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Rita Marley, 'Philanthropist And Patriot', Tapped As 'Honorary Ghanaian'

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

(GIN) – Rita Marley, wife of reggae artist Bob Marley and founder of the Rita Marley Foundation, has received a Ghanaian passport in recognition of her contributions to Ghana.

Dr Erieka Bennett, head of mission for the African Union’s Diaspora Africa Forum, said: “We are thrilled to see the Ghana Government recognizing the tremendous contribution Nana Rita has made to Ghana socially, as well as economically. This is a historical day for those of us from the diaspora.”

Nana Rita Marley, born in Cuba and raised in Trenchtown, Jamaica, began her musical career in the early sixties as a vocalist with the all-female group The Soulettes who appeared with the Four Tops, Johnny Nash and other stars of the day.

She repatriated to Ghana over a decade ago and lives at Konkonduru, a village near Aburi. Among her projects, as detailed on the website “It’s About Time,” has been the adoption of the Methodist Local Primary and J.S.S, both schools in her community. Apart from rehabilitating old school blocks and building new ones, she also supports the children by providing lunches for primary school children to supplement their nutrition, and through scholarships.

Mrs. Marley supported the funding and distribution of the five-in-one vaccine for children of the eastern region. Other projects include improving the main road for the Konkonnuru community, and bringing water to the village by drilling a 40 meter deep borehole.

In 2004, Rita Marley and the women in her community began a plantation of cassava and other vegetables. Mrs. Marley has also opened a library stocked with the musical works of Bob Marley and herself at her Tuff Gong Studio at Aburi on the Akwapem ridge.

On her official website she notes, “Reggae is the heartbeat of a person. It’s the people’s music. Everywhere you go, you get the same response from both black and white.”

President Clinton Takes Swipe At Human Rights Groups, Backs Kagame

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

(GIN) – Former President Bill Clinton, on an African tour with daughter Chelsea, praised the Rwandan government lead by President Paul Kagame despite increasing evidence that Rwanda is backing ruthless rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A feisty Clinton, in an extended interview with the BBC, barely contained himself when reminded that human rights advocates, the U.N. and even President Obama have linked Kagame to the M23 rebel group which reportedly employs child soldiers and uses “terrible acts of violence,” according to the U.S. Treasury which has placed sanctions on group members.

“Where were those human rights groups criticizing” Rwanda today when Hutus were slaughtering Tutsis, Clinton asked BBC reporter Komla Dumor of Ghana. “…where were they when the Hutus went crazy in 1994?” To which Dumor responded: “Where was the world?”

Allegations of Rwanda’s support for M23 rebels in DRC, stated Clinton, “has not been fully litigated.” He added: “Secondly, its complicated by the fact that this section of Congo near Rwanda is full of people who perpetrated the genocide, who spurned the President’s offer to come home and not go to prison…and you can’t get around the fact that the economic and social gains in Rwanda have been nothing short of astonishing under Kagame, and he says he going to leave when his time is up…”

“…So I understand that some people in the human rights community believe that every good thing that has happened in Rwanda should be negated by what they allege they [Rwandans] have done in eastern Congo…”

In addition to support for M23, Dumor said, there’s repression of media and other human rights abuses.

A laughing Clinton said: “Look, I believe in a free press. When I was President, I helped to keep the press free that made a living out of feasting on my bones everyday! And I think too many politicians are too sensitive to being criticized.

“I think we have to be a little sensitive to the fact that if you’re Rwandan, you remember that an alleged free press helped push Rwanda into a boiling cauldron of butchery…”

The Clintons’ tour took them to Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa where they pumped up support for the Coca Cola Company’s Clinton Global Initiative Commitment which focuses on retail entrepreneurship for women.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. Sentenced to 2 ½ Years; Wife to Serve 12 Months

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By Freddie Allen
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – After openly weeping and apologizing for his behavior, former U.S. Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. was sentenced to 2 ½ years in federal prison on Wednesday for using $750,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

“Your honor, throughout this process I’ve asked the government and the court to hold me and only me accountable for my actions,” Jackson told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. He said, “I am the example for the whole Congress. I understand that. I didn’t separate my personal life from my political activities, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

He also said, “I misled the American people, I misled the House of Representatives.” Dabbing his eyes with tissues, he said, “I was wrong and I do not fault anyone.”

