- Created on 09 December 2013
Photo by Huffingotn Post
The Michigan Republican Party is seeking to increase its visibility in Democratic- and minority-heavy Detroit, and last week, it brought Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to the city to open the party's African-American Engagement Office. But if anything, the launch event put into stark relief just how much work the GOP has to do, when a largely white audience turned out to hear the senator speak.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has said that attracting more minorities to the GOP is crucial for the party's future. He visited Michigan last month, hired radio personality Wayne Bradley to head the African-American Engagement effort in the state and launched the Michigan Black Advisory Council.
In the 2012 election, President Barack Obama earned the support of 90 percent of the black voters who turned out at the polls.
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- Created on 06 December 2013
Photo by AP
Nelson Mandela's two youngest daughters found out about their father's death during the London premiere of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the highly-anticipated biopic starring Idris Elba and following the anti-apartheid fighter's life.
According to reports, Zindzi and Zenani were informed of the sad news by telephone while walking the red carpet. They "immediately left the cinema" but requested for the event to continue despite their absence. Guests in attendance included Prince William and his wife Kate.
When the film finished and the credits war rolling, producer Anant Singh took to the stage and shared the devastating news with the crowd. "It is with great sadness that President Zuma has recently announced the passing of Mandela," he said.
"I just wanted to say it's extremely sad and tragic news," he told reporters. "We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. It's very sad."
Zindzi and Zenani have yet to make an statement about their father's passing.
Mandela was 95.
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- Created on 04 December 2013
Anton Gunn (l) and Keli Goff (r) (NewsOne Now)
Though the wrinkles are being smoothed out of the insurance sign-up experience on healthcare.gov, many people are confused about their options and the upcoming deadlines.
Critics say the Obama administration should have done a better job of getting the word out in the months that led up to the launch of the health insurance exchanges on Oct. 1. But Anton Gunn, from the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, insists what's important is that the administration is now getting the messaging right for the people who need it.
"People focus on what's important and right in their face," said Gunn, speaking on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin. "If you can't enroll in a plan, which you couldn't do before October 1, again, effectively, no one was paying attention to what was different. But now that you can enroll in coverage, more people are paying attention. That's why we had such a demand when we opened enrollment on October 1. Four million people [visiting] in the first day or so. And we've seen that continue to grow."
Journalist Keli Goff, who participated in a roundtable discussion with Gunn, was unwilling to let him off the hook. Effective advance communication was vital, she said. "It is completely the fault of the administration if you couldn't get your base to mobilize around this issue until after October, or [reach] the people who use this and see why they couldn't use it."
Looking ahead, Gunn shared what happens after the current open enrollment period for 2014 ends on March 31. "There are some special circumstances — if you lose a job, or if you get married, you have a life event — you can enroll into a special enrollment period that happens after March 31. But for everybody else, the next open enrollment period starts that following October... and it goes until the end of the year."
Listen to the entire exchange in the clip here.
- Created on 05 December 2013
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama prodded Congress to raise wages and secure the social safety net as he issued an overarching appeal Wednesday to correct economic inequalities that he said make it harder for a child to escape poverty. "That should offend all of us," he declared. "We are a better country than this."
Focusing on the pocketbook issues that Americans consistently rank as a top concern, Obama argued that the dream of upward economic mobility is breaking down and that the growing income gap is a "defining challenge of our time."
"The basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed," the president said in remarks at a nonprofit community center a short drive from the White House in one of Washington's most impoverished neighborhoods.
Though he offered no new initiatives, Obama blended a call for Congress to act on pending short-term economic measures with an ambitious vision aimed at rectifying a growing level of income inequality in the United States. Amid public doubts over Obama's stewardship of the economy, the speech served as a guide for the remaining three years of his term.
Still, by drawing attention to past policy proposals that have dead-ended in a divided government, Obama also laid bare the political failures and economic difficulties he has faced trying to halt widening inequality trends.
