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Public Order Breaking Down in Conakry, Guinea, As Vote Nears

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Fighting broke out between supporters of Guinean presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo and police, just prior to the much-delayed run-off vote.

In one incident, supporters, gathered to welcome Diallo after he returned from campaigning, were caught in a melee of rock throwing and tear gas, witnesses said.

In another suburb, a group of women gathered at the headquarters of a political party that supports Diallo, also were dispersed by police. Diallo has threatened to boycott the vote unless the head of the national independent electoral commission, who allegedly favors rival Alpha Conde, resigns.

Diallo, a former prime minister, officially won 43% of votes in June's first round, while Conde took 18%.

Meanwhile, one year after the massacre of 157 people during a peaceful rally in Conakry, no army official suspected of taking part in the killings has been brought to court in Guinea, which is still split by political divisions.

Both the United Nations and the International Criminal Court said acts committed on that day constituted crimes against humanity.

Uganda Urged to be Self-Sufficient and Refine Its Own Oil

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

With massive discoveries of oil in Ugandan territory, officials are facing pressure from oil companies to export crude oil to Mombasa, Kenya, for refining. But nationalists in the government say refining should be done at home.

Now, a study by a Swiss engineering firm, confirms that a refinery inside Uganda would create many spin-offs for the domestic economy in the form of jobs and taxes.

The Norwegian funded study shows that Uganda would be saving more than a billion dollars annually if it were to build its own oil refinery.

There are already willing partners to build the plant. China and Libya have shown interest and Iran has offered to build the plant and more.

As of 2009, more than two and a half billion barrels of oil were found in three of nine exploration blocks. Local groups have begun demanding to see Production Share Agreements (PSA), which outline the percentage of oil money the government will receive.

Greenwatch (a public-interest environmental law NGO) has filed suit to see the PSAs to assess oil project impacts on the environment and protect citizens' rights to a clean and healthy environment. This case is scheduled to be heard shortly.

Coca-Cola Consolidated Settles Racial Bias Claim

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Company Ordered to Compensate Black, Latino Job Seekers

Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –

Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated of Charlotte has agreed to pay $495,000 in back wages and interest to 95 African-American and Hispanic job seekers for racial discrimination.

The applicants applied in 2002 for sales support positions at the company’s Black Satchel Road distribution facility in Charlotte. The settlement follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

In addition to back pay, the Coca-Cola bottler agreed to make offers of employment to the applicants until at least 23 are hired. Those hired will receive retroactive seniority benefits they would have accrued from July 1, 2002, if not for the discriminatory actions of the company.

“The Labor Department is firmly committed to ensuring that those who do business with our government do not discriminate in their employment practices,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “Being a federal contractor is a privilege that comes with an obligation to ensure equal opportunity in employment.”

This plant is the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the nation and a major supplier of Coke brand products to military and government installations under a number of federal contracts.

OFCCP’s investigation of the company’s hiring practices found Coca-Cola Consolidated failed to hire qualified minority applicants at a comparable rate to non-minorities. OFCCP’s statistical analysis determined that the disparity in hires was too great to occur solely by chance. Additionally, OFCCP found that the bottler’s records revealed instances in which rejected minority applicants had more experience and education than some non-minority hires.

Groups Say Billboards are an Attempt to Suppress the Vote

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Special to the NNPA from The Milwaukee Community Journal –

Community leaders from 11 civil rights, labor, political, and faith-based organizations denounced a “crass effort” by an undisclosed right-wing source to suppress the vote in Milwaukee using billboards that warn against engaging in voter fraud.

These leaders said the motive of the anonymous effort is “voter suppression plot” to discourage qualified voters from exercising their democratic rights.

Speakers from the Milwaukee organizations, including 9 to 5, the NAACP, the Sherman Park Neighborhood Association, SEIU Local One and MICAH, demanded that Clear Channel, the company that owns the billboards, take them down and disclose the organization or individuals who are funding them.

The billboards show three individuals (a Black male, a White and a Latino female) behind jail bars. At the top, the billboard reads: “Voter Fraud is a Felony!” At the bottom it warns violators will receive three years in prison and $10,000 in fines if they engage in the activity. One of the figures in the ad, the White female, says: “We voted illegally.” The groups at the protest called on state and federal authorities to “investigate immediately.”

“The myth that there is widespread voter fraud has been propagated by the far right to discourage voting by underrepresented groups that need to have their voices heard in our democracy,” said Matt Brusky, director of the Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Project. The Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Project is part of the Citizen Action of Wisconsin, which organized the protest that took place in front of one of the billboards.

“This is a blatant effort to use scare tactics against minority voters who, more often than not, have to be encouraged to participate in the electoral process and exercise their right to vote,” said Angie Bucio, a board member of Voces de la Frontera Action. “Linking minorities with criminals is a racist strategy to suppress their vote and indicates a potential threat to clean elections in November,” said Bucio.

“Our community desperately needs more involvement in civic life, including important elections,” said Jayme Montgomery-Baker, executive director of the League of Young Voters. “It is appalling that someone would attempt to suppress the vote in our community with these signs and other tactics,” Montgomery-Baker said.

NAACP's Jealous Recognized by Time Magazine

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

NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous received two honors recently as he was named among Time magazine's “40 Under 40 Rising Stars of U.S. Politics” and one of the “Top 50 people of Power and Influence” by The NonProfit Times.

“The NAACP congratulates President Benjamin Todd Jealous on making the Time magazine ‘40 Under 40’ and The NonProfit Times’ ‘Power and Influence Top 50’ lists,” NAACP Board of Directors Chairman Roslyn Brock said in a statement.

“In a little over two years, President Jealous has led the Association in tackling some of the hardest issues facing the American public, including healthcare reform, the financial crisis and predatory lending. His hard work and commitment to justice allows the Association to continue in the struggle for better jobs, education and equality for all Americans."

Jealous, who is a former Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, was included in the first group of rising political stars ever singled out by Time in a feature to be published in the issue dated Oct. 23.

In August, he was named, along with AARP CEO Barry Rand, among the 50 most powerful and influential leaders in the non-profit arena.

Public service has been at the center of Jealous’ life since early adulthood. As a Columbia University student and community organizer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he helped organize boycotts and pickets for homeless rights, a campaign to save financial aid programs, and led a battle over environmental issues against the university.

His activism triggered a suspension from Columbia. He was re-admitted and later won a Rhodes Scholarship but during the time away from Columbia, he was an activist in Mississippi, where he was at the heart of a fight to protect the continued existence of two of the state's three public HBCU's and helped expose corruption at the state prison in Parchman.

He is on the board of directors of the California Council for the Humanities, the Association of Black Foundation Executives and the Asia Society.

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