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T.I. Back in Federal Prison… Again

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

Two days after his release, rapper T.I., who was born Clifford Harris, finds himself back in federal prison in a controversy over using a luxury tour bus to report to a halfway house.

“We are awaiting the opportunity to quickly resolve whatever the issue may be that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has with T.I.'s method of transportation, bus, from Arkansas to Atlanta, so that T.I. can return to the halfway house to complete the remaining days of his sentence,” the Grammy-winning rapper’s attorney, Steve Sadow, told E! News.

Therefore, instead of temporarily residing in a halfway house, T.I. is now in prison in Atlanta. Officials told the AFRO they would only confirm T.I.’s whereabouts and his release date but would not comment on why he was sent to prison.

Apparently, the rapper failed to comply with the rules, according to TMZ.com. Prison officials told the website that an incarcerated prisoner in a low or medium security facility is allowed to travel in a private, unescorted mode of transportation. But T.I. told the authorities he would be traveling in a van, not a tour bus with an entourage.

Prison officials also barred the use of video cameras at the facility.

Production had already begun on a VH1 reality series set to follow the rapper. Cameras were already shooting before he was placed back into federal custody.

The rapper appeared to be pleased with his release on drug charges stemming from a September 2010 traffic stop in Los Angeles where he and his wife were found with ecstasy. That charge was a violation of probation for an earlier conviction on weapons charges. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison.

“The storm is over & da sun back out. IT'S OUR TIME TO SHINE SHAWTY!!!!!” he said via his Twitter account after his release. “Welcome to the beginning of our Happy Ending!!!!”

T.I.’s scheduled release date from the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta is Sept. 29.

Soul Singer Claims Jay-Z, Kanye West Illegally Sampled 1967 Track

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

(NNPA) As Jay-Z and Kanye West celebrate the recent success of their album “Watch the Throne,” the rappers may face a lawsuit from a Chicago soul singer who claims the pair illegally sampled one of his songs from the 1960s.

According to the music, film and photography preservation company The Numero Uno Group, singer Syl Johnson said the hip-hop duo illegally sampled his 1967 track “Different Strokes” for their song “The Joy.”

The latter track was originally intended to appear on the deluxe edition of West’s 2010 album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but was used instead as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of “Watch The Throne.” West is credited as the producer of the track, though it was in fact produced by Pete Rock.

The Numero Uno Group said the sample wasn't cleared in time for West's album last year, and they were erroneously named as the publishers of the song on this year's album.

The company recently Tweeted, “Hey [Kanye West and Jay-Z], thanks for illegally sampling Syl Johnson on “The Joy” and then crediting us(?). Have your lawyers call our lawyer.” Their post on the situation has since been removed.

Johnson voiced his frustrations to Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ, saying that West should have approached him first before using the song because they know each other personally. The rapper collaborated with Johnson's daughter Syleena for his 2004 hit “All Falls Down.”

“He knows my daughter—they came up together,” he told WMAQ. “Mr. West should have come to me. I don't like going through this. I’m not dying to get on TV or go to court.”

According to MTV, “Watch the Throne” has already gone gold with more than 600,000 copies sold to date. Johnson is seeking compensation through a hearing or settlement.

Syl Johnson's Different Strokes: ">www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AizWO6UNok

Kanye West's The Joy: ">www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgzoqagw_E0

Woman Fighting for Equality Among Minorities in the Workplace

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By George Barnette, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

(NNPA) A local woman is working hard to get more equality in federal jobs as she believes the government is closing doors on opportunities for minorities. “I felt that Black federal employees that were brave enough to take on the injustices that were happening to us needed to have an advocacy group to actually expose what’s going on in the federal government,” said Tanya Ward Jordan, founder of the Coalition for Change (C4C).

Jordan founded C4C in 2009 after taking part in a class action suit against the U.S. Department of Commerce that was settled out of court. Jordan says part of the problem lies in the sheer number of opportunities not given to minorities.

According to a 2006 report by the Office of Personnel Management, the percentage of Blacks and Latinos in high-grade positions decreases the higher you get. GS-08 held the highest percentage of Black and Latino workers at 26.7 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively. However, for whites, that number increases the higher up the scale one goes. Whites garnered 81.2 percent of all GS-15 positions, the highest obtainable for civilian employees, distancing its next closest minority group by 74 percent.

"When it’s time to put people in positions, people pick family and friends,” Jordan said. "When you talk about favoritism in favor of White people at the exclusion of Black people, then a lot of times that translates to racism because a lot of times we’re being blocked out.”

Despite the numbers and Jordan’s assertions, federal law prohibits that practice unless it is "job related and consistent with business necessity."

Part of the issue, Jordan says, is the way complaints have to be filed. In order for federal employees to start the EEO complaint process, they have to first file a complaint with an EEO counselor within 45 days of when they think they’ve been discriminated against. If the dispute isn’t settled, then the EEO counselor must inform employees how to file a formal complaint, which the aggrieved then have 15 days to file.

Federal agencies have 180 days to investigate, which will result in a final decision or a hearing before an EEOC administrative judge. Employees must go through the entire administrative process before filing a lawsuit.

Jordan says for those who have been terminated or were denied employment, the process can become expensive to complete. “These poor employees have to get legal counsel and once you’re fired, you most likely don’t have much money,” she said. “They have to take out loans and that type of stuff. We try to provide information and support the best we can with how they can best help themselves.”

Jordan plans to push forward and says that her work is bigger than just equality in the federal government. She says it’s about Black people everywhere. “Internal discrimination on the inside spills over into our public programs and services and how they administer these services to our Black community and other minorities,” she said. “The federal government is over everything we do.”

