Newswire : CIA Director and Russian counterpart discuss Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan

Brittney Griner playing basketball in the WNBA

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

CIA director Bill Burns and Russia’s spy agency boss Sergey Naryshkin planned to meet this week to discuss potential consequences if nuclear weapons are used in the war against Ukraine.
But U.S. officials said Burns and Naryshkin, scheduled to meet on Monday, Nov. 14, also were expected to discuss the potential release of WNBA Star Brittney Griner and former U.S. military veteran Paul Whelan, both deemed by America as unlawfully detained citizens. The Biden administration has maintained its determination to bring home Griner and Whelan.
Russian authorities recently transferred Griner to the country’s dreaded penal colony, where many prisoners have detailed abuse along with a multitude of other human rights violations.
Russian officials jailed Griner in February when authorities arrested her at a Moscow airport after finding a small amount of cannabis oil in her luggage.
A court convicted Griner in August of trying to smuggle narcotics. She received a nine-year sentence, which an appeals court upheld last month.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that President Biden had directed all in the administration to prevail on her “Russian captors” to improve Griner’s treatment and the conditions many must endure in the country’s penal colony.
Individuals who’ve spent time at one of Russia’s infamous penal colonies reported that prisoners aren’t allowed outside contact for weeks. The colonies are notorious for corrections officers’ repeated abuse of prisoners, violence among inmates, lack of food, and inadequate sanitation.
Confirmed reports said the United States government had offered to swap the so-called “Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout for Griner and another imprisoned American, Paul Whelan. Bout, who’s serving a 25-year federal prison sentence and notorious for his desire to kill Americans, reportedly has been at the top of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wish list.
“We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians,” a senior administration official said earlier this year. “We communicated that many weeks ago, in June.”
The families of Whelan, who Russia has held for alleged espionage since 2018, and WNBA star Griner, jailed in Moscow for drug possession since February, have urged the White House to secure their release, including via a prisoner exchange, if necessary, the report stated.
During her court testimony, Griner said she’s still unsure how cannabis oil ended up in her luggage. She said a doctor recommended cannabis oil for her injuries on the basketball court.
“I still don’t understand to this day how they ended up in my bags,” Griner said, adding that she was aware of the Russian law outlawing cannabis oil and that she had not intended to break it. “I didn’t have any intention to use or keep in my possession any substance that is prohibited in Russia,” Griner said.
U.S. officials continue to wait for word from the Russian government on whether they will accept the swap, and now some are hoping that the planned meeting between the two Intelligence officials could yield results.

Newswire: Noose found at Obama Presidential Center site, pausing construction, builders say

 
The Obama Presidential Center under construction on Nov. 10, 2022. Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

By Phil Helsel, NBC News

Construction has been suspended at the Obama Presidential Center after a noose was found at the site on Chicago’s South Side, the builders said last Thursday, condemning what they called an “act of hate.”
“We are horrified that this would occur on our site,” the Lakeside Alliance, the group of construction companies building the center, said in a statement.
The Lakeside Alliance said it was informed Thursday morning about the discovery at the project site and reported it to police.  A Chicago police spokesperson said the department is investigating.
The Lakeside Alliance said it is pausing construction and offering a $100,000 reward to help find the person or people responsible.
“We have zero tolerance for any form of bias or hate on our worksite. Anti-bias training is included in our onboarding process and reiterated during site-wide meetings,” it said in a statement. “We are suspending all operations onsite in order to provide another series of these trainings and conversations for all staff and workers.”
The Obama Foundation said in a statement that its priority is the health and safety of its workforce.“This shameless act of cowardice and hate is designed to get attention and divide us,” the foundation said.
The center, which will commemorate and preserve materials from Barack Obama’s presidency, will include a museum, a plaza, a rooftop garden and a new branch of the Chicago Public Library, among other features, according to its website.
The project broke ground in September 2021 and is expected to open in 2025, according to the center. 

 

COVID-19

As of November 10, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,540,329 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(6,051) more than last report, with 20,608 deaths (50) more
than last report.

Greene County had 2,151 confirmed cases, 2 more cases than last report), with 52 deaths

Sumter Co. had 3,002 cases with 55 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,406 cases with 109 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Democrats sweep Greene County but lose statewide

Terri Sewell
Bobby Singleton
Curtis Travis

In the November 8, 2022, General Election, Greene County voted overwhelming Democratic, while the state went for Republican candidates by a two-thirds majority.

