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Rappers Gives Senegalese Superstar An Edge in Presidency Bid

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

(GIN) – A fired up youth movement in Senegal may give superstar Youssou N’dour the votes needed to capture the nation’s presidency in next month’s polls.

The 52 year old performer has pledged to beat the incumbent, 86 year old Abdoulaye Wade, who shocked many by proposing to run for a third term despite a constitutional two-term limit on the job.

Rappers Omar Toure aka Thiat and Mbessane Seck aka Kilifeu have been stirring up young people with a movement called “Y’en a marre,” or “Enough is Enough” which challenges the government over corruption, the waste of national resources, urban floods and frequent power cuts.

N’dour, a world-renowned artist and Grammy-award winner, enjoys huge popularity among young people. This week he declared himself a candidate on his privately-owned radio and TV station TFM.

“For a long time, men and women have dreamt of a new Senegal. They have called for my candidacy … I listened. I heard,” he said.

N’dour owns a recording studio, record label, and the widely-circulated newspaper, L’Observateur. Long committed to social causes, he organized a concert for Nelson Mandela, performed with Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Tracy Chapman for “Human Rights Now!”, and headlined three Live 8 African benefits, among many other events. Ndour said his platform would include initiatives for peace in the troubled southern Casamance region, good governance, agricultural and social development projects. His new political movement, “Fekke ma ci bolle”, means “I am involved.”

N’dour joins a crowded field of opposition including anti-corruption candidate Abdou Latif Coulibaly, socialist Ousmane Tanor Dieng, and “United to Boost Senegal” candidate Moustapha Niasse.

Soledad O’Brien Becomes a New Anchor for CNN

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By Brian Carter, Staff Writer
Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel –

One of the top Black news reporters has her own program, which will address various news and issues.

On Jan. 2, Soledad O’Brien’s new program aired on CNN entitled, “Starting Point.” Her new show fills in the 7-9 a.m. slot left after the demise of the American Morning Block. CNN has referred to the shows as being a “conversational ensemble” with O’Brien at the center.

This change comes after CNN announced in late October that it was revamping its morning lineup, with O’Brien and former MSNBC anchor, Ashleigh Banfield were named to be among the anchors of a new early programming schedule.

Former “American Morning” anchor O’Brien, who co-hosted from 2003-2007, was recruited back to mornings for the second shift–just in time for the Jan. 3rd Iowa caucuses. According to Broadcasting & Cable, O’Brien will report live from Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 2 and 3.

A graduate of Harvard University, O’Brien is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She began her career as an associate producer and news writer at the then NBC affiliate WBZ-TV in Boston. She would work long hours as a local reporter and bureau chief for NBC affiliate KRON in San Francisco.

She later joined NBC in 1991 in New York where she worked as a field producer for Nightly News and TODAY. O’Brien came to CNN, where she anchored the network’s Weekend Today since July 1999. At CNN, O’Brien would earn numerous awards and accolades for groundbreaking coverage and reports.

She became co-anchor of CNN’s flagship morning program, American Morning in July 2003. There she covered world-changing events like Hurricane Katrina, Southeast and Thailand Tsunamis, and the 2005 London terrorist attacks. She earned the George Foster Peabody Award for her Katrina coverage and the Alfred I. DuPont Award for her coverage of the tsunami. Other accolades include the Gracie Allen Award in 2007 on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, a NAACP President’s Award, also in 2007, for her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence. In 2008, she received the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Goodermote Humanitarian Award for her reports on Katrina and the Southeast Asia tsunami and was the first recipient of the Soledad O’Brien Freedom’s Voice Award from Morehouse School of Medicine for promoting social change. O’Brien was also awarded the Brotherhood Crusade Pioneer African American Achievement Award by the Brotherhood Crusade in 2009.

One of her most recent projects was Black in America 2, which was a four-hour documentary that focused on successful community leaders who improved quality of life for African Americans.

O’Brien’s Black in America in 2008 revealed that state of Blacks 40 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. She has also reported for the CNN documentary Words That Changed a Nation, which featured never-before-seen footage of Dr. King’s private writings and notes, and her investigation of his assassination. Her project, Children of the Storm and One Crime at a Time documentaries have shown her dedication to stories coming out of New Orleans.

