Newswire: Kamala Harris: ‘Our very democracy was on the ballot’

By Sandy Fitzgerald, Associated Press

Vice-President elect, Kamala Harris


Kamala Harris, while introducing Joe Biden to make his victory speech as president elect of the United States, lauded American voters for delivering a “clear message” by choosing “hope and unity, decency, science, and yes, truth”  by choosing the former vice president as their choice for president of the United States 
“I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months,” the California Democrat told a wildly cheering crowd in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden’s home. “The grief, sorrow, and pain, the worries and the struggles, but we have also witnessed your courage, your resilience and the generosity of your spirit. For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives and for our planet and then you voted.”
Harris further told the audience that “our very democracy was on the ballot” in the election and the “very soul of America” was at stake, and the voters “ushered in a new day for America.”
Harris lauded Biden as a “man with a big heart who loves with abandon” including with his love for his wife, Jill, and for his family, Hunter and Ashley and his grandchildren.  “I first knew Joe as vice president,” she said. “I really got to know him as the father who loved Beau (Biden)”
She also lauded her husband and family, before moving on to speak about her own role in history as the first female vice president, not to mention the first Black and Asian-American to be elected. 
“This is for the women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all. Including the Black women who are often, too often overlooked, all the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century, 100 years ago with the 19th amendment. Fifty-five years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now in 2020,” said Harris. 
“Tonight I reflect on their struggle, their determination, and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been, and I stand on their shoulders,” said Harris, praising Biden for his vision in breaking “one of the most substantial barriers that exist in our country and seek a woman as his vice president.”
She also promised that she will not be the last woman in the office, as “every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities and to the children of our country, regardless of your gender. Our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.”
Harris further promised that she will be an “loyal, honest, and prepared” vice president, like Biden was to President Barack Obama. “The road ahead will not be easy, but America is ready. And so are Joe and I,” said Harris.
Harris, at 56, is set to be sworn in not only as the first female vice president but the first Black and Indian-American vice president. But the second spot at the White House is a pinnacle for Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney and the first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general, notes a New York Times profile of Harris. 
And when Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016, she was the second-ever Black woman in the chamber’s history. Her argumentative style quickly gained notice in the Senate, particularly after she fiercely grilled witnesses during committee testimony, including during the confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
After their exchanges, President Donald Trump labeled the California Democrat as being “extraordinarily nasty” to Kavanaugh and called the way she treated him a “horrible thing.”
Harris is the daughter of a Jamaican father, Donald Harris, an economist and Stanford University professor and an Indian mother, scientist Shyamala Gopalan, who died in 2009 of colon cancer. 
Harris’ parents divorced when she was seven years old. She also has a sister, Maya, and is married to a Jewish husband, Douglas Emhoff, who will become the first second gentleman. Her stepchildren have nicknamed her “Momala.” 
Harris attended an historically black college, Howard University, before becoming a prosecutor working on domestic violence and child exploitation cases. 
Her legal background as California’s attorney general has caused her political issues, including when she was running for president early in the 2020 race. However, Harris gained attention when, during an early debate, she attacked Biden’s Senate record on race. 
But since then, Harris has stressed that she does support Biden and his positions, and has come under several other attacks from Trump, who has ridiculed the pronunciation of her name. After she debated Vice President Mike Pence, Trump slammed her as a “monster.”
Harris joined Biden’s ticket after the former vice-president promised to pick a female running mate. Even that came under criticism from Trump, who expressed surprise that Biden would pick a running mate who had attacked him during their presidential debate. 

Newswire : Black and other voters of color restored democracy in America in 2020 Presidential Election

