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Masked Ball Raises $1.2 Million for United Negro College Fund

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By Kenya King, Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily World –

It’s an emergency, but there is no need to dial 911 – call the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). For dozens of rising and graduating seniors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the idea of not matriculating in the final coursework for their academic degree brings a wave of unnerving emotions and uncertainty about their future.

Now those trepidations are being diminished through the UNCF’s Campaign for Emergency Student Aid (CESA). CESA funds are special monies set aside for emergency student financial aid above and beyond the general scholarship resources that go to the UNCF. At the UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball held on Dec. 17 at Atlanta Marriott Marquis, the UNCF raised thousands of dollars targeted toward meeting the needs of students requiring urgent financial assistance in their final semesters of study.

“Every year the Mayor’s Masked Ball brings together Atlanta leaders who believe in the power of education to help the next generation of doctors, teachers, lawyers, engineers, business executives and entrepreneurs get the education they need to compete in a global economy,” said Michael Lomax, UNCF president and CEO.

Overall the Mayor’s Masked Ball raised $1.2 million that will benefit Atlanta University Schools, including Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse and the Interdenominational Theological Center. Out of the $1.2 million, $100,000 will go toward the emergency fund. Macy’s and UPS both contributed $50,000 to CESA.

The UNCF has set to raise $5 million for the CESA program, which launched in 2009. Other donors to the UNCF general scholarship fund were Anheuser-Busch Inc., $75,000; Coca-Cola, $50,000; and Delta Air Lines, $50,000.

Bill Hawthorne, Macy’s chief diversity officer, said that Macy’s has supported the UNCF for nearly 10 years, and that giving back is part of Macy’s fundamental values and responsibilities as a successful corporation. The scholarship funds Macy’s contributed will go to the emergency fund for Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman students.

“We had the research conducted … with the three schools and determined that the economy was having a harmful effect on the ability of a number of the students who are juniors and seniors who don’t have the funds necessary to pay the tuition in order to complete their degree. We got a ballpark of approximately what the typical student needs in order to get through that last couple of two or three [semesters] of schooling, and we concluded that our $50,000 contribution [would go] to a scholarship fund specifically for that purpose,” said Hawthorne.

“We generally give back to a whole array of educational initiatives. In the course of that giving though, we want to make sure that we are specifically supporting those institutions that were devoted to the Black or African American or the minority, or underserved or lower- income community. The UNCF is one such organization,” said Hawthorne.

Once again, this year’s Mayor’s Masked Ball proved to be Atlanta’s premiere holiday fundraising gala with participation among Atlanta’s most notable civic leaders and local celebrities. R&B crooner-superstar Keith Sweat entertained the 1,200 guests who attended, as well as newcomer and “America’s Got Talent” finalist, Xavier D. Lewis, who sang “Give Back” in a special musical tribute. Xavier, better known as XL and the “antidote for R&B,” wrote the heartfelt song, which is also the official theme song for the National Give Back for Kids Campaign of Washington, D.C.

When UNCF Executive Vice President Maurice Jenkins heard the song, he wanted to include it in the program, according to XL’s manager Reginald Bernard. The song was a fitting prelude to the UNCF’s tribute the Mayor’s Masked Ball’s co-founder and wife of the legendary Hank Aaron, Billye Suber Aaron, who is continuing to give back with a scholarship fund in her name.

To raise funds for her new scholarship, Aaron promoted a “No Birthday Party” celebration. The invitation read, “Cancel your luxurious suite at the Ritz, you’re invited to a party that requires no glitz…and write a big check instead for my 75th birthday celebration!”

Mrs. Aaron’s 75th birthday was October 16, 2011, and thus far, she’s raised more than $300,000 to the new Billye Suber Aaron UNCF Legacy Scholarship fund. To expand further, she has set a new goal of raising $500,000 for the fund.

“I decided to contribute to the United Negro College Fund the money that would have been spent on a big birthday bash,” said Aaron. “Given the state of the economy and the impact it is having on so many of the students UNCF serves, I wanted to do something special this year to help these young men and women.”

