‘Do Something, or Arrest Us’: NAACP Demands Restoration of Voting Rights Act

After holding a six-hour sit-in on the floor of a southwest Virginia congressman’s district office, NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks was arrested and charged with trespassing by local police on Monday.

About 20 activists, including Roanoke NAACP Chapter President Brenda Hale and members of the NAACP Youth Council, spent the day peacefully waiting for their voices to be heard inside Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s Roanoke office.



Gays Against Guns Call for Gun Lobbyists to ‘Come Out’

A local chapter of Gays Against Guns protested in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, calling for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to “come out” and stop gun lobbying.

Chanting “How many more have to die?” outside the NSSF Firearms Import and Export Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, the group also rallied for the NSSF to stop promoting gun policy that supports the production and sale of military assault weapons.


Yale Janitor’s Act of Civil Disobedience a Stand Against Racism

Year after year, as he meticulously swept the dining hall floors at Yale University, Corey Menafee passed beneath the stained glass window depicting African American slaves carrying bales of cotton in a snowy white cotton field.

And year after year, as black students protested the window’s presence and the school refused to remove it, Menafee kept his head down and just kept on sweeping. His job as a maintenance worker in the school’s Calhoun College, named after former Vice President John C. Calhoun who advocated for slavery, depended on it.

Then one day, Menafee said he just decided he couldn’t take it anymore.


Congressional Fight Raging Over Best Way to Fund Wildfire Fight

As wildfires burn across the American West, a fight is raging behind closed doors on Capitol Hill as Democrats and Republicans go back and forth on the best funding to battle the blazes.

Democrats want to give the U.S. Forest Service more money and greater flexibility to fight deadly blazes currently ravaging parts of California, Arizona and other states. Republicans agree that more needs to be done, but want the agency to better target its funding as it works to fight fires.


Black Women Await More Federal Research Into Fibroids

Uterine discomfort and heavy bleeding has been a constant presence in Renee Brown Small’s life.

“I was in my 20’s and I couldn’t go to the beach with my girlfriends because of the bleeding,” says Small.

Small is one of many African American women who suffer with fibroids— non-cancerous uterine tumors that can grow as large as a cantaloupe and often cause pelvic pain, along with other symptoms.The prevalence of fibroids — especially among African American women, who develop them at a higher rate — was a topic of discussion at the recent White House sponsored United State of Women Summit.


‘A New Way to Fight’: With Sit-In, Democrats Bypass Rules on Way to November

Democrats said their 26-hour sit-in on the House floor was meant to force votes on two gun control measures, but as they made clear themselves Thursday, the real vote they’re targeting is the one on Nov. 8 — Election Day.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, noting that the proposals have already failed in committee, said he had no intention of bringing the measures to the floor for votes. And with Republicans outnumbering Democrats 247 to 188, Democrats know they would almost certainly lose, anyway.


My menstrual cramps were unbearable. Could this new device help the pain?

Most months my menstrual periods are beyond painful. I can’t walk, my lower back is wracked with unbearable pain and my pelvic area feels like it’s on fire. I’ve tried everything from Percocet to muscle relaxers, getting little to no relief.

When I heard there was a new device on the market promising to instantly ease severe menstrual pain, I had to try it.


‘Pain’ and ‘uncertainty’: A young woman shares her struggle with endometriosis

Endometriosis, the word itself sounds like an incurable disease, and unfortunately that’s true.

I should know. I have it.

Endometriosis — or “endo” — occurs when cells that line the uterus spread to other places of the body creating implants and adhesions, or internal scar tissue. These implants can end up on the bladder, ovaries, bowels, and can even spread to the lungs.



Oscars May Have Black Host, But All White Nominees in Top Categories

While the theme of the 88th annual Academy Awards is “We all dream in gold,” that dream does not seem to be attainable for actors of color this year.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs along with directors Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee, and actor John Krasinki announced the 24 category nominations Thursday morning from the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.


Saving The Monarch Butterfly

Over the past decade, millions of monarch butterflies have disappeared. They’re known for migrating millions of miles between the U.S. and Mexico every year, but environmentalists are concerned that this great migration could soon be lost forever.

Chandelis Duster has more on why monarch numbers are declining and what can be done to stop it.

Politics Newscast Segment

I produced a segment of our politics newscast. I decided to make this segment about the Latino vote and the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election. I booked Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, a Research Associate from Pew Research Center to be our guest. She couldn’t come into the studio, so we interviewed her via Skype.

DC Pillow Fight Day 2015

Here is another news package created by me. The interview with David Resch was shot using a tripod. Everything else was shot off the shoulder so I could get closer to the action.

People in cities around the world took to the streets with pillows in celebration of the International Pillow Fight.

