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Obama to Arizona: 'We'll See You in Court'

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By Stephon Johnson, Special to the NNPA from the Amsterdam News –

(NNPA) - It was in the works ever since May when thoughts of apartheid centered on the state of Arizona. Now the White House plans to challenge the immigration policy that has sparked debate and controversy.

The U.S. Justice Department has officially filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona seeking an injunction on the state’s immigration law (known as SB 1070), claiming it illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives. In the lawsuit (titled “The United States of America v. The State of Arizona; and Janice K. Brewer, Governor of the State of Arizona, in her Official Capacity”), it states such.

“In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters,” read the complaint. “This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations and humanitarian interests.”

The complaint also established that the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Department of State are assigned the task of enforcing laws already in place.

The law, designed to identify, prosecute and deport so-called illegal immigrants, would make the failure to carry proper identification a crime and give broad power to local Arizona police departments to detain an individual if he is suspected of being an immigrant.

Detractors have called the law open season on Hispanic Americans in Arizona, believing that the law is a direct response to immigration from Mexico.

The federal lawsuit is the fifth challenge to Arizona’s policy as lawsuits from Phoenix and Tucson police officers, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Law Center have attempted to test the policy’s legality.

But everyone isn’t happy with the federal government challenging what they believe are states’ rights.

Two Republican senators from Arizona, Jon Kyl and former presidential candidate John McCain, sent out a joint statement against the lawsuit calling President Barack Obama weak on immigration enforcement.

“It’s far too premature for the Obama administration to challenge the legality of this new law since it has not yet been enforced,” read the statement. “Most legal experts believe such a ‘facial challenge’ to the statute would be very difficult to win. Moreover, the American people must wonder whether the Obama administration is really committed to securing the border when it sues a state that is simply trying to protect its people by enforcing immigration law.

“The Obama administration has not done everything it can do to protect the people of Arizona from the violence and crime illegal immigration beings to our state,” the statement continued.

“Until it does, the federal government should not be suing Arizona on the grounds that immigration enforcement is solely a federal responsibility.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer took to her Twitter page to respond to the lawsuit. “We will be very aggressive in defending our law,” she said. Brewer also suggested that supporters donate to the state’s “defense fund” at www.az.gov to assist with the state’s “border security and immigration matters.”

Verdict in Oscar Grant Case Spurs Violence in Oakland; More Than 50 Arrested

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By Kristin Gray, Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

(NNPA) - Hundreds flooded the streets of downtown Oakland on the evening of July 8 after a verdict in the trial of Oscar Grant’s shooting death.

Johannes Mehserle, a former White transit officer, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter which could land him in jail for up to four years.

However, many in Oakland believe justice had not been served and expected a harsher sentence for the former officer, who shot Grant – a 22-year-old unarmed African American on a BART train New Year’s Day 2009.

According to Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, at least 50 people were arrested in the hours after the verdict for breaking storefront windows and throwing items onto local streets.

According to The Associated Press, rioting peaked around 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EST) with an estimated 800 people protesting in the streets.

Early that day, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums released a statement expressing his personal support for Grant’s family.

“My hope is that justice will be served. I want to reiterate that the journey to justice does not have to end here,” said Dellums, the city’s third Black mayor. “If young Oscar Grant’s parents, who out of respect should make this decision, determine that justice has not been served, then I will commit myself to work with the family and their attorney to continue this journey to justice.”

Dellums continued by urging Oakland residents to “react in a manner that respects” Grant’s life and to “show the nation that we can be a model city as a total community.”

In a more overt statement, Batts said city police “anticipate protests following the reading of the verdict and have heard of possible outside agitation in an attempt to turn the peaceful movement into acts of civil unrest.”

Grant’s shooting, which was caught on a cell phone camera and later went viral on YouTube, spurred national outrage and protests in Oakland. The victim’s family had hoped the jury would find Mehserle guilty of murder, said attorney John Burris in a press conference.

“As you can imagine we are extremely disappointed with this verdict. The verdict is not a true representative of what happened to Oscar Grant and what the officer did to him that night. This is not an involuntary man case,” said Burris. “This was a truly compromised verdict that does not truly and accurately reflect the facts and we are extraordinarily disappointed in that. We do believe this was a murder case…We are surprised that the jury came back as quickly as they did and seemed to be very dismissive of the murder charge and involuntary manslaughter.”

The jury, which did not include any African Americans, found Mehserle to be criminally negligent and did not believe he intentionally killed Grant. The former officer has repeatedly said he intended to shoot Grant with a taser gun, not his firearm.

