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OP-ED: America the Beautiful — Community Project Funding

NNPA NEWSWIRE — My role in Congress is to advocate for my constituents, and I am pleased that one of the best means to fulfill that responsibility has been reinstated. With the return of Democratic control of both the House and Senate, Congress, last month, enacted its first federal spending bill in more than a decade that includes funding for community projects identified by local entities and championed by their elected representatives. While these funding opportunities have returned, so have the misplaced criticism of the policy.
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By Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC), House Majority Whip

We have all sung “America the Beautiful,” a patriotic anthem that celebrates the diverse landscapes from “sea to shining sea” in our great country. This beloved song underscores what we know to be true about the United States – the diversity of our people and places are what makes our nation strong.

Given that each American community is unique, it is logical that each community has its own challenges and needs. I represent the Sixth Congressional District of South Carolina made up of rural and urban communities spread over 16 counties. While they may have common concerns, their capacity and capability to address those concerns are also unique.

That is why they have a Member of Congress who knows their community well and who was elected to represent their distinct needs in Washington. My role in Congress is to advocate for my constituents, and I am pleased that one of the best means to fulfill that responsibility has been reinstated. With the return of Democratic control of both the House and Senate, Congress, last month, enacted its first federal spending bill in more than a decade that includes funding for community projects identified by local entities and championed by their elected representatives. While these funding opportunities have returned, so have the misplaced criticism of the policy.

Many of us remember when the 45th president called Baltimore, Maryland a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Yet, when the area’s Congressman, Kweisi Mfume, recently secured $3 million in community project funding for the “green” redevelopment of the most blighted area of the city, the Heritage Foundation called it a “rancid pork project” that would have no “chance of meaningfully helping the environment.” These Washington insiders ought to travel the short distance to Baltimore to see the transformative nature of this project.

The Tivoly Triangle Eco-Village will revitalize an area of Baltimore by building innovative, affordable homes and commercial buildings that generate 100-percent of their power needs through renewable energy sources like solar. It will serve as a resiliency hub for first responders if there is ever a regional grid blackout, and it will stabilize the community and create new residential, recreational, and business opportunities for area residents. The project also has received financial support from the city and the state.

In the past, I have earned the Porker of the Month award from Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a Washington organization whose stated mission is to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in government. Criticism by groups like CAGW is often directed at community projects like the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency (LMRWA) located in the heart of my district along a stretch of Interstate-95 derisively referred to as “the corridor of shame.”

These groups maintain that state and local funds should pay for these type efforts. Maybe they should but they don’t. The counties impacted by the LMRWA have historically been neglected by the state and local governments. Many of them do not have a tax base sufficient to adequately support their schools and properly respond to the needs in their communities.

In response to LMRWA’s request, I secured $19.785 million in community project funding to expand the LMRWA to provide water to areas in Orangeburg and Berkeley counties. It is because of ongoing federal support of my request for this project that South Carolina was able to attract the first American Volvo plant to the Berkeley County town of Ridgeville. Without access to potable water, this community, where 26.5 percent of the population was living in poverty in 2019, would not have been able to attract an industry that local officials said, “signals a sea change for this community.” Volvo’s $500 million plant is expected to create 4,000 jobs by 2030 and have an estimated $4.8 billion in total economic output annually. As economists like to say, that is an extraordinary return on the federal investment.

Another water project that similarly illustrates Washington insiders’ lack of veracity regarding community project funding is the $9.95 million that Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee secured for a stormwater detention basin and culvert improvement project in Houston. She received CAGW’s March 2022 Porker of the Month title for her “disregard for taxpayers” citing in part this water project. Yet, the Texas Tribune newspaper wrote of her community funded project, and others like it: “Houston-area representatives took home money to address flood infrastructure and storm draining in their districts – a continual concern for the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.”

That devastating category 4 hurricane in August 2017 killed 103 Texans and left a third of Houston underwater. Without these infrastructure upgrades, Houston, which suffered $1.5 billion in damages, could face even more devastation during the next hurricane. An investment in preventative measures seem a small price to pay given the future expenses they will help curb.

These community funded projects would not have received favorable consideration by the arbitrary standards established by Washington insiders. However, each one is a catalyst for changing the quality of life for the communities that received them. Without their elected Member of Congress advocating for them, these communities would be facing far different futures.

