LATEST ARTICLES

OP-ED: Come Together

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by Lucius Gantt, The Gantt Report 

Nearly all of America’s so-called Negro leaders, scholars, activists and perpetrators say that “all” Black people must unite, work together and patronize each other to facilitate Black progress.

    I say universal unity and agreement is a lofty goal to be pursued but it may never be attained.

     I can’t even get my own family members to work together and support each other unless I pay them to.

  The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was an intergovernmental organization established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 32 signatory governments. One of the main heads for OAU’s establishment was Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. It was disbanded on 9 July 2002 by its last chairman, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union (AU). Some of the key aims of the OAU were to encourage political and economic integration among member states, and to eradicate colonialism and neo-colonialism from the African continent. Although it achieved some success, there were also differences of opinion as to how that was going to be achieved. 

     The OAU and the AU are desirable groups but the organization’s differences has never brought about total unification and has done nothing to stop or curtail Africa’s disagreements and tribal wars that are going on right now, so to speak.

     If a group’s infrastructure is wrong on day one, the long term success of the group will be wrong, or undesirable, also.

     History suggests that the world’s most impactful alliances started off small and manageable. 

     In the beginning, the world didn’t follow behind Jesus Christ, the Lord only had twelve disciples in his crew. Castro and Che had about seven guys running through the woods in Cuba and there were only four men that founded the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

      When the “leaders” you love to quote and [support by buying] their books suggest [that] progress requires all Black people to come together, you should be suspicious of anything and everything they say to you!

    You see, African Americans, as a group, have always had power imperatives. For instance, W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington were both decent guys but one wanted to integrate and the other desired a form of separation or self-sufficiency.

     Today, so many of us want to blend in and assimilate and others want to create and finance our own racial progress.

     Ask yourself, can you and your neighbors reach agreements on how to improve your neighborhood, will Black churches, schools, businesses and organizations all unite for the good of us all?

     I have a plan in my mind that can change the future for people of African descent all around the world and the plan can be implemented with just ten like minds and a little bit of money, like $100,000,000. (10 Black billionaires can each put up $10m and raise $1 billion in ten months)

     Before you start saying, “Lucius is broke” or “Lucius just wants other Black’s money”, let me tell you what I do know.

     I know how billion and trillion dollar deals are done, I know how wealthy people conduct financial transactions and I know that in the suggested financial transactions, no money will ever leave the investor’s banks and Lucius will never touch the cash or have access to it. Any money will ALWAYS stay in the names and banks of the investors.

     If the people you post and repost on social media have a better plan than I do, I’ll support their plan. I will travel statewide, nationwide or worldwide to further Black progress so the leaders you love shouldn’t be afraid to talk to me unless they fear getting exposed for being charlatans or progress pimps, like the poverty pimps that get paid to bamboozle you.

     Don’t waste your time listening to teachers, preachers, rappers, talk show hosts and others that tell you ALL of us must follow their steps to live a better life.

     All we need to do better are the few, the proud, the wise and the serious and we can build back our communities and our continental homeland, Africa!

Invasive Cheatgrass Taking Over Western Desert

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by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Cheatgrass. Credit: USFWS, FlickrCC

Dear EarthTalk: What is Cheatgrass and when did it become such a big problem out west?

—William G., Portland, ME

Cheatgrass is an annual grass native to Europe and eastern Asia that European settlers brought to North America in the late 1800s as forage for grazing their livestock. Little did they know at the time that this innocuous looking herbaceous plant would eventually wreak havoc on ecosystems across the American West, edging out native plants and creating conditions ripe for now all-too-frequent brush fires.

“It probably wouldn’t have outcompeted with native vegetation if early settlers hadn’t also introduced large numbers of livestock like cattle and sheep into sagebrush country,” reports Mike Pellant, a retired Rangeland Ecologist with the Bureau of Land Management who volunteers for the non-profit Sage Grouse Initiative. “Our palatable native grasses and forbs [herbaceous flowering plants] weren’t adapted to those high levels of uncontrolled overgrazing by domestic livestock, which created a void that Cheatgrass quickly filled.”

