Author: lafocus

Keeping Everything In Perspective

Last month, the nation’s rollout in vaccina- tions experienced a hiccup when the CDC -temporarily paused Johnson & Johnson’s one dose vaccine, – a move that set vaccine hesitancy back a notch or two. The decision

was made after six (eventually increasing to a total of 15) cases of thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) or blood clots in the large blood vessels in the brain in what was an extremely rare occurrence for those with low blood platelets.

Of course, the rarity makes little difference if your loved one is the one in a million, but here’s some data that could help to keep things in perspective, keeping in mind that all of the cases occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 59–with a median age of 37 years with symptom onset 6 to 15 days after vaccination.

Deadly blood clots caused by birth control pills kill 300-400 women in the U.S. every year. According to another report, 100 people die every day of taking too much Tylenol. In fact, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) toxicity is the second most common cause of liver transplantation worldwide and is responsible for 56,000 emergency department visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths per year in the United States. Fifty percent of them unin- tentional according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

The truth is there are risks to nearly every medica- tion on the market.

Here’s the more relevant statistic. Without any of the three vaccines, 290 out of 100,000 blacks in L.A. County will die of COVID-19, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

The good news is we are heading towards normalcy. Just recently, the CDC relaxed some of the restrictions about mask wearing and Governor Newsom has said that by June 15 California will lift most COVID restric- tions and reopen the economy.

With outdoor mask restrictions the first to go, experts are now focused on high risk settings, such as large gatherings and closed spaces with poor ventilation, which is why –erring on the side of caution–our annual First Ladies High Tea is scheduled for April 2022.

And keep those vaccination cards handy. All indica- tions are that you will need them to prove that you have been immunized against COVID-19. According to some, they are the ticket back to the good old days and yet another reason to get vaccinated,– that’s unless you live in Texas or Florida where they are being banned.

In what was last month’s other big news story, a jury in Minneapolis came to the right verdict in a decision that is reverberating in police departments across the nation following a case that sparked the nation’s most intense reckoning on racial issues since the civil rights movement. This, as Americans are finding out just how deadly traffic stops can be for black men, and though less frequently black women, with Daunte Wright among the latest fatal casualties.

A report by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Office of the Inspector General, published last year found traffic stops of whites (and some other groups) were most likely to be related to how the suspects were driving, while Black and Hispanic people were most likely to be stopped for having expired vehicle registration docu- ments, or some other regulatory or equipment violation.

Philando Castile was stopped 52 times resulting in 86 minor traffic offenses before he was ultimately shot to death in a traffic stop in 2016 that turned tragic in less than a minute.

We understand that police are human and make mis- takes. So too are the people they stop. Caution is always advised. Abuse is not acceptable.

Still, there are those who would argue that the jury had to find him guilty to stave off riots characterizing the verdict as mob justice even as one columnist ironically wrote: “a guilty man was railroaded.”

The truth of the matter was a not so perfect man was killed that day, despite people pleading with a heartless officer to take his knee off his neck so he could breathe.

 

Police Reform and Personal Responsibility

STAR PARKER Guest Columnist

It is indeed rare, if not unprecedented, to see a highly diverse group of organizations such as the conserva- tive Alliance Defending Freedom, the liberal American Civil Liberties Union, the libertarian Cato

Institute and the Reason Foundation on the same page as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund on the same issue.

But it is happening as the U.S. Senate takes up police reform. The issue is a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity.

These diverse organizations all agree that qualified immunity is bad law and should end.

The discussion is particularly high-powered today because it stands at the center of police reform that many see is needed in the wake of incidents such as the murder of George Floyd by former police officer Derek Chauvin.

The nation’s first major civil rights law, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, passed shortly after the Civil War, contains a provision known as Section 1983 that protects citizens from violation of their civil rights by government officials. It says that a government official who violates a citizen’s civil rights is liable and can be sued by the injured party.

