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Brazil To Build University For Kenyan Students

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – In his first visit to Kenya, Brazil’s President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva this week signed six bilateral agreement to boost trade, investments and economic ties with the East African nation, including one that gives Kenyan students a university education in Brazil.

The school in the northeastern state of Ceara will train 5,000 African and 5,000 Brazilian students in various fields.

With the U.S. tied down in a war in Somalia, training troops in Uganda, Congo, Guinea, Senegal and other nations, Brazil, the world’s eighth largest economy, is chasing business deals with the East African Community economic bloc, by partnering with Kenya.

There are more than 125 million people in the five-nation East African economic.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki’s support for ethanol projects notwithstanding, environmentalists and local residents of Malindi, a historic Swahili settlement on the Malindi bay, are battling it out over a planned multimillion-dollar biodiesel development that will take over some 120,000 hectares of woodland to grow Jatropha Carcus.

Malindi’s county council supports the project, citing “health centers, schools, recreational facilities and employment that would will benefit this area greatly, but environmentalists say it will erode the fragile soil, take up scarce water turning forests into deserts and destroy the livelihoods of locals.

Wall Street Bill Passes House, Heads for Senate With Significant Black Inclusion

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By Pharoh Martin, NNPA National Correspondent –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Last week, the House of Representatives passed a Wall Street reform bill that advocates are calling the most comprehensive financial reform since the New Deal was signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt 70 years ago.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which comes on the heels of one of the worst economic fall outs in U.S. history, will put in place the strongest consumer financial protections ever by curbing abuses by banks, mortgage and credit card companies and keeping their consumers better informed by making the financial industry more transparent, according to President Obama.

“Today’s House vote in favor of Wall Street Reform puts us on the cusp of passing a law that will give consumers greater protection and safeguard our economy against future financial crises,” Obama said in a statement shortly after the vote was passed on June 30th. “It has been a long fight against the defenders of the status quo on Wall Street, but today’s vote is a victory for every American who has been affected by the recklessness and irresponsibility that led to the loss of millions of jobs and trillions in wealth.”

The bill must still go to the Senate for approval before the president can sign it into law. The anchor of the bill is the creation of new independent watchdog agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It will have the power to regulate the activities of banks, credit card companies, payday lenders and other financial services institutions. It is designed to act as the same manner as the FDA already does for medical safety and set consumer protective standards against such financial practices as hidden credit card fees and deceptive fine print.

The new bureau would be entirely dedicated to protecting consumers from the unscrupulous lenders that helped bring down the economy, said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who chairs the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity and also serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

“We are not only creating new opportunities for minorities and opening doors that had been closed but we were basically in the leadership of support of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is going to help all consumers with all of these issues that we are confronting,“ she said in an interview with NNPA.

The congresswoman was responsible for many key provisions that were included in the bill that address specific economic problems in the Black community.

Those provisions include:

-The creation of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion;
- Additional assistance for homeowners;
- More funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which helps homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and provides low interest loans to unemployed homeowners who are having a difficult time keeping up with their mortgage payments. Under the legislation, the program will receive an additional $1 billion in funding and an additional $2 billion in funding from the Treasury Department;
- Safeguards that ensure fair access, treatment and regulations for minorities, women and low-income workers, including ensuring diversity in hiring and job promotions at federal financial regulatory agencies and in their contracting with the creation of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

“Getting the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion into law is the biggest thing that has happened in many years in terms of legislative efforts to improve the plight of minorities in this country," said Waters, who created the agency. "It's huge.”

Waters said that because banks and financial institutions disparately targeted the Black community for the exploitative sub-prime loans that helped bring down the economy two years ago Black lawmakers were keen on supporting the bank reform legislation and its specific protections for minorities and low-income consumers.

Black members in the House were instrumental in getting the bill passed. But now the bill comes to the Senate chamber, which has one African-American member and is bitterly divided along party lines. Waters still feels that the Senate will be successful in pushing the bill through.

“For the first time, the conference committee that resolves the differences between the two houses had significant minority representation on that committee," Waters said. "And because of that, we were able to not only educate the senators who sat in the conference committee on the importance of what we were doing."

Will Oscar Grant Murder Trial Be Repeat of Rodney King Verdict?

