Saturday, September 17, 2016

26 Injured in New York City Explosion

Weekly Address: It’s Time for Republicans in Congress To Do Their Jobs

In this week's address, President Obama called on Republicans in Congress to do their jobs. With Congress back in session there is a lot of business that needs to get done, including funding the fight against Zika, providing resources to help the flood victims in Louisiana, and giving Supreme Court nominee Chief Judge Merrick Garland the courtesy of a fair hearing and a vote.

West Wing Week: 9/16/16

President Obama Speaks at the 39th Annual CHCI Public Policy Conference & Annual Awards Gala

President Obama Holds National Security Council Meeting on the Counter ISIL Campaign

On September 16, President Obama convened his National Security Council to discuss the global campaign we are leading to degrade and destroy ISIL. The President was briefed on multiple advances against ISIL that the Coalition has enabled across the battlefield in both Iraq and Syria, noting that the Iraqis have now reclaimed over 50 percent of the territory once controlled by ISIL, while our partners across northern Syria have essentially closed off ISIL's access to the Syrian border with Turkey and the outside world. The President directed his team to continue close coordination with all of our partners in the Counter ISIL fight as we build on this momentum to plan operations to further pressure ISIL. The President expressed deep concern that, despite decreased violence across the country, the Syrian regime continues to block the flow of critical humanitarian aid. The President emphasized that the United States will not proceed with the next steps in the arrangement with Russia until we see seven continuous days of reduced violence and sustained humanitarian access. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

First Lady Michelle Obama Campaign Remarks in Fairfax, Virginia

First Lady Michelle Obama hit the campaign trail for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a rally in Fairfax, Virginia. She urged the audience to register and vote for the former Secretary of State who she said inspires her and has the qualifications and resiliency to do the job. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: C-SPAN

Donald Trump Campaign Rally in Miami, Florida

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Miami, Florida. RNC Chair Reince Priebus and Rudy Giuliani make introductory remarks.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Black Man Who Adopted Three White Boys: “Family is Deeper Than Skin Color”


With a disproportionate number of black children in foster care and in need of adoption, one would think that a Black man looking to adopt a child would adopt a Black child. For Barry Farmer, however, the choice was much deeper than skin color.

Farmer says his decision to adopt three white brothers was about love more than race. Still, the Black father does get weird looks when he walks around with his white sons.

“I didn’t expect one kid, let alone three,” said the Richmond, Virginia father. “When someone calls you dad, you’re like, ‘who me?’ I just like taking care of children.”

Farmer says he became a foster parent 8 years ago because he believes every child needs a family.

“In this day in time when it comes to family, and seeing color or seeing unity and belonging, and that’s what I was hoping to accomplish with my family anyway,” Farmer said. “When I have them now I can’t imagine them anywhere else, and it’s a typical family. We may not look alike, but it’s a typical family. I just want them to be someone that I can be proud of and they can be proud of and that’s all it takes.”

Click here for the full article.

Source: Your Black World News

Labor Leaders Condemn de Blasio for 'Callously Overlooking' Construction Deaths


A chorus of construction industry union leaders blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday for what they called his inappropriate response to a Crain's report that the city's count of construction deaths excluded a third of fatalities last year

Crain's learned that six of the 17 construction deaths in New York last year escaped the city’s official count. "If any other industry experienced 17 deaths in one year, there would be swift and meaningful action taken to protect life," Joseph Azzopardi, secretary treasurer of District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said in a statement.

"Once again, this administration picks the statistics that fit their false narrative of being a progressive leader," said Bobby Bonanza, business manager of the Mason Tenders District Council. “Deaths are deaths — count them." 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Crain's (New York Business)

'Blockbusting' Probe an Important Step in Rockland: Editorial


Community Divide Deepens Over Accounts That Homeowners
Are Being Harassed to Sell to Meet Orthodox Demands

It's good news that the New York Department of State plans to hold a hearing on Sept. 21 to probe whether Rockland homeowners are being pressured to sell and get out. Accusations and denials have further fomented the divide that stirs resentment toward Ramapo's growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

State legislators have called for the hearings — which could be the first step in establishing state-enforced protections, like a zone where real estate agents can't solicit sales. It's time to get the state's perspective on what's going on in Rockland.