Biden and Harris

By Sunita Sohrabji and Pilar Marrero
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Ethnic Media Services
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – In a country that is polarized and hurt by Covid-19 and a divisive leadership, a massive turnout of voters resulted in a close election where Democrat Joe Biden was pushed across the finish line by large majorities of voters of color.
On Saturday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were the projected winners of the 2020 elections, relegating Donald Trump to a one term, even as he refused to concede, and his lawyers tried legal maneuvers to argue electoral fraud.
The Democratic presidential ticket reached that goal mainly because communities of color rejected the Trump Administration by large margins, explained experts who discussed the numbers, the history, and the motivations of electoral choices by communities of color in the United States in a briefing with ethnic media.
Election eve surveys and exit polling confirmed that the majority of white voters voted for President Donald Trump, but that Asian Americans, Latinx, and Black voters turned out in record numbers to oust the incumbent, and to propel the first woman of color into the White House.
According to the American Election Eve Poll by Latino Decisions, 56% of whites voted for Trump. A CNN exit poll found a similar number, 57% of whites voting for the President.
But voters of color were a different story. According to the LD poll, 70% of Latinos, 89% of Blacks, 68% of Asians and 60% of American Indians voted for Biden.
“I want to thank people of color and communities of color for saving our democracy,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice at the Nov. 6 briefing organized by Ethnic Media Services. “Speaking as a white man, I come from a community that voted in the majority for Donald Trump. And if it were not for the African American, Latinx, and Asian American Pacific Islander Community, we would not be celebrating the victory that we’re celebrating today,” said Sharry.
It was a very close election, a cliffhanger that lasted from Tuesday November 3rd until Saturday morning, November 7th, when the official numbers made it clear that Biden-Harris had clinched the 270 electoral college votes needed.
That polarization and the states in which the Biden advantage played out made it clear that lopsided democratic votes by people of color had an outsize role in the results.
Stephen Nuño-Perez, a senior analyst at Latino Decisions, whose firm conducted an election eve poll of ethnic voters in key battleground states, said that “it’s extremely difficult to win an election when you have mobilized minorities and Latinos in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Albuquerque”. Latinx voters were critical in flipping Arizona blue, said Nuno Perez of Latino Decisions, pointing to counties such as Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma, which all have significant Latino populations.
Latinx voters also made their presence known in Florida, handing Biden victories in Miami-Dade, Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Broward County. In Miami, Cuban Americans threw their support behind Trump. Nuño warned about taking some outliers, like the Cuban vote in Miami-Dade and a couple of counties near the border in Texas where Trump did much better with Latinos, to project that into the larger narrative.
“Yes, Latinos are not a monolith, and yes, they are a monolith, they do respond to certain types of messaging and at the national level, seventy percent of Latinos voted for Biden. That’s a clear pattern”, he said.
Theodore Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, said that a summer of protests for racial justice along with the disproportionate numbers from COVID-19 and record levels of unemployment in black communities, galvanized Black voter turnout in record numbers to remove Donald Trump from office.
“That explains why we’re seeing Atlanta change Georgia, Philadelphia change Pennsylvania, Milwaukee change Wisconsin, and Detroit change Michigan,” he said. “That’s the enthusiasm and power of the Black vote.”
Overall Black voters were pragmatic, Johnson noted, pointing to South Carolina where they opted for Joe Biden over Kamala Harris or Corey Booker. “They picked the candidate they thought had the best chance of winning over white voters.” Johnson attributed the small increase in Black males voting for Trump to those Black Republicans who had opted to vote for the first Black president in 2008 and 2012 and who were now returning to the Republican Party.
Asian Americans turned out in significant numbers for the 2020 election, said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice/ AAJC. Some 300,000 were first-time voters. Exit polls plus pre-election polls showed there was much more enthusiasm to vote, Yang noted. Between 65%-70% of AAPI voters supported Biden, with 30 percent voting for Trump, consistent with voting patterns in 2012 and 2016.
While one-third of Asian Americans live in the 10 battleground states, and it would be easy to attribute the margin of victory in Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania to the AAPI vote. But Yang said it was the common values that brought Black, Latinx, Native and Asian Americans together that provided the margin of victory for Biden in those states.
Yang recalled June 16, 2015, when Trump rode down an escalator at Trump Towers to announce his bid for the White House. “That was a defining moment for me and changed my career path. When he talked about illegal aliens being rapists and gangsters and criminals, he was talking about me because I was at one point an undocumented immigrant.”
Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today, discussed the impact of the Native American vote, indicating that a large number of Native Americans ran for elected office and that next year’s Congress will have a caucus with three Republicans and three Democrats. “This will give a bipartisan spin on Native issues,” he said.
Native Americans were also elected to state Legislatures including Arizona and Kansas.
Sharry, of America´s voice, said that the massive vote by minorities was also a rejection of Trump´s flagstone issue: xenophobia and racism.
“An American public was forced by Donald Trump and his extremism to choose, and they chose to come down on the side of refugees and immigrants. This is a statement of what a multiracial majority in America said through this election. They said ‘we want to be a welcoming country. We don’t like Trump’s separation of families.’”
 

