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Chevron Bars Niger Delta Activist From Shareholder Meeting

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – Activist Emem Okon of the Niger Delta was among 17 people representing oil-producing communities in Angola, Ecuador, Burma, the Philippines and around the world to be locked out of a shareholders meeting on May 30 by the oil giant Chevron.

Ms. Okon, who traveled to Houston, Texas, from Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta region, said she came to urge the company “to clean up the environment, end gas flaring, and to respect their human rights policies, which call for two-way communication between Chevron and the community people,” she said.

Police arrested five protestors with The True Cost of Chevron Network who had rallied to call attention to Chevron’s human rights and environmental record.

In a radio interview, Ms. Okon said: “I came to tell Chevron that they have oppressed in the Niger Delta region with impunity for the past fifty years, poisoning our waters, devastating our environment, killing the fish we eat, burning poison gas through gas flares that has caused cancer, asthma, corroding our roofs. And they have not done anything to alleviate the sufferings of the people as the result of their activities.”

“I am surprised at the attention that the BP oil spill has attracted in the United States,” she continued, “and I expect that the condition in the Niger Delta should attract the same coverage… Chevron (should) stop their inhuman activity and abuse of human rights in the Niger Delta region.

Rwandans Lock Up U.S. Lawyer In Genocide Dispute

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – US lawyer Peter Erlinder is behind bars in Rwanda, days after his arrival in the Central African country. He had come to defend Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, an alleged genocide denier, and political opponent of the current president, Paul Kagame.

Dozens of lawyers and their organizations have appealed for Erlinder’s release. "There can be no justice for anyone if the state can silence lawyers for defendants whom it dislikes…," said David Gespass, president of the National Lawyers Guild.

Rwanda's 1994 genocide claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The massacres ended when mostly Tutsi rebels led by Kagame defeated the mostly Hutu extremist perpetrators.

Ingabire, a Hutu, returned to Rwanda in January after 16 years of living abroad. She says she returned to Rwanda because the country needs an open discussion to promote reconciliation.

In a visit to a memorial to Tutsis killed in the 1994 genocide, she asked why Hutus who also died weren't remembered. She was arrested as a “genocide denier” and is free on bail. Her case drew the attention of Erlinder, a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. If convicted, Ingabire, 41, could be sentenced to more than two decades in prison. US Ass’t Sec’y of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson accused the Kigali government of restricting freedom prior to presidential polls in August, in which Ms Ingabire is a challenger.

President Paul Kagame is a Tutsi former rebel leader who came to power to end the killings. His forces have been accused of massacring Hutus after the genocide ended.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference Dispute Boils Over

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

(NNPA) - The feud between two factions of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has come to a head over an alleged break-in at the group’s Atlanta headquarters. A hearing has been scheduled for June 2 to settle the matter.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, who claims he was named interim president, CEO and CFO of the group, welded shut the back doors of the headquarters and padlocked three gates May 17. His rivals, including SCLC Chairwoman Sylvia Tucker, dispute his claims to those positions and said he had no authority to lock the facility.

"This conduct is criminal and deplorable," Tucker said in a statement after the incident. "It is like a hate crime."

The Rev. Bernard LaFayette, a supporter of president-elect, Bernice King, agreed with Tucker when he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Hutchins “admitted that he went into the office and he was unauthorized. He disabled the fire alarm, the water and the electricity. He got a welder to weld up the back door. He took files from the office. I understand now he took one of those [computer] monitors. His behavior is described as breaking and entering.”

Hutchins said the allegations of theft are a lie and said that’s he’s only given to the organization.

"I made the decision to secure the building," Hutchins told the Associated Press. "I am not responsible for the mess the SCLC is in, but I will be responsible for helping to right some of the wrongs and get the organization back on course to fulfill its mission."

Padlocks and chains were cut and removed from the building on May 19.

The barring of the SCLC building was the latest incident in a prolonged fight over the removal of two former board members, ex-chairman Raleigh Trammell and ex-treasurer Spiver Gordon, over allegations that the two mismanaged SCLC funds. Since then the group has suffered from severe infighting over who are the true board members.

