BENNIE MAE FOSTER

BENNIE MAE FOSTER

BENNIE MAE FOSTER

Mrs. Bennie Mae Combs Foster  was born  on April 4, 1932 in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia to the parentage of the late Mr. Bennie Combs and the late Mrs. Zula Mae Warren Combs. She was educated in the public schools of  Sumter County, graduating from A.S. Staley High School. She was a faithful member of the Guilfield Primitive Baptist Church where she served on the Committee board.  She was employed and  retired from Kinder Manufacturing Company. She was married to  the late Mr. Curtis Foster, Sr. She is also preceded in death by two sons,  Curtis Foster Jr. and Donald Foster and two siblings, Elder George Combs and Mr. Franklin Combs.

She leaves to mourn her passing one son, Mr. Marvin Foster, Montgomery, AL; three daughters, Ms. Katrina Jones, Ms. Karen Michelle Foster and Ms. Sharon Nechelle Foster all of Americus, GA; one sister, Mrs. Bernice Smothers (Frank) Wiley, Americus, GA; one daughter-in-law, Ms. Angela Foster; two sisters-in-law, Ms. Betty Sue Combs, Americus, GA and Ms. Gladys Foster, Cordele, GA; one aunt, Mrs. Minnie Richards, Bronx, New York; three grandchildren, Natosha Foster, Marlin Foster and Arriana Foster; two great grandchildren; Caleb and Khloe; a devoted nephew, Pastor Shawn Smothers; a god-daughter, Ms. Kimberly Banks, Atlanta, GA; devoted neighbors the Wilson Family; and a host of devoted nieces, nephews and cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

Barbara Ann Carson

The life of Barbara Ann Carson began on September 8th, 1963 in Americus, GA to the late parent of Rushie Bell Minnis and James Leroy Minnis. She attended the public schools in Americus, GA and Riley Technical Institute. She was a member of County Line Baptist in Leslie, Georgia.

Her passion included spoiling her granny boys, Cordera Leverett Jr., Corderian Leverett and James Tyson IV.

She leaves to cherish her memory: husband, Jesse Carson Sr. of Americus, Georgia; sons, Cordera Leverett, Sr. of Newnan, Georgia; daughter, Slexiaer (James) Tyson of Beaufort, South Carolina; stepsons, Tony (Addie) Carson, Jesse Carson Jr., and Freddie (Jada) Carson, all of Americus, Georgia; stepdaughters, Bertha (Ronnie) Waymon, Irene (Carl) Jackson, and Suzanne (Lewis) Breedlove, all of Americus, Georgia; God-daughters, Kadijah Banks and Danielle Sims both of Americus, Georgia; devoted daughter, Keeuntae Kleckley of Americus, Georgia; devoted niece, Nikeria Wright of Americus, Georgia; brother, Leroy (Alesia) Minnis of McDonough, Georgia and Joseph (Nancy) Hill, Sr. of Americus, Georgia; sister, Diane (David) Jones, Denise Minnis, and Loretta (Dwight) Tatum; god-sister, Tracy Manning and Patricia (Raymond) Tookes; devoted sister-in-law, Nancy Hill; grandchildren, Cordera Leverett Jr., Corderian Leverett, James Tyson, IV, Bryson Reid, and a host of step grandchildren and great grandchildren; aunt, Ardell Harris of Binghamton, New York, Rosa Peterson of Americus, Georgia and Adell
(Oliver) Jenkins of Americus, Georgia, uncle, W.L. Thomas of Americus, Georgia; special friends, Sheila Reid, Tracy Sampson, Norman Cook, Loretta Taylor, Annie Burton, and countless other relatives and friends.

Alfred Cranna Bromfield, Jr.

Alfred Bromfield, Jr.

Alfred Bromfield, Jr.

Alfred Cranna Bromfield, Jr. age 49 passed on May 10, 2016 at Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia.

A wake service will be held from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 15, 2016 at the Oglethorpe Funeral Chapel, 607 Kaigler Street, Oglethorpe, Georgia.

The graveside service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, May 16, 2016, at Eastview Cemetery, Ashby Street, Americus, Georgia. The Reverend Jeff Wallace, Rector of the Calvary Episcopal Church, in Americus, Georgia, will officiate.

Alfred Cranna Bromfield, Jr. was born May 22, 1967 in Miami, Dade County, Florida to Cosetella Williams Bromfield and the late Alfred Cranna Bromfield, Sr. He acquired his education at Miami Edison High School in 1984. He was a member of the Miami-Edison High School Red Raiders Marching Band. Alfred joined the Episcopal Church of Incarnation of Miami, Florida. While serving as a member, he took part in the Episcopal EYC and Church  Choir. He was a great supporter of every facet of the church including Sunday School where he received several awards. Following high school, he furthered his skills and knowledge an obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Instrumental Music with a Saxophone concentration and an Education Certification from the Georgia Southwestern University in Americus, Georgia.  During his tenure at Georgia Southwestern State University, he was a member of GSW Marching Band he became the Lead Tenor Saxophonist. While living in Georgia, he attended the Catholic Episcopal Church of Americus, Georgia. He played for several churches in the surrounding communities, and he taught music. His interests were teaching, composing, and, through music, sharing his learning experience with students.

He was a member of the Sunshine Jazz Organization of South Florida Incorporated,  the Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, where he held positions as the Secretary/Historian in 1990 and  two terms as Vice-President 1991. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated where he held the position of Historian in 1992. He was the Pianist and Treasurer of The Hallelujah Fellowship Mass Choir, Ellaville, Georgia.  He was the Founder and instructor or AL’s Music Works, Ellaville, Georgia and a Member of Music Educators National Conference.

He is survived by his two daughters Zandra R. Broomfield and Teanna C. Bromfield; his mother, Costell W. Bromfield, Ellaville, Georgia; aunts, Idella Smith, Oglethorpe, Georgia, Lorene Quillian, Atlanta, Georgia, Ola Mae Williams, Annie L. Williams, Lovie Williams  of Americus, Georgia; a host of cousins and friends, including  Joann Waymon and Mark Clark,  and Mary Akins.


Hattie Minter Jones

Hattie Minter Jones

Hattie Minter Jones

Hattie Minter Jones, age 88, passed Friday, May 20, 2016 at Saint Francis Hospital, Columbus, Georgia.

The funeral service will be conducted at 1:00 P.M. Saturday, May 28, 2016 at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 110 South McDuffie Street, Buena Vista, Georgia. Reverend Gregg Porter, pastor, will officiate.   Interment will follow in the Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church Cemetery, Oliver Street, Buena Vista, Georgia.

Hattie was born to the late Mr. Robert Roy Minter and the late Allie Bess Majors Minter on the 19th of February, 1928 in the city of Buena Vista, Marion County, Georgia.  She acquired her education in the public school system of Marion County and received her high school diploma in 1945.  Early in life, she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and joined the band of Christian believers at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church where she became a very dedicated member in all facets of the church she loved so very well.  She served in various ministries and organizations which include the following: pianist, choir director, Missionary Board Ministry, Mother’s Board, Mother of the Church, Youth Director, Deaconess Board,  and Sunday School Teacher.  On the level of education she was an organizer for the local and state Baptist Association.

Her community involvement included Yuletide Chapter No. 383 Order Of Eastern Star,  where she became a Golden Card  Holder and Life Time Member.  She was an official member of the Top Twenty Organization.

She was a graduate of the former Fort Valley State College of Ft. Valley, Georgia where she obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education 1951.  She taught in the rural school system of Marion County and later in Buena Vista High School, Buena Vista, Georgia, and in her later years she taught at Marion County High School. After 32 years, she retired in 1978.  She was the first black teacher who taught in the combined segregated school located  on College Street (what is now known as Roger Street).

Hattie’s life was filled with love and affection by her parents, siblings, husband, daughter and the students she touched along her life: parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Robert Roy Minter and Allie Bess Majors Minter; her siblings, the late Georgia H. McBride, Robert Minter, William H. Minter, and Katie Purnel.  She was also preceded in death in 1991 by her beloved husband who she married in 1945, Mr.Lonzo Jones, and her precious beloved daughter, Deborah Jones Rhine, who passed away August 12, 2015.

Survivors are sister-in-law, Susie Minter, Columbus, Georgia; nephews and nieces, Alfonzo (Deloris) Minter, Clayton, North Carolina, Patricia (Norwood) Crosby, Morrisville, North Carolina, Sharon Minter, Woodbridge, Virginia, Leslie Minter, Columbus, Georgia, a special niece who cared and nurtured her, Barbara (George) Tullis, Buena Vista, Georgia, Bobby (Carolyn) Wright, Forston, Georgia, Wanda (Charlie) Jones, Buena Vista, Georgia, Sherol (Charles) Harvey, and Freddie Carter, all of Buena Vista, Georgia; a host of beloved great nieces and great nephews; other relatives, including Catherine Fudge; and a host of beloved friends including a very devoted friend, Mrs. Helen McMurray and Mt. Zion Baptist Church Family.

Richard Wells

Richard Wells

Richard Wells

Funeral services for Mr. Richard Wells will be conducted Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 3:00 at New Hope Baptist Church, Montezuma, Georgia. Burial will follow in New Hope Cemetery.

Richard Wells, son of the late Sylvester Wells and the late Janet Jordan Wells was born November 18, 1959 in Montezuma, Georgia. He was a 1977 graduate of D.F. Douglass High School and was employed as a truck driver at Cargill.

Richard was called to rest on May 16, 2016 at Phoebe Sumter Hospital in Americus, Georgia. He was preceded in death by his siblings: Terry Wells, Montez Redding and Kenyotta Redding.

Left to cherish his memory are his sons: Richard Wells, Jr. of Montezuma, Georgia and Brandon Samas of Atlanta, Georgia; a devoted cousin, Kimberly Davis of Montezuma, Georgia; his step-mother, Paula Joiner Wells of Oglethorpe, Georgia; step-sisters and step-brothers: Paulette (Oscar) Hugley of Macon, Georgia, Sgt. Major Antonio (Laura) Carter of Ft. Lee, Virginia and William (Chloe) Joiner of Macon, Georgia; aunts and uncles: Edward Wells, Joyce (Willie James) Loftly, Debra (Gerald) West, Angienette Carr, Lindsey (Rev. George) Edge, Lewis Jordan and Ronnie (Liz) Jordan; devoted mother, Iris Ridley of Montezuma, Georgia; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Ms. Vernita Ann West

Ms Vernita Ann West

Ms Vernita Ann West

Funeral services for Ms. Vernita Ann West of Oglethorpe, Georgia will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 11:00 at Jehovah Baptist Church, Oglethorpe, Georgia with Pastor Glenn Martin Bryant officiating. Interment will follow in Oglethorpe City Cemetery.

Ms. Vernita Ann West was born on June 23, 1946 in Oglethorpe, Georgia to Ms. Virginia Perry and the late C.W. West. She passed away on Saturday, May 14, 2016 at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia.

Left to cherish her memory are her mother, Virginia Perry Bautz (Mike) of Amherst, NY, her children: Sheila Bailey of Oglethorpe, GA, Keith Adderley of Buffalo, NY, Ian Adderley of Washington, DC, and Peiare Adderley of Oglethorpe, GA; two grandchildren: Brian Bailey of Oglethorpe, GA and Caleb Bailey of Warner Robins, GA; sisters and brothers: Ericka Adderley of Buffalo, New York, Christiel Adderley of Amherst, NY, Ann Brown Harris (Gerry), Gerald West (Debra) and Tonya Garnes (Quentin) of Montezuma, GA, Yolanda Kendrick (Jerome) of Oglethorpe, GA and Tony Brown of Perry, GA; several nieces and nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

Mrs. Lille Mae Price-Bishop

 Mrs. Lille Mae Price-Bishop

Mrs. Lille Mae Price-Bishop

Graveside services for Mrs. Lille Mae Price-Bishop of Americus, Georgia will be held on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 11:A.M. at the Eastview Cemetery with Elder Major Rhodes officiating.

Mrs. Lille Mae Price-Bishop was born April 4, 1939 to the parentage of the late Robert and Hannah Price. She was educated in the Lee & Sumter County School Systems. She was married to the late Hershel Bishop in 1973. She worked in the Sumter County School System at Sarah Cobb as a cook in the cafeteria and she also worked at Georgia Southwestern as a custodian. She is preceded in death by her sister Miss Willie Mae Price, a son, Mr. Willie Lee Price, a grandson, Mr. Brandon Shavar Price and a grandson in-law Mr. Henry Williams

She leaves to mourn her passing her devoted son, Mr. Alexander Price Sr.; a devoted daughter, Mrs. Gloria Price-Ivory (Darrell), both of Americus, Georgia.; five devoted grandchildren, Miss Tanya Price (Eric), Mrs. Demetrius (Xsaivious) Bridges both of Americus Georgia; Mr. Alexander ( Michelle) Price Jr. of South Carolina; Mrs. Nedra Williams of Tallahassee, Florida and Miss Cescily Ivory of Americus, Ga.; two devoted nieces Mrs. Sherry (Major) Rhodes and Mrs. Shagavia (Samuel) White both of Tampa, Florida; eleven devoted great grandchildren Miss Kaebren Price, Miss Jaedin Price, Miss Jasmine White, Mr. Cameron Price, Mr. Mathyas Bridges, Mr. Malakai Bridges, Mr. Derrick price, Mr. Brandon Christopher Price, Mr. Shavareion Price, Mr. Jyron Price and Miss Aaliyah Price; devoted cousins Mrs. Ella Lee Barker, Ms. Ella Mae Daniels, Mary Frances Grant and a host of other relatives and friends also survive.

Master Blake Christopher Busbee

Master Blake Christopher Busbee

Master Blake Christopher
Busbee

Graveside services for Master Blake Christopher Busbee, age 15 of Americus, Georgia will be held on Sunday, May 29, 2016 at 11:00 A.M. at Sunset Memorial Gardens on Upper River Road in Americus, Georgia.Visitation will be held on Saturday from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Blake Christopher Busbee was born in Americus, Georgia on September 30, 2001 to Jennifer Pritchard and Brian Busbee. Blake died on Thursday, May 26, 2016 in Albany, Georgia. He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Ernest “Clyde” Pritchard, grandmother, Janice Pritchard and his great grandmother Ida Pritchard.

Left to cherish his memories are his parents: Jennifer Pritchard and Brian Busbee; two brothers: Austin Busbee and Logan Pritchard; one sister, Heather Busbee; six aunts: Stacey Cooper, Carrie Oliver Pritchard, Dana Pritchard, Michelle Smith Maryann Black and Maggie Woodam; four uncles: Ronald Cooper, Steven Pritchard, John Black and Doyle Woodam. Several other family members and friends also survive.

