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Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 02 August 2017 - The San Bernardino American News

Aguilar Announces Federal Grant Workshop for Inland Empire Organizations

San Bernardino, CA – Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) announced that he will hold a Community Grants Workshop on Thursday, August 31st from 9:00am to 12:00pm to connect Inland Empire organizations with federal agencies to learn about federal grant opportunities. The workshop will include breakout sessions with agency representatives, a grant writing seminar, and a panel with federal agency officials that will be moderated by Rep. Aguilar.

In the 114th Congress, Rep. Aguilar announced over $75 million in grant funding for California’s 31st Congressional District.

Please see full event details below. Press interested in attending should rsvp to Sarah Weinstein.

What: Community Grants Workshop hosted by Rep. Pete Aguilar

When: Thursday, August 31st from 9:00AM to 12:00PM

Where: San Bernardino Community College District Office

114 S. Del Rosa Drive

San Bernardino, California 92408

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RELEASE: New Fact Sheet Details How Federal Gun Bill Poses Dangerous Threat to California’s Public Safety

WASHINGTON, DC -- As lawmakers in Washington D.C. prepare to head home for August recess, a new fact sheet released today demonstrates the local impact a bill up for debate on Capitol Hill would have on states like California. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would force California to allow unvetted people from out of state - including violent offenders and people with no firearm safety training - to carry loaded, hidden guns in public spaces. It’s important to note that this bill would not create a consistent national requirement across states for who is able to get a concealed carry permit, but instead forces states to recognize the concealed carry laws from other states, including states that have weaker standards for what it takes to carry a loaded, hidden gun in public.

“Make no mistake, this dangerous legislation, championed by the corporate gun lobby, has been specifically crafted to overrule each state’s careful judgments about how to best to protect public safety,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “If this bill passes, people who currently do not meet California's requirements for what it takes to carry a loaded, hidden gun will nevertheless be automatically authorized to carry concealed in California's public spaces. Forcing states like California to comply with weaker laws from other states will endanger public safety and make it more difficult for police to enforce gun laws that have been proven to save lives.”

Currently, California has the right to choose which states’ concealed carry permits it recognizes, which is important because the requirements to carry hidden, loaded guns in public vary drastically from state to state. California does not recognize the concealed carry permits of any other state. If the concealed carry reciprocity bill passes, that would no longer be the case and California would be forced to allow unlicensed, unvetted people from out of state to carry concealed guns in public spaces.

As of today, 12 states - including California’s neighbor Arizona - do not require any permit or training to carry hidden, loaded guns in public. If this bill becomes federal law, almost any person from these 12 states would be allowed to carry concealed in California, regardless of whether that person meets California’s standards for what it takes to carry a concealed gun in public, such as completing a safety training, passing a background check and not having a recent violent history.

To illustrate the devastating impact this bill would have on California’s public safety, the fact sheet, released today by Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, compares the requirements to carry concealed in California to the requirements to carry concealed in Washington, illustrating how this bill would drastically weaken California’s laws if enacted.

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Nearly 500 teachers participate in third annual California Teachers Summit at CSUSB

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Nearly 500 teachers participated at the third annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit at Cal State San Bernardino, a free day of learning led by teachers for teachers.

The university, and its Palm Desert Campus where nearly 270 more teachers attended, served as one of the host sites for this year’s summit, which took place at 35 venues across the state on July 28.

Educators don’t often get the opportunity to collaborate and hear input, feedback and resources from other experienced teachers, said Euridici Fitz, a teacher consultant in the San Bernardino City Unified School District and a CSUSB alumna. The summit allows them to meet and share ideas with teachers not only within their own school district, but within surrounding districts as well, she said.

“The most important take-away for me would be actually having those conversations and opportunities to collaborate,” Fitz said. “Hearing other people’s stories, hearing what they did in certain situations, because oftentimes as educators or even coaches, it might seem as if we’re the only person who experiences certain things. But when we hear other people’s experiences and how they dealt with it or addressed the issue, I know it gave me resources for my teaching toolbox to pull from.”

Jill Biden, a lifelong educator and the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, delivered the keynote address at Saint Mary’s, which was livestreamed to all 35 sites. Biden, who has taught at community colleges, a public high school and a psychiatric hospital for adolescents, shared valuable insights from her 30-year teaching career.

