Newswire : Harriet movie features a model of courage for today

By Dr. Barbara Reynolds

Poster of Harriet movie


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – For a nation built on truth, abolitionist, freedom fighter, ex-slave Harriet Tubman should have the acclaim of a Paul Revere, or Patrick Henry whose courageous lines “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” guided the American Revolution.
Tubman, whose battle cry was to ‘’live free or die” and revolt, guided another revolution. It was to end slavery which changed the color, content and character of America today.
Finally, through the newly released epic movie Harriet, this revolutionary warrior,born into slavery in 1822 in Dorchester County, Md., has emerged from the back alley of history to take her rightful place as a larger than life action figure, a true American hero. Unlike the heroes spun from Marvel comic strips or the Terminator franchise, Harriet Tubman is not, fake, fantasy or make believe although her expansive accomplishments are more real than can
be imagined.
Don’t think you are going to see the serene, sedate elderly Harriet of our textbooks. This is the Harriet of her youth, jaunting up rocky cliffs, jumping off bridges and even shooting a White slave owner with her pistol.
Through the skillful talent of British-born actress, Cynthia Erivo, the film – to be released Nov. 1 – features Tubman not only as yesterday’s heroine, but as a model of courage for today. Risking certain death if captured, often with a pistol in her waistband, she escaped from bondage on Maryland’s Eastern shore and returned often in disguise to rescue more than 70 family and fellow slaves. She became a leader in the anti-slavery Underground Railroad, the women’s suffrage movement in her long standing struggle against systemic gender and racial inequality.
During the Civil War, she served as a nurse, scout and spy for the Union army and became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war guiding the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves. Unfortunately her heroism did not guard her from racism as she was originally denied the pension benefits granted to White soldiers.
In heart-aching detail the movie does not sanitize the horror of slavery; nor does it gloss over the power of God in her life. Scenes of blood-soaked whips, scarred backs of enslaved men and women, screaming children torn from their families to be sold by Whites trading them as if they were dispensing sows from a pig pen – It’s all there. But there is another story that shines through, one of Black love, Black loyalty and a determination of the enslaved to live free or die and the eventual embrace of the long awaited freedom. It’s all there.
In the movie, we see Harriet after learning she is to be sold South, which rumors say is more brutal than the plantations on Maryland’s Eastern shore, leave her family and the love of her life, her husband John Tubman, traveling 100 miles alone to freedom in Philadelphia through the aid of the Underground Railroad.
Though the term railroad might prompt visions of nice cushy seats, this railroad Harriet traveled was a harsh pathway through snake-filled marshes, woods, and deep rivers. Often, the flight of this woman known to some as the SHEMOSES was made even more treacherous as armed posses with baying hounds chased her to collect the rewards for her capture. But they never caught her. She once boasted that her railroad never ran off track and she never lost a passenger.
In the movie she declared she had only the North Star and we see her on her knees looking up to the heavens in deep communication with the God she depended upon to shield her from her enemies.
My favorite scene is when the only choice for a band of freeing slaves was to either turn back or cross a treacherous river. While her family cowered, frozen on the riverbank for fear of following her and drowning, she lifted her pistol above her head wading in the deep water as she prayed aloud. Slowly the waters receded; as her feet touched dry land her family members jumped in and crossed over as well.
The two -hour epic directed by filmmaker Kasi Lemmons who also wrote and directed Eve’s Bayou, sends the audience away with an inspirational song, entitled, “Stand up”, co-written by Joshuah Campbell and the film’s leading lady Erivo.
The song sets just the right tone for Harriet enthusiasts to continue
celebrating Harriet. President Obama had selected her to become the first person of color to be represented on any of the nation’s currency, replacing Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill. Not surprisingly in June 2019 the Trump administration has delayed the launch.
Nevertheless, in Maryland Harriet enthusiasts have other ways to celebrate her. Painted on the side wall of the Harriet Tubman Museum & Education Center in downtown Cambridge, Maryland—just a few miles from where Tubman grew up, is a 14’ X 28’ mural featuring Tubman offering an outstretched hand.
In March 2017, the Maryland Park Service and Maryland government opened the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park & Visitor Center in the heart of the Choptank River Region where Harriet grew up. It’s a 17-acre facility that has already been visited by nearly 200,000 guests from all 50 states and over 60 countries. In her honor the Service has also established the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, NY.
Tubman is the only U.S. woman to be honored by the Service with two
parks.

