LISTEN: Dylann Roof Found Competent for Trial In Charleston Church Killings; Rwanda Demands Vatican Apology for Church’s Role in Genocide (BCNN1, 11/25/2016)

1. According to Reuters, accused white supremacist Dylann Roof is mentally competent to stand trial for the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church last year, a federal judge ruled on Friday. Roof’s competency was the subject of a 16-hour hearing held behind closed doors on Monday and Tuesday. Earlier this month, defense attorneys had raised concerns for the first time about whether Roof was able to understand the nature of the proceedings against him and to assist in his defense. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said in an order on Friday that he had carefully considered the testimony of a renowned psychiatrist who evaluated Roof, 22, as well as arguments from lawyers. The judge kept under seal his detailed findings about Roof’s competency, saying that making them public would jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Jury selection now will resume on Monday.

2. According to Newsweek, Rwanda’s government has demanded an apology from the Vatican over the Catholic Church’s role in the country’s 1994 genocide, dismissing the recent apology offered by Rwandan bishops. The Catholic Church in Rwanda issued a statement that was intended to be read at churches across the country on Sunday, apologizing for “all the wrongs the church committed” during the genocide. Around 800,000 people—mostly members of the Tutsi minority—were killed by extremists from the Hutu ethnic majority over just 100 days in 1994. Several Roman Catholic priests have been accused of participating in or facilitating the mass murder and many Tutsis were killed in churches after seeking refuge during the genocide. The Rwandan government called the bishops’ apology “profoundly inadequate” and said it highlighted “how far the Catholic Church still remains from a full and honest reckoning with its moral and legal responsibilities.” The government response, issued Wednesday, added that some priests had reportedly declined to read the statement to parishioners.

3. According to Black Voices, a group of former federal prisoners who had their sentences commuted by President Barack Obama are urging the president to do as much as he can for other drug defendants before the end of his presidency. The initiative #cut50, which aims to reduce the U.S. prison population by 50 percent, held several events last week in support of its #ClemencyNOW campaign, which seeks to encourage Obama to grant an “unprecedented” number of clemencies before President-elect Donald Trump take office in January. The group held a vigil in front of the White House and delivered petitions to the Justice Department in support of the initiative.

4. According to the Christian Post, pastor Shirley Caesar loves the fact that a song she recorded decades ago is getting remixed into a viral cultural sensation, but she’s vehemently opposed it being used in sexually suggestive twerking videos that are being posted online. Caesar, the 78-year-old pastor and gospel singer first recorded a song called “Hold My Mule” for the 1988 album, Live in Chicago. Close to three decades later, one portion of the song where Caesar sings ‘I got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes,” has inspired people of all ages, various forms of undress and sexual poses to dance to her song, including an elderly grandmother who twerks while holding onto her walker. While Caesar is grateful that even a small part of her music is reaching a new audience, she’s dismayed by the manner in which the song is being used.

5. According to the Christian Post, Lecrae has the ability to do something powerful in developing the next generation of leaders, according to Christian rapper Christon Gray. Lecrae, the 37-year-old rapper who was born Lecrae Devaughn Moore, has a testimony that includes overcoming a broken home and a life of crime to being nominated and winning Grammy Awards for his music and performances. “There’s going to be a generation of leaders that were brought up by Lecrae,” Gray, the 30-year-old “Stop Me” rapper tweeted on Nov. 15. Earlier this year, Lecrae received an honorary doctorate from Canada Christian College where the president of the institution highlighted the rapper’s work with troubled youth.

6 . According to Black Press USA, some films rely on pyrotechnics and special effects to get attention. Other films are jolting just by retelling a true story in a direct way. The film “Loving,” released earlier this month, is the latter. “Loving,” which highlights the history of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that ended the ban on interracial marriage in the U.S., debuted in Washington, D.C. on October 24. The film was the first feature film to be shown at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in the stunning Oprah Winfrey Theatre. The National Museum of African American History and Culture and Comcast hosted not only a screening of the film, but a special gala reception and panel discussion before presenting it. Loving was directed and written by Jeff Nichols and stars Joel Edgerton as Richard Loving and Ruth Negga as Mildred Loving. All three were in attendance for the screening and panel discussion at the African American Museum.

7. According to the Associated Press, the Dallas Cowboys are accomplishing things in Dak Prescott’s rookie season that never happened under Hall of Fame quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Dallas, which got its five Super Bowl championships under Staubach and Aikman, had never won 10 consecutive regular-season games in the same season until now. Only once before in franchise history had the Cowboys started 10-1, in Tony Romo’s first full season as the starter in 2007. That was also the only other time since 2005, their last Super Bowl season, that they already had 10 wins on Thanksgiving Day. Prescott said, “I have tons of confidence in myself, this team, and the coaching staff. I never go in to the game thinking we are going to lose, it is always what do we have to do to win? I feel like that is how this team thinks.”

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