COVID-19

As of September 16, 2020 at 10:20 AM
(according to Alabama Political Reporter)
Alabama had 141,087 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(6,670 more than last week) with 2,392 deaths (107 more
than last week)
Greene County had 283 confirmed cases, (4 more cases
than last week), with 16 deaths
Sumter Co. had 405 cases with 19 deaths
Hale Co. had 565 cases with 27 deaths

SOS continues protests to demand Medicaid Expansion for Alabama

Montgomery, AL – Peaceful protestors – many in wheelchairs and walkers – gathered at the state Capitol to demand Medicaid expansion and were met by at least 32 armed law enforcement officers, not counting those in Montgomery City Police vehicles. The nearly three dozen armed police remained standing while speakers, including several young activists, continued to plea for Medicaid expansion in Alabama
Attorney and Civil Rights Activist Faya Toure said: “It is regretful that such a scene is taking place week after week at SOS events to save lives in a city with a Black Mayor and a Black police chief. Montgomery is known for its historic civil disobedience, which led to Montgomery’s having its first ever Black Mayor elected last year.”
Those present included leaders of SOS, the Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy, and other human rights and civil rights groups. They met at the historic King Memorial Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at 11:30 a.m. and marched up the street to the Alabama State Capitol facing a sea of armed city police officers for a noon press conference to continue to push for Medicaid expansion. Individuals with physical limitations participated in the march and the press conference and stressed the critical need to expand Medicaid to save lives, now more than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Young leaders from across Alabama also participated in today’s events at the Church and the Capitol, including two who were previously arrested and jailed for civil disobedience misdemeanors or “good trouble” as Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed likes to quote the late Congressman John Lewis.
SOS and LGBTQ leader Judson Garner called out state leaders for finding money to build private mega prisons while refusing to move to save lives and save hospitals with Medicaid expansion. “We will be paying for these private prisons long after the Governor and other elected leaders have died. They can find billions to warehouse Alabamians in private facilities, but they can’t find a pittance to save lives, build our economy and improve every corner of our state with Medicaid expansion. This is wrong, and all young Alabamians – and all Alabamians – should be outraged.”
Kumasi Amin with Black Lives Matter and SOS said: “This movement consists of people of all ages, and we will not stop until Medicaid is expanded. We will continue to stand side by side, recognizing that the issues that affect our elders also affect us intergenerationally. Just as we watch our Black brothers and sisters being murdered at the hands and knees of law enforcement across this country, we also see people needlessly dying and suffering in Alabama because of the failure to expand Medicaid and the lack of health coverage and healthcare. I myself will lose my health coverage when I turn 26 this year. And Black people are dying throughout this city, state and nation because of policies at all levels of government.”
Alabama remains one of only 12 states in America that has taken no action to expand Medicaid. Because of the state’s ongoing failure to act, thousands of Alabamians have needlessly died in Alabama since Medicaid expansion was made available to all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. “This is unforgivable,” said Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan.
Travis Jackson with Black Lives Matter and SOS who is also a veteran of the Iraqi War said: “How can the State of Alabama find billions of dollars for private prisons and yet can’t find a penny to expand Medicaid? How can leaders of good faith justify such actions? There is no justification, and Alabama must expand Medicaid now.”
SOS leaders John Zippert and Johnny Ford, who have been a part of the movement to expand Medicaid from day one, also made remarks as well as brought individuals with physical limitations to participate in today’s events. Eutaw resident Gus Richardson urged the state, “Expand Medicaid NOW!”
Zippert said, “More than 340,000 Alabamians fall in the gap between current Medicaid eligibility and ability to qualify for subsidized health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. These uninsured Alabamians are placing financial pressure on all hospitals and causing many smaller rural hospitals to close. Expanding Medicaid in Alabama will save 700 lives a year of people dying because they lack health insurance coverage. With the coronavirus, many more people with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and others, which go untreated because they lack insurance, are suffering higher death rates from the pandemic.”
Ford said, “We welcome persons directly affected by the lack of Medicaid Expansion in the State of Alabama, to join us in our SOS weekly protests to urge Governor Ivey to do the right thing. We want more people directly impacted by the lack of health insurance in Alabama to testify at our SOS rallies and press conferences to put more pressure on the Governor.”
Annie Pearl Avery who was on the bridge in Selma, Alabama on Bloody Sunday in 1965 said: “I have been part of the Civil Rights Movement for six decades. From Birmingham to Montgomery to Selma to Atlanta to Jackson to D.C. and more, I have been on the front lines fighting for civil and human rights. Our fights directly led to Black mayors and other Black elected officials as well as Black police officers, including the nearly three dozen lined up in front of us now. I have also been fighting for Medicaid expansion from the beginning, and I’ll be here fighting for it until Alabama leaders do the right thing and save lives instead of taking lives.”
Persons interested in joining or supporting the SOS Movement for Justice and Democracy may contact SOS through the Internet and Facebook. Support can also be sent to the SOS Survival Fund, 838 South Court Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36104; phone 205-262-9032.

