Thursday, August 25, 2016

Two Catholic Nuns Found Dead, Apparently Murdered, in Mississippi


Statement by the President on the Colombia Peace Agreement


This is a historic day for the people of Colombia. With the finalizing of a peace agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere is coming to an end. We have witnessed, once again, that a sustained commitment to diplomacy and reconciliation can overcome even the most entrenched conflicts.

This accord is a tribute to the hard work and cooperation of countless Colombian leaders and citizens—across parties and administrations—who painstakingly laid the groundwork for this milestone. I especially want to commend President Juan Manuel Santos for his courageous leadership during four years of difficult negotiations. I likewise thank the government of Cuba for hosting these talks, its co-guarantor Norway, and the United States' Special Envoy, Bernie Aronson, for his contributions to the peace process.

Even as we mark the end of an era of war, we recognize that the work of achieving a just and lasting peace is only beginning. Yet just as the United States has been Colombia's partner in a time of war, we will be Colombia's partner in waging peace.  It is in this spirit that I stood alongside President Santos earlier this year and announced a new chapter in our relationship, Peace Colombia, which will provide a framework to reinforce security gains, reintegrate former combatants into society and extend opportunity and the rule of law.

For generations, too many Colombians have known only a country ravaged by war. Many around the world have viewed Colombia only as a place of conflict. But as I saw when I visited Colombia four years ago, a remarkable transformation has occurred. Thanks to the strength and spirit of the Colombian people, today's Colombia is moving toward a future of optimism and hope. The United States is proud to stand with the Colombian people as they continue on the path to lasting peace and prosperity. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'From The G-Man': You Want Black Support, Mr. Trump? Then Address This Issue, First!


The following article was originally published on December 15, 2015, and none of the major cable, network or print news outlets have grilled the Republican presidential nominee about this case and/or series of events, even during the GOP debates. "From The G-Man" would like to know why Trump has been given a pass by the American mainstream media, especially when the nominee is now attempting to gain the support of Black voters all across the country.  

DOJ: Trump's Early Businesses Blocked Blacks

By Gideon Resnick

A 1973 suit against Trump and the Trump Organization claimed that superintendents at Trump properties would mark African-American applications with a ‘C’ for ‘Colored’ and other racial codes.

When an African-American showed up to rent an apartment owned by a young real-estate scion named Donald Trump and his family, the building superintendent did what he claimed he’d been told to do. He allegedly attached a separate sheet of paper to the application, marked with the letter “C.”

“C” for “Colored.”

According to the Department of Justice, that was the crude code that ensured the rental would be denied.

Details of this secret system, as well as other practices that the Trump organization allegedly used to exclude black residents from its buildings in Brooklyn, Queens, and Norfolk, Virginia in the 1970s, were recorded in a lawsuit brought by the DOJ against Trump and his father, Fred, in 1973 for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Daily Beast 

5 Things to Know About the 'Alt-Right'

The alt-right, shorthand for "alternative right," is the blanket term for a loose gathering of conservatives primarily based online that can include everyone from critics of so-called "political correctness" on college campuses to hardcore white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Here are 5 things to know about the group: 

1. Until recently, the 'alt-right' was largely removed from partisan politics

That all changed this year as the movement rose from obscurity thanks to its followers' intense support for Donald Trump's candidacy, the rise of conservative outlets like Breitbart that explicitly champion "alt right" causes, and the rapid spread of "alt-right" users on sites like 4chan, Reddit, and Twitter. Steve Bannon, the president of Breitbart, recently took over as Trump's campaign CEO, drawing more attention to Trump's ties to the movement.

The Bill Clinton Legacy


THE DUOPOLY WATCH | Steven Jonas, MD, MPH

With Bill Clinton’s 70th birthday on August 19, and with, of course, Hillary running for President, there has been a lot of talk about his “legacy.”  The Democrats of course try to place it in the most favourable light, which requires that they mainly focus on what he said, not actually what he did.  As for the Republicans, they of course ignore what he did (for, as we shall see below, he mainly carried out Republican policies), and focus on Clinton-and-sex (some real, some not) and economic/money scandals like ”Whitewater,” which itself actually never came to anything.  Indeed, the real Clinton record, on issues of importance, is an ideal example of the Duopoly at work.  After all, Clinton was the chairman of the Republican-lite Democratic Leadership Council in the 1980s.  And so when he got to the Presidency, after running a campaign that for the most part covered up his true agenda, he proceeded to go DLC all the way. 

Despite all the “progressive talk,” “listening to Bernie,” and “listening to Elizabeth Warren,” there certainly are indications that if Hillary does become President she will follow a pathway similar to that followed by Bill, and indeed herself when she was ensconced in the White House.  There are those “Wall St.” speeches, the texts of which she still refuses to release; the “Wall St.” money she has pulled in; and indeed the Republican endorsements she is pulling in, in increasing numbers.  They cannot all be coming about simply because Trump is so awful (which of course he is).  And so, let’s turn to that “Clinton Legacy,” mainly on the domestic side.   

