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The 2018 Midterm Election are Historic-Get Off The Bench!

by Alex Seitz-Wald /NBC NEWS       

WASHINGTON — In every midterm election since the Civil War, the president’s party has lost, on average, 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate.

The Midterm elections are on Nov. 6th.

DON’T BUY THE HYPE, DONT BE COMPLACENT-GET OFF THE BENCH-VOTE!

Democrats need only 24 seats to flip the House and two to take the Senate.

“History says we’re going to lose the majority,” said Cory Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a major Republican super PAC. “Our job is defy history.”

Rarely has a president alienated so many Americans so quickly as Donald Trump. And after nearly a year of total GOP control in Washington, voters say by double digits they’d rather have the Democrats in charge on Capitol Hill.

“There’s a lot of buyer’s remorse out here,” said Tim Waters, the political director of the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers union. “People have gone out of their way to give these guys a chance, and it just hasn’t paid off.”

But the GOP majorities are defended not just by incumbency and super PACs, but by structural advantages in both chambers.

We remain in prime position to defend our majorities in 2018,” said Republican National Chairman Ronna McDaniels, in a statement to NBC News.

In the Senate, the battleground offers far more liabilities than opportunities for Democrats because the 33 states in play next year are redder than average.

“We’re going to have a headwind, there’s no question about that,” said Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “The question is, does the map bail us out?”

And in the House, Democrats will need to win the popular vote by an especially wide margin to overcome GOP gerrymandering and Democrats’ own natural geographic handicap. That basically means Democrats can’t take the chamber without a landslide.

mocrats can’t take the chamber without a landslide.

Battle for Congress, 2018

For instance, in 2012, House Democrats won about 1 million more votes nationwide than Republicans, but that wasn’t big enough to put them anywhere near retaking the chamber.

 Experts disagree on exactly how big of a landslide Democrats need in the House — estimates range from as little as 53 percent to as much as 58 percent of the national vote — but they agree a narrow majority like 2012’s won’t cut it.

Meanwhile, Republican voters are typically more reliable than Democrats in non-presidential elections, making it less likely to see the kind of collapse Barack Obama suffered during his two midterm elections in 2010, when his party lost the majority in the House, and in 2014, when they lost the Senate.

“The problem is Trump is still very popular within in the Republican Party, like it or not,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. “It’s hard to have a wave if the intensity with the incumbent is high.”

Things can and will change. An unexpected and quickly forgotten Ebola scare, and dissatisfaction with the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis, dominated the final weeks of the 2014 midterms and gave a boost to Republicans.

The Senate

What to watch:

  • Anti-establishment vs. establishment GOP primaries
  • Democrats on defense in states Trump won: Indiana, West Virginia, Montana, North Dakota, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania
  • Minnesota (Tina Smith, who will be the successor to Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., will be running to fill his term)
  • Democrats on offense: Nevada, Arizona
  • Will unexpected states get competitive? Democrats are keeping an eye on Tennessee and TexasTwo countervailing forces — Democratic energy and a GOP dream map — are expected to largely cancel each other out this year and leave the GOP majority intact. But with Republicans defending a thin majority, down to just two seats after Doug Jones’ surprise win in Alabama, even small changes could reset the chamber.
    The fight for control of the Senate

    “The political structure of some of these states will allow us to save a majority in what will be a very difficult year,” said Jesmer, the former top GOP Senate operative.

    Only a third of the Senate’s 100 seats are up for grabs in any one election, and with this set, Republicans lucked out.

    Democrats have to defend 10 seats in states Trump won, including in five where he won by double digits and where he remains popular. That leaves them with just two solid pickup opportunities — in Nevada and Arizona.

    Nonetheless, there are still a few wildcards that could shake up the stalemate.

     Republicans in several key states, including Nevada and Arizona, are locked in divisive primary battles egged on by activists like former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, which could produce flawed or far-right nominees.

