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Sandals Want $30 Million Sexual Assault Case Tried in the Bahamas
ASSAU, Bahamas: Sandals Resorts International is urging a New York judge to dismiss a $30 million sexual assault claim because it occurred at its Nassau resort and should, therefore, be heard by a court in the Bahamas. In a May 17 letter to the Southern New York Federal Court, lawyers for Sandals Resorts argued that John Pascarella and Ashley Reid Pascarella, whose allegations received widespread TV and print coverage on both sides of the Atlantic, had signed a document agreeing that all legal disputes with the resort chain be resolved in the Bahamas. Sandals lawyers added that the couple, who claim Mrs Pascarella was sexually assaulted by Moral Adderley, the butler
assigned to them during their stay at Sandals Royal Bahamian, had been shown this clause on both their booking invoice and guest registration card. Also, Sandals’ lawyers argued that The Bahamas was the most appropriate judicial forum to hear the claim as all events, evidence and witnesses were in The Bahamas and there is undoubtedly no connection to New York. In related news, after public pressure, TripAdvisor has announced that they will flag sexual assault warnings on reviews so that travelers can know which accommodations, restaurants and tours have had reports of sexual assault, rape or sexual harassment. TripAdvisor was prompted to examine its reviews after a report was published
Former PM Edward Seaga Passes ...see page 2
from a Free Press investigation that uncovered that victims of sexual assaults in resorts and hotels in Jamaica had detailed their assaults on TripAdvisor but a number of the resorts and hotels had worked hard to cover up those occurrences. Additionally, many of those continued on page 12
Immigrants Who Use Legal Marijuana Can Be Denied Citizenship... see page 5
DA Gonzales’ Newest Initiative ...see page 4
Buju Banton Post-Prison Album Coming This Summer; Concert Comeback Hailed as 'Legendary'
rammy-winning reggae singer, Buju Banton has been busy touring on his “Long Walk to Freedom” tour, however, he has found time to record new music. Buju released his first solo single, “Country For Sale,” since leaving prison in December of 2018. The track debuted at the top of the iTunes reggae chart and has been a huge hit among reggae/dancehall fans hungry for more new music.
Speaking of Buju comeback concert — his first headline show since serving eight years in a US prison for drug charges—it's clear UK rapper Konan is in awe of what he expereinced. His words: "This is history, the energy here is crazy. I've never seen anything like this—this is another level of inspiration. He's at G.O.A.T status, another level. Legendary." Buju’s concert has been described as
Rihanna’s Makes History in a Meaningful Way...see page 13
continued on page 6 Happy Birthday Carmelo Anthony! We agree with your wife’s (La-La Instagram post: No matter how much you’ve been “blamed” “overlooked” “underestimated” “scapegoated” “blame it on Melo” (you see how that turned out right?) regardless of all of the things “they” say. You’ve stayed solid. You’ve never lashed out. You’ve never even spoken a single bad word. You stay humble. You stay in the gym 24/7. A lot of people could learn from you bcuz by now most would have been broken down. Happy Birthday to a real one. Don’t count him out just yet..theres more to come. Happy Birthday @carmeloanthony...love you always. #stayme7o
No-Match Letters….Up Close and Very Personal! BY JAMELAH FRANCIS
merica by no means has a very rich employment availability status. After all, it is the land of opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a shocking 6.7 million jobs are available, but there are only 6.4 million available workers to fill them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated
that “April marked the second month in a row that there were more vacancies than available hires, a phenomenon that had not happened before 2018.” Having said this, the statistic indicates that approximately 8 million of the nearly 11 million immigrants unlawfully in the United States are partakers of the work force according ro The Pew Research Center.
continued on page 8
Does Your Attorney Diagnose Better than Your Doctor? ...see page 9
2 Caribbean Consulates Anguilla 845 Third Avenue New York, N.Y. 10022 Tel: 212-745-0200 Antigua & Barbuda 305 East 47th Street, Suite 6A New York, N.Y. 10020 Tel: 212-541-4117 The Bahamas 231 East 46th Street New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-421-6420 Barbados 820 Second Avenue, 5th Floor New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-551-4325 Belize 675 Third Avenue, Suite 1911 New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-593-0999 Dominica 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400H New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-949-0853 Dominican Republic 1500 Broadway, Suite 410 New York, N.Y. 10036 Tel: 212-599-8478 Grenada 685 Third Avenue, Suite 1101 New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-599-0301 Guyana 308 West 38th Street New York, N.Y. 10018 Tel: 212-947-5119 Haiti 815 Second Avenue,6th Floor New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-697-9767 Jamaica 767 Third Avenue, 2nd Floor New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-935-9000 Martinique 444 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor New York, N.Y. 10022 Tel: 212-838-6887 Montserrat 845 Third Avenue New York, N.Y. 10022 Tel: 212-745-0200 Panama 1212 Avenue of the Americas, 20th Floor New York, N.Y. 10036 Tel: 212-840-2450 St. Kitts & Nevis 414 East 75th Street, 5th Floor New York, N.Y. 10021 Tel: 212-535-5521 St. Lucia 800 Second Avenue, 9th Floor New York, N.Y. 10007 Tel: 212-697-9360 St. Maarten 675 Third Avenue, Suite 1807 New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 800-786-2278 St. Vincent & The Grenadines 801 Second Avenue, 21st Floor New York, N.Y. 10017 Tel: 212-687-4981 Trinidad & Tobago 125 Maiden Lane, 4th Floor New York, N.Y. 10038 Tel: 212-682-7272 For more Consulate information go to www.cawnyc.com/directory
CARIBBEAN ROUNDUP Former Jamaica Prime Minister Edward Seaga Dies on His 89th Birthday
INGSTON, Jamaica: Jamaicans are mourning the death of Edward Seaga, the country’s fifth Prime Minister and longest serving parliamentarian, who passed away on Tuesday, May 28, as he marked his 89th birthday. The father of four died at a hospital in Miami, Florida where he was being treated since earlier this month. Seaga — who was Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989, led the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) from 1974 to 2005; represented the West Kingston constituency for 43 years; and had been the last surviving member of the committee that drafted the country’s constitution in 1962 —was described by Prime Minister Andrew Holness as a great Jamaican. “He served this country for most of his life. He was in this Parliament for over 40 years. He is truly a great Jamaican. He participated in the framing of the Constitution and the development of so many institutions which now define Jamaica,” Holness said in the House of Representatives where a minute’s silence was observed. He said Seaga’s passing was also a difficult time for him. “It is, personally, a trying time for me, and I know it is also a very trying time for his family. And though they were prepared and I was prepared, at the point of the event you still can’t help but feel the emotional void that has been created by his passing,” he said. Holness recently visited Seaga in the hospital and he said that on the visit, the former Prime Minister had expressed thanks to the Jamaican people for their prayers.
Hon. Edward Seaga
“All Jamaica should know that when I was about to leave the hospital room, I held his hands and he squeezed my hands and said, ‘Thank you, Andrew, and tell the Jamaican people thanks for everything’,” he recalled. Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Reverend Ronald Thwaites, expressed condolences on behalf of the Opposition. He said Seaga dedicated his life to the Jamaican people. Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding said that with Seaga’s death, Jamaica had lost one of its most accomplished nation builders whose contribution to national development spanned more than 50 years from the early 1950s, when he conducted research into the social structure and folk culture of both rural communities and Kingston’s city slums. “His trailblazing achievements as Minister of Development and Welfare, Minister of Finance and Planning and Prime Minister have left an indelible mark on Jamaica’s institutional development and constitute a huge legacy from which the Jamaican people continue to benefit… “He was a strong leader, firm in his convictions and fearless in his approach.
Guyana Hailed for Contribution to Climate Change Fight
EORGETOWN, Guyana: CARICOM praised Guyana’s significant contribution to the fight against climate change as the country marked its 53rd Anniversary of Independence CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in a congratulatory message to Guyana’s President, His Excellency David Granger, noted that,: “Guyana’s seminal contribution to the furtherance of the global battle against climate change through the preservations of its forests has gained widespread acclaim and is just one of the many areas in which the country has earned international renown.” He also pointed to Guyana being an integral part of the regional integration movement from its inception, symbolized by its hosting of the CARICOM headquarters.
He was never daunted by criticism or controversy once he was convinced that the path he was pursuing was the right one. In so many respects, history has vindicated him. Edward Seaga has earned his prominence in the annals of Jamaica’s journey as a nation and his contributions will be one of the pillars on which the greatness that we achieve will rest,” Golding said. Meantime, Prime Minister Holness said arrangements are in place for Seaga’s body to be flown back to Jamaica, and it will be received by the Government with the appropriate honour guard in place. “Thereafter, there will be a State funeral and before that, his body will lie in State and we will advise of a period of mourning,” he said. Holness added that a special sitting of the House would be held where Parliamentarians can pay their respect to Seaga. In addition to helping to frame the constitution, Seaga played a significant role in the review of that constitution that led to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms in 2011. In 2005, when he retired from active politics, he was appointed a Distinguished Fellow of the University of the West Indies (Mona), whose Research Institute had earlier been named in his honor. In 2008, he was appointed ProChancellor of the University of Technology, Jamaica, and two years later he became the institution’s second Chancellor l
Barbadian Creates History; Heads UK College
L “We welcome Guyana’s continued positive contributions to the Community which pledges its support to the country’s efforts to move forward in its own quest for self-advancement,” Ambassador LaRocque said. Guyana observed this year’s anniversary under the theme, “A United Guyanese are we at 53.” The CARICOM Secretary General said the theme celebrates the essence of nationhood, as such unity could only propel the citizens to unlocking further the vast potential of their country.l
ondon, England: A Barbadian will be the first black woman appointed to lead an Oxbridge college. Sonita Alleyne has been elected as the 42nd Master of Jesus Sonita Alleyne College, Cambridge — the first female head of the college which was founded in 1496 – and will take up the position October 1, in the college’s 40th Anniversary of Co-education. The 51-year-old businesswoman and entrepreneur —a co-founder and former CEO of Somethin’ Else, a crossplatform media production company—said it was “an honour to be elected to lead Jesus College.” “I left Cambridge 30 years ago, but it never left me. I am delighted to be returning,” added Alleyne, who studied for her undergraduate degree in philosophy at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. The Barbadian-born Brit, who is currently chairwoman of the British Board of Film Classification, is a former BBC trustee and was also previously appointed to the board of the London Legacy Development Corporation in 2012, as part of the drive to promote and deliver regeneration in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and surrounding areas.l
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Ending Mass Incarceration: Ideas from Today's Leaders
TEAM My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. —Hosea 4:6 Publisher I.Q. INC.
