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Ronald Reagan’s Black Granddaughter

A bit of an untold story here, of Ronald Reagan’s daughter adopting a child from Uganda.

The Fascinating Tale of Ronald Reagan’s Ugandan Granddaughter

Ronald Reagan’s First Wife, Jane Wyman, and her granddaughter, Rita at Maureen Reagan’s Funeral

Maureen Reagan and her husband adopted a little girl from Uganda. How they got to America provides a lesson that Congress—and the president—should heed.

Sometimes a story grabs hold of you and won’t let go. President Reagan’s valiant fight against Alzheimer’s disease is in that category for me. I wasn’t a fan of Reagan’s policies, but there was something about the man, and the way he played the role of a lifetime. A visitor to his Century City office after he left the White House told the story of reminding Reagan that he was once President, and he asked, “How’d I do?”

Newsweek did a cover story on “the long goodbye” in the fall of 1995 when Reagan was still in the earlier stages of the disease that would take his life a decade later, in 2004. During the course of my reporting the story, Mrs. Reagan told me that one of the things that gave her husband pleasure was teaching the newest addition to the family how to swim in the heated pool at their Bel-Air home.

“Rita is a real ‘water baby,’ thanks to our pool and my husband,” Mrs. Reagan wrote in a written response to questions, describing then 10-year-old Rita Mirembe Revell, the child that her stepdaughter, Maureen Reagan, and her husband Dennis Revell, had adopted from Uganda. Newsweek asked for photos. We didn’t get them, but I always wondered what happened to Rita.

The last public sighting of her was at her mother’s funeral in 2001. Rita was 16; her mother was 60 when she died after a five-year battle with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Maureen Reagan was Reagan’s daughter with his first wife, the actress Jane Wyman. At her mother’s funeral, Rita was seen holding tight onto Wyman, who looked frail and distraught.

That’s more than 15 years ago, and Maureen’s siblings from Reagan’s second marriage to Nancy, Patti Davis and Ron Reagan, who knew Rita as a child, have not seen her since Maureen’s funeral, and don’t know where she is or what she’s doing. Ron Reagan, who was traveling in Europe when I reached out to him, responded in an email that “my late wife, Doria, and I knew her as a vivacious child when she first came to the U.S., but over the years–difficult years, many of them, for Rita, or so I heard secondhand –we lost track.”

He points out that when she lost her mother, Rita was a teenager, “a phase that is confusing and painful for many young people, even under the best of circumstances,” and that Rita drifted away. She did not attend Mrs. Reagan’s funeral last year, and her adoptive father, Dennis Revell, Maureen’s husband, did not include her name in a statement he released upon Mrs. Reagan’s death, in which he recalled spending many Christmases with his mother-in-law.

“That said, she may be thriving,” Ron Reagan wrote about Rita. “She was always bright and personable. There is no guarantee, however, that her story is positive or edifying.”

Rita is on Facebook with the surname Reagan and in her profile photo and the few pictures she has posted looks every bit as vibrant as the child Ron Reagan remembers. Her page is not fully public, and she did not respond to a message that I left explaining my interest in finding her. Dennis Revell, who heads a public-relations firm in Sacramento, responded to my email saying neither he nor Rita wish to cooperate in any story about immigration.

In a recent post on Facebook, she tells friends wondering what she’s up to, “I have been hiding and being sanctified.”

She’s certainly entitled to her privacy, and perhaps in due time she will tell her story. In these times of division and partisanship, the story of how President Reagan’s Ugandan grandchild became a permanent resident of the United States is worth telling, and worth hearing. It shows people of goodwill pulling together and overcoming barriers within a legal system that those in power can tweak to do the right thing when there is a common goal.

It begins with Maureen and her husband and their support of the Daughters of Charity orphanages in Uganda. They first met Rita when she was three years old. When Dennis made a return visit, this child who had been abandoned in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and whose actual date of birth was unknown, clung to him and wouldn’t stop crying after he left.