“We can always learn more on how best to meet the individual needs of our students,” Biden said. “That way, we can build stronger relationships, and find new and better ways to meet students where they are.”

Biden pointed out the sharp political differences over many areas. Yet, she said, “supporting education is a bi-partisan issue. Diverse perspectives make us more effective. They help us think differently and attack problems from new angles.”

The 2017 theme, “Now More Than Ever,” reflects the importance of bringing teachers together to share ways to empower California students, protect their values as educators and set an example for the nation. The California Teachers Summit is the result of a unique partnership between the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), the California State University and New Teacher Center.

“This year’s theme, ‘Now More Than Ever,’ is especially relevant in the Inland Empire,” said CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales in a video address to summit participants. “According to a recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California, ours is one of three key regions that must increase their college enrollment and graduation rate if this state is to meet its need for college-educated workers by 2030.”

For that reason, he said, preparing students early in their education is essential to have them college-ready by the time they graduate from high school.

The summit provided educators an opportunity to share ideas that have worked in their classrooms in hopes of that success spreading to other schools, helping students to succeed.

“The California Teachers Summit is all about teachers. They are the experts on what works in the classroom,” said Kristen Soares, president of AICCU. “Now more than ever, we are committed to enhancing the teaching profession by giving teachers the opportunity to learn cutting-edge strategies that make a difference in the classroom.”

And that can lead to making a difference in the lives of children. “I have never in my life have wanted to do anything else in my life other than teach,” Fitz said. “And I chose to teach in San Bernardino because I wanted to teach kids like me. I came up from poverty. I struggled. I had a rough upbringing. Just knowing through my experiences in my life, I would be able to be a resource of information or hope for those students in similar situations. So I just want to make a difference for those kids, especially here in San Bernardino.”

Following Biden’s address, each site featured TED-style EdTalks by local teachers — at CSUSB, they were given by Sarah Gapp and Carmen Quinn-Okoh, both from the San Bernardino City Unified School District — and Edcamp discussions on teacher-selected topics. From addressing bullying in the classroom to celebrating diversity to teaching students to be open-minded, critical thinkers, teachers explored timely topics that are impacting student success.

“By investing in teachers, we are investing in our current and our future students,” said Loren Blanchard, executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at CSU. “Participants gain strategies, tools and resources for helping every student meet their full potential.”

The summit format is designed to facilitate a spirit of peer learning and collaboration. Teachers walked away with access to new resources and concrete tools that are already transforming classrooms across the state.

“Bringing teachers together empowers them to take their teaching to the next level,” said Ellen Moir, founder and CEO of New Teacher Center. “By learning from, supporting and elevating each other, there’s no limit to what California teachers can do.”

Plans are already underway for the fourth annual summit, which will take place on July 27, 2018. During the event, the organizers announced next year’s theme, “It’s Personal: Meeting the Needs of All Students,” which reflects the importance of personalized learning.

For more information, please visit www.cateacherssummit.com and follow @CATeacherSummit on Facebook and Twitter.

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Trump’s Pro-Police Brutality Speech Slammed

President Donald Trump told police officers on Friday not to be “too nice” while transporting suspects — a statement supportive of police brutality, according to various law enforcement officials around the country.

Some officers are already pros in Trump’s suggested tactics, such as the Baltimore cops who transported Freddie Gray during his 2015 arrest, which resulted in his death. But, New Orleans’ Chief of Police Michael Harrison said the president’s statements stand in “stark contrast” with the ethics of his police department.

Trump addressed officers at an event in Brentwood, N.Y., located in Suffolk County, regarding La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. The gang has been accused of several murders on Long Island. Trump suggested cops use aggressive tactics during arrests like not protecting the heads of handcuffed suspects being put in the back of a car.

“Please don’t be too nice,” Trump exclaimed. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over?” the president continued. “Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head? I said, ‘You can take the hand away, okay?’”

The officers responded with cheers and applause.

Trump also glorified the forceful tactics of immigration officers. For the past few years, Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), one of the largest and highest paid police departments in the country, has been monitored by the Department of Justice. A federal investigation exposed a pattern of anti-immigrant violence.

But, to avert further spotlight on its policing practices, on Friday afternoon the department said in response to Trump’s statements that they do not tolerate the “roughing up of prisoners.”

The New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill also issued a statement against Trump’s call for violence.

To “suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement as well as the public,” O’Neill said.

