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In Wake of Obama’s Executive Action, Advocates Warn About Scams


By New America Media

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday his plan to take executive action on immigration. His plan would revise enforcement priorities to focus on recent arrivals and those who had committed serious crimes. It would expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and create a new deferred action program for parents of U.S.-citizen or legal-permanent-resident children who have lived in the country for more than five years. It would also revise the legal immigration system, with a special focus on science, technology and entrepreneurs.

There is no new application available yet, however, and advocates are warning immigrants to stay tuned to trusted media sources and community groups to get accurate information.

Any time immigration reform is in the news, advocates warn, immigrant families are vulnerable to scam artists and unscrupulous individuals who promise to help them in exchange for a fee.

Earlier this year, NAM reported that the San Francisco District Attorney’s office had seen a spike in immigration fraud cases in 2013, prompting it to launch a multilingual campaign to educate immigrant families about how to avoid scams.

NAM found that some people were seeking immigration advice from unqualified individuals, and that translation issues were contributing to the confusion.

For example, in most Latin American countries the term “notario” means lawyer. But in the United States, a notary just means someone who is licensed by the state to witness and sign documents.

“Notaries can’t represent a person in court, they can’t assist them in a formal legal process; they can only fill out forms. But anyone can fill out a form,” said Diana Otero, coordinator of the immigration program at Catholic Charities of San Mateo. She says immigrants need to get help from attorneys or qualified people that know how to deal with the immigration process.

Vanessa Sandoval, program director with Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN) in San Jose, offered this advice to undocumented immigrants who go to notaries to complete immigration work. She spoke with Maria Antonieta Mejia.

Why aren’t notaries a good alternative to immigration attorneys?

They do not have a degree to practice law and they do not have the legal right to offer those services. What they are doing is taking money from people offering services they are not qualified to perform. The result, in many cases, is deportation.

How do you determine whether someone is qualified to help with immigration work?

In the United States, practicing attorneys – those licensed by the American Bar Association or the State Bar Association – and non-profit organizations certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals have the right to offer legal services. No one else.

What recourse is there for victims of immigration fraud?

The first thing to do is report the person to the proper authorities. There are dedicated attorneys at the DA’s office focused on investigating fraud cases. You can also report that notary directly to Immigration or file a civil suit.

Where should immigrants look first for help?

Start with non-profit organizations. In San Jose, there are more than seven organizations certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals that offer this type of service. If an organization does not have the capacity to help, it can offer recommendations for private attorneys.

For more information about SIREN, please visit siren-bayarea.org.

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Malloy to Cut State Budget


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — In an effort to close a projected $100 million deficit, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to cut the state’s budget this week.

Budget Director Benjamin Barnes in a briefing held on Monday at the state Capitol said Malloy’s administration can make that cut without legislature approval.

The proposed cut is less than one percent of the general fund. Bigger cuts would have to be approved by the legislature.

“We are trying to find things that are realistic,” Barnes said. “We will try to do it in a way that minimizes the harm to the beneficiaries—the folks who use state programs.”

Barnes said that no final decisions have been made, adding “I don’t know a number yet” on the total amount of cuts.

Legislative analysts say the state faces more than a billion in 2015, a $1.32 billion deficit in 2016, and a $1.4 billion deficit in 2017.

Malloy is scheduled to deliver the next two-year budget to the legislature on Feb. 4.

Photo Credit: Ann-Marie Adams

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Record Number of Latinos to Serve in House


News Report By Griselda Nevarez, VOXXI

A record-setting 29 Latinos will take seats in the U.S. House of Representatives following the results of this year’s midterm elections, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

When the 114th Congress convenes in January, five new Latinos will serve in the House and two Latinos — Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) and Pete Gallego (D-Texas) — will not return after losing their re-election bids.

The 29 Latino House members will join the three current Latino U.S. Senators — Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — who were not up for re-election this year. That’ll bring the total number of Latinos serving in both chambers of Congress to a record of 32.

Among the new Latino House members is Ruben Gallego, a former state legislator and Iraq War veteran. He will fill the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) in Arizona’s 7th congressional district.

Two of the new Latino House members are Democrats from California. They are Pete Aguilar, who will represent California’s 31st congressional district, and Norma Torres, who will represent California’s 35th congressional district.