Thus stood the law, until a series of Supreme Court decisions from 1967 to 1982 reinterpreted its application. A new standard, qualified immunity, was added say- ing that it must be shown that rights were violated per “clearly established law.” That is, there must be a previ- ous case in which rights were violated the exact same

way.
So, if a citizen’s rights are violated but there is no pre-

vious case in which rights were violated in exactly that way, there is no protection. The government official is immune from liability.
Although the law applies to violation of a citizen’s civil rights by any government official, the hot button today is

violations by police.
The qualified immunity doctrine makes establishing

liability next to impossible, thus removing a serious deterrent against police violating civil rights in their law enforcement activities.

Police leadership and unions argue that qualified immunity is essential for them to do their job. This is a tough and dangerous business, they say, and split-second law enforcement decisions must be made, often under great uncertainty, sometimes with life-and-death impli- cations.

But police officers being able to make deadly decisions, with no sense of personal responsibility and costs, leads to some of the horrors that we are seeing today.

Derek Chauvin had 18 complaints against him before he committed his final deadly act against George Floyd. Had the incident, in all its gory and tragic details, not been captured on video by a young onlooker, the legal out-

come likely would have been much different.
Personal responsibility must be the hallmark in a free country, whether we’re talking about obeying the law or enforcing it. When right and wrong become ambiguous, when personal responsibility becomes ambiguous, we see

the chaos we are witnessing today.
Police officers perform a vital function in our society.

But what does law enforcement mean when law has no meaning? And law has no meaning if officers have free license to violate citizens’ civil rights.

A creative solution has been proposed by the Cato Institute: Require police officers to carry liability insur- ance, like other professionals do. This would provide them the coverage they need. And those who are flagrant violators, like Derek Chauvin, would be priced out of the market.

The only stalwart on the Supreme Court questioning the status quo on qualified immunity has been Clarence Thomas.

Thomas is an originalist – read the law as written – and opposed to judicial activism. He has written that qualified immunity is “the sort of ‘freewheeling policy choice(s)’ that we have previously disclaimed the power to make.”

Thomas has urged the court to take on and review this issue. “I continue to have strong doubts about our … qual- ified immunity doctrine,” he wrote last year.

Policing should be a local issue, not a national one. But civil rights is a national issue, and qualified immunity should be reformed.
Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “Cure America with Star Parker.” To find out more about Star Parker and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web- site at www.creators.com

Kroger Closes Ralphs To Avoid Paying Worker’s Heroes Pay

Tina Sampay

 

When you pass through the Crenshaw district this week, you might be surprised to see that the red Ralphs logo that once decorated the building on Slauson and Crenshaw is now gone. Kroger abruptly announced the closure of several Ralphs locations in March and kept true to their closing date of May 15th. 

 

“This is sad because I grew up in this neighborhood, right off 8th Ave & Hyde Park,” said Brandy, who was canvassing for signatures outside Ralphs for the Black Worker Center on Crenshaw, a few weeks before the closure.

 

“A lot of people are going to be losing a lot of local jobs unless they put something else here that is going to replace those jobs,” she continued.

 

In March, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 to pass an emergency ordinance requiring large pharmacy and grocery store chains to provide their workers an additional $5 an hour. 

 

Companies will have to pay hazard pay for all non-managerial employees at locations with 300 employees or more for 120 days. The ordinance is a move towards more fair compensation for those who have sustained large retail chains, while working for minimum wage, during a global pandemic. 

 

“It is unfortunate that the store had to close, along with the other stores in L.A as well as Long Beach. This extra pay mandate put an extra layer of burden and expense on the store that we could no longer afford to operate sustainably. Instead of passing that on the customer, we had to close permanently,” said Ralphs media contact John Votava.

 

In addition to this location, Kroger also announced the closure of Ralphs on Pico Boulevard as well as a Food 4 Less on Sunset. Kroger’s decision to close the Ralphs on Slauson presents a different set of issues for a community that is already lacking access to many healthy food options.

 

“Within a four mile radius we operate seven Ralphs and Food 4 Less locations. The reason that store closed is because it was experiencing losses year after year. It was just a location that was not profitable,” Votava continued.