Chandelis Duster has more on the Eight Annual Fight of fluff that took place on the National Mall.

Endometriosis and Healthy Eating

This news package aired in the Entertainment and Lifestyle special edition show of District Wire News. I interviewed Hollistic Health Coach Meredith Gersten about how women with the disease endometriosis can stay healthy and be fit. It’s the first news story of the segment.

AU Yik Yak Protest

Here is a news package shot and edited by me. I shot everything off the shoulder except for the beginning, the interview with Dr. Hanson, and my reporter stand-up.

Recent events at the University of Oklahoma, University of Maryland, and the University of Virginia has started widespread protests about race.

American University students are speaking out about recent racist comments made on the social media app Yik Yak and calling for action on behalf of the school community. Chandelis Duster has more.

AU District Wire News Newscast 3-16-15

Here is a newscast that was produced by me. I added stories in the AP ENPS rundown, decided what kind of stories they would be (Readers, VO/SOT’s, PKG’s), wrote teases, and booked guests to be on the show. In this segment of District Wire News, we cover the news and current events of March 16, 2015 with anchors James Doubek and Paola Chavez.

In the A-Block, we find out details about an offensive email that was sent out by a University of Maryland fraternity member, give an update on a stabbing incident at the Stadium-Armory Metro Station, and take a look at a study that says prices on the DC housing market is getting worse.

In the B-Block, Doubek talks with AU’s Black Student Alliance Freshman Liaison Sidney Young and AU’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion Multicultural & First Generation Programming Coordinator Caroline DeLeon about racist comments made by AU students on social media app Yik Yak.

In international news, more US troops may remain in Afghanistan than previously decided, ISIS may be using chemical weapons and ten healthcare workers return to the US after being exposed to Ebola. Later, we take a look at a study that shows coffee may provide health benefits and social media outrage against the fashion designers of Dolce & Gabbana over their comments about invitro fertilization.

Finally, we conclude the segment with a look at the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam and take a glimpse into the first ever DC marijuana expo.

Study Finds Endometriosis Not Linked to Caffeine

A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition by a team of scientists in Italy found that caffeine and coffee drinking are not related to endometriosis. The team evaluated eight studies, including 1,407 women with the condition who consumed coffee or a caffeine related drink. The women were 15 to 56 years old and were from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Taiwan.

Previous studies have suggested that caffeinated drinks, including coffee, could put women at risk for endometriosis and make things worse for women with the disease. A study done in the 1990’s found that caffeine consumption was higher in women with endometriosis.

Endometriosis occurs when cells that line the uterus spread to other places of the body creating implants and adhesions. These implants can end up on the bladder, ovaries, bowels, and spread to the lungs. Symptoms include heavy and irregular menstruation, pain during intercourse, lower back pain, and painful bowel movements.

The Endometriosis Foundation of America says the disease affects 176,000,000 women and girls worldwide, 8.5 million of them in North America. There is no cure for the disease and the only way to diagnose it is through laparoscopic surgery. It is also one of the top three causes of infertility in women.

Dr. Camran Nezhat, laparoscopic surgeon and co-founder of the Worldwide Endometriosis March has been treating patients with endometriosis for years. Dr. Nezhat says he has never told his patients to avoid caffeine. He agrees with the study saying caffeine does not put women at risk for endometriosis.

“I’ve never told my patients to stay off of caffeine. And I don’t believe caffeine has anything to do with endometriosis.”

Stacey Missmer, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and board member of the World Endometriosis Research Foundation says in an email, “there just isn’t sufficient evidence that caffeine plays a role in endometriosis.”

Doctors advising women with endometriosis to avoid caffeine is harmless, but the study raises the question as to what is really known about treating a disease with no known cause or a cure.

Meredith Gersten, a 28 year old holistic health counselor was diagnosed with the disease two years ago. She decided to take a holistic approach to treatment instead of a medical one suggested by her doctor. She says her doctor laughed at her decision.

“My doctor actually laughed at me when I told him I was going to try this instead of actually going on Lupron.”

Lupron is one of several medical treatments used to treat women with endometriosis. It is a depot injection that lasts for one or three months, putting a woman into medically induced menopause the time she’s on it. Lupron is also used in treating prostate cancer, early puberty, fibroids, and surrounded by controversy. Over the past five years, there has been over 500 reports of symptoms such as headaches, amnesia, and convulsions to the FDA about Lupron.

If endometriosis is not linked to caffeine, then other factors such as a person’s body or type of caffeinated drink could be a factor in how it makes one feel.

Gersten has been caffeine free for over two years, but while vacationing in Italy, says she drank coffee. She did not have any pain or stomach upset that she experiences from drinking coffee in the U.S.