Newswire: U. S. upsets election of African candidate for top world trade post


 

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala


Nov. 2, 2020 (GIN) – Backed by an overwhelming number of World Trade Organization delegates, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was on a fast track to become the head of the global trade group.
 
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was set to become the first woman and first African to lead the global trade watchdog.  A selection panel of WTO trade ministers found she had far more support than a South Korean rival and it was expected that the Asian candidate would be withdrawn because the African candidate would be most likely to attract consensus among the members.
 
But the historic appointment hit a stumbling block with last-minute opposition from the Trump administration and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who threw their support to Yoo Myung-hee, the current Minister for Trade of South Korea, calling her a “bona-fide trade expert”, and suggesting that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was unqualified for the job.
 
“The WTO is badly in need of major reform. It must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field,” the U.S. office said.
 
Molly Toomey, a spokeswoman for Okonjo-Iweala, rejected the comments, saying “WTO members wouldn’t have selected a Director General who is missing any skills or qualifications.”
 
A Nigerian-born economist and international development expert, Okonjo-Iweala sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and has held several key positions at the World Bank. She says the WTO should play a role in helping poorer countries access COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.
 
President Trump has shown animus to numerous world bodies and agreements, withdrawing from the World Health Organization, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the nonbinding Global Compact on Migration, the U.N. Human Rights Council, UNESCO, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, NAFTA, and the Iran nuclear deal, among others.
 
Trump has described the WTO as “horrible”, biased towards China and threatened to withdraw. Last month, the trade body found the U.S. had breached global trading rules by imposing multi-billion dollar tariffs in Trump’s trade war with China.
 
“We’ll have to do something about the WTO because they let China get away with murder,” Trump grumbled after the ruling.
 
The U.S. has paralyzed the WTO’s appellate body by blocking appointments to the seven-person panel for more than two years. A global court for trade, it has been unable to issue judgments on new cases since December 2019 because there aren’t enough active members.
 
Yoo presents herself as a “bridge” candidate, aiming to overcome the divide between the United States and China, however she is reported to be having problems solidifying support from some major Asian members – including China and Japan. The deadline for the appointment is Nov. 7. w/pix of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala   

Newswire: ‘Through the Roof’ prescription drug prices hit communities of color the hardest