Newswire : Zimbabwe grants coal mining rights to Chinese company in its biggest wild game park

Lion resting in game Park


Sept. 7, 2020 (GIN) – Wildlife and the environment will be at risk in Zimbabwe’s biggest game park now that the government has given the green light to several Chinese companies seeking to launch polluting coal-mining activities in the fragile animal preserve.
 
Zimbabwe is already on the hook to explain the deaths of 22 elephants just as the mining concessions were awarded to several Chinese companies in Hwange National Park.
 
Environmentalists now fear the mining activities will harm the environment and worsen human-wildlife conflict as animals move to get away from disturbances to their habitats.
 
Zimbabwe uses hydro-generated electricity but recent droughts, worsened by climate change, have meant less capacity for the country as well as neighboring Zambia from the Kariba Dam.
 
Even as China’s investment in renewable energy projects has soared, making them one of the world’s leaders in solar, for example, Chinese companies have been building hundreds of coal plants abroad, some in countries that currently burn little or no coal.
 
Last year, Kenyan judges stopped a Chinese-backed scheme to build Kenya and East Africa’s first coal plant because the owners had failed to conduct a thorough assessment of the plant’s impact on Lamu, an idyllic archipelago in the country’s northeast.
 
The Hwange National Park is home to elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, giraffes and other rare species. Zhongxin Coal Mining Group and Afrochine Smelting received permission from the government to begin environmental impact assessments for drilling, land clearance, road building and geological surveys at two proposed sites inside the park, which is home to almost 10% of Africa’s remaining wild elephants.
 
It could devastate safari tourism, which is a vital source of income for local people.
 
The mysterious deaths of the elephants in Zimbabwe appear similar to the deaths last month of more than 275 elephants in neighboring Botswana. Scientists are still investigating the deaths of the elephants in Botswana’s Okavango Delta area and poaching, poisoning and anthrax have been ruled out.
 
Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated at 156,000 and Zimbabwe has the second largest, estimated at 85,000. Last year about 200 elephants in Zimbabwe died of starvation as a result of the country’s drought.
 

Local Referendum No.1 for property tax to support the Greene County Hospital and Health System will be on the November 3rd ballot

Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth confirmed to the Greene County Democrat on Friday, that there will be a Local Referendum No. 1 on the November 3, 2020 ballot to raise ad valorem property tax in Greene County by 4 mills to benefit the Greene County Hospital.
John Zippert, Chairperson of the Greene County Hospital Board said, “We must pass this tax to support the hospital if we want to keep our hospital open and modernize and improve the services available from the hospital. In times of a global pandemic of coronavirus the need for a local hospital and related health facilities is clear.”
Dr. Marcia Pugh, GCHS Administrator and CEO said, “Our financial reports show that the Greene County Health System has provided $100,000 a month in uncompensated care for Greene County residents. Funds from electronic bingo have helped to pay part of this but we are still going into debt each month to keep the hospital open.”
She continued, “Our physical plant was built in 1961, 60 years ago. Since I have been Administrator, we have had to replace physical systems, like our sewage pipes, telephone system, computer systems, laundry machines, and other necessary services. We have upgraded our laboratory, X-ray machine, emergency room area and we are planning to improve our MRI and other imaging services. Some of this new tax money will go to modernize and improve our facilities and medical services.”
This Local Referendum No.1 and six Statewide Amendments will be on the ballot for November 3, 2020 if you vote absentee or at the polls.
“A 4 mil increase in taxes amounts to $4.00 per $1,000 of assessed valuation of property in Greene County. This is a small price to pay for a 24/7 emergency room, staffed by physicians, comfortable hospital rooms, laboratory, X-ray, up-to-date imagining, compassionate skilled nursing, and many other services,” said Zippert.
Based on current valuations of property in Greene County, one mil of property tax will generate $160,000 in revenues, so passage of this referendum would provide $640,000 in needed revenues, each year, for the Greene County Hospital, beginning in 2022.
Local Referendum No. 1 states: “The Greene County Commission resolved that, pursuant to Constitutional Amendment 76 (Sec.215.02) of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, the issue of a four (4) mil special county tax on each dollar of taxable property in Greene County for the construction, operation, equipping and maintenance of the public or nonprofit hospital facilities of the Greene County Health System shall be submitted to the electors of Greene County, Alabama on the November 3, 2020 General Election. If a majority o0f qualified electors participating in the election shall vote in favor of the referendum, then the said taxes shall be levied and collected and provided to the Greene County Health System.” The Greene County Democrat will include more information on this referendum in future issues. We also welcome your opinions, please write us Letters to the Editor on this tax referendum.

Newswire: Death of Chadwick Boseman puts focus on colon cancer and African Americans

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor



The death of actor Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer at age 43 has brought new attention on the disease and how it disproportionately impacts African Americans.
Boseman was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer at 38. It later advanced to stage 4. Boseman was filming movies that included completing his own stunts while undergoing cancer treatment that included chemotherapy. The actor died on August 30. His death caught many who worked closely with him by surprise.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in America. It is the second most common cause of death related to the disease. African Americans are disproportionately impacted with a 20 percent greater rate than whites and an even greater degree of mortality.
Every year on average 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer with about 50,000 succumbing to the disease. For African Americans the death rates are higher.  Diets high in animal fat and low in fiber are associated with the development of colon cancer.  Cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and vitamins C and E deficiency are also contributing factors tied to colon cancer.
Dr. Wayne Frederick, who is the President of Howard University and a medical doctor, where Boseman graduated in 2000, commented on Boseman’s trip to Howard University’s commencement in 2018 as the featured graduation speaker. Frederick focused on the importance of knowing what one’s family history is and knowing what close relatives died of. He instructed that if you’re unclear how a close relative died you should investigate and find out.
“When I was in medical school, we got screening guidelines that it should start at 50. What we are seeing now is individuals getting colon cancer now is much younger. It is something for us to watch,” said Dr. Frederick on Roland Martin Unfiltered on August 31. Martin broadcast a two-hour tribute in honor of Boseman on his daily show.
“African Americans are much less likely to get the generic screening,” he added. Dr. Frederick also mentioned that popular historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi was diagnosed with colon cancer at 36.
In January 2018, Kendi learned he had colon cancer after a colonoscopy. Though the cancer spread to his liver, further tests revealed that Kendi was cancer free after six months of chemotherapy and surgery. In January 2019, Kendi wrote “What I Learned From Cancer,” in The Atlantic. Kendi was trying to complete another epic work “How to Be an Antiracist,” as he was being treated for colon cancer.
“In the hours of each day when I managed to submerge myself inside the writing zone, the metastatic cancer was an afterthought. The symptoms from the six months of chemotherapy, from January to June last year, were an afterthought: my marathons of tiredness, the bubbling nausea, my hands and feet tingling and darkening and drying and blistering, making them unusable at times,” Kendi wrote regarding this cancer battle.