On social media, law enforcement leaders around the country have also been speaking out against Trump’s suggestion for violent tactics.

Chief of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Michael Harrison tweeted a statement Saturday:

“The president’s comments stand in stark contrast to our department’s commitment to constitutional policing and community engagement,” Harrison said.

#NOPD Chief Michael Harrison statement issued 7/29 re: recent comments by President Trump on police work.

6:32 AM - Jul 30, 2017

“The NOPD is a national leader in police reform, and our policies - which are founded on national best practices and community input - recognize that every interaction our officers have with the public is an opportunity to keep our officers and citizens safe, and to build community trust with law enforcements,” Harrison said. “Rather than a focus on scapegoating certain ethnic groups, we need the federal government’s support and partnership to invest in community policing and take on violent criminals - regardless of race or ethnicity.

Improving public safety and reducing crime requires restoring trust with the community’, Harrison continued. “The President’s comments stand in stark contrast to our department’s commitment to constitutional policing and community engagement.

“Any unreasonable or unnecessary application of force against any citizen erodes trust at a time when we need support from our local communities the most. This is not a binary choice of either protecting the public or protecting a person’s rights. We can and we must protect both, and NOPD will continue to lead the way in adopting policing reforms that do just that.”

The @POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality.

GPD rejects these remarks and continues to serve with respect.

The NOPD has been working with the Department of Justice on policing reforms.

Ben Tobias, a police officer and Gainesville police spokesman, directly addressed Trump’s statements:

I'm a cop.

I do not agree with or condone @POTUS remarks today on police brutality.

Those that applauded and cheered should be ashamed.

The Gainesville Police Department also issued an official tweet:

“It is our sworn duty to protect people from unjustified violence and harm, no matter who disagrees,” the Burlington, Vt., Police Department tweeted on Saturday.

According to The Counted, a tracker by The Guardian, in 2015, young Black men in the U.S. were killed by police officers at a rate five times higher than white men of the same age — a total of 1,134 deaths.

That is the same year Freddie Gray died in Baltimore after he was arrested and put in the back of a police van.

In response to Trump’s statement, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz tweeted:

@kevinkamenetz

Are you kidding me? This is disgusting. https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/891008123787399168 …

 

However, The Baltimore Police Department did not issue an immediate response.

"That these men were HONORED is akin to a modern day lynching party."

 

U.S. House of Representatives Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) tweeted on Saturday evening:

 

Freddie Gray's family probably wants to know if officers will protect Trump's head when he is thrown into the back of a paddy wagon.

7:21 PM - Jul 29, 2017 · Los Angeles, CA

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Trump: Police Brutality Makes America Great Again

Donald Trump, showed up on Long Island recently spewing his propensity for violence and promoting his disdain for Barack Obama to the Suffolk County Police department. Turns out the audience was comprised of officers in a police department that has been scrutinized for racial profiling, and whose former chief was recently sentenced to prison for beating a man.

Trump has a burning desire to discredit Barack Obama and a commitment to destroying his pristine image and presidential legacy by whatever means at his disposal.

Under President Obama, the Justice Department opened investigations into more than two dozen police departments, and worked out formal reform agreements known as consent decrees with 14 of them including the Suffolk County Police Department. These agreements were reached in the wake of several nationwide high-profile fatal shootings of black men by police.

Upon being appointed Attorney General, probably upon orders from Trump, Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure that these pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.

In his address to the Long Island crowd, Trump suggested police shouldn’t worry about roughing up suspects. This was Trump’s subtle attempt to erase the effects of Obama’s policing reform agreements.

In reference to M13, a violent gang of young men mostly of Salvadorian decent,

He suggested that police should ignore arrest guidelines and not be “nice” to the suspects. The president spoke dismissively of arresting officers who protect suspects’ heads while putting them in police cars.

Trump: “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting the head. You know? The way you put the hand over the head, like ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody, ‘Don’t hit their head.’ “I said, ‘You can take the hand away,’ OK?” Officers in the audience responded to Trump’s remarks with thunderous applause.

Such a reaction is, at the very least, unsettling given the allegations of discrimination against the department. The Suffolk County Police Department was investigated for discriminatory policing against Latinos, including an indifference toward immigrant residents that discouraged reporting crimes and cooperation with law enforcement, failing to thoroughly investigate hate crimes, and enforcing immigration policies in a way that encouraged racial profiling. A reform agreement reached between the DOJ and Suffolk County in 2013 required the department to institute a range of reforms. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions sent a disturbing message to these officers and they relished the news.

