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New Legislation for Caribbean Immigrants ID Cards

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Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

CMC – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed legislation to create a municipal identification card for Caribbean and other immigrants living in the city, including undocumented persons.

“Even for those who already have IDs, we’re going to make sure that this card brings a lot to the equation, a lot of benefits that will go with it,” said deBlasio, whose wife, Chirlane, traces her roots to Barbados.

“But for those who don’t have ID, it’s going to be crucial,” he said when signing the on to the new law Thursday.

Although de Blasio originally wanted the ID card law to roll out before the end of the year, it’s now scheduled to launch in January, the New York Daily News reported.

The mayor assured undocumented Caribbean applicants for the new ID card that they will not be asked about their immigration status.

“We want all New Yorkers to feel very comfortable working with the police,” deBlasio said. “We want them to be very able to identify themselves to the police and do it in an atmosphere of safety.

“This is going to play a crucial role in deepening the relationship between police and community, including a lot of our immigrant communities,” he added.

City Councilmen Carlos Menchaca and Daniel Dromm, who sponsored the measure, said the bill would allow a large section of the city’s marginalized populations to receive benefits and access to simple services like opening a bank account or renting an apartment.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Puerto Rican-born elected official to hold the position in New York City, described the bill as ‘historic’.

“Today, we’re living up to our highest ideals, and today we’re saying that no one should be left out,” she said.

Officials said the ID card will be free of cost during the first year, adding that there will be walk-in enrollment centers, along with online applications.

Mugabe Orders Caucasian Farmers to Evacuate Zimbabwe Again

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By W.A.T.E.R. 17
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Echoing similar sentiments from a decade ago, on July 2, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe demanded that the remaining European “landowners” rightfully return “their property” to his nation’s indigenous inhabitants.

Implementing one of the harshest policies in his country’s land reform movement, Mugabe addressed farmers in Mhangura, a small mining town about 120 miles north of its capital Harare.

“I have been given a list of 35 white farmers in Mashonaland West alone and in just a few districts that have been audited. We say no to whites owning our land and they should go,” Mugabe told the crowd. “They can own companies and apartments … but not the soil. It is ours, and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States.”

Mugabe suggested that the several hundred remaining Caucasian colonizing farmers should leave. He also refused to allow Caucasian families renting farms from African owners to stay, which is what some had been doing since being violently chased away and having their farms seized a decade ago.

“There are white farmers who are still on the land and have the protection of some cabinet ministers and politicians as well as traditional leaders … that should never happen,” he stated. “They [Caucasians] were living like kings and queens on our land, and we chucked them out. Now we want all of it.”

Mugabe, 90, has governed Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980. He came to power on the heels of the Lancaster House Agreement, which established that he couldn’t make any land reform changes for a decade. After numerous attempts to redistribute land back to Africans, in 2000, the Zimbabwe government instituted the Fast-Track Land Reform Program, which violently forced Caucasian farmers off “their lands” without compensation.

The government reportedly seized 110,000 square kilometers of land, and millions of Black farmers were said to have become unemployed. By 2005, the Parliament agreed to nationalize all farmland, silencing farmers who wanted to contest the land grab in court.

A decade and a half ago, Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader, embarked on a revolutionary nationwide campaign for land reacquisition, where his supporters forced thousands of Caucasian commercial farmers to turn over their territory under a so-called “indigenization” land reform policy.

Caucasians began heavily populating Zimbabwe in the 1890s. The Land Apportionment Act of 1930 divided the lands by ethnicities (Shona, Ndebele, etc.). While traditionally Africans had shared the lands communally, the Caucasians’ presence offset nature’s balance.

The Caucasian population flourished while the native inhabitants were relocated to low rainfall areas, forcing 99 percent of the population onto 25 percent of the land. By 1979, Caucasians only made up about 5 percent of the population, with only 4,500 farmers, yet they owned 70 percent of the fertile land.

Mugabe was reelected last summer to his fifth consecutive term with 61 percent of the vote while outing his own associates who make lucrative profits by owning farmland and renting it to Caucasians. Mugabe characterized this practice as unpatriotic under his notions of indigenous Black African nationalism. The president’s Zanu-PF party also gained a parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, winning 160 of the 210 seats.

Following this presentation, the 90-year-old leader collapsed. It was reported that he was immediately rushed back to Harare for evaluation. Rumors about Mugabe’s health have circulated for some time, but as he is advancing in age, speculation has increased over the years.

Despite official denials, it is widely believed that Mugabe is being treated for prostate cancer.

Korean Comedians Weat Blackface Again: Will They Ever Stop?

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By Steve Han
Special to the NNPA from New America Media via KoreAm

When we saw that Gag Concert, a popular comedy show on South Korea’s state-run TV network KBS, featured comedians wearing blackface makeup (again), we were stuck asking ourselves the same old question.