What are Blacks to do About Ron Paul?

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By William Reed, NNPA Columnist –

Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) has come under fire over allegations that a newsletter he edited years ago contained racist commentary. The old geezer is being punk’d by people Black voters really should be leery of instead of quoting. Publicizing of comments published in the 1980s and 1990s reeks as a the latest agenda to mis-educate Black voters. To charge Paul with “racism” is misleading.

Ron Paul is far from being a foe of Black Americans. He is to be admired as a man of principles and a comrade in foiling America’s imperialists and the war crowd that probably were sources of the racially-charged commentaries. In contrast to what has turned up, if Blacks look a little closer they’d see that Paul’s political positions are in line with those preached and practiced by Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK’s position on foreign policy was vastly more similar to Paul’s than it is to any other presidential candidate.

Paul is hardly the racist that the mainstream media would have Blacks believe him to be. Blacks have more in common with Paul’s opposition to America’s penchant for imperialistic wars and absurd rationalities behind them like “Manifest Destiny” and “American Exceptionalism” than with President Obama.

Think about it, Paul has been on the national scene for 30 years. He has been labeled “conservative”, “Constitutionalist” and “libertarian”, but never “racist.” Much of Paul’s opposition comes from fear in some pro-Israel circles that Paul reflects an ascendant faction that has little use for a foreign policy so tilted toward Israel. Paul is not “a mainstream man” and the only candidate seeking to change the status quo in America. A medical doctor, Paul advocates ending the drug war and fixing a biased court system that unfairly targets and punishes minorities.

Paul may have made enough people mad enough to punk him, but Blacks have to be discerning in knowing what his actual views toward us are. Over the years Paul’s positions have remained clear and transparent. He hasn’t wavered in his voting or policy ideals. What candidate can you name that is more serious on fiscal matters? Paul wants to get rid of many federal agencies and would like to audit and perhaps abolish the Federal Reserve Bank. Paul advocates an end to the death penalty and, as president, plans to bring all military troops home.

People tied to the military/industrial complex loathe Paul the most. He labels their banter against Iran “warmongering” and states: “In all wars minorities suffer the most. So I hope that they join me in this position … against the war in Iraq… and the war on drugs.” What other candidates will stand up and say “I will pardon … everybody convicted for non-violent drug acts and drug crimes. This is where the real discrimination is … the judicial system … that I’m attacking.”

Paul brings a breath of honesty and accountability to the 2012 presidential races. Blacks of all political stripes would benefit from an honest debate during this season about campaign finance reform, military spending, torture of enemy combatants, immigration, the Federal Reserve, free trade agreements, gay marriage and prison sentences for drug use Paul’s candidacy brings about. In his opposition to American imperialism, Paul provides a certain appeal to people who see through the lies fuelling the Bush/Obama foreign policy: using the American military on behalf of the banks and multinationals. An unbridled military industrial complex is against the interest of any thinking American, and many voters are starting to rethink America’s foreign policy. For these views, Paul has growing appeal among Americans and is being “played”; as he’s portrayed as a racist on racist mediums.

As the primaries play out, look at Paul for practical political positions that help our nation. Black voters should move beyond the newsletters in judging Paul. Try judging his efforts to end a “war on drugs” that has contributed to the mass incarceration of the poor and people of color, you’ll find him far from racist and quite progressive.


National Headlines Took Center Stage in 2011

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By Eric Mayes, Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune –

From sex scandals to revolutions and natural disasters, the top ten national and international stories of 2011 had it all. The Tribune compiled a synopsis of its top ten stories.

9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden killed by U.S.

A Navy SEAL team shot and killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden on May 1 at his hideout in Pakistan. He’d been the world’s most-wanted terrorist for nearly a decade, ever since a team of his al-Qaida followers carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The manhunt ended with a nighttime assault by a helicopter-borne special operations squad on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot dead by one of the raiders, and within hours his body was buried at sea.

Penn State sex abuse scandal topples Joe Pa

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 12-year period. He has been charged with 52 counts related to the abuse and is currently free on bail.

The scandal rocked the university, leading to the firing of iconic coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier. Both men were fired by the board of trustees on Nov. 9.