And once Cheatgrass gains a foothold, it ups the fire risk around it significantly, in part because it sets seed in the spring and by the heart of fire season, in mid- to late-summer, its shoots have dried out and become like tinder that can spark into fire with the slightest provocation. “Basically, cheatgrass is comparable to tissue paper covering the landscape—an easily-ignited fuel that carries fire quickly and spreads it rapidly,” adds Pellant.

Native plants in the Great Basin have not evolved to handle such frequent burns—every five to seven years on average lately. As such, each Cheatgrass-fueled brush fire creates more open space for more of the weed to quickly colonize. And by moving into open territory before native plants have a chance to set seed, Cheatgrass ensures its dominance over the desert ecosystems it inhabits.

The ascendancy of Cheatgrass is also a big problem for native wildlife as well as plants. The Greater sage grouse, Mule deer and Pygmy rabbit are just a few of the iconic desert species dependent on healthy sagebrush plants for their own survival. If sagebrush steppe landscapes go the way of the dodo thanks to Cheatgrass, so will these species and dozens of others which contribute to making the American desert such a special place.

That said, there is little we can actually do to effectively stop Cheatgrass’ spread—it has already taken over some 50-70 million acres of desert across the American West. Herbicides applied widely have been effective at removing grown Cheatgrass plants, but these synthetic chemicals do nothing against the seeds already rooted in the soil—meaning the plant will sprout anew the next spring regardless. Employing all-natural soil microbes to inhibit the growth of Cheatgrass’ root system below the surface shows promise as a potential solution. But it could be years before we know whether it’s feasible to use on such an epic scale given how much Cheatgrass has already spread across the sagebrush steppe.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Race Past 13 Million Heading Towards Holidays

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows that the United States has now recorded more than 13 million coronavirus cases, and almost 265,000 deaths.

This is significant. The nation is now adding around 1 million new cases per week ― an especially alarming reality since millions of Americans traveled for Thanksgiving despite the urgings of public health experts and political leaders– about 3 million by air and up to another 50 million by car.

Restrictions on mask use and social distancing have been tightened across the board as new infections skyrocketed over the last month. Even greater number of travelers

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned Americans not to expect the holidays to be any more normal than Thanksgiving. 

“If the surge takes a turn of continuing to go up, and you have the sustained greater-than-100,000 infections a day and 1,300 deaths per day, and the count keeps going up and up, … I don’t see it being any different during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays than during Thanksgiving,” he told USA Today. 

“For my own family, I’m saying we had a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas last year,” Fauci said. “We’re looking forward to a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2021. Let’s now make the best of the situation and show our love and affection for people by keeping them safe.” 

Notice of Fictitious Name Registration – ITalic Blue

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fictitious name
fictitious name / doing business as

NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to the provisions of the Fictitious Names Registration Act of Florida (Chapter 50, Florida Statutes) that an application for registration of a fictitious name will be filed in the office of the Florida Department of State, for the conduct of a business under the fictitious name of ITalic Blue, with its principal office or place of business at 12851 SUNSTONE AVENUE, #2115 ORLANDO, FL 32832, in Orange County. The names and addresses, including street and number, if any, of all persons who are parties to the registration is/are: Joshua Devasagayaraj, 12851 SUNSTONE AVENUE #2115, ORLANDO, FL 32832, who, being (an) owner(s) in the above fictitious name, certif(y)ies that the information contained herein is true and accurate. 

Notice of Fictitious Name Registration – Applause Travel Services

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fictitious name
fictitious name / doing business as

NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to the provisions of the Fictitious Names Registration Act of Florida (Chapter 50, Florida Statutes) that an application for registration of a fictitious name will be filed in the office of the Florida Department of State, for the conduct of a business under the fictitious name of Applause Travel Services, with its principal office or place of business at 765 Sheoah Blvd., Winter Springs, Fl 32708, in Seminole County. The names and addresses, including street and number, if any, of all persons who are parties to the registration is/are: Freedom Marketing International. Inc., 765 Sheoah Blvd, Winter Springs, FL 32708, who, being (an) owner(s) in the above fictitious name, certif(y)ies that the information contained herein is true and accurate. 

Satellite images confirm uneven impact of climate change

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University of Copenhagen researchers have been following vegetation trends across the planet’s driest areas using satellite imagery from recent decades. They have identified a troubling trend: Too little vegetation is sprouting up from rainwater in developing nations, whereas things are headed in the opposite direction in wealthier ones. As a result, the future could see food shortages and growing numbers of climate refugees.