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

Newswire : Civil Rights icon Benjamin Chavis to host weekly Black Talk Show on PBS

Benjamin Chavis

By Hazel Trice Edney

TriceEdneyWire.com) – Civil rights icon Dr. Benjamin Chavis, former NAACP executive director and current president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), will become host of a weekly Black-oriented public affairs talk show on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) in October.
As racial tensions and disparities have skyrocketed in almost every category of American life, Chavis and the show’s producer Clara Wilkerson says it’s time for a program that challenges the mind and focuses on solutions. They believe the show, Chavis Chronicles, is among the answers. PBS apparently agrees.
“Our nation is polarized by race; polarized by politics; polarized by economics; polarized by health disparities; polarized by the pursuit of education and the education gap; culturally polarized; ethnically polarized; religiously polarized,” Chavis said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “And so, with all of these multiple polarizations that are undergirded by systemic racism, having a national one-half hour in depth discussion about these issues – particularly from an African-American perspective – which the main stream media has not really chosen to focus on, will be crucial.”
American Public Television (APT), the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations, has confirmed that Chavis Chronicles is set to air in top markets across the nation, starting Oct. 1.
“We have reviewed the materials and are pleased to confirm it has been accepted for release in October, 2020 to the nation’s public television stations,” said a letter to Wilkerson from Judy Barlow, APT vice president for business development. “We are honored to work with you and Dr. Chavis on this fine series which will bring important conversations to the American people. Thank you for bringing it to us.”
Wilkerson, an award-winning independent producer, has worked with PBS for more than 25 years. Her company, CRW Worldwide, Inc., has produced more than 25 documentaries and video productions held in over 300 libraries internationally. Wilkerson says she created the Chronicles format specifically with Chavis in mind.
“I first and foremost see this show as one that touches the mind, body and soul. PBS is intellectual,” Wilkerson describes her vision for the show. “We’re bringing this program to those who want to see something more introspective – deep thinkers, change makers, leaders – but then we’re not snobs. We’re not saying we just want to do it for those who are highly educated. We want people who are into social justice and what’s good for the masses.”
Chavis Chronicles will be rare programming as there are currently no weekly talk shows on network television specifically from a Black perspective. Also, unlike cable television, PBS is still free of charge, which makes it accessible to people of all income levels, Wilkerson points out. “That’s why PBS is a great place for this. There’s no better place because we can reach the masses.”
PBS is a non-profit corporation established by Congress in 1967. It is funded by multiple resources, including private donations, foundations, federal funds, and dues from member stations. Chavis Chronicles will be self-funded, including through advertising sales, “so we can be more autonomous,” Wilkerson said.
An APT “Fact Sheet” describing the programming of Chavis Chronicles in its first year calls it “a thought-provoking half-hour weekly series with an urban American flair, featuring interviews with famous leaders and politicians, doctors and scientists, cultural leaders and influencers from around the globe…The Chavis Chronicles goes beyond the headlines offering insights on matters that impact the public and provides a unique perspective from a renowned living legend of the African American community.”
More than 62 million homes will have access to the show in 100 markets. They include top
Nielson-rated markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Houston, Boston and Atlanta.
Chavis says the first episode will feature an interview with U. S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) in his home office in Columbia, S.C. It will not only spotlight Clyburn as the nation’s highest-ranking Black lawmaker in his role as House majority whip; but also his family roots and civil rights background.
A social justice activist of more than 60 years, Chavis says his experiences have given him an appeal to people from all walks of life. He started his civil rights career as a youth coordinator for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University while serving an unjust 34-year prison sentence as a member of the Wilmington 10, who Amnesty International declared political prisoners. The Wilmington 10 case garnered international attention and was pardoned 40 years later. He also received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Howard University. He believes Chavis Chronicles will draw a vastly diverse audience despite it being from an African-American perspective.
“The problem of systemic racism is not just a Black problem. It’s a White problem. It’s a Latino problem. It’s an Asian problem; a native American problem. So, this is a program for all audiences from all racial backgrounds. It’s also intergenerational. While I’ve had a longevity in the civil rights movement; I still have an appeal to millennials. I still have an appeal to the Hip Hop generation. I still have an appeal to the environmental justice movement which I helped to initiate 30 or 40 years ago,” Chavis says. “So, it’s very broad in terms of the scope of the program, but it comes from an African-American perspective.”
As president/CEO of NNPA, the Black Press of America, Chavis already has a broad weekly audience as a columnist. He also serves as board chairman of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and is a regular contributor on the Black News Channel. However, he stresses that his new role as a PBS talk show host will be independent of all of his various other positions and responsibilities.
“And so, we have an unprecedented opportunity to present an in depth discussion; an in depth analysis and also to talk about some solutions to the problems that beset America and that beset people of color throughout the world; particularly those of African descent,” Chavis concludes. “My whole career is about freedom, justice and equality. But, overarching, the struggle for freedom, justice and equality is to stand for what’s true. Speaking truth to power, publishing truth to power, distributing truth to power. Now I have an opportunity to broadcast truth to power. If the Chavis Chronicles is going to represent anything, it’s going to represent the truth.”

