Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekly Address: Continuing to Strengthen the Middle Class

West Wing Week, 10/07/16

Cuomo: 'New York Stands Ready to Help Haiti'

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo

"The devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, and throughout the rest of the Caribbean, is nothing short of tragic. I ask all New Yorkers to join me in offering our thoughts and prayers to all its victims and the millions of people impacted. It is in these times that the world must come together and help its fellow citizens. New York stands ready to do just that. 

"As part of our efforts, we will be establishing donation sites in communities across the state to encourage New Yorkers to contribute supplies, money and other resources to the recovery efforts in Haiti. We have also created a website to connect New Yorkers with leading international organizations helping with the recovery efforts. The state is coordinating with the federal government and relief organizations to ensure that both state resources and the generosity of New Yorkers quickly reaches those who need it the most.

"Additionally, New York is contributing to the recovery efforts here in the United States. Chief Master Sergeant Brian Mosher of the 106th RQW at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton has been tapped to be the senior enlisted advisor for the Joint Task Force dispatched for Hurricane Matthew disaster relief response. Chief Mosher was selected for his search and rescue experience and will report directly to the JTF Commander. Chief Mosher's deployment follows my dispatching a team of New York's emergency management experts to Southern state Emergency Operations Centers. 

"Whether in the United States or in the Caribbean, New York is doing all we can to help those impacted by the storm and we will continue those aggressive efforts in the coming days and weeks." 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

NAN, Haitian-American Clergy and Elected Officials to Conduct Prayer Vigil for Haiti

A Drive Will Also Be Held to Obtain Clothing and Other Supplies 

October 10, at 10:30 a.m., NAN President Rev. Al Sharpton, Northeast Regional Director Kirsten John Foy, Councilman Mathieu Eugene, other elected officials and clergy will conduct a prayer vigil along with NAN youth groups, NAN Young Professionals and NAN Youth H.U.D.D.L.E. (Helping & Uniting Dreamers to Develop, Lead and Empower).

The vigil will take place at the Haitian Consulate in New York, which is located at 815 2nd Avenue. 

A drive will also be held to obtain supplies, clothing and other necessities for those in need.

NAN has announced that a delegation will be traveling to Haiti as soon as possible to assist with the rebuilding effort.  

Source: Mercury

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Danville Police Dash Cam Controversy: The Real Story


Community Activists Explain Why They Challenged a Common
Practice by Officers and Refute Claims of Being Anti-Police 

NOTE: Ms. Frazier's name was incorrectly pronounced during the introduction, and the episode had already been completed and posted on YouTube when the error was discovered. My apologies. 



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Ebony Guy is a native of Halifax County, Virginia, and has been involved with community activism for 19 years. Her work includes voter registration, political campaigns, consulting and organizing social projects.

She is a resident of Danville, Virginia and serves as a community leader and representative with the non-profit organization Virginia Organizing. One of the campaigns Ms. Guy champions, “Black Lives Matter”, is a major focus of the local chapter, which works with area officials to ensure transparency and accountability within Danville's law enforcement agency.

Shakeva Frazier is the Founder of Kick it with JESUS, a non-profit outreach ministry that caters to those struggling to overcome harmful addictions. The organization also specializes in prison ministry, youth advocacy and helping all men and women with sustainability in the Danville community. 

The activists join me to correct some of the media reports about why they challenged a directive that had been issued by the Danville Police Department. They will also reveal why the city’s police officers were lifting the hoods of their patrol cars during traffic stops, which obstructed the view of the dash cams.

The interview was conducted on October 5. 

Information pertaining to this episode is available through the following links: 



Personal photos provided by Ebony Guy and Shakeva Frazier

President Obama on Hurricane Matthew

President Obama gave an update on Hurricane Matthew after a meeting in the Oval Office that included Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Statement on the Employment Situation in September

WASHINGTON, DC – Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in September.

Summary: The economy added 156,000 jobs in September, as labor force participation rose and wages continued to grow.

The economy added 156,000 jobs in September, as the unemployment rate ticked up amid rising labor force participation. U.S. businesses have now added 15.3 million jobs since early 2010, and the longest streak of total job growth on record continued in September. So far in 2016, hourly earnings for private-sector workers have increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, much faster than the pace of inflation. In fact, real wages have grown faster over the current business cycle than in any since the early 1970s. Sustained real wage growth in recent years, combined with continued strength in job creation, has led to increased incomes for middle-class families: last month, the Census Bureau reported that real median household income increased 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, the fastest annual growth on record. Still, more work remains to sustain faster wage growth and to ensure that the benefits of the recovery are broadly shared, including increasing investment in infrastructure and implementing the high-standards Trans-Pacific Partnership. Additionally, as discussed in a new White House report, Congress should follow the lead of 18 States and the District of Columbia to give millions of American workers a raise by increasing the Federal minimum wage.


