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Obama Tackles Climate Change in Graduation Speech at U.S. Coast Guard Academy


By Ann-Marie Adams, White House Correspondent

NEW LONDON — In his commencement speech at the United States Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, President Barack Obama addressed the issue of climate change, saying there has been too much equivocation in Congress about a dramatic change to the climate, which has implications for national security.

 
Obama called on Congress to direct attention to proposals that have already engendered much debate.
“I know there are some folks back in Washington, who refuse to admit that climate change is real,” he said to more than 200 graduating cadets. “Denying it or refusing to deal with it undermines our national security.”

 
Obama also catalogued the impact of climate change, emphasizing the issue at the core of each cadet’s mission, whether it’s cleaning up ravaged coastlines or intercepting drug traffickers from Latin America, the Caribbean or Europe. The newly commissioned ensigns will, he said, will soon be working with refugees from flooded and drought stricken countries, helping to open oil drilling plants and dealing with weather related disasters.

 
The location for his address about climate change was fittingly in one of Connecticut’s coastal communities, where Super Storm Sandy devastated the New England coast in 2012, causing $394.3 million in damages.

 
Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states on the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine.
“The science is indisputable,” Obama said. “The planet is getting warmer….The world’s glaciers are melting.”

 
Last year, the president also outlined a series of plans he has pushed to restrict carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, promote “clean energy” production such as wind and solar projects and increase federal protection of public lands, saying climate change is a threat to homeland security. As a result, he recently announced the country’s intention to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to cut carbon pollution and strengthen developing countries’ resilience.

 
Obama is scheduled to travel to Paris in December for a Climate Summit to discuss a global accord limiting greenhouse gases. The U.S. has already committed to reduce carbon emissions by 2025.

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It Takes a Village to Gain Citizenship


Last month, after over a decade living undocumented in the United States, I became a citizen. As I watched my family waving and cheering during the ceremony, I was overcome with a strange rush of emotions.

I felt joy to finally reach this milestone. But it was also a surreal moment.

For the vast majority of undocumented people, including many of my loved ones, there simply is no “line” to get into for legal status. And even in the small number of cases like mine where a series of lucky chances does open a path, you can’t walk it alone.

I never would have reached this point without the support of a strong network of community organizations and leaders.

As I hugged my baby daughter and my family after the ceremony, I kept thinking that my work for a better society needs to continue. I am currently an organizer for the California Immigrant Policy Center, where I focus on building bridges with amazing grassroots coalitions across the state. I hope when my daughter is my age, she will see a more inclusive future.

The fight for immigrant rights has many facets, from ending deportations to ensuring immigrants’ full inclusion in our communities. One small step, that could have big benefits, is expanding the circle of community-led education and outreach to help immigrants seize new opportunities.

Through a state budget proposal called “One California,” we can do just that. This comes at a crucial time. After years of organizing, a door to temporary relief for some undocumented Californians like my parents will eventually open through new deferred action programs. Meanwhile, another two-and-a-half million Californians are eligible to apply for citizenship, but face many obstacles.

One California would dedicate $20 million to support community-based outreach, education, and application help for both citizenship and deportation relief. The measure is gaining significant support, with hundreds of immigrants slated to gather in Sacramento next Monday for the 19th annual Immigrant Day. One California is one of four key priorities for the day, which will see some 500 immigrants mobilize for a rally and visits to their legislators.

While other states continue down an anti-immigrant path, my family’s story shows why California must double down on its commitment to immigrant inclusion.

We arrived in the U.S. with tourist visas in 1999. While my mom’s U.S. citizen sister filed a petition for us nearly 15 years ago, it’s trapped in a massive backlog. When our tourist visas expired, we became undocumented.

We started growing roots in our new community, but it has been far from a smooth journey. From having difficulties finding jobs, paying college tuition without financial aid, dealing with the emotional and economic impact of my brother and cousin’s deportation, we have endured tremendous hardship and heartbreak.

We overcame many of these hardships thanks to the support of community organizations which provided us with resources like information on health services and food supplies- and the hope that things would eventually improve.

I found refuge in a growing field of undocumented youth activists sprouting on campuses and community spaces across the nation. Working and living with other undocumented people reminded me I was not alone in this struggle.

And I got lucky. Because my U.S. citizen partner and I got married — and because, under convoluted immigration rules, I had come on a visa — the door to Legal Permanent Residency finally opened for me in the summer of 2011. I still remember the moment that my green card came in the mail. Relief ran through my body. But my thoughts turned immediately to my family and peers, still undocumented. Their support helped me reach this status.

Three years later, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles helped me fill out my citizenship application through their citizenship services program. Now, I am now one of nearly five million naturalized citizens living in California.