More than 40 percent of Earth’s ecosystems are arid, an amount that is expected to increase significantly over the course of the 21st century. Some of these areas, such as those in Africa and Australia may be savannah or desert, where sparse rainfall has long been the norm. Within these biomes, vegetation and wildlife have adapted to making use of their scant water resources, but they are also extraordinarily vulnerable to climate change.

Using extensive imagery from satellites that monitor Earth every day, researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources Management have studied the evolution of vegetation in arid regions. Their conclusion is unequivocal:

“We observe a clear trend of arid areas developing in a negative direction in the most economically challenged countries. Here, it is apparent that the growth of vegetation has become increasingly decoupled from the water resources available and that there is simply less vegetation in relation to the amount of rainfall. The opposite is the case in the wealthiest countries,” explains Professor Rasmus Fensholt of the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management.

Worse in Asia and Africa, better in South America and Australia 

The researchers analyzed 15 years worth of satellite imagery of vegetation and rainfall — from 2000 to 2015. To compare the evolution of vegetation in arid regions of the world, the researchers removed precipitation totals from the equation. In other words, they produced a calculation that accounts for the fact that some regions received more rain in past decades, while other regions received less.

This provides a more accurate picture of ecosystem health, as human influences become easier to identify: In other words, whether resource use is balanced or whether an ecosystem’s resources have been overexploited, with potentially fatal consequences — as imbalanced systems may be irreparable.

“Here, our results demonstrate that in arid regions, particularly those in Africa and Asia, less vegetation grows for the amount of rainwater that falls, while more vegetation grows in arid areas of South America and Australia,” says lead author Christin Abel, a postdoc at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management.

Infographic text: Areas with purple hues indicate where vegetation growth relative to rainfall is declining, while green hues reveal areas where vegetation has grown more than expected. White areas represent ecosystems where vegetation growth is in balance with the water resources available.

According to the researchers, there may be several explanations for why climate change and rising global temperatures are impacting vegetation in arid regions of the world’s poorest countries. Among the most obvious is rapid population growth, in Africa for example, where there is an increasing need to exploit land that is otherwise poorly suited for agriculture. Doing so produces lower yields and puts increasing amounts of livestock on too little grass in already fragile ecosystems.

Conversely, vegetation in arid areas of the world’s wealthier countries seems to be coping better with climate change. This is likely due to the intensification and expansion of larger farms, where more economic resources allow for, among other things, irrigation and fertilization.

Food crises and more climate refugees 

As a result of climate change, future trends for the planet’s poorest areas only seem to be getting worse. Forecasts point to an expansion of today’s arid areas where they will make up a larger and larger share of our global ecosystems. This may result in more and more people being left without food and their needing to migrate.

“One consequence of declining vegetation in the world’s poorer arid regions areas may be an increase in climate refugees from various African countries. According to what we’ve seen in this study, there is no indication that the problem will diminish in the future,” explains Rasmus Fensholt.

For a number of years, satellite imagery has let researchers observe that, overall, it actually appears that the world’s arid regions have become greener. However, when researchers look at how much vegetation arid areas in developing countries get in relation to rainfall amounts, the picture looks different.

“We have been pleased to see that, for a number of years, vegetation has been on an upwards trend in arid regions. But if we dig only a tiny bit deeper and look at how successfully precipitation has translated into vegetation, then climate change seems to be hitting unevenly, which is troubling,” says Rasmus Fensholt.

Florida Health, Seminole County Recognizes National Diabetes Month

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Sanford, Fla. – In recognition of National Diabetes Month, the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County (DOH-Seminole) continues to increase awareness of diabetes  and encourages the community to register in their Diabetes Prevention and Diabetes Self-Management Programs. These no cost programs led by a trained lifestyle coach and a Registered Dietitian provide the tools needed to prevent or delay as well as manage diabetes.

“Our diabetes programs provide excellent educational and interactive tools to prevent and manage diabetes as well as provide a support system for families,” said Donna Walsh, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County. “Know the symptoms of diabetes, and if you have a family history of diabetes which can be a risk factor, consult with your doctor, get tested and learn how to prevent or manage your diabetes.”

