Sunday, December 30, 2012

Afro-Peruvians Ensnared in Poverty, Racism

Afro-Peruvians Ensnared in Poverty, Racism

Peru has one of Latin America's fastest-growing economies, but Afro-Peruvians are still overwhelmingly mired in poverty.

Those lucky enough to work in unskilled jobs their ancestors had three or four centuries ago -- as pallbearers, hotel bellhops and restaurant wait staff -- hope they may finally be on the cusp of meaningful change.

"More than 34 percent of Afro-Peruvians are poor. And that means they do not have a chance to pursue higher education, which would help them break the cycle of poverty that sees them limited to a handful of jobs," said Rocio Munoz, an Afro-Peruvian affairs expert and researcher at the culture ministry.

Black Peruvians, whose ancestors came from west Africa as slaves during the 1500-1820 Spanish colonial era to work in mines and on fields, today make up three to seven percent of Peru's 30 million people.

At 47 percent, almost half of Peru's population is indigenous -- mostly ethnic Quechua and Aymara in the Andes, plus lowland Amazon basin natives. Another 37 percent are multi-ethnic with a mix of indigenous, white, black and/or Asian ancestors.

Black Peruvians are well represented in the country's music and sports scenes -- especially wildly popular soccer. But they are largely, strangely absent from politics, television, business, diplomacy and the media.

Even in the armed forces, it is uncommon to see many black Peruvians.

Of all Afro-Peruvians, just a tiny six percent make it to university. And just two percent of those finish their degrees, Munoz said.

Ironically, the ethnically white Peruvians who controlled politics and the country for centuries until less than two decades ago seem to have made big strides toward overcoming racism against their indigenous countrymen.

They democratically elected their first indigenous president, Alejandro Toledo, in 2000. He went from being a shoeshine boy to becoming a U.S.-educated economist, to the presidency -- long unthinkable in Peru, where the moneyed and powerful kept "mountain people" as household staff and on separate beaches.

Current President Ollanta Humala is also an indigenous military man turned politician from the highlands.

But fading racism has been slower to benefit Peru's blacks, a small minority compared to its indigenous near-majority.

In many of Lima's chicest restaurants, the dessert tray is brought around by black women in petticoats and headscarves recalling the colonial era.

"This social categorization, which locks people of African heritage into certain service jobs, has its roots in slavery, and in the colonial era," Munoz said.

"Even though we live in a democratic society now, these things have not changed. And dead people's families continue to seek black pallbearers as were de rigeur in the colonial era," she explained.

In the capital's wealthiest neighborhoods, government campaigns against associating Afro-Peruvians and funerals have so far fallen on deaf ears.

"A lot of our clients specifically ask for black pallbearers in the belief that that will make a burial more elegant or prestigious," said Alejandro Cano, who owns a funeral parlor in the upscale San Isidro neighborhood.

"People who are looking for (black pallbearers in suits) are looking for excellent service," said Cano, arguing that: "there is nothing discriminatory there."

Some of those affected appear to agree.

Humberto Guerrero, in a tux and white gloves, said he is proud of his pallbearer-for-hire position.

"People always say that they want (to hire) black pallbearers. And it is not to marginalize us but rather it's a custom that people just like," Guerrero said.

"People think a black guy looks really elegant in a tux. And I don't feel discriminated against; it's my job, and I respect that."

Relations between black and indigenous Peruvians have often been strained, largely because indigenous people saw blacks as a type of legacy of the colonial era.

And the colonial era, from a Peruvian point of view, is already complicated by a love-hate relationship with Spain, from which an external culture was slapped on top of one that had been in Peru for millennia. It became the dominant one for centuries -- until the recent rise of Peruvian multiculturalism.

Still, some progress has been made in recent years.

The government does keep track of data on Afro-Peruvians to help on health and employment fronts, said Owan Lay, another culture ministry official.

In 2009, under then president Alan Garcia, Peru became the first Latin American nation to apologize to black Peruvians for centuries of "abuse, exclusion and discrimination." It also acknowledged racism played a role in blocking their professional and social advancement.

In 2011, Humala called for "social integration for all" and named Grammy-winning singer Susana Baca, who is black, as culture minister. She resigned later that year to resume touring.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Brazil murder stats reflect racial divide

Brazil murder stats reflect racial divide

The number of black homicide victims in Brazil grew by 29.8 percent between 2002 and 2010, to nearly 35,000, while murders of whites declined 25.5 percent to just over 14,000, the Presidential Bureau to Promote Racial Equality said Thursday.

The report, "Map of Violence 2012: The Color of Murder in Brazil," shows blacks are significantly more likely to be murdered in a nation where more than half the population claims African ancestors.

The authors of the study say the median annual number of murders in Brazil, roughly 30,000, is alarmingly high in light of the absence of ethnic or political strife in the South American nation.