Republicans say Trump should apologize : FBI confirms Trump lied about Obama ‘wire tapping’ charge

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Then President Obama meets with President-elect Trump in preparation for transition.

 

By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire) – FBI Director James B. Comey has essentially confirmed what Democrats, Republicans and much of the general public already knew. That is that President Donald B. Trump lied on former President Barack Obama when he claimed, in a March 4 tweet, that Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during Trump’s campaign for the presidency.
“With respect to the president’s tweets, I have no information that supports those tweets…We have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey testified during a House Intelligence Committee Monday.
Comey said the U. S. Department of Justice, headed by Trump appointee Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asked him to state that the Justice Department also knows nothing of any such wiretaps.
In four consecutive tweets on March 4, Trump falsely accused former President Obama of the wiretapping:

The first tweet at 6:35 am: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
The second tweet at 6:49 am: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”
The third tweet at 6:52 am: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
The third tweet at 7:02 am: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

The false statements are not unusual for Trump – especially when it comes to President Obama. For nearly his entire presidency, Trump falsely claimed he was not born in the U. S. Even after Obama presented his birth certificate proving he was born in Hawaii, Trump still persisted. In other untruths, Trump also claimed to have seen thousands of Muslims celebrating the terrorist attacks on Sept. l1, 2001; and he claimed that millions of people voted illegally in the 2017 presidential election.
But the latest accusation against Obama was particularly egregious because Trump – with no clear reason – falsely accused his predecessor of a high crime. It was also odd given that Obama and Trump appeared to have gotten along so well during the transition period with Trump calling Obama a “very good man”.
Obama immediately responded to the false accusation through a statement from his spokesman Kevin Lewis.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Lewis said in a statement. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen…Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
Civil rights leaders have been oddly silent on the Trump accusation against Obama. It will likely be brought up as members of the Congressional Black Caucus meets with the president March 22. But Republicans, interviewed by CNN leading up to Comey’s statement, said Trump clearly owes Obama an apology.
“I would retract the words if I were in his shoes. I think he should retract those words. To me I would apologize. I think it would be appropriate to do so,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)
“It never hurts to say you’re sorry. I think that goes for this situation,” says Rep. Bill Hurd (R-Texas).
“Unless you can produce some pretty compelling proof, then I think President Obama is owed an apology in that regard,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
But the Trump administration says it will not apologize. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Monday that the President will not apologize. He said, “This is still ongoing.”

Peaceful exchange of power takes place as Trump prepares to take oath of office by shaking Obama’s hand.

inaughandtohand.jpgPresident Obama shakes hands with President Trump on stage at inauguration. Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

 

 

               (TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States Jan. 20, during a peaceful exchange of powers with America’s first Black President Barack Obama. Trump assured a unified America despite never apologizing for leading one of the most hate-filled campaigns in recent history.

“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people. Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come,” Trump told the crowd. The Bible tells us, ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.’ We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”

The speech was met with applause and chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” by the vastly White audience – a reversal from the two inaugurations of eight and four years ago, when throngs of Black people packed in to witness the historic inaugurations of President Obama. The Trump inauguration, though well attended with crowds stretching from the steps of the U. S. Capitol back to the Washington Monument, did not draw as many people as the Obama inauguration, based on close observations of the crowd by this reporter and Black press photographers who attended all three ceremonies.

More than 60 Democratic members of Congress decided to skip the inauguration; including Black Caucus members U. S. Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Lewis contends he does not see Trump as a legitimate president given the involvement of Russian email hacking in order to help him get elected, according to confirmation by intelligence agencies. Lee and others refused to attend because of protest for Trump’s vitriolic conduct during the election.