BY DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP PRESIDENT Managing Editor & Editor-in-Chief
ow can we end mass incarceration in America? By now, the debate is over: our nation grossly over-incarcerates its people. The United States has less than five percent of the world’s population and nearly one-quarter of its prisoners. Astonishingly, if the 2.3 million incarcerated Americans were a state, it would be more populous than 16 other states. All told, one in three people in the United States has some type of criminal record. No other industrialized country comes close. This system grew over decades in plain sight, and only a broad and bold national response will end it. Mass incarceration has crushing consequences: racial, social, and economic. We spend around $270 billion per year on our criminal justice system. In California it costs more than $75,000 per year to house each prisoner — more than it would cost to send them to Harvard. Mass incarceration exacerbates poverty and inequality, serving as an economic ball and chain that holds back millions, making it harder to find a job, access public benefits, and reintegrate into the community. Most disturbingly, the system profoundly discriminates against people of color at every juncture. African Americans are more likely to be stopped by police, arrested, detained before trial, and given harsher sentences than whites. As a result, they are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites. In some states, this disparity is more than ten to one. For too long, we have tolerated this civil rights crisis. And mass incarceration simply is not necessary to keep our communities safe. Today, crime and murder rates remain near record lows nationwide. Our cities — many of which suffered under a wave of violent crime in the early 1990s — are largely safer than they have been in years. No one is entirely sure what caused the steady crime decline of the past two and a half decades. But it is clear that it owes little to harsh policies and the resulting increase in incarceration. In fact, 27 states have reduced both
Legal Advisor Brian Figeroux, Esq. Assistant Editor Marilyn Silverman Graphic & Website Designers Praim Samsoondar Anvaar Sabirov
imprisonment and crime together from 2006 to 2014. It is increasingly clear that reform and safety go together. For all these reasons, the politics of crime and punishment have changed fundamentally, in ways hard to imagine in an earlier era. Today, polls show widespread support for a less punitive approach. Once incendiary moves such as marijuana legalization or an end to the death penalty are finding political success and rising popularity. In red, blue, and purple states, lawmakers are beginning to respond and act. At long last, a vibrant public conversation is underway. A 2015 Brennan Center publication, Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice, offered proposals from a bipartisan array of elected officials and advocates and helped move criminal justice reform to the center of the 2016 election. Since then, the nationwide consensus in favor of a new direction has only hardened. For the first time, the opportunity for truly transformative change is in view. Last year, Congress took a step forward by overwhelmingly passing the bipartisan First Step Act. It shortened some of the most extreme federal drug sentences and expanded programming for incarcerated people. But in recent years, we’ve also seen the country’s leadership take grave steps back, from expanding immigration detention to reinstituting draconian federal charging policies. The First Step Act — which needs to be fully funded and implemented — will not fix our deeply broken system. But with both Democrats and Republicans committed to reform, it
represents a new baseline. This breakthrough shows it is possible to make even bigger changes — and that the politics can align. And federal policy matters. While the vast majority of the nation’s prison population is held in state facilities, what happens at the federal level sets the stage for the rest of the nation. Federal reforms can spur national culture change to end mass incarceration, and federal incentive funding can help states to decarcerate and provide support for innovative new ideas. So, now, what’s the next step? We need stronger, more comprehensive, and more far-reaching solutions from our nation’s leaders to address mass incarceration. It would be a missed opportunity to aim for anything less than fundamental change. That’s why, in advance of the 2020 presidential election, we have again asked leaders representing communities most harmed by mass incarceration, as well as top policymakers, to offer their solutions. And we’ve urged them to think big. Each author has contributed an essay highlighting their own ideas for reform. Neither the Brennan Center nor I agree with all the content of the essays in this book, and each author would likely say the same. The Center sought to create a nonpartisan forum for sorely needed ideas to be publicly shared.l
To read Ending Mass Incarceration: Ideas from Today’s Leaders, visit www.cawnyc.com
Contributors Erin Telesford Jameliah Francis Dr Alisha ‘Ali’ Griffith Dana Mathura Dr Kristie Vjonsson, AllRecipes.com Jennine Estes, MFT Chereen James Janet Howard Journal Contributors Erika Cruz 311immigration.com Email email@example.com Telephone 718-771-0988 Website www.cawnyc.com Cover photo of Rihanna: Shutterstock
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District Attorney’s New Implementation of the Post-Conviction Justice Bureau BY ERIN TELESFORD
rooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzales created his new initiative titled the Post-Conviction Justice Bureau. As a person born and raised in New York, Gonzales noticed how intense the problem of mass incarceration is on the city. Ten percent of people in jail who are residents of Brooklyn have been convicted of crimes many years ago. As part of his Justice 2020 initiative, he wants to find out whether or not some of these people have been denied parole simply because of the nature of the crimes they committed. Gonzales’ Post-Conviction Justice Bureau will have three parts: the Conviction Review Unit, the Parole and Clemency Unit, and the Sealing Unit. He expressed the fact that the Sealing Unit is the most important because of its potential of helping thousands of people in New York. The Sealing Unit will help convicted people seal their past criminal records if eligible. The state law allows people who haven’t committed any crimes or altercations with the law in 10 years, to be eligible to get their records sealed. This will allow them to apply for a job, housing or education without the fear that they will be in automatic denial
because of a misdemeanor or a low-level felony they may or may not have committed many years in the past. The second part of his plan is the implementation of a Conviction Review Unit. This unit is tasked with reviewing wrongful convictions. According to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the Conviction Review team will “re-interview witnesses, consult with experts and use the most up-to-date science and technology to reevaluate the evidence. This includes forensic science like DNA, as well as social science research on issues like faulty eyewitness identification and false confessions. The unit's work is critical for public safety. If the wrong person is sitting in prison for a serious violent crime, the real perpetrator may still be
out there endangering the public.” The Conviction Review Unit has currently vacated 25 wrongful convictions and is working on setting more innocent people free. Lastly, Gonzales’ plan will include the Parole and Clemency Unit which will work with the Governor to find out if certain people are eligible for clemency, or, a pardon from a criminal offense. This unit will provide them with the documents and recommendations necessary for people to receive clemency. The Post-Conviction Justice Bureau will be working with jails, upstate prisons that hold people with long-term cases, and transitional services within the prisons and asking for names of who they believe are ready to be released from jail on parole. The Bureau is ready to help people gain reentry into society, receive assistance in finding housing and employment, and reconnect with families, depending on the results of their plea bargain cases. For anyone who is concerned about the DA’s office accidentally releasing a dangerous person, every convicted felon is graded on a scale to show if they are a safe or dangerous risk to return back to society. This score is taken very seriously and if a person wants to be granted
clemency but are labeled a dangerous risk, they will not be taken into consideration. According, to 311immigration.com, Criminal conviction normally results in immediate removal of noncitizens from the United States. After the noncitizens have served the sentence, immigration authorities usually detain the immigrants and start removal proceedings against them. This is especially frequent since 9/11. However, many noncitizens are unaware of an important relief when they are faced with the challenge of deportation or when seeking a job after serving the sentence. The noncitizen may seek the discretionary post-conviction relief in the immigration court, which allows the noncitizens to attack and in some cases overturn a criminal conviction or sentence. In many cases, this is the only hope for the immigrant to avoid deportation or denial of a job. l However, those who are safe-risk are able to contact the Conviction Review Unit through the District Attorney’s office website. Lisa Pearlman, who is in charge of the Sealing Unit, is also available at (718) 250-4843.This is really great news for immigrants. tion or denial of a job. l
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USCIS Says Immigrants Who Use Legal Marijuana Can Be Denied Citizenship According to the guidelines, “possession of marijuana for recreational or medical purposes or employment in the marijuana industry may constitute conduct that violates federal controlled substance laws.”
BY AARON REICHLIN-MELNICK
nder a new guidance issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), immigrants may find themselves barred from obtaining citizenship if they possess or use marijuana—even if doing so is legal where they live. The new policy also clarifies that even employment in the industry can prevent an immigrant from being a naturalized citizen. As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, immigrants may find themselves entirely left out. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance. Possession of even small amounts of marijuana can qualify as a federal misdemeanor. Giving marijuana to another person—even for no money—can qualify as trafficking. To be eligible to become a naturalized citizen, an immigrant must demonstrate they had “good moral character” for the past five years before filing their application. But the law presumes that a person does not have “good moral character” if they have committed any violations of controlled substance laws. This is the case even if they were never arrested or
convicted. There is an exception for those with a “single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.” Because the federal government hasn’t interfered with state legalization, many immigrants may have been unaware of these consequences. But USCIS has now made it clear that state laws do not prevent immigration consequences. This can be enough to tip the scales against them in judging whether they have “good moral character.” This means buying marijuana for personal use or even working as a cashier at a dispensary
might bar an immigrant from citizenship. They will have to wait up to five years before being eligible to apply for citizenship again. Similar conflicts even get in the way of international travel. After Canada legalized recreational marijuana last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a warning to travelers. U.S. officials can now deny Canadians entry if they are going to the United States for “reasons related to the marijuana industry.” Those that work in the industry but are traveling for unrelated reasons won’t get turned
away, although using marijuana in a legal state could disqualify them from future entries. As the legal marijuana industry expands, immigrants seeking to take advantage of the industry find themselves increasingly at risk. USCIS’s guidance is a clear sign that that Congress still needs to act on this state and federal conflict. This will ensure immigrants are not unfairly denied citizenship for partaking in something completely legal in their state.l
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Pig ‘Ebola’ Virus Sends Shock Waves Through Global Food
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BY DAN MURTAUGH & ENDA CURRAN (BLOOMBERG)
hat started with a few dozen dead pigs in northeastern China is sending shock waves through the global food chain. Last August, a farm with fewer than 400 hogs on the outskirts of Shenyang was found to harbor African swine fever, the first ever occurrence of the contagious viral disease in the country with half the world’s pigs. Forty-seven head had died, triggering emergency measures including mass culling and a blockade to stop the transportation of livestock. Within days, a government notice proclaimed the outbreak “effectively controlled.” It was too late. By then, the disease had Buju Banton continued from page 1 the biggest music event in Jamaica since Bob Marley's Smile Jamaica concert in 1976. Jamaica's national stadium, which hosted the concert, is listed as having a capacity of 35,000. For the first night of Buju Banton's Long Walk to Freedom Tour, it's estimated there were more than 40,000 people there. Drug Charges Although he's always maintained his innocence, Buju Banton was convicted in 2011, of conspiring to set up a cocaine deal two years earlier. Prosecutors in Florida said the singer, whose real name is Mark Myrie, told a police informant he could broker the drug. But Buju Banton testified in court he was merely boasting, and prosecutors conceded he had never put money into a deal, nor made any. Days after his initial arrest Buju Banton won a Grammy Award for his album, Before the Dawn. Buju Banton has been a staple in reggae and dancehall music in Jamaica since the early 1990s. Seani B says Buju Banton has "done his time" for the drug charges.
literally gone viral, dispersed across hundreds of miles in sickened animals, contaminated food, and in dirt and dust on truck tires and clothing. Nine months later, the contagion has spread nationwide, crossed borders to Mongolia, Vietnam and Cambodia, and bolstered meat markets globally. While official estimates count 1 million culled hogs, slaughter data suggest 100 times more will be removed from China’s 440 million-strong swine herd in 2019, the Chinese zodiac’s “year of the pig.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast in April a decline of 134 million head — equivalent to the entire annual output of American pigs — and the worst slump since the department began counting China’s pigs in the mid 1970s. l
"He's a free man, he should be allowed to continue the journey he was blessed with and that's bringing music to the world." Dancehall singer Koffee said Buju sets a "positive example" for young artists like her. "To be honest with you, Buju is a legend, people like him set the pace for me." Protoje, another reggae star at the event, said: "I spoke to him since he's been back. Just the fact he knows my name or who I am, I give thanks just for that. I can only imagine what it was like not being on stage for eight years, just the overwhelming emotions he must have gone through. I am happy for him." Despite being away from the scene for so long, Seani B says he thinks Buju Banton will fit back into the dancehall world seamlessly. "You can see from the Buju Banton that was on stage that he's ready for business. He's one of the columns of dancehall and I don't think he's going anywhere... he's still reigning as a champion." l
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While April Was Autism Awareness Month; Every Day Is Autism Acceptance! absolutely adores Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. I strongly encourage you to find out what is that one thing your child absolutely loves and use it to help tighten your bond with your child.