"It is a volume of violent deaths much superior to that of many regions of the world that suffer armed conflicts, but what is most disturbing is the growing tendency of selective mortality," the study says.

"There is a unacceptable and growing association between homicides and the skin color of the victims," the authors add.

While the murder rate among white Brazilians is 15.5 per 100,000 residents, the comparable figure for people of African descent is 36. And for Afro-Brazilians between the ages of 12 and 21, the homicide rate is 72 per 100,000.

The ratio of black murder victims to whites in Brazil is 2.3 to 1. EFE

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Italian Paradox on Refugees -

The Italian Paradox on Refugees

ROME — The abandoned building on the outskirts of Rome, colloquially known as the Salaam Palace, was once a sparsely populated shelter where new arrivals from Africa — fleeing war, persecution and economic turmoil — squatted to create their own refuge.

Over the years, scattered mattresses were joined by sloppily plastered plywood walls, slapdash doors and scavenged furniture. Today an irregular warren of cubbyholes includes a small restaurant and a common room. On a recent cold afternoon, a hammer clinked as a bathroom was added to a one-room home where an oven door was left open for heat.

Today more than 800 refugees inhabit Salaam Palace, and its dilapidation and seeming permanence have become a vivid reminder of what its residents and others say is Italy's failure to assist and integrate those who have qualified for asylum under its laws.

Salaam Palace and an expanding population in shantytowns elsewhere in Italy are the result of what refugee agencies say is an Italian paradox surrounding asylum seekers here. The country has a good record of granting asylum status, but a disgraceful follow-through, they say, characterized by an absence of resources and a neglect that adds unnecessary hardship to already tattered lives and is creating a potential tinderbox for social unrest.

"Italy is quite good when in the asylum procedure, recognizing 40 percent, even up to 50 percent of applicants in some years," said Laura Boldrini, the spokeswoman in Italy for the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. "What is critical is what comes after."

Italy has only about 3,150 spots in its state-funded asylum protection system, where refugees receive government assistance. Waiting lists are astronomical. "If you're not lucky to get one of those, you're on your own," Ms. Boldrini said. "You have to find a way to support yourself, learn the language, get a house and a job."

That has certainly been the experience of those in Salaam Palace. Some have been living in the abandoned university building since early 2006, when it was occupied by a group of refugees with the help of an organized squatters' association.

Most fled a life of war and hardship in Sudan and the Horn of Africa. Nearly all have refugee status, or some form of protection, but they have been unable to find steady work in Rome. Italy's economic crisis has made the challenge all the harder.

"We escaped one war to find another kind of war — 800 people crammed in a palazzo," said Yakub Abdelnabi, a resident of Salaam Palace who left Sudan in 2005.

Last summer, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks, visited Salaam Palace and was struck by the "destitute conditions" of its residents and "the near absence of an integration framework" for refugees in Italy, according to a report issued in September.

Mr. Muiznieks "witnessed the shocking conditions in which the men, women and children were living in this building, such as one shower and one toilet shared by 250 persons," the report said.

Apart from volunteers, the residents had "no guidance" in finding work, going to school or dealing with administrative burdens. "This has effectively relegated these refugees or other beneficiaries of international protection to the margins of society, with little prospect of improvement in their situation," the report said.

To grant access to social assistance, the local authorities often demand documents that are impossible for the refugees to obtain. Occasional government-financed projects designed to remedy the situation have had negligible impact, residents said.

Though immigrants have access to medical care, many are leery of navigating the labyrinthine national health system, which is why on a blustery December day medical students had volunteered to provide flu shots to some residents of the Salaam Palace in an improvised health clinic, amid cigarette butts and empty beer bottles.

"This is the worst time of the year, when the risk of epidemic is high," said Dr. Donatella D'Angelo, president of a volunteer association that provides weekly health care at Salaam Palace.

Ethiopian Immigrant Wins Lawsuit Against Israeli Employer

Ethiopian Immigrant Wins Lawsuit Against Israeli Employer

IsraelDecember, 24, 2012 - The Tel Aviv Labor Court last week ordered an Israeli man, Saul Ben-Ami, to pay NIS 71,000 ($19,000) in compensation to his former employee Awaka Yosef, an immigrant from Ethiopia, for referring to him with the racist slur "kushi," Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday.

The incident reportedly began when Yosef, an eight-year veteran at a gardening company that employs 150 people, noticed that his wages had been lowered without notice. When Yosef challenged his boss about the discrepancy, Ben-Ami reportedly responded "Who are you, you kushi? Go home."

The term kushi derives from the biblical Kingdom of Kush, which was located in Africa, south of Egypt. In modern Hebrew, the word has become a pejorative for dark-skinned people.