He acknowledged his administration's "poor execution" in rolling out the flawed health care website that was supposed to be an easy portal for purchasing insurance, while blaming Republicans for a "reckless" shutdown of the government.
"Nobody has acquitted themselves very well these past few months," Obama said. "So it's not surprising that the American people's frustrations with Washington are at an all-time high." Worse for Americans, he added, are their growing difficulties in trying to make ends meet no matter how hard they work.
The speech coincided with growing national and international attention to economic disparities - from the writings of Pope Francis to the protests of fast-food workers in the U.S. Obama recalled the pope's words, the deeds of past presidents as well as his own personal story as a young boy with a financially struggling mother.
And he noted that in the United States, a child born into the bottom 20 percent of income levels has less than a 5 percent chance of making it to the top income levels and is 10 times likelier to stay where he is - worse than other industrial countries such as Canada, Germany and France.
House Speaker John Boehner blamed Senate Democrats and Obama for the lack of action on jobs-related legislation. He said bills passed by the Republican-controlled House that would help the economy and create jobs have been blocked in the Democratic-controlled Senate. "The Senate and the president continue to stand in the way of the people's priorities," he said on the House floor.
Obama conceded that "the elephant in the room" is the political gridlock that has prevented congressional action. But he pointed to the health care law, despite its troubled enrollment launch, as one example that he said is already helping families by providing insurance coverage to more Americans and by pushing down the costs of health care.
Obama specifically called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour. A Democratic bill by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa would raise the threshold to $10.10 an hour in three steps and tie automatic annual increases to changes in the cost of living.
A vote in the Senate is not expected in December, when the chamber will mostly focus on stalemates over the budget and other issues. Whenever it is debated, the measure seems unlikely to win the 60 votes it would need to clear the Senate due to GOP opposition.
Obama also pressed Congress to extend jobless benefits to 1.3 million long-term unemployed people. The benefits are set to expire just three days after Christmas. The additional weeks of benefits have been extended each year since 2009, but a senior Republican lawmaker, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said Tuesday that lawmakers in his party oppose yet another extension.
- Created on 03 December 2013
Photo by AP/ Hoover Police Department
A woman charged with killing a fellow Alabama fan after the end of last weekend's Iron Bowl football game was angry that the victim and others didn't seem upset over the Crimson Tide's loss to archrival Auburn, said the sister of the slain woman.
Adrian Laroze Briskey, 28, was charged Monday with murder in the killing of 36-year-old Michelle Shepherd.
Hoover police Capt. Jim Coker said both Birmingham women were Alabama fans and at the same party for the annual game between intrastate rivals. With no time left on the clock, Auburn returned a missed Crimson Tide field goal more than 100 yards for a 34-28 victory, dashing any hopes of Alabama playing for a third straight national championship.
The victim's sister, Nekesa Shepherd, said she witnessed the killing and had no doubt it was about football, even though it was unclear to investigators whether the violence was motivated by the game.
"That's one of the things we are investigating," Coker said Monday.
Nekesa Shepherd said Briskey flew into a rage when she saw the sisters and others joking that the Crimson Tide's loss wasn't as bad as if the NBA's Miami Heat had lost a game.
"She said we weren't real Alabama fans because it didn't bother us that they lost. And then she started shooting," Shepherd told The Associated Press.
Shepherd said she and her sister were invited to the party by a mutual friend who also invited Briskey. About two dozen people were on hand.
Shepherd, the mother of three, was shot to death in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover and the women did not know each other before the party, Coker said.
Court records were not available to show whether Briskey has a lawyer. She has only had a couple of speeding tickets in the past, records show.
Coker said alcohol might have been involved, but investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to make a determination.
Shepherd said Briskey drank multiple shots of liquor during the game and "went crazy" when she heard people joking after 'Bama lost.
"It was over a football game," said Shepherd. "I'm never going to forget it because she died in my arms."
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