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Homeless N.Y.C. Man Releases First Mobile App

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Trees For Cars, a carpooling app that tells users how much CO2 they save per ride, has entered the market. Grand, who is homeless, began work on the app after programmer Patrick McConlogue approached him in August with two options.
Per McConlogue's Medium blog post, they were:
I will come back tomorrow and give you $100 in cash.
I will come back tomorrow and give you three JavaScript books, (beginner-advanced-expert) and a super cheap basic laptop. I will then come an hour early from work each day — when [you] prepared — and teach [you] to code.
Grand chose the latter, and McConlogue kept his word, teaching him the basics of coding. According to the 23-year-old, Grand was responsible for virtually every aspect of the app, including the concept and name. Despite McConlogue's act, many criticized his plans as taking advantage of a homeless man.

Just before Grand made his decision, blogger Sam Biddle initially compared McConlogue to "a 21st century a**hole Henry Higgins," concluding that "we'll have to wait for the next update, which I hope won't occur because surely Patrick will realize this is degrading and horrible."
According to Jessica Roy from Betabeat, the "homeless are not bit players in your imaginary entrepreneurial novella."
McConlogue, for the most part, has brushed off the naysayers, "I would much rather have controversy and a ton of negative opinions if people ask the question of themselves," he said. "The more important part is, what would you do personally? And what is the right thing do to? It's a great way to not ignore the situation. I still don't understand [the controversy]. It's just two guys working on and learning to code," he added.
Though the app's release signals McConlogue fulfilling his promise to Grand, their partnership isn't over yet. Grand is already hard at work on Trees For Cars 2, the programmer says. In addition, he wants to expand his app in the near future.
"This is not a charity event; it's a business," McConlogue said. "[Grand] wants to turn Trees for Cars into a functioning carpooling service. He has a great vision, and he's not done. This isn't the last thing for him."

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Danny Glover Breaks Down The South Africa-Cuba Connection

The world may be abuzz over President Barack Obama's decision to shake the hand of Cuban leader Raul Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, but the late South African president most certainly would have approved.
After all, Mandela drew inspiration from the Cuban revolution, which culminated in Fidel Castro taking power in 1959. Among the stated goals of the revolution was ending segregation– America's own version of apartheid had provided an economic incentive for similar policies in Cuba (PDF) — though that effort still has a way to go before it's a reality.
Then there was Cuba's role in Namibia's war for independence from white-controlled South Africa. On NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, actor and activist Danny Glover, who played Mandela in a 1987 television movie, said that was a reason that Mandela would not disavow Castro, despite intense pressure.
"Most of us know about the audio clip when Mandela at his inauguration met Castro and pushed away his hand," Glover recalled, "and grabbed him and held him — it's clear to him and most of the audience — he said Castro, 'Without you, this doesn't happen.'"
Cuban troops helped to keep South Africans from derailing Namibian independence, Glover continued. "People who followed that, moment to moment, from 1975 through that period of time that ended up with the independence of Namibia, understood clearly the role that Cuban troops had played."
Glover shared additional insights on the linked histories of South Africa and Cuba, in a clip here.

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Nelson Mandela memorial: Snipers, troops stand guard

Mourners sing outside the home of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Monday, December 9. The revered statesman, who emerged from prison to lead South Africa out of apartheid, died on Thursday, December 5. Mandela was 95.

Editor's note: Watch the Nelson Mandela memorial from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET Tuesday on CNN International. Dozens of heads of state, including Presidents Zuma, Obama and Castro, will be there with thousands of South Africans at the 90,000 seat FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
Johannesburg (CNN) -- It's a moment for the ages.
Tens of thousands of South Africans, dozens of presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and street sweepers are all heading to the same place: a stadium in Johannesburg, where they'll honor Nelson Mandela at a memorial service on Tuesday.
With 91 heads of state attending, security will be tight.
Authorities are already stepping up surveillance as presidents of six nations prepare to pay tribute to the late anti-apartheid leader in a four-hour service that will likely bring much of South Africa to a stop.

