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New York Times Report: Obama Could Prevail in 2012

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By Dorothy Rowley, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers –

Despite marginal success with his foreign policy and attempts to reduce unemployment, and the recent loss of Democratic control of the House of Representatives, President Obama still seems to be on the path for a successful 2012 campaign bid, according to a recent New York Times report written by Jeff Somner.

In addition, economists like Yale University professor Ray Fair predict that by 2011, the economy may have rebounded, and that Obama will likely face a weak opponent.

In the Times article, Fair forecasts a landslide victory for the first term commander-in chief based on progress in the economy, the same strategy employed in 1992 by James Carville, which propelled Bill Clinton to the White House.

Fair also claims the state of the economy has a dominant influence on national elections. “In recent columns I’ve explored how elections – and Wall Street’s beliefs about them – affect the markets and the economy, Sommer wrote. “Professor Fair has studied the flip side: how the economy helps to determine elections.”

Sommer wrote that while Fair was updating his 2002 book, “Predicting Presidential Elections and Other Things,” he calculated that the likely outcome of the 2012 presidential election is “an Obama victory, regardless of whom he runs against [and that] if my model’s right, it couldn’t look better for Obama.”

Meanwhile, Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been talked about as a possible candidate to run against Obama. But while she has remained popular with many Republicans, her favorability ratings are low among the rest of the electorate, according to national political analyst Matt Lewis, who said Palin stands a decent chance of winning a GOP nomination but “claiming the presidency would be dramatically tougher.”

Before Payout, Republicans to Investigate Black Farmers' Claims

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By Dorothy Rowley, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspaper –

The victory scored by Black farmers with the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval of funds due to them in the 1980’s Pigford discrimination lawsuit has been mired by allegations of fraud.

The U.S. Senate approved the dispersal of as much as $50,000 to each farmer involved. But, while John Boyd, president of the Virginia-based National Black Farmers Association, stated to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that, according to his assessments, there were 18,000 Black farmers due compensation with more than 90,000 claims have been filed for a share of the $1.25 billion payout.

As a result, a group of Republicans led by Steve King, of Iowa, and Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, claim that the settlement, which has the support of the Obama administration, is rife with fraud.

Republicans, who will soon take charge in the House after this month’s mid-term elections, are now promising to do a thorough investigation on disparities surrounding who applied for the money and who is actually eligible to receive it.

According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FBI, 50 percent to 95 percent of the claims submitted may be fraudulent.

European Firm Slapped with Fine for Illegal Payouts to Nigerians

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, charged with making secret payments to Nigerian officials, has settled the case for $47 million, reported the Bloomberg news wire.

Attorney General Mohammed Bello Adoke said Nigeria would accept the fine and withdraw the charges because the company expressed deep regret and promised to be of good conduct in all their future dealings in the country.

Adoke said the heavy fines imposed on Siemens, apart from the deterrence effect would go a long way toward financing infrastructural delivery in the country.

Siemens is no stranger to corruption lawsuits. In December 2008, Siemens agreed to pay $800 million – to settle U.S. charges that it violated anti-corruption laws by funding bribes to governments around the world, including in Nigeria.

According to court documents, the company paid bribes to foreign government officials to obtain business, falsified corporate records to hide the payments, and failed to implement effective internal controls that might have prevented such payments in Venezuela, China, Russia, Vietnam, Israel, Mexico, and Nigeria. This misconduct involved employees at all levels of the company, including senior management.

Further, kickbacks were paid to Iraqi ministries in connection with sales of power stations and equipment under the United Nations Oil for Food Program. Together with various penalties imposed by Germany, Siemens' penalties reached an astronomical $1.6 billion - the largest monetary sanction ever imposed for charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Due to the company’s “extraordinary cooperation” and “uncommonly sweeping remedial action,” Siemens remains a responsible contractor for the business of the U.S.

Mandela's Wife Grieves for Zimbabwe Children Lost to AIDS

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

During a weeklong tour of Zimbabwe, Graca Machel, wife of former South African president, Nelson Mandela, decried the loss of 100 children who die each day in that southern African country, many of them as a consequence of HIV/AIDS.

Machel, a UNICEF Children’s Advocate, noted there is knowledge, medication, and capacity to reduce the number of children infected with HIV and to treat those with AIDS. There was no reason, she said, why children in Zimbabwe and other countries in the region should continue to die because they have no access to treatment.

On her tour, the former first lady met with children from several different organizations, and called the experience “emotional.” A frequent critic of the government of President Robert Mugabe, Machel did not openly fault the President during the visit but urged him to continue with a constitution-rewriting process started in June.

Meanwhile, a bitter divorce proceeding has thrown a harsh light on the wealth accumulated by Mugabe’s closest allies. Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is suing his estranged wife Marian for possession of nearly 100 properties, 15 cars (including Land Cruisers, Mercedes Benzes, and trucks), safari camps, cattle, mines, and 10 companies.

Chombo’s reported riches are merely “the tip of the iceberg amid reports that “other senior Mugabe party officials literally (own) whole towns, like Rusape and Victoria Falls,” declared a spokesman for the opposition.

Revelations about Chombo’s wealth call into question the Mugabe administration’s claims that sanctions imposed by western countries are to blame for the country’s economic collapse during the last decade, the spokesman said.

Machel concurred, adding that the Mugabe administration should assume responsibility and protect the rights of its citizens.

Ethics Proceeding Against Congresswoman Waters Cancelled

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspaper –

The House ethics subcommittee cancelled the Nov. 29 hearing that was scheduled to consider allegations of ethics impropriety against California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct panel said in a statement it postponed an adjudicatory hearing, the equivalent of a trial by the committee, because new evidence has surfaced. The matter has been referred back to investigators.

The California congresswoman decried the delay, saying it showed “a complete disregard for due process and fairness” given that the investigation began more than a year ago.

“Today, the Committee has brought discredit upon itself and this institution by denying me, and more importantly my constituents, the right to set the record straight,” she said in a statement.

Waters became a target of the ethics panel over allegations that she helped OneUnited, a Massachusetts-based, minority-owned bank in which her husband owned stock and once served as a board member, received $12 million in bailout funds.

The congresswoman was accused of arranging a meeting between the Black-owned bank officials and Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson in 2008 without disclosing her husband’s history with the company.

The Wall Street Journal, one of two newspapers that chronicled the receipt of $12 million in federal money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, has pointed out that members of Congress may vote on matters that affect their financial holdings. But, the paper noted that the rules are unclear about the role members of Congress can play in contacting executive branch agencies about firms in which they have a financial stake.

The Congressional Black Caucus member has maintained that her efforts to ensure that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act assisted small and minority institutions were not solely on behalf of OneUnited.

“As the highest ranking African-American and woman on the Financial Services Committee, my staff and I did what we said we did and what we have always done, which is provide a voice in the process for those who lack it,” she said.

The evidence referred to by the committee is, according to the Associated Press, an e-mail that, the wire service says, shows Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, followed the drafting of language in the bank bailout bill that would have affected OneUnited. The newly discovered document—which Waters said the committee actually had since Oct. 29—will likely support her claims, she added.

“If this evidence is so damning, the Committee should present its case before the public, as we asked them to do when I first learned of their desire to postpone the hearing. Apparently the Committee now recognizes, as I have maintained, that there was no benefit, no improper action, no failure to disclose, no one influenced, and there is no case.”

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