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Rangel Buoyant at Birthday Bash

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

(NNPA) - Several stories about Congressman Charles Rangel’s birthday bash pegged their ledes on Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For,” which was indeed appropriate since the Plaza Hotel was an impenetrable gaggle of his friends, family and associates last week.

But Chuck Jackson’s soaring “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was equally on target and key as he matched Warwick—who was substituting for the ailing Aretha Franklin—in moving the crowd to thunderous applause.

Because of Rangel’s recent turmoil, many pundits on the right were predicting a small turnout and something akin to a wake. “I’ve been to a lot of funerals, but this damn sure ain’t no funeral!” Rangel said to loud approval.

The event was sold out hours before folks such as Harry Belafonte and an impressive retinue of elected officials began arriving.

When Rangel arrived with his wife, Alma, it took him a good hour to move across the Grand Ballroom to the stage, where Danny Mixon and his trio were grooving on—was that—“Some Enchanted Evening.”

If not enchanted, the evening was festive and made all the more enjoyable with Governor David Paterson as emcee. One of his best quips was that everyone in the crowd would get a chance to speak. “Just come on up with three blank checks and the mic is yours,” he joshed.

And at a reported $200 per person, the Rangel campaign banked a few more bucks in the war chest. Rep. Carolyn Maloney wasn’t able to attend, but, according to the emcee, texted her goodwill and the promise of a check for $2,500.

There were a number of great one-liners, and Rev. Al Sharpton was the usual nimble wordsmith, tossing a riposte to the mainstream media. “You started and executed a political crucifixion,” he said, his bomb lobbed to the press, “but stay tuned for a political resurrection.”

Mayor Bloomberg got in a nifty one, too. Commenting on those not in attendance, the mayor said, “They knew they were going to have a headache.”

Inside the ballroom, the hilarity and praise were unending with Rep. Joe Crowley, Councilwoman Inez Dickens (her leg in a cast), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, City Comptroller John Liu and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo each extending their warm regards to the octogenarian Lion of Lenox Avenue.

Outside, there was a small group of protesters with placards calling Rangel a “liar” and a “cheat.” Among the dissenters were people carrying signs supporting Jonathan Tasini, one of the candidates seeking to unseat Rangel.

When one of protesters directly heckled former Mayor David Dinkins as he arrived, the feisty mayor shot back a middle finger and then hurried on to the festivities.

“We’re going to win this one,” Rangel roared before cutting his huge birthday cake, and that was the only understatement of the evening.

But Chuck Jackson’s soaring “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was equally on target and key as he matched Warwick—who was substituting for the ailing Aretha Franklin—in moving the crowd to thunderous applause.

Because of Rangel’s recent turmoil, many pundits on the right were predicting a small turnout and something akin to a wake. “I’ve been to a lot of funerals, but this damn sure ain’t no funeral!” Rangel said to loud approval.

The event was sold out hours before folks such as Harry Belafonte and an impressive retinue of elected officials began arriving.

When Rangel arrived with his wife, Alma, it took him a good hour to move across the Grand Ballroom to the stage, where Danny Mixon and his trio were grooving on—was that—“Some Enchanted Evening.”

If not enchanted, the evening was festive and made all the more enjoyable with Governor David Paterson as emcee. One of his best quips was that everyone in the crowd would get a chance to speak. “Just come on up with three blank checks and the mic is yours,” he joshed.

And at a reported $200 per person, the Rangel campaign banked a few more bucks in the war chest. Rep. Carolyn Maloney wasn’t able to attend, but, according to the emcee, texted her goodwill and the promise of a check for $2,500.

There were a number of great one-liners, and Rev. Al Sharpton was the usual nimble wordsmith, tossing a riposte to the mainstream media. “You started and executed a political crucifixion,” he said, his bomb lobbed to the press, “but stay tuned for a political resurrection.”

Mayor Bloomberg got in a nifty one, too. Commenting on those not in attendance, the mayor said, “They knew they were going to have a headache.”

Inside the ballroom, the hilarity and praise were unending with Rep. Joe Crowley, Councilwoman Inez Dickens (her leg in a cast), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, City Comptroller John Liu and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo each extending their warm regards to the octogenarian Lion of Lenox Avenue.

Outside, there was a small group of protesters with placards calling Rangel a “liar” and a “cheat.” Among the dissenters were people carrying signs supporting Jonathan Tasini, one of the candidates seeking to unseat Rangel.

