Newswire: Trump, media assaults on Omar a new low for American Politics

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

American politics appears to have hit a new low.
According to reports, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has beefed up security following the vicious attacks she’s received and even news reports that paint her as un-American. What’s worse, the attacks stem from tweets made against her by President Donald Trump.
“The criticisms of Congresswoman Omar, what Trump has been saying about her, is reprehensible,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate. “It is trafficking in Islamophobia, and should be condemned by everyone,” Booker said.
One of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, Omar has come under repeated attack from the president and others, including Fox News as a result of her questioning America’s relationship with Israel.
“We will never forget,” Trump tweeted in all-capital letters recently, attaching a video that spliced together comments Omar made with footage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Some media favorable to the president have also attacked Omar and despite death threats made against her, Trump has continued his assault by calling her –without any supporting evidence and against her denials – “anti-Semitic,” and “anti-Israel.”
Booker noted that Trump has also attacked other African American women leaders like California Rep. Maxine Waters. “The kind of language this president uses, especially about black women in power, is toxic,” Booker said.
That Trump claims he’s not racist isn’t satisfactory, Booker said. “It’s not enough to say, I’m not a racist. We must all be anti-racist,” he said. The rhetoric by Trump and his allies against Omar have resulted in the Senator ramping up security, particularly as she’s received death threats.
Recently, a Rhode Island man allegedly threatened to “kill every Democrat in the world,” federal officials said. Matthew Haviland, 30, of North Kingstown was charged after sending approximately 28 threatening emails on March 10 to a college professor, whose name and affiliation was withheld by federal officials. Haviland is facing federal threat charges and cyberstalking.
In an affidavit, FBI task force officer Richard Laft, Jr. wrote that the professor told authorities Haviland’s “views regarding abortion and politics have become more extreme” within the last year.
The professor, who had been friends with Haviland for about 11 years, believed Haviland’s views changed because “of the way the news media portrays” President Donald Trump, Laft wrote.
Authorities said Omar was among the Democrats whom Haviland threatened to kill.
Latagia Copeland-Tyronce, a writer and journalist out of Detroit, said as a black woman and social justice advocate, she knows “all too well what it feels like to be attacked for speaking up and out.”
“And, as such, I believe that there should be a zero-tolerance policy in regards to our black representatives in Congress,” Copeland-Tyronce said.
“We, as a people, cannot allow our black leaders to be attacked for their advocacy. I am a proponent of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, however, abuse and racism crosses the line and should be called out when and where it rears its ugly head,” she said.
Dr. Omekongo Dibinga, an American University professor and director of Upstander International, said it’s imperative that all stand up to bigotry.
“We need to fight fire with facts. I know that President Trump has ushered in the era of fake news and alternative facts, but I believe at the end of the day, the reality of his policies of lies and dissension will do him in, even with his followers as the effects of [Former President] Barack Obama’s positive economy begin to dwindle and they realized he never cared about them in the first place,” Dibinga said.
Shiwon Oh of Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, said Trump’s presidency exposes a racist underbelly of America that has always been there from the beginning.
“He just gave validation to their opinions and beliefs that its influence is now seeping into mainstream media channels like Fox News,” Oh said.
“All people can do is continue countering the lies with facts, voicing their opposition to racial oppression, and urging their communities to be on the right side of history, even if it means being ridiculed by some,” she said.

