Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Now that FBI Director James Comey has been fired, Washington politicians are left with a myriad of questions.  Chief among them, is who should continue with the investigation into the Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.


Until Tuesday night, Comey was in charge, and had reportedly asked for more funding.  


Republican and Democratic lawmakers are asking for an independent special prosecutor to take over.  


The firing came unexpectedly.  In fact, Comey was at a meeting in Los Angeles, when news of his firing was broadcast on a large television behind him.  At first, he thought it was a joke.


The timing of Comey’s sudden departure from the FBI is suspect, many say.  For the president to fire the man leading an investigation into his ties with Russia, is questionable at best.    


"In any normal administration, firing the director of the FBI during an investigation of the administration would be viewed as suicidal," said Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer for the CIA and the National Security Agency who served under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. 


"This of course is not a normal administration," he added. "But no matter what, this will create a firestorm that will disturb even Trump loyalists on the Hill." 


Trump insists he began to consider firing Comey as far back as January.  In his letter to Comey, the president wrote “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”


The first part of this statement, according to a Washington insider, shows the president’s insecurity and fear that he might be implicated.


Almost immediately after the news broke, the Justice Department began fielding calls from both parties, calling for a special prosecutor to oversee the bureau’s Russian investigation.  Others want Comey, now a private citizen, to appear before the appropriate congressional committees to testify about the investigation.


Republican Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was "troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination." He added that Comey's firing "further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee" into Trump's Russia ties. 


Others called for a select, bipartisan congressional commission to further the Trump-Russia investigation. "I call on Speaker Paul Ryan to immediately appoint a bipartisan, non-classified, public and transparent commission to investigate the Trump-Russia relationship," Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen tweeted. "Our democracy is in danger." 


Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, said in their statements that they recommended firing Comey because of how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. But New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt reported that Sessions had been trying to find an excuse to fire Comey for at least a week.


Deitz referred to President Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre," in which he fired the independent special prosecutor, Archie Cox, who had been appointed by then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson to investigate the events surrounding the Watergate break-in. Nixon initially asked Richardson to dismiss Cox, but Richardson refused to do so and resigned in protest instead, along with then-Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. 


Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said Tuesday evening that he told Trump in a phone conversation that "you are making a big mistake." Schumer also questioned the timing and wondered whether investigations into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia were "getting too close for the president."


On Sunday, thousands of advocates for women’s health will converge in Washington, D.C. to draw attention to the growing need for women’s health care, and the GOP-authored American Health Care Act (AHCA), recently passed by the House, which would put maternal health services in jeopardy.   


March on Moms will bring together a multi-diverse group of health professionals and consumer groups to draw national attention to maternal health. It will be held from Friday, May 12 through Monday, May 15.  


On Friday, the group will visit Capitol Hill and speak to policy makers about the essential need for significant focus and funding on maternal health issues. Saturday will include a day of sight-seeing, followed by the Mother’s Day Rally on Sunday on the lawn of the Jefferson Memorial. On Monday, the group will once again speak with leaders about the importance of increased focus and funding for maternal health issues.


The Root writer, Elizabeth Dawes Gay, points out, “The image of a group of white men in suits celebrating the passage of a health care bill that would snatch away affordable access to health care from millions of people—including those living in poverty, people of color, people with disabilities or mental-health issues, and women planning to give birth—is one that will forever be etched into my mind.”


Video of the all white, all male group at the White House is a sharp contrast to those who will suffer if the bill is passed as-is by the Senate. And it’s an omen that signals women’s health is not a priority for some lawmakers.  


The rate of pregnancy-related deaths among American moms is on the rise, according to the New York Times.  Black women are three times more likely as white women to die from pregnancy and childbirth. Additionally, they experience more pregnancy-related conditions such as pre-eclampsia, have more premature or stillborn babies and higher rates of infant mortality.  


Every year, according to Florida midwife Jennie Joseph, there are 60,000 “near-misses,” cases where women almost died from childbirth. Under AHCA, health insurance plans are not required to cover birth control, maternity care and emergency services. Sunday’s Mother’s Day rally will draw attention to serious deficits in the plan and put pressure on the Senate not to pass it. Members of the Senate have already said they will come up with a different bill.


March for Moms partners include the March of Dimes, Every Mother Counts and Lamaze International. For more information, visit









Flying…It’s Rough Up There

Thursday, May 11, 2017

By Veronica Mackey


Fight and flight. Trouble on the tarmac.  Pick any clever-sounding phrase you like to describe the recent rash of airline passenger altercations, and it could very well apply.


There was once a time, back in the day, when folks actually dressed up to travel on a plane.  It really was that big of a deal.  Now, comfort is king.  And rightfully so, because you could be literally waiting at an airport for hours—not to catch your flight—but because the airline decided to overbook you .  Or you may have to run and get out of the way of angry passengers—disgruntled employees—or both.  Worse yet, this may happen while you’re on the plane.


It pays to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  But don’t dress too casually, though.  Three teenage girls found that out the hard way when they were denied seats on a United Airlines flight because they wore leggings—apparently  a big “no-no.” There is a double standard here. The girls were flying on a pass, which makes them less valuable to the airline company. The “no-leggings” rule doesn’t apply to full fare customers.  


And of course, there is that viral video of the Chinese man, Dr. Dao, being dragged off a United flight by security officials—bloody face and all--because he refused to give up his paid-for seat.  Ironically, he was asked to give up his seat for a United employee who worked in customer service and needed to travel to another airport.  