The public hearing takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 21 at Rockland Community College's Cultural Arts Theater. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: lohud (The Journal News) and The Empire Report

State Senator to SUNY: Prospective Students Must Disclose Felony Convictions


Senate Republicans are looking to reverse a recent decision by the State University of New York not to ask prospective students whether they were convicted of a felony.

Sen. Cathy Young, a Republican from Western New York, has introduced a bill that would require the state’s public colleges to ask applicants for admission whether they were ever convicted of a felony. The legislation is a direct response to an announcement earlier this week from the SUNY Board of Trustees that they would no longer ask the question. 

Click here for the full article.


Cuomo: Trump Has Been 'Effective' at Harnessing Voter Unrest

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday passed on another chance to criticize Donald Trump, telling reporters the Republican presidential candidate has been “effective” in harnessing voter unrest.

Cuomo, a Democrat, was asked about his relationship with Trump after the real estate mogul said during a Thursday radio interview that he and the governor “get along very well.”

The comments were included in a New York Post article that, citing an anonymous source, said some Democrats were “chirping” about Cuomo’s friendly interactions with The Donald at last Sunday’s ceremony commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks.

“I know Donald Trump. I know him as a New Yorker I’ve known him for many years. I saw him at the 9/11 ceremony … that memorial service is a solemn occasion. You have many family members there, you are literally on sacred ground, as far as I’m concerned, so that is not the time to play politics,” Cuomo told reporters after an event in Queens. “I’m the governor of the State of New York. Anyone who comes to 9/11 and that site, I thank them for coming, I thank them for their attendance, I thank them for joining with New Yorkers and remembering those we lost, and it’s not about politics.” 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Politico

Syracuse University Removed Whitman Dean Kenneth Kavajecz After Prostitution Arrest


Syracuse, NY -- Syracuse University removed the dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management after he was arrested for patronizing a prostitute in the town of Salina.

Kenneth Kavajecz, 51, of West Jefferson Street, Syracuse, was removed as dean Wednesday and placed on administrative leave from his faculty position "until further notice," Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly announced.

The university did not release any more details of his removal. But Kavajecz's name surfaced today in connection with a prostitution sting by the Onondaga County sheriff's office. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: (via The Empire Report)

Cuomo Administration Orders Climate Test for Big Oil’s Plan for Tar Sands on the Hudson

Albany - On September 16, 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) sent a letter to Global Companies informing them that the permit the company is seeking to heat crude oil at their Port of Albany facility will be put through a full environmental review. Some of the items the state is requiring the company to submit information on include addressing the concerns of residents at Ezra Prentice Homes, a housing development located in close proximity to the facility. 

These concerns include air and noise pollution, alarming levels of benzene in the air near the Port, and the facility’s impact on climate change, which is already negatively affecting New York communities.

“Big oil just got another strong sign from Governor Cuomo that New York is moving away from the dirty and dangerous fuels of the past and heading toward a future powered by 100% clean, renewable energy. Not only will Global Companies have to address the toxic air pollution from crude oil, it is also going to have to pass New York’s ‘climate test’ before they are given the green light to move tar sands oil down the Hudson River. And since it’s a test that cannot be passed, the letter today should represent the end of the line for this ill-conceived proposal," said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director for Environmental Advocates of New York.

Source: EANY  

Friday, September 16, 2016

President Obama Remarks on Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

President Obama urged congress to take up and pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. He also addressed questions about his birthplace. His remarks came after a meeting with business leaders and state officials. 

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Source: C-SPAN

Hillary Clinton Remarks at Black Women's Agenda Symposium


Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivered remarks at the Black Women’s Agenda 39th Annual Symposium.

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Source: C-SPAN

White House Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest fields questions from reporters on a range of issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He’s also joined by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) and Governor John Kasich (R-OH), who advocate for passage of the deal. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Defense Department POW/MIA Ceremony

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter hosts the Defense Department’s National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Pentagon. Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, and retired U.S. Navy Captain and former POW Gerald Coffee also deliver remarks. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Trailblazers in Black History: Bernie Custis


Bernie Custis is a former American and Canadian football player who went on to a distinguished coaching career. He is known for being the first black professional quarterback in the modern era and first in professional Canadian football, starting for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951. 