The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County is offering Diabetes Prevention Education at its Sanford location and is now enrolling participants for this free program. The program focuses on lifestyle changes to help people who have prediabetes reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The program consists of weekly sessions followed by at least monthly maintenance sessions.

DOH-Seminole is also now offering Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) for individuals that have been diagnosed with diabetes. DSME consists of 10 hours of individualized instruction provided by a healthcare professional, such as a nurse or dietitian, who has received continuing education in diabetes. Topics covered include healthy eating, physical activity, monitoring blood sugar, taking medication, problem-solving, healthy coping and reducing risks. The goal of DSME is to increase participants’ knowledge, reduce complications and improve health and wellbeing.

For more information about the Diabetes Prevention Program or DSME programs, please contact Herronda Mortimer, Diabetes Prevention Coordinator at (407) 665-3011 or by email at  Herronda.Mortimer@flhealth.gov and Emily Haller, DSME Coordinator at (407) 665-3339 or by email at Emily.Haller@flhealth.gov .

In Florida, there are nearly 6 million adults with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetes range, it is estimated that almost 2 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes and over half a million more have diabetes but do not know it. 

There is not a cure yet for diabetes, but a healthy lifestyle can reduce its impact on your life. Thanks to better treatments, people with diabetes are now living longer—and with a better quality of life—than ever before. A blood test from your health care provider can determine if you have diabetes. Early treatment can prevent serious problems that diabetes can cause, such as loss of eyesight or kidney damage.

Website: http://seminole.floridahealth.gov/

Charlotte Lane: PSC Helping Keep Us Safe from Human Trafficking

by Charlotte Lane

Shocking!

Just across our border in Ohio a prominent criminal defense attorney and former city councilman was recently indicted on 18 counts relating to human trafficking and is facing more than 70 years in jail. He is accused of unlawfully supervising, managing or controlling the activities of a prostitute and compelling victims to engage in sexual activity over a 15 year period. He is also accused of using his position and specialized knowledge of the criminal justice system to access women who have been trafficked and arrested for solicitation to set up his own business trafficking women. Some of his victims were his former clients.

Last year in West Virginia, 38 human trafficking cases were reported, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The victims, evenly split between adults and children, were primarily females, and almost all were being transported for purposes of sex trafficking. Recently, one of our PSC Transportation Officers, working with other law enforcement agencies, responded to a call about a truck on the West Virginia Turnpike and rescued a 13 year old girl. She had met her trafficker online and been picked up in Kentucky.

Trafficking involves transporting someone into a situation for exploitation. This can include forced labor, marriage, prostitution and organ removal. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, creating a $150 billion industry.

In 2018, over half of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the United States were sex trafficking cases involving children. The average age a teen enters the sex trade is 12 to 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children. Reports indicate that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in this county were at one time in the foster care system. It is common for traffickers to use online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking.

Parental involvement in a child’s social media activities cuts down on opportunities for traffickers to communicate privately with potential victims.

The Public Service Commission Transportation Officers are working tirelessly, not only to keep our highways safe from commercial motor vehicle traffic, but also from human trafficking. Our officers are trained to spot suspicious situations, investigate those situations without endangering the victim and bring about a safe resolution. They also participate in a variety of community awareness activities to educate the public about the problem of human trafficking and what to do if you see a suspicious situation.

We appreciate all the work our officers do to make our state safer. If you see something, say something

Charlotte Lane is Chairman of the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

This post first appeared in the Wayne County News

Irex Partners with the National Child Protection Task Force to Leverage AI to Fight Human Trafficking and Locate Missing Children

SANTA CLARA, CA / ACCESSWIRE / November 25, 2020 / IREX will partner with National Child Protection Task Force (NCPTF) to increase actionable intelligence across numerous data platforms to help identify and track missing and exploited children and help law enforcement communities to investigate and disrupt trafficking networks in order to bring to justice today’s criminal traffickers and complicit facilitators.

Children are trafficked into or out of the United States from all corners of the world. While still largely an underreported crime, it is believed that every year thousands of American children in our country are commercially sexually exploited including runaways, many between the ages of 13 and 17. Children 12 and younger also suffer commercial sexual abuse at the hands of criminal traffickers.