    “If we nominate fringe candidates who show they aren’t ready to govern, we’re going to sacrifice seats,” said Alex Conant, a former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

    Senate Democrats have become adept at quietly sidelining candidates they think are unelectable and clearing the way for favored ones.

    Meanwhile, two senators are facing serious health issues, including one, John McCain, R-Ariz., from a competitive state, and another, Thad Cochran, R-Miss., whose vacancy would trigger a potentially nasty GOP primary.

    Democrats are also hoping to expand the map and get lucky with more strong candidates like former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who thrilled his party by jumping into the race for an open Senate seat.

“The lesson from Alabama is, if you field the right candidate and the environment is right, that nothing is in the realm of the impossible,” said Lynda Tran, a founding partner of the Obama-aligned 270 Strategies.

The House of Representatives

What to watch:

  • The suburban revolt against Republicans
  • Democratic primaries
  • Republican retirements
  • The magic number for Democrats: 24

With control of the chamber — and the potential impeachment of the president that could come with it — on the line, the House will upstage its big brother in the Senate this time around.

There are so many rosy data points for House Democrats it’s hard to know where to begin. Democratic challengers are out-fundraising, out-polling and out-recruiting both their own records and their GOP incumbents, 32 of whom have already decided to retire rather than run for re-election (compared to 16 Democrats).

Polling, wrote analyst Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight, shows “Republicans in worse shape right now than any other majority party at this point in the midterm cycle since at least the 1938 election.”

Preparing for a wave, Democrats are putting as many proverbial surfboards as possible in the water, targeting 91 congressional districts (compared to 36 for Republicans).

“The Democratic enthusiasm here is unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Pat Ryan, who is running against a Republican incumbent in an upstate New York district that swung from Obama to Trump.

Ryan, a West Point graduate who did two tours in Iraq before starting a small IT business, is indicative of the bumper crop of quality candidates Democrats have managed to recruit this year.

“You are seeing credible candidates in races that we’ve never been competitive in before,” said Charlie Kelly, the executive director of House Majority PAC, Democrats’ primary House super PAC.

To defend their majority, Republicans are reaching for a familiar playbook.

 We’re going to put Nancy Pelosi on trial and prosecute the case,” said Bliss, the GOP super PAC boss whose groups plan to spend over $100 million this cycle. “Every morning at CLF (Congressional Leadership Fund), we take a moment of silence to appreciate Nancy Pelosi and thank her. We hope she never retires.”

Such attacks worked against Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s special congressional election this year, but they may also be Republicans’ only card to play.

Republicans’ don’t dispute that there’s an enthusiasm gap, but they see a silver lining in the competitive and potentially damaging Democratic primaries across the country.

Jim Hagedorn, a Republican running in a Democratic-held Minnesota district considered one of the GOP’s best pickup opportunities, has watched happily as he says the seven candidates vying to be his Democratic opponent trip over themselves to adopt “goofy left” positions on guns and abortion, among other issues.

To see article in entirety go to

NBC NEWS 2018 MIDTERMS

 

 

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Lebron James Launches “I Promise School” for at Risk Youth

Brian Windhorst/ESPN Senior Writer

The path of LeBron James‘ foundation has, in some ways, mirrored the path of his career.

Always a potential powerhouse because of James’ wealth and influence, the operation was somewhat unfocused early on. For example, for several years its major annual event — a city-wide bike-a-thon for kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio — ended up losing money and straining the city’s budget.

But as James was finding his footing as a superstar and a leader during his time in Miami, his foundation was doing the same back in Ohio, as it became focused specifically on at-risk children and their education. They’ve both been on a roll ever since.

Many times over the past decade, James has said, “I’m just a kid from Akron” and “I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be a statistic.” It can sound like a slogan, but to him, it isn’t. As is well known, he faced poverty, lack of stability and periods of homelessness when he was a child. His small family was directly impacted by drugs and violent crime, and things crashed down on him to the point that he’d stopped attending school regularly by the time he was in fourth grade.