The benefits that come with citizenship are significant, with earnings increasing between 10 to 14 percent, and increased rates of homeownership and civic participation. But although almost 2.5 million Californians are eligible for citizenship — more than the population of Alameda and San Francisco Counties combined — the lack of support and high cost pose challenges.

The temporary deportation relief programs which immigrants fought to win will also bring strong benefits to the state. While we wait for an expansion of these programs to go into effect, we can already see the benefits of the existing DACA program. From watching my sister — a DACA recipient – -buy her first brand-new car, to friends who are embarking on their professional careers, the program is truly changing people’s lives.

But here again, barriers will stand in the way of folks applying — and many are left out.

As I celebrate this milestone, I am reminded once again I could not have gotten this far alone. It’s taken a village – family, friends, and a strong network of community organizations.

Today, state leaders have a golden opportunity to support these networks and help people like me achieve their goals and dreams.

Carlos Amador is lead organizer of the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), a statewide organization dedicated to advancing inclusive policies that build a prosperous future for all Californians.

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President Obama to Visit Connecticut


Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Tuesday will travel to New London to give a commencement address and much support for a fundraiser event in the area.

The President will give the address at the 134th commencement at the United States Coast Guard Academy and attend a Democratic National Convention meeting in later that day, White House officials announced on Friday.

The graduation ceremony is scheduled for May 20 at 11 a.m. on Cadet Memorial Field in New London.

It’s a tradition for presidents to deliver a commencement address at one of the U.S. service academies on a rotating basis.

The school is the smallest of the nation’s five service academies. Cadets receive full scholarships and graduate with an obligation to serve five years in the Coast Guard.

After the commencement address, the president on Wednesday will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser event in the private residence of Michael and Terran Whittingham in Stamford. According to sources, about 30 supporters are expected to contribute about $33,000.

at the home of Michael and Terran Whittingham. Approximately 30 supporters, contributing a total of $33,400, are present, according to the DNC.

 

 

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Baltimore 6 File Motion to Toss Case and Remove Marilyn Mosby


By , The Root
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announces on May 1, 2015, that criminal charges will be filed against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 and died a week later of spinal injuries suffered while he was in police custody.
In a court motion filed Friday, lawyers for six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray called for the charges to be dismissed and/or for State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby to be removed from the case, according to Time magazine.

The papers filed in Baltimore City District Court list multiple concerns, CNN reports, including allegations of bias and conflicts of interest, as reasons for Mosby’s removal from the case.

 

In addition, the papers charge that Mosby has a personal relationship with potential witnesses and says that a lawyer for Gray’s family is a friend of and attorney for Mosby, among other potential conflicts of interest, Time writes. The motion also claims that Mosby and her husband, City Councilman Nick Mosby, stand to reap financial and professional gains from the case.

The filing came a week after 35-year-old Mosby, who was elected Baltimore City state’s attorney last November, shocked the nation when she announced charges against the officers, including second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Gray died April 19 from injuries he received in police custody. The case touched off days of sometimes-violent protests. Baltimore’s calls for justice in the case augment ongoing national demonstrations against police violence in black communities.

Read more at Time magazine.

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President Obama Pushes Agenda on Poverty


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer Read the full story

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Study: Racism a Driving Factor in High Black Mortality Rates


An Internet study by University of Maryland researchers found higher Black mortality rates occur in areas that exhibit the most intense levels of racism.

The study, “Association Between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality,” monitored the proportion of Google searches in a given area including the N-word to determine the level of racism of that particular region, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported.

David Chae, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and lead author of the study, called the disparity in health and disease among races a “significant public health concern” largely attributable to racism.

“Research suggests that racism is a major culprit that contributes to the gap in mortality between blacks and whites,” Chae said, the Journal reported. “Our study points to the utility of an Internet-search based measure to monitor racism at the area-level and assess its impact on mortality.”

While the researchers noted that it is unlikely all searches using the term were made by racists, they determined “areas with a greater concentration of these searches have higher levels of racism overall,” according to the Journal.

The study was published online by the Public Library of Science.

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Ben Carson Announces Presidential Bid


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The race for the 2016 presidential election widened as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on Monday announced his bid for the White House.

Carson is the fourth candidate to formally seek the Republican nomination in the 2016 race. So far, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have announced their candidacies.

Former Sen. Hilary Clinton is the first Democrat to announce a bid for the presidential election.
Carson frames himself as a “common-sense alternative” to the broken policies of Washington politicians.

A relative new comer to the beltway, Carson challenged President Barack Obama at a prayer breakfast in 2013 and officially changed from being an independent to a Republican shortly afterward. He told a paper that he became a Republican after hearing Ronald Reagan and getting a “sour taste” after Republicans with personal foibles impeached President Bill Clinton over an extramarital affair.
“I just saw so much hypocrisy in both parties, he told a newspaper last year. “I clearly would not be welcome in the Democratic Party, and so that only leaves one party.”