ELDER LEILA MATHIS

Elder Leila Maddox Mathis

Elder Leila Maddox Mathis

Elder Leila Maddox Mathis was born in Andersonville, Sumter County, Georgia on October 28, 1946 to the parentage of the late Mr. Booker T. Maddox and the late Mrs. Catherine Wade Maddox. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the Union Oak Grove Baptist Church, under the leadership of Rev. B.J. Drummer. Later, she joined the Inspirational Church By Faith, where she served as Church Secretary, Mission Department and Church Elder. Leila worked for several companies, including First Jewelry, Davidson Rubber Company, Phillips Electric and a Domestic Worker. She is preceded in death by her husband, Clyde Mathis, and a brother, James Maddox.

She leaves to cherish her memories, one son, Mr. Clyde R. Mathis, Americus, GA; one daughter, Ms. Cathy Heath, Americus, GA; a step-daughter, Ms. Annie Ruth Mathis, Americus, GA; two brothers, Mr. Andrew (Catherine) Maddox, Augusta, GA and Mr. Anthony (Lakeshia) Volley, Atlanta, GA; four sisters, Elder Sarah (Pastor Willie Jesse) Carson, Mrs. Mary Ann (Lamar) Tarver, Ms. Francis Floyd all of Americus, GA, Ms. Bethena Spivey, North Carolina and Mrs. Neva (Milton) Calloway, Sumter, South Carolina; ten grandchildren, including a grandson she raised as her own, Girante Heath; three great grandchildren; her in-laws, Ms. Jacqueline Maddox, Jacksonville, FL, Mr. Noble Mathis, Mr. Henry C. Mathis, Mr. Isaiah Mathis, Mr. Willie Mathis, Mr. Charles Mathis, Mr. Carl Mathis, Ms. Grace Johnson and Ms. Bernice Mann; her god-children, Tamika Taylor, Dorothy Gardner and Wilbur Bryant; her aunts, Ms. Willie Faye Maddox, Americus, GA, Ms. Johnnie B. Moreland, Atlanta, GA, Ms. Mattie Ruth Deriso, Alpharetta, GA and Ms. Annie Ruth (Willie) West, Miami, FL; and a host of nieces, including a devoted niece she reared as her own, Ms. Deangela Tullis, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including devoted friends, Ms. Kathy Tookes and Ms. Jeanette Payne also survive.

DEACON OSCAR SIMPSON, JR.

Deacon Oscar Douglas Simpson, Jr. or “Brother/ OJ”

Deacon Oscar Douglas Simpson, Jr. or “Brother/ OJ”

Deacon Oscar Douglas Simpson, Jr. or “Brother/ OJ” as he was fondly known, was born on September 7, 1950 in Sumter County, Georgia to the late Oscar Simpson, Sr. and the late Mary Lou Hawkins.  He was the second of four siblings and the only boy.  He gave his life to the Lord at an early age and joined the Mount Salem Baptist Church.  There he worked diligently and served as chairman on the Deacon Board for 42 plus years.

He was educated in the public schools of Sumter County.  He immediately joined the workforce as a truck driver and later worked for Southern Molding Company prior to their closing.  After 33 years as a power line worker for Sumter Electric Membership Corporation, Oscar retired in October 2007.  His strong work ethic, combined with his enormous physical strength, made him a “go to” guy at Sumter EMC.  He loved working outdoors and the physical challenges of power line work.  Because of his love for hard work and physical strength, he continued to work in the yard around the house.

Oscar transitioned on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany Georgia.  In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his oldest son, Kip Lanorris.

He leaves to mourn his passing two sons, Kelvin Lopez and friend, Stephanie Tyson and Kristopher Douglas (Emily) Simpson all of Americus, GA , one daughter-in-law, Donna J. Simpson, Columbia, South Carolina, and two daughters, Cletittia Renae Yearby, and Tatotshia (Johnny) Grier of Americus, GA., three sisters, Esther Simpson, Nannette Denise Banks and a loving and devoted sister and caregiver, Josephine Simpson,  all of Americus, GA, two devoted aunts, Josie M. Simpson and Ollie M. Simpson, of  Americus, GA, cousin raised as sisters and brothers, Annie “Sue” (Thomas) Douglas, McDonough, GA, Mary Frances Hudson, Los Angeles, CA, Freda (David) Turner, Windsor, CT, Curtis Simpson, Los Angeles, CA, Alex B. Gant, South Chesterfield, VA, James Simpson, Jr., Americus, GA, Oscar (Emma) Cooke, Americus, GA; four grandchildren, Chiquita Banks, Chelsea Hart, Terry B. Yearby, Jr., and Cemone Scott all of Americus, GA; and a host of nieces, nephews, including two devoted nephews, Derrick (Re’nee) King, Los Angeles, CA and Gregory (Ruthie) King, Leslie, GA, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

5 Money Moves For College Grads

iStock_000037875416_Medium-620x372By 

Tis’ the season when many young people are leaving their academic lives and stepping out into the working world. It’s also an opportunity for college graduates to make financial moves that can help them set a financial foundation that will serve them for the rest of their lives. “There are a wealth of resources available for recent college graduates looking to build their financial prowess,” says Shelly-Ann Eweka, a certified financial planner with TIAA. “In today’s connected world, financial advice can be consumed by reading relevant articles, utilizing online tools and calculators, scanning brochures, or watching videos,” she adds. Eweka shared with BE.com, five essential steps college grads should make when they’re first stepping out.

  • Don’t run up huge amounts of debt: In addition to student loans, many millennials might feel like tacking on a few more loans for car payments or credit card purchases won’t hurt. In reality, if they don’t have a strong, reliable source of income with which to pay off those loans on schedule, the interest rates from those loans could come back to haunt them. One rule of thumb: don’t borrow more than your expected entry-level salary.
  • Plan for the future: Things like weddings and down payments for a home can occur suddenly, and without the right savings in place, they can set unprepared millennials back quite a ways. The same goes for unexpected emergencies like job loss or a broken-down car. A good emergency fund should cover three to six months of living expenses.
  • Be strategic about graduate education: It’s important for millennials considering grad school to weigh the job placement rates and average starting salaries against their financing and student aid options to see if the math works out. A few good options might be attending part time or finding research or teaching work in order to avoid more student loans.

 

  •  Don’t leave free money on the table: Many millennials neglect to enroll in their employer-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b) plans, and end up leaving free money on the table. Take advantage of this workplace benefit, and get ahead with retirement savings in this nearly effortless way. While retirement may seem far away when you are busy finding your first job, there is no such thing as starting to save too early.
  • Meet with an adviser right after graduation: It’s a perfect time to cover the basics and hash out a plan as you embark on this next stage of life. Advisers can help elaborate on key principles and can explain how those particular options and strategies can fit into your personal financial plan.

Should You Date Someone With ABad Credit Score?

iStock_000086266885_Medium3What’s significant about a significant other’s financial profile

Almost 2 in 5 adults say knowing someone’s credit score would affect their interest in dating that person, according to a new Bankrate.com report.That includes 42% of millennials (the highest of any age group), 47% of college graduates and 50% of people with annual household income of $75,000 or more.

The survey also found that:

  • 78% of credit cardholders who have asked for a higher credit limit have been approved.
  • 34% of Americans have never reviewed their credit history.

“So many couples just flat out don’t talk about money. They’re afraid to have what can be pretty awkward conversations, so they never come to a consensus of what’s OK and what’s not within the relationship,” says  Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst.

“Every relationship has different boundaries and expectations and the only way to find them is to communicate. If there’s no communication, there will probably be trouble ahead,” he adds.

Handle, this conversation with care, and understand that men and women are wired differently when it comes to money. A lot of Mars vs. Venus going on here. Men hear concerns or complaints as a warning flag that they are about to get blamed for something or they’re falling short. Women hear concerns or complaints as an invitation to move closer. We’re nurturers.

Ask your prospective partner:

  •  If they think it’s important for couples to be on the same page about money? And why.
  •  Share your financial challenges and how they’ve impacted your credit score.
  •  Ask them to share their financial challenges and how they’ve affected their credit and financial life.
  •  Ask if they have a plan to improve their debt situation, if there’s a problem, and be sure to share your own.
  •  If you’re both having credit issues, offer the opportunity to do some research and together, come up with steps you can both take to improve your financial situation.

As you’re evaluating your partner’s credit situation, make some time to make sure that you are doing all that you can to take charge of this important part of your financial life. You can start by getting a free copy of your credit report at annual credit report.com.

Retirement Income Falling Short in 47 States

iStock_000022539974_Mediumby Stacey Tisdale, Black Enterprise Magazine

Many financial planners will tell you that it’s ideal to save an amount equal to 70% of your income to have a financially secure retirement.

However, a study by Bankrate.com found that’s just a pipe dream for seniors in most states across the U.S., with those in Hawaii, Alaska, and South Carolina just hitting that 70% mark.

Nationally the median income for those who are 65 and older is just 60% of the median income among 45 to 64 year-olds.

“These numbers help illustrate how underprepared many Americans are for retirement,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst. “It’s especially important for millennials to save aggressively, because they face the biggest retirement savings burden of any generation in American history.”

“We continually see that many Americans are not convinced that their short-term decisions impact their finances in the long run, so they are not prioritizing saving or contributing as early and often as they can,” saysSandy Williams, market sales manager at Merrill Edge.  

Factors such as high debt levels—particularly for millennials—and the ‘sandwich’ phenomenon many Gen Xers face in which they’re caught between caring for aging parents, childcare expenses, education costs make saving for retirement challenging.

“And while longer life expectancy is generally great news, with much of the burden of saving for retirement having shifted to individuals, it means savings have to last longer, too,” says Williams.

Williams also says getting a clear picture of what your ideal retirement looks like will take a lot of the stress and strain out of planning.

“Avoid investing for the sake of investing—be sure to contribute with goals in mind. […] There is no ‘magic number’ for what you will need in retirement. It’s based on your goals, and everyone has a different number. It’s important to think of the specific ‘job’ you want your money to do when you get to retirement, such as covering day-to-day expenses, allowing for travel, or starting a business. The more clearly you can visualize what the money you are saving and investing is meant to do for you in the future, the easier it is to create a winning strategy and stick to it.”

Bobby Brown Talks About Whitney Houston’s Drug Use: “She Knew How to Handle Herself”

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

by FRANCESCA BACARDI

Bobby Brown is opening up about his rocky relationship with Whitney Houston.

The couple, who married in 1992, faced their ups and downs, but now the Every Little Stepauthor is raising the curtain on his troubled relationship. In a sit-down interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts, part of which aired Tuesday morning, the New Editionsinger talks about the iconic star’s drug use. According to Brown, the first time he saw his then-wife do drugs was right before their wedding.

“She was hunched over a bureau snorting a line of coke,” he writes in his new memoir.

While talking with Roberts, however, Brown said that drugs never defined the “How Will I Know?” songstress, despite her struggles with drug addiction. “She wasn’t that, you know what I’m saying? The drugs weren’t her. She did drugs, but drugs didn’t do her,” he explained. “She knew how to handle herself. It only made me love and want to protect her.”

But when Roberts said that many people told her they thought he “led Whitney to heavy drug use,” he denied it.

“It wasn’t me,” he said. “I take my part and I take it hard for me even being a part of it, but we all have our own minds and some of us are stronger than others.”

In a previous sneak peek of Brown’s sit-down with Roberts, the musician broke down into tears while talking about his 22-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, who passed away last year. “The hardest thing I had to do in my life was tell my daughter to let go,” the 47-year-old star said. My baby’s gone.”

Upon regaining his composure, the singer added, “I thank God I’m still here.”

Brown noted the eerie similarities between his daughter’s death and his ex-wife’s passing in 2012. Bobbi Kristina was found unresponsive in a bathtub at her home in Georgia in January 2015; she died in hospice care six months later. In March 2016, the coroner determined her cause of death was water immersion and mixed drugs.

The “I Have Nothing” singer was found unconscious in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in February 2012. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but she had traces of cocaine in her system. “The same thing that happened to my daughter, it happened to Whitney” Bobby said.

Penny Hardaway’s post-professional career is even better than his NBA career

Photo courtesy of the Desmond Merriweather Foundation. From left to right: (Back row) DeVonte Freeman, Penny Hardaway, Robert Washington, Rodarious Washinton. (Front row) Nikcolauz “Nick” Merriweather, Kobe Freeman, Kaxavier Freeman, Courtney Carter and Alex Lomax.

Photo courtesy of the Desmond Merriweather Foundation. From left to right: (Back row) DeVonte Freeman, Penny Hardaway, Robert Washington, Rodarious Washinton. (Front row) Nikcolauz “Nick” Merriweather, Kobe Freeman, Kaxavier Freeman, Courtney Carter and Alex Lomax.

Many know Penny Hardaway as a fast-passing, ball-slamming combo guard who led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals alongside Shaquille O’Neal. He had big goals. But his professional career ended before he could reach his biggest goal. The Houston Rockets swept the Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals and Hardaway never reached another finals series in his career.

Now Hardaway has reached a goal that may seem like it’s smaller than a NBA championship, but it reaches far beyond the court.

“We did it for Dez,” said the NBA great after East High School won the 2016 AAA boys’ basketball tournament in a 64-60 victory on March 19.

The retired baller and local community philanthropist could be doing a million other things in the post-playing career phase of his life, but he spends his time coaching the East High Mustangs in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Hardaway’s journey began with a promise he made to longtime friend Desmond Merriweather, known to many as “Dez.”

Merriweather was a highly successful coach at Lester Middle School in Memphis when he reached out to Hardaway to help coach the team. The two led the Lester basketball program to three state championships.

When some of the students at Lester later went on to East for high school, Merriweather followed. All the while, he was battling colon cancer. He served as the Mustangs’ head coach only a few months before he died on Feb. 8, 2015, at the age of 41.

Hardaway later stepped in as head coach. East only lost two games during his first year.

“Dez set this vision in motion over four years ago,” Hardaway said. “This championship was for him. God is so good. Dez’s spirit was in the building.”

Merriweather also asked something else of those close to him, said Bridget M. Evans, co-founder of the Desmond Merriweather Foundation.

“One week before Desmond died, I was visiting with him,” Evans said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Make sure my boys go to college.’ ”

On Saturday, Hardaway and the team “did it for Dez” again. Three student-athletes crossed the stage, fulfilling their mentor’s second promise.

Kobe Freeman, Robert Washington and Courtney Carter received their diplomas and are headed to college.

When Freeman’s name was called, he walked across the stage and lifted one finger in the air. He has narrowed his choices down to Lane College and Texas College, and also received a scholarship from the Desmond Merriweather Foundation. A quote from the award reads:

“With God first, there are No Excuses.” — Coach Desmond “Dez” Merriweather

“Kobe was like Dez’s son,” Evans said. “It was a special day for Kobe. It was a special day for the boys [and] a special day for Penny.”

Merriweather and Hardaway had a lasting impact on the young men they came in contact with over the years.

“Dez and Penny taught me that, no matter where you’re from, there is always a way out. No matter what your condition is, continue to move forward,” Freeman said with an obvious sense of pride. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and to never forget where you come from.”

Washington, who will be attending Texas College, said he has also learned a great deal from his coaches.

