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March 27, 2014

By Didi Tang

Associated Press


U.S. first lady Michelle Obama spoke to rural Chinese students via web conferencing Tuesday March 25, at her last stop of the six-day China tour focusing on education and cultural exchange.

She was visiting Chengdu No. 7 High School in the southwestern province of Sichuan, an elite school known for its use of distance learning technology to bring quality education to impoverished remote regions in the mountainous province.

Mrs. Obama has largely avoided thorny, political issues on her China trip, although she made a statement that free expressions, choice of religion and unfettered access to information are “universal rights” in a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University in Beijing on Saturday.

China has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on Internet discourse. Mrs. Obama’s remarks did not call out China directly and have not drawn any governmental protest. But that part of her speech has been kept out of all official Chinese media reports.

While in Beijing, she also visited an elite high school, where more than 30 American students are studying as exchange students, and she held a private discussion with a handful of Chinese professors, students and parents.

Mrs. Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday March 21, before Xi flew to The Hague for a nuclear security summit and held a meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday.

Accompanied by her mother Marian Robinson and daughters Malia and Sasha, Mrs. Obama has toured the former Imperial Palace, the Great Wall in Beijing, and the Terra Cotta Museum in the ancient city of Xi’an.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

March 20, 2014

Associated Press


President Barack Obama on Monday March 17 froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine. The sanctions are the most comprehensive since the end of the Cold War. Obama said he was moving to “increase the cost” to Russia, and he warned that more people could face financial punishment.

“If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions,” Obama said. He added in a brief statement from the White House that he still believes there could be a diplomatic resolution to the crisis and that the sanctions can be calibrated based on whether Russia escalates or pulls back in its involvement.

The Treasury Department also is imposing sanctions on four Ukrainians — including former President Viktor Yanukovych and others who have supported Crimea's separation — under existing authority under a previous Obama order.

“We are imposing sanctions on specific individuals responsible for undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine. We’re making it clear that there are consequences for their actions,” Obama said.

But he’s not going far enough, said Sen. John McCain, just back from a weekend trip to Kiev.

“I think Vladimir Putin must be encouraged by the absolute timidity,” McCain said on MSNBC. He said of Obama’s response, “I don’t know how it could have been weaker, besides doing nothing — seven people being sanctioned after naked aggression has taken place.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney did not rule out future sanctions against Putin himself.

“We have the authorities to more broadly identify individuals and entities in the future, and we will do that as necessary if the costs to Russia need to be increased,” Carney said.

Officials speaking to reporters on a conference call on the condition they not be quoted by name said those sanctioned are very close to Putin and that the sanctions are “designed to hit close to home.”

The U.S. announcement came shortly after the European Union announced travel bans and asset freezes on 21 people they have linked to the unrest in Crimea. Obama administration officials say there is some overlap between the U.S. and European list, which wasn't immediately made public. Biden was heading to Europe Monday and Obama plans to go next week. The president said that demonstrating a “solemn commitment to our collective defense” as NATO allies will be at the top of the agenda.

The sanctions were expected after residents in Crimea voted overwhelmingly on March 16 in favor of the split. Crimea’s parliament on March 17 declared the region an independent state. The administration officials say there is some concrete evidence that some ballots for the referendum arrived pre-marked in many cities and “there are massive anomalies in the vote.” The officials did not say what that evidence was.

The United States, European Union and others say the action violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law and took place in the strategic peninsula under duress of Russian military intervention. Putin maintained that the vote was legal and consistent with the right of self-determination, according to the Kremlin.

The administration officials said they will be looking at additional sanctions if Russia moves to annex Crimea or takes other action. Those targeted will have all U.S. assets frozen and no one in the United States can do business with them under Obama's order.

“[These] actions send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation,” the White House said in a statement.

“[These] actions also serve as notice to Russia that unless it abides by its international obligations and returns its military forces to their original bases and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United States is prepared to take additional steps to impose further political and economic costs,” the statement said.

Administration officials say those Obama targeted also are key political players in Russia also responsible for the country’s tightening of human rights and civil liberties in the country. Obama’s order targets were:

• Vladislav Surkov, a Putin aide

• Sergey Glazyev, a Putin adviser

• Leonid Slutsky, a state Duma deputy

• Andrei Klishas, member of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

• Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federation Council

• Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation.

• Yelena Mizulina, a state Duma deputy

The four newly targeted by the Treasury Department are:

• Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine for Russia and has supported the dispatch of Russian troops into Ukraine

• Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of Crimea separatist group Ukrainian Choice and a close friend of Putin

• Sergey Aksyonov, prime minister of Crimea’s regional government

• Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Crimean parliament

Associated Press writer Nancy Benac contributed to this report.

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 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


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