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Why President Obama was right to sit down with Steve Harvey

harvey 600If you start with the premise that there is nothing President Obama can do to make the White House Press Corps happy, then it makes sense that an interview with comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey would cause controversy in the beltway. The interview with Harvey is seen as a "softball" interview with a friendly audience now that the media has declared Obama's second term practically over as his approval ratings struggle.

Perhaps if those same beltway media types didn't write trivial columns about "selfies" the president would take them more seriously.

Steve Harvey isn't really that unusual a choice for an interview. Maybe the beltway was too distracted by the health care website nonsense to realize that the date is creeping closer to the first deadline for healthcare reform. Blacks and Latinos have the highest rate of uninsured. The president taking the time to talk to his base of supporters, while at the same time reminding the folks who need healthcare the most, that they can sign up on a now-functional website and get coverage starting in a few weeks. And yes, talking about family and the holidays can't hurt either.

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The Obama-Castro handshake

obamacastro 600In the tradition of the Black Church in America, the right hand of fellowship handshake is extended as sign of welcome into the church community. Usually, a handshake between two world leaders at a memorial service is not seen as something controversial or unprecedented. On Dec. 10, however, at the beginning of the memorial service for Nelson "Madiba" Mandela in the heart of Soweto, South Africa, the handshake between President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro Ruz of Cuba was viewed differently.

It was not so much as an affront to any religious protocol, but was viewed by many as being controversial and consequential depending on political, ideological, cultural and historical perceptions or perspectives.

I have always maintained that if not reported anywhere else, it is important for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Black Press USA, to share with its millions of readers an analysis that goes beyond the hype of the mainstream media in America on issues that are vital to the strategic economic, political and cultural interests of the African American community as well as the interests of freedom-loving people throughout the world. It is, therefore, important to look deeper into the significance of the Obama-Castro handshake for both historical and contemporary clarity.

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TMZ Poll: ‘African-American’ or ‘N---a’

suge 600Former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight told TMZ that he is offended when people call him African American because he isn't African. Knight said that the term is offensive to black people, TMZ reports.

But Knight didn't stop there, and neither did TMZ. Knight explained that he didn't understand the controversy surrounding the word "n---a" and felt that its use shouldn't be limited only to rappers.

TMZ wrote, "At first his theory sounds a little shocking, but maybe he has a point. So we gotta ask."

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Rev. Jesse Jackson almost missed Mandela’s funeral

Pic-Jesse 600PRETORIA, South Africa – Jesse Jackson left the Southern Sun Hotel in downtown Pretoria shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday, expecting it would take less than two hours to fly 541 miles to Qunu, where funeral services were being held for former South African President Nelson Mandela.

The first indication that it would take longer came when Jackson and his delegation arrived at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

"Are you sure we're in the right place?" he asked his driver. "This doesn't look right." It didn't look right because Jackson had attended a ceremony at the air base on Saturday, just before Mandela's remains were flow to Qunu for burial. But the previous ceremonies were in another section of this base, which accounted for Jackson's unfamiliarity.

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New drug could save millions of lives

nat 600A new drug is on the horizon that scientists say will save millions of lives. If approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, it may be here before 2013 comes to a close.

Dr. Parvez Mantry, medical director of the Hepatobiliary Tumor Program at Methodist Dallas Medical, said that an investigational new medicine called sofosbuvir has shown encouraging results in fighting hepatitis C. A disease that was a death sentence to many a generation ago could now be completely wiped out in the majority of today's patients.

Discovered in 1992, but most likely around for much longer, hepatitis C causes severe liver damage in those who are infected; that number is estimated to be around 3 million people in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. It causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS and is the leading cause of liver cancer, as stated in a media release about sofosbuvir.

 

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Mandela makes final journey home in South Africa

mandelafun 600With military pomp and traditional rituals, South Africa buried Nelson Mandela on Sunday, the end of an exceptional journey for the prisoner turned president who transformed the nation.

Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Qunu.

Tribal leaders clad in animal skins joined dignitaries in dark suits at the gravesite overlooking the rolling green hills.

As pallbearers walked toward the site after a funeral ceremony, helicopters whizzed past dangling the national flag. Cannons fired a 21-gun salute, its echoes ringing over the quiet village.

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How to stop the killing of all our children

kendrick 600Early last week I found myself on a flight to Atlanta so that I could stand in solidarity, as a father, with the parents of a murdered son. Like the few hundred others who gathered outside the Georgia state Capitol on a chilly Wednesday morning, I believed that I was seeking justice for the yet-to-be-explained killing of young Kendrick Johnson.

As soon as I arrived at the Capitol grounds, I was told that the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Michael Eric Dyson would not be in attendance. It may have been the weather and it may have been the memorialization of Nelson Mandela, but whatever the reason, it was better that they were not there.

