December 13, 2012

By Jennifer Bihm

Assistant Editor

 

“The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to consider marriage equality takes our nation one step closer to realizing the American ideal of equal protection under the law for all people,” said Attorney General Kamala Harris, part of a growing number of elected officials and community leaders lauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to review a California gay marriage case and the validity of Proposition 8.

“For justice to prevail, Proposition 8 must be invalidated so that gay and lesbian families are finally treated with equality and dignity.”

Proposition 8, a descendent of California’s 2000 Proposition 22, was the “California Marriage Protection Act,” later titled “Eliminates Rights of Same Sex Couples to Marry” on the November 2008 ballot. The prop added to the “Declaration of Rights” portion of the state’s constitution, providing that “only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The ban on gay marriage went into effect the day after Prop 8 passed and was in direct opposition to the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that it was unconstitutional.

The next year, same sex couple Kristin Perry and Sandra Steir, applied for a marriage license in Alameda County, which was denied, as was one for Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo. The couples filed a suit against state officials including then Governor Arnold Schwarz­enegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown. Brown agreed that the ruling violated the 14th Amendment to the United State’s Constitution and did not participate in the defense; neither did Schwarz­enegger although he did agree that the courts should hear the case.

ProtectMarriage.com organizer Dennis Hollingsworth a staunch supporter of Prop 8, was allowed to step in as a defendant. Now governor, Brown continues his refusal to defend the lawsuit as does Harris who promised as much during her campaign for attorney general. Other elected officials are also weighing in, looking forward, they said, to the ban being overturned.

“I sincerely hope that the Supreme Court finds Proposition 8 violates the promise of equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution,” Senator Barbara Boxer said in a statement released shortly after the December 7 decision.

“I believe support for marriage equality keeps growing stronger.”

“Today’s announcement that the Supreme Court will take up Hollingsworth v. Perry and the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act is a reminder that the pathway to justice is long and difficult,” said Speaker John A. Perez, who also released a statement last week.

“I am very confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of our community in Hollingsworth v. Perry, as it is now known, and affirm that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. But until that outcome is secured, our community must continue to fight for justice on every front, from working to secure the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to addressing the issues of homelessness among LGBT Youth.”

LGBT activist Jasmyne Cannick agrees. While attitudes about same-sex marriage are changing—with about 48 percent of Americans in favor of it, the community should stay “focused on the real issues facing all of us—gay, lesbian, and heterosexual--jobs, affordable housing, education, and access to healthcare,” she said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the Supreme Court’s decision an ‘opportunity.’ 

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court faces the opportunity to rectify the injustices caused by denying gay and lesbian Americans the right to follow their hearts and marry the person they love,” he said.

“I am confident that the highest court in our land will follow the wisdom of the 9th Circuit and grant all couples — regardless of sexual orientation — the freedom to marry.”

“We understand that our nation has to be a nation of laws and that there is one class of people, and the law has to apply equally to all of us regardless of race, gender, class or sexual orientation,” Black AIDS Institute Executive Director Phil Wilson.

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.”

The Court is expected to make the final decision in June 2013.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

December 13, 2012

By LAWT News Service

 

Dentist. Doctor. Surgeon. In a country where dreams are like wings, a new cadre of students is soaring to become the next generation of promising health professionals.

They meet protégés where they are — on campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and in high schools largely based in medically underserved communities.

Earlier this fall, physicians Alden M. Landry, 31, and Kameron Leigh Matthews, 33, launched their ‘get on the bus’ style Tour for Diversity in Medicine to promote health professions to underrepresented students throughout the country.

A pledge to “give back” has fueled the passions of the two former medical students, who have translated their commitment to mentoring into opportunity on wheels. The branded motor bus is literally on a roll, traveling to sometimes unlikely places to reach, teach and inspire.

“We recognize that many of the students we reach may not have the resources or inclination to come to recruitment fairs,” confides Matthews, who has earned both JD and MD degrees. The goal is to reach people in their comfort zone to explain that dreams beyond their immediate reach are attainable.

