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Richard M. Gordon IV: Award-Winning Educator Takes School From Near-Extinction to Excellence

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BE Modern Man: Richard M. Gordon IV

Award-winning Educator; 46; Principal, Paul Robeson High School for Human Services, Philadelphia

Twitter: @probesonhs; Instagram: @robesonhs

As an award-winning educator, I have had the privilege and honor to serve as principal of the Paul Robeson High School for Human Services in West Philadelphia for approximately six years. In 2013, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission slated Paul Robeson High School for permanent school closure. Spared at the 11th hour, I was assigned as the new principal and asked to bring change to a school on the brink of permanent extinction. With the support of our great families, amazing students, and the best teaching staff in our district, in four years we went from a school on the brink of closure to a school recognized as the “2017 Most Improved High School” in the City of Philadelphia.

Although Paul Robeson High School is noted as a school with a 100% minority student population and a 90% school poverty rate, it is credited with developing a model program for college and career readiness, and for achieving a 95% annual graduation rate (the city average graduation rate is 69%). In 2019, the State of Pennsylvania removed our school from its “high needs” academic intervention list of schools in response to our continued improvement in our academic results. Besides extensive coverage in a variety of media news outlets, Paul Robeson High School has received several prestigious local, state, and national accolades for our work, including features in the Education Dive, a national online magazine, and honorable mentions in U.S. News & World Report in 2017 and 2019.

With personal endorsements from the Honorable Jim Kenney, the Mayor of Philadelphia, and the City Council of Philadelphia, our school believes understanding how education significantly impacts poverty and how that impact can reverberate throughout future generations. Our mission must be to ensure Robeson High School students are academically sound, deeply integrated into participating in community service-based learning, committed to civic responsibility, and fully engaged in initiatives that not only provide for new learning opportunities for our students and families, but also opportunities that cater to the needs of every student in our program and to the communities we serve.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?

A few years ago, I was speaking with my mother, discussing my grandparents, her parents, who passed away prior to my birth. My mother spoke of my grandfather and the challenges and indignities he faced as a black man growing up in the early part of the 20th century. She stated how she wished that her father, my grandfather, was alive to see me chase my goals thanks to the sacrifices made in my family. Then my mom began to cry, praying that my grandfather from heaven was able to see me as an award-winning educator and high school principal because he would be overjoyed. I cried with her because I never knew my mom felt this way.

What I am most proud of is knowing that I have become a source of pride for my family and that I have had the honor and privilege to be seen as a positive example in the black community. Growing up in Camden, New Jersey, one of the most impoverished cities in America, I did not believe that I would one day have the opportunity to have my personal and professional experiences give me hope for our communities, to perhaps provide hope to others, and to allow me to be the hope my ancestors dreamed of. Being included in the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction honors the hopes and dreams of my family and I am so grateful for this amazing acknowledgment.

HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?

Several years ago, I worked for a suburban school district in New Jersey as an assistant principal. At the end of the 2007–2008 school year, I was informed that my contract was not going to be renewed by the district. I wasn’t fired per se, but I was forced into a negotiation to mutually part ways. To me, this was an epic failure and a very hurtful blow to my self-esteem. I rarely failed professionally and it made me question my abilities to be a school leader. Looking back, I realized and had to accept the fact that I did not do a very good job because I was truly distracted by personal circumstances that caused a lot of stress and personal trauma in my life at the time.

So, rather than looking back on that situation as an epic failure, which was my initial feeling, I eventually realized that situation was one of the best learning experiences that I could have ever wished for. It taught two major life lessons from that experience: First, I learned that in order to be a great leader, I have to learn how to make sure I am a great employee and colleague to others. Second, I learned that the world will throw you curves. So, not only do you have to be ready for them, but also you have to maintain your dignity, learn how to get up after falling down, dust yourself off, and continue on your path despite obstacles. You don’t stop being the person you are.

I learned to take this very shocking and humbling experience, and use it as a source of inspiration and confidence to work as hard as I can to be the best for the students and families I am serving. Today, I am entering my 23rd year as an award-winning educator and administrator, and I feel like I am an integral part of the commitment in Philadelphia Schools to advance student achievement for socio-economically challenged neighborhoods filled with “at-risk” minority populations. I have experienced successes beyond my own expectations, having been the recipient of numerous awards, honors, accolades and citations for my work as an educator. My struggle of failing as an administrator in one respect, inspired me to be the best educator I can possibly be, supporting and caring for the children of Philadelphia.

WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?

My greatest male role model was definitely my father. My father was an imperfect man, to say the least. Even he will admit to many of the setbacks he endured in his life due to poor decisions and life in the streets. My father was a man who spent time incarcerated at the state and federal levels, he has engaged in numerous acts of criminal behavior (some he was caught for, so much more he got away with), he had vices with drugs, an affinity for women who adored him, and was never considered “Father-of-the-Year”. We spent much of my formative years estranged, and he is still estranged from my brothers till this day—a tale all too familiar to many young black males today.

However, my dad is one of the smartest men I know; very savvy, strong-willed, caring, resourceful, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. He is what we call in the community, a real “O.G.”. So, what I learned most from my dad is what NOT to do with my life, and how to channel all of the positive attributes I inherited from him into positive pursuits.

As you get older, you accept that everyone, including me, is less than perfect individuals. So, I have forgiven my dad for mistakes made along the way to my adulthood. It has helped us to strengthen our relationship over time. As I stated, he was an imperfect man. But, I give him credit where credit is due. My dad insisted on a “Do as I say, not as I do” flawed mentality. He did, however, do his best to toughen us and to protect us from the harshness of growing up in an urban environment. And he has influenced me to embrace my mother’s teachings and to strive to be better, personally and professionally. Yes, my mother was the single greatest inspiration in my life growing up. But, my dad has definitely been the most influential male role model in my life.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?

As a black man, I want our children, our families, and our community to see black manhood as I do: a formidable force whose genesis derives from exuding a positive self-image in appearance and in speech; respect for our elders and for our history as a people in this society; an undying love for our strong black women who have taken on too heavy a burden to be the anchor of our families; an enduring chivalrous respect for our black woman and families; and an acceptance of our pain we can openly express without repercussion. Black manhood is about setting our own cultural patterns by being heads of our households, opening doors for our women, raising our children, embracing education and lifelong learning, and being the true leaders in our communities in order to bring ourselves out of this identity crisis plaguing black masculinity. Black manhood is ensuring that we do not cede our obligations to our women, as opposed to partnering with them. Black manhood has to be strong, educated, empowering, and thoughtfully dynamic in order to liberate our communities from the dire circumstances of ineffective and paralyzing representations of who we are as men. If we do, black manhood has the potential to become the most powerful force on the planet.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

I often seek and solicit advice from colleagues and leaders I truly admire and those with whom I work on a routine basis. Today, I get to work with some of the most knowledgeable and successful school leaders in Pennsylvania. Much of my success as an award-winning educator has come under my last two supervisors, who have always offered amazing leadership advice to help support my efforts in my school community. (Thank you Rahshene Davis and Dr. Debora Carerra.)

However, the best advice I was given was shared by a former high school principal, Edward Monastra, during my second year as a school administrator, who reminded me that our work is all about our young people. His exact words were, “Take care of your students, your school, and your community, do what is right by them first, because they are your first priority professionally, and let the chips fall where they may with everything else. And if that is not good enough for anyone supervising you, then they can come get my keys to the school building.”

HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?

In 2017, I had the privilege of becoming a member of the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders’ Neubauer Fellowship in Educational Leadership. The Neubauer Fellowship is a training program for high-performing principals who are seen as uniquely positioned to improve the quality of education outcomes in Philadelphia’s schools. The Neubauer Fellowship provides quality professional development that refines my leadership skills in order to lead my schools to higher levels of learning. Through the leadership of founders Joe and Jeannette Neubauer, in conjunction with the leadership of the program, I learned the importance of servant and entrepreneurial leadership. I learned that in order to be an effective service leader, I not only need to model that in my daily actions for staff and students each day, but also I need to ensure that I am garnering resources to support students in a way that develops everyone’s personal growth so that they develop into service leaders themselves. As an entrepreneurial leader, the Neubauer Fellowship supported my expansion of addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (A.C.E.S.) and trauma in minority children and encouraging our males to challenge the stigma of mental health in our communities.

Now, I have many male students receiving much-needed therapeutic services in school on a daily basis. Additionally, the Neubauer Fellowship encouraged my partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office on Black Male Engagement to increase mentoring of young black males in our school, which has improved our students’ academic, social-emotional well-being, mental health, while addressing unhealthy, risky behaviors. We have increased the percentage of male students on-track for graduation and our male students significantly contribute to our 95% annual graduation rate.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?

