Newswire : Congress moves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act measure forward

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

U. S. Capitol


The House Judiciary Committee has introduced the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the law enforcement culture, empower communities, and build trust between law enforcement and minority communities by addressing systemic racism and bias.
In a conference call with the Black Press of America just before voting on the measure, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said the bill should help save lives.
“This is a real historic day here in the capital as last week we introduced the Justice in Policing Act, and today we amend the bill,” CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said during the conference call.
“We call it the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I call it historic because this is the first time in many years that Congress has taken up a bill dealing with policing and I’m sure it is the first time that Congress has introduced such a bold transformative piece of legislation,” Bass stated.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments and mandate data collection on police encounters.
If it becomes law, the bill would reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs and streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations. It would also eliminate no-knock warrants and ban chokeholds.
“The idea that a chokehold is legal in one city and not the other, the idea that no-knock warrants are okay in one jurisdiction and not in another is very important. That must end,” Bass proclaimed.
A bill crafted by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, ask only for studies to be done on matters like no-knock warrants and chokehold bans, and have little bite, Bass and her CBC colleagues noted.
“In essence, their bills take the teeth out of this bill. This is not the time for superficial action,” Bass warned. “This is the time for us to demonstrate our ability to address the people who are peacefully in the street every day with comprehensive legislation.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:
• Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
• Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
• Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. saves lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
• Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
• Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
• Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first.
• Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.”
• Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
• Limits military equipment on American streets, requires body cameras.
• Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
• Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
• Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
• Hold Police Accountable in Court.
• Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
• Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
• Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
Empower Our Communities to re-imagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way.
This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just, and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
• Changes the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust.
• Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
• Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
• Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
• Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
•Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
•Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state, and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force.
• Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
• Make Lynching a Federal Crime.
• Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy: Standing Six Feet Apart so Alabamians Will Not Be Lying Six Feet Under

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Montgomery, AL – We, leaders in the SaveOurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy, are here on the steps of the Alabama Capitol standing up six feet apart so Alabamians will not have to be lying six feet under. We are profoundly concerned about the coronavirus pandemic here in Alabama.
We are deeply concerned that people who need tests cannot get tests. We are strongly concerned that rural hospitals have closed with even more on the verge of closing, and those that are there will not be able to be provide all the services that this coronavirus will require. We are deeply concerned for the health care – or profound lack of health care – for the working poor in our state. We were strongly concerned and vocal long before the coronavirus pandemic. We believe that the lack of health care for too many in Alabama will be exacerbated, not only during this pandemic but long after the pandemic.
We are in the biggest crisis this country has seen in a long time. Alabama is in its biggest crisis in a long time, and it is incumbent upon each of us to do what we can to deal with this crisis and the crisis that will follow. A data analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found Alabama ranks among the top six most at-risk states for its adult population. Forty-six percent of Alabama adults are at risk. If we do not address this head on now, many more Alabamians will get the coronavirus and too many will die when we could take steps now to prevent that. Therefore, we are here, standing six feet apart so fewer Alabamians will not be lying six feet under. We know we take a risk by being here, even with all of our precautions, but the risk of not standing up and speaking out now and not expanding Medicaid now is profoundly greater. That is why we are here.
Attorney Faya Toure said: “I have a friend who had all of the symptoms of the coronavirus but could not get a test because, after being in line for hours, they told her a doctor had to refer her. People without health insurance have a hard time getting a doctor who will refer them. We must have tests for every person who needs a test in every county in the state. If we expanded Medicaid, Alabamians would have a much greater chance of getting tests and saving lives. In addition, the Black Belt has been ignored throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and that has not changed. There are no reported cases in the Black Belt because there is no testing in the Black Belt. We can and must do better.”
John Zippert said: “I am Chair of the Board of the Greene County Hospital System. Rural hospitals in Alabama are struggling mightily just to exist. Too many have closed and more will be closing. Rural hospitals need to be able to provide these services while the coronavirus is raging but also be able to provide necessary services after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. And it will only subside if we take action now. Medicaid expansion would protect rural hospitals and citizens in rural hospitals, and it cannot wait. In fact, it is long overdue in Alabama. There are 340,000 human beings in Alabama, most of them working poor, who would benefit from Medicaid expansion. We must do something immediately.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “There are so many Alabamians at risk because they have compromised immune systems, autoimmune disorders, are mentally ill, have dementia, are in foster care, are in prison or jail or detention and more. There are already plans to triage these Alabamians when it comes to treatment of the coronavirus, which means they very well would not receive any treatment and many will die if Governor Ivey fails to take action. We must do what we can do in Alabama. And we can expand Medicaid now.”
Founder of the World Conference of Mayors and former State Representative and Mayor Johnny Ford said: “Too many people’s heath is at risk. Some people are even at risk for death. The coronavirus pandemic is increasing the risks to health and the risk of death. Fifty-five years ago today, on the last day of the Selma-to-Montgomery March, leaders spoke powerfully at this Capitol demanding voting rights. We are here today demanding that health care be a right as is it in all other developed countries. We begin with Medicaid expansion. I want to also add that it is has been the mayors of our state who have stepped up and taken the lead in protecting Alabamians during this coronavirus pandemic, and we thank them for their leadership, courage and wisdom.”
Attorney and former State Senator Hank Sanders said: “I was here 55 years ago today when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked the question, “How Long?” about voting rights and other rights. I and the rest of the massive crowd responded, “Not Long!” We are here today standing six feet apart so that Alabamians will not be lying six feet under. Dr. King asked, “How Long?” 55 years ago, and today we are asking, “How Long” will it be until Alabama expands Medicaid so that the working poor can have health insurance and health care so they can stand a chance to be tested and treated, not only during the coronavirus pandemic but afterwards? I hope and pray the answer to “How Long? is “Not Long!”

