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Osama bin Laden's Death Voted Top Story of 2011

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Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American –

The killing of Osama bin Laden during a raid by Navy SEALs on his hideout in Pakistan was the top news story of 2011, followed by Japan's earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The death of bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader who masterminded the Sept. 11 terror attacks, received 128 first-place votes out of 247 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The Japan disaster was next, with 60 first-place votes. Placing third were the Arab Spring uprisings that rocked North Africa and the Middle East, while the European Union's financial turmoil was No. 4.

The international flavor of these top stories contrasted with last year's voting - when the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was the top story, President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was No. 2, and the U.S. midterm elections were No. 3.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Police Consider Searching Landfill: Jhessye Shockley Still Missing After Two Months, 17 Days

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By Danny L. White, Special to the NNPA from the Arizona Informant –

The search and belief that five year old Jhessye Shockley would be found alive has turned to an “active homicide investigation” in which law enforcement believe the little girl that loved to dress up and take photographs remains were disposed of in a landfill weeks before being reported missing.

Jhessye’s mother, Jerice Hunter continues to be the primary focus of the probe and investigation.

Hunter was arrested and later released weeks ago as prosecutors said they did not want to create a situation of double jeopardy if they pursed a felony murder case against Hunter in the future.

Police believe that little Jhessye’s remains were placed in a Tempe dumpster and possibly could have been transported to Mobile , AZ the Butterfield Station Landfill as long ago as the end of September?

Tracy Breeden speaking on behalf of law enforcement said, “We want to be successful, to do that we need to have more than a needle in a haystack.

“The information that has led to consider a landfill search emerged after Hunter’s November arrest on suspicion of felony child abuse,” said Breeden.

Law enforcement would not elaborate on the source of the information/leads but did say some of the information did come through Silent Witness and was no doubt considered conjunction with the information that came from Hunter’s own children in detailing how Jhessye was treated by her mother – left in a closet without regular food or water from early to mid-September.

Jhessye was also reported missing from school from early September according to school officials Hunter called and reported the child had pinkeye and other health issues.

In lieu of this information it begs the question – When did little Jhessye really go missing?

“As difficult as it is we are still holding out hope that Jhessye will be returned alive,” said Bishop Chris Effort who along with his wife (Tia) form a ministerial team that has galvanized the community with candle light walks, community block watch teams and memorials at the corner of 45th Ave and Glendale in close proximity to Hunters residence where Jhessye was reported to have gone missing from.

Absence from her apartment from the time of her release from jail, Hunter along with her mother Shirley Johnson have been seen in the past several days visiting the ever-growing memorial to little Jhessye that stretches between traffic signals at 45th and Glendale Ave.

Scottsdale Attorney Scott Maaseen has signed on to represent Hunter and has proclaimed her innocence. Maaseen has hired a private investigator and report law enforcement has wasted valuable time focusing on Hunter and not searching for relevant clues to find Jhessye.

“This case mirrors very closely that lady in Florida (Casey Anthony) who killed or knew her baby had died months ago and acted like she knew nothing about that child’s disappearance,” said one neighbor from the immediate area where Jhessye went missing from.

“We (residences in this area) walked and searched for that baby for weeks. We held rallies right out there on that corner ( 45th Ave and Glendale ) and we prayed and we prayed. If this woman (Hunter) has something to do with that baby missing or worse, God is going to punish her far worse than anything man or the police can do,” shared a neighbor who is beginning to think twice about Hunter’s involvement in the matter.

Writers note: Searching a landfill is time consuming and costly. Over 10 years ago law enforcements search for a Tempe homemaker led them to the same landfill they are considering searching for Jhessye. After 59 days of combing through 7,500 tons of garbage at the rate of seven to eight truckloads per hour and a cost at $350,000 dollars, the search ended with no sign of the person being searched for.

Without a firm date/time period in which the remains were disposed of it is quite difficult to know where to begin the search in a landfill.

Individuals with information in this case are encouraged to contact Silent Witness at (480) witness. You can remain anonymous.

New Study Says Immigrants Actually Create More Jobs for Americans

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By Stephon Johnson, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

Despite what many people think about immigration and jobs in the United States, immigrants may actually help create jobs, according to a new study.

The study, "Immigrants and American Jobs," conducted by economist and professor Madeleine Zavodny on behalf of the American Enterprise Institute and the Partnership for a New American Economy, analyzed the relationship between the foreign-born workforce and the employment rate for natural-born American workers. The report focused on two groups that policymakers and employers call critical to the economy: foreign-born adults with advanced degrees and foreign workers here on temporary employment visas.

According to the study, in both cases, more foreign-born workers meant more jobs for Americans-with almost 262 more native-born workers employed for every 100 foreign-born workers with advanced degrees who work in science, technology, engineering or math, often referred to as the "STEM" fields.

The report also analyzed the fiscal impact of foreign-born workers and found that, on average, all immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits-particularly highly educated immigrants.

