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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

joe leonard story of untrues




Date: Tue, 3 Mar 2015 21:22:47 -0500
Subject: Fwd: joe leonard story of untrues


all us/abused folks should go to the site and respond in the "comment section". see the below.
 
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On the right side of the promise: guest opinion

http://connect.al.com/user/bamaguestopinion/index.htmlBy Guest opinion 
on March 02, 2015 at 12:51 PM
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By Joe Leonard, Jr. Ph.D
As a school kid during the first years of desegregation in the public schools of Austin, Texas, much of my experience of the world around me was shaped by color. I saw and experienced firsthand how discrimination and inequality can stunt and hold back too many Americans--not only through violence, but the more subtle, life-altering trauma of discrimination.
I've also seen how inclusion and understanding have the power to lift up individuals and communities and help them heal.
Those experiences inspired me to dedicate my life to helping organizations and companies chart a new, better path forward--one where every customer and every employee is treated with dignity and respect, no matter what. So when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called me to serve as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at USDA, I said yes. 

AL.COM OPINION

    • About the writer
      Joe Leonard, Jr. Ph.D is Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
When we walked in six years ago, Secretary Vilsack and I knew that USDA was marked by a history of denying equal service and opportunity to numerous individuals, based solely upon skin color. It was the furthest thing from "The People's Department" that President Lincoln envisioned at the founding of USDA in 1862. 
We started by examining our history, deeply and thoroughly, and bringing to light the worst aspects of the Department's past. In my first weeks on the job, my staff and I were flooded with accounts of alleged discrimination by USDA dating back decades. 
We also knew that acknowledging this history publically would be uncomfortable. Setting a new course would create a new set of challenges, but we had to make things right, and not just on paper or in lofty speeches. The Secretary and I demanded results--not rhetoric--from our staff. 
We had to evolve and set an example for our future by first addressing past mistakes. In 2010, USDA settled large-scale class-action lawsuits that involved allegations of past discrimination against Native American and African American farmers and ranchers with the establishment of claims processes to adjudicate discrimination claims. In 2011, we began to carry out a similar claims process to address decades-old claims of discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers and ranchers.
But rebuilding trust takes more. We had to ask our stakeholders tough questions and be willing to hear difficult answers. We used their feedback to lay a new, solid foundation for institutional practices that cannot easily be undone.
To do that, we had to change the culture of USDA itself by rooting out exclusivity and building a culture of inclusivity and accessibility. We began by training our employees to ensure those we serve are treated fairly and equally. We made changes to the structure of our County committees--the direct link between the farm community and USDA's programs and services--to ensure a fair representation of minority and women producers. As a result, complaints and findings of wrongdoing have decreased. In 2013 and 2014, our Farm Service Agency--the agency that deals most directly with farmers and ranchers--received the fewest civil rights complaints from customers on record.
We also initiated an improved review process for conducting investigations when civil rights complaints arise. Today, processing times have been dramatically reduced. Cases are no longer closed because they have "expired," a practice that ran rampant in the past and led to complaints that lingered, sometimes for many years, without being addressed. Instead, all issues are examined, diplomatically and promptly. To ensure that every person is properly served by our local offices, we've issued more than 101,000 receipts for service since we began implementing the practice two months ago.  
Recognizing that discrimination can come in many forms, in 2013, we added protections for gender identity, gender expression and political identity--one of the first government agencies to do so. This past year, we also issued two key departmental regulations to prohibit age discrimination and discrimination against people with limited proficiency in English. Socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, producers and regions of the United States now apply for--and receive--USDA loans and support they qualify for, which has ushered in billions of dollars in new economic activity, created jobs and spurred innovation in places that had been for too long overlooked, such as parts of Alabama.
In 2013, 39 of Alabama's poorest rural counties began receiving intensive and targeted support through our StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity. USDA partnered with local leaders to identify areas where the need was greatest and provided more than $71 million in funds for community-led projects that would strengthen the economy and spur community growth.
While more needs to be done, these investments are a start. Discrimination and poverty are still part of the lived experience of too many Americans, particularly in the rural communities USDA serves. We will continue to listen, engage and transform to better serve every American and move out from under the shadow of prejudice and injustice. Today, I am proud to say that USDA is standing on the right side of the promise President Lincoln made to the American people 150 years ago.
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http://connect.al.com/user/ridgely_mu'min/index.html
Ridgely Mu'min

In encouraging needed change at the USDA Dr. Leonard stated: "To do that, we had to change the culture of USDA itself by rooting out exclusivity and building a culture of inclusivity and accessibility. We began by training our employees to ensure those we serve are treated fairly and equally." However, one cannot root "out exclusivity" without firing the USDA employees, who not only discriminated against Black farmers, but benefited by stealing the land of these Black farmers for themselves and their families.

The USDA has continued to foreclose on Black farmers even after they won $50,000 and "debt release" in Pigford I. The USDA continues to garnish the social security and veterans benefits of Black farmers to pay the interest on the debts that were supposed to have been forgiven under the "consent decree."