Newswire: Kamala Harris speaks with Jacob Blake, paralyzed in police shooting

By: Nick Visser, Huffington Post

Kamala Harris, Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee

Sen. Kamala Harris spoke privately with Jacob Blake the Black man shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin and his family on Monday, her campaign said.
The Democratic vice presidential nominee was in Wisconsin for her first campaign visit since joining former Vice President Joe Biden in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump this November. Harris said she wanted to speak with Blake’s family “to express concern for their well-being and, of course, for their brother and their son’s well-being and to let them know that they have support.”
“They’re an incredible family and what they’ve endured and they just do it with such dignity and grace,” Harris told reporters after the meeting. “And you know they’re carrying the weight of a lot of voices on their shoulders.”
Several members of Blake’s immediate family, including his parents and two sisters, met with Harris. Blake joined by phone for about an hour. Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump, said the discussion was “inspirational.”
“In a moving moment, Jacob Jr. told Sen. Harris that he was proud of her, and the senator told Jacob that she was also proud of him and how he is working through his pain. Jacob Jr. assured her that he would not give up on life for the sake of his children,” Crump said in a statement. “She encouraged them to continue to use their voices even through their pain to help America make progress to end systematic racism.”
Harris’ visit follows Biden’s own trip to Wisconsin last week, during which he also met with Blake’s family and spoke with Blake via phone.
Trump went to Wisconsin last week as well, but the president did not meet with or mention Blake during the trip. Earlier he said that the parties could not agree on a way to meet.
A cellphone video of Blake’s Aug. 23 shooting by Officer Rusten Sheskey spread around the internet, sparking more calls for an end to police brutality in America and spawning additional protests in Wisconsin and across the nation three months after the death of George Floyd.
All of the officers involved in the encounter with Blake have been suspended. State and federal authorities are investigating the matter, but no charges have been filed.
Blake’s attorney shared a video on Saturday in which the 29-year-old gave his first comments on his injuries. Speaking from a hospital bed, Blake, who is paralyzed from the waist down, said his experience was “nothing but pain.”
“Your life and not only just your life, your legs something that you need to move around and move forward in life could be taken from you like this,” he said in the video. “You do not want to have to deal with this shit, man. … It hurts to breathe. It hurts to sleep. It hurts to move from side to side. It hurts to eat.”