Building the New Haiti – Creating a Place for African-Americans at the Table

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By Ron Daniels –

(NNPA) - As President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) and Founder of the Haiti Support Project (HSP), I have just returned from leading a team to Haiti to allocate the first contributions from the IBW/HSP Haiti Relief Fund.

A total of $56,000 was distributed to nine community-based/grassroots organizations including women's, youth and peasant groups for relief and capacity-building. Deeply concerned about the plight of Haitian children orphaned by the disastrous earthquake, our team also visited orphanages and assessed the progress of the Oasis Institute, an ambitious initiative designed to relocate orphans and extended family members from tent communities to an interim camp with safe/secure environment, post-traumatic stress counseling and a world class education.

The ultimate goal is to construct a permanent campus as home for the orphans. Though adoption may be necessary as an option of last resort, Oasis Institute is designed to keep the vast majority of Haitian children in Haiti to be nurtured and educated within their own culture so they can become the new engaged citizens and leaders of the world's first Black Republic.

This Initiative has the potential to become a model to significantly impact Haiti's system of social welfare as it relates to orphans. As such, it is a major priority of HSP and the IBW Black Family Summit Task Force on Preserving Children and Families in Haiti. Taken together, the commitments above are consistent with HSP's mission of providing humanitarian and developmental assistance as part of the reconstruction effort in Haiti.

Another goal of our team's visit was to vigorously explore avenues to mobilize/organize African- American administrative and technical skills, entrepreneurial expertise and investment capacity to effectively contribute to the short, medium and long term process of building the new Haiti. Because of a 15-year history of building a constituency for Haiti in the U.S. with a principal focus on educating and organizing African-Americans, HSP has received numerous inquiries about opportunities to secure contracts, to invest and/or to start business ventures in Haiti.

Clearly Haitians will take primary responsibility for the reconstruction of their country in conjunction with the Haitian Diaspora -- which contributes nearly two billion in remittances annually as well as other valuable resources to the homeland. But, HSP believes African Americans and people of African descent in the U.S. can be an invaluable third leg in the reconstruction process. Black America has an estimated 800 million to one billion in consumer power and a large reservoir of business and professional people who can potentially be tapped to play a significant role in building the new Haiti. The question is whether there will be a place at the table for African-Americans.

Our experience over the past 15 years suggests that there is no resistance to African-Americans investing and starting businesses in Haiti. Indeed, we have encountered many Haitians in the Government and the private sector who have welcomed, even pleaded with us to encourage African- Americans to invest in the economic development of the country.

This posture was emphatically re-enforced when our team, which included representatives of the Atlanta-based Joe Beasley Foundation (JBF), met with Patrick Delatour, the minister of tourism, who has been designated to be the director of reconstruction by President Rene Gracia Preval. Minister Delatour not only welcomed the idea of African American investment and business development in Haiti, he views it as an extension of the long relationship between African-Americans and Haitians in terms of the historical struggle for freedom and self-determination. He outlined a range of investment opportunities, especially in the tourism related sector in the Cap Haitien/Milot region of the country where HSP has launched the Model City Initiative.

Tourism was a major component of the development plan for Haiti prior to the earthquake and has become even more important in its aftermath. HSP devised the Model City Initiative to encourage African-Americans and friends of Haiti to visit the Citadel, a magnificent mountaintop fortress built by King Henri Christophe after the Revolution to deter further invasions by the French.

It is one of the great symbols of freedom and hope in the Pan African world. Working collaboratively with the Destination Haiti Foundation, HSP's principal partner on the ground in Haiti, the goal of the Model City Initiative is to transform the lovely town of Milot, which is nestled at the foot of the mountain where the Citadel stands, into a Mecca for cultural-historical tourism. We believe cultural-historical tourism will be the foundation for people-based economic development in Milot and the northern region of the country. There are huge opportunities for African Americans to invest and develop businesses in this region.

Minister Delatour not only agrees with the goals of the Model City Initiative, developing Milot as a tourist destination is a priority within his plan for the northern region. Hence, we have been working together to make this vision a reality. Accordingly, he was pleased to meet the representatives of the Joe Beasley Foundation, which has substantial skills and resources to contribute to the development of Milot and the north. In fact, he agreed to accept an invitation to travel to Atlanta as a special guest of HSP and the Beasley Foundation to participate in George Fraser's Power Networking Conference which brings upwards to 3,000 - 4,000 Black businesses and professionals together for three days of extraordinary skill development workshops and inspirational plenary sessions.

