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Opinion

Op-Ed: THE PURGE – Murder by Government

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Friday – once again – America made history.  Undoubtedly, there was heightened sensationalism behind what we saw, more than anything else, but if there’s something to be sensationalized, it should definitely be the Trump administration’s first ‘win.’  Yeah, let’s call it that.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard by now that House republicans passed the new Affordable Care Act 2017 today, just before their Spring recess.  Monumental celebrations occurred and continued into the rose garden where Donald T held a press conference after this “victory.”

Yes, you read that right. He held a press conference-esque celebration in the rose garden, for a bill that passed the first step.

I’m not trying to steal any shine from Donald.  I just believe that it’s very important to highlight some clear issues with this newly proposed legislation, and it’s time for us, as a community, to get on the same page.  I could rant and rave about how much your votes ‘would’ve’ counted now, but I’d be wasting my breath.  I’d also be extremely petty.

The majority of us are aware that Donald ran his campaign and touted his desire to:

  1. Make America Great Again
  2. Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Some 41 days ago, when this was first attempted, House republicans failed miserably.  Scrambling to ensure something was done, as Donald recently surpassed his 100 day mark in the White House, they came together once again to vote.   Today, they’ve unified to make a change.  At least, it seems so.

We, as the American people, are often treated as if we are blind or unaware.  This superficial truth often plagues the black community even more.  We know that the Affordable Care Act (affectionately called Obamacare) was not perfect in it’s initial form.  I don’t really wonder why it never got better, because I’ve always felt that the reasoning was pretty clear.  After seven years of opposition from a rancid republican party and devout vows to repeal it as soon as humanly possible, the ‘American’ unity and ‘greatness’ that should have surrounded such a monumental piece of legislation, was left to die.   Many of the promises that President Barack Obama touted and stood upon, when announcing this groundbreaking healthcare initiative had to be scaled back. Insurance giants, hospitals and republicans alike, seemed to take offense and issue with a program that would be life changing for so many in this country.  

So, here we are today, some one hundred and something days into Donald’s reign, and new legislation has just passed the House.  I spoke of sensationalism at the beginning of this piece, so let me clarify: push alerts and tweets, have the ability to have you severely in your feelings if you don’t remember your civics lessons, and how things work.

Today, the bill passed the House.  If you’ve been following along, you understand that all three branches of our government are currently run by republicans.  The White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate all have majority republican representation, and this is what’s scary.  The new Affordable Care Act 2017 bill passed the House today, and in a few weeks will make it’s way to the Senate.  So far, it doesn’t look like this undeveloped bill would pass the senate – but here’s what you should know:

 

The [Potential] Good

Change Translation
Requires insurers to allow young adults to stay on parents’ plans until 26
  • Staying from Obamacare. No tricks, this one explains itself
Prohibits insurers from imposing lifetime or annual limits on coverage
  • This is staying from Obamacare
Establishes “patient and state stability fund” to help states service low-income Americans
  • This will provide states $100 billion over 10 years beginning in 2018 to promote innovative solutions to lower costs and increase access to health care
Expands health savings accounts
  • In 2018 you’ll be able to put more money into your HSA, pay for over-the-counter meds, and pay a smaller fine for non-medical expenses paid for with your HSA or FSA

 

Now for the longer list…

The Not So Good

Change Translation
Ends individual mandate, imposes surcharge for coverage lapse
  • You don’t have to get insurance but if you don’t be prepared to pay a fine if you go >63 days without it.
    • States can get waivers to enable insurers to fine you based on your health status
  • Less healthy people getting coverage equals higher premiums for you
  • Your employer is no longer required to provide you with coverage
Ends Obamacare premium subsidies, offers tax credits instead
  • Higher out-of-pocket costs for you. Depending on your age, it may cost you a little, it may cost you a lot, but it will cost you

(Extra points if you got the reference 🙂 )

