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Threats of Violence Spark War Flashbacks as Liberian Election Goes Forward

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Nov. 8 (GIN) – Threats of a mass boycott of Liberian national elections by opposition party leader Winston Tubman sparked fears of a return to civil war chaos, prompting voters to stay home in droves, it was reported.

Poll observers in Monrovia reported many fewer voters than in the first round vote last month. Sporadic outbreaks of violence left at least five people dead despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers and a Nobel Peace Prize president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who has been favored to win this second run-off voting round.

Johnson-Sirleaf’s rival for the top spot is ex-justice minister Winston Tubman from the Congress for Democratic Change, with ex-soccer star George Weah as his running mate. Votes are being tallied and the winner could be announced as early as this week.

Tubman had demanded a delay of two to four weeks after finding three ballot boxes he said were tampered. His call for a boycott was rejected and criticized by international observers, ECOWAS and other regional bodies.

Meanwhile, a study by the Liberia Media Center found bias in the majority of the print and electronic media. The study titled “Because Accountability Matters,” covered the period of Sept-Oct 2011, and involved seven radio stations and 11 newspapers.

“The media performed dismally in reporting on political parties, candidates and issues regarding the electoral processes,” the report read. “Programming accounted for the unprofessionalism and biases of the media.”

Journalists must remain non-partisan even if they are in the employ of media owners with partisan agenda," said the Center’s director, Lawrence Randall. “Above all else, media owners should seek to promote diversity and undue monopolization of their outlet by any single political party.”

Gaddafi Planned Retirement in South Africa

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By Fungai Maboreke, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Nov. 1 (GIN) - The late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi believed he was headed for Karoo, a desert-like area in South Africa, where he would live in a tent under the protection of his allies, when he was fatally ambushed by joint NATO-Libyan forces.

Reports of South African fighters hired to guide the fallen Libyan leader have appeared in two South African papers in the Afrikaans language. The South African soldiers of fortune are now stranded abroad but officials of the government, a former Gaddafi ally, are offering no support.

“Any South African who is involved in military matters in Libya would do so illegally and at own risk. They are their own responsibility," Siphiwe Dlamini, a defense department spokesman, told the newspaper Beeld. "According to the Prohibition of Mercenary Activity Act of 2006, South Africans are forbidden from entering any conflict area in any part of the world on either side," Dlamini said.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam, continues to make his escape through friendly countries such as Niger, although the International Criminal Court which seeks his prosecution says he is making contact for surrender through an intermediary.

Cain Talks Race, Presidential Contest

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By James Wright, Special to the NNPA from the Washington Informer –

The leading contender for the Republican nomination for president said that his race should not be a factor in his bid for the White House and he has the support of a wide group of Americans to prove it.

Herman Cain, 65, told a sold-out lunch crowd at the National Press Club in Northwest on Mon., Oct. 31, that he is African-American and that should not deter anyone from supporting his candidacy.

"People should not be uncomfortable with the president because of his race, they should be uncomfortable because of his bad policies," Cain said. "We've become more [racially] divided as a nation because this administration plays the race card with class warfare and talk of a millionaires tax. I have the support of many white Americans and they are sending a message that 'we're not racist'."

He delighted the audience more than once saying that "this many white people can't pretend that they like me," and later singing a gospel song: "He Looked Beyond My Faults (and saw my need)."

Cain is a 1967 graduate of Morehouse College with a bachelor's in mathematics and masters in computer science from Purdue University in 1971. He is the former chief executive officer of Godfather's Pizza based in Omaha, Neb., and his only stint in public service has been as deputy chairman and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Cain is in a statistical tie with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Iowa, which will hold their caucuses on Jan. 3, 2012. The poll, conducted by the Des Moines Register, has Cain at 23 percent with Romney at 22.

The Republican Party has never put a black person on its national presidential ticket. In 1888, at the Republican Party convention, Frederick Douglass became the first African-American to receive a vote for president.

In 1996, Gen. Colin Powell was considered a serious possible candidate for the 1996 Republican nomination for president, but decided not to pursue it. Alan Keyes, an African-American diplomat and conservative activist, has run for the 1996, 2000 and 2008 Republican nominations, drawing minimal support.

Cain addressed recent accusations of sexual harassment while serving as head of the National Restaurant Association by denying the charges, saying that "I have never sexually harassed anyone and I am not aware of a settlement."

He said that as president, he will "stand firmly behind Israel" and "stop giving money to our enemies."

Cain made it clear that he is "pro-life" and that he backs legislation on the federal level to outlaw abortion. He explained his 9-9-9 tax plan, which would assess a nine percent rate on business taxes, nine percent on personal income and a nine percent sales tax, as "simple, transparent, efficient and fair."

Cain said that he decided to run for president when President Obama signed into law comprehensive health care reform.

"We don't have a health care problem, it is a health costs problem," he said. "His [Obama] policies show a lack of leadership."

Cain said that he will use the leadership he had at Godfather's Pizza to turn the country around.

"When I became the CEO of Godfather's, I did not know how to make pizza," he said. Cain said that he talked with customers, staff, suppliers, and franchisers to get their perspective on what needed to be done to turn Godfather's around and "I will do the same as president."

While Cain has impressive numbers early in the presidential contest, David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Northwest, said that it might not even matter.

"It is 100-to-1 odds that he will get the Republican nomination," Bositis said. "He has never been elected to public office. He has a crackpot economic scheme."

Bositis said that Cain "is a black face that will make conservatives feel comfortable."

"I don't even see him as a vice presidential pick because he brings nothing to the ticket," Bositis said.

Nevertheless, Crystal Wright, a black Republican in the District, likes what she sees in Cain.

