Comedian, Civil Rights Activist Dick Gregory Dies

Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist and who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84.

Gregory died late Saturday in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week, his son Christian Gregory told The Associated Press. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection.

As one of the first black standup comedians to find success with white audiences, in the early 1960s, Gregory rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to win a college track scholarship and become a celebrated satirist who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

“Where else in the world but America,” he joked, “could I have lived in the worst neighborhoods, attended the worst schools, rode in the back of the bus, and get paid $5,000 a week just for talking about it?”

Gregory’s sharp commentary soon led him into civil rights activism, where his ability to woo audiences through humor helped bring national attention to fledgling efforts at integration and social equality for blacks.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted, “Dick Gregory’s unflinching honesty & courage, inspired us to fight, live, laugh & love despite it all.” A tweet by actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg said, “About being black in America Dick Gregory has passed away, Condolences to his family and to us who won’t have his insight 2 lean on R.I.P”

Gregory briefly sought political office, running unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 1966 and U.S. president in 1968, when he got 200,000 votes as the Peace and Freedom party candidate. In the late ’60s, he befriended John Lennon and was among the voices heard on Lennon’s anti-war anthem “Give Peace a Chance,” recorded in the Montreal hotel room where Lennon and Yoko Ono were staging a “bed-in” for peace.

An admirer of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Gregory embraced nonviolence and became a vegetarian and marathon runner.

He preached about the transformative powers of prayer and good health. Once an overweight smoker and drinker, he became a trim, energetic proponent of liquid meals and raw food diets. In the late 1980s, he developed and distributed products for the popular Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet.

When diagnosed with lymphoma in 2000, he fought it with herbs, exercise and vitamins. It went in remission a few years later.

He took a break from performing in comedy clubs, saying the alcohol and smoke in the clubs were unhealthy and focused on lecturing and writing more than a dozen books, including an autobiography and a memoir.

Gregory went without solid food for weeks to draw attention to a wide range of causes, including Middle East peace, American hostages in Iran, animal rights, police brutality, the Equal Rights Amendment for women and to support pop singer Michael Jackson when he was charged with sexual molestation in 2004.

“We thought I was going to be a great athlete, and we were wrong, and I thought I was going to be a great entertainer, and that wasn’t it either. I’m going to be an American Citizen. First class,” he once said.

Richard Claxton Gregory was born in 1932, the second of six children. His father abandoned the family, leaving his mother poor and struggling. Though the family often went without food or electricity, Gregory’s intellect and hard work quickly earned him honors, and he attended the mostly white Southern Illinois University.

“In high school I was fighting being broke and on relief,” he wrote in his 1963 book. “But in college, I was fighting being Negro.”

He started winning talent contests for his comedy, which he continued in the Army. After he was discharged, he struggled to break into the standup circuit in Chicago, working odd jobs as a postal clerk and car washer to survive. His breakthrough came in 1961, when he was asked to fill in for another comedian at Chicago’s Playboy Club. His audience, mostly white Southern businessmen, heckled him with racist gibes, but he stuck it out for hours and left them howling.

That job was supposed to be a one-night gig, but lasted two months — and landed him a profile in Time magazine and a spot on “The Tonight Show.”

Vogue magazine, in February 1962, likened him to Will Rogers and Fred Allen: “bright and funny and topical … (with) a way of making the editorials in The New York Times seem the cinch stuff from which smash night-club routines are rightfully made.” ″I’ve got to go up there as an individual first, a Negro second,” he said in Phil Berger’s book, “The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-up Comics.” ″I’ve got to be a colored funny man, not a funny colored man.”

His political passions were never far from his mind — and they hurt his comedy career. The nation was grappling with the civil rights movement, and it was not at all clear that racial integration could be achieved. At protest marches, he was repeatedly beaten and jailed.

He remained active on the comedy scene until recently, when he fell ill and canceled an August 9 show in San Jose, California, followed by an August 15 appearance in Atlanta. On social media, he wrote that he felt energized by the messages from his well-wishers, and said he was looking to get back on stage because he had a lot to say about the racial tension brought on by the gathering of hate groups in Virginia.

“We have so much work still to be done, the ugly reality on the news this weekend proves just that,” he wrote.

He is survived by his wife, Lillian, and 10 children.

Religious Leader, Digital Economy Advisers Sever Ties With Trump

The head of New York City’s largest evangelical church has resigned from President Donald Trump’s unofficial panel of evangelical advisers, one of the latest resignations in a string of high-profile withdrawals from advisory boards serving the president.