Yosef, 51, said he was offended by the response and immediately resigned. However, he didn't let the matter slide, and after consulting with an attorney, the father of three decided to take his grievance to court.

"When the manager called me a kushi I was very hurt," Yosef said. "It felt as though he was treating me like a dog, and so I decided to resign. I wasn't prepared to have him curse me and talk to me like that. I don't have to take it. Kudos to the judge for ruling in my favor."

Ben-Ami denied that he had used the word, and even that he had lowered Yosef's wages. But after finding contradictions in his testimony, the court ruled that Yosef's wages had indeed been reduced unilaterally, that the term kushi was used to humiliate him, and that it was thus unreasonable to expect Yosef to remain at the company.

"Such statements are grave, and they have no place in the workplace," wrote Judge Oren Segev in his decision. "It is a racist term that was intended to humiliate and degrade a man just because he is from the Ethiopian community and because he has dark skin."

The court also ordered Ben-Ami to pay NIS 13,000 ($3,500) in court fees to Yosef, the report said.

Embracing the New Black Diversity

Beyond Kwanzaa: Embracing the New Black Diversity - The Huffington Post

Beyond Kwanzaa: Embracing the New Black Diversity
For many Americans, our country's African heritage becomes real for one week every year during the December 26th-January 1st Kwanzaa celebration. This worthy holiday is a way to teach and express African-Americans' history of struggle and success. However, we need to move beyond this week-long celebration to a fuller recognition of Africans' ongoing contributions to our community and nation.

In the past 20 years there has been an almost 200 percent increase in African immigration to the United States. Today, there are more than 1.5 million African-born black people in America. More than 3.5 million Americans self-identify as members of the new African diaspora, meaning that they were born to at least one parent who was born in Africa. In some metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C., Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Los Angeles, Africans make up a third of the black population. Most Africans in the U.S. are from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya with many other countries represented as well. The most prominent example of the new African diaspora is President Barack Obama -- the American-born son of a Kenyan immigrant.

Unfortunately, new Africans in America are subjected to modern versions of the very same distorted stereotypes imposed on black people since the country's founding. Mainstream media still promote the image of Africa as "The Dark Continent" defined by war, famine and poverty. Africans are depicted as corrupt, inferior victims needing the guidance of benevolent, more enlightened Americans to solve their problems.

The reality of Africans in America could not be further from the mainstream narrative. Africans in America come from all walks of life, including courageous, poor refugees escaping political persecution in war torn countries, as well as affluent, accomplished professionals working in every imaginable field.

A recent study by Rice University shows that Nigerian-Americans are the most educated group in America. According to research by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, African immigrants are more likely to be college educated than any other immigrant group. In fact, the study shows, African immigrants are also more highly educated than any other U.S.-born ethnic group.

Despite high levels of education many African immigrants, like many Americans of African descent, face racism; however, they are also subject to discrimination based on their national origin. A largely invisible minority, with few exceptions such as the efforts of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, African immigrant issues are largely excluded from immigrant and civil rights advocacy and foundation funding.

There are many meaningful ways to learn more about and connect with America's new black diversity. The arts are an important vehicle. Africa diaspora leaders are using the arts and media in creative ways to express their own visions of Africa. For example next generation filmmaker Zina Zaro-Wiwa's acclaimed "This is My Africa" and video exhibit "Progress of Love " are riveting expressions of African emotional life that work against the tendency to dehumanize and stereotype Africans. Pan-African and black film festivals throughout the country educate about the rich cultures and public affairs of Africa and its worldwide diaspora.

Applause Africa, an innovative multi-media company, publishes a magazine and website that is fast becoming the Ebony of America's new Africa diaspora, highlighting its diversity and accomplishments. Applause Africa just debuted the African Diaspora Awards in New York City to honor the inspiring contributions of the new African diaspora. The equivalent of the NAACP Image Awards, superstar Grammy winner and humanitarian, Angelique Kidjo, and acclaimed CNN journalist, Lola Ogunniake were among the thirteen outstanding honorees.

Black in America today is not -- and never really has been -- just African-Americans. Since the 1500s, black America has included the rich ethnic diversity of African-descent people from the continent as well as the Caribbean, Latin America, even Europe and Asia.

Although we come from diverse backgrounds, we share much in common. Our communities have among the world's highest rates of poverty, infant and maternal mortality, and HIV/AIDS. At the same time, we have among the highest levels of charitable giving in the country -- a tradition of philanthropy that defines both African-American and African cultures. In 2010 alone America's new and old African diaspora gave an astounding $23 billion to strengthen black and other communities in the U.S. and Africa.

Africa lives across America's backyards. Move beyond Kwanzaa's abstract notions of Africa in 2013. Here's how.

Use the resources mentioned here to begin learning about our diversity and the long history of African contributions to America, including today's African immigrants to the U.S.