And so it is for the Republicans—their first and only black presidential candidate in 2015.

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Feds Urge Seattle Immigrants to Speak Out About Scams


By Anthony Advincula, New America Media
SEATTLE, Wash. — The call came in on his business phone last month.It was about 4:00 p.m., Kye Lee remembers, when the caller — a man who introduced himself as a Public Utility District (PUD) agent — was demanding that he pay $621.56 for unpaid electric bills.

“If I didn’t comply with the payment right away,” Lee said, “he told me that my electricity would be cut off in a few minutes.”

Baffled, the 64-year-old Korean immigrant says he had to drop what he was working on at the grocery store he owns in Mountlake Terrace, Wash. How could that happen, he asked himself, when he knew he had paid the last bill on time?

“I have never been late paying my utility bills for seven years [since I have had my business],” Lee said through a translator. “But I believed the caller because he gave me a precise amount.”

Scammers getting more sophisticated

Consumer scams like the one that Lee fell for have become more widespread in many cities across the country.

In Washington state, some scammers – from notarios (notary services) and lending companies to debt collectors — prey on immigrants, who may be more vulnerable to their ruses as a result of limited English-language proficiency or simply because they aren’t aware of fraud schemes.

According to Charles Harwood, northwest regional director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 100 cases of customer fraud were filed nationally in court last year. Most of these fraudulent organizations seemed to have credible and legitimate business operations.

The FTC and other law enforcement agencies, Harwood says, received 2.6 million scam-related complaints, not including those in the Do Not Call registry, a list that consumers can join to alleviate unwanted telemarketing calls to their home and cell phone numbers.

With the use of online tools to get background information on consumers, investigators say, many scams have become more sophisticated — and seem more convincing.

‘We can’t just be quiet’

“We can’t continue this. But we can’t [solve this] without the help from the media that report for these communities. We really, really need your help,” Harwood told a group of ethnic media reporters at a recent news briefing in Seattle organized by New America Media.

He urged people to speak out, especially those who have been victims of scams, saying that it is important to let the consumer advocates and law enforcers know how they can help when the problem occurs.

“We can’t just be quiet when we’re victims of scams because we won’t be able to know about it,” he said.

As for Lee’s case, the fake PUD agent insisted that, in order to continue having electricity at his store, he had to pay at least $450. Although Lee said that the checks that he had sent to the PUD went through, somehow he found himself believing the scammer and did what he told him to do.

“I asked the caller, ‘Why this is such a short notice?’ And he told me that a previous notice was sent in the mail two days ago, but I failed to respond,” Lee said. “He even told me that I was lucky to have been given a day-long extension.”

Lee was then instructed to go to a nearby Albertsons Supermarket and purchase a prepaid card called Reloadit to pay his bills. After the purchase, he called the bogus PUD agent and gave the prepaid number on the back of the card.

He asked for a confirmation receipt but never received it. He never heard back from the caller. Lee informed the PUD and was told that he had been scammed.

“I felt helpless,” he said.

How to avoid being scammed

Many people like Lee are convinced by phone scammers, in part because “the call feels very personal” so it is difficult not to believe them, according to Jennifer Leach, acting assistant director for the FTC’s division of consumer and business education in Washington, D.C.

“Even if the call is random, as a lot of them are, the victims say it feels like ‘they know me,’ because they have some information about them,” she said. “It feels like they have some sort of relationship with them that they easily give up their information.”

The victims, Leach said, may be in denial when it happens to them. But she says that by speaking out to authorities, it helps shine light on the fraud.

“Scammers are professionals,” she noted. “It’s their job to get your information, to get your money — and they are very, very good at it.”

Studies have shown that there are two main ways to avoid being a victim of a scam, she said: 1.) Tell someone about the offer; and 2.) Take your time before you make a decision.

“There’s something about it when you say it aloud, and it doesn’t matter whom you talk to about it,” she added. “The scammers want to take your money as fast as they can. So if you make it longer for them, they may also move on.”

Targeting immigrants

Many undocumented immigrants may be hesitant to report scams to authorities for fear that it could alert the government about their immigration status.

“We don’t care about immigration status,” assured Leach. “We don’t track it; we don’t report it. We just don’t care about it.”

Awareness is key to avoiding scams, said Shannon Smith, consumer protection division chief of the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

“If you know someone who was a victim of scam, family or friends, it is important to tell us,” she said. “That person was not the first, and I am afraid, won’t be the last.”

In Yakima Valley, about two hours away from Seattle, notarios reportedly have been targeting undocumented farmworkers.