When one of protesters directly heckled former Mayor David Dinkins as he arrived, the feisty mayor shot back a middle finger and then hurried on to the festivities.

“We’re going to win this one,” Rangel roared before cutting his huge birthday cake, and that was the only understatement of the evening.

Unemployment Among Black Women Surges

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Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly –

(NNPA) - Analysis by the National Wo men’s Law Center of July jobs data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed that unemployment surged among vulnerable groups of women last month, highlighting the need for Congress to do more to help vulnerable families.

While the data indicates no change in overall unemployment and little change for all men and women, the unemployment rates for women who head families and minority women shot up, while rates among minority men dropped.

Unemployment for women who head families jumped to 13.4 percent in July from 12.1 percent in June. This marks the highest unemployment rate for this particularly vulnerable group since the recession began in December 2007 and the highest rate in over 25 years.

Unemployment among African-American women rose from 11.8 percent in June to 12.9 percent in July, while the rate for African-American men declined from 17.4 percent to 16.7 percent. The situation was similar for Hispanic women, whose unemployment rate increased by 1.1 percentage points to 12.1 percent in July, marking this group’s highest unemployment rate since 1986.

Hispanic men’s unemployment rate dropped from 11.3 percent in June to 10.2 percent in July.

Women lost 62 percent of the 131,000 non-farm jobs lost in July. And while the private sector added 71,000 jobs, women’s employment actually dropped by 1,000 jobs in this area. Additionally state and local government education systems, a female-dominated sector, shed a substantial number of jobs. Preliminary numbers reveal that local education lost 27,100 jobs, the largest loss of any industry (excluding temporary Census workers).

“Today’s data show that for many women and families, things are getting worse,” said Nancy Duff Campbell, NWLC Co-President. “Congress must do far more to help the most vulnerable.

Additional funding for child care assistance, child support enforcement, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Fund would help struggling families make ends meet. But even more must be done to create jobs and strengthen the economy.”

Congress recently extended enhanced unemployment benefits through November to help workers unemployed for six months or more, and the Senate just approved additional funding to states and localities for health care and education that will help stem further job losses and deeper cuts in public services. But Congress has yet to act on a more substantial jobs measure—the Jobs for America Act, additional funding for child care assistance, restored funding for child support enforcement, and an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund, which has allowed states to create jobs and provide emergency assistance to families.

“This brutal recession will have lasting effects on the well-being of women and their families,” Campbell said. “Congress must treat it as the emergency it is.”

Bridging Generation Gaps to Inspire African-American Youth Health

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By Jessica Harper, Special to the NNPA from the Washington Informer –

(NNPA) - A 2009 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that Black teens and young adults are more prone to violence than their White counterparts. Despite that alarming fact, mentoring and counseling groups like the District-based Evolutionary Elders (EE) continue to inspire African-American youth to excel personally and professionally.

Co-founder and author, Eugene Williams, Sr., said the organization fights the odds, by maintaining a positive outlook about the future of Black youth.

"We don't want to be bothered with defeatist attitudes," Williams, 68, said.

"Our goal is to work with mentors, counselors and organizations who have not given up on our children," the Clinton, Md., resident said.

Evolutionary Elders seeks to heal social ills that plague African-American young men and women by bridging generational gaps. Members close these gaps by using education and positive reinforcement to reach Black youth.

"We came together to forge this concept--soon-to-become-movement--because we were really upset at some of the things we saw in families and also in schools," Williams said.

Williams established Evolutionary Elders in spring 2010 with his long-time friend Wetzel Witten, a 67-year-old community organizer from Washington, D.C.

The two men bring together men and women, who were born in the 1930s and 1940s, grew up in the 1950s and became social revolutionaries in the 1960s to mentor and counsel young people and their families. These elders forfeit vacations in Miami to "liberate and elevate the thinking and actions" of Black youth.

“We are an African people, and Negritude represents our attitude,” Witten said. “Therefore, we will never be senior citizens because senior citizens retire, Evolutionary Elders inspire.”

Members inspire by venturing into schools, recreation centers and churches across the D.C. area with a two-pronged mission: to work with parents, guardians and educators to improve education (academics and athletics) and to teach Black youth about their history and respect for their elders.

"Whether anybody accepts it or not, our schools and families are in crisis and our children are caught up in this," Williams said.

"As we see it, if something is not done soon, we will see our schools dissolve and become worse off than they are now."