Before you call me a hater or begin to say that I have some commentary on any one of these men's leadership, let me stop you. I have respect for and have been shown support by each of them. My assertion speaks to how often the personalities of our most committed block out the voices of the people.

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President Obama’s shift from compromise to confrontation

prez1 600President Barack Obama's appointees to the influential D.C. Court of Appeals are being confirmed. Mel Watt, the North Carolina congressman who the president had tapped to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency, was approved by the Senate this week, despite strong resistance from Republicans. And House Republicans are on the verge of approving a two-year budget deal that actually increases some government funding and averts the potential for another government shutdown until 2015.

The president decided to embrace confrontation in the last months of 2013, and it has worked. His refusal to strip away parts of Obamacare, as Republicans demanded, and instead allow a government shutdown in October was vindicated as a strategy this week. The GOP, aware of how its poll numbers plummeted in the midst of that shutdown, are on the verge of approving a budget with little drama, as Obama has long urged, instead of using funding the government as a tool to force the president to abandon parts of his agenda.

And with the support of the president, Senate Democrats last month changed the rules of the chamber to limit the ability to filibuster nominees, leading to the confirmations of the judges, Watt and other Obama picks for key posts in the federal government.

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Here’s Megyn Kelly’s Kwanzaa reading assignment

newssanta 600It's a shame that Fox News' Megyn Kelly wasn't on the air Thursday night to explain why she told her viewers Wednesday night that "Santa just is white," so is Jesus, and "those are just facts."

She left that lump of coal in our stockings, and none of her panelists even bothered to question Kelly's "facts"—or to entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe, when it comes to which box Santa Claus is checking (and checking it twice) on his census form—he might not check "white."

That's because, among other things, she didn't bother to book Slate's Aisha Harris for the show, even though it was Harris' cheerful essay—about reimagining Santa as a cuddly postracial penguin—that was the inspiration for Kelly's strangely emphatic and un-PC screed about the lineage of Jesus and ethnicity of jolly old St. Nick:

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At NBCSL, President-elect Pugh is next up

prez 600Rep. Joe Armstrong of Knoxville wraps up the first year of his two-year term as president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators when the group's national convention ends Saturday in Memphis.

He will pass the gavel at next year's convention to President-Elect Sen. Catherine Pugh of Maryland. Her platform will be focused on "generating real economic equity."

"You know what I tell my counterparts? I tell them that there must be equitable distribution of funds to those who are not among the wealthiest Americans," said Sen. Pugh told The New Tri-State Defender.

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7 tips to secure employment in a crowded job market

Lester-Headshot 600Looking for a job? Or a better job? Or a second job? A lot of people are these days. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rose to 13 percent for African Americans in August.

In my professional work as jobs specialist and employer, I've found that some jobseekers have little to no knowledge of how to properly search for and secure employment. We do not possess magic wands that open doors to economic prosperity with no research or work required. The job market is an extremely competitive place. The more you can do to help distinguish yourself from other applicants, the more you increase the likelihood that you may be hired.

Here are some simple, but highly effective things you can do to make yourself stand out in the crowd. Over the next few weeks, we'll discuss them in detail in WORKFORCE READY!

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Racism linked to infant mortality and learning disabilities

57568377.jpg.CROP.rtstory-large 600On the long list of health disparities that vex and disproportionately affect the lives of African Americans – diabetes, cancer and obesity among them – one of the earliest and, it turns out, most significant, may be just when a black child is born.

A pair of Emory University studies released this year have connected the large share of African-American children born before term with the biologically detectable effects of stress created in women's bodies after decades of dealing with American racism. As shocking as that itself may sound, the studies' findings don't end there.

Racism, and its ability to increase the odds that a pregnant mother will deliver her child early, can kill. There is also evidence that racism can alter the capacity for a child to learn and distorts lives in ways that can reproduce inequality, poverty and long-term disadvantage, the studies found.

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Mandela’s challenge for South Africa’s black intellectuals

11998701 600Some years ago I initiated a research program on African identity at the Human Sciences Research Council, which is the largest government-funded social science research institution in South Africa. The highlight of the program was a series of lectures by author and playwright Wole Soyinka, professor and The Root Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. and professor Cornel West on "the meaning of Mandela," followed by the publication of a book of the same title.

Inspired by what Gates had done with African-American studies at Harvard, I thought we could build a "dream team" of our own on the southern tip of the African continent.

We did not do badly at all. The initial staff consisted of Mcebisi Ndletyana, who is now the head of political economy at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection; Claude Kabemba, who heads the Open Society's Southern Africa Resource Watch; and Pumla Gqola, who is now a renowned author and professor at Wits University.

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