Newswire : Thousands gather in Nairobi to clean up the Earth

Joyce Msuya, UN Environment Program Director

Mar. 11, 2019 (GIN) – Heads of state, government ministers, business leaders, senior UN officials and grassroots activists are gathering in Nairobi this week for the fourth UN Environment Assembly – the world’s top body on the environment.

This year’s theme is “Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production.”

The assembly is expected to draw the largest gathering in the group’s short history – with attendance almost double the last event in December 2017. Prominent world leaders will attend, including the Presidents of France and Kenya, Emmanuel Macron and Uhuru Kenyatta, and CEOs from major corporations.

Resolutions on the table will address sustainable consumption and production patterns, protection of the marine environment from plastic pollution, food waste, and technological innovation that combats climate change, and reduces resource use and biodiversity loss.

Decisions have a profound impact on the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as paving the way towards the UN Climate Change Summit 2019 and impacting the overall UN agenda.

UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director, Joyce Msuya of Tanzania, appealed to nations to step up and start delivering real change.

“Time is running short. We are past pledging and politicking. We are past commitments with little accountability. What’s at stake is life, and society, as the majority of us know it and enjoy it today,” she wrote in a policy letter.

“It’s clear that we need to transform the way our economies work, and the way we value the things that we consume,” said Msuya. “The goal is to break the link between growth and increased resource use, and end our throwaway culture.”

This year, it is reported that India will be leading two global resolutions at the assembly: one on nitrogen pollution and the other on the use of plastics. It will be a historic event as India has not pushed for such important resolutions at the UN in recent times.

India is the third region to have assessed the environmental implications of nitrogen pollution after the U.S. and the European Union. In 2017, India completed this assessment under the leadership of N. Raghuram, the current chairman of the International Nitrogen Initiative.

Agriculture has been the main source of nitrogen pollution as cereals like rice and wheat use only one-third of the nitrogen applied through fertilizers discharging the rest into the surrounding environment.

Pakistan may raise the issue of Indian air strikes at the assembly calling it ‘eco-terrorism’. The air strikes carried on February 26 have allegedly damaged around 15 pine trees.

The UN Environment’s report highlights five major issues of emerging global concern: synthetic biology, permafrost peatlands, ecological connectivity, the nitrogen fix, and maladaptation to climate change. If not addressed urgently, these issues can accelerate climate change and compromise ecosystem resilience—having detrimental impacts on our economy.

The meeting opened with a statement by organizers on the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302. It was a terrible loss for the United Nations, for our member states and for the environmental community.

“The environmental community is in mourning today. Many of those that lost their lives were en-route to provide support and participate in the UN Environment Assembly. We lost UN staff, youth delegates travelling to the Assembly, seasoned scientists, members of academia and other partners.

“We join the Secretary-General in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims who perished in this tragedy.
“The entire UN Environment Assembly will honor them in our efforts this week.”

Newswire : NBA legend Abdul-Jabbar holds auction to support foundation to help youth

