Public Transportation Resumes, Businesses Slowly Reopen In Haiti After Massive Protests

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Businesses and government offices slowly reopened across Haiti on Monday after more than a week of violent demonstrations over prices that have doubled for food, gas and other basic goods in recent weeks and allegations of government corruption.

Public transportation resumed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where people began lining up to buy food, water and gas as crews cleared barricaded streets, where hundreds of thousands of Haitians had protested to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

Moise has refused to step down, though his prime minister, Jean-Henry Ceant, said over the weekend that he has agreed to reduce certain government budgets by 30 percent, limit travel of government officials and remove all non-essential privileges they enjoy, including phone cards. Ceant also vowed to investigate alleged misspending tied to a Venezuelan program that provided Haiti with subsidized oil and said he has requested that a court audit all state-owned enterprises.

But many Haitians remained wary of those promises, and schools remained closed on Monday amid concerns of more violence.

“The government is making statements that are not changing anything at this point,” said Hector Jean, a moto taxi driver who was waiting for customers. He recently had to buy a gallon of gas for 500 gourdes ($6), more than twice what he normally pays, and he has been unable to find customers who can afford to pay higher fares.

“It’s very hard to bring something home,” he said. “I have three kids.”

Other goods in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation have also doubled in price in recent weeks: A sack of rice now costs $18 and a can of dry beans around $7. In addition, a gallon of cooking oil has gone up to nearly $11 from $7. Inflation has been in the double digits since 2014, and the price hikes are angering many people in Haiti, where about 60 per cent of its nearly 10.5 million people struggle to get by on about $2 a day. A recent report by the U.S. Agency for International Development said about half the country is undernourished.

The latest violent demonstrations prompted the U.S. government to warn people last week not to travel to Haiti as it urged Moise’s administration to implement economic reforms and redouble efforts to fight corruption and hold accountable those implicated in the scandal over the Venezuelan subsidized oil program known as Petrocaribe. A Haitian Senate investigation has alleged embezzlement by at least 14 former officials in ex-President Michel Martelly’s administration, but no one has been charged. Meanwhile, Haitians have demanded a probe into the spending of the $3.8 billion Haiti received as part of the Petrocaribe program.

“Corruption goes unpunished, and people are just really tired of it,” said Athena Kolbe, a human rights researcher who has worked in Haiti. “I can’t imagine that things are going to calm down.”

She said she doesn’t believe claims that opposition leaders are behind the demonstrations or that people are being paid to protest as has happened in previous years given the incredible number of people that have taken to the streets in recent days. However, Kolbe warned that even if Moise were forced to step down, it would not resolve one of Haiti’s underlying issues: how to address corruption.

“People are just kind of exhausted with the business elite running the country and retaining control and not knowing where public funds are going,” she said.

Martelly hand-picked Moise in 2015 to be the candidate for the ruling Tet Kale party even though the businessman from northern Haiti had never run for office. Moise was sworn in as president in February 2017 for a five-year term and promised to fight corruption and bring investment and jobs to one of the least developed nations in the world. His swearing-in marked Haiti’s return to constitutional rule a year after Martelly left office without an elected successor amid waves of opposition protests and a political stalemate that led to suspended elections.

Moise’s administration previously set off deadly protests in July 2018 when officials abruptly announced double-digit increases in the prices for gasoline, diesel and kerosene as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to eliminate fuel subsidies and boost government revenue. At least seven people died in those protests, which also forced Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant to resign after facing a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Source: Black info

Evelyn Lozada in No Danger of Being Pulled Away from ‘Basketball Wives’ After Turning Down New Reality Show 

It appears “Basketball Wives” may be keeping Evelyn Lozada too busy to detail her story of domestic abuse as part of a new reality show.

A new report claims several women who have been abused by NFL and other athletes have come together to be part of a reality show documenting their stories of survival. TMZ states Delicia Cordon, who is accusing ex-boyfriend Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy of sending an assailant that left her bloodied during a home invasion, is part of a TV series featuring other exes who have allegedly been abused by sports stars.

evelyn lozada
NFL player Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Evelyn Lozada pose at the Maxim Party Powered by Motorola Xoom at Centennial Hall at Fair Park on February 5, 2011, in Dallas. (Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images for Motorola Xoom)

The show is said to have been inspired by the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving  R. Kelly,” in which women detailed their experiences of being sexually and mentally abused by singer R. Kelly.

