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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 -
December 7, 2010
Black farmers won but settling claims
will be difficult.
President Obama To Sign Black Farmers Settlement
But U.S. Senate provisions will make it difficult for farmers to settle claims
President Barack Obama is scheduled this week to sign a settlement that will provide $1.15 billion for black farmers, who were discriminated against by the United States Department of Agriculture for loans and other government assistance.
The United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in November approved the settlement that the U.S. Justice Department and the Department of Agriculture reached with African-American farmers in February (
The NorthStar News & Analysis, March 7, 2010
). The total amount of the settlement was $1.25 billion. Congress previously had appropriated $100 million to pay black farmers.
The settlement, Pigford II, a reference to the original
Pigford v Glickman
, applies to black farmers excluded from a 1999 consent decree. In 1999, the federal government agreed to pay black farmers for past discrimination in lending and exclusion from other USDA programs to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in 1977 (
The NorthStar News & Analysis, March 22, 2010
Pigford v Glickman
settlement paid 13,000 farmers each $50,000. The settlement also forgave participating black farmers for their United States Department of Agriculture loans. The consent decree, however, denied 81,000, or 86% of suing black farmers, compensation because they filed their claims too late.
President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack praised both Houses of Congress for approving the Pigford II settlement. U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, U.S. House of Representatives majority whip, said the settlement will help right historic injustices.
“Today, we removed the stain on our country’s history and rectified theses injustices,” Clyburn said.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, (R., Minn.), however, charged the settlement is riddled with fraudulent claims. Bachmann, along with Steven King (R., Iowa), has called for an investigation of Pigford II. King called the settlement a form of reparations for slavery.
John W. Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Famers Association, a 60,000 member organization based in Richmond, Va., said the settlement is “about a group of black farmers protesting about what was done to them and seeking justice.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization that represents most black members of Congress, asserted, however, that the Senate version of bill sets the bar too high for claimants.The Senate added language to prevent fraud.
“There is no question. The bar is much higher,” said U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the committee on Homeland Security. The Senate added to the claims process an audit by an inspector general and oversight by the attorney general’s office. The Secretary of Agriculture also must sign off on the farmer’s claim.
Thompson, (D., Miss.), said the additional standards are unfair and that black farmers are being treated differently from other groups. Clyburn, (D., S.C.), agreed. He said the Senate’s language could have a chilling effect on black farmers settling claims.
November’s Seasonal Unemployment Rate For Black Men Remains High
November’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black men 20 years old and older was 16.7 percent compared with 16.8 percent in November 2009.
Last month, 1.349 million black men were unable to find work compared with 1.337 million black men who were jobless in November 2009, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released the data Friday.
Last month’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black women 20 years old and older was 13.1 percent compared with 11.7 percent in November 2009. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1.208 million black women were unemployed in November compared with 1.055 million in November 2009.
The overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black men and black women was 16 percent this November compared with 15.6 percent in November 2009. The bureau reported that 2.882 million black men and black women were unable to find work in November compared with 2.755 million black men and women who were unemployed in November 2009. The nation’s overall unemployment rate in November was 9.8 percent as nonfarm payroll employers added 39,000 jobs. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization that represents most black members of Congress, said the legislative body must do more to stimulate the economy.
“It is imperative for Congress to immediately pass legislation to stimulate the economy and create jobs, particularly for the chronically unemployed, including the 6.2 million Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more,” said Lee, who represents California’s 9th Congressional District.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said the jobless numbers should encourage Congress to restore unemployment insurance. “As of this morning, more than 892,000 jobless workers already have lost their lifeline,” Trumka said Dec. 3rd.
Johnson Publishing Co.'s
Ebony Magazine’s Parent Company Sells Historic Chicago Headquarters
Financially troubled Johnson Publishing Co., publisher of
magazines and owner of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, has sold its Chicago headquarters, which was at one time a major tourist destination for African Americans.
Columbia College, a liberal arts college, purchased the 11-story, 110,000 square-foot building November 16 from Johnson Publishing for an undisclosed price. Johnson Publishing reportedly will spend the funds to pay down debt.