BY DR ALISHA ‘ALI’ GRIFFITH
ven though April was Autism Awareness Month, as a professional and parent of a child with autism, every day is autism awareness in our lives. This is why it’s so important that we are open and receptive to speak more about increased awareness, acceptance and inclusion of children with autism. What is autism? Autism is a developmental disorder that varies in severity that is characterized by difficulties in communication, social interaction and by restrictive thoughts or behaviors with repetitive patterns. Many people throughout the U.S. have a loved one with autism. Studies show that it is one of the fastest-growing development disorders in the U.S. and it now affects 1 in 59 children. People with ASD (autism spectrum disorders) face enormous challenges throughout the day). For 8 agonizing years I suffered in silence. I was afraid to reveal and even admit, my son Zachary has autism. I know how your stomach churns when a parent hears your child isn’t hitting the same milestones as other kids their age. I
Dr Ali with her son, Zachary know the sadness and even guilt of wanting to ignore the quirks and nuances that the child does, just so that they can seem “normal.” And I know the frustration that can overshadow life as the battle to devote every waking minute is given to a child. But, here is what I also know! I know a child living with autism, is au-mazing. I know we can celebrate our little one’s unique quirks and enjoy every minute spent together. And I know that it is okay to pursue dreams as a parent and take care of an au-mazing child, ALL without feeling selfish. In my #1 best-seller, Au-mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance, parents, family members and supporters will learn how to activate over 10 unique success tools to help them to reconnect,
realign and reorganize past perceptions and negative stigmas. This shift will help to create, maintain and develop improved relationships at home and at school. Here are 3 quick success tools I learned from parenting autism that highlights my journey and can strengthen yours. Tool #1: Identify Individual Strengths What’s that one topic area of interest or one thing the child absolutely loves to talk about? Play with? Be immersed with? Can spend their entire day, life, minute speaking about? When you find out what that one thing is, then that’s an easy way to have the conversation with them and create a relationship. Most kids on the spectrum will have a preferred area that they love, whether this be dinosaurs or transportation. My Zachary
Tool #2: Creating Schedules Are Critical Creating and maintaining schedules are crucial for children on the spectrum, since they thrive on regimented routines. Keeping your au-mazing child on a schedule can make your life and their life so much smoother. Have you ever noticed that some children know time, way before they learn about how to use a clock? Children on the spectrum often know things like when the bus is coming, or lunch time…and other specific times with repetition of interested activities. For example, one of my coaching clients was amazed that “My 4 -year- old son with autism knows, without knowing how to tell the time, that 7:05am is when the bus comes.” Years before Zachary learned about time, he was able to come and tell me, ‘Mom it’s my break time,’ or ‘Mom it’s tablet time. ’Keeping and creating scheduled routines will help children with autism to meet success. continued on page 14
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IN THE NEWS No-Match Letters/ continued from page 1 Undocumented immigrants have been able to land jobs in various fields such as construction, farming and child care. While some remain in the shadow and work off the books, others can pay taxes through acquiring the infamous Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, in the hope that this would lead to citizenship. What is ITIN? Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) main concern is about collecting their portion of the pie. The law of the land is that persons residing in the United States, whether illegally or not…once they earn an income are expected to follow through on tax contributions and file a tax return even if the income was earned as an undocumented immigrant. To accommodate this, in 1996, the IRS established the ITIN to allow noncitizens who earn income in the United States, including legally present noncitizens who do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), to pay taxes on money earned in the United States. For instance, ITINs enabled foreign nationals to pay taxes on the interest earned in a U.S. bank or investment account. They also allowed spouses of work-authorized visa-holders to pay taxes on self-employment income etc. According to Hunter Hallman, “most experts believe that the vast majority of
8 tax returns filed with ITINs today are filed by undocumented immigrants rather than the intended recipient groups—a few categories of noncitizens who do not have a SSN and are not authorized to work but who are still earning income and legally residing in the United States. In 2010, ITINs were used to file over 3 million federal tax returns.” SSN and Form I-9 In addition to the Tax IDs, many other undocumented immigrants found ways and means to obtain a much coveted SSN in an effort to legally find jobs. As such, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 mandated every employer to confirm the work eligibility of all new employees by completing Form I-9. The employee now has to submit a SSN and other documents proving work authorization and identity to their employer. It is important to note that the actual Social Security Card was not necessary, since there were many other documents with the SSN on it that could be used instead. Or, the employee can simply recite the number to their employer. For undocumented immigrants, in the absence of a genuine SSN the employer is either presented with someone else’s number, a fake SSN or even one that was previously valid through a work authorization that has since expired. With employers not legally able to verify this information or ask for additional documents, they are left with no choice but to
use it on the Form I-9 and W-2. While this method worked in the short run, the long run proved to be a different story. No Match Letters In a vicious effort to crack down on illegal immigrants, the Trump Administration with its counterpart, the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) has reestablished the dreaded No-Match Letters. An annual review of W-2 forms is performed by SSA after which it credits social security earnings to workers. In the event there is a mis-match in names or a SSN on any W-2 Forms and SSA records, then the Social Security earnings will be placed into a suspense file. During that time the SSA will work to resolve these discrepancies by sending no-match letters to employers. Recent years has shown that over 6.7 million workers a year have been mis-matched. Can Homeland Security Access Information from IRS or SSA? Legally, there cannot be any form of information sharing between Homeland Security and IRS or the SSA. However, given the nature of Donald Trump and his Administration, who knows what the new outcome would be? Millions of people may be out of jobs and face possible risk of deportation. Either way, it will now be a case of law breaker against law breaker —one for survival purposes and the other for political and spiteful reasons.
Moving Forward…or Backward Trump wants to make America “great again” and his way of doing it is to rid this already great land of undocumented immigrants. The IRS is interested in ensuring an excellent tax base by collecting all government taxes owed, despite the source. Business owners want to employ cheap and skilled labor, thereby securing a hefty profit margin. Immigration enforcement officials’ mandate is to enforce the law against unauthorized work. All in all, illegal immigrants just want to survive by trying at all costs to make an honest living. In actuality, illegal immigrants seem to play a very important part in America’s economy. Disrupting their lives may mean the disruption of lives for many. Make America Great Again! Indeed, from this point on, America definitely needs to be made great again and the only way Donald Trump can make good on his promise to do this is to have Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Anything short of that will be a dreaded recession. According to Giovanni Peri, an economist who studies immigration labor at the University of California, “With a true cutoff in illegal immigration, the economy would contract. The impact, he said, would fall not just on immigrants — because their work sustains sectors that employ many Americans.”l
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Can a Concussion Cause Long-Term Brain Problems? risk of longer term problems. Parents should also take whatever steps possible to protect child against potential head injury such as providing appropriate helmets and head gear when your child is participating in sports or riding a bicycle, skateboard, or scooter. Although kids may not think it is “cool” to wear a helmet, the importance of this can’t be overemphasized. The brain is one organ you definitely want to protect at all costs.l
BY DR KRISTIE
o you have a child who plays sports or who loves to be a daredevil on a skateboard or bicycle? If so, they may be at a higher risk of experiencing a brain concussion. Although concussions have traditionally been thought of as mild forms of head injury that completely resolve without long-term problems, this may not always be the case. There’s evidence to suggest that a minor concussion may have affects on brain activities many years later. The so-called “mild concussion” may not be so minor after all. A brain concussion occurs when a person receives a blow to the head or a shaking type of injury which causes changes in brain activity, but without bleeding or other damage seen on x-ray. The symptoms of a mild concussion can be quite variable and can include a brief loss of consciousness. Even if no loss of consciousness occurs, a child may appear confused, dazed, have memory deficits, and behave in a peculiar manner. When is it most likely to happen? A minor concussion commonly occurs when a child is playing sports, playing outdoors, or as a result of a car or bike accident. Anytime the head experiences a blow or a jarring type of movement, a brain con-
cussion can result. Although a MRI or CT scan may be needed in severe cases of head injury, if symptoms are only mild, imaging studies may not be needed. This is why the history surrounding the head injury is so important. The history and how a child behaves immediately after the injury can determine whether or not a child needs to be hospitalized for further studies and observation. Although a mild concussion generally resolves over a period of several days to a few weeks, there are some studies that
show that children who experience a brain concussion, particularly multiple ones, can have subtle changes in memory and problems with inattentiveness even up to thirty years after the event. This appears to be more likely to happen if a child returns to playing sports too soon after a minor concussion. What can parents take away from this study? It’s important when a child is diagnosed with a minor concussion that he or she not be urged to go back to playing sports or allowed to play unattended outside too quickly which could raise the
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Students Protest against Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo on Affordable Housing Issues BY CHEREEN JAMES protest against Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, who represents New York City’s Council District 35 (Prospect Heights, parts of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene), was held on May 10, 2019. Sparked by the suspension of Medgar Evers College Student Body President elect, Sakia Fletcher, after she was escorted from a Community Board 9 meeting on April 30, 2019, the protest was held outside the Councilwoman’s office at 55 Hanson Place. At the Community Board meeting, Councilwoman Cumbo was seen in videos verbally sparring with Fletcher. According to the latter, the incident arose when she asked the Councilwoman if space at the Bedford Union Armory would be allocated to the Medgar Evers Student Body for their housing needs, classroom space and other facility uses. The Armory is located in the vicinity of the college and is owned by the City. Fletcher said that it was not the first time she posed that question to Cumbo, and not the first public meeting she has
attended where the Councilwoman was present. In a press release statement Cumbo stated that a student charged at her and was yelling at the top of her lungs in her face. Although the videos do not show what led up to the verbal altercation, they do show Fletcher, the student, standing with her hands behind her back saying, “you’re the reason why we fail as a people…because you get in these positions and yet every time you pass these proposals …it’s against the community.” Cumbo can be heard shouting, “I’m not leaving. I’m tired of people hijacking our
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meetings.” She is later heard shouting, “ignorant!” repeatedly while the student echoed, “Lying Laurie.” The Councilwoman alleged in the same press release statement that the incident was orchestrated by the Movement to Protect the People (MTOPP), an organization that advocates for affordable housing based on the current population’s income as opposed to the citywide median income that is often used, and is typically higher than the district’s median income. In a phone interview, Fletcher said, “I do not want to jeopardize my character and career for a 2-to3-