The circumstances pointed toward James’ life not having a good outcome, on the verge of being lost before he knew where basketball could take him. These are the statistics he’s trying to fight with his money and ability to rally huge corporations and schools to a cause.

Over the past four years, as he played again for the Cleveland Cavaliers, James’ career became fully mature. It culminated in both the 2016 NBA championship, and this past season, when he played in every game and had one of the best playoff performances in NBA history as he pulled his underdog team to one more Finals appearance.

The same could be said for his foundation, which reaches a milestone more than a decade in the making on Monday when it launches its own school in coordination with the Akron Public Schools. It will eventually draw hundreds of at-risk children, kids who are walking in the same shoes James was in at elementary school age. The new school has a longer school day and a longer school year, and its educators will be tasked with trying to overcome historic disadvantages the attendees face.

If the children follow the program the foundation has worked to mold, James has arranged for them to have free college tuition at the University of Akron. Along the way, the foundation has set up a program to also help the parents earn their high school diplomas and other continuing education.

It’s a brave experiment. Instead of disadvantaged children being mainstreamed, James’ school will group the at-risk students from across his hometown together to try to streamline the support system. If it works, James and his foundation’s leaders dream, it could change the way cities and school systems view these challenges. It could spread to other cities in Ohio that need help. And then, who knows?

The 2020 Census at Risk and What’s at Stake

By Jim Tankersley & Emily Baumgaertner    New York Times

WASHINGTON — The United States census is so much more than just a head count. It is a snapshot of America that determines how congressional seats are apportioned, how state and federal dollars are distributed, where businesses choose to ship products and where they build new stores. To do all that properly, the count needs to be accurate.

The Commerce Department’s decision to restore a citizenship question to the census beginning in 2020 is prompting concerns about curtailing participation and possibly undercounting people living in the United States, particularly immigrants and minority groups who are expressing discomfort with answering questions from census workers.

Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, acknowledged concerns about decreased response rates in a memorandum released on Monday night. But he said asking about citizenship would enhance the results by helping calculate the percentage of the population eligible to vote.

An undercount of the population would have far-reaching implications. It could skew the data that are used to determine how many congressional representatives each state gets and their representation in state legislatures and local government bodies. It would shape how billions of dollars a year are allocated, including for schools and hospitals. It would undermine the integrity of a wide variety of economic data and other statistics that businesses, researchers and policymakers depend on to make decisions, including the numbers that underpin the forecasts for Social Security beneficiaries.

Here are several of the commercial, political and research efforts that depend on accurate
census data:

Divvying up seats in Congress, state legislatures and more

The Constitution requires the government to enumerate the number of people living in the United States every 10 years, and to use that data to apportion the seats in Congress among the states. The calculation is based on total resident population — which means citizens and noncitizens alike — and it generally shifts power between the states once a decade, in line with population and migration trends.

States including Texas, Florida, Colorado and Oregon are projected to gain seats after the 2020 numbers are in. Illinois, Ohio, New York and West Virginia are among the states expected to lose seats. An undercount could shift those projections.

Lawmakers also use census data to draw congressional district boundaries within states, an often-controversial process that can help decide partisan control of the House. Census data also underpin state legislative districts and local boundaries like City Councils and school boards.

Handing out federal and state dollars

The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions on census data. Researchers concluded last year that in the 2015 fiscal year, 132 government programs used information from the census to determine how to allocate more than $675 billion, much of it for programs that serve lower-income families, including Head Start, Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell grants for college and reduced-price school lunch programs. Highway spending is also apportioned according to census data.

Influencing business decisions

To sell products and services, companies large and small need good information on the location of potential customers and how much money they might have to spend. The census provides the highest-quality and most consistent information on such items, and businesses have come to depend on it to make critical choices.