Still President Obama had promised a “peaceful exchange of powers”, a tenet of American democracy. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, were also in attendance with their wives. Former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who battled Trump vigorously to win the presidency, smiled a lot and appeared stately during the procession and ceremony.

“Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent,” Trump said. He repeated promised to “make America first” in his proposed national and international policies, legislations and executive orders. He also promised to uplift “inner cities”, a well-known euphemism for the Black community.

“Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public,” Trump said. “But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. We are one nation – and their pain is our pain.  Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success.  We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.”

Trump’s words are lofty, but his actions have not matched what he has said. So far, he has nominated an all-White cabinet; except Dr. Ben Carson who will head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has also appointed former White supremacist advocate Steve Bannon as a top advisor and nominated former Klan sympathizer Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general. He has appointed Omarosa Manigault to assist him with public liaison, but it remains to be seen what will come from a meeting she and other aids had with Black organizational representatives.

Meanwhile on Saturday, the day after the inauguration, more than a million women packed the streets of Washington and other major cities around the U. S. making demands on a string of key issues important to women, Blacks and other minorities. Civil rights leaders have taken a wait and see posture while putting pressure on the Trump administration through protest.

Led by Rev. Al Sharpton, they started that pressure during a march one week before the inauguration. On Inauguration Day, National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial emailed a statement essentially promising to continue marching to correct social ills that were prevalent 50 years ago.
“My own predecessor as head of the National Urban League, the legendary Whitney M. Young, was one of the organizers of that march and delivered his own stirring speech that day. He spoke of the need for Black Americans to do “some more marching:” …from dangerous ghettos to safe, unrestricted neighborhoods…from poverty wages to skilled, family-sustaining jobs…from the cemeteries of early graves to health centers from overcrowded, inadequate classrooms to fully-equipped, professionally staffed and integrated schools,” wrote Morial. “And there we were, marching for those same things a half-century later, marching under the motto, “We shall not be moved.”

President Obama and Hillary Clinton are making their first joint campaign appearance

 By: The Associated Press

 