“Dez and Penny taught me how you should never quit on someone you love.” He said he will give back to his community by providing time to the younger kids.

Carter has narrowed his choices down to Henderson State University and Missouri Southern University. He said he will never forget the lessons he learned from Merriweather and Hardaway.

“Dez taught me that no matter what the odds are against me to never stop fighting and to never give up, no matter what,” he said. “Penny taught me to always work the hardest, never let anyone outwork you and to strive for perfection.”

For Hardaway, it’s about far more than winning the state championship — it’s about fulfilling the promise to motivate, educate and graduate.

“Desmond knew how important that next level was. He understood the importance of knowledge and the power it possessed. He knew that, in order for these kids to make it, they were going to need something that no one would ever be able to strip from them — the power of their educated minds,” Evans said. “His request will forever stay with me and I’m going to fight with every God-given gift and resource I have to make that a reality.”

Dez’s son, Nikcolauz King Merriweather, a junior at East High and member of AAU Team Penny, echoed the words of his teammates and honored his father’s legacy.

“Through my dad and Penny, I’ve learned to stay humble, keep God and family first and continue to work hard in everyday life,” he said. “If I could talk to him right now, I would want to tell him about our run to the state championship and that I did it all for him.”

Merriweather lived his life and gave to others, especially the kids he mentored. Hardaway joined him in the cause and both left lasting impressions on those young men’s lives.

Despite the challenges in Memphis, Merriweather and Hardaway set their sights on mentoring young men and preparing them for life beyond basketball.

Stars of New ‘Roots’ Reboot Reflect On Show’s Legacy

LeVar Burton speaks on stage at the premiere screening of 'Night One' of the four night epic event series, 'Roots,' hosted by HISTORY at Alice Tully Hall on May 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for HISTORY)

LeVar Burton speaks on stage at the premiere screening of ‘Night One’ of the four night epic event series, ‘Roots,’ hosted by HISTORY at Alice Tully Hall on May 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for HISTORY)

by Frazier Moore, Associated Press,

NEW YORK (AP) — Will history repeat itself with the remake of “Roots” ?

The original miniseries, based on Alex Haley’s best-seller, became a national phenomenon in 1977 as it told the multigenerational saga of his forebears, beginning with Kunta Kinte, a West African teen captured in the mid-1700s by slave traders and shipped to America.

Now, four decades later, “Roots” is being retold in a lush new production that, while running about 6.5 hours versus the original’s about 9.5 hours, boasts a brisker pace with a heightened focus on the suffering and triumphs of Kunta Kinte and his descendants, and less attention to Americans along the way.

Airing Monday through Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT on History, it is already raising questions like: Why do it again? How to account for its enduring relevance? And, what was the impact of being part of it for itsstars?

At Monday’s premiere in New York, four cast members took time to explain to The Associated Press:

— THE CHALLENGE

“I felt very inadequate,” said Malachi Kirby, who plays the central role of Kunta Kinte. “I had no idea how to take this on. He goes through things that I will never experience. He feels things that I don’t think I’ve ever felt. I play him from 18 to 50; I’m 26. There was something bigger than myself, something bigger that I needed to access to reach the depths of who this man was. That led me to pray. A lot!”

Rege-Jean Page, who plays Chicken George, said that following Ben Vereen’s indelible performance in the original miniseries meant “a huge amount of pressure. A MASS of pressure! It was a bit of a millstone around my neck. But when something’s important, when it calls on everything you’ve trained for, the trick is to flip the millstone around, onto your back. Then it gives you momentum.”

— WHY AGAIN?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who plays Tom Lea, a cruel and violent slaveholder, acknowledged “many people have said, ‘Oh, God, do we have to make it again?’ Well, yes. When they made it in the 1970s it was almost a ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ version, whereas today, with our current ability and technology, we can produce ‘home cinema,’ which is something completely different from ‘television.’”

Said Page, “I have always found it curious that Americans consider ‘Roots’ an American story. I first watched it growing up in Zimbabwe, and I naturally saw it as an African story. It is about Africans brought to America and having a new identity forced upon them. Kunta Kinte is NOT an American, and he utterly rejects that idea at every turn. But this is a story of the MAKING of America, and I think there is no wrong time to retell and improve upon our knowledge of that story.

“This is a period piece, and we have a million, billion Jane Austen remakes,” he added. “When you turn the camera on a period drama about people of color, you tend to find a slightly more difficult situation. But still, it’s a story about people in a period of history.”

— BEING A BAD GUY

“Tom Lea is what I detest in all men. He’s a ne’er-do-well, ignorant, greedy, with uncontrollable anger,” said Meyers. “When I walked on the set, it was, ‘Here comes the bad man!’

“There were these two African-American guys I was friendly with who were playing older slaves on Tom Lea’s plantation. On one of the last few days of the shoot, they looked at me and said, ‘Tom Lea! You a DOG of a man! Jus’ tellin’ you, you a DOG of a man.’ I said, ‘Thanks very much, guys. I love you, too.’ Mission accomplished.”

— BEING A GOOD GUY

Anna Paquin plays the small but key role of Nancy Holt, a Confederate officer’s fiancee, in a performance she feels drives home an important message.

“You can’t stand by and do nothing,” she said. “You’re not off the hook just because you weren’t the one wielding the whip. Inaction, just like action, can represent complicity. That’s what she means to me.”

— A FIRST BRUSH WITH “ROOTS”

“I was taught about slavery,” said the British-born Kirby. “But it was the ancient Egyptians. That’s the closest I got to African history.”

Meanwhile, his first contact with the hero he would later portray was a negative one.

“Schoolkids — black and white — would call me Kunta Kinte as a cuss,” he said. “If ever my hair was particularly messy, if ever I looked scruffy at school, I would be called Kunta Kinte. My first impression was that it was bad to be African and bad to be associated with him.”

Then, just three years ago, he viewed the full miniseries, a boxed set he got as a gift from his mother.

“It had a profound effect on me. It still affects the way I think and the way I navigate my way through life.”

IS “ROOTS” TOO DOWNBEAT?

“I think art that confronts dark passages and turns it in a way that develops our consciousness, our sense of identity, our future, is honorable,” said Page. “So I don’t think it’s something to be avoided. I think it’s something to be taken with a great sense of responsibility — and that drives the work to a more ambitious place than it would be otherwise.”

Kirby cited the horrific scene where Kunta Kinte is whipped, and whipped some more, until he identifies himself as Toby, the name the plantation owners have imposed on him.

“He does not give that name up as submission, but for survival,” said Kirby. “He gives that name, the name they want to hear, so he can fight another day. And he will.

“He took control! He was not a slave. None of the people depicted in this story are slaves. They are African people enslaved — an important difference. ‘Roots’ focuses on a particular group of people who defy the odds, and win, eventually, even if it isn’t in their lifetimes.

“This is, for me, a very positive story, and a very empowering one, if only we have that perspective on it.”

Lab tests reveal popular e-cigarette liquids contain harmful chemicals

Jamel Harris, director of e-liquid formulation for Brew City Craft E-Juice vapes on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.  After switching to vaping as an alternative to cigarettes, Harris has found that his sense of taste has changed dramatically. Photo by Katie Klann / kklann@journalsentinel.com

Jamel Harris, director of e-liquid formulation for Brew City Craft E-Juice vapes on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. After switching to vaping as an alternative to cigarettes, Harris has found that his sense of taste has changed dramatically. Photo by Katie Klann / kklann@journalsentinel.com

By Raquel Rutledge of the Journal Sentinel staff

Dripper’s Paradise, on Milwaukee’s southwest side, carries dozens of brands of smoke juice, including a locally made favorite called Foghorn.

One of Foghorn’s top-selling recipes is Randy, a flavor described as a “blend of creamy custard, mixed berries and savory cereal notes.”

People who vape praise the Foghorn juice not only for its flavor but for its ability to create giant cloud puffs from deep drags — a growing fascination known as “cloud chasing” among vaping enthusiasts.

But the very molecules that make Randy delicious also could make it dangerous. The juice — named after a character in the Canadian TV series “Trailer Park Boys” — contains high levels of two chemicals known to cause permanent and sometimes fatal lung disease: diacetyl and its chemical cousin, 2,3-pentanedione.

There’s no way vapers would know; founders of the year-old Foghorn company said they didn’t realize it. The only way to determine whether the juice, or e-liquid, includes toxic chemicals would be to test it — which the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did.

There are no requirements that manufacturers test their e-liquids, nor are there any standards to meet. What testing is done is driven largely by the desire of e-liquid makers to market the safety of their products.

But the Journal Sentinel’s testing led to yet another discovery: The method typically used to analyze e-liquids for the industry is not sensitive enough to detect levels that could be harmful. As a result, e-liquid makers across the country claim their formulas are diacetyl free when sometimes they are not.

“We’re at a point where these are not regulated by anyone,” said Michael Felberbaum, a spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “It’s a ‘Buyer Beware’ market.”

Vaping is a burgeoning attraction for nicotine lovers looking to get their fix without lighting a flame to tobacco.

Vapers can choose from a variety of electronic nicotine delivery systems, as they are technically called. These systems are battery powered and use liquid nicotine extracted from tobacco. The nicotine is mixed in a base of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin — often with added flavors — and heated into vapor for users to inhale.

The first iteration to hit the U.S. market en masse was the e-cigarette in 2007, patented and made in China. E-cigarettes, or “cigalikes,” are thin, stick-like devices that look like cigarettes. Some brands feature a light at the tip to mimic the glow of a tobacco cigarette. Some offer refills; others are disposable.

E-cigs are typically bought at gas stations, convenience stores and online. Many of the most popular ones are manufactured by big tobacco companies.

Other devices — sometimes called mods — are larger and feature refillable tanks that let users mix and match flavors. Dozens of devices and thousands of flavors, with multiple nicotine levels, are available online and at scores of vape shops popping up across the country.

Despite its highly addictive properties, nicotine liquid is unregulated. While the FDA regulates smoking cessation drugs and devices, such as nicotine patches and gum, nicotine itself — a stimulant tied to cardiovascular disease — is not a controlled substance. It’s for sale online.

With easy access to ingredients and soaring demand, the global vaping market is awash with small start-ups trying to make a name for themselves in the e-juice business. Much like microbrewers, they experiment with recipes, come up with clever names and see how they sell.

Some mix their liquids in the back of their stores. Others contract the work out to what they claim are accredited laboratories.

At Foghorn, the liquid is mixed in a “clean room,” which owners describe as a sanitary room dedicated to mixing e-liquids, that adjoins an office in a former storefront. Owners did not respond to repeated requests by the Journal Sentinel to visit the production space.

With U.S. sales predicted by Wells Fargo Securities to reach $3.5 billion by the end of 2015, the vaping industry has gone from fledgling to flourishing in a few short years.

And flavor is key.

•••

Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione are hailed for their buttery taste and are added to everything from chips and candy to cream cheese and ice cream. The chemicals are byproducts of fermentation and form naturally in butter, beer and other foods. They have been deemed safe to eat in trace amounts, but studies show they can be toxic when inhaled.

Diacetyl is more commonly recognized for its links to injuries and deaths of microwave popcorn workers. More recently, a Journal Sentinel investigation found potentially dangerous levels of the chemical in coffee roasting facilities and exposed cases of lung disease in commercial coffee roasters and grinders. Diacetyl destroys the lungs’ tiniest airways, leading to scar tissue buildup which blocks airflow. Its damage is irreversible. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a warning to coffee industry workers in September.

Nothing on the Foghorn e-liquid label mentions the lung-destroying chemicals. A warning reminds buyers only that the product may contain nicotine and should be kept away from children.

Same with the stickers on the Vape Apes house-brand liquids. Vape Apes is a line of e-liquids and a wholesale and supply company owned by the same people who run Dripper’s Paradise. The Vape Apes website assures customers that all its e-liquids are free of both diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione (also known as acetyl propionyl). But that promise applies only to Vape Apes brand juices, according to a note at the top of the page. Not the 30-plus other brands the store sells.

Vape Apes co-owner Damien Thompson said he screens the outside brands as best he can but can’t control what other e-liquid makers use. As for his in-house brand, he buys flavors from a few different manufacturers — Michigan-based LorAnn Oils and California-based Capellas Flavors and Flavor West — and says he trusts them not to sell hazardous chemicals.

“When I’m asking them the ingredients in their liquid, and when they tell me it’s not in there, I know it’s not,” Thompson said. “I don’t need to pay someone and take money out of my wallet to have it tested. I wouldn’t trust (a testing lab) any more than I would trust the company making it.”

The Journal Sentinel bought five e-liquids dubbed top-sellers by sales clerks at vape shops around Milwaukee — including Foghorn’s Randy and a Vape Apes house brand called Goji Melonberry — and had them tested for diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione.

The results: All five contained both chemicals. And Foghorn’s Randy had levels well above those that scientists say can destroy lungs, according to analyses by two labs.

Kyle Ehlert, co-founder of West Allis-based Foghorn, said he expected his flavor suppliers would have alerted him if there were dangerous ingredients in their products. He uses some of the same suppliers as Thompson at Vape Apes.

“I just figured they would give you the kind without it,” Ehlert said. “I just assumed they would know it had diacetyl in it and give you something else or tell you about it.”

Websites for LorAnn Oils and Capella Flavors state that the companies do not use diacetyl in any of their products. LorAnn also has a disclaimer stating that none of the flavors had been approved for inhalation.

“LorAnn Oils cannot make any claims as to the safety of the use of flavoring substances in e-cigarettes,” it states.

Flavor West posted a list disclosing its flavors known to have diacetyl and/or 2,3-pentanedione. It’s unclear who does the company’s testing and to what level of detection.

No one can say for certain how often e-liquids are mislabeled as diacetyl free — or exactly how much risk they pose.

While dozens of studies are underway, few — if any — have been completed that reveal all the respiratory impacts from inhaling e-liquids laced with diacetyl and 2,3 pentanedione.

“Certainly those two chemicals are known to be problematic,” said James Pankow, a chemistry professor with Portland State University in Oregon who has studied e-liquids. “Trying to come up with a single, bright-line number to compare risk is impossible.

“All of this toxicology is a very, very crude science.”

In conducting its spot check of e-liquids, the Journal Sentinel bought Wisconsin brands that boast their own recipes and labels. The samples were analyzed by a team from Marquette University, spearheaded by Scott Reid, a professor and chair of the university’s chemistry department.

“We clearly see that all of the samples contained the (chemicals) at some level,” Reid said. “The key issue is what the long-term health effects are.”

Three of the liquids with the highest levels, including Foghorn’s Randy, were then sent to Enthalpy Analytical, a North Carolina lab that specializes in e-liquid testing for the industry. Enthalpy’s analysis — like Marquette’s — found high levels of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione in Randy.

It’s what the lab didn’t find that raises questions.

Enthalpy’s tests did not detect either of the chemicals in the two other samples. The standard testing the company does is designed to detect levels above 1 part per million, according to company representatives and printed information that accompanies the results.

