Baltimore, MD – On Friday, the NAACP leaders released the following statements on the tragedy in Newtown, CT, where at least 28 people were reported dead after a school shooting, including 20 children:
“Our hearts are with the families of Newtown today,” stated NAACP Connecticut State Conference President Scot X. Esdaile.
“The NAACP will do everything in its power to help the community in its time of need.
“The Greater Danbury NAACP has been working to make sure that everyone in the area is safe, and the state conference leadership is offering our resources as well.”
“This type of event reminds us how important family is and how precious our children are,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “The healing process must begin now as we join communities and families together in Connecticut and across the nation.”
“Today’s horrific crime claimed so many lives and so many futures,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the entire community of Newtown. We will continue to support the community as it recovers from this tragedy.”
by Orrin Hudson
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — The recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut is a cry for help across our entire country. President Obama during a memorial service, said, “I’ll use whatever power I have to prevent the type of tragedy that occurred… We all need to contribute in some way, shape or form to the betterment of our nation and communities.” And he was right!
Too often now, we are hearing about such massacres in different parts in the country. Sometimes, they occur at schools, malls and even workplaces. Sometimes, the shooter is a child, sometimes he or she is an adult. Regardless, we as a national community must start pushing the message to “THINK IT OUT, DON’T SHOOT IT OUT”.
The problem is that many of us think we are separate from others; But we are universally one. One song. We normally realize this when a tragedy strikes, but really we should realize this all along. Instead, we are walking in fear, not walking in love. We should be walking in love. We must move away from anger and fear towards each other.
We must embrace and promote life lessons, communication skills, and coping skills. We must teach to each other how to deal with life challenges, and solve problems peacefully. We must adapt slogans such as “Brain Before Bullets”, and as mentioned before, “Think It Out, Don’t Shoot It Out”.We must do more than talk; we must act and the time to act is now.
Talk to your children regularly and address their emotional needs. Learn how to identify the signs of depression and mental illness. Be on alert for signs that show mental instability, uncontrolled anger, and even unreasonableness. If needed, take action to get them the medical attention they need.
Also, take caution with the movies, video games, and music that your children are involved with. Garbage in, garbage stays! Take caution when buying toy guns and such for your kids. Such activities can stimulate violent desires and fantasies in your children. Teach them to walk in love.
Pay attention to your students. Don’t teach at them, teach to them. Inspire them.
Challenge them, but don’t discourage them. Don’t overwhelm them. Don’t create unnecessary stress for them that they can’t handle. Always remember that, in addition to school, students have a life at home. They are people, they are real. Be a friend, be a counselor. Teach them to walk in love.
Embrace each other. Pay attention to each other’s needs. Eat meals together, and talk to each other – in person. If there is a problem or disagreement, settle it. And if someone has mental challenges, assist them. Don’t allow problems to go on unsettled. Also, don’t be abusive in your speech towards each. Words cut like knives, and some wounds never heal. Be effective. Be compassionate. Be the solution.
Teach each other to walk in love.
This isn’t where it ends, but it is definitely where it starts. So, let’s start here, right here, right now!
Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson is an award-winning author and master motivational speaker who has inspired many to “make the right move” and solve problems peacefully.
Associated Press/Charles Krupa – A child peers through firefighters standing as the procession heads to the cemetery outside the funeral for school shooting victim Daniel Gerard Barden at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. According to firefighters, Daniel wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up and they honored him at the service. Barden, 7, was killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
by Associated Press
Newtown, Conn. (AP) — One by one by one by one, each with fresh heartbreak, hearses crisscrossed two New England towns on Wednesday, bearing three tiny victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre and a heroic teacher in a seemingly never-ending series of funeral processions.
“The first few days, all you heard were helicopters,” said Dr. Joseph Young, an optometrist who attended one funeral and would go to several more. “Now at my office all I hear is the rumble of motorcycle escorts and funeral processions going back and forth throughout the day.”
As more victims from the slaughter of 20 children and six adults were laid to rest, long funeral processions clogged the streets of Newtown, where Christmas trees were turned into memorials and a season that should be a time of joy was marked by heart-wrenching loss.
At least nine funerals and wakes were held Wednesday for those who died when gunman Adam Lanza, armed with a military-style assault rifle, broke into the school Friday and opened fire on their classrooms. Lanza killed his mother at her home before the attack and committed suicide at the school as police closed in.