Census data help companies decide where to locate distribution centers to best serve their customers, where to expand or locate new stores and where they have the best chance of seeing a high return on investment. That is why business groups have been particularly concerned about the integrity of that data.

“The 2020 census is used to help construct many other data products produced by the federal government,” said Michael R. Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who writes frequently on the importance of census data for policymakers and the private sector.

“Some of those products are heavily used by businesses when determining where to open new stores and expand operations, or even what items to put on their shelves. This affects retail businesses, for sure, but businesses in many other sectors as well,” he added.

Planning for various health and wellness programs

Low response rates from any one demographic group would undermine the validity of various population-wide statistics and program planning.

Scientists use census data to understand the distribution of diseases and health concerns such as cancer and obesity across the United States population, including drilling down to race and ethnicity to identify health patterns across demographics. Public health officials then use the data to target their interventions in at-risk communities. Inaccurate census data could lead public health officials to invest in solving a problem that does not exist — or worse, to overlook one that does.

“It’s getting harder to conduct the census, due to a variety of factors, including increasing cultural & linguistic diversity, and distrust of the government,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist who directs the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. “The addition of the citizenship question will make the enumerators’ jobs even harder by heightening privacy concerns and reducing participation among immigrants, who may fear the information will be used to harm them or their families.”

Gaming out Social Security

An undercount in the census could also impact forecasts about Social Security payouts, which are already increasing as a share of the federal government’s revenue.

When Congress plans for the costs of the country’s Social Security needs, lawmakers rely upon demographic projection about the population’s future: the number of children expected to be born, the number of people expected to die, and the number of people expected to immigrate. If baseline data regarding the current population are inaccurate, future projections could be skewed, causing financial challenges down the line.

Immigration Separation Policy Traumatizes Children

Reposted from QUARTZ

Department of Homeland Separation

Science shows just how traumatizing
it is
to separate kids from parents
at the US-Mexico border

This spring, the White House implemented a new “zero-tolerance policy” intended to crack down undocumented immigrants attempting to enter the US along the country’s southwest border. Among the central targets of this policy are the children of immigrants, some as young as 18 months old.

US attorney general Jeff Sessions announced on May 7 that the Department of Homeland Security would be referring 100% of immigrants illegally crossing the border for criminal prosecution in federal court—and that any minors traveling with them would be taken into government custody. In a speech explaining the new guidelines, Sessions said, “If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law.”

This is a major shift in policy, as immigrants previously charged with illegal entry—a misdemeanor on the first offense—had been allowed to stay in family shelters with their kids while awaiting asylum cases or deportation proceedings. Now, migrants attempting to enter the US illegally are being jailed and separated from their children.

It’s clear the separations are already having a devastating effect. One Houston Chronicle story tells the story of a man who was deported—alone—after attempting to cross the border, while his 18-month-old was placed in a federal shelter. Government agents couldn’t tell him where his child was. A story in the Arizona Daily Star reports on a Guatemalan woman begging the judge who sentenced her to serve time for illegal entry to tell her when she would be able to see her 8-year-old and 11-year-old sons again—and getting no clear response.

Heartbreaking as these stories are, the long-term consequences of the separation may be even worse. A strong body of science proves that separating children from their parents causes enduring harm to children’s emotional and mental health, and to the relationship between the child and their parent.

In US history there has been a precedence for this cruel and unwarranted Immigration policy.
JUST THINK ABOUT IT….
.I’m sure you’ll see the parallel.
The United Nations has recently condemned the United States for this criminal practice.

Attachment theory and parent-child separation

Attachment theory, developed in 1958 by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, explains that young children’s sense of security is rooted in their relationships with caregivers, which in turn shapes children’s social, cognitive, and emotional regulation skills. That means separating a child from the caregiver puts the child’s long-term development at risk.

