Newswire : ‘Morally Wrong’: former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon condemns US for not having Universal Health Care

 By Amanda Michelle Gomez, ThinkProgress

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

Failing to provide health care to 29.3 million people is “unethical” and “politically wrong, morally wrong,” said former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an interview with the Guardian. The U.S. is the only wealthy country without universal coverage — and Ban faults “powerful” interest groups within the pharmaceutical, hospitals, and doctors sector. “Here, the political interest groups are so, so powerful,” Ban said. “Even president, Congress, senators and representatives of the House, they cannot do much so they are easily influenced by these special interest groups.” Ban is hardly alone in his disillusionment with the U.S. health care system and is definitely not the first foreign leader to call the United States out. When President Donald Trump attacked Britain’s health system to slam Democrats running on universal health care, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt blasted him back on Twitter, saying no one in his country “wants to live in a system where 28m people have no coverage.” It’s a well-known fact that the U.S. is an outlier in the developed world, as we spend more on health care but have worse health outcomes than other countries. Indeed, health spending is projected to rise 5.5 percent, on average, annually from 2017 to 2026 according to the federal health department. And while health spending is expected to make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy in 2026, the uninsured population is also expected to rise. “It seems with Trump just undoing Obamacare, people were not happy first of all,” said Ban about the Trump administration’s reforms that, so far, have undermined the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Ironically, it might have motivated people to think other ways, and influence their senators, and their Congressman to think the other way.” Ban’s observations hold. A recent poll finds a majority of the public favors single-payer, meaning they’d want to replace the current private-public insurance patchwork system with a single government plan. Support for single payer or Medicare for All became especially pronounced after Republicans tried to repeal and replace the ACA, jeopardizing quality insurance particularly for those with pre-existing conditions. Since Medicare for All garnered critical support from likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, health care industry groups launched a lobbying group against single-payer plans. The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future is comprised of major players including America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the American Medical Association, and the Federation of American Hospitals. Ban hopes California and New York will ultimately pass single-payer bills currently stalled in each state’s legislature, sparking a national wake-up call. “It will be either California or New York who will introduce this system,” he told the Guardian. “Then I think there will be many more states who will try to follow suit. I think that’s an encouraging phenomenon we see.” Ban made his comments as a member of The Elders, a peace and human rights organization launched by Nelson Mandela to promote ideas like universal health care. His interview with the Guardian isn’t the first time he’s criticized Trump for undermining coverage and urging states like California to embrace single payer. He recently spoke at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he also said, “the good news is that at a state level things appear to be changing for the better.”

Newswire : Trump World finally crumbling

By Hazel Trice Edney (TriceEdneyWire.com) – For the first time since his election, the world of President Donald Trump appears to be actually crumbling. In one day, Thursday, August 21, his former lawyer Michael Cohen confessed that he conspired “in coordination” with Trump to pay two women to keep quiet about their affairs with Trump. In the plea, entered at the Manhattan federal courthouse, said Trump directed him to break the law in order to influence the 2016 election. Cohen says he did so, “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” meaning Donald Trump. Cohen also pled guilty to violating eight laws pertaining to bank, tax evasion and campaign finance, including the payoffs of the women. Meanwhile, in a Northern Virginia federal courthouse, after a jury deliberated the fourth day, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight of 18 charges against him. The eight convictions include filing five false tax returns; not disclosing a foreign bank account; and two instances of bank fraud in order to obtain a combined 4.4 million in loans from two banks. The jury was deadlocked on 10 other counts. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, prosecutors and defense lawyers will discuss the possibility of a retrial on those counts. The Manafort verdict was announced just before the Cohen plea deal. At Trice Edney deadline, the double news blasts, along with analysis, had only begun to permeate the airwaves and social media. The news stories appear to represent the undoing of an administration that has heretofore seemed immune to political damage regardless of how egregious the offense – including Trump’s constant racial insults and dog whistles to White supremacists. Two Trump confidants, Elliot Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization and Foundation, and George Pecker, Publisher of the Enquirer Magazine have been granted immunity by prosecutors in exchange for their testimony in the cases against Trump in the Southern District of New York. So far, Trump’s responses to the announcements of the two felony convictions have leaned toward his reframe that the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has still not turned up any Russian collusion, the basis for the original investigation. But the investigation now continues as members of Congress watch closely. As mid-term elections draw closer, a Democratic majority in the House could spell certain impeachment for the President if there is sufficient evidence of criminal activity on his part. Trump said, “This is a witch hunt that ends in disgrace.”

