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South Africans Eye Louisiana for New Gas to Liquid Plant

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Southwest Louisiana may be on its way to becoming the home for a state of the art gas-to-liquid (GTL) plant built by the South African petrochemicals giant Sasol.

Sasol will launch a feasibility study of the GTL venture in Calcasieu Parish during the next 18 months. The GTL complex, if built, would be funded by a capital investment of $8- to $10-billion and could create up to 850 permanent positions and up to approximately 5,500 jobs during peak construction periods.

Construction could start as early as 2013.

Speaking at a recent press conference with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Sasol spokesman said: "We believe Sasol's proprietary GTL technology can help unlock the potential of Louisiana's clean and abundant natural gas resources and contribute to an affordable, reliable and high quality fuel supply for the United States.”

Calcasieu, a predominantly African-American parish whose name comes from the Atakapan word, "quelqueshue", meaning "crying eagle," is already the home of 53 industrial facilities, mostly petrochemical plants.

Residents have three times the national average of dioxin in their bodies although the federal agency for toxic substances does not consider it a health risk. It was the subject of a report called “Breathing Poison” by a coalition of green activist groups and a documentary “Blue Vinyl” in 2002.

Students Rally for Niagara University Professor, Prime Minister of Somalia

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By Amanda Galster, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Dr. Abdiweli Ali, head of the Somali government and an associate professor of Economics at Niagara University in Buffalo, New York, was welcomed back to campus recently where he will promote awareness of the evolving situation in Somalia.

Dr. Brian Murphy, Chair of the Communications Studies Department said: “It’s not every day that a university has a Prime Minister of a nation.”

Dr. Ali’s number one challenge will be to improve the security of the nation. Through political outreach, he hopes to bring back law and order and reconcile the community. Another challenge is the humanitarian crisis. Six states have been declared famine states, making up half of the population of Somalia - four million people.

“We cannot take this journey alone,” he told the students. Meanwhile, with the rainy season just around the corner, the United Nations refugee agency has scaled up its presence in Mogadishu and Somalia’s border regions, providing food and medical assistance.

Dr. Ali holds a master of public administration from Harvard University, a certificate of Taxation from Harvard Law School, and a master of economics from Vanderbilt University. He completed his Ph.D. in Economics at George Mason University and, in 1998 and 1999, was a Joel Leff Fellow of Political Economy at Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.

How Will Consumer Confidence Affect Year-end Spending?

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By Charlene Crowell, NNPA Columnist –

As September draws to a close, the holiday season will soon be upon us. It is also the traditional time when consumer spending surges make the annual difference between retailers reaching profits or red ink. But according to a recent consumer study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates on behalf of BankRate.com, many consumers have already begun tightening household budgets.

“Forty percent of Americans say they have cut back on spending over the past 60 days due to the roller-coaster stock market or concerns about the economy”, says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s senior financial analyst. “This type of widespread cutback in consumer spending, if sustained for any length of time, is how recessions are born.”

Beyond consumer spending, the study also compared consumer comfort levels today against those of 12 months ago in four other measures: debt, savings, job security and net worth.

If you’re feeling as if your total assets are fewer than you’d prefer, there are many others holding that same opinion. Across all education levels, consumers said their net worth is lower today than a year ago.

Older Americans ages 50-64 are feeling the most financial stress. Half on this age group are less comfortable today with their savings than last year. They have also the most likely to have already cut back on spending.

Although consumers earning $75,000 or more were found more comfortable with their savings levels, they too are spending less.

When consumers considered their personal debts, over half surveyed– 51 cent – found they were about the same as last year. This finding suggests that while consumer may manage debts, becoming debt-free for half of Americans is long-term goal, not a short one.

Job security was perhaps the worst measure. More than half – 60 percent – job security is as elusive now as it was last year. Conversely, only 16 percent felt their jobs were safer today.

David Denslow, Jr., a distinguished service professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Florida and a research economist for the Bureau of Economic and Business Research offered his interpretation on lingering job insecurity.

“This increased concern ranges from dropouts to college graduates, from the less-skilled to higher earners, from the young to those approaching retirement. And it is remarkable for the beginning of the third year after the official end of a recession. The third years of the previous two recoveries saw rapid job gains. This time may be different.”

In the face of questionable job security, lingering debts, meager savings and lower net worth – the usual merry tone of the holidays may offer less cheer. The economy has taken the form of Ebenezer Scrooge.

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

Reversing the Alarming HIV Increase Among Black Gay Men, Part 2

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By Rod McCullom, Special to the NNPA from the Black AIDS Institute –

The second of a two-part series examining the high rates of new HIV infection among Black gay and bisexual men. Part 1 described the new data detailing the dramatic increases in new infections, examined some of the reasons driving the numbers and described the CDC's new social-marketing initiative, designed to encourage testing among Black MSM.

