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Report Finds Waste in Money, Lives in Somali War

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

A new report published by the Washington-based Center for American Progress provides detailed evidence of the exorbitant amount of money and millions of lives lost in the ongoing strife in Somalia – all without producing positive change.

Specifically, in the past 20 years, the war with western powers has taken as many as 1.5 million lives and cost about $55 billion. Some 750 fatalities were recorded among the Ugandan and Burundian troops that comprise the Africa Union Mission in Somalia.

The international bill for piracy is estimated at $22 billion. Humanitarian and development aid is said to have totalled $13 billion, and the Somali diaspora is believed to have sent $11.2 billion in remittances to their families trapped in the East African country since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.

The overall outlay for Somalia may seem “modest” in comparison with the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “but what’s remarkable is how little we have to show for it,” write co-authors Bronwyn Bruton and John Norris in the report called “Twenty Years of Collapse and Counting.”

“By and large, the U.S. government ends up spending far more time and money responding to crises or tinkering with tactical responses than preventing crises or nurturing effective peace building efforts,” commented the authors.

Additionally, wrote the authors, “this accounting makes clear that Western policymakers are wildly uneven in their approach to Somalia. They are willing to spend vast sums in some areas such as dealing with piracy, while in other areas they take an approach bordering on malignant neglect.”

The full report can be found on www.amercanprogress.org

Medicaid Cuts Hurt African-Americans, Latinos Most of All

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Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer –

Major cuts to Medicaid would have a disproportionately harsh effect on African-Americans and Latinos, according to a new report released recently by a coalition of major health, civil rights and consumer groups.

The report, "Medicaid: A Lifeline for Blacks and Latinos with Serious Health Care Needs," reveals that making cuts to Medicaid fails to reduce costs, instead it shifts the burden to states, families, hospitals and the uninsured. In fact, in some cases, the report notes, cutting assistance for treatment can actually increase costs over the long run.

"As policymakers consider sharp cutbacks in the Medicaid program, this report brings an important potential consequence of their actions to the table – that cutting Medicaid will likely hit hardest at communities of color and, in particular, those who depend on the program to manage and treat their chronic illnesses," said Ralph B. Everett, president and CEO of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Among African -Americans, according to the report's findings, those relying on Medicaid for ongoing medical treatment amount to more than one in five individuals with cancer (21.9 percent, an estimated 141,000 people), nearly one in four diabetics (24.4 percent, 778,000), well over a third of chronic lung disease sufferers (37.0 percent, 1.4 million), and more than one in five who suffer from heart disease or have had a stroke (21.6 percent, 1.9 million).

For Latinos, those relying on Medicaid include nearly one in four who have cancer (24.5 percent, or nearly 105,000 people) , more than one-quarter of diabetics (25.6 percent, 692,000), nearly two in five chronic lung disease patients (39.8 percent, 1.4 million), and nearly a quarter of those being treated for heart disease or stroke (23.2 percent, 1.4 million).

"There are critical disparities in the delivery of health care to black and Latino communities, which contributes to a higher incidence and greater severity of chronic and serious health conditions in those communities," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "That medical reality, combined with the fact that these communities tend to have lower incomes, means that Medicaid is a vital lifeline in protecting the health and well-being of these Americans."

Families USA, The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Council of La Raza, the National Medical Association, and the National Urban League Policy Institute collaborated to produce the report.

New NAACP Program Targets Childhood Obesity

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By Ben Wrobel, Guest Writer, Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Voice –

WASHINGTON — With a few steps to the left and a few steps to the right, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin recently demonstrated the NAACP's renewed focus on healthy living and childhood obesity. Benjamin danced the "Cupid Shuffle" with students from Washington, D.C.'s Ward 7 and Ward 8, two areas with the highest obesity rates in the city.

The exercise took place during the NAACP's launch event for its Childhood Obesity Advocacy Guide at the historic Thurgood Marshall Center.

"It is no secret that if not eradicated, childhood obesity will be one of the many causes of premature deaths and chronic disease for our children," said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.

"The NAACP treasures the lives of our children and will stand with communities to fight against any systemic or environmental barriers that inhibit one's opportunity to live a healthy life."

Jealous and NAACP Director of Health Programs Shavon Arline introduced the guide along with a panel of health experts, including Benjamin. The guide provides direction for combating childhood obesity in three highlighted policy areas: external environment, food environments and school-based policies.

It calls for more recreational areas, increased access to healthy, affordable food in order to combat "food deserts" and a renewed focus on healthy policies in schools, such as more physical activity and nutritious food options.

"The three advocacy approaches were chosen for the guide because they are the primary policy areas that affect childhood obesity," Arline said.

"They also serve as some of the most appealing causes around which to mobilize communities, particularly because the issues are easy to identify and affect community members in tangible and direct ways."

"With active units in every state throughout the United States, we believe we are well equipped to engage community and state leaders in this fight to save this and the next generation," Arline added.

Childhood obesity is a major issue in communities of color, where children are more likely to be obese and live in unsafe communities where there are few opportunities for physical activity and limited access to healthy food.

In the United States today, 38 percent of Latino children and 34.9 percent of African-American children are overweight or obese, compared with 30.7 percent of white children.

"We are emphasizing good eating habits, lots of exercise, lots of play. We want Americans to have fun, and to enjoy being active," Benjamin said. "We are intending to create communities and environments where the healthy choices are the easy choices, and the affordable choices."

Joining the NAACP leaders were CommonHealth Action President and co-founder Natalie S. Burke, whose organization co-wrote the report, and John Govea, senior program officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the report.

