President Obama Replaces Bush Bill
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed into law Dec. 10 the bill titled Every Student Succeds Act. The bipartisan legislati;on replaces the legislation synonmymous with his immediate predecessor, President George W.Bush, called “No Child Left Behind ” Every Student Succeeds Act shifts control from the federal government back to the states in evaluating their schools.
WASHINGTON – Leaders of the nation’s major black churches — representing nearly 13 million African-American members — presented over 10,000 pastors’ signatures to Congressional Black Caucus members in support of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
The leaders said they are making the effort to push forward the bill, which has a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030.
Bishop George Battle, senior bishop of A.M.E. Zion Church; the Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr., president of the National Baptist Convention of America, and the Rev. Timothy Tee Boddie, general secretary to the Progressive National Baptist Convention of America, were among the 10,000 who presented their signatures to members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who represents Oakland, Berkeley and other northern California cities, applauded their effort and accepted the signatures.
"As faith and community leaders, their commitment to protecting and preserving our fragile planet is greatly needed as we work to address climate change,” Lee said.
Lee said the president’s plan and other environmental action must have a positive effect on disadvantaged communities.
“This is truly an issue about justice – environmental justice, economic justice and racial justice. The negative effects of pollution and climate change have disproportionately affected communities of color,” she said.
“As we work to reverse climate change, we must all raise our voices together and ensure that the economic opportunities created by the green economy are open to all.”
According to caucus members, almost 40 percent of the six million Americans living close to coal-fired power plants are people of color, and they are disproportionately African-American. Pollutants released from those plants have led to high rates of asthma and respiratory issues within nearby communities.
According to the president and his supporters, his plan would decrease premature deaths from emissions by nearly 90 percent and asthma attacks in children by 90,000 by 2030.
The Rev. Jesse Bottoms, vice president of the National Baptist Convention, echoed concerns about the impact of pollutants on African Americans.
“Environmental concerns are not abstractions for African Americans,” Bottoms said. “They are real, and they affect us in very real ways, particularly our children and seniors.”
According to the White House, the number of Americans with asthma has more than doubled over the last 30 years, and severe droughts, wildfires and the rising sea level are affecting communities nationwide.
Of the 15 warmest years recorded, 14 of them have occurred since 2000, with the warmest year being 2014. Children and the elderly, the sick and the poor are most at risk from effects of climate change.
Bishop Carrol Baltimore of the Global United Fellowship said, “No one should have to live in dirty air that makes them sick, but it’s especially unfair that our least fortunate and most vulnerable communities—our children and those living in poverty and with lower incomes—have to suffer even more than the rest.”
Obama praises the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team while encouraging young girls.
WASHINGTON – It may or may not have been the most delicate of phrasing, but President Obama made it clear what he thought was the message sent by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in its World Cup victory.
"This team taught all of America's children that 'playing like a girl' means you're a badass," Obama said of the women during a special White House presentation to honor the team.
The team beat Japan in the Women’s World Cup final in July to claim its third title since 1991 and second since 1999. The president used his 11-minute speech to drive home the importance of women’s equality both on and off the field.
“These champions deserve all the attention that they’ve been getting,” he said. “After 16 long years, too many heartbreaks, they flew north to put America back on top of the soccer world. And they did it in style.”
Obama kept his remarks jovial and lighthearted, congratulating bi-racial forward Sydney Leroux on her recent marriage and taking note of her dog’s 10,000 Twitter followers, “which makes me thankful that Bo and Sunny don’t have their own accounts, because I don’t need them trolling me from my own house,” he said.
He also mentioned that Megan Rapinoe’s face was the inspiration behind the design of a California farmer’s corn maze.
The president concluded his remarks with a reminder that the team stands for challenging outdated stereotypes and being the best.
“Playing like a girl means being the best,” he said. “It means drawing the largest TV audience for a soccer match, men or women’s, in American history. It means wearing our nation’s crest on your jersey, taking yourself and your country to the top of the world.
“That’s what American women do. That's what American girls do. That’s why we celebrate this team. They’ve done it with class. They’ve done it with the right way. We are very, very proud of them.”
Abby Wombach, a forward for the team, echoed Obama’s remarks.
“This isn’t just about soccer,” Wombach said. “This is about women and equal opportunity across the board. I think that’s what we’re here for and that’s what we represent. Our whole team represents so many different people, so many different backgrounds and different walks of life. I think that’s why we are America’s team. We are the melting pot. We do represent every person in this country, and I think that’s what makes our team so inspiring.”