Yet Marquette’s analysis found concentrations of both chemicals in each sample at concentrations ranging from 4 to 50 parts per million.

Marquette and Enthalpy said their analyses passed their quality control measures and that they stand by their results.

The discrepancy highlights differences in testing methodology and desired levels of detection. Marquette’s approach used a more sensitive technique that scientists say can detect lower levels, down to parts per billion. The Journal Sentinel consulted with three independent experts who said the university’s method was superior.

The problem is, it is also more time-consuming and costly.

“We’re a commercial lab here to make money,” said Bryan Tyler, a representative of Enthalpy who handled the Journal Sentinel’s testing request. “We’re different than academia where they get grants and have plenty of time.”

Tyler said Enthalpy is capable of detecting lower concentrations when customers request it and are willing to pay for it. That’s not common for e-liquid manufacturers, he said.

“The issue is why do I need to look at parts per trillion when many are detected at 100 parts per million?” he said. “The industry isn’t to that point yet. They’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do.”

Tyler said Enthalpy runs tests on about 500 e-liquid samples per month, from industry giants to folks who mix their own juices to sell to local shops.

Patrick Rainey, a toxicology consultant with Creative Process Solutions in Raleigh, N.C., said the onus is on the industry — not a lab — to seek more sensitive testing.

“If the industry out there selling the product is driving the investigation, where are the checks and balances?” he said.

Trade associations in the United States and Canada are taking their cue on how to test e-liquids from a cardiologist in Greece — a doctor who touts the virtues of vaping.

Konstantinos Farsalinos, with the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, is an outspoken proponent of e-cigarettes to help smokers replace conventional cigarettes — which are to blame for more than 438,000 deaths in the United States every year, according to the American Lung Association.

He was the primary author on a study published last year by the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco on sweet-flavored e-liquids and maintains that measuring parts per million is “more than enough” to detect dangerous levels of diacetyl.

Farsalinos analyzed 159 e-liquid flavors from 36 manufacturers in seven countries and found as many as 70% of sweet-flavored e-cigs contain diacetyl. In his study, he compared exposures from vaping with proposed limits suggested by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, which were designed to protect Americans exposed to chemicals in the workplace.

The NIOSH limits are “extremely strict,” he said, noting they are figured to allow no more than one person in 1,000 to suffer lung damage over a 45-year work life. NIOSH is the research arm of the CDC.

Farsalinos has advocated for the removal of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione from e-liquids, saying they are an avoidable risk. Still, he’s not alarmed about lower concentrations.

By Farsalino’s calculations, vapers should be able to withstand roughly 86 micrograms of diacetyl a day from vaping and not exceed NIOSH’s recommended safeguards. For 2,3-pentanedione it would be about 182 micrograms.

The Foghorn brand contained 92 micrograms of diacetyl in just 1 gram of e-liquid aerosol and more than 269 micrograms of 2,3 pentanedione. One gram is approximately equal to 1 milliliter of e-liquid.

Farsalinos’ studies suggest an average vaper uses roughly 3 milliliters a day, though other studies show the average is around 5 milliliters and in interviews conducted by the Journal Sentinel some vapers said they used more than 15 milliliters a day. Puffing behaviors vary and comparisons are rough, but inhaling vapor from 3 milliliters of e-liquid is similar to smoking 30 to 40 conventional cigarettes, or a pack and a half to two packs, in terms of number of puffs.

That exposes Randy fans who vape an average of 3 milliliters to more than three times the level of diacetyl deemed acceptable for workers. And more than four times the amount of 2,3-pentanedione. Those who vape heavily face a greater threat.

That’s if you believe Farsalinos’ framework for calculating the risk.

Not everybody does.

Some scientists familiar with the chemicals argue the exposures from vaping could be far more hazardous. Inhaling 86 micrograms in 500 to 600 breaths from vaping could be more detrimental to the lungs than stretching the same amount over 5,000 to 6,000 breaths in an eight-hour period, they say.

In addition, occupational exposure limits are calculated factoring in 16 hours at home, away from any exposure, and two days off during the week.

Because the two chemicals have similar toxicological effects, scientists also consider an “additive mixture formula,” meaning exposure should be measured based on the combined levels.

The Flavor and Extracts Manufacturers Association, a flavor industry lobbying group, called it “improper” to use occupational exposure limits as indications of safe levels of exposure from flavors in e-cigarettes. The group warns e-liquid makers that the flavors are not intended to be inhaled.

And puffing from an e-cigarette pulls vapor deeper into the lungs than simply breathing while you work, said Rainey, the toxicology consultant. Rainey wrote a white paper last yearanalyzing the existing literature on the toxicology of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione in e-cigarettes.

Moreover, comparing levels of the chemicals in e-cigarettes to conventional tobacco cigarettes is dicey science for the same reason. Scientists don’t even agree how much of the chemicals is in conventional cigarettes. Studies show aerosol from vaping is deposited deeper into the lungs, to areas more susceptible to injury from toxic chemicals.

“Arguing concentrations is fruitless,” Rainey said. “You can have those discussions, but at the end of the day nobody is going to know. These things haven’t been around long enough and been studied.

“What’s unfortunate is that young people are going to be the guinea pigs.”

Will Cigna And Anthem Merge? How Health Insurance Companies Pump Money Into Politics

gettyimages-165538106Is bigger necessarily better? That age-old question is no abstraction when it comes to your healthcare premiums, as Cigna and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield are pushing to merge into the largest health insurance company in America. With consumer groups, physicians and hospital officials insisting that the consolidation threatens to limit medical care and jack up insurance prices for millions of Americans, regulators in one small state, Connecticut, are positioned to play a pivotal role in determining whether the companies get the approval they need.

The state is home to Cigna and has long been friendly to the industry, building up a reputation as the insurance capital of America. But some watchdog groups say that with a recent personnel move inside the state government, the friendship has gotten too close for comfort.

When Anthem’s plan to acquire Cigna was being negotiated in early 2015, Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy appointed Katharine Wade as his state’s insurance commissioner: She was a longtime Cigna lobbyist whose father-in-law works at a law firm that lobbies for the company, whose mother and brother previously worked at Cigna, and whose husband still does. She was also a top official of the major lobbying group for the state’s health insurance industry. As commissioner, she appointed a top deputy who worked at Cigna and she had a former longtime Cigna employee serve as an agency counsel in the merger review. As Wade continues to oversee Connecticut’s review of Cigna’s merger, she recently secured a position chairing a healthcare policy committee for insurance commissioners across the country. Malloy’s decision to appoint Wade to such a powerful regulatory post on the eve of the merger was not made in a vacuum. It came after employees of Cigna, its lobbying firm Robinson & Cole and Anthem delivered more than $1.3 million to national and state political groups affiliated with Malloy, including the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), the Connecticut Democratic Party, Malloy’s own gubernatorial campaign and a political action committee supporting Connecticut Democrats.

International Business Times reviewed campaign finance data dating back more than a decade. Since Malloy’s first successful run for governor in the 2010 election cycle, donors from the insurance companies and the lobbying firm have given more than $2 million to Malloy-linked groups, according to the figures compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine and the National Institute on Money In State Politics. Almost half that cash has come in since 2015, the year the merger was announced.

Malloy had previously served as a finance chairman of the DGA, was named DGA chair-elect in 2014, and assumed control of the organization as of late last year. In the 2016 election cycle, Cigna and Anthem have become among the largest donors to the group, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In the midst of the merger push, Anthem has also hired public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker — the same firm that helped run Malloy’s first successful campaign for governor.

Anthem and Cigna have touted the deal as one that will help consumers. They both have a lot on the line in getting the merger approved: The former could be forced to pay $1.8 billion in termination fees to Cigna if the deal is blocked, and the latter’s executives and shareholders could miss out on a potential jackpot from a successful sale. In light of that, Cheri Quickmire of the Connecticut branch of Common Cause said that the campaign cash and the Wade appointment are not happenstance — and that consumers should question whether the insurance industry is unduly tilting the merger review in its own favor.

“This looks like a conflict of interest, not a mere coincidence,” said Quickmire, whose group aims to reduce the influence of money in politics. “Hiring a lobbyist for the industry to be the regulator of that industry does not seem appropriate. She should not be in charge of the review, and people should definitely be worried that if she doesn’t recuse herself, the review will not be impartial.”

Asked about the faster pace of donations since the merger talks in 2015, a DGA official told IBT that “the donations have been consistent over the last few years —  and equivalent with what the companies are giving the RGA,” a reference to the Republican governors’ group.

A spokesperson for Malloy, Christopher McClure, defended the governor’s appointment of Wade, telling IBT that she is “a person of integrity, one who is well regarded for her deep experience and knowledge of the industry, and also for her collaborative approach with stakeholders.” While prominent politicians such as Hillary Clinton have warned about potential negative consequences of the merger, Malloy — a top Clinton surrogate set to co-chair the national Democratic Party’s platform committee — has not called for Wade to recuse herself from the matter.

For her part, Wade has already proven to be merger-friendly: In January, her department approved a controversial deal to combine Connecticut-based Aetna with Humana. Wade’s agency only announced that move last week, and its approval came without Connecticut regulators holding a public hearing on the matter — a move that drew scathing criticism from consumer and physician groups.

As the separate Cigna-Anthem merger has progressed, Wade has resisted calls to recuse herself, asserting that she has no association with the company, even though she admitted such an association in her disclosure filings with Connecticut’s Office of State Ethics. That office, whose board is dominated by appointees of Malloy and other state Democrats, hasdeclined to back calls for her to remove herself from the proceedings, and Wade says she will conduct an impartial review of the merger.

“I am following the Connecticut ethics statutes and I have taken the appropriate measures that allow me to carry out my duties as Insurance Commissioner,” Wade told IBT in a written statement. “I am confident that nothing in my professional background or in my family’s associations will adversely affect my ability to take action fairly, objectively and in the public interest. Consumer protection is first and foremost the mission of state insurance regulators and safeguarding the best interest of Connecticut consumers is a mission I take very seriously.”

Black Americans See Gains in Life Expectancy

p-11-10-2By SABRINA TAVERNISE, nytimes.com

WASHINGTON — It is a bitter but basic fact in health research: Black Americans die at higher rates than whites from most causes, including AIDS, heart disease, cancer and homicide.

But a recent trove of federal data offered some good news. The suicide ratefor black men declined from 1999 to 2014, making them the only racial group to experience a drop. Infant mortality is down by more than a fifthamong blacks since the late 1990s, double the decline for whites. Births to teenage mothers, which tend to have higher infant mortality rates, have dropped by 64 percent among blacks since 1995, faster than for whites.

Blacks are still at a major health disadvantage compared with whites. But evidence of black gains has been building and has helped push up the ultimate measure — life expectancy. The gap between blacks and whites was seven years in 1990. By 2014, the most recent year on record, it had shrunk to 3.4 years, the smallest in history, with life expectancy at 75.6 years for blacks and 79 years for whites.

Part of the reason has been bad news for whites, namely the opioid crisis. The crisis, which has dominated headlines — some say unfairly, given racial disparities — has hit harder in white communities, bringing down white life expectancy and narrowing the gap.

But there also has been real progress for blacks. The rate of deaths by homicide for blacks decreased by 40 percent from 1995 to 2013, according to Andrew Fenelon, a researcher with the National Center for Health Statistics, compared with a 28 percent drop for whites. The death rate from cancer fell by 29 percent for blacks over that period, compared with 20 percent for whites.

“Blacks are catching up,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania. “The gap is now the narrowest it has been since the beginning of the 20th century, and that’s really good news.”

The history of health for black Americans has been one of deep inequity. At the start of the 1900s, life expectancy for blacks was nearly 15 years less than for whites, according to federal data. This was partly because infant mortality was so much higher for blacks. But it was also because blacks, who were subjected to discrimination and segregation, faced worse living conditions and had almost no access to medical care.

Well into the 1950s, cancer was known among researchers as a “white disease,” in part because fewer blacks lived long enough to die from it, said Keith Wailoo, author of “How Cancer Crossed the Color Line.”

Life expectancy for blacks improved in the 1970s as Medicare and Medicaidincreased access to health care and helped integrate hospitals after the abolition of Jim Crow laws. Smoking had started to decline and new treatments for heart disease, including blood-pressure medications, drastically improved health for everyone.

Then came a lost decade. From 1982 to about 1995, blacks’ progress in life expectancy stalled, dragged down by homicides, AIDS and fallout from the crack epidemic. Life expectancy in 1993 stood at 69.2, down from 69.4 in 1982. There were five years of outright declines during the period, unprecedented in modern times, said Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University.

Since then, blacks have experienced health improvements on a number of fronts.

One profound change has been the decline in violence over the past two decades. The cause is still a matter of intense debate. The decline came after the institution of contentious tough-on-crime policies, but some researchers point out that similar declines happened in Canada, where no such policies were enacted.

Homicides have decreased for everyone since the early 1990s, but have gone down faster for blacks. As a result, the black-white gap in deaths from homicides fell by 40 percent from 1990 to 2010 in the largest metropolitan areas across the country, according to Michael Light, a sociologist at Purdue University.

“The decline in violence is a major social fact that is really reshaping society and the lived experience of kids growing up — particularly blacks,” saidRobert J. Sampson, a sociology professor at Harvard University who has been studying youth in Chicago since the 1990s.

“There are all kinds of negative consequences that flow from violence, in emotional responses, cognitive development, and links to future violent behavior,” Dr. Sampson continued. “This change has provided an advantage that wasn’t expected. It’s almost like a reset of the expectations and experience of urban life.”

But he noted that the improvement has been complicated by the explosive rise in incarceration rates, which has taken a heavy toll on black families.

Dr. Harper, who has written extensively on the racial mortality gap, said it was difficult to tell whether any of the improvements were because of specific policies aimed at lifting blacks’ health. But he said the gains were clear.

And while for some causes, like AIDS, the percentage drop in the death rate may have been similar for blacks and whites, Dr. Harper said, the absolute decline in the number of deaths per 100,000 was larger for blacks over the past 15 years, because they had started at far higher rates. (The decline in black deaths from AIDS accounted for about a fifth of the narrowing of the mortality gap with whites from 1995 to 2013, Dr. Fenelon said.)

“There has been true progress for blacks,” Dr. Harper said.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said faster declines in cancer mortality for blacks were driven largely by substantialdrops in deaths from lung cancer. Smoking has declined faster for blacks than whites, and in most of the past 15 years, blacks have had lower smoking rates than whites.

“I think it’s something to be celebrated. It’s a very good thing,” Dr. Brawley said. “But we need to be very cautious,” he added, pointing out that over all, black death rates from cancer were still higher than those of whites, and that for some cancers, like colon, a disparity has sprung up since the 1980s, possibly a result of screenings and new treatments that were less accessible to blacks.

David R. Williams, a professor of African-American studies and public health at Harvard, cautioned that the country still has a long way to go to address the health disadvantages of blacks. He said the excess in premature deaths among blacks is the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day.

