Barack Obama gets Human Rights Award and NASA names new Astronauts of color
Barack Obama gets Human Rights Award and NASA names new Astronauts of color
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August 08, 2018
Kamala Harris Honors Hidden Figures, Grace Meng and Nydia Velázquez Warn About Food, and MI Republicans Choose Black Senate Nominee 
FOR THE CULTURE SHIFT… In Ferguson, Prosecutor Bob McCulloch -- who was accused of favoring the officer in the deadly shooting of Michael Brown-- was ousted in Tuesday’s primary by Black City Councilman Wesley Bell, who campaigned on a platform to “fundamentally change the culture” of the prosecutor’s office, partially by assigning special prosecutors to review allegations of police misconduct. TOO CLOSE TO CALLRepublican Troy Balderson is narrowly leading Democrat Danny O'Connor in the Ohio special election. As of Wednesday morning, the race was too close to call. Same for Kansas’ Republican gubernatorial primary. Anti-illegal immigration hard-liner Kris Kobach, a staunch ally of Trump, remained locked in a dead heat with incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer. LABOR GAINSMissouri voters overrode a legislative move to curb union power by rejecting a measure barring private-sector unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers who choose not to become members. The law was rejected by a 2-to-1 margin. BABY LET’S CRUZSenator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has asked his formal rival, Donald Trump, to come to Texas to campaign for him and help his re-election efforts against Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX). NEED TO VOTE? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT! West Virginia plans to allow voters serving overseas in the military to cast their midterm election ballots via a smartphone app this November. ICE PICK… On Monday, the president formally nominated Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello to hold the position permanently. TESLA TWEET… On Tuesday, Tesla shares surged 11% after CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he’s considering taking the company private at a $420 per share price. OUT OF THIS WORLDAstronomers discovered a massive rogue planet that is more than 12 times the mass of Jupiter with an unrivaled magnetic field, marking the first time a rogue planet has been detected based on its radio emissions, which opens the door to an entirely new method of exoplanet discovery. THE CARDBOARD BOXBarack and Michelle Obama have made their way to Martha's Vineyard for their annual August getaway. The couple received quite the reception from onlookers as they left The Cardboard Box -- a popular area restaurant. TRUE COLORS SHINING THROUGH... Former VP Joe Biden is launching an awareness campaign to promote the importance of family acceptance of LGBTQ youth. He kicked off the "As You Are" initiative on Tuesday with a video featuring singer Cyndi Lauper, former NFL player Wade Davis, and numerous LGBTQ advocates and activists. LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYSThe Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints will have male cheerleaders dancing on their squads for the first time this NFL season. They can cheer. But they better not kneel. The House and Senate are out. And so are we! We’re taking a breather but back on Monday! We’re kicking off the break with this...
  • We’re being followed by the TSA. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) wants to know why.
  • Tri-Caucus members warn of disproportionate impact of clean car standards on communities of color.
  • President Barack Obama to be given Robert F. Kennedy Award.
  • Native American candidate inches towards victory but the race is still too close to call.
  • Palestinian American set to make history assuming John Conyers’ seat.
  • Meet the Astronauts of color selected by NASA for the first U.S. commercial space flights. Read to the bottom!
Latino Victory Fund co-founder and actress Eva Longoria enjoying her summer getaway last month. 
Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ) meeting with Nassan’s Place’s Nadine Wright-Arbubakrr and staff members in New Jersey last week.
TSA Has Been Following Unsuspecting Passengers -- Hank Johnson Wants to Know Why
Did you know that the TSA has a program in which federal air marshals follow and collect information on ordinary U.S. citizens in airports and on planes? Those followed are not on terrorist watch lists or suspected of crimes. About 35 people a day are being secretly surveilled by small teams of armed, undercover air marshals. About 5,000 unsuspecting people have been targeted so far by this “Quiet Skies” program, and some reports say air marshals follow passengers for months at a time. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) wants to know what’s up with this, and to get some answers, he penned a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “I have grave concerns that this secret domestic surveillance program is infringing on the privacy of every travelers who pose no threats to national security,” Johnson wrote. “Furthermore, reports suggests that the program disproportionately targets travelers of a certain color, racial ethnic background, or religion and those with certain physical attributes. Any such program may infringe upon the constitutional rights of Americans and raise questions over the legality of such surveillance.” Johnson went on to ask what the criteria is for an air marshal to follow someone, what’s done with the data collected, and if any local law enforcement agencies are involved. TSA claims the program doesn’t take into account a person’s race or religion, nor was it put in place to monitor “ordinary Americans," and insists the program is intended to thwart possible threats by “unknown or partially-known terrorists.” Read Johnson’s full letter to the TSA here.
Deadly Nerve Agents Are in Our Food, Nydia Velázquez Wants to Ban Them
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced a bill to end the use of organophosphate pesticides -- which have been linked to neurological damage, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, and other chronic and debilitating diseases -- from food in the U.S. Organophosphates are derived from chemicals developed in Nazi Germany as nerve gases. Just this week, 10 people died in Peru at a funeral from eating food that appears to have contained organophosphates. Small amounts of organophosphates are allowed on crops, but it’s up to farmers to ensure that the amounts don't reach dangerously high levels. Research has shown that some people have a genetic makeup that cause them to be extremely vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticide exposure (and children are even more vulnerable than adults). In 2017, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed an Obama-era ban on Chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide of the organophosphate family. Shortly thereafter, Velázquez introduced legislation to reinstate a ban on Chlorpyrifos. Her latest bill, the Ban Nerve Agents in Our Food Act, goes further by banning 23 organophosphate pesticides. “Organophosphates were first developed as weapons of war and our government ought to put an end to their use, not continue to fuel a deadly industry,” Velázquez said. “Families need to be assured that when their children are eating food grown in our fields, they are safe for consumption and not tainted with dangerous chemicals that harm kids.” More here.

