Newswire : Sen. Schumer says Senate will vote on changes to filibuster by MLK Day

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The U.S. Senate will vote by January 17 on whether the chamber will adopt new rules to circumvent the draconian filibuster to enable voting rights and social justice bills, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced on Monday, January 3.
“The Senate was designed to protect the political rights of the minority in the chamber, through the promise of debate and the opportunity to amend. But over the years, those rights have been warped and contorted to obstruct and embarrass the will of the majority – something our Founders explicitly opposed,”  Senator Schumer wrote in a letter to colleagues.
“The constitution specified what measures demanded a supermajority – including impeachment or the ratification of treaties. But they explicitly rejected supermajority requirements for legislation, having learned firsthand of such a requirement’s defects under the Articles of Confederation,” he continued.
Although the Senate is evenly split with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, Sen. Schumer’s party controls the majority, with Vice President Kamala Harris positioned to cast any tie-breaking vote.
Still, a significant hurdle remains in the senator’s own party. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has remained steadfast in opposition to any changes to the filibuster, a centuries-old rule rooted in racism.
Sen. Manchin has shot down a swath of his party’s agenda, making it difficult for President Joe Biden and others to fulfill campaign promises to faithful voters, particularly in the African American community.
Recent history showed that when Republicans controlled the Senate, they bent tradition and rules to push through the party’s agenda, including two controversial Supreme Court nominations.
With GOP-led voter suppression laws in states across the country and the continued police killings of unarmed African Americans, many have pushed for legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the George Floyd Justice and Policing bill.
Both measures would supersede laws already on the books and make it easier for people of color to vote, and hold law enforcement accountable for their actions.
“The weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction. We must ask ourselves: if the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, then how can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the State level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same? We must adapt,” Sen. Schumer demanded.
“The Senate must evolve like it has many times before. The Senate was designed to evolve and has evolved many times in our history.”
Sen. Schumer continued:
“The fight for the ballot is as old as the Republic. Over the coming weeks, the Senate will once again consider how to perfect this union and confront the historic challenges facing our democracy. We hope our Republican colleagues change course and work with us. But if they do not, the Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to protect the foundation of our democracy: free and fair elections.”

Newswire : Howard University closed after ransomware attack

Howard University

By Breoona Randall, Howard University News Service

WASHINGTON – Howard University, one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious historically black universities and the alma mater of Vice President Kamala Harris, was shut down Tuesday due to a ransomware attack.
The FBI and District of Columbia city government have been working with the university about the attack, the university said. The university did not mention who conducted the attack or what they are asking for to release the university’s networks.
University officials said Howard’s Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) became aware Friday of a potential cyberattack. In response, ETS shutdown all the university’s networks to further investigate.
On Monday, the university said, the computer and technology interruption was a ransomware attack. Consequently, all in-person and online classes were cancelled Tuesday, Howard’s Office of University Communications said.
“ETS and its partners have been working diligently to fully address this incident and restore operations as quickly as possible,” the Office of University Communications said in an email Monday.
The university will reopen Wednesday, but only in-person. Howard University’s wi-fi, however, will still be unavailable.
Ingrid Sturgis, chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film in Howard’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications, said the ransomware attack “has been very disruptive.”
“Over the weekend, I had some faculty members emailing me about what they should do, because their students could not turn in their work, because they did not have access to blackboard and other tools they usually use for class,” Sturgis said.
She said she’s been through several malfunctions at the university, but this one is different.
“It’s kind of scary to me knowing how many student and faculty records there are, and these kinds of attacks are happening more and more frequently,” she said. “In a way, we are fortunate the university has beefed up its ability to detect these kinds of things.
Jennifer C. Thomas, an associate professor and journalism sequence coordinator in the Department. of Media, Journalism and Film, said working through the shutdown is example for one of the lessons she teachers her students on overcoming the problems face as they pursue a story.
“The thing I have said in the past when we have had issues on campus with the system being down is we are in the journalism sequence,” Thomas said. “As journalists, we know that a deadline doesn’t care if the internet is down. We have to be resourceful, so we can complete the current task at hand under that certain deadline.”

 

Newswire : VP Harris urges Black community to get COVID vaccines

Kamala Harris 

By Sandy Fitzgerald, MSNBC  

Vice President Kamala Harris is urging the Black community to get their COVID-19 vaccines, pointing out that “Black people are disproportionately likely to contract the virus and die from it.”
“We know when you look at who the frontline workers are, who is (at) the most risk disproportionately,” Harris told MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, in a clip played Thursday on “Morning Joe” from an interview recorded for Sharpton’s Sunday afternoon news show. “We are talking about people of color.”
Harris added that Black people are being “disproportionately” affected by the disease, both in terms of deaths and through economic issues. 
“Black small businesses, as many as I have seen, 40%, are going out of business or have gone out of business,” said Harris. “If we want to get control of this virus that is harming us at a disproportionate rate, part of it is to get vaccinated when it is our turn.” 
She acknowledged to Sharpton that many people in the Black community have a “righteous skepticism” about the vaccine, given the history of medical testing that has taken place in the United States. 
“There’s a righteous skepticism if you know history,” said Harris. “But I promise you and I am telling you this vaccine is safe, and it will save your life and the lives of your family and your community, so get your vaccine when it is your turn. It will save your life.
“Let’s not let COVID get us. Let’s get the vaccine instead.”
Harris is attending a vaccination event Thursday morning at a southeast D.C. supermarket to prompt the administration’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for vaccines, according to a White House report. The administration last week increased the distribution of vaccines from 1 million to 2 million to 7,000 pharmacies nationwide. 
The vice president also told Sharpton that it is vital for Congress to pass the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID bill, the American Rescue Plan, but at the same time, she has faith in “our ability to get through this and be better on the other side, to lift folks up and lift ourselves up when we have the opportunity.”