Build community across our diversity. Although we may have been born in different places, we share a common African past -- no matter how distant -- and a destiny bound in America's future. We can find unity across our diversity to benefit all our communities.

Marshal our rich economy of giving to address our common challenges in America and humanity's shared African Motherland. Giving is a tie that also binds diverse African diaspora cultures. Giving together activates Kwanzaa's Pan-African cultural principles to make a practical difference to our communities.

AWDF USA can help. Created by a coalition of Americans and Africans, AWDF USA is devoted to building an American Giving Movement to uplift Africa and its diaspora.

Learn more about our Mother Africa Campaign to transform Kwanzaa to a new future for African peoples everywhere.

We look forward to hearing from you and contact us at or 408-634-4837 to learn more.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On International Migrants Day, Black Voices Call For Immigration Reform With Racial Equity

On International Migrants Day, Black Voices Call For Immigration Reform With Racial Equity

On International Migrants Day, Black Voices Call For Immigration Reform With Racial Equity

-- National network of grassroots groups brings more black voices to immigrant rights debate --

Nationwide (December 17, 2012) -- In recognition of International Migrants Day on December 18, 2012, the BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK, a national network of African American and black immigrant organizations announce its collaboration to uplift black voices in the immigrant rights debate. The network cites the need for an understanding of racial justice as a key principle for immigration reform and for the contemporary struggle for racial equity for all people of color.

The BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK (BIN) was conceived through the efforts of Oakland-based organization Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the Chicago-based Center for New Community's Which Way Forward (WWF) Program, and American Friend Services Committee's Third World Coalition (TWC) with particular help from their Northeast Regional offices. They began their efforts in 2009 and have now grown to involve over 20 organizations nationally and several hundred black participants in a variety of convenings and advocacy efforts over the years.

The observance of International Migrants Day is significant to the BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK'S analysis of how globalization has changed the political and economic landscape - in the United States of America and throughout the world. Various international policies, wars, corporate greed and environmental conditions ultimately displace millions of people and force them to migrate to other countries in order to survive.

The BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK recognizes that often times the same types of oppressive laws and culture that historically, and currently disenfranchises African American communities is gaining momentum and finding more fuel through its attack on immigrant communities in the United States. The coded language that is often hate-filled, coupled with anti-immigrant racial profiling laws, such as Alabama's HB 56, and other practices encourages violence that threatens both African American communities and immigrants of color. Sadly these laws and practices do not comply with United Nations Human Rights Conventions such as those protecting the Rights of Migrants or the Convention to End all forms of Racial Discrimination.

In its quest for racial justice, BLACK IMMIGRATION NETWORK (BIN), has also observed that current immigration policies and practices discriminate based on race and class. This discriminatory practice adversely impact immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and other Afro-Latinos in the Americas. To this end BIN promotes the leadership of black immigrant and African American leaders in the struggle for immigrant rights to ensure that as Comprehensive Immigration Reform is being debated - black concerns are not further marginalized.

Trina Jackson of Network for Immigrants and African Americans in Solidarity, based in Boston, MA explains, "Our challenge as a movement is to turn the common ancestry and the common struggles of African Americans and black immigrants into concerted advocacy and a common action agenda benefiting all of our communities."

The network is rapidly expanding as organizations and individuals across the nation realize that black communities care about immigration. And more importantly that black communities are always undeniably impacted by immigration. From re-framing the notion that "immigrants are stealing jobs" to educating black communities about the ways in which corporations and governments are pitting our communities against one another to weaken our power. BIN is poised to have these important educational conversations about race as well as work on policy initiatives that will benefit black communities.

Some of the organizations represented in BIN's membership include the Highlander Research and Education Center, Families for Freedom, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Priority African Network, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Casa de Maryland, Center for New Community and Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Its leadership structure includes a national steering committee and a host of working groups, including a group specifically focused on Family Reunification Visas for Haitians and a working group focused on Education and Training.

The Black Immigration Network (BIN) is a kinship of organizations and individuals connecting, training and building towards policy and cultural shifts for a racial justice and migrant rights agenda. BIN's vision is that people of African descent unite for racial justice and migrant rights to achieve social, economic and political power.

You can learn more about the network by visiting:

How the Africans Became Black

How the Africans Became Black

A Liberian-American reflects on the experiences of Africans who have moved to the United States, a growing community that accounts for 3 percent of the U.S.'s foreign-born population.

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Yama Sumo a former refugee from civil war in Liberia, sits by her sidewalk vegetable stand outside a housing project in the Park Hill section of Staten Island in New York City on September 20, 2007. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

After leaving my nine-to-five job, I was led to a New York Immigration Coalition job posting. While waiting in the coalition's lobby for an interview, a copy of a popular TIME Magazine cover caught my eye. "WE ARE AMERICANS," the cover read. The photo on the cover featured faces of various brown and yellow immigrants, eager and hopeful, representing both the spirit of America's revolutionary history and its inevitable future. I was remembering my own family's immigration when I stopped to wonder: Where are the Africans?