Working off plans developed for years in secret, the South African government is using an elite military task force, sniper teams and canine teams to help secure the stadium, CNN's Arwa Damon reported Monday. In addition, helicopters and military jets frequently fly overhead.
"Should anybody, anything dare to disturb or disrupt this period of mourning and finally taking and accompanying the former president to his last resting place, then that person will be dealt with," Brig. Gen. Xolani Mabanga said Monday.
South African officials won't give details about their security plans -- how many police officers, how many troops, precautions to keep the stadium weapons- and explosives-free.
"But we can assure that all necessary steps have been taken, and that is why the leadership of the world and former leaders of the world have confidence to come to our country at this time to share with us this moment," said Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane.
The event promises to rival other significant state funerals in recent decades, such as that of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965 and the 2008 funeral of Pope John Paul II, which attracted some 2 million people to Rome -- among them four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers and the leaders of 14 other faiths.
At that event, metal detectors and some 15,000 members of security forces stood watch over the event.
U.S. official: South Africa experienced at hosting crowds
U.S. officials are satisfied with security arrangements.
"We have not heard any concerns," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Barack Obama flew to South Africa.
"The South Africans hosted the World Cup, so they have experience hosting significant crowds and managing events like this, although clearly this is really a unique event in world history, given the number of leaders coming to pay their respects, as well as the people of South Africa."
Given Mandela's ailing health, the U.S. Secret Service made some arrangements in advance, a Secret Service spokesman said. But work that would usually take months to complete has been done in less than a week, the spokesman said.
"It's a compressed timeline, but there are certain protocols we must have in place for any trip," the spokesman said.
Those protocols involve securing the president's motorcade route and hotel rooms and doing security walk-throughs.
The spokesman declined to offer specific details on security measures at the stadium.
While Tuesday's memorial is the first major event honoring Mandela since his death, it won't be the last.
A state funeral will be held Sunday in Mandela's ancestral hometown of Qunu in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.
Presidents set to speak at service
Among the speakers at Tuesday's memorial will be President Obama, who like Mandela was his nation's first black president. Obama has cited Mandela as his own inspiration for entering politics.
In addition to Obama, former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will attend. More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers also plan to go.
Other guests include the Prince of Wales, British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will also speak, as well as celebrities such as Bono, Oprah Winfrey and Naomi Campbell.
Crews worked overtime Monday to prepare FNB Stadium in Johannesburg for the service.
The stadium, where Mandela delivered his first major speech after his release from prison, can hold some 90,000 people, but that won't be enough to hold the hundreds of thousands clamoring to celebrate Mandela's life.
The government has set up overflow locations at stadiums and other facilities throughout the country.
With private vehicles banned from the area around the stadium, the government pressed buses from around the country into service and stepped up train service to move the crowds.
In addition to Obama and Ban, the presidents of Brazil, Namibia, India, Cuba and South Africa are expected to speak at the service, as are family members, friends and others.
One potential complication: Forecasters predicted potentially heavy rainfall during the event at the open-air stadium.
Monday events
South Africa's Parliament reconvened Monday for an afternoon of speeches and memorials to Mandela. Dozens of members of parliament spoke.
"The world over, his name has evolved into a metaphor," Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said. "The name Nelson Mandela has entered the pantheon of history's sages."
Out of the public eye, friends who had not seen each other in years have been coming together with Mandela's family in his home, said Zelda la Grange, Mandela's longtime personal assistant.
Mandela called la Grange his "rock," even though she seemed an unlikely confidante. She was a white Afrikaner and an employee of the former apartheid government.
In her first interview since Mandela's death, she described the mood in his home to CNN's Robyn Curnow on Monday.
"Obviously there's sadness in the house," she said, but also, "People are celebrating Madiba's life. They are grateful." She referred to Mandela by his well-known clan name.

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Woman Falsely Accuses Black ‘Thug’ Of ‘Knockout Game’ Attack

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Last month, 25-year-old Ashley Depew, accused a random Black "thug" of assaulting her in a "Knockout Game" attack, but her entire story has been exposed as a lie, reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Depew was really hit by her boyfriend, Justin Simms, 25, and they fabricated the entire story to avoid telling their families.
As originally reported by KMOV St. Louis, Depew claimed that she was randomly sucker punched while waiting for a friend outside of a local bar.
"I dropped immediately to the ground and screaming and crying and everybody just scattered," she said at the time to News 4's Matt Sczesny.
Depew's family thought the attack sounded like the "Knockout Game" that seemed to be going around—before it was determined to be a racist, sensationalized story—and they insisted on going to the police. Police Chief Sam Dotson, however, said their story was always inconsistent:
"We had to spend a significant amount of resources unraveling the lies they told," Dotson told the Dispatch. "That's resources that could have been spent on other crimes, and it damaged the perception of the city. I hope these two individuals get help in their relationship."
Depew and Simms have both been charged with falsifying a police report.
Blaming a phantom Black criminal for the crimes of White America is nothing new.
Slate compiled several instances below:
In 1989, Charles Stuart murdered his pregnant wife and blamed it on anonymous black men, stoking racial tension in the Boston area just as the "knockout game" is doing now. In 1994, Susan Smith murdered her sons and trotted out the same lie to the police and the media. In other cases, people make up imaginary attacks by black men for money, attention, or, as University of Florida law professor Katheryn Russell-Brown told NPR, even just to get time off of work. In one particularly surreal case in 2008, a young female John McCain supporter claimed a black man randomly carved the letter "B" into her face as a kind of Obama campaign sign. Turns out she did it to herself, which helped explain why the letter was backwards. And while not a hoax, it was the late-'80s hysteria over "wilding" that created an atmosphere in which five young men were wrongly convicted in the Central Park jogger rape case.
Simms claims that he "accidentally" hit Depew when she tried to touch his hand during an argument. He was allegedly just trying to move his hand, but Depew suffered two facial fractures and required reconstructive surgery.
"I don't want this to detract from the fact that [Depew's] still a victim," said her attorney Ethan Corlija. "She sustained pretty serious injuries. No matter how the circuit attorney chooses to view it, it still boils down to her being a victim and we can't lose sight of that fact."

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GOP'S 'OUTREACH': MOSTLY WHITE AUDIENCE AT BLACK EVENT

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The Michigan Republican Party is seeking to increase its visibility in Democratic- and minority-heavy Detroit, and last week, it brought Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to the city to open the party's African-American Engagement Office. But if anything, the launch event put into stark relief just how much work the GOP has to do, when a largely white audience turned out to hear the senator speak.

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has said that attracting more minorities to the GOP is crucial for the party's future. He visited Michigan last month, hired radio personality Wayne Bradley to head the African-American Engagement effort in the state and launched the Michigan Black Advisory Council.

In the 2012 election, President Barack Obama earned the support of 90 percent of the black voters who turned out at the polls.

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