Lozada is among those who were said to be part of the project with Cordon, whose ex denies her claims.

The reality star accused her one-time husband Chad “Ohocinco” Johnson of headbutting her during an argument. The 2012 incident spelled the end of their two-month marriage and landed Johnson in jail.

While Lozada was initially in talks to be part of the show, her representatives told TMZ Feb. 18 she decided against joining the program.

Other women tapped to be on the show, which sources told TMZ is still searching for a network or digital outlet to broadcast it, include Josie Harris and Micaela Sanchez.

In 2010, Harris suffered her worst attack from her former long-term partner, Floyd Mayweather. He went into her home as she slept, pulled her by her hair and plopped her to the floor before he punched, kicked and yelled obscenities at her in the presence of their three children.

The champion boxer was sentenced to 90 days in jail as a result.

Sanchez shares a young son with Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. The pair’s ongoing child custody dispute includes a filing Sanchez made in November 2017 alleging the star has a “history of substance abuse and illicit drug usage” and “a history of being physically violent.” Smith was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 NFL season as a result, and he has also denied the allegations, telling the Baltimore Sun, “There’s no truth to it.”

Producers are still reportedly looking for other survivors to join the program.

Lozada’s inclusion on the show would have been her first new series since she left “Basketball Wives” to star in OWN’s “Livin’ Lozada,” which documented her personal and professional life, as well as the ventures of her two daughters. The show lasted for one season and wrapped in 2016.

Since then, Lozada has been back on “Basketball Wives” and is currently filming the VH1 series’ eighth season.

Source: Black info

Gucci to Step up Diversity Hiring After Meeting with Designer Dapper Dan, Community Leaders

NEW YORK (AP) — Italian fashion house Gucci announced a major push Friday to step up diversity hiring as part of a long-term plan to build cultural awareness at the luxury fashion company following an uproar over an $890 sweater that resembled blackface.

Gucci also said it will hire a global director for diversity and inclusion, a newly created role that will be based in New York, plus five new designers from around the world for its Rome office.

FILE – In this Feb. 21, 2018, file photo, a model wears a creation as part of the Gucci women’s Fall/Winter 2018-2019 collection, presented during the Milan Fashion Week, in Milan, Italy.  (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)

It also will launch multi-cultural scholarship programs in 10 cities around the world with the goal of building a “more diverse and inclusive workplace on an ongoing basis.”

The announcement came after Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri met in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood with Dapper Dan, a well-known African-American designer, and other community members to hear their perspectives.

Dapper Dan, who collaborated with Gucci in 2017 on a menswear line, has emerged as a leading voice demanding accountability from Gucci over the sweater, which was black with a pull-up neck featuring a cutout surrounded by cartoonish red lips.

Bizzarri said Gucci has spent the past days conducting a “thorough review of the circumstances that led to this” and consulting with employees and African-American community leaders on what actions the company should take.

“I am particularly grateful to Dapper Dan for the role he has played in bringing community leaders together to offer us their counsel at this time,” Bizzarri said in statement.

Earlier Friday, Dapper Dan tweeted that the participants at the meeting “made great demands” of Gucci. He said he would announce a town hall meeting in Harlem “for us to talk about what they have proposed.”

In May, Gucci said it will begin conducting annual one-day unconscious-bias training sessions for its 18,000 employees around the world.

The design scholarship program will be launched in New York, Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, New Delhi, Beijing, the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Beirut, London and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The company described it as a 12-month fast-track program leading to full-time employment.

Gucci has apologized for the sweater, which creative director Alessandro Michele said was not inspired by blackface but by the late Leigh Bowery, a performance artist, club promoter and fashion designer who often used flamboyant face makeup and costumes.

“I look forward to welcoming new perspectives to my team and together working even harder for Gucci to represent a voice for inclusivity,” Michele said in statement Friday.

Source: Black info

Substitute Teacher Argues with Black 6th Grader Who Exercised His Right to Sit During the Pledge, He Was Later Arrested for Disrupting Class

A Florida sixth-grader who deemed the American flag “racist” soon found himself in police custody after allegedly refusing to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Now, the 11-year-old student is facing misdemeanor charges.

Pledge of Allegiance Arrest
Lakeland Police said an 11-year-old student refused multiple commands to leave the class after refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance as the students are doing in the representational photo above, then caused an additional disturbance and made threats while being escorted to the office. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

“I’m upset. I’m angry. I’m hurt,” the boy’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, told BayNews9. “More so for my son. My son has never been through anything like this. I feel this should’ve been handled differently.”

