‘You don’t tell yourself no’: Stacey Abrams’ bid to be America’s first black female governor

After winning Georgia’s Democratic primary, Abrams tells Lucia Graves about her uphill battle to win in a state with a history of segregationist governors

For Stacey Abrams to become the first black female governor – and in Georgia, no less – would take a miracle. Then again, according to the politics of convention, it already took one for her to get this far.

“We have to be hopeful enough and courageous enough to believe in the unexpected,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, at Abrams’ primary victory party on Tuesday night at a hotel ballroom in downtown Atlanta. Abrams easily defeated her fellow former Georgia state legislator, Stacey Evans.

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Conservative Groups Outline Principles for Any Path Forward on Health Care

Jim DeMint (R-SC), chairman of the Conservative Partnership Institute. “I’ve always believed that Americans should have the ability to obtain quality, affordable health insurance coverage that they can buy, hold, and keep. With good conservative reforms …

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HCC welcomes leader of White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Houston Community College students and administrators met Monday, May 21, with Holly L. Ham, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific islanders. The meeting at the HCC Administration Building in Midtown was the latest …

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South Asian-Americans at Higher Risk for Heart Disease, Stroke: Study

South Asian-Americans were found to be more likely at risk of developing heart disease and stroke when compared to East Asians or non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. Clinical experts at Rush University Medical Center reported this finding in a new scientific …

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Oxford Faces Anger over Failure to Improve Diversity Among Students

Oxford’s glacial progress in attracting students from diverse backgrounds has been revealed in figures showing that more than one in four of its colleges failed to admit a single black British student each year between 2015 and 2017.

Several of the most prestigious colleges, including Balliol, University and Magdalen, each admitted two black British students as undergraduates during the three-year period.

The worst figures belonged to Corpus Christi College, which admitted a single black British student in those three years and attracted a dozen such applications.

Overall, white British applicants were twice as likely to be admitted to undergraduate courses as their black British peers – 24% of the former gained entry and 12% of the latter.

David Lammy, the Labour MP who has repeatedly criticised Oxford and Cambridge universities for failing to improve their track record on admissions, said the latest data released by Oxford showed little had changed.

“The university is clearly happy to see Oxford remain an institution defined by entrenched privilege that is the preserve of wealthy white students from London and the south-east,” he said.

“If Oxford is serious about access, the university needs to put its money where its mouth is and introduce a university-wide foundation year, get a lot better at encouraging talented students from under-represented backgrounds to apply and use contextual data when making offers, not just when granting interviews.

“The underprivileged kid from a state school in Sunderland or Rochdale who gets straight As is more talented [than] their contemporary with the same grades at Eton or Harrow, and all the academic evidences shows that they far outshine their peers at university too.”

The figures show marked variations between colleges, including wide gaps in the proportion of state-school and female students admitted.

Across the three years, less than 40% of Balliol’s British undergraduate intake were women, while Trinity College admitted three students from independent schools for every two they admitted from state schools.

Samina Khan, the university’s head of admissions and outreach, denied that the variation in admissions by colleges was hampering Oxford’s efforts to widen access. “I think the admissions process here does work, it’s fair and it’s transparent. It’s a strength of our undergraduate admissions,” she said.

In a press release accompanying the figures, the university said it “recognised the report shows it needs to make more progress”. It said it was adding 500 more places to its spring and summer school programme for students from under-represented backgrounds.

The expansion is to be part-financed by a £75m donation from the philanthropists Sir Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, which will also be used for Moritz-Heyman scholarships for British students eligible for free school meals or from households earning £16,000 or less each year.

The summer schools allow prospective A-level students from disadvantaged backgrounds to spend a week at the university and receive advice in making their applications. Students who attended the programme, known as Uniq, have a 34% chance of a successful application, compared to 20% for UK-wide applicants.

The data shows Oxford has struggled to recruit black and minority ethnic students to some of its most famous degree courses. PPE, the influential course in politics, philosophy and economics that has trained generations of politicians and policymakers, had 10 black British students enrolled between 2015 and 2017.

Oxford’s highly regarded course in English literature and language, taken by literary figures such as JRR Tolkien and Jeanette Winterson, admitted six black British students in the space of the three years.

Seven of Oxford’s 25 largest courses received fewer than 10 applications each from black students in 2015-17 and admitted only very small numbers.

