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Housing Crisis Seen for 8,000 Israel-bound Ethiopians of Jewish Ancestry

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Immigration has been approved for nearly 8,000 Falash Mura, Ethiopians of Jewish descent, who have been waiting in inhumane conditions, some for more than a decade, to come to Israel.

The government recently announced it would bring 7,846 Falashmura Jews to Israel during the next four years. Many have been living in transition camps built in the 1990s in Gondar, Ethiopia, for Russians and Ethiopian migrants.

Israel initially rejected the Ethiopians ties to Judaism, but religious officials later declared them the “seed of Israel.”

Natan Sharansky, chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, warned that housing for the Ethiopians was urgently needed. “We can't repeat mistakes of the past and permit a situation in which they will have to stay [in absorption centers] for years,” he said.

Knesset Member Shlomo Molla, who supported the immigration decision, said it was long overdue.

He recalled a visit to Gondar a year before. "We saw the distress that people face, and their suffering and the suffering of their families," he said. "The fact that it will take three years to bring them here is ridiculous, and I hope that the government will shorten the unbearable waiting period."

As per the government decision, no further immigration by Falashmura members will be allowed once this project is completed.

Presidential Contenders Both Declare Victory in Guinean Race

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Two finalists in Guinea’s first national election have both declared victory, complicating the West African country’s first democratic exercise, after 52 years of authoritarian rule.

Veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde was officially declared the winner in a surprise upset as he had received only 18% in an earlier poll. Candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo, who was comfortably ahead in the first round of voting, received several thousand votes less than Conde in the final vote. His supporters immediately cried foul and clashed with riot police.

After the results were declared on Nov. 15, Conde, 72, reached out to Diallo, saying "The time has come to join hands.” Diallo, 58, a former prime minister, said he is planning an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The contestants hail from Guinea's two largest ethnic groups, the Peul and Malinke. Diallo’s Peul community has never held the presidency while the Malinke are heavily represented in the ruling military junta.

A former French colony, Guinea is mineral-rich with as much as half of the world’s reserves of bauxite, and significant deposits of gold and diamonds. Still, it is ranked near the bottom of 182 countries on the U.N.’s Human Development Index.

Meanwhile, a New York-based group that monitored Guinea's historic election via text messages from voters is now monitoring outbreaks of violence between the nation's opposing parties.

Jennifer Swift-Morgan of Alliance Guinea said rioting in the capital city of Conakry prevented verification of the SMS allegations. The main goal now, she said, "is to make sure the world knows this crisis has broken out."

Attorney General Files $168 Million Suit Against Company Over Election Day Robocalls

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By George Barnette, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (DC) –

An Election Day robocall sent to Democratic voters in the state of Maryland telling them to “relax” and that the election was over—an apparent attempt to get them to stay home and not vote—has been traced back to Universal Elections, a company hired by Republican Robert Ehrlich’s gubernatorial campaign.

Julius Henson, owner of Universal Elections, took responsibility for the calls.

“Universal Elections made the call and it was my decision to make the call,” Henson said. “It’s really nonsensical that [the complaint about the call] is coming from the people who won by 14 points and were leading by 14 points for more than a week.”

The call was placed through the Pennsylvania-based company robodial.org. That company said the call was placed through an account maintained by Rhonda Russell, an employee for Universal Elections.

“I’m calling to let everyone know that Governor O’Malley and President Obama have been successful,” the woman’s voice on the call said. “Our goals have been met. The polls were correct and we took it [the governor’s office] back. We’re ok. Relax, everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch on TV tonight. Congratulations and thank you.”

Word of the call spread as the polls closed on Election Night, outraging many of the state’s prominent Democrats, who saw it as an attempt to curtail late Democratic support and give Republicans an edge. Among those Democrats who denounced the call was Prince George’s County, Md. Executive-elect Rushern Baker.

“I am shocked by the news of a robocall targeting residents of Prince George’s County intended to dissuade voting earlier this evening,” Baker said in an election-night statement. “This isn’t dirty politics, it’s un-American. I hope those behind this call are investigated and exposed for their attempt to suppress everyone’s right to cast a ballot.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was quick to denounce the calls in a statement released last week. “I was deeply troubled to hear this misleading robocall targeting Baltimore City residents urging them to relax and stay home as if the election was over and the polls have been closed,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Sadly, this [is the] kind of gutter politics that we have come to expect from Bob Ehrlich and the Republican Party.”

Henson said that the call did not explicitly urge Democrats who hadn’t voted yet to stay home.

“The call was counterintuitive,” he said. “We felt that the people who’d already gone and voted were voting for the opposition and the people who had not voted, and because they hadn’t voted, were mostly likely not going to vote for the incumbent. We were trying to get them [Republicans] to go to the polls and vote.”