In light of the persistent increase in new infections among MSM (men who have sex with men)--and despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new testing initiative--a consensus has emerged among prominent Black gay men who have leadership positions in HIV/AIDS policy, prevention and public health: A larger investment is needed from public and private sources, as well as a more "holistic" approach to Black gay men's sexual health.

"It's a question of dollars," says A. Cornelius Baker, senior policy adviser of the Washington, D.C.-based National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC), which delivered a forceful set of recommendations in response to the CDC's incidence report. Across the federal bureaucracy, "there is not a sufficient investment in line with the scope of the epidemic in Black and Latino gay populations," he says.

"The CDC must increase funding to organizations providing services to young MSM and transgender [people] of color from $9 million to $14 million," says Baker, who is also board chair of the Black AIDS Institute. "Five years after its initial commitment, the numbers are worse, and their investment remains at $9 million. That makes no sense."

Among NBGMAC's additional recommendations: increased funding, capacity building in Black gay organizations, continuing HIV education for medical professionals, high-level consultations with Black gay men and research on how to lower the viral load in MSM communities of color.

Extending Advantages, Reducing Stigma

Other prominent MSM agree with NBGMAC's call for a more comprehensive approach to the multiple health, economic and social disparities that Black MSM experience, particularly those in the under-30 demographic, which is experiencing the greatest increase in new infections.

"I'm 25 years old and part of that 13-to-29 demographic, but many of my contemporaries [do not] have some of my advantages," says Daniel Driffin, a prevention specialist at the Atlanta-based National AIDS & Education Services for Minorities. "I have full-time employment, a college degree and health insurance. Many younger brothas are jobless, homeless, uninsured or have low literacy rates. Some of them [engage in] 'survival sex' to provide for some basic needs. If we begin to tackle those issues, we can influence health-disparity rates."

Kali Lindsey, senior director of federal policy at Harlem United, believes that the outreach to Black MSM should address "not only sexual health but physical and emotional decisions as well that drive our sexual behavior."

He continues: "We also have to stop letting our community off the hook. More than half of our gay men do not disclose same-sex behavior to their primary care physicians. That means that we are missing many opportunities to have key conversations about sexual health. We can't accept that anymore."

"We have to get comfortable discussing sexuality," says Venton Jones, senior program associate for communications for NBGMAC, "in our Facebook discussions, faith settings, with medical providers and in our communities. That is critical for the Black community."

NBGMAC's statement of recommendations also called attention to a study by the National Medical Association that found many of its members--almost exclusively Black doctors--were "not willing to recommend HIV testing because of social stigmas."

"That's shameful," says Baker. "Whatever the discomfort some Black doctors may have in talking about sex, they have to get over it. Our people have been through a helluva lot, from slavery to segregation. And they're uncomfortable talking about sex?"

Baker offers an anecdote from his experience with a pediatrician when he was a teenager. "He said, 'I get the sense that you might like boys; is that okay for me to say?' Then we had a conversation, and he took care of my sexual health. The conversation was loving and respectful. He took his responsibility as an adult and a caretaker [seriously], and guided me on a path to being 50 years old and still alive. Our institutions have to do the same thing. We haven't shown youth that there's a better way to live."

Rod McCullom has written and produced for ABC News and NBC, and his reporting and analysis have appeared in Ebony, the Advocate, ColorLines and other media. McCullom blogs on politics, pop culture and Black gay news at rod20.com.

Bernice King Praises Mother's Devotion to MLK

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Article and Photo By Kenya King, Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily World –

Perhaps if it were not for Coretta Scott King, there would be marginal remembrance of Dr. Luther King Jr. today. Elder Bernice King, the youngest of the King children, expounded a reminder of that possibility during her keynote address at the Women Who Dare to Dream event honoring women in the Civil Rights Movement.

The event was part of the King Memorial Dedication week activities in Washington, D.C., in August; the dedication ceremony was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. It has been rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 16, and President Barack Obama will speak at the dedication.

“Where would the world be without women who have dared to dream and women who have sacrificed and women who have often put their own dreams aside that the dreams that lie in the hearts of men might come to pass,” said King. “The greatness of a man is usually because of the woman who walks by his side. This certainly was the case for Coretta Scott King…and we thank God for her laying the groundwork for this day.”

The defining moment of Mrs. King’s efforts was in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, ensuring that Dr King would always be recognized on every third Monday in January.

King explained that although others discouraged Coretta in her efforts, she never waivered and listened to a ‘higher calling.’