“Artificial Intelligence has unlimited possibilities, we must prioritize it for the world’s most pressing problems. Nothing needs the world’s attention more”, says Irex CEO Gary Fowler.

Across the country, many children and young adults will continue to be coerced, exploited, kidnapped, and forced into servitude every day by predatory pimps, gang leaders, and criminal syndicates who will target and lure them on the Internet and social media (e.g., leveraging messaging apps), at schools, malls, fast food restaurants, or other places of opportunity to profit from such heinous acts and horrific crimes. During COVID-19, online child abuse and exploitation have increased as children have stayed at home and spent more time across the digital world.

Given the somber reality that a myriad of dangers and violence often lurk around the corner, including the perverse criminality associated with human trafficking, we must be ever vigilant to safeguard the welfare of our children against the evil lure of gangs and traffickers who target our children for sexual exploitation and other forced labors.

“No child is immune to becoming a victim of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation, irrespective of race, socioeconomic status, gender, age or location. No person should ever have a price tag attached to their heart and soul nor be restricted, abused, and violated against their physical integrity and free will,” said David M. Luna, Irex Anti-Illicit Trade Advisor.

Irex and NCPTF will harness new energies and work together, along with other committed partners, against these criminal threats by leveraging AI-driven data, machine learning, facial recognition, computer vision, and other innovative technologies to identify patterns of criminal behaviors across sectors to generate actionable intelligence. These neural networks can help to detect human trafficking incidents and child sexual exploitation, and to bring victims home and into safer, secure environments.

“Human trafficking and child exploitation networks are constantly looking for ways to use technology to their advantage and we have to be ready. The NCPTF is pushing the limits of the intersection between technology and criminal investigations to find more effective ways to rescue children and hunt child predators. Investigators everywhere must be able to adapt to changes in the criminal use of technology and tactics as quickly as possible and the application of artificial intelligence is a vital step in that process”, explains NCPTF President Kevin Metcalf

About IREX: IREX’s video-based cloud service is a powerful tool for monitoring and protecting large populations. With over 20 AI modules built in, including Facial Analytics, Searchveillance, etc. IREX.ai helps mitigate terrorism threats, illicit trade, criminalized markets and to find a person of interest. Powered by machine learning, IREX provides contact tracing, social distancing and crowd management. In October 2020, IREX joined forces with Luna Global Networks and Convergence Strategies LLC to introduce revolutionary AI-driven technologies to fight illicit trade including human trafficking across cities and communities.

About National Child Protection Task Force (NCPTF): The National Child Protection Task Force, a registered 501c3, was founded to provide detectives, analysts and officers access to investigative expertise and resources that are unavailable or under-funded in most law enforcement organizations. The members of our Task Force volunteer their time to any agency — small or large, international or local — on important, time-sensitive cases focusing on human trafficking, child exploitation and missing persons cases.

For more information email Derek Distenfield, derek@Irex.ai

SOURCE: Irex

Artists raise voices against human trafficking

Alborosie
Alborosie

VP Records has partnered with Jamaica’s National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) on a campaign to raise awareness against human trafficking. 

The campaign features a reggae medley titled Shadows After Dark,which encourages persons to be very careful of whom they trust. The song is produced by reggae star Alborosie and performed by Christopher Martin, Romain Virgo, Dean Fraser, Duane Stephenson, Kabaka Pyramid, Etana, Tarrus Riley, Kumar, Morgan Heritage, Raging Fyah and Sandy Smith. 

The song contains familiar phrasing such as “you can see a man’s face, but not his heart” to accentuate how trust can be abused. 

According to Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang, trafficking in persons is a major criminal offence.

“It is growing, and as we get on top of dealing with the illegal drugs and firearms trades, it means the criminal organisations are losing money, and they will look to other areas; and clearly, one of those areas is human trafficking.”

Trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons. This can be accomplished by means of threat, use of force and other forms of coercion, abduction, deception or abuse of power. 

Richard Lue, director of business affairs for VP Records, said “music is one of the best ways to communicate. We felt it important to work with NATFATIP to make sure as many people are aware of human trafficking and the perils it brings”. 

The United States Department of State, in its 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, said that the Government of Jamaica does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included investigating more suspected traffickers, identifying more victims, referring more victims to shelters, and achieving a conviction that resulted in a significant prison term.