"This report adds important evidence to the case that economists have been making for years: that identifiable categories of immigrants unquestionably give a lift to native employment," said Zavodny, an economics professor at Agnes Scott College. "But I hope it's not just economists who take note-the study offers insight for legislators who need to know what's at stake in immigration policy."

According to the study, adding 100 workers in the H-1B visa program for skilled workers results in an additional 183 jobs for native-born Americans, while adding 100 workers in the H-2B program for less skilled, nonagricultural labor resulted in 464 more jobs for U.S. natives.

Based on the data, the report called for several legislative proposals that Zavodny said would create more jobs for Americans: give priority to foreign workers who earn advanced degrees from U.S. universities, particularly those who work in STEM fields; increase the number of green cards for highly educated workers; and make temporary visas for both skilled and less skilled workers more available.

2011 -- A Year of Challenges and Opportunities in Africa

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By Melvin Foote, Special to the NNPA for Constituency for Africa –

It can be said that 2011 will be seen as a year of tremendous challenges and opportunities for the 54 nations of Africa. With the world economy continuing unabatedly in the throes of global recession, African countries fought hard to soften the impact on their local economies while at the same time dealing with the various issues of increased democratization, good governance, healthcare, education and jobs for its people.

Many of the African countries that gained their independence in the 1960s, celebrated their 50th anniversaries this year. The 50-year mark triggered some serious analysis amongst African people as to what has gone right, what has gone wrong, and what needs to be done over the next 50 years!

In 2011 seventeen African countries, (including Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Tunisia), were slated to hold presidential election. Some of these elections, notably in Nigeria, Benin, Tunisia and Zambia went forward with the decision widely respected amongst the populations. While others, notably Cameroon, DRC, Madagascar, Malawi and Uganda were either deemed unfair by large segments of the populations or postponed altogether.

The “Arab Spring” an unprecedented effort to do away with tyrannical governments in the Middle East and North Africa, began in Tunisia, and quickly spread to Egypt, Libya and other countries in the region. Two of the governments and their leaders, Zine El Abidene Ben Ali’s in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, succumbed to the people’s pressure and shockingly collapsed in a short period of time. Rebellions in both countries were led by young people utilizing social networking technologies to mobilize. Both Tunisia and Egypt are now in various stages of democratic reform and trying to establish democratic institutions that would be more responsive to the people.

In Libya, the 30-year regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi came to an abrupt end in October, after a protracted civil war. Libya was also swept up in the winds of the “Arab Spring” with similar demands of the young people in Tunisia and Egypt for the tyrannical regime to step down. However, instead of leaving office, Gaddafi called out his military and began a brutal initiative to crush the rebellion. The United States and NATO responded by establishing a “no-fly” zone over much of the country, and provided assistance to opposition forces, which eventually lead to the deposing and killing of Gaddafi. As we head into 2012, many unanswered questions remain about the future of Libya, a wealthy oil-producing nation.

On July 9th, following a referendum on independence, the Government of South Sudan became the newest independent country on the continent, bringing to an end the continent’s longest running civil war. Independence for South Sudan comes after a protracted war with the north that lasted nearly 40 years and resulted in a purported 2 million deaths, millions more displaced, and a development starved economy. More than 75% of the oil reserves of the former Sudan (North and South), lie in South Sudan. In addition, the South is blessed with an abundance of other mineral resources, as well as water resources and fertile lands. Currently, it remains uncertain as to how this new nation will build a country virtually from scratch.

Once hailed as a model of stability, Cote d’Ivoire slipped into the kind of internal strife that has plagued many other African countries. Under the leadership of its first president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Cote d’Ivoire was a model of stability for more than 3 decades after independence. The regime of Henri Bedie (who succeeded Houphouet-Boigny upon his passing), ended in a military coup in 1999, with Bedie fleeing to France. In an effort to remain in power, Bedie planted the seeds of ethnic discord by trying to stir up xenophobic behavior against Muslims in the north, including his main rival, Alassane Quattara.

In 2000, Laurent Gbagbo came to power. In October 2010, after a much delayed elections was held, he lost to Alassane Quattara. Rather than handing over power to the newly elected president, Gbagbo sought to remain in power by the force of the gun. The ensuing four-month stand-off ended only when Quattara’s forces overran the country’s south region, finally capturing Gbagbo and transporting him to the Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court.

Another major story in Africa in 2011 was the return of devastating episodes of drought and famine in Somalia and east Africa. This time around, the drought is exacerbated by the protracted 20-year civil war in Somalia, with a very limited central government in the country. Hundreds of thousands have already perished in this drought and millions more are at risk!

With the growing realization of Africa as a bastion for strategic minerals -- it is now attracting unprecedented interest from most notably China, but also India, the United States, Russia, Japan, Brazil, wealthy Middle Eastern countries and other countries, who are now devising all kinds of strategies to access African oil, diamonds, uranium, kotan, bauxite, and other natural resources. If the negotiations with these countries are not well managed by the African Union and African nations, there is a legitimate fear that Africa could find itself in short order with a new form of colonization!