Newswire: Crump, NAACP, NNPA to demonstrate after police brutality incident in Florida

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Student handled brutally by Broward Co. Florida police

The Broward County Chapter of the NAACP will lead a march and rally to demand the termination and criminal prosecution of two Florida sheriff deputies who were caught on video punching a 15-year-old African American student and repeatedly slamming the child’s head against concrete pavement.
The weekend rally – a peaceful demonstration – will include the teen’s attorney, famed civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry and Broward County NAACP leaders.
“We cannot become desensitized to the brutality visited upon our young black men and women,” said Chavis, who’s also a civil rights activist who worked under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“In addition to reporting news, the NNPA, a trade association representing the 215 African American newspapers and media companies around the country, is also a voice for civil rights,” Chavis said.
Further, as the trusted source for news and information in the African American community, the NNPA should be at the forefront in informing its readers about all that affects them, Henry said.
“It’s important for us to remember where we came from and this is galvanizing and communicating on a level where we are all involved and this is such an important issue,” said Henry. “We need to realize that this concerns us, and we should not wait for the white media to tell us about our community and when something happens, they should be coming to us for that information,” he said.
Delucca “Lucca” Rolle, a student at J.P. Taravella High School, was accused of aggravated assault against an officer, but the charge made “no sense,” prosecutors said.
A cell phone video captured Broward County Sheriff’s deputies pepper-spraying, tackling and punching a group of teens last week outside a McDonald’s near the school.
The video shows deputies take Rolle down, with one deputy banging Rolle’s forehead into the pavement and punching him in the head, while another deputy helped restrain and handcuff him.
Rolle, one of two teens who were arrested, reportedly suffered a broken nose in the encounter.
Deputy Christopher Krickovich and Sgt. Greg LaCerra were both suspended by the Sheriff’s office after the video was released, though, originally, they were placed on restricted assignment.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office said it has begun investigating the deputies’ actions and prosecutors decided not to file charges against Rolle.
Rolle’s family also has hired Crump, who said he wants the deputies involved to face criminal charges. Crump noted that the two arrested teens are black, while all three deputies seen in the cellphone video are white. “Rolle was a teen beaten by deputies after he picked up a cellphone that fell out of the pocket of a black boy who was being arrested,” Crump said.
“In response, the deputies “pepper-sprayed, brutally beat, and arrested him,” said Crump, who represented the family of Michael Brown, a 17-year-old African-American, who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo.
Crump also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, who in 2012 was killed by George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.
The encounter between Rolle and the deputies happened outside McDonald’s, a frequent after-school hangout spot. At one point, Krickovich and LaCerra went to arrest a student — not Rolle — who had been warned not to trespass at the shopping center, according to a Sheriff’s report.
Crump said “Starting now, we will seek justice through every avenue possible for Lucca and his family. The actions on the video by the officers against Delucca are unconscionable.”
The hashtag #JusticeForLucca has been trending on Twitter.
Rolle’s supporters plan a peaceful rally Saturday afternoon at Hampton Pines Park in North Lauderdale, with attendees encouraged to wear red. Rolle was wearing a red shirt on the day of his arrest.
“We need to make sure we convey the message that the only crime committed on that day was not from the young man, the black children that were there, but from the two deputies and the way they manhandled those kids,” said local NAACP President Marsha Ellison.
“Police brutality and what we consider child abuse will not be tolerated, certainly with our kids who are equally as important as those in other communities,” Ellison said.
She’s also calling for the termination and prosecution of the deputies. “We want the sheriff to hold them accountable and for them to be terminated, meaning they don’t have the opportunity to do this to anyone else while in a [sheriff’s] uniform,” Ellison said.
“We are wary of the state Attorney’s Office in their investigation. It could be one year sometimes two and they’ll try and wait until this dies down and close the case,” she said. “That’s not good enough. A suspension is not good enough. These children are traumatized, emotionally damaged. The 2020 election is coming where we get to choose a new sheriff and new states Attorney. We’re tired of this. Enough is enough.”

Newswire: Biden enters presidential race bringing White Supremacy to the forefront of issues

By Hazel Trice Edney

Biden campaign video showing 2017 Hate March in Charlottesville.

