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South Africa's Media Fears Censorship Under New Gov't Bill

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Special to the NNPA from GIN –

(GIN) – South Africa’s investigative reporters say they fear a proposed “media tribunal” could end their exposes of public corruption and maladministration by government officials.

In the name of allowing average citizens to hold the media accountable, President Jacob Zuma's ANC has proposed a tribunal, accountable to an ANC-led parliament to monitor and sanction the press.

A Protection of Information Bill is also under consideration to curb the reporting of so-called “state secrets.” Journalists reporting official information the state deems classified could face as many as 25 years in prison.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, speaking to the South African National Editors Forum, defended the tribunal concept but stressed that media would not be treated as the apartheid regime treated black journalists. He invited the media to participate in drafting legislation.

In an opposition piece, Thulani Ndlovu, former Zimbabwe reporter and now law student, wrote: “The imperfections and limitations of the press are hardly the most pressing problems facing South Africa... Instead of attacking the press for 'blowing the whistle' on maladministration and corruption, the government should tackle those problems head on.”

U.N. Peacekeepers Silent as 200 Women are Gang-raped

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Special to the NNPA from GIN –

(GIN) – An American aid worker and Congolese doctor reported this week that nearly 200 women and some young boys were gang-raped by Congolese and Rwandan rebels over four days within miles of a UN peacekeepers' base in an eastern Democratic Republic of Congo mining district.

More than three weeks later, the UN mission has issued no statement about the atrocities and said Monday it still is investigating.

A public-service billboard in Kalenger, Eastern Congo, discourages men from raping women.

"Ubakaji" is the Congolese word for rape. It is borrowed from the language of neighboring Tanzania; Congolese culture itself did not openly speak of rape until very recently.

An estimated 500,000 women and girls have been victims of sexual violence since the Second Congo War began in 1996.

Less than a year ago, Hillary Clinton became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit war-torn regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo—and pledged $17 million to fight the rape epidemic.

"Working together, we will banish sexual violence into the dark past, where it belongs, and help the Congolese people seize the opportunities of a new day," she wrote later in an op-ed.

Ten months later, Africa experts are questioning how the $17 million has been spent.

Mass Marches Across the Nation to Expose Vast Racial Inequities

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By Hazel Trice Edney, NNPA Editor-in-Chief –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - According to civil rights veteran the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., an estimated 23,000 people were arrested in civil rights protests across America between Feb. 1, 1960 and Aug. 28, 1963. On that day, 47 years ago, people not only marched on Washington, but in cities and towns around the nation.

“That day a thousand marches took place around the country at the same time, marches for justice and jobs,” Jackson recalled in an interview with the NNPA News Service this week.

As a result of those marches and the publicity they got, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed by a U. S. Congress that was hard-pressed to say no to hundreds of thousands of voters chanting in the streets. This appears to be the strategy being employed once again as at least four major marches and rallies, starting this Saturday, will hit sidewalks and parks across the nation for the purposes of calling attention to social ills and prevailing inequities mainly in America’s Black and Latino communities.

“We’ve never lost a battle we’ve had mass marches for,” says Jackson. “Mass marches laid the ground work for mass registration. And forces immediately respond to the cry of the masses.”

Details for the four marches are as follows:

• Saturday, Aug. 28, Detroit, Mich.: “Rebuild America: Jobs, Justice, Peace” march, led by Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Meet at 10:30 a.m. 151 Jefferson Avenue at the UAW-Ford National Programs Center Next to Hart Plaza. Rally will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the Grand Circus Park.

According to Rev. Jackson, the march aims to focus on the void in urban policy. “Dry roots do not produce fruit. People are disengaging in politics because their needs are not being addressed. In Detroit, Chicago, Memphis, vacant lots boarded houses rising unemployment, rising violence and closing schools are leading to low [voter] turnout. We want a focus on the need for a renewed commitment to an urban policy. It’s a key to November and beyond.”

• Saturday, Aug. 28, Washington, D.C. “Reclaim the Dream” March, sponsored by the National Action Network. Protestors will meet at 11 a.m. at Dunbar High School, 1301 New Jersey Ave. NW. Sharpton told the NNPA News Service that the march is intended to expose the issues still disparately plaguing Black communities and then “lay out legislative actions we want to see enacted.”

“Marching is not designed to solve the problems. Marching is designed to expose the problem. But, if you don’t expose the problems, no one is going to solve it because no one’s going to be forced to,” Sharpton says. “We want to expose that there is double unemployment, Black to White in this country. We want to expose the education gap that is clearly in this country…Also, we want to expose the criminal justice system from police brutality to the question of high incarceration and fourthly we want to say that we want to expose the health disparities. We want to say that we’ve made a lot of progress in 47 years but we’re still not equal and that life for Blacks in this country is still qualitatively different that life for Whites.”