Kamala Harris Honors Hidden Figures
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
was joined by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Chris Coons (D-DE) in introducing a bipartisan bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden, and posthumously award one to Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, whose lives and careers were featured in the book and movie, Hidden Figures. The Congressional Gold Medal is considered the highest civilian award in the U.S., and it is awarded to people who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture -- likely to be recognized in that person's field for years to come. “These women were barrier breakers, and their immeasurable contributions to NASA and our nation have cemented their place in history,” said Harris. “For too long, their extraordinary accomplishments remained in the shadows, with the world unaware of the critical role they placed in the Space Race. I’m proud to help recognize their achievements as they continue to serve as a beacon for black women both young and old, across the country.” Hidden Figures grossed $235.9 million, and many charities, institutions, and independent businesses hosted free screenings of the film to improve youth awareness in education and careers in the STEM field. More here.

Grace Meng Wants FDA to Keep Harmful Chemicals Out of Food
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY)
on Tuesday penned a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb calling for the agency to address the threat that food additives pose to children. The letter comes in the wake of a new American Academy of Pediatrics report which revealed that certain colorings, flavorings, and chemicals deliberately added to food during processing may be dangerous to children’s health. The report also claimed the FDA “does not regularly consider cumulative effects of food additives in the context of other chemical exposures that may affect the same biological receptor or mechanism, despite its legal requirement to do so.” In the letter, Meng introduced several proposals based on the Academy’s recommendations, including establishing requirements for the labeling of additives with limited or no toxicity data and those not reviewed for safety by the FDA; updating the scientific foundation for the FDA safety assessment process; prioritization and retesting of previously approved chemicals, and more. “I concur with the Academy when it states that the potential for endocrine system disruption posed by food additives is of great concern, especially in early life, when developmental programming of organ systems is susceptible to permanent and lifelong disruption,” Meng wrote. “As the mother of two young children, I am committed to ensuring that every American child and family is protected from unknowingly consuming chemicals that may cause them harm.” More here.

Former Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama, Tina Tchen, with family celebrating her son Patrick Tchen who just graduated from basic school last month.
Film director Ava DuVernay with actors Korey Wise and Jharrell Jerome filming in Harlem on Monday for her upcoming Netflix series Central Park Five.
Tri-Caucus Members Oppose Weaker Clean Car Standards, Warn of Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, economically disadvantaged and minority populations share a disproportionate burden of air pollution exposure and risk, and experience higher residential exposure to traffic and traffic-related air pollution than non-minorities and persons of higher socioeconomic status. That’s why more than 50 Tri-Caucus members (Black, Hispanic, and Asian American lawmakers) on Tuesday sent a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in opposition to Donald Trump’s recently announced plan to weaken federal clean car standards. Led by Tri-Caucus members Donald McEachin (D-VA), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), and Doris Matsui (D-CA), the letter expresses how specific pollutants are associated with car and truck emissions. They also addressed the lasting impacts from tailpipe pollution, such as asthma, premature deaths, low birth weight, impaired fetal brain development, and more. “Clean car standards benefit all Americans, especially low-income communities and communities of color. Protecting our children from dangerous air pollution and the pervasive impacts of climate change is a moral imperative,” the letter reads. “As such, we strongly urge you to keep our nation’s current clean car standards in place and work to ensure that America’s auto industry has the regulatory certainty it needs to thrive through the 2020s and beyond.” More here

Elijah Cummings Says Trump Admin May Have Violated Federal Law By Scrubbing ACA Info from Medicare Website
Congressman Elijah Cummings, (D-MD)
the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on Tuesday sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requesting information about the potentially illegal scrubbing of content about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from the website. According to a recent investigation done by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, the Department deleted the entire “The Affordable Care Act & Medicare” page, which contained information on how Medicare coverage related to the Health Insurance marketplace created by the ACA, and linked to additional information. The deletion of this information from the website may violate the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires agencies to “provide adequate notice when initiating, substantially modifying, or terminating significant information dissemination products.” It does not appear that the Department provided such notice prior to scrubbing this content from the website. When asked to provide an explanation, a spokesperson claimed that the page had been underutilized. “Deleting this information appears to be another attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine the ACA, and it contradicts the Department’s core mission ‘to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans,’” Cummings wrote. More here.

Ben Ray Luján Intros Bill to Reduce Unnecessary Senior Hospitalizations 
Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
this month introduced legislation to improve access to senior care at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, almost 20% of all hospital admissions originate from SNFs, and 45% of them could have been avoided through access to virtual care. Additionally, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission asserted that rehospitalizations expose seniors to increased risk of falls, delirium, infections, and adverse medication interactions. Joined in its introduction by members Joe Crowley (D-NY), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Diane Black (R-TN), and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), the Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalization (RUSH) Act aims to reduce rehospitalizations at qualified SNFs by giving them more incentives, such as Medicare reimbursements, to use telemedicine and telehealth to improve patient care. “Currently, most nursing homes are not equipped to handle even minor emergencies. This means most patients are sent via ambulance to a hospital emergency room at any sign of emergency. This can be expensive and hard on patients and their families – especially in rural areas,” said Luján. “The RUSH Act provides an exciting new opportunity to allow technology to bridge the gaps for patients and providers in nursing homes across the country.” More here.

Brooklyn City Council Member and NY Lieutenant Governor candidate Jumaane Williams (D), ALS advocate Ady Barkan, and NY gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon on the campaign trail in NYC.
Investigation Discovery's María Elena Salinas on-set last week in FL.
Barack Obama to be Given Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization announced that former President Barack Obama will be one of this year's laureates and be given the Ripple of Hope Award. RFK Human Rights, a human rights advocacy group, is named in honor of the former U.S. Senator and Attorney General, who fought for civil rights and social justice. This year marks 50 years since Kennedy's assassination in June of 1968, the same year he was campaigning for president. The Award recognizes those who work to advance the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy in these challenging modern times. "In his post-presidency, President Obama remains committed to lifting up the next generation of leaders through his work with the Obama Foundation," the group said. "Bobby Kennedy was one of my heroes," Obama said. "I first got into public service because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, believing that my own salvation was bound up with the salvation of others. That's something he expressed far better than I ever could when he talked about the power that comes from acting on our ideals, those ripples of hope that can ‘sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” The awards ceremony will take place in New York in December 2018. More here.

Clarence Thomas Clerks Spread Throughout Trump Admin
A report by the AP found that roughly 20% of clerks hired by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas since 1991 are either now working as political appointees in the Trump administration, or have been appointed by Trump to federal judgeships. They include four federal appellate judges, the top federal prosecutor in Kansas, high-ranking officials in the Justice and Transportation departments, an Associate White House Counsel, and the head of the White House office that is leading the effort to roll back federal regulations. Nearly 20 years ago at an event in Dallas, Thomas described his philosophy behind hiring this way: “I’m not going to hire clerks who have profound disagreements with me. Someone said that it’s like trying to train a pig. It wastes your time, and it aggravates the pig,” he said. Thomas’ anti-abortion, pro-gun legal views align closely with Trump’s presidency views. And some of those clerks are now recycling Thomas’ words in their work. More here.

