Friday, October 20, 2017

Court Hears Arguments in Case of Undocumented Teen Seeking an Abortion

Sources: CBS News and NBC News

Federal Judge Unseals New York Crime Lab’s Software for Analyzing DNA Evidence

We asked the judge to make the source code public after scientists and defense attorneys raised concerns that flaws in its design may have resulted in innocent people going to prison.

A federal judge this week unsealed the source code for a software program developed by New York City’s crime lab, exposing to public scrutiny a disputed technique for analyzing complex DNA evidence.

Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York lifted a protective order in response to a motion by ProPublica, which argued that there was a public interest in disclosing the code. 

ProPublica has obtained the source code, known as the Forensic Statistical Tool, or FST, and published it on GitHub; two newly unredacted defense expert affidavits are also available.

“Everybody who has been the subject of an FST report now gets to find out to what extent that was inaccurate,” said Christopher Flood, a defense lawyer who has sought access to the code for several years. “And I mean everybody — whether they pleaded guilty before trial, or whether it was presented to a jury, or whether their case was dismissed. Everybody has a right to know, and the public has a right to know.”

Caproni’s ruling comes amid increased complaints by scientists and lawyers that flaws in the now-discontinued software program may have sent innocent people to prison. Similar legal fights for access to proprietary DNA analysis software are ongoing elsewhere in the U.S. At the same time, New York City policymakers are pushing for transparency for all of the city’s decision-making algorithms, from pre-trial risk assessments, to predictive policing systems, to methods of assigning students to high schools.

Click here for the full article.

Source: ProPublica

A White Hate Group’s Campaign of Menace

They train to fight. They post their beatings online. And so far, they have little reason to fear the authorities.

by A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham for ProPublica

It was about 10 a.m. on Aug. 12 when the melee erupted just north of Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.

About two dozen white supremacists — many equipped with helmets and wooden shields — were battling with a handful of counter-protesters, most of them African American. One white man dove into the violence with particular zeal. Using his fists and feet, the man attacked one person after another. 

The street fighter was in Virginia on that August morning for the “Unite the Right” rally, the largest public gathering of white supremacists in a generation, a chaotic and bloody event that would culminate, a few hours later, in the killing of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was there to protest the racist rally.

The violence in Charlottesville became national news. President Donald Trump’s response to it — he asserted there were “some very fine people on both sides” of the events that day — set off a wave of condemnations, from his allies as well as his critics.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: ProPublica

Pressure Mounts on Insurance Companies to Consider Their Role in Opioid Epidemic

Another lawmaker is asking insurers whether their policies have made it easier for patients to access cheaper, more addictive drugs over less addictive alternatives. Meanwhile, the insurance industry trade group pledged additional steps to combat inappropriate prescribing.

A prominent Democratic lawmaker asked major health insurers today whether their policies and preferred prescription drug lists have made the nation’s opioid epidemic worse.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote to the companies after an article by ProPublica and The New York Times found that insurance companies sometimes favor cheaper, more addictive opioids over less addictive, but more expensive, alternatives.

“This is not a hypothetical problem,” Cummings wrote. “In my home state of Maryland, 550 people died of an overdose in the first three months of 2017 alone. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are driving up the epidemic’s death toll, but prescription opioids contribute significantly to this crisis by fostering addiction and causing fatal overdoses.”

Cummings wrote that the industry has created financial incentives that may “steer beneficiaries to the very drugs that are fueling the opioid crisis.”

Click here for the full article.

Source: ProPublica

Presidential Executive Order Amending Executive Order 13223

- - - - - - -
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and in furtherance of the objectives of Proclamation 7463 of September 14, 2001 (Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks), which declared a national emergency by reason of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York and Pennsylvania and against the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States, and in order to provide the Secretary of Defense additional authority to manage personnel requirements in a manner consistent with the authorization provided in Executive Order 13223 of September 14, 2001 (Ordering the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces to Active Duty and Delegating Certain Authorities to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Transportation), it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1Amendment to Executive Order 13223.  Section 1 of Executive Order 13223 is amended by adding at the end:  "The authorities available for use during a national emergency under sections 688 and 690 of title 10, United States Code, are also invoked and made available, according to their terms, to the Secretary concerned, subject in the case of the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to the direction of the Secretary of Defense."
Sec. 2General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
                                  DONALD J. TRUMP
    October 20, 2017.