Newswire :  National prison strike sheds light on harsh inmate treatment

By Barrington M. Salmon

 

 

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – In an extraordinary display of defiance, inmates from penal institutions in 17 states and Canada have gone on strike to protest treatment by prison guards and rejection of a system they condemn as brutal and abusive. Prison reform advocates say the 19-day strike is the biggest of its type in history. Among the protestors’ 10 demands are that they be treated like human beings, that the arbitrary use of force and punitive measures by guards be scaled back and that prison officials put in place measures that will give them a greater say in affairs that concern and affect them. The strike began on August 21 and is slated to end on Sept 9. The 19 days of peaceful protest was organized largely by prisoners themselves, said a spokesman for Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS), steered by an abolitionist coalition that includes Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), the Fire Inside Collective, Millions for Prisoners and the Free Alabama Movement. JLS activists began preparing the action in April after prison officials in South Carolina put rival gangs in the same dormitory which ignited an outbreak of violence leaving seven inmates dead. Representatives of the largely Black population of striking prisoners said inmates are refusing to work in prison buildings, kitchens, laundries and on prison grounds. Palestinian inmates have expressed solidarity and about 300 prisoners in Nova Scotia, Canada also joined the strike. Nicole Porter, director of Advocacy for The Sentencing Project, called the strike unprecedented, saying that it’s a cry by inmates to be seen and heard. “We’ve had strikes and prison actions in the past, but the scale of this strike is new. We’ve seen incidents of in-prison activism and organized acts of resistance but we’re in new territory for this,” she said. “This strike is important to look at because it is a response to clashes in a South Carolina prison and severely inhumane conditions there and elsewhere. We need to recognize that people don’t lose humanity when they’re behind bars. Resistance is a part of US history. They carry history and the history of activism. It’s important for officials to listen to these activists and seriously consider some of their recommendations.” A JLS statement released before the strike, said, “Fundamentally, it’s a human rights issue… Prisoners understand they are being treated as animals. Prisons in America are a warzone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us, it’s as if we are already dead, so what do we have to lose?” Bill Fletcher, Jr., a veteran labor union organizer, said the strike highlights the problem of widespread abuses in the prison system that generally go unnoticed by the larger society, which he believes harbors a deep-seated bias against people behind bars. “I think this is really quite phenomenal,” he said of the strike action. “The problem is that it has gotten so little attention but the attention it has gotten is significant. The larger problem is that we are a society that believes in vengeance, not justice. People’s general position is, ‘Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.’” Fletcher adds, “A related issue is that the prisoners, because they are for the most part people of color, they are denied their human rights and humanity.” Fletcher, a talk show host, author and racial justice, labor and international activist, said there has been a slow erosion of prisoner rights since the 1970s and the emergence of the belief that rehabilitation is a waste of time and unfair to those who aren’t in prison. In an August 22 press conference, media representatives of the striking inmates said information about the scope of the strike would trickle in slowly. “We want to note that although there aren’t widespread reports of actions coming out of prisons, people need to understand that the tactics being used in this strike are not always visible,” said Jared Ware a freelance journalist who was asked to be part of team that coordinated with the press. “Prisoners are boycotting commissaries, they are engaging in hunger strikes which can take days for the state to acknowledge, and they will be engaging in sit-ins and work strikes which are not always reported to the outside. As we saw in 2016, Departments of Corrections are not reliable sources of information for these actions and will deny them and seek to repress those who are engaged in them.” Ware said, “We have spoken with family members who have suggested that cell phone lines may be jammed at multiple prisons in South Carolina. And New Mexico had a statewide lockdown yesterday. The departments of corrections in this country are working overtime to try and prevent strike action and to try and prevent word from getting out about actions that are taking place.” Although the United States represents one-fifth of the world’s population, 2.3 million people are incarcerated, the highest in the world. Estimates are that about 60 percent of that population is African-American or Latino. Those numbers could ratchet up with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, at the behest of President Donald Trump, relaunching the failed War on Drugs and giving state attorneys and law enforcement the green light to crack down on criminal suspects even for non-violent crimes, critics believe. The Prison-Industrial Complex is a sprawling entity that relies heavily on inmates’ labor to produce goods and services for an assortment of companies, including major businesses and corporations such as Whole Foods, Starbucks, McDonalds, Wal Mart, Victoria’s Secret and AT&T. While it is a more than $2 billion enterprise, many inmates literally work for pennies and others labor for free, said Dr. Kim Wilson. “Exploitation of prison labor is at the heart of this strike,” said Dr. Wilson, a prison abolitionist and co-host of the podcast, ‘Beyond Prisons.’ I don’t want people to get the idea that this is an at-will job. It isn’t a system where people have a choice to work. Some people are making zero and nearer to the release date, you are expected and required to work.” Courtney Stewart, a prison reform advocate released from prison in 1985 and chair of the National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens in Washington, DC, said the prisoners who went on strike had no choice. “The thing is that these people, the corporations who make up the Prison-Industrial Complex, have been getting away with murder for a long time,” Stewart said. “They’ve been able to sustain the Prison-Industrial Complex and they have ruined generations and generations of the Black community. It’s been so devastating and we still haven’t recovered.” “Using the school-to-prison pipeline and the War on Drugs, these people are criminalizing and have imprisoned Black men, women and children. It’s profit over people and power and money in this capitalist, white-privileged society we live in. They don’t see any value in the black family or Black people. They always throw pennies when it comes to fixing the African American community. We have to address this with force and radicalism. There has to be a radical revolution in how to address this.” Dr. Wilson agreed. “I’m a prison abolitionist. I see prisons as part and parcel of problem,” said Dr. Wilson, who has two of her sons serving life sentences at Vaughn Correctional Facility in Delaware. “I don’t know how they (prison guards) sleep at night. But those individual people are part of a larger system. I’m more concerned with the system as a whole.” “We want an end to the physical places we call prisons and conditions that make it possible in our society. But we can’t do that without addressing the underlying issues of racism, anti-blackness, capitalism, gender violence, ableism and other issues deeply implicated in the broader prison system. We must take seriously the things the prisoners are saying.”