 

Senter is the founder and owner of Straight up Fast Food, a smoothie and juice delivery service serving the community of South Central. He was inspired to start the business while working at Whole Foods and noticing the gap in the food he saw in his store, vs what he saw in the community he lived in. 

 

He says the closure of Ralphs does not surprise him because Kroger is a corporation and capitalism has deemed workers disposable in the name of maximizing profits.

 

“At this Ralphs a couple of years ago there were no organic fruits and I would not shop here. I would pay gas money to go to Whole Foods. There were no alternative food options you would find 5 miles away at a Whole Foods or Trader Joes in Mid-City or something.”

 

The closure is just one of many blows to a community facing rampant gentrification. As new developments spring up in every available corner in Los Angeles, concerns continue to grow about longtime residents who continue to be pushed out or left behind in L.A’s progression.

 

All hope is not lost however, as community members try to envision ways to fill the voids that selfish, corporate-interest have left in the community. Several individuals and groups are doing amazing work to provide fresh, organic produce to the Black community in L.A 

 

Groups including Let’s Be Whole in Leimert Park, the various farmers markets that happen in and around the Crenshaw District–as well as artist Lauren Halsey and her non-profit which continues to provide hot meals and produce to families weekly in Watts.

 

Olympia, the founder of SUPRMARKT is amongst these groups. She is a food activist who has been doing pop-up grocery stores in Leimert Park since 2016, providing fresh fruits and vegetables to the local community.

 

“The closure is disappointing and leaves an already under resourced area with even less resources. It also puts more burdens on under resourced non-profits in the area to increase health food access, but we are up for the challenge,” said Olympia.

 

She has helped to provide over 100,000 pounds of produce that can even be purchased with EBT for lower income residents.

 

“We are pulling together with other food fighters to provide thousands of free organic food bags to area residents. We look forward to releasing details in the coming weeks.”

 

California State Budget for 2021-22 Draws Both Pushback and Praise

Tanu Henry | California Black Media

Depending on where they stand, a number of political leaders in California either praised or pushed back on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $ 267.8 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2021-22. The plan includes a broad range of high-dollar investments intended to help the state’s struggling economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the governor announced his mid-year budget, which Sacramento insider’s call the “May Revise.” It is an enhanced and more detailed version of the smaller $227 billion spending plan Newsom sent to lawmakers for approval in January.

Under California law, the Legislature has until June 15 to negotiate and approve the budget before it takes effect July 1.

 

“While we are still at the tail end of getting out of this Pandemic, our budget reflects how we will move past it into a more prosperous future,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), who is secretary of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

 

“I am pleased to see that the budget proposal includes, $11 billion to enhance our transportation system including funding for transit and rail projects, active transportation, and zero emission public transit options; an additional $4.7 billion to address homelessness, and direct cash assistance and tax credits to middle and low-income families and small businesses to ensure California’s recovery is everyone’s recovery,” continued McCarty.

 

With an expected $75 billion surplus from California taxpayer revenue – and an additional $27 billion in a recovery cash infusion from the federal government — the governor revealed an ambitious plan that includes historic investments in early childhood education, vocational education, wildfire prevention, infrastructure, clean cars and more.

 

“This is a historic, transformational budget,” Newsom announced. “This is not a budget to play small ball.”

 

The budget plan includes a whopping $14.5 billion budget for education, including a statewide universal pre-k class added to the California public school system for 4-year-olds, smaller class sizes and college savings accounts for low-income children. There is also $2 billion to help Californians affected by the pandemic catch up on unpaid utility bills; $11 billion for transportation infrastructure; and $7 billion to expand broadband access to Californians in places that are underserved.

“Internet access is a social justice issue,” Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) tweeted, responding to Newsom’s plan to invest in narrowing the gaping digital divide that runs along class and racial lines.

Newsom says his plan will help California recover and put the country’s largest state economy on a path to sustained prosperity in the short term.

 

“This is our plan to get California not only back on its feet, but California roaring back, once again, to its rightful status as the most essential and dominant state, not only in the United States, but one of the most essential modern economies anywhere in the world,” Newsom added.