Carlos Curbelo, a Republican of Cuban descent, is also among the new Latino House members. He defeated Garcia in a highly competitive race for Florida’s 26th congressional district.

And in West Virginia, Alex Mooney made history by becoming the first Latino elected to Congress in the state’s history. He will represent West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district.

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the NALEO Educational Fund, said in a statement that Latinos will now form “the largest congressional class of Latinos in history.” He also said that in addition to the gains made in Congress, Latino candidates also secured “groundbreaking victories” in other races across the country.

For example, George P. Bush became the first Latino elected to serve as the Texas land commissioner and Nellie Gorbea became the first Latina elected to statewide office in the New England region by winning the secretary of state race in Rhode Island.

According to NALEO, Bush and Gorbea are among the 12 Latinos who will serve in statewide executive office following Tuesday’s midterm elections, an increase of two. David Garcia, who ran for superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, could be another Latino elected to statewide office, but that race is still too close to call.

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Supreme Court Agrees to Review ObamaCare — Again


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In a carefully, crafted  effort to re-tool ObamaCare, the U.S. Supreme Court last Friday agreed to tackle a case related to the Affordable Care Act signed into law in March 2010.

At the heart of this case, King v. Burwell, is whether health insurance for middle-class and low-income residents should be subsidized by the federal government. Subsidies such as tax credits were included in the reform law. King v. Burwell, like the similar Halbig v. Burwell case, has a long history in thecourt system. On July 22, two U.S. courts delivered opposite rulings on the subsidies.

Without these subsidies, most small business owners or unemployed people wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance.

Halbig, one of several pending ObamaCare lawsuits, is expected to be heard again  by a full circuit court panel on Dec. 17. The King case would likely be heard next spring.

Proponents of the ACA said this is a move, though touted as an unlikely one to have direct impact on Connecticut, more than 80,000 Obamacare enrollees should watch closely. Connecticut is one of 14 states that administers its own health insurance exchange through Access Health CT.

This would be the third time the Supreme Court take up cases related to Obamacare delving slight blows to the law. In 2012, five justices upheld the requirement that most Americans must buy health insurance or pay a tax–a victory for President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats. This ruling, joined by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was the most significant federalism decision since the New Deal in the 1930s.  Howev3er, the court limited  expansion of Medicaid, which provides health care to poor and disabled people.

In June 2014, the court ruled that the family-owned businesses should not be forced to provide insurance that covers contraceptive services because it violates the business owner’s religious beliefs.

This latest move does not bode well for the Obama administration. That’s because the legislative branch is run by the Republicans, who have tried to repeal the law 55 times.

However, Republicans will face an uphill battle in achieving this goal through the judicial branch. One conservative spokesperson said that incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should try a conciliatory approach.

“Republicans should use reconciliation to fully repeal Obamacare,” said Ken Cuccinelli, who heads the Senate Conservative Fund.

The law had originally required states to run their own healthcare exchanges. Most states in the South rejected that idea, forcing residents to move to other states that offer Obamacare.

According to a report by the nonprofit health policy organization, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. up to 7.3 million people are expected to be on this insurance.

 

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White Connecticut Frat Goes Unpunished after Harassing Black Sorority


By Breanna Edwards, The Root.com

UCONN-STORRS — Members of University of Connecticut black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha are speaking out against how they’re being treated by the historically white Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, especially after the frat went unpunished after alleged racist and sexist attacks, the school’s Daily Campus reports.

“We were called whores, and after establishing that I was a university professional I was verbally accosted, and intimidation tactics were used,” AKA Graduate Advisor Brittney Yancy said, speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by the African American Cultural Center On Monday. “They called me a fat black bitch, not just a fat bitch but a fat black bitch.”

“I have to deal with the fact that the student who has verbally accosted me received no punishment,” Yancy added of the late September incident.

According to the Daily Campus, the fraternity was subject to sanctions including loss of rock-painting privileges after allegedly painting a spirit rock with racially charged words while verbally harassing soror members, however individuals were not punished.

“Privilege will ruin our reputation,” the sorority graduate advisor added. “And if it goes unchecked, this is how it impacts our community. It will determine who matters, who is protected, who gets access and who is worthy of justice on this campus.”

According to the report, Yancy only learned at the town hall meeting that they could file individual complaints against members of the fraternity, as well as a complaint against PIKE as a whole.