"Flashback Friday': Muhammad Ali Refuses Army Induction (1967)

DL Hughley Debunks the 'Black on Black Crime' Narrative

This video was published on YouTube on October 19. 

Source: MoorInfo

Trailblazers in Black History: Vernice 'Flygirl' Armour

This video was published on YouTube on November 13, 2013. 

Vernice Armour is a former United States Marine Corps officer who was the first African American female naval aviator in the Marine Corps and the first African American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

While on a mission in Iraq, Armour was called for an unexpected rescue mission. With dwindling resources and opposing gunfire, her story is one of true leadership.

Source: Wikipedia and Keppler Speakers 

Moment of Prayer for Sgt. La David Johnson to Be Conducted at 'House of Justice'

On October 21 at 9:45 a.m., Rev. Al Sharpton will hold a moment of prayer for Sgt. La David Johnson at the National Action Network's House of Justice.

The event, which will take place at 106 West 145th Street in Harlem, will coincide with Sgt. Johnson's funeral service in Florida.

Afterward, Sharpton will discuss whether or not the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Sgt. Johnson and three fellow soldiers in Niger should be considered 'President Trump's Benghazi'.

The prayer/rally will be broadcast on WLIB 1190 AM and streamed live on and the IMPAT Television Network.

Source: Mercury

The Battle to Protect New York's Senior Citizens

Legislation Could Provide More Funding to Adult Home Care
Providers in Exchange for Quality Care Improvements

By Dan Rosenblum 

Adult home care providers are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would increase subsidies for those who house and care for seniors and adults with disabilities. Advocates for residents say any subsidy boost should be tied to additional oversight measures to guard against excessive salaries for facility managers, poor quality programs and fiscal mismanagement.

“One message that I hope the industry will absorb is that one of the major obstacles to appropriate funding for adult homes is concern about quality of care at many of them,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who chairs the health committee, told New York Nonprofit Media. “I think the higher quality adult homes need to understand that the problems with many of the other adult homes is holding back their own viability.”

Adult home care providers say that, with few exceptions, they are managing a chronic existential financial burden resulting from a federal Supplemental Security Income subsidy that has not increased in line with overhead expenses, leading to the closure of some facilities and reduced services at others.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: City & State 

New Gene Therapy 'Gave Me My Life Back,' Cancer Survivor Says

Source: CBS News

30 Years After the Crash of 1987 is the Market Due for a Correction?

This video was published on YouTube on October 19.

Source: CBS News

Fallout from "60 Minutes" & Washington Post Investigation into Opioid Crisis

This video was published on YouTube on October 19. 

Source: CBS News

Outspoken Conservative Ben Shapiro Says Political Correctness Breeds Insanity

Gen. John Kelly Makes Deeply Personal Remarks About Loss of His Son

This video was published on YouTube on October 19.

White Nationalist Richard Spencer Booed at University of Florida

This video was published on YouTube on October 19.

Frederica Wilson vs. Trump and Now John Kelly? Easy—Go With Wilson

The South Florida congresswoman was in Myeshia Johnson’s car because she had known La David Johnson since he was a schoolboy. She. Is. Not. Lying.

By Joy-Ann Reid

Frederica Wilson is no liar. On Thursday, Gen. John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff, confirmed that. Kelly also made clear that he works for a man who has redefined the meaning of shameless.

