You now have access to the same crime stats the NYPD uses (NY Post)

City officials on Tuesday unveiled a new digital version of Compstat that will give the public ‘”unprecedented”’ access to the most current NYPD crime statistics.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) holds an NYPD-issued smart phone that can access crime data while NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton holds an old police radio model during a news conference on Feb. 23. Photo: Chad Rachman

The innovative technology, dubbed Compstat 2.0, will be accessed by NYPD beat cops through their smart phones to give them more complete, timely reports on crime as it happens, officials said. The public can retrieve the information through a link on the Police Department’s Web site, which is currently up and running, officials said.

“CompStat 2 is the ability to take all of the CompStat information…with a few exceptions…and now share it with both you – the media – and to the public most importantly,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters at a press conference at police headquarters.

Those “exceptions” include crime victims’ names and the exact addresses of incidents, officials said. For now, in terms of crime locations, only the closest intersection will be released to the public, they said.

Mayor de Blasio attended the briefing, lauding the new program as “revolutionary.”

The crime numbers used in CompStat — the department’s 21-year-old crime-data tool — will be updated every Wednesday, allowing the public to review the numbers even before NYPD brass discusses the statistics at their weekly CompStat meeting held on Thursdays at 1 Police Plaza.

“I want people in this city to know this is another step toward being the strongest, best police force in the 21st century,” de Blasio said.

“We want people to know what is going on their neighborhoods,” the mayor said. “We want that transparency.”

Up until now, the public did not have access to this level unless they went to the precinct and asked for reports, which would be redacted of names and addresses.

The technology, which can be released throughhttps://compstat.nypdonline.org, will give any user the ability to conduct a crime-data analysis of a certain area, mapping statistics down to the nearest intersection.

Jessica Tisch, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for the information technology, said the new program “is designed to provide unprecedented access to NYPD crime statistics essentially to give the public the data and the tools they need to view, map, and analyze NYPD crime numbers.”

Users can view citywide Compstat numbers for crimes including, murders, assaults, shootings, rapes, robberies, felonies, and grand larcenies, broken down by borough or by precinct.

Historically, rapes had been only mapped by the precinct and not by the nearest intersection.

“No other police department provides an analytical engine for crime mapping and review,” Tisch said.

The NYPD’s rank-and-file access to the data will also improve policing, officials said.

So far, 25,000 cops or 70 percent of the force have been issued smart phones. All 36,000 cops on the force will have smart phones that can access the data by next month, officials said.
Officials praised the smartphones used by police officers for helping to fight crimes.

“The fact that these smartphones provided these basic tools to cops has in and of itself driven productivity in this department and that’s even before you start to discuss the custom applications that are available to the cops on the phones,” Tisch said.

One app alerts cops of 911 calls even before they come over the radio. A blast messaging app allows them to get officer safety alerts and missing person alerts. The phones also have a mobile fingerprinting system.

“Yesterday, 5,329 cops swiped their ID on the back of their smartphone to use one of the custom designed apps,” said Tisch.

Those 5,329 cops looked at 28,941 911 jobs, viewed 2,079 wanted fliers, and ran 36,000 searches or queries of databases, according to Tisch.

Read More at the NY Post

(HuffPost Black Voices) 8 Black Media Professionals Helping To Create A Better Tomorrow

These black voices matter.

02/01/2016 07:01 am ET

This February, HuffPost Black Voices is honoring black men and women who are paving the way to a better future for black America. As part of our “Black Future Month” series, we will highlight the work of deserving individuals who are striving to make the world a more inclusive place for generations to come.

To kick off our series, we’re honoring eight black men and women in mediawho constantly use their voices, across various platforms, to help unify and uplift others. We hope you admire their activism and participate in the conversation online: #BlackFutureMonth.

1. Franchesca Ramsey | Comedian and video blogger

FRANCHESCA RAMSEY

Franchesca Ramsey is one of the most recognized black voices in media. As the host of the MTV web series “Decoded,” Ramsey displays her smarts and humor as she tackles various topics about race and culture. “My ultimate goal is to make people laugh and make them think, which isn’t always an easy task. I like to think my work is furthering black culture by educating and empowering black people,” she told The Huffington Post.

Ramsey says it’s critical we understand the power of our voices, that’s why she uses her platform to talk about the importance of intersectionality. “Black people come in so many different bodies, genders and sexualities, so it’s important that we’re conscious of that so we can fight for a world that embraces and uplifts black people of every kind,” she said. “Our voices are powerful and have the ability to make change.”

2. Marc Lamont Hill | Academic, author and activist

MARC LAMONT HILL

Marc Lamont Hill’s spot-on commentary, powerful political punditry and insightful speeches makes him one of the most important voices of our generation. The scholar, professor and former HuffPost Live host consistently speaks power to the beautiful complexities of what it means to be black, which he defines in profound ways: “Being black means being part of a tradition that has built, fed, healed and inspired the world,” he told The HuffPost. “Being black is my pride.”

