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GOP Pushes Abortion Bill Through House on March for Life Day 

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Pro-abortion rights supporters hold up signs in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, as they wait for the arrival of anti-abortion demonstrators during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Pro-abortion rights supporters hold up signs in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, as they wait for the arrival of anti-abortion demonstrators during the annual March for Life. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Washington for an annual march to protest the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — With thousands of abortion protesters swarming the city in their annual March for Life, Republicans muscled broadened abortion restrictions through the House on Thursday after a GOP rebellion forced leaders into an awkward retreat on an earlier version.

By a near party-line 242-179 vote, the House voted to permanently forbid federal funds for most abortion coverage. The bill would also block tax credits for many people and employers who buy abortion coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

A White House veto threat and an uncertain fate in the Senate mean the legislation has no realistic chance of becoming law. But on a day when crowds of anti-abortion demonstrators stretched for blocks outside Capitol windows — and hours after the embarrassing GOP stumble on another abortion measure — Thursday’s vote let party leaders signal that the Congress they now command is at least trying to end abortion.

The GOP’s passage of one bill and the abrupt derailment of another forbidding most late-term abortions underscored the party’s perilous balancing act of backing abortion restrictions crucial to conservatives while not alienating women and younger voters wary of such restrictions.

Obama, out West to promote his State of the Union economic agenda, embraced the same 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion that the protesters were vilifying.

He said the decision in the Roe v. Wade case “reaffirms a fundamental American value: that government should not intrude in our most private and personal family matters.” He said the House-passed bill would “intrude on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio praised the marchers in a written statement that also seemed to acknowledge discord among Republicans.

“This march is part of a longer one, and our destination is clear: to secure and protect the rights of every unborn child. When there is disagreement, we should pause and listen closely. When there is movement, we should rejoice, and the House’s vote to ban taxpayer funding of abortion is cause for doing so,” he said.

Even so, the GOP sidetracking of the late-term abortion measure sparked grumbling from politically potent allies.

In a sharp statement that singled out Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and others, National Right to Life President Carol Tobias criticized GOP dissenters on the late-term bill and warned, “Some of these lawmakers may ultimately conclude that they were ill advised to sacrifice the trust of their pro-life constituents so egregiously.”

Ellmers, who has had a strong anti-abortion voting record, was among those who had objected to portions of the late-term abortion bill. Her spokeswoman, Blair Ellis, declined to comment.

Dozens of protesters visited her Capitol Hill office Thursday to protest her role in scuttling that measure.

On the House floor, a debate that has raged virtually every year for decades was emotional, as usual.

“Abortion is not health care. It’s a brutal procedure that ends lives of unborn children,” said Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa.

“I urge my colleagues to stand with the hundreds of thousands of people out on the Mall right now by voting for this bill,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Democrats said such talk showed that Republicans were willing to subjugate women’s rights to political pandering to the crowds outside.

“Women’s rights should not be theater, it shouldn’t be drama,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

The debate took a turn for the personal when Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., referred to “hypocrites on the other side of the aisle who have counseled their own girl friends to have abortions. It’s legal.”

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., a doctor who opposes abortion rights, once urged a patient he was dating to seek an abortion. His aides did not return phone and email requests for comment.

Outside, thousands of demonstrators trudged up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court in protest of the justices’ legalization of abortion exactly 42 years ago. Some wore religious garb while others carried signs with messages ranging from “I am a voice for the voiceless” to “Thank God my mom’s pro-life.”

No. 4 House GOP leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told the crowd that her 7-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, has intensified her commitment to the anti-abortion fight.

The approved bill would permanently block federal money for nearly all abortions — a prohibition in effect for decades but one which Congress must renew yearly. Rape and incest victims and women whose lives were in danger would be exempted.

The bill would also bar individuals and some employers from earning tax credits for insurance plans covering abortion that they pay for privately and obtain through exchanges established under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It would also block the District of Columbia from using its money to cover abortions for lower-income women.

Thursday’s vote came hours after GOP leaders indefinitely abandoned a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, retreating in the face of a revolt by women and other Republican lawmakers that left them short of votes.

