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Number of Black Republicans May Emerge As Part of the New Congress

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (DC) –

With 14 Black Republicans running for voting seats in the House - and a Black GOP candidate for a non-voting seat representing the U.S. Virgin Islands - the stage is set for the largest number of Black Republicans since Reconstruction to compete for the House.

Facing little opposition in his home state of South Carolina, Tim Scott appears poised to earn a seat in the Nov. 2 mid-term elections, and is at the center of the Republican Party’s attempts to place a record number of African-Americans in Congress.

Scott, a South Carolina state representative is running for that state’s 1st congressional district seat, a district with a 21 percent Black population. Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Senator Strom Thurmond in a Republican run-off election in June. He would be the state’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction. He may also be among the first African-American Republicans in the House since 2003.

The Black candidates are part of a surge of Black GOP activism triggered by the emergence of President Obama. If the Republicans regain control on Capitol Hill, it could be two long years for the Obama administration.

For Black Republicans to win, however, they have found that they can’t just appeal to Black voters. The Obama victory made it clear that Blacks could win White votes. Scott is close to core Republican values of limited government and conservative fiscal management, values which may help him win over the party’s White majority.

“I think the issues are very simple,” Scott said, “Limited government, simplified tax code, lower taxes, and less government spending.”

Another Black Republican, Star Parker a former welfare mother, is challenging incumbent Laura Richardson (D) in California’s 37th congressional district. Richardson is also Black. But Parker has raised more than $1.1 million for her campaign, surpassing Richardson, who endured real estate woes when her home was recently the subject of foreclosure.

While only 16 percent of the district’s voters are registered Republicans, 68 percent of the district is Hispanic/Black. Parker has promised voters she will, if elected, mount a three-prong plan that includes tracking private sector jobs, building up non-profit organizations, and strengthening schools in the public and private sector.

Other Black GOP hopefuls are running strong late in their race. Allen West is in a pitched battle for the seat in Florida’s 22nd congressional district, a district with only a 3.8 percent Black population. A Sunshine State Poll conducted by Voter Survey Service Oct. 17-19 put West ahead 47 to 44, within the margin of error. Nine percent were undecided and the candidates are targeting them.

“I ran in 2008 and raised half a million dollars, and the state party didn’t support me and the national party didn’t support me,” said West. “But we came back and we’re running and things are looking great.”

He is running with the endorsement of GOP icon Sarah Palin, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the support from South Florida Tea Party members. Various veterans groups also have endorsed West, a former U.S. Army officer.

In Colorado, Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier is mounting a Republican Party-backed challenge of two-term incumbent Ed Perlmutter (D) for the 7th district seat. He is running in a district with only a 5.8 percent Black population and whose voters are divided evenly among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Frazier had a one percentage point edge in the latest poll, 40 to 39 over Perlmutter.

Republicans' Health Care Reform Repeal Impact on Blacks

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (DC) –

Promises by House Republicans to overturn health care reform measures passed earlier this year would disproportionately affect the Black community, according to one prominent health care expert.

One central proposal of the current Republican agenda, called the “Pledge to America,” would repeal the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, the comprehensive health care reform bill passed by Congress and signed into law earlier this year. Republicans seek to replace the law with less sweeping measures.

A successful attempt to overturn health care reform would end the African-American community’s chances of addressing long-running health care disparities, said Dr. Lesley Russell, a visiting fellow specializing in health care for the left-leaning public policy think tank Center for American Progress.

Russell believes that, if implemented, the pledge would fail to improve access to health insurance coverage for African-Americans and would ensure that Blacks continue to receive poorer care and live in poorer health than the rest of the nation.

“The people who stand to gain the most from health care reform would lose the most,” Russell told the AFRO. “We’ve learned that the African-American community has less access to health care services, although they’ve been helped by government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. But, people who don’t qualify for those programs struggle to buy health care for themselves and their families because their average incomes are considerably less than the average American family.”

The “Pledge to America” would repeal most of the president’s health care reforms and replace them with other general measures that would lower costs for families and small businesses and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship. But, the Pledge fails to provide specifics about what Republicans would do to control health care spending, improve its quality, or pay for reforms, according to Russell.

Between the Covers of The Death and Life of the Great American School System

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By Lance Hill, PhD, Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly –

New Orleans is the beachhead for a national movement to convert public schools into privately managed "charter" schools-on the argument that competition and the "business" or "market" model will produce better schools for the same taxes. New Orleans has 60 percent of its students in charter schools-publicly funded but privately managed schools-more than any school district in the United States.

But one of the nation's most respected education historians and policy analyst, Diane Ravitch, is raising grave doubts about the wisdom of the model that New Orleans is using. "Our schools will not improve if we expect them to act like private, profit-seeking enterprises," writes Ravitch in her new book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining the Education. Ravitch should know: only a few years ago she was one of the nation's premier advocates of school privatization.

What made Ravitch come full circle on charter schools? More importantly, what does Ravitch's book say about the course that has been imposed on New Orleans schools?

Though Ravitch's focus is on the perils of charters (she refers to as "choice"), school privatization, and the high-stakes testing program that determines if a student will progress in grades (the LEAP test in Louisiana), and her book reads like Edward Gibbons definition of history in general: "little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind."

Ravitch takes the reader through a variety of school reform movements in different cities including New York and San Diego. In virtually every case, school reform sweeps in on a wave of optimism and the promise of change. But once the reform advocates depart and hand over the keys to the school data to new management, suddenly the community discovers that little has changed. Student performance had not increased-instead the tests were made easier. Schools did not improve because of new teaching strategies-instead the schools simply raised average test scores by excluding students with the greatest learning problems and concentrating them in schools where little learning was possible. The lesson learned too late was that good schools were simply made by creating bad schools.