Hill says his fearlessness in speaking out against white supremacy and the nation’s neglect for black lives has been molded by the influential work of many black leaders — but it is men like Malcolm X who inspire him most. “He brought me to God. He taught me that books could change, and save, my life. He modeled discipline like I’d never seen before,” he said. Hill’s unflinching commitment to making sure black lives matter is a mission he upholds every day — and he says that if we are to achieve a better future, the movement must go on. “We must continue to organize,” he said. “We must continue to stretch our radical imaginations in ways that embolden us to resist the divisive forces of late capitalism, homophobia, patriarchy, ableism, and much more. I believe that we will win.”

3. Morgan DeBaun | Founder of Blavity

MORGAN DEBAUN FACEBOOK

Morgan DeBaun is the main mastermind behind Blavity, a booming news and culture website catered to black millennials. Since the site’s launch in July 2014, DeBaun and co-founder Aaron Samuels have realized their vision to provide a space where thought-provoking, comedic and insightful content merge seamlessly. “I think Blavity amplifies the good work, things and ideas that already exist in communities of color but oftentimes don’t get uplifted,” she told HuffPost.

DeBaun is inspired by the work of iconic black women of the past like Sojourner Truth, who she says was “fierce and so empowered to speak for herself and others to do the right thing in society.” It’s a mission DeBaun upholds through building great platforms like Blavity, which reflects the work of some of the most influential and important black voices around. “If we continue to share stories, news and ideas that are uplifting and engage one another,” DeBaun said, “I think we will continue to make progress towards a strong community.”

4. Wesley Lowery | Reporter at The Washington Post

WESLEY LOWERY

Wesley Lowery is known as one of the most diligent black professionals in media. As a political reporter at The Washington Post, Lowery has tirelessly covered issues of racial injustice, police violence and housing issues in America, among other topics. His riveting and detailed reporting explores these areas through “humanizing black characters and contextualizing the black experience for a mainstream (and largely white) audience,” he told HuffPost via email.

Lowery’s stellar coverage in Ferguson and respected commentary on social mediahas helped to establish him as one of the most credible reporters around — and he effectively uses tools like Twitter and TV to tell an important part of the black narrative. Understanding their power, he encourages more black people to leverage these platforms to do the same. “For much of American history, black voices were unheard, and therefore essentially voiceless,” he said. “We achieve a better future by refusing to be muted.”

5. Issa Rae | Actress, writer and producer

GETTY

Issa Rae is an awkward — and talented — black woman who is well on her way to changing the landscape of television. As the creator of the hit web series “Awkard Black Girl” and the founder of Color Creative TV, a platform that showcases the work of minority writers, Rae is helping to highlight stories that expand the narratives around black men and women. “I’m in this awkward definition of blackness,” she previously told HuffPost. “Black is supposed to be cool, black is sassy, black is trendsetting. I just don’t feel that way. It’s almost limited in a way and I feel like black is so much more than that.”

Black is so much more, and Rae isn’t the only one who recognizes that; so do the countless fans that admire and contribute to the platform Rae has built. Collectively, they are telling stories that are redefining blackness — and during a time where the work of people of color often goes unnoticed and undervalued by white Hollywood executives, Rae says now is the time to speak up. She previously told us: “Until you have people in positions of power that have varied experiences, nothing will change.”

6. Kyle Banks, André Verdun Jones and Khary Septh | Founders of The Tenth Zine magazine

THE TENTH

Kyle Banks, André Verdun Jones and Khary Septh are Brooklyn-based artists who came together to create The Tenth, a groundbreaking magazine that explores the experiences of being black and gay. The biannual publication, which is filled with glamorous images, amazing art and powerful written pieces, shatters stereotypes around black gay youth and brings dimension to the experiences and battles they face. “A huge issue for us is the black church and the hateful abomination doctrine being spewed from pulpits all across this country. We stand as a line of defense for so many LGBT youth that lack the proper defense against such rhetoric,” Banks told HuffPost. “As we continue to build our platform, this is just one of theissues we intend to tackle head-on.”

Banks said the team gives praise to men like Bayard Rustin, a civil rights icon who “also lived as an openly gay black man during a time when hostility toward both were off the charts,” Banks said. “Baynard Rustin, for us, represents a life lived with integrity and unyielding selflessness.” Through taking ownership of their own narrative, Banks and his team are well on their way to creating revolutionary work. “We believe in W.E.B. Du Bois’ philosophy that ‘earnest hard work, political activism and racial community should be the hallmarks of the black community,'” Banks said. “We also believe in Malcolm’s ‘By any means necessary.’ Ideas for a brighter future are nothing new, you see.”

(NY Daily News) CARIBBEAT: Longwood Arts Project celebrates Africa, puts culture on display in monthlong Bronx exhibition

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, January 24, 2016, 4:00 AM

“Bronx: Africa,” a multi-disciplinary art exhibition celebrating the expressions and impact of African cultures, is being presented next month in Bronx by the Longwood Arts Project.

