WASHINGTON — The government shutdown is dead. Obamacare is alive.
The Senate voted 81 to 18 Wednesday night to reopen the federal government and raise the nation’s borrowing limit, hours before the Treasury Department faced the possibility of being unable to pay all of America’s bills for the first time in modern history. The House followed suit, voting 285-144, to end the latest damaging battle of divided government in a polarized Congress.
President Barack Obama said he would reopen the government immediately to “lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease” that settled on the nation and start fixing the damage. “There is a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that has been lost over the last few weeks,” Obama said in a brief speech at the White House.
The standoff began over the summer, when tea party Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), demanded that the House of Representatives lock government funding in a chokehold unless Democrats and Obama defunded the Affordable Care
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in dozens of cities today to mourn Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in a confrontation with a neighborhood watch volunteer early last year, and to add their voices to a debate on race that his death has set off. The gatherings began around noon EST at federal buildings across the country. They came a week after George Zimmerman was acquitted by a court in Florida of Mr. Martin’s killing; days after angry protests erupted in the wake of that verdict; and hours after President Obama said, in a heartfelt address, that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
Mr. Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, addressing dozens of people outside the federal courthouse in Miami, said, “I vowed to Trayvon when he was laying in his casket that I would use every ounce of energy in my body to seek justice for him.
“I will continue to fight for Trayvon until the day I die,” he added. “Not only will I be fighting for Trayvon, I will be fighting for your child as well.” At a rally in New York, over cries of “We’re all Trayvon Martin,” the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the organizers of the gatherings, told a crowd of hundreds that Mr. Martin’s death should prompt a movement. Mr. Sharpton said that he wanted to ensure an aggressive federal investigation of Mr. Zimmerman and fight against Florida’s broad self-defense laws. “Last Saturday we cried,” he said, “but this Saturday we march.”
Compton, Calif. has elected Aja Brown as its newest mayor. The 31-year-old urban planner beat former mayor Omar Bradley in a runoff mayoral election. She’s the youngest mayor in Compton’s history and is determined to make progress in the city. “I believe the people of Compton are ready for change,” she said after being elected in June. “They’ve spoken. Their voice has clearly been heard that they don’t want to go backward. They want to go forward.”
The University of Southern California alumna is not taking her new position lightly. Her top priorities include reducing crime, balancing the budget and improving Compton’s image. In a recent interview she addressed her priorities as follows:
“I think the City of Compton has suffered for quite some time from the lack of innovative policies, really collaborative efforts with the federal, state and regional elected officials and government agencies. Compton has been on an island fiscally so I look forward to really collaborating in order to move our visions forward: to go back to basics, to implement strategic plans, capital improvements plans that really lay out the infrastructure improvements in our community. My heart is really in building coalitions. The city of Compton has over 200 churches, 100 non-profits, small business communities and really large corporations and so we have an opportunity to really bridge the gap between those sectors and be able to provide a higher level of service to our residents.”
LANCASTER, Pa. — Police in Pennsylvania say a 5-year-old girl was abducted while playing in her yard, but found safe two hours later after two boys spotted her in a car. Investigators are seeking the suspect, who drove off. It happened around 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Lancaster Township just outside the city of Lancaster. Police say that’s when Jocelyn Rojas was reported missing.
Two hours later, as police and fire crews scoured the area, police in nearby Manheim Township say two teenage boys, Temar Boggs (pictured) and his friend, Chris, spotted a girl matching Rojas’ description inside a car. They began following the vehicle on their bicycles and police say the male driver eventually stopped and let the girl out before driving off.
“As soon as the guy realized we were chasing him, he stopped at the light and he let her out,” said Boggs. “And she ran to me and said she needed her mom.” The girl’s mother told ABC affiliate WPVI-TV that she’s happy her daughter was found safe. “I’m definitely grateful God was watching over her and brought her home,” said Jaimee Smeal.
Police said an assault occurred while the girl was with her abductor, but would not release information on the type of assault. They also said the suspect did take the victim to get ice cream. It may take some time for the girl to help law enforcement officials figure out what happened during her two hours of abduction because of her age. She was briefly hospitalized after being rescued and is now home with her family.
The small community where the abduction took place is praising the boys’ bravery for tracking down the vehicle. “I believe it took courage for them to follow the car,” said Manheim-Lancaster Township Police Chief Neil Harkins, referring to the teenage boys. “The girl is here with us today.” The cops are speaking to a person of interest in connection to the abduction, but have not named a suspect or filed any charges.