1. U.S. businesses have now added 15.3 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010. Today, we learned that private employment rose by 167,000 jobs in September. Total nonfarm employment rose by 156,000 jobs, slightly below the monthly average for 2016 so far but substantially higher than the pace of about 80,000 jobs per month that CEA estimates is necessary to maintain a low and stable unemployment rate given the impact of demographic trends on labor force participation. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.0 percent in September, while the labor force participation rate rose to 62.9 percent, the same rate as in the fourth quarter of 2013 despite downward pressure on participation from demographic trends. The share of the labor force working part-time for economic reasons (those working part-time but who would prefer full-time employment) ticked down in September to 3.7 percent, though it remains above its pre-recession average (3.0 percent). 

The complete statement is available here

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'Saving Our Youth' Series: The Police Athletic League (New York City)

The following is an excerpt from the organization's website. 
The Police Athletic League (or PAL) is New York City’s largest independent youth development not-for-profit organization. We operate diverse programs from Head Start, Day Care and Universal Pre-K programs; to elementary and middle school after-school programs; and summer day camps and summer Playstreets.  
We run evening teen centers; and college readiness programs, as well as youth employment, juvenile justice programs. Competitive and recreational sports for children of all ages is a cornerstone of our youth development strategy.  In its over a century of service, PAL is continuing its evolution and remains a vibrant and vital New York City institution. 

Additional information on the program is available here.

Source: The Police Athletic League

Trailblazers in Black History: Maurice Ashley

Maurice Ashley is a Jamaican American chess grandmaster, author, commentator, app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. 

In 1992, Ashley shared the United States Game/10 chess championship with Maxim Dlugy. Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation (FIDE) awarded him the grandmaster title in 1999, making him the world's first Jamaican chess International Grandmaster.

Ashley is well known as a commentator for high-profile chess events. He also spent many years teaching chess. 

On April 13, 2016, GM Ashley was inducted officially into the US Hall of Fame along with Chess Grandmaster Gata Kamsky. 

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Donald Trump Says Central Park Five Are Guilty, Despite DNA Evidence

Wading into a racially-charged case from his past, Donald Trump indicated that the "Central Park Five" were guilty, despite being officially exonerated by DNA evidence decades after a notorious 1989 rape case.

"They admitted they were guilty," Trump said to CNN in a statement.

"The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same." 

Click here for summary. 

Source: NBC News

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Under Fire for Voter Registration Decision

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's refusal to extend his state's deadline for voter registration in response to Hurricane Matthew is leading to fears that perhaps tens of thousands of Floridians could be kept from registering, potentially impacting the presidential race.

The deadline to register is Tuesday, but with 1.5 million Floridians under mandatory evacuation orders, the Hillary Clinton campaign had urged Scott to extend it. He declined.

"Everybody has had a lot of time to register," Scott, a Republican and staunch Donald Trump supporter, said Thursday night. "On top of that, we've got lots of opportunities to vote: Early voting, absentee voting and Election Day. So I don't intend to make any changes." 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Here's NBC's New Battleground Map

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.

NBC's Battleground Map heading into the second presidential debate

Hillary Clinton continues to hold the battleground-map edge before Sunday's second presidential debate, according to our newest map. But she no longer exceeds the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Clinton stands at 268 electoral votes, Donald Trump at 190, with 80 in the Tossup column. Last month it was Clinton 272, Trump 174. The biggest change here: We moved New Hampshire from Lean Dem to Tossup. (Yes, Clinton continues to lead in all public polls in the Granite State, but our reporting and the state's demographic profile suggest it might be a little closer.) We also moved Georgia from Tossup to Lean GOP; Indiana from Likely GOP to Lean GOP; Maine (the state) from Likely Dem to Lean Dem; and Texas from Likely GOP to Lean GOP. This is a conservative take on where the race stands before this weekend's debate. And we will come out with another map after Sunday's showdown, as well as more state polling we're likely to see. 

Click here for the full article. 

Hurricane Matthew Inflicts More Pain on Impoverished Haiti

The darkness that shrouded Haiti while Hurricane Matthew hammered the island lifted Friday — and the true extent of the damage was laid bare as the death toll reportedly soared past 800.

The first reports trickling in from the remote southwestern peninsula hit hardest by the storm were dire. The United Nations warned that more than a million people were directly affected by Matthew and that some 350,000 people were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. 

Reuters reported Friday afternoon that more than 842 were dead and tens of thousands left homeless in the wake of the storm. NBC News could not immediately confirm those numbers.

"We have nothing left," Saintful Jean Perpetu, who lives in the storm-ravaged town of Jeremie, told reporters. 