In May, team launched #SheBelieves campaign, an effort to inspire young girls and young women to achieve their dreams and avoid common sexist stereotypes associated with their gender. Obama praised the team for launching this campaign.
For more information about the #SheBelieves campaign, visit http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2015/05/12/16/37/150512-shebelieves-community-launch-rel.
President Takes on Criminal Justice System
WASHINGTON – The Black Lives Matter movement, who many have embraced and others have claimed is anti-police, received an endorsement from the nation’s highest law enforcement officer, President Barack Obama, during a special White House session last week to deal with reforming the nation’s criminal justice system.
Speaking to law enforcement officials, including 50 of the nation’s top police chiefs, Obama said the movement is addressing an important issue – deaths of unarmed black men and women at the hands of law enforcement — and is not racist or exclusionary, as its critics have claimed.
“I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they said they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter,” Obama said. “Rather, what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities.
“And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
The Black Lives Matter movement began shortly after the acquittal in 2013 of volunteer security guard George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed African-American teen Trayvon Martin and has grown continuously with the police-related deaths of numerous unarmed black men across the nation.
Obama said one of the issues that needs to be addressed is the disproportionate imprisonment of African Americans and Latinos. They represent 60 percent of the prison population although African Americans and Latinos only represent 13 and 17 percent of the population respectively, according to whitehouse.gov.
“The problem of racial justice or injustice in the society has been a running theme in this country’s history for a very long time,” Obama said, “and so, we just have to make sure that all of us own it.”
Currently, the United States has the highest prison population in the world, including
To address this, Obama stated that reform should include fair application of law, proportionality in the sentencing of crime and programs focused on rehabilitation and crime prevention.
“We know we’re spending $80 billion a year incarcerating folks,” he said. “If, in fact, we had smarter sentencing, we thought about how we’re dealing with drug offenses more intelligently, we are working on evidence-based approaches to rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.”
Other panelists included John Walsh, United States attorney for the Colorado District; Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck and moderator, Bill Keller, editor and chief of The Marshall Project, a news organization that focuses on the nation’s criminal justice system.
Walsh said that the federal government has moved away from mandatory minimum sentencing.
“Since 2013, when the Smart on Crime policy was announced by then-Attorney General (Eric) Holder, federal prosecutors have been instructed not to use mandatory minimums, except in cases that really merit their attention,” he said, “in other words, aggravated felons, leaders of drug organizations, violent people, and what that’s meant is that our use of mandatory minimums has probably dropped by about 25 percent in that time.”
The president insisted that data would be necessary to counteract the current trends in criminal justice.
“Collecting data, I think, is something that’s going to be very important in guiding us forward,” he said. –“We don’t really do a good job right now in collecting national data on a real-time basis, but we now have the tools and the technology to do it better.”
Obama said new strategies being used by police and residents are an example of what can be achieved through creative thinking,
Camden has cameras located around the city that uses software that citizens can use to direct what is being seen by police, so that the community can help monitor the city. In addition, Camden has implemented a neighborhood officer that must spend 24 hours straight in his or her assigned neighborhood to interact with the community.
“Creative work, like, for example, where they know there were hotspots and some gang shootings related to drugs, police officers drive the ice cream trucks, park them where the drug dealing has been going on, giving out free ice cream from the police,” he said.
“Suddenly families are out on the streets, and now it’s creating a space in which it’s a lot harder for you to just be dealing drugs.”
Obama said he also believes legislation is also paramount in reformation. Currently Congress is considering legislation that will reduce federal sentencing, the first of its kind in a decade.
“We're in a unique moment in which on a bipartisan basis, across the political spectrum, people are asking hard questions about our criminal justice system and how can we make it both smart, effective, just, fair," he said.
Obama emphasized that the current state of the criminal justice system was not just the responsibility of one entity, such as police, but rather a reflection of the society as a whole.
“If we, as a society, are willing to tolerate very poor neighborhoods with no opportunity, a lot of violence, a lot of substandard education, and then we're surprised that the police, in interacting with a community that hasn’t been cared for, is going to have tougher interactions, then we're passing the buck,” he said.
To read a transcript of President Obama's remark, follow this link: http://www.hunewsservice.com/news/view.php/1013333/REMARKS-BY-PRESIDENT-BARACK-OBAMA-IN-ARM?action=publish_post&id=1013333
To see the video of the president's remarks, visit this site: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/10/22/watch-president-obama-and-the-marshall-project-in-a-conversation-today-about-criminal-justice?ref=hp-3-112