As the younger Jackson delivered his statement, his father, Jesse Jackson, Sr., sat in the first row listening as tears ran down his cheeks and his mother, Jacqueline, donned sunglasses for much of the proceedings.

Jackson’s wife, Sandra, a former Chicago alderwoman, was sentenced to a year in prison and will have to serve all 12 months. She must also repay $22,000 taken from her own campaign account for alderwoman. Family members wept when she was sentenced.

Based on time off for good behavior, Jackson, Jr. could be released after completing 25.5 months. In addition, Jackson, Jr. must perform 500 hours of community service.

Because the couple has two children, aged 13 and 9, they will serve time consecutively, with the husband entering prison first. Prosecutors had asked that Jackson Jr. be sentenced to four years in prison and his wife 18 months.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that Jackson treated campaign funds as “a personal piggy bank.”

The judge acknowledged that in the past lawmakers , were more loose with the use of campaign funds, but Jackson’s actions far exceeded even those limits.

“There may be blurred lines for Congress to follow when their lives are political, this case did not come near those areas,” she told Jackson, Jr., who represented Chicago’s South Side for 17 years, “This was a knowing, organized joint misconduct that was repeated over many years.”

Jackson, Jr., once a rising political star and the oldest son of civil rights leader Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., pleaded guilty to conspiracy, making false statements, mail fraud and wire fraud. His wife Sandra was charged with filing false tax returns.

According to the federal information filed in federal court, Jackson knowingly misspent campaign funds from about August 2005 through July 2012. It said Jackson and his wife conspired to “enrich themselves by engaging in a conspiracy and a scheme to defraud in which they used funds donated to the Campaign for their own personal benefit.”

Prosecutors said among the unauthorized spending was a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch for Jackson, Jr., more than $22,000 in Michael Jackson memorabilia, $11,130 for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorabilia, $10,105 for Bruce Lee memorabilia, $9,587.64 worth of children’s furniture shipped from New Jersey to the couple’s Washington home, a $5,000 football signed by American presidents, $2,775 on Jimi Hendrix memorabilia, $2,200 for Malcolm X memorabilia, a $1,500 black and red cashmere cape, and a $1,200 mink reversible parka.

Reid Weingarten, Jackson Jr.’s attorney, sought to minimize his client’s action, saying Jackson did not victimize helpless widows or operate a Ponzi scheme.

However, Matt Graves, an assistant U.S. attorney, called Jackson’s crimes “staggering.” He noted that the couple had earned nearly $350,000 in 2011.

Graves spoke of Jackson being “wasted talent” who had participated in one of the largest violations of federal campaign laws. Graves even belittled Jackson’s bipolar disorder, saying there was no medical evidence presented in court to support that claim.

The judge agreed, noting that there was evidence to show that the purchases were made during a bipolar episode and that none of the extravagant items were returned. The judge called evidence provided to support the defense’s bipolar disorder claim “thin.”

Reading from a prepared statement, Sandi Jackson cried and said. “My heart breaks every day with the pain this has caused my babies.”

But the judge reminded her, “It’s not the government that put your children in this position.”

She recommended assigning the former congressman to a minimum-security federal prison camp in Montgomery, Ala., or a low-security facility near Raleigh, N.C. She recommended that Sandra Jackson be sent to a similar facility in Florida. However, the Bureau of Prisons will make the final decision.

“The judge rendered a sentence that we’re satisfied was fair,” said Weingarten after learning Jackson’s fate. “The system worked well.”

Weingarten continued: “We fully believe that our client, Jesse Jackson, Jr. is going to have another important chapter in his life. He will come back out, and we believe, that he will do great things.”

Jackson, Jr. said he hoped his wife can earn enough money to support the family while he is prison.

“”When I get back, I’ll take on that burden,” he said. “By then, I hope my children will be old enough that the pain I caused will be easier to bear.”

Justice Department Gets Smart on Crime

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In a stunning turn in criminal justice policy, Attorney General Eric Holder announced steps the Justice Department will take to address over population in federal prisons by changing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines and pushing non-violent drug offenders into rehab programs instead of prison cells.

In a speech Monday at an annual meeting of the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Holder said, “Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it.”

Holder also acknowledged, that “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no good law enforcement reason.”