It seems impossible that anyone may not know only hours ago George Zimmerman was found not guilty and cleared of all charges in the Trayvon Martin trial held in Florida. Is seems impossible that anyone may not react with sadness, anger, disbelief, or any combination of the three. It also seems impossible to know what to do in this moment that would counteract this miscarriage of justice and continued devaluation of the humanity of young black men in America. But if we consider the basics of what we know about Trayvon Martin, we can honor him by following his example and setting our own:
1. Act lawfully – no rioting or lashing out in anger – only defend yourself when you need to. Refuse to reduce yourself to prejudice and unprovoked violence. Both are the refuge of the cowardly and weak.
2. Get proactive. Write, email and tweet your local, state and federal officials and representatives and let them know you consider this verdict a travesty and want them to publicly make a statement saying as much.
3. Join the NAACP’s movement to get the Department of Justice to file civil charges against Zimmerman by clicking here or here at moveon.org and signing the petition and share the link immediately on all your social media.
4. Urge every Floridian you know to clamor for the repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law by contacting their state and federal representatives.
5. Vote. In every local, state and federal election. Use your voice to make policy and change policy.
6. Go see “Fruitvale Station” if it is playing in your town this weekend, or flood the theaters on July 26th when it opens wide. Make this movie number one. Show America with your dollars that taking the lives of black men simply for being black men demeans us all as human beings and will not be tolerated any longer.
7. Emmett Till. Medgar Evers. Martin Luther King Jr. Oscar Grant. Trayvon Martin… and countless, nameless others. Teach the history. NEVER FORGET.
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Good Black News Editor-in-Chief
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Department says former Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx has been sworn in as President Barack Obama’s new transportation secretary.
Foxx was sworn in during a private ceremony with his wife and two children Tuesday at the department’s headquarters. The department says he’s spending his first day focusing on transportation safety and preparedness for hurricanes and severe weather.
Foxx says under his tenure, safety will remain the department’s top priority. He says he’ll work on efficiency and infrastructure needed to make sure the nation’s transportation system works for future generations. Foxx’s background includes stints as a Justice Department attorney and a Democratic aide to the House Judiciary Committee. The Senate voted unanimously last week to confirm Foxx. The 42-year-old replaces outgoing secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman.
article by Josh Lederman, AP via thegrio.com; Copyright 2013 The Associated Press
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a 1996 law denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples is unconstitutional, in a sign of how rapidly the national debate over gay rights has shifted. The decision was five to four, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined. (Read the decision.)
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts was in the minority, as were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed with bipartisan support and President Bill Clinton signed.
Saying it has an obligation to prepare students for a more global society, the University of Washington will require undergrads to complete a course in some area of diversity — economic, cultural or political — before they can graduate.
The new policy, initiated by a group of mostly minority students, followed three failed attempts over the past 22 years to introduce changes meant to ensure that all graduating students know a little more about other cultures and people who differ from them than they did when they first arrived.
The three-credit course won’t add to the number of hours students now need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. And it won’t apply to current undergrads, only to the incoming class in the year the policy takes effect — possibly next fall. Helen Fillmore, a graduating senior majoring in environmental science and resource management, is a member of First Nations @ UW and of the UW Students for Diversity Coalition, which began pushing for these changes nearly three years ago.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is calling attention to the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act that aimed to eliminate gender wage disparities, making the case for strengthening the law that President John F. Kennedy signed in 1963.
Obama, speaking to an audience almost entirely of women, says women continue to be paid less than men. He says: “This is the 21st century. It’s time to close that gap.”
The event’s focus on women’s pay comes during a week when Obama is paying special attention to Democratic constituent groups. On Tuesday he will speak at the White House in support of an overhaul of immigration laws. He will be fundraising for the Democrats on Wednesday. On Thursday he will observe LGBT Pride Month with remarks at the White House.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Newark Mayor Cory Bookerformally announced today he’s in the race to finish the U.S. Senate term of the late Frank Lautenberg. The 44-year-old Democrat made his candidacy official at a news conference Saturday in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. He was joined by former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a former pro basketball player who for 18 years held the seat Booker is seeking.
Bradley, who endorsed Booker, called him “the right person for the right office at the right time.” Booker began raising money for a Senate run even before Lautenberg, who died Monday, announced retirement plans in February. He had raised $1.9 million by the end of the last reporting period in March.
Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are also planning to enter the Democratic primary. Booker is considered the early front-runner. Pallone, 61, had $3.7 million in his campaign coffers at the end of March and has deep union support. Holt, 64, a former research physicist, had $800,000 on hand.
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, announced this week that there would be party primaries Aug. 13 and a special general election Oct. 16 The only Republican running so far is Steve Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor who runs the New Jersey office of Americans for Prosperity.
Booker, 44, has 1.4 million followers on Twitter — or five for every resident of the city where he’s the mayor. He tweets frequently, answering questions about city services, posting about his workouts and, perhaps most often, trying to provide inspiration.