Monday, May 23, 2016

Elijah Wood Says Hollywood Has A Child Sex Abuse Problem

Source: Newsy

SCOTUS Clears Way for New Trial, Finds Racial Bias in Jury Selection

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday cleared the way for a new trial for a Georgia man convicted of murder and sentenced to death by an all-white jury, finding that prosecutors intentionally kept blacks off the jury.

"Prosecutors were motivated in substantial part by race," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, who was joined in the opinion by all but one of the justices. In his dissent, Clarence Thomas, the court's only African-American member, said the court did not have jurisdiction to take up the case. 

The jury was chosen for the death penalty trial of Timothy Tyrone Foster, who was 18 when he was charged with sexually molesting and killing a 79-year-old widow in Rome, Georgia in 1986. She was white. 

Click here for the full article.

Source: NBC News

Officer Cleared In Freddie Gray Case

NAN Statement on Edward Nero Decision in Freddie Gray's Death

(WASHINGTON, DC) The following is a statement from Ebonie Riley, Washington DC Bureau Chief of the National Action Network:

“We are disappointed in the decision of the court but unfortunately not surprised. As we have seen throughout the years, when officers opt for a trial by judge rather than by a jury, acquittal is the result.  We have been through this with Sean Bell and far too many other cases in the past. This is exactly the reason we are calling for lowering the bar for federal prosecution, and greater involvement of the federal government in cases like this. In federal court, a jury trial cannot be waived without the consent of the prosecution – and we believe that is a fairer, more just process. We continue to stand with the Gray family as they fight for justice for their son.”
Source: Mercury
Note: Details on the decision are available here.  

Assembly Bill Will Codify Cuomo’s Climate & Clean Energy Goals

Albany – The New York State Assembly, led by Speaker Carl Heastie and Chairs Steve Englebright (Environmental Conservation), Crystal Peoples-Stokes (Governmental Operations), Michelle Titus (Labor), Amy Paulin (Energy), as well as members of the Climate Change Work Group, introduced groundbreaking legislation today to make Governor Cuomo’s climate and clean energy goals a reality.

Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York, issued the following statement regarding the legislation.
“This is, quite simply, one of the strongest, smartest, and most thoughtful pieces of climate legislation the public has ever seen. It may be the best in the country, and we roundly applaud Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Englebright, and their colleagues for taking the aspirational goals outlined in Governor Cuomo’s State Energy Plan and providing the blueprint for achieving them.

"There is a reason that Governor Cuomo’s climate and clean energy goals have been attracting global attention; they are a game-changer. And placing them into law will make New York a true global climate action leader.

"At the root of this legislation is the recognition that climate action and growing a 21st century economy go hand-in-hand. The bill establishes that 100% of New York’s energy will come from clean, renewable sources by 2050, and it provides annualized benchmarks to ensure we don’t just hope to meet them, but must meet them. Environmental Advocates is, of course, excited about cleaner air, less pollution, and healthier communities. But it goes much deeper than that.

"The bill is a reality check driven by incorruptible economic and public health data. In it, there’s a true commitment to disadvantaged communities, job training, and workers’ rights, all of which are crucial, for instance, to helping communities recover economically who have often been left holding the bag when the fossil fuel industry pulls up and departs – something happening increasingly more often. It also ends the era of government making bad decisions that harm people, particularly when it comes to disadvantaged communities who bear the brunt of pollution, and instead prioritizes resources and investment in those communities on the front lines of climate change.

"The fossil fuel industry has a predictable strategy of pitting good jobs against a clean environment and healthy communities. Unfortunately, they’ve often got their way. But the facts bear out that clean air is inextricably linked to growing economies, and the energy job growth we’re witnessing worldwide rests in the renewable sector, not fossil fuels. Still, few states have created the programs to capitalize on these opportunities, and with this legislation, New York will be setting the standard.

The introduction of A10342 is the official start of what we recognize will be a lengthy and challenging process. But with Governor Cuomo’s leadership in codifying his climate and clean energy goals, and a public that is wholly in support of aggressive action, this is a truly pivotal moment. We are grateful to Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Englebright, and many others for their tireless leadership on this issue.” 

Source: Environmental Advocates of New York

FPWA: Building the Next Generation of Advocates with Brooklyn Youth

Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, Transitions Coach and FPWA’s YEM Facilitator
welcomes students at first Youth Empowerment Movement workshop.

(New York, NY) - The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) launched its Youth Empowerment Movement (YEM) Program on Saturday, May 21 with a diverse group of nearly 20 Brooklyn teens and young adults at Grace Reformed Church. Council Member Eugene provided $5,000 in funding to support FPWA’s creation of this program.

YEM is designed to help youth define their role(s) in helping to shape and transform their communities. Everyone was excited to engage in their first of six weekly workshops geared to equip them with the tools necessary to advocate for themselves and others. They will have the opportunity to examine and form a deeper understanding of issues and ways in which FPWA works to reduce poverty, advance upward mobility and create shared prosperity across New York City.

“As a society, we should do everything possible to make sure that all young people have positive opportunities, and I’m pleased to allocate funds for the Youth Empowerment Movement (YEM) Program,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene, Chairman of the Youth Services Committee. “We have so many talented youth who are ready to do great things and I look forward to seeing the positive impact the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies’ YEM Program will have in our communities.”

YEM youth will be able to connect the ways in which they are already advocates for themselves when interacting with parents, peers and leadership at school and learn how advocacy is effective beyond their personal lives and used to effect change. FPWA will work with enrollees to cultivate new skills, gain self-confidence and become empowered to inform others about ways to get involved in advocacy in the public arena, such as writing a letter to a New York City Council Member, signing a petition, joining a campaign, attending a prayer vigil or demonstration and other social actions. Youth will also focus on personal areas of development such as the ability to identify issues important to them and turn lessons focused on advocacy into actionable, results-oriented approaches that benefit themselves, their families and the needs of their community. 