The Florida congresswoman is the latest—and pointedly, the latest woman and person of color—to be attacked by Trump for daring to tell the truth about him. She joins a roster that includes broadcaster Jemele Hill, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and before that, a Latina former Miss Universe. Now add in Hillary Clinton and the more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault. Trump has attacked or threatened a few men too, notably black NFL and NBA stars, Gold Star father Khizr Khan (along with his wife), decorated Vietnam War veteran John McCain and other United States senators, but he typically reserves his greatest vitriol for those who aren’t white and male. We’re all still waiting for the president’s sure-to-be-blistering response to Eminem.

Trump on Wednesday used one of his increasingly frequent press availabilities to essentially call Wilson a liar, after she told the world what he said to the widow of Staff Sgt. La David T. Johnson; one of four special forces soldiers killed during a still murky mission in Niger. Wilson first gave her account to local reporters in Miami who met the limousine carrying her, Myeshia Johnson and Staff Sgt. Johnson’s adoptive parents to the funeral home to claim the body of the fallen soldier. Apparently, the White House had alerted the media that he would call Johnson’s widow, evidently hoping to reap some rare good press for the most hated president in modern U.S. history.

She later repeated what she heard to national news outlets and to this reporter.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast

Twitter Gives Just a Sliver of Data to Senate Russia Probe

A Daily Beast Exclusive

Promoted tweets and account names are all the social network has handed over. Investigators think that’s just the start of what Twitter has on its servers.

By Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Ackerman

When it came time to turn over material critical to the Senate’s Russia investigation, all Twitter initially provided was a batch of tweets that the Kremlin’s English-language news network paid the company to promote, The Daily Beast has learned.

That’s just a sliver of what investigators believe to be Russia’s propaganda campaign on the social network—which helps explain the dissatisfaction that followed those first disclosures.

The already-public tweets, along with a list of 201 suspected Russian-propaganda accounts, represent the sum total of relevant material the social media company has given Senate investigators thus far, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Twitter turned over the promoted tweets, contained on a thumb drive, late last month. It was the company’s first attempt to explain to Congress how the Kremlin used Twitter to push propaganda.

Click here for the full article.

Syracuse Police Officer of the Year Award Presentation

This video was published on YouTube on October 19. 

Source: NYGovCuomo

Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD Discuss E-Bike Enforcement

Source: NYC Mayor's Office

Constitutional Convention Scares Bejesus Out of Both Left & Right

Some Good, Some Not, in New York Jobs Numbers

By Melanie Grayce West

New York City’s private-sector employment is still up in the past year, though there’s been a recent slump in the growth rate.

New York City’s private-sector employment is up 1.3% from September of last year, with 48,100 jobs added, according to the New York State Dept. of Labor. Statewide, more than 84,000 jobs have been added over the last year, labor analysts said.

The sectors of leisure/hospitality and education/health services are both up by at least 4% over the year.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Wall Street Journal (via The Empire Report) 

NYC Mayor Says Amazon is 'Very Destructive to Communities'

De Blasio Makes Statement Hours After Submitting
a Bid for the Company's Second Headquarters

By Dennis Green

New York City's mayor is doing one thing and saying another.

The same day New York confirmed it submitted a bid to host Amazon's new HQ2, de Blasio criticized the company, according to Politico

Something different is happening now that is very destructive to communities," he said. "A lot of people are turning to Amazon and other online options."

The comments were made during a town hall in Brooklyn less than an hour after the city released its final proposal.

De Blasio, who famously said this year he's never purchased something from the company, has led a bit of half-hearted play for the company's HQ.

Though the city said it is the "natural choice" for the company because of its economy and the strength of its workforce, officials said they would not offer any city financial incentives. Amazon would still receive incentives from New York State, though the state did not elaborate.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Business Insider (via The Empire Report)

Eye on Africa: Protests Continue in Togo Despite Ban on Weekday Demonstrations

Source: FRANCE 24 English

'China's Silicon Valley' Symbolises High Tech, Prosperity and Social Inequality

Source: FRANCE 24 English

President Macron's Address to the European Council (Full Speech)

Source: FRANCE 24 English

British Prime Minister Theresa May Gives Speech at European Union Summit in Brussels

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Catalonia: 'Triggering Article 155 Can Suspend Any if Not All Powers of the Catalan Institutions"