 

A number of Republican elected officials, including Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), responded to the governor’s budget, saying it “falls woefully short.”

 

“For example, the Governor and the Legislature could fully fund the projects outlined in Senator Steve Glazer’s $15 billion school bond proposal. This would build schools and colleges while avoiding more than $5 billion of interest charges and an expensive bond campaign. Wall Street and political consultants may not like it, but it would be good for California’s kids and for the state’s fiscal stability,” she said.

 

Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido said Newsom’s proposal, “Does nothing to lower the cost of living for hard-working Californians.”

 

“This budget will do some temporary good, but it fails to seriously address any of the long-term structural problems facing the state,” she said

 

Across the aisle, Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), the only African American woman in the California Senate, took to Twitter to highlight some of the highlights of the governor’s budget she called her “top takeaways.” They include: $300 million for public hospitals; investments in the art; and $12 billion to address homelessness.

The plan also funds a number of Green initiatives. Among them are a $3.2 billion investment in clean transportation, and another $400 million over three years for a clean car vehicle rebate program for individuals.

 

“We’re heartened by much of what Gov. Newsom has proposed,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. The Oakland-based Greenlining Institute is an environmental public policy and research organization.

 

“Now it’s up to the legislature to build on this foundation, using both the budget and pending legislation to build a truly just economy in California,” said Gore-Mann. “The budget affects all of us, so we urge everyone to contact their legislators and push them to seize this opportunity to pass a just, equitable budget.” Rusty Hicks, chair of the California Democratic Party, threw his support behind the governor.

 

“As Democrats work to create equitable solutions that meet the moment, the California Democratic Party commends Governor Newsom for centering our recovery around those who need it the most,” he said.

 

Betty Yee, California State Controller, praised the governor’s budget for prioritizing communities hit hardest by COVID.

 

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement of California’s economic recovery plan demonstrates how Democratic leaders across the state are working to ensure every person builds back stronger,” she said.

New Racial Justice Bureau at Cal DOJ Will Support State’s Reparations Task Force

Tanu Henry | California Black Media

 

Last week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that he has created a new bureau within the Department of Justice (DOJ) dedicated to fighting discrimination and investigating hate crimes.

Bonta said the new Bureau of Racial Justice, which will be housed under the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, will also support the California task force that the state has charged with studying the impact of slavery and Jim Crow and coming up with reparations recommendations for Blacks in California and around the country.

 

In September last year, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 3121 into law. The legislation, introduced by current California Secretary of State Shirley Weber when she served in the Assembly, requires the state to set up the task force.

Bonta has not yet spelled out how the bureau will contribute to the state’s reparations efforts, but he stressed the urgency of creating it.

 

“Throughout California’s history, too many of us have felt the sting of hate and discrimination,” said Bonta. “The fact is: No part of California is immune to hate. Too many Asian, Latino, Black, Native American, people with disabilities, LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh Californians all across the state are hurting.”

 

According to the DOJ, the bureau will focus on six areas: hate crimes and organizations; implicit and explicit bias in policing; law enforcement best practices; campus climate issues; and the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.

 

Bonta says the DOJ will work with the Big City Mayors, a group of officials from the state’s 13 largest cities, on its anti-discrimination and anti-hate crime initiatives. The cities are Los Angeles, San Diego, San José, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Stockton.

 

At the end of this month, the DOJ says Bonta will host a virtual meeting with the Big City Mayors.

 

“Drawing on the expertise of local elected leaders, the virtual convening will seek to raise awareness around regional concerns involving hate crimes, support those who have been impacted by hate, and secure commitments for direct action across California,” the DOJ said in a statement.

 

The California Legislative Black Caucus welcomed the news. The group comprised of African American members of the State Legislature says, “California, after its acceptance into the union in 1850 until the end of slavery in 1865, actively supported the enslavement of Blacks.”

 

The CLBC says the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations will increase understanding among Californians at a time when racial and political divisions divide Americans.