A.R. Bernard, head of the 37,000-member Christian Cultural Center, announced this week he submitted a formal letter to Trump on Tuesday announcing his withdrawal.

Tuesday was the day Trump gave a press conference from Trump Tower in New York City, in which he doubled down on his assertions that “many sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend when a counterprotester was killed at a white supremacist rally

Bernard was one of a few dozen leaders, reports The Washington Post, who gave advice to the president through the White House liaison office. Other members of the advisory group include a mix of Southern Baptist and Pentecostal church leaders.

Several other members of the board, including Southern Baptist Pastor Jack Graham, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Tony Suarez, and televangelist Mark Burns, told the Post that they plan to stay on the council.

Meanwhile the Commerce Department is also losing members of its board of “digital economy” advisers.

This week more than half of the 15 members of the expert board set up last year by President Obama resigned this week in the wake of the Charlottesville comments. Among them are Zoe Baird, president and CEO of the Markel Foundation; Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of the tech organization Mozilla; David L. Cohen, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Comcast; and Microsoft president and chilef legal officer Brad Smith.

Earlier this week, Trump announced he had dissolved two business advisory committees composed of top American corporate executives, after at least seven CEOs announced they were resigning from the councils because of his remarks. Also, all 17 members of a presidential advisory committee on the arts announced their resignations in a letter on Friday over his comments about the Charlottesville rally, saying, “The false equivalencies you push cannot stand.”

Women Leaders Wangle Water Taps, Security in India’s Slums

Hansaben Rasid knows what it is like to live without a water tap or a toilet of her own, constantly fearful of being evicted by city officials keen on tearing down illegal settlements like hers in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.

The fear and lack of amenities are but a memory today, after she became a community leader in the Jadibanagar slum and pushed residents to apply for a program that gave them facilities and a guarantee of no evictions for 10 years.

“We didn’t even have a water tap here — we had to fetch water from the colony near by, and so much time went in just doing that. People kept falling sick because there was just one toilet,” she said.

“Now that we have individual water taps and toilets, we can focus on work and the children’s education. Everyone’s health has improved, and we don’t need to be afraid of getting evicted any day,” she said, seated outside her home.

Jadibanagar, with 108 homes, is one of more than 50 slums in Ahmedabad that have been upgraded by Parivartan — meaning “change” — a program that involves city officials, slum dwellers, a developer and a nonprofit organization.

Every household pays 2,000 rupees ($31) and in return, each home gets a water tap, a toilet, a sewage line and a stormwater drain. The slum gets street lights, paved lanes and regular garbage collection.

Each home also pays 80 rupees as an annual maintenance fee, and the city commits to not evicting residents for 10 years.

Negotiation skills

A crucial part of the program is the involvement of a woman leader who brings residents on board, deals with city officials and oversees the upgrade.

Nonprofit Mahila Housing Trust has trained women residents to be community leaders in a dozen cities in the country, including more than 60 in Ahmedabad.

“Women are responsible for the basic needs of the family, and most also work at home while the husband works outside, so the lack of a water tap or a toilet affects them more,” said Bharati Bhonsale, program manager at Mahila Housing Trust.

“Yet they traditionally have had little influence over policy decisions and local governance. We train them in civic education, build their communication and negotiation skills, and teach them to be leaders of the community,” she said.

About 65 million people live in India’s slums, according to official data, which activists say is a low estimate.

That number is rising quickly as tens of thousands of migrants leave their villages to seek better prospects in urban areas. Many end up in overcrowded slums, lacking even basic facilities and with no claim on the land or their property.

Yet slum dwellers have long opposed efforts to relocate them to distant suburbs, which limits their access to jobs. Instead, they favor upgrading of their slums or redevelopment.

Earlier this month, officials in the eastern state of Odisha said they would give land rights to slum dwellers in small towns and property rights to those in city settlements in a “historic” step that will benefit tens of thousands.

In Gujarat state, as Jadibanagar is on private land, it is not eligible for the city’s redevelopment plan.

“These homes are all illegal, but that doesn’t mean the people cannot live decently,” said Bhonsale.

“With redevelopment, there is demolition and a move, and that can take longer to convince people of, with the men usually making the decision. But with an upgrade, the women make the decision very quickly by themselves,” she said.

Bottom up

Elsewhere, in Delhi’s Savda Ghevra slum resettlement colony where about 30,000 people live, nonprofit Marg taught women residents to demand their legal right to water, sanitation and transport.