Newswire: Georgia voters will decide fate of Senate and a new South

News Analysis By Rev. Jesse Jackson 


GA Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – On Jan. 5, Georgia voters will decide the runoff for their two U.S. Senate seats. Their votes will determine whether Republicans retain control of the Senate or whether Democrats gain a 50-50 tie, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote.
The race is a microcosm of America’s struggle to find a way forward and of Georgia and the South’s struggle to build a new South. The two Democratic challengers reflect the new age still waiting to be born. Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the congregation led by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is a distinguished heir to the King tradition.
Thirty-three-year-old Jon Ossoff, educated at Georgetown and the London School of Economics, was born and raised in Atlanta, interned for the late Rep. John Lewis and served as a national security staffer to Rep. Hank Johnson. He has been CEO of Insight TWI, a London based documentary maker that focuses on detailing corruption in foreign countries.
Both Rev. Warnock and Ossoff have put forth a moderate platform for change. Both support immediate action to forestall an economic collapse as the pandemic spikes. With Republicans blocking action in the Senate, millions now face an end to unemployment insurance, an end to the eviction moratorium — with one-third of households behind on their rent or mortgages — and an end to the student debt moratorium, with millions of young people still struggling to find jobs. Without assistance, states and localities will be forced to cut services and lay off employees like teachers and firefighters.
Both Warnock and Ossoff support strengthening the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option and reducing prescription drug prices but oppose Medicare for All. Both call for bold action to deal with the reality of catastrophic climate change but oppose the Green New Deal. Both are for lifting the minimum wage, and for assistance to small businesses. Their Republican opponents are the sitting senators — Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Both Loeffler and Perdue are multimillionaires. Both were charged with insider trading, selling stocks after receiving private briefings on the threat posed by the pandemic. Both dubiously claimed that their advisers made the trades without their knowledge.
Both tout themselves as Donald Trump supporters. They oppose the Affordable Care Act, and support alternatives that would leave hundreds of thousands of Georgians without health care. Both, lavishly supported by oil and gas interests, refuse to consider climate change a major threat. Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, a women’s professional basketball team, loudly denounced support given to the Black Lives Matter movement, leading her players to wear T-shirts saying Vote Warnock. Neither Perdue nor Loeffler bother to offer a serious agenda to address the problems that Georgians face. They joined Republican leader Mitch McConnell in blocking the rescue act in the midst of the pandemic.
Neither Loeffler nor Perdue have a clue or a care for working for poor people in Georgia. So how do they hope to get elected? Both have adopted the same strategy: echo Donald Trump’s divisive race-based populism and benefit from systematic suppression of the vote. They’ve booked nearly $200 million in vicious attack ads against their opponents, painting them as a threat to all things American.
Perdue falsely paints Ossoff as a “radical socialist.” In a classic anti-Semitic trope, Perdue’s campaign released an ad that lengthened Ossoff nose. Loeffler paints Warnock as a “radical” who will “change this country forever,” nonsensically promoting herself as the “firewall in stopping socialism in America.” In her stump speech, in less than 45 seconds, she wildly links the distinguished minister to Obama’s minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Fidel Castro, George Soros, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Loeffler and Perdue won’t admit that Joe Biden won the presidential election, nor that he won Georgia. Adopting Donald Trump’s baseless claims of fraud, they wrote a joint letter calling for the resignation of the Georgia secretary of state, a conservative Republican supporter of Donald Trump.
He scorned the demand as “laughable.” What isn’t laughable is the long lines that black voters had to suffer in order to cast a vote in the primaries and November election. For years, Georgia — controlled by Republicans — has passed various measures to suppress the votes of minorities and the young, including gerrymandering districts, requiring photo ID, aggressive purging of voter rolls, and more. Notably, as the electorate has grown by over 2 million in the last seven years, Georgia has reduced the number of voting places by 10 percent. This has had a disproportionate effect on young and nonwhite voters whose registrations have surged. The contrasting campaigns make it clear that a vote for Loeffler or Perdue is a vote for continued dysfunction and obstruction.
A victory by either would further commit Republicans to Donald Trump’s toxic use of race-based division, lies and calumnies to divide working people, gaining victories for those who serve the rich and corporations. Two of the wealthiest senators, Loeffler and Perdue personify the con. Neither America nor Georgia can move forward until the growing majority that is desperate for change overcomes the systematic efforts to divide and suppress.
This country cannot begin to address the threats it faces – the pandemic, the economic collapse, corrosive and extreme inequality, catastrophic climate change, racial inequity, growing insecurity and a declining middle class – until those standing in the way are defeated. Loeffler says the “future of the country is at stake on January 5.” Of her many delusions, that one may be the closest to the truth.