Gambian Mother Siabatou Sanneh Walks Paris Marathon with 40-lb. Water Container on Head to Bring Awareness to Need for Clean Drinking Water in Africa

Siabatou Sanneh Paris Marathon

Siabatou Sanneh walked the Paris Marathon wearing her traditional dress, flip flops and a 20kg plastic container. (Photo Courtesy of Water for Africa)

In the middle of 54,000 runners at last week’s Paris Marathon, Siabatou Sanneh stood out. Carrying a 40-pound (20kg) water container on her head and wearing her race number 64173 on top of a multi-colored traditional dress, Siabatou wanted to make a statement.

It was the first time the mother of four had ever left her country, Gambia, but this didn’t deter her from wanting to raise awareness about the difficulties African women face in accessing clean drinking water. Siabatou was there on the behalf of Water for Africa, a non-profit which builds boreholes in her village.

“I came to Paris to do the marathon to raise awareness and help the African women get clean water for their domestic use – for drinking, cooking, washing and gardening to grow agriculture,” the 43-year-old told IBTimes UK, speaking through a translator.

“In my country, you grow what you eat and you eat what you grow, but you can only do that with sufficient water.”

By walking the marathon with a plastic barrel of water on her head, Siabatou is hoping to send a message to the leaders at the 7th World Water Forum – which runs until April 17th in Daegu-Gyeongbuk, South Korea. Her statement is simple: she does not want to be drinking water from wells any more.

“I want them to help us dig bore holes, a sustainable water source, but not only more holes, I want more sustainable ones too. That’s all we need. I don’t want my children to be collecting water from dirty wells when they are older,” she said.

In Gambia, Water For Africa estimates between 200 and 300 water pumps would be necessary to supply the population and overcome the 40% to 60% of wells or pumping systems that are crumbling.

Siabatou, who lives in the small village of Bullenghat, which has a population of 300, first started collecting water when she was just five-years-old.  “I wake up in the morning, and go and collect water from a well. I have to walk 8km there, and back. I do this three times a day at least.”

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Rosean S. Hargrave, 40, Convicted 23 Years Ago for Murder Based on Evidence from Unscrupulous Brooklyn Detective Louis Scarcella, Is Ordered Freed from Prison

Rosean S. Hargrave leaving court in Brooklyn on Tuesday after a hearing at which his conviction for the murder of an off-duty correction officer was vacated. (Credit: Sam Hodgson for The New York Times)

More than two decades after Rosean S. Hargrave was convicted of murdering an off-duty correction officer in Brooklyn, a judge on Tuesday ordered him released from prison, saying Mr. Hargrave’s prosecution was based on deeply flawed detective work that “undermines our judicial system.”

Mr. Hargrave, surrounded by his family and friends as he left State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, was asked whether he had thought he would ever be free.

“I dreamt,” he said.

The prosecution of Mr. Hargrave was built on the work of the former detective Louis Scarcella and his partner, Stephen W. Chmil. It is one of dozens of cases that have come under review since accusations emerged that Mr. Scarcella once framed an innocent man. Six people have had their convictions overturned, one posthumously, since the Brooklyn district attorney’s office began its review in 2013.

But this is the first time that Mr. Scarcella’s investigative methods have come under direct judicial scrutiny, and Justice ShawnDya L. Simpson delivered a scathing review of his record.

Many of the cases under review date to an era when many neighborhoods were plagued by crime, with the city regularly registering well over 1,000 murders a year. It was in this environment that Mr. Scarcella made his name, gaining wide acclaim for solving murder cases.

Justice Simpson noted that Mr. Scarcella was something of “a legend” for getting so many convictions. “There’s a saying, when it’s too good to be true, it usually is,” she said.

Mr. Hargrave’s conviction, she said, was “based solely on identification of evidence by Detective Scarcella and Detective Chmil” and therefore “brings into question the due process and reliability in this trial.”

Justice Simpson said that if the case were tried today, there would most likely be a different outcome.  She also noted that since the time of the trial, no new evidence had emerged to support the prosecution, citing the lack of ballistics or serology testing, or a fingerprint match to identify Mr. Hargrave. “The scant evidence that convicted the defendant makes the newfound wrongdoing of Detective Scarcella significant,” Justice Simpson said.

Since the trial, she also said, “potentially exculpatory evidence” had been destroyed, further undermining the chances that Mr. Hargrave could find justice.  After the judge read her decision, Mr. Hargrave’s mother broke down in tears as others around her burst out with shouts of joy.

