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Biden pledges to close US racial wage gap on anniversary of Tulsa massacre

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Washington Correspondent US president Joe Biden pledged to close the United States’ racial wealth gap as he visited the site of the Tulsa race massacre in Oklahoma yesterday.

In a visit to mark the 100-year anniversary of the events of June 1st, 1921, when hundreds of black residents were killed and businesses destroyed by a white mob, Mr Biden spoke in emotional terms about the massacre that left the Greenwood area of the city in ruins.

Outlining how Tulsa was once a thriving commercial district, he described the events of 100 years ago, when “hell was unleashed”. “One night changed everything,” he said, describing in detail how a white mob singled out black individuals and families for murder, and bodies were dumped in mass graves.

“Smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, razed in rumble. In less than 24 hours, 1,100 black homes and businesses were lost. Insurance companies rejected claims of damage. Ten thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in internment camps.”

Viola Fletcher (centre left) and Hughes Van Ellis (centre right), survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, attend a soil collection ceremony to honour the remaining unknown victims of the massacre. Photograph: Joshua Rashaad McFadden/The New York Times
Viola Fletcher (centre left) and Hughes Van Ellis (centre right), survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, attend a soil collection ceremony to honour the remaining unknown victims of the massacre. Photograph: Joshua Rashaad McFadden/The New York Times

“My fellow Americans, this was not a riot, this was a massacre,” he said, a reference to the fact that the event was for a long time referred to as the Tulsa riots. “For too long, forgotten by our history. As soon as it happened there was a clear effort to erase it from our collective memory. For a long time schools in Tulsa didn’t even teach it, let alone schools elsewhere.”

But, he said: “Just because history was silent it did not mean it did not take place.”

“Some injustices are so heinous that they cannot be buried,” he said, noting that he was the first president in 100 years to visit the site. “We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, everything. That’s what great nations do. They come to terms with their dark sides.”

Ahead of his address, Mr Biden toured the Greenwood cultural centre and met with three survivors of the massacre – Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle, aged between 101 and 107.

Racial inequality

Mr Biden also outlined measures his administration would take to address the racial inequality that persists in the United States.

Noting that the percentage of black home ownership is lower today than 50 years ago, he said: “That’s wrong, and we’re committing to change that.” He announced a new initiative to address the home appraisal system in order to combat housing discrimination.

He also committed to increase the number of federal contracts awarded to small businesses from disadvantaged communities, noting that black entrepreneurs get fewer opportunities than white Americans.

The White House also highlighted measures contained within Mr Biden’s infrastructure plan, including a new $10 billion (€8 billion) revitalisation fund and $15 billion in grants to improve transportation in disadvantaged areas.

He also referenced recent efforts by Republican-controlled state legislatures to limit voting access in elections. Quoting the late civil rights leader John Lewis, who described the right to vote as “precious,” Mr Biden said: “this sacred right is under an intense assault that I have never seen. It’s simply un-American.”

He also tapped vice president Kamala Harris to lead efforts to tackle the issue of voting rights.

Hope and history

The president concluded his speech by quoting Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy. Referencing the line “hope and history rhyme,” he concluded: “Let’s make it rhyme.”

The location of Mr Biden’s announcements about rebooting the black economy was richly symbolic. The Greenwood area of Tulsa was once known as “black Wall Street” before the attacks of 1921, which destroyed the once-thriving commercial centre.

Meanwhile, the president is due to host Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito on Wednesday in the White House for talks on his proposed infrastructure plan, in a bid to secure bipartisan support for his proposal. While Mr Biden has already reduced the price tag of his proposed plan from $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion, senate Republicans have unveiled a $928 billion counterproposal, with negotiations continuing.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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