In Greene County, Yolanda Flowers, Democratic candidate for Governor won with 2,318 votes (78%) to 608 (20%) for Republican Kay Ivey and 42 (1.4%) for James Blake, Libertarian. However, statewide Kay Ivey won with 944,850 (67%) to 411,690 (29%) for Flowers and 45,870 (3.3%) for Blake, the Libertarian.

In Greene County, Democrat Will Boyd received 2,336 (79%) to 597 (20%) for Republican Katie Britt, for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Richard Shelby. Statewide Britt won with 940,054 (67%) to 435,431 (31%) for Boyd, with 87% of precincts reporting. Britt will be the first woman elected U. S. Senator in Alabama history.

Republican candidates in Alabama, were elected to all constitutional offices on the ballot and will control the legislature in Alabama for the coming four years.

Terri Sewell, the state’s only Democratic member of the Congressional delegation was re-elected to Congress in the 7th district which includes Greene County. Efforts to create a second Congressional district in Alabama where another Black Democrat could win are currently in court litigation. The Milligan vs Merrill case about Alabama redistricting was heard by the U. S. Supreme Court in October and their decision is pending.

State Senator Bobby Singleton was re-elected from District 24. In Greene County he received 2,395 (91%) to 219 (8%) votes for Libertarian challenger, Richard Bendersen.

Curtis Travis was elected State Representative in District 72, which
Includes Greene, Hale and parts of Tuscaloosa and Bibb counties. In Greene County, Travis polled 2,224 (88%) of the votes with 300 (12%) going to a write-in candidate, likely Ralph Howard, who previously represented part of Greene County in the Legislature.

Local Greene County Democratic candidates were unopposed and easily won election. Incumbent Sheriff Jonathan “Joe” Benison was re-elected by a vote of 2,513 (98%) to 40 (1%) write-in votes. Gregory Griggers was re-elected as District Attorney and Ronald “Kent” Smith was also re-elected as Coroner.

Democratic candidates: Garria Spencer, District 1, Tennyson Smith, District 2; Corey Cockrell, District 3, Allen Turner, District 4, and Roshanda Summerville, District 5, were elected to serve for four years.

Two new members were elected to the Greene County Board of Education: Robert Davis, District 1 and Brandon R. Merriweather, District 2, both Democrat running with no opposition.

The referendum to approve the recompilation of the Alabama Constitution, with most racist language removed, passed in Greene County 1,464 (80%) yes to 380 (20%) No. This referendum passed statewide.

All ten Alabama Constitutional Amendments on the ballot were passed statewide including Amendment One, also known as “Aniah’s law, which will make it harder for persons arrested for a larger number of felony crimes to receive bail and be released from jail before their trials.

In Greene County 3,014 voters (43%) turned out to vote, a lower than usual turnout in our majority Black county. Turnout was also lower statewide.

COVID-19

As of October 27, 2022, at 10:00 AM
(According to Alabama Political Reporter)

Alabama had 1,534,278 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(2,982) more than last report, with 20,558 deaths (25) more
than last report.

Greene County had 2,149 confirmed cases, no more cases than last report), with 52 deaths

Sumter Co. had 2,996 cases with 55 deaths

Hale Co. had 5,396 cases with 109 deaths

Note: Greene County Physicians Clinic has testing and vaccination for COVID-19;
Call for appointments at 205/372-3388, Ext. 142; ages 5 and up.

Eutaw City Council approves 2022-23 budget
and Employee Handbook; honors former Mayor
Hattie Edwards

Former Mayor Hattie Edwards

The Eutaw City Council met on Monday November 7, 2022, for its first regular meeting of the month.

The Council approved a resolution honoring former Mayor Hattie Edwards, who died last week by naming February 28, her birthday as “Hattie Edward’s Day in Eutaw” and allowed flags to be flown at half-staff on Saturday, November 12, 2022, the day of her internment.

The Council approved the 2022-23 budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2022, and the Employee Handbook, which governs human resource issues in the city.

The 2022-23 budget as presented by Ralph Liverman, Financial Consultant is 27 pages covering all funds handled by and through the city.
The budget covering 11 funds projects $5,483,783 in revenues with expenses of $4,390,622 and a surplus of $1,093,161.