Nearly 219,000 Americans are locked up in federal prisons. Even though, Blacks account for 13.1 percent of the United States population, Blacks take up 37 percent of the beds in federal prisons, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons. Roughly 47 percent of prisoners are locked up for drug offenses, many of them non-violent offenders. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Justice spent $6.6 billion housing federal prisoners in 2012.

Holder said that the Justice Department’s plans would mirror policies that worked to reduce prison populations and recidivism in Kentucky, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina. Ohio and other states. According to Holder, at least 17 states have improved recidivism rates and decreased prison populations without compromising public safety by shifting resources “from prison construction and toward evidence-based programs and services, like treatment and supervision, that are designed to reduce recidivism.”

Holder noted that while the federal prison population continues to increase, in 2012 state prison populations experienced the largest drop in a single year.

“The bottom line is that, while the aggressive enforcement of federal criminal statutes remains necessary, we cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation,” said Holder. “To be effective, federal efforts must also focus on prevention and reentry.”

Holder also announced increased funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) that provides federal funding for advanced training and jobs for local law enforcement. Holder said that a new round of COPS grants would provide more than $110 million to hire military veterans and school resource officers.

The Obama administration placed more than $1.5 billion into the COPS program over the past four years, even as critics panned it and research that found it often contributed to over-policing in poor and minority communities and played only a limited role in the reduction of crime.

Still, members of Congress praised Holder’s announcement. In a press release, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said that she will introduce legislation that will “curb federal prosecutions of low-level and non-violent drug offenders; re-focus scarce federal resources to prosecute major drug kingpins, and give courts and judges greater discretion to place drug users on probation or suspend the sentence entirely.”

In a separate statement, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) said that, “It is well documented that a disproportionate share of stiff mandatory sentences for low-level, non-violent crimes typically impact low income populations and communities of color.”

Fudge continued: “The measures introduced by the Attorney General will provide a fair and balanced approach to sentencing while improving protection of our nation’s vulnerable communities.”

The Justice Department’s “Smart on Crime” initiative will focus five key provisions:

- Prioritizing prosecutions to focus on the most serious cases

- Reforming sentencing to eliminate unfair disparities and reduce overcrowded prisons.

- Pursuing alternatives to incarceration and low-level, non-violent crimes.

- Improving reentry to curb repeat offenses and re-victimization.

- Surging resources to violence prevention and protecting the most vulnerable populations.

“We must never stop being tough on crime,” said Holder. “But we must also be smarter on crime.”

Many Events Planned for March on Washington

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By George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In addition to the long-planned March on Washington scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 24, the White House has announced that President Obama will speak at a commemorative service at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice.

“National Action to Realize the Dream March” on Aug. 24 will be co-chaired by Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King, III. According the list of speakers announced thus far, it will be held in the spirit of the original march. On the other hand, the King Center in Atlanta, headed Bernice King, is more commemorative. It is celebrating Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by asking communities to organize “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing events on Aug. 28 at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to observe the exact time Dr. King delivered his historic address.

The Let Freedom Ring” commemoration and call to action” will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on August 28. The program begins with an interfaith service from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall, followed by the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

President Obama is scheduled to speak at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Ironically, Obama accepted his party’s nomination on 45th anniversary of the march on Aug. 28, 2008 in Denver. In his acceptance speech, he made reference to Dr. King but did not call him by name, preferring to refer to him as “a young preacher from Georgia.”

Obama’s second inauguration in January of this year fell on the day of national observance of Dr. King’s birthday, but Obama referred to “a King,” but again did not mention MLK by name. On Aug. 28, he gets a third time to be more specific.

Throughout most of his presidency, Obama has been reluctant to address the issue of race. But that apparently changed with the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman on second-degree murder charges. The Aug. 28 platform will provide him another opportunity to address race.

With one member of the King family – Martin III – helping lead the Saturday march and another – Bernice – the driving force behind the March 28 event at the Lincoln Memorial, some supporters are worried that holding two separate marches might reduce attendance at each event, sending the wrong message about Blacks’ determination to fight regressive actions and court decision.

Trying to put the best face on the situation, organizers argue that because the Obama announcement came so late, it will not interfere with the Aug. 24 march because those planning to attend have already solidified their transportation and hotel plans.