“I am so proud of this wonderful building, which has served Johnson Publishing so well since 1971 and will continue to have a rich legacy under the stewardship of Columbia College of Chicago,” said Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing, which was founded by her father, John H. Johnson in 1942 with
, later renamed
“When we learned of Columbia’s interest in preserving the building and using it to expand opportunities for young people to study visual, performing, media and communication arts, we knew that was an opportunity we should pursue," John Rice added.
For many black subscribers of
magazines, Johnson Publishing Co.’s headquarters was more than a building. It was the nation’s leading symbol of black economic achievement. Black celebrities and politicians visited the building to meet with Mr. Johnson.
At one time, Johnson Publishing conducted guided tours of the building. As tourists moved from floor-to-floor, they would see impressive works of art by painters Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff and Ralph Arnold.
John H. Johnson
There also were photos of Mr. Johnson and his wife, Eunice, posing with world’s dignitaries. Once the tour reached the 11th floor executive offices, Mr. Johnson would walk out his office and greet the crowd.
He shook hands and posed for photographs with the tourists, all of whom were subscribers to Ebony and Jet. In black-owned homes, there were rarely copies of the town's daily newspaper, but
were clearly in evidence.
The tour was personal for me. I took my parents, Mitchell and Ruth Lowe and my sister, Ruth Kirsten, to Johnson Publishing during my parents’ only visit to Chicago in 1978.
When Mr. Johnson appeared my mother wanted to take his photograph. He posed for the photograph, but my mother became so nervous in his presence, she dropped her camera. Two older women pushed my mother aside and snapped photographs of Mr. Johnson. He shook my father’s hand, and they said a few words to each other. From the look on my father’s face, he was in awe of Mr. Johnson and what he had built.
Mr. Johnson was extremely proud of his company’s headquarters, which cost $8 million to build. In the September 1972 issue of
, there was a several page-photo spread of Johnson Publishing’s new headquarters titled, “Ebony Magazine’s New Home.”
In one of the photos, Mr. Johnson is sitting with John Moutoussamy, the noted black architect, who designed the building. Moutoussamy is the father of Jeanne Moutoussamy, tennis star Arthur Ashe’s widow.
When the building opened, Johnson Publishing Co. was making lots of money. But the recent recession cut advertising and subscriptions.
It‘s publications also faced growing competition from online media and from white-owned publications that went after the markets of Ebony and Jet. White-owned cosmetic companies also targeted Fashion Fair’s black women customers because white women spend less money on cosmetics.
The company reportedly had trouble paying R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., the magazine’s Chicago-based printer. Donnelley responded by taking out mortgages on the company.
Johnson Publishing will remain in the building another 18 months before it has to find a new home. “The company will appoint a building committee to help determine where to relocate,” said Johnson Rice.
Columbia College will use the building to house its growing library, said Warrick L. Carter, the school’s president.
Former New Orleans cop Michael Hunter Jr.
Former New Orleans Cop Sentenced To Prison For Hurricane Katrina Murders
A Federal Judge Thursday sentenced a former New Orleans police officer to eight years in prison for participating in a cover-up of the murders of two unarmed black men following Hurricane Katrina.
Michael Hunter Jr., 34, admitted firing several shots at 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who was mentally disabled, and James Brisette, 19, on New Orleans’ Danziger Bridge.
Hunter’s shots missed both men, but he did nothing to stop other New Orleans police officers from killing Brissette and Madison. Both men were searching for food Sept. 4, 2005, five days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.
Police shot and killed Brissette on the eastern end of the Danziger Bridge, and Madison was shot in the back and killed on the western end of the bridge.
Initially, police claimed they shot and killed the two because they were engaged in a gun fight. Once federal prosecutors discovered the Brisette and Madison were unarmed, New Orleans police engaged in an elaborate cover-up. They planted evidence, fabricated witnesses and made false statements. Prosecutors charged Hunter with obstruction of justice.
U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Vance called the actions by the police “savage” and a “shocking breach of the public trust."
Hunter is scheduled to begin his prison sentence March 14, 2011. Hunter is one of five police officers who have pled guilty to the shootings. He is expected to testify against six other former New Orleans police officers who are scheduled to go on trial in June 2011.