I am presenting the elements of it that I find to be most important, but not necessarily in order of importance, for some would think that some are more important than others.  However, I think that most persons, from “true Democrat” on to “true socialist,” viewing this particular list would agree that they are all negative to a greater or lesser extent.  Or at least they would agree that I just happen to have picked out a bunch of negative ones (but I did have a hard time remembering any positive ones).  And so, in no particular order, here’s my list.

Bill Clinton introduced us to Big Pharma advertising for prescription drugs on television.  The main purpose of these ads, at least as they are now constructed, would seem to be an attempt to protect the firms from charges of non-full disclosure when various pharmaceuticals come to suit.  But at the same time, with the visuals all the way through, and the often dream-like text about what the pills can do for you at the beginning and the end, the ads: a) reinforce the US drug culture: “take this pill; it will solve your problem; b) add to the pressure that physicians feel all the time anyway about prescribing; and c) attempt to make patient into self-prescribers.

Following a Reagan decision of 1987, Bill Clinton confirmed the elimination of what was called the Fairness Doctrine that governed the use by private parties of the publicly owned radio and television waves in the United States.  This is what has led to the dominance of US radio in particular by the right-wing political talk that so reinforces the Repub. political agenda.   (By the way, Obama reinforced this elimination in 2011.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Greanville Post

Brooklyn Hospitals Fare Abysmally in Disputed Federal Rankings


New York State’s hospitals as a whole ranked last among the 50 states, according to a report card from the federal government. Shockingly, New York City’s hospitals were rated even lower than the state average – and Brooklyn’s hospitals scored lower than the city as a whole.

In July, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new ratings for roughly 3,600 hospitals across the country, assigning from one to five stars to each based on 64 quality measures.

The ratings are meant to provide consumers with a “snapshot” of local hospitals. They are based on data such as how often complications occur, the timeliness of care, the number of readmissions and deaths, and patients’ ranking of their experiences in the hospital.

According to an analysis of the federal database by the Empire Center for Public Policy, a non-profit think tank based in Albany, New York State’s average score was 2.26 stars, the lowest of any state. New York City’s 38 rated hospitals averaged 1.68 stars. (Some specialty institutions and VA hospitals were not rated.)

New York State ranked low despite having one of the most expensive health care systems in the U.S. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Brooklyn Eagle

Costing Out Cuomo’s Green Tax


by Kenneth Girardin

 Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new Clean Energy Standard is shaping up to be one of the largest tax hikes in state history.

Beginning in January, the standard will force electricity ratepayers to subsidize costly windmills and solar panel farms, along with money-losing upstate nuclear plants, by requiring utilities and other electricity customers to purchase “renewable energy credits” (RECs) and “zero-emissions credits” (ZECs) from the state.

The standard is part of the governor’s goal of having the state get 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030—up from 23 percent as of 2015.  Paradoxically, the PSC assumes that this policy can drive down prices even while mandating higher demand for renewables.

The credits are tied to the amount of power each utility purchases from the electrical grid, on a per-megawatt-hour basis. The state will be using the proceeds of the RECs and ZECs to pay renewable energy generators and upstate nuclear plants while they sell power to the grid at a loss. 

In ordering the Clean Energy Standard on August 1, the four members of the Public Service Commission (PSC) set percentages of electricity usage that need to be offset with REC purchases each year beginning in 2017.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which will play a key role in implementing the standard, hasn’t yet set a price for RECs. However, equivalent credits in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are trading for more than $40

Click here for the full article. 

Source: Empire Center, NY Torch (via The Empire Report)

New York Team in Little League World Series

By Tina Yazdani

Williamsport, Pa. -- Maine-Endwell, New York's entry in the Little League World Series, is one win away from the world championship game.

Behind six RBI on five hits from Jude Abbadessa, including a home run, Maine-Endwell beat Bowling Green, Ky., 13-10 Wednesday night to advance to the U.S. championship game on Saturday.

In a back-and-forth offensive game, Maine-Endwell finally put it away with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jack Hopko and Conner Rush drove in two runs each for the victors. Abbadessa pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief of starter Ryan Harlost, earning the win.

Throughout the tournament, the stadium has been packed, and it's not hard to find those blue shirts among the crowds. 

Click here for video. 

Source: Time Warner Cable News (via The Empire Report) 

NAN to Join with the AFT, Civil Rights Leaders and Gun Safety and Labor Groups for Rally at NRA Lobbying HQ

 
New York, NY ― On the 53rd anniversary of the March on Washington, National Action Network (NAN) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have partnered to announce a rally and march on August 27th with more than 40 leading civil rights, labor and gun violence prevention groups to send a unified message that the nation will no longer tolerate the easy availability of firearms that is turning intolerance and hate lethal.  