One 2011 study, published in the journal Attachment and Human Development, examined the effects of mother-child separation upon children under two years of age who had been apart from their mothers for a week or more. Most of the children came from low-income families. The researchers found that children who had been separated from their mothers at a young age showed more aggression and negativity at ages three and five, noting that involuntary separations were much more likely to have a negative effect. Meanwhile, a 2009 study of Chinese children who had been separated from their parents found that children whose parents had migrated in search of employment opportunities early in life were at greater risk of anxiety and depression later on.

Because the separations at the US-Mexico border are both forced and unexpected, they’re likely to be particularly damaging for kids. “The physical separation between a parent and child, particularly when unexpected as in the case of deportation, disrupts this essential secure base, risking internalizing symptoms (depression, anxiety), externalizing behaviors (withdrawal, aggression), and social and cognitive difficulties,” as one 2014 study (pdf) of detention and deportation of US migrants, published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, explains.

The effects of being separated from a parent can be difficult even when children are well cared for—say, staying with a grandparent or another trusted relative. But under the new US policy, parents are prosecuted and their kids are taken into government custody. Children are treated much better than their parentsthey have to be transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours of being taken into custody by Homeland Security, given access to free legal services, held in a safe, sanitary, and “least-restrictive” possible environment, and given time to play outside. But the number of minors entering the US illegally is set to soon outpace the space available for them. So the Trump administration is reportedly considering holding undocumented immigrant children in military facilities.

And there’s reason to believe that the US government isn’t a trustworthy custodian. In 2018, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which handles the placement of undocumented immigrant children into shelters or with sponsors, reported that it could not “determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475” unaccompanied children who had previously been resettled with sponsors. And a 2016 report found that the Department of Health and Human Services unwittingly released a dozen minors into the custody of human traffickers.

In an April 26, 2018 oversight hearing, senator Rob Portman, the Republican junior senator for Ohio, gave an overview of the systemic ways in which US immigration officials are failing to enact basic protections to the children of undocumented immigrants. “We need to do better,” Portman said. In the weeks since, it seems, the US has been doing worse.

This reporting is part of a series supported by a grant from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The author’s views are not necessarily those of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

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Gaza: Nakba day protests as Palestinians bury those killed

Even though Palestine is not an official state, the U.S. and Palestine have a long history of rocky diplomatic relations. With Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas set to appeal for the creation of a Palestinian state at the United Nations on September 19, 2011—and the U.S. set to veto the measure—that foreign policy history is again in the spotlight.

The story of U.S.-Palestinian relations is lengthy, and it obviously includes much of the history of Israel.

This is the first of several articles on the U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli relationship.

From THE GUARDIAN
Summary

Demonstrations at the border between Gaza and Israel were calmer on Tuesday, following a day of violence on Monday which saw at least 60 people killed.

We’re going to close down the live blog for now, so here’s a look at what happened today:

History

Palestine is an Islamic region, or perhaps several regions, in and around the Jewish-state of Israel in the Middle East. Its four million people live largely in the West Bank along the Jordan River, and in the Gaza Strip near Israel’s border with Egypt.

Israel occupies both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It created Jewish settlements in each place, and has waged several small wars for control of those areas.

The United States has traditionally backed Israel and its right to exist as a recognized state. At the same time, the U.S. has sought cooperation from Arab nations in the Middle East, both to achieve its energy needs and to secure a safe environment for Israel. Those dual American goals have put Palestinians in the midst of a diplomatic tug-of-war for nearly 65 years.

Zionism

Jewish and Palestinian conflict began at the turn of the 20th Century as many Jews worldwide began the “Zionist” movement.

Because of discrimination in the Ukraine and other parts of Europe, they sought territory of their own around the Biblical holy lands of the Levant between the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. They also wanted that territory to include Jerusalem. Palestinians also consider Jerusalem a holy center.

Only after Nazis staged mass executions of Jews during the Holocaust of World War II did the international community begin backing the Jewish quest for a recognized state in the Middle East.