Newswire : Sarah Sanders can’t guarantee Trump hasn’t used N-word

By: Associated Press

Washington, D. C., August 14, 2018: White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she cannot guarantee that President Donald Trump has never used a racial slur. Sanders said, “I haven’t been in every single room,” when asked if she can say with certainty that Trump has never used the N-word, but she added that Trump has been a high-profile businessman for decades and the allegations are only just now being made.

Ex-Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has alleged she has heard Trump on tape using the slur. Trump said Monday on Twitter that he doesn’t “have that word in my vocabulary, and never had.” Sanders says she “can’t guarantee” Trump has never used the word, but calls Manigault Newman’s claims “salacious and ridiculous.” Sanders told reporters that Manigault Newman has “shown a complete lack of integrity” with her criticism of Trump in her new book, adding that Trump’s tweets referring to Manigault Newman as “crazed” and a “dog” reflect his “frustration” with her comments. Manigault Newman has responded that Trump has “absolutely no respect” for women or African-Americans. Sanders says Trump hired Manigault Newman as an assistant to the president because he “wanted to give her a chance.” She was a contestant on his reality show “The Apprentice” and a former campaign aide. Manigault Newman has been releasing audio recordings of private White House conversations as part of her book roll-out tour. She was fired in December. © Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Newswire : In South Africa: former President Obama denounces Trump without using his name

