March 20, 2014

LAWT News Service

 

As part of a hearing to investigate data security following breaches at large commercial retailers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, pointed to the emerging epidemic of cyber crimes and called on legislators to ensure the safety and security of critical consumer financial information.

Waters raised concerns about the frequency of data breaches and the length of time they often go undetected. She also called on law enforcement, regulators and businesses tasked with safeguarding consumers’ information to do more to identify when and where breaches occur – and notify consumers about it as quickly as possible.

In the wake of the massive Target data breach that compromised more than 40 million credit and debit card accounts as well as the personally identifiable information of as many as 70 million consumers, Waters led Democratic members of the Financial Services Committee in calling for an inquiry into the problem. The recent hearing was a response to those inquiries.

Waters released the following statement into the record:

“Thank you, Chair Capito for scheduling this hearing on the important topic of how we can better safeguard the sensitive financial information of consumers. The recent high-profile data breaches have raised pressing concerns about the safety and security of critical consumer information – such as credit and debit card accounts and other personally identifiable information. This is an issue that is not going away.

“Testimony from the Secret Service makes it clear that the recent attacks on large retailers are just the latest in a string of breaches.

“They recognize that there has been a ‘marked increase in the quality, quantity, and complexity of cyber crimes targeting private industry,’ and that the data breaches of Target and Neiman Marcus are, ‘just the most recent, well-publicized examples of this decade-long trend of major data breaches perpetrated by cyber criminals who are intent on targeting our Nation’s retailers and financial payment systems.’

“ It’s troubling to me that despite the increasing prevalence and scale of these attacks, we don’t seem to be much closer to protecting consumer’s credit and debit account information.

 “Instead of using this committee to attack the data collection and security procedures of government watchdogs like the highly successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we should be exploring how we can take action to better protect against these types of massive security lapses in a bipartisan manner.

“Despite extensive efforts to share information among industry, law enforcement and other stakeholders, a surprising number of breaches go undetected for far too long. A 2013 Data Breach “Investigation report conducted by Verizon, found that 66 percent of breaches took “months or more” to be discovered. This is unacceptable and must change.

 “Clearly, law enforcement, regulators and businesses tasked with safeguarding consumer’s information must do more to identify when and where breaches occur – and notify consumers about it as quickly as possible…”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

March 13, 2014

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

 

As demographics rapidly change in Southeast Los Angeles, Walker Temple A.M.E. Church is transforming its ministry to embrace all cultures and needs of the community.

Located at 2525 Trinity Avenue, the neighborhood was once overwhelmingly African American, but 40+ years ago, Latinos moved in and now represent 90 percent of the residents.

But that statistic doesn’t worry Pastor Rosalynn K. Brookins.  Her philosophy is, “We’re two cultures serving one God. In essence, we have come to understand that as men and women of the beloved community of faith, both the Walker Temple Family as well as the Iglesias Christiana of Los Angeles family, have a desire to be made whole. This is not predicated upon social, economic, or racial status.”

Applying a holistic approach to ministry, Pastor Brookins, along with Executive Pastor Thema Bryant-Davis, launched the first bilingual mental health site in the African Methodist Episcopal Church to have both African American and Latino licensed clinicians.

“Our approach is different because we look at ministry not just from a ‘shout’ and a sermon,’ but we take a holistic approach.

“Dealing holistically simply means that as preachers of the gospel, we must begin to address real issues which have plagued our community for far too long.”

The clinic is part of the I’m Possible Youth Foundation created by Pepperdine University alumni who partnered with Walker Temple to open the site. Clinical and counseling services are available every Friday from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (310) 677-7080.

“The satellite here is called The Freedom Ministry, recognizing that God would want us to be free now, not just thinking about heaven or the afterlife, but as you’re living now, not having to carry all of the burdens or stress that we often are silent about,” explained Dr. Bryant-Davis.

“There is a big stigma in the African American community about seeking therapy.  Often, people in our community will think therapy is just for those that are “crazy” or people who don’t have friends or they think it’s too expensive.

“But, we’re willing to pay for other things like our hair, our nails, a flat screen TV, but to invest in our mental health is really important for people to do,” said Dr. Bryant-Davis.

“We want people to know that Walker Temple is a place for those who want to be made whole to come and receive the necessary help,” added Pastor Brookins.

The counseling services include individual, couples and family therapy as well as assistance with depression, grief, marital problems, parenting difficulties, work stress or being laid-off.

“It’s hard to show up for a job interview when you’ve have a season where you really weren’t productive.  You need to get your mind right, so you can be encouraged and go forward,” noted Dr. Bryant-Davis.

She also shared that professional counseling can help with the daily stresses people encounter or major issues like killing, suicide, or substance abuse.  The Walker Temple clinic includes a Substance Abuse Group Program offering individual and group counseling to assist in the restoration process to remain sober.

“There’s no issue that is too small.  For some people, we call it positive psychology where you have a disorder or distress.  There’s another group of people that have been managing okay, but just want to do better.  They want to learn how to thrive and to soar.  You can get sessions for more empowerment,” she said.