U.S. immigration debates are overwhelmingly centered on immigrants from Latin America. Proportionately, Mexicans and central Americans far outnumber other immigrant groups in the United States. According to a Migration Policy Institute study, since 1970, "a period during which the overall U.S. immigration population increased four-fold, the Mexican and central American population increased by a factor of 20." In a subsequent study on black immigration, the same organization reported that black African immigrants account for 3 percent of the total U.S. foreign-born population.

Like their Latin American counterparts, African immigrants keep a low profile in an effort to avoid humiliation, deportation, and loss of work. Many of them, whether accidentally or otherwise, wind up blending in with African-American culture. But however closely they may identify with black America, they, too, are immigrants.


I recently read a book titled How The Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev. Ignatiev traces this nation's white solidarity to the arrival of Irish settlers in New York in 1840, the country's subsequent disassociation from its African-American working class -- and ultimately, from the African-American race.

According to Ignatiev, Irish Catholics, then known as the blacks of Europe, came to America as a disenfranchised, oppressed race under the English Penal Laws. The greatest voice for Catholic emancipation at the time, Daniel O'Connell, urged the new immigrants to continue the struggle for equality in America by showing support for abolitionists. Instead, the Irish realized that discrimination against them by white elites was linked at least in part to their working, sleeping and living closely alongside blacks of similar economic and social status.

In order to stand out from blacks economically, Irish immigrants had to monopolize their low-wage jobs and keep free Northern blacks from joining unions during the labor movement. And in order to disassociate socially, they had to consent to active participation in the oppression of the black race, embracing whiteness and the system that disenfranchised and justified an ungovernable hatred toward African-Americans.

Ignatiev includes an 1843 letter from Daniel O'Connell: "Over the broad Atlantic I pour forth my voice, saying, come out of such land, you Irishmen; or, if you remain, and dare countenance the system of slavery that is supported there, we will recognize you as Irishmen no longer."

The color of their skin saved them, but has also nearly obliterated a once vibrant cultural identity so that today I know no Irishmen. I have friends of Irish descent, former coworkers who mentioned the occasional Irish grandfather or associates who gesture toward familiarity of the lost heritage over empty pints on St. Patrick's Day -- but the Irishmen are now white, and the Irishmen are now gone.

Race in America is often thought of as a two-toned, immutable palette. No matter how early their ancestors arrived, Americans of Asian descent, Americans from Spanish-speaking countries, and Americans from the Middle East will always be considered foreign, it sometimes seems. For black immigrants who arrive as neither African-American nor white, affiliating with the African-American identity is often easier. Being considered African-American in this country is still better in most instances than being considered an immigrant.

Much as Irish immigrants benefited from the white racial umbrella, black immigrants are benefiting from a black racial umbrella. They cleave to African-American culture and identity groups and remain silent or unheard in the larger immigration dialogue. In the context of the immigration debate, while many of the prominent faces of those in need are often brown, it's worth remembering that the term "immigrant" captures black Africans, too. At the same time, black immigrants and their children are also helping to redefine what it means to be black in this country.


When I was stopped in Arizona at a checkpoint during a midnight drive from Los Angeles to Houston, I was not asked if I was born in this country or if I was of legal status. The officer glanced at my license and simply asked me where I was going.

"Home," I answered. "Back to Houston."

I sounded like him and looked like about 14 percent of this country -- so the officer let me pass. Someone like Natalie Portman -- a white woman, but born in Jerusalem and an immigrant to the United States -- might have had the same experience.

If Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer-winning journalist whose (brown) picture on the cover of TIME hung on the wall of the New York Immigration Coalition, were stopped that night, he may have been interrogated with questions, squeezed for identification, for proof that he deserved to be here. How just is that?

My family left Liberia in 1990 amid the country's first civil war. We were among tens of thousands that successfully escaped to America. Five-years-old at the time, a green and frightened young immigrant, I moved with my growing family to three different states before settling in Houston in 1994. By then, my accent was gone. I pronounced the r's at the ends of my words, I knew the radio music my elementary peers sang along to and I could quote the latest episodes of "TGIF." By 2000, my only reference to Liberia, other than my parents, annual family reunions and a war scar underneath my right foot, was my name. I said it and people asked if I was African. If I did not say it, they could not know. We were the only African family in our small Texan town and as far as the residents were concerned -- we were black. It was not until I moved to New York for college that my answer of "Spring, Texas" when people asked me where I was from was unacceptable. "No," they would say, "where are you from from?" Oh. Liberia.