At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, mourners arrived for Caroline Previdi, an auburn-haired 6-year-old with an impish smile, before the service had even ended for Daniel Barden, a 7-year-old who dreamed of being a firefighter.
“It’s sad to see the little coffins,” said the Rev. John Inserra, a Catholic priest who worked at St. Rose for years before transferring to a church in Greenwich.
He returned to his old parish to comfort families wondering how a loving God could permit such carnage and has attended several of the funerals.
“It’s always hard to bury a child,” Inserra said of the seemingly unrelenting cycle of sorrow and loss. “God didn’t do this. God didn’t allow this. We allowed it. He said, ‘Send the little children to me.’ But he didn’t mean it this way.”
Hundreds of firefighters formed a long blue line outside the church for little Daniel’s funeral. Two of his relatives work at the Fire Department of New York, and the gap-toothed redhead had wanted to join their ranks one day.
“If me being here helps this family or this community just a little bit, it’s worth it,” said Kevin Morrow, a New York firefighter and father of two young girls. “He wanted to be a firefighter, as any young boy wants to be.”
Family friend Laura Stamberg, of New Paltz, N.Y., whose husband plays in a band with Daniel’s father, said that on the morning of the shooting, Mark Barden taught his son to play a Christmas song on the piano.
“They played foosball and then he taught him the song and then he walked him to the bus and that was their last morning together,” Stamberg said.
At Caroline’s funeral, mourners wore pink ties and scarves — her favorite color — and remembered her as a New York Yankees fan who liked to kid around. “Silly Caroline” was how she was known to neighbor Karen Dryer.
“She’s just a girl that was always smiling, always wanting others to smile,” Dryer said.
Across town, at Christ the King Lutheran Church, hundreds gathered for the funeral of Charlotte Helen Bacon, many wearing buttons picturing the 6-year-old redhead. Speakers, including her grandfather, told of her love of wild animals, the family’s golden retriever and the color pink.
She was “a beautiful little girl who could be a bit stubborn at times — just like all children,” said Danbury resident Linda Clark as she left the service.
And in nearby Stratford, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Victoria Soto, a first-grade teacher hailed as a hero for trying to shield her students, some of whom escaped. Musician Paul Simon, a family friend, performed “The Sound of Silence” at the service.
“She had the perfect job. She loved her job,” said Vicky Ruiz, a friend since first grade.
Every year, Soto described her students the same way, Ruiz said.
“They were always good kids. They were always angels,” she said, even if, like typical first-graders, they might not always listen.
In Woodbury, a line of colleagues, students and friends of slain Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, wrapped around the block to pay their respects to the administrator, who rushed the gunman in an effort to stop him and paid with her life. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended the service.
“She loved kids. She’d do anything to help them and protect them,” said Joann Opulski, of Roxbury.
In emotion-charged Newtown, tempers flared as residents of the town of 27,000 navigated the hordes of reporters and camera crews that descended on the town. Some shouted at reporters outside the funerals Wednesday, urging them to leave their town in peace.
Cynthia Gubitose said the shooting and its aftermath have jolted what she described as a quintessential “Norman Rockwell, New England community.”
“Nobody knew about Sandy Hook,” Gubitose said as she placed flowers at a memorial with bouquets stacked chest-high. “Many of the people that live here like it that way.”
The symbol of Christmas took on a new meaning in the town, where one memorial featured 26 Christmas trees — one for each victim at the school.
Edward Kish said he bought a Christmas tree two days before the shooting but hasn’t had the heart to put it up or decorate it.
“I’ll still put it up, probably,” he said. “It doesn’t seem right, and it doesn’t seem like Christmas.”
Mourners from across the country came to offer condolences. A jazz band from Alabama played at the main memorial site as local children played with a team of trained therapy dogs brought in to provide comfort.
At the Newtown Library, dozens of people gathered for a meeting of Newtown United, a grassroots community group formed in the wake of the shootings. The topic was gun legislation and how the community could push for a ban on assault weapons and other measures to make certain types of guns and ammunition more difficult to obtain.
There was a rumor that guests from Washington, D.C., would show up. About 10 minutes into the meeting Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen.-elect Chris Murphy walked into the room, to applause and surprised looks. They spoke and took questions for about a half-hour.
The school massacre continued to reverberate around America as citizens and lawmakers debated whether Newtown might be a turning point in the often-polarizing national discussion over gun control.