“And I said, ‘Dennis, I think she’s adopted you. What do you think about that? And he says, “Fine with me.’ It took us five years, but we got her,” Maureen told ABC’s Barbara Walters in 2001, when what’s known as a “private bill” in Congress recognized Rita as the couple’s “immediate relative child.”

Uganda had very restrictive adoption laws, and the Revells initially gained custody as Rita’s legal guardians. They brought her home to California on a student visa. She was eight years old and attended a private parochial school in Sacramento.

By the time it was established under Ugandan law that Rita was an orphan, and eligible for adoption by the only parents she knew, Maureen was battling cancer and too ill to make the trip to Uganda to finalize the adoption.

That’s when Congress went to work. Utah Republican Orrin Hatch sponsored the private bill in the Senate to grant Rita permanent residence in the United States as did Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee in the House. Republican James Sensenbrenner chaired the House Judiciary committee then, as he does today, and Congresswoman Lee, a member of the committee then as now, entered into the record a statement about the facts of the case and, noting Maureen Reagan’s grave illness, and her inability to travel, that the only way to “assure that Rita remains a part of their family in the United States is through this private bill.”

The bill passed by unanimous consent in the House and Senate, where Hatch chaired the Judiciary Committee, and President George W. Bush signed it into law on July 19, 2001. “Rita is so excited because, like so many adopted children, her one wish was to have a family… Now, she not only has a family, she has a whole country. But also, she knows this news is the best medicine her mother could have received right now,” said Revell. Maureen Reagan passed away just weeks later on August 8, 2001.

From the time they first met Rita in the orphanage, the Revells had provided support for her, and they did everything they were supposed to in accordance with the legal systems in both countries, the United States and Uganda, first gaining legal guardianship, then a student visa, and finally, through the intervention of Congress, permanent residency for Rita.

In addition to having a compelling case, as the daughter of a president, Maureen Reagan had the clout and the connections to get legislative relief. Private immigration bills sponsored by lawmakers are not as common as they once were, and in the toxic political environment around immigration issues today, they hearken back to an earlier, less contentious time.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in General, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Ugandan Kids Get Serious About Baseball

Looks like the American Pastime Sport may not die out after all. Africa may provide an entirely new market wich revitalizes the sport.

Ugandan children’s new favorite sport: Baseball

 

KAMPALA, Uganda – Unlike in most of Africa, soccer is not the top sport at the Rev. John Foundation School in Uganda’s capital. Instead, a fairly foreign American game is No. 1 and catching on quickly.

“Baseball is our main game here,” head teacher Emmanuel Bazannye said of his school. “Even the girls love it. The girls want to participate after seeing the boys doing it. We say that what the boys can do, even the girls can do.”

Baseball is not widely played in Africa, but Uganda looks poised to be the launching pad for the game’s entry into this soccer-dominated continent.

Last year a team of young Ugandan ballers made international news in heartbreaking fashion. They qualified for the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., but were denied travel visas by the U.S. State Department because of a lack of documentation.

“We cried for two good days,” said George Mukhobe, the coach who would have led the team to America. “It meant a lot for those kids.”

Augustus Owinyi was the team’s first baseman. Although now too old for Little League, he still shows up during practices, pleasing coaches who see it as a sign of his commitment.

Owinyi wants to be like Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The 13-year-old Owinyi met Rollins when the American visited Uganda in January and that memory makes him dream of playing Major League Baseball someday. His hopes for a career in baseball made the State Department’s visa denial especially painful.

“I felt very sad,” he said. “They gave us back our passports and said we were not to go. Some of us cried. I love this game. I see my future in this game.”

Ugandan sports followers say the school’s success in international competition has contributed to baseball’s popularity among schools that once were skeptical about the American game.

The school is preparing for a national baseball competition, where the winner will travel to Poland in July. It’s the first international opportunity for Ugandan youngsters following the failure to go to the Little League World Series.

