Tag: United States

Where The Heck Is Ukraine Located Anyway?

If you seen the news lately I’m sure you’ve heard all the hoopla surrounding the uprising in Ukraine. Basically, there are parts of Crimea (a territory of Ukraine) that wants to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. Our own President Obama has gotten involved, issuing a warning to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to resolve their situation as diplomatically as possible with Ukraine. President Putin is not likely to take heed, which may cause a violation of international law. All in all, this is not a good look for Russia as they seem to be violating Ukraine’s sovereignty.

How does this affect the United States? Well, if Russia doesn’t back down then the U.S. may either freeze their assets or stop Russian firms from doing business in the U.S. altogether.

Oh yeah, in case you were wondering Ukraine is located between Asia and Europe, right above Turkey. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t exactly sure either)

Read this article from CNN below to get some of your questions about Ukraine answered:

20 Questions: What is Russia’s interest in Ukraine?
by Saeed Ahmed. Greg Botelho and Eliott C. McLaughlin

Russia approved the use of military force in Ukraine on Saturday, despite warnings of consequences from the West, and Ukraine responded by saying any invasion into its territory would be illegitimate.

The acting prime minister has gone so far as to say that a Russian invasion would mean war and an end to his country’s relationship with Russia.

But there are so many questions as to how Ukraine arrived at this point: Why is Russia so interested in happenings there? Why does the West want to prevent Russian intervention? How did we get here? Why have thousands of protesters staked their lives, seemingly, on their desire for political change? And why has the government resisted their calls so vehemently?

Let’s take a look:

1. Why has Russia gotten so involved?

Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea have closer ties to Russia, while Western Ukraine is more friendly with Europe. Many Eastern Ukrainians still speak Russian, and the 2010 presidential elections divided the country with Eastern Ukraine voting heavily in favor of pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. On Saturday, the Kremlin issued a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Barack Obama that Russia approved military action in Ukraine because it “reserves the right to defend its interests and the Russian-speaking people who live there.”

2. Hasn’t Yanukovych stepped down?

The Ukraine Parliament voted him out of power and he has fled to Russia. However, in a press conference Friday, the former President said — in Russian rather than Ukrainian — that he was not overthrown. He insisted he was still the boss and that he wants nothing more than to lead his country to peace, harmony and prosperity. While it’s unclear if he could return to power, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations blamed members of the European Union for the bloody demonstrations that led to Yanukovych’s ouster.

3. What will happen in Ukraine if Russia sends troops there?

Top Ukrainian officials, including the acting President and prime minister, have said they are prepared to defend the country. They’ve also said that any invasion would be illegitimate, a response echoed by the United States, which has told Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.

4. Would there be international backlash to a Russian incursion?

The United Nations has warned Russia against military action, while Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Putin “dialogue must be the only tool in ending the crisis.” International leaders have also denounced the prospect of Russian involvement, while Obama has warned there would be consequences if Russia acted militarily.

5. What sort of consequences?

Obama hasn’t been specific other than to say Russia could face “greater political and economic isolation” and that the United States “will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8” in Sochi. Several Republican leaders in Congress have called on the President to take a tougher stand.

6. What are Obama’s options?

Sanctions, of course, top the list of options, but the United States will need to prepare for the backlash. Former presidential adviser David Gergen says Putin would consider any sanctions “small potatoes” compared to keeping control of Crimea, while Putin could pull his support for Obama’s initiative to reduce nuclear threats in the world, including in Iran. Christopher Hill, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Macedonia, Iraq and Poland, says imposing sanctions also raises the risk of alienating a superpower. “That means 20 years of trying to work with Russia down the drain,” he said.

7. What started the turmoil in Ukraine?

Protests initially erupted over a trade pact. For a year, Yanukovych insisted he was intent on signing a historical political and trade agreement with the European Union. But on November 21, he decided to suspend talks with the EU.

8. What would the pact have done?

The deal, the EU’s “Eastern Partnership,” would have created closer political ties and generated economic growth. It would have opened borders to trade and set the stage for modernization and inclusion, supporters of the pact said.

9. Why did Yanukovych backpedal?

He had his reasons. Chief among them was Russia’s opposition to it. Russia threatened its much smaller neighbor with trade sanctions and steep gas bills if Ukraine forged ahead. If Ukraine didn’t, and instead joined a Moscow-led Customs Union, it would get deep discounts on natural gas, Russia said.