Mehserle is set for sentencing on Aug. 6.

Rainbow PUSH to Address Advertising, Media Issues With Marketing & Media Project

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Special to the NNPA from Target Market News –

(NNPA) - Today, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, has announced the creation of the Marketing & Media Project to coordinate the organization's activities and initiatives within the advertising and media industries.

The Marketing & Media Project will join RPC's other industry-focused projects whose mission is to protect, defend, and gain civil and economic rights by leveling the playing fields. The current initiatives are The Telecommunications Project, The Peachtree Street Project, The Automotive Project, The Energy & Science Project, The Entertainment Project, The Wall Street Project, and The Silicon Valley Project.

"For more than a decade we have engaged corporations on their contracts and economic relationships with African-American advertising agencies and African-American media companies," said Rev. Jackson. "The creation of The Marketing & Media Project signals the elevation of that dialogue at a critical time. Current economic factors have put these businesses in peril because Corporate America has ignored the unique expertise they possess, while discounting the bottom-line significance of the consumers they represent. By centralizing our resources we can better achieve justice and economic fairness for all."

Rainbow PUSH will invite African American-owned advertising agencies, public relations firms, marketing communications firms and media companies to become member partners of The Marketing & Media Project and to provide RPC with insight and strategy on the critical issues they are facing.

At its recent annual conference, RPC announced an agreement reached with KFC in which the restaurant chain will partner with minority-owned marketing firms to develop programs and strategies targeting minority consumers, and allocate up to 10 percent of KFC's national media budget.

Among the issues that The Marketing & Media Project will immediately address are:

- Securing opportunities and fairness as part of the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal

- Initiating a dialogue with The Obama administration's Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities on increasing the allocation of the $1 billion Federal advertising budget to African- American-owned ad agencies and media

- Negotiating with the automotive, telecom and other industries on the engagement of African -American advertising agencies, public relations firms and other professional services companies - Entering into a dialogue with marketing and media trade associations on a commitment of inclusion of African American professionals within their ranks

- The establishment of research and databases to quantify the economic relationship between marketers, advertising agencies, black radio stations, black newspapers, black magazines, black TV and cable companies and the African American consumer market

- Establish coordination between all entities of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition on marketing, media and advertising issues at the local and national levels, including 1000 Churches Connected and PUSH Excel

Black Female Teens Lead Peers in Quitting Cigarettes

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By Pharoh Martin, NNPA National Correspondent –

(NNPA) - The overall teen smoking rate has declined in the two decades since 1991. But, over the last seven years, the decline has slowed for all teens except African-American females who are leading the way for smoking cessation, according to a recent report released by the CDC.

“The African-American female is the leading success story, and have been for some years now,” said Dr. Terry Pechacek, associate director for science at CDC’s office on smoking and health. “They have more positives in general. We’re seeing higher graduation rates and lower rates of smoking and drug use.”

He said that it’s a fact that African-American students overall have been smoking less than White and Hispanic students for some time but the recently released analysis on teen smoking is the first definite proof that Black teens are not only smoking less but their progress is continuing without slowing unlike other racial/ ethnic groups.

The CDC analyzed data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of high school students in public and private schools in every state to evaluate trends in cigarette use among high school students from 1991-2009.

The findings show that since 2003 the rate of decline in current cigarette use slowed or leveled off for all racial/ethnic groups of both genders except Black female students. They showed no slowing or leveling off in their rate of decline. Race/ethnicity data were analyzed only for non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic students, who are considered an ethnicity and not a race. They could be of any race. The numbers of students from other racial/ethnic groups were too small for meaningful analysis.

According to the study the percentage of students who said they currently smoke cigarettes, which was defined as smoking a cigarette at least one day of the 30 before the survey, went from 27.5 percent in 1991 to 36.4 percent in 1997, declined to 21.9 percent in 2003, and then more gradually, to 19.5 percent in 2009.

Students who answered that they ever smoked or tried cigarettes , taking one or two puffs constituted trying a cigarette, was consistent from 1991 to 1999 at about 70 percent. That category then recessed deeply to 58.4 percent in 2003; and then again in 2009 when the rate was 46.3 percent.

The percentage of teens who were current frequent cigarette users, defined as smoking cigarettes on 20 or more days during the 30 days before the survey, increased from 12.7 percent in 1991 to 16.8 percent in 1999. The rate fell sharply to 9.7 percent in 2003, and more gradually in 2009 when it was 7.3 percent. For all of the categories of teen smokers, rates began to decline in the late 1990s but slowed after 2003 until the study's completion in 2009.