Like a small percentage of Liberians, my recent ancestors were descendants of American slaves. A reverend by the name of June Moore immigrated to Liberia with his wife Adeline Moore in 1871. After settling in Arthington, Liberia, Wallace Moore, one of June's and Adeline's three sons, had a son named David Moore, who had a son named Herbert Moore, who had a son named Augustus Moore Sr. -- my father.

But growing up in America as a black or white person encourages the abandonment of such history and the adoption of "black" or "white" American culture as one's own. Despite my Liberian heritage, my interactions outside of my house during my developmental years took place as though I were, culturally, an African-American -- not an African. From first grade through high school, I received an American public-school education in which all mentions of people who looked like me were African-American. I took ownership of the culture because otherwise, I did not exist.

When I was 11 years old, I was called a nigger at a neighborhood corner store by a shopkeeper who thought my friends and I were stealing from him when six or so of us entered his store after track practice. The word was foreign to me, as was his motivation in using it. My friends and I cried as we were chased out of the store, but even then I knew their tears came from a different, more familiar place.

In the same way we respond to someone with white skin -- whether that person is a white European or a white Hispanic -- so America responds to people with black skin, no matter if they have been here for 20 years or 200 years. Being black in America is accompanied by a stupefying consciousness, a sudden, life-long awareness of your skin, your nose, your hair -- all those things that, ironically, we are taught do not matter at all.


Still, developing an awareness of all that being black in this country may entail does not automatically mean that young black immigrants are accepted by their peers. The young immigrant is usually subject to other kinds of bullying. National Geographic programming, comedians, international news all showcase Africans as savage, disease-ridden, ignorant, and poor. As a young student in this country, an African student, there are few greater burdens than psychologically balancing the public's perception of Africa against what the immigrant knows to be true.

Social pressures cause a grave, hopeless desire to blend in with peers, even if the price is total rejection of the foods, music and languages of that child's home country. The easiest avenue for assimilation into American culture, for young black immigrants, is the assimilation into African-American culture. African immigrants are not the only group to do this -- Carribeans and black Hispanics may do this as well, all to ease the burdens of cultural ostracism.

These young people eventually learn to socially navigate both African-American and their home culture. This passing of black immigrants and first-generation black Americans as members of African-American culture results in a cross-cultural black identity, where the individual is equally invested in both African-American interests and the empowerment of their (or their parent's) home country and the many issues that affect its native sons.

* * *

My father is a proud man. All of my uncles are proud men. They wear Liberia and her stories on their shoulders and made consistent attempts growing up to engage us in her music and history. Still, my father was as careful as he was proud. My siblings and I were reminded to always obey the law, never get in trouble, to fear punishment and respect authority. The immigration struggles that face many Hispanics in this country -- fear of prison, fear of deportation or separation from family -- are more intensified among Africans, because many of us, my family included, left countries in conflict or at war. Drawing attention to your immigrant status means raising the possibility of having to return to a country whose economy and infrastructure may barely function.

Ours is also a numbers game. As 3 percent of a foreign-born population, African influence in the immigration movement is low. Language barriers keep some black immigrants from becoming activists. It's not just about English; at one information session in the Bronx, instructions and information on legal clinic appointments were given only in Spanish, even though 10 percent of the attendants were black immigrants who mostly spoke French. The Francophones had to consult with one another to figure out what the session leader was saying.

Some black immigrants are vocal and have received help from a few quarters. To people of countries beset by armed conflict, natural disaster, or other circumstances that would make going home unsafe, the United States grants what's called Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS gives certain foreign nationals a special opportunity to live in America, to work, to pay taxes, and to own homes and businesses. Haitians benefited from this after the 2010 earthquake, and Liberians were also beneficiaries.

But in 2007, an estimated 4,000 Liberians were told that their special status would expire on September 30 at midnight. On September 12, however, President Bush signed a bill that gave the Liberians permission to stay another 18 months and continue working. That reprieve has since been granted 4 times; yet every year these Liberians -- some with children who are American citizens, homeowners, and taxpayers -- face the threat of deportation.

Liberian nationals, with the help of The Universal Human Rights International Group and community associations led and managed by fellow Liberian immigrants, continue to lobby Congress for permanent residency. Michael Capuano, a Democratic U.S. congressman from Massachusetts, is a co-sponsor of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Protection Act. If passed, the bipartisan bill will allow Liberians with TPS to apply for permanent residency, something they are not currently allowed to do.

You may have passed a Liberian covered by TPS today. You may have thought that he was just black.

What the Irish were to white identity in the 19th century, so are African immigrants to African-American identity today. Black immigrants have a meaningful contribution to make to the immigration debate; for Jose Antonio Vargas and the other brown faces on that TIME cover, the black immigrant voice may be all the push reformists need.