10. Were there any other reasons?

Yes, a more personal one. Yanukovych also was facing a key EU demand that he was unwilling to meet: Free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his bitter political opponent. Two years ago, she was found guilty of abuse of office in a Russian gas deal and sentenced to seven years in prison, in a case widely seen as politically motivated. Her supporters say she needs to travel abroad for medical treatment.

11. What happened next?

Many Ukrainians were outraged. They took to the streets, demanding that Yanukovych sign the EU deal. Their numbers swelled. The demonstrations drew parallels to Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, which booted Yanukovych, then a prime minister, from office.

12. Who’s heading the opposition?

It’s not just one figure, but a coalition. The best known figure is Vitali Klitschko. He’s a former world champion boxer (just like his brother Wladimir). Klitschko heads the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party. But the opposition bloc goes well beyond Klitschko and the UDAR. There’s also Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

13. How did Yanukovych react?

In a way that inflamed passions further. He flew to Moscow, where he and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt and slash the price Kiev pays for its gas. And then, when the demonstrations showed no signs of dying down, he adopted a sweeping anti-protest law.

14. What did the anti-protest law say?

The law barred people from wearing helmets and masks to rallies and from setting up tents or sound equipment without prior police permission. This sparked concerns it could be used to put down demonstrations and deny people the right to free speech — and clashes soon escalated. The demonstrators took over City Hall for the better part of three months.

15. But wasn’t the law repealed?

Yes, ultimately it was. Amid intense pressure, deputies loyal to Yanukovych backtracked and overturned it. But by then, the protests had become about something much bigger: constitutional reform.

16. What change in the constitution did they want to see?

The protesters want to see a change in the government’s overall power structure. They feel that too much power rests with Yanukovych and not enough with parliament.

17. What did the government do?

In late January, the President offered a package of concessions under which Yatsenyuk, the opposition leader, would have become the prime minister and, under the President’s offer, been able to dismiss the government. He also offered Klitschko the post of deputy prime minister on humanitarian issues. He also agreed to a working group looking at changes to the constitution. But the opposition refused.

18. Why did the opposition pass on the offer?

The concessions weren’t enough to satisfy them. They said Yanukovych had hardly loosened his grip on the government, nor had he seemingly reined in authorities’ approach to protesters. “We’re finishing what we started,” Yatsenyuk said.

19. Who was to blame for the clashes?

Depends on whom you ask. The government pointed the finger at protesters. The opposition, in turn, blamed the government.

20. What’s the takeaway here?

Street protests that started in November over a trade pact swelled into something much bigger — resulting in the former President fleeing to Russia for safety while still claiming to be the official leader of the country. With Russian troops rumored to be preparing for hostilities in the Crimea, the future of the region and the resulting effect on U.S.-Russian relations appears shaky.

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7 Things That Wouldn’t Exist Without Black People

As Black History Month comes to an end, we must remind ourselves that February isn’t the only month in the year to acknowledge the accomplishments of African-Americans, especially when we use some of the things that were invented by black people every day.

Black people have made some incredible contributions to society, including in the realms of music and culture. There are so many examples that we couldn’t fit them all in one post. But we decided to pulled together a short list of some of the things invented by black people that the world simply wouldn’t be able to live without — as a simple reminder that black history really is everyone’s history.

  • Ice Cream Scoop
    Who doesn’t enjoy a fresh scoop of ice cream on a hot day? Alfred A. Cralle invented the ice cream scoop making it easier for people everywhere to enjoy their favorite treat. Cralle studied at a seminary, worked as carpenter and then became interested in mechanics. He was first black man to receive a patent in Pittsburgh.

 

  • Traffic Light
    Imagine what the roads would look like without traffic lights. Well, thanks to Garrett A Morgan, we don’t have to. Born to freed slaves, with only 6th grade level of education, Morgan owned a repair shop, clothing business and cosmetic product line. He started The Cleveland Call black newspaper in 1920, and patented the mechanical traffic light in 1923 and sold it to General Electric.

 

  • Super Soaker Water Gun
    Lonnie G. Johnson changed childhoods forever when he invented the super soaker water gun. As a Tuskegee graduate who joined the Airforce and was assigned to Strategic Air Command, Johnson worked on the stealth bomber program. He also worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. While working on an enviro-friendly heat pump, he invented the super soaker, and later started Johnson Research & Development and acquired some 100 patents.

