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Philadelphia to Host Urban League Annual Conference in 2013

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

Philadelphia will host the National Urban League’s 2013 annual conference, announced League president and CEO Marc Morial and Mayor Michael Nutter, on Friday.

The event, which, it is anticipated, will draw more than 4,000 visitors, is expected to generate $8 million in economic activity for the city.

“We will roll out the big red carpet,” Nutter promised Morial, noting that Philadelphia would have to outdo New Orleans, which is hosting the conference in 2012, where Morial was once mayor.

“We’re more than up to it,” joked Nutter. “Philadelphia was the place selected for the first convention just down the street, and you see what happened.”

The conference will be held July 24 – 27 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Morial told the crowd gathered at City Hall for the announcement that Urban League officials chose Philadelphia for three reasons: the first was the work of Patricia Coulter, president and CEO of the Philadelphia chapter.

“She’s breathed new life into the Philadelphia chapter,” said Morial. “It’s soared to the front of the class. We want to showcase the work that Pat Coulter has done in this city.”

The second was Mayor Michael Nutter.

“He’s a rising star on the national scene,” said Morial.

And, finally, he added: “4,000 plus people are just dying to eat cheese steaks.”

“We are proud that Philadelphia is home to a thriving Urban League affiliate,” Coulter said, who credited her staff for making the chapter what it’s become. “And, our selection to host the 2013 Annual Conference is a very welcome validation of our accomplishments and strategic focus on economic empowerment through public policy advocacy, quality programs and employment opportunities.”

In addition to the events for registered attendees, the conference will host a number of events open to the public. They include: all the exhibits in the exhibition hall, a college fair, a career fair. In addition, the conference will include a youth summit and a business summit.

“This conference is also going to be for the people of Philadelphia,” Morial said, adding that he hoped it would attract residents from throughout the Delaware Valley.

In addition to showcasing the Urban League, the conference will give visitors, many of whom have never been here, a chance to absorb Philadelphia’s art, culture and food, said Nutter, noting that Travel & Leisure magazine recently named Philadelphia the number one city in the country for culture and National Geographic named Capogiro the best ice cream in the world.

“There is no other city in American that has the amenities that we do,” crowed Nutter. It will also display the city’s potential.

“It will showcase Philadelphia as more than a time machine to the 18th Century,” said Dennis Maple, a local board member.

The National Urban League last held its annual conference in Philadelphia 13 years ago.

Contact Tribune staff writer Eric Mayes at (215) 893-5742 or emayes@phillytrib.com

Vanessa Long Resumes Divorce, Eddie Taking Leave from New Birth

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Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American –

Just two days after his wife Vanessa announced she would be seeking a divorce, withdrew the divorce petition and then resumed divorce proceedings, megapastor Eddie Long announced that he would be taking a leave of absence from his position as senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church.

"I'm still your pastor. You'll still receive my direction," Long said Sunday. "You've given me some weeks to take care of some family business."

Long's wife, Vanessa filed for divorce late Thursday afternoon. She said Friday morning she had changed her mind but by day's end announced the divorce was on.

Bishop Long was sued in a September 2010 lawsuit by former New Birth members Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson, who alleged the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relationships.

The suit was settled in May after months of mediation.

Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

Nigeria Joins Uganda to Pass Homophobic Legislation

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

(GIN) – Joining a movement fueled by a segment of conservative American evangelicals, the Nigerian Senate approved this week a bill criminalizing gay marriage, gay support groups and same-sex public displays of affection.

It was the latest attack on a minority already facing discrimination in Africa’s most populous nation.

The Senate increased the penalty for gay marriage from five years' imprisonment proposed in a draft bill to 14 years. The bill must be passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before becoming law.

“Such elements in society should be killed,” said Sen. Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti of the opposition party Congress for Progressive Change, drawing murmurs of support from the gallery.

Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. In some areas of Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law is enforced, gays face death by stoning.

The bill’s penalties were debated this week at the National Assembly before a television audience to the occasional sound of laughter, sources said.

One senator worried the bill would hinder the tradition of Nigeria’s Igbo ethnic group in the southeast to have infertile wives “marry” other women to carry their husbands’ children. Another said gays suffer from a “mental illness.”

The Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights in Nigeria, in an open letter to President Goodluck Johnson, urged him to guarantee the safety of all human rights defenders including gays.

“We could not help but notice from the outcome of the public hearing on the Same Gender marriage Bill, 2011 that committee members had already taken a position on the subject. That was evident from their deliberate name calling and profiling of the groups or individuals opposed to the Bill.

“The experience has been denigrating and humiliating and does not conform to democratic principles of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, prohibition of discrimination, and fair hearing,” the group wrote.

Meanwhile, in Uganda, a court this month sentenced the killer of noted gay activist David Kato to 30 years behind bars. Kato's slaying came only months after his picture was published in an anti-gay newspaper next to the words "Hang Them."

