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Kaepernick, Slow to Pick Up Where He Left Off Last Season

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Lights, camera, action! It’s been an off-season of “glits and glam” for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Leading the San Francisco Forty-Niners to the Super Bowl last year proved that Jim Harbaugh’s decision to start him as quarterback over Alex Smith was a smart move.

However, as the 2013 season gets underway, it’s the former 49ers quarterback who is 6-0. After suffering a concussion against the St. Louis Rams last year, Kaepernick took over having only played 50 snaps coming into that game, mostly playing as a wildcat quarterback.

< p>However, Smith has led his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, to start the season undefeated.

Kaepernick has the athletic ability to run the ball and throw deep, and he became a star immediately. The only problem was that he led an offense already intact and a defense that played without error under Smith.

Kaepernick took over a team that was already destined to make it to the Super Bowl. There was nothing he needed to do better other than to play his game.

After losing to the Baltimore Ravens, the current Super Bowl champs, the 49ers vowed to return back to the playoffs. As we head into week 6 of the NFL season, San Francisco has surprisingly started off to a 3-2 record.

Losing two huge games against the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts has been tough. Thus far, Kaepernick has thrown six touchdowns and four interceptions in five games. Not a bad start for a first-year starting quarterback.

But many believe he can be 10 times better. Kaepernick’s stats last year were very impressive. However, maybe the sudden success off field has taken a toll on the franchise player.

It appears many teams have figured his game out. That means he needs to continue to keep them guessing. Like most elite quarterbacks in the NFL, they continue to get better not worse.

So, what’s been the delay in Kaepernick picking up where he left off last season? His rushing yards are low and his passing average is not where it can be.

Yet, the 49ers have still found ways to win with their rushing game through veteran running back Frank Gore and newly acquired wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who has managed to outsmart most of his opponents in getting open.

Could it be that Kaepernick has lost his focus and got caught up in the “Hollywood’ life that usually empowers players. The attention, marketing and pressure to be perfect are maybe too much for someone who’s not ready to walk in the path most have coveted in becoming a super star in the NFL.

While social media has expressed their opinion on the quarterback’s performance thus far, he only had one comment.

“I’m not worried about what people are saying,” he explained. “If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one.”

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Ex-NBA Coach Spreads the Word About Rare Heart Disease Affecting Blacks

A defensive specialist, Chaney won an NBA title with the Celtics in 1969 and 1974. After he retired in 1979, he spent 22 years coaching, including 12 years as a head coach in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, and New York Knicks.

Don Chaney learned to play basketball while growing up in Baton Rouge, La. He became a skilled baller and played the game at the University of Houston. Then, he went on to have a successful career as a point guard — and later a coach — in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

      At 75, when Chaney was retired and ready to settle down and enjoy his newfound leisure when he had to acquire knowledge about an issue that has nothing to do with sports and everything to do with healthy living. 

     In 2019, Chaney was diagnosed with hereditary Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM), a rare but life-threatening disease that can lead to heart failure. It disproportionately impacts African Americans.

     Now, Chaney looks at raising awareness about the disease as a new style of coaching. He said the rare disease is something that “the average Black family” should take “extremely seriously.”

      “It is a process. Every time I have an opportunity to bring it up and spread awareness about the disease, I try my best to do it,” Chaney told California Black Media (CBM) during a virtual interview. “The biggest thing is that the Black community has the highest rate of heart disease in the United States. Doctors are seldom aware of the fact that this particular disease exists. They don’t look for it. So, if you’re not looking for (ATTR-CM) you’re not going to get the correct diagnosis.”

       ATTR-CM is an underdiagnosed and potentially fatal disease, according to the American Heart Association, the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. 

     The disease is characterized by deposits of amyloid protein fibrils in the walls of the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart. ATTR-CM, the amyloid protein is made of transthyretin, a protein found in the blood that transports important body fluids.  

      The amyloid protein deposits cause the heart walls to become stiff, resulting in the inability of the left ventricle to properly relax, fill with blood and adequately squeeze to pump blood out of the heart. 

       Dr. Kevin Williams, the chief medical officer for rare disease at the biotechnology company Pfizer, says his research shows that ATTR-CM’s symptoms are similar to those of more common causes of heart failure such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and swelling in the lower legs.

     He also said that the symptoms are not commonly perceived to be linked to a heart condition —‌ like carpal tunnel syndrome (numbness, tingling, or pain in the fingers), bicep tendon rupture, gastrointestinal issues (constipation, diarrhea, and nausea), and lumbar spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the open spaces in the lower spine). 

     “All of these factors can lead to delays in diagnosis or misdiagnosis,” said Williams, who is a Black medical doctor. “In the African American community, it’s important to fully explore the underlying cause of these conditions with the help of a cardiologist.”

