its worst December since the Great Depression.
        “Some of this money for the doggone wall, I wish they would put into places like Flint and Milwaukee,” said Rep. Moore during the interview. The Congresswoman worked to secure millions of dollars to remove lead from America’s water infrastructure.
        During an interview on the Scott Dworkin report, Rep. Moore said that President Trump “resigning is a dignified way for him to leave as opposed to being impeached or as opposed to being indicted or having the 25th amendment evoked. It’s really a very palliative approach to ask him to just go quietly and spare us all this pain.”
        December 2018 featured a turbulent series of events around the 45th President.His Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James Mattis, resigned. The White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, set a time for his departure.The federal government partly shut down as Trump reportedly became angry with a budget bill that didn’t include billions in funding for a wall at the U.S. and Mexican border. Two children died in U.S. custody as Trump Administration policy on immigration was led by relative policy novice, Stephen Miller.
        Though many other members of Congress have been consistently critical of the President, Moore is now the first member of Congress to actually call for him to resign. Nine members of the House have either stated on the record that President Trump should be impeached or assisted in moving articles of impeachment to the floor of the U.S. House.
        The impeachment effort against Trump has been led by Rep. Al Green of Texas. In October 2017, Rep. Green drafted an impeachment resolution and articles of impeachment and attempted to have it considered on the House floor against the wishes of Democratic leadership.
        Rep. Green would be joined a year later by Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). Non-CBC members Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.).
        Currently President Trump’s approval rating is only 40 percent. Democrats will take control of the U.S. House on January 3rd.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

Newswire : Cigars and Whiskey – America’s oldest veteran, Richard Arvin Overton, dies at 112

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

President Barack Obama greets Richard Overton, with Earlene Love-Karo, in the Blue Room of the White House, Nov. 11, 2013.

     Born on May 11, 1906, Richard Arvin Overton, a member of what is often called America’s “Greatest Generation,” died on December 27th in Austin, Texas. At 112 years and 230 days, Overton was believed to be the oldest living man in the United States as well as America’s oldest veteran.
     He enlisted into the Army on September 3, 1940 at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. Overton then fought in World War II, serving in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion. He fought in the South Pacific from 1940 through 1945, a time which included battle in Iwo Jima. He retired from the U.S. Army in October of 1945 as a technician fifth grade. He then worked at a furniture store and then took a job at the Texas Department of the Treasury.
    “He was there at Pearl Harbor, when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God said former President Barack Obama in 2013 during a Veterans Day ceremony honoring Overton at Arlington National Cemetery.
     The second World War was the deadliest conflict in modern military history as over 70 million people lost their lives and the U.S. suffered over 407,000 deaths in battle.
     As the years went by Overton became a local and then national celebrity. In 2013, at the age of 107, Overton won widespread media attention after telling Fox News he would spend Memorial Day “smoking cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee.” He was later invited to the White House.
     Overton had been hospitalized with pneumonia but was released from the hospital on December 24, Christmas Eve according to family member Shirley Overton. He had become known in his community for driving others to church well after turning 100 years old.
     “With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him,” wrote Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a statement on December 27 after hearing the news of Overton’s death.
     The Governor added that Overton was, “an American icon and Texas legend. Richard Overton made us proud to be Texans and proud to be Americans. We can never repay Richard Overton for his service to our nation and for his lasting impact on the Lone Star State.”
     Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.