The influences of the borough’s sizable African population and Bronxites of African descent are also recognized in the show of in-gallery and online presentations starting with an opening reception on Feb. 3, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The exhibition, curated by LeRonn Brooks, is on display through May 4.

The “BRONX: AFRICA,” art exhibition will open on Feb. 3 and includes works such as “Ascension or Dude Ascending Staircase, 2011” (above) by Eto Otitigbe. The exhibition, curated by LeRonn Brooks, is on display through May 4 at the Longwood Arts Project Gallery at Hostos Community College.

Photo Credit: NY Daily News

Artists on display the gallery include Seyi Adebanjo, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Howard Cash, Elvira Clayton, Dennis RedMoon Darkeem, Lisa DuBois, Nicky Enright, Janet Goldner, Ijeoma Iheanacho, Imo Imeh, Hakim Inniss, Natasha Johnson, Ahmed Tijay Mohammed, Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Ibou Ndoye, Eric Orr, Eto Otitigbe, Thurston Randall, Ibrahima Thiam, Osaretin Ugiagbe, Misra Walker and Tammy Wofsey. Online artists in the exhibition are Olaniyi Akindiya, Kenneth Anderson and Ray Felix.

“BRONX: AFRICA celebrates the influence of contemporary African cultures that strengthens and connects us with the many peoples of African descent, the diaspora, mixed heritage and migration-dispersion that call the Bronx home,” say organizers.

The gallery is on the campus of Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse (at 149th St.) For information, call (718) 518-6728 and send mail to longwood@bronxarts.org. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, from noon to 5 p.m.

The article was published in the New York Daily News. 

(UN News) Half the population of Central African Republic faces hunger, UN warns

Two and a half million people in the Central African Republic (CAR) are facing hunger. Photo: WFP/Bruno Djoye

20 January 2016 – An emergency food security assessment by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners has revealed that half the population of the Central African Republic (CAR) – nearly 2.5 million people – faces hunger.

This marks a doubling in the number of hungry people in a one-year period, as conflict and insecurity have led to limited access to and availability of food.

“Three years of crisis have taken a huge toll on the people of CAR,” said Guy Adoua, WFP Deputy Country Director in the country, in a press release.

“Families have been forced so often to sell what they own, pull their kids out of school, even resort to begging, that they have reached the end of their rope. This is not the usual run-of-the-mill emergency. People are left with nothing,” he added.

According to the assessment, one in six women, men and children struggles with severe or extreme food insecurity, while more than one in three is moderately food insecure, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“WFP is extremely concerned by this alarming level of hunger. People not only lack enough food but are also forced to consume low-cost, low-nutrient food that does not meet their nutritional needs,” added Mr. Adoua.

The report shows that the 2014-2015 harvest was poor and that food prices remain high as farmers have not tended their fields due to insecurity, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and abandon their land and livelihoods.

Further clashes erupted in late September as much of the food security data for the assessment was being collected. That violence fuelled more displacement as people were slowly returning home. Nearly 1 million people are still displaced inside CAR or seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The report recommends continued emergency food assistance to displaced families and returnees; food and technical assistance to farmers to recover; creating safety nets through programmes such as the school meals programme; and providing support to rehabilitate the infrastructure through food-for-assets activities.

Meanwhile, WFP is providing emergency food and nutritional support to those most vulnerable and plays a crucial role in supporting recovery efforts. The agency’s programmes focused on cash-based transfers and local food purchases going into school meals for thousands of children boost the local economy and people’s livelihoods.

“We must help the most vulnerable, who need emergency food assistance to survive, yet we also need to focus on people across CAR so they can recover and rebuild,” stressed Mr. Adoua.

In December 2015, WFP provided food for nearly 400,000 people through general food distributions, cash-based transfers, nutrition support and school meals, as well as food-for-assets activities, but $41 million is required so that it can respond to urgent needs through to the end of June. To date, WFP’s operation is only 45 per cent funded.

This article was published in the United Nations News Centre.

(Washington Post) What Stacey Dash gets very wrong when she calls for ending BET and Black History Month

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 1.53.13 PMBy Janell Ross | January 21

So, there really was no need — no need at all — for The Fix to weigh in on the mushrooming controversy about this year’s crop of all-white Oscar nominees.

This is interesting and arguably important cultural news — not politics, per se. But it became political when the actress and Fox News commentator Stacey Dash decided to share her views on it. Then, while she was at it, Dash decided to tell millions of people that the celebration of Black History Month and the very existence of the cable entertainment network, BET, are counterproductive and perhaps even racist endeavors, that should be ended.

Just to be clear, this is what Dash said:

We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are black. If it were the other way around we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard. Just like there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know, we’re Americans, period. That’s it.

Dash has a right to her opinion. She has a right to express it where she wishes. And we also have a right to point out that, on both the facts and the philosophy behind them, she is just about dead-wrong in ways that matter far from the entertainment news page.

Dash’s comments — part and parcel of a set of widely deployed but utterly false equivalencies — are essentially repeated, with some modifications, somewhere in America every day. They form a portion of almost any discussion of race on and in conservative media outlets. They come up at public events as if they are really novel and grave philosophical questions. And, because this pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook is so widely believed, they are ideas that really shape our politics and all too often linger in the background of horrible news events.