Custis was a star quarterback at Syracuse University in 1948, 1949 and 1950, setting numerous Syracuse records that would last for decades. 

Custis was recruited by Coach Reaves Baysinger, who was replaced by Ben Schwartzwalder after a 1–8 season. He played the first two seasons of the Coach Schwartzwalder's 25-year tenure at Syracuse. The team went 4–5 in 1949 and 5–5 in 1950. 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Saving Our Youth: The Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention

The Commission's vision is to develop a more strategic, coordinated, and collaborative effort between the City, law enforcement agencies, social service providers, and the general public with the objective of significantly curtailing gang involvement, and its negative impact, in the City of San Diego. 

Additional information is available here


37 Years in Solitary Confinement and Even the State Can’t Explain Why

By Christopher Moraff

FRACKVILLE, Pennsylvania — Arthur Johnson has spent the past 37 of his 64 years alive in solitary confinement.

Over a span of four decades, he’s been shuttled from one correctional institution to another—often without notice, like a protagonist in a Kafka novel. Until very recently, his home of three years was the Restricted Housing Unit at the State Correctional Institution at Frackville, Pennsylvania.

He’s now in restricted housing at neighboring SCI Coal Township, where he is forced to spend 23 hours a day in a 7-by-10-foot cell with a light that never turns off. He suffers from crippling insomnia and is permitted to take just three, 10-minute showers each week.

Every time he leaves his cell—including the five trips he makes each week for one hour of exercise in an enclosed yard—he is required to undergo a strip search before he can go back inside. He exercises alone, the same way he eats every one of his meals.

By Johnson’s telling, he hasn’t shaken another person’s hand since Jimmy Carter was president. His attorney calls this a blatant violation of his civil rights.

“No court is going to take away the right of prison officials to use solitary confinement for a period of days or even months,” Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center told The Daily Beast. “But how long is too long or too dangerous? Wherever that line may be drawn, we are way over it here.”

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast 

North Dakota vs. Amy Goodman: Journalism is Not a Crime

By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan

Last Thursday, an arrest warrant was issued under the header “North Dakota versus Amy Goodman.” The charge was for criminal trespass. The actual crime? Journalism. We went to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to cover the growing opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Global attention has become focused on the struggle since Labor Day weekend, after pipeline guards unleashed attack dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters. On that Saturday, at least six bulldozers were carving up the land along the pipeline route, where archeological and sacred sites had been discovered by the tribe. The Dakota Access Pipeline company obtained the locations of these sites just the day before, in a court filing made by the tribe. Many feel that the company razed the area, destroying the sites, before an injunction could be issued to study them.

Scores of people, mostly Native American, raced to the scene, demanding the bulldozers leave. The guards pepper-sprayed, punched and tackled the land defenders. Attack dogs were unleashed, biting at least six people and one horse. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Democracy Now!

A Brief History of the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

No Criminal Justice Reform From Congress Before Election

In a huge disappointment to advocates, legislation to reform components of the criminal justice system will not come before the House adjourns this month as previously planned, according to two sources who have worked closely on the effort.

The House's lack of action means opportunities are quickly dwindling on an issue that advocates had high hopes of passing this year.

"It's disappointing, but given the political climate it's not surprising," Mark Holden, chairman of the board of the Koch-backed Freedom Partners, a group who has been working to advance criminal justice reform, said. 

Click here for the full article.

Brain Cancer Is Now the Leading Cancer Killer of Kids

Brain cancer now kills more children than any other type of cancer, according to new federal data.

But this new stat comes with at least one potential silver lining: Brain tumors are not becoming more common in kids. And leukemia, the previous No. 1 pediatric cancer killer, is now much less deadly than before, the National Center for Health Statistics found.

In fact, the overall death rate from cancer fell by 20 percent among children and teens between 1999 and 2014, the NCHS found. 

Click here for the full article. 

'I'm a Prisoner and My Crime is That I'm a Saudi Woman'

Saudi Arabia's guardianship system means that men have the power to make a range of critical decisions on a woman's behalf. Now, some Saudi women are using social media to push back.
Source: CNN

North Korea's 'Saturday Night Live' Takes on Obama

North Korea aired their own rendition of "Saturday Night Live," taking on President Obama in one of the skits. 