Undoubtedly, I am proud to be a black man, even though at times in this country we appear to be an endangered species for a number of reasons. However, I am most proud of the amazing contributions to society we make every day and I am inspired by our ability to reach a variety of professions and industries. However, we are severely underrepresented in those professions and industries. So, for me, it is imperative that we have to lead and inspire one another to be in positions of leadership because we are uniquely positioned to address the obstacles in facing limiting pathways to success. I always believe that when we become examples of leadership, we are the envy of the world. I believe as a black man, I am well-versed in the problems we face, but I love having the opportunity each day to show other black males that black men also have never had more opportunities for success today if we are willing to work hard and band together in support of one another. I love making the effort of being aspirational, rather than being bogged down in pessimism. Inspiring one another to action and leadership can truly make us a formidable force in transforming our communities.

WHAT PRACTICES, TOOLS, BOOKS, ETC. DO YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR SUCCESS?

To lead a successful school, I believe it is imperative that I engage in practices that help me to be a better principal for the amazing students, families, and staff members I have the privilege of serving. Each day, I try to ensure that: I am easily accessible to my school community; I attend numerous student/ family events (school-related or personal) from sporting events to barbecues and birthday parties; remain positive and aspirational, which contributes to a healthy, positive work environment; consistently getting community input into the vision and mission of school and how we serve our students/families; I try to always be as transparent with our school community (even to a fault); continue my own learning as I pursue my Doctorate Degree in Education; I attempt to provide leadership opportunities for teachers and students in order to help improve our work; I like to work on my communication, especially improving my efforts to be a good listener; and I spend a lot of time meeting with individuals who are community partners with our school and I often like to meet with individuals interested in becoming potential partners to help support our mission of providing students with the best education possible.

I believe all leaders are readers. So, I try to ensure that I spend some of my downtime reading books and fostering my love of studying history. I find myself reading numerous publications analyzing the life, times, and political positions of Malcolm X, James Baldwin, as well as analysis on the historic presidency of Barack Obama.

 

The first African slaves in North America arrived in Virginia on this day in 1619

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Four hundred years ago today, in 1619, a British ship landed on the shores of Virginia in what was then a British colony.

John Rolfe, the plantation owner and official overseeing the colony that the English ship, White Lion, “brought not anything but 20 and odd Negroes”.

Having arrived at Point Comfort on the James River on August 20, 1619, this would mark the beginning of slavery in the American colonies. That fateful day would set in motion what would become about 246 years of chattel slavery in the United States that haunts the country till now.

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Becoming the first enslaved Africans to have arrived in the British Colony of Virginia, some of the 20 African captives, right after landing on the shores of the colony, were sold in exchange for food and provisions while the rest were transported to Jamestown and sold into slavery.

Historical accounts had previously believed that these first Africans came from the Caribbean, but later details showed that they came from the kingdom of Ndongo, in present-day Angola.

According to the , they were captured there by Portuguese colonists and sent to the port of Luanda on board the slave ship São João Baptista.

The ship, in all, carried about 350 enslaved people and was on its way to Veracruz, in present-day Mexico when it was intercepted by the English ship, the White Lion.

“The British crew robbed part of the Portuguese cargo, including a few dozen African captives – among those who had survived the brutal journey thus far. A few days later, it was at Point Comfort that the British vessel finally landed, in the hopes of trading the enslaved Africans for food and supplies,” according to a report by

It is significant to note that although Virginia was the first British colony to legally define slavery in mid-17th century North America, a forced labour regime was already present in the rest of the Americas at the time.

According to the report by France 24, Spanish conquistadors had already, as early as 1502, brought African slaves to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. In 1526, a Spanish expedition also brought African captives to present-day South Carolina, but the following year, the settlement was abandoned after the Africans protested.

In effect, the year 1619 is marked as the precise beginning of North American slavery. By the 1680s, African slave labour had become the dominant system on Virginia farms and the slave population continued to grow as slave labour was used to

The 20 enslaved Africans on the White Lion would become the first of the estimated 388,000 Africans captured from their homelands, forced onto ships and sold into enslavement in the United States.

The arrival at Point Comfort also marked a new chapter in the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which uprooted roughly 12 million Africans, depositing roughly 5 million in Brazil and over 3 million in the Caribbean, according to .

Through their harrowing experiences on the ships, many of the enslaved Africans even died before reaching their new homes. For the many who survived, it was the beginning of sleepless nights, several hours of work on plantations on empty stomachs and the constant reminder that in their new lives they were nothing but a commodity to their owners.

In the U.S. today, these enslaved Africans have become the ancestors of the majority of the over 40 million African-Americans who have thrived over the years in the face of hurdles such as access to capital to fund and operate businesses due to years of racial and economic discrimination.

It’s been 400 years since their forefathers arrived on the shores of Virginia, and to commemorate this, a series of events, including ceremonies, conferences, and concerts, have been scheduled throughout the month of August.

The New York Times has launched to highlight slavery and the contributions of black people in America’s founding.

“It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are,” said the NYT.

The project spotlights a collection of essays, criticism and art about how the America known today didn’t start in 1776, but in August 1619, when the ship carrying the enslaved Africans landed in Virginia, it added.

A dedicated page displaying captivating photographs of black struggles and compelling phrases and headlines linked to quotes, poems and essays of black Americans published on the portal takes readers through thought-provoking topics and memories.

Some of the essays touched on how black Americans made the country a democracy; the brutal nature of American capitalism linked to the plantation; race being the reason America doesn’t have universal health care; black music being the sound of freedom and the barbaric history of sugar among other subjects.

Meanwhile, as part of activities to mark the 400-year event, scores of African Americans have been returning to the continent to commemorate the date and have a sense of connection with their forebears in Africa.

In Ghana, The Year of Return programme has already seen hundreds of African Americans visit Ghana to experience the history, culture and tradition upfront.

It is an initiative by the government of Ghana aimed at marking 400 years since the first black slaves landed in Jamestown, Virginia.

This initiative has seen an array of celebrities across the globe make their way into Ghana to explore, learn and appreciate their roots, as well as, unite with Africans on the continent.

Steve Harvey, Nicole Ari Parker, Diggy Simmons, and Micheal Jai White, and Bozoma Saint John have been among a host of celebrities to have spent a significant part of their month in Ghana.

Ghana has been home to Pan-Africanists like George Padmore, Maya Angelou, W. E. B. Du Bois, Pauli Murray among others who emigrated after the country’s independence in 1957 after establishing a friendship with the first president Kwame Nkrumah who himself had studied in the United States.

“When it comes to the history of slavery, we have the image of poor people broken in boats who were dehumanised and without culture.

“However, the people shipped over in boats from African nations and the Caribbean had lives before working as slaves on plantations … they brought skills and knowledge that made them valuable labourers,” Michael Thomas, assistant professor of philosophy at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.

“It’s not only important that we remember these dates…It’s essential that we pay attention to how we remember these dates because they tell us valuable things about the nation and the people in it that we often obscure.”

Defiant Desmond Tutu led hundreds of protesters to picnic at a whites-only beach on this day in 1989 [Photos]

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On this day in 1989, South-African anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu defied orders from the apartheid government and led hundreds of protesters to picnic at segregated ‘Whites Only’ beaches at The Strand outside Cape Town.

Though the apartheid police tried to cordon off the area by mounting barricades on the grounds they were using it for a dog training exercise, the protestors still marched onto the beach with Archbishop Tutu iconically carried on their shoulders.

Though the protestors and picnickers were later dispersed, their message was clearly sent.

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“It is incredible that the government is prepared to use arms on people who wish to have a picnic,” Tutu said, according to the . “Instead of getting rid of beach apartheid, they protect it with policemen, dogs and guns.”

“We have proved these are God’s beaches,” he added.

Throughout his life, Desmond Tutu has been one of Africa’s great voices for freedom, justice and democracy. The South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop rose to fame in the 1980s due to his fight against apartheid.

Born Desmond Mpilo Tutu on October 7, 1931, in South Africa, the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and bishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, in 1984, received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his role in the opposition to apartheid.

Though he has retired from public life since 2010, he remains one of South Africa’s most distinguishable personality and one of the world’s most prominent religious leaders.

Click to take a look at the historic photos.

We Don’t Need Permission From Democrats To Demand Reparations

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Reparations is a debt to Black people not a handout.

A recent Gallup poll shows 73 percent of African Americans support reparations in the form of cash payments to the descendants of slaves – the highest level of Black pro-reparations sentiment ever recorded in a national survey.

CNN anchor Don Lemon, one of the moderators of the latest Democratic presidential debate, asked Sen. how he would respond to Black reparations-seekers.

The Vermont senator responded with his usual less-than-inspiring endorsement of Black South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn’s “ ” – which is not a reparations program at all.