Imposes abortion restriction on tax credits
  • Prohibits women from using any federal tax credits to buy a plan that covers abortion. Consistent with the “Hyde Amendment
Allows states to waive federal “essential health benefits” requirement and set own standard
  • This gives states the power to waive the federal requirement for insurers to provide you with 10 “essential health benefits.” Depending on your state you may be able to select a plan with a lower premium but your coverage will decrease as well.
Allows insurers to charge older people up to 5 times as much as younger
  • People in their 50s & 60s can be charged up to 5 times more than others
    • States can seek waivers to increase this to more than 5 times
Allows states to permit insurers to charge more for pre-existing conditions
  • Insurers will still be required to insure those with pre-existing conditions, but they could charge more if there’s a lapse in coverage
Allocates $8 billion over 5 years to help subsidize people with pre-existing conditions in state high-risk pools
  • Sounds like a lot of cash BUT that’s only $1.6 million/year which will only cover a couple hundred thousand people, versus the 5-10 million people who have pre-existing conditions and need this funding.
Repeals 2 “wealthy” tax cuts
  • Families making $250k or more (Singles = $125k) will no longer be taxed on investment income
  • In 2023 the Medicare payroll tax on incomes over $200,000 for singles & $250,000 for families will be repealed
  • This will deliver roughly $144 billion over the coming decade to those with incomes of $1 million or more
Rolls back Medicaid expansion across 30 states
  • Reduces federal spending on Medicaid by $880 billion over the next 12 years. Puts power in states’ hands to decide what plans have to cover. States tend not to have the money to make up the difference & will likely reduce eligibility, curtail benefits or cut provider payments.
Allows states to impose Medicaid work requirement
  • States will be allowed to require all “able-bodied” people to work, actively participate in job training, or do community service. This has heavy impacts on those with mental illness or battling addiction. Exemptions for pregnant women, children & a few others apply.
Imposes Planned Parenthood restriction for Medicaid
  • Defunds about 30 percent of funding to block the organization from getting Medicaid reimbursements for one year unless its hundreds of clinics stop offering abortions

We’re asking now – why was this bill pushed through so quickly?  In 2009, when the Affordable Care Act was headed to the House, then Representative Paul Ryan spoke  and recommended that every piece of the process be examined closely and demanded that any and everything was approved carefully.

A couple of questions have been swirling in my mind, really since the charge to elect Donald began.  Republicans have been intent on tarnishing the legacy of President Barack Obama, since he was elected, by no surprise.  Endangering the wellbeing of others should never be a part of the destructive plot to ‘take the country back.’  We elect representatives to do the right thing, and to make decision on behalf of all of us. Where is the concern for others?  Where is the empathy for the disabled and elderly?  What about the financial disadvantaged, or those with pre-existing conditions?

Let’s jump on that.  You and I both know plenty of people with pre-existing conditions.  Prior to the implementation of Obamacare, a woman could pay higher premiums, just because she was a woman.  Women were also endangered of being dropped, if they became pregnant.  Obamacare ended that.  Though the proposed Trumpcare bill claims to cover ‘pre-existing’ conditions, it is unclear what the cost will be.  Speculation is that those with pre-existing conditions may face higher premiums or may be forced to be seen in emergency rooms, if their provider chooses not to offer coverage.  Donald’s bill offers nearly 8 billion dollars to cover pre-existing conditions, but early estimates suggest that this may only cover 1 to 3 percent of individuals.

What is a pre-existing condition under Trumpcare?

I’m still in the question asking mood. Maybe they are only connected to people that can afford healthcare?  Yes, that must be it.   Kurt Eichenwald, a writer at Newsweek slammed House Republicans for voting for the ObamaCare replacement bill in a fiery, but now deleted tweet, last week:


People are upset.  People are distraught.  People are also uninformed.  

Without care, we don’t live.  Without proper care, we don’t live long.  Last week, GOP congressman Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho) stood in front of constituents at a town hall and exclaimed, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”  Yes, this really happened:

It’s imperative that we’re aware of what’s happening and unfortunately, it’s more crucial now, than ever before.  The members of our BLACK communities, and families need to have each and every detail.  When the details aren’t offered to us, as they’re often not, it’s important that we seek them out.  Our daily lives will continuously be impacted and challenged by legislation proposed and passed by this troubled administration.  I liken the decision making and critical thinking skills within this leadership team, to those of an elementary school kickball team captain.  Logic and knowledge is not what leads, but privilege, arrogance, ignorance and faux bottom lines are driving most of the decisions that affect millions of Americans.  Sadly, so often, our frustration with these poor decisions is coupled with an assumption from the republican party, that many of us [liberals, democrats or ‘other’] are still bitter that we lost the last election.  