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com

President Barack Obama in Johannesburg, South Africa

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Former President Barack Obama spoke at the centennial celebration in Johannesburg, South Africa, of Nelson Mandela’s birth by denouncing President Donald Trump without mentioning his name.  A day after Trump met in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama criticized strongmen politics. “The politics of fear, resentment is on the move at a pace unimaginable just few years ago,” Obama told thousands at Wanderers Stadium. The audience gave him a standing ovation. He added that the free press and other values are under threat. Obama noted that there is a loss of shame when political leaders are caught in lies and they double down and lie some more. Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was elected to office in 1994. He was born July 18, 1918. He was 95 when he died in 2013. Obama praised Mandela’s style of leadership and encouraged the youth to emulate it. “Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world,” Obama said, speaking directly to the youth in the audience. “Mandela said, ‘Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.’ Now is a good time to be aroused. Now is a good time to be fired up.” He continued, “And, for those of us who care about the legacy that we honor here today – about equality and dignity and democracy and solidarity and kindness, those of us who remain young at heart, if not in body – we have an obligation to help our youth succeed. Some of you know, here in South Africa, my Foundation is convening over the last few days, two hundred young people from across this continent who are doing the hard work of making change in their communities; who reflect Madiba’s values, who are poised to lead the way.”

Newswire: ‘Treasonous’ and ‘disgraceful’: critics slam Trump’s performance at Summit with Putin

By Igor Bobic, Huffington Post

Trump and Putin
Trump and Putin, at joint news conference at end of summit in Helsinki, Finland

President Donald Trump’s performance during a press conference after a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday left critics of all stripes howling.
Trump refused to blame Putin for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and told reporters that “both countries” were responsible for the poor state of their relations.
“I think we’ve all been foolish. I think we’re all to blame,” Trump said.
He reiterated that there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia, slammed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the election as a “disaster” and shared conspiracy theories about why it’s important for the FBI to take the Democratic National Committee’s computer server.
Putin agreed with Trump on many points, and Trump’s comments drew fierce criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.
John Brennan, a CIA director under Barack Obama, called Trump’s performance “treasonous”. In a tweet, Brennen said,
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you ? “

Moments after the press conference, CNN’s Anderson Cooper said it was “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader.”
On Fox Business Network, several guests reacted by saying that Putin
outmaneuvered Trump at the Summit. On the channel, the network’s Neil Cavuto termed Trump’s performance “disgusting.”
Ari Fleisher, President George W. Bush’s Press Secretary, who often justifies Trump’s statements indicated in a tweet that he understood how Democrats could feel that Putin and the Russians must have some damning information about him.

Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View” and a daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), tweeted that she was “horrified” by the press conference.
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a Republican, said Trump
“failed America today.”“It’s a sad day for America,” Hagel said Monday during an appearance on CNN. “It’s a sad day for the world.”

Newswire : All eyes on US Supreme Court: Fiery nomination battle expected

 

