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Sending Troops to Uganda?

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By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Columnist –

(NNPA) Reports that the Obama administration is planning on sending U.S. troops to Uganda to hunt down the so-called Lord's Resistance Army sent chills up my spine. The Lord's Resistance Army, a group of maniacal terrorists running around Uganda for years, has been a major thorn in the side of the people of Uganda. Their atrocities are countless and it is in every one's interests that they are destroyed. That said, I ask myself, why is the U.S.A. sending troops there?

If the Obama administration wants to help Uganda defeat the LRA, they should limit themselves to advising and training Ugandans to fight their own war. Better yet, they should support the African Union in carrying out a coordinated, multi-country assault on the LRA (since the LRA crosses borders, including back and forth to what is now the South Sudan). They could also supply Uganda other forms of assistance to help the areas that are blighted by the LRA. But sending U.S. troops to Uganda starts to feel like an old film we have all seen, i.e., Vietnam.

Once U.S. troops are on the ground in Uganda, it almost automatically changes the dynamics of a struggle. The LRA, as terrorist as they are, can claim, much as the Al Shabab terrorists in Somalia, that they are fighting not just the Ugandan government (in this case) but the U.S. government and its intervention. As we witnessed in Somalia, when Ethiopia invaded with the active support of the U.S.A. in 2006 in order to crush the Union of Islamic Courts (a conservative Islamist force that had stabilized the situation in part of Somalia), this inflamed the situation even more. Instead of crushing Islamists, the Ethiopian/U.S. invasion provoked the growth of dangerous terrorists and warlords, a fact that author Jeremy Scahill has recently documented in The Nation. A similar danger could await the U.S.A. through the deployment of troops to Uganda. While it is only alleged to be 100 troops, as we know from previous U.S. interventions, there is no reason to believe that the intervention will stop there, particularly if there are U.S. casualties. Therefore, as the intervention grows, the battle cry against the U.S.A. will grow and with it the very real possibility of a prolonged engagement in Uganda.

The Obama administration needs to rescind it proposed deployment. It should support the African Union and other forces who wish to crush the LRA. But U.S. troops on the ground needs to be out of the question. Given the disasters in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, enough is enough.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of Solidarity Divided. He can be reached at papaq54@hotmail.com.

President Obama's Solution for Minority Business – Kill it: Part II

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(NNPA) It all looked so good in the beginning. There was going to be a change. There has been a change but it is not what we expected. Unemployment is higher than ever for African Americans. While there are many reasons there is one direct correlation. The amount of contracting by Black owned firms at the federal government level has drastically been reduced. It is to the point of less than one percent. That is an all time low.

Instead of exhausting all avenues to improve the amount of Black contracting, this administration is now taking formal action to end all minority goaling from the agencies. There was a time a few years ago that HUD was enjoying a 40% level for minority contracting and most of that was with Black firms. Even the Congressional Black Caucus awarded Secretary Alphonso Jackson for that accomplishment. Today that level is below four percent and it fell with lightning speed. The following is an open letter that I received last week:

“The following is a statement by the American Small Business League: As one of the most influential minority leaders in America, I am asking for your help in stopping a policy that could cost minority communities millions of jobs. On Friday, September 9, the Obama administration proposed a policy to end one of the most successful federal programs to create jobs and stimulate growth among minority-owned small businesses. The policy, announced in the Federal Register, aims to end a program that established a five percent minority-owned small business federal contracting goal for the Department of Defense, NASA and the U.S. Coast Guard. I estimate that this change will have a significant, negative economic impact on a substantial number of minority-owned small businesses, costing millions of jobs.

It is difficult to understand why, in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history, and when unemployment has hit minority communities especially hard, the Obama administration would end one of the most successful programs to create jobs for minorities. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the jobless figure for African Americans is 16 percent and 11.3 percent among Hispanics. Close to 35 percent of the U.S. population is made up of ethnic minorities and 5.8 million businesses are minority-owned. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, small businesses create 90 percent of all net new jobs in America. I estimate that this change will divert billions of dollars in federal contracts away from minority-owned small businesses, thwarting the power of those businesses to expand and hire.

I have been a small business advocate for two decades and have rarely seen policies as detrimental as this latest proposal from the Obama administration. I have launched a national campaign to block its implementation. Minority-owned small businesses have until November 8, 2011 to comment on the proposed change in the Federal Register. The administration will tell you that the impact of this policy will be minimal and that you have been misinformed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I need you to help tell President Obama, Congress, the U.S. Justice Department and the media that there is indeed discrimination in federal contracting, and this program needs to be saved. “ SOURCE: American Small Business League

We certainly agree with this association. We are calling out to all groups, associations and individuals to actively protest the above. We all should write letters to our senators, congresspersons and the Congressional Black Caucus. This is a call for action to all of us who want to see our businesses grow and increase the amount of jobs they produce. There is no time to wait. The end of the comment period for the Federal Register’s Request for Comment is November 9, 2011. Please comment in the name of the African Diaspora. If you need details on how to formally comment please go to the NBCC website at www.nationalbcc.org and look under latest news. There is no time to wait.

