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OP-ED: Our Democracy is on the Line, Congress Must Act Now

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Barr’s lack of independence and Trump’s obstruction raises critical questions about the rule of law. But this is also about the integrity and security of our democracy. Just as important in the Mueller report was the astounding disclosure that our country was subjected to a full-scale attack on our democratic process.

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By Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

While the debate whether President Trump obstructed justice should be over with the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, unfortunately, it is not. In fact, it has just begun as Congress prepares to conduct exhaustive examinations into these breathtaking revelations.

Given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Attorney General Barr’s attempt to exonerate Trump is simply stunning. It is crystal clear that Trump interfered with the Mueller investigation. Even the redacted report contains a multitude of actions in which Trump obstructed justice in one of the most consequential investigations ever conducted regarding the state of our democracy.

We warned the nation about Attorney General Barr when we opposed his confirmation to the position. We told the Senate that William Barr “can never overcome the public perception that he endorsed Trump’s efforts to hold himself above the law. William Barr simply cannot serve as the independent leader our country needs at this critical time.” We were correct.

Barr’s lack of independence and Trump’s obstruction raises critical questions about the rule of law. But this is also about the integrity and security of our democracy. Just as important in the Mueller report was the astounding disclosure that our country was subjected to a full-scale attack on our democratic process.

Astonishingly, the Mueller report concluded that Russia “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systemic fashion.” Russia intended to benefit and did in fact benefit Trump. We also know that the Trump campaign knew about Russia’s assistance and welcomed it with open arms. Russia helped Trump win the presidency by manipulating voters, fomenting racial division, and targeting the African-American community to suppress voter turnout.

Back in December 2018, we led a boycott of Facebook. We called upon Congress to conduct further investigations into Facebook after a report released for the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that the Russian influence campaign “made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans” using an array of tactics to suppress turnout among Democratic voters.

Now, with the results of Robert Mueller’s report, the outrage should be palpable. Congress must fully investigate, take all appropriate action, and ensure the integrity and security of our democracy. This must be done with the urgency it requires. The 2020 election has already begun. Candidates are making pitches. Voting machines are being purchased. Yet our democracy is not safe from the external forces that want to cause us harm.

Congress begins their examination and investigation without a full record, and completion of that record must be a top priority.

The redacted report released by Attorney General William Barr falls woefully short of what is owed to Congress and to the American people. It shows that the Trump administration is intent on hiding facts and covering its tracks. Mr. Barr should immediately release the complete Mueller report in unredacted, unedited, and unvarnished form. The American public deserves the truth.

We are also troubled by Special Counsel Mueller’s decision not to press for a subpoena or interview of Trump. Trump has caused infinite damage to the office of the presidency by impeding justice and subverting the rule of law. He should be called to answer and held accountable for his actions to harm our democracy.

Our democracy is in a holding pattern. We need answers and we need them fast. The Trump administration has already harmed our civil rights in devastating ways, and it will take us years to recover. But we cannot, and must not, allow the foundations of our democracy to be undermined, knowing full well of the threat. This is our democracy, and we must act to protect it.

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Congressional Black Caucus officially endorses Biden

NNPA NEWSWIRE — President Joe Biden has successfully chartered the support of high-ranking Congress members with an endorsement from the Congressional Black Caucus. The group met with the leader virtually on Monday eager to learn more about a campaign comeback plan after turmoil sparked by the June 27 presidential debate.
The post Congressional Black Caucus officially endorses Biden first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Ashleigh Fields

President Joe Biden has successfully chartered the support of high-ranking Congress members with an endorsement from the Congressional Black Caucus. The group met with the leader virtually on Monday eager to learn more about a campaign comeback plan after turmoil sparked by the June 27 presidential debate. Biden pleaded with members reportedly telling them, “’I need you. I want you to be fully engaged.” Later he added, “You’ve had my back and I’ve got yours.”

Biden took questions from the lawmakers who represent 120 million Americans combined reaffirming his zeal for a second term. “I will continue to stand with the president and the people who elected him to be our nominee. “He is the best candidate to be in this race,” Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) told the NNPA after the call describing his current term as “extraordinary.” The North Carolina representative’s support will be crucial to Biden as he continues to visit the battleground state. Many are looking to see if his performance in Raleigh after the debate and frequent visits to Wilmington will seal the deal for voters who formerly sided with Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The call with CBC members also served as a chance for the president to firm up his support in states like Nevada where he won by a slight margin in the last cycle. Horsford says his constituents are looking for the nation’s next leader to make decisions that are cost-effective and financially fruitful. “The voters in Nevada care about a thriving and equitable economy, taking on big corporations to lower costs and protecting the hard-bought freedoms, rights, and opportunities we’ve Earned,” Horsford posted on X the day after the meeting. “They’re focused on moving forward and reject the divisive politics of those who would like to take us back.”