GOP leaders had planned a House vote on that bill Thursday. But rebellious Republicans complained that while the measure exempted victims of rape and incest, it did so only if those women had previously reported the assaults to authorities.

Republican leaders flinched at the prospect of forcing passage of anti-abortion legislation opposed by GOP women.

___

Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko, Connie Cass and Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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African American News & Issues

Reparations: How ‘Intentional’ Government Policy Denied Blacks Access to Wealth

Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act eliminated racial discrimination in lending, the Black community continues to be denied mortgage loans at rates much higher than their white counterparts.

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Stock photo of a vault with access denied written across it

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, the Black community owned less than 1% of the United States’ total wealth, the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans was told during its fourth meeting.

Mehrsa Baradaran, a professor at the University of California Irvine, School of Law, shared the statistics during the “Racism in Banking, Tax, and Labor” portion of the two-day meeting on October 13.

From her perspective, the power of wealth and personal income is still unequally distributed. And that inequality, in her view, has always been allowed, preserved and compounded by laws and government policy.

“More than 150 years later, that number has barely budged,” Baradaran told the Task Force, tracing the wealth gap from the period after the Civil War when President Lincoln granted formerly enslaved Blacks their freedom to the present day.

“The gap between average white wealth and Black wealth has actually increased over the last decades. Today, across every social-economic level, Black families have a fraction of the wealth that white families have,” she said.

Baradaran has written a range of entries and books about banking law, financial inclusion, inequality, and the racial wealth gap. Her scholarship includes the books “How the Other Half Banks” and “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap,” both published by the Harvard University Press.

Baradaran has also published several articles on race and economics, including “Jim Crow Credit” in the Irvine Law Review, “Regulation by Hypothetical” in the Vanderbilt Law Review, and “How the Poor Got Cut Out of Banking” in the Emory Law Journal.

Baradaran, a 43-year-old immigrant born in Iran, testified that her work on the wealth gap in America was conducted from a “research angle” and she respectfully “submitted” her testimony “in that light,” she said.

In her research, Baradaran explained that she discovered an intentional system of financial oppression.

“This wealth chasm doesn’t abate with income or with education. In other words, this is a wealth gap that is pretty much tied to a history of exclusion and exploitation and not to be remedied by higher education and higher income,” Baradaran said.

According to a January 2020 report, the Public Policy Institute of California said African American and Latino families make up 12% of those with incomes above the 90th percentile in the state, despite comprising 43% of all families in California.

In addition, PPIC reported that such disparities mirror the fact that African American and Latino adults are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and have higher unemployment rates, and African American adults are less likely to be in the labor force.

Many issues support these activities that range from disparities around education, local job opportunities, and incarceration to discrimination in the labor market, according to PPIC.

“While California’s economy outperforms the nation’s, its level of income inequality exceeds that of all but five states,” the report stated.

“Without target policies, it will continue to grow,” Baradaran said of the wealth gap. “And I want to be clear of how this wealth gap will continue to grow. It was created, maintained, and perpetuated through public policy at the federal, state, and local levels.

“Black men and women have been shut out of most avenues of middle-class creations. Black homes, farms, and savings were not given the full protection of the law. Especially as these properties were subjected to racial terrorism. The American middle-class was not created that way (to support Black communities),” Baradaran said.

A June 2018 working paper from the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute written by economists familiar with moderate-to-weak Black wealth backs up Baradaran’s assessment.

Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the authors of the report wrote that strategies to deny Blacks access to wealth started at the beginning of the Reconstruction era, picked up around the civil rights movement, and resurfaced around the financial crisis of the late 2000s.

Authored by Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick, and Ulrike I. Steins, the “Income and Wealth Inequality in America, 1949-2016” explains a close analysis of racial inequality, pre-and post-civil rights eras.

The economists wrote that the median Black household has less than 11% of the wealth of the median white household, which is about $15,000 versus $140,000 in 2016 prices.

“The overall summary is bleak,” the report states. “The historical data also reveal that no progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households over the past 70 years.”