Pharmacist Leonard L. Edloe

By Hazel Trice Edney

TriceEdneyWire.com) – Seventy-three-year-old Leonard L. Edloe, a pharmacist of 50 years and pastor of a predominately Black church in Middlesex County, Va., knows the personal and professional sides of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes well. He also knows the astronomical costs of prescription medications and the related financial struggles.
His father—also named Leonard L. Edloe—opened the first of their four family-owned pharmacies in 1948. But he was only 65 when he came home from work one day, sat down, had a sandwich and a beer and then died of a massive heart attack. It was a major emotional blow to lose his father and mentor that way. But then Edloe’s sister died at 60 and his brother at 54 – also both of heart attacks.
“I had to get out,” he said sternly, reflecting on his now determined self-care through exercise and healthy eating. “I’m 73 now.”
For decades, Edloe has been a prominent household family name in Richmond, Va. where his father’s first pharmacy was established. Since his family was upper middle class, he acknowledged they had no problem paying for prescription medication.  But given his father’s legacy and his own community service through his profession and dedication to help people in need, he is known for being on the cutting edge of the struggle to establish health equity. That includes exploring ways to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible to all.
“The pricing has gone through the roof,” he said in an interview. “I mean, insulin – a month’s supply for some people – is $600.” That’s $7,200 a year. “Even the generic pricing has gone up,” he points out. “That has become worse because so many of the drugs are imported. Seventy-five percent of the drugs in the United States have an ingredient that’s made in China, India or Germany.”
Edloe explained that “Because there’s no control over pricing in the United States, they can basically charge what they want to; whereas in other countries, the government decides.”
As a former long-time member of Medicaid HMO Virginia Premier Health Plan’s board – Edloe pointed out that the drug used to treat Hepatitis C costs $1,000 a pill. But in Egypt, it is $1 a pill.
Edloe has expressed these concerns vehemently over the years in various leadership roles, including as chair of the Virginia Heart Association for the Mid-Atlantic Region; president of the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, and board member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems Authority.
“My blood pressure medicine for myself has tripled in price. I was paying $15 for three months. Now it’s $45,” he said. “Fortunately, that’s with my insurance.”
For people who lack health insurance, medicine for hypertension can cost upwards of $300-$600 a year, which, can be difficult to manage financially along with paying for other medications and bills. “So, it’s real serious,” Edloe concluded.
Community health workers point to problems in poor communities
Community health workers and researchers around the country have long recognized the increasing costs of prescription drugs and the difficult choices some people must make to afford them.
An article in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing, titled, “Millions of Adults Skip Medications Due to Their High Costs” highlights findings from a national survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics:
• Eight percent of adult Americans don’t take their medicines as prescribed because they can not afford them.
• Among adults under 65, sixpercent who had private insurance still skipped medicines to save money.
• 10 percent of people who rely on Medicaid skipped their medicines.
• Of those who are not insured, 14 percent skipped their medications because of cost.
• Among the nation’s poorest adults— those with incomes well below the federal poverty level — nearly 14 percent “did not take medications as prescribed to save money.” 
Those statistics get even worse when exploring prescription drug affordability in the Black community. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institute of Health, “Elderly black Medicare beneficiaries are more than twice as likely as white beneficiaries to not have supplemental insurance and to not fill prescriptions because they cannot afford them.”
Likewise, an AARP survey of 1,218 African-American voters last year found more than three in five (62 percent) said “prices of prescription drugs are unreasonable” and nearly half (46 percent) said they did not fill a prescription provided by their doctor, mainly because of cost.
The inability to pay for prescription drugs – even for those under the age of 65 – has significantly impacted Blacks, Latinos and other people of color due to economic disparities.
“Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reduced the number of uninsured Americans, over 28 million remain without insurance,” says PublicHealthPost.org. “More than half (55%) of uninsured Americans under the age of 65 are people of color. For those with no insurance, paying retail prices for medications is often financially impossible.”
This is no secret to those who have been working in the trenches on critical health care issues daily for years.
Ruth Perot, executive director/CEO of the Summit Health Institute for Research and Education, Inc. (SHIRE), serves the 92 percent Black and largely low-income families of Washington, D.C.’s 6th, 7th and 8th Wards. She has been working on grassroots health equity isuses in communities of color for more than 23 years.
“I am certainly aware of the extent to which folks have to, of course make that choice between the cost of a prescription and the other commitments that they have, whether it’s rent or whether it’s food on the table or something related to the education for their children,” Perot said. “The cost of prescription drugs has always been out of control. It’s been a major profit-motive driven industry. That’s been true for some time. And so, whatever we see at the national level from a policy perspective still hasn’t addressed the fundamental issue that the drug prescriptions cost too much…I don’t think the federal government has ever used its power as the principle buyer of drugs to get those prices down. So, it’s been a persistent problem for many, many, many years if not decades.”
Edloe, having owned pharmacies in predominately Black communities, vehemently agrees. In addition to his medical career, he also interfaces with the community as pastor of the New Hope Fellowship Church in Hartfield, Va. As he personally works to avoid his family’s history with heart disease, he passes along health lessons to his congregation, and is intimately familiar with their struggles to pay for prescription drugs. Currently working with two groups involving health disparities and pharmaceuticals, he says he believes the answer to achieve equity will ultimately be “some form of universal health care.”
But, there must also be a culture change, he said. “Because a lot of health care providers still are not trained and the materials are still not designed for diverse communities. So it’s all about getting equity – not equality – but equity in health care. Because there’s a big difference. If everybody stands beside the fence and the fence is six feet and you’re 6 feet 5 inches tall, you can see over it, but other people can’t. Equity means you might have to give them a stool to see.”
This article is part of a series on the impact of high prescription drug costs on consumers made possible through the 2020 West Health and Families USA Media Fellowship.
 

