Monday, January 23, 2017

Environmental Activist Struck and Killed by SUV While Marching Barefoot Across America

An environmental activist who was marching barefoot across the country to raise awareness about climate change was killed over the weekend.

Mark Baumer, 33, died Saturday after being struck by an SUV on a Florida highway as he was walking on the shoulder. 

His death sparked a tribute from The FANG Collective, a Rhode Island-based environmental group that opposes the natural gas industry and on whose behalf he had already marched hundreds of miles and raised more than $3,000 dollars.

"Mark was an amazingly compassionate, empathic, humble, joyful, generous, mindful and caring person," the group said in a statement. "He was a talented poet and artist with an ability to tap into the human experience with his work." 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

President Trump Meeting with Business Leaders

President Trump made remarks to reporters before a meeting with business leaders, saying he hoped to meet with them on a quarterly basis. He also said his goal was create more manufacturing jobs and incentives for businesses, and cut regulations.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Affordable Care Act Replacement

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) held a press conference at the U.S. Capitol to introduce the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, a replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. They contrasted their bill against the existing health care law, and explained how the Patient Freedom Act would, in their words, grant states and patients more options while keeping health care costs transparent and “truly affordable.” 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Hollywood & Race: Brian's Song (1971)

Trailblazers in Black History: Slappy White

Melvin Edward "Slappy" White was an American comedian and actor. He worked with Redd Foxx on the Chitlin' circuit of stand-up comedy during the 1950s and 1960s. He appeared on the television shows Sanford and Son, That's My Mama, Blossom, and Cybill and in the films Mr. Saturday Night and Amazon Women on the Moon.

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Judith Browne Dianis is ‘Stepping to the Front’ in the Fight For Racial Justice

Throughout America's history, there has been progress in the struggle for justice and equality - with each move forward met with push back. Even citizens uncertain about a changing America might agree that much work remains as we begin 2017.

Look no further than Charleston, where Dylann Roof was recently sentenced to death for the cold-blooded murder of nine parishioners who welcomed him to their prayer service at "Mother Emanuel" A.M.E.Church

The now 22-year-old white man says he purposely chose the historic African-American church in order to start a race war. And in that same city, a hung jury forced a mistrial in the case of white former police officer Michael Slager, though a video showed him shooting fleeing African-American Walter Scott in the back. 

Take note of policies in schools across the country, where, at every grade level, black and brown children disproportionately are subject to harsh discipline and arrest by resource officers whose job is to keep students in line rather than teach and nurture them. 

Click here for the full article.

The Margins and Myth of Trump’s ‘America First’ Promise

An NBC NewsBlack Op-Ed

By emphasizing patriotism above all in his Inaugural address, Donald Trump harkened back to an outdated, racialized and classist order of America.

One in which it's really not "America first," but rather an America where wealthy white men and their accomplices get to enjoy the spoils—from Wall Street to the White House.

With an emphasis on "unity" and "patriotism" the address took a tone that was a bit removed from the incendiary, if not divisive rhetoric of his campaign. The problem, however, lies in the fact that this message is still not nearly as inclusive as his predecessor, now-former President Barack Obama, nor is it as welcoming as that of his rival, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. 

In fact, it's still as exclusionary as it was before, but with more polite and vetted language that may seem non-threatening on the surface. Even so, know the code.

The President pledged to uphold and defend the Constitution -- despite his continued disdain for the First Amendment rights of journalists, amidst constant controversy surrounding his discriminatory behavior and questionable business practices that target marginalized groups—including women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, and other people who struggle to defend their civil rights. 

Click here for the full article.

Trump To Nominate Heather Wilson as Secretary of the Air Force

(Washington, DC) – President Donald J. Trump today announced he intends to nominate the President of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and former United States Congresswoman Heather Wilson to serve as Secretary of the Air Force. If confirmed, she will be the first Air Force Academy graduate to become Secretary of the Air Force.