 

  • The Potato Chip
    Snacking just wouldn’t be the same if George “Speck” Crum hadn’t invented the potato chip. A cook and restaurateur, the story of Crum’s invention is quite entertaining. He was working at a restaurant that served french fries and a customer sent them back for being cut too thickly which upset Crum’s sister (and sous-chef), so he cut them extra thin to enrage the customer. But they obviously loved them. The snacks were originally called “Saratoga Chips”

 

 

  • The Light Bulb
    Thomas Edison may have invented the light bulb, but Lewis Latimer perfected it. Latimer was an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the first practical telephone, before joining Edison’s research team called “Edison’s Pioneers”. Edison’s prototypical light bulb had a filament that burnt out quickly, but Latimer invented a filament made with more durable carbon, and sold the “Incandescent Electric Light Bulb with Carbon Filament” patent to the United States Electric Company in 1881. He also patented the process to manufacture said filament in 1882, and then created the well-known threaded socket for the light bulb. We use tungsten light bulbs now, but he was famous for making use of electric light possible in public and at home. He oversaw installation of public electric lights in US, UK, and Canada. He also invented water closet for railroad cars and a precursor to the air conditioner.

 

  • The Dougie
    Inglewood natives Cali Swag District released the song in 2010 after a friend encouraged them to make a song about the popular dance. However, rapper Doug E. Fresh is hailed as the originator of the popular dance, which is reportedly named after him, a feat he admitted he’s quite proud of. “This is the first time in history, in Hip-Hop, a rap artist didn’t make the dance himself, like make a song about the dance himself,” the rapper said during an interview. “This was people making the dance about you. Taking your dance and doing it about you. That ain’t never been done before. This is another level. It was blessing and I appreciated it. It Feels good that people know you created something and it wasn’t for money, it was for the love of Hip-Hop.”

 

*This article was originally published on the Huffington Post.

READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Shirley Chisholm is “UNBOUGHT & UNBOSSED”!

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was a woman who was known for her moral character and her relentless ability to stand up for her community and what she believed.  A child to immigrant parents, she learned from an early age the importance of an education and the value of hard work, both of which she applied to her political career and her accomplishments while serving as a Congresswoman.

Chisholm attended Brooklyn College where a blind political science professor, Louis Warsoff, encouraged Chisholm to consider politics based on her “quick mind and debating skills.”  She reminded him that she had a “double handicap” when it came to politics—she was black and a woman.  Chisholm joined the debate team and after African-American students were denied admittance to a social club at the college, she started her own club called Ipothia—In Pursuit of the Highest In All.

Shirley graduated with honors in 1946 and worked as a nursery school aide and teacher while she attended evening classes at Columbia University’s Teachers College.  She received her masters degree in early childhood education in 1951, and eventually became a consultant to the New York City Division of Day Care in 1960.

Chisholm joined a local Democratic club who worked to get rid of the white Democratic machine that held the power in her Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.  The group challenged the white leaders on why the black neighborhoods were being ignored.  The leaders tried to quiet Chisholm by placing her on the board of directors and when she continued to speak out, they removed her from the post.  This was an early lesson for Chisholm that people in political power did not like to be questioned!

The group managed to elect a black man, Thomas R. Jones, to state assembly in 1962 and, when in 1964 he decided to run for a judgeship, the community replaced him with Chisholm.  She served in the state legislature until 1968 when she decided to run for a seat in the U.S. Congress.  The 12th Congressional District was created after the Westberry v. Sanders decision stated that election districts must be roughly equal in population.  Chisholm won the seat with the use of her “independent spirit” and her campaign slogan, “Unbought and Unbossed.”  Chisholm’s win made her the 1st African American woman in Congress. 

Like Margaret Chase Smith, who had served in the Congress almost 30 years before her, Chisholm learned the politics of committees.  She had asked to be on the Education and Labor Committee, a natural selection for someone with a strong teaching background.  She not only did not get placed on this committee, but did not get placed on any of the committees that she had requested.  Instead they placed her on the Agriculture Committee, which was a rather odd choice for a city woman.  Chisholm did not sit back and be quiet about it; instead, this strong-willed woman stated her case to the Democratic caucus.  This eventually worked and they removed her from the Agriculture Committee and placed her on Veterans’ Affairs. While this had not been one of her original choices, she responded by saying, “There are a lot more veterans in my district than trees.”