A group of women then filed Right to Information petitions, to improve their access to drinking water, buses and sanitation.

“The women bear the brunt of not having these amenities, and are therefore most motivated to do something about the situation,” said Anju Talukdar, director of Marg.

“The leaders are the ones who show up for meetings, are engaged and keen to learn how to use the law to improve their lives,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Contrary to perceptions that slums are run by petty criminals who resist efforts to redevelop or upgrade, women leaders in Jadibanagar and Savda Ghevra are actively engaged in bettering everyone’s lives.

Leaders often emerge from a bottom-up process, with reputations for getting things done — in particular, resisting evictions and securing basic services, according to research by Adam Auerbach at the American University and Tariq Thachil at Vanderbilt University.

“They are themselves ordinary residents, living with their families and facing the same vulnerabilities and risks as their neighbors; they, too, want paved roads, clean drinking water, proper sanitation and schools for their children,” they said.

Women leaders, while still a minority, are “rarely token figures” serving male heads of households, and are “just as active, assertive and locally authoritative as their male counterparts,” they said in an email.

Rasid in Jadibanagar, whose two sons and their families live in homes alongside hers, is certain her leadership helped residents improve their homes and their lives.

“Everyone wants security and nicer homes, and they are willing to pay. Someone just has to get it done,” she said.

“I am illiterate, I cannot read, but I know now how to talk to officials and the developer and tell them what we want, and make sure they deliver,” she said.

Trump to Skip Ceremony Celebrating Artists’ Lifetime Achievements

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend an annual ceremony at Washington’s Kennedy Center honoring the lifetime achievements of select artists to avoid distraction, a White House statement said Saturday.

“The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” the White House said.

The announcement came after one of the honorees, dancer Carmen de Lavallade, said she would boycott a separate White House reception that is held in conjunction with the award ceremony.

The 86-year-old de Lavallade issued a statement Thursday announcing her decision.

“In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” she said.

Another honoree, TV writer Norman Lear, has also said he will not attend the reception. A third, singer Lionel Richie, has said he is “on the fence” about the White House event.

In addition to Richie, Lear and de Lavallade, singer Gloria Esfefan and rapper LL Cool J will be celebrated for their lifetime contributions to the arts at the December 3 ceremony.

The White House announcement came just days after members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in protest against Trump’s controversial remarks this week following last Saturday’s violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The latest developments are indicative of Trump’s contentious relationship with the arts world. After his election, Trump had a difficult time finding entertainers to perform at his inaugural gala in January.

В окупованому Криму після 10-денного арешту звільнили активіста Сервера Караметова

В окупованому Криму у суботу ввечері після 10-денного арешту був звільнений 76-річний Сервер Караметов, якого підконтрольні Росії силовики затримали через одиночний пікет на підтримку одного з лідерів кримських татар Ахтема Чийгоза. Як передає сайт «Крим.реалії», зустрічати Караметова приїхали кримчани з різних міст і сіл півострова.

Дочка одного з лідерів кримських татар Ільмі Умерова Айше влаштувала пряму трансляцію на своїй сторінці в Facebook.

Кримськотатарський активіст Сервер Караметов був затриманий 8 серпня в Сімферополі за одиночний пікет на підтримку Ахтема Чийгоза.

9 серпня підконтрольний Кремлю Залізничний суд Сімферополя присудив йому 10 діб адміністративного арешту за «опір співробітникам поліції».

Заступник голови Меджлісу Ахтем чийгоз перебуває під арештом з січня 2015 року. Російське слідство звинувачує його в «організації масових заворушень», що він і його захист заперечують.

‘Recruiting for Jihad’ Examines Islamic Extremist Groups in Europe

Recruiting for Jihad is a Norwegian expose on the practices extremist Jihadists follow to recruit young men to fight for ISIS. During filming, Adel Khan Farooq, one of the two filmmakers, had unprecedented access to a radicalized network of Islamists in Europe. He met them through Norwegian-born Ubaydullah Hussain, a notorious recruiter, currently serving a nine-year sentence in a Norwegian prison.


“In the beginning, he was very charming,” Farooq told VOA, describing Hussain. “He was easy to talk with, and I never felt like he was a threat directly against me or anybody else for that matter, but when the attacks against Charlie Hebdo in France occurred and he was praising ISIS and then praising the attacks on Copenhagen, I certainly felt like that I did not know him after all.”

Still, Farooq kept filming Hussain.