• Sunday, Aug. 29, New Orleans, La.: Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, sponsored by the Black Leadership Forum and the Hip Hop Caucus. The event will start at 10 a.m. with a healing ceremony at Jourdan Road and North Galvez at the location where the levee’s breached in the lower 9th Ward.

Protestors will reveal obvious racial bias in the lack of reconstruction in the predominately Black Ninth Ward; a 75 percent reduction in public housing apartments which were 98 percent African-American; and a 50 percent dropped in the 90 percent Black public schools population. For more information visit www.HipHopCaucus.org or email Darryl Perkins at Darry@HipHopCaucus.org.

• Saturday, Oct. 2, Washington, D.C. Mall: “One Nation, Working Together for Jobs, Justice and Education for All”, sponsored by the NAACP and more than 200 social and civil rights organizations around the nation of multiple races and socio-economic statuses.

NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous said the march is aimed to push for progress in the U.S. Senate by encouraging people to vote on Nov. 2.

“We have made tremendous progress in this country over the last two years. We have seen this progress destroyed by obstructionists in the Senate, including on job creation, justice for Black farmers, and urgently needed funding for schools,” Jealous said.

“Where we’ve made progress, we’ve made progress because Blacks, Latinos, organized labor, students and small business people found a way to work together and put our shoulders to the wheel together. We saw that with health care for instance which was pronounced DOA and then revived by us coming back together and working hard together.”

The march will have a three step goal, Jealous said. “Step one will get people to Washington on Oct. 2 so we are reenergized and refocused. Step two is to return to our communities to re-energize, refocus and reconnect our neighbors, get them committed to vote and turnout. Step Three is to return to Washington next spring with the agenda of the march and work with Congress to get bills passed and assure that progress is made.”

The fact that America has its first Black president has not slowed the need to press for change in racial inequities.

Anyone who thought marching and rallies would be over due to the Obama presidency had a “foolish thought,” says Jackson. “There’s always been a competition for the attention of the president. Whoever has the most activity and strength gets on the priority list. … Marching empowers the president.”

President Obama himself, during his historic campaign, repeatedly quoted Frederick Douglass, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Says Jackson, In 2010, nobody has to get arrested in order to make an impact, but “People who feel they can’t do it alone feel courage when they do it together. Marches involve action.

Moses marched when Egypt crossed the Red Sea to Cannon. Jesus marched on Palm Sunday. Ghandi marched. Dr. King Marched…We’re encouraging people to march wherever you are.”

Report: Less than 50 Percent of Black Males Graduate from High School

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Fewer than half of all Black males nationwide graduate from high school, according to a new report which paints a grim picture of the current state of education for African-American males.

The findings are part of The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education.

According to the report, only 47 percent of Black males graduated from high school in the 2007-2008 school year, compared to 78 percent for White males. While the disparity is alarming, the authors of the report said they believe it’s not due to the ability of Black males intellectual abilities.

“It indicates that systemic disparities evident by race, social class, or zip code are influenced more by the social policies and practices that WE put in place to distribute educational opportunities and resources and less by the abilities of Black males,” John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation, wrote in the report.

“Currently, the rate at which Black males are being pushed out of school and into the pipeline to prison far exceeds the rate at which they are graduating and reaching high levels of academic achievement.”

Nationally, the five worst performing states are New York, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana and Nebraska. Florida has four of the 10 lowest performing districts nationally and New York has two, including New York City and Buffalo.

Locally, Baltimore city has a graduation rate of 35 percent, Washington, D.C. lists a rate of 41 percent, Prince George’s County has a rate of 55 percent, and Baltimore County has a rate of 67 percent.

Many local educators have taken notice of the trend. Rodney Henderson, principal of Possibility Prep, a new public charter school in Prince George’s County, said that America must look at how it reaches Black males in the classroom.

“Right now there’s a need for a different approach with our African-American men,” said Henderson. “We know that right now young men are lagging behind in achievement in comparison to young women. The gap is even larger when you add race into the equation.”

Henderson said that at his school the goal “to eliminate those achievement gaps so that one of our highest functioning target populations is African-American males instead of being the group that lags behind.”

Right Wing March Called 'Slap in the Face' to King Legacy

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By Askia Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from the Final Call –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastating landfall in New Orleans; the 47th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; and the 55th anniversary of the savage murder of Emmitt Till near Greenwood, Miss.—on Aug. 28—cable-TV news commentator Glenn Beck has been given a permit to host a rally “Restoring Honor” in the nation's capital.

The event is scheduled for the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech.