Will they ever get it?

The June 29th episode of Gag Concert showed two people wearing blackface makeup and costumes that resemble African tribal clothes.

“Your make up was done so well,” one performer says in Korean. “I almost thought it was real. Wow, look how black your elbows are.”

This is the second time this year that Gag Concert resorted to a blackface comedy in its skit. Just this past February, the show’s actors painted their faces in dark colors and wore wigs to portray black characters.

The fact that these skits continue to happen, despite backlash and subsequent apologies, is another sign that racial sensitivity is taken with a grain of salt among many South Koreans. A 2011 skit on Saturday Night Live Korea featured comedians who painted their faces black to depict the Dreamgirls.

Caribbean Steps Up Fight for Payment from Europe

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By Bert Wilkinson
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Not surprisingly, Caribbean trade bloc leaders, who wrapped up their four-day main annual summit in the small but idyllic eastern Caribbean island of Antigua on the weekend, pressed on the accelerator regarding their demand for payment from European nations that participated in and benefitted from the African slave trade.

Since they first threw their weight behind the Rastafarian Movement and other civil society groups for justice at the Trinidad summit exactly one year ago, the region has become more organized and increasingly determined to make Europe compensate member nations in the form of cash, official apologies and assistance in improving the regional infrastructure for health, education, policing and other key areas.

The final communiqué, issued at the end of the meeting, showed that the leaders, after extensive discussions among themselves and briefings from the regional umbrella body organizing the case of the Caribbean against Europe, decided to ask for a Caribbean-Europe reparations summit sometime later this year or early in 2015.

That meeting, officials said, will be used as the main sounding board to determine whether a negotiated settlement will be arrived at or whether the case for reparations will have to be taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

Britain, one of the key nations that snatched Africans from the continent, put them on slave ships and dumped them on sugar and other plantations, forcing them to work in oppressive conditions without a cent in pay, has already said it will not recognize the case or pay any money.

However, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair might have well weakened the British stance against payment because he had, back in 2007, expressed regret for the “unbearable suffering” caused by the UK’s role in slavery. He did not consider the expression of regret as an apology, though. In 2010, then French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had found it necessary to acknowledge “the wounds of colonization” and as a gesture cancelled $56M Euros of debt owed by Haiti.

The leaders think the Caribbean region has a strong case for payment and have taken heart from other international judgments against Europe in this regard. The UK, The Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal are among nations firmly in the sights of the Caribbean leaders.

To this end, governments have already met and reviewed parts of the arguments with the British law firm, Leigh Day, the firm that won $21.5M in compensation payments for surviving Kenyan Mau Mau fighters who were brutalized and tortured by the British government during an anti-colonial rebellion against oppression in the 1950s and 1960s.

Obama, Dems Lambaste Supreme Court Labor Ruling

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By James Wright
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

President Obama and other Democratic leaders expressed concerns about the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that some government employees do not have to pay fees to the labor organizations representing them.

Obama, who won both elections with the support of organized labor, said that collective bargaining is a fundamental right that helped to build America’s middle class.

“The ability of public servants to collectively bargain is crucial to ensuring both a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work and the high quality service citizens expect and deserve from their government,” Obama said.

The president said that the court singled out home care workers as not being liable for union dues and fees, which he called unfair and used his home state as a model.

“The collective bargaining model in Illinois resulted in fairer pay and benefits for hardworking caregivers as well as improved training, safety and health protections and tools to help those who need care find it,” he said. “The court’s decision will not only make it significantly harder for these dedicated employees to get a fair shake in exchange for hard work, but will make it harder for states and cities to ensure the elderly and Americans with disabilities get the care they need and deserve.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said that the decision is a blow to organized labor and the American worker.

“Many of the basic workplace standards and protections that we take for granted as Americans are thanks to the efforts of organized labor,” she said. “These benefits have been sought and achieved on behalf of all workers, regardless of whether or not they’ve paid union dues. I fear that this decision will seriously diminish the capacity of labor unions to represent the best interests of American workers who have fought for and won significant progress on wages, benefits and working conditions, and jeopardize the progress that has been made over the last century.”

Democratic candidates generally are the recipients of organized labor’s financial and organizational support. Labor supports not only extended collective bargaining rights but increased wages for non-salaried workers, improved workplace protection in terms of employment and on the job site and stronger benefits employment packages for workers such as a comprehensive medical and dental care, tuition reimbursement and time off from the job for essential family activities.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the president and CEO of the National Action Network, also criticized the court’s decision.

“By limiting their [workers] ability to automatically deduct dues, workers will once again suffer while the corporations maintain their own protections and privileges,” Sharpton said.

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BVN National News Wire