Despite these challenges, Africa is making remarkable progress towards promoting economic growth and sustainable development on the continent. Some of the highest rates of returns being recorded across the globe, are being found on the African continent.

Additionally, the well-regarded presidential elections that took place in Nigeria this year, combined with the highly impressive economic growth being reported there, suggest the “sleeping giant” is now ready to take its place as the economic engine on the continent in 2012!

African leaders are also working hard to promote inter-Africa trade between countries, with heavy emphasis on increasing agriculture production – another sign that bodes well for the entire region and the world.

Africa is aggressively turning towards her Diaspora in the United States, South America, Europe and elsewhere, to attract trade and needed investment, to promote innovation and to access technologies, and to effectively lobby and promote the cooperation of western governments in the continents development.

While much remains to be done in Africa to promote economic development, Africa and the African world has much to look forward to in 2012.

Melvin P. Foote is the President and CEO of the Constituency for Africa (CFA), a 21 year old Washington, D.C. based education and advocacy organization. He is also a well respected expert on a range of issues and topics concerning Africa and the African Diaspora. He can be reached at mfoote2420@aol.com.

FAMU Drum Major's Death Ruled a Homicide

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Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier –

Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion’s death was ruled a homicide on Friday.

An autopsy conducted by the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner's Office "revealed extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder, and back with extensive hemorrhage."

The results of the autopsy showed that Champion, 26, died because of blunt-force trauma suffered during a hazing incident.

Even though there were no broken bones to 26-year-old Champion's internal organs, there was "a significant rapid blood loss" due to the injuries he suffered, the report further stated.

The medical examiner added that Champion died as "the result of hemorrhagic shock due to soft tissue hemorrhage, incurred by blunt force trauma sustained during a hazing incident."

The Orlando Sentinel reported Friday that sheriff's investigators said they will meet with the State Attorney's Office soon to determine what, if any, criminal charges will be filed.

Champion died after the annual Florida Classic football game between FAMU and Bethune Cookman on Nov. 19. Authorities have said the drum major died after an apparent hazing ritual on a parked band bus.

Champion's mother, Pamela, reached at her Georgia home late Friday, said she's "still trying to come to terms and absorb" the information contained in the report, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

FAMU’s Board of Trustees will hold a conference call on Monday to discuss President James Ammons' status. Florida Governor Rick Scott met with Ammons in a 45-minute closed-door meeting on Friday.Ammons said he would let the FAMU Board of Trustees decide on Monday whether he should step aside. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Ammons was joined in the meeting with the governor by former state Sen. Al Lawson and FAMU trustee Marjorie Turnbull.

A crowd estimated at approximately 2,000 people, mostly students of Florida A&M University, Florida's largest historically Black university, staged a nonviolent, spontaneous nighttime protest march on the home of the governor on Thursday night, demanding that he rescind his decision requesting that FAMU's Board of Trustees immediately suspend Ammons.

"Gov. Scott's looking out for the best interest of the university, and still strongly feels that Dr. Ammons should step aside until the investigations are completed," Scott's deputy press secretary, Jackie Schutz, wrote in an e-mail to the Sentinel. "The Medical Examiner's findings speak for itself."

A joint statement issued by Dr. Solomon L. Badger III, chairman of the FAMU board, and Ammons, called the autopsy information "extremely upsetting for all of us, even though it confirmed what we suspected.

"We again convey our deepest condolences to the Champion family. We will continue to cooperate with all agencies looking into the matter and are committed to creating a safe environment for the entire FAMU community and ensuring that this never happens again at FAMU."

Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner officials said the autopsy found no evidence of a natural cause for Champion's death, including disease, sickle-cell trait, drugs or alcohol.

"Immediately after the hazing incident, he complained of thirst and fatigue; minutes later, he noted loss of vision" and soon suffered cardiac arrest, the medical examiner said.

Gainesville lawyer Christopher Chestnut, who is representing Champion's family, said, "It confirms our suspicions."

The family is distraught, he said, and wants to put an end to hazing. The Champions have already filed notice of intent to sue the school, although they do not know who was involved, what was done or where.

In a separate case, three FAMU students were charged Monday with beating Bria Hunter during a hazing ritual a few weeks before Champion’s death.

Tallahassee police said that on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, Hunter was beaten with fists and a metal ruler to initiate her into the “Red Dawg Order,’’ a band clique for students who come from Georgia. Hunter told police that days later the pain became so unbearable that she went to the hospital. Besides her broken thigh bone, she had had blood clots in her legs.

Sean Hobson, 23, and Aaron Golson, 19, were charged Monday with hazing and battery, and James Harris, 22, was charged with hazing.

Information from The Associated Press and The Orlando Sentinel were used in compiling this report.

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