The Biden-Harris ticket has boasted about reform that could uplift minority communities including tax credits for first-time home buyers and plans to remove medical debt from credit scores. Both proposals aim to ease the financial burden and stress that often prevents families from climbing the ladder of social/economic mobility. Throughout Vice President Kamala Harris’ economic freedom tour and publicized speeches from Biden the goal has always been to, “build from the middle out and the bottom up.” However, Trump has raked in support from a wide array of people because of his strong stance on immigration policy, promising to facilitate the largest deportation in American history if elected president. He believes illegal immigrants are dominating good-paying American jobs for lower wages driving the economy into distress.

“The fact is that his [Biden’s] big kill on the Black people is the millions of people that he’s allowed to come in through the border. They’re taking Black jobs now,” Trump said during the debate. “They’re taking Black jobs and they’re taking Hispanic jobs.” Despite these claims, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus which boasts 38 members officially endorsed Biden on July 9. Chair Nanette Barragan (D-CA-44) and Deputy Chair Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13) subsequently released a statement to explain their reasoning. “President Biden and his Administration have worked closely with House Democrats to make historic investments to positively impact communities across the country, including Latinos, such as investments to combat climate change, lower healthcare costs, expand access to healthcare for our veterans, and create jobs with the infrastructure bill,” the two shared.

Although Biden has received the affirmation of many over the past few days, Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA-39), Adam Smith (D-WA-9), and Joe Morelle (D-NY-25) have been publicly adamant about Biden dropping out of the race. Others like former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-11) have remained moderate and encouraged others to hold out fate until after Biden’s performance at NATO this week. “I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides we go with,” Pelosi said on Morning Joe. “Let’s just hold off. Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week.”

The post Congressional Black Caucus officially endorses Biden first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Drug Used to Treat Diabetes Now a Weight Loss Miracle but Difficult to Obtain in Black and Brown Communities

NNPA NEWSWIRE — In early 2022, Ozempic rose to fame when celebrities who do not suffer from diabetes began publicizing the drugs’ ability to assist in fast acting weight loss. It quickly went from a lifesaving medication for diabetics to the celebrity go to for shedding unwanted pounds. In 2021, in the US alone, prescriptions of the drug quadrupled landing the miracle drug on the worldwide shortage list creating rippling effects through many communities.
The post Drug Used to Treat Diabetes Now a Weight Loss Miracle but Difficult to Obtain in Black and Brown Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Small pharmacies find difficulty in prescribing the drug due to Big Pharma restrictions

By Andre ‘M. Johnson

According to a recent study published in Lucent, the number of people living with diabetes worldwide is on pace to more than double in the next three decades. This increase will bring the total of worldwide diabetic patients to a staggering 1.3 billion by 2025, making diabetes one of the top 10 leading causes of death and disability, in the world.

On December 5th of 2017, a little-known drug hit the market to help millions of people suffering with diabetes. The drug was called Ozempic. Ozempic was created to lower blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin and has shown continual success in patients with lowering their A1-C. The introduction of medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy has changed the game for millions of people worldwide who have been struggling with diabetes. It was a once weekly auto injector that would allow patients to maintain their sugar levels and create a healthier way of life. One of its known side effects, however, was dramatic weight loss.

In early 2022, Ozempic rose to fame when celebrities who do not suffer from diabetes began publicizing the drugs’ ability to assist in fast acting weight loss. It quickly went from a lifesaving medication for diabetics to the celebrity go to for shedding unwanted pounds. In 2021, in the U.S. alone, prescriptions of the drug quadrupled landing the miracle drug on the worldwide shortage list creating rippling effects through many communities.