Tour for Diversity (T4D) is a project of Hip Hop Health, Inc., a nonprofit organization that Landry launched to blend social media and health education to reach and inspire the Hip Hop generation. The bus tour was the brainchild of Matthews and Landry, both leaders of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). SNMA is the student branch of the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest professional society of African American physicians.

Landry is also a 2000 alumnus of the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) (formerly the Minority Medical Education Program), a free enrichment program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The six-week academic initiative provides rising college freshman and sophomores from disadvantaged backgrounds with a timely introduction to the rigorous preparation required to pursue careers in medicine or dentistry. The program operates at 12 university sites with each accepting up to 80 students per summer session.

“The program jumpstarted my commitment to becoming a physician by showing me what it takes to get into medical school early – so I could get on track to realize my dreams,” Landry recalls. 

The recruitment drive for SMDEP summer 2013 participants is now open and will continue to accept applications through March 1, 2013. For more information, visit www.smdep.org .

SMDEP 12 site locations include:

• Case Western Reserve Univer­sity (Cleveland, Ohio)

• Columbia University (New York, N.Y.)

• Duke University (Durham, N.C.)

• Howard University (Washington, D.C.)

• University of California-Los Angeles (Los Angeles, Calif.)

• UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical and New Jersey Dental (Newark, N.J.)

• University of Louisville (Louis­ville, Ky.)

• University of Nebraska (Omaha, Neb.)

• University of Virginia (Char­lottesville, Va.)

• University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)

• University of Texas-Houston (Houston, Texas)

• Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

Insufficient financial resources coupled with an uncertainty on how to prepare for a medical future are two major barriers for prospective students. SMDEP helps to fill gaps and inspire success by working to increase diversity in the health care workforce.

“Diverse perspectives reflected in our dental and medical professions are necessary for a better patient experience,” explains SMDEP National Program Officer Norma Poll-Hunter, PhD, co-deputy director for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). “SMDEP brings talent that’s not traditionally represented in our medical and dental school applicant pools.”

Landry, an emergency medicine physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, agrees. “Without a more diverse workforce, the current health disparities will persist, if not worsen.”

Current trends in the health care workforce point to the need for sustained recruitment to yield a more diverse pool of candidates in medical and dental schools. While minorities represent 26 percent of the U.S. population, less than 6 percent of American Indians, Blacks and Hispanics collectively are physicians or dentists, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Tour for Diversity fall outreach (September 24-29, 2012) included six universities between Atlanta and Dearborn, Mich. The next tour in February 2013 will take them to several Texas college campuses. Landry, Matthews and other physician mentors share personal insights and advice on what prospective candidates can expect to help debunk fears of “I’m not smart enough.”

“Our purpose is to emphasize to students the importance of early exposure, advising and mentorship,” says Matthews.

For more on Tour for Diversity in Medicine, visit http://tour4diversity. org/. You can read updates on their Voices of Diversity blog at http:// tour4diversity.org/category/blog/. Join them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

December 06, 2012

Family members, former colleagues, and staff of the late Mervyn M. Dymally will celebrate the life of the groundbreaking lawmaker in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, December 12, at the United States Capitol Visitors Center. Among those scheduled to attend and give remarks are Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Janice Hahn, and Rep. Karen Bass, who is introducing a House Resolution in honor of Dymally. H.E. Dr. Neil Parson, ambassador to the U.S. from Trinidad & Tobago and Lynn Dymally, daughter of Mr. Dymally will also be in attendance.  Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, II will head a delegation of current and former members in attendance.

Dymally passed away on Sunday, October 7 in Los Angeles from declining health.  He was 86 and is survived by his wife of 44 years Alice Gueno Dymally, daughter Lynn and son Mark, as well as three sisters and a host of other relatives and friends.

Affectionately referred to as the “Godfather of African-American politics” in California, Dymally represented California’s 31st congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1981 until 1993.  He was born in Trinidad and was the first foreign-born member of Congress to serve in the United States.

While in Congress, Dymally won assignments on the Foreign Affairs, District of Columbia, and Science and Technology committees. In the 99th Congress (1983–1985), he left his post on Science and Technology for a seat on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. He served on that panel, Foreign Affairs, and the District of Columbia until he retired in 1993. For a single term in the 99th Congress (1985–1987), Dymally also served on the Education and Labor Committee. In the 100th Congress (1987–1989), he chaired the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

 “I have an obligation as a Third World person. I make no excuses.  I do have a very keen interest in the Third World,” Dymally told the Los Angeles Times in 1988.

