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Source: REACH Media / Reach Media

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ON TUESDAY, APRIL 11TH, 2023

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Sybil’s Birthday Shoutouts

Happy Birthday to:

Happy 90th Birthday to Journalist, Founding Dean of Howard University School of Communications, TV Host William Anthony “Tony” Brown

Actor, Writer, and Director Carl Franklin

We Remember:

Trailblazing Scientist, Inventor Dr. Percy Julian, born in 1899

Judge Jane Bolton, the first African American Female Judge, was born in 1908

Actor Meshach Taylor, born in 1947

 

TOP 5 NEWS STORIES

#WHATYOUNEEDTOKNOW

Sybil Wilkes ‘What You Need To Know’ Clarence Thomas Defends Undisclosed Trips — The Pentagon Leak — Heart Disease Survivor  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

1. Clarence Thomas Defends Undisclosed Trips – Here Are the Facts

Clarence Thomas Defends Undisclosed Trips - Here Are the Facts Source:Getty

What You Need to Know:

 

Calls for a new ethics procedure for the Supreme Court are on the rise, following a news report detailing decades of luxurious trips gifted to Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife. The prevailing thought is, “It may not be a crime, but what does it say about the system?”

 

It says that there’s enough there, there, that NPR reported,  “The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing about “the need to restore confidence in the Supreme Court’s ethical standards,” Sen. Dick Durbin, chair of the panel, wrote in a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, following revelations in ProPublica last week that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury vacations from a major GOP donor but didn’t disclose them.”

 

The news site, Pro Publica, detailed decades of expensive vacations provided by billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow. None of the years of journeys to exotic islands and exclusive resorts have been made public by a conservative justice.

 

Despite the report detailing the years of extravagant gift-giving by the Dallas, Texas-based mega-donor, Justice Thomas stated that he believed that he was not required to report the trips, adding that Crow was a long-time family friend. Thomas wrote, “Real estate mogul Harlan Crow is among his dearest friends.” Adding, “colleagues advised” him, the sort of hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the court,” did not need to be reported. It’s not clear that Thomas indicated who the colleagues were.

 

According to Pro Publica, Justice Thomas joined Crow on luxury trips for over two decades, including “island-hopping” on an expensive yacht, and trips to exclusive resorts on a private jet, none of which were disclosed. 

 

Harlan Crow said Thomas never asked for any of his hospitality, and that he (Crow) “never sought to influence” Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue. 

 

Why You Need to Know:

 

As ProPublica noted in its report,  “Questions about Thomas’ compliance with the disclosure law have come up in the past. In 2011, he announced that he was amending years’ worth of his disclosure forms because he had failed to disclose the sources of his wife, Ginni’s, income. 

 

The Supreme Court does not have an ethics code and under federal law, justices do not have to disclose meals, stays at private homes, or other entertainment considered personal hospitality. 

 

Justice Thomas stated he “always sought to comply with disclosure guidelines,” and intends to follow new rules that riding on private jets must be reported.

 

Several Democratic lawmakers have talked publicly about creating a bill that would require the Supreme Court to create a formal code of conduct. However, Chief Justice John Roberts maintains the high court does not need one, leaving his colleagues to police themselves. Even the highest court in the land must have rules and regulations, Mr. Chief Justice. If nothing else, Justice Thomas and his wife have demonstrated the need. 

 

(SOURCE: PROPUBLICA.ORG)

2. Aerial View of the Pentagon – Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Aerial View of the Pentagon - Arlington, Virginia, USA. Source:Getty

WRITTEN AND CONTRIBUTED BY KHAMERON RILEY

 

What You Need to Know:

 

The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the possible release of Pentagon documents posted on several social media sites that appear to detail U.S. and NATO aid to Ukraine but may have been altered or used as part of a misinformation campaign.

The documents are labeled secret and resemble routine updates that the U.S. military’s Joint Staff would produce daily but not distribute publicly. They are dated from February 23 to March 1 and detail weapons and equipment going to Ukraine with more precise timelines.

Additional documents show how U.S. intelligence agencies spy on Russia, China, Israel, and South Korea and discloses where the Central Intelligence Agency recruits some agents.

Israel and South Korea have spoken out against the documents and their political implications.

Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said on Friday that the Department of Defense “is actively reviewing the matter and has made a formal referral to the Department of Justice for investigation.”

“It is very important to remember that in recent decades, the Russian special services’ most successful operations have been taking place in Photoshop,” Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, said on Ukrainian TV.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office released a statement Friday about a meeting he had with his senior military staff. It noted that “the participants of the meeting focused on measures to prevent the leakage of information regarding the plans of the defense forces of Ukraine.”

The Kremlin said on Monday that there was a general tendency to always blame Russia for everything when asked if Moscow was behind the leak of these supposed classified documents.

Why You Need to Know:

We know how convincing Russia’s misinformation campaigns are. However, if there is a kernel of truth in these documents, it speaks to how insecure our military truly is.

 

(SOURCE: PEWRESEACH.ORG)

3. Heart Disease Survivor, Jen Rohe

Heart Disease Survivor, Jen Rohe Source:AHA

What You Need to Know:

 

Jen Rohe assumed she was experiencing typical postpartum symptoms after the birth of her second child.