Newswire- Kenyan reserve deploys an anti-poaching technology arsenal

This is a photo of an African Rhino

Ol Pejeta Game Reserve, in Kenya, has taken the battle against poaching a notch higher and deployed an arsenal of anti-poaching equipments.
The conservation’s ranger uses a 360 ° camera films the area and relays round-the-clock possible intrusions to the reserve headquarters. The camera is part of high-tech equipment launched last month by the conservation as part of the first high-tech laboratory for wildlife, a research center located in the heart of the sanctuary to integrate new technologies into the daily management of animal reserves.
“What’s bothering me with the world of wildlife protection is our slow pace of adopting new technologies and putting in place new ways of doing things – it has to change,” said Richard Vigne, the director general of Ol Pejeta.
Computer engineers at Ol Pejeta test the next generation of animal geo-location chips and develop sensors that will one day provide information on the health status of rangers, river levels etc.
The private reserve on Kenya’s Laikipia plateau is home to the last two northern white rhinos in the world – two females – and the largest population in East Africa of black rhinos, a critically endangered species.
The 360 km2 reserve with 250 rangers responsible for security is battling the high threat of poaching. Last year, three rhinos were killed, their horns sectioned and carried away, in the Meru National Park, on the other side of Mount Kenya.

Newswire- Neo-Nazi who killed Charlottesville protester Heather Heyer sentenced to Life in Prison

By Laurel Wamsley and Bobby Allyn, NPR

This is a photo of a car plowing into pedestrians and vehicles on the mall in Charlottesville during a white supremacist rally. The driver hit the knot of cars and people at high speed, then backed up and fled the scene.