The coalition will protest against the Washington gun lobby that is stalling meaningful gun reform legislation in Congress. 

The groups will also announce a 72-day campaign of direct action to promote gun safety, including civil disobedience, rallies, sit-ins, and marches in Washington, D.C., New York City and other cities around the nation. 

Marchers will assemble at noon at Folger Park, 2nd Street SE and march to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) lobbying office, located at the 400 block of 1st Street SE.

Among the groups that are supporting the march with National Action Network (NAN) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are: American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Black Women's Roundtable (BWR), Black Youth Vote (BYV), Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, The Center for Black Equity, The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, Campaign To Unload, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Disarm Hate 2016, Feminist Majority Foundation, Gays Against Guns, Generation Progress, Hispanic Federation, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Justice Initiative, Justice League NYC,  Keep Guns Off Campus, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Labor Council For Latin American Advancement, MomsRising, National Action Network (NAN), The National Cathedral, National Council of La Raza, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), National Domestic worker’s Alliance, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Urban League (NUL), National Organization for Women (NOW), Newtown Action Alliance, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, New York State Nurses Association Social Justice Initiative, Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, One Pulse for America, Rabbis Against Gun Violence, SEIU (Service Employees International Union),  States United to Prevent Gun Violence (SUPGV), Stop Killing Innocent People (S.K.I.P.), Violence Policy Center, Voto Latino, Women Against Gun Violence, Working Families, and Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights. 

Source: Mercury 

32nd Precinct Community Council/NYPD to Host "Back to School, 2016"


On August 30, the 32nd Precinct Community Council, in partnership with the NYPD's 32nd Precinct, will host a back-to-school event to help students prepare for 2016/2017 session. 

The event will be held from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Courtney Callender Playground, located at Fifth Avenue and West 130th Street, New York. 

"This is a great opportunity for parents, kids and teens to obtain not only back packs for the school year, but a wealth of information and resources that will also be available. The 32nd Precinct Community Council will be on hand to promote NYPD youth-related programs that many in the community may not be aware of, and a number of non-NYPD organizations will be present to offer assistance and vital information," said Abena Smith, president of the 32nd Precinct Community Council.

"In the wake of the recent killing of the beloved Odessa Simms, which occurred here in Harlem on August 20, I believe it is important to inform New York City residents of the event, which will highlight positive attributes of the Harlem community and the 32nd Precinct. I invite people from all over the city to come and bear witness to the good things being done by Harlemites and many good police officers at the command." 

Source: The 32nd Precinct Community Council/NYPD

'Oil Slick Award' Bestowed on Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder

 

Brooklyn – State Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) was bestowed with the dubious Oil Slick Award by EPL/Environmental Advocates for championing a bill that would have blocked communities statewide from taking action to reduce needless plastic bag waste, which is costing local taxpayers as it damages wastewater systems, pollutes waterways, and gets landfilled.

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of EPL/Environmental Advocates said, “Senator Felder consistently achieves very poor green scores in the Senate. The Senator earned this year’s Oil Slick Award for a number of reasons, most obviously for legislation that came in response to New York City’s plan to reduce plastic bag waste, but which overreached and would have prevented communities statewide from taking action, essentially transferring the Senate’s dysfunction on to local governments. The measure was rejected by colleagues from both sides of the aisle and stalled out as other legislators partnered in good faith to find solutions to their concerns.”

Senate
Felder, who has failed the Environmental Scorecard three out of the four years he has held office, earned just 57 points out of a possible 100 this year, ranking him near the bottom of all his colleagues. By comparison, several of his Senate colleagues from New York City tied for the high score of 92 points, including: Leroy Comrie (D-Queens), Martin Malave Dilan (D-Brooklyn), Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx), Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn), Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan), J. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), Jose Serrano (D-Manhattan/Bronx) and Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn).

Freshman Senator Roxanne Persaud (D-Brooklyn) earned 82 points on her first Scorecard. Meanwhile, Republican Senators Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) both failed with 61 and 57 points, respectively, due to their support for bad legislation, such as an extreme bill that would effectively end New York’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the state’s premier carbon abatement program.

Assembly
11 Assemblymembers from New York City tied for the high score in their house, due to their support for passage of the most aggressive climate action legislation in the country (which is now supported by a bipartisan majority of all state senators), including: Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), William Colton (D-Brooklyn), Vivian Cooke (D-Jamaica), Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan),  Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), Rebecca Seawright (D-Manhattan), Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn), Walter Mosely (D-Brooklyn), Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) and Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).

Parts of Staten Island are represented by the only Assemblymember in the entire city to fail the Scorecard, Ronald Castorina, who despite being elected to serve a district that has been devastated by climate change, voted against climate action legislation.