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Japan: Party of Hope Leader Emerges as Dark Horse in Snap Election Vote

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Former President Barack Obama Slams 'Politics of Division' on Campaign Trail in Virginia

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Syracuse Police Officer Kelsey Francemone Named New York State Police Officer of the Year

Six Other Agencies Nominated Officers for the Award

Syracuse Police Officer Kelsey Francemone is the recipient of the New York State Police Officer of the Year Award, the first woman to be honored as the sole recipient of the award in its 33-year history. She was recognized for her actions on Father's Day 2016, when she disabled a gunman who began shooting during a large party at the James Geddes Apartments in Syracuse's Near Westside neighborhood. Francemone, who was patrolling alone when gunfire erupted, also successfully defended herself when members of the crowd attacked her as she attempted to secure the area.

"Officer Francemone answered the call and put her own wellbeing on the line in order to protect her community and prevent others from being harmed by this gunman," Governor Cuomo said. "Her courage bravery exemplifies the very best of New York's law enforcement community and she serves as an inspiration for us all. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I am proud to honor her with this well-deserved award."

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul presented the 24-year-old Francemone with the award on the Governor's behalf this afternoon. She was joined by Michael C. Green, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and Chairman of the Police Officer of the Year Selection Committee, and Syracuse Chief Frank J. Fowler. More than 50 people attended the award ceremony at the Syracuse Police Department, including Francemone's family members, friends, colleagues from her agency and law enforcement executives and officers from throughout Onondaga County.

"Officer Francemone is not only a hero, but as the first female recipient of the Police Officer of the Year Award, is a great role model for women and girls across the state," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "She faced up to every officer's worst nightmare and used her training and incredible bravery to confront it head on. Officer Francemone and the Officer of the Year nominees represent the strength and courage that Officers display across New York State every day."

A member of the Syracuse Police Department since 2014, Francemone also is the first officer from an Onondaga County agency to receive the award. Three other women - officers with the New York City Police Department, Port Authority Police Department, and Suffolk County Police Department - were joint recipients of the award with their male colleagues.

Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner and Police Officer of the Year Selection Committee Chairman Michael C. Green said, "Officer Francemone put her own safety aside to help countless others facing a lethal volley of gunfire. While all the nominations received by the committee include exemplary acts of heroism, the actions of Officer Francemone truly represent what it means to serve and protect the public. I am honored to recognize her valor on behalf of the committee."

In nominating Francemone for the honor, Syracuse Police provided the following account of the events on June 19, 2016:

It was about 11 p.m. when Francemone - who was 22 at the time - responded to a report of a man down, not far from where she was patrolling. The initial call was unfounded, but she heard multiple gunshots originating from disorderly crowd of several hundred gathered at a large party nearby at the Geddes Apartments. Without hesitation, she ran toward the direction of the gunshots as panicked people streamed in the opposite direction, and confronted an armed man, who was firing a handgun at other individuals in the crowd.

Francemone ordered the individual to drop his weapon. When he didn't comply with her direction, she shot him once, wounding him. The man dropped his weapon and fled around a corner of a building, out of her line of sight. When she attempted secure the scene and locate the injured man, she was encircled by the crowd, members of which began to physically attack her.

As she was besieged by punches and kicks, her uniform was ripped by individuals attempting to take her badge and service weapon. Francemone defended herself throughout the attack, refusing to relinquish either item. Officers responding to the scene pulled their colleague from the melee, but were mobbed by the unruly crowd. The ensuing riot prompted Syracuse Police to seek mutual aid from police agencies throughout Onondaga County. After the incident was under control, investigators later recovered nearly 40 shell casings from the scene and estimated there were roughly a half-dozen gunmen firing weapons in the officers' proximity.

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said, "If not for Officer Francemone's quick response and almost unbelievable personal courage, it is almost certain more people would have lost their lives in this tragic gunfight. She has brought great credit upon herself and the Syracuse Police Department as a whole. We are proud to have her among our ranks."