Liverman said, “The $5 million total is a new record for the City of Eutaw. This includes a $3 million-dollar General Fund, which is also a record.”

Liverman pointed out that the projections were based on the prior year’s income and expenses and that it was up to the Council to implement any salary increases for the new fiscal year.

“I have projected a large surplus of $493,394 in the General Fund which can be used for salary increases and additional capital improvements,” said Liverman.

The current budget includes $175,000 in road and street repairs from the 4-cent gas tax fund and $225,000 in improvements from the 7-cent gas tax fund. This includes $110,000 for the Streetscape project for the downtown Courthouse Square which is matching for a $600,000 ALDOT grant. The Streetscape project also has matching funds from the Greene County Commission and Greene County Industrial Development Authority.

The budget also has allocations of COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan for the new firetruck ($50,000), repairs to the Carver School Building for roof and cafeteria ($61,000) and Employee Cost of Living Adjustment in December 2022 ($53,000).

The budget includes servicing of the USDA Rural Development loan for the water system, with required reserve funds, and servicing a five-year loan taken last year, from Merchants and Farmers Bank, to purchase new trucks and equipment. The water system may require an annual rate adjustment and the sewer system is being partially subsidized with bingo funds.

The Council approved $9,800 to P&M Roofing for additional repairs to the roof of the R. H. Young Community Center, which was the former Carver School.

The Council approved a ten-year Memorandum of Agreement for leasing two classrooms at the R. H. Young Center to the Alabama Forestry Commission for $450 rent per quarter. Councilman Carpenter objected to this agreement because it would bind future councils to an agreement made by this city council.

 

Councilman Carpenter offered a motion to require that city vehicles, including police cars be parked behind City Hall daily and not used by the police to drive home. This led to a heated argument with Police Chief, Tommy Johnson, who said that parking the cars daily would result in slower response times when there was an emergency. The motion died for lack of a second, which further angered Carpenter.

The Council also approved an MOU between the City and Greene County EMA; a contract with Tri-State Consulting for creation of a Geodatabase for the city; and a new Fire Hydrant Ordinance, required by the State of Alabama.

The Council voted to pay bills and claims and approve travel to training for various employees.

In a prior meeting on October 11, the City Council:

• Approved $6,200 for a contract with Supreme Electrical LLC to install LED lighting in the Cafeteria at R. H. Young Community Center.

• Declared surplus and returned a strip of land to C. T. and Joyce Solomon, at the old Family Dollar location, which was a right of way, to facilitate the possibility of locating a Jack’s Restaurant at this location.

• Approved a bid of $20,100 to Jasper Means Construction to repair Robert’s Street drainage problem.

• Approved a contract with Alabama Power Company for LED street light installation in the City of Eutaw.

First Black Astronaut to walk in space visits Greene County schools

Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris views scholars classwork along with GCHS Principal Andrea Perry and ARLA Program Manager, Dr. Florence Williams.

Greene County School System was excited and honored to have a piece of history in the area.   National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) Executive Director, Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American to walk in space, spoke to students about the importance of STEM education and his experience as an Astronaut with NASA. Dr. Harris visited with Greene County High School 9th graders and Robert Brown Middle School 4th graders on Thursday, November 3, 2022.
Dr. Harris said that he was 13 years old when the first astronauts walked on the moon. “I made up my mind then that I wanted to walk in space one day and I never gave up on that dream.” When asked by students how did he prepare to be an astronaut, Dr. Harris said that it is necessary to focus on the STEM courses – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. He emphasized that scholars must go to college and earn at least a Master’s Degree. “Growing up my family physician was a great influence on me, so from college I went to medical school focusing on internal medicine, then I applied to NASA,” he explained. He shared that part of his NASA training certified him as a jet pilot and a scuba diver.
Greene County High School and Robert Brown Middle School are two sites for the Alabama Rural Learning Accelerator (ARLA) project.  ARLA services students in grades 6-9.  The Alabama Rural Learning Accelerator (ARLA), powered by NMSI, offers remote co-teaching, math support, and science coaching with ARLA project teachers housed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  

Dr. Williams stated that the overall goal of ARLA is to support hiring and retaining fully certified math and science teachers and provide long term solutions to fill those gaps and connect more students to potential careers based in science, technology, engineering and math.