Mr. Alford is co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce(r). Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Letter to the Editor: Lessons of Our Founding Fathers

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When American democracy was formed, many of its Founding Fathers, including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, supported term limits, "to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office…." as Jefferson wrote. The recommendations weren't, ultimately, included in the Constitution because the Founding Fathers saw a tradition of rotation forming.

George Washington set the precedent of two terms in the White House and those in Congress so abhorred the idea of political power that a natural changing of the guard occurred until the turn of the 20th century. Representatives couldn't wait to dispose of their duties as it was commonly held that "contact with the affairs of state is one of the most corrupting of the influences to which men are exposed," wrote author James Fenimore Cooper.

I believe the City Attorney has lost sight of an important lesson taught by our Founding Fathers which was ‘term limits’. John Dalberg-Acton stated, “All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

At the recent candidate forum the City Attorney talked about forming a team with three council members, a council member candidate and a city clerk candidate. Wow! Talk about losing sight on why you were elected. San Bernardino citizens would desire the only team the City Attorney mention forming is a team of lawyers to defend the City in which he was elected to serve as its top attorney.

Alexander Hamilton once stated, “A fondness for power is implanted in most men, and it is natural to abuse it when acquired.” Serving six terms as a city attorney is too long a time to amass power and 24 years is also a long time to practice abusing it as well. James Madison said, “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

The fundamental truth is, as the elected City Attorney, it’s very easy to pick and choose what lessons of history to follow. It’s convenient to choose the lesson, apply it, and then frame the argument to support the case. Mark Twain stated that, “Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.”

As a self-proclaimed student of history the City Attorney should not ignore one of the greatest lessons passed down by our Founding Fathers - term limits. George Washington said it best and I quote, “The people must remain ever vigilant against tyrants masquerading as public servants.”

Rikke Van Johnson
San Bernardino City Councilman 6th Ward

Letter to the Editor: Response to Moreno Valley's Validation Lawsuit

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I object to the city's financing plan, as do others. Our objections are based on several different things. We intend to present all the arguments we collectively have to the court. We are confident the court will decide which arguments it will entertain not the city's contracted attorney.

If the city isn't suing its citizens, the summons shouldn't have threatened "NOTICE!"YOU HAVE BEEN SUED." The city was hoping for a default judgment that would terminate any future objections. That isn't going to happen.

One of the objections to this Validation Lawsuit is the claim to "low cost". The resolution states this $15 million project was going to cost $38 million in re-payments over a period of 30 years. The court complaint now shows a $20 million principal and forty years of payments, with no stated total for those repayments. The citizens of the City of Moreno Valley shouldn't be expected to write a blank check! No taxpayer should knowingly permit such a travesty.

Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and Caltrans both approved the $17 million for the Menifee HWY 215 project. All Measure A funded projects in Riverside County require RCTC approval. RCTC has not approved the funding for Nason St improvements between Fir and Cactus. Riverside County voters approved a process for expending Measure A funds when they voted for the measure. The City of Moreno Valley cannot unilaterally replace RCTC's authority with their own.

One has only to drive through the streets of Moreno Valley to understand the need for regular street maintenance provided by Measure A funds. This very short street expansion is not in the best interests of the entire community.

The economic development action plan introduced by Moreno Valley's newly hired city manager proposes to spend $23 million to improve the property known as Aquabella. The Aquabella property is only approved and entitled for a senior master planned residential community. This money has been approved even though the development agreement requires the developer of this property (Iddo Benzeevi) to pay for this street improvement.

The $38 million, along with a previously committed sum of $23 million, means the Moreno Valley City Council is committing over $60 million to a project that hasn't been approved or entitled. In fact this $60 million is for a medical campus/corridor that is currently only approved and entitled for a senior master planned community. No signed occupants. There is no way to make sense of spending $60 million for nothing more than an artists rendering without asking some questions that I trust will serve as food for thought. As you read these questions there is one question I really want you to think about. What else don't you know?