Baradaran recently participated in the virtual symposium, “Racism and the Economy: Focus on the Wealth Divide” hosted by 12 District Banks of the Federal Reserve System, which includes the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

There are some positives that are not typically included in discussions about the challenges Blacks have experienced historically in efforts to obtain wealth, Baradaran said. Many African Americans, specifically in California, were able to subvert the systems that discriminated against them.

“Black institutions have been creative and innovative serving their communities in a hostile climate,” Baradaran said. “I’ve written a book about the long history of entrepreneurship, self-help, and mutual uplift. Historically Black Colleges and Universities have provided stellar education and Black banks have supported Black businesses, churches, and families.”

California’s Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, titled “The Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” created a nine-member commission to investigate inequity in education, labor, wealth, housing, tax, and environmental justice.

All of these areas were covered with expert testimony during the two-day meeting held on October 12 and October 13. The task force is charged with exploring California’s involvement in slavery, segregation, and the historic denial of Black citizens’ constitutional rights.

Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act eliminated racial discrimination in lending, the Black community continues to be denied mortgage loans at rates much higher than their white counterparts.

“Banks and corporations have engaged in lending and hiring practices that helped to solidify patterns of racial inequality,” Jacqueline Jones, a history professor from the University of Texas told the Task Force.

The Racism in Banking, Tax and Labor segment also featured testimonies by Williams Spriggs (former chair of the Department of Economics at Howard University. Spriggs now serves as chief economist to the AFL-CIO), Thomas Craemer (public policy professor at the University of Connecticut), and Lawrence Lucas (U.S. Department of Agriculture Coalition of Minority Employees).

The Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans will conduct its fifth and final meeting of 2021 on December 6 and December 7.

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Scholarships For San Francisco Youth Who Get COVID-19 Vaccine

City residents ages 12 to 17 are eligible to have their tuition covered at San Francisco State if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19

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San Francisco State University (SF State), the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) announced on Monday a new scholarship program for San Francisco residents ages 12 to 17 who received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Through a drawing, SF State is offering 10 scholarships to fully fund four years of undergraduate tuition to the university for eligible youth who register at participating vaccination locations in the City, which include:

  • Monday, October 25, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. — Visitation Valley Neighborhood Vaccination Site, 1099 Sunnydale Ave., San Francisco, CA 94134
  • Tuesday, October 26, 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. — Malcolm X Academy School, 350 Harbor Rd., San Francisco, CA 94124
  • Wednesday, October 27, 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. — Balboa High School, 1000 Cayuga Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112
  • Friday, October 29, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. — Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, 1050 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94115
  • Tuesday, November 2, noon to 4:00 p.m. — Mission District Neighborhood Vaccination Site, 24th and Capp St., San Francisco, CA 94110
  • Saturday, November 13, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — McCoppin Elementary School, 651 6th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94118

“These college scholarships are an incredible reward for San Francisco teens doing the right thing for themselves and their community – and that is being a part of ending this pandemic by getting the COVID-19 vaccination,” said Mayor London N. Breed. “Our teens have endured over a year of distance learning and missed interactions with their friends. These scholarships will carry their education forward and help shape their future in innumerable ways.”

“SF State is committed to supporting college attendance among young people in San Francisco and helping to promote the City’s vaccination goals,” SF State President Lynn Mahoney said. “These scholarships can further public health objectives while lifting up a new generation of leaders for our workforce.”

“We encourage all eligible SFUSD students to get vaccinated and to gain the skills necessary to attend college if they so choose,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “As an SF State alumnus and Gator myself, I truly appreciate the University’s efforts to support health and college access among our City’s youth.”

Since becoming eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in May, more than 90% of San Francisco’s youth ages 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated, making this one of the highest vaccination rates among age groups in the City.

“The SF State scholarship program complements our City’s strategy to provide low-barrier access to COVID-19 vaccinations in San Francisco communities, which has resulted in one of the highest vaccination rates in the world,” said Deputy Director of Health Dr. Naveena Bobba. “We’re proud that our 12- to 17-year-old youth have reached such high vaccination rates, and incentive programs like these can help give an extra push to unvaccinated individuals to take immediate action to get vaccinated, protecting themselves, their loved ones and our community.”