     After his collegiate days at the University of Houston expired, Chaney was selected the 12th pick in the first round of the 1968 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. The Houston Mavericks of the American Basketball Association also drafted him that year.

     A defensive specialist, Chaney won an NBA title with the Celtics in 1969 and 1974. After he retired in 1979, he spent 22 years coaching, including 12 years as a head coach in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, and New York Knicks.

     Since 2004, Chaney has relatively enjoyed retirement, but his heart condition was always a concern. Fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles were something he thought was years of physically playing the game of basketball. He learned it was much deeper than the sports.

     “I was dealing with all these issues, but I hadn’t really made all the connections,” Chaney told CBM. “I just assumed all the symptoms were from my years of pounding on the floor in professional basketball. I thought it was normal. If I had known this, I could have started treatment earlier.”

     While he made numerous visits to the doctors to attend to his medical issues, Chaney said he started to “put the pieces” together after he began to share his family’s past with cardiologists.

     Chaney’s mother and grandmother passed away due to heart disease. Back when they were alive, he recalled them complaining about having the same symptoms – fatigue, shortness of breath, swollen ankles and knees – he was experiencing. 

    “The symptoms are similar,” Chaney said. ‘When you throw in carpal tunnel syndrome along with fatigue and palpitations… that pushes you into another category. So, I had some tests and found out the scary part that it was hereditary. We went on to try to manage it from that point on.”

    There are two types of ATTR-CM, wild-type, and hereditary. Wild-type is thought to be the most common form of ATTR-CM and is mostly associated with men over the age of 60. 

     Hereditary ATTR-CM is inherited from a relative and is due to genetics, affecting both men and women. In the U.S., the most common genetic mutation associated with hereditary ATTR-CM is found almost exclusively in people of African or Afro-Caribbean descent.

      It took more than 10 years to receive the right diagnosis despite knowing his family’s history of heart failure and experiencing heart-related symptoms, Chaney said.

     “It’s probably because African Americans don’t tell doctors everything that’s going on with them,” he said. “I’m guilty of it, too. They gave me some medicine but that didn’t really help much until they did further testing. It went beyond that. I actually had heart disease. You just have to tell your doctors everything.”

      Awareness of ATTR-CM among both patients and some doctors remains low, which in Chaney’s case and many others, could lead to delayed or misdiagnosis. But if symptoms seem unrelated it is best to visit a primary care doctor or an experienced cardiologist to discuss ATTR-CM, Chaney said.  

     In the United States, hereditary ATTR-CM occurs in African Americans (prevalent in approximately 1 in 25) and in older patients who may be misdiagnosed with high blood pressure-related heart disease.

     Chaney said he is “stressed to a degree” because he also has been spending time to get his family into testing mode since the disease is hereditary. His sister’s and daughter’s tests came back negative. He’s still waiting on his sons to go through the process.

     “They may not have it. But the disease is still present (in the family) and you could pass it down to your children,” Chaney said he has told members of his family. “I’m still going to press the issues to get them tested.”

While managing his ATTR-CM symptoms, Chaney spends time taking his grandchildren to NBA games in the Houston area. He also restores antique automobiles, participates in horseback riding, and is constantly testing his fishing skills. 

     His wife, Jackie Chaney, is now his primary caregiver and she is the one that calls the shots, he said.   

     “I do a lot of things within reason,” Chaney said. “I used to jump out of airplanes. But I don’t do that anymore. My wife monitors my condition, makes sure I see the doctor, and sees to it that I take my medication. I get a lot of help from a lot of people around here. I’m really enjoying my life.”

 

 

 

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Activism

Three California Cities Push Plans to Increase Police Spending

The Police Commission has not moved on the proposed budget and the LAPD needs the City Council’s approval before it can go into effect. On the other hand, and separate from the $67 million requested by LAPD, Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a $50 million increase in the police budget, much to the dismay of members of the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter organization.

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     It has been over 13 months since police in Kentucky killed Breonna Taylor, and just shy of a year since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.

    These high-profile deaths of African Americans, along with many others, sparked global protests and resulted in politicians and activists on the political Left calling on their cities and. counties to defund their police departments. 

    More precisely, many of are pushing their elected officials to reallocate money in police budgets to more social service-oriented interventions in efforts to reduce the number of violent police encounters. 

    But some cities in California — Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles — are planning to do just the opposite. 

    From 2019 to 2020, Sacramento’s approved police budget saw an increase of over $7 million. This year, California’s capital city will spend a record $165.8 million on police, a $9.4 million increase.

    However, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says, by mid-2022, at least $10 million will be directed away from the police department toward the Department of Community Response.

    “I’m not for ‘defunding,’” Steinberg told the Sacramento Bee. “There are some things that are part of running a city, like collective bargaining and binding arbitration, and genuine needs for the police department.”

