Craven County NC – Swine flu closes school in Craven

An 18-wheeler with state trooper escorts rolled into Wilson County Monday afternoon with the county’s share of the strategic national stockpile to fight the H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu.
The county received protective equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves, as well as anti-viral medications Tamiflu and Relenza.

For security purposes, health officials won’t say who received the supplies or where they are being kept, but the supplies are in the county and secured. (Wilson Times)

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Rocky Mount NC – Rally draws annexation opponents to capital

Hundreds of North Carolina residents, including a few dozen from Nash County, plan to converge on the state capital today, asking lawmakers to stop towns and cities from taking over nearby unincorporated land.

A local group that has resisted Rocky Mount’s annexation of more than 1,700 acres in both Nash and Edgecombe counties again will bring its fight to state officials during the Rally for Reform event outside the N.C. Legislative Building. (Rocky Mount Telegram)

Tarboro NC – Few turn out to challenge revaluation

No Nash County residents and just a handful of land owners in Edgecombe County attended public meetings Monday to challenge recently recalculated property values.

Earlier this year, roughly 1,400 property owners in Nash County and about 1,300 in Edgecombe County formally appealed the findings of revaluations completed last year in each county. All of those challenges were heard and ruled on by county tax officials last month, and any property owner left unsatisfied by the staff ruling was advised to bring the protest this month to county commissioners for a quasi-judicial hearing. (Rocky Mount Telegram)

Speaking Truth To Power – HOW WILL YOU HANDLE MOMMA’S HOMEGOING? by William Reed Columnist

African Americans born in the 1930s and 40s knew another America.  Their children have advanced their station and now have different views.  But, at the end of the day the question is “How will you sent Momma home?

Back in the day, times from segregation shaped Black’s funeral services in the music, tone and tenor of tributes.  The typical Black funeral was: a public viewing, solos like “Last Mile of the Way”, a thunderous sermon by a preacher and an ad-hoc choir that rocked the house.  After roaring tributes; the preacher, then the family, congregation and choir would follow the funeral director and pall-bearers to the hearse.  The congregation caravanned to the cemetery and all then gathered back at the church, or hall, to feast on fried chicken and sweet potato pie.

Be on the alert, the rites of African American “Homegoings;” from the fried chicken to the repast, are changing.  Old customs and institutions that were associated with the last rites of African Americans are fading.  There is little question that as today’s generation of Blacks bury their 1940s and 50s era parents mainstream values and institutions impact this final decision.

Before integration only African-American funeral home operators buried African Americans.  Almost all Black Family Homegoings involved the services of a black funeral director, an ex-cop with a motorcycle that directed traffic, a caterer usually associated with a black-owned rental hall, and leaving the body to rest in a traditionally Black-populated cemetery.

What you do at the time of last rites directly relates to recent trends: the decline of black-owned businesses in ‘traditional’ personal services to a predominantly black clientele.  The funeral home industry is big business.  In the U.S. it is a $7 billion-a-year industry.  Tens of millions of dollars are at stake for each operator.  The average cost of a funeral today is $6,500.  As they and families of the nation’s 4 million elderly Blacks prepare for the inevitable, the nation’s 4,000 mostly family-owned Black funeral homes are themselves in a bad state.

Where Momma will lie in state has great economic impact.  African-American funeral homes grew out of the times of segregation to become mainstays of Black community and culture.  Black funeral directors became pillars of their communities.  Most provided their communities folding chairs for parties, limousines for weddings; and, their hearses served as standby ambulances at African-American sporting events. To avoid attacks during the civil-rights movement, leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., often were chauffeured from rallies in hearses by Black undertakers.  They are the last of Black-owned institutions catering to and supported almost exclusively by African-American consumers.

White-owned funeral homes actively market in Black communities.  Large white-owned firms are buying up area funeral businesses and offering both funeral and burial services to the African-American community.  International funeral firms such as Service Corp., Alderwoods Group, Stewart Enterprises, Hillenbrand Industries and Carriage Services are as likely to get the body of a deceased Black as the local African American mortician. 

As African Americans become more mainstream oriented, institutions and businesses, such as those of Black funeral directors, are suffering declining market share.  Many blacks have joined integrated church congregations and now follow their practices for death and burials.  Integration and today’s blacks’ decline in racial identification has also all but eliminated the black funeral home, lost revenues for Black newspapers for announcement of the passing, and the use of the services of the black-owned food hall and that of the discourteous traffic cop.

In the U.S., the nearly 22,000 funeral operators average 2 funerals per week.  The week your loved one passes will you be sending them home via a Black or White-owned hearse?  The question is more than about “how to handle this particular passing?” it goes to a basic capitalistic issue of supporting your own.  In this case, and other purchases you make: Isn’t it economic suicide for blacks to take their consumer dollars outside our communities?  In death, as in life in America, integration is undoing us as other ethnic groups build their communities’ wealth with our dollars. 

(William Reed – http://www.BlackPressInternational.com)

Raleigh NC – Teen Preregistration & National Popular Vote

Dear North Carolina Friend,

I urge you to join me in supporting two breakthrough electoral reforms currently being considered by the North Carolina legislature, Teen Voter Preregistration (HB 1260, preregistration of sixteen and seventeen year olds) and National Popular Vote (HB 1270, the entry of North Carolina into a multi-state compact to elect the President of the United States by popular vote).

Born, as a fourth generation descendant of slaves, in a small town abutting the North Carolina-Virginia border, Danville (historically celebrated as the last capital of the Southern Confederacy) I grew up amidst the stories of exclusion, dilution, intimidation and denial that constitute both states’ shameful and wicked past records on voting rights. Reared in such a legacy, I committed my personal ambitions to the promotion of social justice and equal rights for all.

Both electoral reforms would advance this mission. Teen voter preregistration (coupled with effective civic education in the high school curriculum) would foster responsible politically engaged youth and produce more voters. It is an effective counterbalance to the high rate of disciplinary expulsion and high dropout rates throughout North Carolina. FairVote has played a key role in advancing preregistration in other states as well.

After all, our youths are not just our future. They are our today. Youth political activism was the key component of the nonviolent civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, the defeat of Communism in Eastern Europe, the ending of apartheid in South Africa, and remains the fundamental force of the ongoing movement for human rights in China.

National Popular Vote legislation utilizes the Electoral College to elect the president who wins the popular vote, one major step toward eliminating the College altogether. Originally ratified as a compromise to protect the luxury of Southern slaveholding states in counting those enslaved as three-fifths of a person for increasing their number of electors while still denying them the right to vote, the current Electoral College system results in permitting presidential candidates the luxury of ignoring all voters in most states and focusing on a small minority of states whose outcomes cannot be easily predicted before the election.

Breakthroughs in state electoral reform—same day registration and early voting—made it possible for North Carolina to have a significant impact on last year’s historic elections. Still, even as I write you, the U.S. Supreme Court (after recently failing to protect the redistricting rights of minority voters in North Carolina’s Pender and New Hanover counties to elect their candidate of choice ) is set to render decisions on the constitutionality of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which could very well have the effect of reverting our state representation back to an all-white legislature.

We must not retreat on the effort to achieve a universally representative democracy. Just as the United States continues to promote all-inclusive electoral reforms as a fundamental premise for democracy in foreign nations, such reforms are fundamental for achieving democracy here at home.

I have attached information on the preregistration legislation. You can learn more about the National Popular Vote plan at www.nationalpopularvote.com. You can find your representative at: http://www.ncleg.net/GIS/RandR07/Representation.html#byZIP.

As the Wright Brothers took flight in this great state a little over a century ago, only the sky is the limit to what we can accomplish with a noble mission and persistent effort. Join me in supporting House Bill 1260 and House Bill 1270.

Thank you,

Torrey Dixon, Esq.

FairVote NC Director

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Washington DC – NEWSLETTER FROM CONGRESSMAN G. K. BUTTERFIELD

Congress Approves Budget Plan

Both the House and the Senate passed the final version of the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Resolution, a document that lays out our most important national priorities for the years to come.

The budget is a blueprint for a job-creating economic recovery built on the solid foundation of affordable access to health care, energy independence, and a well-prepared workforce. It is a financially-responsible budget that cuts taxes, cuts the deficit and makes vital investments in healthcare access, cutting-edge energy research, clean energy jobs, a modernized national energy grid, education in the vital years of early childhood and Pell Grants to help young Americans achieve their dreams of college.

Rising health care costs continue to inflict an immense and growing burden on families and businesses. The budget supports the President’s goals for health care reform to address the related goals of reducing costs, improving quality and expanding coverage to help the 46 million Americans who now lack health insurance. Like the President’s plan, the budget assumes health care reform will be paid for, and leaves it to the relevant committees to determine the best way to accomplish that.

The budget also focuses on education. Congress made significant investments in education earlier this year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided needed funding for local schools, additional funding for Head Start and a new tax credit to help cover college costs.

The budget builds upon those investments with further support for early childhood education, high standards and the tools to achieve them for elementary and secondary school students, and efforts to help more Americans obtain a college degree.

The budget also focuses on increasing America’s energy independence and energy security. It builds on significant funding and tax incentives in the Recovery Act by increasing our investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also allows for responsible legislation that will promote energy independence over the long term.

Finally, the budget recognizes the need to restore fiscal responsibility and sustainability. President Obama set a firm goal of cutting the budget deficit in half over four years, and this budget provides a plan to meet that goal. The budget accomplishes this goal by restraining spending, reinforces a commitment to statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, and including investments in oversight and enforcement activities that yield valuable savings and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

It will take time to turn our economy around – President Obama inherited one of the worst financial disasters in generations. But this budget is a bold step in the right direction.

Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights

The House passed a bill to prevent some of the most abusive practices used by credit card companies to unfairly target their customers.

The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights will end the unfair practices of the credit card industry and protect consumers from the abusive tactics that continue to drive so many Americans deeper and deeper into debt. With so many American families are struggling to make ends meet, consumers who play by the rules deserve to be treated fairly by their credit card companies.

The bill levels the playing field between card issuers and cardholders by applying commonsense regulations that would ban most retroactive interest rate hikes on existing balances (except when payments are more than 30 days late), double-cycle billing and due-date gimmicks.

The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights is part of the long-term plan to rebuild our economy in ways that are consistent with our values of responsibility and hard work, not high-flying finance schemes.

Specifically, the bill protects cardholders against arbitrary interest rate increases, empowers them to set limits on their credit and requires card companies to fairly credit and allocate payments. It also prohibits charging fees just to pay a bill by phone, charging over-the-limit fees unless a consumer opts-in in advance or issuing credits cards to minors.

Recognizing Everette Brown

Last week I entered a statement into the Congressional Record congratulating an area resident who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. Here is my statement:

Madam Speaker, I rise to congratulate and recognize a young man from my hometown who was selected in last weekend’s National Football League draft. The Carolina Panthers selected Everette Brown, a graduate of Wilson, North Carolina’s Beddingfield High School and Florida State University.

Mr. Brown was the Seminoles starter at the right defensive end position in each of the 13 games during the 2008 regular season, and he was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end. And, after leading the nation in tackles for a loss, Mr. Brown was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference football first-team and runner-up as the ACC Player of the Year.

In addition to his tremendous play on the field, Mr. Brown has been a leader when it comes to community service. He has donated his time freely, volunteering at schools, The Able Trust, MDA Summer Camp, Tallahassee Seminole Club, Dick Howser Center for Childhood Services, Life Skills Center and Read Across America, among many others.

Madame Speaker, my community is extremely proud of this young man and I ask you to join me in congratulating him on his accomplishments. We must also recognize Mr. Brown’s parents, Odell and Jenai, on raising this fine young man. I know they must be so proud and pleased that he will be playing his games so close to home.

Improving Relations Between China and Taiwan

Last week I entered a statement into the Congressional Record regarding the rapidly improving relations between China and Taiwan. Here is that statement:

Madame Speaker, I rise in recognition of an announcement that Taiwan has been invited to participate as an observer at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s governing body being held in Geneva next month.

With the strong support of the United States, Taiwan has persistently campaigned, especially after the SARS outbreak in 2003, to rejoin the World Health Organization but China has consistently blocked efforts to join any international body as an independent political entity.

This marks a clear and important sign of improved relations between China and Taiwan, and I congratulate them on taking this important and meaningful step forward.

Since Taiwanese President Ma’s took office on May 20, 2008, relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have greatly improved, paving the way for the first direct flights between the straits in 60 years, Chinese pandas being sent to Taiwan, substantially improved financial and business contact, and direct postal service and shipping.

Madame Speaker, I ask that my colleagues will join me in applauding the efforts to improve relations and to encourage further cooperation.

Cumberland County -Indictments: Officers lied, stole, brandished guns

One Spring Lake police officer held three men at gunpoint, and a second officer stole money and lied to cover it up, according to indictments handed down Monday by a Cumberland County grand jury.

Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr. and Sgt. Alphonzo Devonne Whittington Jr. were arrested Monday and were being held Tuesday in the Cumberland County Jail. A spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said more arrests were expected in the case. (News & Observer)