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minute social media stunt. I have never, and will never be, a puppet for anyone.” Although Fletcher’s question was not formally addressed at the meeting, Cumbo explained in the press release statement that the Armory will be redeveloped into a mixed-use facility, where 250 of 400 residential apartments will be rented to families earning 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or less. Sixty percent AMI for a family of three is an income of $57,660 per year. The AMI for NYC is calculated using City income data, as well as income data from Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties, where incomes are significantly higher than those of the five boroughs. In fact, those counties do not use NYC income data when calculating their AMI, as it will be significantly lower. According to NY Business Journal, the median income for the zip code, 11225, where the Armory is located, was $39,992 in 2016. This means that to meet the needs of the population, 200 apartments should go to individuals earning $39,992 or less. In the Councilwoman’s proposal, 49 units will go to families earning the median income for that area. Affordable housing units, such as the ones proposed in the Armory, are awarded through the City’s housing lottery system, where it can take months or even years for a family to receive a decision. In her letter, Cumbo states, “our federally implemented housing lottery system is extremely flawed, and that is exactly why I fought tooth and nail to ensure that the units at the Armory are affordable for existing Crown Heights residents as well as those who have been displaced from the community.” Fletcher’s concern is that the students of Medgar Evers College are facing homelessness and housing insecurities, which can negatively impact their grades or cause students to drop out, further decreasing their chances to be employed and to break the cycle of poverty. There was no mention of space allocated specifically to Medgar Evers College in the Armory. The argument of groups such as MTOPP is that City officials should use local AMI for their districts, not countywide, nor city-wide, as those figures act as a brushstroke over the varying income levels in different districts. Fletcher pointed out that it is not common for individuals from lower- income communities to appear at Community Board meetings, as they are not educated on the issues and how it affects them. She suggested that individuals from lowincome communities should hold elected officials accountable for their actions. Cumbo and other City Council officials should address the disparity between the median income used for affordable housing proposals, and the actual median income for her district. l
Student Loans and Bankruptcy: Why Black Borrowers Are Hit Harder BY DANA MATHURA
y now, we have all heard how immense the student debt crisis actually is. So, it should come as no surprise that student loans continue to wreak havoc on the lives of students who graduate with loan repayments. What is more, though, is that the loans carry on their effect long after students graduate. In the mix of this predicament, black students who borrow funds for their college careers end up getting hit the worst by the effects of the debt crisis. Oftentimes, the black student-borrower who is in debt was a first-generation college student. What this has the potential to mean, is that their family did not predict the high costs of college and all that goes along with it. But even if they did, sometimes their family savings are not enough to send their child off for their studies without a loan. It all starts somewhere and in this case, there are societal reasons. Black borrowers have less wealth in their names compared to other races. This speaks to their lack of inherited wealth from parents, grandparents and other family members who leave items to them in their Wills and by other means. The lack of wealth also comes from how much they personally earn in their
own jobs. Black students are not always afforded the same job opportunities or the same pay as their white peers. According to a Nerdwallet article, there are more black borrowers than there are white or Latino borrowers. That number rounds off to 87% of black students who borrow, compared to the other two ethnic groups. “A quarter-million federal direct student loan borrowers see their loans go into default for the first time every quarter,” the Urban Institute stated in their research. On top of that, black borrowers are more likely to default on their loans. A default on a federal student loan occurs after nine months of inactive payments. Once that goes into effect, the federal government then has the right to seize their paychecks. In addition to that, the student who has defaulted on their loan can be sought after by debt collectors. This all puts a massive dent in the student’s credit score and directly affects how they will purchase a home, vehicle or any costly item in the future. A year or two before the student defaults on their loan their credit score sees a 50 to 90 point decline, as reported by the Urban Institute. What further envelops black borrowers into more debt is their enrollment in graduate school after receiving their bachelor’s
degrees. The need for more schooling after completing their undergraduate studies stems from the lack of opportunities offered to black graduates with just bachelor's degrees. Black students typically decide that obtaining their master’s degrees will heighten their job prospects but in doing so, they have a wider pool of loans with higher amounts they can delve into. But, this puts them in the red zone for defaulting on their grad school loans more than they would for their undergraduate school loans. It must be noted that, the reasons why black borrowers default on their student loans and fall into more debt are simply unavoidable, unless there is a complete overhaul of society. In the meantime, black borrowers should apply for federal aid before they decide on federal or private loans. This can be done through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application which not only issues Pell Grants, but also work-study opportunities. Secondly, it is best to seek scholarships which are handed out not only based on academic excellence, but according to different criteria met by the applying student. After trying the above methods and incorporating your own savings, if possible, and college is still too expensive, then
opt for a federal loan before you apply for a private loan. Federal student loans for college include Direct loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), Perkins loans, Parent PLUS loans, and GradPLUS loans. Typically, federal loans are favored because they offer lower interest rates and some recourse of forgiveness. They are aimed at making higher education a possibility for every student in the nation. If you are a borrower, but especially a black borrower, be wary of your due dates and sketch a plan of payment so you keep on top of your loan before it gets out of hand. Should you foresee a missed payment or begin to fall behind on your loan repayments, reach out to the loan servicer. Loan servicers know you are not the first student to experience the hardship repayment brings. Reaching out to them could result in a collaborative plan of action you both put together. A lack of communication could end up costing you so much
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Trinbago Progressive Association Celebrates 25 BY JAMIELIAH FRANCIS
rinbago Progressive Association of the U.S.A., Inc. (TPA), formally called the Tobago Progressive Association of the U.S.A., Inc., is a vibrant organization that was birthed in 1989, in New York, by the late Dr. George Oliver Phillips and other compatriots. The organization was formulated to identify and offer services to improve the quality of life for individuals and families alike, in New York’s diaspora and in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) with regards to health, education and social welfare.
Awardees Photos courtesy GoodIntent Village, LLC President Isaac
New York and the Diaspora Over the years, TPA has contributed quite a lot to its target markets. According to the President, Stephen J. H. Isaac, “TPA has under its belt thirty years… as an active organization and during this time it has hosted twenty-five …Luncheon and Inaugural Scholarship award ceremonies and sponsored a number of successful Health Fairs in the community of Brooklyn.” To date, TPA has successfully donated over five hundred new winter coats to persons of need in the Brooklyn area. Trinidad and Tobago In addition to the numerous initiative that is taken on by TPA in New York, muchmore is being done for T&T. Over the past several years, TPA has made ten Medical Mission trips to T&T and is preparing for the eleventh mission trip scheduled from July 12 to July 26, 2020. While in T&T, TPA conducts free medical screenings coupled with the dissemination of intense educational awareness in dental care, cholesterol monitoring, diabetes management, high blood pressure, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS awareness. During the period of July 15 to July 29, 2018, a team of 40 medical professionals together with other volunteers, 35 from different part of the United States, journeyed to T&T with the intention of enlightening the people on current health issues. Dr. Daniel Beckles, who is a physician and surgeon in the field of cardiology at SUNY Downstate Hospital in Brooklyn, and Dr. Gerard Antoine, Director of the Stroke and Diabetic Foundation in T&T, did an excellent job in conducting one-on-one sessions in the area of cardiac disease, obesity, body mass index, stroke, diabetes and many other health concerns. They both demonstrate keen commitment and dedication to TPA. Sharing is caring; therefore, TPA stands firm in its mission to provide the necessary medical tools and equipment needed to make the lives of the people of T&T a better one. In recent years TPA has provided T&T with ten commercial bins and four jumbo barrels. In addition to that,
TPA continues to deliver on its promise to provide four large crates which contained three hospital beds, two motorized wheelchairs, eight manual wheelchairs, a number of walkers, commodes, shower chairs, canes and one hoyer lift and so on. In 2003, TPA donated a dialysis machine to the Scarborough General Hospital since the hospital was without one at the time. Recent Endeavors A Memorandum of Understanding with the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development and The Tobago Regional Health Authority was signed on March 29, 2019. This in itself is a huge accomplishment for TPA. Also, the 25th Luncheon and Inaugural Scholarship award ceremony was held on May 5, 2019. At the event a total of three scholarships were presented together with eight awards. Scholarships The Stephen J. H. Isaac Award was presented to Ms. Jamila Samue, physical therapist, SUNY Downstate Medical Center The Daniel & Kassie Beckles, President & CEO of DKB Advantage Inc. Nursing Scholarship was presented to Ms. Judith Benoit and Ms. Shamika Findlay, Medgar Evers College Awardees Moro Salifu, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP Professor Cynthia Sterling-Fox, RN, MSN, FNP-C Dr. Sylette Henry-Buckmire, Fulbright Scholar Hermin C. Lewis, PCA
Monica Sweeney, MD, MPH, FACP Jean Lezama Francis, RN Dr. Shilah Marion Paul Dr Daniel and Kassie Beckels, BSC., MSc., MD, PHD Upcoming Events It doesn’t stop there for TPA. Scheduled for September 15, 2019, at the River of Life Seventh Day Adventist Church, is its annual Eat ‘Til yu Belly Bus’ Gospel Brunch. The theme speaks for itself! The address for this event is 623 Utica Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11203, entrance at 868 Winthrop Avenue. Also, the 11th annual mission trip to T&T, geared for July 12-26, 2020, is also high on its agenda. TPA welcomes any assistance with medical supplies for this upcoming mission trip. Cash donations are also welcome. Going Forward According to Sylvan Henry, public relations officer of TPA, “It is our hope that very soon we will be able to broaden our horizon and extend our outreach to other Caribbean islands and even to Africa.” As it stands, the TPA is making a mark in society. They are obviously highly dedicated to the task at hand and intend to deliver on their promise to identify and offer services to improve the quality of life for individuals and families alike in New York’s diaspora and in T&T with regards to health, education and social welfare. To support TPA, please visit www.tpausa.org or contact the President at 917-528-8141.l
Sandals Sexual Assault Case continued from page 1 reviews were buried away by others, making it impossible for travelers to be notified about the security risk of those lodgings. The decision by TripAdvisor to make rapes and sexual assaults more visible on their website looks like a long time coming, particularly since they have had concerns with this previously. TripAdvisor apologized in 2017, to a Texas woman who wrote about her rape at a Mexican resort. TripAdvisor removed what she wrote because it included graphic language which at the time “violated community standards.” This policy has since been changed and TripAdvisor reloaded the sexual assault claim. However, the Traveler Safety filter only flags reviews that were written within the last year that involves sexual assault and misconduct by workers of a travel business registered on the website. If you want to know if a tour company, restaurant or hotel on TripAdvisor has had a long history of sexual misconduct, you will have to be persistent and do further research as the Traveller Safety filter will not flag companies if the reviews concerning sexual misconduct were composed more than a year ago. You will have to search for keywords like “sexual assault” or “rape” in the review search box to see those exact accounts. Two instances of this were discovered through a quick search. Breezes Resort and Spa Bahamas and Sandals Montego Bay All-Inclusive do not have “Traveler Safety” filter boxes on their reviews, although they have reviews regarding sexual misconduct by workers at the lodging. That’s due to the reviews being written in 2005 and 2014, which go beyond the year duration that TripAdvisor has set. User ‘jcplt’ wrote a review in 2005, about a Sandals Montego Bay worker, placing his hand up jcplt’s spouse’s dress while she was on the dance floor. “Sandals tried to hide behind the fact that they ‘were investigating’ and the employee continuously denied the happening,” he wrote. “When all was said and done, I spent my last few hours in Jamaica meeting with the top two managers, signing legal release forms in return for [a] free trip to any Sandals.” Similarly, Amanda T wrote a review about Breezes Resort and Spa Bahamas in 2014 stating, “Another thing that was rampant with the male staff was making sexual advances towards the tourists.” Adding further, “One day it was windy and the employee at the outdoor grill offered to ‘come warm me up in my room later.’ This is completely unprofessional and inappropriate.” Her review details her complaints about this harassment and the issues she faced when reporting it to management. If you want to know about these incidents, always use keyword searches like “sexual,” “assault,” “sexual assault,” “rape” or “drugging” when looking through a travel company’s reviews before booking.l
Rihanna Launches Fenty; Discusses Influence of 1960s ’Black Is Beautiful’ BY JANET HOWARD The Fenty fashionista drew inspiration from Kwame Brathwaite’s "Black Is Beautiful" movement and his photos of regal Black women.