In the three years to 2017, not a single black British student was admitted to theology, biomedical sciences or earth sciences courses. None of the 30 black British students who applied to study computer science or psychology gained entry.

Khan said Oxford faced particular challenges in convincing students from minority backgrounds to widen their aim away from law and medicine, where the majority of black British applicants applied, to pursue less competitive subjects.

“It’s less of a challenge in terms of the students, because the students want to do English literature or want to do theology and religion. It’s usually the parents or the community that say: ‘what job are you going to get after that?’” Khan said.

“So it’s the parents we really have to convince and turn around. But what we are working on is to show them that a degree from Oxford opens doors to so many careers, and that we have an excellent progression route from our degrees on to graduate employment.”

The figures are the first tranche of detailed data on admissions to be voluntarily released by Oxford. The university said it planned to release further spreadsheets offering more detail on Wednesday, and to make the release an annual event.

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Amnesty Accuses Nigerian Army of Raping Women and Girls Rescued from Boko Haram

Thousands of brave women and girls who survived Boko Haram’s brutal rule while kept captive by the militant Islamist group have been raped by Nigerian soldiers who claim to be rescuing them, Amnesty International has revealed.

The human rights organisation has today urged Nigeria to act on claims that soldiers and members of the civilian militia have raped women and girls in remote camps for people displaced by Boko Haram.

Amnesty said it had gathered multiple testimonies about alleged abuse by the security forces, including claims that soldiers coerced vulnerable survivors into having sex in exchange for food.

Its report, ‘They betrayed us’, is the result of a two-year investigation, based on interviews with more than 250 people affected by the situation in north-east Nigeria.

The findings explain what happened to the hundreds of thousands of people, particularly women, who fled or were forced from areas controlled by Boko Haram. The Nigerian military ordered those it was ‘freeing’ to satellite camps, where various abuses, and even deaths, are alleged to have occurred.

The Nigerian military and Civilian Joint Task Force, a militia working alongside it, have carried out systematic patterns of violence and abuse, according to the report.

Women told Amnesty how they have been raped in exchange for food, and thousands of people, including children, have starved to death in the camps since 2015, it adds.

Security officials are alleged to have beaten women, and labelled them ‘Boko Haram wives’ when they complained about their treatment.

Women and girls, many of whom have been separated from their families, are vulnerable to sexual abuse and say rape is widespread both in and outside the camps, according to aid agencies.

Some non-profit organisations run family planning clinics, providing contraception, and say there are high numbers of sexually transmitted infections, abortions and unwanted pregnancies.

‘Scores’ of women told Amnesty that soldiers and civilian militia members coerced them into becoming ‘girlfriends’, which meant them being available for sex.

Sexual exploitation was at an ‘alarming level, as women remain desperate to access sufficient food and livelihood opportunities’, the human rights watchdog added.

Amnesty’s Nigeria director, Osai Ojigho, said: ‘Sex in these highly coercive circumstances is always rape, even when physical force is not used, and Nigerian soldiers and (militia) members have been getting away with it.’

He said it was time for President Muhammadu Buhari ‘to demonstrate his frequently-expressed commitment to protect the human rights of displaced people in northeast Nigeria.

‘The only way to end these horrific violations is by ending the climate of impunity in the region and ensuring that no-one can get away with rape or murder,’ he added.

But the government said the organisation was repeating false accusations.

‘This … is just a wild goose chase report, in essence … the report seemed like the one in 2015, and the one in 2016, and the one after that year, the same things being recycled again and again,’ presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said.

In November 2016, police vowed to look into allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation in the camps but several months later, the military rejected the allegations.

However, ‘it is not always clear if these investigations were carried out and no reports have been made public,’ the London-based human rights group said in a statement.

Nearly 1.8 million people have been displaced within Nigeria by the Boko Haram insurgency, which has killed at least 20,000 since 2009, according to the latest available figures to April 30.

When including statistics from neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, the number of people forced to flee their homes by the violence reaches nearly 2.25 million, says the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Military gains have wrested back control of areas previously held by the Islamist militants, laying bare the extent of the damage to farming and fishing on which most locals depend.

By the end of March, 3.5 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN said. Malnutrition cases with medical complications are expected to rise in the upcoming rainy season.

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