The EPL/Environmental Advocates 2016 Environmental Scorecard is the first and only record of New York State lawmakers’ votes on legislation that will affect the environment. The guide has been produced and distributed statewide for more than 40 years. For the complete Scorecard, visit www.eplscorecard.org

Source: Environmental Advocates of New York

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Harlem Activists, Community Leaders and Residents Hold Vigil for Odessa Simms

Click on the photos to increase their size. 

On August 24, members of the Harlem community gathered for a prayer vigil in honor of Odessa Simms. 

As reported in the New York Daily News, "Simms died after she was hit in the back of the head and in the left side of her torso by errant gunfire as she watched a game of dominoes in the Colonel Charles Young Playground on Lenox Ave. near W. 144th St. just before midnight, police said.


"Simms was rushed to Harlem Hospital, but couldn't be saved, officials said. She lived just two blocks away from the scene.

"Witnesses told investigators they saw the gunman armed with a silver pistol chasing another man south down Lenox Ave. before the shots were fired, police said."

  Rev. Vernonn Williams

Reverend Vernonn Williams, one of the organizers of the vigil, told passersby and those in attendance that the violence must come to end. "We have to stand up and speak out against the violence in our community. How many more have to die before we say enough is enough? Odessa Simms was loved by many in this community. The killing has to stop," said Williams.   


After the vigil, an NYPD van and several officers from Community Affairs escorted the group down Lenox Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard to 142nd Street, the block where Simms lived. A second prayer session was held, and several members of the group challenged a number of neighborhood residents to come forward with information about the shooting. 


"If you know or saw something, you need to come forward. Someone out here knows something. We know you do! If you cared about Odessa Simms or care about your community, you need to say something. The violence has to stop," said one of the attendees. 

 
Coverage and photos by From The G-Man  

Statement by the President on the 25th Anniversary of Ukrainian Independence

 
Twenty-five years ago today, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union. On behalf of the American people, I’m proud to join the Ukrainian people in marking this historic anniversary. As we have been reminded in recent years, Ukraine’s path has not always been easy.  From the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who linked arms in a great human chain in 1990 to the fallen heroes of the Maidan, realizing the dream of independence has called on the solidarity and sacrifice of the Ukrainian people. The people of the United States, including proud Ukrainian-Americans, have been honored to partner with Ukraine on this journey. Today, we reaffirm that the United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, embrace the vision of a strong and united Europe, and deepen their commitment to democracy, anti-corruption, and respect for human rights. I offer my best wishes to all the people of Ukraine. On this occasion, we are reminded that even in the most difficult moments, the glory and freedom of Ukraine—and the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people—lives on. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

'Oil Slick Award' & Environmental Legislator of the Year to Be Announced

 
213 State Legislators’ Records on Climate, Water, Waste & More Evaluated
 
Albany – On August 25, 2016, at 11 a.m., EPL/Environmental Advocates will announce the 2016 recipient of the "Oil Slick Award", a dubious distinction bestowed upon a state legislator who has gone above and beyond in their effort to undermine or roll back environmental causes, as well as the Legislator of the Year.
 

The awards come with the release of the 2016 Environmental Scorecard, the only document which tracks the voting record of all state legislators on green issues, and educates their constituents on whether their rhetoric back home matches their actions inside the state Capitol. Regional overviews will be available. 

Source: Environmental Advocates of New York 

Senator James Sanders Jr. Blasts Drug Company for Raising Price on Life Saving Drug

 
State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) today blasted a drug company for astronomically raising the price of a life saving drug, thereby preventing many people from gaining access to the medicine which could result in death.

Mylan, a multinational pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPen, a pocket sized medical device has steadily been increasing the price of the product over the years. The EpiPen contains epinephrine, a drug used for treating a number of conditions including anaphylaxis, fatal allergic reactions from things like bee stings or accidentally consuming peanuts, which affects millions of people in the United States.

 

“Mylan, are you willing to let people die to make a dollar?” Sanders asked. “Apparently some people have no shame.”

“This is capitalism run wild and it is another reason why we need government,” Sanders continued. “ Left to its own devices, this company is going to endanger lives.”

 

In 2007, the wholesale price on an EpiPen in the United States was $57, according to moveon.org. Today, it’s over $300, even though the cost to produce the medicine is only a few dollars. A EpiPen two-pack is $85 in France. Mylan has a near monopoly on the product in this country and makes $1.2 billion a year in profits on the EpiPen alone.

Source: The Office of State Senator James Sanders, Jr. 

Authors Roundtable on Race in America

 
Authors Eddie Glaude, Julianne Malveaux, Victoria Christopher Murray, Michael Higginbotham and April Ryan talked about race in America, including its impact on news, politics, and American culture. Other topics included recent racial incidents, their origins, and possible solutions for prevention.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN