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Democrats Clyburn, Becerra Only Minorities on U.S. Debt Committee

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Republicans Have No Minority or Woman Appointees—All White Males

Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

During her last round of picks for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“Debt Supercommittee”) intended to help solve the nation’s debt crisis, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), adding diversity to the important panel. The Democrats are also represented by the only woman on the committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

The 12-member bipartisan panel will have until November to decide how the country should save $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Pelosi (D-CA) said the debt super committee would have three main goals: To focus economic growth and job creation to reduce debt; make financial decisions regarding investments, cuts and revenues; and offer recommendations to help reduce the country’s dependence credit.

“Because the work of this committee will affect all Americans, I called last week for its deliberations to be transparent; the committee should conduct its proceedings in the open,” Pelosi said in an Aug. 11 press release.

While the 12-member panel is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, seven votes must be made to send a final recommendation to Congress for consideration—which means at least one lawmaker must back the plan of the opposing party.

“It's not going to be simple to come to a deal,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Clyburn is currently the third-ranking member of the House Democratic Leadership, with experience on the Appropriations Committee. Pelosi in a statement called Clyburn a “vigorous spokesperson for jobs and economic development.”

Fresh Threats in Zimbabwe Aimed at Foreign-Owned Companies

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By Fungai Maboreke, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

As the country marked Heroes Day on Aug. 8, President Robert Mugabe renewed threats against companies from Western countries that have imposed targeted sanctions on him and key ZANU PF officials.

The U.S. and European Union slapped sanctions on Mugabe and his supporters because of human rights abuses.

According to Reuters, Mugabe told thousands who attended the commemoration of liberation heroes: "We can't continue to receive the battering of sanctions without hitting back. We have to hit back."

"We will have to discriminate against countries that have imposed sanctions against us. Why do we need companies like Rio Tinto? If they are to continue mining, then the sanctions must go," he said.

He has previously called for a boycott of products from foreign countries who back the sanctions, which he says have hurt the country's shaky economy

UK Riots in Black Community Stir Response Worldwide

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By Fungai Maboreke, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

The spectacle of anarchy unfolding in Britain’s low income neighborhoods of Black Africans, South Asians and others, has prompted mixed reactions of worry and concern from African, Caribbean and Asian communities around the world.

Widespread riots have been viewed on the internet, with looting, burning buildings and vehicles and attacks against civilians and even the police.

The disturbances were reportedly triggered by the death of a Black London man and father of 4, Mark Duggan, 29, believed to have been caught in a crossfire of police shooting in a raid called Operation Trident.

A peaceful vigil in North London’s Tottenham neighborhood, led by the family of Mark Duggan, turned violent when police apparently failed to meet with the Duggan family and supporters. Now, similar incidents have been reported in Birmingham and Liverpool, which forced the Metropolitan Police to deploy at least 16 000 riot police officers in riot gear to deal with it.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe joined a chorus of international critics of the UK saying, “Britain I understand is on fire, London especially and we hope they can extinguish their fire, pay attention to their internal problems and to that fire which is now blazing all over, and leave us alone.”

Black activist Lee Jasper from Brixton said the riots could be traced to alienated youth, low paying or no jobs, lack of opportunities and “crap” housing. He accused the government of cutting youth projects and suggested re-investing millions of pounds recovered from criminal assets.

FTC Field Hearings Tell the Tricks, Traps of Auto Financing

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54 Percent of Black Customers Charged Dealer Kickbacks

By Charlene Crowell, NNPA Columnist –

August 11, 2011 August is back-to-school time; but it is also the time when car dealers tempt consumers with commercials that advertise slashed prices and seemingly too-good-to-be true deals to reduce inventories. Before taking a test drive, consumers would do themselves a financial favor by learning about the tricks and traps that are built into the financing of many auto sales.

For example, consumers usually do not realize that a dealer can “mark up” the interest rate on a car loan, over a lower rate a buyer may qualify for. Dealers say this increase compensates them for the time they spend in putting the financial deal together. As the dealer is not required to disclose the markup, it leads to the creation of a loan with terms that are most lucrative to dealers – instead of the consumers.

According to research by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), dealer markups will cause Americans who bought cars in 2009 to pay an extra $25.8 billion over the lives of their loans. Earlier research by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) estimated that more than 54 percent of African Americans are charged dealer kickbacks, compared to only 31 percent for white customers – even after accounting for differences in credit risk. The extra cost to a buyer was significant too: NCLC found that in Washington, D.C., the same transaction that would cost White customers $255; but Black consumers, $857.

In recent years, NCLC’s findings led to settlements of class action lawsuits against the lending arms of major auto manufacturers including Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. These settlement terms limited the markup auto dealers could charge; but those caps have all expired now. Further, those caps still provided extensive discretion for dealers to mark up interest rates for some customers over others. So the problem of dealer markups remains today.

During the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the auto dealers fought hard to gain an exemption from oversight. However the debate did give legislators more awareness about common auto lending and sales abuses. As a result, Congress provided the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with stronger powers to oversee auto dealers.

These new powers led the FTC to begin a series of roundtable discussions this year that focused on abuses in auto sales and finance. Open to the public and webcasted, the first of these roundtables took place in Detroit in April, focusing on consumer protection issues involving dealership sales and financing. On August 2-3 in San Antonio, the roundtable examined the particular auto sales and financing issues of military consumers, financial literacy and fair lending. A third roundtable is planned for later this year.

“The Roundtables have been effective in showing the kinds of hidden charges and hidden incentives that cost consumers,” said Chris Kukla, a roundtable participant and Senior Counsel for Government Affairs at CRL. “The forums have also brought to light many abusive practices that clearly go beyond ‘a few bad apple’. We hope that this will lead the FTC to take strong and swift action to eliminate the abuses in the auto market.”

The ongoing abuse in auto lending is one more illustration of how existing fair lending laws have yet to fully or consistently benefit people of color. Regardless of whether a financial product is a payday loan, mortgage, or auto loan, every American has a right to be treated fairly. Our financial transactions should be transparent with full disclosure of all terms and costs.

To learn more about auto financing, visit CRL at: http://www.responsiblelending.org/other-consumer-loans/auto-financing.

If you or someone you know would like to comment on auto sales or finance, register your concerns directly with FTC at: http://rspnsb.li/oVYNbw.

Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s communications manager for state policy and outreach. She can be reached at: Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Service Union Unveils New Ad Campaign Focused on Minority Media

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

In an effort to refocus Republican lawmakers on the need for job creation, the 2.1 million nurses, janitors, security officers, child care providers and other members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has unveiled a 7-figure ad campaign, including broadcast and cable television, radio, direct mail and phones and online advertising. The ads will run in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Virginia, with a special emphasis on African American and Latino media outlets.

Despite an over-all national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent --16 percent for African Americans and 11 percent for Latinos -- and as many as 30 million Americans in need of full time work, Republican leaders in Congress have failed to make job creation a priority, focusing instead on rewarding corporations and the rich with tax breaks and incentives to ship jobs overseas.

“Working families are struggling through the worst recession in a generation,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said. “Republicans in Congress have a responsibility, and moral obligation, to make job creation their first priority.”

“Rather than turning their attention to the jobs crisis, Republican leaders are narrowly and exclusively focused on the wealthiest one percent of Americans,” said Brandon Davis, National Political Director of the SEIU. “Ignoring the jobs crisis is especially devastating for people of color, considering the unacceptably high unemployment rates for Latinos and African Americans.”

"The lesson of the past few days is clear: The American people have lost faith that elected leaders alone will make this happen. Working families in communities across the country are sending a clear message that it’s time to focus on job creation," said Henry.

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