Valentine Paterson of Brooklyn, New York thought he had found a solution to his endless battle with obesity and diabetes when he was prescribed Ozempic. The effects were almost immediate and life altering. “I weighed more than 365 pounds and after being hospitalized for heart failure, my doctor recommended I take Ozempic,” said Paterson a 52-year-old Uber driver. “Within four months of taking the drug, I lost 65 pounds, and my doctor reduced my other medications from nine to four. It changed my life. But then I could not get my prescription filled. I looked for months; it was a nightmare. All the work and progress I was making was slipping away, all because I was unable to pay out of pocket.”

The reason Mr. Paterson could not get his prescription filled is because Mr. Paterson’s local pharmacy, like many others nationwide, was no longer able to obtain the blockbuster medication. The craze of Ozempic and Wegovy created a nationwide shortage of medication by those willing to pay the exorbitant out-of-pocket costs getting first cracks at the available supply. So, while pharmacies in lower income neighborhoods could not stock their shelves, pharmacies on Manhattan’s Upper Eastside had a twelve-month supply of the miracle drug readily available to those able to pay $1,400.00 per prescription. Given this void, the question was raised as to whether anyone or anything could help.

Enter the compounding pharmacy. According to the FDA, compounding pharmacies are authorized to produce exact drugs in times of a national shortage. But what exactly is a compounding pharmacy? A compounding pharmacy makes and sells prescription medicines based on the specific formula provided to it by the FDA. When a medicine makes its way to the national shortage list, compounding pharmacies are authorized to make generic versions of those medications to assist all those in need. When a medicine is not on the national shortage list, compounding pharmacies are only authorized to make alternate forms of the prescribed drug. Ozempic has been on both the worldwide and US shortage list since April of 2022. However, what happens when Big Pharma doesn’t want to let compounding pharmacies earn money they feel belongs to them even during a shortage?

“Lifeline Pharmacy” is a small compounding pharmacy run by Dr. Aisha Johnson in the heart of south Los Angeles. For years, this pharmacy has served as a beacon of hope, providing personalized care and essential medications to the predominantly Black and Latino residents. Among the most critical medications Dr. Johnson compounds is semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Black adults are nearly twice as likely as white adults to develop type 2 diabetes. This racial disparity has been rising over the last 30 years creating a disproportionate need for these life altering medications in communities of color. Despite the FDA’s approval for compounding pharmacies to produce semaglutide, Novo Nordisk has targeted these providers in order to protect their profits and eliminate the competition.

In the Ward 8 area of Washington, D.C., a heavily populated community of Black and Latino residents, the drug remains in high demand with little to no supply. “There is definitely a monopoly on it by Big Pharma,” said Dr. Damon Ricks, Pharmacy Manager at SIP. “Small Compounding Pharmacies are definitely within their rights and scope to create these drugs when the FDA declares a shortage.”

The impact of Big Pharma’s campaign is being felt in communities from Brooklyn, NY to Los Angeles, CA. The misinformation spread by Novo Nordisk, stating that compounded versions of semagludies are unsafe and potentially life threating has created fear and uncertainty in those using compounded versions of the popular medication. Intensifying the problem, legislative proposals influenced by pharmaceutical lobbyists threatened to impose restrictions that would make it nearly impossible for small pharmacies to continue compounding semaglutide. For communities of color, this means losing a critical source of affordable and accessible medication.

“Big Pharma should not have a hold on these drugs. There needs to be a leveling of the playing field. I think having access to these drugs all across the board is needed. If a patient needs it for diabetes, then it should be made available to them. Prioritizing weight loss over diabetic patients is an injustice to our health care system,” said Ricks.

But Big Pharma continues to push for stricter regulations, claiming the need for patient safety. However, insufficient evidence exists to back up any of the claims made by Big Pharma. Compounding pharmacies must comply with existing rigorous standards to make any medication. They follow these standards in order to serve lower economic depressed communities of color. The popularity of these drugs has made it difficult for average Americans to afford or find these medications. These are not just weight loss medications; they are tools for survival for many diabetic patients. Due to Big Pharma’s bullying campaign, many patients have been forced to accept lower doses of these drugs to maintain any benefits even though most experience little to no progress with the reduced dosage. Yet those that truly need these lifesaving medications continue to suffer.

For communities of color, the ability of local compounding pharmacies to provide semaglutide and other essential medications is about more than access to treatment. They serve as a testament to the power of community and the relentless pursuit of a more just and equitable healthcare system.