 

“As Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, I am humbled to be a part of this groundbreaking task force and look forward to having the difficult but necessary conversations on the age of enslavement here in California and across the nation,” said Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), who is also chair of the CBLC and a member of the reparations task force.

 

“The remnants of slavery and Jim Crow are still alive and well today and need to be addressed. We have found ways to not only apologize but also provide reparations to every group wronged in America and around the world except for African American decedents of slavery,” Bradford pointed out.

Malia Cohen Announces Bid for State Controller in 2022

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

 

Nearly three years after her successful run for a seat on California’s Board of Equalization (BOE), Malia Cohen now has her sights set on a higher office: State Controller. The election for State Controller will be held in November 2022.

 

Cohen is one of two women — and the only African American — serving on the BOE, the state agency responsible for representing taxpayer interests and making county-by-county tax assessments and adjustments across the state.

 

She announced her candidacy for State Controller during the California Democratic Party (CDP) 2021 convention, held online from April 29 to May 2.

 

“I am running because I am committed to equity, empowerment, hope and opportunity for all Californians,” Cohen told California Black Media.

 

During the Democratic Party convention, current State Controller and BOE member Betty Yee gave her blessing. She endorsed Cohen to occupy the seat she was first elected to in November 2014. Yee was re-elected for a second term in 2018.

 

Yee, who is termed out from running for State Controller in 2022, was elected vice chair of the CDP at its recent convention.

 

Taisha Brown, chair of the California Democratic Party Black Caucus, said she’s ready to support Cohen and see more African American women, the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic Party, in leadership roles.

 

“I’m happy to see more Black women moving in the direction to lead California as statewide officers. We have always been capable and have put in the work. I’m excited and ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work for Malia Cohen to be our next State Controller,” Brown said.

 

Cohen and Yee recently participated in a discussion the CDP’s Women’s Caucus, titled “Honoring Trailblazing Democratic Women on the Frontlines.” They discussed how they have both worked hard to find innovative solutions to longstanding problems, broken stereotypes and lead while facing various challenges in their respective careers.

 

If Californians vote Cohen the next State Controller, she will become chair of the Franchise Tax Board and serve on the boards of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) as well.

 

CalPERS and CalSTRS manage financial investments totaling more than $620 billion.

 

The controller’s office is the state’s independent fiscal watchdog, providing oversight and managing more than $100 billion in receipts and disbursements of public funds a year. The state department also offers fiscal guidance to local governments and uncovers fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. It is also charged with protecting the state’s coastline and helping to build hospitals.

 

As a member of the BOE, Cohen represents 23 counties and 9.5 million constituents in the Second District, an area that stretches along California’s coast from the top of the state down to Santa Barbara County.

 

Before that, Cohen represented the 10th District on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors from January 2011 to January 2019. Cohen, born in the Richmond District of the “Golden Gate City,” was also president of the Board of Supervisors, succeeding London Breed, who was elected the San Francisco’s mayor in 2018.

Cohen, 43, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at Fisk University in Tennessee and a Master’s in public policy and management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.

For more than a decade now, Cohen has been an influential figure in California state politics, taking on a number of high-profile issues.

 

In 2017, she introduced legislation to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including, menthol cigarettes in San Francisco. The measure was approved. She celebrated last month when the Biden administration announced its intention to make that prohibition national.

 

“I knew if we had a victory, it could start something big. But I did not know just how far it would go,” Cohen said. “After our ordinance passed in San Francisco, 75 other cities in California passed similar bans.”

 

After she was re-elected to represent the 10th District in 2014, Cohen gained national attention when she defended San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy. The ordinance shields undocumented immigrants living in the city from deportation.

Bill O’Reilly, then a conservative commentator for FOX News, took issue with Cohen and her pro-immigrant stance. He said on his show, The O’Reilly Factor, that Cohen was a disgrace and should be apprehended.

 

“If I were the attorney general of the United States, I would place her immediately under arrest,” O’Reilly said at the time, “That woman is a disgrace.”

The former FOX News talking head made the comment while blaming the policy for the death of a 32-year-old woman who was killed by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

Cohen expressed horror at the woman’s death and called the incident a tragedy, but she did not shy away from O’Reilly’s attack.

