November 21, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday accused Egypt's well-organized Muslim Brotherhood of having "stolen" the revolution that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Speaking at the State Department to leaders of multinational U.S. firms, Kerry said the Islamist group had appropriated the revolt against Mubarak from young people who started it in large part through social media in response to what they saw of other mass protests around the Arab world.
"Those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology," he said. "They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world, and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future, and not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more. And they tweeted their ways and FaceTimed their ways and talked to each other, and that's what drove that revolution. And then it got stolen by the one single-most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood."
Kerry's comments are likely to raise eyebrows in Egypt where competing claims of credit for Mubarak's ouster are still a source of major division. Mubarak's ouster led to Egypt's first-ever democratically chosen president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Secular politicians could not get organized enough to provide a credible contest.
The military toppled Morsi in July claiming that he and Muslim Brotherhood allies were not governing democratically.
The United States has been accused by moderate and secular Egyptians of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood, an allegation that Washington denies.
Egypt's military-backed government and its supporters will likely look favorably on Kerry's brief remark, while supporters of Morsi will likely be angered by it.
November 21, 2013
By The Associated Press
President Barack Obama honored 16 prominent Americans Wednesday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award the U.S. gives a civilian. The ceremony at the White House opened a day of tributes to former President John F. Kennedy, who established the modern version of the medal but was assassinated 50 years ago this week as the first award ceremony neared.
A look at the individuals receiving the medal:
— Bill Clinton, the 42nd president and former Arkansas governor, who was also recognized for his post-presidency humanitarian work.
—Oprah Winfrey, broadcaster, actress, activist and philanthropist, who was an early supporter of Obama's first presidential campaign.
—Daniel Inouye, former senator from Hawaii, World War II veteran and the first Japanese American in Congress. Inouye received the award posthumously.
—Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post who oversaw the newspaper's coverage of Watergate.
—Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. Ride received the award posthumously.
—Richard Lugar, former senator from Indiana who worked to reduce the global nuclear threat.
—Gloria Steinem, writer and prominent women's rights activist.
—Ernie Banks, baseball player who hit more than 500 home runs and played 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
—Bayard Rustin, civil and gay rights activist and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin received the award posthumously.
—Daniel Kahneman, psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.
—Loretta Lynn, country music singer.
—Maria Molina, chemist and environmental scientist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
—Arturo Sandoval, Grammy-winning jazz musician who was born in Cuba and defected to the U.S.
—Dean Smith, head coach of University of North Carolina's basketball team for 36 years.
—Patricia Wald, first woman appointed to U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and became the court's chief judge.
—C.T. Vivian, civil rights leader and minister.
November 14, 2013
By Stacy M. Brown
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
Republican senators who blocked the confirmation of an African-American congressman to lead a key federal agency should brace themselves for a major fight with Democrats and numerous minority agencies that support President Barack Obama’s nominee.
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has joined others in the Democratic Party as well as a number of black and minority leaders in denouncing the Senate in its vote against the appointment of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to the post of director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
“The conversation on rules changes can’t come fast enough for me,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “The failure to confirm Watt is a government shutdown by another tactic,” said Murphy, 40.
While Murphy and others have sought to change the rules on confirmations, senior Democrats said they were hesitant to do so out of fear they would regret it when Republicans gain control of the Senate.
The Senate voted 56-42, on Oct. 31, to end the blockade against Watt, falling four votes shy of the 60 needed to prevail and secure confirmation.
“What happened has only occurred once in the history of this Congress,” said CBC Chair Marcia Fudge. “This is a disgrace to this body and a disservice to the American people,” said Fudge, 60.
Prior to the Senate vote, several political and civic groups voiced concern that the GOP would not give Watt a fair shake.
Many said the congressman had already proven that he deserved confirmation.
“If Watt is not confirmed, it would set a disturbing new precedent for our nation,” Wade Henderson, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, located in Northwest Washington, D.C., said one day prior to the vote, on Oct. 30.
“No sitting member of Congress has been successfully filibustered since the Civil War,” said Henderson, 65, during a conference call, which included officials from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the National Urban League.
The CBC organized the call in which participants answered questions from various national media outlets.
Watt, 68, has served for 20 years as a congressman from North Carolina.