“I think what is nauseating is the lack of transparency. It would have been great to know that someone needs to follow up on an individual complaint so we can take the appropriate actions,” she added.

The Daily Campus noted the absence of any of the historically white sororities as well as any member of PIKE at the meeting.

Read more at the Daily Campus.

Photo Credit: Facebook

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Republican Tom Foley Concedes Loss to Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy


Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2014 at 12:36 p.m.

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley conceded to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Wednesday, ending a similar drama that unfolded in their 2010 bid for governor.

In his bid for re-election, Malloy garnered more than 540,000 votes,  3 percentage points over Republican Tom Foley’s  512,000 votes.  This was in sharp contrast to his nail-biting gubernatorial bid in 2010, when he beat Foley by 6,400 votes.

In 2010, Foley waited a week before he conceded. At a press conference on Wednesday, the Greenwich businessman gave his concession speech about 16 hours after the polls closed on Tuesday.

“We came very close,” Foley said in an e-mail to supporters. “We did not win, but we were on the field and fought a good game.”

Foley said he faced a tougher challenge in a heavily tilted Democratic state. Republicans make up 20 percent of the state’s electorate, down from 25 percent from the last state-wide election in 2006.

Late Tuesday, Malloy strutted to the podium  and claimed victory for a second term.

“We will have a full legislative agenda ready to go by Jan. 7,” the governor said at a state capitol press conference. “I don’t sit around a whole lot and I have things I want to get done and I know that this state needs to get done.”
Quinnipiac University polls released in the past few weeks showed Malloy and Foley deadlocked, prompting both candidates to bring in high-profile surrogates such as President Obama and Republican Gov. Chris Christie. But Malloy lead in Tuesday election was “not nearly as close.”

The election did not go off without glitches, however. In Hartford, voters turned out early Tuesday morning and found that voter lists were not ready. They opted to go to work or back home.

The snafu prompted President Barack Obama to call a radio talk show and urged Hartford voters not to be discouraged.

“If people were planning to vote before going to work, and they weren’t able to do it, that’s frustrating,” Obama said on the talk show. “I want to encourage everyone who is listening not to be deterred by what was obviously an inconvenience.”

Malloy’s campaign staff asked a Hartford Superior Judge to extend voting in the city until 9 p.m. Judge Carl Schuma extended voting time until 8:30 p.m.

According to reports, at least nine city polling places turned voters away, including United Methodist Church and Batchelder Elementary  School were affected. That’s why the City Council on Wednesday said they will investigate the matter.

Also on Tuesday, incumbent Democrat Denise Nappier snatched victory in a close race for state treasurer against Republican challenger Tim Herbst. At press time, she won by about 9,000 votes. She will serve her fifth four-year term.

“Yesterday’s election was a hard-fought battle,” Nappier said. “I am deeply grateful to the people of our state for their support.”

In a press conference outside the Republican headquarters in Trumbull, Herbst conceded and congratulated Nappier on her victory.

Secretary of State Denise Merrill won re-election to serve another four years. Her challenger Republican Peter Lumaj surged forward on Tuesday with his bid, running nearly even at press time on Tuesday. By then, Merrill pulled ahead by $35,000 votes.

Lumaj conceded Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve worked incredibly hard on this campaign over the past 20 months but unfortunately the numbers for a win just didn’t add up,” Lumaj said. “We made this a right race than anyone ever expected.”

Lumaj faced an uphill battle with little name recognition. Merrill was former majority leader in the stte House of Representatives and benefited from incumbency.

Also on the ballot was a referendum question on whether long-established voting procedures should be changed. Voters in a 53-47 tally rejected an amendment that would have allowed lawmakers to approve changes to early voting and absentee ballots. It would have allowed voters to do an absentee vote via email.

Some opponents said the amendment would have disrupted how democracy works by taking away power from the people and giving it to the legislature.”

Advocates had a different view. They said the reform would have made it easier for minority and working-class people, who work outside the 9 to 5 schedule, to vote. As a result, most urban residents supported the measure. And most suburban residents opposed it.

About 880,000 voters cast ballots on the amendment. In Bridgeport, 53 percent of voters approved the referendum. In Hartford, 63 percent of voters approved; and 68 percent of New Haven voters affirmed it.