The incident unfolded Feb. 4 inside Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in the Tampa suburb of Lakeland after a substitute teacher grew upset at the student when she asked him to stand for the pledge. According to an arrest report, the student allegedly told the sub he wouldn’t stand for the pledge “because the flag of this country is racist,” then added that the national anthem is offensive to Black Americans.

That’s when Talbot said the sub told her son to “go back to your homeland.”

“He was confused,” Talbot told local station WTSP. “He said, ‘What do you mean? Africa?’ She said, ‘Yeah.’”

Substitute teacher Ana Alvarez detailed the incident in a statement to Polk County School District officials, explaining how she took offense to the student’s comment and asked him why he didn’t go to another place if it was so bad here. The boy then replied, “they brought me here.”

“Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live,” Alvarez reported telling the 11-year-old before calling the school’s office “because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”

Things escalated quickly after a school resource officer and the school’s dean arrived. The arrest affidavit claims the student refused multiple commands to leave the classroom and proceeded to call school leaders racist. His disruptive behavior continued, as he reportedly threatened to “beat that teacher” and have the school resource officer fired.

Police ultimately arrested the boy on charges of disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence, both of which are misdemeanors.

The student and his mother denied he ever threatened to harm anyone. Talbot argued that Alvarez’s actions were “way out of place” and is now fighting to have the charges against her child dropped.

“I want the charges dropped and I want the school to be held accountable for what happened because it shouldn’t have been handled the way it was handled,” she told BayNews9.

A spokeswoman for the school district said students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Alvarez wasn’t aware of this policy, however, and will no longer be working for the district, she said. In fact, a 1943 landmark Supreme Court case, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, determined that government cannot compel expressions of patriotism, finding that a West Virginia school’s attempt to force two Jehovah’s Witnesses student to salute the flag violated their First Amendment rights.

In a statement, the Lakeland Police Department reiterated that the student was not arrested for refusing to stand and recite the pledge.

“This arrest was based on the student’s choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats and resisting the officer’s efforts to leave the classroom,” the statement read. After the school resource officer unsuccessfully tried calming him down, the student relented only to “create another disturbance and make threats while he was escorted to the office.”

Watch more in the video below.

Source: Black info

Rasheeda Frost’s ’30-Inch Mink’ Proves Too Much for Fans Who Want to See Her Natural Hair

Rasheeda Frost’s new mink hair is receiving a bit of criticism from fans who prefer she wear her natural hair.

The “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta” star has been switching up her hairstyles frequently, and this time she opted for 30-inch jet-black tresses. She was spotted at her Pressed boutique in Atlanta this weekend when a video of her flossing a new hairdo was taken.

In the video, as Frost swayed her waist-length “weave” from side to side while dancing, she yelped, “Hold up. I got them 30 inches honey!”

She added in her Instagram caption, “Just at Pressed slanging my 30 inches mink hair 🤣😂.”

Some fans on the other hand didn’t find the video of her long hairstyle too funny and requested she ditch the wig and wear her natural hair.

“I don’t know why a sister would walk around with that much hair that’s not her own,” one person wrote. “Wear your real hair 💁🏾‍.”

Another added, “Why so much hair, let’s be real it looks tack to me.”

One fan asked the “Boss Chick” to start wearing her natural hair again, as opposed to a weave.

“Can you please wear your hair natural again, you look so much younger 😍,” said the commenter.

Frost told fans in November that she wears wigs and weaves as a way to protect and grow her natural hair. The length of her natural mane falls below her bra strap, but her hair goal is to achieve waist-length tresses.

Rasheeda Frost debuts natural hair
(photo credit: Rasheeda’s Instagram)

“So right now my hair is below my bra strap my goal is waist length give me about 12 months I’ll be there! Till then bout to braid it up back to my wigs!” Frost exclaimed in the video.

During season 5 of “LHHATL,” Frost declared she was going into the hair and fashion business while trying to figure out her rap career. She eventually retired from music in 2016 after opening up her first Pressed boutique storefront in 2015. She has yet to create a hair business, although fans have encouraged her to do.

In the meantime, the mother of two is making her mark in the fashion industry.

“Being self-confident is the best accessory, I love fashion. I always have,” Frost told Her magazine in 2017. “I’m an accessory junkie. If I’m able to create a business out of something that I love, that’s the best thing you can do.”

Source: Black info

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