“We have had this peculiar indifference to this unprecedented loss of black lives on a massive scale for a very long time,” he said, in a reference to W.E.B. DuBois. “That to me is the big story.”

He added: “When something happens to whites, it’s news and it’s a crisis that we have to attend to.”

Researchers do not fully understand why drug overdoses have hit whites harder than blacks. (Dr. Fenelon said white rates overtook those of blacks in 2003.)

But it is clear that the difference is helping to close the life-expectancy divide. Dr. Harper calculated that faster increases in white overdose deaths accounted for about 15 percent of the narrowing of the black-white gap in life expectancy for men from 2003 to 2008.

Whatever the case, the national hand-wringing can leave a bad taste.

Indiana State Representative Charlie Brown, who represents Gary, a majority-black city, said it took a surge in infections in mostly white counties last year for his state to approve a needle-exchange program.

“We’ve had this issue all along about people coming up with H.I.V. andhepatitis C because of needles, and it has not been a concern,” Mr. Brown said. “But now it’s a problem in the white communities, and it becomes almost a hysteria.”

Smoking While Pregnant Increases Risk of Schizophrenia in Offspring

Mothers who heavily used tobacco during pregnancy increased the risk of their children developing schizophrenia.

Mothers who heavily used tobacco during pregnancy increased the risk of their children developing schizophrenia.

By Lauren Biscaldi, Assistant Digital Content Editor http://www.clinicaladvisor.com/

Heavy maternal tobacco use during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of schizophrenia in offspring, according to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Alan Brown, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and clinical psychiatry at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, and colleagues conducted a population-based, nested case-control study of live births in Finland between 1983 and 1998. The researchers identified 977 children with schizophrenia through a national registry who were matched to controls based on date of birth, sex, and residence.

Heavy nicotine exposure was associated with a 38% increased risk of schizophrenia; heavy smoking was determined by the presence of cotinine, a reliable biomarker of nicotine. In addition to an increased schizophrenia risk, smoking during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight and attentional difficulties.

“Nicotine readily crosses the placenta into the fetal bloodstream, specifically target[ing] fetal brain development, causing short- and long-term changes in cognition, and potentially contribut[ing] to other neurodevelopmental abnormalities,” noted Dr Brown.

“These findings underscore the value of ongoing public health education on the potentially debilitating, and largely preventable, consequences that smoking may have on children over time,” Dr Brown concluded. “It is of interest to examine maternal cotinine in relation to bipolar disorder, autism, and other psychiatric disorders.”

Reference

  1. Niemelä S, Sourander A, Surcel H-M, et al. Prenatal nicotine exposure and risk of schizophrenia among offspring in a national birth cohort. Am J Psychiat. 2016; doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.15060800

Marijuana may lower death risk after acute MI

By: BRUCE JANCIN, Family Practice News Digital Network

CHICAGO – Patients who reported using marijuana prior to experiencing an acute MI had significantly lower in-hospital mortality and were less likely to have cardiogenic shock or require an intra-aortic balloon pump than marijuana nonusers with an MI in an eight-state hospital records study, Dr. Cecelia P. Johnson-Sasso reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

“If this observation is confirmed in independent studies, further investigation into the possible therapeutic benefit of cannabinoid receptor agonists in acute MI may be warranted,” declared Dr. Johnson-Sasso of the University of Colorado Denver.

After excluding concomitant users of cocaine, methamphetamine, or alcohol due to the potential for confounding cardiotoxic effects; MI patients under age 19 because of the likelihood of congenital heart disease; and patients over age 70 because only 0.01% of them admitted to marijuana use, the investigators were left with a study population of 3,854 marijuana users and 1.27 million MI patients who hadn’t used marijuana.She and her coinvestigators obtained hospital records with identity information removed for more than 3 million patients admitted for acute MI during 1994-2013 in eight states: California, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia.

In a multivariate regression analysis adjusted for potential confounders including baseline comorbid conditions, patient demographics, and payer status, the marijuana users prior to MI had a 17% reduction in in-hospital mortality, were 20% less likely to undergo intra-aortic balloon pump placement, and had a 26% reduction in shock. On the other hand, they were also 19% more likely than marijuana nonusers to be placed on mechanical ventilation. And even though they were equally likely to undergo diagnostic coronary angiography, they were 28% less likely than marijuana nonusers to undergo percutaneous coronary intervention. All of these differences were statistically significant and clinically meaningful.

She was quick to note the limitations of her study: No data were available on readmissions or late mortality, and it’s highly likely that marijuana use by patients with acute MI was significantly underreported during the study period, which was largely before the legalization movement took off.

With state marijuana laws rapidly changing and the legal pot industry becoming a big business, the lack of research into the health consequences of marijuana by disinterested parties has become glaringly obvious, according to Dr. Johnson-Sasso. Cannabinoid receptors are found not only in the brain, but in cardiac muscle, the kidney, liver, vascular and visceral muscle, aorta, bladder, and immune cells.

She reported having no financial conflicts of interest regarding this study.

The “Kissing Case”: A Simple Kiss On The Cheek That Made Civil Rights History And Shattered The Lives Of Two Innocent 9 Year Old Boys

kissing-gameBY BLACKTHEN,

In 1958, James Hanover Thompson and his friend David Simpson — both African-American, both children — were accused of kissing a girl who was white. They were arrested, and taken to jail. Prosecutors sought a stiff penalty — living in reform school until they were 21.

“The Kissing Case,” as it came to be known, drew international media attention to Monroe, N.C., at the time. But since then, it’s been largely forgotten. Even the Thompson family rarely talked about it. Recently, James Hanover Thompson sat down with his younger brother, Dwight, and told him what happened.

“We were playing with some friends over in the white neighborhood, chasing spiders and wrestling and stuff like that,” James says.

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“One of the little kids suggested that one of the little white girls give us a kiss on the jaw,” he says. “The little girl gave me a peck on the cheek, and then she kissed David on the cheek. So, we didn’t think nothing of it. We were just little kids.”

But the little girl mentioned the kiss back home, and her parents were furious; the police set out in search of the boys.

“The police car pulled up, and they said, ‘We’re taking y’all to jail,’” James says. “I didn’t know what was going on. But when we got down to the police station, we understand that they said that we had raped a little white girl.”

The two boys — James, 9, and David, 7 — were charged with molestation. And their punishment started immediately.

“They uh… took us down in the bottom of the police station to a cell. And they had us handcuffed — they started beating us,” James says. “They was beating us to our body, you know? They didn’t beat us to the face, where nobody could see it; they just punched us all in the stomach, and back and legs. We was hollering and screaming. We thought they was gonna kill us.”

James says that he and David were held in jail for about six days before they were allowed to see their parents. And soon after, they were sent to reform school, with the possibility that they might be released before they turned 21.

News reports of the case spread far and wide — it became the “Kissing Case” in many headlines. Officials from the NAACPand Eleanor Roosevelt were among those who reportedly asked North Carolina Gov. Luther Hodges to show clemency in the case.

Eventually, the governor pardoned James and David, and they were released after spending three months in detention.

James’ sister, Brenda Lee Graham, also spoke about those days with Dwight, who was born in 1961, and grew up not knowing much about the incident.

“Mom was a nervous wreck. She didn’t sleep,” Brenda tells Dwight. “She would be up walking the floors and praying.”

Remembering what life was like for the rest of the family while the authorities were holding James, Brenda says, “I remember that at night, you could see them burning crosses…”

“Right there in the front yard?” Dwight asks.

“Right there in the front yard,” Brenda says. “And my mom and them, they would go out in the morning, and sweep bullets off our front porch.”

James says that each week during his detention, he was sent to a psychologist. “And he’d tell me, ‘They should have castrated y’all.’ I mean, it was just something,” he says.

Brenda says that when James came back home, “it was like seeing somebody different, that you didn’t even know. He never talked about what he went through there. But ever since then, his mind just hadn’t been the same.”

And, James says, while he and David were pardoned, they never got an apology, either.

“I still feel the hurt and the pain from it,” he says. “And nobody never said, ‘Hey, look, I’m sorry what happened to y’all. It was wrong.’”

He has spent most of his adult life in and out of prison for robbery.

“I always sit around and I wonder, if this hadn’t happened to me, you know, what could I have turned out to be?” James says. “Could I have been a doctor? Could I have went off to some college, or some great school? It just destroyed our life.”

Brenda says, “My brother and his friend had to suffer on account of that. And I mean, they suffered. From one kiss. I’ve thought about that. It all started with a kiss.”

Asian Brain Drain

New Filipino nurses during an oathtaking ceremony in Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines on 20 September 2010. A total of 37,679 out of 91,008 examinees passed the Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination held on July 3 and 4. Work opportunities for Filipino sailors, nurses and engineers are growing as the global economy recovers from last year's slump. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

New Filipino nurses during an oathtaking ceremony in Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines on 20 September 2010. A total of 37,679 out of 91,008 examinees passed the Philippine Nurse Licensure Examination held on July 3 and 4. Work opportunities for Filipino sailors, nurses and engineers are growing as the global economy recovers from last year’s slump. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

By abagond

The Asian brain drain (1965- ) is the flow of highly educated people from Asia to the US: doctors from India, nurses from the Philippines, engineers from China, and so on. It is the “truth” behind the Model Minority stereotype, which racializes a false correlation.

People have been coming to the US from Asia for hundreds of years for all kinds of reasons. But most Asians came as part of three main waves:

  1. 1849 to 1934: mostly field workers, especially from China, Japan and the Philippines.
  2. 1965 to present: the brain drain, especially from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, India, the Philippines and South Korea.
  3. 1970s to 1980s: refugees, especially from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Of the three, the brain drain is the one that middle-class White Americans most frequently come across.

Each of these waves is a creature of US law: who the US was willing to let in when and why, based on the country’s needs and its level of racism. Asia, unlike Mexico, is separated from the US by an ocean. That makes it much easier to control who gets in.

The brain drain itself was created by the 1965 Immigration Act. It overturned the racist immigration act of 1924 and favoured those with skills the US needed, like in medicine and engineering. Almost by definition, such people will be better at school, science and mathematics than most Americans. It has nothing to do with being “Asian” and everything to do with who the US lets in and why.

The Model Minority stereotype was created in 1966 in the pages of the New York Times. It was based on the first wave, which truly did pull itself up by its bootstraps. Yet the stereotype did not catch on till the 1980s when the children of the brain drain started applying to top universities in large numbers and getting in.

The brain drain did not pull itself up by its bootstraps: it bought a plane ticket. Anyone who comes to the US as a doctor, nurse, engineer or even a foreign university student is already better educated than most White Americans. And their children are bound to do better too. Whites with the same sort of background in terms of education or parents’s education do just as well if not better.

The US also drains brains from:

  • Latin America,
  • the Caribbean,
  • Africa, and
  • Britain.

Most Americans do not notice that, partly because of racial stereotypes, partly because the numbers are lower. They overlook the fact that Nigerian Americans, for example, are just as much of a “model minority” as Asian Americans.

Other places that receive brain drains: Canada, Australia, Singapore, Western Europe and the Persian Gulf states.

Brain drains generally flow from poorer or less stable regions to richer and more stable ones. The Caribbean is the worst hit: countries like Jamaica and Haiti lose over 80% of their people with university educations. But Asia, because of its size, produces a far larger brain drain.

Trump Keeps Pushing Latinos Out Of The GOP, Despite Their Electoral Significance

tagreuters.com2016binary_LYNXNPEC5113V-BASEIMAGE-e1464910399855-668x501By Germania Rodriguez, nationalmemo.com

Donald Trump’s policy ideas have proven to be pretty fluid: the billionaire business man says wages are too high, and then too low. He says that America’s allies are being bullied by the Obama administration, but that he would bully them more. But one of Trump’s talking points has remained consistent, and it may be the true engine of his campaign: racism.

Jorge Ramos, the Mexican journalist who was kicked out of a Trump press conference back in August, pointed out in a Tweetthat Trump has recently stepped up his attacks against Hispanics, going after four prominent Hispanic figures in the course of just a week.

The latest wave of aggression started in New Mexico, with Republican governor Susana Martinez. After she failed to endorse this candidacy, Trump accused Martinez of doing a poor job, citing the “large numbers” of Syrian refugees set to resettle in the state — a lie. Martinez is the country’s first Latina governor, the state’s first female governor, and chairwoman of the Republican governors Association.

As the Republican Party’s highest-profile Latina, she would be an ideal presence to help Trump make amends with women and Hispanics, the two groups he enjoys belittling the most. But Trump can’t miss a chance to reinforce his platform as the candidate who will Make America White Again, even if it means missing a chance to really have a shot at the presidency.

Then came the press conference Trump held on Tuesday to address claims that he had skimped on donating all $6 million he had promised to veterans groups. Trump went after the media as a whole but chose to focus on two reporters who, you guessed it, happen to be Hispanic.

CNN’s Jim Acosta, a Cuban American, was called a “real beauty,” and Tom Llamas, a Mexican American, was called a “sleaze.”

“You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well,” Trump said to Llamas after the reporter pointed out the discrepancies between Trump’s statements on how much money he had really raised for veterans.

Just like Trump used Acosta and Llamas to divert from the actual point of the press conference (what ever happened to the money he supposedly raised for veterans?), he went afterJudge Gonzalo Curiel to distract from the fact that Trump University — or, legally, “Trump U.” — has been exposed as a complete scam. In statements that provide a scary glimpse into how a Trump administration would deal with judicial independence, Trump blamed Judge Curiel for his bad luck with the two class-action lawsuits against Trump University he’s currently facing.

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” he said at a rally in San Diego, before adding that he believed Curiel was “Mexican.” It didn’t stop there, he then added that the Judge’s handling of the case is a “disgrace” and that it would be “wild” if he came back in November to do a civil case as president.

It should come as no surprise that Trump is going after successful, prominent Latinos. The generalization that all immigrants are “rapists and murders” set the tone for his presidential run and is the basis for the narrative that the Trump machine is pushing. Hispanic American governors, journalists, and federal judges don’t fit that image.

What does fit that image are cases of undocumented immigrants committing murder — even though undocumented immigrants don’t commit crimes at higher rates than legal residents of the United States. Trump rallies often start with the families of victims killed by undocumented immigrants standing on stage, holding up posters with pictures of their deceased loved ones. Jamiel Shaw, who has been onstage at Trump’s rallies and even appeared in one if his campaign ads, summarizes one of the main arguments of Trump supporters: “We demand Americans first,” Shaw said. “We don’t care about illegal aliens. Americans first. First means first.”

Trump’s campaign is kept alive by the hateful enthusiasm of his core supporters’ racism. They might not agree with him on policy issues like his support of Planned Parenthood, taxes, or universal health care, but hey, he hates immigrants and has run on building an ever-taller border wall.