Newswire : Police pepper spay Black Lives Matter protestors in North Carolina

by Cedric ‘BIG CED’ Thornton, Black Enterprise News Service


Alamance Co. police pepper spay demonstrators


Over the weekend, in Graham, North Carolina, a Black Lives Matter rally was broken up by police officers who then attacked the crowd of protesters using pepper spray, according to CNN.
The “I Am Change” march was intended to be a “march to the polls” in honor of the Black people who fell victim to racialized violence like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Trayvon Martin, according to an advertisement for the event. However, the Graham Police Department says people were pepper-sprayed in two instances. The first time occurred after marchers refused to move out of the road following a moment of silence, and then again after an officer was allegedly “assaulted” and the event was deemed “unsafe and unlawful by the police department.”
At a press conference, the march organizer, the Rev. Gregory Drumwright, said, “I and our organization, marchers, demonstrators and potential voters left here sunken, sad, traumatized, obstructed and distracted from our intention to lead people all the way to the polls.”
The Graham Police Department arrested eight people for resisting delay and obstruction, failure to disperse, and assault on a law enforcement officer. Scott Huffman, who is running for Congress, released a video clip describing the incident on his Twitter account.
The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said that arrests were made at the demonstration, citing “violations of the permit” Drumwright obtained to hold the rally.
 Mr. Drumwright chose not to abide by the agreed upon rules,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Saturday. “As a result, after violations of the permit, along with disorderly conduct by participants leading to arrests, the protest was deemed an unlawful assembly and participants were asked to leave.”
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the non-violent demonstrators, as part of a continuing voting rigjts battle with Alamance, North Carolina authorities.

Newswire : As Trump cries ‘fraud’, Black faith leaders and activists take non-violent stance against election theft

Biden on TV

By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – With a nail biter presidential race too close to call by midnight Nov. 3, America awaits on edge for final states to complete their vote counts. Some are early votes so numerous that they take time to count. Others are mail-in ballots allowed largely due to voters using absentee options or state-sanctioned options to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
Yet, President Donald Trump, claiming he won the election and alleging fraud with no evidence, has announced he will ask the U. S. Supreme Court to stop all vote counts. Trump made his announcement around 2:15 am Wednesday following a statement by Vice President Joe Biden.
“We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said from the White House. “This is a major fraud on our nation…We will be going to the U. S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”
Biden had earlier stated in Wilmington, Delaware, “I’m here to tell you tonight, we believe we’re on track to winning this election…We knew because of the unprecedented mail-in vote and the early vote that it was going to take a while. We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished and it ain’t over until every vote is counted.”
At Trice Edney Newswire deadline, Biden led the race with 224 to Trump’s 213 electoral votes with literally millions more votes to count in five states – Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
The threat of election theft by Trump is – in part – the reason that a group of Black faith leaders and activists have called for “nonviolent resistance and economic non-cooperation, including a general strike, if trump tries to steal” the election.
In a statement headlined, “We The People Will Defend the Vote and Uphold Democracy:  A Call to Nonviolent Resistance from Black Faith Leaders and Allies,” approximately 100 faith leaders and their activist allies essentially said that they will organize and demonstrate to maintain a free and fair election.
“In a pandemic, the large number of Americans demonstrating with conscience and voting with conviction is a sacred testament to an even larger sacrificial commitment to nonviolence,” says Rev. Cornell William Brooks, former NAACP president and currently professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. “We will honor this commitment by nonviolently opposing and overcoming any effort to undermine our elections.  So many Americans have sacrificed so much for any of us to do anything less.”
With races so close and with Trump casting doubt on the integrity of the election even days before Nov. 3, it has long been feared by political observers that he could try to cheat to win.
“We must not let Trump steal the election. If he attempts to stop votes from being counted or refuses to accept a legitimate victory for Biden, we will not sit by. We will use the power of massive nonviolent resistance that won our people the sacred right to vote to defend the sacred result of our votes today,” said Rev. Erica Williams, founder of Set It Off Ministries. “We as clergy must stand in this moment to be Prophets of God and not chaplains of the empire. We come boldly in the spirit of Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Josephine Baker who fought tirelessly for voting rights.”
Alarm intensified among the electorate when Trump told the far right leaning Proud Boys, a group that associates with White supremacists, to “stand back and stand by”. This was during the Sept. 29 presidential debate in response to a request for him to denounce White supremacist groups.
But then concerns intensified after several voter intimidation and rogue incidents were reported leading into Election Day and even as voters headed to the polls. Police and FBI are involved in the investigation of some of the situations. They include:
• A group of Trump supporters surrounded a Joe Biden campaign bus on Austin, Texas’ Interstate 35, appearing to try to run it off the road. Police intervened and escorted the bus to safety. In response, Trump tweeted, “I LOVE TEXAS!” along with a video on the incident and said later, “These patriots did nothing wrong”.
• A federal lawsuit has been filed in North Carolina, claiming voter intimidation, after police there deployed pepper spray during a pre-election day get-out-the vote rally and arrested several people amidst the chaos.
• Voters across the country reportedly received an estimated 10 million spam calls or texts telling them to “stay safe and stay home.”
Meanwhile, major department stores in cities across the nation were busy boarding up buildings, strengthening security and taking other protective measures this week in anticipation of possible unrest resulting from election outcomes.
According to the statement from the clergy and activists, “The Call to Nonviolent Resistance’s appeal for economic noncooperation — including the rare escalation of a general strike — comes on the heels of resolutions by the Rochester, New York AFL-CIO, King County, Washington labor council, and other labor coalitions who have called for a general strike if Trump attempts to steal the election, adding growing moral weight and national credibility to those preparations.”
Rev. Stephen A. Green, chair, Faith for Black Lives, concludes in the statement: “This unprecedented moment requires our commitment to radical love in action through nonviolence to defend the vote. Our faith motivates us to lead the nation with moral resistance in order to uphold democracy and resist any attempt from President Trump to undermine our election, said “We are building a movement to build beloved community through mass action.”
The call asks people to join faith and civic leaders in signing a pledge “to join nonviolent resistance and economic noncooperation if necessary to defend the vote and uphold democracy in response to an attempted coup by Trump.”
 