And, of course, on Wednesday we saw just how quickly Dash’s ideas leaped from her mind to the Fox News audience to the loudest bullhorn in all the land: Donald Trump. Trump repeated Dash’s sentiments in a Wednesday television interview.

Now, there are just a few problems.

First off, Dash got her facts plain wrong.

The BET Awards, hosted by Black Entertainment Television (BET) since 2000, aim to recognize talent in whatever shape, form or racial and ethnic package, particularly that which may not be celebrated elsewhere. And in the 15 years since the awards were created, white artists, actors, technicians and entertainers of all races and ethnicities have been nominated and won BET Awards. Most have been black, but certainly, really, not all.

To get specific, a quick look at the names of nominees for BET Awards since 2012 and the count of non-black artists nominated approaches two dozen. And that, again, is just the last three years. The same can be said about other years and BET Award winners.

And BET’s non-awards programming — while reasonable fodder for other critiques, I would say — also by the way includes white, black, Latino and Asian actors. Doubt that? Take a look at the cast list for shows such at “The Game,” “Being Mary Jane” and others. We could go on.

Finally, while the NAACP Image Awards were created in 1967 to recognize the “outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors,” there is nothing about that criteria, the list of nominees or award winners since that must be or is all-black.

In that list of nearly two dozen non-black people nominated for BET Awards are people like Justin Timberlake, Iggy Azalea and others. Singer Sam Smith won a BET Award last year (that story is interesting for other reasons too). Latina actresses America Ferrera and Sophia Vergara have each been nominated for NAACP Image awards four times. White actresses Dakota Fanning and Sandra Bullock have also been nominated. Angelina Jolie has also received more than one Image award nomination. And, little people like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Carlos Santana, Bono, Al Gore and Smith have all won NAACP Image Awards too. That’s all true.

BET exists in part because networks like MTV refused to air music videos created by black artists. Something similar can be said about the still-apparent reluctance of the Academy — the trade group behind the Oscars — to meaningfully diversify, and the many studios, producers and directors in control of content or the performances ultimately considered for a golden statue. And we can look to Oscar’s long history, its nominee list and a rundown of past winners to prove that too.

Sally Stiebel and Mark Ein attend the BET Honors 2012 Pre-Honors dinner at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on January 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
So those are the facts. Now what about the broader social and political philosophy embedded in Dash’s comments? Think on this for just a moment, because the following list is also connected to Dash’s jumbled ideas.

How often have you heard some person express somewhere the notion that white Americans aren’t allowed to name an organization, a school, an event, a place “the white” anything? For these people the tyranny of political correctness makes such a thing impossible.

How often have you heard that racial and ethnic minorities are, unfairly, free to do just the opposite, subjecting white Americans to a kind of ceaseless, in-your-face reverse bigotry and themselves to a type of elected segregation each day? How many times have you heard someone say that the very existence and name of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and any number of historically black colleges, universities and organizations represent a modern-day kind of racism which is bizarrely accepted because the people who benefit or are at the helm are not white? Finally, how many times have you heard someone say some version of this: “Where is/why can’t we have a ‘White History Month?'”

This is harsh, but it must be said. We don’t believe that anyone allowed to use the stove alone is actually that obtuse. This is only the kind of thing that a person can say after first deciding to willfully ignore or embrace half-truths and falsehoods concocted to distract or even displace the well-documented reasons that black organizations and institutions exist. And, you also have to be willing to ignore what they do and who they serve now. Further, to believe that white history, white contributions to the arts or anything else are ever neglected, rejected or omitted wholesale in any setting in the United States requires all of the same.

White Americans are the group with the longest and richest history of race-related violence, racial exclusion enforced by violence and intimidation and — even as of today — allowing all manner of major and essential social structures and services to remain substantially separate and unequal. White Americans have benefited from this system and still do today. Some more than others, to be sure, but, that’s the truth. And, maintaining these distances and benefits typically rank among the goals of those who seek to create exclusively white institutions, organizations and places today.

To put this really simply, the NAACP and the KKK are not the same. Black History Month and a white nationalist celebrations are quite different. They don’t do the same things. They don’t have the same goals, and they have not shaped America in the same ways. To pretend that such a thing is even close to true is to tell oneself a mighty set of mind-warping lies. It insults the bravery of the men and women — black and white, Latino, Asian and Native American — who did the work to secure hard-won bits of equality. It ultimately gives those who engage in this line of thinking cover to avoid truths about this country’s racial past and present. But that does not make it accurate.

Dash’s claims that the existence of Black History Month and things like BET, the BET Awards and the NAACP Image Awards are what impede American progress toward racial oneness lie somewhere between that school of thought and what her defenders will no doubt say is genuine hope. They will claim that Dash was expressing a sincere and well-intentioned wish that black culture, black art, black history, black life will take a place at the table with every other venerated, researched and carefully documented American thing. They will insist that, on its face, there is nothing at all wrong with that.