It was during her 2nd term in the House that Chisholm ran for the US Presidency.  She became the 1st black woman to run for president, but this is not what she wanted people to focus on during her campaign.  The fact that her campaign was seen primarily as “symbolic” by many really hurt her.  She did not run on the mere base of being a “first,” but because she wanted to be seen as “a real, viable candidate.”

Her bid for the presidency was referred to as the “Chisholm Trail,” and she won a lot of support from students, women and minority groups.  She entered 11 primaries and campaigned in several states, particularly Florida, but with little money she was challenged.  Her campaign was “under-organized, under-financed and unprepared.” It was calculated that she raised and spent only $300,000 between July 1971 when she first thought of running, and July of 1972.

Overall, people in 14 states voted for Shirley Chisholm for president, in some fashion or the other.  After six months of campaigning, she had 28 delegates committed to vote for her at the Democratic Convention.  The 1972 Democratic Convention was in July in Miami, and it was the first major convention in which an African American woman was considered for the presidential nomination.  Although she did not win the nomination, she received 151 of the delegates’ votes.

Chisholm served a total of 14 years in the Congress and made numerous contributions before she made the decision to retire in 1982.  During her time in office she was one of the four founders of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971, was appointed to the “powerful” House Rules Committee in 1977 and introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation.  President William J. Clinton nominated Chisholm to be the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, but she declined due to ill health.

Chisholm went on to teach college and co-founded the National Political Congress of Black Women, which represented black women’s concerns.  When asked how she wanted to be remembered, Chisholm said, “When I die, I want to be remembered as a woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be a catalyst of change.  I don’t want to be remembered as the first black woman who went to Congress.  And I don’t even want to be remembered as the first woman who happened to be black to make the bid for the presidency. I want to be remembered as a woman who fought for change in the 20th century.  That’s what I want.”

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READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Meet Matthew Henson, The 1st Person To Reach The North Pole EVER!

Matthew Henson was born on a farm in rural Maryland county in 1866. He was still a child when his parents died, and at the age of twelve he went to sea as a cabin boy on a merchant ship. He sailed around the world for the next several years, educating himself and becoming a skilled navigator.

Henson met Commander Robert R. Peary in 1888 and joined him on a expedition to Nicaragua. Inpressed with Henson’s seamanship, Peary recruited him as a colleague. For years they made many trips together, including Artic voyages in which Henson, traded with the Eskimos and mastered their language, built sleds, and trained dog teams-all talents that made him ideally suited for polar exploration.

In 1909, Peary mounted his eighth attempt to reach the North Pole, selecting Henson to be one of the team of six who would make the final run to the pole. Before the goal was reached, Peary could no longer continue on foot and rode in a dog sled. Various accounts say that he was ill, exhausted, or had frozen toes. In any case he sent Henson on ahead as a scout. In a newspaper interview Henson said, “I was in the lead that had overshot the mark a couple of miles. We went back then and I could see that my footprints were the first at the spot.” Henson then proceeded to plant the American Flag.

Although Admiral Peary recieved many honors, Henson was largely ignored and spent most of the next thirty years working as a clerk in a federal customs house in New York. But in 1944, Congress awarded him a duplicate of the silver medal given to Peary. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower both honored him before he died in 1955.

Finally, in 1988, years of effort and petitions by a Harvard history professor were successful in having Matthew Henson’s body moved from a shared grave in New York to Arlington National Cemetary, where, with full military honors, it was placed in the ground next to Admiral Peary. In 1996, on the 130th anniversary of Henson’s birth, the United States Navy named its newest oceanographic survey ship the USNS Henson. In November 1998 the ship carrying twelve of Henson’s descendents sailed to Alexandria, Virginia. The family members and many others paid tribute to Henson in a ceremony at his grave, where formal military honors were conducted by the Naval Order of the United States.