The Long Island gang known as Mara Salvatrucha or MS 13 is known to have about 10,000 members and it’s one of the most dangerous and violent gangs in operation today. They are operational in over 40 cities around the United States. This is one of hundreds of dangerous street gangs operating in North and South America.

Donald Trump seems to revel in violent and dissident environments.

During the presidential primaries of 2016, he encouraged violence among his supporters against protesters at his rallies. He encouraged a crowd of supporters to “knock the hell” out of anyone who looked like they might throw anything at him, and promised to pay the legal fees for anyone who took him up on his suggestion. All succeeding rallies were accompanied by some sort of Trump inspired violence. When confronted with the possibility to make good on the promise to pay the legal fees of a man who admitted to punching a protester at a Trump rally in North Carolina, Trump said “No, I didn’t say that, I never said I was going to pay for fees.”

In a recent attempt to discredit Obama, he asked a group of teenage boys attending their annual Boy Scout Jamboree, “Did Barack Obama ever attend a Boy Scout Jamboree”? He answered his own question with a no but Obama did attend the Jamboree in 2010 via video. He had no interest in other presidents who had or had not attended the Jamboree, he either researched the issue or had someone do it for him and he knew Obama had not attended in person. However he got his expected results when he popped the question, boos and cheers.

Scouts learn the importance of being “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” How few of those adjectives apply to Donald Trump. A man who can’t control himself to act in a manner befitting the setting, is a man without the steadiness of character to run a nation. A grown man who is so insecure as to seek affirmation in a group of teenagers is not a man with the maturity to lead a nation. A man who is so self-absorbed as to make every utterance about himself and his needs is not a man with the vision to elevate a nation.

Trump’s remarks has been repudiated by the Suffolk County Police. The Department said they will not tolerate such behavior from their officers. The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously. As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.

The failure of “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare is a direct result of Trump’s obsession with discrediting Barack Obama.

His 30 million supporters was not aware that the Affordable Care Act, which they loved and subscribed to, and Obamacare was one and the same. The pushback on “Trumpcare” came directly from them.

When will the US congress wake up and rid themselves and the American people of this narcissist, arrogant, manipulative, vindictive, delusional, overbearing, ill-informed, deceitful, inarticulate, and pessimistic aberration to America’s image and reputation?.

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Congressional maneuver seeks to deny consumers financial satisfaction

(July 27, 2017)The song, “I can’t get no satisfaction” may have been recorded decades ago first by Otis Redding and later by the Rolling Stones, but its message is still true today. Its lyrics, “I’ve tried, and tried” strike a resonant chord with anyone who ever felt they received less than they deserved.

When it comes to today’s range of financial services and products, many consumers don’t have satisfaction.

One of the reasons is that consumers are often denied the chance to join forces in court to hold bank and lenders accountable when they seem to have broken the law. Instead, financial contracts frequently contain forced arbitration clauses buried in the fine print. These anti-consumer clauses require that all disputes between consumers and the institution are dealt with in a secretive and often rigged arbitration system.

Among the financial products with high use of arbitration clauses are payday loans. An estimated 99 percent of storefront payday loans in California and Texas include arbitration. Here’s how it works:

The financial institution hires the arbitration firm, pays its fee, and in turn, almost always rules in the company’s favor 93 percent of the time and leading to repeat business-to-business dealings. And by the way – more often than not, there is no right to appeal.

On July 10, a long-awaited rule to remedy this dilemma, was announced by Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). A forceful and vocal coalition of civil rights, organized labor, consumer advocates and others had pushed for the rule to further address economic ills suffered disproportionately by consumers of color.

Earlier CFPB research found that even with limits on class actions, consumers receive – after attorneys’ fees – approximately $440 million more per year in these lawsuits than with arbitration. Over the past few years, 34 million more consumers received relief from class action lawsuits.

“Including these clauses in contracts allows companies to sidestep the judicial system, avoid big refunds, and continue to pursue profitable practices that may violate the law and harm large numbers of consumers,” said Cordray. “Our research showed that these little-known clauses are bad for consumers. They may not be aware that they have been deceived or discriminated against or even when their contractual rights have been violated.”

Civil rights organizations were swift to speak up in support.