By Barrington M. Salmon

Supreme Court
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Donald Trump has announced his choice for the next U. S. Supreme Court justice. He is U. S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh of Washington, D.C., a nominee who has already drawn fire from Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and the NAACP.
“Brett Kavanaugh is a dangerous ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would solidify a far right majority on the Supreme Court,” the NAACP issued a statement within hours after Trump’s prime time announcement July 9. “Coming after Neil Gorsuch’s appointment, a Kavanaugh confirmation would re-make the Court in President Trump’s own image. This prospect is unacceptable to the American people, and the NAACP is ready to lead the fight of a generation.”
The statement continued, “The NAACP knows Judge Kavanaugh well. We opposed his confirmation to the D.C. Circuit for good reason.  In his 12 years on the bench, he has proven us correct. He has been a strong and consistent voice for the wealthy and the powerful. Over and over again, he has ruled against civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer rights, and women’s rights.
With a Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we could see reversals of hard-won gains securing equal opportunity in education, employment and housing.  We could see further exclusion of communities of color from participation in our democracy.  We could see racism continue to flourish within the criminal justice system.  We could see the elimination of effective tools for proving discrimination.  We could see the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the guarantee to accessible health care for millions.”
The nomination is only the beginning. After lengthy hearings before the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee, he will only be confirmed if he receives a majority of the Senate.
“President Trump with the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh has fulfilled two of his campaign promises — first to undo women’s reproductive freedom and second to undo the ACA (Affordable Care Act),” says Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a CBS News interview. “So, I will oppose him with everything I’ve got.”
Kavanaugh would replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose decision to leave the highest court caught many by surprise and has ignited emotions ranging from alarm to panic to concern among civil rights, human rights, and women’s rights advocates, centrists and progressives.
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, agrees there’s much at stake with this Supreme Court vacancy.
“Justice Kennedy has been the swing vote on a number of core Civil Rights issues. This could transform African American life for years to come,” said Clarke. “There’s no doubt about the impact – in voting rights, criminal justice and women’s issues. The Senate must do its job of vetting to ensure that the nominee is fair, unbiased and faithful to applying and interpreting the law.”
Clarke says every senator has an obligation to properly vet the nominee. “It’s their duty,” Clarke said. “This should not be a partisan battle, but we’ll see. We must fight to preserve the integrity of the court and not allow it to fall victim to the political gamesmanship that sometimes takes over politics.”
Clarke warns the importance of this appointment cannot be underestimated.
“This is a huge issue,” Clarke explained. “There are 140 vacancies in federal courts. The judiciary has always mattered to Black people because it is a place of last resort. Ninety-nine percent of cases are heard in federal and district courts. Ninety-one percent of those Trump is putting forward are White and male and they are the fringe. He’s turning back the clock to the Jim Crow era.”
Trump has been packing the lower courts since taking office and he has been aided by McConnell, who blocked Obama nominees and left them open for Trump to fill. McConnell refused to even consider or meet with Obama pick Merritt Garland and held that seat open for Trump to nominate Neil Gorsuch. In the past 15 months, the administration has retreated from the US government’s legal positions on voting rights and election law, on how workplace disputes are settled, and eroded labor union power, cast off provisions and protections for gay and transgender people.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has overseen restrictions and other limits on affirmative action and other legal remedies, advanced a hard line on immigration, and has pushed to reduce or eliminate women’s reproductive rights, and promoted sharp cutbacks on regulations.
The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, says the reason for the fight is clear:
“The rights of African Americans to fully participate in democracy and in every facet of social and economic life, on an equal basis, lie in the balance. The next Supreme Court justice will play an outsized role in determining whether African Americans move forward in our journey toward achieving full equality, whether we simply tread water for the next three decades, or whether we slide backward toward our former status as second-class citizens. To each and every Senator, we say: This is THE civil rights vote of your career. We will be watching closely. Make no mistake – we are in the fight of our lives, and we hope you are prepared for battle.”

Newswire : Is the NFL’s new National Anthem policy legal?

Civil Rights Activists, NFL Players react to new policy

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Tamika Mallory protests NFL.jpg