New Orleans appears to be proving Ravitch's theory: While charter schools have increased their test scores, students in the remaining public system - the Recovery School District (RSD) schools - are failing the 8th-grade LEAP test at a startling rate of almost 80 percent a year for the last four years.

Though Ravitch does not address the issue, the problem of getting to the truth about school privatization has much to do with the fact that the people who control the flow of information, the media, think-tanks, foundations, are private sector enterprises owe their existence to the profit system. Many people tend to believe that what brought about their own success will do the same for others. But that may not be the case for education.

Ravitch warns that charter schools driven by competition will result in a two-tiered system of haves and have-nots. Charters will "enroll the motivated children of the poor, while the regular public schools will become schools of last resort" for children with learning disabilities, deficient skills, and encumbered by troubling home circumstances.

Ravitch's book is a window into the future of education in New Orleans and the nation as a whole. We don't have to wait 10 years to find out what mistakes we have made. Ravitch marshals substantial research to prove that the reforms of "market based" school competition, high-stakes testing, and state takeovers have already proved to be failures. The problem is that charter schools, as Ravitch observes, divide a community into competing consumers narrowly concerned with getting the best deal for their child, rather than uniting citizens around solving our common problems by establishing equitable "school systems that foster academic excellence in every school and every neighborhood."

The new school reformers ask us to entrust our children to the "magical powers of the market." But not everyone wins in the business world: competition creates losers as well and we have to ask ourselves if we want one child to succeed at the expense of another? "Deregulation contributed to the near collapse of national economy in 2008," Ravitch reminds us, "and there is no reason to anticipate that it will make education better for most children."

We can now add the BP oil spill as another example of how competition and the lack of direct public oversight can be a recipe for disaster.

School reformers thrive on nightmares and miracles. First they promote the idea that a school system is a nightmare that can only be transformed into a happy dream by handing it over to miracle workers. In the end, the nightmare may be true, but Ravitch makes clear is that there are no miracles. Effective education reform takes time and enormous effort. There are volumes of research that point the right way; we only need to avail ourselves of this knowledge rather than settle for the marketing spiel of educational entrepreneurs. It probably also means that we will have to spend more, the last thing tax payers want to hear. "Children who have grown up in poverty need extra resources," Ravitch warns. They need small classes for extra instructional time and they need preschool, medical care, and social services.

The solution to the education crisis is a good dose of reality-not another spoonful of miracle tonic.

Every person in New Orleans should read Diane Ravitch's book because she is talking about our city's future. She mentions New Orleans only once in her book, but readers will recognize in her case studies of other cities all the familiar ingredients of long-term failure and profound inequality that have been assembled in New Orleans.

Congo Scores First Round Victory Against Canadian Mining Co.

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

As the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) recovers from more than 40 years of dictatorship and war, with a budget heavily reliant on mining revenue, there was some good news from the International Court of Arbitration in Paris.

The Court let stand a decision by the DRC to cancel First Quantum of Canada's KMT copper project last September, after a review found contract irregularities and production delays at the mine.

Earlier this year, a top court in the country also annulled the Canadian miner's rights to two other copper mines.

Congo has 4 percent of the world’s copper and nearly a third of its cobalt, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“We have won,” Martin Kabwelulu, minister of mines, said.

The tribunal also ordered First Quantum to end a media campaign against the DRC. The “smear campaign” against the country nearly foiled the DRC’s efforts to secure a $8 billion debt relief deal from the World Bank.

The Vancouver-based company’s investments in Congo were valued at close to one billion dollars.

Meanwhile, the DRC Minister announced that mining companies will soon be asked to pay into a new fund to buffer the country's lost revenues when the mines are eventually exhausted.

"The non-renewable character of mining resources obliges us to think what comes after mining," he said. "The children to come must find that the government has set aside some funds."

White Vote Rigging Revealed in First Post-Apartheid Vote

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

A hacker attempted to reverse the vote totals in South Africa’s first post-apartheid poll in a failed effort to defeat the African National Congress and its candidate Nelson Mandela, an election monitor has now revealed.

In a new book, the head of the official election monitoring division said the hacker broke into what was thought to be an impregnable system. Among the parties who benefited were the White-lead National Party, which had ruled South Africa from 1984, whose vote share increased by approximately three per cent and the right-wing Freedom Front Party, which saw its vote share pushed up by between 2.5 per cent and four per cent.

The manipulation was detected at the time, but the culprit was never discovered.

"There was a right-wing conspiracy to start an armed insurrection with the help of the Defense Force," said Peter Harris, author of “Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 Election,” which is serialized in South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper. "That resulted in a number of bombs going off to try and stop the election and cause mass panic and despair."

The hacker entered between 05:56 and 06:41 on the morning of May 3 and made changes to the vote count of three parties, a forensic investigator was quoted as saying in the book.

One of those who benefited was the Inkatha Freedom Party, whose mainly Zulu supporters refused to ally themselves with the ANC and were involved in violent clashes with Mandela's ANC party supporters. Their share of the vote increased between four and five per cent. In the end, the tampering was not able to change the overwhelming support for Mr Mandela's ANC.

When the final results were announced on May 6, the ANC had won 62.6 per cent of the vote, the National Party 20.4 per cent and the IFP 10.5 per cent.

Mr Mandela, released in 1990 after 27 years in apartheid jail, was sworn in as president four days later. The book is due to be released next month.

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