“By leveling the playing field between corporations and individuals, this rule is an important step towards addressing the economic inequality that is so closely intertwined with racial injustice in the United States, ” said Todd Cox, policy director for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Last August, the organization submitted comments supporting the rule – along with 110,000 others.

“These forced arbitration clauses block consumers who have been wronged from joining class action lawsuits or otherwise appearing before an impartial court that can consider their injuries,” said Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“By forcing consumers into secret arbitration, corporations have long enjoyed an advantage in the process, and victims have often been precluded from sharing their stories with the press or law enforcement, Gupta continued. “The CFPB rule is simple. It says that consumers have the right to join together to enforce protections guaranteed by the Constitution, or federal, state, or local law.”

Unfortunately, not all reactions were supportive.

On July 20, Sen. Mike Crapo, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services announced a coordinated legislative attack to roll back CFPB’s arbitration rule. Proceeding under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can fast track a veto of new federal regulation with limited debate and a simple majority vote in each chamber.

As of press time, Sen. Crapo’s resolution was supported by over 20 Senate colleagues representing 21 states. For three of these states – Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi – both Senators support the measure. On the House side, Rep. Keith Rothfus sponsored its resolution with the support of 33 colleagues.

Only July 25, the House passed its resolution on a highly partisan vote of 231-190. Only one Member of Congress crossed the aisle to vote against his majority party – Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina. As of press time, the Senate had not yet taken the measure to a vote.

Since the 115th Congress began in January, Congress has used the Congressional Review

Act a total of 14 times. Each time it was used to overrule regulations by the Obama Administration. Prior to this year, only once in 2001, has Congress taken this approach.

For policy advocates, the attempt to undo the lengthy and thoughtful process CFPB used in developing its arbitration rule is a step backwards, instead of forward.

“These clauses block consumers’ access to the courts and force consumers into an arbitration process rigged in favor of the company,” noted Melissa Stegman, a Senior Policy Counsel with the Center for Responsible Lending. “This also makes it difficult for consumers to challenge widespread, systemic misconduct by companies since it is often too expensive to pursue small-dollar disputes one-by-one in arbitration. “The Wells Fargo scandal highlights the real harm of forced arbitration clauses, as customers who attempted to bring class action lawsuits against the bank over phony accounts were blocked from the court – keeping the growing problem out of the public eye.”

Whether it’s a payday loan, or a credit card or maybe even a mobile phone, no consumer who has been financially harmed should be denied the right to seek some satisfaction and financial justice.

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Serena Williams Tells Black Women to ‘Be Fearless’ on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

In honor of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day on July 31, tennis superstar Serena Williams had a message for Black women: “Be fearless.”

It disappoints me to know we live in a society in which people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child,” Serena Williams said.

But today isn’t about me,” she continued. “It’s about the other 24 million black women in America. If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me.”

The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles,” she continued. “For every black woman that rises through the ranks to a position of power, there are too many others who are still struggling. Most black women across our country do not have the same support that I did, and so they often don’t speak out about what is just, fair and appropriate in the workplace. When they do, they are often punished for it.”

Serena Williams Would Rank 'No. 700' if She Played Against Men, Says John McEnroe

Williams responds to McEnroe’s sexist comments that question her ability to defeat pro tennis players in the men’s circuit.

Williams shared that she recently joined the board of directors for SurveyMonkey and partnered with the company to learn a little bit more about the gender pay gap and how it impacts Black women in particular.

 

Some of the findings include:

Racial and gender disparities exist when it comes to recognizing the gender pay gap. Nearly 70 percent of Black women acknowledge that it exists, compared to just 44 percent of white men.

Almost two-thirds of Black women recognize “major obstacles” for women in the workplace. And about three-quarters of Black women say minorities also face challenges of their own.

Millennial Black women exhibit some optimism, as 43 percent reported that men and women both have the same opportunities for promotion.

For those who do not recognize the gender pay gap despite the evidence, Williams says, “Data doesn’t lie.”

It just gives a number to the gap women feel every day,” she added.

Black women: Be fearless,” Williams urges. “Speak out for equal pay. Every time you do, you’re making it a little easier for a woman behind you. Most of all, know that you’re worth it. It can take a long time to realize that. It took me a long time to realize it. But we are all worth it. I’ve long said, ‘You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.’”

The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap,” a 2016 report the AAUW, states that closing the gender pay gap will take concerted effort.