August 27 Marches Cancelled in D.C. Due to Hurricane Irene

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Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer –

(NNPA) WASHINGTON -- The impending arrival of Hurricane Irene has caused the cancellations of two major marches that were to take place Sat., Aug. 27 in D.C.

Just prior to calling a state of emergency for the city, Mayor Vincent C. Gray's office announced cancellation of both the D.C. statehood rally and a march for jobs that was to be led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network.

Harry Johnson, president of the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation, announced that because of the hurricane, the dedication of the King Memorial would be postponed until September or October.

The hurricane, which is expected to bring severe storms to the D.C. area, has also threatened travel along the eastern seaboard.

Congressional Black Caucus Stands Up for Jobs in Black Community

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By Yussuf J. Simmonds, Sentinel Managing Editor, Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel –

(NNPA) According to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)--known as the 'Conscience of the Congress'--over 40 job bills have been brought to the House floor by its members since the beginning of the 112th (the current session) Congress. To that end, they have been holding town halls and job fairs around the country to ease the devastating crush of human misery that the high unemployment has taken in their districts and beyond, as a part of the jobs initiative thrust. To date, this initiative has included town halls and jobs fairs in Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta and Miami. Each stop has featured at least 100 employers with real and available jobs, and thousands of eager jobs seekers.

CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver was scheduled to join his colleagues Congresswomen Maxine Waters, Laura Richardson, and Karen Bass in Los Angeles later this week, the final stop of the national jobs initiative effort. They have demonstrated national leadership in their efforts at championing jobs for the Black community. Congresswoman Waters will host the event, which will include more than a dozen members of the CBC, for the Final Stop of the CBC's "For the People" Jobs Initiative.

According to CBC Chairman Cleaver, the genesis of the jobs initiative tour was the devastating impact that the high unemployment was having in members’ districts. He explained, "The Congressional Black Caucus, of which I am the chair began to look at what we can do in terms of reducing the depression level unemployment among African Americans. We came to the conclusion that it was pointless to just complain and growl the government's lack of attention to this segment of the American population that is unable to find work. So we decided that we would select five cities where unemployment was high, get major corporation to commit to hiring a large number of those individuals who came out and we would travel around the country with this job fair," Cleaver said.

As a result, Los Angeles was one of the targeted cities and they are scheduled to be here to discuss the high unemployment rate in the African American community, jobs legislation and how to stimulate the economy in urban communities. "The Congressional Black Caucus cannot tolerate this crisis," said Waters, "that is why we are taking the unusual step of getting out of Washington and connecting our constituents directly with real jobs. With the national unemployment rate at 9.2 percent, California's rate at 12.1 percent, and the rate in the African American Community at 16 percent, the CBC has made job creation our number one priority. This initiative will extend beyond these events."

Cleaver continued, "The whole caucus was going to participate with these districts. But instead we chose Cleveland as our first site--which was two weeks ago--we had 7,000 people to turn out for about 2,200 jobs from 200 major corporations: from General Electric to Wal-Mart or Home Depot. Next we were in Detroit on this past Monday with about four thousand people who came out for about 1,500 jobs. And then yesterday, we were in Atlanta where about 5,000 people turned out for a couple of thousand jobs," he concluded.

Bass said, "It's most important leaving Washington and coming to L.A. and hearing from people who are hurting, and taking their stories back to Washington and demanding that we have the resources to take the jobs back to these communities."

Over the last week, Rep. Waters, who chairs the jobs initiative, has made national headlines as a result of her sharp criticism of the handling of the unemployment crisis by both the administration and the tea party led Republican House majority. These events promise to provide an open forum to continue this dialogue. Waters has been outspoken on the topic of the unemployment crisis facing African-Americans. She also chided Obama for ignoring the Black community during his recent bus tour through Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. At a job fair in Detroit, she said, "We don't know why on this trip that he's in the United States now, he's not in any Black community. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the strategy is," she continued. "We're supportive of the president, but we getting tired, y'all, getting tired."

Echoing her sentiments, Rep. Elijah Cummings said that African-Americans are "totally frustrated, and people need to know that the president feels their pain. Almost every African-American person I spoke to said he (the President) needs to fight, and fight harder," Cummings said, responding to the high unemployment rates in the Black community."

And that pain is real for as Cleaver described an incident at one of the job fairs, "To show how desperate these individuals are for work, 12 individuals standing in line for hours to get inside where they would meet a potential employer, fainted and had to go to the hospital."

He said that the next stop would be in Miami where they were expecting "double digits, ten thousand or more. And the last two days of this month (August) we would be in Los Angeles."

It was due to Cleaver's leadership that members of the CBC unanimously co-sponsored and introduced the Congressional Black Caucus 'For the People' Jobs Initiative Resolution (H. Res. 348) to encourage the House of Representatives to immediately consider and pass critical jobs legislation to address the growing jobs crisis in America.

About his leadership, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., executive publisher of the Sentinel commented, "Emanuel Cleaver has a clear vision of his leadership role as chairman of CBC; he is the right man, in the right job, at the right time, delivering the economic resources for our community that it deserves."

Other CBC members scheduled to participate in the Los Angeles town hall and job fair are: Reps. G. K. Butterfield, Andre Carson, Yvette Clarke, Lacy Clay, Jr., Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, Barbara Lee, Cedric Richmond, and Frederica Wilson.

The Los Angeles stop on Tuesday, August 30th will to be held at the Crenshaw Christian Center and a huge jobs fair to be held at the same location the following day. This event has already confirmed more than 100 employers.

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