“I had coffee, while I was in Italy and was not affected. I even ate their bread, and I ate their pasta, and I even had cheese over there.  I can’t touch none of that stuff over here,” Gersten says. “So for me, personally, my body reacted really well to how things are made in Europe. I can’t handle the way things are made here.”

Recommending his patients eat food in moderation, Dr. Nezhat says some people can eat things other people cannot. 

“Some people are able to have coffee and some are not able to have coffee. Everyone has to find out what is healthy, good, or bad for them,” Dr. Nezhat says. “Some people can handle one type of vegetable and some people cannot handle those kinds of vegetables. So what is not good for them they should not have it and what they cannot tolerate they should not have it.”

No matter what studies conclude, Gersten says she will continue her holistic diet and never go back to drinking coffee, at least not in the U.S.

U.S. Materials Airdropped to Kurds Land in ISIS Hands

The Pentagon has admitted some packages carrying weapons and medical supplies that were air dropped in Kobani over the weekend may have landed in the hands of the terrorist group ISIS.

Earlier this week the Pentagon said 27 of 28 airdropped U.S. supplies reached Kurdish forces fighting in Kobani and only one was destroyed by the U.S. after it went astray.

Today, a defense official told reporters out of the 28 airdropped supply packages, one may have ended up in the hands of ISIS. This information comes a day after the terrorist group released a video claiming to have U.S. ammunition and medical equipment that was air dropped to Kurdish forces.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren says one bundle of supplies isn’t enough to give the enemy advantage and ISIS already has items such hand grenades that are in the supplies. He also says there are extra bundles that are air dropped in case some go astray.

“There is always going to be some margin of error in these types of operations. We routinely overload these aircraft because we know that some bundles may go astray.”

Col. Warren says weather could be a reason the supplies went off course and weather is a predictable hazard for air drop missions.

“Elements of weather can affect the exact execution of these operations. This is something we plan for and adjust for. there is always a chance that some items will stray from the directed course.”

Col. Warren says the U.S. will continue airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to destroy ISIS. The pentagon says ISIS taking over Kobani is not a threat to the U.S.

Team Sullivan, Walking to Remember

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RICHMOND, Va. – On a chilly, Saturday morning in October, Kim Beers and her family take pictures in the parking lot of the Innsbrook Markel Plaza as they wait for the walk to begin. They are wearing purple sweatshirts with “Team Sullivan” in pink letters that they decorated with rhinestones the Sunday before. For the first time they are walking in honor of her mother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It saddens me because my mom was a very strong woman, very independent, and a very giving person with her church and the community,” said Beers with tears in her eyes. “Seeing her go down like that has really brought us all down.”

Kim Beers’s mother, Shirley “Mema” Sullivan, is 80 years old and has been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease for over six years. She wanders off to anything that catches her eye and is accompanied to the bathroom. Frank Sullivan, 82, takes care of his wife although he works a full time job as a truck-driving supervisor for W&L Mail Service. He also works at an auto shop and does maintenance on cars.

“He’s very emotional and kind of in denial, thinks that she’s going to get better,” said Beers. “He works because he wants to stay strong for my mother and keep his life going.”

When Sullivan is not able to watch his wife, his granddaughter Kristin Beers steps in as caregiver and helps take care of her.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over five million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s disease and out of that number over 130,000 are Virginians. The organization projects that by 2025 the number of Virginians with the disease will increase to 190,000. Women over the age of 60 are at the highest risk of developing Alzheimer’s. 1 in 3 seniors die from the disease or another type of dementia a year.

Although family and friends walked for Shirley Sullivan, they also walked in memory of loved ones who died from the disease. Tina Staples, lost her mom “JoJo” to the illness a few years ago. She took care of her mother as long as she could before moving her into a nursing home. As the team gets ready to walk, walk organizers ask everyone who has lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s to raise a purple flower. She proudly raises her purple flower in memory of her mother.

Team Sullivan laughed as they walked in honor of those they love. Walking three miles instead of one mile was unexpected and a last minute decision. They stopped for water a few times and took several family photos along the way. Although Frank and Shirley Sullivan could not attend the walk, the family had fun and was happy to be together.

Once they made it to the end they celebrated with high fives and hugs. Melissa Vaughan, a close friend of the family, said walking for Team Sullivan made her feel good.

“I feel like I accomplished something for the Sullivan family,” said Vaughan.

Hungry and full of energy from their three mile accomplishment, Team Sullivan continued the celebration at Golden Corral. `

Beers walking for her mom was not just to raise awareness for the disease that is affecting her family, but also to raise awareness for everyone.

“We need to come together and get a cure,” said Beers. “Get something for our children, our grandchildren. Our future.”