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"I do not expect the white media to create a positive black-male image." -
Huey P. Newton
The NorthStar News & Analysis -
April 26, 2010
U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
Gun Amendment Shoots Down D.C. Voting Rights Act
A Republican amendment that would have loosened Washington D.C.'s gun laws has temporarily shot down, and possibly fatally wounded, the District of Columbia's Voting Rights Act of 2009, legislation Democrats worked decades to enact.
The legislation, if passed by United States House of Representatives would have given voting rights in the House of Representatives to Washington's non-voting congressional delegate. Residents of the city, which 54.4%, which are black, argue they pay federal taxes, but they do have an elected representative who is allowed to vote on congressional legislation. Washington's estimated population is 599,657. Residents call their situation "taxation without representation." District of Columbia voting rights opponents claim the nation's founding fathers never intended for Washington, D.C., residents to have a vote in Congress since the U.S. Constitution makes it clear representation must come from the states.
U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives, asked U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House of Representatives Democratic leader, April 20 to kill the "District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, or H.R. [House of Representatives] 157, because the Republican amendment would have been extremely harmful to city residents, Holmes Norton said in a statement. The Senate's version of the District of Columbia's Voting Rights Act of 2009 is S. 160 or U.S. Senate Bill 160. The House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the voting rights act April 21, and it was expected to pass with support of pro-gun Democrats. Pro-gun Democrats in the Senate helped pass the bill Feb. 26, 2009.
Gun advocates introduced legislation in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would repeal the District of Columbia's gun laws after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2008, ruled in
District of Columbia v. Heller
provisions of Washington D.C.'s firearms law were unconstitutional, according to the Congressional Research Service, which prepares reports to Congress. The Supreme Court ruling upheld a Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decision that Washington's firearms code essentially barred registration of firearms. The provisions, included carrying a handgun, and moving a pistol from one room to another in a person's home, and keeping a legally registered firearm unloaded and disassembled and bound by a trigger lock.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the District of Columbia's city council passed emergency provisions to the city's firearms laws to comply with the court's ruling. U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R., Nev., introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 160 limiting the District of Columbia's city council's ability to promulgate rules regulating firearm possession, according to the Congressional Research Service. Ensign's amendment would have repealed the District of Columbia's criminal provisions for carrying a pistol without a license, loosened restrictions on ammunition possession, repealed the city's automatic weapon ban and removed criminal penalties for possession of an unregistered automatic weapon.
The NAACP's Washington, D.C., office, urged the House of Representatives to pass voting rights act, although the civil rights organization opposed repeal of the city's gun laws. "We agree with the District's elected officials that the bill should move forward. Despite the fact that they[District residents] pay federal taxes, serve on juries and defend our nation in times of war like most other Americans, the residents of the District of Columbia are barred from having voting representation on the floor of the House and Senate," the NAACP said in a statement.
Under the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act (the Home Rule Act), Washington, D.C., has the authority to promulgate its own laws, but Congress retains the right to legislate for the District because the legislative body is constitutionally vested with exclusive jurisdiction over the District, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Legislation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would leave Washington, D.C.'s government powerless to regulate firearms, Holmes Norton said in a statement. "The District would be barred from prohibiting or even unduly burdening the carrying of firearms by persons, either concealed or openly, in public, an unthinkable provision for both hometown D.C. and official Washington," the congresswoman said. "The legislation also would permit the District of Columbia police chief to issue concealed carry licenses and severely limits the chief's discretion to refuse to do so."
Despite the setback, Holmes Norton said she has not given up on the District of Columbia voting rights bill.
"We have begun to develop new strategies to get a voting rights bill through Congress that can pass, but I will have public meetings before bringing forward new approaches to achieve voting rights," Holmes Norton said.
Kenneth I. Chenault, American Express
Chairman and CEO
American Express Doubles First-Quarter Net Income On Higher Revenues
Citing higher business and consumer card spending, American Express Co. doubled its first-quarter net income on higher revenues, the company reported Thursday.
The New York-based credit and charge card issuer reported first-quarter net income for the three-month period ending March 31 of $885 million, up 101% compared with a net income of $437 million for the same three-month period in 2009.
The company's total revenues were $6.61 billion, up 11.1% compared with $5.93 billion in 2009's first quarter.
Kenneth I. Chenault, American Express chairman and CEO, attributed the dramatically improved numbers to increased cardholder spending.