The UNCF provides scholarships that support more than 60,000 students at more than 900 schools throughout the United States.

“Students at our Atlanta UNCF member colleges and universities, and Atlanta students attending other UNCF institutions, look to UNCF for help getting the education they need and deserve,” said Maurice E. Jenkins Jr., UNCF executive vice president.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also credits attending an HBCU for helping him become the city’s mayor. “I strongly believe HBCUs are vital in preparing the next generation of African-American business owners, attorneys, doctors, artists and civic leaders. I am a proud Howard University alumnus, and I believe I am the 59th mayor of Atlanta in large part because of my experiences there as both an undergraduate and law school student,” said Reed.

Wayne Brady Hosts 20th Annual Trumpet Awards In Atlanta January 7

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Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily World –

The Trumpet Awards Foundation presents the 20th Annual Trumpet Awards, a milestone achievement, with a group of history-making honorees slated to receive the 2012 esteemed Trumpet Award.

The 26 honorees join a list of some of the most celebrated personalities in this nation and abroad. The 20th Annual Trumpet Awards black-tie ceremony, sponsored by the Trumpet Awards Foundation Inc. will be hosted by Wayne Brady, star host of CBS’s “Let’s Make A Deal.” The event will be held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 4 p.m.

The weekend of events and activities, held at the Atlanta Hyatt Regency Hotel, will include the Race Relations Symposium on Wednesday, Jan. 4, scheduled for 6 p.m.; on Thursday, Jan. 5, the Prayer Breakfast, scheduled for 8:30 a.m.; and High Tea with High Heels, scheduled for 3 p.m. An induction of eight new footprints will be placed into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. This induction ceremony is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, National Park Service, located at 450 Auburn Ave., N.E. The program preceding the induction ceremony will be held at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The Annual Trumpet Awards was created to celebrate and honor African-American achievers and those who support the African-American experience. The awards honor achievement in diverse fields including law, medicine, business, politics, the arts, civil rights, sports and entertainment.

The following is a complete list of the 2012 TRUMPET AWARDS honorees: Levi Watkins, Jr. – Medicine; Ambassador Nicole Avant – International; Mayor Cory Booker – Political Leadership; Mary Parker – Business; Emmitt and Pat Smith, NFL Hall-of-Fame – Humanitarian; Earth, Wind, & Fire – Lifetime Achievement; Tyrese Gibson – Pinnacle; Rev. C.L. Franklin (accepted by his daughter, Aretha Franklin) – Civil Rights; first lady Michelle Obama – President’s Award (pending); Ted Turner – Golden Trumpet; Black Hotel General Managers – Power at the Front Door.

For the 20th Anniversary, the Trumpet Awards Foundation decided to honor a group of individuals who have helped to change the face of the hotel industry at the front door.

“In the past, African Americans did not hold key positions at prominent hotels. The hotel industry has recently seen a significant change in its leadership as more African Americans move into positions of leadership. We want to bring awareness to this compelling fact,” said Xernona Clayton, founder and executive producer of the Trumpet Awards, and president and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation Inc.

The “Power at the Front Door” award was created to salute Black hotel general managers including: Olivia Brown, Bryan Conyers, Larry Daniels, Michael Hopper, Adrian Hughes, Russell Miller, Erica Qualls, Michael Session, Michael Smith, Gail Smith-Howard, Michael Washington, Linda Westgate, Robert Woolridge, Erika Alexander, Lorenzo Creighton, Valerie Ferguson, and Robert Steele.

The Trumpet Awards was conceived, founded, and nurtured by Xernona Clayton, who has built the Awards and Awards Foundation into a prestigious testimonial around the world. “We have come so far since we started this project in 1993 and I am extremely obliged to those individuals who saw the vision and who have worked with us for nearly 20 years. We are most jubilant to bring this event to the world and to celebrate the achievements of those who had an impact on our community,” said Clayton.