Republicans claimed that Watt lacked the expertise for the job that includes overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the government sponsored housing corporations, which control the vast majority of the U.S. mortgage market.
Supporters maintain that Watt is not only qualified, but has a history of promoting legislation that would have averted the recent housing crisis.
“It is virtually unprecedented for a sitting member of Congress to be rejected by the U.S. Senate,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. “I urge his immediate confirmation,” said Waters, 75.
Rep. Caleb Cushing (D-Mass.), who served in Congress from 1835 to 1843, had his bid blocked by the Senate when President John Tyler nominated him to become Treasury secretary. It’s the last time the Senate blocked a nomination of a sitting member of Congress.
Born in Mecklenburg County, N.C., Watt graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1967 with a degree in business administration.
November 21, 2013
By Cyril Josh Barker
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
As the city moves forward with its fight against the ruling that would put the breaks on the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice, the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association (PBA) pledges to move forward with a lawsuit to throw out the ruling as the city changes mayors.
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg enters the final days of his 12-year reign, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is starting his transition of taking the city into a more progressive direction. With that comes his promise to halt the city’s appeal against the Floyd v. City of New York ruling that would bring sweeping changes to stop-and-frisk.
Also in the mix is U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who made the August ruling. Finally speaking out since the city announced it would file an appeal and removed her from the case, the judge said that press interviews she did portrayed her as one-sided.
“All the interviews identified by the 2nd Circuit were conducted under the express condition that I would not comment on the Floyd case,” she said. “And I did not. Some of the reporters used quotes from written opinions in Floyd that gave the appearance that I had commented on the case.”
Scheindlin added that after reading each interview, no such comments were made.
De Blasio plans to follow through on his word during the campaign to cut out any detours in the path to stopping stop-and-frisk, which gives Bloomberg a month-long window to try and keep the practice going.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for reforms that both keep our communities safe and obey the Constitution. We have to end the overuse of stop-and-frisk, and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect,” de Blasio said.
While time is running out for Bloomberg to follow through with the appeal of the stop-and-frisk ruling, the four police unions, including the PBA, filed a motion last week with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 2nd Circuit to intervene in the case.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said that the potential withdrawal of the city’s challenge will leave police officers and the public without a means to challenge a decision that will have a significant impact on both police operations and public safety.
“These unions, representing the vast majority of the sworn members of the NYPD, previously filed a motion to intervene in the district court, whose decision has since been stayed until the conclusion of this appeal,” he said. “However, the outcome of this appeal will directly affect the reputation of all New York City police officers and the daily activities and collective bargaining rights of 29,000 sworn members of the Police Department, including their training, discipline and their very safety.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Beldock Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling asked the entire 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider their decision by a three-judge 2nd Circuit panel to remove Scheindlin from the Floyd v. City of New York case and their federal class action challenge to the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices.
“The removal of Judge Scheindlin was done by a perfect storm of procedural irregularity. The appellate panel cast aspersions upon the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary—and thus inappropriately cast doubt on her legal rulings—while itself taking an unprecedented step that no party requested, of which no party was notified and without providing the parties an opportunity to be heard,” said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy. “The facts conclusively show that the district judge engaged in no unethical conduct whatsoever and that her decision finding the city liable for widespread constitutional violations and racial profiling is based on overwhelming evidence presented at trial.”
November 14, 2013
By Dr. Barbara Reynolds
"TEAR DOWN THAT WALL" was once the cry of former President Ronald Reagan to tear down a barrier between East and West Germany that walled in hatred for one another.
That wall did come down. Pastor Jynona Norwood carries a similar hope that a wall commemorating those involved in the murder and forced suicide of more than 900 innocent people, including 305 children ranging from ages 3 months to 18 years, will also come down. The innocents died in a South American jungle of Guyana upon the orders of Rev. Jim Jones, who had promised a socialist paradise that turned into a slave camp; then a death trap.
In 1979, Norwood organized the first community memorial in San Francisco amidst a standing-room-only crowd of bewildered and shocked San Franciscans and dignitaries. From walk-a-thons to prayer vigils a dedicated committee continues their valuable work in remembering the children who were there through no fault of their own.