Pechacek said that the major factors of slowed progress of teen smoking is due to decreased funding for anti-tobacco programs in recent years and just a lack of overall attention being paid on confronting the issue. He said also that expanded marketing efforts from tobacco companies, including discounted prices on cigarette brands most popular with adolescents, depictions of tobacco use in movies, distribution of merchandise such as hats and T-shirts with tobacco brands symbols and sponsorship of youth-centric events such as music concerts, helped slow the decline of youth smoking.

“In the early 1990s, The hip-hop culture and the Newport jazz and other types of music and entertainment marketing campaigns that were being done seemed to be affecting Black males more the females,” Pechacek said. “The smoking rates for Black teenage males seemed to be going up a little more than the females.“

The African-American decline in teen smoking started in the early 1980s when the Black community developed a concern for its youth during the rise of the crack epidemic during that time, as well as other factors.

“The African-American community, quite distinctly from Whites and other groups, revered nicotine as a drug of addiction like other drugs of addiction and treated it in a more extreme fashion,” Pechacek said. “For this community, smoking cigarettes was a pathway to smoking marijuana, smoking crack and other pathways that lead to destruction.”

White families, on the other hand, discounted the severity of tobacco by not considering it as a hard or even a gateway drug, he said.

Before the rise of the “crack era” of the 1980s, African-American males had some of the highest smoking rates of any group post-World War II. During the same time, African-American females quickly caught up with their White female counterparts as smokers.

“We want to point to a fact that should be receiving a lot more attention,” Pechacek said. “The African-American community has been making dramatic progress in positive health behaviors. In fact, it’s showing up in lung cancer rates. Traditionally, the lung cancer rates among African-American males have been substantially higher than all other groups in this country. … Even though they are still much higher than what we would like them to be they are showing the most dramatic progress.”

Journey to Success: Mentors Coach Young Black Men On College, Manhood

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By Robyn H. Jimenez, Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Examiner –

DALLAS (NNPA) - "In life, it's not where you start, but where you end," said Dr. Steve Perry, one of the nation's leading motivational speakers.

Perry's journey began in a housing project in Middletown, Conn., when he was born to a teenage mother. He knew first hand the struggles that young men in economically disadvantaged areas experience daily.

His mother was committed to doing what she could to create a better future for herself and Perry, but also for the community in which they lived. She taught Perry that it took discipline and dedication to accomplish his goals. Perry used these tools and his commitment to football to stay out of trouble, graduate and go on to college.

He went on to receive a bachelor's in Political Science, a master's in social work and a doctorate in education. He then went on to put his degrees to work for his community at a part-time college preparatory summer program, where he worked with students that were mainly from failing schools.

In 2005, he founded the Capitol Preparatory Magnet School. The school, with an average 700 students in attendance each year, is listed among America's top schools for consistently graduating 100 percent of its high school seniors.

Perry is also the author of Man Up! Nobody Is Coming To Save Us and Raggedy Schools. He is a contributing writer for CNN and was featured in Black In America 2.

Last month, he was one of many invited guests to speak to a large group of young men during The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men. The four-day camp is held on Harvey's ranch in Little Elm - about 30 minutes north of Dallas - and is open only to young men from single mother households, ages 13 and up, in grades 8 through 11. To attend, the young men must be nominated and then go through a selection process, which includes the demonstration of the ability to overcome obstacles.

Among those young men, was 16-year-old Jason Hardaway, who was chosen to return in his second year as a junior counselor.

"The junior counselor is important because we've already been through it and we're kind of an in-between, between the adult counselors and the new kids that are being mentored," said Hardaway, who stated that some of the new boys were apprehensive about attending, but began to enjoy the experience when interacting with them during the workshops and activities, which was the best part of the experience for Hardaway.

"The most thing that I enjoyed about the event was hanging out with the kids, because Steve brings kids from all over the United States. It's cool to see the different cultures and also how similar we are," said Hardaway, a Dallas resident.

Apprehensive or not, only 100 young men were handpicked to attend the annual mentorship weekend. The elite group of young men drew several national speakers and leaders like Ford designer Earl Lucas, FBI Special Agent Aaron Covey, Stephen A Smith and Shawn Mooring of Fair Game, as well as Perry.

"This is a special group of young men. This is truly the best and the brightest," Perry stated. "Steve Harvey's show reaches millions of people and for this group to come down here, they're representative of a phenomenal group of young men from all over the country, so I had to meet them. Really. It's more about me meeting them, than it is about them meeting me. This is not a small feat to make it to this place."