hat more can we say about Rihanna? Apparently, very much. Rihanna is determined to not just make history, but to make history in a meaningful way. Fenty, officially launched on May 29 in partnership with LVMH Maison, makes Rihanna the first Black woman to launch a luxury line with a major fashion house. Yes, our island-girl from Barbados in the Caribbean. Adding significance to the line, Rihanna shared that her major inspiration was Kwame Braithwaite, the Brooklyn-born photographer who helped pioneer the ‘Black is Beautiful’ Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Not only did she get inspiration from
Braithwaite. Rihanna also she's pays tribute to this major moment in the debut Fenty campaign by having alongside each collection, a look, shot against a dark turquoise backdrop, a black-andwhite photograph by Brathwaite. In an interview with Vogue, Rihanna revealed that she and her team had been
looking around for a concept for the brand's debut and found the photographer's archive. Within it, there was a documentary about the Grandassa Models, a group of young Black female activists who used fashion as a vehicle to honor and elevate Black culture. "It was a really strange and powerful parallel,"
Rihanna told Vogue of Brathwaite's images. "And he gave me permission [to use the imagery]; obviously that is a big deal." Rihanna also found another striking similarity: Brathwaite, like herself, also shares her grandfather's last name, which was her mother's name before it became Fenty. When asked whether she wants to send a political message with Fenty, Rihanna tells Vogue, "Well, I don't know if it's political so much as embracing the fact that people should be more aware. But definitely, we want people to see the parallels between what was then and what this is now, in a modern way." Yes, Black is not only beautiful, it is powerful!l
LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS
Storming Out of Fights: Why You Need to Stop
14 Autism Acceptance/ continued from page 7
Kitchen Corner Rich Banana Bread
BY JENNINE ESTES, MFT
ometimes an argument with your partner can get heated, or maybe you feel like you're having the same fight for the 5th time this week. It can be tempting to storm out of the room and slam the door behind you because you just don't want to deal with it. Sometimes cooling off can be helpful, but exiting a fight as a statement is not a good way to do it. When you suddenly leave, you are sending all sorts of messages to your partner that you may not even realize, and that are pretty hurtful. Here is why you might be damaging your relationship if you're someone who storms out when the going gets tough: Stonewalling Escalates the Argument When one partner is making an effort to fix a problem in the relationship, but the other person shuts down, it’s known as stonewalling. By storming out mid-argument, you are putting up a figurative wall between you and your spouse. Your partner will keep trying harder and harder to get through to you, maybe by following you out of the room or by calling you 20 times in a row if you leave the home. This will escalate emotions on your partner’s side, and his behavior can in turn make you more fired up. You are actually helping keep the relationship in conflict and disconnected. Your Partner Is Abandoned Leaving your partner before you have come to any resolution or even finished the conversation can make your spouse feel very abandoned. If abandonment is one of your partner’s emotional triggers, this might cause big damage to creating a secure attachment. A sudden departure from the argument teaches your partner that you can’t necessarily be relied on to work through issues together or stick around when times get tough. You Won’t Resolve the Issue Storming out of a fight will prevent you from coming to some sort of compromise. You will just be postponing the argument until later, which gives you both more time to come up with jabs or
comebacks. When you walk out of an argument you leave it off on a bad note, which means that you will probably both still be annoyed when you walk back into your home or the same room. If an argument is escalating and you both need to cool down, talk about it before you just storm out in anger. Set a time limit and promise to come back — and then follow through. For example, you can say, “This is getting too heated. I need to go into the other room for 10 minutes before we both say something we regret.” This lets your partner know that (a) you are committed to reaching a resolution and (b) you’re not just abandoning him. Take your break time to cool down — not think of more comebacks — and go into the room with a calmer demeanor. This will teach your partner that when you promise to come back you will, and that you are prepared to continue the conversation being more level headed than when you left. So, What Can You Do? l Jennine is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. She writes relationship and selfgrowth advice for her column, Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653 Reprinted with the kind permission of Estes Therapy.
Tool #3: Connecting through Challenges Children on the autism spectrum are hypersensitive to emotions. They can connect through smiles. When you take the time to create a meaningful relationship, you will get a huge smile from them, a genuine heart-centered smile that lights up everything around you. Find out what makes them smile. Try this, make a simple activity of writing down how many things you can do to get them to smile. Time spent with your au-mazing child can mean the world to a child on the spectrum, so when you get that smile, it’s something that they love to do. The last thing they absolutely hate is a mean-spirited person. They don’t have to say much or do much, but if you have a mean-spirited person around a child with autism, they feel it, they know it and they will respond to it. Even though you may think they’re always in their own world and you may think they’re not paying attention to what’s going on, when there’s a mean-spirited person in the area they don’t like, you will see responses in the child. This is why it is so important to pay attention to some of the things they don’t like. If you use these 3 quick tools, as a parent, family member, friend or supporter of autism, you will have easier ways of establishing connections, increase communication and deepen your relationship with a child (or family member) living with autism. For additional tips, strategies, or to discuss concerns or to have Dr. Ali Griffith speak at your facility, organization or company, go to: www.draligriffith.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Alisha “Ali” Griffith is an autism parenting strategist, speech language pathologist, audiologist, transformational speaker and certified coach. Inspired by her son, Zachary, who is on the autism spectrum, she became a #1 Best Seller of Au-mazing Gift. She is a proud resident of Brooklyn with parents who are from Guyana.
"This is the moistest banana bread that I have ever tasted. It's also very easy to make!" Ingredients 1/2 cup butter, melted 1 cup white sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 2 medium bananas, sliced Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Finally, fold in the sour cream, walnuts and bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.l •Prep 10 minutes •Cook 1 hour •Ready in 1 hour 10 minutes
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Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage
our permanent residence status is conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than 2 years old on the day you were given permanent residence. You are given conditional resident status on the day you are lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa or adjustment of your status to permanent residence. Your status is conditional, because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the continued on page 3
HUD Proposes to Evict Citizens and Immigrants from Public Housing if They Have Undocumented Family Members BY ERIKA CRUZ
n estimated 25,000 families in public housing are of mixedstatus, meaning that at least one family member is a citizen, legal permanent resident, or refugee and another member is undocumented. Although undocumented immigrants do not qualify for housing benefits, current rules allow them to live with their families who do qualify. However, this may soon change. Under a new rule proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), citizens and legal immigrants in public or subsidized housing may be evicted if they have an undocumented family member living with them. Under current law, a family only needs to declare the number of family members who are eligible or ineligible for the subsidies. If an undocumented family member lives in public housing with the eligible applicant, then the family only receives partial subsidies, which cover only the family members who are eligible citizens or qualifying immigrants. The current system ensures that undocumented family members do not receive
any public housing assistance benefit. Because of these strict guidelines, mixed-status families usually end up paying close to market-rate for rent. continued on page 2
The Trials and Tribulations of Being Undocumented in America VIA 311IMMIGRATION.COM
he Declaration of Independence protects this American Dream. It uses the familiar quote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." This article will explore the trials and tribulations of being undocumented in
America. Close attention will be placed on three important factors; namely, emotional, economic and the fear of Donald Trump. To conclude, it is the hope of the writer to bring about keen awareness from a personal standpoint, the disparity between the American Dream and the pursuit of it as an undocumented immigrant. Many people from around the world journey to America for different reasons continued on page 2
There is Significant Evidence That Abuse Rates Rise When U.S. Citizen Men Marry Immigrant Women
t is often assumed that battered immigrant women are subjected to violence by partners who are themselves immigrants, and that these men were in no position to facilitate theiraccess to legal immigration status. The AYUDA survey found that of the married/formerly married women who reported physical and/or sexual abuse, 47.8% were married to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. When abusers controlled the immigration status of a victim spouse 72.3% never filed immigration papers on behalf of the immigrant victim-spouse. Those who filed immigration papers on behalf of the spouse had an average delay of almost 4 years. This was a key finding that motivated Congress to include immigration relief in the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.. Further analysis of this same AYUDA data, published here for the first time, reveals the following findings. We analyzed the data from immigrant women participating in the AYUDA survey who reported: nThat they were physically and emotionally abused; nThat they were married to the abusers; and; nReported the immigration status of their spouse. We report here the closer examination of status of the spouses immigrant spouses.
results from our the immigration of these abused We found that
continued on page 2
U.S. Citizen Men /from page 1
Undocumented/from page 1
American-born spouses constituted 52.2% of the perpetrators, 9.7% of the victim’s spouses were naturalized U.S. citizens, and only 2.2% were married to lawful permanent residents. The remaining survey participants who provided information about the immigration status of their spouse/former spouse reported abusers with other forms of immigration status such as Temporary Protected Status, student visa, work visa and undocumented. This analysis reveals that the vast majority of the 64% married/formerly married women who reported abuse in this survey were married to, and abused by, U.S. citizens. These data further suggests that when U.S. citizens are married to foreign women the abuse rate is approximately three times higher than the abuse rate in the general population in the United States. Research among Hispanic and Black men regarding domestic violence confirms that both citizen men and foreignborn men report perpetrating abuse against intimate partners at similar rates. In research conducted with an urban community mental health center where the participants were predominantly Hispanic (75%) and Black (22%) men, the author (Raj, 2006) found that men self-reported perpetration of intimate partner violence at 41.3% for the previous year. The men participating in this
which include, but are not limited to, educational purposes, medical purposes, work opportunity and vacationing. While these may be the initial reasons for some, it usually turns out differently for others. America, the land of opportunities… fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, ignites a desire to pursue it. In doing so, while some people are fortunate enough to access such opportunities in a timely and legally humane fashion, by way of becoming documented through Permanent Residence, citizenship or even working authorization, others are not so lucky.