"He is talking as a businessman and with common sense," she said. "His 9-9-9 plan is easy to understand and it is simpler than Romney's 59-page economic development plan. Herman Cain is shattering perceptions about black conservatives among White conservatives and Blacks in general and I think a Romney-Cain ticket in 2012 is doable."

Black Farmers Finally Getting Paid

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By Valencia Mohammed, Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

The U.S. District Court approved a settlement in the ongoing saga between Black farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) providing an additional $1.2 billion for housands of plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit.

The Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, decided Oct. 27 by Judge Paul L. Friedman, was derived from a class action suit initiated in 1997, Pigford v. Glickman, in which African-American farmers (initially James Copeland, Earl Moorer and Marshallene McNeil) joined to allege a pattern of systemic exclusion from USDA grant and lease programs.

It was alleged that USDA discriminated on the basis of race in various federal programs denying Black farmers loans and other benefits that were granted to White farmers. It was noted, when the Black farmers filed complaints to USDA, the allegations were not investigated. In addition, no remedies were sought to correct egregious violations of civil rights laws. USDA’s failure to act deprived countless farmers of credits and payments under various federal programs which resulted in financial and real estate losses.

“This agreement will provide overdue relief and justice to African American farmers, and bring us closer to the ideals of freedom and equality that this country was founded on,” said President Barack Obama at a recent press conference.

The resulting consent decree was soon enlarged to include about 40,000 persons after Congress acknowledged the historical validity of the claims by expanding the statute of limitations. This allowed the litigation to proceed unhindered by the 1981 to 1996 time span.

Uncertainty about who qualified as a “Pigford complainant” persisted as thousands more submitted claims. The number reached 61,252 by 2000, and most of these claims were allowed for consideration after passage of the 2008 Farm Bill. By 2010, about 16,000 complainants received over $1 billion in “direct payments, loan payments, and tax relief.” These direct payments threatened to deplete the $100 million in funds allocated under the Farm Bill to make the remaining qualified complainants whole. Additional relief was sought.

“I am glad to see that this day has finally come. For years, Black farmers have faced discrimination – not only from businesses, but from the very government that was meant to protect them. The U.S. District Court’s approval of the settlement is a major step forward in closing an ugly chapter of USDA’s civil rights history. Not only will this agreement provide overdue relief; but it will provide justice to African American farmers who have been disenfranchised,” said chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D- Mo.

John W. Boyd Jr., founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, hailed the ruling granting the motion to certify and approve the settlement in this historic discrimination case.

"Today, because of a Congress that was willing to once again waive the statute of limitations and to appropriate $1.25 billion to help further redress the historic discrimination against African-American farmers, the court is pleased to approve the settlement agreement proposed by the moving plaintiffs, and endorsed by the United States, as fair, reasonable, and adequate."

Boyd added, "Today is an important day, in fact a truly historic day for the nation's Black farmers and for all of those who worked so hard to give every farmer their day in court so they may be compensated for the government's discrimination.”

Boyd reminded the farmers there is still more work to do. “It is also important for the farmers to know that all cases must be adjudicated before the payments go out to the farmers. After all we have been through – justice always finds its way home. I have been praying for this day.

“The settlement isn’t perfect but we’re glad the judge finally resolved the situation. The farmers need their money. But it’s unfortunate it took so long. Many of them have died waiting while this struggle played out.”

Researcher DeRutter Jones contributed additional material to this story.

Herman Cain Under Fire After Third Woman Alleges Sexual Harassment

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

The Republican Party’s leading candidate is on the defensive after it was reported that a third woman came forward Nov. 2 alleging that GOP front-runner Herman Cain sexually harassed her.

According to a report published by The Politico Oct. 30 two women alleged that Cain engaged in inappropriate conduct while he headed the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, eventually paying each a five-figure settlement. A third woman came forward, telling the Associated Press that Cain made sexually-suggestive remarks and gestures when she worked for the organization.

The allegations of sexual harassment have been roundly denied by both Cain and his campaign since they became public, with Cain accusing the campaign of rival candidate Rick Perry of planting the allegations. But the candidate’s responses on other questions have differed slightly since the claims became public. On Oct. 31, Cain said he was “not aware of any [legal] settlement,” according to CNN. Later, he said he was in fact aware of a separation agreement in one of the cases.

Despite the turmoil, Cain’s campaign said the controversy has solidified support behind him, saying that he has raised $1.2 million since the Politico story was published.

“The American people are starting to see through this stuff, and they are sick of gutter politics,” Cain declared in a radio interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity, CNN reported. “This will not deter me.”

The candidate and his supporters have also suggested that Cain has been targeted because of his race. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter called the allegations an example of “high-tech lynching,” referencing the sexual harassment allegations of Anita Hill against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings in the early 1990s.

“I’m a Black conservative, and it is causing their [critics’] heads to explode,” Cain said on Hannity’s show.

When news first hit of sexual harassment allegations in “the Politico” Cain denied them the next day. A few days later he came forward and admitted he knew about the allegations but still denied touching the women in question. The women have not previously released statements due to a confidentiality agreement each woman is stated to have signed at the end of the settlement.

One of the women’s lawyers, John Bennett, is seeking for his client’s statement to be released soon through the National Restaurant Association, which could mean trouble for Cain. He is already dodging questions from the press, telling them, “don’t even bother” asking about the allegations. And Cain’s camp is also pointing fingers, saying that Rick Perry’s camp had something to do with the leak of the information. With this slippery slope, however, GOP chairman Reince Priebus remains optimistic, believing that this scandal will not affect the GOP chances of beating President Obama in the race next year.

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