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Former Senator and Vice President Joseph Biden, after much suspense, has finally entered the Democratic campaign for president – immediately surging ahead of a crowded field with a message against White Supremacy.
“We saw Klansmen and White supremacists and Neo Nazis come out in the open, their crazed faces illuminated by veins bulging and baring the fangs of racism”, Biden said in a video announcement with images of the violent 2017 White supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va. juxtaposed with images representing America’s promise that “all men are created equal.” He called the incident in Charlottesville in which the young activist Heather Higher was killed, “a defining moment of this nation.”
Biden’s entry not only brings a new voice to the field of at least eight candidates who have announced so far, but a voice taking direct aim at incumbent Donald Trump.
He continued in the video, “And they were met with a courageous group of Americans. And a violent clash ensued. And a brave young woman lost her life. And that’s when we heard the words of the President of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscious of this nation. He said, there were quote, ‘some very fine people on both sides.’”
Biden said with those words, “the President of the United States assigned a moral equivalency between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation wasn’t like any other I’d ever seen in my lifetime. I wrote at the time that were ‘in the battle for the soul of this nation.”
He said eight years of the Trump Presidency would “forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
Biden has since catapulted to the forefront of the other Democratic candidates. But his race will not be easy. Trump has already taken aim, calling him, “sleep Joe” an attempt to pin a nickname on him as Trump has successfully done to many other candidates.
Trump spokespersons have defended his words about Charlottesville, saying he did in fact condemn racism and antisemitism as well. But despite his successes with maintaining economic growth started by President Obama, the Trump years have been so far full of insults to people of color including calling members of the National Football League “Sons of Bs” for protesting unwarranted police violence against Black people.
No viable Republican candidates have challenged Trump so far. And most Black Republicans and even conservative Christians have remained silent amidst what some deem as deplorable conduct; such as the SOB remark as well as hundreds of documented untruths.
So far, Democratic candidates have dealt mainly with key issues with little or no mention of Trump’s leaning on a base that often appears largely White nationalists.
Among the dominant issues dealt with thus far have been the economy, whether all incarcerated people should be allowed to vote while in prison and whether there should be a commission to discuss ways to issue reparations for slavery.
CNN reports that Biden now tops the field with more than 37 percent of Democrats saying they would vote for him if the election were elected today. He is followed in diminishing order by Sen. Bernie Sanders Sanders of Vermont; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.); Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Cory Booker (N.J.).
Biden will also face opposition from Democrats who point to his political record. They include his treatment of now Professor Anita Hill during the confirmation of Clarence Thomas for which he recently tried to make amends. She did not think his apology was strong enough. Biden is also remembered for his leadership on legislation that led to the growth of mass incarceration of Black people; including the so-called “war on drugs.”