“We do not live in just 50 states. We contribute significant sums of taxpayer money in the Third World.”

As chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Inter­national Operations, Dymally became a leading spokesperson on human rights and economic development, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. He was an outspoken critic of apartheid in South Africa and advocated imposing sanctions against the minority-white ­government. He also emphasized the necessity of economic development. As a member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Dymally made numerous trips to Africa and pushed the committee to focus on a wider spectrum of issues from “human relations to trade.”

“Most African countries are moving toward democracy and there is an absence of trade between Africa and African Americans, in particular, and America, in general,” Dymally told the L.A. Sentinel in an interview. 

“We’ve been building up a network and trying to convince Africans about the importance of trade. It is proper to want to get Africans out of jail. But, I want to get them out of poverty, too.”

In addition to his career in Congress, Dymally served in the California State Assembly, California State Senate, and as the 41st Lieutenant Governor of California.

The service will be held in the House Visitors Center Room 215 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Those interested in attending can call (202) 256-0499 or email tkarim@ teclawgroup.com. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi will serve as hosts. The event is supported by the Mamadi Diané, liaison to the president of the Ivory Coast, the Congressional Black Caucus Foun­dation, and Dymally’s staff members. 

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

December 13, 2012

By Shannen Hill Sentinel Intern

 

A Los Angeles man was killed while walking in Manhattan on Monday.

The shooting occurred around 2 p.m. outside of St. Thomas Choir School, a small boarding school for young boys. The shooter came behind Brandon Woodward, 31, and shot him with a silver semi-automatic pistol. The shooter then jumped into a getaway car and sped off, leaving the victim in a pool of blood.

Woodard had received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and was a law student at Loyola Marymount University. He was also the father of a 4-year-old girl.

“This is a shock,” Woodard’s father J Lincoln Woodard told the Daily News. “He was a very good son, loving.”

Woodard was staying at the 6 Columbus Hotel a block away from the shooting. The area, near Central Park, is so secure that some of the witnesses didn’t even suspect that the event was a shooting.

“I’m thinking it was a tire popping,” said Security Guard Jose Villafane.

Even though Woodard seemed to have his life on a positive track, he had many altercations with the law, including charges for cocaine possession and a hit-and-run. In 2009 he was arrested for stealing bottles of wine and was facing an assault and battery charge from June 2012.

The motive behind the shooting is unknown, but police continue to investigate.

“There are no words to express our shock in the face of this horrendous tragedy,” Woodard’s family said in a statement released this week.

“Brandon was a Los Angeles native. He attended Campbell Hall High School, graduated from Loyola Marymount University and was presently enrolled in West Los Angeles Law School. He was a kind, gentle, and generous young man, beloved by friends, family and his community. He enjoyed spending time with his four year old daughter, Kirsten and was a devoted father and son. We eagerly await justice for Brandon. Our family requests solace and privacy at this difficult 
time.”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

December 06, 2012

By BASSEM MROUE Associated Press 

 

The families of Lebanese men killed in Syria last week say their relatives were more interested in nice clothes and vacations than fighting a civil war. Yet Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime branded them foreign jihadists — and their deaths set off three days of new spillover violence.

Gunmen loyal to opposite sides in Syria's civil war battled Wednesday December 5 in the streets of the Lebanese city of Tripoli. The fighting has killed six people and wounded nearly 60 since December 3, security officials said.

The bloodshed is a sign of just how vulnerable Lebanon is to getting sucked into the Syrian crisis. The countries share a porous border and a complex web of political and sectarian ties that is easily enflamed.

Among the 17 Lebanese men who turned up dead in Syria last week were Bilal al-Ghoul and his childhood friend, Malek Haj Deeb, both 20. Malek's older brother, Jihad, said the two men sympathized with the rebellion, but they were not fighters.