The Black farmers never asked for $50,000. They went to court to stop the foreclosures on 3,000 farms. Instead they were tricked into accepting $50,000 while their lands were still taken from them by Judge Paul Friedman, the new master of Black lands.


Grassley calls on Obama to ensure protections for federal whistlebl




Date: Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:28:49 -0500
Subject: Check out Grassley calls on Obama to ensure protections for federal whistleblowers


Monday, March 2, 2015

Check out Petition · U.S. House of Representatives, President of the United S





Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2015 09:46:45 -0500
Subject: Check out Petition · U.S. House of Representatives, President of the United S


USDA Ignores Their Civil Rights Problems, August 17, 2010




Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2015 09:17:54 -0800

Subject: Re: USDA Ignores Their Civil Rights Problems, August 17, 2010







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WHY WE STILL NEED SELMA


Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2015 14:53:02 -0500
Subject: WHY WE STILL NEED SELMA




Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

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Author and political analyst

Why We Still Need a Selma

Posted: Updated: 
SELMA MARTIN LUTHER KING
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One week after Alabama state troopers bludgeoned civil rights demonstrators on the Edmund Pettus Bridge outside Selma on March 7, 1965 a visibly shaken Lyndon Johnson called for and addressed a joint session of Congress. His message was clear. His administration would pull out all stops to pass a voting rights bill which was the objective of the Selma marches. Five months later, the bill became the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. The act ignited an explosion in the number of black, Hispanic, Asian, women and Native American voters and the election of thousands of their number to local state and federal offices. The jewel in the crown in the Act was the election in 2008 of President Obama.

In the fifty years since the Selma march and the passage of the Act, a succession of GOP leaders, state legislators, girded by various federal court decisions, and the reflexive rightist four, and sometimes, five U.S. Supreme Court justices, have waged relentless war on the Act. The deal in the initial passage of the Act was that it be renewed every 25 years.

When the Act came up for renewal in 1981, hardline ultraconservatives in the administration of then President Reagan made loud threats to push Reagan to oppose its renewal. They were just that, idle threats. Reagan with no fanfare signed the renewal legislation. When the Act came up for renewal again in 2006, the threats to thwart the law, turned into a mini-movement in Congress to delay or even block passage. A pack of House Republicans stalled the legislation for more than a week and demanded that hearings be held.

The standard attack line has always been that it punishes the South for past voting discrimination sins, and that the thousands of black and Hispanic legislators in the South, Southwest and West is supreme proof that the crude, naked race based voter suppression ploys was a thing of a long gone past. Bush signed the renewal order. But the GOP had served notice that the early saber rattle against the Act was a just a warm-up for a full throttle frontal assault. The GOP pecked at eroding the Act with the rash of photo identifications laws that the GOP governors and GOP controlled state legislatures enacted in recent years. The aim was to discourage and damp down the number of minority and poor voters that overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

Then enter the Supreme Court. In the Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013, the Alabama county claimed the Act is outdated, discriminatory, and a blatant federal intrusion into state's rights. The lawsuit explicitly wants the centerpiece of the Act, Section 5 dumped. This is the provision that mandates that states get "preclearance" from the Justice Department before making any changes in voting procedures. State attorneys general in several states have endorsed the Alabama County's challenge. Chief Justice John Roberts bluntly said that things have changed in the South and that blacks supposedly vote everywhere in the South without any barriers or prohibitions. Clarence Thomas, to no surprise, went even further and flatly called Section 5 of the Act unconstitutional and left no doubt if and when he had the chance he'd knock the Act out completely. The provision was scrapped.

GOP-controlled legislatures in six states in the South and Southwest where voting rights procedures were covered by that part of the act wasted no time in passing a slew of restrictive voting laws that the VRA had previously blocked. This brought the total to more than 20 states that have passed tough voting restrictions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Even though black and Hispanic voters did vote in big numbers in the 2012 election, in many districts they still had to stand in endless lines, have their IDs thoroughly scrutinized, had no bilingual ballots, found voting hours shortened, and had to file time consuming legal challenges in state and federal courts to get injunctions to stop the more onerous of the voter suppression laws from being enforced.

This was only part of the story of the roadblocks the GOP has thrown up. A study by the Alliance for Justice, a Washington D.C. based, public interest group, documented legions of complaints and challenges filed by the Justice Department and voting rights groups to discriminatory changes that county registrars have made to eliminate or narrow down the number of voters in predominantly minority districts. The tales of supposed massive voter fraud egged on by civil rights, voter rights advocacy groups and orchestrated by the Democrats has been just that, self-serving tales. There is no evidence to support any of the GOP charges of massive voter hanky-panky.

Fifty years after the bloody Selma march shocked Johnson and the nation into taking fast track action to right a glaring historic wrong, namely the denial of the right to vote to millions in America, that right is still under intense assault. This is why we still need a Selma today.

--

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. His forthcoming book is:From King to Obama: Witness to a Turbulent History (Middle Passage Press) .

He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter:www.twitter.com/earlhutchinson