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Harvard Law Review Selects Black Woman To Head Publication

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Nearly three decades after Barack Obama made history and became president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, Susan Estrich, was recently elected to the post and made history.

Black and female, ImeIme (pronounced “Ah-MAY-may”) Umana, 24, is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. She was elected on Jan. 29 by the review’s 92 student editors as the president of its 131st volume, according to news reports.But she is not the first female, Hispanic, Asian American,  openly gay, or African-American to hold the post.

“It still feels like magic that I’m here,” Umana said. Fellow students said it was not magic at all but her sharp legal mind, intense work ethic, leadership ability and generosity of spirit catapulted her to the top.

She was elected president of the law review in an intense 12-hour period of deliberations that stretched over two days. The application process included a rigorous evaluation of each candidate’s portfolio of work and responses to a written questionnaire, a candidate forum and a writing exercise.

She was one of 12 candidates for president, including eight minority students and eight women.

“I think our team saw in her what so many people have seen in her for so long – that she’s a brilliant person, an unbelievably dedicated worker and an exceptionally caring leader,” said Michael L. Zuckerman, a third-year law student and the review’s previous president.

Umana said she does not aspire to work for a well-heeled law firm after she graduates, thanks to her insightful internship in the public defender’s office in the Bronx this summer. Instead, she hopes to work as a public defender and will work this summer with the public defender in Washington.

Black women who have died after encounters with law enforcement are also a priority, she said. “I’m constantly reminded of people like Natasha McKenna and Tanisha Anderson and Sandra Bland, whose relationships with the law were just simply tragic.”

She added, “A lot of the clients I worked with that summer and since have looked a lot like me. They are disproportionately represented on the unfortunate end of the legal system, so it struck a little closer to home.”
The Harvard Law Review is often the most-cited journal of its kind and has the largest circulation of any such publication in the world. The presidency is considered a ticket to virtually any legal realm. Half of the current Supreme Court justices served on the Harvard Law Review, though none as its president.

 

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Ben Carson faces backlash after referring to slaves as 'immigrants'

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Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is facing backlash for referring to slaves as "immigrants," reports USA Today.

The retired neurosurgeon made the controversial comment during a speech to agency employees on Monday.

In a video of the talk, which was posted to HUD's Facebook page, he starts off by saying, "One of the things that you will notice in this department under my leadership is that there will be a very big emphasis on fairness for everybody."

He eventually talks about immigrants to the U.S., saying, "They worked not for themselves, but for their sons and their daughters, their grandsons and their granddaughters, that they might have an opportunity in this land. That's what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity."

Carson then tells the audience, "There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day, their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters...might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."

He adds, "This is our opportunity to enhance that dream."

In response to a tweet about the story, one person wrote back, "Maybe it's just me but I don't think people who were kidnapped, chained & shipped halfway across the world are immigrants."

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect also condemned the comparison, saying in a statement, "No, Secretary Carson. Slaves didn't immigrate to America. They were brought here violently, against their own will, and lived here without freedom. You do not get a pass because you are African-American..."

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Father of slain soldier who criticized Trump says travel rights reviewed

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The father of an American soldier killed in Iraq who came under criticism last year from then-candidate Donald Trump said he has canceled a speaking engagement in Toronto after being notified that his U.S. travel privileges were under review.

Khizr Khan, an American citizen born in Pakistan, had planned to speak at a luncheon in Toronto on Tuesday in a discussion about President Trump's administration, according to Ramsay Talks, a speaker series based in Toronto hosted by Bob Ramsay.

The organization said on its Facebook page on Monday that Khan, a U.S. citizen for over 30 years, was notified Sunday evening that his travel privileges were being reviewed.

Khan, in an accompanying statement, said he had not been given a reason as to why his travel privileges were being reviewed and apologized to ticket-holders for the cancellation. He declined to comment further in an email exchange with Reuters.

"This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad," Khan said in the statement included in the Facebook post. "I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future."

It was unclear who called for the review or the grounds for it.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection said it does not contact travelers in advance of their travel out of the United States, according to an official who said any U.S. citizen with a passport may travel out of the country. CBP would not comment specifically on the Khan case, citing privacy protections.

Trump signed a revised executive order on Monday banning citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States, but Pakistan is not one of those countries and the ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent U.S. residents.

"Mr. Khan will not be traveling to Toronto on March 7th to speak about tolerance, understanding, unity and the rule of law," said Ramsay Talks, which announced guests would be refunded the ticket price of $89.