"Malek used to see the videos of dead Syrians and cry," Jihad Haj Deeb told The Associated Press in Tripoli, as gunfire and explosions echoed near his home in the poor neighborhood of Mankoubeen. "He used to say, 'May Bashar fall soon, God willing.'"

A giant poster hung in the entrance of the home, with photos of three of those killed in Syria and a sign that read: "Our dead are in heaven, and yours are in hell."

Haj Deeb and Bilal al-Ghoul's older brother, Omar, said the men must have been kidnapped and handed over to Syrian authorities by a pro-Syrian Lebanese group. They said their brothers were not members of any political or Islamic group but were observant Muslims.

"My brother doesn't know how to hold a rifle," Haj Deeb said.

The Lebanese men killed in Syria were Sunni Muslims, like the majority of rebels trying to overthrow Assad's regime. Assad and much of his inner circle belong to the Alawite sect, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The fighting in Lebanon comes at a time of deep uncertainty in Syria, with rebels battling government troops near Assad's seat of power in Damascus.

In Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated concerns that "an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons" or lose control of them to militant groups.

She also said NATO's decision on Tuesday to send Patriot missiles to Turkey's southern border with Syria sends a message that Ankara is backed by its allies. The missiles are intended only for defensive purposes, she said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted Wednesday in the Turkish newspaper Sabah as saying that Syria has about 700 missiles, some of them long-range.

Syria has been careful not to confirm it has chemical weapons, while insisting it would never use such weapons against its own people.

But as the regime wobbles, there are fears the crisis will keep spiraling outside its borders. Fighting has spilled over into Turkey, Jordan and Israel since the uprising began more than 20 months ago, but Lebanon is particularly susceptible.

Seventeen times bigger than Lebanon and four times more populous, Syria has long had powerful allies there, including the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah. For much of the past 30 years, Lebanese have lived under Syrian military and political domination.

That grip began to slip in 2005, when former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in Beirut. Widely accused of involvement — something it has always denied — Syria was forced to withdraw its troops. But Damascus has maintained power and influence in Lebanon.

Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, reported that 17 Lebanese "gunmen" were killed inside Syria last week, and on Sunday December 2, Syrian TV aired footage of the dead.

Bassam al-Dada, a political adviser for the rebel Free Syrian Army, said the group believes the Lebanese men were the victims of a "complicated Syrian intelligence operation" aimed at showing that foreign fighters are involved in fighting in Syria.

According to their relatives, Malek Haj Deeb and Bilal al-Ghoul left their parents' homes a week ago saying they were going to downtown Tripoli. Hours later, the families grew concerned and started calling the men's mobile phones.

There was no sign of them until two days later, when local media reported that a group of Lebanese citizens had been killed while fighting in Syria.

Pictures of the men, shown to the AP by their families, showed them clean-shaven and playing in the snow in one of Lebanon's mountain towns, and in front of Tripoli's Crusader-built citadel.

"We want their bodies back," Omar al-Ghoul said.

On Wednesday, Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul-Karim Ali told Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour that Damascus has agreed to repatriate the men's bodies. Lebanon's National News Agency said the countries would soon discuss how to hand them over.

Members of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited the dead men's families on Tuesday and took details about the men, their brothers said.

Jihad Haj Deeb said his brother was about to resume his college studies and would not have jeopardized his future to fight in Syria.

"He registered at the university four days before he went missing," Haj Deeb said, adding that his brother took 500,000 pounds ($335) from their father to pay his tuition at Lebanese University, where he was a third-year mathematics student. Haj Deeb's father, a school bus driver, makes $400 a month and has nine other children.

"Had he been planning to go to Syria, he wouldn't have registered," added Jihad, saying his father had to borrow the money.

Meanwhile, the unrest inside Syria shows no sign of slowing down.

The uprising began with peaceful protests in March 2011 and later escalated into a civil war that the opposition says has killed more than 40,000 people.

Besides the violence roiling the capital, Damascus, there was growing speculation about the fate of a top Syrian spokesman who has become a prominent face of the regime.

Lebanese security officials have said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi flew Monday from Beirut to London. But it was not clear whether Makdissi had defected, quit his post or been forced out. Syria has had no official comment on Makdissi, who has defended the regime's crackdown on dissent.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News