Partitioning and Diaspora

The United Nations authored a plan to partition the region into Jewish and Palestinian areas, with the intention that each become states. In 1947 Palestinians and Arabs from Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria began hostilities against Jews.

That same year saw the beginning of a Palestinian diaspora. Some 700,000 Palestinians were displaced as Israeli boundaries became clear.

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. The United States and most members of the United Nations recognized the new Jewish state. Palestinians call the date “al-Naqba,” or the catastrophe.

Full-blown war erupted. Israel beat the coalition of Palestinians and Arabs, taking territory that the United Nations had designated for Palestine.

Israel, however, was always felt insecure as it did not occupy the West Bank, the Golan Heights, or the Gaza Strip. Those territories would serve as buffers against Jordan, Syria, and Egypt respectively. It fought—and won—wars in 1967 and 1973 to occupy those territories. In 1967 it also occupied the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Many Palestinians who had fled in the diaspora, or their descendants, found themselves again living under Israeli control. Although considered illegal under international law, Israel has also built Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank.

U.S. Backing

The United States backed Israel throughout those wars. The U.S. has also continuously sent military equipment and foreign aid to Israel.

American support of Israel, however, has made its relations with neighboring Arab countries and Palestinians problematic.

Palestinian displacement and the lack of an official Palestinian state became a central tenet of much anti-American Islamic and Arabic sentiment.

The United States has had to craft foreign policy that both helps keep Israel secure and allows American access to Arab oil and shipping ports.

 

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Imam W.Deen Mohammed Ramadan Session Archives

 

 

“The Month of Ramadhan is that in which the Qur’an
was revealed, a guidance to men
and clear proofs of the guidance…”

Surah 2:185

Conveners of Imams
Associated with The Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Statement on the Start of Ramadan 2018

As-Salaamu-Alaikum! As you may be aware, the hilal (new crescent moon) beginning the month of Sha’ban was sighted throughout the world and in North America on the night of April 16, 2018. Current astronomical projections indicate the month of Sha’ban is expected to run the full thirty days (through the day of May 16th). In addition, the hilal of the month of Ramadan is also projected for the evening of May 16th.  As a result, the beginning night of the month of Ramadan is projected for Wednesday, May 16, 2018, with Thursday, May 17th as the first day of fasting.

MUSLIM AMERICAN COMMUNITY RVA AT MASJID BILAL
will began the fast of Ramadan on Thurs May 17th
with Taraweeh Prayers held nightly following Ishaa starting Wed May 16th.
Iftars will be hosted at Masjid Bilal Saturday evenings 8pm
Join us each morning to STUDY AL-ISLAM via Conference Call
Call 712-770-4160  Access Code 684012#
https://www.facebook.com/studyalislam

By tradition, however, Muslims around the world will be searching for the hilal th starting Tuesday evening, May 15th.  In the continental USA, members of the Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed will be out searching shortly after sunset on Tuesday evening. If the moon is sighted with the naked eye, please contact your local Imam who should then notify their Section Convener with the details of the sighting. We will announce sightings on our website: www.iwdmcommunity.com. While it is unlikely, if a credible eye sighting (including picture, location, and person) occurs on Tuesday night (May 15th) within the continental USA, the first day of fasting will start on May 16th.

The Section Conveners of Imams associated with the Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed adhere to the general principle of local sighting (within the continental USA) with the naked eye. We also use Allah’s gift of science to help pinpoint when and where naked eye sightings are most probable to occur.

Wherever Muslims are in the world, we pray that you have a blessed and beneficial Ramadan as a result of your intentions, fasting, prayers, Qur’anic reading, charity, discipline, and your gathering with other believers!

Ramadan Mubarak!