They will insist that should be a goal in a pluralistic and democratic society. They will ignore what is and talk about what should be. They will pretend that if black, Latino and Asian Americans just stopped talking about race and ethnicity and shuttered every institution and organization created to recognize, accept, educate, employ or empower them when no one else would, racism itself would somehow magically disappear.

Yes, for those who agree with Dash, racism will dissipate via the ultra-reliable route of denial.

What we can say about Dash — an actress best known for co-starring in the 1995 movie “Clueless,” a spin-off TV show and playing the female lead in a series of films and television shows marketed primarily to black audiences — is that she picked a mighty odd place to dive deep, given her own career history. Dash’s acting resume (click the link above) includes a multi-episode arc on a show called The Game. One of those episodes ran on BET after the show switched networks and BET essentially rescued it from cancellation.

The inaccurate information and false equivalencies she dispatched in that Fox News interview rest on Dash’s shoulders. She said them. But Fox also began making Dash a network regular, providing social and political commentary after the actress declared herself a Mitt Romney voter in 2012, was attacked for it online and later made some disparaging comments about President Obama. That appears to be about the sum total of Dash’s commentator credentials.

There are many well-informed black, Latino and Asian actors and actresses who may even share Dash’s views who could have been summoned to explain them without the factual problems and absurd equivalencies that riddled everything Dash said. They probably wouldn’t have expanded their view on what’s really an inside-the-entertainment-industry controversy to include so many other things or at least have been mindful of where and how they have earned their own living. And certainly, there are many, many black conservative historians, social and political scholars, former candidates, political consultants, pollsters and researchers who, at the very least, know something about American history and their own respective industries.

It’s really up to Fox News to answer this question: Why aren’t more of those people on air?

UPDATE: This post has been updated to include information about Dash’s role on a BET television program.

The article was published in the Washington Post’s The Fix.

(NYT) U.N.-Appointed Panel Calls for a Tax to Pay for Crises

Kristalina Georgieva of the European Commission, an author of the report, in Athens last month. Credit Simela Pantzartzi/European Pressphoto Agency

Kristalina Georgieva of the European Commission, an author of the report, in Athens last month (Simela Pantzartzi/European Pressphoto Agency).

UNITED NATIONS — What if the next time you buy World Cup tickets or summon an Uber ride, you found yourself paying a few cents extra to pay for winter blankets for Syrian refugees or clean water for those displaced in Darfur, Sudan?

That idea — a small tax on high-volume goods and services — is among those proposed by an independent panel appointed by the United Nations to figure out how to pay for the staggering humanitarian crises facing the world today. The report, released Sunday, plainly acknowledges the limits of traditional charity on the part of the world’s rich and calls for a sea change in thinking about how to pay for lifesaving aid in what the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, called “the age of the megacrises.”

The nine-member panel’s report comes as new conflicts erupt in places like Yemen, old ones persist in places like Darfur and climate change intensifies floods and droughts in already fragile countries. Aid for the millions of people affected has sharply risen, but it has not kept pace with demands.

The world needs $40 billion each year to meet the needs of those affected by wars and natural disasters and already faces a shortfall of $15 billion for this year. Those needs are expected to grow; as the report stated bluntly, “Never before has generosity been so insufficient.” Already, food aid has been repeatedly slashed for refugees fleeing conflict in places like Somalia and Syria.

The panel — which includes representatives of donor governments, corporations and civil society — takes pains to point out that despite the growing needs, what the world needs to pony up for emergency relief is a fraction of the $78 trillion global economy. It also argues that in the end, while “helping people in distress is morally right,” providing aid is also in the interest of donor countries.

“Today’s massive scale of instability and its capacity to cross borders, vividly demonstrated by the refugee crisis in Europe, makes humanitarian aid a global public good that requires an appropriate fund-raising model,” the report says.

The conventional wisdom for the humanitarian aid sector had been that most conflicts would be short-lived — and that aid agencies could rely on voluntary contributions from a handful of rich nations to meet those needs. That wisdom no longer always applies. For instance, some conflicts drag on for so long that those who are displaced from their homes remain displaced for an average of 17 years. Countries that host refugees feel the impact acutely, but do not always have direct access to donor money. And refugees are often prohibited from working in the countries where they are living.

The report also suggests tapping into what it calls “Islamic social finance” to help meet humanitarian needs in the Muslim world in particular. That could include earmarking a portion of “zakat,” the ritual annual donation that Muslims are urged to make as an element of their faith.

In addition, the panel suggests that middle-income countries like Jordan, which is hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, should be able to tap into grants and loans that are currently available only to the poorest countries.

The report urges money transfer agencies to drop their fees, which is a nod to the importance of remittances from migrants to their home countries, especially in times of crisis. The authors of the report also encourage more cash assistance, rather than food, tents and blankets. They cite one 2014 study in which 70 percent of a sample group of Syrian refugees traded “in-kind assistance they received for cash.”