The Police Officer of the Year Award was first presented in 1984 and recognizes a single police officer, or team of officers, for an exceptional act of valor symbolizing the service of police in New York State. A complete list of past recipients can be found here.

Since the award's inception, 111 officers from 18 agencies across the state have received it. Of those police, 69 have been honored posthumously, including 23 officers from the New York City Police Department and 37 members of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department killed during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Six other agencies nominated officers for the award. These 12 officers each will receive a Certificate of Exceptional Valor from Governor Cuomo:

Officers Josef Perez and Danilo Rodriguez of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police

On June 28, at about 2:30 p.m., Officers Perez and Rodriguez observed a vehicle on fire near the center divider on the Long Island Expressway. The officers ran to the vehicle, found the operator unresponsive, cut the seatbelt and pulled the driver from the vehicle. Officer Perez stayed with the injured driver while Officer Rodriguez used an extinguisher to extinguish the fire.

Officers James Sanford, Matthew Fusaro, Andrew Mirenda, Darnell White and Katy Kalendar of the Nassau County Police Department

On Nov. 4, First Precinct Police Officer Sanford began pursuing a vehicle on the Southern State Parkway with a potentially armed driver wanted for a homicide. Officer Fusaro became the lead car in the pursuit with assistance from Officers Mirenda, Darnell White and Kalendar. The driver fled into Brooklyn, where he crashed his car into a gas station, causing a fire at the pumps. He then fled the vehicle and charged at Officer Fusaro, knocking him to the ground and causing him to suffer a head injury. Officers Mirenda, White and Kalendar were then able to subdue the man.

Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo of the New York City Police Department

On Nov. 4, Sgt. Tuozzolo and another officer located a suspect who had held his estranged wife and her family hostage for several hours before leaving the scene. Sgt. Tuozzolo and another officer located the man and boxed in his vehicle to prevent him from fleeing again. As Sgt. Tuozzolo and the other officer exited a patrol car to arrest the suspect, he opened fire and shot Sgt. Tuozzolo in the head, killing him. The other officer, who was shot in the leg, survived.

Lt. Liza Bobseine of the New York State Environmental Conservation Police

On Nov 29, Lt. Liza Bobseine and Officer James Davey were investigating a trespassing complaint and reports of illegal hunting and shots fired. Officer Davey was critically wounded when an individual at the scene opened fire as the officers approached. Lt. Bobseine called for medical support and administered life-saving treatment to Officer Davey for more than an hour. Lt. Bobseine also controlled the scene and took the two individuals in custody, leading to their arrests.

Technical Lt. Peter R. McLain and Technical Sgt. Brian D. Rumrill of the New York State Police

On Dec. 13, Technical Lt. McLain and Technical Sgt. Rumrill braved poor conditions to fly a helicopter in search of a pair of hikers who had become lost in Essex County. The man and women had fallen about 100 feet from the summit of Algonquin Mountain - New York's second highest peak - and had been stranded for two days. Both hikers were suffering from frostbite and hypothermia, which made removing them by ground all but impossible. After forest rangers located the position of the hikers, Technical Lt. McLain and Technical Sgt. Rumrill used a roughly 45-second break in the cloud cover to hoist the hikers aboard. They transported the hikers to an area hospital for treatment and then returned to extracted a pair of forest rangers who were exhausted from the search.

Deputy Nicholas Walter of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office

On Nov. 11, Deputy Walter responded to a vehicle crash in front of a residence in the town of Pendleton. The impact of the vehicle as it struck a tree had pushed the engine into the vehicle's passenger compartment, pinning the legs of the driver. Deputy Walter, along with one of the neighbors, freed the driver's legs and pulled him from the vehicle shortly before it erupted in flames.