Without rehashing such a Faux pas, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of Black Americans care about our well-being, above the results of a rigged election, and undoubtedly the health and welfare of our family members.  I am on board to sound the alarm, and speak out consistently, to hold the elected officials, legitimate or not, accountable.  It’s time to fight, and the months and years (at least four pending no re-election) ahead will be no cake walk.  There is a forceful campaign against us, with the hopes to keep us in the dark, quiet, and again marginalized.  The success of that campaign, hinges upon keeping us blind and unaware.  This fight will require a level of discomfort, likely a level of crazy, but more importantly a level of unity we haven’t seen in awhile.  It’s time for new leaders to emerge in our communities and step up. It’s time for us to hold each other accountable, so that we can hold this country accountable.  

 

Contributors to this article were:
Tiffanie Mackey/UNR, Alex Haynes/UNR

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black News Alerts and the host of Unmuted Nation on BossFM. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Crime

The Myth And Reality Of “Black On Black” Crime

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Kenosha, Wisconsin demonstrators peacefully protesting.

Following the wrongful shooting of Jacob Blake, conversations regarding police brutality permeate social media, news cycles, and dinner tables. Routinely the idea of “Black on Black” crime always manages to enter these spaces of discussion. “Black on Black” crime is dually a myth and a reality, here is why.

What We Know:

  • “Black on Black” crime is a subset of the statistical data that quantifies crime as a whole. Therefore alongside “Black on Black” crime, there is “White on White” crime or even “Asian on Asian” crime. So statistically, “black on black” crime is a very real tool to measure crime.
  • According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2019, crime victimization statistics report those who commit violent acts tend to commit them against members of the same race as the offender. The report noted that 62% of violent incidents committed against white victims were perpetrated by white offenders and 70% of violent incidents committed against Black victims were perpetrated by Black offenders. The data from the BJS report shows that crime has more to do with proximity and likeness than any other variable.
  • A similar concept used to deflect from issues of police brutality and white supremacy is the idea that there is a disproportionate amount of crime perpetrated by Black people in comparison to any other race. While this trope carries weight, crime is more closely related to poverty than race. In order to break the cycles of violence within a given community, it is imperative to dismantle the systems of white supremacy that keep a community in poverty.
  • The emphasis of “Black on Black” crime is intentional. There is an agenda behind constantly reducing a community to being violent. The concept stirs conversations of police brutality away from white supremacy which is ultimately the most pressing enemy of Black people in America.
  • The narrative of “Black on Black” crime will continue to plague dialogue regarding race across America; however, unarmed Jacob Blake was shot in the back by Wisconsin law enforcement seven times in front of his children all under the age of 8-years-old for attempting to break up a fight. Whereas Kenosha shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse safely remains in custody after parading an assault-style weapon around a peaceful protest and ultimately murdering two Wisconsin protestors.

The treatment of White, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, in comparison to 29-year-old, African American Jacob Blake proves “Black on Black” crime is not the enemy of black people – law enforcement is.

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Opinion

Op-Ed: You Think the Rayshard Brooks Case is Different, You’re Wrong

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Friday night, we lost a Black man that we didn’t have to lose.  By all accounts, he was literally doing the one thing that wasn’t bothering anyone.  He was sleep.  Sleep inside of his car in a Wendy’s parking lot.  Allegedly inebriated.  Sleep nonetheless.  Now, he’s dead.  By now you’ve heard about the death of Rayshard Brooks and have likely no doubt made your mind up about how you feel. The initial news reporting surrounding this incident was horrible, but I’m not here to analyze that.  

We’re currently in the midst of one of the most powerful movements in American history.  For the first time, in my lifetime, people are paying attention.  I could analyze whether all of the attention towards Black life – and specifically Black death is genuine, but this isn’t the place for that either.  In all of the analysis of Black death at the hands of white vigilantes and police officers that use excessive force, the response to this most recent Black death has been interesting.  Similar to the way many in Black culture have decide “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t apply to ALL Black Lives (LGBTQ+, women, etc), many have decided that this movement and fight we’re in has nothing to do with Rayshard Brooks.  I’ve even heard ‘I believe the police need to be held accountable, but this  Rayshard case is different.’  It’s not different.  Rayshard’s story definitively shows us why we are where we are.