But Sanders pretended it was, clumsily adding, “And what that understands is that as a result of slavery, and segregation, and the institutional racism we see now in health care, in education, in financial services, we are going to have to focus big time on rebuilding distressed communities in America, including African-American communities.”

UNCERTAIN MEANING

In the 2020 Democratic presidential season, it appears that all reforms that disproportionately affect Black people are to be called “reparations.”

Author Marianne Williamson, the only non-politician candidate on the night’s lineup, calls for between $200 and $500 billion in financial assistance to descendants of slaves. Don Lemon rightly challenged her qualifications to make such a proposal.

As Frederick Douglass told us: “the man who has suffered the wrong is the man to demand redress…the man STRUCK is the man to CRY OUT.”

NOW AN ISSUE

Notwithstanding Douglass’ admonitions, White Democratic presidential candidates – including Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard – along with Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and Mexican-American hopeful Julian Castro, all faithful corporate servants – that have made reparations an election-year issue. Among the top-tier candidates, only Joe Biden refuses to endorse the .

Black people’s support for reparations has soared in sync with the concept’s receptivity among White Democrats and establishment Black politicians. Although reparations has always been part of the Black political agenda, it has most often been endorsed by about half of Black respondents to scientific surveys.

A poll conducted in May of 2016 showed 58 percent of Blacks favored reparations. By April 2019, as the Democratic campaign season got underway in earnest, the Rasmussen Report found 60 percent of Blacks in favor of reparations.

Then came the deluge of candidate “reparations” endorsements, and Black support for financial redress of historical grievances shot up to 73 percent – almost three out four Black respondents – a near-consensus for reparations that had not previously been expressed in polls.

GIVING PERMISSION?

In effect, the thumbs-up from leading Democrats for the concept of reparations has given Black people permission to demand what most have privately supported all along – redress for the crimes that the U.S. state and society have inflicted upon them.

We observed a very similar phenomenon in 2008 when Barack Obama was attempting to become the First Black U.S. President. Most Black elected officials were sticking with Hillary Clinton, as were about half of Black voters. But all that changed when Obama won the lily-White Iowa primary, proving his viability among White voters.

Almost overnight, Black Democrats switched their allegiance to Obama. White Iowa voters had given Black people permission to back one of their own for president.

The same thing is happening with reparations. But nothing useful to the Black struggle will result from all this reparations-like drama if it remains within the Democratic Party’s corporate domain.

The same survey that showed three out of four Blacks favoring reparations revealed that only about half – 49 percent – of Democrats of all ethnicities favor cash reparations, with 47 percent against. Overwhelming proportions of White people of both parties oppose reparations.

CAMPAIGN PLOY

The numbers decree that some Democrats will support programs that they choose to call “reparations” in the primary season in order to garner Black votes in selected states, but will avoid the word like herpes when the general election season rolls around.

Black elected officials will beat a quick retreat from the issue, resuming their “Me too, boss” postures – what Ajamu Baraka calls subordination to the “dictates and agenda of the Democratic Party.”

The surge in Black support for reparations is useful to the Black struggle only if African Americans themselves are willing to (a) define the issue and formulate demands accordingly and (b) mobilize our people around those demands.

IT’S OUR DECISION

We are Already Late to the Great Black Reparations Debate:

Forty million Black people can’t change a damn thing unless they argue collectively about what is to be done, and then organize to do it. The Great Black Reparations Debate can be the extended, independent forum for Black people to reimagine themselves and their place in the nation and the world, and to act collectively to build a new society – one that is fit for our people’s habitation. Once such a mobilization is underway, it really doesn’t much matter what the corporate servants on Capitol Hill think reparations should look like – because Black people will have our own vision and plan. 

The 73 percent pro“reparations” statistic represents a shared aspiration and a near-consensus among the nation’s Black population, who are a people with a specific history, not just a dependable Democratic voting bloc (or “progressive” constituency). The duty of those who claim to serve the people is clear. Lots of meetings are in order.

By: Glen Ford

No food, water and fuel: the horrific journey of 15 migrants from Libya to Europe as told by lone survivor

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First, their fuel ran out. Next, was their food. And then their water. And then one by one, fourteen out of the fifteen people (including a pregnant woman) on the canoe they were aboard, took their last breath and were toppled overboard.

Mohammed Adam Oga, the lone survivor, was spotted and picked up in Maltese waters on Monday, August 19, after the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, spotted a dinghy adrift at sea, reports .