“Thank you, your honor!” his sister Monique Hargrave shouted. “Thank you, God.” Outside the courthouse, Mr. Hargrave’s mother, Shirley, was still trying to process the fact that her son would finally be set free.

“I have never been so happy in 23 years,” she said. “I’m just so glad it’s over, and I hope it never happens to anyone else.” During the proceeding, Mr. Hargrave sat stoically, despite the celebrations behind him. His lawyer, Pierre Sussman, embraced him in a long hug.

“This is the strongest condemnation from the court of Detective Scarcella and Detective Chmil,” Mr. Sussman said. “Mr. Hargrave went in at age 17, and he’s being released at age 40.”

Justice Simpson said that the district attorney’s office had 30 days to appeal the ruling but that if prosecutors did not present new evidence in that time, any new trial would have to rely on the flawed evidence gathered by the detectives. Mark Hale, the chief of the conviction review unit for the district attorney’s office, said prosecutors were reviewing the decision before deciding how to proceed.

The decision caps a long battle to win Mr. Hargrave’s freedom. The New York Times investigated Mr. Hargrave’s case as part of a series of articles examining Mr. Scarcella’s record.

In a September hearing on the motion to vacate the conviction, Mr. Hargrave’s lawyers argued that the case had problems that began with flawed work by Mr. Scarcella and continued through the trial.

Supporters of Mr. Hargrave at the hearing, the end of a long battle for his freedom. Now 40, he was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison at age 17. (Credit: Sam Hodgson for The New York Times) 

For instance, blood evidence was lost, making DNA testing impossible. And the case hinged on one witness: another correction officer who was in the car with the officer who was killed, in a 1991 shootout in Crown Heights.

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College Student Roland Gainer Helps his Uber Driver, 69 Year-Old Kenneth Broskey, Raise Money to Pay off Home

PHOTO: Kenneth Broskey, 69, and Roland Gainer, 22, are pictured here.

PHOTO: Kenneth Broskey, 69, and Roland Gainer, 22, are pictured here. (Roland Gainer)

A grandfather from Michigan who’s been battling cancer for almost two years now was told 10 days ago he has about two to 10 weeks to live.  Despite recommendations to look into hospice care, Kenneth Broskey, 69, is still working full-time as an Uber driver and real estate agent in the Detroit area.

Broskey, from Livonia, told ABC News today he’s trying to raise as much money as he can so his daughter, 46, and his two grandchildren, ages 13 and nine, have a place to live when he’s soon gone.

“Once I pass away, chances are my daughter, who’s a part-time waitress at a small restaurant in Livonia, will lose the house we live in because she won’t be able to afford it anymore,” Broskey said. “So I’m doing everything for her and my grandkids at this point. When you find out you’re dying, you realize your family and friends are so important.”

And thanks to a fateful Uber ride three weeks ago, Broskey is now over $22,000 closer to paying off his family’s $95,000 mortgage.

During that ride, Broskey met Roland Gainer, a 22-year-old student at Washtenaw Community College who needed a ride to downtown Ann Arbor to meet up with some friends. Gainer said he started chatting with Broskey and the casual conversation got deeper when he learned Broskey had terminal cancer — stage four oropharyngeal cancer with lung metastases.

PHOTO: Kenneth Broskey, 69, and Roland Gainer, 22, are pictured here.

“I was asking him if he liked Uber driving and then he explained how much he loved it because he got to meet new people, and it was also helping him earn extra money before dying because he had head, tongue and throat cancer,” Broskey told ABC News today. “I felt super-compelled to help him.”

Gainer and Broskey traded numbers, and Gainer turned to the owner of a popular eclectic barber shop in Detroit for ideas on how to help Broskey, he said.

Sebastian Jackson, owner of “The Social Club” barber shop, said he got Broskey connected with a communications expert named Karen Dumas in the area, and the three of them worked together to start a GoFundMe account for Broskey this past Monday.

“It’s so inspiring to see racial and generational gaps be broken for a good cause,” Jackson told ABC News today. “I wanted to help in any way I could.”

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Davion Only’s Quest for a Family Finally Ends When Connie Bell Going, His Case Worker, Adopts Him

In October of 2013, 16-year-old Davion Only stood in front of a church in St. Petersburg, Florida with one request— for someone to adopt him.

“My name is Davion and I’ve been in foster care since I was born. I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”

His request to find a family was picked up by a local news station and more than 10,000 people from around the country responded.  Unfortunately, after a brief stint at a home in Ohio with a potential adopter, he went back to Florida and was placed in four different homes over the next year.

(Image Credit: Instagram)

But that all changed last July when he called a woman he’d known since he was seven— his case worker, Connie Bell Going.