Eutaw Mayor and City Council reach political logjam

News Analysis
By John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Last night’s regular Eutaw City Council meeting was convened by Mayor Raymond Steele at 6:00 PM. The City Council added an Executive Session to a very limited agenda.
After the ten minute Executive Session, the Council reconvened but could not pass a motion to come back into regular session. The meeting was adjourned after taking no actions at 6:20 PM.
I attend the City Council meetings on a regular basis. I attended the April 9 meeting and the City Council Work Session on April 16, 2019 but did not write a story on these meetings because there was so much division and discord between the Mayor and Council that I did not want to report. I had hopes that some of these issues would be resolved in a positive manner and some compromise actions would be taken at last night’s meeting.
I am sad to report as a resident of the City of Eutaw that the meeting ended without resolution of on-going issues and without moving forward on some critical issues and concerns.
There seems to be a lack of communication between Mayor Steele and most Councilmembers that could lead to some compromise and resolution of outstanding issues. I think it is fair to say the Mayor and Council are at loggerheads or in a political logjam that they must work to resolve.
Councilwoman Latasha Johnson says, “The Mayor will not communicate with us, will not give us information about the city’s finances that we are supposed to have and expects us to go along with anything he does. If he consulted with us and discussed these things, I am sure we could come to some fair resolution and conclusions.”
Johnson and other council members have been asking for a current statement of income and expenses for the city, a budget listing how revenues will be expended, a detailed listing of bills that have been paid and are owed. “We basically have received none of these financial reports, so we do not know where we stand and how to make decisions going forward.” she said. Mayor Steele says, “ We know that the City does not have a large enough tax base to pay all bills. We pay the bills as best we can to keep the city operating. I have the responsibility to make day-to-day administrative decisions and I am trying my best to do that. The records and information that council members are requesting are available to them if they come to City Hall and request it from the City Clerk.”
In a March meeting, the Council passed a resolution to remove the Mayor as a check signatory on most city accounts, as a way to put controls on his ability to spend city funds without Council knowledge or approval. The Mayor says, “This is unfair. This prevents me from carrying out my day to day responsibilities and the Council has given no reason to remove me as a signatory.” The Mayor has not brought the official bank resolutions to the City Council, after being asked in several meetings, including the April 16 Work Session.
The Council has passed several other resolutions, including one to declare a shed vacant on the grounds of the former National Guard Armory to rent to a church non-profit for storage for its surplus furniture service; a resolution not to accept cash for payment at the City’s water department; and a resolution to revisit the cost of utilizing city facilities by community groups. The Mayor has not brought these items back for consideration and implementation by the City Council. They were not listed on last night’s agenda despite being requested at the April 16 Work Session, which was part of the reason the Councilmembers were so displeased with the Mayor.
Councilwoman Sheila Smith says, “ We have been requesting information on the revenues for the City Water Department for months. Some people are paying too much; others get minimum bills month after month. There is something wrong with the new water meters and the softwear used to read the meters and make out the bills. But the Mayor says everything is fine but does not give us the financial reports to show that revenues for the Water Department are below what is needed to operate the system and service our debts.”
Councilman Joe Lee Powell says, “ I am concerned about the way the Mayor is running the City. This is not a dictatorship. The Mayor should be consulting with us on problems and providing the information we have requested. I am particularly disturbed that repairs have not been made to the sewage system in Branch Heights. It is a health hazard that sewage is backing up into people’s homes and is in their yards and ditches. People in Branch Heights pay their water and sewage bills and deserve that these problems be addressed by the City.”
Powell indicates that he asked the Mayor to put the Branch Heights sewage problems on the agenda, at the April 16 Work Session, but this item was not listed on last night’s agenda. Powell says he is concerned that he is being asked to support matching funds for a Streetscape project to improve and enhance the Courthouse Square while the Mayor ignores problems in other parts of the City.
The Council members are also upset and concerned that the Council minutes do not accurately reflect what happened at the meetings and contain commentary and notes that support the Mayor and disregard their inputs and motions.
To this observer, Mayor Steele and the Eutaw City Council are at an impasse. They must come together and put aside some of their differences, develop a financial report and budget to operate from a mutual understanding of the city’s current conditions and future prospects; communicate honestly, compromise strategically, seek help from sympathetic external supporters and work out their problems with each other, so the City of Eutaw can move forward in the interest of all of its residents.

Newswire : On Earth Day, Africa braces for severe drought

Africa is experiencing severe drought

Apr. 22, 2019 (GIN) – Water has no enemy.

That’s the theme of a popular song by famed Nigerian singer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti who reminds us just how vital water is. If you’re going to wash, he sings, it’s water you’re going to use. If you want to cook soup, cool off in hot weather, give to your children – “na water you go use.”

But what happens when Water has too many friends? What happens to the water? What happens to the friends? What happens when Water makes them enemies of one another? As citizens around the world marked Earth Day, Kole Omotoso, opinion writer for The Guardian, wondered about water.

In a recent dispute, he recalled, fast friends became bitter enemies when Ethiopia announced it was building a dam on the Blue Nile which supplies 85 percent of the waters of the Nile River, the “father of African rivers” and a critical water source for Egypt.

Ethiopia’s proposed “Project X” – renamed the Grand Renaissance Dam – is a massive hydroelectric power station with one of the world’s largest dams. That angers Egypt, which relies heavily on the Nile. Its waters run to the fields and fill Egypt’s reservoirs. They have demanded that Ethiopia cease construction. Some neighbors even discussed methods to sabotage it.