Both the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Bayard Rustin Institute are holding their annual conventions in Washington that week.

Obama’s speech will culminate a week of activities centered around the original march. Among the events planned:


Wednesday, August 21
Praise and Worship Service for 50th Anniversary Celebration

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Mt. Airy Baptist Church
1100 North Capitol Street, NW
Washington, DC 20002
Hosted by the National African American Clergy Network
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Celebrating the Legacy of Women in the Movement

Women in the Movement: Past, Present & Future
Intergenerational Roundtable
11:00 am – 1:30 pm
Venue TBD
Washington, D.C.
Hosted by NCBCP Black Women’s Roundtable, National Council of Negro Women, National Action Network in partnership w/The King Center, Planned Parenthood
Invitation Only

Celebrating the Legacy of Youth in the Movement

Protect Our Voting Rights & Social Justice Youth Organizing Training
10th Annual Black Youth Vote! National Civic Leadership Training Conference
Highlights: Unity Breakfast, Tribute to Jamal Rose, Gathering of Black Men “I Am Trayvon” Dialogue, Sister Circles, Issue Organizing Breakouts, Regional/State-Based Organizing Strategy Sessions 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

Hosted by National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, NAACP, NEA, Generational Alliance, NAN Youth Move, The Praxis Project, NUL Young Professionals, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., BK Nation, 100 Black Men of America, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. “Covering Civil Rights: On the Front Lines”

7 p.m. Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. The Newseum, in partnership with the National Council of Negro Women, will host a free evening program that will include a special appearance by Elder Bernice King, chief executive officer of The King Center and daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Rev. King will receive the NCNW’s 2013 Leadership Award. Moderated by Sirius XM radio host, Joe Madison, the event will also feature a discussion with journalist and author of Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement, Simeon Booker, who was on the front lines of covering the civil rights story. The program is free and open to the public, but seats are limited and must be reserved at CoveringCivilRights.eventbrite.com.

Friday, August 23, 2013
Redeem the Dream National Summit & Reception

8:00 am – 2:00 pm
National Building Museum
401 F Street NW
Washington, DC
Hosted by National Urban League
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Celebrating the Legacy of Youth in the Movement
Protect Our Voting Rights & Social Justice Youth Organizing Training
10th Annual Black Youth Vote! National Civic Leadership Training Conference

8:00 am – 6:00 pm
National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
Hosted by National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, NAACP, NEA, Generational Alliance, NAN Youth Move in partnership w/The Praxis Project, NUL Young Professionals, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., BK Nation, 100 Black Men of America, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

To register go to www.ncbcp.org

National Town Hall Meeting on Poverty & Economic Empowerment
Moving Together, Moving Forward: Jobs and Freedom
57th Annual SCLC International Convention

Race & Poverty Panel 2:00 pm -4:00 pm
Voting Rights Panel 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street, NW, Washington, DC
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Hosted by Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SCLC Poverty Institute, Rainbow PUSH

Saturday, August 24, 2013
50th Anniversary March on Washington National Action to Realize the Dream March and Rally for “Jobs, Justice & Freedom.”

8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Lincoln Memorial
Washington, D.C.

National Conveners: Martin Luther King, III and Al Sharpton, National Action Network
Co-Convened by: National Conveners: National Action Network AFSCME, AFT, AFL-CIO, APRI, HRC, LCCR, NAACP, NBJC, SCLC, SEIU, NCBW, NOW, NUL, NCNW, NCBCP, The King Center, National African American Clergy Network and CWBI.

Among the speakers are Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, Charles Steele, Jr. the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till; and Congressman John Lewis. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Sunday, August 25, 2013
SCLC Worship Service

11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Howard University
Washington D. C. Convention Center
Hosted by SCLC
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Monday, August 26, 2013
Legacy & Leadership Gala

Time: TBD
Capital Hilton
1001 16th St NW, Washington, DC
To register go to: www.sclc.org
Hosted by Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
9-12th Grade Educational Initiative

Time and Location: To be Announced
Will be Accessible via Online Streaming
Hosted by the King Center, Operation Hope and the NCNW in partnership with Discovery Education
To register go to: www.thekingcenter.org

Global Freedom Festival

2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
The National Mall
7th & 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC
Hosted by: National Park Service, with the King Center
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

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