February 13, 2014

By Margaret Summers

Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

 

Although food stamps can only be used to purchase food, the GOP believes food stamps create welfare dependency.

 

One of five children in the U.S. lives in poverty, according to a new report from a children’s advocacy organization.

 

The report, conducted by Children’s Defense Fund, also found that one in every 10 children, or 7.1 million children, is extremely poor.

 

“We are in a very dangerous time right now,” Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, the organization’s president and founder, told an audience of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. members at a recent legislative conference in D.C. “If [African-American women] don’t stop our children’s backward slide, no one else will.”

 

 

The report — “The State of America’s Children 2014″ — is produced annually by the nonprofit advocacy organization for children and families. This year’s report said that in five years, children of color in the U.S., who are disproportionately poor, will comprise the majority of all children in the U.S. These economically disadvantaged and undereducated young people will grow up to be the nation’s consumers, workforce and military, it noted.

 

Edelman said she is especially alarmed at the “cradle-to-prison pipeline” trend, in which growing numbers of impoverished African-American children, particularly males, become involved in the juvenile justice system and ultimately end up in adult penitentiaries.

 

“The prisons are full of our sons,” she said. “One in three black boys born in 2000 will go to prison. Imprisonment is becoming the new American apartheid.”

 

The report details how poverty results in hunger and homelessness among poor U.S. children. Roughly 1.2 million public school students were homeless from 2011 to 2012, 73 percent more than before the recession. More than one in nine children lacked access to adequate food in 2012, a rate 23 percent higher than before the recession.

 

“This summer we’ll be facing a serious child hunger problem,” Edelman said. “There will be a [huge] drop in summer school free breakfasts and lunches. I’ve heard stories about how sometimes when Mississippi school buses are late taking children to school, the children cry because they missed the free school breakfast.”

 

The summer feeding program in the schools provides nutritious meals to young people, the only source of food all day for many of them. The program is also a source of employment for many adults, but not all states make use of the program, Edelman said.

 

“There is a special need for these programs in poor rural areas of the country,” she added.

 

A substandard education is another major barrier to overcoming poverty.

 

“Eighty percent of our black children in fourth and eighth grade can’t read at grade level,” Edelman said. “Our children are being sentenced to social and economic death.”

 

The report says that in six states — Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin — at least half of African-American children are poor, and nearly half the states had African-American child poverty rates of 40 percent or more.

 

“How can [House Speaker] John Boehner (R-Ohio) represent a state where 50 percent of its African-American children are poor and do nothing about it?” asked Edelman.

 

She told the sorority audience that it was not only important to lobby their representatives and senators to pass legislation that ends childhood poverty, but to meet with them in their home districts.

 

“When Congress members hear from you back home, it will really scare them,” she said.

 

To illustrate how effective women can be in getting measures passed to lift children out of poverty, Edelman discussed a favorite analogy of her hero, slave abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth.

 

“In describing the political power of minorities, Sojourner often talked about fleas,” she said. “She would say that enough fleas biting strategically can fell the biggest dog. They are small but indestructible, and they keep reproducing. This is a lesson for all of us. We have to be disciplined, focused, strategic ‘fleas.’”

 

“The State of America’s Children 2014″ can be read at and downloaded from the Children’s Defense Fund website at www.childrensdefense.org.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

February 06, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

LOS ANGELES — Eight Los Angeles police officers violated department policy when they mistakenly riddled a pickup truck with bullets, injuring two women, during a manhunt last year for cop-turned-killer Christopher Dorner, a civilian oversight board announced Tuesday.

Police Chief Charlie Beck and Alex Bustamante, inspector general for the Los Angeles Police Commission, independently recommended that shooting be ruled out of policy, commission Presi­dent Steve Soboroff said. He did not provide further details.

Beck will decide disciplinary measures for the officers, who were assigned to non-field duties during an LAPD investigation. Possible measures include reprimands, suspensions or even firings.

Last year, the city paid the women $4.2 million to settle a claim. That was in addition to a separate $40,000 settlement for the loss of their truck.

The Police Commission determination didn’t surprise Glen Jonas, their attorney.