Footage of the rescue by Malta’s armed forces showed Oga slumped over a man’s body before he was airlifted to hospital.

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According to the story, each migrant had paid a smuggler $700 to aid them in making the journey from Libya to Europe in the open sea and in the scorching heat of the Central Mediterranean, which is one of the deadliest stretches of water in the world.

38-year-old Oga, who describes himself as an exiled Ethiopian politician from former rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front, said he decided to make the journey after he was contacted by friends from Germany.

He told the that once in Libya, he met a Somali named Ismail and together they arranged their passage via a smuggler.

And then, on August 1, having been given the GPS and showed where to head towards, they set off from the Libyan city of Zawia, 45km (28 miles) west of the capital, Tripoli, he said.

The fifteen people on board comprised of a man and a pregnant woman from Ghana, two men from Ethiopia, and 11 Somalis, he added.

Mohammed Oga described the moment after which they run out of fuel, food and water, as a desperate situation as they tried in vain to get help from boats and helicopters passing by.

“We were at sea for 11 days. We started drinking sea water. After five days, two people died. Then every day, two more died.”

Oga described his survival as a ‘God-sent.’

“God sent the Maltese to save me,” he told Times of Malta, while being attached to a drip and too weak to walk.

Narrating his ordeal to the Times of Malta, Oga demonstrated, by slowly closing his eyes, how each fellow passenger of his died.

One by one, almost everybody on the boat died, leaving him with Ismail. “Ismail said, ‘Everyone is dead now. Why would we live?”

“They died in the boat. It was . No food and no water. Ismail said we should put the bodies in the sea. We took the bodies and threw them in the water. The bodies were smelling.”

A critically ill Mohammed leans over the dead body of his friend Ismail before the rescue on Monday. Photo: Armed Forces of Malta

Oga narrated how at one point, Ismail became frustrated, going as far as asking that they both die together but he refused. Not long after that, Ismail also died.

He remembers the last days of his journey like being a dream although he does not remember his rescue and was unaware that Ismail had died.

Mohammed Oga, according to , believes he faces arrest if he returns to Ethiopia because his former rebel group is outlawed. He left 15 years ago, first for Eritrea and then Sudan, and wants to travel to the UK.

Mohammed Adam Oga is being treated at Malta’s Mater Dei hospital for dehydration.

According to the UN, 839 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, making it the most dangerous sea route for refugees and migrants in the world.

Mohammed is one of more than 40,000 people who have survived crossing the treacherous Mediterranean to Europe’s coasts this year, including 1,000 to Malta.

99-year-old former mechanic for the Tuskegee Airmen finally gets his long-overdue WWII medals

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Thomas Franklin Vaughns served in the U.S. Army as a member of the original Tuskegee Airmen in the 1940s and was later drafted into the Korean War.

After his service in the Korean War, however, Vaughns, out of desperation to come home, didn’t stay to collect his Korean medal – the National Defense Service Medal.

Now, at the age of 99, Vaughns has finally received the medal in a ceremony at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) on Wednesday.

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Arkansas Congress members presented him with the Korean War medal alongside four replacement awards for his service in the second world war.

The four replacement medals were the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal-World War II, the Good Conduct Army Medal, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button.

Vaughns had received these four awards after the war, but he unfortunately misplaced them over the years.

During World War II, Vaughns was a mechanic for the Tuskegee Airmen, serving the U.S. Army during a period of legalized segregation and pervasive racism, according to a report by .

Segregation would formally come to an end in 1948, two years after Vaughns was discharged the first time.

“We all know about his great career in the military, going off at a young age to serve his country, willing to do whatever he was asked to do,” U.S. Senator John Boozman said while presenting the medals. “Then he came home and, like the greatest generation, rebuilt the country.”

“You are the ultimate patriot and the ultimate hero because you served when even by law and by practice many said you couldn’t and you shouldn’t,” said Arkansas state representative Vivian Flowers who was also at the ceremony.

“There was discrimination on every level of society and you served despite that.”

After the Korean War, Vaughns returned to Arkansas and

He also began a career in education and became a mentor to many young people in subsequent years.

Vaughns recalls helping about 90 students pursue degrees at the UAPB and some of his mentees who were at the presentation ceremony attested to that.

Ben Mcgee of Little Rock said Vaughns helped him and his two brothers through college at UAPB.