Eutaw City Council certifies election results; Mayor questioned for handling voting machines, denying entry to City Hall to Water Management consultants

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

The Eutaw City Council held a special called meeting on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, to certify the results of Municipal Election on August 25, 2020.
Mattie Atkins, Election Manager, reported the results of the election to the Eutaw City Council and showed envelopes containing the result slips, printed by the voting machines for examination by the Council or the public. She recommended a series of resolutions to the Council to sign and certify the election results.
Atkins indicated that there would be a runoff on October 6, 2020 between the top two vote getters in the Mayors race between incumbent Raymond Steele and Councilwoman Latasha Johnson.
Atkins also indicated that there will be a runoff in the District 1 Council race between Valerie “Nippy” Watkins and Chondra Mayes.
She declared LaJeffrey Carpenter the winner in District 2, Tracy Hunter in District 3, Larry Coleman in District 4 and Jacqueline Stewart in District 5.
There were no legal challenges to the election results.
Council Members LaJeffrey Carpenter and Latasha Johnson questioned why Mayor Steele was seen moving and handling the voting machines before the election.
Mayor Steele said, “The Sheriff informed us that he was not going to be able to provide deputies to move voting machines to the polling places. I rented a van to transport voting machines and I drove the machines to the polling places. I did not touch the machines.” Atkins indicated that the election poll officials must run a tape with zeroes before starting the election. She said those zero result sheets are also available.
Questions were also raised about a voting machine breakdown in District 4, where incumbent Councilwoman Shelia Smith lost by five votes, 110 for Larry Coleman to 105 for her. The closest result in the election. Atkins explained that the machine malfunctioned and was replaced after ten votes. She said, “The memory stick was removed from the faulty machine and inserted in the new machine to preserve the votes cast in the initial machine and continue the count.”
After the election results were certified, Councilwoman and Mayoral candidate Latasha Johnson announced to the public that Mayor Steele had denied entry to the City Hall and Water Department records, to Kathy Horne and two staff members from Water Management Services.
“We, the majority of the City Council, dismissed Mayor Steele as water system superintendent and contracted with Water Management Services, an experienced consulting firm, to help us correct problems in the physical water system and with the billing system and procedures. Kathy Horne and her staff came this morning to start work under an approved contract. Mayor Steele refused to allow Horne to enter the City Hall and threatened her with arrest for trespassing if she came in to do the job, we contracted with her to do,” said Johnson.
Horne and her assistants decided against defying the Mayor’s orders because they are professionals, working under a board of directors, and could not risk arrest. Horne pointed out that the City’s water system did not have a manager or inspectors which endangered the health of all the system’s customers.
In an interview for this story, after the City Council meeting, Mayor Raymond Steele said, “I told the City Council from the beginning that they did not have authority to interfere in day-to-day operations of the city. I consider the operation of the water system, part of my responsibility. I suggested that we get an Attorney General’s opinion on my responsibility for the water system but the Council did not seek a clarifying opinion before they acted. We have corrected most of the problems with the water system. It is not uncommon to have billing problems with a new system like the one we just installed.”
Steele also said, “I just learned that Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter had written a letter dismissing the company that serves as certified operators and inspectors for our water system. I do not think he had authority to send that letter. All of this was arranged by the consultants that we do not need. I have informed the company that provides certified operators and inspects the water quality that they are still employed by our city. Bringing in these people from Water Management Services will cost more money and reduce the revenues from the system.”
Council members – Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell, LaJeffrey Carpenter and Sheila Smith said they were concerned about the Mayor denying access to the Water Department to the consultants they had hired to correct the problems with service, pipes, meters, leaks, billing and other aspects of the water system. The Council members said they were considering legal action to enjoin the Mayor from preventing Water Management Services from accessing the water department system and records.
Latasha Johnson said, “I am outraged at the Mayor’s disregard for the Council’s action to clean-up the water system. This is a campaign issue and I challenge the Mayor to explain his actions and protect the quality of the water system. The health of our citizens, as well as getting fair bills and revenues from the water system, is at stake in this runoff election on October 6th.”