VA Lt. Gov. Chairs Newly Formed Org of Fellow Democratic Lieutenant Governors 
Democratic Lieutenant Governors across the country on Tuesday announced a new national organization committed to driving critical state issues and supporting candidates across the nation. Chairing the newly formed Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association (DLGA) will be Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. The DLGA, an independent voluntary political organization, will provide resources to fund operations, advise on policy matters, and assist Democrats in their campaigns for Lieutenant Governor. Roshan Patel, the former Finance Director of the Democratic Governors Association, will serve as Executive Director and build out the DLGA team moving forward. Democratic Lieutenant Governors serve as a state’s second-in-command and perform critical tasks overseeing economic development, trade policy, homeland security, education, and overall legislative processes. Lieutenant Governors are the only officials with specific duties and powers in two branches of state government: the executive and legislative branches. Currently, 25 states elect a Lieutenant Governor on a ticket with the governor, while 18 states elect a Lieutenant Governor separately. Executive Committee members include Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, and Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. Stay tuned to The Beat DC for additional hires as the group builds their team. “This organization is long overdue, and I am excited to support both our current leaders and future Democratic candidates for these important statewide roles,” said DLGA Chairman Lt. Gov. Fairfax. “Fourteen states have Democratic lieutenant governors right now. That changes this year.” More on the organization here.

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Michigan Republicans Choose Trump Endorsed Candidate for Senate
John James
has won the Republican nomination in Michigan's Senate race. He is endorsed by Donald Trump and says he would love for the president to join him on the campaign trail in the general when he faces off with incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “There are going to be some people who are so blinded by their hatred of the president that they’ll miss the opportunity to have someone who will do everything he can to serve everyone in the state of Michigan. I’m looking forward to treating people like independent thinkers,” James said. Stabenow, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, was first elected to represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate since 2000. The 37-year-old 2004 West Point graduate grew up in Detroit and spent eight years in the army including service in Iraq, leading two platoons of Apache helicopters. He is the President of the family-run business which was founded by his father, a global supply-chain management provider of logistics support for Fortune 500 companies. “We keep sending lawyers and career politicians to Washington and we wonder why we’re not get anything done. People want somebody who understands how to run a business before they make regulations that will affect business,” he said. “They want somebody who understands what it’s like to sign the front and the back of the check.” The espoused Christian who holds strong anti-abortion and gun rights views faces an uphill battle -- he reported nearly $869,000 cash on hand as of July 18th versus Stabenow’s $6.27 million. The Senate currently has only one Black Republican, Tim Scott of South Carolina. More here.

Native American Candidate’s Race Too Close to Call
As of Wednesday morning, Sharice Davids had moved about 500 votes ahead of her lead opponent in the race to represent Kansas’ Third Congressional District. The 37-year-old professional fighter and lawyer is aiming to become the first openly gay Native American woman elected to Congress. New Mexico Native American candidate Debra Haaland won her primary in June and later this month Amanda Douglas, running in Oklahoma, could also join the ranks. Davids trailed most of Tuesday night. Then returns started coming in from the largest county in Kansas' Third Congressional District, Johnson County, and that changed the tally. With 71% of 3rd District precincts reporting, Davids had 19,011 votes to Brent Welder’s 18,519. The former mixed martial arts fighter and member of the Ho-Chunk Nation was most recently a White House Fellow during the Obama administration, where she was placed in the Department of Transportation. After graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2007, she went on to complete law school at Harvard in 2010. She has held positions at SNR Denton, Ceiba Legal, and briefly owned a coffee company. Overnight Davids tweeted, “Still awake, #KS03?! We’re at the #JoCo Elections Office monitoring the #vote count as it happens. Stay tuned…” And so we shall. More here.