The authors nudge newly wealthy countries to be more generous, suggest that aid officials should tap the private sector more creatively, and fault some United Nations agencies for failing to systematically track and report on how its donor money is spent.

The microtax idea is modeled after a tax on airfare that helped raise about $2 billion between 2006 and 2011, largely for immunization programs worldwide.

The panel members could not agree on exactly what to tax, nor the rates at which to tax. That absence of consensus was a measure of how difficult it could be to come up with such a humanitarian tax.

But it has an important backer: one of the leaders of the panel, Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria, the European Commission’s vice president for budget and human resources.

“I’m in support of a voluntary levy,” she told reporters in a briefing before the report was released. She added that the taxes could be small ones on concerts, sports events, even taxi rides.

Ms. Georgieva is among those whose names have been floated as Mr. Ban’s potential successor as secretary general.

The article was published in the New York Times.

Bronx State Assemblyman Michael Blake Reelection Fundraiser (AfricaTVUSA.net)

On Thursday, January 7, Dr. Dennie Beach, Dr. Samuel Jones and Ibrahima Cisse with sponsorship by the African Union Expo LLC, Go Africa Health LLC and Go Africa News LLC, hosted a fundraiser on the Upper East Side to raise funds for the reelection campaign of Bronx State Assemblyman Michael Blake, who represents the 79th District in the Bronx.

Check out an exclusive video by Karimtosh Diabate of AfricaTVUSA.net. Some highlights and participants include:

  • An introduction by Yoliswa Cele, founder and CEO of Ndosi Strategies and of the mistresses of ceremonies
  • Kadiatou Fadiga, Miss Guinea USA 2011 and one of the mistresses of ceremonies
  • A speech by State Assemblyman Michael Blake in which he discusses how he got into politics and what he hopes to accomplish if reelected
  • Rafi Jafri, president and CEO of Jafri Strategies LLC
  • Mohammed Diallo, senior strategy officer and founder of Ginjan Bros. ginger juice beverage from West Africa, which was served at the fundraiser
  • Fundraiser hosts Dennie Beach, president of Go Africa Network; Dr. Samuel Jones, Go Africa’s chief medical officer; and Ibrahima Cisse, Go Africa’s chief protocol officer
  • Exclusive interviews with State Assemblyman Michael Blake and Aubrey Lynch, director of dance at the Harlem School of Arts by Madina Toure of Go Africa Network and Miss Guinea USA
  • Abdulai Jalloh, founder and president of Borderline Pictures
  • Charles Cooper, Go Africa Network’s senior policy officer
  • Mohammed Diallo, Go Africa Network’s senior strategy officer
  • Gilroy Simpson, Go Africa Network’s senior operations officer

(Upworthy) Remembering the time David Bowie called out MTV for not playing black artists.

Early MTV had a major problem: It was almost exclusively white.

As it set out to revolutionize the music industry, MTV hit a few major bumps in the road, which included accusations of racism for the lack of diverse artists on the network in its early years.

“There was a shortage of Black videos by urban artists,” MTV co-founder Les Garland told Jet Magazine in 2006. “The success of this AOR (album-oriented rock) format in radio certainly had its influence on MTV. But, there were no music videos. They weren’t being made. We had nothing to pick from.”

But that wasn’t entirely true.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for MTV.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for MTV.

Artists like Rick James and Michael Jackson were making music videos, but having a really rough time getting airplay.

And while MTV would eventually premiere both Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” videos in 1983, it was the network’s initial reluctance to play his “Billie Jean” video that led to Walter Yetnikoff, then-president of Jackson’s label CBS records, threatening to pull the entire label’s catalog.

“I said to MTV, ‘I’m pulling everything we have off the air, all our product. I’m not going to give you any more videos. And I’m going to go public and fucking tell them about the fact you don’t want to play music by a black guy,” Yetnikoff recounted.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

This magical button delivers Upworthy stories to you on Facebook:

Rick James, who at the time was trying to get the network to play his video for “Super Freak,” said in frustration, “I’m a crusader without an army. All these Black artists claim they’re behind me, but when it’s time to make a public statement, you can’t find them. … They’re going to let me do all the rapping and get into trouble and then they’ll reap the benefits.”

That’s when David Bowie stepped in.

During a 1983 interview with MTV veejay Mark Goodman, David Bowie asked a simple, important question.

R. Serge Denisoff describes the heated exchange in his book Inside MTV.

Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images.

Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images.

“Why are there practically no blacks on the network?” Bowie asked Goodman during one of their interviews.

Goodman was stunned, not expecting the question. “We seem to be doing music that fits into what we want to play on MTV,” said Goodman in response. “The company is thinking in terms of narrowcasting.”

“Don’t say, ‘Well, it’s not me, it’s them.’ Is it not possible it should be a conviction of the station and of the radio stations to be fair … to make the media more integrated?”

Not about to take that for an answer, Bowie pushed the issue. “There seem to be a lot of black artists making very good videos that I’m surprised aren’t being used on MTV.”