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READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Meet Frank Peterson, The 1st African American General in the Marine Corps

Frank E. Petersen Jr., (USMC) was born March 2, 1932, in Topeka, Kansas. He joined the U.S. Navy as a seaman apprentice in June 1950. He served as an electronics technician and in 1951 entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. In October 1952, he completed flight training and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
 
Peterson served as a fighter pilot in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In 1953 he flew sixty-four combat missions in Korea and earned six air medals as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1968, while serving in Vietnam, he became the first African American in the Marines or the Navy to command a tactical air squadron. He flew nearly 300 missions during the Vietnam War. In 1968, General Peterson earned the Purple Heart for his actions while flying a mission in North Vietnam.
 
In 1979 Frank Peterson became the first African American general in the Marine Corps. In 1986 he was named the first black commander of Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. Gen. Peterson served thirty-eight years in the Navy, including thirty-six as a Marine. He retired as a lieutenant general in 1988. At the time of his retirement, Gen. Peterson had earned twenty medals for bravery in combat. He was also the senior ranking pilot in the Marine Corps and Navy from 1985 to 1988.
 
His decorations include: the Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit with Combat “V”; Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal; Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

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READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Meet Maulana Karenga, The Founder Of Kwanzaa!

After meeting Malcolm X as a college student in the 1960s, Karenga became politicized and helped found the US organization, which among other things promoted a cultural revolution for African Americans. In 1966, Karenga created Kwanzaa, a holiday designed to celebrate and honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans to greater pride in their heritage. Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest.” Karenga chose a phrase from Swahili because the language is used by various peoples throughout Africa.

Karenga is a professor in the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach and is the director of the Kawaida Institute for Pan African Studies in Los Angeles.

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READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Meet Evan B. Forde, The 1st African American Scientist To Do Research Dives From A Submarine!

Evan B. Forde has been an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) in Miami, Florida for 37 years. He received his early education in the public school system of Miami, Florida. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology (Oceanography Specialty) and a Master’s Degree in Marine Geology and Geophysics from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Forde was the African American scientist to participate in research dives aboard a submersible, and he has completed successful dive expeditions in several submarine canyons utilizing 3 of these mini-submarines. Evan has conducted scientific research in a number of oceanographic and meteorological disciplines. His current research includes using satellite sensors to observe and analyze atmospheric conditions related to hurricane formation and intensification. Forde has been a versatile pioneer in scientific research and remains one of only a handful of black oceanographers in the United States.

Evan has also worked extensively in the area of science education. He personally developed and taught graduate level courses on Tropical Meteorology for the University of Miami’s INSTAR program for seven years (graduate teachers from his course teach an estimated 15,000 students per year). He also created and teaches an oceanography course for middle school students in South Florida called Oceanographic Curriculum Empowering Achievement in Natural Sciences (OCEANS) that has been featured in nationally distributed periodicals. Forde authored the “Science Corner” in Ebony Jr. magazine for three years, and created a Severe Weather Poster for NOAA that was distributed nationally to 50,000 teachers and is seen daily by an estimated 8,000,000 students per day. He has spoken to nearly 40,000 Miami-Dade students during career days and other school presentations. Additionally, Forde was appointed to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 2010 Committee of Visitors to review its Geoscience Education and Diversity portfolio programs and proposals for 2007-2010. He has also been the subject of 3 museum exhibits, including the Great Explorations section of the Staten Island Children’s Museum, and he has been featured in a numerous periodical articles, science text books as well as many other books and publications on prominent African American scientists.

Forde has also served as a PTA President, Scoutmaster, youth basketball coach, Sunday School and youth church teacher, church webmaster, neighborhood Crime Watch chairman and in numerous other roles that have fostered youth and improved his community. He has a host of career and community awards that include being named NOAA’s Environmental Research Laboratories EEO Outstanding Employee, South Florida’s Federal Employee of the Year (in the Service to the Community category), a Congressional Commendation, NOAA Research Employee of the Year and in 2009 he had days named in his honor by both the City of North Miami and Miami-Dade County, Florida. In 2010, the Miami-Dade County School Board issued a proclamation honoring Evan’s contributions to the students citing his ongoing efforts to enhance public education throughout the community. Forde was recently named as the recipient of the NOAA Administrator (Under Secretary of Commerce) Administrator Award for 2011 for “…his outstanding communication of NOAA science, sharing the joy of science with students, and helping to foster a science-literate society”.

For more information, please visit his website http://EvanForde.com.

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