The good news is that the gap has narrowed considerably in the last hundred years,” according to the report. “The bad news is that the gap is still sizable, it’s even worse for women of color, and it doesn’t seem likely to go away on its own.”

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The Journey from Boys to Men in ‘Raising Bertie,’ Airing Monday, August 28 on POV

In the quietly powerful Raising Bertie, three black boys in North Carolina’s rural Bertie County come of age right before our eyes. Filmed over six years, they deal with the same issues that every boy approaching the leap to manhood faces—and others triggered by their specific and often precarious conditions. As the quote from James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son that opens the film puts it, “I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also so much more than that. So are we all.”

Raising Bertie has its national broadcast premiere on the PBS documentary series POV (Point of View) on Monday, August 28, 2017 (check local listings). POV is American television's longest-running independent documentary series, now in its 30th season.

Raising Bertie opens windows into three young men’s lives: Reginald “Junior” Askew, a charismatic young man looking for direction; Davonte “Dada” Harrell, a quiet teen who likes to cut hair and care for his nephew; and David “Bud” Perry, who has a quick-temper and takes pride in being a sharp dresser.

When the audience is introduced to the young men, Junior’s father and Dada’s older brother are incarcerated and Bud is on parole; all three boys are being raised by loving and hard-working single mothers.

The documentary was initially conceived as a survey of an alternative school in Bertie County called the Hive House. When the film evolved into a feature-length project, the Hive became the film’s launching pad. The audience meets Junior, Dada and Bud at the school. Helmed by impassioned educator and community advocate Vivian Saunders, the Hive is a stabilizing force in the teens’ lives as it undertakes the task of providing at-risk black boys in Bertie with a safe environment to learn, bond and express themselves.

But when the school suddenly closes, the young men are forced to return to the town’s traditional public high school, where they confront mounting social and academic obstacles. Faced with generational poverty and the challenges of growing up black in rural America, the protagonists struggle to graduate from high school and avoid the violence and substance abuse that have robbed them of their fathers.

This powerful longitudinal documentary marks the directorial debut of Margaret Byrne and is produced by Chicago’s internationally acclaimed Kartemquin Films, the creators behind Hoop Dreams and The Trials of Muhammad Ali. The film is also executive produced by Grammy Award-nominated rapper Jermaine Cole, known by his stage name J. Cole, who grew up in North Carolina.

The audience is drawn into the boys’ small-town world as Raising Bertie weaves between their stories. On one level, the film addresses universal themes of family, adolescent angst and the search for identity, and on another it tackles the particular realities faced by rural minorities, including systemic racism, educational inequality, poverty and unemployment. “It’s like I’m not even here,” Junior says in one scene as he skips rocks on the side of a dirt road at dusk with cars passing him by.

In making Raising Bertie, the filmmakers shine a light on Junior’s and other rural black children’s existence. Bertie County’s population is 80 percent black and 20 percent white, yet rural African Americans like Junior, Dada and Bud represent some of the nation’s least visible and most vulnerable individuals. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, poverty rates among rural children continue to rise. In addition, poverty rates for rural black children are more than double the rates for rural white children.

As the cameras roll over the course of six years, these boys become men with responsibilities and a desire to do better than their fathers. Their indomitable spirit and sheer will to rise above their circumstances sustain them.

At the end of the film, Junior finally lands a factory job, albeit two hours away in Virginia, and is expecting a baby with “an angel” he met as she was leaving church; Bud is proud to have graduated from high school before he aged out at 21 and works two farming jobs to pay child support for his 4- year-old daughter; and Dada, the youngest and shyest of the bunch, has a supportive girlfriend and enrolls in barbering school.

“I didn’t want to focus on stories of the exceptional,” said director Margaret Byrne of her decision to film Junior, Bud and Dada. “The truth is, I made a film about three kids I met and I cared about. The individuals in this story are representative of their community and they matter.”

“There is a clear disconnect between urban and rural communities in America right now; Raising Bertie challenges prevailing perceptions of race and class in rural America by giving viewers access to a trio of the young black male voices we don’t often hear,” said POV executive producer Justine Nagan. “After spending six years embedded in Bertie County, Margaret Byrne tells the complex stories of these three youths with the care and understanding their experiences demand.”

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SCE Prescribes Outage Preparedness for Medical Baseline Customers

Preparing for the occasional heat-related power outage can be a lifesaver.