I think the problem with a number of people understanding this Rayshard Brooks story is:

1. You believe that Black people should just listen to the police and comply, without cause. You have been conditioned that we are more violent (all people of all races feel this way) — I say Black because white people (and everybody else) will mouth off, charge, disagree, yell and curse at them.

2. You have only seen one video. One perspective. Read one article. The police were talking to Rayshard for 28 minutes without incident. It’s not a crime to be sleep. As we’ve been telling you, it’s deterimental to call the police on Black people, especially when there’s no danger. When this is done, danger magically appears. You can still think what you think. Know that perspective enhances.

3. The sobriety test. The safest place for a person that is inebriated is a parked car, even if it’s in the way. Criminalization ensues when someone is tested without cause. While there are technicalities in anything, driving under the influence is what is dangerous. Lethal in many cases. This man should’ve moved his car and went back to sleep or called someone to come get him. He should’ve never been tested.

4. The scuffle. After being cordial and having a conversation for 28 minutes, taking a sobriety test and of course failing, the police move to make an arrest. Visibly flustered, it’s no surprise that he didn’t want to be arrested (as we now know additional details — based on his own YouTube videos) because he was on probation.

I believe that true rage entered both police officers when they attempted to tase him and he snatched it. I don’t know what I would do if somebody attempted to tase me, but if I knew, that drunk, I had the ability to stop it — I would have. He didn’t intend to harm the officers and even an attempt to tase an officer is a non-lethal response. Where most will feel (again, I believe this is conditioning) he was in the wrong — he “fled.”

I am not of the belief that he was wrong though. What lethal crime (because we all know public intoxication is enough for an arrest) did this man commit? Why shoot and not chase? Where was the threat? Often the response (for those that don’t follow police brutality cases closely) is that the officer “feared for their life” just standing next to a Black man. This one was running away. Drunk. To whom was he threatening? For why did the officer shoot?

This was unnecessary force. You know it. I know it. The city knows it. There wasn’t a weapon. This wasn’t a crime scene.

That is why Erika Shields resigned.
That is why APD is scrambling.
That is why the GBI is involved.

But you, still feel “he shouldn’t have ran.”
You feel like “he’d be alive.”
You are still biased. You believe the system was built to protect Black. But it wasn’t. It was never designed to serve and protect all. It was literally designed to police runaway property. It isn’t broken, it’s just wrong. Rayshard was shot because he’s still considered property. Like your Black body and mine. Your neighbors. Your Black child’s. There was nothing that justified this death.

Rayshard’s death iss the reason we’re protesting. History tells us, either way he was screwed.

RIP Rayshard Brooks.

I see you. 

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Headlines

Opinion: Mayor Bottoms, Atlanta demands action

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EDITORIAL NOTE: Black News Alerts is committed to advancing the culture and causes of Black people globally.  We feel that it is our innate responsibility to provide accurate, informative and vetted coverage to our readers, subscribers and viewers.  After an internal review of this content and unanimous agreement, we’ve agreed to publish this opinion and stand firm against any criticism.

Demands for an Embattled Mayor

Dr. Vonnetta L. West, Pastor, Our Neighbor’s House
I know the death of Rayshard Brooks is hitting hard right now. It is a devastating blow in the midst of mourning for and protests fueled by 400+ years of trauma and the taking of other Black lives.
Join me in putting a demand on Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

We, the people of Atlanta, demand:

  1. Immediate disciplinary action and arrest of any officer who shoots an unarmed human being, beginning with the officers who shot Rayshard as he was fleeing.
  2. A clear peace plan for officers engaging people who are intoxicated, asleep, homeless, unarmed, mentally ill, etc.
  3. A strategic plan to reallocate an agreed upon percentage of APD funds to ensuring equity in education, housing, environmental health, etc.
  4. Funding for training communities on how to deescalate conflict and how to resolve grievances without police involvement
  5. Demilitarization of the Atlanta Police Department.
These are my thoughts based on conversations I’ve had and my understanding of what is preceding tragedy/police brutality against Black people.  If you agree with this list of demands, join us in signing this petition for the Mayor of Atlanta to respond to these demands by 2:00 pm ET on June 14, 2020.

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