State House Districts

District 1

Matthew Ritter (I), Democrat, 3,304—92 percent

Kenneth Lerman, GOP, 301-8 percent

District 3

Sweets Wilson, GOP-217 – 9 percent

Minnie Gonzalez (I), Democrats, 1,984—86 percent

Victor Luna, PC 116-5 percent

District 4

Angel Arce (I) unopposed

District 5

Brandon McGee (I) Democrat, unopposed.

District 6

Michael Lupo, GOP 437-18 percent

Edwin Vargas (I) Working Families &Democrats 1,983 -82 percent

District 7

Donna Thompson—Daniel, PC, 107-3 percent

Douglas McCory (I) Democrat 3,322-97 percent

 

State Senate Districts

District 1

Barbara Ruhe, GOP and Independent, 4,098 /27 percent

John Fonfara (I), Working Family and Democrat

10,681 – 70 percent

Alyssa Peterson, PC, 136 – 1 percent

Barbara Barry, GM, 315-2 percent

District 2

Eric Coleman (I) Dem & Working Family: 19,599 – 81 percent

Theresa Tillett, GOP: 4,479 – 19 percent

 Photo Credit: FoleyCT

 

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Q&A: Will Congress Save Health Insurance Program for Low-Income Kids?


Ed. Note: Unless Congress acts, federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which matches state dollars to provide health coverage for children under 19 in low-income families, will end next year. Ed Walz is vice president of First Focus, a DC-based advocacy organization for children and families that focuses on federal policymaking. He spoke with NAM Reporter Anna Challet about the future of CHIP and the likelihood of Congress stepping in to preserve the program.

Who does CHIP provide health coverage for?

CHIP provides coverage for 8 million children or so throughout the course of the year who would otherwise be uninsured because their parents work and make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford the high cost of private insurance … Before CHIP, the uninsured rate among kids was about 15 percent. Today it’s about 7 percent. It’s essentially cut the uninsured rate among children in half.

With the Affordable Care Act now fully implemented, why is CHIP still necessary?

Kids who are covered by CHIP today would not all be able to get coverage through the ACA if CHIP were to go away … If it did go away, some of the kids would move into Medicaid, but it’s a relatively small number, in part because not every state has expanded Medicaid, but also because CHIP covers kids well in excess of the Medicaid expansion level. The ACA now requires that Medicaid expand to 138 percent of the federal poverty level in states that choose that option, but … CHIP covers kids much higher up the income scale. For example, in my home state of Wisconsin, it’s 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

If CHIP were to go away, the ACA wouldn’t pick [some] kids up because of what’s called the family glitch, or the children’s glitch. That has to do with a problem in the way the IRS implemented the tax subsidies for the exchanges [the state health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA]. Essentially it means that as many as 2 million kids who would otherwise qualify for exchange coverage won’t get the subsidies they need to make it affordable, so they won’t get insurance. Even in a post-ACA world, there’s not a coverage solution for all the kids who are currently in CHIP.

The other problem is that if kids do get exchange coverage, research shows that it won’t be as valuable or as good as the coverage they currently get through CHIP … At a national level, CHIP provides more than 80 percent of the child-specific care that kids need, while average exchange plans provide a little over half of that child-specific care. And at the same time, CHIP plans average less than $100 in out-of-pocket annual costs, whereas the average exchange plan would cost nearly $1000, so ten times the cost for less care.

What is the threat to CHIP right now?

Essentially there are two requirements for a government program to function. One, Congress has to authorize it, and give the agencies permission to run it. [Also] they have to fund it. There’s no requirement that they do those two things on the same schedule. So one of the weird things about where we are right now in the public policy around CHIP is that the federal government has the authority under law to run CHIP through 2019, but funding for CHIP runs out at the end of federal fiscal year 2015, which is the fiscal year we just started. So a year from now, in October 2015, funding for CHIP will end. That’s the real threat. The threat is that even though there might be authorization, there won’t be money, and that is the effective end of CHIP.

The challenge right now is when Congress will extend that funding. And it’s important that Congress act this year, because even though federal funding won’t technically end for another 11 months, the reality is that because CHIP is a federal-state partnership, the budget decisions that happen in the state capitals all over the country matter just as much as the budget debates in Washington. And those state budget debates are happening right now … So it’s important that Congress send a message this year that states can continue to count on federal CHIP funding.

At this point, does it look like Congress will do that?