It’s no secret that Trump is unpopular among Hispanics. A Gallup poll released in March showed that he was the most unpopular of any remaining candidate, at the time, with Hispanic voters, with more than three quarters viewing him unfavorably. Hispanics are the fastest-growing faction in the electorate, and proved to be an important part of Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss. Romney earned just 27 percent of their vote, significantly less than President George W. Bush, who earned 40 percent just eight years before. The flight of Hispanic votes from the Republican Party prompted GOP leaders to reach out to them, releasing a 100-page “moratorium” report on how they would rebrand themselves to get the vote of minorities.

And Hispanics have even more political weight now. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 27.3 million eligible Hispanic voters today — a 17 percent increase in eligible Hispanic voters since 2012. The Hispanic vote has been key in the last two presidential elections, helping Obama win swing states with large numbers of Hispanic voters like Florida and Colorado.

Yet the 2016 presumptive Republican nominee is running not only an anti-immigration campaign, but one in which personal attacks against Hispanics have become the norm. Other than quotes like “I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs,” Trump has done nothing to mend bridges with the nation’s largest ethnic minority.

This has not come without consequences to the Republican Party. Ruth Guerra, the head of Hispanic media relations at the Republican National Committee, resigned her post this Wednesday. According to reports, she resigned because she was “uncomfortable working for Mr. Trump.” A month before Guerra’s resignation, NBC News reported that Kristal Quarker-Hartsfield, the RNC’s Director of African American and the highest-ranking African American in the RNC, had resigned. A few weeks before that, Orlando Watson, Director of Communications of Black Media, also resigned.

But Trump can’t change his anti-Hispanic rhetoric because it is what has kept his campaign alive despite the policy blunders, insults to women, and overall obvious ignorance about the country’s main issues. He has offered a scapegoat to be blamed for everything that’s wrong with America: Hispanics. If he takes that off the table, he alone will remain on it, and a millionaire reality star with weak policy knowledge and reprehensible morals just isn’t as attractive.

Lillian McEwen – The “D.C. Unmasked & Undressed” Interview

lilliammcewnphotoRetired Justice Lillian McEwen was born, raised and educated in Washington, D.C. Her stellar legal career there spanned several decades, including stints as a prosecutor, Capitol Hill staff counsel, criminal defense attorney, law professor and federal judge. Judge McEwen recently published her memoir, “D.C. Unmasked & Undressed,” a steamy tell-all chronicling her sexually-adventurous private life, paying particular attention to her longtime relationship with a prominent colleague, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In the process, McEwen belatedly resurrects the reputation of Anita Hill by offering proof that the disgraced law professor was telling the truth 20 years ago when she testified against Thomas during his controversial confirmation hearings.

Retired Justice Lillian McEwen was born, raised and educated in Washington, D.C. Her stellar legal career there spanned several decades, including stints as a prosecutor, Capitol Hill staff counsel, criminal defense attorney, law professor and federal judge. Judge McEwen recently published her memoir, “D.C. Unmasked & Undressed,” a steamy tell-all chronicling her sexually-adventurous private life, paying particular attention to her longtime relationship with a prominent colleague, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In the process, McEwen belatedly resurrects the reputation of Anita Hill by offering proof that the disgraced law professor was telling the truth 20 years ago when she testified against Thomas during his controversial confirmation hearings.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: Why didn’t you approach Anita Hill to support her allegations in her time of need? Were you afraid of possible repercussions respecting your career?

LE: There were other individuals who had worked with Clarence who were willing to testify at the confirmation hearings. So, I wasn’t the only one who could have corroborated Anita Hill’s testimony. Furthermore, long before the nomination, I was utterly convinced that she and Clarence had had a sexual relationship.

KW: Why so?

LE: There came a time during his tenure as Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that he began to complain vociferously about the behavior of Anita Hill at the office. He would whine about it every day. He even asked me on several occasions to come to the office to wait for him, because “Anita Hill has to see that I have another woman in my life now. It has to be made plain to her that we don’t have the same type of relationship we once had.”

KW: So, do you think Anita testified out of bitterness as a woman scorned?

LE: I think it’s more complicated than that. I think Anita Hill never imagined that she would be the only person testifying against the man who had given her her job, who had been at her beck and call, and who had made sure that she was a successful attorney.

KW: Have you had any contact with her?

LE: No, other than being introduced to her when Clarence became Chairman of the EEOC, and the times when I went around the office to send her a message for him. [Chuckles]

KW: Have you considered leaving a message on her answering machine likeClarence’s wife, Ginny, did last fall?

LE: That’s never occurred to me.

KW: Bernadette asks: do you respect his intellect?

LE: When I left him, Clarence said he was envious and resentful of my ability to read for pleasure. It had been obvious to me that he had no real intellectual curiosity whatsoever and that the material he had to handle at the EEOC was fairly difficult for him to handle. At that time, he was making speeches all over the country in support of the Republican agenda, and he always employed a speechwriter to help him. It was very difficult for him to process, focus on or to grasp complex ideas. This was a man who prided himself on his perceiving the world in very stark terms.

KW: In your opinion, is he arrogant or racist?

LE: As you quoted rather courageously in your review, one of his favorite sayings (“Niggers and flies, I do despise. The more I see Niggers, the more I like flies.”) is a chant that racist white people used to say while sitting on their porches to frighten and intimidate black people passing by on the sidewalk. I regard that as self-hating, and a legacy of slavery.

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: Did you ever consider Clarence Thomas as a future husband and father of your children?

LE: No, he had already had a vasectomy, and I had no interest in getting remarried or having more children.

KW: Irene also asks: Do you think that Clarence Thomas’ choice of a white wife reflects his politics or his looking upon Black women as lesser than?

LE: Something I learned while socializing with Clarence was that black Republican men generally had white wives, almost as if it was a litmus test, a way of assuring white men that they could be counted on to be consistent politically.

KW: Irene’s final question is: Do you have any regrets over being silent for so long?

LE: I always felt like I was on a precipice, as if I would be punished if I said anything negative about him. I was also in great fear of how people would view me in respect to hurting him or how they might judge my behavior as immoral. I was in fear because I felt that if I tarnished his image, I would be hurt in return.

KW: Lee Bailey asks: Just how freaky-deaky did you and Clarence get? What was the freakiest thing he wanted to do to you?

LE: Regarding the first question — I never thought of anything we did as freaky. D.C. Unmasked and Undressed does, however, describe in great detail sexual encounters with four different women who shared our bed. Clarence contributed two and I contributed two. The book also describes in detail the “see and be-seen” atmosphere at Plato’s Retreat. This was my lifestyle and this was my world before I met him. I enthusiastically introduced him to these adventures. One of the reasons I eventually left him was my assumption that Clarence’s new false religiosity and courtship of the new Evangelical Christian wing of the Republican Party would eliminate sexual activity or adventures in the future. I was not insatiable, but I knew what I wanted from the relationship. As far as the freakiest thing he ever wanted to do to me –I never regarded any request Clarence made or any activity we engaged in as freaky, but I do not recall saying no to any suggestion he made, either. Sex was just good, clean fun and an important part of my life before and after Clarence, as I attempt to make clear throughout my memoir.

KW: Yale Grad Tommy Russell: Ms. McEwen. First, I want to say thank you! Kudos to you for being such a brave woman as to share so much of your sexual history. We still live in a very Puritanical society when it comes to being open and honest about our sexual lives. We have great difficulty sharing our experiences, desires, and what we consider “normative” with others, even with family/friends let alone strangers. My first question: What do you think the reason was for Sen. Biden, now Vice President, to disallow your voice in the Senate confirmation hearings? Did he feel pressure from Republicans in the administration and Congress not to keep up the pressure? Or was it deeper and darker?

LE: I wasn’t prevented from testifying at all. I simply reminded Joe Biden of the fact that Clarence and I had been close for several years, and that members of his staff knew him.

KW: Tommy’s second question is: Where do we go from here? Do you think this will open up a larger dialogue about sexual mores in our society or do you think your book and its message of openness and honesty will be panned as liberal, wackado-nonsense as I imagine it may?

LE: [LOL] It is my hope that my memoir might help some people imagine that their lives could be different. Perhaps, by honestly relating a truthful narrative, my book will illustrate a possible way of going through the world that is not harmful and which is consistent and compatible with being sane, normal and successful. You may not like this life or think there’s something wrong with it, but you cannot deny the fact that I have lived this life. If the book explodes some myths, then it is valuable as a narrative and as a way of looking at the world that you might never have thought possible.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: When you talk about sharing porno and multiple sex partners with Clarence Thomas, are these things inherently wrong or is it just the hypocrisy that makes them an issue?

LE: The fact that I wasn’t parented and went to a Catholic school resulted in my realizing that there is huge difference between right and wrong. Also, for some reason, I don’t share the same inhibitions of people who have been parented. I’ve gone through life just doing what seems natural to me. I’ve tried really, really hard to take pleasure in something that’s fairly simple whenever I can. I’ve never attached moralistic terms to sexual acts or preferences, unless they harmed someone. [Laughs] It never occurred to me when I wrote the book that my sex life was unusual at all. To the degree that you can eliminate stifling masks, you’ll lead a more honest life, you’ll be more content in life, and it’ll be easier for you to go through life. And conversely, the more you firmly affix that mask to your face and convolute your own values to conform, the more confused and crazier you’ll get. [LOL]

KW: Peter Keough: Ask her what’s really going on under that robe. And why she thinks Justice Thomas has hardly said one word since being on the court.

LE: Five years ago, Clarence stopped asking questions during oral arguments, and has taken to criticizing his fellow justices for wasting time grandstanding. I believe that another reason he’s quiet is because he’s had to overcome his Geechee roots. He often lapses back into Geechee way of pronouncing words and an ungrammatical sentence structure, which is embarrassing to him. He is fundamentally a very shy person, and is very sensitive about any criticism about his manner of speaking. And it would be a great source of embarrassment if leveled in the context of a Supreme Court argument.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: What message do you want the readers to take away from your book?

LE: An appreciation for truth-telling. I tried to communicate that it’s really important for us to go through life guiding our behavior and standards based not only on knowledge and reason but on the pleasures and serendipity of life. I don’t know whether I’ve achieved that, but I gave it my best shot.

KW: Will Cooper asks: What’s the real reason you wait so long to come out with these accusations? Are you having financial problems and so you’re suddenly making these accusations because you need the money?

LE: I didn’t write the book to make money, but because I needed to evaluate what was going with my own self with respect to the world. When I finished writing it, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. This was before I got a PR person, an agent or a publisher. It was important to me to get my own life down on paper in my own words. I never thought about how much money I could make from it, because I retired in 2007 and have an income for the rest of my life, thanks to your tax dollars. [Chuckles]

KW: Will continues: Why didn’t any of these revelations come out over the past 20+ years, given the amount of digging and scrutiny that Clarence Thomas has received? Why didn’t any other people who saw you at these places ever said anything during Thomas’ hearings or over the past 20 years?

LE: There are dozens of people who are aware of the events that are described in my book. And I actually expected some of them to come forward at any minute and to reveal these matters, and it might happen next week.

KW: Will persists with: How could you be the only one holding this secret if much of it was done in somewhat public places? Does this mean there are hundreds of other people out there who know the same information but are just remaining silent?

LE: It’s certainly something that the participants knew about. I’m not talking about 1-on-1 experiences. [Laughs]

KW: Was Clarence discreet when you two went to a public sex palace like Plato’s Retreat?

LE: He would put his real name on the list.

KW: Was he the head of the EEOC at the time?

LE: For much of it, yes. [LOL]

KW: When you went to Plato’s Retreat, was that your idea or his?

LE: I pulled him there. I had already lived my life that way well before I met him, and had been involved in threesomes for several years. Without realizing it, I had a totally different view from the majority of Americans of what human sexuality should look like.

KW: Aren’t you afraid of any retaliation from Thomas in the way of a defamation of character or libel lawsuit?

LE: The best defense against any accusation like that is truth. The general rule is, as long as you’re telling the truth, they’re wasting a lot of time and energy coming after you. And there’s nothing in my memoir that is not true.

KW: Do you think the Ginny Thomas phone call to Anita Hill last fall is what interested publishers in your book?

LE: Yes, that’s correct. That call by Ginny Thomas was the catalyst. Otherwise, it might have just stayed in the closet for some time longer. I wasn’t yet comfortable approaching publishers myself, because of the nature of the book.

KW: Do you think your memoir will be made into a movie?

LE: I think that would be great. I wouldn’t say “No.”

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

LE: No.

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

LE: I had always been terrified that somebody would talk to the press or find some film footage of me from Plato’s Retreat. But now that the book is out, I have a completely different view of my relationship with Clarence. It’s liberating and almost funny to see people’s reactions. It’s almost like a different chapter of my life has been opened for me. I’m not really accustomed to it yet, but there isn’t any part of it that says “Be scared!”

KW: Did you have sex with other people besides Clarence at Plato’s?

LE: I’m pretty sure that’s true. But he liked to watch and to be watched.

KW: In the book, you said that he was so popular at the porn shop that the clerks would call to let him know when they got a new shipment of his favorite stuff. What did he have a taste for?

LE: His preferences were for large penises, ejaculation scenes with men erupting like volcanoes, and also huge breasts on obese women. It bored me to tears, personally, but it was extremely important to him.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

LE: Happiness is overrated. I would call myself content at this point in my life.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

LE: [LOL] I fell on the floor hearing Joan Rivers tell this joke: “My vagina is like Newark, New Jersey. Men know where it’s located, but they don’t want to visit.”

KW: Why did you find it so funny?. Did it resonate with you in some way?

LE: [Chuckles] Yeah, it really did.

KW: But I would guess that a lot of friends and acquaintances might like to relate to you in a new way after reading all the lurid revelations in this book.

LE: No, they want to stay as far away from me as possible. I imagine I’m going to lose a lot of friends over the book. I already have.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

LE: Watching black and white movies on TCM, the Turner Classic Movie Channel, at night.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

LE: I’m reading two at once:, “On Human Nature” by Edward O. Wilson and “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea” by Chelsea Handler.

KW: The music maven Heather Covingtonquestion: What have you been listening to lately?

LE: I like Mozart, Frank Sinatra, and some of the rap artists.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

LE: I love crispy duck.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

LE: Prada.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

LE: I’m always surprised, because the older I get, the more I look like my mother. But I’m always hoping that it’s somebody else, because I’ve always wanted to be a brown or dark-skinned black woman, to match what I feel like inside.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

LE: It certainly would be to remove evil from the world.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

LE: Playing in the back yard at about two or three years-old, being pushed by my brothers in a red wagon.

KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?

LE: By reading books and listening to music to remind myself that the future is going to be very different from what is happening right then.

KW: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

LE: Martin Luther King, a man who spoke for all of humanity.

KW: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?

LE: My two parents who were not only physically abusive, but also verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive. I almost did not survive my childhood, and two of my siblings were destroyed right in front of my eyes by them.

KW: The Dr. Cornel West question: What price are you willing to pay for a cause that is bigger than your own self interest?

LE: I would give my life.

KW: The Taboo question: What’s the best thing about being a parent?