According to Yahoo! Parenting, Only would ask Going every year to adopt him, but she always believed there was a better family out there for him.

Something in her heart changed, though, when he made the request again last summer. She explained:

“In adoption there is a ‘claiming moment,’ when you know [someone is] your child. When he called me to ask, in that moment, I just knew.”

So after a successful test run with her family — she has two daughters and a son whom she adopted out of foster care — Going started the adoption proceedings for Only.

(Image Credit: Twitter)

On April 22, 2015, the adoption proceedings will be finalized and Only will officially have a forever family.

“Today, I am feeling blessed and honored by being chosen to be the parent to all my children,” she said. “I work every day on being the best parent I can to them, to be patient and creative so that I can meet all their needs.”

Only is over the moon about his new family, and always believed Going to be his mom. He told her:

“I guess I always thought of you as my mom. Only now I get to call you that for real, right?”

(Image Credit: Twitter)

And Going feels exactly the same way.

“When he asked me, my heart felt this ache and I just knew he was my son,” she said. 

After years of moving from place to place — never having anything to call his own — Only is finally home.

article by Amanda Ghessie via

Writer/Producer John Ridley to Reinvent Marvel Superhero for New ABC Series

Academy Award-winning writer and “American Crime” creator John Ridley (Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

According to, Oscar-winning writer/producer John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) is teaming up with Marvel to develop a mysterious new TV series.  The deal reportedly involves reinventing an existing Marvel superhero character or property for ABC—but all sides are staying quiet on exactly which title Ridley is adapting.

Ridley is an executive producer of ABC’s acclaimed midseason drama American Crime, which has not yet received a second season renewal. Coming off winning best adapted screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, Ridley is also a writer/producer on the 2016 big-screen update of Ben Hur.

Marvel’s aggressive expansion into television now includes four current series (ABC’s SHIELDAgent Carter—which is on the bubble for a pickup—and Netflix’s Daredevil), plus several confirmed upcoming titles (Netflix’s A.K.A. Jessica JonesLuke Cage, and Iron Fist, followed by the Netflix character mash-up The Defenders). Neither Marvel nor ABC would comment on the Ridley project.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Philadelphia Native Deesha Dyer Named White House Social Secretary

Deesha Dyer (Image: LinkedIn)

On April 16th, the White House announced that Deesha Dyer, 37, would become the Obama administration’s third social secretary, and second African-American woman in history to hold the esteemed position.

Dyer, who is a native of Philadelphia, first came to the White House in 2009 as an intern in the Office of Scheduling and Advance. She was hired full-time in 2010 for the role of associate director for Scheduling Correspondence and was later promoted to deputy director and hotel program director. In this role, Dyer traveled with the President and First Lady and worked on matters pertaining to press, lodging and site logistics. In 2013, she was promoted to her current role as director and deputy social secretary.

“Deesha shares our commitment to a White House that reflects America’s history, highlights our culture, and celebrates all Americans. Michelle and I look forward to working with her in this new role as we welcome visitors from across the country and around the world to the People’s House,” said President Obama in a statement.

Prior to starting her career at the White House, Dyer worked at Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust from 2001 to 2010. From 2003 to 2010, she also worked as a freelance journalist covering hip-hop for several different media outlets including The Philadelphia Citypaper. In addition to her years of work experience, the Philadelphia native has also served in several community advocacy roles including her work with young adults at the Youth Health Empowerment Project, her role as creator of a hip-hop AIDS program based in Philadelphia and as a CARE advocacy volunteer and board member at Action AIDS. Since moving to that nation’s capital, Dyer has also volunteered with the homeless community in Washington, D.C. and served as a mentor in the First Lady’s mentee program.

First Lady Michelle Obama congratulated Dyer on her new position and said in a statement that she has always been impressed by her work and is “thrilled that she has agreed to continue her service as [their] Social Secretary.”

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R.I.P. “Just Got Paid” R&B Singer Johnny Kemp

R&B singer Johnny Kemp has passed away at the age of 55-years-old.  Born in the Bahamas, Kemp rose to fame after the release of his 1988 hit single Just Got Paid and his involvement in the New Jack Swing sound.  

Kemp was scheduled to be a part of the New Jack Swing performance with Teddy Riley on Tom Joyner’s annual cruise but it has been confirmed that he was not on the ship at the time of his death.

Reach Media Inc. released the following statement:

We have received confirmation that Johnny Kemp has passed away. We do not have any other details. We can confirm he was not on the ship for the Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage Cruise.

To see video of Kemp performing his best-known song, click below:

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