study included both U.S. born citizen and foreign-born Hispanic and Black men. The association between intimate partner violence and U.S.-born citizenship status or national origin was found by Raj to be insignificant, even after controlling for age and race/ethnicity. This finding of no significant differences in abuse rates between men born in the U.S. and men born abroad, means that men born in the U.S. are just as likely to be abusers as men with other types of immigration status. In summary, foreign-born men and U.S. citizen men born in the United States are equally likely to be perpetrators of domestic violence. However, the likelihood of abuse rises significantly when the U.S. citizen men marry immigrant women. l
Emotional Having an illegal status can result in serious emotional problems…especially here in America. Unhealthy marriages, dependence on other people and unemployment, all adversely affect an individual’s mental state. Persons may be in abusive relations for years and due to the fact that they are undocumented, they are forced to compromise their true happiness. This fact also keeps these individuals dependent on other people to survive since they may not be able to be gainfully employed. For the most part such persons are taken advantage of by their partners by being nothing more than sex slaves or if they happen to be employed, money trees. The notion of love takes on a different and unfamiliar meaning and innocent children become the product of these unhealthy relationships. Economic Being economically stable is of paramount importance to anyone no matter where they may be. Being unemployed in America is a massive setback to anyone, especially someone who is undocumented. A person without legal status in America is almost unable to attain and keep a good job. For the most part, undocumented persons, sometimes with good educational backgrounds, will have to settle for mediocre jobs which pay below the minimum wage. They may be forced to dabble in varying skill sets, such as babysitting, housekeeping, dishwashing, dog walking, taxi driving and other odd jobs, hence affecting their financial stability. This limitation obviously affects
HUD Proposes/ continued from page 1
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HUD’s new proposed regulation would make it so that any family currently receiving a public housing benefit or subsidy, including Section 8 vouchers, would automatically be ineligible for any housing benefit if even one member of their family living in the house is undocumented. Under the new system, every family member’s immigration status would be screened through the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system if they are under the age of 62 and currently live in subsidized housing. The new rule could affect as many as 32,000 people in mixed-status families who currently receive federal housing
a person’s ability to develop themselves and their family causing a domino effect on the community in which they live. The Fear of Donald Trump While being in America undocumented is a massive disadvantage, being in America undocumented with Donald Trump as President simply put, is frightening. From all indications, there is a heartless effort to rid America of undocumented immigrants in an effort to “Make America great again” Bear in mind that these are people, who despite not having a Green Card or citizenship made a life in America; this is where they call home! To now be told that they need to return to the land of their births, which they migrated from, is indeed heartbreaking. According to a post on Twitter Trump declared this, "We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country." The discriminatory words alone are despicable enough. The truth is, persons are not entirely fearful of Donald Trump, they are fearful of what he can do with the power he has as America’s President, such as the separation of families, disruption of lives and overall uncertainties as to what life could be for them in the next few years. There seems to be a pattern that is emerging in America and more and more, persons are risking it all to access this American Dream. Nonetheless, not all that glitters is gold. While America is said to be the land of opportunities where persons seemingly have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this is hindered by the now dauntingly rigorous process to attain this right…legal status. On the one hand undocumented persons are held hostage by their unhealthy and stagnant marriages and on the other hand they are held hostage by the constant immigration law changes made by Trump and his government in “Great” America. Frustrated, one may ask themselves, “Where do I go from here?” “Can I truly be happy in America?” All is not lost; there is still hope. Getting in touch with a good and experienced lawyer can be your best hope. This is why you should contact the Law Firm ofFigeroux and Associates to help you turn your trials into triumphs in your pursuit to true happiness. Call 855-768-8845 for a free consultation.l
benefits. Those families would have to choose between eviction or breaking up the family. This puts at risk vulnerable Americans and immigrants who rely on these subsidies for their housing. HUD argues that these evictions will help reduce wait-lists for public housing, but many low-income housing advocates disagree. Very few, if any, apartments would open because many mixed-status families will opt to split up rather than lose their benefits completely. This is a mean-spirited attempt at addressing major issues with public housing, including long wait-lists and substandard housing conditions. In New York alone there are currently 209,180 people on line for public housing benefits, with an additional 148,000 on line for Section 8 housing.l
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IMMIGRATION MATTERS Remove Conditions/ continued from page 1
United States. To remove these conditions you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Eligibility Criteria Generally, you may apply to remove your conditions on permanent residence if you: nAre still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after 2 years. You may include your children in your application if they received their conditional-resident status either at the same time or within 90 days as you did; nAre a child and, for a valid reason, cannot be included in your parentsâ€™ application; nAre a widow or widower who entered into your marriage in good faith; nEntered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment; or nEntered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S.-citizen or permanent-resident spouse. How to Apply to Remove the Conditions You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on your residence by filing Form I-751. You should apply during the 90 days before your
second anniversary as a conditional resident. The expiration date on your green card is also the date of your second anniversary as a conditional resident. If you do not apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your conditional resident status and be removed from the country. If You Are No Longer Married To Your Spouse or If You Have Been Battered or Abused by Your U.S.Citizen or Lawful PermanentResident Spouse or Parent You can apply to waive the joint filing requirement if you are no longer married to your spouse, or if you have been battered or abused by your U.S.-citizen or lawful permanent-resident spouse or parent. In such cases, you may apply to remove the conditions on your permanent residence at any time after you become a conditional resident, but before you are removed from the country. You must provide evidence that removal from the United States would cause you extreme hardship. You and your spouse should be ready for any and all types of questions, from what you gave each other for recent holiday gifts to the form of contraceptive (birth control) you use, if any. The questions vary among different officers and different years.
Your Childâ€™s Conditional Green Card If your child received conditional resident status within 90 days of when you did, then your child may be included in your application to remove the conditions on permanent residence. Your child must file a separate I-751 application if your child received conditional resident status more than 90 days after you did. If You Are Late In Applying To Remove The Conditions On Residence If you fail to properly file Form I-751 within the 90-day period before your second anniversary as a conditional resident: Your conditional resident status will automatically be terminated and we will begin removal proceedings against you nYou will receive a notice from us telling you that you have failed to remove the conditions nYou will receive a Notice to Appear at a hearing. At the hearing you may review and rebut the evidence against you. You are responsible for proving that you complied with the requirements (we are not responsible for proving that you did not comply with the requirements) The Form I-751 can be filed after the 90-day period if you can prove in writing to the director of the appropriate Service Center that there was good cause for failing to file the petition on time. The director has the discretion to approve the petition and restore your permanent resident status.
How to Get a Waiver of the Requirement to File a Joint Petition If you are unable to apply with your spouse to remove the conditions on your residence, you may request a waiver of the joint filing requirement. You may request consideration of more than one waiver provision at a time.l If You Are In Divorce Proceedings But Are Not Yet Divorced If you are still married, but legally separated and/or in pending divorce or annulment proceedings, and: nYou filed a waiver request. We will issue a request for evidence (RFE) specifically asking for a copy of the final divorce decree or annulment (if applicable). nYou filed a Form I-751 petition jointly. We will issue a request for evidence (RFE) specifically asking for a copy of the final divorce decree or annulment and a statement that you would like to have your joint filing petition treated as a waiver. Upon receipt of the final divorce decree or annulment within the specified time period, we will amend the petition, to indicate that eligibility has been established for a waiver of the joint filing requirement based on the termination of the marriage.l
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Aretha Franklin Left Handwritten Wills: Shows No R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Estate Planning BY DANA MATHURA & MARILYN SILVERMAN
he date, August 16, 2018, is the date the world lost the beloved music icon, Aretha Franklin, known to her adoring fans worldwide as the Queen of Soul, to the ravages of pancreatic cancer. Her fame is attributable to her rendition of the song, “Respect," which was released in 1967. In the original 1965 Otis Redding version, it was about a man coming home after a long day of work and expecting respect from his woman. Aretha took it upon herself to alter the song adding the famous “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” spelling done in the chorus. Aretha once stated, "We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It's our basic human right." But, the Queen of Soul should have given more RE-S-P-E-C-T to her estate planning. When she died it was shockingly reported that she had more than one will and that they were handwritten. Thus far, three completely different wills have reportedly been found, including one stuffed unceremoniously under seat cushions. That should not be the location of such an important document. Each one of these handwritten wills has been submitted as part of the probate process to see if any of them will hold up in court. Listen to and enjoy her songs, but you most certainly should not follow her lead regarding your will. n the wake of her untimely passing, audiences ask, “What would make her not create a will?” Perhaps she could not bear the thought of her own demise. Or maybe like so many others, she suffers from the societal impact and reality of being an African-American never fully gaining an in-depth knowledge on financial literacy.
In fact, roughly “70% of African-Americans have no will or estate plan in place,” according to the founder of Black Enterprise, Earl G. Graves Sr. Obviously she had the money. Her estate is worth in the neighborhood of around $80 million. As an unmarried woman in the state of Michigan where she resided, her estate automatically transfers to her four children who survive her. They will each receive an equal share. Without a will, Franklin never appointed an executor to dispense her assets. A Michigan court now has the arduous task to undertake as they
distribute the money to her heirs. Aretha’s actions — or lack thereof — could conceivably cost her heirs tremendous amounts of money in legal fees, not to mention countless hours of time and the inevitability of family strife. Moreover, the ultimate court decision regarding her estate may not be consistent with her wishes. To avoid all of this unpleasantness during this period of grief, the first thing on your agenda: formalize a will. Surprisingly we are seeing an expected pattern in celebrities dying without a will which is known as dying intestate-- that happens to many who
forego planning as their life reaches a more mature period. Under no circumstances should you sit at your desk and prepare a handwritten will. Spend your money wisely and hire an estate planning attorney to ascertain that everything is done correctly and that it fulfills your wishes. Remember that your will requires witnesses and/or is notarized. It is not advisable to merely download a form from the internet; hire that estate planning attorney. The attorney can save your heirs a fortune in additional legal fees down the road. Also, review your will at least annually to ascertain that it accurately reflects your current wishes and everything is consistent between the will and other documents, like beneficiaries listed on any insurance policies. Next, make sure your heirs can locate the will. You should not be feverishly hunting in every nook and cranny for this vitally important document. Furthermore, Aretha’s handwritten wills may not be the last ones she wrote. This is not an uncommon mistake. Experts agree that not being able to find the will at all is one of the most serious estate planning mistakes people experience. Finally, your loved ones should be involved as you prepare your wishes. Aretha’s loved ones didn’t know her wishes and now that will likely be costly in terms of time, money and burdens. We may never know why the Queen of Soul failed to designate who her fortune is left behind to. We can only guess that death makes most of us uneasy. The key takeaway from Aretha Franklin’s death is that it is never too early to strategize your assets and avoid unnecessary hassle.u
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ESTATE PLANNING GUIDE: PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Do You Have a Family to Protect? Protect Those You Love with a Will BY BECONRAD
here are many important documents in our lives, but few carry the life changing importance that a will can provide. While every responsible adult should have a will in place, all too few of those men and women have taken the time to prepare this vital document. A will provides much more than peace of mind â€“ a properly executed will provides valuable protections for those you love, and it is important for anyone with a family to protect to start planning their will without delay. Why Do I Need a Will? Many otherwise responsible adults ignore the obvious importance of a will out of a kind of willful blindness. Many people may feel that preparing a will is bad luck, as if the simple act of preparing a will can invoke some sort of disaster. Still others may simply be reluctant to create a will because doing so requires them to come face to face with their own mortality. While this is understandable, it is no excuse for not protecting your family with this vital legal document. If you doubt the importance of having a will in place just think about the disruption that would result if you were to die today. Not only would your surviving family members be financially devastated, but they may never have
the solace of knowing that your final wishes were carried out. Without a will in place your family members may never know your final wishes, and this uncertainty is bound to cause stress for those you leave behind. When you have a will in place you can spell out exactly what your final wishes are and give your surviving family members the satisfaction of knowing that they have carried out those final wishes. From how you want your funeral arrangements handled to which family members inherit those priceless family heirlooms you can let your family know exactly what you had in mind.