Newswire : Nigerian writers rip ‘terror squad’ as protestors cry ‘just stop killing us’

Nigerians protest killing by police


Oct. 26, 2020 (GIN) – For many, the memories of rogue Nigerian soldiers firing live ammunition at hundreds of peaceful protesters in Lagos, killing at least 12 people, will be hard to forget.
 
Now, some of Nigeria’s prize-winning authors have turned acid-tipped pens against the government of Muhammadu Buhari for failing to rein in an elite police unit whose sullied record of unprovoked raids, arbitrary beatings, arrests and extortion, especially against young people, has sparked a movement that brought out thousands nationwide.
 
Renowned novelist and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was among the writers who shared an outpouring of grief and fury after the wanton shooting of young Nigerians trapped in a cul-de-sac while calling for an end to the harassment and killings by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
 
“SARS is random, vicious, vilely extortionist,” Chimamanda wrote in a recent article. “SARS officers raid bars or arbitrarily arrest young men for such crimes as wearing their hair in dreads, having tattoos, holding a nice phone or a laptop, driving a nice car. Then they demand large amounts of money as “bail.”
 
Toyin Falola, distinguished teaching professor at the University of Texas, added: “Oct. 20, 2020 will go down in Nigerian history as the day the whole world saw images of the green-and-white striped flag stained with the red blood of protesters bludgeoned by the forces of the state… The abuses of President Buhari’s government are no longer being kept in the dark.”
 
Chidozie Uzoezie, a Lagos-based freelance writer, penned: “SARS, founded in 1992 to fight crimes, has metamorphosed into a hydra-headed plague, brutalizing and killing poor and voiceless Nigerians while protecting the rich… The Nigerian Police Force has been reduced from being law enforcement agents to mere trigger-happy tools in the hands of irresponsible governments and desperate politicians. In short, a menace.”
 
Finally, over 100 noted Nigerian writers signed an open letter published in African Arguments:  “We denounce in the strongest terms the tyrannical and shameful persecution of innocent Nigerians by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the continued harassment of peaceful protesters.
 
“As Chinua Achebe said, ‘We cannot trample on the humanity of others without devaluing our own.’ We ask that the government of Nigeria, under President Buhari, take concrete measures, beyond the flippant rhetoric of years gone by, and immediately reform the Nigerian Police Force as a whole.
 
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters protesting on the streets of Nigeria, and ask that every right-thinking member of the global community raise their voice and support the agitation for justice for the victims of police brutality in Nigeria, the immediate termination of such inexcusable conduct by all units of the police and a sincere and tangible reform of the police in Nigeria.”
 
More than 56 people have died since demonstrations began in Nigeria more than two weeks ago. w/pix of SARS protest
 

Newswire: “Threat to health care and civil rights” judge Barrett confirmed by GOP Senate

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative judge with a stated opposition to the Affordable Care Act and many Civil Rights laws, was confirmed on Monday, October 26, 2020, as the next Supreme Court Justice.