Dr. Wilson has been President of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology since 2013 – an engineering and science university that is one of the best returns on investment for a college education in America.  Wilson has grown enrollment and increased research at the university while earning a reputation as a sound financial manager and accessible leader.  From 1998 to 2009, Wilson represented New Mexico in the U.S. Congress, where she was a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chaired the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence. She also served on the House Armed Services Committee.  Before being elected to the Congress, Wilson ran a large state government agency in New Mexico.

“Heather Wilson is going to make an outstanding Secretary of the Air Force,” said President Trump. “Her distinguished military service, high level of knowledge, and success in so many different fields gives me great confidence that she will lead our nation’s Air Force with the greatest competence and integrity. Our debt to America’s men and women in uniform is eternal. Their service is an inspiration to us all and we honor their service and sacrifice.”

“America and our vital national interests continue to be threatened,” said Wilson.  “I will do my best, working with our men and women in the military, to strengthen American air and space power to keep the country safe.”

Wilson grew up in Keene, NH and was in the third class to include women at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  She graduated in 1982.  She earned masters and doctoral degrees as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England.  She served as an Air Force officer in Europe during the Cold War and on the National Security Council Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact.   

The daughter and granddaughter of aviators, Wilson is an instrument rated private pilot. Wilson is married to Jay Hone, an attorney and retired Air Force Colonel.  

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

President Trump's First Full Week Begins with Packed Agenda

Abortion Could be Outlawed in 33 States if Roe v Wade Overturned: Report

Abortion could become illegal in more than half the states if a future Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, according to a new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"More than 37 million women in 33 states are at risk of living in a state where abortion could become illegal," the group said. 

The report was issued to observe the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision.

Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that he would appoint "pro-life justices" to the Supreme Court. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Trumps Signs Three Executive Orders, Including TPP Withdrawal

Police Question Parents in Death of 5-Year-Old Queens Boy

Police are trying to figure out what led to the death of a 5-year-old boy in Queens. His parents were being questioned at a precinct Sunday night. Lori Bordonaro reports. 

The segment was published on January 23, 2017. 

Click here for video. 

Source: NBC News 4 NY  

Kudos to Senator Simcha Felder and Senator José Peralta

By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
District 32 Bronx County, New York 

You should know that on January 17, 2017, the New York State Senate voted to protect our senior citizens, the poor and needy from being charged 5¢ for each plastic bag they get when they go shopping anywhere in New York City.

It is important for you to know that last year, the New York City Council passed legislation that is expected to go into effect on February 15, 2017, whereby people who shop in the five boroughs of New York will be charged 5¢ for each plastic bag. This means that if someone uses 5 plastic bags for groceries, they will be charged 5¢ for each one.

As you know, there are many NYC residents who shop for groceries that are packed in double bags.  There are also times when people can easily use 10 or more plastic bags to pack their groceries. If this law were to take effect, for each and every plastic bag, they will have to pay an extra 5¢.

Thanks to Senator Simcha Felder and the Republicans in the Senate for introducing a bill to do away with that piece of legislation that will only impose that fee on the people who shop in the five boroughs of the City of New York.

But surprise, surprise.  Every Democratic Senator who represent poor neighborhood in the City of New York, except for Senator José Peralta and myself, voted to maintain the City Council’s bill to impose the detrimental 5¢ fee on their constituents.

We all know that many of our constituents live in households where every dollar counts. Can you imagine the burden of adding 50 cents or more to each shopping trip makes on the elderly and the poor?

One minority Democratic Senator from Brooklyn amazingly said that he though 5¢ was too little and the fee should be 10¢ per plastic bag. Could you imagine that?

It was disheartening to see Senators who represent the City of New York supporting the 5¢ fee for plastic bags, but it was even worse that among all six Hispanic Senators, only two, Senator José Peralta and myself, were the only ones who voted to protect our constituents from this fee.

It is imperative for you to know, dear reader, that senior citizens, along with people on fixed incomes, low income families, families who live in homeless shelters, and hardworking people who struggle to make ends meet will be hurt by this 5¢ per plastic bag fee. It adds up.

New York City residents would be charged not only for groceries, but any time they shop at Macys or any store that uses plastic bags, punishing the poor, the needy and senior citizens for environmental problems.