LE: Learning what love is like. I had no clue what it truly meant to love another human being until my daughter was born.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

LE: Read, so that you can figure out how to reason your way out of situations. Secondly, don’t compromise. Don’t do something for a living that you know you’re not suited for, that’s not going to bring you happiness or challenge you. And don’t stay in a relationship that’s not allowing you to be the way you want to be.

KW: The Zane Question: Do you have any regrets?

LE: Regret is the most futile of human emotions. I really mean that.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

LE: As a person who told the truth about a life that was unusual and important in certain respects. And as a person who showed that Clarence should have withdrawn his name from the nomination process. Of course, he wouldn’t have been able to reward his friends and punish his enemies as he is now able to do sitting on the Supreme Court bench.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Your Honor, and best of luck with the book.

LE: Thank you, Kam, my pleasure.

 

How Big of A Difference Does An All-White Jury Make?

By Janell Ross, washingtonpost.com

The first thing you need to know about Patrick Bayer is that he’s an economist, a social scientist and part of a discipline that relies heavily on all sorts of data about human behavior and financial matters. That’s part of the reason economics is sometimes called the dismal science.

Bayer began his career studying urban economics. So for him, that work also often included examining residential segregation, school choice and competition, social interactions and the effects of different neighborhoods on people’s lives. Today, Bayer is also a professor of economics at Duke University, where his most recent research  has gone deep on the effects of discrimination in mortgage lending and housing markets.

It’s serious, academic stuff, not included in publications on your local newsstand. And it is important stuff. For instance, this year Bayer co-authored a journal article called, “The Vulnerability of Minority Homeowners in the Housing Boom and Bust,” published in the American Economic Journal. He’s also been published in several other peer-reviewed journals with economic in the title.

Bayer is a guy who knows his stuff. And back in 2012, he co-wrote a study that did get a lot of attention in newspapers across the country because it was the first of its kind — ever. He decided to take a look at what effect, if any, all-white juries had on actual trials over a 10-year-period. The study Bayer and his research partners, Shamena Anwar and Randi Hjalmarsson, published, “The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials” arrived at an answer: a lot.

With the Supreme Court’s Monday decision to make way for a new trial in a case involving a black man on death row for killing an elderly white woman, heard by an all-white Georgia jury which prosecutors intentionally formed, The Fix thought a deeper look at the phenomenon of all-white juries might be in order. How does this happen even in diverse areas of modern America? What does this do to justice and trial decisions? Bayer helped us sort this out. It’s really worth a read. Be sure you take a look at Bayer’s final answer, which puts the “dismal” in dismal science.

What follows is a Q&A conducted via email, edited only for clarity and length.

THE FIX: How would you describe your study’s major findings? 

BAYER: Let me first provide a little background on the study and the context in which it was conducted.

Our analysis was designed to examine the impact of the racial composition of juries on conviction rates for white and black defendants. The study was based on data from Lake and Sarasota counties in Florida [between 2000 and 2010], where we were able to acquire information on the characteristics of not only the seated jury but also the pool of potential jurors. In order to identify causal effects (rather than just correlation), our analysis examines how trial outcomes change as the result of random variation in the pool of potential jurors called for jury duty for each trial.

The population of Lake and Sarasota counties in Florida is approximately 4 to 5 percent black [Editor’s note:these figures have grown since the period Bayer studied], non-capital trials are decided by six-person juries, and the typical jury pool has 25-30 members. As a result, 36 percent of jury pools in our study had no black members and so, by construction [when a jury has been formed], there are no black jurors. The other 64 percent of jury pools included a small number of black members, resulting in black jurors being seated in some (but certainly not all) of these trials.

The results of our study indicated that racial composition of the jury has a large effect on conviction rates. In cases with no black members of the jury pool, black defendants were convicted 81 percent of the time, while white defendants were convicted 66 percent of the time. When the jury pool included at least one black person, the conviction rates were instead nearly identical: 71 percent for black defendants, 73 percent for whites. This large shift in conviction rates occurred even though jury selection still led to all-white juries in most of the cases in which there were black members of the jury pool.

Our study was the first to establish a strong causal link between the racial composition of real-world juries and conviction rates for both white and black defendants. In addition to what the results say about the effect of juror race, they also imply that there is a great deal of arbitrariness in trial outcomes — randomness in who happens to be called for jury duty for a given trial has a substantial effect on the outcome. The extent of this arbitrariness and the large role that race plays in decision-making raises serious questions about the basic fairness of jury trials as they are currently conducted in these jurisdictions.

THE FIX: It’s sometimes valuable to establish the basic facts. What’s wrong with seating an all-white jury? Does that fundamentally hamper equal justice? And how do prosecutors even accomplish this?

BAYER: In the United States, jury systems are generally designed to be representative of the eligible local population. There are two broad issues related to jury selection and composition that affect the fundamental fairness of jury trials in this kind of system.

The first is related to the system of peremptory challenges, which allow attorneys on each side to strike a number of potential jurors during pretrial jury selection without cause or justification. [This] results in juries that are unrepresentative of the local population. While the Supreme Court has prohibited the use of race as a rationale for using peremptory challenges, numerous studies have shown that black members of the jury pool are systematically more likely to be excluded from juries in many contexts. It is generally not especially difficult for attorneys to provide a non-race related explanation (if needed) to justify the use of a peremptory challenge, even if the juror’s race is at least part of the basis for the attorney’s decision.

A second and broader issue is whether juries that are representative of the local population can impartially decide cases when the defendant (or victim) is a minority member of the local population. In our study, for example, the vast majority of juries have no blacks members not because the attorneys are seating white jurors disproportionately — in fact, white and black jurors are seated at roughly the same rate — but because the local population is only 4-5 percent black.

In both instances, the lack of inclusion of minority members of a local population on juries raises concerns about whether such juries can actually reach unbiased decisions. Concerns are heightened by results like the ones from our study, which imply that the racial composition of juries does, in fact, play a large role in trial outcomes.

THE FIX: Among your findings, was there anything that truly surprised you?

BAYER: The direction of the findings was consistent with our hypothesis: That defendants of each race are less likely to be convicted when the jury has more members of the same race. The magnitude of the findings, however, was really striking, implying that even a small degree of inclusion of black jurors makes a large difference for conviction rates.

Keep in mind that we are using random variation in who is called for jury duty, so the cases that face an all-white jury pool are statistically identical (i.e. have the same objective quality of evidence) to the cases that face a jury pool with a small number of black members.

THE FIX: Could you explain what it is about all-white juries, or what is it about the dynamics of an all-white jury considering the fate of a black defendant that contributes to these outcomes? Or can you not jump to those conclusions?

BAYER: Unfortunately, our study provides little direct insight into the dynamics of jury decision-making. Our findings demonstrate that (randomly) changing the composition of the jury has a large impact on conviction rates but does not tell us exactly why or how this happens.

We also need to be careful about drawing any conclusions about what conviction rates for white and black defendants should be in these counties, as we have no direct measures of the quality of the evidence in the cases that are brought to trial against defendants of each race. If prosecutors bring a similar set of cases to trial for white and black defendants, impartial conviction rates should be identical. But if, for example, prosecutors bring weaker cases to trial against black defendants knowing that they will face all-white juries the majority of the time, impartial conviction rates should be lower for black versus white defendants. Unfortunately, our study does not provide a definitive answer on this.

THE FIX: What’s known about the way that all-white juries decide when a white defendant is accused of killing or somehow harming a black victim (the police officer’s acquittal in Baltimore brings this to mind)? Or, the impact of an all-black jury considering a case that involves a white victim and black defendant?

BAYER: Unfortunately, we know very little about the effect of the racial composition of juries on trial outcomes. Our study was conducted in a setting in which blacks constitute a small proportion of the local population, which means that the variation is primarily between all-white juries and those with the inclusion of a very small number of black jurors. I am not aware of any study of the impact of all-black juries using real world data.

THE FIX: Your study focused on a decade of non-death penalty cases in Florida between 2000 and 2010. That’s a substantial stretch of time. But, some readers will wonder, how applicable are your findings to the rest of the country? 

BAYER: We certainly need a lot more research on this topic in jurisdictions throughout the country. A broader set of studies would provide more evidence on whether our results generally hold in similar circumstances or whether they are special to these jurisdictions in Florida. Additional research could also provide evidence on whether certain rules and procedures for jury trials lead to the greater diversity of seated juries and/or less arbitrary trial outcomes.

The setting that we studied is an important one in the sense that one might be most concerned about the basic inclusion of minority members of a population on juries in settings in which the minority group constitutes a small proportion of the local population and, therefore, can more readily be systematically excluded from juries. In more racially diverse jurisdictions, on the other hand, the use of peremptory challenges by attorneys on each side is more likely to cancel or balance out, resulting in more racially diverse juries. [Editor’s note: Most Americans live in communities that score high on the racial segregation index — meaning all but a very small share of most Americans’ neighbors are the same race.]

It is also worth pointing out that it is generally very difficult for researchers to access data on jury composition and trial outcomes. So, a wider set of studies will really only be possible if courts throughout the country show a greater interest in transparency and in conducting rigorous studies of the efficacy of the trials conducted in their jurisdiction.

Donald Trump exposes the GOP’s dirty secret: They build everything by nurturing white rage

Paul Ryan, Donald Trump (Credit: AP/Richard Drew/Andrew Harnik/Photo montage by Salon)

Paul Ryan, Donald Trump (Credit: AP/Richard Drew/Andrew Harnik/Photo montage by Salon)

For decades, GOP has used the war on drugs or voter ID laws as cover for race-baiting. Trump just blew their cover

By CAROL ANDERSON, SALON.COM

Paul Ryan is angry with Donald Trump, not so much for failing to espouse conservative values, as for exposing America’s dirty little secret — white rage: that deep-seated determination to block black progress in this country. For years, conservative politicians have relied upon the cover of high-minded principles and slogans – “protecting the integrity of the ballot box,” or waging a “war on drugs” — in order to cloak their determination to restrict African Americans’ citizenship rights. The racism fueling Trump’s campaign and his followers, however, is so overt, that it is undoing decades of hard covert work by the GOP.

When Trump didn’t immediately disavow an endorsement from Klansman David Duke; when the GOP front-runner condoned the beatings African Americans endured at his campaign rallies; and when 20 percent of his followers insisted that the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery, was bad policy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan’s carefully stitched plan of “racism with plausible deniability” began to unravel.

Shortly before he died, Reagan’s strategist Lee Atwater explained the game plan of the Southern Strategy in a matter-of-fact clinical policy. “By 1968 you can’t say ‘n***r’ — that hurts you, backfires,” Atwater emphasized. “So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. And you’re getting so abstract now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.” But Donald Trump doesn’t do abstract and that is what has sent the GOP into a tizzy.

Nixon and Reagan mastered this by adapting to the new racial terrain carved out by the Civil Rights Movement. As Nixon aide John Ehrlichman explained to Harper’s Dan Baum in 1994, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be against black[s], but by getting the public to associate . . . blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing” the drug “we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

But that lie was infinitely effective in driving policy. In 2008, the NAACP reported that “five times as many whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites.” Consequently, blacks comprising just 13 percent of the U.S. population made up “59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.” Packaged and sold as keeping neighborhoods and families safe, the Nixon administration’s well-targeted lie, which was expanded upon by Ronald Reagan, and taken up by Democrats such as Bill Clinton to prove that they could be “tough on crime, too,” has worked masterfully. Because many states disfranchise those with felony convictions, the Sentencing Project reports that 2.2 million African Americans or 7.7 percent of black adults have been legally stripped of their voting rights; as compared with 1.8 percent of the non-African American population.

The trick to pulling this off was subtlety; to mask overt racism with sincere concern for community safety. Nixon did it with “law and order,” Reagan with “the war on drugs.” But Trump’s jugular racism has no subtlety. In November 2015, Trump sent out a tweet to his 6.23 million followers that 81 percent of white homicide victims were killed by African Americans. Of course, it’s a lie; the same lie that drove Dylann Roof to get his country back by gunning down nine black people during Bible study. In fact, 84 percent of white murder victims are killed by whites. But to drive home his misbegotten point, the mogul placed a picture of a gun-toting black thug next to the statistics.

Trump’s take-no-prisoner style exposes in ways that no legitimate Republican front-running presidential candidate has in decades the racial lies behind the policies. That’s the problem the GOP really has with him.

The Republicans’ current crusade to “protect the ballot box” is a case in point. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 89 percent of the GOP is white. As the Pew Research Center reported, minorities make up more than 30 percent of voters nationwide, a figure that is only growing. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham admitted, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” Republicans have, therefore, tried to handle their demographic apocalypse by disfranchising African Americans and other minorities but doing so under the guise of stopping (virtually non-existent) voter fraud, using in-defense-of-the-nation language.

Todd Allbaugh, former chief of staff for Wisconsin state Sen. Dale Schultz (R), confessed that stopping voter fraud was not the point. “I was in the closed Senate Republican Caucus when the final round of multiple Voter ID bills were being discussed. A handful of the GOP senators were giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of suppressing minority and college voters.” Another Republican, this time in Florida, admitted that the plan to significantly trim early voting in 2012 was racially-targeted: “I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves” and bring busloads of African American voters to the polls.

 The results of the GOP’s ballot box shenanigans have been devastating. A recent study in 2016 by political scientists at the University of California-San Diego found the voter suppression laws throughout the United States dramatically decreased minority participation in elections because blacks and Hispanics are the least likely to have the types of identification the state requires. As a result, “turnout among Democrats in general elections dropped an estimated 7.7 percentage points, while Republican turnout dropped 4.6 percentage points.” More than that though, the study found “For strong liberals the estimated drop in turnout in strict photo identification states is an alarming 10.7 percentage points. By contrast, the drop for strong conservatives is estimated to be only 2.8 points.” Clearly, the plan is working just as effectively as “law and order” and the “war on drugs” did. And similarly, Republicans have taken umbrage at the charge that these new voter laws are racially targeted.

So, when Trump says that he doesn’t want people and these “illegal immigrants” to just “walk in off the street” and “sneak through the cracks” to cast a ballot, and that “You have to have—and whether that’s an ID or any way you want to do it. But you have to be a citizen to vote,” he’s parroting contrived Republican strategy but being far too obvious about it. Just about as obvious as when he maligned Mexicans in the United States as drug mules, criminals, and rapists.

And that’s the problem. What the GOP is really mad about is that Donald Trump has made visible what many have tried so hard to hide.

LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY ® Go Forward-No Weapon Will Prosper

CHURCH EDITOR Dr. ANDREA OATES

CHURCH EDITOR
Dr. ANDREA OATES

The Bible tells a story of a young shepherd boy who lived a lonely and solitary life. Away from his family and the community, he began a relationship with the Most High God. After all, not many wanted to spend their time watching and shepherding sheep all day under the hot sun. But God was with him.