Corporate support helps to make the production of the Trumpet Awards possible; and some of the major corporate sponsors include: The Coca-Cola Company; Wells Fargo; Anheuser-Busch; Delta Air Lines; Nordstrom; Newell Rubbermaid; Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick – GMC; Hyatt Regency Atlanta; The Home Depot; and more.

Muslim Leader Seeks Truce After Deadly Bombing by Sect in Nigeria

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

(GIN) –Amidst the grieving for victims of Tuesday’s bombing of a Christmas mass by an anti-government Islamic sect, Nigerian religious and political leaders begged for calm between the country’s major religious groups which have been at odds before.

"We are Nigerians. I don't see any major conflict between the Christian community and Muslim community," said the president’s national security advisor, Owoye Azazi.

"Retaliation is not the answer, because if you retaliate, at what point will it end? Nigeria must survive as a nation."

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, told a press conference: "I want to assure all Nigerians that there is no conflict between Muslims and Christians, between Islam and Christianity,"

"It's a conflict between evil people and good people. The good people are more than the evil ones, so the good people must come together to defeat the evil ones, and that is the message."

The Islamist group Boko Haram, whose own leader and dozens of followers were massacred by the government in 2009, took credit for the Christmas attacks that killed 40 people, 35 of them at the church near Abuja.

Elsewhere in Nigeria, a massive oil slick has been making its way to the Nigerian coast, threatening local wildlife along the shore. Much of the published information about the spill – one of the largest in a decade - comes from the company itself, Royal Dutch Shell.

Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency says the spill could be three times as large as company estimates. Four months ago, the United Nations said it would take 30 years and around $1 billion for a small section of the Niger delta to recover from environmental damage caused by Shell and other companies.


Staggering Sums of Oil Money Missing in Angola, Rights Group Reports

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

(GIN) – Some $34 billion in oil revenues linked to Angola’s state oil company Sonangol have disappeared, according to the watchdog Human Rights Watch which is demanding an investigation from the president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

The latest revelation comes the same week that Angola announced yet another huge offshore oil find and after deals were signed Tuesday with seven major oil companies to drill there.

The New York-based rights group said the missing money was identified in a new December report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which found that the government funds were spent or transferred from 2007 through 2010 without being properly documented in the budget.

It must be assumed, that the missing oil billions have been transferred into foreign investments, mainly in those of the family of Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos and his daughter Isabel dos Santos, asserted HRW.

Sonangal has been singled out since at least 2002 for losing track of billions of dollars when it “stopped channeling foreign currency receipts through the central bank as mandated by the law,” the IMF found.

"While ordinary Angolans suffered through a profound humanitarian crisis, their government oversaw the suspicious disappearance of a truly colossal sum of money," declared Arvind Ganesan, director of the New York-based group's business and human rights program.

Angola's government must account for a staggering $32 billion missing from state coffers in a country where most suffer immense poverty despite the nation's massive oil wealth, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

Sonangol has over 30 subsidiaries in banking, gas, real estate, telecoms, air transport and just won rights to develop Iraq’s Najmah oilfield.

Two 'Presidents' Vie for Control of the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

As tanks circled the capital city of Kinshasa, Joseph Kabila was sworn in as president for a second term in office.

His victory in the November poll was upheld by the nation’s Supreme Court, but widely condemned as “flawed” by western countries including the U.S. Zimbabwe’s Pres. Robert Mugabe was the only foreign leader to attend the swearing-in ceremony.

Kabila’s rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, dismissed the vote results and in a flashback to a similar crisis in the Ivory Coast, he claimed to be the real winner and announced an inauguration ceremony for himself later this week.

For Tshisekedi, age 78, this might be the last bite at the apple for political office in a long career that included a decade of service as justice minister under reviled leader Mobutu Sese Seko, and then as a critic of Mobutu and leader of a new opposition party. According to the book “The Assassination of Lumumba,” Mr Tshisekedi opposed the popular first prime minister and pioneer of African Unity, Patrice Lumumba, and took part in the negotiations about his fate.

“Every day of my life I've dreamt of becoming president of the republic," he said in a July interview. "Now the moment has come for that dream to become a reality."

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BVN National News Wire