Historic Candidate Set to Take John Conyers Seat in Congress
Former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has won the Democratic nomination to run unopposed (no Republicans ran in the district) for the House seat long held by former Congressman John Conyers, setting her up to become the first Palestinian Congresswoman. She could also be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress as well depending on how other historic candidates running across the country make out. Ilhan Omar, a Somali American who is a top candidate in next week’s Democratic primaries in Minnesota, is also running in a deep-blue district and would be expected to advance should she win next Tuesday. Tlaib bested the competition and pulled off a win in a majority-Black district contested by several prominent figures in the Black community including Conyers’ nephew. Still, the 42-year-old took 33.6% of the vote following a strong grassroots campaign in which she raised more than $1 million. After graduating from Wayne State University Law School in 2004, Tlaib -- who is the eldest of 14 children -- went to work in Michigan State Legislature. She won her first campaign in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008 and became just the second Muslim woman to serve in a state legislature nationwide, after Jamilah Nasheed of Missouri. The 13th Congressional District she will represent includes a large southern area of suburban Detroit in Wayne County. After boundary lines were redrawn in 2012, the 13th is the only congressional district entirely within one county. “People are ready for someone like me. I’m not talking about being Muslim, Palestinian, brown or a woman,” she said. “I vote the right way and go beyond that.” More here.
Fashion-forward NBC contributor Cornell Belcher on Saturday in DC.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) with attendees at the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association in Honolulu last week.
Univision Hires Henry Ahn to Oversee Distribution and Partnerships
Henry Ahn
has been named President of Content Distribution and Partnerships at Univision Communications, based in Miami. Ahn was most recently President of Content Distribution and Marketing for Scripps Interactive Networks where he oversaw all aspects of distribution with both traditional and linear partners. Prior to that, he served as EVP of TV Networks Distribution at NBCUniversal, where for 17 years he led negotiations for distribution deals with major multichannel distributors for all content related matters for NBCU properties including cable networks, station retransmission consent, new media rights, and more. The Boston College graduate, who also has a Master’s from Fordham University, has earned numerous honors over the years, including the 2013 National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s Vanguard Award for Marketing. His appointment is one of the top executive changes since Vincent Sandusky took over as CEO in June, and comes after a series of layoffs and high-profile exits as the company explores selling their top assets such as Jezebel, Gizmodo, The Root, and more. More here.

NYT Adds Brent Lewis
Brent Lewis
has joined the NYT as a Photo Editor. In his new role, he’ll work with a team of photo editors on the business desk, assigning visual coverage of technology, the economy, and industry as well as enterprise stories for The Upshot. Prior to the NYT, Brent was a Photo Editor at The Washington Post where he focused on the newspaper’s feature section. Before that, Lewis was the Senior Photo Editor at ESPN’s The Undefeated, where he crafted the visual identity of the site, which focuses on the intersection of sports, race and culture. He has also worked as a Photographer at the Denver Post, Rockford Register Star in Illinois, and the Chillicothe Gazette in Ohio. The Columbia College Chicago graduate is the Co-Founder of Diversify Photo, a website devoted to building a vibrant community for the photographers to engage with one another. His work has additionally appeared in the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, the Associated Press, and Forbes as well as in the RedEye, MetroMix, and in the Chicago Reporter. More here.
Shorenstein Center Names Fall Fellows
The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, based at Harvard Kennedy School, announced on Tuesday the appointment of its fall 2018 Fellows. Among them is Mar
ía Hinojosa, Anchor and Executive Producer for the Peabody Award-winning show Latino USA, distributed by NPR, and for PBS’s America By The Numbers with Maria Hinojosa. Her nearly 30-year career includes reporting for PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR, Frontline, and CBS Radio, and anchoring the Emmy Award-winning talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One. In 2010, Hinojosa created the Futuro Media Group, a nonprofit organization producing multimedia journalism that gives voice to the diversity of the American experience. While at the Shorenstein Center, Hinojosa will lead a student study group on the topic of immigration. She will be joined by Sarah J. Jackson, an associate professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University, affiliated with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program and the Department of Cultures, Societies. and Global Studies. Her areas of expertise include social movement communication, Black and feminist activism, and alternative journalism. She is the author of Black Celebrity, Racial Politics and the Press, and co-author of the forthcoming #HashtagActivism: Race and Gender in America’s Networked Counterpublics. While at the Shorenstein Center, Jackson will write a paper on “Black Women’s Digital Storytelling and the New Politics of Black Activism.” The Shorenstein Center’s mission is to study and analyze the power of media and technology and its impact on governance, public policy, and politics. Research, courses, fellowships, public events, and engagement with students, scholars, and journalists form its core. Meet the rest of the Fellows here.
NYT’s Edward Wong Returns to DC
Edward Wong
, Beijing Bureau Chief and Correspondent for The New York Times, is heading to the paper's DC bureau to cover foreign policy. Wong began reporting for the NYT in 1999, working on the metro, sports, and business desks before going overseas. From 2003 to 2007, the DC native was based in Iraq where he covered the American invasion and civil war, and also received the 2005 Livingston Award for International Reporting. The multilingual storyteller -- who is fluent in English, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese Chinese -- then moved to China, covering the Sichuan earthquake, the Beijing Olympics, unrest in Tibet and Xinjian, and more. Wong then became the Beijing Bureau Chief in 2014. The University of Virginia graduate, who has two Master’s from the University of California at Berkeley, was also a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University from 2017 to 2018, and taught an international reporting course at Princeton University. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and Wired, as well as PBS NewsHour, NPR, BBC, CBC, and ARTE. More here.