“It is imperative that we do everything we can to assist today’s youth in developing their own voices,” said Rev. Joel A. Gibson, Director, Faith-Based Initiatives.  “The goal is to empower them to set the most productive course they can for their own lives and encourage them to become effective leaders within their communities. This Youth Empowerment Movement is a great first step in the right direction.  We are hopeful that other NYC Council Members will follow CM Eugene’s leadership and support similar initiatives in their districts.” 

Source: Mercury

Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program Accepting Applications

The Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program will begin accepting applications on May 26. The program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship to high-achieving college undergraduates or professionals for their master’s studies in education. Up to 500 new awards will be granted annually for two academic years of full-time study. 

“Expanding access to higher education today will help foster top notch talent to be the educators of tomorrow,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program will help ensure that our future teachers have access to the resources necessary to become leaders in the classroom and continue to shape and inspire students across New York for years to come.”

Honorees must be New York State residents and have maintained a grade point average of 3.5 or higher at a college or university located in the state. Recipients must agree to teach at a public elementary or secondary school in the state for five years after completing their degree. The application deadline is July 10, 2016, and awards will be announced in August. 

“The launch of the Governor’s Masters-in-Education scholarship, coupled with the launch of TeachNY, offers our future teachers unprecedented financial and professional support to ensure their success,” said New York State Higher Education Services Corporation Acting President Elsa Magee. “This scholarship will help provide a pool of top teacher candidates at the time the State’s need for teachers is growing.”
“The need for teacher recruitment and retention is at an all-time high in New York State, as we face a significant – and growing teacher shortage,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Governor Cuomo’s Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program is an excellent complement to TeachNY, one that is certain bring more excellent teachers to New York’s classrooms and students. SUNY is proud to be a part of this important initiative and we look forward to welcoming the inaugural recipients to SUNY campuses throughout New York State.”
"I commend Governor Cuomo for this timely and important initiative to support New York’s future educators,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. “The City University of New York has long recognized the importance of teacher preparation and retention, and CUNY is the largest provider of public school teachers for New York City. The Masters-in-Education Program demonstrates the State’s commitment to supporting high quality preparation for the next generation of New York teachers.”  

For more information, visit

Source: Press Office, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Statement by the President on the Death of Taliban Leader Mansur

Today marks an important milestone in our longstanding effort to bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan. With the death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, we have removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces, to wage war against the Afghan people, and align itself with extremist groups like al Qa'ida.

Mansur rejected efforts by the Afghan government to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence that has taken the lives of countless innocent Afghan men, women and children. The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict - joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability.

As an enduring partner of the Afghan people, the United States will continue to help strengthen Afghan security forces and support President Ghani and the National Unity Government in their efforts to forge the peace and progress that Afghans deserve. We will continue taking action against extremist networks that target the United States. We will work on shared objectives with Pakistan, where terrorists that threaten all our nations must be denied safe haven. After so many years of conflict, today gives the people of Afghanistan and the region a chance at a different, better future.
I thank our dedicated military and intelligence personnel who have once again sent a clear message to all those who target our people and our partners - you will have no safe haven. Today is a day for us to give thanks to all of the Americans who have served in Afghanistan for so many years with a selfless commitment to the security of our nation and a better future for the Afghan people. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Church Committee Hearing on FBI Informants

FBI informants Gary Thomas Rowe and Mary Jo Cook testified before the Church Committee on December 2, 1975, about their infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Vietnam War groups. Mr. Rowe, wearing a hood to conceal his identity, described how he infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and with the knowledge of the FBI participated in violence against civil rights activists. Ms. Cook described how she informed against anti-Vietnam War activists. The informants were followed by Deputy Associate FBI Director James Adams who defended the practice. The hearing was preceded by interviews with former committee staffers Frederick Schwarz and Elliot Maxwell, and followed by an interview with Associate U.S. Senate Historian Katherine Scott. Video provided by NBC Universal Archives. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Major Foreign Holders of U.S. Debt

William Cline, with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, discusses information released by the Treasury Department on the foreign countries that hold the most debt to the U.S., which shows the U.S. owes Saudi Arabia $117 billion. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Washington Journal: The Week Ahead in Congress

An interview with The Hill reporter Mike Lillis. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Ralph Nader Discusses Community Organizing

Author and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader discusses community organizing at a conference hosted by the Center for Study of Responsive Law. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

NY Dept. of State to Host State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council Public Meeting

The New York Department of State will host a public meeting of the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council on Thursday, June 2, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the Department offices at 99 Washington Avenue in Albany, 123 William Street in New York City and 65 Court Street in Buffalo. 

The Meeting will be held via video-conference at all locations. The public has the right to attend the meeting at any of the locations.

The State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council is convening to discuss updates of the State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and the State Energy Conservation Construction Code.

The meeting will be available for later viewing at

Source: Department of State News

Trailblazers in Black History: Vernon Jordan

Published on YouTube on May 14, 2013.
TV news report from February 16, 1995 as part of series of Black History Month features. DePauw's Clifton Phillips, John Baughman and Bob Farber recall the student days of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan, a 1957 DePauw graduate, and how he impacted the city of Greencastle.

Staten Island Reels as Drug Overdose Deaths Spike, DA Pleads for Help

Sanders: We're Strongest Against Trump

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, speaking at a campaign rally in Vista, Calif, touts his campaign's viability against Donald Trump.