The man who drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Va., killing one person and injuring 35 has been sentenced to spending the rest of his life in prison.
A federal judge issued the sentence of life without the possibility of parole on Friday for self-proclaimed neo-Nazi James Fields Jr., 22, of the Toledo, Ohio, area.
The judge’s punishment, announced in a Charlottesville courtroom, came after numerous survivors delivered emotional testimony about the psychological and physical toll the attack caused.
After the hearing, prosecutors described the 2017 attack as heinous.
“It was cold-blooded. It was motivated by deep-seated racial animus,” Thomas Cullen, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, told reporters. He said Fields’ lethal car-plowing was calculated, calling it “a hate-inspired act of domestic terrorism.”
“Charlottesville is never going to be the same,” Cullen said. “It will be with this community, and the commonwealth of Virginia, and this country, for a long time.”
Survivors who testified included Rosia Parker, a longtime civil rights activist in Charlottesville. She told the court she watched the attack from just feet away. “You could have done anything else but what you did,” Parker said, according to The Associated Press. “You deserve everything that you get.”
In legal filings presented to the judge on Friday, Fields’ lawyers said while he committed a “terrible crime,” they asked the judge to also consider Fields’ “traumatic childhood and his mental illness,” wrote Fields’ federal public defender, Lisa Lorish.
Federal prosecutors had asked the judge for a life sentence for Fields. A plea deal brokered in March took away the possibility of the death penalty, and federal prosecutors and Fields’ lawyers agreed that federal sentencing guidelines called for a life sentence. As part of the deal, Fields pleaded guilty to 29 of the 30 federal hate crimes he facedand is not eligible for parole.
Prosecutors had said Fields’ crimes were “so horrendous — and the maiming of innocents so severe — that they outweigh any factors the defendant may argue form a basis for leniency,” according to a sentencing document filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh before the Friday hearing.
Last week, Fields’ attorneys asked for something shorter than a life sentence, citing Fields’ age and history of mental illness.
Fields has already been convicted of separate state charges for murdering 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of other people. The jury in that case recommended a life sentence plus 419 years and $480,000 in fines. Sentencing in that case is set for July 15.
Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said in Aprilthat she was satisfied with Fields’ federal guilty plea and was not intent on his getting the death penalty. “There’s no point in killing him. It would not bring back Heather,” she told reporters.
Fields was 20 when he drove his Dodge Challengerthrough the night from Ohio to attend Unite the Right, a white nationalist rally, in August 2017. The weekend turned deadly when Fields accelerated his car into the group of protesters. Two Virginia State Police troopers investigating the day’s events also died when the helicopter they were in crashed.
Before he was sentenced on Friday, Fields offered an apology for “the hurt and loss I have caused,” the AP reported.
Lawyers for Fields wrote the court to say that he used Twitter in search of community and “quickly learned that provocative and hateful comments led to more exposure,” leading him to follow white supremacist accounts, including Richard Spencer and Mike Peinovich.
Fields’ lawyers wrote that he found out about the Unite the Right rally through its organizers’ online recruiting campaign.
His attorneys say he had no intent to commit a violent act, instead describing the attack as a “impulsive, angry and aggressive decision.”
President Trump said afterwardthat there was “blame on both sides” for the violence in the college town.

Newswire- Supreme Court sends mixed Civil Rights signals as America celebrates July 4th