L to R:  Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, School Board President Dr. Carol Zippert, Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, Curriculum Coordinator Mrs. Barbara Martin, GCHS Principal Ms. Andrea Perry, ARLA Program Manager, Dr. Florence Williams.
L to R:  Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, County Commissioner Corey Cockrell, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, School Resource Officer Steve Davis, Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson, Eutaw Police Chief Tommy Johnson, School Board Member Leo Branch, School Board President Dr. Carol Zippert.
Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris speaks with 4th grade scholars at Robert Brown Middle School
Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris is show with Robert Brown Middle School Principal Mrs. Shawnta Owens

Newswire:As die off of Kenyan wildlife spikes, no end seen to punishing drought

Retiti elephant sanctuary

Nov. 7, 2022 (GIN) – A new report, titled ‘Impacts of the current drought on wildlife in Kenya” gives a devastating picture of the high mortality of wildlife across the East African nation whose animal kingdom has been the backbone of tourism for years.
 
Images from the region show feeble cows with ribcages protruding from their sides. According to the Kenya News Agency, herders are calling on the county and national government to buy meat from them as they lose their livestock to an unprecedented drought.
 
Kenya’s worst climate emergency in four decades has wreaked havoc, writes the Wildlife minister in a report delivered Nov. 4. It is affecting nearly half of the east African nation’s 8 provinces and has left both humans and beasts with very few food sources.
 The Amboseli and Laikipia-Samburu regions (south) which are home to touristy safaris recorded more than 70 elephant deaths. Some species like the gravy Zebras which are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List were badly hit. The Kenyan Tourism and Wildlife minister said authorities were dropping off hay for the animals.
 
Just as in west Africa, Kenya’s problems are being deepened by climate change. More than four million people are “food insecure,” and 3.3 million can’t get enough water to drink.
 
“African countries need finance urgently and they are calling on developed countries to deliver on their promises, starting with the pledge made at last year’s climate conference in Glasgow, to double adaptation finance to at least $40 billion annually,” commented Amina J Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the U.N., chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group and former minister of environment of Nigeria, “places such as South Sudan and my homeland, Nigeria, are experiencing devastating flash floods that sweep away homes, businesses and livelihoods. And up to 116 million Africans will face severe risks from rising sea levels this decade.
 
“African countries need finance urgently and they are calling on developed countries to deliver on their promises, starting with the pledge made at last year’s climate conference in Glasgow, to double adaptation finance to at least $40 billion annually.
 
“The failure of developed countries to honor their commitments is not just an injustice and a failure of global solidarity. It contributes to the serious tensions and divisions that are preventing global action ona host of other issues, from peace and security to human rights. As the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.”
 
Even if it rains now in Ileret, on the northern shore of Lake Turkana, the life of the widow Akuagok won’t improve much. She has no animals left and food prices are unlikely to fall much. The United Nations’ World Food Program, which might step in, usually gets 40% of its wheat from Ukraine.
 
The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization is appealing for $172 million in aid for the Horn of Africa to head off catastrophe. But as the war in Ukraine continues, that figure will surely rise. 

Newswire:Dusty Baker relishes first World Series title with Houston Astros, despite no Black players on either team

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Dusty Baker, Manager Houston Astros

