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Rousing Support for Embattled Rep. Rangel

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By Herb Boyd, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

While Congressman Charles Rangel awaits a decision from members of the U.S. House of Representatives, a strong contingent of supporters gathered in front of Mother Zion church in Harlem, each taking a turn to praise him and to admonish his colleagues in Congress.

“We are urging the House to vote no,” charged Assemblyman Keith Wright, who moderated the lineup of speakers. A “no” vote would mean a mere reprimand sentence for the embattled congressman who was convicted of violating 11 House ethical rules and regulations.

There is a general consensus that believes he will be censured, but to what degree is of grave concern to his constituents. “He did nothing illegal,” said Councilmember Inez Dickens, “maybe a little sloppy, but nothing illegal. We are united here and we believe this is a civil rights issue and we are asking the House exercise due diligence in their judgment.”

Former Mayor David Dinkins hoped a recommendation from his colleagues would be “sanctions less than censure.” He believed there still may be time to turn the situation around for a “representative who has over his long career been extremely helpful to people. He has been punished enough.”

“What we need now is for the other 434 members of the House to do the right thing,” said the Rev. Gregory Robeson Smith, the pastor of Mother Zion church. He recalled Rangel’s unwavering fight against apartheid in South Africa and his being arrested in the stance against police brutality. “In this case, justice has already been served,” he said.

City Comptroller John Liu said the people of the 15th Congressional District had already voiced their support on Nov. 2. “They made it loud and clear that he was their choice by re-electing him,” he said. This fact was echoed by the Rev. Jacques De Graft, the Imams Conate and Pasha, Walter Edwards of the Harlem Arts Alliance, and State Senator Adriano Espaillat. “Thousands of constituents don’t want to be disenfranchised by a hasty action,” Espaillat said.

Assemblyman Wright insisted that Rangel’s reputation has not been soiled, “in fact, it has been enhanced.”

“I completely agree with all that’s been said,” Cheryl Pahaham, who was among the spectators at the press conference. “Like so many others in the district, I voted for him.”

Political consultant Simeon Banister said that ordinarily he refrains from speaking to the press, “but I feel a need to say something about this situation, though. Look at the cases of James Traficant and Charlie Wilson. These were clear instances of impropriety, but Congressman Rangel has committed no crime, no charges of corruption. The worst he should get is a reprimand,” Banister concluded.

As Rev. De Graft delivered closing remarks, the crowd began singing “We Shall Overcome.”

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.

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