Rights activists blame an increase in homophobia in Uganda on evangelical preachers. Val Kalende of Freedom and Roam Uganda, defending gay rights, said: “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S Evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan Government and the so-called U.S Evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood!”

South Africa, Host of Climate Confab, is Africa's Worst Pollutor

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

(GIN) – Delegates from around the world are streaming into Durban, South Africa, for the U.N.’s Conference on Climate Change. Ironically, this is also home of one of the worst polluters on the continent, the Eskom coal-powered national electric company.

State-owned Eskom's coal-fired power stations are responsible for 66 percent of the 6,000 tons of sulphur dioxide pollution spewed into the atmosphere daily. Sulphur dioxide is dangerous to human health and to plants and corrodes buildings yet dirty and destructive coal plants are opening around the continent at a fast pace.

Prior to the opening of the Durban conference Tuesday, Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, chair of the Africa Group of Negotiators for Climate Change, stated Africa’s concerns. “Africa wants an outcome based on science that is fair and honors the promises all countries have made in the U.N. Climate Convention and its Kyoto Protocol.

“African countries feel they have been ‘duped,’” he stated at an earlier meeting, “because many of them have not seen the sustainable development benefits that were promised to them when they agreed to emission reducing projects under the Kyoto Protocol. Three countries – Japan, Canada and Russia – have already expressed reluctance to honor their promises and the United States repudiated its commitments a number of years ago.”

“But the world cannot be held hostage by a handful of countries, Africa will not serve as the burial ground of the only legally binding treaty requiring those most responsible for causing climate change to reduce their climate pollution,” continued Mpanu-Mpanu.

“We expect the polluters, and not the poor in Africa, to pay,” said Mpanu-Mpanu. “Durban must deliver an agreement on finance... If we depart from promises made as recently as 2007, how can we trust what comes next? Africa is more than willing to play ball, but only if the other side does not keep moving the goalposts.”

New Effort to Identify Discriminatory Mortgage Lending Begins

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By Charlene Crowell, NNPA Columnist –

(NNPA) Many times consumers question whether complaining about a financial problem will ever do any good. Now, thanks to a new initiative by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), no one needs to wonder anymore. Beginning December 1, the consumer watchdog agency is asking consumers to tell them about unfair or illegal practices that occurred before, during or after getting a mortgage loan. The agency promises to give every complaint a fair review, and it will also use the information gathered as a guide when considering new consumer protections.

The CFPB should expect to get an earful. A wealth of research documents how communities of color have borne the brunt of predatory lending and the foreclosures that followed. Too many African-American and Latino borrowers received high-cost, risky mortgages when they could have qualified for lower-cost and more sustainable loans. Now foreclosures are happening more quickly in communities of color than anywhere else—a curious phenomenon when one considers that white homeowners hold far more of troubled home loans. By one estimate, Black and Brown communities have lost $350 billion of wealth during this Great Recession, according to the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). Even worse -- these communities already had the least to lose.

During the subprime boom and long before the CFPB was formed, there was no shortage of mortgage-related complaints—but very few received serious consideration. Responsibility for mortgage protections was parceled out among at least half a dozen regulatory agencies, some of whom were very friendly to the lenders they were supposed to be monitoring. Now, with the CFPB on the job, we can expect a much sharper focus on consumer complaints and a stronger commitment to resolving them.

For any doubting Thomas that remains cynical about progress on consumer complaints, consider what happened when the CFPB asked the public to share their problems with credit cards. Between July 21 and October 21 this year, the Bureau received 5,074 complaints. Of these complaints, 74 percent have now been resolved. Issues raised involved billing disputes, identity theft and other fraud.

We now know that 397,000 African-American families lost their homes on mortgages made between 2004 and 2008. Some opponents of reform try to blame affordable housing programs, but the facts don’t support that position. Wall Street became ravenous for the most dangerous types of loans, and lenders obliged by aggressively marketing them without bothering to underwrite. Moreover, CRL’s most recent research shows that borrowers of color with higher incomes and good credit scores received riskier loans than similar white borrowers.

The result has been tragic for the families involved and also crippling to the entire economy. The CFPB represents a genuine effort to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The Bureau is now open for business, and it wants to hear consumers’ side of the story. Individuals may file complaints related to any part of the mortgage process, including the wrongful denial of a loan, overcharges on lending fees, problems with the way mortgage payments are collected, and abuses related to foreclosures. For more information, visit the CFPB website at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/. Specific mortgage complaints may be filed at: http://rspnsb.li/uTxRb5.

To learn more about what’s at stake for everyday Americans and how CFPB can help protect consumer financial interests, visit CRL’s web at: http://rspnsb.li/s915qX

Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at: Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

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