CHIP is incredibly popular, and it has a strong track record of bipartisanship. So we’re hopeful and have reason to believe, based on our conversations with folks on Capitol Hill, that policymakers understand that CHIP still plays an important role … There’s momentum to get CHIP funding extended in the lame duck session this fall, so after the elections.

What will happen if they don’t?

The honest answer and the scary answer is that we don’t really know what will happen. It’ll vary from state to state, but what we can say is that when we’ve seen a similar problem in the past, the outcome has not been good for children.

California is unfortunately the poster child there. Back in 2009, when the CHIP agency in California ran into a state funding problem, they responded by establishing a waiting list. That meant that kids who were newly eligible for what was then called the Healthy Families program were not enrolled, and kids who were covered by Healthy Families but lost coverage for administrative reasons or for whatever reason then were not able to re-enroll … Even a year after the waiting list was lifted, the agency had only been able to return enrollment levels to 50,000 kids lower than when they put the waiting list in place … If you imagined similar reactions at the national level, it would literally put the health of millions of children at risk.

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Hartford Guardian to Celebrate 10th-Year Anniversary


HARTFORD —  The Hartford Guardian will kick off its 10th Year Anniversary celebration on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 at Aetna on Farmington Ave. in Hartford.

The Luncheon under the theme, Building to Empower and Engage, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to mark this significant milestone in the new media organization, which began in 2004 as a print publication.

Over the past decade, The Guardian has served individuals and families throughout the Greater Hartford area and beyond—disseminating untold stories, news and information that effect change on a local and national level.

The Guardian has won several notable recognitions and awards for its reporting, including the International Center for Journalists, Patch/AOL, Knight Center for Journalism New Media institute and the Hartford Magazine.

The Guardian was founded by Dr. Ann-Marie Adams, an award-winning journalist and historian. She has worked as a reporter and writer for The Hartford Courant, The Norwich Bulletin, Times Herald Record, People magazine, The Washington Post and other local and national publications. She teaches journalism and history, most recently at Quinnipiac University, Howard University and Rutgers University.

The Hartford Guardian was founded in 2004 to build communities through civic journalism. It is one of three programs by the Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, Inc. CABC, Inc is a nonprofit organization established to encourage and increase civic engagement in Greater Hartford by (i) educating  residents about various social issues and services in Hartford, (ii) educating them about how government and media work, and (iii) offering opportunities to explore and engage in civic journalism.

For more information, call 860-993-1094.

Photo Credit: Jocye Balanos. In photo left to right: Carmen Arroyo and Joyce Balanos of Viva Hartford Media;  Joyce Rossignal, Writer for Life Publication; Lenny Grimaldi, Owner for “Only in Bridgeport” site; Ann-Marie Adams, Founder/Editor of The Hartford Guardian; Anthony Duignan- Cabrera, Editorial Director for AOL Patch East.

 

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Q&A: Ebola and Africa’s Untold Stories


New America Media, Question & Answer, George White

Editor’s Note: As chair of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma directs the staff and the work of the African Union (AU), the alliance of nations on the continent. In that role, Dr. Zuma – a physician – manages AU initiatives on education, the environment, economic development and health. She is currently overseeing the deployment of AU volunteers to help halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In an exclusive interview with New America Media in Los Angeles, she talked about the fight to contain Ebola, media coverage of Africa and the continent’s progress on the United Nations’ global Millennium Development Goals.

Please comment on the U.S. government’s response to Ebola. As you know, the U.S. is using military personnel to set up medical facilities in affected countries.

It would be great if the U.S. and other developed countries did more to help improve the health facilities in those countries. They need treatment centers … they need laboratory-testing facilities, they need protective clothing and they need more transportation [capacity] and personnel.

However, we need help beyond Ebola because we know now that a lot more people might die from illnesses that would not normally be fatal because there is so much focus on Ebola. Very few people in those countries are being treated for malaria or for injuries. We also need to strengthen the health systems in these countries so if there is another outbreak, there will be people ready to respond appropriately and quickly. We saw this kind of response when Nigeria addressed and contained its Ebola cases. Nigeria has strong institutions that mounted a strong public health response.

What about the role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in this crisis and the future of health care in Africa?