The return of community funded projects is a welcome relief for those of us who see as part of our mission an obligation to address the needs of those citizens living in what the Census Bureau calls, “persistent poverty communities.” These appropriations make up just a fraction of overall federal spending and are within the total federal agencies’ allocations. There is transparency in the process and protections that prevent Members of Congress and their families from profiting from these community project funds.

Achieving the vision of “America the Beautiful means ensuring that from “sea to shining sea,” we do the things that are necessary to make America’s greatness accessible and affordable to all our communities, from sea to shining sea.

The post OP-ED: America the Beautiful — Community Project Funding first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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IN MEMORIAM International Soccer Icon Pelé Dies at 82

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Sometimes called “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”), Pelé became a Brazilian national hero. According to Britannica, he combined kicking power and accuracy with a remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves. 

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Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.
Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Pelé, the international star who was instrumental in three World Cup championships with Brazil across three decades and who energized U.S. soccer with the New York Cosmos in the 1970s, has died.

The 82-year-old legend had been hospitalized since November, and his doctors reported that Pelé’s cancer had advanced, requiring care related to renal and cardiac dysfunction.

He has been receiving regular treatment since doctors removed a tumor from his colon in 2021.

“Father. My strength is yours,” the international star’s son, Edinho, posted on social media.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Três Corações, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 1940, Pelé became soccer’s first superstar.

He led the Brazilian national teams to World Cup glory in 1958, 1962, and 1970.

In 1956, he joined the Santos Football Club, where he played inside left forward, winning nine São Paulo league championships and, in 1962 and 1963, the Libertadores Cup and the Intercontinental Club Cup.

Sometimes called “Pérola Negra” (“Black Pearl”), Pelé became a Brazilian national hero. According to Britannica, he combined kicking power and accuracy with a remarkable ability to anticipate other players’ moves.

“After the 1958 World Cup, Pelé was declared a national treasure by the Brazilian government to ward off large offers from European clubs and ensure that he would remain in Brazil,” Britannica researchers wrote.

On Nov. 19, 1969, in his 909th first-class match, he scored his 1,000th goal.

Pelé made his international debut in 1957 at age 16 and played his first game in the World Cup finals in Sweden the following year.

The Brazilian manager was initially hesitant to play his young star. But, according to Britannica, when Pelé finally reached the field, he had an immediate impact, rattling the post with one shot and collecting an assist.

He had a hat trick in the semifinal against France and two goals in the championship game, where Brazil defeated Sweden 5–2. At the 1962 World Cup finals, Pelé tore a thigh muscle in the second match and had to sit out the remainder of the tournament.

Nonetheless, Brazil went on to claim its second World Cup title.

Researchers said rough play and injuries turned the 1966 World Cup into a disaster for Brazil and Pelé, as the team went out in the first round, and he contemplated retiring from World Cup play.

Returning in 1970 for one more World Cup tournament, he teamed with young stars Jairzinho and Rivelino to claim Brazil’s third title and permanent ownership of the Jules Rimet Trophy. Pelé finished his World Cup career, scoring 12 goals in 14 games.

Pelé’s electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals made him a worldwide star.

His team Santos toured internationally to take full advantage of his popularity. For example, in 1967, he and his team traveled to Nigeria, where a 48-hour cease-fire in that nation’s civil war was called to allow all to watch the great player.

Pelé announced his retirement in 1974 but, in 1975, agreed to a three-year $7 million contract with the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League and to promote the game in the United States. He retired after leading the Cosmos to the league championship in 1977.

Pelé was the recipient of the International Peace Award in 1978. In 1980 he was named Athlete of the Century by the French sports publication L’Equipe, and he received the same honor in 1999 from the International Olympic Committee. In 2014 the Pelé Museum opened in Santos, Brazil.

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COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips

THE AFRO — Although it cannot be medically diagnosed, burnout can lead people to lose their sense of self and feel as if they are not accomplishing enough. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association found that the risk of burnout has increased for workers due to extra stress, increased household demands and longer working hours. 
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By Megan Sayles | AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
msayles@afro.com

We’ve all heard the age-old saying that “hard work pays off.”  But, sometimes, working too hard can do more harm than good.

“Burnout” is a form of work-related stress in which an individual experiences physical, emotional or mental exhaustion caused by their job’s demands. It can also make workers feel distanced from their jobs and engender negative feelings about them, according to the World Health Organization.