By Hamil R. Harris

Supreme Court

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On the eve of America’s celebration of its 243rd Independence Day, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down rulings that sent mixed messages to Civil Rights groups at a time when President Trump and Republicans hope to tilt the 2020 presidential elections their way.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the issue of partisan gerrymandering (drawing district lines in order to achieve political outcomes) does not belong in federal court and should be decided by state legislatures. Conservatives applauded that decision because it comes on the eve of the 2020 Census when state lawmakers configure districts often to benefit whatever party controls their particular state.
While the court rejected challenges to Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina and a Democratic district in Maryland, the decision was still a major blow to critics who have argued for years that partisan manipulation of electoral maps unfairly results in single-party political control. The 5-4 decision fell along traditional conservative-liberal lines. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice John Roberts voted to keep the redistricting cases out of the federal courts. And liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer voted to maintain federal jurisdiction over the cases.
Speaking for the conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that while redistricting plans “are highly partisan by any measure,” the Supreme Court and lower courts are not the venues to settle these disputes. With this decision, Civil Rights groups say the court is giving state houses, mostly controlled by Republicans, more power to tilt things in their ideological direction.
But writing for the four dissenting judges, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who was appointed by President Obama, said, “For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”
In the case of Rucho V. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, said in a statement, “The Court’s rulings are allowing party politics to determine the outcomes of our elections…Extreme partisan gerrymandering has infected our electoral process for far too long. Exercise of the franchise, which many fought and even died for, must not be reduced to a political charade in which the outcomes are predetermined. In America, voters should choose their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters.”
Johnson concluded that the high court should have halted what the NAACP and other civil rights advocates consider unconstitutional conduct, but it did not. Therefore, he contends, this is a throwback racism of the past.
“In racially polarized environments like North Carolina where racial block voting is standard, today’s decision will license policymakers to mask racial intent as partisan gerrymandering in order to suppress votes and prevent communities from fully participating in democracy to elect candidates of their choice,” Johnson stated.
The court’s decision basically reverses the outcome of rulings in Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio, where lower courts had ordered new maps drawn and it ends proceedings in Wisconsin, where a retrial was supposed to take place later this summer.
Supreme Court decision in Census case more acceptable
On the other hand, the NAACP and members of the Congressional Black Caucus applauded the court ruling in the case of the Department of Commerce v. New York that blocks the Trump Administration’s attempt to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 Census based on the pretext of enforcing the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
“I am very pleased that the Supreme Court ruled today that the Trump Administration may not add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census based on the Administration’s claim that it was trying to protect voting rights,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), referring to the 5-4 decision where Robert’s decided with the most liberal leaning justices on the bench.
Cummings, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Operations Committee, challenged President Trump’s move from the very beginning after his Secretary of Commerce added the citizenship question to the upcoming 2020 Census form.
“Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified before Congress that the Trump Administration was adding the citizenship question to the census ‘solely’ at the request of the Justice Department to help enforce the Voting Rights Act,” Cummings said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has now eviscerated this claim, calling it a ‘pretext,’ ‘contrived,’ and ‘incongruent with what the record reveals.’
Some have suggested that Secretary Ross could go back and offer other reasons for adding the citizenship question. However, any claim now that the Trump Administration had other reasons for adding the citizenship question would directly contradict Secretary Ross’ sworn testimony that helping the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act was the Administration’s sole purpose.
Johnson said that the NAACP also welcomed the court ruling, which he said stopped the Trump administration’s fraudulent efforts to suppress votes in the upcoming Presidential election.
“Through various means, the Trump administration is deliberately seeking to undercount communities of color in the 2020 Census, a ploy designed to increase the political power of Whites at the expense of already underrepresented communities,” Johnson said. “Weakening the political representation of communities of color has been a stain on our democracy since its founding. The Three-Fifths Compromise of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 counted enslaved black people as three-fifths of a person in apportioning congressional districts. Since that time, the Census has severely undercounted the communities of color.”
This week President Trump has planned a huge 4th of July celebration, complete with a military parade and even a jet fly over in Washington DC. But Johnson wrote that President Trump would do better by stopping his effort to take Democracy away from so many vulnerable people whether it is through a census or mass deportations scheduled sometimes after the holiday.
“The citizenship question was not made for the reasons put forth by Secretary Ross,” Johnson said. “Rather, it was a bald-faced effort to benefit one race and one political party at the expense of some of our nation’s most vulnerable communities. This astounding truth can no longer be swept under the rug. It is there for all to see.”

Newswire- Innocence Project: 2018 was a record year for exonerations

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet

This is a photo of Gregory Counts

Gregory Counts freed after 26 years

The Innocence Project reported in the most recent issue of its magazine that a record nine clients were exonerated and released from prison in 2018 for crimes they didn’t commit.
Maddy deLone, the Innocence Project’s executive director, wrote in Spring 2019 issue of “The Innocence Project in Print” that the nine exonerations were most at one time in Innocence Project’s 26- year history.
Exonerations continued into 2019 with three more men being released from prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

The incarcerations took a problematic toll on the 12 men who were locked behind bars for a total of nearly 300 years. “Time away from their homes, families and loved ones cannot be replaced,” deLone wrote.

Gregory Counts, one of the exonerated said, “I want to jail when I was 19. I did 26 years—over half of my life in jail. I need to see the world.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. vacated rape, sodomy and kidnapping charges against Counts after a woman who claimed she was the victim admitted to lying. Semen and other physical evidence eliminated Counts as a suspect.

Malcolm Alexander, another exoneree, said, “freedom is a new life. It’s like being reborn. It’s giving a chance to live a life I had been denied.”
Prison officials locked Alexander behind bars for 38 years for a rape he didn’t commit. A judge sentenced Alexander to life in Angola Prison in Angola, Louisiana, the country’s most-notorious prison and former plantation, when he was 21.
The Innocence Project determined Alexander’s attorney was incompetent.
Genetic testing eventually eliminated him as the rape suspect. He left prison with a smile on his face and his black pet Labrador Retriever named “Innocent.”