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Facebook Allowed Questionable Ads in German Election Despite Warnings

CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to ensure the campaign’s integrity, but the company didn’t take down anti-Green party posts of unknown origin.

by Stefanie Dodt, special to ProPublica, Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin, ProPublica

On Sept. 15, nine days before the elections in Germany, the Green party complained to Facebook about a popular series of attack ads deriding its stances on gender-neutral bathrooms, electric cars and other topics. The party accused the advertiser, Greenwatch, of providing false contact information on its Facebook page and blog, which would violate a German Media Authority regulation requiring accurate contact information.

But Facebook didn’t take down the ads or trace their origins. And after the election, Greenwatch disappeared. Its website and Facebook page were deleted, leaving behind only the nine Greenwatch ads that were captured by ProPublica’s Political Ad Collector, a tool that enables Facebook users to collect political ads that target them.

The Greenwatch episode illustrates that ads of dubious provenance aren’t just aimed at Facebook users in the U.S., but in Europe as well. Facebook’s failure to confront the advertiser — despite repeated complaints — raises questions about whether and how the world’s largest social network will deliver on its promise to monitor political advertising aggressively on its platform.

Facebook vowed to step up enforcement of political ads in the wake of news that it allowed Russian advertisers to buy politically divisive ads during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and other advertisers to direct ads to “Jew haters” and similar anti-Semitic groups.

“I expect from a company that makes a lot of money from advertisement that they control who is placing those ads,“ said Emily B√ľning, the Green party’s executive secretary. “Whoever spreads propaganda with substantial funding has to be identifiable. Whose opinion it is should be transparent.”

Click here for the full article. 

Source: ProPublica

President Trump Meeting with Governor of Puerto Rico

President Trump and Governor Richard Rossello of Puerto Rico speak to reporters following their meeting in the Oval Office about the federal response to Hurricane Maria. He also gives his administration a "10" for how it handled the response. 

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN

Vietnam War: 50 Years Later - John McCain Looks Back

This video was published on YouTube on October 18, 2017. 

The full program will air on October 22 at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET.

Source C-SPAN

First Lady Melania Trump - Hurricane Relief PSA

This video was published on YouTube on October 17. 

Source: The White House

Second Lady Karen Pence's Initiative, Healing with the HeART

This video was published on YouTube on October 18. 

Source: The White House

How to Talk to Your Kids About Racism

This video was published on YouTube on August 16, 2017. 

Child psychologist Dr. Melissa Sporn and a group of parents share their advice for talking to kids about racism and current events. 


Saving Our Youth: 'My Biggest Regret About Joining a Gang'

Trailblazers in Black History: Hilyard Robinson

Dolores Hayden, in her books Redefining the American Dream and The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History, elaborates how conventional ideas of gender, class, and caste influence the critical evaluation of architectural achievement—a discussion extremely relevant to the careers of Julian Francis Abele, Hilyard Robinson, and Paul R. Williams. This trio of African Americans remains largely invisible within the history of architecture and architects in the United States, even as their work increasingly becomes known in the black community. Rectifying this invisibility would surely be consistent with the current and appropriate emphasis on our society’s “multicultural” character, if, by that term, we mean to encourage a fundamental reconceptualization of who we have been and are as a people.

Here's an excerpt from the book on the contributions of Hilyard Robinson. 

"In 1996, a made-for-TV movie chronicled the true-life exploits of the “The Tuskeegee Airmen,” African American fighter pilots who received segregated training in Alabama at an army base adjacent to Tuskeegee Institute, and who served with great distinction in the Second World War. As a child living at Tuskeegee and watching those young men swagger around the campus, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up—no matter that many in the military scoffed at the notion of black pilots.

"Not only did one of the airmen, Dr. Roscoe Brown, become the first pilot of any color to shoot down a Luftwaffe jet, but, unknown to me at the time, the base where he and the others trained was designed by a black architect, Hilyard Robinson,6 and built by a black architectural and construction firm, McKissack & McKissack. (Most of Tuskeegee’s major buildings were also designed by black architects and built by students, in keeping with the philosophy of its founder, Booker T. Washington.)" 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Harvard Design Magazine

Obama’s Name to Replace Jefferson Davis’ on Mississippi School

A public elementary school in Mississippi named after the president of the Confederacy will be renamed to honor the first black president of the United States.

Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary in Jackson, which is named for Jefferson Davis, will be renamed Barack Obama Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary beginning next school year, the school's PTA president, Janelle Jefferson, said at a Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night.

The prospect of changing the name of what Jefferson called the best elementary school in Mississippi was raised by a student, she told NBC News. 

Click here for the full article.

Black, Latino Kids Less Likely to Get Early Help for Developmental Delays, Study Finds

Black and Latino children with developmental delays are much less likely — 78 percent less — than white children to receive the early intervention services they need, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

In a study published earlier this month, researchers attempt to figure out the possible reasons why.

According the study, a developmental delay is defined as a condition in which children do not reach their milestones for motor, language, cognitive, social, behavioral, or adaptive skills. Early intervention services are customized services to help the child catch up and increase his or her chances to succeed in life and school. One in six children have a developmental disability, according to the CDC. These conditions can impact day-to-day functioning, starting during the developmental period, and sometimes lasting throughout the person’s lifetime.

The researchers interviewed low-income African-American and Hispanic moms to understand the role their personal beliefs play on why services aren’t being utilized. 

Click here for the full article. 

SPLC Under Attack by Hate Groups Close to President Trump


The following letter was submitted by Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

As expected, the annual “Values Voter Summit” in Washington this past weekend featured a rogue’s gallery of far-right extremists.

But something extraordinary happened this year.

For the first time ever, a sitting president spoke at the gathering – shamefully lending the legitimacy of the White House to hate groups like the Summit’s host, the Family Research Council, and its president, Tony Perkins.

What’s more, President Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, also addressed the audience and took the opportunity to attack us.

I’m not surprised that Bannon singled us out for his vitriol. We’ve been a thorn in the FRC’s side for years – calling out the group because it relentlessly vilifies the LGBT community with demonizing rhetoric and falsehoods.

We’ve always believed it’s important to take on groups like the FRC that have a foothold in the mainstream. In many ways, they’re more dangerous to our country than hatemongers who wear robes and hoods.

Now, it’s even more important. Trump has brought the FRC closer into the mainstream and has given it a voice in his administration – just as he did with Bannon, a champion of the reemerging white nationalist movement that calls itself the “alt-right.”

No one should be fooled. These are people and groups who harbor extreme beliefs that are antithetical to the very foundations of our democracy.

One of the headliners at the Summit, for example, was Roy Moore – the former Alabama chief justice who suggested in a 2002 judicial opinion that the state would be justified in executing gay men and women to protect children. Moore also wrote in 2006 that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, shouldn’t be allowed to serve because of his faith. As any judge should know, the U.S. Constitution explicitly bars any sort of religious test as a prerequisite to holding federal office.

We’ve twice had Moore removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for thumbing his nose at the Constitution. The first time, in 2003, was after he defied a federal court order to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments that he had installed in the state judicial building. The second time was after he ordered state officials to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples even after the U.S. Supreme Court settled the issue with its landmark ruling in 2015.

Bannon, however, called Moore a “good and righteous man” during his Summit appearance. It tells you that Bannon has no more respect for the rule of law than does our president.

If the FRC and its allies had their way, our country would return to the days when gay people were in the closet and faced the risk of being jailed for being who they are.

Because we’ve been calling out the FRC and groups like it for their vilification of the LGBT community, they’ve been attacking us in right-wing media outlets like Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Breitbart News, which is led by Bannon.

Now that Trump has given the FRC unprecedented access to the White House, it will be more powerful than ever and the LGBT community will be at even greater risk.

It’s the reason why our work is more important than ever.

Shake-Up at Democratic National Committee, Longtime Officials Ousted

WASHINGTON — A shake-up is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several key longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

The ousters come ahead of the DNC's first meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada, since Perez took over as chairman with a pledge this year to unite a party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary race.

Complaints began immediately after party officials saw a list of Perez's appointments to DNC committees and his roster of 75 "at-large" members, who are chosen by the chair.