Although it cannot be medically diagnosed, burnout can lead people to lose their sense of self and feel as if they are not accomplishing enough. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Psychological Association found that the risk of burnout has increased for workers due to extra stress, increased household demands and longer working hours.

This makes it even more important for people to know the signs of burnout and the strategies to combat it.

Natasha Charles is the founder and CEO of Intuitive Coaching with Natasha Charles, a comprehensive life coaching and consulting firm. She created the business after gaining 20 years in senior administration roles.

Charles was motivated to open the firm in 2018 out of a desire to create a business focused on inspiring continuous improvement. There, she works with individuals and executives to create lives that they love and offers them personalized solutions to address critical work and business challenges.

“It’s really about thinking about you, the person, and all that you are,” Charles said. “People tend to be very focused on one aspect of their life, and a lot of times, it’s about their career, so it’s really about making space for all of your goals and all of your dreams.”

When someone experiences burnout, Charles said they could be actively doing their job while simultaneously worrying about their other responsibilities and priorities, whether personal or work-related. She also stressed that burnout can be experienced no matter what profession you are in and what you are being paid.

Aside from the physical and mental impacts of stress, burnout can impact finances if it causes an employee to take extended periods of time off or miss work, according to Charles. It can also reduce their productivity.

In the beginning of 2022, the term “quiet quitting” emerged, and for some, it’s being used as a method to avoid burnout. It involves individuals meeting the minimum requirements of their job descriptions, investing no extra time or effort than what is mandatory.

For Charles, quiet quitting is a signal that a person is not fulfilled by their job and may need to think about changing workplaces or careers.

“I get that people are not always able to up and quit, and it can take time to find what that next role is,” Charles said. “I would come from a space of encouraging the person to start thinking about what that is. What is it that you ultimately desire to be doing in your life and seeing your work?”

One of the most important steps in reducing and preventing burnout is educating yourself about the syndrome, so you can be aware of the warning signs, according to Charles. She also said it was crucial for employers to talk to their employees about it.

Awareness can help prevent the shame and guilt that comes with burnout and allow people to give themselves grace.

After a person has weighed whether they are experiencing burnout or not, they should think about how they want to confront it. This could include engaging in self-care, asking for extra support at work or home, and creating stronger boundaries between their personal and professional lives.

When burnout is impacting your performance, it’s time to consider making a career change, Charles said.

To ensure your work life does not invade your personal life, Charles said people need to assess the goals they have for all areas of their life. Once you’ve set goals, it’s easier to devise a plan and set the necessary boundaries to achieve them.

Charles also said it’s important to carve out time for yourself where you’re not constantly checking your phone or email for work reasons.

“There is life beyond your work. There is an entire world out there to be discovered,” Charles said. “There’s a world within us to be discovered as well, and I encourage everyone to invest in discovering those pieces.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

The post COMMENTARY: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin: Avoid Burnout with These Simple Tips first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting 

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The case fired up social media and highlighted the misogyny that still reigns in hip hop. Many on Twitter routinely attacked Megan, accusing her of lying among other vicious vitriolic comments.
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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Canadian rapper Tory Lanez faces more than 20 years in prison and deportation after a jury in Los Angeles found him guilty in the 2020 shooting of hip hop star Megan Thee Stallion.

Lane, 30, was found guilty of three felony counts, including assault with an unregistered semiautomatic weapon, carrying a loaded gun, and discharging a firearm in a vehicle with gross negligence.

The case fired up social media and highlighted the misogyny that still reigns in hip hop. Many on Twitter routinely attacked Megan, accusing her of lying among other vicious vitriolic comments.

The 27-year-old Megan, whose real name is Megan Pete, testified that Lanez offered her hush money and didn’t care about her injuries and pain suffered because he shot her.

Lanez, who declined to testify, claimed there was another shooter, Pete’s friend who was also arguing with the hit maker as they drove home from a party.

“[Lanez] told me to dance,” Pete told the jury, adding that he also cursed at her following the shooting.

Sentencing for Lanez is scheduled for Jan. 27.

“You showed incredible courage and vulnerability with your testimony despite repeated and grotesque attacks that you did not deserve,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said, referring to Pete.

“You faced unjust and despicable scrutiny that no woman should ever face, and you have been an inspiration to others across LA County and the nation.”

The post Tory Lanez Found Guilty in Meg Thee Stallion Shooting  first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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