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

LOS ANGELES (NNPA) - Jurors were set to resume deliberations July 7 in the murder trial of the White former transit cop who shot an unarmed Black passenger in Oakland.

As a verdict neared, some analysts and activists wondered whether L.A. would see a repeat of “Rodney King.”

Rodney King is the Black motorist whose infamous 1991 videotaped beating by members of the Los Angeles Police Department drew national outrage. A predominantly White jury acquitted three of the officers, deadlocked on one, and set off six days of rioting throughout South L.A. The period became popularly referred to as the “1992 L.A. Rebellion” and the “Rodney King riots.”

Video of police beating of Rodney King, May 3, 1991.

“The acquittal of the officers that beat Rodney King triggered one of the worst riots in American history. If the jury with no Blacks acquits Mehserle, it will be silence in the community. It will come. It will go. You will hear angry statements from some youth leaders. You will hear angry statements from the relatives from Oscar Grant, but as far as community anger, rage, you will hear nothing,” predicted Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, political commentator and talk radio host.

The reason is a lack of local and national media attention and what appears to be a lack of emotional engagement and public attention, except for a consistent contingent of youth led protests and scrutiny from community leaders and activists in the Bay Area since Johannes Mehserle shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant, III. on a station platform on Jan. 1, 2009, he said.

According to Dr. Hutchinson, one parallel is that White officers are accused of victimizing Black men, but a difference is there is no sense of a city on edge in the Grant murder as with Rodney King's beating.

The LAPD was on trial, not just the four officers who beat Mr. King, because of its long, well documented history of brutality against Blacks and Hispanics, Hutchinson told The Final Call.

The sordid history includes an almost relentless war with LAPD which spawned beatings, riots, brutality, and murders, but the analyst and writer felt the same relationship doesn't exist with BART.

“Rodney King was just waiting. King was not isolated. King was not an aberration. King was part of a pattern of abuse from a police department to a community. ... Those four officers that beat Rodney King weren't just seen as four rogue cops. They were seen as the face of a brutal police department but Mehserle is seen as just one bad cop,” Hutchinson said.

Aidge Patterson, an organizer with the L.A. Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant, said the system has set the stage for a repeat of Rodney King by lying to people's faces.

"They're trying to tell us what our eyes see is not what the truth is. They're trying to cover this murder by another one of their foot soldiers up but at the same time I see an amazing effort of people across the state to have this cop locked up and let them know they don't have the ability to get away with it like they did back then,” he said.

“As the trial of Johannes Mehserle comes near its conclusion; the city of Oakland fears the response shown in L.A. after an acquittal in the beating of Rodney King. Those whose anger led them to the streets of Los Angeles to protest an unjust verdict were justified in anger. Oakland should learn that the road to peace is the proper administration of justice. Minister Louis Farrakhan teaches us that injustice creates an imbalance of mind; and when the mind is imbalanced, so too can be our actions,” said student Minister Keith Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam mosque in Oakland.

Jan. 1, 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant by Oakland police.

“Our hope is that city leadership will take courage, stand together, and demand justice. There is no need to wait for the verdict to call for peace and calm; demand justice now. This case has zero Black members of the jury. This case should have been monitored closely by the federal government. City leaders should stand on the mountain top and demand justice. Then the people may feel that government is on their side and not the side of rogue police, who are trained to cover their tracks,” he said.

“Remember, Johannes Mehserle is the first peace officer in the history of California to face a murder charge for unjustified homicide or murder. Remember, no peace officer in the country has ever been convicted for murder while on duty. Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Elenor Bumpurs, and a long list of other police killings have all been considered by courts, justifiable homicides. Cities are paying millions of dollars to settle lawsuits; yet no criminal court has convicted an officer for murder.”

News media indicate the Oakland Police Department recently simulated a riot to prepare for the Mehserle verdict, but rebellions only occur when people get fed up with police injustice and terrorism, Patterson noted.

Instead of preparing for war against its own citizens, Oakland police should prepare to create better relationships in communities and a society that's just and better for everyone, he added. Instead, they would rather send the message to the people of Oakland that whatever the verdict is, there's nothing they can do about it, Patterson continued.

“They've made Johannes Mehserle into a victim in this case and he's nothing but a brutal killer. It's like they've been egging the people of Oakland on to smash on the people but they could have done this better. They could have put African Americans on the jury, even African Americans that like police, but they made it blatantly obvious that they've drawn a racist line in the sand,” Patterson said.