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the NBA in 1989 at age 42, no NBA player had ever scored more points, blocked more shots, won more Most Valuable Player Awards, played in more All-Star Games or logged more seasons.
NBA.com reported that Jabbar’s list of personal and team accomplishments is perhaps the most awesome in league history: Rookie of the Year, member of six NBA championship teams, six-time NBA MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 19-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, and a member of the NBA 35th and 50th Anniversary All-Time Teams.
He also owned eight playoff records and seven All-Star records. No player achieved as much individual and team success as did Abdul-Jabbar.
On Saturday, March 2, Jabbar auctioned off his championship rings, MVP and All-Star trophies and other rare items to benefit Jabbar’s Skyhook Foundation, whose mission per Jabbar, is to “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked.”
“We do this by sending children from economically challenged schools to five days in the Angeles National Forest to experience the wonders of nature and learn the basics about science, technology and engineering, Jabbar told NNPA Newswire in an exclusive interview.
He said the children participate in an “immersive hands-on experience that takes kids out of school for five days and four nights.”
They go from auditory learning to utilizing all of their senses in the great outdoors.
“Our hope is not just to get them out of the city to commune with the outdoors, but to stimulate an interest in the sciences that might lead them to fulfilling careers,” Jabbar said.
He said he decided to sell the items because his foundation has struggled for a number of years and can use the funds.
“I need to keep it working and I have these wonderful mementos of my career and they take up space, need to be insured and you have to take care of them,” Jabbar said.
“I’d rather use these to make sure the foundation gets the funding,” he said.
At auction, Jabbar’s 1971-72 NBA MVP Trophy sold for more than $76,000 while his 1987 NBA Championship went fetched more than $260,000.
When final accounting is performed, the auction should easily net more than $1 million for the foundation.
The funds will keep the foundation afloat, allowing underprivileged children a chance at an education in the STEM field.
“So many young people think they have to be extremely talented like a LeBron James, Stevie Wonder, or Beyoncé. They don’t have realistic ideas on what their potential is and giving them this opportunity is showing them where the best jobs will be in the 21st century,” Jabbar said.
“It gives them a leg up and hopefully [helps them] make connections,” he said.
Foundation officials have discovered recent research that shows that 97 percent of girls and 92 percent of boys give up on science because of peer pressure and what’s hot in popular culture, Jabbar said.
His mission is the change that.
“When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple – sell it. Besides I was there, I lived it,” Jabbar said.
“Instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating and celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child. Everybody has an ego and I’m no different,” he said, laughing.
“But, I can’t take this stuff with me so it’s better that I share it in a way that enables me to do something really neat and the benefits I think far outweigh anything else.”

Newswire : Cops in two cities not charged in shooting deaths of unarmed Black men

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

Stephon Clark

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said yesterday that he will not charge two Sacramento, California, police officers who shot to death an unarmed black man in the backyard of his grandmother’s home.
An independent investigation into the shooting death of Stephon Clark found that no criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting can be sustained, Becerra said in a statement.

Sacramento police officers Jared Robinet and Terrence Mercadal, who is black, shot to death the 22-year-old Clark in March of 2018. The cops said they believed Clark was armed with a gun. They were wrong. He held only a cell phone in his hand.
An independent autopsy found that Clark was shot eight times —- six times in the back, once in the side and once in one arm.
Becerra announced his decision two days after Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she would not charge the two cops.

During the same time period, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday that it would not pursue civil rights charges against former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Joe Shelby, who shot to death Terrence Crutcher, 40, on September 16, 2016. Crutcher’s car was disabled. Crutcher had his hands raised in the air to surrender when Shelby murdered him.