“Join the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and many more for this non-political event that pays tribute to America's service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation's founding principles of integrity, truth and honor,” Beck says, inviting people to the event.

The rally, Beck states, will “celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage and our future.” Many Black observers disagree. The symbolism of this event is as shocking an inappropriate as former California Gov. Ronald Reagan launching his first presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Miss. the site of the brutal 1964 murder of three civil rights workers, says some critics.

“I think it ought to be clear, this has nothing to do with the civil rights movement,” Dr. Ronald Walters, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Maryland told The Final Call of the planned march. “This has everything to do with the White nationalist movement.

“I use that term because it's the title of a book I wrote on ‘the Right.' So, they're White nationalists. Essentially, what's going on is that this is an opportunity for them to make a stab at what some people have called, ‘taking back their country.'

“And they're taking it back on the vision of King, and progressives, and the good things that this country has stood for. And they're replacing it with a very narrow, narrow-minded vision,” Walters said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network are also planning a Washington mobilization on Aug. 28, at Dunbar High School, near downtown.

“But we will in no way be deterred by those dividers like Glenn Beck and other Tea Party members who are attempting to tarnish the legacy of this historic day and our impeccable leader,” the Rev. Sharpton said in a commentary distributed by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). “We will not allow them to hijack the dream, nor destroy Dr. King's mission.”

Beck, who is known for inflammatory rhetoric on his television and radio programs, says the rally is to be followed by “Glenn Beck's Divine Destiny, an eye-opening event at the historic Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. that will help heal your soul. Guided by uplifting music, nationally known religious figures from all faiths will unite to deliver messages reminiscent to those given during the struggles of America's earliest days,” according to Simon Maloy writing for Media Matters.

There will probably be no mass protest or counter-march against Mr. Beck's rally, according to Dr. Walters. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is planning an Aug. 28 march in Detroit, and residents of New Orleans are planning a commemoration of Hurricane Katrina that same day.

Still, Dr. Walters insists, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck and his people, “are not worthy of that date. I think that's what people ought to understand.

“Washington won't be the only site, because people are concerned, not just about Glenn Beck, but about jobs and justice, and that is in the tradition of Dr. King. If we don't do that, then (the Black response) is totally reactionary,” said Walters.

“Glenn Beck doesn't have a civil rights bone in his body,” said Pastor Timothy McDonald, a member of the Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta, which was Dr. King's base of operations and where the center named in his honor stands.

“This march is nothing more than an attempt to hijack and distort the civil rights movement. It is a highjack of the movement, a highjack of its tactics and a highjack of approach,” Rev. McDonald continued.

Beck's march is a slap in the face of the established legacy of Dr. King and others, but responses to the march should be tempered so that in some way the Beck march appears valid, McDonald said.

The Rev. Lennox Yearwood will be among those marching in New Orleans the weekend of the Beck march. “Let Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Fox News have Washington, DC on August 28th this year. We shall respond with morality, faith, and love for our country. We will not respond to hate with more hate,” he wrote for GlobalGrind.com.

“What is right is to stand up for justice, to stand up for a sustainable economy, for jobs, for peace, and to stand up for our environment,” he said.

“Glenn Beck and the right wing have a right to conduct their march, said Dick Gregory, the social satirist, comedian, historian, and civil rights advocate who marched with Dr. King. The problem is that Black folks just were not clever enough to book that date 10 years in a row so “that's our fault,” he told The Final Call.

He said one of the sad parts about it is who announced their march first. “If that (National Action Network) was announced after him (Beck), it means that we weren't planning to celebrate anything and that this is just a reaction to his,” Gregory continued.

He recalled that the Ku Klux Klan, a White supremacy group known for terrorizing Blacks and people of color, opposed every march they held but they couldn't stop the civil rights marches because they were not illegal. In this case, Glenn Beck had law on his side and even if the Army were called in, it would attack the Blacks and not Beck, he added.

“It's not reaching too far to think they are attempting to preserve White supremacy and White privilege in this country. Here you have people that have taken King's words and taken them completely out of context to say that he was speaking about all people, but what they're saying is they're going to restore what was, under one hand equality for all people, a non-racial society, what King would have wanted,” explained Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta.

He views the Beck march as a continued 20 year effort to distort Dr. King around and have him suit all people, regardless of whether their purposes reflect what the civil rights leader lived and died for.

It is definitely an attempt to hijack and legitimize the whole anti-social, anti-progressive movement that has occurred in America over 30 years or so, but what people are missing is that Dr. King's dream was for equality and justice for all people, not just the right wing, he said. Certainly Dr. King argued for a non-racial society, Boone continued, but a society where there would be equality and justice for everyone as well, and that's what the right wing are overlooking.

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