President Barack Obama promised he’d send Congress broad proposals for tightening gun laws and curbing violence and pressed Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. He called for stricter background checks for people who seek to buy weapons and limited high-capacity clips.
“This time, the words need to lead to action,” said Obama, who set a January deadline for the recommendations.
Authorities say the horrific events of Friday began when Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home and then took her car and some of her guns to the nearby school.
Investigators have found no letters or diaries that could explain the attack.
However, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, Dr. H. Wayne Carver, told The Hartford Courant he is looking for genetic clues that might explain the behavior and is working with the University of Connecticut department of genetics.
by Associated Press
Washington — Spurred by a horrific elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama (pictured right) vowed to send Congress new policy proposals for reducing gun violence by January.
“This time, the words need to lead to action,” Obama said Wednesday. He tasked Vice President Joe Biden (pictured) with leading an administration-wide effort to create the new recommendations and pledged to push for their implementation without delay.
The President, who exerted little political capital on gun control despite a series of mass shootings in his first term, bristled at suggestions that he had been silent on the issue during his first four years in office. But he acknowledged that Friday’s deadly shooting had been “a wake-up call for all of us.”
Twenty children and six adults were killed when a man carrying a military-style rifle stormed Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Friday morning.
The President also called on Congress Wednesday to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and to pass legislation that would close the gun show “loophole,” which allows people to purchase firearms from private dealers without a background check. Obama also said he wanted Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity ammunition clips.
“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said. “The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence.”
The President’s announcement Wednesday underscores the urgency the White House sees in formulating a response to the Newtown shooting. The massacre has prompted several congressional gun rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms, and there is some concern that their willingness to engage could fade as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown shooting eases.
Obama said it was “encouraging” to see people of different backgrounds and political affiliations coming to an understanding that the country has an obligation to prevent such violence.
Appealing to gun owners, Obama said he believes in the Second Amendment and the country’s strong tradition of gun ownership. And he said “the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible.”
“I am also betting that the majority, the vast majority, of responsible law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war,” Obama said.
Obama also tasked the Biden-led team with considering ways to improve mental health resources and address ways to create a culture that doesn’t promote violence. The departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, along with outside groups and lawmakers, will all be part of the process.
Biden’s prominent role in the process could be an asset for the White House in getting gun legislation through Congress. The Vice President spent decades in the Senate and has been called on by Obama before to use his long-standing relationships with lawmakers to build support for White House measures.
The President challenged the National Rifle Association, the country’s most powerful gun lobby and key backer of many Republican politicians, to join the broader effort to reduce gun violence as well.
“Hopefully they’ll do some self-reflection,” Obama said of the NRA.
The NRA made its first comments since the shooting on Tuesday, promising to offer “meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”
Obama said that while taking the necessary steps to reduce gun violence would take commitment and compromise, he said it could be achieved if Washington summons “even one tiny iota of the courage of those teachers, that principal in Newtown summoned on Friday.”
Many firearm owners who took part in the violence prevention initiative expressed horror at Friday’s tragedy. The event, which was sponsored by Klein’s ShopRite and operated by a nonprofit called UpLift Solutions, rewarded a $100 grocery store gift card in exchange for each gun that was handed over to law enforcement officials.
One elderly woman, Sonia White, told the The Sun that the service revolver she was turning in belonged to her husband who was a corrections officer. “After the Connecticut incident, it was time to get it out of the house,” said the 65-year-old woman, who admits she broke down when picking up her grandchildren from school on Friday.
Gary Barksdale, 30, handed over two rifles into the waiting hands of officers at the event. The young man, who was accompanied by his dad, also claimed that the Newtown shooting was his motivation to surrender his firearms. “That really motivated me to come out,” he told The Sun.
People who stood in line waiting to dispose of their guns had them wrapped in everything from towels, to shopping bags, to large trash bags. After 12:00 p.m., the line stretched down the block as many waited patiently to enter St. Paul Baptist Church in the city’s Coldstream Homestead Montebello area.
The Baltimore Police Department recovered some 2,000 guns during arrests this year alone. A city sponsored buyback program back in 2005 resulted in about 1,700 weapons surrendered during a week’s time.