The dam is projected to be operational by December 2020.

As Egypt and Ethiopia settle their differences, red flags are going up in Uganda, Zimbabwe and other parts of the center and south where rains have been delayed and drought has stretched beyond March.

Ugandan Agriculture Minister Christopher Kibanzanga has warned of impending famine in most parts of the country, cautioning traders to start food rationing. In Zimbabwe, water levels in national dams have fallen to 69 percent.

Drought is also predicted for Kenya, Somalia and Somaliland.

Meanwhile, Mozambique may be getting some relief with a loan offer from the International Monetary Fund of $118.2 million for reconstruction needs after Cyclone Idai which caused significant loss of life and infrastructure damage.

In a tweet to mark Earth Day, UN chief Antynio Guterres said it was vital “every day” to “commit to taking better care of our planet. Please do everything in your power to tackle climate change – the defining issue of our time”, he said.

Newswire: Is there more to Teaching and Learning Than Testing’?

By Barbara D. Parks-Lee, Ph.D., CF, NBCT (ret.), NNPA ESSA Awareness Campaign

Classroom scene

Teaching is a multi-faceted calling for many and an occupation for some, but how can teaching and learning effectiveness be measured without testing?
There must be some way—or ways—to measure what and whether students are learning, and teachers are teaching. Rigor, high standards, curriculum design, learning and teaching styles, and external demands all must be considered in any teaching and learning situation, regardless of location and resources.
As the teaching population becomes more monocultural and the school-aged population becomes more multicultural, teaching materials, beliefs, and techniques tend to rely too heavily on standardized tests and testing materials. In order for education to capitalize on the strengths and talents of learners and the skills and professionalism of their teachers, what kinds of additional progress measures might be employed?
Different kinds of professional development programs and materials may be needed to provide more sufficient and culturally responsive information about the teaching and learning process.
One way of assessing whether students are actively engaged in learning on a high level might be using multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary materials such as those in an original textbook of poems, shorts stories, and essays.
The book, Connections: A Collection of Poems, Short Stories, and Essays with Lessons,became part of a study in the Washington, D. C. schools and surrounding Metropolitan areas of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia, from 1996-2001. (Parks-Lee, 1995)

It addresses some of the challenges Gloria Ladson-Billings pointed out when she quoted Jonathan Kozol, saying that “…Pedagogic problems in our cities are not chiefly matters of injustice, inequality, or segregation, but of insufficient information about teaching strategies.”(Ladson-Billings*, 1994, p. 128)

Both neophyte and experienced teachers participated in a study that provided them with information, materials, and teaching strategies to employ with urban, poor, and predominantly, but not exclusively, African American youth.
The idea for the study originated with a concern that an increasingly middle class or suburban teaching force often seems unable to meet the needs of diverse students who are different from them in class, socioeconomic status, geography, ethnicity, and/or culture.
The Connections materials were intended to help address ways to foster a positive impact upon all children, but particularly upon children of color. In addition, teachers using these materials might also feel more empowered to think creatively and to utilize students’ strengths and talents as they incorporate high and rigorous interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary lessons and higher order thinking skills in order to increase academic achievement.
Effective teachers believe that we must produce and use materials that encourage students to be able to read, to write, to speak, to be creative, to understand, and to interpret what they hear and read. If students can develop these proficiencies, they may experience greater success on standardized tests.
Success breeds success, and if our students are to be involved learners and thinkers, we cannot keep doing the same things the same ways and then blaming students and teachers if standardized test scores are not optimal. There must be more inclusive ways of tapping into and measuring what is taught and what is learned. Standardized tests are but one way and should not be the onl y way to validate the teaching and learning processes.
There are three domains to teaching, the cognitive, the affective, and the psychomotor. The one that is not easily addressed by standardized testing is the affective domain.
As Sharon M. Draper says, “You must reach a child before you can teach a child.” (Draper, S., November 2002). The challenge comes when trying to measure the affective domain. However, affective success is often reflected in student attendance and behaviors that are involved, on-task, and diligent.
There is often a spirit of collaboration and cooperation between the teacher and the students. Fewer discipline problems are observed when there is a positive classroom community involved.
When diverse students are allowed to utilize their talents and skills, they often become self-motivated, because they feel affirmed, valued, and respected.
*Ladson-Billings, G. (1999). (Notes from speech delivered at Howard University).