“I wanted to find out why he became that way, why did he become so extreme, because there are some pieces of him that he used to be a referee in soccer and he was a bright child and did OK in school,” he says. Farooq accompanied Hussain to underground meetings and workshops among radicalized Islamists in a number of places in Europe, trying to learn what was behind the radicalization of people like him.


Farooq learned that most of the radicals are born in Europe but are culturally and psychologically displaced and vulnerable to the idea of close-knit radicalized communities.


“At least in Norway, 99 percent of Muslims, the majority of Muslims, are integrated in society. They work as lawyers, doctors, teachers, police officers, and have a Muslim background. But there are some, the minority, that have these extreme views. It’s not only in Norway, it’s in Sweden, Denmark, UK, France, Belgium, you always find a small minority of people who don’t fit in even as Muslims, they don’t fit in, they are marginalized, might struggle or have some struggles at home, hard time finding work.”


These types of people, Farooq says, are radicalized by leading Islamists such as Anjem Choudary, a British citizen, who supports the existence of an Islamic state.


Before his six-year incarceration for supporting Islamic State, Choudary was holding workshops throughout Europe advocating jihad. During one of those underground meetings, Farooq captured chilling footage of him preaching to a group of men, women and children in a basement room. His lecture, advocating that Islamic values are superior to British values and the British constitution, was also being recorded and distributed to thousands over the internet.


In 2015, Islamic extremists waged a series of attacks in Paris, first against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and months later, at a concert hall and football stadium, killing 130 and injuring 368. Afterward, Farooq says Hussain told him on camera that he did not know the attackers in Paris, but he knew people who knew them.


“These extremist groups,” Farooq said, “are really small, but they are strong because they work together. They either visit each other, have so called sessions, where they have seminars of sort.”


Though their ideas don’t represent the majority of Muslims in Europe, Farooq said, they impact the Muslim communities by fueling hatred against them.


“This radicalization is not a Muslim thing,” he says. “You find radicalization in America, too. Right wing extremists, they are radicalized; criminals, they are radicalized.”

One of Farooq’s last filming sessions of Hussain showed the Islamist recruiting a young Norwegian to fight for ISIS in Syria. The 18-year-old recruit was apprehended at the airport just before he boarded a plane with a fake passport. Hussain was arrested, and Norwegian police forces confiscated footage from Farooq and his co-director, Ulrik Rolfsen as evidence. The filmmakers’ fight for freedom of the press became a story in itself. Farooq and Rolfsen took their case all the way to Norway’s Supreme Court. They won.


“The key issue is that for any democracy, it is very, very vital that journalists and media are separated from authorities,” Rolfsen stressed. “My power is to tell stories and expose things that happen in society to educate the public, and I think it’s important that we don’t step on each other’s toes.”

When asked whether such a documentary can fuel fear and mistrust against Muslims, Rolfsen said that audiences’ reactions overall were positive, but he admitted it is a tough subject to tackle.


“We have a lot of people hating Islam, we have a lot of people pro Islam, the whole refugee situation is in the middle of that. Publishing the film felt like walking through a fire with a big balloon filled with gasoline and you know it’s going to blow up in your face if you don’t hold it high enough and you don’t walk fast enough.”

Farooq, raised as a Muslim, feels the film was close to his heart because he wanted to expose how these cells operate on the fringes of society.


“That was very important to me and Ulrik. Because most Muslims are not like these guys,” he said. “They are normal people.”

Один військовослужбовець поранений через обстріли бойовиків поблизу Кримського – штаб

У прес-центрі штабу АТО повідомили, що один український військовослужбовець зазнав поранень сьогодні через обстріли бойовиків поблизу Кримського на Луганщині.

«Сьогодні під ворожим вогнем опинились українські укріплення на підступах до Пісків, Зайцева, Новолуганського. На луганському напрямку бандити сконцентрували активність поблизу Кримського. Тут злочинці двічі відкривали вогонь по наших бійцях. У результаті – один український військовий отримав поранення», – йдеться в повідомленні штабу на сторінці у Facebook.

Повідомляється, що підтримувані Росією бойовики стріляли також біля Павлополя і Старогнатівки, випустивши в бік позицій ЗСУ понад 20 мін.

Раніше у штабі АТО повідомили, що за минулу добу було зафіксовано 25 обстрілів бойовиками українських позицій на Донбасі. Водночас бойовики з угруповання «ДНР» заявили про 39 випадків порушення режиму тиші з боку ЗСУ, луганські бойовики стверджують, що українська сторона стріляла тричі по підконтрольних угрупованню «ЛНР» територіях попередньої доби.

