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MLK Dedication Sets Tone for Fight for Justice

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By George Barnette, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspaper –

People of all hues came from all over to pay tribute to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the only one on the mall for someone other than an American president. Charles Arterson and Baron Lewis who say they marched with Dr. King, had no intention of missing this grand reunion. It was truly a long time coming.

The crowd, decked out in commemorative Tommy Hilfiger white hats, was mostly positive, cheering the speakers and singing along with the musicians.

However, there were moments in the ceremony that seemed more like a rally against today’s ills than a celebration of the work of Dr. King. Several speakers used the podium as an opportunity to take on today’s injustices.

“This is a marker of the fight for justice today and a projection of the fight for justice in the future because we will not stop until we get the equal justice Dr. King fought for,” said Rev. Al Sharpton.

“Just like Dr. King talked about occupying Washington, just like there are those occupying Wall Street; we’re going to occupy the voting booth and we’re going to take those in that stand for justice and retire those that stand in the way,” he continued.

Other speakers talked about the man, Dr. King, with sometimes little known facts. Ambassador Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor, spoke of Dr. King’s only complex – his height.

“He was really just 5’7” and he was always getting upset with tall people who looked down on him,” Young said. “Now he’s thirty feet tall looking down on everybody.”

There were also several musical selections. Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Sweet Honey and the Rock and Aretha Franklin were some of the highlighted performers.

However, the highlight of the ceremony was the speech given by President Barack Obama, who took the stage amid chants of “four more years.” He spoke of Dr. King’s will and how despite the decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education, Dr. King still had to fight to get the Civil Rights Act passed 10 years later in 1964. The President said gumption and determination are what Americans need today to move forward.

“We can’t get hung up on what is,” Obama said. “We’ve got to keep pushing towards what ought to be.”

France Endorses Elections Deemed 'A Complete Mess' in Cameroon

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Cameroon’s 78 year old president, Paul Biya, is claiming victory in a hotly disputed election that pitted the septuagenarian against 22 candidates. Long-time opposition contender John Fru Ndi called the exercise on Oct. 9 “a complete mess” and said they should be declared null and void.

"This election cannot give the winner any legitimacy," said Joshua Osih, vice chairman of Fru Ndi's Social Democratic Front. His view was echoed by Anicet Ekane, of the Manidem party, who predicted a court challenge on the results.

Nicknamed "the Sphinx", President Biya has managed to keep a tight grip on power for almost three decades despite spending much of his time abroad.

Sunday's election was marred by widespread delays, irregularities and the deaths of one opposition party worker and two policemen, although violent incidents were rare.

But France, Cameroon’s former colonial power, which helped orchestrate Biya's rise in 1982, reported seeing no serious violations in the poll.

"According to the International Organization of the Francophonie and the Commonwealth, we can consider that they took place in acceptable conditions," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

Biya is a faithful Paris ally in this West African country widely considered a victim of gross misrule. According to a recent IMF review, "the Cameroonian economy has much higher growth potential that is not being translated into concrete business and employment opportunities." The IMF warned of "unsettled payment obligations carried since 2009, the recapitalization of a major bank and unrealistic revenue estimates." While 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, Biya, dubbed the "idle king" is frequently out of country in a posh hotel in Geneva or in his native village in southern Cameroon.

The country's latest anti-poverty plans include heavy logging and deforestation in rural areas, dam building and mining which has put them on a collision course with environmentalists.

Tiniest African Nation Wins Major Leadership Prize

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Judges for the $5 million Ibrahim prize for African leadership have found a winner ending a two year freeze on the coveted award.

Pedro Verona Pires, ex-president of the small island state of Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa, was selected for stepping down promptly at the end of this term limit without re-writing the rules to hold onto power. Pires was praised for creating in Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony of approximately 500,000 people of mixed Portuguese and African heritage, “a model democracy, stability and increased prosperity.”

The Ibrahim Foundation headed by a Sudanese-born telecommunications magnate, Mo Ibrahim, rewards governance and human rights in Africa. In a congratulatory message, Mr. Ibrahim wrote “It is wonderful to see an African leader who has served his country from the time of colonial rule through to multiparty democracy… The fact that Cape Verde with few natural resources can become a middle-income country is an example not just to the continent but to the world.”

But the awarding of the prize was accompanied by strong warnings about stagnation and backsliding by dozens of countries across Africa, including Western-backed nations such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania.

“If economic progress is not translated into better quality of life and respect for citizens’ rights, we will witness more Tahrir Squares in Africa,” Ibrahim said, referring to the Egypt’s street protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak this year.