In another matter, New York created the first ever state-wide commission to study prosecutorial misconduct, such a failure to disclose or discrimination in jury selection.

Newswire- WashPost: Democratic candidates rebuke race attacks on Kamala Harris

By Eric Mack , Newsmax

This is a photo of Senator Kamala Harris (D – CA)

Attacks on the race of Sen. Kamala Harris’, D-Calif., suggesting she is not African American, have brought fellow Democratic presidential primary candidates to her defense, The Washington Post reports.
“The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted Saturday. “We all have an obligation to speak out and say so. And it’s within the power and obligation of tech companies to stop these vile lies dead in their tracks.”
Warren was pointing to Internet and social media reports rebuking Sen. Harris because she is not African American because she is the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. Warren is one of Harris’ chief presidential primary rivals, but she too has been criticized for her claims of distant Native American heritage.
“This stuff is really vile and everyone should speak out against it,” Sen. Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams tweeted.
Adams tweet linked to The Daily Beast report outlining a rebuke of Sen. Harris as not being an “American black,” a claim that was retweeted –but since deleted – by President Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr., according to The New York Times.
“Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too. Shocker,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted.
Among the other Democratic primary candidates, rushing to the defense of one of the surging rivals:
· Former Vice President Joe Biden: “The same forces of hatred rooted in ‘birtherism’ that questioned @BarackObama’s American citizenship, and even his racial identity, are now being used against Senator @KamalaHarris. It’s disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it. Racism has no place in America.”
· South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “The presidential competitive field is stronger because Kamala Harris has been powerfully voicing her Black American experience. Her first-generation story embodies the American dream. It’s long past time to end these racist, birther-style attacks.”
· Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.: “The coordinated smear campaign on Senator @KamalaHarris is racist and vile. The Trump family is peddling birtherism again and it’s incumbent on all of us to speak out against it.”
· Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.: “These troll-fueled racist attacks on Senator @KamalaHarris are unacceptable. We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this type of vile behavior.”
Sen. Harris directly challenge Dem frontrunner Biden’s social justice record in Thursday night’s debate, which led to a surge of anti-Harris tweets within minutes, according to Caroline Orr, a behavioral scientist who studies disinformation campaigns online.

Newsire: Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel: “Child Hunger Must Be Priority in Africa”

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Photo: Graca Machel

Economic growth in Africa has been impressive, but a sad reality remains: However prosperous, the results have had little impact on child nutrition.
Graca Machel, the widow of former South African President and Freedom Fighter Nelson Mandela, said hunger is the “most acute problem facing Africa’s children.”
“Around 60 million children across the continent suffer from it. Not the mildly uncomfortable hunger that comes from skipping the odd meal, but permanent, relentless malnourishment, stunting and wasting,” said H.E. Machel, a child rights campaigner who chairs the Africa Child Policy Forum’s international board.
[Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation].
As of two years ago, 28 African nations depended on food aid, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – or FAO.
One of the worst hunger crises of the past 25 years was the famine in East Africa in 2011/12, according to the FAO.
In war-torn Somalia, 260,000 people starved to death, including 133,000 children under the age of five.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also a hotbed of chronic hunger due to extreme poverty, the FAO said.
The organization notes the definition of chronic hunger: people suffer from chronic hunger if their daily energy intake for an extended period of time is below what they would need for a healthy and active life.
The lower limit is an average of 1,800 calories per day.
According to this measure, 226.7 million people are starving in Africa.
The countries most affected by extreme poverty and hunger in Africa are mainly those located south of the Sahara.
One in four people suffers from hunger there – which means that the share of the world’s hungry is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, the FAO said.
In the sub-Saharan region, 40 percent to 50 percent of people live below the poverty line, meaning they have a daily income that is on average below $1.25.
This means that sub-Saharan Africa, along with southern Asia, is one of the poorest regions in the world.
H.E. Machel said it doesn’t have to be this way.
“As African governments decide where to spend their money, they must remember that here is a powerful economic argument for reducing child hunger,” H.E. Machel wrote in an editorial for Financial Times.
“For every dollar invested in reducing stunting, there is a return of about $22 in Chad, $21 in Senegal and $17 in Niger and Uganda,” she said.
The benefits are even higher if the investment is made early in a child’s life, ranging from $85 in Nigeria to $60 in Kenya.
Halving rates of child stunting by 2025 could lead to average annual savings ranging from $3 million in Swaziland to $376 million in Ethiopia, according to FAO.
“Africa’s economic growth over the past two decades has been impressive, but it has had little impact on child hunger,” H.E. Machel said.
“Despite average 2 percent annual Gross Domestic Product growth in Kenya, stunting increased by 2.5 percent. And in Nigeria, 4 percent average annual growth did not lead to any reduction in stunting at all,” she said.
Child hunger is fundamentally a political problem, the offspring of an unholy alliance of political indifference, unaccountable governance and economic mismanagement, H.E. Machel concluded, noting that the continent’s food system is broken.
“Increased food production has not resulted in better diets … supply chains are unfit for serving rapidly expanding urban populations and the rural poor,” H.E. Machel said.
“Agricultural economic growth targets encourage the production of major cereal crops – often for export – instead of more nutritious foods like pulses, fruit and vegetables,” she said.