Source: CNN

Aleppo Residents Get a Break During Ceasefire

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reports from inside Aleppo as the Syrian city gets a respite from the fierce battle there.

Source: CNN

Edgar Motobato Claims to Have Been Hitman for Duterte

Edgar Motobato claims to have killed at least 50 people under direct orders of Rodrigo Duterte. CNN's Ivan Watson reports. 

Source: CNN

The UN Works to Deliver Aid to Syria

Source: CNN

Rev. Al Sharpton Responds to Trump's Claim That They Have a 'Good' Relationship

(New York, NY) ― National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton today issued the following response to Donald Trump’s assertion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the two have a “good” relationship:

“Donald Trump has gone from calling me a ‘con man’ to asserting that we have a ‘good’ relationship. I don’t know how he reached this conclusion – especially since I haven’t talked to him in nearly two years and that conversation resulted in an argument about racially prejudiced and divisive comments he was making. It is not only untrue, but beside the point. I first started marching against Donald Trump during the Central Park 5 case in the 1980s. Unfortunately his racist rhetoric has continued to this day. The things he has said and done throughout his campaign, including suggesting that the President wasn’t born in the United States, are despicable. I will not stoop to his level, throwing insults around and calling people names, but I will also not sit by and let him make comments about a fabricated friendship.” 

Source: Mercury

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Donald Trump’s Efforts to Connect with Black Voters Are Pushing Them Away

By Les Payne

A black Methodist minister gave Donald Trump the “Apollo hook” Wednesday, when he went off message in Michigan.

“I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done [with the dirty-water crisis] in Flint, not give a political speech,” said the Rev. Faith Timmons. 

“OK, that’s good,” said the duly chastised GOP presidential candidate like a rejected performer in the old talent shows at the Apollo Theater.

Showcasing his “black outreach” for the second time in Michigan, Trump has generally avoided African-Americans that know him best: the 2 million-plus living in New York City. During an earlier visit in Detroit, Trump was guided by the gifted hands of the slow-tongued Dr. Ben Carson, who seemed as clueless about the real intent of the “black outreach” campaign as he was about the location of his luggage.

A major Harlem church was recently contacted for a Sunday Trump visit but the pastor laughed so uncontrollably that the black campaign official hung up the phone. The Baptist minister rejected Trump as a Trojan horse all hollowed out as a threat to Harlem and the country’s best interest.

Click here for the full article.

Source: Newsday

Les Payne is a former Newsday editor and columnist and a contributor to He is completing a biography on Malcolm X due to be published next year.

Investigators Aren’t Finding Guns When Chicago Cops Claim Suspects Were Armed

Chicago police officers routinely justify shootings by claiming a suspect was armed. A Chicago Tribune report, however, found that at least 14 times since 2010 when an officer shot someone and claimed the person had a gun, no gun was ever found.

Police killings in Chicago have cost the city millions of dollars and resulted in loss of life for the city’s residents. According to the Tribune, the city has paid out at least 15 million dollars to plaintiffs in officer-related shootings.

There is also a human toll as well: “Those shootings, in which police said the victim had a gun but one was never found, resulted in seven deaths. …” 

Click here for the full article.

Source: Your Black World News

Jay Z - The War on Drugs: From Prohibition to Gold Rush

Source: DrugPolicyAlliance

White House Summit on Computer Science for All

The White House Summit on Computer Science for All will celebrate progress and announce new commitments towards President Obama's bold initiative to empower a generation of American students with the computer science skills they need to thrive in a digital economy. CS for All builds on efforts already being led by parents, teachers, school districts, states, and private sector leaders from across the country.

President Obama & State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi

Hillary Clinton Departure from White Plains, New York

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Hillary Clinton Meeting with Reporters Aboard Campaign Plane

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Source: C-SPAN

Donald Trump and Mike Pence at the New York Economic Club

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outlines his economic plan at the Economic Club of New York in New York City. He is introduced by his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence. 

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Source: C-SPAN

House Speaker Weekly Briefing

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) talked about the Republican agenda in the House, including negotiations to continue funding the government past the September 30 deadline. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: C-SPAN

Minority Leader Weekly Briefing

During her weekly news conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Republican leaders should include funding to combat Zika virus, improve water infrastructure in Flint, Michigan, as well as other domestic issues in any upcoming proposal to keep the government funded. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Trailblazers in Black History: 1st South Carolina Volunteers


The First South Carolina Volunteers was a Union Army regiment during the American Civil War. It was composed of escaped slaves from  South Carolina and Florida. It was one of the first black regiments in the Union Army. 