Newswire : If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you

By Steven Mufson and Tracy Jan, The Washington Post

If you’re a poor person in America, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal is not for you.
Trump has unveiled a budget that would slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.
These cuts to smaller programs that are targeted to poor people are in addition to major cuts of $735 billion in Medicare, $250 billion in Medicaid and $250 billion in Social Security benefits.
During the presidential campaign last year, Trump vowed that the solution to poverty was giving poor people incentives to work. But most of the proposed cuts in his budget target programs designed to help the working poor, as well as those who are jobless, cope.
“This is a budget that pulled the rug out from working families and hurts the very people who President Trump promised to stand up for in rural America and in small towns,” said Melissa Boteach, vice president of the poverty to prosperity program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.
The White House budget cuts will fall hardest on the rural and small town communities that Trump won, where one in three people are living paycheck to paycheck – a rate that is 24 percent higher than in urban counties, according to a new analysis by the center.
The budget proposes housing “reforms” that add up to more than $6 billion in cuts while promising to continue assisting the nation’s 4.5 million low-income households. If enacted, the proposed budget would result in the most severe cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development since the early 1980s, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
It would also eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies.
The administration’s reforms include eliminating funding for a $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continuously run HUD programs that’s been in existence since 1974.
The program provides cities and rural small towns with money to address a range of community development needs such as affordable housing, rehabilitating homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures, and preventing or eliminating slums and community blight. It also provides funding for Meals on Wheels, a national nonprofit that delivers food to homebound seniors.
Robert Rector, a senior fellow who focuses on welfare at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, calls the community block grants a “slush fund for urban government.”
The White House touts its cuts to what the administration characterizes as “a number of lower priority programs” as a way to “promote fiscal responsibility.” In actuality, it guts federal funding for affordable housing and kicks the financial responsibility of those programs to states and local governments.
Gone would be $35 million in funding for well-known programs such as Habitat for Humanity and YouthBuild USA, fair housing planning, and homeless assistance, among other housing help for needy Americans.
Poor people need not lean on community banks for financial help either, because Trump plans to eliminate the $210 million now dedicated towards Community Development Financial Institutions. The program, administered through the Treasury Department, invests in community banks that provide loans and financial services to people living in some of the most distressed communities of the country.
“Cutting that program would be nothing short of a disaster and the ripple effect would be felt in urban areas and some rural areas all over America,” said Michael A. Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, a lobbying group for black-owned banks.
The administration would also eliminate the Energy Department’s weatherization assistance program, which dates back to 1976 when Gerald Ford was president. Since then, it has given grants to states that have helped insulate the homes of about 7 million families with low-cost techniques that have large payoffs, saving money for those families and curtailing U.S. energy consumption. It has also helped establish weatherization job training centers in states such as Utah and New York.
Also on the chopping block: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known widely by its acronym LIHEAP. This program, part of the Health and Human Services budget, helps homeowners cover monthly energy costs, or repair broken or inefficient furnaces and air conditioners. The program is usually underfunded; LIHEAP says that on average, only about 20 percent of the households that qualify for assistance receive benefits before the money run out. Congress sometimes adds funding during emergencies or energy shortages when costs spike.
Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, a $715-million program within HHS that funds more than 1,000 local anti-poverty organizations around the country. The organizations provide services ranging from job training to food assistance to more than 16 million people in 3,000 counties. The grants also help communities respond quickly to natural disasters, plant closures and other economic shifts.
Without the grants, there would be little coordination between faith groups, local governments, private companies and nonprofits in addressing the needs of the poor – “just a few unconnected programs that don’t have nearly the impact they have now,” said David Bradley, who founded the National Community Action Foundation and wrote the legislation behind the grants in the early ’80s.
The Trump budget would also target the Legal Services Corp., an independent agency that provided $343 million to 134 legal aid organizations for the poor who are tangled up in cases of wrongful eviction, custody disputes, child support or domestic violence.
In 2015, Legal Services offices closed 755,774 cases – more than 100 for every lawyer and paralegal employed. About 70 percent of its clients are women, and the majority of its clients are white and between the ages of 36 and 59. The program provides lawyers only to people earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is currently $15,075 for an individual and $30,750 for a family of four.
The budget would also zero out funds to help native Alaskan villages obtain access to clean drinking water and modern sewage systems.
Cuts to the Agriculture budget also eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority that encourage economic growth in distressed rural communities. And while the budget allocates $6.2 billion to “serve all projected participants” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, that is $150 million less than USDA had budgeted.
The White House proposed shrinking Job Corps, a program administered by the Labor Department that provides education and job training to more than 60,000 young and disadvantaged youth. The proposal called for closing centers that do a “poor job” of preparing students for the workforce, but did not elaborate how many of the 125 centers nationwide would be targeted.
Job Corps, which was created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s anti-poverty agenda, helps young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 earn high school diplomas and receive vocational training.

Senator Doug Jones and Terri Sewell introduce bills to incentivize Alabama, 13 other states to expand Medicaid