He believes a lack of media coverage of the first cop to be tried for murder in California was intended to quiet people down, the same way media refused to show bodies returning from wars." They learned from Rodney King how they're going to show these cases. This is obviously one of the most historic cases in the entire country and it should be on every news station, but they're good at keeping people ignorant.”

Steele Draws New Criticism for Afghanistan War Comments

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspapers –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is once again in hot water. This time it is over comments he made about the U.S.’s role in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, which he called, “a war of Obama’s choosing.”

“This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in,” Steele said during a July 1 speech in Connecticut. “It was the President who was trying to be cute…flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be Afghanistan. Well, if he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?”

Steele’s comments have already drawn the ire of conservatives nationwide, including the 162 members of his national committee because Republicans and conservatives clearly support the war in Afghanistan, which was started by President Bush. Steele has begun a new round of damage control as calls for his resignation have arisen once more.

“As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one,” Steele said. “That is why I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus’ confirmation [to oversee the war]. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.”

That is not enough for some. Many say he needs to show his face in public and face the music.

“It will take more than an e-mail to 162 people,” Karl Rove, former advisor to President George W. Bush, told Fox News. “He’s going to have to take the public stage and take his licking there and say he misspoke.”

Some have gone further, calling for Steele’s ouster. William Kristol, editor of the conservative publication The Weekly Standard asked for Steele’s resignation in a July 2 column that noted. “Your tenure has of course been marked by gaffes and embarrassments.”

Community Rally Protests Punching Incident And Lack Of An Apology By Officer

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Special to the NNPA from The Seattle Medium –

(NNPA) - Members of the African-American community have taken to the streets to show their displeasure with the chain of events that have stemmed from the punching of a Black female teen by a Seattle police officer.

The group, led by Blacks in Government, are demanding an apology from the chief of police to not only the girl but also to the community, revisions of alleged police policies that allow for officers to punch people in the face, and for more police accountability to the community.

According to a statement outlining their demands, protestors are asking for a clear statement that the officer’s actions and behavior are inconsistent with proper police policy.

"We understand that the police guild maintains that the officer acted consistent with police policy under such circumstances,” read the statement. “We are aggrieved by a police policy that includes punching girls. If this is policy then we demand that policy be changed.”

According to James Bible of the Seattle-King County NAACP, the manner in which the apology that was issued by the young woman who was punched in the face to the officer was misrepresented by SPD.

“There has been a misrepresentation to everyone about the apology that took place,” said Bible.

“There was an apology, but there was not acceptance of her apology by the officer,” he continued. “What there really was, was a berating of her by the office of how what she did was wrong.” The story gets even more complex.

“There were two wrongs, but we only got one apology,” said Charles Oliver, president of Region X of Black in Government. “Why is he getting an apology, she was the victim!”

The over-riding message from the rally was that Black men in our community were not going to sit-by and let anyone, especially police officers, put their hands on Black women.

“I want to make it clear, you don’t put your hands on our sisters, I don’t care who you are,” said Min. Milford Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.

“You will never, ever, be able to justify putting your hands on no Black woman,” continued Min. Muhammad. “You can arrest her, but you won’t put your hands on her.”

“If I were here when that officer put his hands on that sister, I would have stepped between them and said that you cannot do this,” said Alton McDonald of the National Action Network. “For too long, our women have been strong. It’s time for our brothers to stand up and stop White supremacy.”

In addition, organizers vowed to not let history repeat itself as they made reference to past police incidents where officers seemed to be rewarded or glorified for their “unjust actions’ against African Americans.

“I’m getting sick of these cops coming down here mistreating our youth and getting promoted,” said Oliver. “If the officers think they can come to Seattle and continue doing what they do, they’ve got another thing coming.”

“That officer should be suspended until a full investigation has taken place,” said Min. Muhammad.

The bottom line for protesters seems to be respect. Respect for women, children and for the African American community as a whole. Organizers vow to stay with this issue until justice prevails and the victim/community are made whole.

“We want people who say they care about us to recognize that there was a girl involved in this too,” said Rev. Carl Livingston. “We’ve been quiet much too long, but we cannot be quiet any longer.”

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