House Of Representatives Censures Charles Rangel
The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday voted to censure Charles Rangel despite a campaign by the New York Congressman and his supporters who argued that his actions did not merit such severe punishment.
The House voted 333 to 79 to censure Rangel one week after the eight-member House Ethics Committee found Rangel guilty of violating 11 of 13 House rules (
The NorthStar News & Analysis, November 16, 2010
After the vote, Rangel, walked to well of the House, where Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi read him a formal resolution of censure. Censure is a harsh form of punishment, second only to expulsion. The House Ethics Committee found Rangel guilty of failing to pay taxes for 17 years on a rental property in the Dominican Republic. The committee also found him guilty of using his congressional letterhead to seek donations for a monument to himself (
The NorthStar News & Analysis, August 3, 2010
After Pelosi read the formal resolution of censure, she left the House chamber. Some Democrats gave Rangel, who has represented New York’s 15th District since 1971, a standing ovation. Voters elected him to a new term during the Nov. 2 midterm elections.
Rangel, 80, told House members he brought the punishment on himself.
The investigation affected his career. At one time Rangel was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, making him one of the most-powerful men in Congress. Ways and Means writes the nation's tax laws. Rangel was the first black man to hold the post, but he was forced to resign his chairmanship as the investigation grew (
The NorthStar News & Analysis, March 7, 2010
Before the House voted to censure Rangel and his supporters sought to reduce the censure to a reprimand. That effort failed by a vote of 267 to 146.
Rangel attempted to influence the vote by posting on his House website “10 Reasons Why Rep. Charles B. Rangel Should Not Receive Censure.”
The following cites some of the statements on the list:
1) Rangel has not been convicted of any crime;
2) Rangel’s violations were not fraudulent;
3) Rangel did not take bribes;
4) Rangel’s violations did involve sexual misconduct;
5) Rangel did not divert official resources for personal use;
6) Rangel’s violations did not involve personal gain;
7) Rangel never lied under oath
Rangel cited precedents for sparing censure. He named three former Congressmen who were censured. One of the Congressmen was the late Charles C. Diggs, a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus. Diggs, a Michigan Democrat, was convicted of 11 counts in a criminal court of mail fraud and for accepting $66,000 in kickbacks from three employees.
He also compared himself to five Congressmen who had been reprimanded. One of the Congressmen was Barney Frank. The House reprimanded Frank for engaging in sex in the House gymnasium and improperly dismissing assistants’ 33 parking tickets. The House Ethics Committee also found that a third party used Frank’s personal residence as a house of prostitution.
Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau & senior vice president for Advocacy and Policy, said the House Ethics Committee did not present any proof that Rangel acted for personal gain.
Blake Chisam, the House ethics committee chief counsel, agreed. “I see no evidence of corruption,” Chisam said.
Rangel also asked his 25,000 campaign donors to call the Capitol switchboard and urge their representatives to vote against censuring him.
Tim Scott Won’t Join The Congressional Black Caucus
Tim Scott, one of the two black Republican candidates elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, has turned down an invitation to join the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization that represents African-American members of Congress.
“While I recognize the efforts of the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) and appreciate their invitation for me to caucus with them, I will not be joining at this time,” said Scott. “My campaign was never about race.”
Scott won South Carolina’s First Congressional District, with Tea Party backing in Nov. 2 midterm elections. Allen West, who won Florida’s 22nd Congressional District Nov. 2 with Tea Party backing, said he will join the Congressional Black Caucus (
The NorthStar News & Analysis, November 16, 2010
Nigeria Will Charge Dick Cheney
Nigerian authorities will charge former Vice President Dick Cheney over a bribery scandal that allegedly involved Halliburton, a company Cheney headed from 1995 to 2000.
The charges center on an alleged $180 million bribery payment Halliburton made to secure a $6 billion liquefied-natural gas contract. Nigeria’s anti-corruption police raided Halliburton’s offices and arrested 12 of the company employees. The employees have since been released.
Nigeria is issuing a warrant to arrest Cheney through Interpol, according to news reports. Halliburton is a Houston-based energy company.
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