The U.N. is now responding. It’s late but better than never… Everyone needs to up their game – particularly the World Health Organization and the U.N. because they have the global responsibility for outbreaks such as this. We also should not forget those who are on the ground who have been doing this work from Day One – the local health workers, the [African] governments, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and the Red Cross. We would like to express our appreciation to all of them … and to all the countries outside of Africa that have helped.

I think the world should look at the overall health situation in African nations. We are saying there should be universal health care for everyone in our countries. But some donor organizations think this is not very important for development and we think that is wrong… We think universal health care is very important. Of course, it won’t happen overnight but it has to be established as we grow and develop.

 Chair of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma answers questions about the Ebola outbreak and says more help is needed.

Chair of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma answers questions about the Ebola outbreak and says more help is needed.

Ebola has shown that you are going to get more than health effects from the outbreak; you’re also going to get social effects. Even more important, there are going to be economic effects if efforts to stop the outbreak fail – ships not docking to take material in and take material out, mines and factories closing or working at low levels and farmland not being worked … Health and education are the most important investments for economic growth; but this eludes some donors and some [government] ministers of finance.

The African Union Commission (AUC) had planned to host a forum for African immigrant media in the U.S. and African-American media to discuss the coverage of development issues at the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. It was cancelled but the AUC has indicated that it still hopes to host such a meeting. Why is such a gathering needed?

I think it’s very important because we have seen that the coverage produced by media outside of Africa tends to be one-story line for a complex continent. Currently the storyline is Ebola and nothing else. In the past, the storyline was violent conflicts. It’s important for the media to tell the many stories that are there in Africa so that people can get a clearer indication of what is going on.

However, it is not likely we will get more balanced coverage from other people if we do not do it ourselves. That’s why we think it’s very important to encourage the journalists and communicators in the [African] diaspora to communicate what is going on in Africa. We’re not trying to hide anything or minimize anything but we want to tell all our stories because we have very good stories to tell. We know there are stories about difficulties but we also want other kinds of stories told.

Can you talk about your work on energy and global warming?

There’s a lot of activity around energy because we realize it’s needed if we are to industrialize to process our mineral wealth. However, we have decided that even though we have enough fossil fuels to generate energy, we want to take advantage new green technology and get a proper mix that will be both fossil fuels and renewable energy.

Africa is the continent that will suffer the most disproportionate impact of global warming because the continent is the smallest polluter. We must mitigate and adapt … With our huge tropical forests, Africa is the second lung of the world … and the Amazon is other major lung. We have to preserve these forests for ourselves and for the world. The developed countries have to come to the table. Hopefully, in Paris next year, there will be a binding international agreement on emissions.

The U.N. in 2000 created global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on health, education, environmental sustainability and gender equality – objectives countries will be graded on in 2015. What will be the grades on the report cards of African nations?

Africa may not meet all the MDG goals … but Africa has made the greatest effort and has had the greatest improvement. In education, for example, a lot of the goals have nearly been reached. There are a lot more girls going to school. We have a campaign to keep the girls in school as long as possible because if we can keep them in school, they don’t get married early and they don’t get pregnant early.

As for the empowerment and participation of women, I think we are making real progress. There are a lot of women in [African] parliaments. The level in Rwanda has reached 64%, which is the world’s highest. Others, such as Seychelles and South Africa, have levels hovering in the 40s and 50s. Parliament is a high-profile institution and these women are role models for other young women. We are also beginning to see chief justices that are women and governors that are women.

What are the goals for the remainder of your term as head of the African Union Commission?

One of them is to help young people get the skills – especially in the areas of STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] – to create a skills revolution on the continent.

The other area is infrastructure. We would like to work toward an Africa that is one economic market and one aviation market because that will increase the number of internal flights within the continent so that we can be better connected and integrated. We also want to see the beginnings of real connections between our capitals and our commercial centers through rail, especially high-speed rail. We’re working toward eventually achieving a continental free-trade area. Even though this may not be achieved during my term, I can help plant the seeds of economic integration and see them grow when I’m gone.

Other News About Ebola:

CDC Says U.S. Should “Rethink” EBola Response

NIH Director Says Ebola Vaccine Would Have Likely Been Found It not for Budget Cuts

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Black Women “Sick and Tired” of Low Quality Healthcare, Infant Mortality


Editor’s Note: This article was made possible by the International Center for Journalists’ Community Health Reporting Fellowship and is a part of an ongoing series on Race, Gender and Medicine in America.