Only Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins defected, while Democrats boycotted the formal vote.
“After refusing a Democratic nominee to the Supreme Court because an election was eight months away, they will confirm a Republican nominee before an election that is eight days away,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who is a Democrat.
“The Republican majority is lighting its credibility on fire. This hypocritical, 180-degree turn is spectacularly obvious to the American people. The American people will suffer the consequences of Judge Barrett’s far-right, out of the mainstream views for generations,” Schumer warned.
The high court now has three appointees of President Donald Trump and a 6-3 supermajority.
It also sets up a window for Trump to sabotage the General Election, one in which polls show he trails by double-digits heading into the final week of campaigning.
“In the crudest possible disparagement of Justice Ginsberg’s work, the Senate has continued its court-packing with the confirmation of far-right extremist Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only an insult to the memory of a tireless advocate for human rights, outspoken protector of equality, and lifelong advocate for justice, the move is an unapologetic and hypocritical power grab by Trump and his co-conspirators in the Senate,” stated Marcela Howell, the president, and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.
Among the issues the Supreme Court will soon hear are Pennsylvania ballot extensions. Just two days before Barrett’s confirmation, the GOP in the Keystone State asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a ballot receipt extension that would allow them to be counted if received within three days of Election Day – even if they do not have a legible postmark.
Three Wisconsin petitions are also before the court that concern Democrats who ask the justices to allow the counting of ballots six days after the election and whether COVID vulnerable voters and others in the state can secure replacement mail-in ballots via email.
The court is preparing to hear whether a New York prosecutor will get access to Trump’s financial documents from January 2011 to August 2019, including his tax returns. It’s believed Coney would side with Trump, raising concerns that if the high court has to decide the 2020 presidential election, the president will retain the office because he’s appointed Coney and two other justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Schumer noted that abortion rights are also on the line.
Many believe Barrett’s confirmation signals the end of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision. In Mississippi, a federal judge struck down the law in November 2018, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling late last year.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she believes Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade. “I believe that, given how she outlined, not only to me but how she spoke to the issue of reliance when she was before the committee, I believe that she will look at that and weight that in any matters in any cases that come before her that take up Roe v. Wade,” Murkowski said.
Another significant case facing the U.S. Supreme Court this fall is the Affordable Care Act’s fate, which Barrett has gone on record opposing.
With no replacement for the health care law – commonly known as Obamacare – it’s estimated that more than 22 million Americans will lose coverage. That number includes a large swath of African Americans and others with preexisting conditions.
“Without a replacement in place for Obamacare, the loss of this act will make things more difficult for those who need healthcare the most, in particular, the underrepresented and underserved communities, and those with preexisting conditions,” stated Dawon Hawkins, the Chief People and Training Officer for the health care startup Xcelrate UDI.
“Obamacare has provided affordable healthcare for millions of Americans, particularly 25 million Americans who will be left uninsured,” Hawkins continued.
“Under Obamacare, Medicaid eligibility expanded, enabling low-income uninsured adults to have healthcare access they desperately needed finally. This expansion greatly benefitted minority communities, who were otherwise unable to access healthcare services, let alone the ability to pay for healthcare.”
Losing coverage could also prove devasting for women and expecting mothers, shared Andrea Ippolito, a health tech expert and founder of SimpliFed, a company that assists mothers who breastfeed.
“Right now, under the Affordable Care Act, it is your right to have access to lactation support and counseling without cost-sharing for as long as you are breastfeeding. If the ACA gets struck down, the insurers will not be required to cover it, which could have devastating impacts on new parents,” Ippolito noted..
“It’s a flagrant miscarriage of justice, and it flies in the face of our representative democracy. In fact, McConnell and Judge Amy Coney Barrett said so themselves, in 2016 when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court nearly nine months before the presidential election.
“But, as usual, Senate Republicans have changed the rules and trampled on the voices of the very people who elected them. To them, it was never about appointing a qualified judge to simply apply the law; they want Barrett on the court because of her right-wing views on access to healthcare, reproductive rights and freedom, voting rights, LGBTQ equality, immigrant justice, criminal justice, disability rights, and other issues that make a difference in the lives of most people.
“This confirmation should frighten every person in this country who believes in fairness, rules and having a say in how we’re governed. Barrett’s lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court swings it in an extreme direction that does not reflect the American people’s values.
“At her confirmation hearing, she evaded questions on the right of Americans to have access to healthcare, Medicare and Social Security; she refused to acknowledge systemic racism, and she was not clear that discriminatory barriers in voting exist.
“Barrett even refused to acknowledge basic facts about our democracy – that presidents should commit to a peaceful transition of power, that voter intimidation is illegal, and that presidents cannot change the date of an election. Her judicial philosophy closes every door that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg ever opened.”