 

But the Olympia, Washington resident found out that her shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, and fatigue were signs of heart failure and she needed a transplant. Jen, 33, now educates new moms about their risks.

 

Jen Rohe went from being healthy and active to getting a heart transplant in just 50 days — showing her that new moms like her need to be aware of heart disease risks.

 

Her health problems started soon after the birth of her second child, Sienna, in November 2017. After leaving the hospital, she figured that her shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, and fatigue were typical postpartum symptoms.

She didn’t have any problems when she gave birth two years earlier to her son, Weston.

 

“I was this person who thought I knew everything that could go wrong,” said Jen, 33, of Olympia, Washington. “But I had no idea about the heart risks that affect new moms. You can be young, active, and healthy — it doesn’t matter.”

 

Within days, her symptoms worsened. With extreme fatigue and trouble breathing after walking up a flight of stairs, she was readmitted to the hospital and diagnosed with an uncommon form of heart failure called peripartum cardiomyopathy. The condition, which happens during the last month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth, weakens the heart’s ability to pump blood through the body.

 

Doctors put her on life support which supplied the lungs with much-needed oxygen. But it didn’t fix the problem. So they installed a temporary artificial heart to help pump blood from her heart and listed her for a transplant.

 

Then, she started having other complications, including a build-up of blood around the artificial heart that required emergency surgery. A clot formed around the device, causing a stroke.

 

In January 2018, she had her heart transplant.

 

“My life is very different now,” Jen said. “I grieved the life I used to have. But now I realize I am so grateful for the life I do have.” (READ MORE)

 

(SOURCE: AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION) 

4. After His Conviction Was Vacated, a 65-Year-Old Innocent Black Man is Ordered to Return to Prison

After His Conviction Was Vacated, a 65-Year-Old Innocent Black Man is Ordered to Return to Prison Source:Getty

WRITTEN AND CONTRIBUTED BY COY MALONE

 

What You Need to Know:

 

Two years after being released, Crosley Green, now 65 years old, has been ordered to turn himself back into authorities by April 17 and return to prison.

 

According to court records, in September of 1990, “[a]n all-White jury convict[ed] Mr. Green of first-degree murder of [Charles “Chip”] Flynn, a 22-year-old man in Mims, Florida, and sentence[d] him to death.” Mr. Green has always maintained his innocence.

 

Green was offered a plea deal of seven years for a guilty plea and ended up spending 19 years in prison on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.

 

There have also been several documented issues with Green’s case, including “a prejudiced photo lineup, a junk-science dog track, four witness recantations, and no physical evidence tying Green” to the crime.

 

Green was released from prison in 2021 when his conviction was vacated after finding a Brady violation. “Brevard County prosecutors withheld evidence favorable to Green from his attorneys…But late last year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and reinstated the conviction saying the evidence was not material to the case.”

 

Lawyers representing Green appealed to the United States Supreme Court but were denied. The order for Green to return to prison still stands. Keith Harrison, one of Green’s attorneys, also believes that “It’s a fight for freedom, and the fight isn’t over until freedom is achieved…We intend to approach Governor DeSantis and the parole board. We hope to have a conversation about why Mr. Green deserves to be free…We believe he will see that Crosley deserves to be free.”

 

“It’s bad but it ain’t enough to affect me. It can’t make me feel down or out,” said Green. “…There’s a lot more I would like to do and one day I’m gonna get to do it. Right now, I just have to abide by the rules that have been set forth. It’s just another part of what I have to go through to get my freedom…” 

 

Why You Need to Know:

 

No one’s going to prevent an innocent man from returning to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. WOW!!! 

 

(SOURCE: ESSENCE.COM)

5. What Student Loan Borrowers Need to Know About the 2023 Tax Season

What Student Loan Borrowers Need to Know About the 2023 Tax Season Source:Getty

WRITTEN AND CONTRIBUTED BY CATRINA M. CRAFT, CPA

 

What You Need to Know:

 

The Biden administration’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for tens of millions of Americans is on hold until the Supreme Court decides if the relief policy is legal. Bills for most student loan borrowers, meanwhile, also remain on pause as part of a pandemic-era policy.

Here’s what this all means for your tax bill to Uncle Sam:

You probably can’t claim a student loan interest deduction
Before the Covid pandemic, nearly 13 million taxpayers took advantage of the student loan interest deduction, which allows borrowers to deduct up to $2,500 a year in interest payments they’ve made on their private or federal student loans.

The deduction is “above the line,” meaning you don’t need to itemize your taxes to qualify for it.

Because the U.S. Department of Education has allowed most people with federal student loans to pause their monthly bills without interest accruing since March 2020, most borrowers haven’t made a payment on their debt and don’t qualify for the deduction as a result.

Even if you’ve continued making payments during the pause, you likely still won’t be able to claim the full deduction because your money has been going directly to your debt’s principal. The break is only for payments to interest, and interest has been suspended now for years.

Still, some people may qualify for the break.
If you owe student loans that haven’t been eligible for the government’s payment pause, including commercially held Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) or any private student loans, you may have made interest payments that can be deducted. The best way to determine if you have potential interest to
the claim is to contact your loan servicer.

Eligibility may also be reduced if their employer made payments on their student loans as a work benefit.