Birmingham, Ala. – U.S. Senator Doug Jones last week led a press conference with Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) and community health care leaders to discuss their Medicaid expansion legislation, the States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019, and to call on leaders in Alabama to take action to expand Medicaid. 
This legislation would ensure that states that chose to expand Medicaid after 2014 are eligible for the same level of federal matching funds as states that expanded Medicaid earlier. Alabama, along with 13 other states, has yet to expand Medicaid.
 “I’m not sure that there is anything more important to the future of Alabama than the expansion of Medicaid. We’re losing dollars, and we’re seeing rural hospitals closing year after year, and other hospitals are struggling. This should be a non-partisan issue. Fourteen states with Republican governors have expanded Medicaid, including the state of Indiana under our Vice President, then-Governor Mike Pence,” Senator Jones said.
Senator Jones continued, “Now, we have the evidence that states that expanded Medicaid had better health outcomes, and was a boon to those states’ economies. We can grow the economies of those communities, and grow the economy of Alabama. We really just can’t afford to let another hospital shutter its doors because of this issue…. It is a no-brainer for the state of Alabama.” 
Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07) said,  “I want to stand with Senator Jones and these folks on the front lines to try to get Alabama to expand Medicaid. I think it’s critically important that state and federal officials work together, and with this bill we have a chance to do that. I can’t tell you of a more critical problem that we have in Alabama than our rural hospital situation. It’s dire straits in the Black Belt. I stand with Doug Jones today, and I stand with practitioners and other officials who are just asking the state to do the right thing and expand Medicaid. I beg Governor Ivey to take a look at this bill.”

Rural Hospitals issue warnings

For years, leaders at Alabama’s rural hospitals have been warning public officials about the financial cliff they are facing, in large part as a result of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Since 2011, 13 hospitals have closed in Alabama, and seven of those hospitals have been in rural areas. Even now, approximately 88 percent of rural Alabama hospitals are operating in the red. The Alabama Hospital Association estimates that some 326,000 Alabamians would gain health care coverage if Medicaid were expanded in the state.

 “By refusing to expand Medicaid, Alabama has turned away $14 billion of our own taxpayer dollars. For years, those dollars could have helped keep our hospitals open, support good jobs in our communities, and provide health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Alabamians. This isn’t a partisan issue – expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do,” Senator Jones said. “Alabama can no longer afford not to expand, and our SAME Act legislation would ensure that states will get a fair deal when they do. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Capitol Hill, to support this common sense bill.”
Numerous studies have shown that expanding Medicaid benefits states economically by increasing jobs and earnings growth, generating federal revenue, increasing Gross State Product, increasing state and local revenues and reducing uncompensated care and hospital costs. If Alabama had expanded Medicaid five years ago, it could have yielded a $935 million net increase in tax revenue for the state, and could have led to approximately 12,000 new jobs across all sectors of Alabama’s economy in 2016 alone.
 “It’s crazy that for so many years, Virginia taxpayers were footing the bill for states that had already expanded Medicaid. Today, Medicaid expansion is bringing billions of tax dollars back home to Virginia, and more than 400,000 Virginians have gained access to quality, low-cost or no-cost Medicaid coverage,” said Senator Warner, a former Governor of Virginia. “This bill will bring even more federal dollars back to Virginia by making sure that we get the same deal from the federal government as states that expanded back in 2014.”
 The States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019 is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). The bill was recently re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and co-sponsored by Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07). This bill may be combined with others seeking to improve and reorganize the Affordable Care Act.
 
Background
 
Medicaid is a joint federal and state insurance program that covers medical costs for eligible low-income Americans. In 2010, states were given the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Under this deal, the federal government would cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, and gradually step down to cover 90 percent permanently. 
 The SAME Act would ensure that any states that choose to expand Medicaid get a second chance to receive these same levels of federal funding. Under this bill, a state would receive three years of full federal funding, phasing down to a 95 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) in Year 4; a 94 percent federal contribution in Year 5; 93 percent in Year 6; and, 90 percent for each year thereafter. Alabama alone would receive $2 billion in federal dollars the first year after expansion.
 Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have already expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and three more states – Idaho, Utah and Nebraska – have passed ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid. Fourteen states, including Alabama, have not yet expanded their programs. In states that have failed to expand Medicaid, more than 2 million low-income adults fall into a “coverage gap,” due to incomes that are too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but are too low to meet the limit that would allow them to receive tax credits to purchase affordable coverage in the health care marketplace. Without Medicaid expansion, most of these individuals are likely to remain uninsured, as they have limited access to employer coverage and frequently find the cost of unsubsidized marketplace coverage to be prohibitively expensive.

Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee attended by thousands; Pushes theme of “Lift Our Vote 2020-Voting Rights Under Fire”

Before the re-enactment of the 1965 Blood Sunday March, 400 marchers in orange vests lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate the 400th anniversary of importation and enslavement of African people in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. When the protestors stood up they each had a Manifesto to end voter suppression and reclaim voting rights in their hands.

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher
Despite stormy weather, thousands attended the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, this past weekend in Selma, Alabama. Part a commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday March for Voting Rights”; part a celebration of civil and voting progress in our nation; and part a recommitment to social change activism to correct voter suppression and bring more equity and dignity to the struggle for human rights in America.
The Jubilee was a combination of more than 40 events including workshops, a parade, a golf tournament; a unity breakfast, several award presentations, the “Foot Soldiers breakfast”, a beauty pageant, a mock trial, the “Freedom Flame dinner”, and the March re-enactment on Sunday afternoon.
Former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders said at the opening Mass Meeting, at Tabernacle Baptist Church, on Thursday night, “the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee is the largest civil rights gathering in the nation, dedicated to furthering voting rights and human rights for people in our country and around the world.”
Sanders recalled that over 80,000 people attended the 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday in 2015, when President Obama attended and 110,000 people came to march that Sunday.
Attorney Faya Rose Toure (Sanders) who coordinates the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, said, “ We want to celebrate the courage of the people in the 1960’s who led the voting rights movement from Selma, but we must also recognize the current day’s rampant voter suppression in this country and the fact that Selma is the ninth poorest city in America with a high rate of crime and homicides.”

Faya Rose also pointed out that 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the enslavement of African people in north America, with the importation of twenty Black workers to the British colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. There was an event where 400 people lay down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 400 seconds to commemorate this anniversary. The lay-in was delayed by bad weather and a tornado warning but did take place before the larger crowd of thousands re-enacted the 1965 Bloody Sunday Voting Rights March. “We were beaten on the bridge in 1965 but we are lying down in 2019 and rising up to end voter suppression and lifting our voices and votes to change oppressive conditions for all people,” said Faya Rose Toure.
A highlight of the Jubilee was Sunday morning’s Unity Breakfast held at Wallace Community College in Selma. More than a thousand people attended to witness Hillary Clinton receive the International Unity Award, as well as to meet and listen to several Presidential candidates including Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown. The breakfast also heard greetings from civil rights leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. William Barber, Charles Steele and other local leaders like newly elected State Senator Malika Sanders Fortier and Congresswomen Terri Sewell.
In presenting the International Unity Award to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Hank Sanders said, “Secretary Clinton was elected President in 2016, but the election was stolen from her by the FBI reporting on her emails, the Russians hacking into the Democratic Party and sending false messages on social media. She deserves this award for standing up for women’s rights and human rights across the globe.”
Faya Rose Toure inducted Hillary Clinton into the Women’s Hall of Fame at the National Voting Rights Museum.
In her remarks, in accepting the awards, Clinton said, “ I am honored and humbled to receive these awards for my work for women, voting and human rights. But we have urgent unfinished work to protect fundamental rights, freedom of the press, and ending voter suppression. There is a crisis in this country and it is up to us to address it.”
“We must show up and vote every time in every election. We must di this step by step, year by year, door by door, to reclaim our democracy,” said Clinton.
In his remarks, Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said, “ I must express my thanks to Faya Rose and Hank Sanders for keeping this Bridge Crossing Jubilee going year after year and to the people of Selma, the birthplace of modern democracy in America. Since the 2018 elections, we have 55 Black Congress-people, 38 Latino and Latinas, 20 Asian Americans and over 100 women. All of these people, and many more state and local public officials, owe their positions to the voting rights struggle in Selma in 1965. But Selma is still suffering with a 40% poverty rate. We need to push the government for a ’rural reconstruction plan and project in Selma and surrounding counties of the Alabama Black Belt’, just like we rebuild Europe with the Marshall Plan after World War II,” said Rev. Jackson.

Newswire : Thousands uprooted from safe haven now desperate for food, water and shelter

Nigerian refugees


Mar. 4, 2019 (GIN) – An estimated 30,000 refugees have been uprooted by officials in Cameroon and Nigeria this month and sent to known hotbeds of insurgents including Boko Haram on the Nigerian side of the border.