“We have to try and do what we think not only what New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest,” said Goodman. “Pick some town in the Midwest which would be scared to death by … a string of black faces, or black music. We have to play music we think an entire country is going to like, and certainly we’re a rock and roll station.”

“Don’t you think it’s a frightening predicament to be in?” offered Bowie in response.

“Yeah, but no less so here than in radio,” said Goodman.

“Don’t say, ‘Well, it’s not me, it’s them.’ Is it not possible it should be a conviction of the station and of the radio stations to be fair … to make the media more integrated?”

Screen shot 2016-01-11 at 4.35.49 PM
Bowie’s interview with Goodman was a great example of how to be an ally.

Black artists, as James said, were subject to some major pushback if they spoke out on MTV’s lack of diversity. They held no leverage, and they had reason to fear that their careers would take a hit if the network decided to blacklist them.

Bowie and wife, Iman, seen here in 2006. Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

Bowie and wife, Iman, seen here in 2006. Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

So Bowie did what an ally should: He used his platform and his privilege to advocate for others without making it about himself (that last part is important).

Maybe it wasn’t Bowie’s interview with Goodman that led to more black artists on MTV, and maybe it wasn’t Yetnikoff’s threat of a CBS boycott that did it; maybe the how doesn’t really matter as much as the what.

In the end, MTV helped launch the careers of prominent black artists, and the shift away from early exclusionary policies may have been the best decision the network ever made.

The article was published on Upworthy.

(HuffPost Black Voices) An Open Letter to Black African Immigrants

African Beauty

African Beauty                                                    Credit: Huffington Post Black Voices

 | Blogger-writer at lafriquetalks.com

Dear Black African immigrant,

The America you dreamt of is an America you never conceived of.

You are officially black. In your country you were just you, no color attached to your identity, but now you are black. Stop saying I am Nigerian, I am Zimbabwean, or I am Kenyan. America doesn’t care about any of that, in America you are simply black. You will try to fight, deny, and resist every time someone calls you black. You resist your newly prescribed blackness because a ladder of racial hierarchy exists in America.

Sooner than later, you will realize your blackness puts you at the bottom of this ladder irrespective of the educational or financial status you acquire. Every rejection of your new found blackness will be an attempt to move away from the bottom of this ladder, to resist the label that the color of your skin has subjected you to. It takes some time getting used to, you know, this whole race and being black thing, but sooner that later you will understand America’s tribalism and you will learn to navigate through it.

People will hold stereotypes about you. Some might ask if you’ve lived on trees and or jungles and others won’t even ask, they’ll assume you did. Others will think your entire existence has been defined by hunger and poverty. In case you haven’t noticed you sound different, you do. And people will not fail to remind you of the obvious, your accent. Some may laugh and others will make you repeat words and sentences over and over again because they are unable to “understand.” You will be very confused and will think to yourself, “But I speak better English than you.” Despite all these, do not be ashamed of your identity. Don’t allow people’s ignorance harden your heart towards them. As much as you possibly can, dismantle these stereotypes by telling the other stories they haven’t been exposed to.

White Americans will say you are better than American blacks, but please do not fall for this trap. You will be told you behave better, work harder, and are more educated than American blacks. You will be tempted to agree and will sometimes want to shout, “YES, I’M NOT LIKE THEM, WE AFRICANS ARE DIFFERENT!” Just don’t…don’t even think it.

The praise of your acquired characteristic and culture becomes a justification for white Americans to perpetuate discriminatory treatments towards American blacks. These statements of praise have an underlying message of, “If Africans can do so well then surely racism has nothing to do with anything, therefore, American Blacks are to be blamed for their condition in America”. This problematic line of reasoning sustains cultural racism. I beg of you, refrain from nodding in agreement when you receive such faulty praise.

Navigating through America’s complex social construct is a process. The sooner you become conscious of the nuances involved, the better for Black America as a whole.

With love,
Another Black African immigrant

The article was published in Huffington Post Black Voices.

EADB Math, Science, Technology and Engineering University Scholarship Program

African engineer

East African Development Bank has launched the EADB Math, Science, Technology and Engineering University Scholarship Program, in partnership with The Africa-America Institute. Scholarships will be available to experienced teachers and lecturers with a bachelor’s degree in math, science, technology and engineering with an interest in pursuing a graduate degree in those fields in the United States at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology, world-class universities less than an hour away from New York City.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be:

  • A university graduate with a Bachelor’s degree with First Class/Upper Second Honours in Mathematics, Sciences or Engineering
  • Under 40 years of age and a citizen of the EADB Member States: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • Experienced Teachers and Lecturers of tertiary institutions, secondary schools, and polytechnics with at least 3 years full-time teaching experience
  • Working full-time in public, government owned educational institutions
  • Committed to returning to their home country, to teach in a public government owned institution which is a mandatory requirement
  • Diligent in successfully completing the application process by the allotted deadlines at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology

This fully funded scholarship will provide full tuition, room and living expenses within a stipulated budget.