Khan and his wife, Ghazala Khan, appeared at the Democratic National Convention in support of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and shared the story of their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed during the Iraq war.

During his speech, he asked Trump if he had ever read the U.S. Constitution and said that he would gladly lend him his copy. He urged Trump to "look for the words liberty and equal protection of law" in the document.

Trump responded by questioning whether Clinton's aides scripted Khan's speech and questioned whether Ghazala Khan was allowed to speak.

Khan and Trump went on to exchange further criticism, dominating the presidential campaign for several days over the summer.

 

 

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Morehouse College President Says Visit With Trump Was ‘Troubling’

President Donald Trump met on Monday with more than 60 presidents from historically black colleges and universities to discuss his February 28 executive order and the overall needs of black schools. Given Trump’s controversial relationship with black people, many social media users suspected the meeting was a fruitless photo-op. It seems they were correct.

Morehouse College President John Wilson, Jr. alluded to this in a statement to the university on Thursday. Wilson said he initially had “high hopes,” mainly regarding funding, about meeting with the White House, especially since Trump vowed to do more for HBCUs than previous presidents during Monday’s meeting. 

The executive order Trump signed on Tuesday moved the HBCU initiative from under the Department of Education to the White House, which HBCUs have advocated for in expectation of having a more direct line to the president. The executive order did not, however, ensure the funding that many HBCUs desperately need; several of them are in danger of closing.

Wilson, who says he was expecting at least $500 million to be allocated to the schools, said it’s impossible to know if and when the order will have an impact.(Former President Barack Obama provided more than $4 billion for black schools in his time in office.)

Morehouse president John Wilson, Jr. said called the White House and Capitol Hill meetings “a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship.”

Wilson also noted his disappointment with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calling HBCUs an example of “school choice.”

“HBCUs were not created because the 4 million newly freed blacks were unhappy with the choices they had. They were created because they had no choices at all,” he said. “[I]f one does not understand the crippling and extended horrors of slavery, then how can one really understand the subsequent history and struggle of African Americans, or the current necessities and imperatives that grow out of that history and struggle?”

Wilson said despite DeVos’ comments, he believes she does want to help black colleges. But overall, Wilson said his two days of meetings at the White House weren’t promising.

“In general, the meetings were a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship,” he said. “Trust that the HBCU community will continue to press for the kind of funding that educational excellence and national competitiveness require!”

Wilson’s sentiments echo those of Dillard University’s president, Walter M. Kimbrough. In a blog posted Monday, Kimbrough said that many of the college presidents went unheard after the group made an impromptu visit to meet Trump in the Oval Office. 

“But needless to say that threw the day off and there was very little listening to HBCU presidents today- we were only given about 2 minutes each, and that was cut to one minute, so only about 7 of maybe 15 or so speakers were given an opportunity today,” Kimbrough explained. 

Because he didn’t get the opportunity to address his points while at the White House, he posted them on Medium.  

 

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Sessions spoke with Russian ambassador twice, despite denials: reports

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign despite earlier denials, according to news reports Wednesday night. Before his confirmation, Sessions told senators he had no conversations with anyone in the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Trump’s November victory.

The Washington Post said Sessions, then a senator and foreign-policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, spoke twice with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, with one of those conversations coming in September, at the peak of Russia’s cyber-campaign to influence the U.S. election, according to Justice Department officials.

The Wall Street Journal separately reported that federal investigators have examined possible contacts between Sessions and Russian officials, though the status of the investigations was unclear. The Journal reported Sessions spokeswoman Sarah Flores acknowledged he had spoken to Kislyak during the Republican National Convention last summer as well as a “short and informal” conversation in September.

“Last year, the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, including the British, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Canadian, Australian, German and Russian ambassadors,” Flores said in a statement.

Flores denied Sessions had misled senators. While the contacts may have contradicted Sessions’ testimony, experts said perjury charges would be unlikely unless it could be proven Sessions had spoken to the Russian ambassador about the election while acting as a campaign adviser, as opposed to his role as a senator.

Sessions issued a statement late Wednesday, saying: “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

Disclosure of the Russian contacts are likely to fuel louder calls by Democrats and some Republican lawmakers that Sessions should recuse himself in favor of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s attempts to meddle in the election.

Separately, the New York Times reported Wednesday night that members of the Obama administration left information about Russia’s efforts to undermine the election around the government — for example, asking and answering specific questions during intelligence briefings knowing they would be archived as part of the official record — in an attempt to leave a trail for future investigators that could not be erased.

The Times report also said British and Dutch intelligence provided information about clandestine meetings between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign.

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