Did you know the Moreno Valley City Council kept the city manager vetting committee secret from the public for months in violation of the Brown Act? Did you know that each council member picked one person to be on that committee? Do you know which city council member picked which committee member? Did you know the only reason the public learned about the vetting committee is when Iddo Benzeevi thought his choice wasn't going to be picked so he went to the reporter? Did you know that three of the members of the city manager vetting committee were on the Board of Directors of the Rancho Belago Economic Council (Jamil Dada, Dave Slawson & Iddo Benzeevi)? Did you know it was the Rancho Belago Economic Council Board of Directors that asked the city to change the name of the east end to Rancho Belago? Did you know that vetting committee member Carl Rowe owns Integrated Care Communities which is right in the area of Nason to be improved with the new city managers' economic development plan? Did a very narrow group of hand picked individuals get to pick the new city manager who in turn proposed an economic development plan that boosted that personnel interests? Did you know the city manager is proposing a $100,000. bonus to the bid awarded contractor that can complete the Nason Street project through an empty lot? The businesses at Stoneridge Towne Centre are really suffering, so why isn't there an incentive to complete these improvements early?

Deanna Reeder
Moreno Valley, CA

Obama's Solution to Minority Business – Kill it: Part I

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(NNPA) I never thought it would get this low. Here we are with the first “Black” president and the first Black attorney general and they move to kill enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The shock is that they dare do it. The reality is they can’t win at this as this is the law. But still they work to hurt small business per se and Black, Hispanic and Asian business specifically. This sinister action is to promote their socialistic pro union manifesto.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the prize of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and totally supported by people like Whitney Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Benjamin Chavis, Julian Bond and legions of other committed heroes. We won and President Lyndon B. Johnson ran the “N___ Bill” (as he off the record called it) through. This bill ended institutional discrimination in fact. But the key was to get the bill implemented.

President Johnson was distracted with the Vietnam War debacle. It would be his successor, Richard M. Nixon, who began the implementation in 1968. My mentor, Arthur A. Fletcher, was working in the Department of Labor and saw the great opportunity. He implemented the Philadelphia Plan, which brought affirmative action to hiring in federal contracting. The vehicle was Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which stated that if you do business with the federal government or benefit from a federal program you cannot use discriminatory practices in your business interaction. The way to prove that you don’t is to have a formal program of inclusion, such as affirmative action. Some of the labor unions were very racist and they protested to the max. Art had a union/mob contract put on his life and as he integrated federal jobs and contracting across the nation he had to have two secret service agents shadow him for his protection.

The biggest example of the intensity was in Chicago where a direct attempt of mob action against Dr. Fletcher was enacted at the Palmer Hotel. A mob made various attempts to break into his room and kill him. He contacted the White House and that led to a call from President Richard Nixon to Chicago Mayor Richard “Dick” Daley. The President told the Mayor that “if my guy doesn’t arrive in D.C. this evening or is harmed the 101st Airborne will be marching down Michigan Avenue tomorrow morning and take your city over”. The Mayor backed the goons off and affirmative action proceeded on.

On the direct contracting front was another giant to emerge, the Honorable Congressman Parren J. Mitchell (D-MD). Parren used the bully pulpit of the Chair of the House Small Business Committee and wrote various programs for minority business development with federal dollars. The Small Disadvantaged Business Program (SDB), the 8(a) program, the Disabled Veteran Program, the Disadvantaged Business Program (DBE) at the Department of Transportation and others were implemented by this giant. The number of Black millionaires and new jobs in the Black community created by Congressman Mitchell exceeds all other programs combined. Most of this growth came during the Ronald Reagan Administration.

As we improved and benefited from these programs, adversaries tried to stop the programs. There was the Croson Decision and the Adarand Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which caused a pause in the programs. But the reality of it was that it was the law and all we had to do was strictly abide by the law. We did and the programs proceeded. We still get nuisance lawsuits opposing these programs by entities such as the Associated General Contractors, US Road Builders and a few ultra right wing think tanks. Still, we prevail and move on.

The Black percentage of federal business peaked during the Reagan Administration at six percent of the total. It started to decline during the Clinton Administration but then leveled off and began an upswing during the George W. Bush Administration (HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson was the Most Valuable Player in this up tic). Then, as the Obama Administration moved in, and to the shock of all of us watching, the “rug” was pulled from under us. The new movement was to put unions back into power and eliminate small business, inclusive of minority business, from federal procurement. Today, Black business is at 0.3 percent and falling. It is a direct assault and a disaster. Keep in mind that 70 percent of all jobs are created by small business. This administration is killing small business and that is the reason for Black unemployment to be at record levels.

This administration is killing us and it is time for the Congressional Black Caucus and all Black concerned associations and citizens to say “enough”. This Obama experiment has failed us miserably and a real change is drastically needed. We will get through this but big decisions lay in front of us.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

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