Perry was asked to be one of the speakers during the panel session: What It Takes to Get In and Stay In College.

He told the boys how special they were and how much it meant for him to meet them. He also told them to, "Enjoy the journey" and "Create opportunities for yourself and for others ... And then I gave them some specific information about how they could get into college and graduate from college," Perry said.

"They tell you about what is mandatory to be accepted. Like they want us to take three years of language, when two is only the necessity, because they want us to exceed everybody else and go to college and have a greater opportunity. They give you tips about taking the SAT and the ACT, and why its very important to do well on the tests to get into college," said Hardaway.

He also told them to take real algebra classes and finish Algebra II before graduating high school. He also talked about when to apply to colleges and to make sure they apply to eight colleges.

"Three years of a language because that's what you need to get into a four-year college. Any language. It could be Spanish. It could be French. Whatever you want to do. It just has to be three years," Perry explained. "At least Algebra II because that's what you need to do well on the SAT or the ACT. Eight colleges because you get two that are a reachable, two that you're pretty sure you can get into and the other four are somewhere in between there."

He said the choices also gave the boys choices between different types of schools - such as rural and urban, and private and public - based on the students' needs and preferences.

During the last part of the session, he asked the young men if they had anyone that they knew who cared about young people, someone who had their back and could serve as a mentor. He encouraged them to listen to these people and use their wisdom and guidance to help them along their journey. Then he told the young men that didn't have mentors to talk to him afterward.

Clifton Crosby, former NFL defensive back and part of College Summit, also spoke during the panel. He shared his personal story with the young crowd about his life growing up in a single parent home.

"I could have used all the excuses in the world, of why not to go to college, why not to graduate. And I chose not to make excuses and really make a decision that I was going to go to college and that I was going to be the best at whatever it was that I was going to do," said Crosby. "I know there were a lot of athletes that were listening to me. And I wanted them to see that life is more than just playing sports. Life is more than just making it to the NBA or the NFL. You've got to have that sense of education first. And if you have that, it's only going to enhance your athleticism and your ability to make it to the NFL."

The session was inspirational, as well as informational. The young men listened intently, responded readily to questions and eagerly asked questions during the session.

Other sessions covered gang awareness, Internet safety, relationships, health, grooming, do-it-yourself quick fixes and a message from the White House. The mornings began with physical fitness and cardio-training. During the day, attendees were able to participate in fishing on Harvey's private lake, golfing, tennis, football and paintball. And even during the sporting sessions, the young men learned important life skills, such as teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership.

"This year, I learned how to be more of a leader, compared to last year when I was learning how to be a man. This year I got to lead people in doing things. Like paint ball that was a really big thing. I got to lead my team to victory. That was fun," said Hardaway.

Harvey took time during the day, to interact and bond with the young men. Then, at the end of the day, he offered his words of wisdom on manhood during the weekend dinner and town hall meetings.

"Honestly, when I first heard that I was going to the Steve Harvey thing, I never really thought he was as funny as he is. Steve Harvey is a really, really hilarious man. I also didn't think he was as concerned about the community as he is. But he really spends a lot of his time in the community and helping young boys to come up in their manhood," said Hardaway.

He looks forward to returning next year, meeting new friends and rejoining old friend from across the country. As a mater of fact, he's already preparing to return.

"I'm going back next year. I've already submitted my letter. I enjoy going because every time I do learn more and they have different mentors and such," Hardaway said, and added that he may not be able to attend the following year, because he will be getting ready for college. And he says, thanks to Harvey and the men that have mentored him through the mentorship.

"The most important thing in a kid's life is what he dreams," Harvey said. And with the belief that "it takes a village to raise a child," he has gathered a village to help young men from across the country build the foundation to their dreams.

"I wouldn't want to brag or anything, but being there, I do feel as if I have more of an advantage over everybody else, because I have more motivation or purpose. I feel it's almost a necessity for me to exceed, because I need to go back and help somebody else. Steve Harvey's fraternity's motto is to help bring up somebody else, once you've gotten to success. So, I guess I have a deeper motivation now, so it drives me harder to succeed, than everybody else. Plus, I already enjoy competing," said Hardaway.

Next year, the mentoring weekend will be held in June. Anyone interested in recommending a young man for next year, can visit http://steveharveyfoundation.com.

For the young men that have not attended the weekend program, Perry hopes that they realize that they are just as special and will be able to use a few of his fundamental steps to make the most of their future.

"Every single one of us has something in us that is very, very special. And it's about finding out what that gift is and finding a way to make that gift grow so that it can help us improve our lives and most importantly help us improve the lives of others."

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