MD gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous on Saturday with attendees at the Maryland Latino Festival.
Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart wishing fans a happy Sunday from Paris, France.
Meet the Astronauts of Color Selected by NASA for First U.S. Commercial Spaceflights
NASA has selected nine astronauts U.S. who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station -- an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011. Among the nine astronauts selected is Sunita L. Williams. The Euclid, OH native received her U.S. Navy commission in 1987 and became a helicopter pilot before being chosen by NASA for the astronaut program in 1998. She received her Bachelors from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1987, and a Master's from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1995. The granddaughter of Indian immigrants previously held the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut. Joining Williams on the team is Victor J. Glover, Jr. who was selected as an astronaut in 2013 while serving as a Legislative Fellow in the office of Senator John McCain (R-AZ). The California native holds a Bachelors from California Polytechnic State University, a Master’s of Science in Flight Test Engineering from Air University at Edwards Air Force Base, a Master’s of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Master’s of Military Operational Art and Science from Air University in Montgomery, AL. This will be the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. member’s first spaceflight. Joining them will be Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, and Michael Hopkins. The selections are the latest major milestone in the Obama administration’s plan to partner with U.S. industry to transport astronauts to space, create good-paying American jobs, and end the nation’s sole reliance on Russia for space travel. More here.

FairTest Names a New Executive Director
The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) has named Andre L. Green as the new Executive Director. He will replace Monty Neill, who is retiring this summer. Green previously served as the Political Director at MASSCreative, Massachusetts’ statewide arts advocacy group, serving as its primary liaison to elected officials. During that time, he also consulted with FairTest on their development of a new strategic plan. Prior to that, Green was a Senior Project Manager for the On Solid Ground Coalition, a research-base coalition dedicated to increasing housing stability and economic mobility for low-income Massachusetts families. Before that, the bilingual education advocate -- who is fluent in English and French -- was a Senior Manager for YouthBuildUSA, where he helped disadvantaged youth earn high school credentials while developing job skills. The 2001 Bard College at Simon’s Rock graduate began his career as a Teacher at St. Benedict’s School in Massachusetts. More here.

Today - Saturday, August 11th: 16th Annual Run&Shoot Filmworks Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. Click here for more information.
Today - Saturday, August, 11th: AAJA National Convention. Marriott Marquis Houston. 1777 Walker St., Houston, TX. Click here for more information.
Today - Thursday, August 9thCongresswoman Alma S. Adams (D-NC), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, will host executives from over 30 major corporations and leaders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the Inaugural HBCU Diversity in Tech Summit. North Carolina A&T State University, 1601 E Market St, Greensboro, NC. Click here for more information.
Thursday, August 9th, 9A: HBCU Diversity in Tech Summit Press Availability. North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University Alumni Foundation Event Center. 200 N Benbow Rd. Greensboro, NC, 27411. 
Friday, August 17th - Sunday, August 19th: Martha’s Vineyard celebrates Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) 20 years of service. Special guests include House Assistant Minority Leader Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and more. Harbor View Hotel, 131 North Water Street Edgartown, MA. Kelley House, 23 Kelley Street Edgartown, MA. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, September 11th - Wednesday, September 12th: CHCI's Annual Leadership Conference. Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, September 12th - Saturday, September 16th: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 48th Annual Legislative Conference. Walter E. Washington Convention CenterClick here for more information.
Thursday, September 13th: CHCI's 41st Annual Anniversary Awards Gala. Marriott Marquis Washington, DC. 901 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Thursday, September 25th - Saturday, September 29th: NBMBAA 40th Annual Conference & Exposition. Detroit, MI. Click here for more information.
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