By Ann-Marie Adams

Connecticut has the highest infant mortality rate for black babies.

That’s according to the state’s own 2009 health disparities report, which reveals consistently higher infant mortality rates than white and Hispanic infants.

The infant mortality rate represents the number of deaths among babies under one year old per 1,000 births. The latest report shows the number of deaths for black babies between 2001 and 2005 was 314 or 13 percent compared to Hispanics with 251 or 6.5 percent, or Whites with 515 or 3.9 percent.

Dr_AnnMarie_AdamsNaturally, someone should ask why there’s such a high death rate among black babies in Connecticut. Is it caused by improper nutrients from food desserts in urban areas? Or is it a systematic attempt—unmitigated long after the infamous Tuskegee experiment—to harm black people in America? Many so-called Third World countries do not have such high infant mortality rates. So I’m leaning toward the latter, considering socio-economic factors that are already impacting the black family.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionBefore you get your panties in a bunch, consider the history of race and medicine in America. If you do, you will contextualize the contemporary conditions and see that this is not an alarmist approach to scant evidence. It’s a singular theory based on American history and years of research that have produced enough facts to examine this crisis.

According to The Hartford Guardian’s own investigation of Greater Hartford-area hospitals, doctors are more willing to prescribe medications that damage black women’s reproductive organs. The atrocity of substandard healthcare for many black women can be in the form of benign neglect in a hospital emergency room to egregious malpractice such as forcing medications against will—a common and often criminal–practice at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. The most popular culprit is Risperidone, which seeps into breast milk and enlarges breasts.

Besides robbing many black women of their breast milk, Risperidone contributes to the mammification of the black woman’s body. It’s the most frightening side effect of this drug known to cause death. Similar steroidal and non-steroidal medications include cyclobenzprine, hydrocodon-acetaminophn, methylprednisolone, cogentin, gabapenten and haldol. Many cause hyper-lactatemia, a fancy word for inflating a woman’s breast with deadly toxins.
The problem is not just in Connecticut, however. This also occurs at the Maryland-based National Institutes of Health, where doctors recruit women to use experimental drugs that cause harm to their reproductive system and then send them off to deal with the later consequences of an unknown drug.
Black men also face similar harm with pills that decrease libido or contribute to erectile dysfunction. But this story about the health industry makes a sharp departure from the overall black experience when we look at the intersection of race, gender and medicine.

The syphilis experiment from 1932 to 1972 by the U.S. Health Service generated national outrage and is well-known around the world. The lesser known experiments of black women like Henrietta Lacks did not cause an uproar.

This makes me want to scream.

Consider this: Black women are more likely to die of heart failure, cancer, and other diseases because of deficient medical care. They are also more likely to have uterine fibroids, which are commonly associated with stress. The confluence of stressors is attributed to socio-economic conditions. For example, black women are three times more likely than white women to be unemployed. And though you have gender inequality among wage earners, black women earn 70 cents on the dollar for the same work as other workers.

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Perhaps President Barack Obama, who benefited from the overwhelming support of black women voters in 2008 and 2012, should consider implementing policies that mitigate centuries of medical abuses and character assassination of the black woman in America. Besides the medical maladies they face, most black women are considered angry—even if they wear pastel colors and glue their mouths shut.

The angry woman trope is laughable among the righteously discontented, who are now wondering when they will we see policies that have a direct impact on their lives in every sphere. Let’s deal with specificity. When will black women have equal access and opportunity?

Do they need to storm the White House to get Obama’s attention? With two years left in the White House, perhaps he should consider forming a task force of multi-ethnic black women who will attack these deficiencies in the health field and change the way health care is administered to them. Are these deficiencies factored into the web of policies linked to Obamacare, which supposedly gives Americans access to quality and affordable healthcare?

If single black women consist of 70 percent of black households that overwhelmed voting booths to elect the first black president, then we ought to see specific policies that address these constituencies—sooner rather than later.

Like Fannie Lou Hamer who helped reshape the Democratic Party in the 1960s, some of us black women are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

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Dr. Ann-Marie Adams the founder and editor of The Hartford Guardian. She has worked for The Hartford Courant, The Washington Post, The Root.com, and People Magazine. She has taught U.S. History and Journalism at Quinnipiac University, Howard University and Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter: @annmarieadams.

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