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Obama Drug Adviser: Reform Justice System to Recognize Drug Addiction as Disease

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

President Obama’s top drug policy advisor will hold a media briefing on Nov. 21 at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to share new approaches to America’s drug war.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, will share data regarding the disproportionate impact our nation’s drug problem has on African American communities.

Kerlikowske will also reveal unprecedented efforts by the administration to break the cycle of drug use, crime, incarceration, and re-arrest. He will be joined by Dr. Redonna K. Chandler, chief of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Services Research Branch in the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research.

“The Obama Administration has been laser focused on applying sound, research-based drug policies geared toward protecting Americans from the public health and safety threats drugs pose. As someone who has spent their entire career in law enforcement, I know we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem,” said Kerlikowske.

“That’s why our policies are now based upon the recognition that drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. The tragic wreckage wrought by drug use can and should be prevented before it becomes a criminal justice or public health emergency.”

Kerlikowske recently finished a nationwide tour with prominent Black leaders from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles to listen to concerns about drug policy impact and to share the administration effective solutions to reform the criminal justice system to make it more fair while protecting public safety.

“As our nation works to recover from one of the greatest recessions we’ve had, we must do everything we can to lessen the harm that drug use causes to the health, safety, and economic potential of our nation. As part of this effort, we must reform our criminal justice system so that it recognizes drug addiction as a disease and works in a way that is fair and equitable to every American. This challenge requires new and innovative ways of thinking about how we address our drug problem,” stated Kerlikowske at a Nov. 10 meeting with several African American leaders.

More than seven million people in the United States are under the supervision of the criminal justice system with more than two million behind bars.

Expanding Age Gap Between Whites, Minorities May Increase U.S. Racial Divide

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By Teresa Wiltz, Special to the NNPA from America’s Wire –

WASHINGTON—A generation gap in several states between older whites and younger Latinos and African-Americans has race relations experts concerned that age differences in the population are influencing spending and public policy in areas such as education, transportation, immigration and infrastructure.

As the United States rapidly advances toward having a majority-minority population, whites continue to grow older, while --whites are increasingly younger. Evidence is mounting that what has been considered a racial divide in the country is also crystallizing into a generational divide.

Newly released U.S. Census data demonstrate a rapidly widening racial age gap. The median age for white Americans is 41 but is 32 for blacks, 31.6 for Asians and 27 for Latinos. Across the country, 80 percent of senior citizens are white, while nearly half of the nation’s youth are of color. Such significant age disparities, some experts on race relations say, may be having far-reaching implications on resources invested in programs and areas benefiting younger generations.

“Where the old don’t see themselves reflected in the young, there’s less investment in the future,” says Manuel Pastor, a professor of geography and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California where he directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and co-directs the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

“Our racial divide has become a generational divide,” Pastor says. “There’s this image of an older generation drawing up the drawbridge just as the younger generation is coming of age in America.”

More important, data show that states with a larger gap between median ages of whites and people of color tend to make fewer investments in social programs that once benefited older generations that were predominantly white, according to a new research project by PERE in conjunction with PolicyLink, a national research and advocacy organization based in Oakland, Calif.

For instance, Pastor says states with significant age gaps between white and nonwhite populations tend to spend the least on education and public transportation.

In Arizona, the median age for whites is 43 compared with 25 for Latinos, who comprise 31 percent of the state’s population. On per-pupil spending for education, census data show that Arizona ranks 49th among the states and the District of Columbia. In terms of spending on transportation, the state is in the bottom quarter of all states, according to Dominique Apollon, research director at the Applied Research Center, which has offices in New York, Chicago and Oakland.

“States that have the biggest age divide like Arizona really become ground zero for the racial generation gap,” says Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink. “Places that don’t invest in the future will not be competitive in the future.”

To illustrate her point, Blackwell cites California and Mississippi. Through slavery and restrictive Jim Crow laws, she says, Mississippi consistently underinvested in the black community. Today, Blackwell says, it consistently ranks on or near in the bottom in terms of education spending and has the nation’s infant mortality rate. Forty is the median age for whites in Mississippi, 29 for blacks and 25 for Latinos, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

In California, public policy priorities have changed as the white population has aged. In the 1950s, when white families arrived from the Midwest in search of jobs, California built the nation’s best educational system. There were generous investments in the state’s infrastructure and programs to help families become homeowners. The state became a poster child for the benefits of public sector spending.

Today, California has a considerable age gap between white and nonwhite residents. The median age for whites is 43, for blacks 34 and for Latinos 27, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Furthermore, Blackwell says children of color comprise 70 percent of the state’s 18-and-under population while 60 percent of its over-65 population is white.

Beset with budget issues, California now hovers in the lower rungs of per-child spending on education, ranking 43rd nationally. It also ranks in the bottom quarter of all states in transportation funding, according to the Applied Research Center.