Humanitarian groups including Action against Hunger are questioning the wisdom of forcing refugees to move to the city of Rann in Borno state, the epicentre of the decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 27,000.

“Reports from sources on the ground indicate that these people are in dire need of aid,” a UN briefing note stated.

There were also questions about whether the returns complied with international law on refugees, which require returns to be voluntary, the Agence France Press reported.

International and national humanitarian organizations abandoned Rann in January due to ongoing insecurity.

Shashwat Saraf, the country director of Action Against Hunger in Nigeria, said it was “difficult to imagine” it being safe for anyone to return. “Alarming” levels of severe acute malnutrition were found among children under five, he said.

The mass movement of internally displaced people comes as President Muhammadu Buhari takes office for a second term, having been declared the winner of a national election marred by mechanical errors with the voter card readers, a weeklong postponement, reports of vote-buying, and extremist attacks in the northeast.

Voter turnout was at a historic low at 35.6 percent of the population.

“The numbers alone are indicting,” said Adewunmi Emoruwa of The Election Network. “We have witnessed a record number of cancelled votes – more than double the numbers from the previous poll – and which is only a reflection of the widespread irregularities across every part of the country. We all observed as thugs had a field day unleashing terror on demographically profiled voters, which led to the suppressed turnout that has been recorded.”

Buhari won in 19 states – including the two most populous, Lagos and Kano – while the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was victorious in 17.

The two men are both northern Muslims in their 70s who have long been in politics. Buhari is seen by many as a strict, inflexible but personally incorruptible figure, while many hoped Atiku, a wealthy businessman and former vice-president, would enact policies to help boost Nigeria’s struggling economy.The opposition has rejected the vote outcome.

Newswire: New interactive website featuring Henry Louis Gates, tracks slave voyages

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Henry Louis Gates and images from a slave ship; diagram of a slave ship

In his PBS series, “Finding Your Roots …” Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents guests whose roots cover the globe – from Samoa, Nigeria, Taiwan and Sicily to Iran, Ireland, India and Cuba – and almost everywhere in between.
Each episode weaves together their stories, gleaned from cutting-edge DNA analysis and old school genealogical detective work.
And, at the center of it all and guiding every discovery is Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
Gates is also now featured on a newly updated website, slavevoyages.org, which contains databases of the Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American slave trade.
The databases are the culmination of several decades of independent and collaborative research by scholars who draw upon information in libraries and archives around the world, according to a news release.
The new slave voyages website counts as the product of three years of development by a multi-disciplinary team of historians, librarians, curriculum specialists, cartographers, computer programmers, and web designers, in consultation with scholars of the slave trade from universities in Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.
Among the many unique features are an African names database.
The producers of the site note that during the last 60 years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, courts around the Atlantic basins condemned over 2,000 vessels for engaging in slave trafficking and recorded the details of captives found on board those ships, including African names.
Links are provided to the ships in the Voyages Database from which the liberated Africans were rescued, as well as to the African Origins site where users can hear the names pronounced and help us identify the languages they think the names originated from or are used.
The site also takes a deep look at the slave trade within the Americas, which, after the initial disembarkation of African captives in the New World, has received scant attention from historians, especially for the period prior to the abolition of transatlantic slave traffic.
An article on the site examines similar types of intra-American trafficking as an introduction to the launching of the Intra-American Slave Trade Database, which aims to document evidence of slave voyages throughout the New World.
“The site now offers access to details of more than 36,000 slave trading voyages between Africa and the New World; 11,000 voyages from one part of the Americas to another part; and 92,000 Africans who were forced to take the voyage,” Gates said.
“Users can analyze data and view video and they can contribute corrections and add information on voyages the editors don’t even know about,” he said. The website allows viewers to explore the dispersal of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic world.
According to the website, the digital memorial raises questions about the largest slave trades in history and offers access to the documentation available to answer them.
It recounts how European colonizers turned to Africa for enslaved laborers to build the cities and extract the resources of the Americas. Also, how those colonizers forced millions of mostly unnamed Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas, and from one part of the Americas to another.
Those viewing the website can analyze these slave trades and view interactive maps, timelines, and animations to see the dispersal.
Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the work on the site was done at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of California at Santa Cruz with the Hutchins Center of Harvard University providing support.
“I find it inspiring that our fellow Americans are so determined to explore their own ancestral heritage,” Gates noted.