U.S. Rep. Tim Scott. He is now headed for the U.S. Senate.
by Frederick H. Lowe, The NorthStar News and Analysis
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley today named U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, a black Tea Party Republican, to serve out the remaining term of U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, who is resigning from the Congress to head the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“It is with great pleasure that I am announcing that our next U.S. senator is to be Congressman Tim Scott,” Haley said during a news conference in Columbia, S.C. “I am strongly convinced that entire nation understands that this is the right U.S. senator for our state and our country.”
The 47-year-old Scott told reporters that he will be sworn in as South Carolina’s new senator on January 3, 2013. He will be the only African American serving in the 100-member U.S. Senate. Scott also will be the first black Republican senator since Edward W. Brooke III of Massachusetts left the chamber in 1979.
Unlike Brooke, Scott is from a different wing of the Republican Party. “I believe that most of the country is right of center and that they believe in Tea Party principles, which is limited government and pro growth,” he said.
Haley said today’s appointment of Scott makes history. Robert Smalls, a black man who served in the 44th, 45th and the 47th U.S. Congress, however, founded South Carolina’s Republican Party during Reconstruction. Smalls also helped write South Carolina’s constitution.
DeMint was elected to a second six-year term in 2010. His old seat, however, will be up for special election in 2014. And in 2016, the seat will be up for election for a full six-year term.
Scott represents South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which is based in Charleston. The district also includes part of South Carolina’s coastline.
Voters elected him to Congress in 2010. He was one of two black Republicans elected to the Congress that year. U.S. Rep. Allen West (R., Fla.) was the other black Republican Tea Party member elected to Congress. Unlike West, Scott did not join the Congressional Black Caucus.
The child of a single mother, Scott urged single mothers not to give up on their children.
by Associated Press
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who skipped an overseas trip this past week because of a stomach virus, sustained a concussion after fainting, the State Department said Saturday.
The 65-year-old Clinton, who’s expected to leave her job soon after serving as America’s top diplomat during President Barack Obama’s first term, is recovering at home after the incident last week and is being monitored by doctors, according to a statement by aide Philippe Reines.
No further details were immediately available.
The statement said Clinton was dehydrated because of the virus and that she fainted and sustained a concussion. She will continue to work from home in the week ahead and looks forward to being back in the office “soon,” the statement said.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee said it won’t hear from Clinton as planned at a Thursday morning hearing into the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. She also was scheduled to testify that afternoon before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Clinton’s aides on Saturday informed the Senate committee chairman, Sen. John Kerry, about her health, and the Massachusetts Democrat “insisted that given her condition, she could not and should not appear” as planned, said Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth. Senior department officials are expected to testify instead.
Clinton backed out of a trip to North Africa and the Persian Gulf on Monday because she was sick. She caught the virus during a recent visit to Europe.
She’s known for her grueling travel schedule and is the most traveled secretary of state, having visited 112 countries while in the job.
Dangerous driving behaviors could make December most dangerous month ever
Driving safety expert Doug Horn says motorists not only need to exhibit extra caution while encountering treacherous road surfaces and reduced visibility during the weeks ahead, they also need to stay on high alert for four dangerous driving behaviors, which he says could make December 2012 one of the most dangerous months ever for motorists.
“When accompanied by poor road conditions, these four dangerous behind-the-wheel behaviors combine into a perfect storm of risk for drivers,” says Horn, founder of the driving safety program “Drive by Example” (www.drivebyexample.com).
The Winter Holiday’s Four Most Dangerous Driving Behaviors:
1. Distracted Driving:
“This includes driving while using cell phones for both talking and texting holiday messages to friends, co-workers, and family,” Horn says. “It also includes driving while checking out store hours and locations using a smart phone to surf the web.”
2. Impaired Driving:
“Year end dinners, parties and celebrations typically involve consumption of alcohol, and in too many cases, use of drugs,” says Horn. “An increase in the number of impaired drivers using the roadways during the winter holidays has been well-established by law enforcement, and the loss of life resulting from impaired driving is also well-established.
3. Pressured Driving:
“The winter holidays typically bring with them increased pressures, especially financial pressures and the stress created by trying to do too much in a short time span. Drivers often react to these pressures by driving too fast for conditions, making aggressive lane changes, failing to yield right-of-way, and generally disregarding the needs and safety of others using the road,” he says.
4. Fatigued Driving:
“Increased demands and activities during the winter holidays often mean significantly reduced sleep schedules,” Horn says. “According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who slept six to seven hours a night were twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping eight hours or more, while people sleeping less than five hours increased their risk four to five times.”