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

Eight years after Hillary Clinton helped unite Democrats behind Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, he’s returning the favor. Obama and Clinton will make their first joint appearance of the 2016 campaign Tuesday in North Carolina, a state Democrats are eager to pull back into their win column in November. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump will hold his own event in the political battleground a few hours later. The Democratic duo’s rally in Charlotte cements a new phase in their storied political relationship. They were bitter rivals in the 2008 Democratic primary but became colleagues when Clinton joined Obama’s Cabinet as secretary of state. Now, they’re co-dependents as Clinton seeks the White House once again.
Her chances of winning hinge on rallying Obama’s coalition to her cause. Obama’s legacy depends on her success. Aides to both say the foe-to-friend story will be at the center of the Obama-Clinton show Tuesday. In his remarks, the president will act as a character witness for his former adviser, who is struggling to convince voters of her trustworthiness and honesty. There is no better politician to testify on her behalf, many Democrats believe, than the man who once counted himself among the Clinton skeptics but came around to be one of her biggest boosters.
“I think that he can be very helpful, particularly with Democratic voters and some independent voters who have doubts,” said David Axelrod, the chief architect of Obama’s 2008 race for the Democratic nomination against Clinton. “He can do that by sharing his own experience. They were rivals, they had their differences; that gives him some additional standing.”
The Clinton campaign also is hoping that Obama’s presence at her side serves as a reminder of another, more popular chapter in Clinton’s career. For four years, Obama trusted her to circle the globe representing his foreign policy. She sat at his side in the Situation Room. She was the good soldier, putting aside her political ego to join the administration of the man who defeated her. During her tenure at the State Department she was viewed favorably by most Americans.
“As someone who was a former rival and came to put a lot of faith in her, we believe the president’s support for her is particularly meaningful to voters,” said Clinton campaign adviser Jennifer Palmieri.
The White House confirmed Monday that Clinton and Obama will travel to the event together on Air Force One. Clinton’s Republican presidential rival objected to the travel plan. “Why is President Obama allowed to use Air Force One on the campaign trail with Crooked Hillary?” Donald Trump tweeted. “Who pays?”
Presidents make all their airplane flights on Air Force One, no matter the purpose of the trip. Political committees are required to contribute to the cost of a president’s campaign-related travel, though a portion of such costs is borne by taxpayers, too. “As is the standard practice, the campaign will cover its portion of the costs,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said.
Obama makes his first campaign appearance with Clinton during a wave of popularity unlike anything he’s experienced since his first term. Clinton aides say they’re confident they could deploy him in any battleground state, though they believe he’ll be particularly effective in rallying young people, as well as black and Hispanic voters, and will be instrumental in voter registration efforts.
In a series of remarks in recent weeks, the president has proven himself to be one of the Democrats’ most effective critics of Trump. From his perch at the White House and on the world stage, Obama has regularly found ways to blast Trump’s message and mock his style. The mix of high-minded concern and sharp-elbowed sarcasm is widely viewed as an effective, tweetable model for other Democrats.
Still, Obama won’t spend the next four months as the “Trump-troller in chief,” as one official put it. Obama plans to take a largely positive message on the road as his campaigning picks up later this summer. That’s in part because he’s campaigning for the continuation of his agenda — as well as Clinton’s. On health care, immigration, financial reform and the environment, Clinton is largely promising a continuation or acceleration of Obama’s policies.
Obama and Clinton originally planned to make their first campaign appearance together in Wisconsin, a Democratic-leaning state where Clinton struggled in her primary fight with Bernie Sanders. Campaign aides viewed the rally as a way to forge Democratic unity after the bruising primary and consolidate the party’s voters in a state Clinton needs to carry in November.
But the June 15 rally was postponed due to the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. By the time the campaign and White House got around to rescheduling, Clinton aides said the landscape had shifted — they are now far less worried about bringing along Bernie Sanders voters and more interested in using the president to rally voters in one of the most divided general election battlegrounds.

Obama: Court ruling won’t end immigration debate

By: Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

President Obama

 

WASHINGTON — President Obama all but conceded defeat on immigration Thursday following a Supreme Court decision that kept his executive actions on hold, saying it’s unlikely he’ll be able to accomplish his goal of giving millions of immigrants semi-legal status by the end of his presidency.

Obama called the Supreme Court’s deadlock a setback that “takes us further from the country we aspire to be.” But he also predicted that an overhaul the immigration system would come eventually.”Congress isn’t able to ignore America forever,” he said.

Obama spoke following the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock in a closely watched case that considered whether the president has the power to delay deportations of millions of immigrants who don’t have the legal authority to be in the United States.

The unusual Supreme Court tie vote — caused by the vacancy created by Senate Republicans’ refusal to confirm a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia — means that a lower court ruling stands. That decision held that states have standing to sue the federal government over the executive actions, and put important parts of Obama’s immigration plan on hold.

The Obama administration has deployed more border agents to the southern border, and Obama said he’s cut illegal border crossings to their lowest levels since 1970s. But he lamented that success on that front did not break the logjam in Congress over an immigration reform package.

“It is heartbreaking for millions of immigrants who made their lives here, who raised families here,” Obama said.

Obama promised that little would change for most immigrants, saying his administration would continue to consider long-term unauthorized immigrants a low priority for deportation. “What is unaffected by today’s ruling, or lack of a ruling, are the enforcement priorities we put in place,” he said. “As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited law enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

But the decision means that immigrant families will not be eligible for get work authorizations and government benefits. Obama said he’s not considering any more executive actions on the issue before the end of his presidency.

Obama also used the occasion to once again call on the Republican- controlled Senate to confirm his nominee for a vacancy to the Supreme Court, which would provide for a more definitive — and likely Obama-friendly — decision.