‘People Who Are Different Are Not the Problem in America’

By James Lankford & Tim Scott/Politics-THE ATLANTIC
JAN 12, 2018

Two members of the U.S. Senate urge Americans to honor the legacy
of the Martin Luther King Jr. by engaging with others of different backgrounds.
This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day carries additional significance, as it marks the 50th anniversary of his tragic death. In April of 1968, King was killed in Memphis, Tennessee, at the hands of a ruthless murderer who was filled with hate and racism.One of the reasons we, as Americans and citizens around the world, remember King’s legacy is his call to freedom and racial unity through love and engagement for all people—a message he still shares with the world a half-century later. Love is the consistent theme throughout many of his writings and remarks: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend,” or “I have decided to stick with love … Hate is too great a burden to bear,” or “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.

Perhaps the words King wrote to fellow ministers while he was in the Birmingham Jail in 1963 are the most impactful: “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

King’s words still ring, but his work is not complete. Americans have come a long way since the 1960s, but the dream is not yet fully realized.After the 2016 police shootings in Dallas, Minnesota, and Louisiana, we challenged our constituents and people everywhere we went with a simple question, “Have you or your family ever invited a person or a family of another race to your home for dinner?”  We called it “Solution Sundays.”Sunday is a slower, yet significant day, for most Americans. So, we challenged each family to give one Sunday lunch or dinner for building relationships across race and ethnicity, to literally be part of the solution in America. Any other day of the week would work as well; the goal is for people to engage on a personal level in their own homes, to break down walls, to listen, and to build trust across communities. It is harder to stereotype people that you know.

When is the last time you or your family had dinner in your home with a person or family of another race?

We are convinced that we will never get all the issues about race on the table, until we get our feet under the same table and talk like friends. At its core, racial divisions are a heart issue, not a skin-color issue. Our children need to see their parents developing friendships around the dinner table with people who look different, so that the next generation can be different.

The same goes for civil discourse in America. The love and respect that King spoke about do not require absolute uniformity or watered-down viewpoints. They require respect for cultures and views that are different, and an understanding that people who are different are not the problem in America; they are our brothers and sisters in humanity.

Sadly, our cultural discourse often looks like hate trying to drive out hate, rather than allowing light and love to drive out hate.

Our national leaders should model this truth rather than just reflect the culture. Just take a glance at social media and cable news, and you’ll see disrespectful shouting and shaming that descends on our country and our children like a cold rain. In fact, you can test that theory by posting this op-ed to your social media account, and you will probably see what we’re talking about within minutes. This sort of rhetoric threatens our ability to weave together multiple communities together to form a single nation; it loses sight of the fact that all people are made in the image of God and have worth and human dignity.

After two centuries, we are making progress on race, but we seem to be rapidly losing our “melting pot” of ideas, respect, and acceptance. A trend has emerged that encourages people to listen only to people who are the same or share their values, philosophy, and ideas, then dismiss or belittle anyone who is different or disagrees, even if they only disagree on a few issues. A good burn is the new goal, rather than a good word. We still need the reminder that “love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

Let this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day be a time where we, as Americans, honor his memory and legacy by engaging neighbors who are different. If the national pendulum is ever going to swing, it will require role models in every community who don’t just call out for respectful engagement, but live it.

Worried about Russian Collusion? Gerrymandering & Voter Suppression are worst threats

From Electoralgeographies.web

 Gerrymandering / Congressional Redistricting

Manipulating congressional districts through gerrymandering  has become a pervasive problem in the United States since its utilization by Elbridge Gerry in 1812. The point of gerrymandering is to cram “all of [your opponents’] supporters into a small number of districts. This method allows the legislature to spread its own supporters over a larger number of districts” (Ingraham, 2014b).

The graph above shows data on 8 states’ gerrymander index scores. It is clear that these data, in general, indicate that states are becoming more gerrymandered over time.