   “I’m not going to get pinned to the argument that the measure of whether or not we are investing in the community in an aggressive way is whether or not we’re taking the money directly from the police department,” he continued.

     In San Diego, the city is planning to raise the police budget for the 11th year in a row.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria proposed a 3% increase for police spending next year, meaning that the police budget has ballooned by a total of 52% since 2008.

    The city is introducing that increase with a decrease in library hours in an effort to offset those costs.

 

     San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez says that she planned to cut the police budget, but former Mayor Kevin Faulconer would have vetoed that measure.

     Gloria has expressed interest in reducing police spending over time also, but activists insist that more needs to be done. 

     In Los Angeles, after two reports from the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners admonished the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for their mishandling of several protests over the past year, the LAPD has nevertheless announced that it wants a $67 million increase in its budget to contend with the costs of protest response reform alone.

    During various protests in the summer of 2020, police made over 3,000 arrests with little to no accommodations for those arrested.

    Police Chief Michel Moore admitted the protest response could have been handled better but asserted that most of his officers responded the way they did because of their training. 

    “While there were missteps and shortfalls in communication and command and control, especially from senior staff in the field, the vast majority of personnel performed admirably with their ongoing efforts to tirelessly serve the city, even in the face of antagonistic and violent crowds,” Moore wrote in a letter to the board of commissioners.

    This proposed budget increase will be going toward salaries and overtime for extended training, according to Deputy Chief Dominic Choi. 

     The Police Commission has not moved on to the proposed budget and the LAPD needs the City Council’s approval before it can go into effect. On the other hand, and separate from the $67 million requested by LAPD, Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a $50 million increase in the police budget, much to the dismay of members of the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter organization.

    While a couple of these budget proposals are still being deliberated and wouldn’t fully go into effect until next year, they are far cries from defunding the police. 

     Despite a growing chorus of voices against it, more Golden State taxpayer money will likely go toward increased funding for “California’s finest.”

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ILWU leads May Day Protest down Market Street in San Francisco

“The best way to protect worker unity is to protest racism, patriarchy and xenophobia,” continued Davis. “Labor united will never be defeated.”

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    As participants assembled in front of the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, a group of wearing blue jackets and white painters hats could be seen moving to the front of the group.  

   The group, workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, were on hand to lead the May Day march and rally from the Ferry Building down Market Street to San Francisco City Hall. 

   “This is the real Labor Day and this day is celebrated all over the world, said Trent Willis, the head of the ILWUs Local 10 longshoremen’s union.  In 1886, the first fight for workers was for the eight-hour work day. 

    May Day is the celebration of labor and working classes, promoted by the international labor movement and occurs every year on May Day, May 1. The ILWU in San Francisco has spearheaded for the day in the Bay Area and it has been leading the rally and march for the past 15 years.    

   Political activist and college professor Dr. Angela Davis, was a keynote speaker at the rally and she marched along Market Street in between ILWU members. Willis led the march of over 5,000 people with the ILWU, the Teamsters Union, teachersunions and other unions from San Francisco. Adjoining streetswere blocked off to allow the crowd walk freely

    As they walked, the ILWU drill team yelled out chants.  They stopped in front of the Flood Building, where Willis said he,along with others from the labor movement, stand in solidarity with the Chilean Dock Workers Union, who are in the middle of a contract negotiations with the Chilean government for higher wages and better working conditions.  

    The marchers continued to San Francisco City Hall, where Willis, Davis and other labor union officials, got on the back of a flatbed truck and spoke to the crowd.   

    “We need to fight systematic racism,continued Willlis. If you don’t stand up against systematic racism and systematic oppression, racism keeps us from talking to each other.”

   Willis said that when people arent talking to each other, the differences they have cannot be understood or resolved. He said talking is needed in order for people to get along and resolve situations, working conditions and move society forward.        

   Davis,looked out on at the crowd, saying that she was proud to be a part of the march and rally. 

    “There is no place I would rather be then to be standing up for the rights of workers, said Davis.  In solidarity with workers from all over the world.

    Davis said that workers need to stand up and fight so there will not be any more George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Stephen Clarks, Oscar Grants and Sean Monterrosa. Monterrosa was the San  Francisco man who was killed by police in Vallejo last year. His family was on hand, holding a banner with his name.  

    “The best way to protect worker unity is to protest racism, patriarchy and xenophobia, continued Davis. Labor united will never be defeated.

   Willis said he will make Davis an honorary member of the ILWU, which is an honor that has only been bestowed on Paul Robeson and Dr. Martin Luther King.  He said the struggle for workers continues across the world and within the United States, but it will be a push the ILWU will be vigilant in fighting for to improve working conditions for working people.    

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