Newswire: Mass incarceration of women and minorities a new crisis

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Women inmates in jail
Although the number of people in prisons and jails in America has slightly declined, numbers released on Thursday, April 25, by the Bureau of Justice Statisticsstill show that nearly 1.5 million individuals were in prison by the end of 2017.
The statistics also note that the U.S. continues to lock up more people than any other nation. And, despite a narrowing disparity between incarcerated black and white women, females have emerged as the new face of mass incarceration.
“I don’t think this should be much of a surprise as two of the main for-profit prison companies were founded around the same time,” said Ron Stefanski, whose website prisoninsight.com, works to hold prisons accountable for the treatment of current, former and future inmates.
“When these for-profit companies were created, they found a way to generate revenue off of inmates and this led to a huge influx of prisoners, both male and female,” Stefanski said.
In 2000, black women were incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, but in 2017, black women were imprisoned at less than double the rate of white women, according to the latest information.
The number of white women in prison has increased by more than 40 percent since 2000 while the number of black women incarcerated has fallen by nearly 50 percent.
The most recent report from the Prison Policy Initiative revealed that, looking at the big picture shows that a staggering number of women who are incarcerated are not even convicted with one quarter of the women behind bars having not yet gone to trial.
Sixty-percent of women under the control of local authorities have not been convicted of a crime and adding to the picture of women in local jails, aside from women under local jurisdictions, state and federal agencies pay local jails to house an additional 13,000 women, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.
For example, ICE and the U.S. Marshals, which have fewer dedicated facilities for their detainees, contract with local jails to hold roughly 5,000 women – so the number of women physically held in jails is even higher.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, avoiding pre-trial incarceration is uniquely challenging for women. The number of un-convicted women stuck in jail is surely not because courts are considering women, who are generally the primary caregivers of children, to be a flight risk, according to the Prison Policy Initiative report.
The far more likely answer is that incarcerated women, who have lower incomes than incarcerated men, have an even harder time affording cash bail. When the typical bail amounts to a full year’s income for women, it’s no wonder that women are stuck in jail awaiting trial, the report’s author said.
Even once convicted, the system funnels women into jails: About a quarter of convicted incarcerated women are held in jails, compared to about 10 percent of all people incarcerated with a conviction.
Also, while stays in jail are generally shorter than in stays in prison, jails make it harder to stay in touch with family than prisons do. Phone calls are more expensive, up to $1.50 per minute, and other forms of communication are more restricted – some jails don’t even allow real letters, limiting mail to postcards.
This is especially troubling given that 80 percent of women in jails are mothers, and most of them are primary caretakers of their children. Thus children are particularly susceptible to the domino effect of burdens placed on incarcerated women, the report’s author said. Black and American Indian women are markedly overrepresented in prisons and jails, according to the report.

Incarcerated women are 53 percent White, 29 percent Black, 14 percent Hispanic, 2.5 percent American Indian and Alaskan Native, 0.9 percent Asian, and 0.4 percent Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander.
“While we are a long way away from having data on intersectional impacts of sexuality and race or ethnicity on women’s likelihood of incarceration, it is clear that Black and lesbian or bisexual women are disproportionately subject to incarceration,” Prison Policy Initiative Author Aleks Kajstura said.