One week after lamenting that there were no Black American players on either the Philadelphia Phillies or his Houston Astros in the World Series, Dusty Baker became only the third African American manager to lead a Major League Baseball team to a World Series title.
Cito Gaston of the Toronto Blue Jays, who won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, and Dave Roberts, who led the Los Angeles Dodgers to the championship in 2020, are the only other Black managers to capture the Fall Classic.
Baker’s Astros dispatched the Philadelphia Phillies in six games, sending the city of Houston into a frenzy just five years after the team’s tainted World Series victory in 2017 under manager A.J. Hinch.
“I’m tired of hearing it,” Baker proclaimed after the Astros series clinching a 4-1 victory in Houston on November 5. “[Critics said] ‘He doesn’t do this; he doesn’t do that.’ All I heard about what I can’t do,” Baker stated. “But my mom and dad taught me perseverance. And you gotta persevere, you gotta believe in yourself.”
Born in 1949, Baker broke into the big leagues as a 19-year-old when he joined the Atlanta Braves in 1968. In a stellar career that spanned three decades, Baker was as feared a hitter as anyone. He earned two All-Star nods, won the Silver Slugger Award for best hitter at his position twice, and finished in the top 10 in the MVP race twice. Baker also won a Gold Glove and was part of the 1981 Dodgers team that defeated the New York Yankees in six games to win the World Series.
He managed the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, and Washington Nationals. Each team improved under his leadership.
Before winning the World Series, Baker noticed that the 2022 Fall Classic stood out as the first since 1950 that didn’t have an African American on either team.
“Nah, don’t tell me that,” Baker lamented.
“That’s terrible for the state of the game. Wow! Terrible. I’m ashamed of the game. Quote me. I am ashamed of the game,” reaffirmed Baker, an African American.
While Black players made up about 18 percent of all MLB rosters when researchers from TIDES first began assessing the league’s demographic data in 1991, Black players represented only 7.2 percent of all MLB players at the start of the 2022 season.
Researchers at TIDES – The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports – reported that the percentage of Black players “has been a serious concern for many years.”
TIDES reported that 38 percent of all players on Opening Day 2022 were players of color – approximately 28.5 percent Hispanic or Latino, 1.9 percent Asian, and less than 1 percent Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or Native American.
“Well, I don’t think that’s something that baseball should really be proud of,” Baker said. “It looks bad. It lets people know that it didn’t take a year, or even a decade, to get to this point.”
A baseball lifer, Baker has done all he could to make the sport look good.
Now enjoying his first World Series victory as a manager, Baker, 73, said he’d not only like to win a second before he retires, but he’ll continue to work to ensure more diversity in future Fall Classic games.
“I’m just grateful, really, for the trials and tribulations you go through to get to this and just grateful for my mom and dad for being tough on me,” Baker said.
“Also grateful for some of the enemies that helped motivate me to get to this point, you know what I mean? But, you know, with no malice or anything because that doesn’t do any good.”

Newswire:Attorney Ben Crump files lawsuit on behalf of user of chemical hair straightening products

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Back photo of flawless charming young brunette lady hands touch long straight healthy hair isolated beige background.

Researchers have discovered that hair products used predominately by Black women are likely to contain hazardous chemicals with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties.

Armed with that information and research by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined forces with lawyer Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann to file a lawsuit against beauty products giant L’ Oréal USA.
Crump and Zimmermann filed the suit on behalf of Jenny Mitchell, a woman with no family history of cancer but who received a uterine cancer diagnosis after years of using L’ Oréal products.

The lawyers declared that the defendants also would include “entities that assisted in the development, marketing, and sale of the defective products including Motions, Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil Relaxer, and Organic Root Stimulator.”

“Black women have long been told they must use chemical hair straightening products to meet society’s standards,” Crump declared. “Companies took advantage of this and marketed their dangerous products to women without any regard for the serious health risks. We need justice.”

Crump said Mitchell started using the products around 2000 and continued until 2022. In August 2018, Mitchell – with no family history of uterine or other cancer – was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a complete hysterectomy, Crump noted. Mitchell attended mandatory medical appointments every three months for two years and has appointments scheduled every six months.

Crump cited a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week.The study concluded that frequent users of chemical hair straightening products, defined in the study as more than four uses a year, were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than those who didn’t use those products.
The National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences conducted the study.

Uterine cancer rates and deaths are reportedly on the rise in the U.S. Death rates are highest among non-Hispanic Black women, who are more likely than other populations to be afflicted with aggressive subtypes of uterine cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health, which tracked data from 34,000 women in the Sister Study for more than a decade.

“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” said Crump. “Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but Black women have been told they have to use these products to meet society’s standards. Unfortunately, we will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of the countless cases in which companies aggressively misled black women to increase their profits.”

Chemical hair straighteners typically contain products associated with higher cancer risk, including formaldehyde, metals, phthalates, and parabens, which may be more easily absorbed by the body through scalp burns and abrasions often caused by chemical straighteners, study authors determined.

Zimmermann added that companies like L’ Oréal “targeted Black and Latin women for their own profit motive and without regard to the serious health risks that these hair-straightening products cause is a serious wrong that needs to be corrected.”
“We have commenced this important litigation to seek and obtain justice for those women and their families.”