Every year, they pause to reflect at the mass gravesite, where 406 bodies lay, including 40 infants in Oakland. Norwood has dogged determination to ensure that we never forget Jonestown and never forget that Jim Jones has been honored on the children's sacred final resting place by his followers and family.
Pastor Norwood calls the current memorial the "Wall of Shame" as it places Jones alongside the innocent children. With the support of more than 100 celebrities and political leaders, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House, the impassioned pastor envisions a new memorial that cherishes the memory of the children.
In a recent letter to Pastor Norwood, Pelosi said, "Cherishing the Children Memorial Wall will provide a place of comfort and solace to the Children's relatives and loved ones as well as to those who wish to honor the memory of Congressman Leo Ryan and all those who lost their lives."
This memorial would honor the innocent victims, including Rep. Leo Ryan, who was also murdered in the Jonestown massacre and not the shameful perpetrators, Norwood said.
In addition to Pelosi, she has garnered the backing of many other notables over the years.
"My special gratitude goes to Dr. Jynona Norwood for her remarkable compassion and determination to gather the funds and resources needed for your memorial," wrote then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif) applauded Norwood for her perseverance. "Thank you for all of the work you are doing to create this memorial and your commitment to those in our community most in need."
Norwood is pastor of Miracles of Action Faith Center, which is formerly Family Christian Cathedral in Inglewood, Calif. Four decades ago, the young evangelist had a warning dream of tragedy awaiting those who would follow Jim Jones from his California churches to Jonestown.
She vigorously warned against making the trip to Guyana. Her warning went unheeded and 27 loved ones in her own family, including her beloved mother with her 3-month-old Charles Garry Henderson, perished. Fortunately, she kidnapped/rescued her son who was being raised by her family while she traveled as a minister, forcing him not to go to Jonestown with their family, a courageous move that saved his life.
Shortly after the massacre, Norwood started a campaign and a fundraising drive to honor the 305 children and Congressman Ryan. Her plans were sadly interrupted when, in her words, "A shameful wall that includes the name of the perpetrator of these horrors, alongside the names of the innocent children was erected at Evergreen, the mass gravesite where 40 infants and most all of the 305 innocent children lay in their final resting place. All public donations went to Evergreen's vendor as ordered by Evergreen. Not one penny ever went to a private individual."
In an effort to keep public attention and public pressure on erecting the new wall and honoring the children who are the true victims of Jonestown, Norwood is releasing a book called Remember Me Today, Look at me Tomorrow on November 18th, the 35th anniversary of Jonestown.
The new book is the first of a 10 volume series which, through interviews with their parents, children and other loved ones, look to the future of who the children might have been and what they could have accomplished had they been allowed to live. Would they have been scientists, teachers, preachers, athletes, a Nobel Peace Prize winner or the President of the United States of America? To stress the point of their future even further, Norwood's book also features age progressions, which are enhanced photographs of the children of how they aged and would look today if they had lived and fulfilled their destinies.
Norwood said, "The book will examine what lessons can be learned from their lives. What lessons can be learned from their death? Some actually saw the abuse before their family left for Jonestown but were either unable to communicate it to their families or were ignored when they did. This book includes family friendly resources on how to keep your children safe, who to call and information that will lead your children to safety when in dangerous situations."
Norwood appropriately contrasts the murders in Jonestown with the more recent deaths at Columbine and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Imagine - if you will - that a memorial was erected to the victims of Sandy Hook and Columbine shootings, and that the names of the shooters were included on the memorial to the victims as victims themselves? Would you not be outraged? This is exactly what has happened in Oakland at the site of the memorial to the victims of Jonestown.
Pre-ordering of the Children's Tribute Edition, Look at Me Today, Remember Me Tomorrow,will start on the 35th year anniversary, November 18th, on the website www.305ICANR.com. The first 1,000 pre-orders will receive the book at retail price and the DVD version at a discounted rate of $10.00 on December 8. The E-Book version will be released before December 8th. Supporters will gather at the official 35th Annual Jonestown Memorial for the 305 Innocent Children, Congressman Leo Ryan and the over 900 victims on Monday, November 18, 2013 at 11 a.m. at the Evergreen Cemetery, 6450 Camden Avenue, Oakland, Calif. Fraternities, speakers, singers, dancers and children will be performing to honor and remember the true victims.