Newswire: Homeless persons cannot be punished for sleeping in absence of alternatives, 9th Circuit decision establishes

National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Homeless person sleeping on a city bench

People experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the west coast states of the Ninth Circuit can sleep more safely, without facing criminal punishment for simply trying to survive on the streets. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an en banc petition by the city of Boise in Martin v. Boise (formerly Bell v. Boise), leaving in place its September 2018 ruling that homeless persons cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives.

In so holding, the court of appeals permitted the homeless individuals who have received criminal citations under Boise’s policy to proceed with their constitutional claims against the City. The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, which filed the case in 2009 with co-counsel Idaho Legal Aid Services and Latham & Watkins LLP, hails this decision as being essential to encouraging cities to propose constructive alternatives to homelessness.

“Criminally punishing homeless people for sleeping on the street when they have nowhere else to go is inhumane, and we applaud the Court for ruling that it is also unconstitutional,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “It’s time for Boise to stop trying to hide its homelessness problem with unconstitutional ordinances, and start proposing real solutions.”
The case challenges Boise’s enforcement of its Camping and Disorderly Conduct Ordinances against persons experiencing homelessness who need to sleep in public in the absence of adequate housing or shelter. Last September, a panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed with the central premise in the suit, holding that “as long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.”

Following that ruling, the city of Boise petitioned the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case en banc. Today, the court rejected that request, thereby affirming that within the western states that make up the Ninth Circuit, “the Eighth Amendment preclude[s] the enforcement of a statute prohibiting sleeping outside against homeless individuals with no access to alternative shelter.”

“This week, the court says that people experiencing homelessness cannot be punished for sleeping or sheltering on the streets in the absence of alternatives,” said Eric Tars, Legal Director at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “But our hope is that tomorrow, cities will begin to create those alternatives—getting homeless people into housing is a win-win approach, benefitting both the individuals helped and the communities that no longer have to deal with the negative impacts of people living in public spaces, at lower cost than cycling people through the criminal justice system.”
The case gained national attention in 2015 when the United States Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest brief in the case, arguing that making it a crime for people who are homeless to sleep in public places unconstitutionally punishes them for being homeless.

“The outcome of Court’s decision will support cities who are addressing real solutions to the complex issues faced by homeless individuals and families rather than just create more barriers and fill more jails with persons who only needed a place to sleep for the night,” said Howard Belodoff, of Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc. “Boise can be one of those cities—it has the resources, it just needs to apply them correctly.”
Judge Berzon, in her opinion, notes that the decision, while important, is unlikely to impose dire consequences on cities. “The distressing homelessness problem…has grown into a crisis for many reasons, among them the cost of housing, the drying up of affordable care for people with mental illness, and the failure to provide adequate treatment for drug addiction. The crisis continued to burgeon while ordinances forbidding sleeping in public were on the books and sometimes enforced.”
“We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit held that the Constitution ‘prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter,’” said Michael Bern, lead pro bono counsel from Latham & Watkins, who argued the case before the Ninth Circuit. “As the Department of Justice recognized earlier in this case, ‘[c]riminalizing public sleeping in cities with insufficient housing and support for homeless individuals does not improve public safety outcomes or reduce the factors that contribute to homelessness.’ With today’s decision, we hope that cities can redirect their efforts to identifying meaningful and constitutional solutions to the problem of homelessness.”
This case is part of a nationwide movement against the criminalization of homelessness, spearheaded by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and more than 850 groups and individuals who have endorsed the Housing Not Handcuffs Campaign.