Do You Have Minor Children? If So, You Absolutely Must Have a Will While having a will in place is important no matter what your circumstances, if you have minor children who rely on you it is absolutely imperative that you start working on your will right now. No matter how busy you are it is important to make time to protect your family from the unexpected. No matter how young or healthy you are it is vital to plan for the unexpected â€” young and healthy parents can and do die every day, and having a will in place is the best way to protect your children and make sure their physical, emotional and financial needs will be met even if you are no longer
around. Many parents feel that a will is unnecessary because the surviving parent would simply take over all the parenting responsibilities, but what happens if you and your spouse were both to die? If you doubt this possibility just think about the thousands of people who die in car crashes across the country. If you and your spouse were to die in one of these road mishaps, who would raise your children, who would take care of them, and who would make sure they received the emotional support they need in their time of need? When you have a will in place you can provide the answers to these important questions, spelling out in clear detail exactly what your desires are and who will protect your children if you are no longer able to care for them. In fact, naming a proper guardian for your minor children is perhaps the most important benefit of having a will in place. Protecting your financial assets is one thing, but protecting your children and their vital interests is something else entirely. If you do not have a will in place you cannot know that your children are truly protected, and you cannot know for sure that the guardian you had in mind will in fact raise your children to adulthood. So, no more excuses â€“ if you have children you simply must have a will in place.u
ESTATE PLANNING GUIDE: DECISIONS & CHOICES
The Basics of Medicaid BY JAMELIAH MILLER
edicaid, which became law in 1965, is an insurance program that is managed by the federal government. It is statewide and was established using a set of regulations, policies and federal statutes. Medicaid covers individuals with low incomes, children and pregnant women. At present, mental health, births and long-term care services are some of the biggest beneficiaries of Medicaid. Most of its participants are persons who are unable to get any other insurance coverage. As with every other insurance system, participants must meet the requirements and rules of thestate; their eligibility varies from state to state. For Medicaid, the federal laws expect the state in question to take into consideration specific groups and allow flexibility to others. In the United States, all states cover children and adolescences, pregnant women, seniors, youths “aging out” of foster care and parents or caretaker relatives of minor children, all of whom should meet the federal requirements for residency—U.S. citizenship and immigration status. Nonetheless, an individual receiving Medicaid coverage in one state, may not be eligible for services in other states. Also, services that are provided may differ greatly in duration, amount or scope of service from state to state. Then there is the issue of legislative changes, which may alter Medicaid eligibility. For example, in 2014,
and later, the Affordable Care Act increased eligibility to all persons under the age of 65 and in households with incomes up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Because of this change, this eliminated the need for most persons to meet the previously applied criteria, like undergoing an asset test or being in a designated group to qualify. While some Medicaid programs are directly paid for by Medicaid, others are paid for by private insurance companies. Some of the programs that the state covers are mental health services, medication, prenatal care and maternity care, impatient and out-
patient hospital services, doctor visits and preventative care such as immunizations, mammograms, and colonoscopies. It is also the choice of the state to add some complimentary services such as dental services, physical therapy, prosthetic devices, vision and eyeglasses and home and community-based services. It is important to note that for children and adolescents, they get vision, hearing and related services through another service called the Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment benefit. Initially, Medicaid was created to assist mothers and their children, the disabled and the elderly. Today, Medicaid has evolved into something bigger than was expected. Changes in legislation in the late 1980s, broadened Medicaid coverage to include poor children, low-income pregnant women and to some Medicare beneficiaries not eligible to receive any other cash assistance program. The change in legislative coverage placed keen focus on better quality care, increased access, fewer limits on services, specific benefits and enhanced outreach programs. Medicaid is particularly beneficial to persons in the multicultural communities. According to the Medicaid Facts Sheet, “in 2016, 28% of African Americans and 35% of Hispanic Americans received Medicaid benefits, compared to 17% of non-Hispanic White Americans.”u
Making Plans: New Parents
arents with a baby born in 2012 will spend an average of $217,000 to raise their little bundle of joy. These latest statistics reported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) don’t even include the cost of college, which can quickly rack up tens of thousands per year in tuition costs. The price tag on raising a child has been on a steady incline — a 24 percent increase since 1960, according to the USDA. Taking on the increasing costs can be a challenge for many new parents. But with proper planning and realistic expectations, even newbies can come out ahead as their children grow. continued on page 4
ESTATE PLANNING GUIDE: THE FUTURE
Your Apartment Can Be an Inheritance! Don’t Lose It Today BY CHEREEN JAMES
any New York City tenants are unaware of their rights under City and State housing laws. In order to regulate the housing market, New York City and New York State have implemented rules that aim to protect tenants from drastic free market rent increases and from the fear of eviction. Many tenants are entitled to the protections of the Rules of the City of New York and the Rent Stabilization Code, but they are unfortunately unaware of their rights, and whether they are covered. The protections offered by these laws can make your apartment a key asset and one of those protections is the right to pass on your apartment to a family member, which is known as succession rights. If you live in a building with six apartments or more, and that building was built before 1974, your apartment may be rent stabilized. As a rent-stabilized tenant, your family members can be placed on the lease after you permanently move out, or after you pass on. If you have lived in your apartment since 1971, and the building was built before 1947, or if you inherited your apartment
from a family member who fits the mentioned criteria, your apartment may be rentcontrolled. As a rent-controlled tenant, you are also entitled to succession rights and can pass on your apartment to a family member who resided with you for 2 years. If the family member who will inherit the apartment is disabled or elderly, then they only need to have lived with you for 1 year. Documentation is necessary to prove that they resided with you and your landlord should be aware that they reside there as well. Another group of tenants who have the right to pass their apartment on to a family member, are tenants who live in MitchellLama Housing. This type of housing is known as limited profit housing, and the
landlord typically charges you rent based on your income. According to the Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR), which regulates Mitchell-Lama Housing, a tenant of Mitchell-Lama Housing has the right to pass on their apartment to a family member. There are rules to this type of housing, as within 90 days, you must inform the management or the owners in writing of any additional family member who resides with you. You should also include them on your re-certification forms and income affidavit. That documentation and other proofs of address will be used for succeeding the apartment. If you would like to know whether your apartment is covered by any of these regulations, speak to a landlord tenant attorney today. You may also be entitled to further protections from eviction and rent increases. There is a dire need to protect minorityowned assets. In doing so, it will help contribute to the future of minorities as they use the funds and property gained from estate planning to attend college and build businesses in the coming age. This creates an ever-sustainable economy if the cycle can continue on. Preserving your family’s wealth could never be a bad idea.u
Making Plans: New Parents/ continued from page 3
Health Care The USDA attributes the rise in child-raising to the cost of health care. With parents covering larger proportion of children’s costs with higher co-payments and premiums, expenditures can add up quickly. When setting a budget and savings plan, make sure to apportion enough to health care costs, as well as unpredictable medical expenses that are sure to come up. Start a small savings account for funds devoted to medical costs. This will keep you prepared for such occurrences instead of having to dip into your primary savings account for medical payments. Long-Term Planning New parents will find that with the birth of their child comes the urge to protect him or her. This natural instinct includes the need to build a solid financial footing to be able to afford all of the necessities. But lost in the everyday chaos of raising a new child are the long-term financial strategies that can make a huge difference. If you’re a new parent, consider preparing a will, an inventory of assets and debt and a legal document naming a person to be the guardian should anything happen to you. These can be uncomfortable topics to discuss, especially in the midst of newfound parenthood, but planning wisely now can pay off in the future.u
Can You Get Money for Your Rent-Stabilized Apartment? BY CHEREEN JAMES
hange is swiftly flowing though the housing landscape of New York. New luxury buildings are being erected all over the City, and the demand for housing pushes low-income renters and owners to the outskirts and even out of the City, making way for higher-income earners and leading to a hefty rent spike. This rent spike encourages property owners to find creative ways to circumnavigate housing protection laws such as the rent stabilization laws, which aim to regulate the housing market and keep rent low. One of the ways in which property owners get rid of tenantsâ€”so that they can increase the rentâ€”is through tenant buyouts. Hereâ€™s what you should know when faced with a buyout or eviction from your rent-stabilized apartment. 1. Know Your Rights As a rent-stabilized tenant, your family is entitled to succession rights. Succes-
sion rights allow your apartment to be passed on to a family member, who lived with you at least two years before your death and who depended on you for financial support. When faced with a buyout, you completely vacate the apartment and your family will not be able to inherit your rent-stabilized apartment. 2. Is the Buyout Legal? New York City law regulates how a property owner can approach you for the buyout of your apartment. Landlords have made the promise to pay in exchange for a vacatur of the apartment, but the laws ensure that they keep their end of the bargain once
you move. The NYC Administrative Code states that a landlord should not force or threaten you to give up your rights to your apartment. The code also states that a landlord cannot leave the premises in bad condition to induce you into moving out. Regarding buyouts, the code states that it must be in writing, and it must state that you can decline the offer for a buyout, you can speak to an attorney, and that the contact is on behalf of the owner. If you accept or decline the offer, it must be in writing as well. It is important that you speak to a landlord tenant attorney regarding your rights as a rentstabilized tenant. 3. How Much Should They Offer? There is no standard amount on what an owner should offer, and tenant buyouts have varied based on multiple factors. Some owners can afford to pay more money to their tenants than others. At other times, the location of the property would be a factor in determining the buyout rate.