Про перемир’я у зоні конфлікту на Донбасі домовлялися вже багато разів, востаннє наразі від 24 червня на час жнив – до 31 серпня. Досі жодного разу режим припинення вогню не втримувався. При цьому сторони щоразу заперечують свою вину в порушеннях і звинувачують одна одну у провокаціях.


‘Recruiting for Jihad,’ an Expose on Islamic Extremist Groups in Europe

‘Recruiting for Jihad’ is a Norwegian expose on the practices extremist Jihadists follow to recruit young men to fight for ISIS.  During filming, Adel Khan Farook, one of the two filmmakers, had unprecedented access to a radicalized network of Islamists in Europe. Farrook and his partner Ulrick Rolfsen spoke to VOA’S Penelope Poulou on the growth of Islamist organizations in Europe.

МЗС вимагає від Росії забезпечити доступ гуманітарним організаціям на окуповані території Донбасу

Міністерство закордонних справ України вимагає від Росії забезпечити безперешкодний доступ на тимчасово окуповані території Донбасу представників гуманітарних організацій, а також зберігання та розподіл гуманітарної допомоги. Про це йдеться у заяві МЗС України до Міжнародного дня гуманітарної допомоги. 

«Обмеження проросійськими ватажками доступу міжнародних гуманітарних організацій до окупованої території ускладнює доставку гуманітарної допомоги та захист цивільного населення. Серйозне занепокоєння викликає практика відправки російських так званих «гуманітарних конвоїв» на підконтрольну бойовикам частину Донбасу з порушенням українського законодавства та міжнародного права. У цьому зв’язку вимагаємо від Росії як держави-агресора та окупанта неухильного виконання гуманітарних аспектів Мінських домовленостей, зокрема забезпечити безперешкодний доступ, зберігання та розподіл гуманітарної допомоги», – йдеться у заяві.

У зовнішньополітичному відомстві також висловили вдячність країнам-партнерам і міжнародним неурядовим організаціям, які надають допомогу для вирішення гуманітарних проблем на окупованих територіях. 

«Масштаби гуманітарних викликів, які продовжують поставати перед Україною у зв’язку з агресією Росії, потребують належних обсягів гуманітарного фінансування. У цьому зв’язку закликаємо держав-донорів активізувати зусилля для мобілізації фінансових ресурсів, необхідних для реалізації Плану гуманітарного реагування ООН в Україні у 2017 році», – йдеться в повідомленні.

У МЗС України з посиланням на дані ООН заявили, понад 3,8 мільйона громадян по обидва боки лінії зіткнення потребують гуманітарної допомоги.

Збройний конфлікт на сході України почався навесні 2014 року після російської анексії Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці сепаратистів. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці». За останніми даними ООН, внаслідок конфлікту загинули понад 10 тисяч людей.

Суд продовжив запобіжний захід Розенблатові до 17 жовтня

Солом’янський районний суд Києва продовжив запобіжний захід народному депутатові Бориславу Розенблату ще на два місяці.

Згідно з рішенням суду, термін обмеження на пересування Розенблата і обов’язок носити електронний браслет продовжено до 17 жовтня.

17 серпня Апеляційний суд Києва відмовив позафракційному депутату Бориславу Розенблату у зміні обраного йому Солом’янським судом запобіжного заходу у вигляді застави на 7 мільйонів гривень.

Таким чином суддя залишив у силі зобов’язання Розенблата носити електронний браслет із забороною виїжджати з Києва і Житомира без дозволу слідчого та здати закордонний паспорт.

Депутат Борислав Розенблат є фігурантом так званої «бурштинової справи». У його діях ГПУ вбачає ознаки зловживання впливом і хабарництва на загальну суму у 280 тисяч доларів. Розенблата підозрюють в отриманні неправомірної вигоди за внесення до парламенту законопроектів і вчинення інших дій, пов’язаних із видобутком бурштину, в інтересах компанії-нерезидента.

Борислав Розенблат ці звинувачення відкидає.

Солом’янський райсуд Києва обрав запобіжний захід для Борислава Розенблата, підозрюваного у так званій «бурштиновій справі», 18 липня.

У цій справі також проходить народний депутат від «Народного фронту» Максим Поляков, який також себе винним не визнає і відмовляється носити електронний браслет. 13 липня генеральний прокурор України Юрій Луценко офіційно вручив підозри Розенблатові й Полякову, щодо яких Верховна Рада України раніше дала згоду на притягнення їх до кримінальної відповідальності.

про уродов и людей