Sunday, February 21, 2010

Briton dies in Madeira floods

A British woman has died following flash floods and mudslides that hit the holiday island of Madeira, it has emerged.

Emergency rescue crews and equipment were being flown to the Atlantic island after torrents of muddy water coursed through the streets of the capital Funchal.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said the victim's family had been informed.

"We are not able to release any further details at this stage," she added.

Sources said the dead Briton was a woman in her 50s.

A "small number" of Britons, understood to be less than five, were being treated in hospital as the amount of people feared to have been killed rose to at least 40, with more than 120 injured and an unknown number of others missing.

NAACP selects youngest chairwoman in its history

NAACP elects Brock, 44, as youngest board chairman

NEW YORK — The NAACP elected a health care executive as its youngest board chairman Saturday, continuing a youth movement for the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

Roslyn M. Brock, 44, was chosen to succeed Julian Bond. She had been vice chairman since 2001 and a member of the NAACP for 25 years.

Brock works for Bon Secours Health Systems in Maryland as vice president for advocacy and government relations, and spent 10 years working on health issues for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She joins Benjamin Todd Jealous, the 37-year-old CEO of the NAACP, as leader of the 500,000-member organization.

Brock said she plans to focus on pushing for policy changes to eliminate inequality, strengthening the relationship between the national and local NAACP branches and holding people accountable.

“It’s not always what someone is doing to us, but what we are doing for ourselves,” Brock said in an interview.

The departure of Bond, 70, after 10 years as board chairman marks a turning point for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Pepole.

Bond came of age in the segregated South, helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and was on the front lines of the protests that led to the nation’s landmark civil rights laws. He is a symbol and icon of “the movement,” which was a defining experience for older generations.

In recent years the NAACP has endured criticism that it is old and out of touch. Then Bond brought in Jealous, then 34, as the NAACP’s youngest CEO, and endorsed Brock’s bid for board chairman.

The selection of young leaders “is deliberate, but it’s also fortuitous,” Bond said. “We are lucky to have had this confluence of a young CEO and a young chair. I don’t think we plotted and planned that in 2010 the stars would align this way.”

Jealous said he belongs to a generation “whose greatest accomplishments are in front of them … who are even more hungry for change.”

Bond said the board asked him to run for another one-year term, but he declined.

“Frankly, this is the most difficult nonpaying job I’ve ever had,” said Bond, who has served in the Georgia state legislature, is a member of several corporate boards and a professor at American University and the University of Virginia.

Brock was selected in a vote by the 64-person NAACP board. Her opponent was Rev. Wendell Anthony, leader of the NAACP’s Detroit chapter, who withdrew Friday after he was not re-elected to his seat on the board.

Brock graduated from Virginia Union University and has an MBA from Northwestern, as well as master’s degrees in health care administration and divinity.

She described health care as her passion and said the current reform debate hinges on one fundamental question.

“Am I my brother’s and my sister’s keeper?” Brock asked. “That’s the question that we’ve got to ask our legislators. Are we really, really concerned about our neighbors, and about their health, and their children’s health?”

While acknowledging the need to “retool our front line” and develop young civil rights activists, Brock said the wisdom of the older generation is still needed.

“If it were not for that ‘aging’ membership, the NAACP would not be who it is and what it is today,” she said.

Many conservatives question the need for an NAACP and say that an association for the advancement of white people would be considered racist.

Brock said the NAACP has erroneously been classified as a black group: “We are not. We are a multiracial, multiethnic organization. So as we move into our second century, our desire is to cast our net broader.”

“‘People of color’ or ‘colored people’ really speaks to those who are falling through the cracks … who feel locked out,” she said.

She said the nation was at a pivotal moment after electing the first black president.

“I’d be the first to say that at the NAACP we have to acknowledge how far we’ve come as a nation in terms of race relations, but also in that acknowledgment, understanding that we’re not where we ought to be, but we thank God we’re not what we used to be.

“We need to draw a line in the sand and say thank you, America … but also challenge America that we still have much more work to do.”

Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Pres

Three girls killed by Florida train

Three girls believed to have been in their teens were struck and killed by a train as they walked along a bridge in Melbourne, Fla., authorities said Sunday.

The girls were among a group of four crossing the trestle bridge on foot around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, WESH-TV, Orlando, and Florida Today reported.

A boy, who was walking ahead of the girls, tried to warn them as he made it to safety on other side of Crane Creek, Florida Today said.

"They were unable to get out of the way in time and they were struck by the train," Melbourne Police Lt. Marc Claycomb said.

There was no immediate information about the train, which stopped for several hours after the accident.

"It's tragic," Claycomb said. "There's no other way to put it."

Although walking on the tracks is illegal and several "No Trespassing" signs are posted, neighbors told Florida Today it was not unusual to see pedestrians using the Florida East Coast bridge to cross the creek.

NBA: Orlando 101, Cleveland 95

Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson teamed to score eight points down the stretch Sunday as the Orlando Magic rallied to down Cleveland 101-95.

Carter ended with 11 points while Dwight Howard poured in 22 points and pulled down 16 rebounds as the Magic sent the Cavaliers to their first three-game losing streak since the 2007-08 season.

Nelson chipped in with 18 points for Orlando and Rashard Lewis contributed 15. His clutch 3-pointer helped pull the Magic to within five games of the Cavs atop the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Cleveland got 33 points from LeBron James while Shaquille O'Neal struck for 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting in the loss.