Select Black Caucus Members Not Happy with Trade Agreements

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

While President Barack Obama was praised by conservatives as Congress approved free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, a select group of the Congressional Black Caucus members cried foul, saying it won’t create the jobs needed right now.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) said the free trade agreements that cleared Congress Oct. 12 will not only create no jobs here, but will actually ship some American jobs overseas.

“I am committed to helping U.S. companies create jobs and export their products overseas, but these agreements fall well short of meeting those goals,” Edwards said in a statement. “Congress should be focused on making investments here at home instead of passing legislation that will cost 214,000 jobs.”

Obama insists the trade pacts open up new markets for the American workforce and makes U.S. products more competitive on a global scale.

“Tonight’s vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label ‘Made in America,’ support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property,” he said in a statement. “American automakers, farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, including many small businesses, will be able to compete and win in new markets.”

Meanwhile, Republicans praised the passing of the bill saying it was long overdue. However Congressional GOP members still didn’t pass up a chance to attack Obama saying that despite this agreement, job creators are wary of his business regulations.

“The constant threat of tax increases and the continued threat of excessive regulations coming from this administration sends the wrong signal to our entrepreneurs, our investors and our business people, the very people we need to create jobs,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told the USA Today.

A Black Man, Father of the Cell Phone?

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By William Reed, NNPA Columnist –

(NNPA) To this point, the economic growth leader of the 21st century is the wireless communications industry. Millions of people regularly use cellular phones. With today’s cell phone, you can talk to anyone on the planet. Inside your cell phone are: a compact speaker, microphone, keyboard, display screen, and a powerful circuit board with microprocessors that make every phone a miniature computer. When connected to a wireless network, this bundle of modern-day technologies allows you to make phone calls or exchange data with other phones and computers around the world.

Jesse Eugene Russell is an African-American inventor who brought the world cell phones. Trained as an electrical engineer at Tennessee State University, at 63, Jesse Russell is recognized globally as a thought-leader, technology expert and innovator of wireless communications. He has over 30 years experience in advanced wireless communications and is the recognized father of digital cellular technology. The Historically Black College and University (HBCU) graduate is former Chief Wireless Architect for AT&T Bell Laboratories and served as Chief Technology Officer for Lucent Wireless. An icon in the industry, Jesse Russell holds over 75 patents in digital cellular technologies, dual-mode digital cellular phones and digital software radio. An American legend, in 1995 Russell was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering for “pioneering work in digital cellular communications technology.”

Russell’s innovations continue to spark the international economy. The globe expects some 2.5 billion smartphones to be sold from 2010 to 2015. The main reason for cell phones’ popularity over the past 20 years is the faster and easier communications it provides. A cell phone is really a very sophisticated and versatile radio. Much like a walkie-talkie, a cell phone receives and sends radio signals. Wireless networks operate on a grid that divides cities or regions into smaller cells. One cell might cover a few city blocks or up to 250 square miles. Every cell uses a set of radio frequencies or channels to provide service in its specific area. In each cell, there is a base station consisting of a wireless antenna and other radio equipment. The wireless antenna in each cell links callers into the local telephone network, the Internet or another wireless network.

African-Americans can take pride in what Russell has achieved in the planet’s business advancements. From being honored by the Clinton administration for his work in cell phones and wireless communication, Russell continues to innovate, specifically in the next generation (4G) broadband wireless communication technologies, products, networks, and services. Rising from a disadvantaged background, Russell's career, and knowledge in wireless technology and standards advanced as he served in numerous high-level corporate positions; Director of the AT&T Cellular Telecommunication Laboratory (Bell Labs), Vice President of Advanced Wireless Technology Laboratory (Bell Labs), Chief Technical Officer for the Network Wireless Systems Business Unit (Bell Labs), Chief Wireless Architect of AT&T, and Vice President of Advanced Communications Technologies for AT&T Laboratories (formerly part of Bell Labs).

Jesse Russell’s early childhood was spent in economically and socially challenged neighborhoods within inner-city Nashville. Russell says a key turning point in his life was the opportunity to attend a summer educational program at Fisk University. It was here that Russell began his academic and intellectual pursuits. Russell continued his education at Tennessee State University where he focused on electrical engineering and received a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSEE) in 1972. An excellent example of “a Black achiever,” Russell was a top honor student in Tennessee State’s School of Engineering and became the first African American to be hired directly from an HBCU by AT&T’s Bell Laboratories and subsequently he became the first African-American to be selected as the Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer of the Year in 1980. Russell continues his personal and corporate leadership in the industry and is currently Chairman and CEO of incNETWORKS,Inc. a New Jersey, USA based Broadband Wireless Communications Company focused on the next generation of broadband services (4G) Broadband Wireless Communications Technologies, Networks and Services.

William Reed is Publisher of Who’s Who in Black Corporate America and available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org.

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