Officials say Dao was randomly selected, but I say “hogwash.”  The bullies took one look at the older, non-American, small-framed man and thought they found an easy prey. An unnamed source said the good doctor has agreed to an undisclosed settlement of around $10 million.


United is not the only airline with “unfriendly skies” lately.  An American Airlines pilot was grounded when he threatened passengers over a baby stroller. A man reported that a ticket agent cancelled his flight from San Francisco to New Orleans over a baggage fee.


On Sunday, an airport in Ft. Lauderdale was the scene of a near-riot, when Spirit Airlines canceled 11 flights. Officials blamed the melee on a work dispute with pilots.  Tempers flared and customers began fighting with pilots and each other.


Also on Sunday, a couple of passengers went at it aboard a Southwest fight that had just landed in Burbank.   A flight attendant who tried to stop it, ended up at the bottom of the dog pile, as one man punched another man who was on top of her. It wasn’t clear what caused the brawl, but one man of the men was arrested.


Air travel sure ain’t what it used to be.  And on top of that, airlines are now planning on reducing leg space.  As if we aren’t cramped enough.  That said, if you plan on traveling this summer, be ready.  Gather your mental faculties, learn the airline rules, and bring a pair of boxing gloves.  I don’t know if they’re allowed, but you may want to at least invest in martial arts.  I’m just sayin’…


Chibok girls released after 3 years in captivity.


Chibok school girls recently freed from Boko Haram captivity are seen in Abuja, Nigeria, Sunday, May 7, 2017.  (AP Photo/ Olamikan Gbemiga)


It’s been 3 long, grueling years of not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive, but Nigerian activists kept applying pressure to their government to find and bring their girls back.  And last week, it finally happened.  Nigerian officials reported that 83 women kidnapped from the all-girl Chibok School were released in exchange for five Boko Haram commanders.  The Nigerian extremist group has been tied to the Islamic State group and were responsible for the 2014 abduction of 276 girls.


Families rushed to greet the girls who were flown by military helicopters from northeastern Nigeria to Abuja, the capital, where they were expected to meet the president.


"They will face a long and difficult process to rebuild their lives after the indescribable horror and trauma they have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram," said Pernille Ironside, acting representative of UNICEF Nigeria.


Authorities say 113 of the 276 schoolgirls remain missing.  Some girls escaped, some died from illness, and others—according to the freed girls—did not want to come home because they'd been radicalized by their captors. 


Last year in October, 21 other Chibok girls were liberated, and they have been undergoing counseling for months. It was not immediately clear whether the newest girls freed Saturday would join them. 


Those girls are still in government care in Abuja for medical attention, trauma counseling and rehabilitation, according to the government. Human rights groups have criticized the decision to keep the girls in custody in Abuja, nearly 900 kilometers (560 miles) from Chibok.


The newly freed schoolgirls should be quickly released to their families and not be subjected to lengthy government detention, Amnesty International's Nigeria office said, adding that they don't deserve to be put through a "publicity stunt" and deserve privacy. 


The failure of Nigeria's former government to act quickly to free the girls sparked a global Bring Back Our Girls movement; U.S. first lady Michelle Obama posted a photo with its logo on social media.


The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government mediated negotiations between Nigeria's government and Boko Haram.


Looking at the myriad of political news that hits us everyday, one could lose sight that we are still living in the United States of America.  With so much bickering and partisanship going on between Republicans and Democrats, red states vs. blue states, and the left vs. the right, it feels more like the Divided States.


On Monday, a voice of reason spoke up for the millions of us who are tired of all the games of one-upmanship.  Jimmy Kimmel set comedy aside to talk about something we can all agree on—being able to afford quality, life=saving healthcare.


The very emotional comedian talked about his newborn son Billy, who was born with congenial heart disease.


 “Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you had a preexisting condition,” Kimmel said.


He continued nearly in tears:  


“If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something now, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, or something else, we all agree on that, right? … Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants. We need to take care of each other.”


At the end of the day, we all want the same things—to be healthy, live in a decent home, pay our bills, educate our kids and enjoy our work.  We want to feel safe where we live and—especially for people of color—we want to trust that we can go where we want and not be the target of unnecessary harassment and violence by police, those sworn to protect us.


Living in a country of such tremendous wealth, founded on the principles of freedom and the right to pursue happiness, there is no good reason to expect anything less. These are basic human rights which anyone living in this country should rightfully enjoy.


Thank you, Jimmy for saying in such a poignant way what we are all feeling and thinking.  To have a handful of people at the top—those with excellent health care, who won’t be personally affected by the outcome—decide what’s best for the rest of us—is literally putting our health in their hands.


This is why it’s so important to vote and to know who you are voting for.  This is why it’s critical to get information on how candidates have voted in the past. To the lawmakers in Washington, still struggling to scale back Obamacare’s preexisting condition clause, you need to do the right thing and leave it alone.  Consider Kimmel’s plea and the image shown of his helpless newborn, covered with tubes.  


We cannot allow politicians to play with our healthcare and to reverse the progress we’ve made.  Fix whatever needs to be fixed, but to even consider rolling back the preexisting condition is  cruel and heartless.  Like Jimmy said, Americans need to take care of each other and that begins with taking action.  Contact your representatives and tell them you want to keep the pre-existing condition clause in place.



View Print Edition


Signup For Our Newsletter!

Sign up here to recieve our e-newsletter!