“You’re starting to see the same approach that held back states like Mississippi holding back states like California,” Blackwell says. “California is the harbinger. Mississippi should have been the lesson.”

Still, questions have been raised about whether a relationship exists between racial age gaps and public sector spending. “I’m a little skeptical” about whether it is a national trend, Apollon says. Some state spending levels, he says, may be related to conservative philosophies toward government spending.

Still, Apollon says, “there is certainly a fear of the changing demographic amongst a small minority of the country, and that minority tends to be whites and it tends to be slightly older.”

According to demographer William H. Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, generation-gap states like Arizona tend to have “lightning rod issues” such as immigration and undocumented immigrants. Last year, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed into law the nation’s strictest immigration legislation, which made failure to carry immigration documents a crime.

The law also gave police wide latitude in detaining anyone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant. A federal judge later imposed an injunction on many of the law’s provisions. The state also banned Chicano studies programs in its public schools.

Frey says antipathy toward immigrants is a generational trend, noting the hostility toward Italian and Polish immigrants 100 years ago. Immigration slowed between the 1930s and 1970s, and not until the 1990s did Latin American immigration begin surging. Rapidly changing demographics unnerve many people, he says, adding that baby boomers had not witnessed the immigration wave of the early 1900s.

“What bothers me is politicians use this as a wedge issue,” Frey says, “rather than explaining this [wave of immigration] is part of our history.”

Meanwhile, other people see the disinclination to invest in younger generations as a matter of economics and self-interest. “I personally think it’s class that’s the issue, not ethnicity,” says Joel Kotkin, author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.” As older generations age out of the workforce, Kotkin says, they are much less concerned about opportunities for the next generation, regardless of race.

The state of the economy is also having an impact on social spending. “When the economy goes bad, people get scared,” says Michael R. Wenger, senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington. “All of us get scared unless we’re Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. . . . We want to spend less because we don’t know what’s happening. That kind of fear means that people don’t want to be their brother’s keeper. They are fearful for their own future, and that comes first.”

Anxiety about the future is coupling with unease about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics to affect public policy. “This country has always been seen by white people as a white country,” Wenger says. “So a number of people see that slipping away, so their sense of control is slipping away. “

But Pastor says such fear becomes counterproductive.

“It’s not just kids of color that are hurt when you don’t invest in education,” he says. “It’s young white families that are afraid to move back to the cities because of the schools. We’re really damaging a whole generation of possibilities.”

KKK Letter Ignites Safety Concern

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By Floyd Alvin Galloway, Special to the NNPA from the Arizona Informant –

Columbine in Colorado – 1999, Heath High School in Paducah Kentucky - 1997, University of Arizona -2002, Virginia Tech 2007. Far too often violence has erupted on the campuses of too many schools, from grade schools to universities. In most of the cases there were signs that officials and others didn’t take seriously.

Daniesha Flannigan loved her job as a Student Resource Center service coordinator. She loved helping students achieve their academic goals and encouraging them to continue in their pursuit of furthering their careers and education. Working in the position for four years things changed drastically when she was emailed a letter from student Eric Frizzle on December 30, 2010, asking her to proof read the letter for him.

The letter was his request for his membership in the terrorist group, Ku Klux Klan. Frizzell was no ordinary looking student according to Flannigan. “He is in his 40’s or 50’s. He would always dress in black jeans, black shirt, black trench coat, looking like the two involved with the Columbine shootings in Colorado.” Most of the employees were aware of Frizzell and avoided him Flannigan stated, because he gave them an eerie feeling.

In his opening he proclaims, “Here we go-yehaa!” In the letter Frizzell states, “I would not only like to become the Klan historian, but I am also striving for life membership in the Klan; and I am fully aware of the commitments that are required of me, here.”

He goes on to say, “I didn’t rejoin The Knights only to set around letting my mouth overload my ass.” The Knights he is referring to is the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society The primary economic and political goal of this organization was to create a prosperous, slave-holding Southern Empire extending in the shape of a circle from their proposed capital at Havana, Cuba, through the southern states of the United States, Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.

Flannigan immediately reported the letter to her supervisors, the same day. The only African American in her location, she was concerned with her safety. Flannigan felt the student was trying to send her an intimidating message. The response from her supervisors and company officials were not what she had hoped for.

A month after receiving the letter and voicing her concerns with officials the student was still seen on campus. This is the same student that had previously been banned from one of the other campuses Flannigan later learned. But was not aware of the reason why, but knew it had to be critical.

Flannigan’s co-workers would give her signals when they would see Frizzell. When Frizzell was given a letter of reprimand he made it a point to give his letter of appeal to Flannigan, which let her know that he knew she was the one the filed the complaint. “The student was allowed to continue to come to the campus and give me his letter of appeal in regards to the incident and complete his course. No one of authority wanted to address the student, but I still had to have contact with him when he was well aware of the complaint that I made against him. I don’t think that was putting my safety first,” Flannigan stated in an email she sent to Flora Dominquez, Apollo Group Inc., Human Resources.