The visa refusal spawned a wave of sympathy, but also inspired a fundraising drive that raised enough money to bring to Uganda a team from Canada that the Ugandans would have faced if they had competed in South Williamsport.

In January, the Ugandans beat the Canadians 2-1. Coach Mukhobe said that the win was more proof that Uganda had baseball talent.

Baseball still lags behind soccer across Uganda. But it’s catching on among schools attracted to its relative novelty and the government now backs the game’s introduction in schools.

About 60 schools encourage baseball, Mukhobe said, and this year a national baseball league was launched after it was endorsed by sports authorities. The baseball season started in mid-March.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Africa, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Inhofe Unloads on Rush Limbaugh

Earlier this week Drugbo took Obama to task for sending 100 US Advisors to Uganda to combat the Lords Resistance Army. Drugbo characterized the intervention as a “war”, and accused President Obama of killing “christians”. The LRA is not Christian – they are mass murderers, child rapists, and criminals. Here is Limbaugh defending them…

Racism will make you stupid.

Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the combat Lord’s Resistance Army. And here we are at war with them. Have you ever heard of Lord’s Resistance Army, Dawn? How about you, Brian? Snerdley, have you? You never heard of Lord’s Resistance Army? Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them. Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. It means God. I was only kidding. Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. That’s what the lingo means, “to help regional forces remove from the battlefield,” meaning capture or kill. […]

Lord’s Resistance Army objectives. I have them here. “To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people.” Now, again Lord’s Resistance Army is who Obama sent troops to help nations wipe out. The objectives of the Lord’s Resistance Army, what they’re trying to accomplish with their military action in these countries is the following: “To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people; to fight for the immediate restoration of the competitive multiparty democracy in Uganda; to see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans; to ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda, to ensure unity, sovereignty, and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans, and to bring to an end the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the LRA ideology.” Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting, or who are being fought and we are joining in the effort to remove them from the battlefield.

Senator Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) sets (a small part of) the record straight on the “Lords Resistance Army”…

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Faux News, Stupid Tea Bagger Tricks

 

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Obama Orders US Troops to Uganda

One of the positive thigs about Obama vs Bush – is we don’t need to invade a whole country anymore to get rid of the bad guys…

An example of which was Libya, getting Bin Lauden, and eradicating about 75% of Al Quaeda’s leadership.

Now if US troops come under fire and accidentally have to whack this criminal SOB…

C’est la Vie.

One other thing…I am sure conservatives will jump up and down and scream in support of this scumbag.

President Obama says the Lord's Resistance Army Obama orders U.S. troops to help chase down African ‘army’ leader

President Barack Obama is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the leaders of the notoriously violent Lord’s Resistance Army in and around Uganda.

“I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield,” Obama said in letter sent Friday to House Speaker John Boehner and Daniel Inouye, the president pro tempore of the Senate. Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

U.S. military personnel advising regional forces working to target Kony and other senior leaders will not engage Kony’s forces “unless necessary for self-defense,” Obama said.

“I believe that deploying these U.S. armed forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.”

Obama noted that the group “has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa” and “continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

According to the State Department, “since 2008 alone, the LRA has killed more than 2,400 people and abducted more than 3,400. The United Nations estimates that over 380,000 people are displaced across the region because of LRA activity.”

Obama said the United States since 2008 has backed regional military efforts to go after the Lord’s Resistance Army. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that since that time the United States has provided more than $40 million in support.

Efforts to combat the LRA, however, have been unsuccessful.

In his letter, Obama cited the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. In that measure, Congress “expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability,” he said.

“I have directed this deployment, which is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” he said. “I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.”

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Africa

 

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Pastor Rick Warren Issues Message Condemning Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The Ugandan Parliament is considering a bill which would impose the death penalty to gay people found to have AIDs.

Apparently the folks who proposed the Bill are former desciples of Rick Warren…

A “Purpose driven death penalty”…Indeed.

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Posted by on December 11, 2009 in News

 

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