Horn says it’s not uncommon for a single driver to manifest all four dangerous driving behaviors at the same time, especially in the final 10 days of the year.
“Drivers in warm climates with good road conditions also need to be alert to these dangerous behaviors,” Horn says. “During sunny days when roads are clear, drivers become ‘risk averse’ and drive faster while taking their attention off the physical activity of driving. Putting your vehicle on ‘autopilot’ is extremely dangerous at anytime of the year, but especially so during the holidays when traffic volume increases.”
To help motorists stay accident-free over the holidays, Horn has compiled some tips for safe driving which he says can and should be used 365 days-a-year by every motorist:
- Drive Alert: “This is especially crucial at intersections where failure to notice traffic control devices can result in violent collisions and pedestrian injuries,” Horn says.
- Drive Buckled: “The use of seat belts reduces risk of crash fatality by 45 percent according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Organization,” Horn says.
- Drive Cautious: “Drive at safe speeds for conditions, keep proper distance between vehicles, obey traffic signs, and signal all turns,” he says. Resist the temptation to make a sudden lane change or another risky maneuver.
- Drive Defensively: “When you drive alert, buckled and cautious, you are effectively protecting yourself, your passengers and other motorists against risk of violent collision, injury and fatality,” he says.
- Drive by Example: “When drivers model safe driving behaviors, they are in the best position to protect themselves, their passengers, and others on the roadway,” Horn says.
Attorney Douglas R. Horn is founder of the Horn Law Firm in Kansas City , where he specializes in motor vehicle accident law and crash litigation. Recognized as one of the country’s leading experts on driving safety, Horn has dedicated himself to raising public awareness to the dangers of distracted driving through frequent public speaking engagements and appearances on radio and television. He is a member of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and is the founder of the driver safety organization Drive By Example.
Despite continued uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff, Americans are showing increased confidence in the housing market and the direction of the economy, according to government-controlled mortgage giant Fannie Mae .
“Consumer attitudes toward both the economy and the housing market continue to gather momentum, with many of our 11 key National Housing Survey indicators at or near their two-and-a-half-year highs,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. “On the housing front, attitudes about the current selling environment continue to improve, with a significant increase in those saying it would be a good time to sell.”
Mr. Duncan added that those indicating that the economy is on the right track have risen to 44% while those saying it is on the wrong track have fallen to 50%, the smallest gap since the survey’s inception.
The share of respondents who say now is a good time to sell a home jumped five percentage points in November to 23%–the highest level since the survey began in June 2010–narrowing the gap with those who say it is a good time to buy.
Fannie Mae also said the proportion of respondents who expect mortgage rates to go up increased by four percentage points to 41%. Those expecting home prices to go down within the next year also rose by four percentage points to 14% over last month, a rebound from the survey’s record low in the prior month, while the share who believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months edged up to 37%, tying the survey high.
Additionally, 51% of respondents now say it would be easy to get a mortgage, marking the highest rate since the survey’s inception.
U.S. employers are expected to continue adding jobs in the first quarter of 2013, but uncertainty over the “fiscal cliff” has tempered the outlook, according to a quarterly hiring survey by ManpowerGroup.
The global staffing services company’s outlook for U.S. jobs has been positive for 15 straight quarters, even as it weakens in most other economies.
A majority of U.S. employers polled did not expect any changes to their payrolls in the first quarter of 2013, said Jonas Prising, president of ManpowerGroup. Seventeen percent of U.S. employers anticipate adding workers, compared with 8 percent who believe they will have lay-offs.
“If you think about the ‘fiscal cliff’ and you’re an employer, you’re only going to hire what you need to hire,” he said, referring to the $600 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes that will kick in starting in January unless Congress reaches a budget compromise.
The seasonally adjusted U.S. net employment outlook — which measures the difference between employers who say they expect to add jobs and those planning to cut them — was plus-12 for the first quarter of 2013, up from plus-11 in the fourth quarter and plus-9 a year ago.
One unexpected bright spot was retail. Employers in the wholesale and retail sector anticipate adding jobs in the first quarter, a period when companies usually cut back following the holiday season.
“It’s a reflection that consumers are still feeling pretty good,” Prising said.
Manpower’s U.S. survey, which is 50 years old this year, is based on interviews with 18,000 employers. It is considered a leading indicator of labor market trends, but does not directly correlate with the monthly jobs numbers reported by the government.