Paterno led the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 seasons and had amassed 409 career victories — a Division I record. His dismissal led to riots in State College, as students protested his removal.

Sandusky, 67, who since 1977 headed up a charity for trouble children called the Second Mile, has maintained his innocence.

Occupy Wall Street spread inequity protests to more than 200 cities worldwide

Demonstrators first gathered Sept. 17, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district to protest against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, greed, as well as corruption, and the undue influence of corporations — particularly from the financial services sector — on government. Under the slogan “We are the 99 percent,” the protests in New York City have sparked similar protests and movements around the world.

Arab Spring spreads across the Middle East

A wave of protests rolled across the Middle East, leading to revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and civil war in Libya. In addition, there was major civil unrest in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen along with protests in Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Oman.

Demonstrators shared frustration at growing economic inequity in all of those countries and well as oppressive regimes. The most famous of the protests took place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Tens of thousands of protestors forced out dictator Hosni Mubarak with largely peaceful demonstrations.

Boxing legend Joe Frazier dies

Former Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier died from liver cancer at 67 on Nov. 7.

Born in Beaufort, South Carolina, and long a fixture in Philadelphia, Frazier became the only American fighter to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Turning pro, he beat Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title in 1971, the first man to do so. But, Frazier held the title for just four fights.

The two men battled it out three times, twice in the heart of New York City and once in the morning in a steamy arena in the Philippines in an epic battle dubbed “the Thrilla in Manila.” They went 41 rounds together. Neither gave an inch, and both gave it their all.

In their last fight in Manila in 1975, they traded punches with a fervor that seemed unimaginable among heavyweights. Frazier gave as good as he got for 14 rounds, then had to be held back by trainer Eddie Futch as he tried to go out for the final round, unable to see.

In the end, the two sworn enemies forgave each other. Both are members of the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Black Republican Herman Cain flames out as possible Republican nominee

Pizza mogul Herman Cain, briefly considered the likely Republican nominee for president, dropped out of the campaign on Dec. 4, as charges of sexual impropriety grew.

In his announcement, Cain said he decided to drop out to avoid news coverage that was hurtful to his family.

His decision came five days after an Atlanta-area woman claimed she and Cain had an affair for more than a decade, a claim that followed several allegations of sexual harassment against the Georgia businessman.

The businessman had surged in polls until news surfaced in late October that he had been accused of sexual harassment by two women during his time as president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

Casey Anthony declared innocent in death of her daughter

The Florida mom on trial for killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2008 was acquitted July 5 after the jury deliberated for 11 hours. The 25-year-old had been charged with first-degree murder, which could have brought the death penalty if she had been convicted.

Instead, she was convicted of only four counts of lying to investigators looking into the June 2008 disappearance of her daughter Caylee. The tot’s body was found in the woods six months later and a medical examiner was never able to determine how she died.

Jailed since August 2008, Anthony was sentenced to four years but left jail July 17 for time served.

Steve Jobs, Apple founder dies

Apple founder, technological and business guru Steve Jobs died Oct. 5 at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer. He had been fighting the disease since 2004.

Jobs’ death created a huge outpouring of emotion with mourners who lauded him as a visionary and turned Apple stores across the country into impromptu memorials.

Earthquake strikes Japan

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan on March 11, triggering a deadly tsunami that washed far inland, swamping towns, sweeping away a train and sparking massive fires, including one at a major nuclear plant.

The quake ultimately claimed nearly 20,000 lives and caused an estimated $218 billion in damage. The tsunami triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, after waves knocked out the cooling system at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing it to spew radiation that turned up in local produce. About 100,000 people evacuated from the area have not returned to their homes. Traces of radioactive materials linked to the accident were detected as far away as Massachusetts.

The offshore quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time at a depth of 24 kilometers about 125 kilometers off the coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, U.S. representative from Arizona

Forty-one-year-old Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot on Jan. 8 while meeting with constituents in Tucson, Ariz. Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the attack, including the lawmaker and members of her staff. Giffords was shot by Jared Loughner, who was quickly captured and imprisoned while being evaluated to determine if was mentally incapable of participating in his defense.

It took more than seven months for her recovery. She returned to Congress on Aug. 1.