“I have seen thousands of farmworkers who have been impacted by notarios,” said Laura Contreras, an immigration attorney for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

For example, after President Obama announced his 2012 executive order on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Contreras recalls, some of the notarios in the valley started charging $100 just to get the form, even though anyone can easily download it from the Internet for free.

“Notarios are long-timers – and they even advertise,” she said.

According to Alan Lai, crime victim service director of Chinese Information and Service Center, some of the worst cases happen when immigrants scam fellow immigrants.

One Vietnamese man posing as a USCIS officer, he said, falsely promised other Vietnamese immigrants that, if they paid him, he would expedite their application to become a U.S. citizen. Dozens of Vietnamese immigrants lost about $100,000 to this scam, Lai said.

Pay back

Do victims get restitution for the money they have lost?

While the FTC does not handle individual cases, Harwood said that the agency has been able to get some of the money back, as part of a lawsuit against the scammers, for the victimized consumers.

Last year alone, Harwood said that through the FTC’s law enforcement efforts, there were about 740,000 consumers who received more than $65 million in restitution.

Some of the victims, however, may not be able to get the full amount that they have lost to scammers, and “it may take two to three years” for a lawsuit to be resolved.

“Even if, say, they only get half of their money back, I believe that justice has been served for them,” Harwood said.

Still, for Kye Lee, his experience with a scammer has made him more determined to help increase awareness in immigrant communities.

“As a victim, I feel humiliated and frustrated. It’s really difficult to get fooled,” Lee said. “But I know better now, and I will do what I can so people would not experience what I did.”

To report consumer scams and fraudulent activities in Washington State, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP; or Washington’s Office of the Attorney General at 1-800-551-4636 or 206-464-6684.

This story is part of a series of ethnic media roundtable discussions on consumer scams across the United States, conducted by New America Media, in partnership with Federal Trade Commission and other law enforcement agencies.

READ MORE

 

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Obama to Meet With Immigrant Youth


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is set to meet with undocumented youth leaders, who were given a repreive from deportation.

Connecticut resident, Maria Praeli, is one of six United We Dream leaders who have been invited to the White House Wednesday to meet Obama and discuss their families and ongoing political debate about immigrants.

Praeli is a Milford resident and a Quinnipiac student born in Ica, Peru and came to the United States when she was five.

She graduated from New Milford High School in 2012. She then graduated in 2014 from Gateway Community College in New Haven with an Associate’s Degree.  She was the school’s first undocumented Student Body President at Gateway.

Praeli is now a junior political science at Quinnipiac University.

The meeting comes after the House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would have immigrant youth like Praeli deported.

 Ann-Marie Adams

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In Living Color’s Tommy Davidson to Perform in CT


By Candice Dodd, Staff Writer

An actor, singer and stand-up comedian, Tommy Davidson is a force to be reckon with in the entertainment industry.
Known for his role in the hit series comedy show, In Living Color and the voice of “Oscar Proud” for the Disney cartoon series, The Proud Family, Davidson was made into a household name overnight. The international star will make his way to Manchester for his upcoming show at the Funny Bone Comedy Club on Feb. 5.
This is not Davidson’s first time at the club when he visited a year ago.

“I have a unique experience with the club because I was locked in during a snow storm,” says Davidson with a laugh during a telephone interview with The Hartford Guardian.
With plunging temperatures in the upcoming week, fans will get a hot performance from the star as he does his famous impersonations of Sylvester Stallone and myriad of other actors. “I will do some by request,” he says.
When asked about the start of his career before comedy, Davidson admits that singing was truly his passion.
“Singing was something I always wanted to do,” he says firmly over the phone.
Diving into comedy, Davidson explains that he was at a gentleman’s club with a friend during his early years and was told to go on stage and crack some jokes.
“My friend always thought I was funny,” he says. His guest appearance that night did lead his way to further his career.
As a standup comedian in the late 1980s, he performed in various comedy clubs throughout the Washington Metropolitan region and was recognized by local talent promoters who booked him as the opening act for big stars such as Patti Labelle, Kenny G, and Luther Vandross.
Davidson’s career was taking off big time and it didn’t stop there when he landed a role in the hit show In Living Color that aired in the early 90’s and also won a Primetime Emmy award in 1990.
When asked if the show led him to Hollywood, “Absolutely,” says Davidson. “It was the breakthrough of my life.” He spent his days working alongside other stars such as, Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans performing a variety of humorous skits, music, and dancing.
He is currently working on a biopic called, Deconstructing Sammy, based off the book by author Matt Birkbeck about the life and death of Sammy Davis, Jr. He is also working on television shows, comedy specials and his musical career.
While the talented father is working on “raising his kids” and traveling across the globe, he will win the hearts of many on Thursday night for his fascinating talent and down-to-earth character when he hits the stage on Feb. 5.

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