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, whose exploits are memorialized in the film Glory, was formed afterwards and drew from free Nortthern Blacks.

Department of the South staff officer James D. Fessenden was heavily involved in efforts to recruit volunteers for the 1st South Carolina. Although it saw some combat, the regiment was not involved in any of the war's major battles. Its first commander was Thomas Wentworth Higginson who was—as were all the other officers—white. 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Black Doctors Call on Obama to Ban Menthol Tobacco Products

African-American doctors are calling on President Barack Obama to ban sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes, which government data show are heavily preferred among black smokers.

The African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, a nonprofit anti-smoking advocacy group, launched a public campaign this week asking Obama to direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to remove all so-called mentholated tobacco products from the marketplace.

The FDA found in 2013 that menthol cigarettes likely pose a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes, especially among African-Americans, but it stopped short of recommending a ban. 

A letter detailing the new request was delivered to the president last month, Dr. Phillip Gardiner, the council's co-chairman, said Wednesday.

"The punchline here about menthol is it allows the poisons in tobacco cigarettes to go down easier," Gardiner said in an interview with NBC Washington

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Tyree King, 13, Fatally Shot by Police in Columbus, Ohio

Police in Columbus, Ohio, were investigating how a 13-year-old boy wanted for questioning Wednesday night in an armed robbery ended up fatally shot by an officer.

The child — later identified by Columbus police as Tyree King — had "pulled a gun from his waistband" when officers attempted to take him and another male into custody, the Columbus Division of Police said in a statement. As the encounter unfolded, an officer shot King "multiple times."

The weapon recovered from the scene was determined to be a BB gun with an attached laser sight, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said at news conference Thursday morning. She showed a replica image of that BB gun.

"Our officers carry a gun that looks practically identical to this weapon," said Jacobs, adding, "It turns out not to be a firearm, but as you can see, it looks like a firearm that can kill you." 

Click here for the full article.

Sandra Bland's Family Settles for $1.9M

First Read: Clinton Is Back on the Trail — and Not a Moment Too Soon for Dems

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Clinton returns to the trail -- and not a moment too soon for Democrats

After missing three days of campaigning and fundraising to recover from pneumonia, Hillary Clinton is back on the trail. And her return is not a moment too soon for Democrats, with Donald Trump continuing to gain ground in the polls -- if not overtaking her in some key battleground states. The latest national polls still show Clinton leading Trump: Quinnipiac has her up five points among likely voters, while the New York Times/CBS poll has her ahead by just two in a head-to-head matchup. But two polls yesterday (via CNN and Bloomberg) found Trump leading in Ohio, and another survey (via CNN) showed Trump up in Florida. Bottom line: The political winds are currently at Trump's back, and Team Clinton should be worried. The state of the race now puts so much more pressure on the first debate (and less margin for error). A campaign can always overreact to news like this, but you also don't want to underreact. 

Click here for the full article.

Dr. Oz: Donald Trump is Healthy Enough to Be President, Per Test Summary

Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” tells TODAY that Donald Trump showed him “a comprehensive summary of a battery of tests” on the show that contained “typical things” about a patient’s health. “The records I got indicate that he is healthy enough to be president,” Oz says, cautioning that he did not take the tests summarized himself. 

Click here for video.

Source: NBC News/TODAY

With Attack on Black Pastor, Trump Reboot Again Goes Off Rails

Donald Trump, currently trying to cast himself a softer candidate with an eye for policy, returned to his old ways with a vengeance on Thursday as he mocked an African-American pastor in Flint, Michigan and concocted a false story about his visit to her congregation.

The move was one of several recent examples where Trump's efforts to rebrand his campaign toward outreach, discipline and substance have clashed with his natural penchant for insults, inaccurate boasts and conspiracy theories. 

The latest episode began Wednesday when Trump took issue with Pastor Faith Green Timmons for interrupting him at her church. The candidate had begun to attack Hillary Clinton, prompting Timmons to ask him to focus on local issues.

Click here for the full article.