The post Drug Used to Treat Diabetes Now a Weight Loss Miracle but Difficult to Obtain in Black and Brown Communities first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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About Those ‘Black Jobs’: Biden Administration Shows Better Record of Black Cabinet Leaders Than Trump

PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE — “The characterization of Black jobs by Donald Trump, who only had one Black person in his Cabinet, is not only demeaning to the African American community but a concerning issue from the perspective of the NAACP,” said NAACP Philadelphia Branch President Cathy Hicks in a statement Friday. “It is important to recognize that African Americans hold positions in every job industry and contribute significantly to the American workforce. Stereotyping and generalizing job roles based on race is not only inaccurate but also perpetuates harmful biases towards the African American community…”
The post About Those ‘Black Jobs’: Biden Administration Shows Better Record of Black Cabinet Leaders Than Trump first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Marco Cerino | Philadelphia Tribune Staff Writer

As former president and presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump attempts to court Black voters who feel disillusioned by President Joe Biden’s administration, it should be noted that Trump’s idea of “Black jobs” does not include high-ranking positions in his administration.

An analysis of the two main presidential candidates on the 2024 ballot shows a stark contrast in the makeup of their administrations.

The appointment of Gen. Charles Q. Brown to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff made him the ninth Black person in a high-ranking position under Biden, including Cabinet secretaries and those in Cabinet-level roles like United Nations ambassador, director of national intelligence and trade adviser.

Despite having 62 different names in appointed or acting roles, Trump only included one Black person in his administration at that level — Dr. Ben Carson served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

“The characterization of Black jobs by Donald Trump, who only had one Black person in his Cabinet, is not only demeaning to the African American community but a concerning issue from the perspective of the NAACP,” said NAACP Philadelphia Branch President Cathy Hicks in a statement Friday. “It is important to recognize that African Americans hold positions in every job industry and contribute significantly to the American workforce. Stereotyping and generalizing job roles based on race is not only inaccurate but also perpetuates harmful biases towards the African American community. It is essential to promote equality and fair treatment in the workplace, ensuring that all individuals have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive in their chosen careers. Trump cannot say he is the best for the Black community and Black vote, if he can only see us in marginalized positions.”

Biden appointed the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year when Brown assumed the role for a four-year term. The decision seems to reflect the prioritizing of diversity in the Biden administration among Cabinet members and senior staff, one of his many significant departures from his predecessor.

Nyron Crawford, an assistant professor of political science at Temple University, believes the “Black jobs” comments were mainly a political maneuver, aimed to create a wedge issue around immigrants.

The lone Black appointee, he said, does serve as a reminder of Trump’s combative history with the Black community, including his demands that the Central Park Five be sentenced harshly, concerns over a Black contestant winning season one of “The Apprentice,” and other callous comments and stances.

“Donald Trump has no real regard for African Americans,” Crawford told The Tribune in an interview Monday about Trump’s record. “It doesn’t really serve a purpose. It’s not backed by any policy. Biden has done well on [appointing Blacks to high-level positions], compared to predecessors.”

Historically, it has been a challenge to get Black faces and voices into Cabinet roles.

President Lyndon Johnson was the first to appoint a Black person to his Cabinet, naming Robert Weaver to lead HUD in 1966. Of the 25-total appointed in history, 18 have been under Democratic presidents, while seven have been selected by Republicans, including four under President George W. Bush.

The Clinton administration had the most African American Cabinet secretaries with seven overall, including four appointed when taking office in January 1993. The Obama administration had four Black Cabinet members at once, the most in history. Vice President Kamala Harris is the highest-ranking Black Cabinet member ever.

Historical firsts for Blacks in high-profile government roles usually come during Democratic administrations. Biden broke through another glass ceiling with his nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who joined the Supreme Court in September 2022 as the first Black female justice. Trump added three white justices to the bench, who have voted to support conservative decisions like the weakening of affirmative action, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and, most recently, granting immunity for “official acts” of a president.

“The temperament and tone of a presidential administration is set by its people,” political commentator Jay McCalla said in an interview Monday. “Trump’s Cabinet members were largely sycophants. Trump has been conspicuously against Black folks. Trump’s coalition wanted a certified mouthpiece for their right-wing blather, so they chose Ben Carson.”

Multiple calls for comments were made to Philadelphia Republican leaders and have gone unreturned at time of print.

mcerino@phillytrib.com 215-893-5700

The post About Those ‘Black Jobs’: Biden Administration Shows Better Record of Black Cabinet Leaders Than Trump first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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