“It never said ‘don’t vote’ or anything like that,” Henson continued. “It was an attempt to get to voters who were not going to vote and it was a lot of them because they didn’t like their choice - the incumbent.”

Andy Barth, spokesman for the Ehrlich campaign, did not comment on the issue. Henson did not comment regarding his connection to the Ehrlich campaign.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, confirmed that an investigation into the call is underway.

“It is deeply troubling that an operative working for Bob Ehrlich's campaign was responsible for this shameful and illegal attempt to deceive Maryland voters,” Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull said in a statement. “We hope the Ehrlich campaign will fully disclose their role in this unfortunate episode and cooperate fully with any ongoing investigations in the matter. The right to vote is precious in a democracy and anyone who attempts to deny that right to citizens should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

District Attorney Clears NAACP of Wrongdoing

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Special to the NNPA from the Milwaukee Community Journal –

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office announced it has cleared the Milwaukee Branch NAACP of any criminal wrongdoing.

The District Attorney’s investigation was the result of accusations made by a small group of members and office seekers.

They reportedly accused the Milwaukee branch’s leadership of thievery, malfeasance, and of literally operating a criminal enterprise from the offices of the local branch.

A press statement by the Milwaukee branch said the District Attorney (DA) found no evidence of the aforementioned allegations. The DA’s findings mirror findings of an earlier investigation by the NAACP’s national office that also found no wrongdoing by the local branch.

Nevertheless, the allegations—many of which were unsubstantiated—have taken their toll on the local branches operations.

The Milwaukee branch has experienced a decrease in contributions totaling $200,000, as a result of what local NAACP officials called a “smear campaign.”

Despite the allegations and investigations, branch President Jerry Ann Hamilton said the Milwaukee branch never stopped working toward accomplishing the NAACP’s duel mission of ensuring equal opportunities and eliminating racial hatred.

“We are hopeful, but not entirely confident, this will bring an end to this bitter, relentless, and at times very personal smear campaign,” Hamilton said in a press statement.

First elected branch president in 1998, Hamilton, along with members of her family involved in the organization, have been at the center of the ongoing controversy that has cast a cloud over the organization. She is stepping down at the end of her current term after branch elections are held November 20.

Wendell Harris, Milwaukee NAACP first vice president and one of two candidates to replace Hamilton, said the local branch is fortunate to have the unwavering support of dedicated volunteers.

“We have been able to achieve civil rights victories in an atmosphere where many organizations would not have been able to keep their doors open,” Harris said. “We persevered. This is a testament to the strength, character, and loyalty of our volunteers.”

Harris noted the branch’s recent success in helping to defeat the MPS takeover plan, assisting with the 2010 Census, and in reopening the investigation of the bar owner who burned a statue of President Barack Obama inside her establishment.

“The mission of the NAACP must continue uninterrupted,” Hamilton said. “Despite the smear campaign, the current administration pledges to work diligently with the next administration, whomever it may be, to ensure a smooth transition so as not to cause a disruption of NAACP activities.

“The NAACP is larger than any petty squabble by disgruntled members,” Hamilton said.

Reports: Church Can't 'Confirm or Deny' Bishop Long had Intimate Relations with Accusers

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By Robert Naddra, Special to the NNPA from The Champion Newspaper –

A week after Bishop Eddie Long denied allegations that he coerced former members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sexual relationships, the church admitted that Long took them on trips but could not “confirm or deny” that Long had intimate relationships with his accusers, according to reports.

The Lithonia church, represented by the law firm Drew Eckl Farnham, filed its response Nov. 7 in DeKalb County State Court.

The LongFellows Youth Academy also filed responses last week. LongFellows is the church’s mentoring program for male youth ages 13 to 18 years old. LongFellows is named in three of the four lawsuits against Long.

In Long’s response last week, he admitted providing “opportunities for travel, education and personal growth” to many members of the New Birth congregation. However, he denied having sexual relationships with any of the four men. He also denied using money from New Birth or LongFellows Academy to “entice” the accusers with clothes, jewelry, and electronics.

Each of Long’s responses, filed last week by attorney Craig Gillen, stated in the introduction, “The Plaintiff’s claims of sexual misconduct are not true.”

The church, as well as Long, acknowledged that the pastor would sometimes share a hotel room on trips with members of the congregation.

“The church understands that Bishop Long often shared hotel rooms with members of the congregation while traveling,” New Birth’s response stated according to reports.

Anthony Flagg, Jamal Parris, Maurice Robinson and Spencer LeGrande each filed separate lawsuits last September. Each claimed that Long lured them into sexual relationships with money, employment, gifts and lavish trips to New York, Las Vegas, and Africa, among others places.

All four men are represented by Atlanta attorney B.J. Bernstein. A spokeswoman at The Bernstein Firm said that Bernstein had no comment on the responses by Long or New Birth.

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