Newswire:  Joe Morgan, “Big Red Machine” star dies at 77

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Joe Morgan, Cincinnati second baseman

Joe Leonard Morgan, one of the all-time greatest second basemen in Major League Baseball history, and a key cog in Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, has died at the age of 77.
Over 22 mostly magnificent seasons, the left-handed batting Morgan, who memorably flapped his left arm before each pitch thrown to him, totaled 2,517 hits, 1,650 runs scored, and a .271 lifetime batting average.
Additionally, he slugged 268 home runs and stole 689 bases.
Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, Morgan began his illustrious career with the Houston Colt .45s in 1963. He remained with Houston, which in 1965 changed its nickname to the Astros for nine seasons. In 1971, the Astros traded Morgan to the Cincinnati Reds.
In Cincinnati, he joined Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey Sr., George Foster, and others to form the renowned Big Red Machine.
In 1975, the Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in one of the most memorable World Series ever, an epic matchup where five of the seven games were decided by one run.
The following year, Morgan helped lead the Reds to a sweep of the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic to capture a second straight title.
Morgan earned League Most Valuable Players in each of those seasons. He earned selection to the All-Star team 10 times and won five Gold Gloves.
In 1983, Morgan joined the Philadelphia Phillies and helped lead them to a World Series appearance against the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore won the series in five games, and Morgan would play one more season, ending his career with the Oakland A’s.
Morgan’s death is the latest among several legendary baseball players over the past several months, including fellow Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tom Seaver of the New York Mets, and Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees.

Newwire : As clinical trials halt, U.S. Covid cases surge

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Eli Lilly announced this week that it would pause a government-sponsored COVID-19 clinical trial because of a potential safety concern.
The drug manufacturer did not specify the concern, but the experimental vaccine is reportedly similar to the one President Donald Trump has claimed cured him of the coronavirus.
Earlier, Johnson & Johnson put the brakes on a COVID-19 vaccine trial after the company noted an “unexplained illness” reported by a participant.
In September, Great Britain officials held off on a potential vaccine when a participant reported a concerning reaction.
The difficulty in producing a vaccine for the deadly virus comes as a new wave of COVID-19 infection has begun.
Data provided by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland revealed that the U.S. surpassed 51,000 new daily cases on Oct. 13, marking the first time in over two months that the number exceeded 50,000.
The average daily number of new cases stands at 48 percent higher than two months ago when 34,354 were reported.
More than 36,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Oct. 13, the highest number recorded since August.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that African Americans remain three times as likely as whites to contract the coronavirus, five times as likely to end up in the hospital, and twice as likely to die from COVID-19.
While the race and ethnicity of those who contract the virus are known in just 52 percent of cases, 7 of the 10 U.S. counties with the highest death rates from COVID-19 have populations where people of color make up the majority, according to data compiled by USA Today.Of the top 50 counties with the highest death rates, 31 are populated mostly by people of color. “Put simply, America’s history of racism was itself a preexisting condition,” study authors wrote for USA Today. Additionally, one report noted that had African Americans died at the same rate as whites; approximately 20,800 Black people would still be alive.
Dr. James Hildreth, the president of the historically Black Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, told the Black Press that his school is among four HBCUs preparing to host on campus COVID-19 clinical trials.
Dr. Hildreth previously advised against any vaccine touted by Trump, where the president exclaimed would be ready before Election Day.
“It’s true that Black people have little trust in clinical trials, and that’s understandable,” Dr. Hildreth stressed. “We’ve engendered a level of trust with communities of color that other organizations just don’t have, and it’s imperative for us as HBCUs to rise to this occasion.”
Dr. Hildreth noted that Meharry’s trial would feature a vaccine made by Novavax. “I’ll be the first patient,” Dr. Hildreth said, again punctuating the trust that’s needed to secure African American participants.
“By engaging with the four Black medical schools, [participants] will have individuals who look like them, sitting across the table, having these conversations, and we think that’s going to make a huge difference.”