Get Elected and Get Paid

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Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier –

About 47 percent of Congress, or 250 current members of Congress, are millionaires, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of lawmakers’ personal financial disclosure forms covering calendar year 2010. The Center’s analysis is based on the median values of lawmakers’ disclosed assets and liabilities.

That lofty financial status is enjoyed by only about one percent of Americans.

"The vast majority of members of Congress are quite comfortable, financially, while many of their own constituents suffer from economic hardships," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

"It’s no surprise that so many people grumble about lawmakers being out-of-touch," Krumholz continued. "Few Americans enjoy the same financial cushion maintained by most members of Congress – or the same access to market-altering information that could yield personal financial gains."

On the whole, elected officials in the U.S. Senate enjoy cushier bank accounts and portfolios than their counterparts in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2010, the year of the most recently released financial data, the estimated median net worth of a current U.S. senator stood at an average of $2.63 million, according to the Center’s research.

Despite the global economic meltdown in 2008 and sluggish recovery, that’s up about 11 percent from an estimated median net worth of about $2.38 million in 2009, according to the Center’s analysis. And it’s up about 16 percent from a median estimated net worth of $2.27 million in 2008.

Party doesn’t matter

Fully 37 Senate Democrats and 30 Senate Republicans reported an average net worth in excess of $1 million in 2010, according to the Center’s analysis. The same was true of 110 House Republicans and 73 House Democrats.

The median estimated net worth among Senate Republicans was $2.43 million, and the median net worth among members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate was $2.69 million, by the Center’s tally.

Meanwhile, in the House, the median estimated net worth of a GOP House member was $834,250 in 2010, according to the Center’s research, compared to a median net worth of $635,500 among House Democrats.

The median estimated net worth among House members, overall, stood at $756,765 in 2010. That’s up about 17 percent compared to the median net worth of $645,500 among House members in 2008, but down about 1 percent compared to 2009, when House members posted a median estimated net worth of $765,010, according to the Center’s analysis.

Broad ranges

When members of Congress file these annual reports, they are allowed to list the value of their assets and liabilities in broad ranges. The Center for Responsive Politics determines the minimum and maximum possible values for each asset and liability for every member of Congress and then calculates each lawmaker’s average estimated net worth.

Sometimes millions of dollars separate a lawmaker’s minimum estimated worth from his or her maximum estimated wealth. That said, members of Congress might be more financially well off than they seem. The annual filings do not include the values of government retirement accounts, personal property – such as cars or artwork – or any non-income-generating property, such as their primary residences.

Moreover, because of the forms’ broad ranges for assets and liabilities, it’s impossible to know whether some members of Congress are in the black or in the red.

Issa on top

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ranks as the wealthiest member of the 112th Congress, according to the Center’s analysis of 2010 financial disclosures. Issa’s minimum estimated net worth in 2010 was $195 million, while his maximum estimated net worth was more than $700 million. That gives Issa an average net worth of $448 million.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) ranks as the wealthiest House Democrat. Polis, who has spent about $7 million of his own money on his campaigns since 2007, has an average estimated net worth of $143 million.

No. 2 is Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas, $380 million), followed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass., $232 million), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va., $193 million) and Sen. Herb Kohl, the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team (D-Wis., $174 million).

Hastings at bottom

The net worth of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is below zero. Her maximum net worth is a negative $15,000, while her minimum net worth is a negative $50,000.

A similar predicament afflicts Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), Steve Fincher (R-Tenn.) and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).

Notably, Hastings, whose minimum estimated net worth is $7.3 million in debt and whose maximum estimated net worth is $2.1 million in debt, ranks as the poorest member of Congress, by the Center’s tally.

None of the 43 Congressional Black Caucus legislators appear in the top 100 wealthiest federal lawmakers. The richest, Rep. Al Green of Texas, has an average net worth of approximately $4.5 million – No. 104 on the list.

The average net worth of CBC members is $411,179 – well below the congressional average of $7.4 million.

Lobbied investors

The most popular company in which members of Congress were invested in 2010 was General Electric, a company that spent more than $39 million on federal lobbying that year and ranked as the No. 3 top spender on lobbying.

Seventy-five different current members of Congress held stock in GE in 2010, according to the Center’s research. Collectively, these holdings were worth at least $3.6 million.

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