Newswire : Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sues White House Office of Management and Budget for Payday Lending Documents Records

Washington, D.C. – This week, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the White House Office of Management and Budget. The lawsuit seeks the release of public records related to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney’s ties to the payday lending industry after his office failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request made several months ago.
“Director Mulvaney’s decision to roll back consumer protections for low-income borrowers in America is a prime example of regressive policies that harm consumers across the country, particularly African Americans and other communities of color,” stated Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Clarke continued: “We know that Mr. Mulvaney previously accepted large campaign contributions from key points of contact in the payday lending industry as a member of Congress, and the American people deserve to know if their influence had anything to do with his decision to undermine anti-discrimination enforcement or roll back regulations preventing predatory lending.
The law requires the White House to disclose any records relating to Mulvaney’s communications with industry lobbyists. Through our litigation we are fighting to promote transparency during an era in which CFPB, OMB, and other agencies have increasingly concealed information to keep the public in the dark.”
After taking over the CFPB last year, while also keeping his role at OMB, Mulvaney immediately moved to roll back rules protecting low-income payday loan borrowers. The CFPB had enacted these new rules after years of careful study of the predatory harms of payday lending, including how such loans are targeted to communities of color. The Lawyers’ Committee filed this FOIA request with OMB to determine whether Mulvaney improperly used his White House office to discuss his regulatory actions with industry representatives.

Newswire: Environmental Racism grows as environmental groups turn increasingly white