Civil rights activist Tamika Mallory speaking at demonstration against new NFL national anthem policy
Protesters held a rally in front of the National Football League’s New York City headquarters on May 25 after the league announced new rules that punish players who don’t stand for the national anthem.
Tamika Mallory said that the NFL owners were acting as a “proxy for a fascist president” and that the new policy was an attempt to “resurrect slavery in the 21st century” and punish Black players. The kneeling protests started when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting during the anthem and then kneeling as a protest against police brutality.
“ What is being said is that the n–gas don’t have basic rights,” Mallory said. “And I want to say today that Ida B. Wells, Dr. Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey, the four little girls in Birmingham are turning over in their graves right now about the disrespect, the disgrace, that is happening in this country.”
Mallory continued: “If we, as Black people, lay down and allow this system to continue to oppress us, we are the ones to be held responsible.”
Civil rights activist and author of “The Revolt of the Black Athlete” Harry Edwards told USA TODAY that the NFL’s new national anthem policy was “the dumbest move possible.” “They put the protest movement on blast,” Edwards said. “They just created a bigger stage than ever.”
In a recent commentary for Vox.com, Harvard Law School labor professor Benjamin wrote: “This new league policy is meant to enforce a particular vision of patriotism, one that involves compliance rather than freedom of expression.”
Sachs wrote that the new anthem policy was illegal—for a host of reasons.“The clearest illegality derives from the fact that the league adopted its new policy without bargaining with the players union,” Sachs wrote. “When employees, including football players, are represented by a union, the employer—including a football league—can’t change the terms of employment without discussing the change with the union. Doing so is a flagrant violation of the employer’s duty to bargain in good faith.”
ESPN.com reported that President Donald Trump supported the NFL’s policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem or remain in the locker room, during an interview with Fox News. “I think that’s good,” Trump said. “I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
Many players have already indicated that they are not happy with the new rule.
In a statement released on Twitter, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins wrote: “While I disagree with this decision, I will not let it silence me or stop me from fighting. The national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the past 2 years will persist as we continue to use our voices, our time and our money to create a more fair and just criminal justice system, end police brutality and foster better educational and economic opportunities for communities of color and those struggling in this country.”
In an interview with ESPN, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin called the president “an idiot…plain and simple.”
“I respect the man because he’s a human being, first and foremost. But he’s just being more divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is,” Baldwin said. “For him to say that anyone who doesn’t follow his viewpoints or his constituents’ viewpoints should be kicked out of the country, it’s not very empathetic, it’s not very American-like, actually to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon.”
Baldwin continued: “It’s kind of ironic to me that the president of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.”
In his Vox.com commentary about the NFL’s new national anthem policy, Sachs wrote that now that the owners have made it a workplace rule to stand during the anthem or stay in the locker room, any player who takes the field and takes a knee is protesting an employer rule. That protest, Sachs said, “is unquestionably protected by federal labor law.”
The NFL pre-season begins in August.

Newswire : Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores for racial-bias training

By Frederick H. Lowe, NorthStar News

Starbucks in Philadelphia.jpg
Police surround Starbucks in Philadelphia

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores affecting 175,000 employees in the United States on May 29th to address implicit racial bias, following arrests of two black-male customers last week at its Center City store in Philadelphia.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to fix it,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks. ” All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed in the afternoon of Tuesda Newsy, May 29. During that time, partners (employees) will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and Heather McGhee, president of Demos, a think tank and research policy center, are assisting in developing Starbucks’ curriculum.
Johnson made his announcement after he met with two black men police arrested when the manager of a Center City, Philadelphia, Starbucks complained they wouldn’t leave the coffee shop after they weren’t allowed to use the restroom because they hadn’t purchased anything.
Spokespersons for Seattle-based Starbucks did not disclose what was discussed between the two men, who were not identified. Earlier, Johnson called the incident “reprehensible” and publicly apologized to the men involved.
Six Philadelphia police officers arrested the men Thursday afternoon for trespassing. The men were waiting to meet another man, who is white and who had scheduled a meeting with them in the Starbucks.
The arrests, which were captured on cell phone video, sparked demonstrations inside and outside the Starbucks, which is located on swanky Rittenhouse Square, and more national and international conversations over social media about the state of race in the era of President Donald Trump.
Richard Ross, Philadelphia’s police chief, who is black, defended his men, arguing they did not do anything wrong in making the arrests.
But the arrests caused hand wringing among others. The Philadelphia district attorney later released the two men because Starbucks refused to press charges. Jim Kenny, Philadelphia’s mayor, wasn’t happy about the arrests.
The woman manager who called the police has either left the store or the company, according to various news reports.
Facebook released a video showing a black man being ordered to leave a Starbucks in Torrance, California, after complaining employees gave a white make customer the numerical code to open the door of the men’s restroom before he ordered food. The black man was not given the same code. Starbucks officials said they are aware of the video.
The Rittenhouse Square arrests angered the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“The arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks represents another ominous signal on the increasingly dangerous environment for African Americans,” wrote Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of stereotypes and embedded fears of others…Racism and biases that make simply breathing while black so dangerous will not just go away without our society committing more resources to discussion, education and training on implicit bias and racism.”
“We know if two Black men in Philadelphia require six police officers to handcuff and arrest them for waiting to order coffee, then we begin to understand the mind state that allows for such overzealous and reactionary use of deadly force by those who are paid to serve and protect.
“Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of the stereotypes and embedded fears of others. How else can we explain why 14-year-old Brennan Walker who missed his bus on his way to school would be shot at by a homeowner just outside Detroit? Or explain Saheed Vassell, a mentally-ill man in Brooklyn fired at ten times and shot dead by police officers. Or why Stephon Clark was shot at 20 times and hit 8 times, mainly in the back, by police officers in Sacramento, based on the assumption that he was the culprit responsible for breaking into cars. We are at least glad in the case of Starbucks that no one mistook a wallet for a gun.

