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Kwanzaa 2017: The Seven Days of Cultural Celebration



Kwanzaa, a seven-day cultural celebration honoring African American culture and African heritage, begins on December 26 and ends January 1.  The holiday, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year occurs over the same seven days each year.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at California State University in Long Beach and a prominent member of the black power movement who co-founded the black nationalist group US Organization.

The holiday, which Kalenga created as a pan-African celebration, was first celebrated in December of 1966. Pan-Africanism is an international movement with the goal of forging stronger bonds between people of African descent all over the world.

In 2013, Karenga summed up the meaning of the holiday at an event in Rochester, New York, saying “the celebration of Kwanzaa is about embracing ethical principles and values … so the goodness of the world can be shared and enjoyed by us and everyone.”

Wendy Trice Martin, president of the Society for African-American Cultural Awareness, opens their 26th Annual Kwanzaa celebration in Jackson. (Photo: Sun file photo)

Kwanzaa is based on year-end harvest festivals that occurred in Africa for thousands of years and the name Kwanzaa” is derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which translates to “first fruits of the harvest.” Kwanzaa lasts for seven days to honor the seven principles Karenga chose to celebrate. Translated from Swahili into English, the seven principles are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

The traditional Kwanzaa greeting is “Habari Gani,” a Swahili phrase which translates in English to “what is the news?” In English, the proper greeting is “joyous Kwanzaa.” Those participating in the celebration of the holiday often begin the celebration a day or two early by decorating their house with fruits, Kwanzaa flags, and a kinara, the candle holder with seven available slots. At the end of each day, celebrants light a candle. On the first night, the black candle in the center is lit, and on each of the subsequent nights, an additional candle is lit.

The penultimate day of Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, is celebrated with the Kwanzaa karamu, or feast. The table and room are meant to be decorated in the Kwanzaa colors of red, green and black. During the meal, drinks are shared from a communal cup. Then, on the final day of the holiday, New Year’s Day, gifts are exchanged between parents and children, or all who wish to participate.

Camille Yarborough sings African music behind a traditional “kinara” candelabra during a news preview of the “Kwanzaa 2004: We Are Family” festival at the American Museum of Natural History on Dec. 22, 2004, in New York City. Mario Tama / Getty Images 2004

More detailed information about Kwanzaa:

When does Kwanzaa start? 

Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26 and lasts until Jan. 1. As mentioned at the beginning of the article—Dr. Maulana Karenga, who is a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. Following the violent and deadly Watts riots in Los Angeles, Maulana wanted a way to bring African Americans together to celebrate their heritage, according to Aspects of harvest celebrations like Ashanti and Zulu helped influence Kwanzaa.

How long does Kwanzaa last? 

Kwanzaa lasts forseven7 days. You can still celebrate Christmas if you celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is the celebration of a culture, not a religion. Gifts, or “zawadi” in Swahili, the chosen language for Kwanzaa and a popular language in east Africa, are exchanged during the celebration. The gifts are usually tied to African culture. Kwanzaa celebrations usually feature songs, dances, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large meal.

Where did the name “Kwanzaa” come from? 

The name is derived from “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in the Swahili language.

The colors of the candles used during Kwanzaa are symbolic.

Those celebrating Kwanzaa use a kinara, a Kwanzaa candle holder. Seven candles are lighted over the seven days of Kwanzaa and are symbolic of Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of African heritage. The colors of the candles are black, red, and green. Black is used to symbolize African people, red is used to symbolize their struggle, and green symbolizes the future and hope that comes from their struggle.

The seven principles when it comes to Kwanzaa. 

Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days because there are seven principles, or nguzo saba in Swahili.

  1. Umoja – unity
  2. Kujichagulia – self determination
  3. Ujima – collective work and responsibility
  4. Ujamaa – cooperative economics
  5. Nia – purpose
  6. Kuumba – creativity
  7. Imani – faith

Each day of celebration people reflect on the principles and do something that represents that principle. Kwanzaa is from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, but the principles are celebrated all year, Trice Martin said.

There are also seven symbols Kwanzaa. Mkeka, or mat, Mazao, or fruits and vegetables, Muhindi, or ears of corn, Kinara, or a candleholder, Mishumaa saba, or the seven candles, Kikombe cha umoja, or the unity cup and Zawadi, or gifts.

“Dr. Karenga wanted to connect African Americans to their African roots, so that’s why Kwanzaa was created and is still celebrated today,” Trice Martin said.


#LeNoraMillen              12-26-17

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Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop



The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:

  • Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
  • Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
  • Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
  • Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.

Photo: Getty Images

Source: Discount Tire


@LeNoraMillen        01-19-18

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Health Care

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



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:


  • 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 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, 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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Amazon Reveals ‘20 Cities’ That Could Be The Home Of Its Next Headquarters



Amazon has revealed 20 cities that could be the next home of its second North American headquarters, dubbed HQ2.

The candidates, selected out of 238 applicants, will move to the next round of Amazon’s selection process, the company said Thursday. Amazon will make a final decision on the site of its next headquarters this year.

The list of candidates includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.

Amazon said it will work with each city to “dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community.”

Amazon has promised a $5 billion investment and up to 50,000 high-paying jobs to the city that wins its selection process.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, head of public policy for Amazon. “Through this process, we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Here are all the potential candidates:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York City, NY
  • Northern Virginia, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Toronto, ON
  • Washington DC


Source: Business Insider

@LeNoraMillen     01-18-18

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