 

A qualified scholarship recipient will receive:

  • Full tuition, room and board plus living expenses and student’s annual health insurance so to pursue a Master’s degree in math and engineering.
  • Round-trip ticket to the USA at the beginning of the program and back to their home country in East Africa after the completion of the program.
  • Information about internships at top American and local companies working in Africa.

How do I apply for the scholarship?

Send your application to EADB/AAI to email, EADB@aaionline.org, with the below information. All submissions must be in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Terms and conditions apply. Application deadline is January 25, 2016.

  • Your name, age, and contact information including physical address
  • A copy of your Bachelors degree
  • Your final grades
  • One page essay on how you imagine the masters level education would advance your own career; and how you would then make a positive impact in advancing STEM skills development in your home country; also specify  why you should be added to the pool of the applicants who can apply to Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Letter of support from your employer committing to employ you on completion of studies.

Upon review of your application, we will notify those who have been selected to proceed with the application at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology.  Only these candidates will be required to take the GRE and TOEFL standardized tests, see details below.

Key deadlines

Rutgers

  • Application deadline at Rutgers University for Master applicants: March 31, 2016
  • First day of school at Rutgers University for Bachelor and Master: September 6, 2016

Note: International students’ orientation week is the last week in August each year. 

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

  • Application deadline at New Jersey Institute of Technology for Master applicants: May 1, for the Fall and November 15 for the Spring Semester.
  • First day of school at New Jersey Institute of Technology for Bachelor and Master: September 6, 2016.

International Standardized Test Dates [PDF] for GRE and TOEFL

If you are invited to formally apply for the scholarship you will be required to take these two standardized tests.  Both of these exams are offered at testing centers in the following countries (and are administered as a digital internet based exam.

GRE:  You can register for the test online or by telephone by calling +1-800-473-2255

The cost of the exam is $195. USD  The exam is offered Year-Round Monday through Saturdays at testing sites in East Africa.  Call the number above or visit their website to determine the test center closest to your home.  If visiting the website, create a User Account and then select your home country before registering for a Test Site.

TOEFL: You can register for the test online or by telephone by calling +1-609-771-7100

The cost of the exam is $190. USD   The exam is offered at various dates throughout the year, at their testing sites in East Africa.  Call the number above or visit their website to determine the test center closest to your home. If visiting the website, create a User Account and then select your home country before registering for a Test Site.

Confirmed TOEFL test sites include: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

For both the GRE and the TOEFL, if an applicant cannot get to physically attend a test center, then a Paper Test can be ordered and sent to your home.

Note: International Applicants: It is recommended that international students begin the application process six months prior to the start of the semester to allow sufficient time for processing international credentials and applying for a student visa.

Student Visas:  Students who are accepted into the program as an EADB Math and Engineering University Scholar will be required to comply with all relevant student visa rules and regulations.  Valid student visas are required to apply to the Department of Homeland Security for admission into the United States at the port of entry. Students’ Form I-20 document (F and M visas) or DS-2019 document (J visas), which are issued by their institution, will allow them to maintain student status in the United States even if a visa expires during their studies. Click here for more information on the student visas. 

Contact us: For more information about the EADB Math and Engineering University Scholarship Program, please visit www.aaionline.org

The Partners

The Africa-America Institute

Founded in 1953, The Africa-America Institute (AAI) is a premier U.S.-based international organization dedicated to strengthening human capacity of Africans and promoting the continent’s development through higher education and skills training, convening activities, program implementation and management.  AAI raises funds to develop programs that focus on leadership and management, vocational training and entrepreneurship to help African youth develop leadership skills, become globally competitive and find sustainable employment.

East African Development Bank (EADB)

The East African Development Bank (EADB) was established in 1967 with the remit to provide financial and other support to its member countries, which currently are Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.  Burundi has applied to become a member state.  It was re-established under its own charter in 1980 after the break-up of the East African Co-operation in 1977. The new charter opened up the Bank to a wider membership and allowed for the introduction of consulting and advisory services.

The EADB’s loan portfolio is spread widely, but more than 60% of its lending is to projects in health and education, hotels and tourism, construction and building, electricity and water, and agriculture, all of which are central to the current and future prosperity of the region and its people.  EADB sees education as immensely important for the future of East Africa.

University Partners

RutgersRutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers is a leading national research university and the state of New Jersey’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Established in 1766 and celebrating a milestone 250th anniversary in 2016, the university is the eighth oldest higher education institution in the United States. More than 67,000 students and 22,000 faculty and staff learn, work, and serve the public at Rutgers locations across New Jersey and around the world.

Rutgers University campus comprises:

 

NJITNew Jersey Institute of Technology

We’re proud of our 130 years of history, but that’s only the beginning of our story – we’ve doubled the size of our campus in the last decade, pouring millions into major new research facilities to give our students the edge they need in today’s demanding high-tech marketplace.

NJIT offers 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in six specialized schools instructed by expert faculty, 98 percent of whom hold the highest degree in their field.  We have amazing students from all over the world, and we rank #1 in New Jersey in awarding engineering degrees to African-American and Hispanic students.