Thirteen Ethiopian stowaways nabbed in Tanzania

Thirteen Ethiopian stowaways nabbed in Tanzania -

Tanzanian immigration authorities on Wednesday arrested 13 Ethiopian stowaways in its northern region while they were en route for "greener pastures" in Europe and the United States.

Arusha Regional Immigration Officer Daniel Namomba said the Ethiopian teenagers, waiting for travel arrangement to the intended destinations, were arrested in a house located on the outskirts of Arusha city.

"We have discovered that the arrested aliens were on transit to South Africa as a way to Europe and the United States in search of greener pastures," he said.

He called upon Tanzanians to help identify strangers in their neighborhoods to curb the human trafficking business.

In June this year, 43 Ethiopians were found dead in an air- tight container near Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, en route to South Africa.

Arusha-based immigration department also revealed that cases of illegal immigrants have been declining lately with only 88 aliens being arrested between January and June this year.

"Out of the 88 arrested illegal immigrants there were 57 Kenyans, eight Ethiopians, five Ugandans, four Sri-Lankans, three Somalis, three Congolese and two Canadians," Namomba said, adding that the rest were individuals from Italy, Pakistan, Niger, the Comoros, India and Nigeria.

In 2011, the immigration department arrested 328 illegal immigrants with Kenyans accounting for 153 of the total figure, followed by Somalis, Ethiopians, Ugandans and Pakistanis.

Somali woman gets 8 years on terror charge

Somali woman gets 8 years on terror charge

SAN DIEGO — The money that Nima Yusuf raised and sent back to her home country of Somalia came in small increments and, in the end, didn't amount to very much — $1,450 in all.

But federal prosecutors said the amount of money really didn't matter. The San Diego County woman knew that the funds were being used by four fighters for the terrorist group al-Shabaab — a crime that sent her to prison for eight years on Tuesday.

The sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz was less than the maximum 15 years she could have received, falling somewhere in the middle of the five years the defense sought, and the decade prosecutors said they wanted. Yusuf, 26, pleaded guilty a year ago to conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization, acknowledging sending the money then lying to investigators about it.

The judge settled on the eight years as an appropriate punishment that factored in the seriousness of the offense, as well as the unique circumstances behind Yusuf's involvement.

In a letter to the judge written before the sentencing, Yusuf recalled in vivid terms a lifetime of horror, heartbreak, and happiness — all before she was 16.

Born in Mogadishu, both her mother and father were wounded by gunfire as that nation collapsed. The family fled to a refugee camp in Kenya, when she was 4, and lived there for 11 years.

It was hardly a relief. Guards were corrupt, brutal, and worse. Yusuf said she was gang-raped when she was 13 years old by eight soldiers.

Two years later, the family was able to immigrate to the U.S. They landed in Salt Lake City, where they were welcomed with open arms. Yusuf went to school, got good grades, got involved in Girl Scouts and played sports.

It was, she wrote, a wonder.

"I was overwhelmed by the freedom of this country," she wrote. "I could pass men on the street, and stay safe. I could eat all the food my stomach could hold."

The family moved to San Diego, the warm weather easier on her parents and their health problems that stemmed from the war wounds. In 2008 she fell in love with a Somali man from Minneapolis, but his family wanted him to marry another woman. She was shattered, and while staying in Minneapolis met young men from the neighborhood, devout Muslims and supporters of al-Shabaab.

The U.S. government named al-Shabaab a terrorist group in 2008. More than 20 Somali men from Minneapolis left to fight in Somalia between 2007 and 2009. One of them whom Yusuf knew ended up killing himself in a suicide bombing there.

Her lawyers had argued that her support of the group was akin to a teenage girl's infatuation or crush. They described her as immature emotionally, who gained status in the immigrant community by professing support for the group.

In a seven-month period in 2010, Yusuf sent $1,450 back to Somalia. The money went in increments of not less than $50 and not more than $200.

Charles Rees, one of Yusuf's lawyers, said she never intended the funds to go for bombs. Instead, he said she believed she was helping the young men with debts, medical assistance and other matters.

"She never meant any harm to the U.S," he said.

But prosecutors did not see it that way. The case against Yusuf was built on hours of wiretapped phone calls she made to Somalia. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sabrina Feve said in court papers that Yusuf comes across in some of those recordings as "an insecure, immature young woman" whose connection with the fighters "made her feel better by making her feel important."

But she told Moskowitz other recordings reveal a different side, one that angrily lashed out at people who criticized al-Shabaab and was not totally naive about the group.

"She knew who these people were, she knew what they were fighting for," she said.

She was living in an apartment in Lemon Grove at the time of her arrest.

At the end of the hearing, Yusuf turned to a courtroom full of family and friends, many of them Somali women like her covered in traditional clothing. Tearfully, she said she was blessed to have them as a family.