“I didn’t have any money,” McGee said. “When I got off the bus in front of Caldwell Hall on Sunday morning, I had 20 cents in my pocket. I got on this campus and never got a penny from home in four years. I got on work study, got in the agriculture department and worked every evening on the college farm.”

“He’s a hero in every sense of the word,” Boozman said, “not because of his military service — that’s part of it — but he’s a hero because of the way he’s lived his life.”

World War II veteran Vaughns, who was elated about his awards, said in a humorous tone: “These honors, I don’t know whether I deserve these things…but, anyway, I’m enjoying it.”

Serving at a time when the American Army was segregated, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American aviators in America.

The 332nd Fighter Group and the 99th Pursuit Squadron were the only black groups that fought in World War II and were considered highly successful despite facing discrimination in and out of the army.

Muller Report & President Donald Trumpa:” What If This Was President Obama?”

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The writer of this article, after reading the report entitled, “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election” (Robert S. Muller, III: Report), observed that Donald Trump (President of United States) committed the crime of “Obstruction of Justice,” but that the investigation, from day one, did not have the authority to bring the President of the United States to “justice” while in office.

The Office Of Legal Counsel (OLC), concluded that a sitting president may not be prosecuted, although, a criminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible. The OLC approached their investigation determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.

The OLC also addressed concerns about sealed indictments. Even if an indictment were sealed during the President’s term, Office Of Legal Counsel reasoned “it would be very difficult to preserve [an indigents] secrecy,” and if an indictment became public, the stigma and opprobrium could imperil the President’s ability to govern. And so, there are no sealed indictments for Donald Trump resulting for the “Muller investigation.”

However, the OLC does recognizes “that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office.”  For people, other than the President who may have committed an obstruction offense, “they may be prosecuted at this time.” People around Donald Trump were walking on thin ice.

The OLC summed up it’s investigation this was:

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.  Based on the facts and applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the Presidents actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.  Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

A Little Perspective

Donald Trump (President), looked into cameras and denied having any business in or connections to Russia.  OLC, discovered “that as late as June 2016 the Trump Organization had been pursuing a licensing deal for a skyscraper to be built in Russia called Trump Tower Moscow.”

In February 2017, the President fired Michael Flynn, telling an outside advisor “Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over.”  That same afternoon “the President cleared the Oval Office to have a one-on-one meeting with Comey.” The President said “ I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

“On May 3, 2017, Comey testified in a congressional hearing, but declined to answer questions about whether the President was personally under investigation.” “Within days the President decided to Terminate Comey.”

The OLC has sections on “The appointment of a Special Counsel and efforts to remove him.” “Efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation.” Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence.” Efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation.”  It’s just a document you have to read; it’s ripe with lies and crimes.

Sarah Sanders, taking her cues for the President stood before the cameras and lied consistently; “Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from countless members of the FBI was a “slip of the tongue”. She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBE agents had “lost confidence in Comey” was a comment she made in the heat of the moment that was not founded on anything.”

Conclusion

“Obstruction of justice can be motivated by a desire to protect non-criminal personal interest, to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area, or to avoid personal embarrassment. The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong.”

“Many of the President’s acts directed at witness, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, occurred in public view.   While it may be more difficult to establish that public-facing acts were motivated by a corrupt intent, the president’s power to influence actions, persons, and events is enhanced by his unique ability to attract attention through use of mass communication. And no principle of law excludes public acts from the scope of obstruction statutes. If the likely effect of the acts is to intimidate witnesses or alter their testimony, the justice system’s integrity is equally threatened.”

“The Muller investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.”

‘It’s Not Even a Question Anymore’: Spike Lee Speaks on Donald Trump Being a White Supremacist

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Spike Lee stopped by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” on Tuesday and asked why some still aren’t convinced about which group Donald Trump belongs to.

“Respectfully, why are we still asking if this guy’s a white supremacist? I mean it’s not even a question anymore,” Lee told Cooper. “I mean the Muslim ban, all Mexicans are rapists, murderers, drug dealers.”

Spike Lee said he’s baffled as to why people still wonder if Donald Trump is a white supremacist. (Photos: Nicky J Sims/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images, Mandel Ngan/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

The 62-year-old filmmaker then brought up August 2017’s “Unite the Right” rally, organized by white supremacists, where burning torches were carried and chants like the Nazi slogan “blood and soil” were yelled.

James Alex Fields Jr., a self-proclaimed white supremacist, purposely drove his car into a crowd at the rally and killed a woman named Heather Heyer and injured many others, a crime for which he was sentenced to life in prison.

