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Confederate Statues Removed in Memphis After City Council Vote to Sell Parks

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In this Aug. 18, 2017, photo, a statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest sits in a park in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo/ABC News).

MEMPHIS — The City Council voted Wednesday to sell two city parks with Confederate monuments, clearing the way for two statues to be removed before the city commemorates the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mayor Jim Strickland first announced the sales of Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park on Twitter.

“History is being made in Memphis tonight,” he said at a news conference later in the evening.

Health Sciences Park had a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and an early member of the Ku Klux Klan, which was removed around 9 p.m. local time.

Within an hour of the Memphis City Council’s vote, police officers and cranes were deployed to Health Sciences Park.

Kyle Veazey, Deputy Communications Director for Mayor Strickland, wrote on Twitter that the statue was lifted at 9:01 p.m., an apparent nod to the city’s 901 area code. One of the groups that led the movement to remove the statues was called Take ’Em Down 901.

By 10:30 p.m., cranes were visible within Memphis Park—preparing to ascend upon the statue of Jefferson Davis—the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Minutes later, a crane hoisted the statue onto a truck as the crowd burst into jubilation—chanting “Hit the road Jack.”

Janet Jackson, left, and her daughters Janiah, 12, center, and Tatiana, 14, watch as the statue of Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, is removed from a park in Memphis, Wednesday night. (Photo: Brandon Hill/New York Times).

The removal of the statues spurred heated debate for months with rallying cries for the visual stains of hatred and bigotry to be removed by activists and various community organizations, within the city and abroad—notably “The Memphis Coalition for Concerned Citizens.”

August of this year, activist Tami Sawyer called for the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the city’s Memphis Park.

Around the nation cities have removed symbols ranging from the Confederate flag, to memorials of rank-and-file Confederate soldiers, to statues of prominent generals including Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

A reflection of Jefferson Davis’s statue is seen in a puddle of water as protesters hold hands while surrounding the Confederate monument at Memphis Park in August. The protest followed the death of Heather Heyer after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. “We can not celebrate MLK50 with these statues in our city,” said activist Tami Sawyer.  (Photo: Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal).

Outcries from counter protesters within the quagmire of a sweeping national debate about the significance of Confederate monuments fall within the theory of “erasure of history” vs. “a righting of past wrongs.”

Looking ahead citizens who called for the removal of the Confederate statues remained steadfast in cleaning up the stains of the past while moving toward viable solutions to address societal ills, such as crime, blight, and unemployment, etc., within their communities.

A counter-protester talks to a Memphis police officer as local activist Tami Sawyer, second from right, films the exchange during a gathering of local activists in front of Jefferson Davis’s Confederate statue at Memphis Park  on August 15, 2017. (Photo: Yolanda M. James/The Commercial Appeal)

“Just to finally get to this moment is overwhelming,” Tami Sawyer, a  of the group, said.

“I looked Nathan Bedford in the eyes and shed a tear for my ancestors,” she said, recalling the history of African-Americans from slavery to modern incarceration.

December 20, 2017 – Community organizer Tami Sawyer, #TakeEmDown901, raises her fist as workers remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue from Health Sciences Park on Wednesday night. (Photo: Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal).

The nonprofit seems to have been created expressly for the purpose of buying the parks: It filed its incorporation papers in October, Mr. Strickland said. Mr. Turner did not immediately return a request for comment.

Bruce McMullen, the chief legal officer for the city, said in an interview on Wednesday night that the parks had been sold to Memphis Greenspace, a nonprofit led by Van D. Turner Jr., a Shelby County commissioner.

The transfer of the parks to private ownership effectively allowed the city to skirt the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, a state law that prohibits the removal, relocation or renaming of memorials on public property.

In October, the Tennessee Historical Commission, a state agency that oversees the law, voted to deny the city’s application for a waiver of the law regarding the two statues, the television station WREG reported.

Congressman Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, praised the City Council’s move, calling the statues “not representative of Memphis today” and “an affront to most of the citizens of Memphis.”

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, it’s important that these relics of the Confederacy and defenders of slavery don’t continue to be displayed in prominent places in our city,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement.

Mr. McMullen said another motivation for removing the statues was ensuring that they would not create an “incendiary type of environment” during the city’s commemorations of Dr. King in April.

He dismissed the criticism of some groups, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who had accused the city of willfully violating state law. He said the city had been weighing the sale of the parks to a private group for a year.

“We’ve always felt that we had a right to sell city property. We have in the past, and we probably will in the future,” Mr. McMullen said. “And what we did was perfectly legal and right.”

At the news conference, Mr. Strickland echoed Mr. McMullen’s comments. The mayor said the City Council had undertaken a long, complex process to ensure that the handoff was done legally, including passing a law in September that allowed Memphis to sell the parks for less than their market value.

But he also invoked the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., in August as the “sea change” that spurred those efforts to success. One woman was killed after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

In the days after the deadly rally, Mr. Strickland said, “we saw an avalanche of support come together behind our efforts.”

“But this day, this day should be more about where we go from here,” he said. “I want to say this loud and clear: Though some of our city’s past is painful, we are all in charge of our city’s future.”

 

The Commercial Appeal and New York Times Contributed to this Report.

#LeNora Millen            12-21-17

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Health Care

Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud

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Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.

A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.

That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.

New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)

The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.

Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

Do

  • Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
  • When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
  • Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
  • Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
  • Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • Report suspected instances of fraud.
  • Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.

Don’t

  • Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
  • Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
  • Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.

Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.

With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.

 

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

@LeNoraMillen       01-19-18

 

 

 

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Politics

Trump Children’s Health Insurance Tweet Contradicts White House Administration

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Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump contradicted his own administration on Thursday when he tweeted that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program  (CHIP) should not be included in a short-term plan to fund the government.

Trump’s tweet sent on Thursday morning, seemingly undercut the “Stopgap Spending Bill,” leaving many confused at what could be construed as an “Anti-Chip” tweet.

Read more here

@LeNoraMillen     01-18-18

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Politics

What If a Government Shutdown Occurs? Five Things to Know

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The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

The federal government faces a partial federal shutdown threat Friday without a $1.1 trillion appropriations spending budget or a temporary stopgap spending measure in place.

Here’s what could happen in the Miami Valley if a shutdown occurs:

FURLOUGHS: A Wright-Patterson Air Force Base spokesman said this week the base had not received guidance on what actions to take. But the last time a federal government shutdown occurred in 2013, thousands of Wright-Patterson civilian employees were furloughed temporarily. Among those exempted were police, fire, medical and airfield operations. Military service members remained on the job.

MUSEUM: The region’s biggest tourist attraction, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, would close until a funding deal is reached, according to a spokesman.

MAIL SERVICE: The U.S. Postal Service, which is considered self-funded, would continue operations, including home delivery and post offices, would stay open, a spokesman said.

DAYTON VA: The Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities would remain open. The VA operates on a two-year budget cycle, exempting the department from the latest funding skirmish in Washington.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: NPS sites in the Dayton region closed during the last shutdown in 2013. An NPS directive issued in September 2017, said parks would close if a lapse in federal government appropriations occurs.

Source: Dayton Daily News

@LeNoraMillen    01-18-18

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