In February 2011, Flannigan filed for Family Medical Leave of Absence and in May requested an extension. Noting the stress from that situation has greatly affected her life. Flannigan was also a student at the University of Phoenix, ten credits short of her degree. Now she doesn’t know how or when she will be able to finish. The unemployed Flannigan now says the school is calling her for payment for the 10 credits she is was not able to finish.

The situation was so stressful that it began affecting not only her work life, but also her home life. Instead of supporting Flannigan they began to question her. Urging her to get her emotions together, school offered to change her work schedule, which would not suppress her concerns but put her in more danger she felt. She began to seek professional help from a therapist. According to Flannigan she was diagnosed with post traumatic syndrome.

The university’s handling of the issue outraged Rev. Oscar Tillman, president of Maricopa County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Ms. Flannigan came to us when she was not getting any satisfaction from the school. When she came to us they started to come after her and made her feel like she was the person causing trouble.”

Rev. Tillman noted in trying to reach the president of Apollo group to discuss the matter he was unsuccessful and was given the run around by others. “We are here to work with people. The NAACP is a place for people to turn to. In many cases when they do they become targeted by the company officials.”

This is not the first racial incident the educational group has been called on. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Ohio chapter filed a complaint with the school on several issues a couple of years ago. The hiring and promotion of African Americans have also been complaint for years Rev. Tillman noted.

Dominique Brown, Apollo’s corporate diversity officer, who has only been with the company for five months, admits there probably were some things that could have been handled differently in Flannigan’s case. “She probably felt there was no one to turn to.” Brown said that is one the reasons she is in the position that had been vacant for some time before her. School would not release statistical information on African American employees.

Mario Middleton, Apollo’s national director for African American Affairs noted that the group is working with several groups on the national level to assist in its diversity issues. The company is lacking in African Americans in executive decision-making positions and faculty positions.

“We understand we have a lot of African American students. We are trying to make changes. One of the changes is launching of our school’s diversity initiative, which is in recruiting and maintaining minority employees. We know it is a work in progress. We are committed to development and engagement," said Brown. "Take a look at us in few months,” Brown noted she is willing to talk with Rev. Tillman to find a solution to Flannigan’s situation. Flannigan states she hopes no one else in the future has to experience hostile environment she experienced.

Angola's Top Brass Accused of 'Crimes against Humanity' in New Suit

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By Sami Disu, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

(GIN) - Angolan anti-corruption campaigner and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais filed a criminal complaint this week against mining businesses and seven Angolan generals for daily acts of torture and frequently murder against villagers and informal miners in diamond producing regions.

Those charged include Minister of State Gen. Manuel Helder Vieira (Kopelipa), and several high commanders in the Angolan Armed Forces for abuses amounting to “crimes against humanity”.

The criminal case, filed at the offices of Angola’s attorney-general last week, will be closely watched by anti-corruption and civil society groups in this poor, but mineral- and petroleum-rich country.

Marques, who has been investigating systematic human rights abuses and corruption in Angola’s Lunda region since 2004, is the author of Blood Diamond: Torture and Corruption in Angola. He has previously called on foreign countries to boycott Angola's "conflict diamonds".

Angola, in south-central Africa, has one of the widest income gaps between rich and poor. An extensive list of human rights abuses committed by the government appears on the 2010 Human Rights Report of the U.S. State Dept. published in April of this year.

Illness Catches Up to Zimbabwe's Aging Leader Mugabe

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

(GIN) - Frequent trips abroad for treatment of prostate disease are fuelling speculation that President Robert Mugabe may not survive his current condition.

Party officials, contemplating Mr. Mugabe’s deteriorating health, have been overheard wishing for a replacement who is younger and fresher. Last week he was rushed to Singapore for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife Grace. It was his ninth visit to that Asian country this year.

"In 2012 Mugabe will be 88… His age and his face are an election issue. He is no longer appealing to the people and his age is not an age where people can invest their future in an 88 year old, who is always in and out of hospital," said former news editor Pedzisai Ruhanya interviewed by SW Radio Africa.

According to local area news reports, President Mugabe has spent $20 million for doctor visits to Singapore just this year alone.

Meanwhile, American investors are sizing up business opportunities in this conflicted country. In a recent visit to Victoria Falls, Chicago developer and real estate mogul, Elzie Higgenbottom, reportedly scoped out venues for a major hotel, convention center and casino. Also on the trip was retired congressman Mel Reynolds whose business interests, he said, include manufacturing medical gloves.

Reynolds said to a local editor: “As a former elected official and now as a businessman my personal view is that President Mugabe is one of the last Lions of Africa that brought freedom to the people of this Great Continent. Africans can debate all day as to how a country should or must be run, but it should be impossible to forget those who made it possible to be able to debate as a free people.”

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