Now 10 members strong, counselors include an eclectic mix of Ph.D. holders and activists; mathematicians and wordsmiths; athletes and musicians--each of whom share their knowledge with young mentees.

Mary H. Johnson, a member of Evolutionary Elders, said psychological counseling warrants as much attention as academic tutoring.

"The highest compliment I have received since I began working with EE came from a student who was asked, 'Why do you go to the math center so often?' Do you know what he said in response to that? ‘Because Dr. Johnson makes me feel like I'm somebody,’" Johnson said.

Johnson holds an Ed.D. in Mathematics Education from University of Maryland College Park and is married to Williams. The two founded Academic Resources Unlimited (ARU) in 2008. ARU is a non-profit that provides tutorial and communication services to high school students and educators.

Johnson said because many of the organization’s mentees receive little encouragement at home, it is incumbent on the mentors to remind them of their worth.

"Our children fight so hard to feel accepted," Johnson said. "Sometimes all it takes is for them to meet someone who says, 'You can do it!'"

Ed Brown, creator of YouTube's social commentary program The Ed Brown Show, echoed Johnson's sentiment.

"Environment affects development," Brown said. "Some of these kids have no one who cares whether or not they succeed."

Brown’s program covers topics ranging from politics to education, and featured guests include university presidents and local lawmakers.

He said the elders' experience is their greatest asset.

"A child might pay more attention to someone who is much older," Brown said. "An elder brings knowledge that other people don't have. So when an elder says, 'Study hard,' they listen.”\ Williams and Witten said several students have changed their behavior since coming under their tutelage.

"We mentored a 15-year-old boy, a very smart kid, who sold drugs. He told me, 'I never thought about the consequences.' So, I decided to give him a job designing our books," Williams said. "Now, he tells me he's staying out of trouble. On top of that, the work he produces for us is outstanding."

Evolutionary Elders collaborates with non-profit group Wise Educators.com and the Success and Learning Math Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., to provide quality tutoring and counseling services to their mentees.

Williams said, "We don't want volunteers looking to benefit from the name, Evolutionary Elders. They must have a history of doing good things and want to continue to do that work."

Lawless Police Create Mayhem in Nigeria, New Report Says

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Special to the NNPA from GIN –

(GIN) – Police in this oil-rich nation routinely shake down citizens for everything from bus fare money to expensive flat-screen plasma TV sets. Illegal arrests and torture are commonplace, and some victims lose their life over as little as 13 cents.

This was the dismal finding of the New York-based Human Rights Watch that has been studying entrenched corruption in the ranks of the Nigeria Police Force.

Their new report, “Everyone’s in on the Game” Corruption and Human Rights Abuses by the Nigeria Police Force,” is based on field research in Nigeria in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Researchers looked at three states: Lagos, Anambra, and Kaduna, representing three of the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria; as well as in Abuja, the capital, Rivers and Ebonyi State.

The report also shows how government ministers and officials charged with police oversight, have failed to root out corruption. Public complaint mechanisms, internal police controls, and civilian oversight remain weak, underfunded, and ineffective.

Police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu called the report “largely embellished innuendos” reaching a preconceived conclusion, but he also criticized corrupt officers on the department’s website.

Writing on the SaharaReporters anti-corruption website, “Nigerian1” observed: “The only difference between the arm robbers and Nigerian police is that the police bring their victims in police station (where citizens right should be protected), abuse then rob their families while the arm robbers take victims in hide outs and demand ransom, same practice different tactics.”

The full report can be found at http://www.hrw.org/node/92390

Split Widens Between U.S. and Africa Over Sudan

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Special to the NNPA from GIN –

(GIN) – African leaders and U.S. policymakers appear to be heading for a collision over an approach to the President of Sudan, Omar al Bashir. The Sudanese leader is facing charges by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide during the bitter seven-year conflict in Darfur.

Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika, who holds the rotating African Union presidency, urged the continent's leaders to resolve the conflict in the Sudan without the need to have Bashir arrested.

Subjecting a sovereign head of state to an arrest warrant was undermining African solidarity and African peace and security that they had fought for so many years, he said.

But in Washington, U.S. policymakers appear to favor a hardline approach outlined by the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice. Current U.S. special envoy to Sudan, ret. Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, favored incentives over sanctions and pressure, but he is unpopular with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Rice and may be pushed off to Kenya for a new job.

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