"Our personal things, important documents like birth certificates — it's all gone. We sleep on streets with our children and nobody came to help us until now. "

The monstrous storm, Perpetu said, "took shirts from our backs." 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Mumia Abu Jamal's Attorneys File New Lawsuit to Access Hep C Cure

The following update was provided on October 6 by Noelle Hanrahan, Director of Prison Radio

Today Mumia's attorneys filed a new lawsuit to demand immediate Hepatitis C treatment for Mumia. The lawsuit targets Pennsylvania DOC Secretary John Wetzel, five top officials in the department's Bureau of Health Care Services, medical contractor Correct Care Solutions, and the physician assigned to treat Mumia.

In the meantime, this article on Courthouse News Service provides background to the suit filed today.

Hochul Retirement Decision Creates Buzz in Legal Community

William J. Hochul Jr. surprised much of Western New York on Wednesday when he announced plans to retire in three weeks as U.S. attorney.

After 30 years of prosecuting gangsters, drug dealers, and terrorist sympathizers, he says he is leaving government and heading into private practice without identifying any particular firm. The prosecutor who oversees federal law enforcement in New York’s 17 western counties said he simply wants to leave public service and pursue a new career. Hochul has served for six years, making him one of the longest-serving U.S. attorneys in the region’s history.

“I am definitely going into private life,” he said, adding that he intends to remain in Buffalo.

Several Buffalo attorneys said they knew Hochul was eventually planning to move on to other ventures, but all were surprised by the timing of Hochul’s announcement late on Wednesday afternoon.

“This really came out of the blue,” said veteran defense attorney Paul J. Cambria on Thursday. “I’ve got all kinds of people asking me, ‘What’s going on with this?’ I don’t know what to tell them.”

Dennis C. Vacco, the former U.S. attorney appointed by a Republican president who was one of Hochul’s first bosses, said Thursday, “I think Bill wants to go out on his own terms. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Buffalo News

City & State: Winners and Losers for 10/7/16

Three straight weeks on the wrong side of our Winners & Losers list must be getting to the Gov’s head. “I am not a politician!” he told the Daily News’ Mike Lupica. We all want to run from our problems sometimes, but a man with such keen political instincts shouldn’t deny them. We’re sure he’ll disagree on this, too, but he’s a loser – for at least one more week. 


Rob Astorino – Astorino must be loving every second of this Bridgegate trial. After the so-called “gossip” (or what some might call testimony under oath) that Gov. Andrew Cuomo collaborated with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to keep the controversy quiet, the Westchester county executive had a basis to call out Cuomo, his 2013 gubernatorial rival, and Christie, who headed the Republican Governors Association but did conspicuously little to support Astorino. Plus, he got to portray himself as a crusader against corruption.

Todd Kaminsky – The governor tends to take the “distant father” approach to helping other Democrats get elected – supporting from afar, but not really getting his hands dirty. But after promoting several liberal initiatives this past legislative session, Cuomo will host a fundraiser for state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat running for re-election in a key race. Drinks are on the governor! 

Click here for the full listing. 

Source: City & State (via The Empire Report)

Winning Bid for NYPD Body Camera Contract Comes Under Lobbying Attack


A hard-fought bidding war to supply body cameras to the New York Police Department took an aggressive new turn last week, when one of the city's top lobbyists began a campaign to sow doubts about the company that won the contract.

On Friday, the NYPD announced a tentative plan to work with Seattle-based company VieVu for the first phase of the department's long-awaited body camera program.

The $6.4 million contract, to provide 5,000 cameras, has the potential to turn into a gold mine if the winning bidder ultimately secures a contract to provide cameras to all of the city’s patrol units. Such a contract could be worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars, over a period of 14 years.

When the department announced that it had selected VieVu from more than 50 bidders, one of its chief competitors — Taser International, which saw its stock drop 14 percent on the news — mobilized a high-price lobbying effort to undermine the agreement. 
Click here for the full article.
Source: Politico (via The Empire Report) 

NY's Emergency Management Personnel to Assist in Florida's Hurricane Matthew Response

New York will be dispatching emergency management personnel to help Florida recover in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. A team from the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will begin a 14-day deployment on Sunday morning at Florida's Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee and provide command and general staff assistance. Additional personnel and resources are prepared to be dispatched as they are requested by states dealing with the hurricane.

"New Yorkers know full well the devastation Mother Nature can cause and just how difficult the aftermath can be," Governor Cuomo said. "In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, I have directed the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to send a team of our emergency management experts to assist Florida with their recovery. New York stands by its neighbors in their time of need and we will continue to help those impacted by this storm recover and rebuild."

New York has a long history of helping other states following natural disasters. In addition to sending similar assistance to Florida following Hurricanes Frances, Ivan, and Dennis, New York dispatched a multi-agency team of more than 300 individuals to assist Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, as well as another 18-member team after Hurricane Gustav. Additionally, New York has sent crews of firefighters west many times to assist with containing wildfires.

Hurricane Matthew is currently a Category 3 hurricane. The storm is forecasted to weaken somewhat as it continues up Florida's east coast today. By Saturday, it is expected to be near or over the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. 

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M.. Cuomo