I don’t blame Senator Liz Kruger, who represents the Upper East Side from for supporting the 5¢ fee, because her constituents can afford it. But to see Senators who represent minority communities supporting this imposed fee… now that is shocking.

It is very important for you to know that even though the New York State Senate voted to stop this legislation, it is now up to the New York State Assembly to also vote to do the same.  Otherwise, our New York City residents will have to start paying the 5¢ fee on the week of St. Valentine's Day. What an irony!

And then, you will see these Senators going to senior citizen centers and campaigning in our neighborhoods telling the senior citizens how hard they fight for them, and how Republicans are the enemy. Ha ha ha!

I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

10-Year-Old Leads Campaign for Constitutional Right to Clean Air

Albany – Three weeks ago, Hoosick Falls kids helped launch a campaign to ensure a Constitutional right to healthy air, clean water, and a safe climate for all New Yorkers. Their videos have been shared hundreds of times on social media, and seen by tens of thousands of people. The campaign continues today with two South Albany residents —10-year-old Lawrence and Willie White, a respected community leader and Executive Director of A Village Works, Inc.— releasing videos calling on Governor Cuomo and state legislators to pass an Environmental Bill of Rights to protect the air they breathe from toxic oil trains and diesel truck emissions.

These videos are released as President-elect Donald Trump assumes power and prepares an agenda that is potentially disastrous for New Yorkers’ protections and health. Among Mr. Trump’s many threats include rolling back the Clean Air Act, reinforcing the need for New York to step up its own protection of our communities.

Speaking about the health ailments that affect residents in South Albany, White notes, “We’ve identified a lot of different issues: asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, thyroid issues, and on and on and on. This is living proof that New York needs a Constitutional amendment for clean air, for a clean environment, for all New Yorkers.”

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said, “These folks are heroes. It takes remarkable strength to live in fear for your own health, based simply on the water you drink and the air you breathe, and still take a stand to protect all of us. We need to see that kind of strength in our political leaders. I’ve spoken to people all across this state who are consistently surprised they lack the legal right to clean water and healthy air. We’ve seen time and again in other states and countries that a Constitutional right is often the only legal avenue people have against decisions that harm their health.”

Bill Samuels, founder of EffectiveNY said, “The fact that less than a mile and a half away from the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, 200 of New York’s children can be allowed to live in the toxic conditions so vividly illustrated in these videos is unconscionable. Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature must take immediate action to pass a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to fresh air and clean drinking water so the residents of Ezra Prentice Homes and all New Yorkers can finally get the environmental justice they deserve.”

Source: Environmental Advocates of New York

Prison Guards Cheer NYS Assembly Committee Chairman's Departure

By Kenneth Lovett

Here is an expanded version of the third item from my "Albany Insider" column from Monday's editions:

The state prison guards union is hardly shedding tears that Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell moved this year from chairman of his chamber’s corrections committee to head of the tourism and arts committee.

The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association had a contentious relationship with O’Donnell during his four years as corrections committee chairman, union and legislative sources say. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The New York Daily News (via The Empire Report) 

Harlem Council Contender Seeks to Clear the Field With Wide-Ranging Ballot Challenges

The legal team of Marvin Holland, a candidate in the special election for a vacant Harlem City Council seat, is attempting to boot almost all his rivals from the ballot in the special election scheduled for February 14—including the presumptive frontrunner, current State Senator Bill Perkins.

The seat formerly belonged to Councilwoman Inez Dickens, who won election to the Assembly last fall and assumed her new state role on January 1. City law obligated Mayor Bill de Blasio to call a special election within three days of the post opening up.

Special elections for the Council are non-partisan, obligating each candidate to collect petition signatures from registered voters in the district in order to create their own original ballot line. The names of these new, unique lines cannot resemble the names of any existing party.

Holland, a Democrat who serves as legislative and political director of the Transit Workers Union Local 100, filed petitions to run on a row called Holland4Harlem—and has filed objections challenging the validity of the signatures of seven of his opponents.

Holland’s attorney, Sarah Steiner, called most of these claims “a routine filing.” 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Observer (via The Empire Report)