Democratic National Committee Names Hinton Diversity Chief

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By Herbert L. White, Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –

The Democratic National Committee has a new diversity chief.

Greg Hinton will become chief diversity officer of the organizations starting Oct. 24, making him the first ever for the national party. Hinton, chief diversity officer of US Cellular and a Chicago native, will advise the Democratic National Convention Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on diversity staffing and minority procurement for the 2012 convention in Charlotte.

“Diversity in hiring, contracting and procurement has always been of utmost importance to the Democratic Party and I’m proud to serve in this role to help maintain that commitment,” Hinton said in a statement. “Our party is stronger because of our diversity, and in this new role I will be working to make sure we are harnessing our diverse experiences and points of view in the most effective way possible. I am honored to be doing this work on behalf of the President (Barack Obama) and the Democratic Party and believe this new position is a reflection of the party’s strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Hinton’s appointment was made at the recommendation of the DNC’s Budget and Finance Committee. The DNCC and DCCC also took roles to fill the position after controversy over the role of minority vendors at the convention. Hinton’s job will be developing diversity goals and implementation.

“We’re thrilled to have Greg Hinton join the DNC as the chief diversity officer,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. “The Democratic Party has long been dedicated to including talented people who reflect the diversity of our great country, and Greg will bring his talents to bear as we make sure we are living up to that commitment. I’m proud we’re taking this critical step forward and look forward to working closely with Greg as we strive to take our values of inclusion and strength through diversity to the next level.”

In addition to US Cellular, Hinton has worked at Abbott Labs and Pepsi General Bottlers as well as the health care and nonprofit fields, developing and implementing inclusion programs for supplier diversity and human resources.

“Our whole team at the DCCC is excited to have Greg Hinton join us and continue our strong commitment to diversity,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said. This new position is a reflection of the Democratic Party’s continuing and unyielding belief that diversity is a strength and we look forward to Greg’s work to help us honor that tradition.”

White Candidate Set to Battle for Black Votes in Illinois

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By Wendell Hutson, Special to the NNPA from The Chicago Crusader –

It came as no surprise last week when former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson announced she would challenge Democratic incumbent Jesse Jackson, Jr. for the congressional seat he has held for the last 15 years. But what was surprising was when Halvorson, a white Democrat, said she is confident she can win enough Black votes to unseat Jackson in the March 2012 primary although the district has a 50 percent Black population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I realize that the population in the Second Congressional District is half Black and historically has supported Jackson throughout his tenure,” explained Halvorson. “But I don’t think race will matter to the voters who are hurting for jobs and economic growth in their district. They want a congressman who can deliver and is not preoccupied with ethnical problems.”

Jackson, son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Chicago-based civil rights organization Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, earlier this year publically admitted to having a one-time affair with a white woman in Washington, D.C. He was also suspected by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but never charged, with offering former Governor Rod Blagojevich a campaign contribution in exchange for him appointing him to President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has maintained that he never offered Blagojevich anything nor did he authorize anyone else to make offers to the governor for a Senate appointment. Ultimately, Blagojevich appointed former Attorney General Roland Burris to the seat, after U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) turned down the appointment.

Jackson’s wife, Sandi, is a Chicago alderman representing the 7th Ward, which is also part of her husband’s congressional district. Halvorson spent one term representing the 11th Congressional District before she lost to Republican Adam Kinzinger in the 2010 election. While serving as a State Senator the one-term congresswoman was mentored by retired Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (D-Chicago), who ran against Jackson and lost in 1995. The Second District, which borders the 11th District, has been redrawn since the last election. And it begins at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive (Museum of Science & Industry) and stretches to the south suburbs. Among the south suburbs located in Jackson’s district whose population is majority Black, are Riverdale, Dolton, Harvey, Markham, Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, and Robbins.

Rather than answer allegations by Halvorson, Jackson said he would let the voters decide if he deserves another term. He has not yet officially announced he is running for re-election but is expected to do so this month. “I’ve secured more than $900 million in federal investments in the Second Congressional District - more than any other congressman in the state during that period,” he said. “I’ve also worked with local communities to secure $700 million in private funds to build a new airport that will create 15,000 new jobs.” One community activist cautioned those who think Jackson would win re-election with no problem.

“Jackson has some baggage that could come back to hurt him so it is not a safe bet he will easily win re-election,” said Neal Foster, 59. “(But) I don’t see Halvorson or any other white candidate beating Jackson without the support of Blacks or unless another Black candidate were to enter the race and split the Black vote.” One Black, elected official who will not be running for Congress is Alderman Anthony Beale, whose ninth ward is within Jackson’s district. The chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee said he is happy representing the 9th Ward in City Hall and has his hands full working to boost economic development, affordable housing and lowering crime in his far South Side ward, which includes the Roseland community. Beale’s name had surfaced on the rumor mill as potential Jackson opponent.

“I am absolutely not interested in running for that office,” Beale told the Crusader. He added that he is not yet ready to make an endorsement to Jackson or Halvorson because “I have not met with them yet. But I do know that whoever I support it would have to be someone who has the ninth ward’s best interest at heart.” Absent from Halvorson’s Oct. 7 news conference in Chicago Heights where she announced her candidacy were any Democratic elected officials.

“My campaign is not about politics but helping the residents of the Second Congressional District,” said Halvorson, who currently works as a lobbyist. “I do not need the heavy political hitters to stand here with me as long as I have the support of the people.”

Prior to serving in Congress, Halvorson served as clerk for the township of Crete, a south suburb in Jackson’s district, and a State Senator where she was majority leader.

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