 

“We cannot allow one event to dictate 25 years of our city’s policies towards undocumented immigrants in our city,” Cohen responded. “And more importantly, we cannot allow hateful conservative news stations to drive how we respond to incidents in our city. I’m not afraid of Fox News and they don’t influence how I make my policy decisions here in San Francisco.”

Gov. Newsom Plans to Invest in Black and Brown Communities with California Comeback Plan

Bo Tefu | California Black Media

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced a $100 billion economic recovery plan to support small businesses and public schools, as well as Black and Brown families that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We here to make sure we’re there for the most vulnerable who were impacted by this pandemic and that’s low-income individuals disproportionately represented in the Latino and African American communities,” said Gov. Newsom.

The California Comeback Plan includes a $12 billion state tax rebate and additional funds for stimulus checks and rent relief programs. Although the state expanded stimulus checks to middle-class families, state officials say the recognize that Black and Brown communities were the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Newsom says his plan includes targeted investments in diverse communities to promote health equity, secure housing, a holistic education system, and public safety.

 

“Operating surpluses are not the new norm, we’re not naive about that,” Gov. Newsom.

 

“That’s why we want to continue our prudent fiscal practices by building up our reserves and our resiliency, across the spectrum, and use one-time money for one-time purposes,” he said.

 

The plan proposes the following key investments in Black and Brown communities the governor’s office says will address major challenges accelerated by COVID-19. Broadly, they include support for small businesses; improving access to healthcare; investments in vocational education; expanding affordable housing and housing assistance programs; increased financing of higher education; enhancing worker protection, and more.

 

The state has also allocated $8.1 billion in stimulus funds for families including middle-class families earning less than $75,000 in annual household income. Based on the recent expansion, two-thirds of people in California will receive $600 stimulus checks and families with children will receive an additional $500.

 

The proposed plan will provide $5.2 billion in rent relief for low-income renters to pay back 100 % of their rent from previous months. The funds also include $2 billion for unpaid utility bills and legal assistance for tenants across the state.

 

The homeless crisis is one of the many persisting problems in California the governor’s Republican opponents say have propelled them to launch a recall effort.

 

Newsom’s plan will invest $12 billion to address homelessness by building 46,000 housing units expanding Project Homekey, a California grant program that funds counties and cities to acquire hotel rooms as housing for people who are unhoused. Recall efforts have raised questions about accountability measures to keep track of government spending to fix homelessness. However, Newsom emphasized that the state is working to provide accountability measures to ensure that local governments are spending money effectively.

 

Small businesses will receive $4 billion in direct grants as part of a relief program to help rehire workers displaced by the pandemic. The budget allocates $35 million for the California Dream Fund with $10,000 grants for small businesses serving Black and Brown communities including immigrant populations. Approximately $1 billion will be set aside for job creation and youth employment opportunities to promote economic resilience in Black and Brown communities.

 

“We want to invest in our small businesses that are really the backbone of our economic recovery,” said Gov. Newsom.

 

Advocates for racial and health equity shared concerns about the limited access to healthcare for vulnerable populations in Black and Brown communities. The state plans to expand Medi-Cal to people 60 years and older irrespective of their immigration status. Medi-Cal will also cover services offered by doulas and community health workers who work primarily with Black and Brown patients. A total of $70 million will be allotted for educational programs and language services, including $50 million for new graduate medical programs and $20 million to eliminate language barriers in health programs.

 

Ronald Coleman, the managing director of policy for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said that Gov. Newsom should do expand Medi-Cal coverage for all undocumented immigrants.

 

Health advocates emphasized that the governor missed an opportunity to properly invest in racial equity within the healthcare system and public health. All Black

and Brown immigrants would benefit from the federal government resources through the American rescue plan, and the $22 billion state surplus.

 

“It’s mind-boggling to us that the governor did not take the opportunity to do more to invest in communities of color, particularly really related to health equity, to ensure that we can reduce healthcare disparities while improving health outcomes in our communities,” said Coleman.