Newswire : NAACP, Prince George’s County file lawsuit over “Underfunded, Understaffed” 2020 Census

By William J. Ford (The Washington Informer/NNPA Member)

 

naacpcensus2020lawsuit_4580_fallen_web120.jpg

NAACP officials announce lawsuit
The NAACP announced that the group has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, the U.S. Census Bureau and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, “to combat the imminent threat that the 2020 Census will substantially undercount African Americans and other people of color in communities throughout the United States,” a press release about the lawsuit said.
Prince George’s County, the NAACP’s Prince George’s County branch and two county residents (branch President Bob Ross and Elizabeth Johnson), also joined the suit. Prince George’s County experienced one of the highest undercounts in the nation at 2.3 percent during the 2010 Census, according to the suit. The figures are based on counties with a population of at least 100,000.
“Such a dramatic undercount will especially dilute the votes of racial and ethnic minorities, deprive their communities of critical federal funds and undervalue their voices and interests in the political arena,” the suit alleges.
During a press conference about the lawsuit at the National Press Club in Northwest D.C., Bradford Berry, general counsel of the NAACP said that this lawsuit is unique, because the plaintiffs seek action before work on the 2020 Census begins.
For instance, the suit claims the federal government has decreased resources and manpower for the 2020 Census and “cancelled crucial, pre-Census field tests and is rushing to digitize the Census without adequate cybersecurity protections, thus undermining public confidence in the privacy of Census data” the press release said.

The lawsuit also states that the Census Bureau doesn’t have sufficient staffing; the agency’s acting director, Ron Jarmin, was also named as a defendant in the suit.
On Capitol Hill last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $2.8 billion for the bureau, an increase more than double the amount of the Trump administration’s request of $1.1 billion.
“Proposing a bill and passing a bill are two different things,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “Once the final bill passes, we would like to evaluate to see if it’s sufficient. We simply need the political will to make sure we have an accurate count for this [upcoming] Census.”
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said his jurisdiction has lost about $200 million in federal money, because of Census undercounts. The Maryland jurisdiction of nearly 900,000 people borders Washington, D.C., with 65 percent of the population African American.
Federal law requires that citizens are counted in a decennial census that not only helps redraw political boundaries, but also for counties and states to receive federal money for improvement of schools, roads and other needs.

Critics have argued that a proposed citizenship question in the 2020 Census will deter legal immigrants from responding and decrease the number of people counted in those communities. The Hispanic population in Prince George’s County stands at about 18 percent.
“What’s more frightening about this Census count, more than in the past, is the rhetoric from the Trump administration,” Baker said after the press conference. “With a growing Latino population in the county, this is a direct assault on those folks participating in the Census. If it’s happening here, then it’s happening everywhere.”
William J. Ford is a staff writer for The Washington Informer. You can follow him on Twitter @jabariwill.The Washington Informer is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Learn more about becoming a member at www.nnpa.org.