What Is the Difference Between a Foreclosure and a Short Sale? BY ALEX WOODS
any people have not yet adapted to the terminology of foreclosure versus short sale, often mixing up the two options when the mortgage can no longer be sustained. The two terms, foreclosure and short sale, are somewhat interrelated and often confused. To set the record straight, let's look at each maneuver in a nutshell. What Is a Short Sale? A short sale is a remedy to save the distressed property from a seizure by the lender. Home owners who believe that they can no longer handle their house payments or are burdened with a property due to relocation issues may elect to sell the home for less than they owe through a short sale. The short sale is designed to move the property quickly before a Notice of Default is issued and foreclosure proceedings begin. This tactic is often the
last resort before a distressed property hits the courthouse steps for auction. Although the short sale can release a distressed borrower from the property, there is often zero profit in the sale of the home for the owner's pocket. However, their credit damaged less than a foreclosure, and he or she is free to walk away. The short sale should be handled by a real estate specialist who has plenty of experience with successful short sales. Time is of the essence with a short sale to ensure the home owner does not fall behind on the mortgage payments. A few missed payments could send the home into default, so
the short sale must be smooth sailing to beat the deadlines. The short-sale real estate agent will advertise the home as a discounted property, yet try to recover as much for the home as possible with the sale. The short sale tactic involves the bank, so each offer on the property is subject to the lender's approval. The short-sale agent must have a strong working relationship with the lenders and be able to sell the property before the homeowner suffers financial consequences. A short sale can be tricky, so if this is the right pathway for you, be sure to shop wisely on who will represent your home with the short sale. What Is a Foreclosure? A foreclosure is the last resort for a distressed borrower who can no longer make payments on the property. Perhaps he or she put their home on the market as a short sale, but continued on page 4
Landlords who own properties that will have a high market rate for rent will have an increased incentive to buyout tenants, as it will open an opportunity for higher income. It is important to understand your rights as a rent-stabilized tenant. The right of succession allows for your family to continue living with regulated rent. A substantial buyout can provide opportunities for you to pay off debts, purchase a new home so that you can become a homeowner yourself, start a business, or take advantage of many opportunities for growing wealth. Speak to a landlord-tenant attorney to ensure that your rights are not violated and that you receive just compensation for your rent-stabilized apartment. Help is just a phone call away. Call us at 888-670-6791. n
INSIDE: Lease-to-Buy Options...................2 Understanding Closing Costs.............................................3 Questions Buyers Should Ask....................................4
EQUITY SMART REALTY
Lease-to-Buy Options Are a Win-Win BY ALEX WOODS
ouse hunters who have minimal cash flow will like the lease-toown housing option. Growing in popularity with both buyers and sellers, this is the smart and innovative way for many people to get into a house. The terms and conditions will vary from one lease option to the next, but most deals are easy to qualify for if the seller is desperate. In a sluggish economy with slacking home sales, the lease-to-own program is a smart answer for the housing industry. Choose from lovely ready-to-go homes, or you may strike a bargain for the fixer uppers. To seal the deal and provide a helping hand to the seller, you may offer to fix up
the home at your own expense for full rental price or ask for a monthly payment reduction. Lease to Own for Sellers The lease-to-own, also known as a rent-toown property, is usually a house that has been sitting on the open market for too long. Ideal for sellers, offering a lease-to-own agreement keeps the cash flow coming with hope of a satisfied buyer at the end of the lease. When a home for sale is still carrying a mortgage, it makes good sense to offer the real estate as a lease to own option and get a tenant in there immediately. The lease may be drawn up for one, two or more years, and there is no set rule of law to dictate the terms. However, the owner must comply with the state laws for landlords and tenants. These laws are unique for every state, so be sure to check with your county officials for a handbook on how to comply with the local laws. In addition to monthly mortgage payments, a distressed seller is also accountable to pay the yearly property taxes. If you are a seller and have purchased another property, the lease-to-own option acts as a
buffer to lighten the mortgage payments on the house for sale. You may or may not gain a profit depending on the mortgage balance, but the leaseto-own sales contract should put the transfer of property into potential motion. If your renter decides not to purchase, you may rent the home again under the same terms or perhaps make the offer more attractive with lower payments. Lease to Own for Buyers The lease to own for buyers can be a gold mine to get you into a property with a minimal investment. The contract terms will be set by the seller and will usually require a first and last month's rent plus pet security deposits. Lease-to-own homes are generally offered in the middle- and low-income housing markets and can be an excellent resource to
get settled into a property for less money while building up your furniture and house wares. Ask your local real estate professional for assistance with a lease-to-own option. In many instances, the owner may use the first year's rent to put towards the down payment if you wish to purchase the property. If you find the home less than satisfactory, the lease-to-own contract should allow you to walk away scot free upon fulfillment of the lease agreement. In addition, check your local newspaper listings for the lease-to-own or rent-to-own properties. Though they are many, they do sell out fast. This simple and cost-effective way to get into a property can be a win-win situation for both the buyer and seller. The seller can start banking cash, and the buyer can start saving money.n
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Understanding Closing Costs
uying a home is one of the most monumental moments in our lives. It is a time that requires incredible planning, budgeting and saving. However, one factor many forget to include in their spending is closing costs. Especially for first-time buyers, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the extra expenses due before a deal is complete. Typical homebuyers should expect to pay between 2 and 5 percent of the home’s purchase cost in closing fees, according to real estate experts . Depending on the negotiated price of a property, this expense can be substantial. Don’t find yourself blindsided during the final agreement with fees for which you weren’t prepared. Establish a plan to cover closing costs once you realize the ins and outs of your responsibilities. What Do Closing Costs Cover? The final expenses due at the close of your home-buying experience include lender and third-party fees. Typically, these expenses cover both nonrecurring fees and the first installment of recurring fees. Here are a few examples of each type: Recurring costs: Ongoing payments you will be initially charged for and will continue to be your responsibility as a homeowner include property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Nonrecurring costs: One-time fees include
home inspection charges, document preparation and appraisal expenses. Keep in mind, these costs will include nearly every type of transaction performed during the buying process. A reliable real estate agent is a great teammate to help plan for what you should expect during your unique buying experience. Who is Responsible for Costs? Most of the closing costs fall under the responsibility of a buyer. However, the seller is usually expected to cover the expenses of each party’s real-estate agents involved in striking a deal. In many cases, a homebuyer can use the final fees as a negotiation strategy. If you plan to ask a seller to cover most of the cost, here are some tips to make the offer more attractive.
Make a quick deal. It’s likely that a seller is contemplating several offers and oftentimes, money isn’t the only factor that matters. Especially if they are motivated to sell, a short 30-day close can be more enticing than deals with longer terms. Don’t ask for too much. While you shouldn’t dismiss asking for alterations to a property, if you are overdemanding, a seller may not be apt to work with negotiating closing fees. Consider which repairs or changes are actually necessary before bringing them up. No Closing Fee Deals During your house-hunting search, you may find homes listed with offers with no closing fees attached. Unless a seller has already agreed to cover the expenses, remember, the costs don’t merely disappear. In most cases, these deals mean there are no fees required at the time of closing. Typically, a lender will include the costs in the overall amount of your loan. You should expect higher-interest rates or an increased monthly payment. These agreements often take more than five years to recoup the cost of closing. Need help? Schedule an appointment today by calling 888-670-6791. n
Traits of a Real Estate Agent
good real estate agent is similar in nature to a conductor of a symphony, coordinating the different players to make a successful transaction a reality. We have found there are a number of qualities and traits that successful real estate professionals share. 10. Problem solver mindset Do you enjoy coming up with creative solutions to problems or issues? 9. Self-motivated entrepreneur To be successful in real estate requires a high degree of self-motivation, drive, and smart decision making. 8. Honesty and integrity Your professional reputation is crucial to a long and successful career in real estate. 7. Hustle and tenacity Being a top producing real estate agent requires a great work ethic. You must have the tenacity to pursue every lead and the hustle to aggressively market your clients’ properties . 6. Interest in houses and architecture Having a true interest in houses and architecture can give you an advantage over other brokers and salespersons. 5. Engaging personality A good real estate agent doesn’t just sell properties—they sell themselves. It’s important to show your real personality. People will respond to you if you have a great attitude, are personable and honest, have confidence in your abilities, and are interested in helping them and others. 4. Attention to detail Paying close attention to the details is imperative for your real estate career. A complete real estate agent is attentive to the unique needs of their individual clients. If you are organized, follow up with leads, communicate well, and pay attention to the needs of your clients, you will close more deals. 3. Understand the local housing market A top producing real estate agent appreciates and utilizes the nuances that make a specific community’s housing market and pricing strategy unique. 2. Build a network of connections Successful real estate agents have a vast network of contacts within the market they serve. 1. Knowledge is power ontinuing education and professional development are doors to opportunity that you can utilize to expand your business options and stay at the forefront of the real estate field. At the end of the day, you get out of it what you put into it. If you are passionate about real estate and have similar traits to those outlined here, you have a great shot at having a long and successful real estate career. Why not get started today?
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Questions Buyers Should Ask
f you’re a first-time home-buyer (or even if you’re not), you’re going to have a lot of questions during the homebuying process. Many of those are obvious and will grow out of your conversations with your real estate agent, title company and lender, but if you can’t think of other questions to ask, Realtor.com and Bankrate.com have suggestions. And whatever questions you have, no matter how stupid you feel they may be, ask them anyway. Would You Buy This House? As you’re checking houses with your agent, ask if he would purchase it. If he sees red flags, that’s a red flag. An agent who isn’t excited about the house will tell you that. If you do like the house and the agent doesn’t, ask for their reasons. Maybe what they see isn’t a dealbreaker for you, such as a large repair needed that you are able to do yourself. But at the very least, you want to know what your agent thinks. What’s the History of the House? If the house you’re looking at had a history of termites, would you reconsider? If you knew there had been a murder or suicide in the house, would that change your calculation? If it used to be a rental, would that affect how you felt about it? Ask for a copy of the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report for the seller, which includes insurance claims for all homes.
According to Forbes, the law requires sellers to disclose specific things, including the use of lead paint, mold, pest infestations, property drainage issues and boundary disputes. Some states even require the disclosure of perceived paranormal activity and “emotional defects” like a murder, suicide or violent crime. In the case of crimes, sellers may not be required to proactively disclose, but they must be honest if the buyer asks. Should I Ever Offer More than the Asking Price? This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a good one to talk over with your agent. You obviously want to pay the least amount for the house possible, but if it’s a hot real estate market and you’re not the only one putting in a bid, you may want to go a little higher. That might be the asking price, or it might be less than the asking price but not as low as you’d like. In addition to talking with your agent about a fair price, be aware of how big of a loan you can take and how that affects your monthly payment. There are other ways to make your offer more attractive. Offering flexibility with the move-out date or making a cleaner offer, such as not basing the sale on the sale of
your current home, makes the process easier for everyone. Additionally, if you’ve met the owners, consider sending them a note expressing your appreciation for the house and your vision for how you would make it yours. With some sellers, an emotional appeal can make a difference. If you're currently on the market for a home, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.We will be happy to meet with you and share our guidance. Schedule an appointment today. Call us at 888-670-6791.n
Foreclosure or Short Sale? continued from page 1 there were no takers on the deal. A Notice of Default will be issued to the property owner which gives the borrower a small grace period to bring the mortgage current. If the borrower cannot make the payments, the property will be seized by the bank or private lender. If you are struggling with your mortgage payment, you must immediately contact your lender. Many finance companies are eager to work with a distressed borrower to avoid foreclosure proceedings. Despite popular belief, the lender does not want to take the property with a foreclosure. This process costs them money in the long run with insurance, taxes and the responsibility to find a new owner. They are far more inclined to sit down and negotiate to keep the current owner in the home. To avoid foreclosure, honestly evaluate your financial status, set forth a budget, then make the necessary contacts to correct the issue. You may wish to do a short sale to quickly release the cumbersome property, seek an attorney for a bankruptcy escape or work out a new payment program with your current lender. Need assistance? We will be happy to meet with you and share our guidance. Schedule an appointment today. Call us at 888-670-6791. n
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