North Carolina and Maryland are regarded as the most gerrymandered states in the United States.  North Carolina’s 12th district is one of the worst in the nation, stretching over 77 miles from Winston-Salem to Charlotte in a snake-like pattern. (below)

NorthCarolinas12thcongressionaldistrict

There are certainly regional and demographic factors at play in the more recent gerrymandering efforts, such as those that we saw in 2010. Republicans gained a majority of House seats and state legislatures that year, and as a result were in charge of districting after the 2010 census. Redistricting’s original intent (after the census every 10 years) was to provide fair representation for people in different states as their populations increased or decreased, but it has largely become a political tool dominated by  whomever controls the state’s legislature.

From the graph below, you can see that the South, and the East Coast in general, is becoming more gerrymandered than the rest of the United States. The darker reds represent states that are more gerrymandered on the index score, and the lighter colored states represent those that are less gerrymandered.Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 7.51.11 PM

Gerrymandering the Electoral College?

Republican victories and the subsequent Congressional districts established by Republicans in 2010  gave the party momentum to propose legislation regarding alterations to the electoral college. Their goal is to set up a congressional district system in their respective states, which would ultimately determine the outcome of the Presidential election through dividing electors amongst state districts.

over-timegerrymander

Nebraska and Maine already have a congressional district system in place, and Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia are all considering legislation (Henderson & Haines, 2013). Systems such as this in Ohio and Virginia, key swing states during the 2012 Presidential election, would have indicated a victory for Mitt Romney (Berman, 2012). But such law, if implemented, would also change presidential campaign strategies, and would generate and eliminate different battle-grounds.

Voter Suppression Laws 2014

Similar to gerrymandering, voter suppression laws are a way for political parties to gain an advantage through manipulation.  The 2014 midterms witnessed minority populations in the South, and other parts of the country being targeted by such legislation. A major issue at hand were voter ID laws. Many states introduced newly established ones this cycle. 11 states had new voter ID laws, which excludes states where these laws will be implemented in future elections-such as NC.imrsimrs

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21 states featured new voting laws more generally which included elimination of same day registration, elimination of out-of-precinct voting, limitation of early voting days, and longer wait times for criminals to regain their voting rights.

Research indicates that affected states “tend to have large black and Hispanic voter populations” (The Economist 2014). As an example, 1/3 of North Carolina’s African American voters utilized same day registration in 2012, a privilege which was eliminated in the state this cycle.  The portion of the Voting Rights Act which was struck down by the Supreme Court in a 2013 decision may be to blame for some of the problems in the South. Southern states are largely dominated by Republicans, and are no longer required to receive federal approval before changing legislation.

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Muslims Feeding RVA’s Needy For 2 Decades Needs Your Help

The Masjid Bilal Food Bank has operated for more than 20 years under the direction of Dr. James H. Rasheed . Residents from all over the Richmond Churchill community receive grocery items including produce, meats, baked goods and canned goods. Feeding more than 1000 people monthly, the program has been the recipient of numerous community awards. The Masjid Bilal Food Bank, one of the principal ministries of the Muslim American Community RVA , works in collaboration with the Central Virginia Foodbank.

Future plans include merging this project into a Job Readiness, Financial/Computer Literacy Initiative, Restoration of Voter Rights and Integrated Family Visitation Services.

This initiative has relied upon the volunteer efforts of many Churchill residents working side by side with members of the muslim community. The program receives no grants and relies solely upon individual contributions.

This program which is vital to so many families is in jeopardy of closure due rising cost and a reduction in contributions. We need your help!

Become a sustaining supporter of this community program. Please give a generous tax-deductible one time or monthly contribution.

It’s Easy! Just click on the Link below.

http://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=tmcF2vYJqbyldMCyM4wB_OESXHsxUGL4Q8uK2ntO2cYSQWCS6ijTat_Nx6itmpbLWZz9W0&country.x=US&locale.x=US

We invite you to come by and see your dollars in action! The food bank operates the fourth weekend of each month, Fridays 2pm-4pm and Saturdays 9am –12 noon. To find out more about this initiative, contact James Rasheed at jhrasheed@aol.com.

Because of your donation, your elderly neighbors and children won’t have to go to bed hungry again.

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