Over time, this young man encountered perilous trials. His fold was attacked by a lion and by a bear. Anyone would have thought that he would have been lunch meat to know that he fought with the vicious wild animals. But the young man is the one that was victorious. God was surely with him.

After a time, God took the young man and brought him to the forefront. He honored him for his private obedience openly. What was his promotion? It was kingship over the people of Israel. Wow. Not even his family could have imagined that God would have chosen a ruddy lad like him. Even the Lord’s anointed prophet thought that his older brother was surely the one. But God was for him.

The young man that used to be in the wilderness watching sheep now found himself in the king’s palace. The one who used to be out in the wild searching for grass and water for his flock in the hot sun was now in the most lush and lavish place in all of the land. Who could have imagined that God would translate him from the wilderness to the palace? God could and did.

David was a young man that experienced some pretty hard times before becoming King of Israel. He had challenge after challenge and war after war. But God had already prepared him in the wilderness for every victory he had. The time alone with God was the catalyst for him to break forth as the Chosen One from among the entire nation of Israel. But it came with a price. And everything God has for us comes with a price. Because David’s ascension to the palace was a miraculous move of God, it did not mean that he was welcomed there. It happened to still be the primary residence of his predecessor- King Saul.

David thought he had a mentor in Saul. Someone he admired and served diligently. Someone he submitted to in all matters of the nation. Someone he went to war for. After all, David’s victory over Goliath was a victory for the King and the people of Israel. However, all too often, as God blesses and uses you, enemies emerge. And jealousy spurs hatred. And hatred spurs murder. And all because of something the handmaidens sang after Goliath’s defeat-“Saul has killed his thousands…David, his ten thousands.”

Saul could not see the contribution he had as the first king of Israel. He didn’t remember that God had once used him to win numerous wars and victories. He became consumed with the prophetic psalm that foretold David’s future. Saul’s disobedience was surely a part of the reason. Because of it, God ripped the kingdom from him. Many times when we miss it, we can become an enemy to God’s next choice. What we don’t realize is that time and chance happens to us all. What you do with God’s opportunities presented to you is up to you.

It was years before David actually was crowned King of Israel. In that time, he endured countless challenges-including several murderous attempts by Saul. As we GO FORWARD, realize that we will have enemies simply because of our obedience unto God. There will be Sauls who are tormented with the sins they refused to deal with before it disqualified them from serving God. But we cannot quit or get discouraged or even have a mental breakdown. What we must dois GO FORWARD with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of the Living God, that proclaims-NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST US SHALL PROSPER (from Isaiah 54:17).

Continue to be blessed in the Lord…

Our Unity And Pooling Resources For Economic Strength

farrakhan_winston-salem_05-31-2016In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  I thank Mr. Tony Guevara and our wonderful patriarch, Mr. Joseph Dudley, Sr.  As I was a little boy, I heard of S.B. Fuller.  I heard of the work that he did and people that sold his products throughout the nation who became independent and he made them entrepreneurs.

So for our great brother, Mr. Dudley, Jr., on his 79th birth anniversary to be celebrated for continuing the great work of his teacher and predecessor, I’m honored to be in his company, and I am honored to stand in front of nearly a thousand entrepreneurs that really are the backbone of the economic development and salvation of our people.

The enemy has never wanted to see us economically powerful and every effort that we have made to become economically strong, the architect of that economic strength was always labeled as anti-Semitic. Booker T. Washington wanted us to be economically free. The great Marcus Garvey came from Jamaica to meet Mr. Washington. He so admired Booker T. Washington that Mr. Washington’s book, which he read, started Mr. Garvey in his consciousness to raise the consciousness of Black people in America and throughout the world.

All of us are standing on the shoulders of somebody else, and none of us will live long enough to completely solve the problem but each of us in our time has a function to perform and a mission bigger than just being an entrepreneur. That’s the start of it but what is the mission of the entrepreneur?

It is not just to make money to fatten the pockets of an individual or a family but the entrepreneur is the bell weather. They are the ones who signal to the people “we are present to supply our people’s needs.”

The sad thing about our meeting today is we don’t realize that we are still colonized.  May I speak very frankly, please?  Many of you would not like to think that we are in a colony but a colony is an entity that the land that it’s on really is taken over by somebody else.  They work in the colony to feed the colonizer. And at some point in this great nation, the 13 Colonies decided enough is enough and they rose up against the King of England and today we have the United States of America. …

Whatever city you live in to do business, look at how many more people are in our community doing business that don’t look like us. You can’t go down into Chinatown and setup an Egg Foo Young business.  They wouldn’t permit that but here we are a colony—the education controlled from the outside, the politics controlled from the outside.  The spiritual teachers, preachers are controlled from the outside, and all the colony agents have to go downtown seeking support from the benevolent master.

If you don’t see yourself as being colonized, then you will never make the move to really become free.

The Koreans have setup 9,000 stores in the Black community and they will not bank with any Black bank in the Black community. They take the money out and bring it back to their community, and we are the ones building immigrants into power economically, while we remain weak and impoverished.

The NAACP was established by Black people and White people along with them that did not want that organization to deal with economics.  The theme was “Non-Economic Liberalism,” the first part is really clear, “non-economic.” You could fight to change a law.  You could fight to clean up Black and White fountains and where Blacks were buried. We could make that kind of fight. But the fight for economic strength would lead to war with them and when we get to a certain point in our economic development, it appears that they give us an offer that we can’t refuse.

All the great businesses that our giants established for us gave us pride. The entrepreneurial skill of George E. Johnson in Chicago, with Johnson Products, 750 people he employed.  But who has the building now? Who’s running it now? Someone else is fixing our hair now.  Even when we were frying it, we made the product that we used to give ourselves a little straightening out. Smile.

But there’s another product in town for Mr. S.B. Fuller and Mr. Joe Dudley, and Mr. Elijah Muhammad and Mr. Garvey to straighten out what’s under the hair.

BET cable television was ours, now, it’s gone.  Essence magazine was ours.  John H. Johnson worked hard with Ebony, Jet and other magazines to put a building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago that we as Black people could come to Chicago and be proud of what Black people did. Now, White people have the building and we have Ebony.

They’re coming after the funeral directors.  We used to be the ones that buried our dead but now since we’re killing each other in such great numbers, the White man said, “that’s a lot of money.”  So he comes in town and now we have a White person burying us with a smile. This is serious, brothers and sisters. But there’s a new spirit among our people. They really want to buy from their own.

We studied the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when the garbage men in Memphis went on strike and Dr. King went to see about them. The night before he was assassinated, he started talking about redistributing pain.  He thought, and rightly so, that when we’re in pain, we have to inflict pain on those who inflict pain on us.  “Now, oh, Farrakhan, wait just a minute. This sounds like revenge.”  No.  It’s called “Retaliation for Injustice.”

Dr. King said, “We should go by these big White companies and tell them that the Lord sent us by here to talk to you about the mistreatment of His people.  Now, if justice for us is not on your agenda, we have something on our agenda. We’re going to withdraw our dollars from your company.” Then he told them, take your money out of the White man’s bank and put it in your own bank.  He said, “Don’t buy Wonder Bread. Don’t buy some of the products sold by Whites to Blacks in Memphis.”

This year we said boycott Christmas.  I didn’t say boycott Jesus.  In fact, Christmas has become nothing more than a mockery of Jesus—using our love for Jesus to make it into a commercial enterprise. You go and spend money that you don’t even have with big White business, passing by Black struggling business, and spending your money with those who don’t care for you.

We decided to have Christmas by honoring Jesus, instead of getting drunk in his name.  I don’t know how many of you own liquor stores, not too many but all in our community are liquor stores.  The Arabs are there.  They know how to greet me, As-Salaam Alaikum, and they greet me. But some of them are selling food to our people that even a hungry dog would walk by.

How are you going to tell me that you deserve to be in our community feeding us less than good food, mistreating our women and girls and selling us drugs on the side? Colony, that’s what it is. White police, they’re not protecting your business. They protect the White business in our community. …

So this is war.  And if you’re not a soldier in the economic battle for justice and freedom, then we’re going to lose.

We boycotted from Thanksgiving all the way to the first of the year.

I didn’t realize how successful it was as we toured the country telling Black people, “Up with Jesus, Down with Santa.”  Guess what?  Several Walmart’s closed.  Forty Macys stores closed down.  All the big stores, including Target, were in bad shape.

The money that comes through our hands, $1.1 trillion last year, is enough to make us the ninth richest country on earth. Other nations that don’t have that kind of economic strength use less than we get to support schools, hospitals, farms, factories.  We are looking at this and it doesn’t seem to inspire us to want to get up and really do business.  The theme of this session was “Capitalism” is the real path.  I don’t totally agree with that but I do agree with our exercising the will to set up our own businesses.  That is a way to get to freedom. … Doing something for yourself is the way to respect and recognition as a people.

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You know, dear brothers and sisters, S.B. Fuller showed us a way at a time when maybe we didn’t know that there was a way.  Mr. Fuller was a creative genius.  His products gave Black people without jobs, jobs.

How many of you are producers of a product that you would like to get sold in your store or in the community? How many of you have a product that you made? You need an outlet for your product.

Mr. Johnson, bless his heart, Libya loaned us $5 million to create personal care products. We were going to follow Mr. Fuller. We went to Mr. Johnson and we went to the Black bank and had the money sent from Libya to a Black bank, $5 million.  It never touched our hands.  It went from Libya to a Black bank.

I sat down with Mr. Johnson. We were going to make products. And when members of the Jewish community heard that he was going to make products for me and the Nation of Islam, they told Mr. Johnson, “if you do anything for him (Min. Louis Farrakhan), we will not distribute your product and we will close you down.”  I said to Mr. Johnson, “circle the wagons and let’s fight this.”  He said, no.  And he stopped making any advancement in the products that were being designed by his company for us. And then as the chairman of the board of Independence Bank, he and the president of the bank came to my office and asked us to take the money out of their bank.

I was so hurt because we look up to our economic giants; but in reality most are midgets.  Now, I’m not putting us down. We are midgets in the eyes of the business world that takes our money and they don’t look favorably at us.  Now, of course, when you’re doing business, you go to a bank, you get loans and you try to make your business successful.  Some of us have stores.  One on this corner, one on the next corner, but we don’t have unity.

The Greeks, they’re in the community.  When they buy, they go to the market as a unit, buy cheaper, sell cheaper, capture the market. We’ve got to know how capitalism works.  It can work for us but we are not working it as we could if we learned how to as, George Frazer, if you listen to him, he’s telling you about linkage, about networking. We don’t think like that, brothers and sisters—so we lose. We’re so individualistic in our capitalistic mentality.  We’re always competing with each other instead of uniting, pooling resources and expanding good for each other.  …

How can we make it better?  First, every product that you sell, every product that you create has a base. And if you don’t control the base of the ingredients that make your product, if somebody that you go to denies you that base, they put you out of business. Elijah Muhammad had the Muhammad Speaks newspaper. You all remember that great news organ of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, but I sat with him and he was telling me how we have to control the root of what we produce.

He said, “Now, we’ve got to buy timberland up in the Northwest and turn it into paper.”  Because what if the White man says, “I don’t like what you’re saying to Black people, got them all stirred up.  So we’re not going to sell you paper.”  …  What are we going to do to make our own, supply our own needs and create an economic base and floor for everything that we sell?  Elijah Muhammad said, “The root is always land.”  You don’t have land; you don’t have the basis for real economic development.

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Look at all of the great athletes, the great multi-millionaires.  Some of us are now billionaires and scared.  How could you be a free man as a capitalist and have a billion dollars and you can’t talk to Farrakhan because the White man doesn’t like him?

If a billion dollars doesn’t make you free enough to sit down with your brother then that is no path to freedom.  You’re a slave and a scared-to-death Negro. We can’t be free with that. We’ll never be free with scared to death people trying to lead us.  …

We really need to sit down together as brothers and sisters and plan an effective economic strategy to pull our people up out of this poverty and want that is rooted in ignorance. …

I watch how the Jewish people do it. They are wonderful to study.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “Study the White man.” Don’t be ashamed to study him. When he was in the caves of Europe, he studied Black wisdom and became a giant.  We shouldn’t be too proud to study them but don’t study them with a worshipping mind.

I had a talk with a great Jewish billionaire.  It was arranged by Mike Wallace and Rock Newman. And I met this man in his penthouse apartment, Edgar Bronfman is his name.  He owned Seagram’s.  I was in his penthouse and when he walked in the room.  He comes in and says, “How are you, Mr. Farrakhan.  Would you like a drink”?  I said, “Oh, Mr. Bronfman, I don’t drink.”

He said, “You drink orange juice, don’t you”?  I said, “Yes, sir.”  He said, “Well, that’s me.”  He said, “You listen to music”?  I said, “Yes, sir.”  He said, “That’s me.”  “Do you go to the movies”?  I said, “Occasionally.”  He said, “That’s me.”  …

I said, “I know you’re a very powerful, influential man.  But when the God I serve gets ready to bring you in, all your power and your influence can’t keep you here one fraction of a second when your time is up.”  So who’s the real power?

When you know God, now you’re able to do real business because there’s not a businessman greater than the God who created all of this and made every creature to be able to find food and build a little nest, or home, or hole for itself.  But here we are made in the image and likeness of God and we’ve become a nation of beggars. That’s disgraceful. … When you know who you are, and when you know whose you are, you don’t let any human make you feel less than what God made you.  God didn’t make n—–s.  N—–s are a product made in America. God makes man and woman.  And as a man and a woman, we must stand up like men and women and command our future.

Georgia Disenfranchises Voters

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The state of Georgia is well on its way to becoming a majority-minority state by 2025, with people of color becoming the majority of eligible voters by 2036. This is not to say that all people of color vote Democrat; however, the Democratic Party is 38 percent minority compared to just ten percent in the Republican Party. And in 2016, with a polarizing GOP candidate like Trump, Georgia could potentially be a battleground state. But Republicans will continue to fight against the changing tides.

The 2014 midterm election was meant to be a new start for Georgia. There were increases in outreach and voter registration among Democrats, but the efforts did not amount to any major, immediate victories. Republicans, on the other hand, had a great turnout and managed to keep Georgia red. Reasons for the Democratic failure can also be attributed to the repeal of the Voting Right Act in 2013.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 underwent a huge overhaul in 2013 when the Supreme Court repealed the preclearance statute, which reduces discrimination at the polls. Without this statute in place, the state officials in power find it easier to disenfranchise minority voters. Georgia was one of the early states to adopt harmful, unnecessarily strict voter ID laws in 2010, which are meant to cut down on the statistically insignificant voter fraud that only exists in the Fox News fantasy world.The state is also guilty of closing voting precincts in black neighborhoods — despite an increase in the number of voters — and purging more black voters from the rolls. And that’s just within the past three years.

The preclearance statute of the Voting Rights Act is essential. It keeps state officials accountable and ensures that everyone, regardless of skin color, gets a chance to have their voice heard. The sacred right to vote has been hard-fought by many before us. Unfortunately, it seems as though the fight is far from over.