 

The racial justice movement also intersects with health equity during the pandemic since the majority of essential workers are Black and Brown people.

 

“Black communities have been hit harder as it relates to those who’ve gotten sick from the Coronavirus, those who’ve lost their jobs from Coronavirus, and also those who’ve lost their lives,” he said.

Coleman noted that another proposal missing from the California Comeback Plan is the California Health Equity Fund. The Public Health Institute partnered with several community-based organizations requesting $180 million to implement strategies for policy, systems, and environmental change that will mitigate the health and social impacts of COVID-19.

 

Gov. Newsom announced the highest level of funding ever for public education to transform K-12 education and doubled down on funding for state colleges and universities. The state aims to create universal transitional kindergarten for all children. An additional $3.3 billion is included for student support and grants for certified teachers in high-needs schools. Additional funds will be allocated to summer and after-school programs to take care of vulnerable students from underserved communities. A lump sum of $4 billion will be allotted over a span of five years to treat behavioral health issues for minors and young adults between the ages of 0 to 25 years.

Students enrolled in higher education, including immigrants, will have access to financial aid, secure housing, and resources for textbooks and learning materials. Approximately $4 billion will be allocated to support student housing projects to help curb the high cost of housing. College service programs will receive $285 million for college scholarships and stipends. An additional $100 million will be dedicated to student support services and learning materials such as textbooks. English language courses and vocational programs will receive $50 million in funding to help students receive credentials at community colleges.

 

The state’s efforts to encourage environmental health include a $500 million to clean up contaminated sites across California. An additional $500 million will be allotted to fund community-based violence prevention initiatives, recreational and outdoor activities, youth development programs, and emergency response networks.

 

State officials continue to partner with community-based organizations to build trust and resilience in Black and Brown communities to help promote equity.

Bill Cosby’s Attorney Appears to Score Points in Supreme Court Argument 

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Comedian Bill Cosby and his supporters expressed confidence after his lawyer presented oral arguments to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday, December 1.

 

Attorney Jennifer Bonjean appeared to score multiple points with the seven justices.

 

She skillfully pointed out that Cosby had agreed to waive his Fifth Amendment rights to sit for a civil deposition that former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor promised would never be used against the entertainer.

 

However, Castor’s successor Kevin Steele ignored the agreement and prosecuted Cosby using the deposition.

 

“If the prosecutor’s word is not his bond, what is the lesson that emerges beyond this case?” Justice Max Baer asked, seemingly concurring with Bonjean’s argument.

 

The high court also wanted prosecutors to answer the implications for thousands of other deals made by prosecutors if the justices ruled against Cosby.

 

The justices appeared frustrated with prosecutor Adrian Jappe, who rambled for more than 25 minutes about how the trial court was correct in allowing the testimony of five women who said Cosby drugged and, or sexually assaulted them decades ago.

 

Several of the justices pointed out that at least one of the women never claimed to have been sexually assaulted.

 

None appeared to have enjoyed the same kind of relationship Cosby had with Andrea Constand, the victim in the trial court case.

 

“Why did you need prior bad acts testimony at all?” Justice Saylor asked prosecutors during the hearing, questioning the strength of the District Attorney’s case against Cosby.

 

“It was a good day,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt told Black Press USA, during a livestream interview that took place at the same time as the court hearing. The Black Press streamed the court proceedings as Wyatt participated in the exclusive interview.

 

“I thought Attorney Bonjean did a phenomenal job. This is what Mr. Cosby had been hoping for,” noted Wyatt, who shared a text message from Cosby’s wife, Camille Cosby, during the broadcast.

“Mrs. Cosby said finally, finally, finally, at last, now we must move onward to vindication.”

A spokesperson for the court said the justices usually average about 150 days before issuing a decision, but one could come sooner.

 

“I do feel that this is vindication for Bill Cosby,” Wyatt said.

Following the proceedings, Bill Cosby released a statement through Wyatt.