“Many told her, in fact, many men told her, ‘stay home and raise your children and let the men do the job,’ said King. “But ladies, thank God that Coretta Scott King heard another voice. A voice that sounded forth from heaven that said “Coretta King I have called you as Ester for such a time as this. You have come into the Kingdom and so go forth in the power of love. Go forth in the power of strength and low I will be with you until the end of your assignment. And so God stood with Coretta Scott King as she married that banner and championed that cause.”

King also shared the story of when her parent’s home was bombed in 1956. Coretta was home with her first born, Yolanda, and Martin was away speaking at a mass meeting concerning the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“My father said my mother had an amazing calm about her at that time,” said King. When Coretta’s father, Obadiah Scott, came to get Coretta after the bombing, Coretta refused to go. “My mother looked at my grandfather and said, ‘daddy, I’ve got to stay here with Martin.’”

King’s notable preaching skills illuminated as she described how Coretta’s calm and steadfastness remained even in Dr. King’s death. “When he died, she could have been consumed in her grief,” said King. “She could have been overwhelmed in her grief. In fact, she could have been consumed with bitterness and hatred. But no, this courageous woman, this dignified woman, this determined woman, this committed woman, this called and anointed woman decided that she would continue to champion the legacy and the work of Martin Luther King Jr., as she founded the King Center and told us that we need to study the principles, and the techniques and the philosophy of nonviolence. And so in some vain I say to people that Coretta Scott King is really the one who helped to raise a nation while also raising four kids at the same time. She was an awesome woman.”

King also recognized other women in the movement including Dorothy Cotton, who was a part of Dr. King’s executive staff; Doris Crenshaw, who worked with NAACP and Rosa Parks; and Cleo Orange, wife of the late James Orange, a “master organizer and mobilizer” for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

A rare glimpse into what went on in the inner circles of the women in the Civil Rights Movement came to light as King emphasized how those who followed her father were able to adhere to the principles of nonviolence in the face of racism.

“We had training going on behind the scenes. You see the marches and you see the water hoses. You see the demonstrations, but this was a movement that was filled with discipline and training and teaching and simulation,” said King. “They didn’t just turn another cheek. They were doing it because they had it simulated, embodied and modeled by people who showed them how to turn the other cheek. So we thank God for the women who were teaching and training in the fields and in the churches.”

King drew applause when she spoke of Dr. King’s admission that Coretta taught him many things about civil rights. She said that Dr. King was once asked if he researched Coretta’s background before marrying her and educated her on his philosophies.

“And my father said, well it may have been the other way. I think at many points, she educated me. When I met her she was concerned with the same issues as I was…So I must admit I wish I could say to satisfy my masculine ego that I led her down this path, but I must say we went down this path together. She was as actively involved and concerned when we met as she is now.”

King explained that Coretta, also known for her work in the peace movement, had taken a stance against the Vietnam War well before Dr. King did.

“She was perhaps one of the very few people who stood with him during that very difficult time when people misunderstood his stance against the Vietnam War. Many had turned their backs on him … but Coretta Scott King continued to encourage him and applauded him and said she was waiting for the day when he would take a stance because she knew that his moral voice was needed in the peace movement. And so began a glorious journey toward continuing to rid the nation of what he calls the triple evils of poverty, racism and military.”

In an unmistakable biblical reference to John 12:14, King was not remiss to include a spiritual meaning on how Coretta Scott King had the strength to persevere and why Dr. King’s legacy still lives despite his death.

“They did not understand that unless a seed fall into the ground and die it abides alone but if it dies, it produces much fruit. So today the force that they tried to stop has actually become a stronger force, an unstoppable force.

“You may slay a dreamer, but look around y’all and watch what becomes of his dream. There are those that are carrying and embodying that dream. There are those that are continuing that work, and we will, Daddy, continue this movement. Your life will not be in vain. The blood that you shed will not be for naught. We will carry the banner and will continue on. And as you stand overlooking that Potomac [River]. We know that it symbolizes you standing as you looked over the mountaintop and you saw that promised land,” said King.

King said that her mother believed that in order to save the soul of a nation, one “must become its soul.”

“These words spoken by my mother reminds us of the significance and the importance of women to the contribution of every nation on the face of this earth.”

The Women Who Dare to Dream event, held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, also included a poetry reading by Dr. Mya Angelou, music by India Arie and others, as well as commentary from numerous women in civil rights including Myrlie Evers-Williams, Xernona Clayton and Christine King Farris.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial officially opened for pubic viewing on Aug. 22, 2011. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation postponed several dedication-week activities in light of inclement weather.

For more information about dedication plans, visit www.dedicatethedream.org.

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BVN National News Wire