By Hazel Trice Edney

Environmental Justice and Urban Environmental Justice March

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Clean drinking water. Lead paint abatement programs. Affordable energy bills. These are the day-to-day environmental justice issues that are vital to the health and financial well-being of communities – especially low-income families.
But as environmental battles rage across the country, thousands of African-American children and adults are paying a heavy price with their health as elite environmental organizations are overwhelmingly managed by White leaders who appear to ignore key issues that disproportionately impact low-income communities, where African-Americans and other people of color reside. As the diminishing African-American voices for environmental justice becomes more prevalent, attention appears to be turning away from environmental hazards disparately plaguing urban areas dominated by Black people across the country such as the following:
Cockroach allergens are detected in 85 percent of inner-city homes across the U. S. and 60 to 80 percent “of inner-city children with asthma are sensitized to cockroach based on the skin prick testing,” according to the U.S. Institute of Health.
Approximately 11.2 percent of African-American children who live in urban areas are at risk for lead poisoning caused by lead-based paint, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Center for American Progress report found that water contamination disparately “plagues low-income areas and communities of color across the nation” and that studies have “documented limited access to clean water in low-income communities of color.”
These atrocities are being shoved aside by misaligned priorities. Instead of making a meaningful impact to health and pocketbooks, some environmental organizations focus on apparent vanity projects that garner media attention and money from well-heeled donors.
Among the best examples is an issue playing out in Minnesota, where national environmental groups – including Greenpeace, 350.org and the Natural Resources Defense Council – are waging a major battle described as “resistance against the oil pipelines.” They also are running major fundraising campaigns off of pipeline protests – even though the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration notes that pipelines are “one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products.”
Meanwhile, these organizations are all but ignoring the real issues facing Minnesotans. A report indicated that the state’s urban areas have unsuitable and outdated infrastructure, allowing storm water drainage to become a crisis. Yet another report found that the Twin Cities air pollution kills nearly 2,000 people a year taking its greatest toll on those in poverty, who also disproportionately shoulder the burdens of asthma, unclean drinking water, and lead poisoning.
While the environmental groups are shoving environmental health issues aside, they also are promoting an agenda that will drive energy bills even higher for Minnesotans who are already spending far too much of their hard-earned money on energy costs. Families in Clearwater County spend 45.9 percent of their income on energy bills, while Roseau County families spend 44.5 percent – and virtually every county across the state sees energy bills eating away at more than 30 percent of income.
The story is the same across the country, as Alabama families spend nearly 50 percent of their income on energy and Michigan families spend 30 percent and above.
Some believe that these skewed priorities may be happening in part because of the lack of diversity in the environmental movement. A study by Green 2.0 recently found that the movement is only “getting more white,” as it continues to leave out people of color.
The report indicated that nearly 70 percent of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) staff was White. It also concluded that “the top 40 environmental foundations have gotten more White across full time staff, senior staff, and board members.”
Green 2.0 is pressing to deal with the racial inclusion issue in order to infuse greater sensitivity into the environmental justice movement. Whitney Tome, executive director of Green 2.0, said in a statement, “Communities of color bring to bear experience and perspective on both problems and pathways to power building. As an organization, we plan to take a more aggressive approach to calling out the environmental movement for their lack of diversity.”
She continued, “For the past five years, we’ve been working to ensure that the environmental movement and its leaders reflect the current U.S. workforce demographics.”
These racial and economic disparities are happening around the country. For example, Louisiana ranks second-worst among U.S. states when examining a wide range of environmental indicators, including water and air quality, energy use and recycling, according to a recent analysis.
While some environmental groups in the area have used their presence to fight issues that impact everyone, such as air quality or safe drinking water, other organizations, with the backing of Greenpeace, are instead focusing on anti-pipeline and anti-energy activism in the state.
The singular focus on one environmental issue while appearing to ignore others implies the presence of environmental racism, a long-used description of the practice of allowing toxics to exist in communities of color.
Meanwhile African-American led organizations are pushing environmental justice agendas, underscoring the importance of such issues in communities of color.
“Clean water is a basic human right,” National Medical Association President Niva Lubin-Johnson, wrote in a commentary posted on Seattlemedium.com last fall. “At the National Medical Association (NMA), we see firsthand how this crisis in clean water creates a variety of healthcare problems for black patients and their families.”
Instead of seeking ways to make energy more elusive and expensive for communities of color, activist groups could use their initiative to aid in the abating of these most fundamental challenges that continue to push headwinds against many Black families and other families of color.
“This is just the beginning,” says Tome of Green 2.0. “Environmental groups are now on notice.”

Town of Forkland receives $7,000 grant from Tombigbee RC&D for adult education program

On Monday, April 22, 2019, the Town of Forkland received a $7,000 grant from the Tombigbee Resource, Conservation and Development district located in Tuscaloosa. The grant was to support the town’s adult education program.
The program is primarily focused on providing seniors with computer training and other useful life skills to keep them involved and active in their community.
“We have used these funds to provide laptop computers,training modules and screens and an instructor. We are serving over twenty students aged 63 to 83 who want to learn how to use computers and new technologies,” said Mayor Charlie McCalpine of Forkland.

Mayor McCalpine said that the Town of Forkland appreciated the support and matching funds from Tombigbee RC&D which made the senior learning program possible and successful.
Ms. Scheree Dasher, the class instructor indicated that, “When our seniors go to the doctor or Social Security office they are handed a computer tablet to sign in and many wanted to be able to handle these situations themselves. Others receive emails and other social media from their children, grandchildren, friends and other relatives which they also wanted to be able to read and answer.”
The classes are three days a week with computers and on other days, the group does exercises, puzzles, drawing and some classes with a nutritionist and other specialists.
Presenting the grant award to the Town of Forkland were Don Sherrod, Chair of the Tombigbee RC&D Board, who is also the Mayor of Pickensville and Bailey Sloan and Mckenzie Montgomery from the agency staff. Also attending the check presentation were: Tennyson Smith, Greene County Commission Chair, Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth, Representative A. J. McCampbell, State Senator Bobby Singleton and others. The members of the class are gathered behind a large replica of the grant check.