"Cardmember spending was up 16%, rebounding strongly from the recessionary lows of last year," Chenault said in a statement. "The biggest turnarounds in spending came from corporate cardmembers and banks who issue cards on our network. Consumer and small business volume also rose in part because of strength in travel, entertainment and other discretionary categories." Average card spending in 2010's first quarter was $2,340 compared with $1,823 for same three-month period last year.
During an analysts' conference call, Don Henry, American Express executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the company's affluent customers accounted for the higher spending, although these are tough economic times.
"I think our cardmember base doesn't reflect the general population," Henry said. "I think our products are designed to meet the needs of higher-spending, more affluent customers....The corporate card goes down sharper than the rest of spending, and it comes back a lot steeper."
American Express' U.S. Card Services reported a $428 million first-quarter net income compared with a $7 million loss during the same three-month period last year. U.S. Card Services reported $3.5 billion in revenue, up 14% compared with $3.1 billion in 2009's first quarter.
Global Card Services reported $151 million in first-quarter net income compared with $52 million a year ago. Revenues increased 9% to $1.1 billion, the company reported.
At the end of the first quarter, American Express had 88 million total cards in force in the United States and overseas, down 4% from 91.6 million cards in force in 2009's first quarter. The company had 72.5 million business cards in force in the United States and overseas, down 3% compared with 74.9 million business cards in force during 2009's first quarter.
Robert Hicks, Leader of Deacons For Defense and Justice, An Armed Group of Black Men, Who Protected Black Neighborhoods and Civil Rights Workers
Robert Hicks, leader and last survivor of Deacons For Defense and Justice, a group of black Korean War veterans, who armed themselves and patrolled black neighborhoods and provided protection for civil rights workers from the Ku Klux Klan, a white terrorist organization, and law enforcement officials who were either Klan members or sympathizers, died April 13 in his home in Bogalusa, La., of cancer. Mr. Hicks was 81.
Black Army veterans organized Deacons For Defense and Justice in Jonesboro, La., in 1964 to protect civil rights marchers from the Klan and southern law enforcement officials who sometimes aided the Klan. Mr. Hicks formed the Bogalusa chapter shortly after meeting with Deacons For Defense members.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., denounced the Deacons For Defense as a black equivalent of the Klan, but James Farmer, leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), declared the Deacons were nothing like the Klan. Farmer said in a 1965 interview the Deacons for Justice did not lynch people or burn down houses. The Deacons For Defense provided protection for Farmer during a campaign in the South to register black voters. Although King preached non-violence, he employed armed guards to protect him and his home during the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Black Power movement eventually eclipsed King's civil rights movement of peaceful resistance.
The Deacons For Defense eventually formed 21 chapters in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The group confronted the Klan in Bogalusa, forcing the federal government to intervene on behalf of the black community and enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and neutralize the Klan. The confrontation also led many to believe a race war was eminent.
The civil rights movement has ignored the role of Deacons For Defense, but the group was portrayed in a 2003 television movie,
Deacons for Defense
, starring Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker and Ossie Davis. The group also was the subject of the 2004 book,
The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement
by Lance Hill. Deacons For Defense disbanded in 1968.
Hicks is survived by Valeria Hicks, his wife of 62 years, four sons and a daughter. His widow said she was very proud of the Deacons For Defense because they stood up like men.
Jesse Jackson Sr.
Joint Center Will Honor Jesse Jackson Sr.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies will honor Reverend Jesse Jackson during the center's 40th anniversary dinner Tuesday, April 27, in Washington, D.C.
The Joint Center, a think tank for black elected officials, will award Jackson the Louis E. Martin Great American Award for promoting racial harmony while championing policies that have made a difference in American society. The Joint Center, which is based in Washington, D.C., named the award after Martin, founder of the Joint Center, a journalist and presidential advisor.
Muhammad Ali, Charles B. Rangel, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the late Dorothy L. Height and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were previous honorees.
"Many times over the course of the past 40 years, Reverend Jackson has motivated the Joint Center and influenced our research agenda through his focus on particular disparities and concerns in communities of color, and always in the larger national context of building a better America for all citizens," Roderick D. Gillum, chair of the Joint Center's board of directors, said in a statement.
Jackson is founder and president of the Rainbow Push Foundation, which is based in Chicago.
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