It’s especially important as summer temperatures climb to be prepared if you, or a full-time resident in your household, have a medical condition that depends on an electricity-powered life support device or equipment in your home.

For Medical Baseline customers, Southern California Edison recommends you always be prepared with an emergency plan and are ready to implement it in the event an unexpected outage or power reduction occurs to ensure your safety until electricity is restored.

“For customers who rely on medical equipment, we strongly urge them to always have a backup plan in place for unforeseen electrical emergencies,” said Kari Gardner, manager of Consumer Affairs for SCE.

“It’s also important that SCE customers enroll in our Medical Baseline program, which provides for additional energy per day at a lower rate and lets us know there is a fragile situation in the home so we can send alerts and notifications to these residents during outages.”

Those on Medical Baseline are allocated an additional 16.5 kilowatt-hours per day over their standard electricity usage to help offset the cost of greater electricity use resulting from their medical equipment or device.

Extreme heat waves can cause strain on the electrical system as residents seek relief running their air conditioners, sometimes day and night. After several days of extreme high temperatures, that strain can build, causing equipment issues and sometimes lead to power outages.

To learn more about the Medical Baseline program, call 1-800-655-4555 or download the application.

Medical Equipment Tips:

Have a backup plan. This could mean a backup power system or other arrangements. Develop plans to leave your home in the event of a lengthy power outage if necessary. Share this plan with family, friends and others who should be aware.

Equipment backup. If your medical equipment is supplied by a hospital or a durable medical equipment company, work with them to develop an emergency or backup plan. Some companies may supply additional medical equipment and other services during emergency situations.

Get a kit. Every household needs a safety kit. Fill yours with fresh water, nonperishable food, a manual can opener, batteries, a flashlight, necessary medications and more.

Get on “special needs” lists. Contact your local fire department to learn whether they maintain a list of people with special medical needs. Being on this list may help them better respond to you during emergencies.

Emergency contacts. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. This includes your doctor, police, fire and durable medical equipment company (if applicable).

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Barstow man sentenced to life in prison for double murder

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A Barstow man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the double murder of his father, 56-year-old Prospare Landry, and his father's girlfriend, 36-year-old Laurel Roberts.

In April, 24-year-old Frank Joseph Covin was convicted of two counts of murder following a jury trial. This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Shannon Faherty of the Major Crimes Unit.

Prior to today's sentencing, District Attorney Victim Advocate Alma Arenas, who was assigned to the case, read a victim impact statement written by Landry's sister.

I have a great sense of loss and sadness remembering how my brother's love of Jesus had brought him great hope for the future and for his kids. Please understand that my desire for Joseph to find forgiveness and know the love of Jesus, does not diminish my love or the pain of loss for my big brother. But I think that my brother would echo this message if he were here right now.

- Ramona Taylor (excerpted)

The details of the crime date back to June 1, 2015. On the day of the crime, Covin was seated on the couch watching television, when he became upset by the noises he heard coming from the television.

After his father walked past him and into the bedroom, Covin grabbed a handgun and shot his father in the back of the head. Roberts left the kitchen, where she had been baking a cake, to investigate.

As she entered the bedroom, Covin walked in behind her and shot her in the back of the head. Covin then placed the handgun and each victim's cell phone into a backpack. He gathered up the expelled cartridges from the floor, threw them in the kitchen trash can, and then went back to watching television.

At the request of a family member, Sheriff's deputies conducted a welfare check at the Hinkley home. Upon entering the home, they found Roberts' body on the bedroom floor, face down in a pool of blood, with a single gunshot wound to the head. Covin had barricaded himself and refused to come out of the house.

After a lengthy stand-off, the Sheriff's SWAT team made entry into the house and arrested Covin without incident. During a warranted search of the house, Landry was found in the same bedroom lying face-up, with a single gunshot wound to the back of his head.

 

Prior to today's sentencing Victim Advocate Arenas also read a victim impact statement prepared by Laurel Roberts' nephew Ben Abel:

 

We hope (Joseph) sits in prison and relives that day over and over again. Joseph could have chosen a different path without killing two amazing people like Laurel and Frank. His selfishness has caused two families traumatic heartbreak. What he has done has not only proved he is selfish but also a coward. We hope he sits there for the rest of his miserable life and asks himself was this worth it.

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