“There (are) 4.2 million reasons I have to believe it’s out of policy,” he said. “Anyone with any common sense would agree it's out of policy.”

Dorner, a fired Los Angeles police officer, claimed he was unfairly dismissed and vowed revenge against law enforcement officers in a rambling online manifesto.

He killed the daughter of a former LAPD police official along with her fiance and two law enforcement officers over 10 days before being cornered and killing himself in a burning mountain cabin in San Bernardino County.

On Feb. 7, 2013, Los Angeles police guarding the Torrance home of a target named in Dorner’s manifesto opened fire on a pickup truck they thought was Dorner's.

It actually contained two women delivering newspapers.

The pickup was riddled with more than 100 rounds while 30 to 40 shots hit the walls, windows and garages of nearby homes, Jonas said.

Emma Hernandez, 71, was shot in the back and her daughter, Margie Carranza, suffered minor injuries. Hernandez recovered except for some slight shoulder problems but neither woman returned to work, Jonas said, adding that Carranza tried but “it was too traumatic for her.”

“The emotional and mental trauma is still there and they’re still dealing with that,” he said.

The shooting occurred hours after Dorner opened fire with an assault rifle on two Los Angeles police officers who had stopped his pickup in the Riverside County city of Corona.

During the resulting gun battle, one officer was grazed and the other was sprayed with shattered glass. Donner fled and a short time later shot two Riverside police officers, killing one.

“Both of these incidents were tragic for all involved, the officers who were injured in the first incident and the innocent women injured in the incident in the City of Torrance,” Soboroff said in a statement. “As in all use of force incidents, the department has completed a thorough review and will adopt the lessons learned, both good and bad from these incidents.”

Soboroff said the Police Commission followed Beck’s recommendation that the lethal use of force in Torrance was out of policy, making its determination after nearly three hours of discussion and months of investigation by the Police Department.

The same day that the women’s pickup was shot up in Torrance, a police officer in that Los Angeles suburb opened fire on another pickup truck.

Torrance police Officer Brian McGee believed Dorner was in the truck when he rammed it and opened fire, according to Los Angeles County prosecutors who determined that his use of force was reasonable and declined to file criminal charges. McGee has not been disciplined by his agency.

David Perdue of Redondo Beach, who was on his way to surf, wasn’t shot but suffered head and spinal injuries. The city of Torrance paid him $20,000 for the damage to his truck and he has filed a federal lawsuit.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

February 06, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

Sheriff’s deputies searched the familiar haunts of a murder suspect today but made no arrests.

Oscar Bridges, 54, who is known to frequent Runyon Canyon Park and Griffith Park, is wanted in the Jan. 23 stabbing death of 21-year-old Robert Brewer of Texas in a motel room in the 10400 block of South Vermont Avenue.

Bridges has been described as black, about 6 feet 2 inches and 180 pounds, with long hair in dreadlocks.

Detectives said Bridges, a registered sex offender with a lengthy criminal record and ties to Arizona, is known for befriending younger men, then robbing them.

About 50 deputies — some working with scent dogs, others on horseback — scoured some of the trails familiar to Bridges but came up empty handed, Nicole Nishida of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said.

“The search has concluded today, and we haven’t found him, but we are still asking for the public’s assistance,” she said. “We will not be conducting a large scale search tomorrow.”

Oscar Murillo told ABC7 he saw Bridges in Griffith Park last week. Sheriff’s detectives said Bridges sometimes goes by “Rick” and stays in motels in Hollywood and West Hollywood.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

February 06, 2014

Thandisizwe Chimurenga

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is leading a national coalition that is calling for an investigation into whether ‘Herbalife’ — the ubiquitous nutrition products company — is operating an illegal pyramid scheme. Locally the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLA-CA) and the Congress of Racial Equality — California (CORE-CA) are part of the group, which believes that the company “uses deceptive business practices to target minority groups ... with false promises of wealth and success. In reality, the vast majority of Herbalife participants earn no income from the company and most even end up losing money,” according to a media advisory from the group. 

Calling its campaign “Stop HerbaLIES, the group traveled to Washington DC on Feb. 5 to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open an investigation. While in the nation’s capitol, members will also meet with legislators from their home states as well as give an earful to Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department.