“We recognize that trying to be a holistic ministry, that we wanted to make the clinic’s services accessible right here in the community. Also, we wanted to make it affordable.  There’s a sliding scale that goes as low as $10 for people who are unemployed.

“In addition, we have been gifted by a member of the church who is willing to pay for 10 sessions at that base rate.”

Providing services for both cultures didn’t happen overnight for Pastor Brookins and the Walker Temple congregation. It involved having a genuine concern for all of God's people.

“In essence, the message, ‘Jesus loves the little children, red, yellow, black and white,’ had to be lived out in a very simple yet authentic way!

“In serving a number one God, we must meet people where they are and guide them to that place of wholeness,” said Pastor Brookins.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

March 06, 2014

City News Service

 

California Gov. Jerry Brown expressed worry recently about “potheads” running the nation, and said California should see how legalized marijuana affects other states before liberalizing pot laws here. Brown was interviewed March 3 on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” and host David Gregory asked him if it was a good idea to legalize marijuana in the Golden State.

“Well, we have medical marijuana,” the governor said. “And that’s very similar to what they have in Colorado and Washington. I’d like those two states to show us how it's going to work.

“The problem with anything (is), a certain amount is okay,” he continued. “But there is a tendency to go to extremes.

“And all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or nation? The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive.

“I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together,” he said.

Gregory, a graduate of Birmingham High School in the San Fernando Valley, laughed and said “as a TV guy, I know a good sound bite when I’ve heard (one), and I think I’ve just heard one.”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

 

After meeting with Hawthorne's Police Chief Bob Fager and the HPOA (Hawthorne Police Officer Association) last week, the newly elected Mayor came up with an idea to address his Officers concerns regarding recruitment.  Over the last year, the Hawthorne police department has received over 150 applicants but has only hired 1 officer which is a huge Problem due to the force only having 92 active officers.

Lateral Recruitment will solve the city's problem fiscally as well. More officers on the force will reduce the amount of overtime being paid to the Police officers by 80 percent which will allow 8-10 more officers to be hired over the next 9 months.

The Hawthorne Police Department is the 2nd highest paid police force in the region which will make it attractive for other officers from other Agencies. (Sheriff, LAPD, LAXPD etc)

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This will also indirectly fix the diversity issue on the force since the Officers have only 1 African American officer and less than 5 women. The Hawthorne Police Officer Association embraced Mayor Chris Brown's idea and the recruitment process will begin this month.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

March 06, 2014

By Kara Brandeisky

Special to the NNPA from ProPublica

 

 When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act last June, justices left it to Congress to decide how to fix the law. But while Congress deliberates, activists are turning again to the courts: At least 10 lawsuits have the potential to bring states and some local jurisdictions back under federal oversight – essentially doing an end-run around the Supreme Court’s ruling.

A quick refresher: The Voting Rights Act outlaws racial discrimination against voters. But the law’s real strength comes from its “preclearance” provision, which forces jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination to submit new voting measures to the federal government for approval.

In last summer’s  Shelby County v. Holder ruling, the Supreme Court threw out the part of the law that spelled out when states were automatically subject to federal oversight. States that have been released from preclearance have already passed a rash of new restrictive voting measures, as ProPublica reported earlier.

Enter the lawsuits, which hinge on a different part of the Voting Rights Act, the so-called“bail-in” provision. It lets federal courts impose preclearance if a state or local jurisdiction violates the Constitution’s 14th or 15th amendments, which guarantee equal protection and the right to vote.

While the “bail-in” provision has emerged as the new tool of choice for voting rights activists, it is not as sweeping a remedy as the oversight authority the Supreme Court dismantled.

Before the ruling, states, counties and other jurisdictions that were subject to preclearance had to get every single voting change approved – whether they wanted to require a photo ID to vote, change voting hours on Election Day or move even a single polling place. Under “bail-in,” the court can tailor oversight to the situation. A state that enacts an unfair redistricting map, for example, may only need to submit its next map for federal approval.

To prevail in court, plaintiffs must prove a jurisdiction intentionally crafted laws or rules to discriminate against minorities. Although that’s not an easy standard to meet, it’s been done before: In the nearly 50 years before Shelby County v.Holder, courts imposed federal oversight requirements at least 18 times after finding that minority rights had been violated.

So far, the Justice Department has joined two lawsuits against Texas and has launched its own case against North Carolina. Following is a rundown on all the lawsuits, and an update on the effort in Congress to amend the Voting Rights Act after last year’s court ruling.

Texas

Michael Li, a Dallas election law lawyer who runs a blog that exhaustively tracks Texas election news, thinks “there’s a decent chance” Texas will be put under federal supervision— since a federal court already ruled that the state’s Congressional and state Senate redistricting maps were intentionally discriminatory. But ultimately, he expects the question will be kicked up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Perez et al. v. Perry et al.: Hispanics accounted for 65 percent of population growth between 2000 and 2010 in Texas. But when the Republican-led legislature drew congressional boundaries after the 2010 census, a federal court found that the maps favored white Republican incumbents and had a “discriminatory intent.” After Shelby County v. Holder, Texas said it would use the contested maps anyway. A coalition of voting rights advocates  has asked the court to put Texas back under supervision, and the Justice Department joined in.