“The court’s inability to reach a decision in this case is a very clear reminder of why it’s so important for the Supreme Court to have a full bench.”

Obama did praise a separate decision upholding affirmative action in college admissions. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everyone, and that;s what the Supreme Court upheld today,” Obama said.

 

Supreme Court rules for Black Georgia death row inmate

By Lawrence Hurley

 

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday effectively overturned a Black man’s 1987 conviction for murdering a white woman, rebuking Georgia prosecutors for unlawfully excluding Black potential jurors in picking an all-white jury that condemned him to death.

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Timothy Foster

The 7-1 ruling handed a major victory to Timothy Foster, who is 48 now and was 18 at the time of the 1986 killing of Queen Madge White, a 79-year-old retired schoolteacher, in Rome, Georgia. Prosecutors, however, still could seek a new trial.
Black convicts make up a disproportionately high percentage of death row inmates in the United States. Opponents of capital punishment assert that the American criminal justice system discriminates against Black defendants. During jury selection, all four Black members of the pool of potential jurors were “struck” by prosecutors, meaning they were removed from consideration. Prosecutors gave reasons not related to race for their decisions to exclude them.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the ruling, said prosecution notes introduced into evidence that shed light on the jury selection “plainly belie the state’s claim that it exercised its strikes in a ‘color blind’ manner. The sheer number of references to race in that file is arresting.”
The notes showed that the prosecution marked the names of the black prospective jurors with a “B,” highlighted them in green and circled the word “Black” next to the race question on juror questionnaires.
The prosecution gave reasons for excluding potential Black jurors including that they “did not make enough eye contact” during questioning and were “bewildered,” “hostile,” “defensive,” “nervous” and “impudent.”
Roberts said prosecutors “were motivated in substantial part by race” when two of the potential jurors were excluded. Two such strikes based on race “are two more than the Constitution allows,” Roberts added.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1986, the same year as this murder, that it is unconstitutional to take race into account when excluding potential jurors.
Prosecutors said Foster broke into the elderly woman’s home in the middle of the night, broke White’s jaw, sexually assaulted her, beat and strangled her, and stole items from her house. Foster later confessed to killing White, according to court papers.
At the time of the trial, Foster’s legal arguments regarding jury selection failed. But in 2006 his lawyers obtained access to the prosecution’s jury selection notes, which showed that the race of the Black potential jurors was highlighted, indicating “an explicit reliance on race,” according to Foster’s attorneys.
According to court documents filed by Foster’s lawyers, the lead prosecutor said of his exclusion of the potential black jurors: “All I have to do is have a race-neutral reason, and all of these reasons that I have given the court are racially neutral.”
Foster’s lawyer, Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said the legal challenge would not have succeeded without the notes. “This discrimination became apparent only because we obtained the prosecution’s notes which revealed their intent to discriminate. Usually that does not happen. The practice of discriminating in striking juries continues in courtrooms across the country,” Bright said.
The Supreme Court’s ruling threw out a Georgia Supreme Court decision rejecting Foster’s claim about prosecutorial misconduct in jury selection, meaning a state court will now reverse his conviction.
The sole dissenter in the ruling was the court’s only Black justice, Clarence Thomas. Thomas said the case should have been sent back to state courts to determine whether Foster’s claim could proceed.

President Barack Obama signed a bill Friday that modernizes the terms used for minorities.