CNBC’s business writers Herb Greenberg and Karina Frayter state that, “With multi-level marketing [companies] — often involving nutritional supplements, weight loss products, cleaning products and various types of housewares — products are sold through a network of distributors. They earn income from the sales they make themselves as well as from people they’ve recruited to become distributors–otherwise known as their “down-line.”

Greenberg and Frayter point to the website of the Federal Trade Commission (which regulates multi-level marketers) which states, “Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s not. It’s a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.”

President and CEO of SCLA-Southern California Rev. William Smart said that what Herbalife is doing is no different from what Wal-Mart is doing.  “Right now people at the bottom are always abused by big corporations and that is what the injustice of it is,” said Smart. “Big corporations like Herbalife [with] people at the top making big money [and] people at the bottom having to pay money for materials and merchandise. A lot of times it doesn’t sell. They don’t have time to do it, and they get taxed. It’s the same paradigm we’re seeing: people who work the most amount of hours get the least amount of money,” said Smart.

“Studies have shown that multi-level marketing disproportionally affects the African American community,” said Adrian Dove of CORE-CA.  “Ryan Franklin, one of our advisors, has written a book about it. Its' not a ‘sexy’ [news] item, that jumps at the top; it gnaws away [at the community] kind of quietly,” Doe said.

“You go to some of the hotels on a Saturday morning, around the country, with these multi-level marketing [seminars],” Dove continued “and it’s mostly Black folks.  It’s a dream. Nothing’s wrong with dreaming, but at a certain point if you know it’s not going anywhere — a few people at the top who are making the money, taking your time and resources … Herbalife is one of the biggest offenders.”

The group met with California Attorney General Kamala Harris this past January to ask that she enforce an existing injunction against Herbalife designed to protect California consumers. But, the details of that meeting remain confidential.

Herbalife was hit with an injunction in 1986 that required them to provide documentation that verifies their retail sales and the company’s sales to distributors and customers; the company has yet to comply.

“We are deeply concerned that the current practices by global nutrition supplier giant Herbalife were disproportionally having a negative effect on the Latina/o and immigrant communities. That is why we were grateful for the opportunity to address our concerns with the office of the attorney general,” said Joseph Villela, policy director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

“We need to become fighters for the left out, the lost, the underdogs,” said  Smart, co-pastor of Christ Liberation Ministries.  “Those that are trying to make it everyday.”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

February 06, 2014

By TOBY STERLING

Associated Press

 

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court said Wednesday that Kenya’s government is obstructing the crimes against humanity case against its president by withholding access to crucial documents.

Kenyatta has pleaded innocent to charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible population transfer and persecution, for his alleged role in organizing violence that left more than 1,000 people dead after Kenya’s 2007 elections.

The start of his trial was delayed in December after Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda acknowledged that one key witness had decided not to testify and another said he had given false testimony about a “critical event” in the case.

In a hearing on Wednesday about how and whether the case should proceed, prosecutor Benjamin Gumpert told judges that Kenya’s government is obstructing access to information, particularly about Kenyatta’s finances, which could prove vital to the case.

“One of the allegations that we make against Mr. Kenyatta is that he personally provided very large quantities of money which were funneled down through his intermediaries and messengers, and delivered in the form of cash to the perpetrators of the violence,” he said.

He asked for an indefinite delay or at least “until such time as the government of Kenya complies with its treaty obligations” and discloses the information the prosecution is seeking.

Kenyatta, who was not present at Wednesday’s hearing, is the son of Kenya’s founding president, Jomo Kenyatta. He was elected president last year, despite his 2011 indictment by the International Criminal Court. Popular resistance among Kenyans to the cour’s authority may have helped his campaign.

Defense lawyer Steven Kay said Wednesday that the prosecution's “new direction” of blaming the Kenyan government for obstruction comes “at the convenient time when the prosecution has realized that its case has collapsed.”

Human rights groups have warned that witnesses in the case are being intimidated.

Gumpert acknowledged Wednesday that two other avenues the prosecution had been pursuing to bolster evidence had not borne fruit and probably never would.

Presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki said the panel hearing the case in The Hague, Netherlands, would not decide the matter Wednesday.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

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