Veasey et al. v. Perry et al.: The day the Supreme Court freed Texas from federal oversight, Gov. Rick Perry announced his intent to enact a photo ID law that the Justice Department and a federal court had refused to approve. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, sued the next day. Veasey and supporters – including the League of United Latin American Citizens and Dallas County – say the law discriminates against minority voters, who, by the state’s own admission, are less likely to possess an eligible ID. The plaintiffs want to put the entire state back under preclearance, and the Justice Department’s photo ID lawsuit was merged with this case.

Petteway et al. v. Galveston County: Five local elected officials, led by Constable Terry Petteway, sued Galveston County, arguing that the county gerrymandered their districts to discriminate against Latino and African-American candidates. The officials have asked a federal court to throw out the map and put Galveston County back under federal oversight.

Cantue et al. v. Beaumont Independent School District: This case targets a school district. After years of legal battles over voting maps, a group of Beaumont citizens who believe the district has discriminated against black voters wantpreclearance of all election changes.

Under bills in the House and Senate to amend the Voting Rights Act, four states and two counties would face federal oversight because they’ve committed too many “voting rights violations” over the past 15 years

North Carolina

Almost two months after the Shelby County v. Holder ruling, North Carolina passed a bill that requires voters to show photo ID, shortens the early voting period, eliminates same-day registration and instructs election officials to throw out any ballots cast in the wrong precinct, among other restrictions. Now three different lawsuits ask to put North Carolina back under preclearance.

North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP et al. v. McCrory et al.: The plaintiffs say the law discriminates against African-American voters, who are less likely to have a photo ID, more likely to vote earlyand who historically have cast more out-of-precinct ballots.

League of Women Voters et al. v. North Carolina et al.: The League of Women Voters is particularly concerned about the law’s early voting restrictions. The complaint says that in 2012, almost 20 percent of the electorate cast ballots during the early voting days that the legislature eliminated in 2013. The League contends that shortening the early voting period unfairly burdens poor and minority voters and will increase waiting times for all.

U.S. v. North Carolina et al.: In September, the Justice Department filed its own lawsuit. The complaint notes that from 1980 to 2013, the Justice Department objected to 60 of the 155 voting changes that North Carolina submitted for preclearance.

Louisiana

Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP et al. v. Jindal et al.: Five judges on the 32nd Judicial District Court are elected at-large by majority vote. A Black candidate has never won. Now, the Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP argues that the at-large scheme dilutes the Black vote and that racial discrimination continues to the current day. As an example, the plaintiffs assert that in 2004, a sitting judge was suspended for attending a Halloween party dressed in blackface and an orange prison jumpsuit – only to be re-elected in 2008. The plaintiffs ask the court to require preclearance for the 32nd Judicial District.

Alaska

Toyukuk et al. v. Treadwell et al.: In 1975, Congress expanded the Voting Rights Act’s coverage formula to include places that offered English-only election materials when at least 5 percent of voting-age citizens spoke a different language. Now, a group of Native Americans says Alaska failed to provide voting materials and voting assistance in their native language Yup’ik and its dialect Cup’ik. The group wants the Justice Department to oversee language assistance procedures in the Dillingham and Wade Hampton census areas.

Montana

Jackson et al. v. Wolf Point et al.: Since Shelby County v. Holder, voting rights advocates have tried to sanction one jurisdiction that has never been under federal oversight – a school district in Montana. Voters in Wolf Point School District 45A say that the county superintendent’s office packed Native Americans into one malapportioned district to dilute their vote. They ask a federal judge to force the school district to create a new redistricting plan and require that the school districtsubmit its 2020 redistricting plan to the Justice Department for approval.

Congress and Voting Rights Act

While the lawsuits play out in the states, Congress is considering a new proposal to rewrite the Voting Rights Act provisions that trigger federal oversight.

Legislation in both the House and Senate would make it easier to “bail-in” new states: Courts could institute preclearance if a jurisdiction violated any federal prohibition on voting discrimination, not just the Constitution. That way, plaintiffs would not have to prove the discrimination was intentional.

In addition, the bills would change which states are automatically subject to federal oversight. States that are sanctioned for five “voting rights violations” in 15 years would need to submit new voting measures for federal approval. “Voting rights violations” would include any time a voting measure violates the 14th or 15th amendments or Voting Rights Act, and any time the Justice Department or a federal court rejects a voting measure that had been submitted for preclearance.

The new formula would also cover counties, townships and other political subdivisions that have three violations over the 15 years, or just one violation combined with consistently low minority turnout.

Under those criteria, four states and two counties would be subject to preclearance today: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Charleston County, S.C., and Northampton County, Va.

The bill’s prospects are uncertain. The House version, introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., has support from seven Republicans and 13 Democrats. But so far, the identical Senate version, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has no Republican co-sponsors. A Leahy aide said the senator “continues reaching out to Senate Republicans to join these important efforts.”

This post is being kept up-to-date. Are there new lawsuits? Email me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

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