By: Madison Park, CNN

President Barack Obama

(CNN) The federal government will no longer use the terms “Negro” and “Oriental” after President Barack Obama signed a bill into law. The official terms will be African-American and Asian-American. Welcome to 2016.
In a rare show of bipartisan support, the measure H.R.4238, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. Obama signed it into law Friday. The measure updates the terms the U.S. federal government uses to describe minorities, including American Indian to Native American and “Spanish speaking individual of Spanish descent” to Hispanic.
Here’s what the bill states: Office Of Minority Economic Impact.—Section 211(f)(1) of the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. 7141(f)(1)) is amended by striking “a Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or is a Spanish speaking individual of Spanish descent” and inserting “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, or an Alaska Native”.
“The term ‘Oriental’ has no place in federal law and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good,” said Rep. Grace Meng of New York, who sponsored the bill.
Meng, a Democrat from Queens, encountered the term while doing legislative research and had sought to eliminate its usage from government terminology.
“Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land,” she said in a statement.
Meng had similarly pushed a law that eliminated the use of the word when she served in the New York Legislature in 2009.
The H.R. 4328 bill had 76 cosponsors, including all 51 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. One of the original cosponsors included Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican.
“Our country is a rich tapestry of cultural backgrounds, and Americans of all backgrounds deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said in a statement.

Obama to make historic visit to Hiroshima

By David Nakamura, Washington Post

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President Obama will make a historic trip to Hiroshima, Japan, on May 27, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the world’s first atomic bombing.
The White House formally announced the visit last week after weeks of speculation that Obama would stop in the city after attending the Group of 7 economic summit in Ise-Shima. The president is expected to deliver a speech on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join Obama on the visit, where the president will “highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” the White House said in a statement.
Obama aides say there will be no presidential apology for the U.S. decision to drop the atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, which killed an estimated 140,000 people in Hiroshima. Three days later, a second atomic bomb killed up to 80,000 people in Nagasaki.
“He will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said in a blog post. “Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future.”
Critics, including many conservative news outlets, have called a visit unnecessary and framed a potential trip by Obama as an apology for an act that helped bring the war started by Japan to a quicker end, saving lives of U.S. service members.
But the White House believed the time was right, in Obama’s final year, to make a grand symbolic statement toward the president’s disarmament goals that he announced during his first year in office. Though Obama has made only modest progress in that effort, aides said the trip would allow the president to focus international attention on the issue at a time when presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear weapon arsenals in the face of threats from North Korea.
Rhodes emphasized that Obama will pay homage to U.S. service members who fought in World War II: “Their cause was just, and we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. ” He added that “the visit will also symbolize how far the United States and Japan have come in building a deep and abiding alliance based on mutual interests, shared values, and an enduring spirit of friendship between our peoples.”
Kevin Martin, president of Peace Action, which advocates for the abolition of nuclear weapons, said that Obama must take concrete steps toward that goal.”It’s not enough to repeat the words Obama has said several times since his historic Prague speech [in 2009] calling for the abolishment of nuclear weapons,” Martin said. “Obama must announce actions he will take in the his remaining months as president that will actually bring the world closer to being free of nuclear weapons.”
The president, Martin said, “will look insincere if his words espouse ridding the world of nuclear weapons while at the same time his administration continues its plan to spend a trillion dollars over thirty years to upgrade nuclear weapons.”
Obama also will make his first visit to Vietnam, visiting Hanoi on May 24 and Ho Chi Minh City on May 25, the White House said.

After meeting with Orlando victims, Obama renews call for gun control

By: Gregory Korte, USA TODAY
Obama and Biden

President Obama and Vice President Biden lay flowers for the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub Sunday in Orlando, Florida, June 16, 2016. (Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Thursday that destroying the Islamic State alone won’t stop lone-wolf terror attacks as long as disturbed people have easy access to assault weapons. Obama renewed his call for gun control legislation after a series of emotional private meetings in Orlando with the families of victims of the worst mass shooting in American history. Law enforcement officials say Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard apparently inspired by a mix of radical Islamic propaganda and anti-gay hatred, shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub early Sunday morning.
“Those who were killed and injured here were gunned down by a single killer with a powerful assault weapon,” Obama said. “The motives of this killer may have been different than the mass killers in Aurora, or Newtown. But the instruments of death were so similar. Now another 49 innocent people are dead. Another 53 are injured. Some are still fighting for their lives. Some will have wounds that will last a lifetime.”
Obama tried to acknowledge the complex mix of motivations and causes of the Orlando attack, but focused mostly on just one: guns.
Calling on the Senate to reconsider gun safety legislation defeated after the 2012 shooting of first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Obama challenged opponents of gun control to meet with the families of the Orlando victims. “They don’t care about politics. Neither do I. Neither does Joe,” he said, standing beside Vice President Biden.
“I truly hope that senators rise to the moment and do the right thing. We can stop some tragedies. We can save some lives. If we don’t act, we will keep seeing more massacres like this,” he said.
Obama noted the role of the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIL, in inspiring and encouraging terror attacks. But said the last two attacks — in San Bernardino and Orlando — were conducted by “deranged individuals warped by the hateful propaganda that they had seen over the Internet.”
“It’s going to take more than just our military.” he said. “If you have lone wolf attacks like this, hatched in the minds of disturbed persons, then we’re going to have to take different kinds of steps to prevent something like this from happening.”
The president also expressed support for the gay community. “It’s a good time for all of us to reflect on how we treat each other, and to insist on respect and equality for every human being,” he said. “We have to end discrimination and violence against our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. “We have to end discrimination and violence against our brothers and sisters who are in the LGBT community — here at home and around the world
Obama’s remarks to reporters followed private meetings with victims, police officers, doctors and staff of the Pulse nightclub where the shooting happened Sunday.
“As you might imagine, their grief is beyond description,” Obama said. “Through their pain and through their tears, they told us about the joy that their loved ones had brought to their lives.”
Obama and placed 49 white roses at a memorial for the 49 victims at a performing arts center near Orlando City Hall. “Our hearts are broken, too. We stand with you,” Obama said. “We are here for you.”
In all, Obama spent about four hours in Orlando. Landing at Orlando International Airport with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., Obama disembarked Air Force One and greeted Gov. Rick Scott and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, both Republicans. Obama also accepted a T-shirt from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a Democrat.
Obama and Biden then went to the Amway Center, an arena about two miles from Pulse, where an apparently self-radicalized security guard, Omar Mateen, opened fire early Sunday morning.

 

 

Superintendent Carter honors retired school personnel School Board approves 4% pay raise for all its employees

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School Superintendent, Dr. James Carter, presented Certificates of Recognition of Service to the school system to six retirees of 2016. L to R: School Board President, Leo Branch; retiree Mrs. Dorothy Branch; retiree Mr. Charles Carter. Honored retirees not shown are: Mr. Otis Crawford, Mrs. Jerdin Gray, Mrs. Billie Jean (BJ) Wallace, and Mrs. Fannie Aaron.

At the monthly Greene County Board of Education meeting held June 13, 2016, the board approved a 4% pay raise for all employees of the school system. The Alabama State Legislature approved a 4% raise for school employees with annual salaries of $75,000 and less and a 2% raise for school employees with annual salaries above $75,000. Individual school systems could opt to give the 4% increase to all employees, making up the difference for the upper pay levels with local funds. Superintendent James H. Carter stated that seemed to be the most equitable way to handle the raise. School personnel had not received a pay raise since 2008 and that raise was only 2%.