Scholarships will be awarded in the amount of the difference between qualifying expenses for in-state tuition and fees and other federal and/or state financial aid awarded to the winner. In the event a winner’s federal and/or state financial aid awards fully cover the cost of in-state tuition and fees, the student will be awarded $2,000 per academic year. All scholarships will be credited to the individual’s student account for each semester of enrollment.

Residents are eligible to enter the drawing if they meet all the following requirements:

  • Permanently resides in San Francisco (including people living in San Francisco who meet AB 540 eligibility)
  • Received at least the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine two-shot series prior to entry. Must be age 12 to 17 when this occurs
  • Currently not enrolled at a college or university nor have been previously been enrolled in college or university
  • Not an employee or immediate family of an employee of SF State living as a member of the employee’s household. Consistent with California Government Code section 82029, “immediate family” means spouse and dependent children

Residents can receive the vaccine from the participating sites to become eligible, but it is not required. Residents who receive the vaccine elsewhere or are already vaccinated are eligible to register for the drawing.

How to enter

Eligible residents will have the opportunity at the participating sites to complete a form that enters them in the drawing. SF State staff will be there to verify that registrants qualify and to help residents enter the drawing. The last day to enter the drawing is November 13.

Selecting the winners

The winners will be randomly selected from among all eligible entries received. A minimum of one and a maximum of two winners will be selected from each participating vaccination locations.

The official announcement of the winners will publish the week of November 22. Winners will be notified prior to announcement.

For more information regarding the official rules, FAQs and health privacy, visit together.sfsu.edu/vaccinescholarship or email enrollment@sfsu.edu.

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Coronavirus

Gov. Newsom Stands Firm on Mandates as State Reaches COVID-19 Milestone

California’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is currently 16th in the country with 71.8% of the population fully vaccinated.

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Moscow - Sep 12, 2021: Vaccinated young woman showing COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, healthy person in mask after getting corona virus vaccine. Coronavirus vaccine shot and immunization mandate.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom took to Twitter earlier this month to praise Californians for getting vaccinated when the state’s COVID-19 rate dropped to 57.3 cases per 100,000 people, the lowest in the U.S.

“Eighty-five percent of eligible Californians have received at least one COVID vaccine shot. The result? California continues to have the lowest case rate in the nation,” he said.

California’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is currently 16th in the country with 71.8% of the population fully vaccinated.

For now, students will be required to be vaccinated for in-person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span (7-12 and K-6).

The coronavirus vaccines will be added to other vaccines like ones for measles, mumps rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough, for example, that are required without exception for all students in the state. For those and other shots explicitly stated in California law, no waivers are allowed for any reason, even religious or philosophical ones.

But even though the state’s COVID-19 rates have flattened and the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths have significantly dropped, the governor is facing mounting protests from people opposed to government-imposed vaccine mandates, including parents who do not want their children to take the shot.

Responding to those critics, Newsom’s campaign sent out a letter that included a survey asking recipients for feedback on his vaccine mandate for schoolchildren.

“As you have probably heard, California is the first state in the nation to require our students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This will go into effect following full FDA approval,” Newsom said in the letter.  “Why did I make this decision? Because it’s the right thing to do, and it will keep our kids safe. This decision may not be popular with some of the people who protest vaccination sites and are opposed to mask-wearing in almost any circumstance, but it will save lives.”

On October 8, Newsom also signed several bills that give dentists, podiatrists and optometrists the authority to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Those bills are Assembly Bills (AB) 526, 691 and 1064.

The governor also tweeted his advice on vaccine booster shots.

“Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Get your booster when it’s your turn,” tweeted Newsom.

As it currently stands, booster shots are not required but are authorized for “individuals 65 years of age and older, individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19, and individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19,” according to the FDA.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock highlighted the fluid nature of the nation’s pandemic response.

“This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day,” Woodcock stated in a press release.

“As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed,” Woodcock continued.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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