Newswire : Standing by her man: Black woman and Trump appointee at HUD, was used as willing prop to support white Congressman, denying Trump’s racism

Lynne Patton standing behind Congressman Mark Meadows during Congressional hearing on Feb. 27

By Frederick H. Lowe

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows trotted out Lynne Patton, a Black woman, to say President Donald Trump wasn’t a racist after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, testified before a Congressional Committee that Trump was a racist.

Meadows played a key role in the birther movement that damaged President Barack Obama’s presidency by casting doubt that he was born in the United States, a requirement to be president, while paving the way for Trump to enter the White House.

In 2012, at the Blue Ridge Tea Party Candidate Forum, Meadows, a Republican, said, “We’ll send Obama back home to Kenya or where ever it is,” to loud applause. A video of Meadows making the comment has been posted on Twitter.

Cohen, who testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee Feb. 27, listed several examples supporting his assertion that Trump was a racist. Congressman Elijah Cummings, (D-Md.) is the committee’s chair.
Cohen testified that Trump called Black countries “shitholes” and said Blacks were too stupid to vote for him. Trump also said only Blacks run “shithole countries”. He made that statement when Barack Obama was president of the United States, Cohen said. He also pointed out that there aren’t any Blacks in top positions in the Trump organization or administration.
Meadows, chairman of the ultra conservative Freedom Caucus, ordered Patton stand behind him during the committee hearing to refute Cohen’s allegations that Trump was a racist. Patton, a regional executive for the Department of Housing Urban Development, and a Trump appointee, didn’t speak. After a few minutes, she sat down.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D, Michigan) called Patton a prop, and Meadows almost burst into angry tears, believing Tlaib, who is Palestinian was calling him a racist.

“Just because someone has a person of color, a Black person, working for them does not mean that they aren’t racist,” Tlaib said. “And it is insensitive … the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a Black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.”
The heated exchange was among the most intense parts of the highly anticipated Cohen hearing.
On Fox News, a disgusted Patton denied she was a prop. She said committee members put more faith in a White man going to prison than a highly educated Black woman. A judge sentenced Cohen to three years in prison for lying to Congress.
Cummings came to Meadows’ rescue, claiming he was one of his best friends. Cummings’ intervention angered some observers.Later, Meadows said he made the comment about Obama to win an election. He and Tlaib later made up.

Newswire : Dancer/Actor Gregory Hines featured on new Forever Stamp

Gregory Hines postage stamp

   NEW YORK — The U.S. Postal Service celebrated the life and legacy of award winning entertainer Gregory Hines when it inducted him as the 42nd honoree in the Black Heritage Stamp series during a first-day-of-issue ceremony held recently on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

   “Gregory Hines was an extraordinary artist in every sense of the word,” said Acting Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale, who dedicated the stamp. “This Forever stamp pays tribute to his life and career as an actor, singer, and most importantly, as a performer whose unique style of tap dancing injected new artistry and excitement into a traditional American form.”

   Joining Barksdale to unveil the stamp were Maurice Hines, actor, dancer, choreographer and Hines’ brother; Daria Hines, actress, costume designer and Hines’ daughter; Savion Glover, actor, dancer and choreographer; Tony Waag, artistic director, American Tap Dance Foundation; Chloe and Maud Arnold, dancers and co-founders of the DC Tap Festival; and Jason Samuels Smith, award-winning jazz tap dancer and humanitarian.

   The stamp art features a photograph of Hines taken by Jack Mitchell in 1988, showing a smiling Hines on one knee in a red blazer and gray pants, with one foot raised to show the taps on the bottom of his shoe. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.

    News of the stamp is being shared using the hashtags #GregoryHinesForever and #BlackHeritageStamps.