Dr. Carter presented special acknowledgements and certificates of appreciation to six retirees including Mrs. Dorothy Branch for 27 years in the school system; Mr. Charles Carter for 20 years; Mr. Otis Crawford for 25 years; Mrs. Jerdin Gray for 35 years; Mrs. Fannie Aaron, for 31 years and Mrs. Billie Jean Wallace for 25.5 years. Dr. Carter noted that efforts are continuing in preparation for the consolidation of middle school grades beginning with the next school session in August. “ The transformation continues with the consolidation of Paramount Jr. High School and Carver middle School into one campus. This should provide our middle school students, grades 4-8, with more course offerings and a nicer facility to teach and learn in for students and staff,” Dr. Carter said.
In his report, Dr. Carter remarked that he was pleased with the number of students enrolled in summer school, but he was perplexed that more students weren’t enrolled in the enrichment program. He stated that approximately 167 students are enrolled in summer school.
Superintendent Carter also gave a recap of the initiatives of the previous school year including choir, band, Performing Arts Program, Learning Academy, chess program, additional sports teams such as volleyball, softball, baseball and track. “At every stop, we saw most teachers using proven best practices in ways to engage students. We saw students who were more than capable, serious and focused and facilities that are conducive to learning,” stated Carter.
The board approved the superintendent’s request to declare as emergency projects the renovations needed at the former Greene County High School and the Peter J. Kirksey Vocational Facility. Carter explained that this action would speed up the process with the State Department of Education. The board also approved moving the Greene County Learning Academy from the former Greene County High School facility to the Peter J. Kirksey Vocational Facility.
In other business, the board approved the voluntary transfers of the following teachers for the 2016-2017 school term:
Katoya Quarles from 6th grade Math teacher at Carver Middle to 7th and 8th grade Math teacher at the consolidated middle school; Majorie Duncan from 5th grade teacher at Carver to 7th grade reading intervention teacher at the middle school; Rebecca Coleman from 2nd grade teacher at Eutaw Primary to computer science teacher at the middle school; Elona Washington from kindergarten teacher at Eutaw Primary to 1st grade teacher at Eutaw Primary; Sheila Tillman from 1st grade teacher at Paramount Jr. High to kindergarten teacher at Eutaw Primary; Charlease Smith from 3rd grade teacher at Eutaw Primary to 2nd grade teacher at Eutaw Primary; Cheryl Morrow from kindergarten/1st grade teacher at Paramount to 2nd grade teacher at Eutaw Primary.
The board approved a probationary 11 month contract for Toice Goodson as Principal of Greene County High School 9th Grade Academy.
The board also approved employment of the following for the middle school: Henry Miles, Jr. as elementary teacher; Frank Jackson as auto mechanics teacher 1/2 time; Migeual Catlin as long-term Math substitute. Employment for Greene County High School: Frank Jackson, auto mechanics 1/2 time; Jamar Jackson from custodian 11 months to custodian 12 months. Employment in Performing Arts: Vassie Brown, adjunct instructor, Theatre; Angel Cordona, adjunct instructor, Dance.
The superintendent recommended and board approved the recall of Shekitha Crowell as 5th grade teacher for the middle school and Jerome Franks as physical education teacher (TBA). The non-renewal recommendation of Cassandra Allen as business education teacher at Carver was also approved.
The board approved the following additional service contracts at Greene County High School for the 2016-2017 school term: Rodney Wesley, Head Basketball Coach (boys); Kendra Payne, Head Basketball Coach (girls); Gentrell Eatman, Head Football coach; Janice Jeames, Girls’ Volleyball Coach; Frederick Holmes, Band Director; Jerome Franks, Head Baseball Coach (boys); Jacob Sullivan, Head Softball Coach (girls); Walter Taylor, Assistant Football Coach. Dorris Robinson, Cheerleader Sponsor.
Additional service contracts approved for the middle school include: Corey Cockrell, Athletic Director, Head Football Coach, B-Team Basketball Coach (boys); Jacob Sullivan, Assistant Football Coach; Jeffery Wesley, Head Basketball Coach (boys); Marjorie Duncan, Head Basketball Coach (girls); Drenda Blackman, Cheerleader Sponsor.
Teachers employed for the Summer School Program include Carla Durrett, Gentrell Eatman and Angel Cordona for June 6 – June 17. Gloria Lyons was employed as manager for the Summer Feeding Program at Eutaw Primary for June 20 – June 30, 2016. Angela Harkness was employed as after school tutor – Special Needs, Summer School Teacher.
On the recommendation of the superintendent, the board declared various items from the Child Nutrition Program as surplus to be removed from the CNP inventory. Several buses were also declared as surplus to be sold and removed from the inventory of the School Bus Shop.
Various Out-of-State travel requests were approved for students, faculty and staff.
The board approved the summer school contract for the Resource Security Officers.