Additionally, a Black man named DeAndre Harris was beaten by a group of white men as well, who struck him with poles as he laid helpless on the ground. Last year two of the men, Jacob Scott Goodwin and Alex Michael Ramos, were sentenced to eight and six years, respectively.

Trump later said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the rally, which he still receives heavy criticism for.

“And then Charlottesville, we have marching, the KKK, the alt-right, Neo-Nazis and he can’t make a decision between what’s right and wrong. What’s love and hate,” Lee told Cooper. “He’s going to be on the wrong side of history and that’s going to be the first thing that’s attached to him.”

Lee also said Trump gave white supremacists and similar groups the “dog whistle” to bring their racist ideology to society’s forefront.

He then stated those following Trump will also be on the wrong side of history and suggested the people who’ve endorsed him have a financial incentive to do so.

Kawhi Leonard is Handing Out Backpacks to Students in Southern California in Area’s Biggest Back-to-School Giveaway Ever

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Kawhi Leonard hasn’t even played his first NBA game as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers and he’s already broken a record in the city.

But he did it off the court by spearheading the biggest backpack giveaway in Los Angeles Unified School District’s history. And he was helped by the nonprofit Baby2Baby, as well as the L.A. Clippers Foundation.

Kawhi Leonard is donating 1 million backpacks to students throughout Greater Los Angeles. (Photo: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

The goal is to give a free backpack to every student in LAUSD, as well as students in Inglewood Unified and Moreno Valley Unified School Districts, which is in Leonard’s hometown.

Because statistics show that 80 percent of K-12 students in LAUSD alone either came from a low-income family, were in a foster program or were homeless last year, according to a Clippers press release.

View image on Twitter

On Tuesday Leonard talked about the giveaway at Cloverdale Elementary School, where he attended as a child. He then made his way to 107th Street Elementary School in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts to hand out backpacks, since it was LAUSD’s first day.

“My goal this year is to make a meaningful contribution both on and off the court,” Leonard explained. “This felt like the right way to get started. It was important to me to make this announcement in my hometown of Moreno Valley at my former Elementary School, but the benefits this program will have across all of Los Angeles makes today even more special.”

The idea behind the giveaway is that families could use the money they would normally spend on a backpack for other necessities like food, rent or utilities.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard for this record-breaking donation to every student in Los Angeles Unified School District and beyond,” said Baby2Baby Co-Presidents Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein in a statement.

“For many of these children who are homeless or in foster care, backpacks not only hold their school books and homework, but also all of their personal belongings.”

“If they have a backpack at all, it is often falling apart, and when a child does not have one, they resort to using a grocery or trash bag. The Clippers’ donation will make these children feel the pride they deserve and give them the confidence they need to start the school year off on the right foot,” they added.

Russell Westbrook Starts Tech Program for At-Risk Youth in L.A. to Close the ‘Digital Divide’

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Russell Westbrook is helping at-risk youth learn tech skills in his hometown of Los Angeles, California, and on Monday he was at a launch event for a new program in the city’s downtown area.

It’s called the Westbrook/Brownstein Green Tech Program, and the Houston Rockets guard said kids will learn coding, computer engineering, computer literacy, 3-D printing, drone piloting, as well as robotics.

Russell Westbrook started a tech program for at-risk youth in Los Angeles. (Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

Westbrook and his Why Not? Foundation partnered with businessman Chad Brownstein for the program, which will take place inside The LA Conservation Corps. It’s also been reported that Westbrook and Brownstein are footing the bill for a new state of the art computer lab.

“I feel like this particular program actually impacts the kids’ futures, impacts their mind, the mentality of where they grew up, where they’re from,” the NBA star told People. “I definitely can relate to that because I feel like I was one of those kids growing up in the city of Los Angeles and finding my way, figuring out what was the best path for me.”

The 6-foot-3 point guard also said when he was growing up there was a lack of programs that helped him in the classroom or showed him how to face the working world.

“That was my motivation, honestly,” Westbrook explained. “I didn’t look for anybody to help or hand out, but I definitely thought it was important that people that had the power, the ability to be able to help, did that. It was motivation for me to be able to get to a level, to a point, where I can give back to some of the same kids that are in the same situation that I was in.”

The 30-year-old also shared news about the tech classes on his Instagram page and said he hopes the program will break down the “digital divide” through skills training.