 

“This morning, people around the world witnessed a beautiful presentation by Attorney Jennifer Bonjean regarding two important issues — Immunity and the misuse of a law called, 404 (b) or PBAs (Prior Bad Acts Witnesses),” Cosby offered.

“This was not just a historic day for me, but it became a beacon of hope for those countless American Citizens of the Keystone State in Pennsylvania Correctional Facilities, whose constitutional rights might have been grossly abused because they lacked resources and means to fight prosecutorial corruption. I’m so happy because I hope and truly believe that justice will prevail.

Kobe Bryant’s Sister Pens Personal Post On His Hall of Fame Induction

As part of her Hall of Fame remarks, Vanessa Bryant acknowledge and thanked her late husband, basketball great Kobe Bryant’s parents, Pam and Joe Bryant, for raising him to be exceptional. And while it is noted that neither his parents or sisters were in attendance (and reportedly may not have been invited), his sister Shaya noted the importance to Kode and their family in this social media post:

Bean, 
To say that your existence has inspired millions is no exaggeration, but your influence in my life was profound & personal. There was always something different about you Kobe. It was evident from the very beginning that there was a fire inside of you. Greatness was your destiny & being right by your side watching you make it happen, there was just no bigger joy for our family. We were born just 13 months apart. You, my baby brother were my best friend & a constant playdate. It was us against the world. It was family. It was traditions. It was time spent together doing what siblings do. I would watch you work so hard to make those dreams of yours come true. It wasn’t if but when you would become an NBA superstar. There was just no question that this was your path & you always knew how profound your footprint would be on this game you loved so deeply. I knew your dreams & watched you dedicate your life to being the absolute best player in the world. When the sun rose, you were outside playing ball & you didn’t come back in until the sun set & Mom called you in for dinner & even after that you would have me stand under the basket so you could practice dunking on someone. That was me, watching every dunk you would make & you loved when I would score them each 1 -10. You hated when I would give you a score of a 6 & would follow it up with some exceptional dunk even if we were outside way past dark. You were a perfectionist & at that time I had no clue I was watching a legend in front of me master his craft. To me you were just my little brother who I loved being with & basketball is what we played. You are being honored & inducted into the Hall of Fame & for you this was the plan all along. A dream imagined & a dream reached. The world is honoring you & your immense contribution to the game you gave so much to & I sit with so much joy in my heart as I know you are looking down with a basketball in your hand, maybe dribbling or practicing your follow through but smiling from the deepest part of your heart. I am so proud of who you are, how you lived, how you loved & proud to call you my brother. I love & miss you Bean. -Shaya

39 Million Households to Receive Monthly Child Tax Credit Checks Starting July 15

Staff

 

President Biden has announced that the first monthly payment of the expanded and newly-advanceable Child Tax Credit (CTC) from the American Rescue Plan will be made on July 15. Roughly 39 million households — covering 88% of children in the United States — are slated to begin receiving monthly payments.

 

No action is required on the part of parents and or guardians as eligible families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child age 6 and above.

 

“For working families with children, this tax cut sends a clear message: help is here,” President Biden said of the payments that are projected to lift more than five million children out of poverty this year, cutting child poverty by more than half. 

 

The American Rescue Plan increased the maximum Child Tax Credit in 2021 to $3,600 for children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for children between ages 6 and 17. Households covering more than 65 million children are set to receive the monthly payments through direct deposit, paper check, or debit cards, with the IRS committing to maximizing the use of direct deposit to ensure fast and secure delivery. 

The maximum credit applies to married couples with children filing jointly with adjusted gross income less than $150,000, or $75,000 for individuals. Taxpayers who make more than that will still be eligible for the regular child tax credit, which is $2,000 per child under age 17 for families making less than $200,000 annually, or $400,000 for married couples.

 

To be eligible, the child must be a U.S. citizen, national or resident alien and have a Social Security number. You also must claim him or her as a dependent on your 2021 tax return, and the child must be related to you and generally live with you for at least six months during the year. The child’s name, date of birth and SSN will also have to be included on the return.

 

More information on how to access the Child Tax Credit will soon be available at IRS.gov/childtascredit2021.


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