Minister Delatour will address the Town Hall Meeting, which is the kick-off event for the conference and make a presentation on investment opportunities in Haiti at an information session immediately following the Town Hall Meeting. Minister Delatour's visit definitively underscores the interest of the Government of Haiti in enlisting African-Americans to play a leading role in building the new Haiti.

Minister Delatour's visit is also an expression of support for HSP as an organization with a proven track record of promoting the first Black Republic in Black America to engage people of African descent in the process of democracy and development in Haiti.

In this regard, I was delighted that representatives of the Joe Beasley Foundation were part of the HSP team that met with Minister Delatour. Organized in honor of my long-time friend and ally Joe Beasley (who traveled with me to Haiti on our very first delegation in 1995), JBF has assembled an awesome array of conscious and highly talented/skilled professionals and business persons who are committed to making a difference in Haiti. Since our initial visit to Haiti, Joe Beasley - whom I have affectionately dubbed "Ambassador" because of his fervent commitment to global empowerment of African people -has consistently collaborated with HSP on a range of initiatives in addition to developing/supporting projects of his choosing. Based on our long-standing relationship, it seems logical that HSP and JBF should forge a major collaboration to maximize the mobilization of African-American technical resources, investment and business development as we seek to engage the process of building the new Haiti.

That process is now underway. When it is finalized, the HSP/JBF collaborative will serve as one of the major vehicles for African-Americans seeking to do business with the government and private sector agencies and function as a clearinghouse to review proposals for investment and/or creation of business ventures as part of the process of assisting interested concerns to navigate the environment in Haiti. Equally important, the HSP/JBF collaborative will proactively mobilize investment for priority projects within the framework of the Model City Initiative in Milot and the northern region of Haiti in accordance with Minister Patrick Delatour's plan to make this region one of the major poles of the reconstruction process. Milot and the Citadel may well become the face of the new Haiti and the HSP/JBF collaborative will be in the very center of the process.

In previous articles, I have called the building of the new Haiti a "pan-African project" which should involve the engagement of people of African descent from around the world. The resurrection of Haiti from the ashes of the catastrophic earthquake will be one of the great triumphs of the 21st century, and business/economic development will be one of the driving engines of this monumental achievement. There is a place at the table for African-Americans to play a significant role in this phenomenal endeavor. The HSP/JBF collaborative will be a crucial vehicle in mobilizing/organizing African- Americans to assist Haiti to once again become a powerful symbol of freedom and hope for African people and the world!

Dr. Ron Daniels is president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at info@ibw21.org.

Employment Growth a Credit to Obama's Policies, But Black Jobs Crisis Persists

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Special to the NNPA from the Mississippi Link –

NEW YORK -(NNPA) - National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial has cautioned that higher-than-expected job growth last month should not cloud the still-desperate employment crisis among communities of color.

“The need for direct job-creation legislation is still very real,” Morial said. “The dangerously-high black unemployment rate of 16.5 percent remains unchanged, and unemployment among Black women is rising while the rate for teenagers remains elevated.”

Morial noted that the percentage of long-term unemployed - 27 weeks or longer - rose to 45.9 percent of the total unemployed.

“The level of long-term unemployed is unprecedented and points to a core group who are being left out of the growth in jobs,” he said.

The real unemployment rate - the officially unemployed plus the underemployed and those no longer looking for work - is 17.1 percent.

Morial said President Obama's leadership, particularly with regard to the Recovery Act, has begun to lift the country out of the crisis, but more needs to be done if every segment of society is to share in the recovery.

"The need for legislation could not be more clear, and a cost-benefit analysis shows the legislation would grow the economy and even trim the federal deficit through a combination of savings and increased revenue," he said.

The analysis is available on the National Urban League's new State of Urban Jobs website, at www.nul.org/content/state-urban-jobs.

Morial said the National Urban League launched the website to bring the jobs crisis into sharper focus, highlight the League's Plan for Job Creation, and provide a forum for the unemployed. In addition to analysis and data, the site includes a jobs bank and help for job seekers.

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