She also said she knew in the future to separate her politics from her faith.

"I don't want any other young Somali woman to go through what I went through," she said.

MKs hold 'banish the darkness' anti-migr... JPost - National News

Ben-Ari, Eldad hold Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony in south Tel Aviv, issue call to expel all African migrants from Israel.

Calling it a move to "banish the darkness," right-wing MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad held a Hanukka candle-lighting ceremony in south Tel Aviv on Monday to issue a call to expel all African migrants from Israel.

Ben-Ari and Eldad, the top two MKs on the Strong Israel party list for the upcoming elections, held the ceremony in Lewinsky Park, the epicenter of the African migrant community in south Tel Aviv. A few dozen supporters joined them, far outnumbered by the combined mass of journalists, African migrants, police and counter-protesters.

"We are heading to elections and we need this strength here in order to return the infiltrators home!" Ben-Ari said, adding, "The people of Israel returned to their country [Israel], and the infiltrators will return to their countries as well."

Ben-Ari, who has been among the most outspoken opponents of the 60,000-plus African migrant community in Israel, added, "This land belongs to the Jewish people, our forefathers, and our families. To our dismay, Netanyahu fell asleep at the wheel on this and there are now parts of Israel undergoing occupation."

Ben-Ari's parliamentary aide and right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir said, "We came to expel the darkness!" but added that the message of the rally was not racist, as they accept Ethiopian Jews.

He clarified that the "darkness" refers to the poverty and suffering among residents of south Tel Aviv and other neighborhoods with high populations of African migrants, and not to people of color.

North Tel Aviv resident Gali Avni said she came to the event not as a counter-protester, but rather to try to moderate in case things got out of hand.

Avni, who has volunteered handing out meals to homeless migrants sleeping in the park, said the refugees are not to blame for the problems in the neighborhood.

"The social problems that result from this are caused by the government that leaves the\se people [African migrants] here, sleeping in the streets without the ability to legally work or support themselves," she said.

As the ceremony petered out, a few shoving matches and heated arguments broke out between supporters of Strong Israel and those who came to oppose the candlelighting.

Nonetheless, the situation remained rather lowkey and under control.

A strikingly different event occurred just a few minutes away at the same time in Tel Aviv, at a conference held to mark the 64th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

The EU delegation in Israel organized a reception to highlight the network of human rights organizations they sponsor in Israel. Sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy in Israel in cooperation with Merchavim: The Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel, the seminar was titled "Perspectives on the Context and Attitudes Shaping Israel's Current Policies toward Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrant Workers."

According to organizers, the aim of the seminar was "to provide a podium for knowledge-sharing about the topic and to stimulate public debate about the challenges facing the already fragmented Israeli society."

Speakers included Yohannes Bayu, a refugee from Ethiopia and director and founder of the African Refugee Development Center, and Marcelle Reneman, an expert in immigration law at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

In a statement released ahead of the meeting, the Netherlands Ambassador to Israel, Caspar Veldkamp, said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the greatest political statements in world history, and its importance is no less valid today.

"What has often been forgotten is that it was largely drafted over one long weekend by one single man, René Cassin, who through his Jewish father was very much aware of the tragedy of the Shoah," he said.

"He later received the Nobel Peace Prize. In celebrating the existence of the Universal Declaration, we also celebrate his achievements."

Liberia: Brazil Grants Liberian Refugee Residency Status

Liberia: Brazil Grants Liberian Refugee Residency Status -

The United Nations has welcomed the decision by the Brazilian Government to grant permanent residency to almost 2,000 former Angolan and Liberian refugees, a majority of whom fled their countries during the 1990s due to violence.

The Government's decree, which was issued on 26 October, will give Angolan and Liberian refugees 90 days after they have been notified by the authorities to request their permanent resident visa.

The decision will affect some 1,681 Angolan and 271 Liberian refugees, representing nearly 40% of the refugee population in Brazil.

The measure was adopted by migration authorities following a recommendation by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in January, asking States to pursue local integration or an alternative status for former refugees.

By granting Angolan and Liberian refugees residency status, Brazil has become the first country in Latin America and outside the African region to adopt UNHCR's recommendations, the refugee agency said in a news release. Most Angolan and Liberian refugees in Brazil arrived in the country during the 1990s, fleeing internal civil conflicts that displaced millions of people.

In Angola, more than 40 years of armed conflict ending in 2002 displaced over four million people internally and forced another 600,000 in to exile. In the case of Liberia, two civil conflicts spanning from 1989 - 2003, created thousands of refugees. Both conflicts came to an end with the signature of peace agreements involving different actors and stakeholders.

According to the decree, refugees will need to comply with at least one of four conditions consisting of: having lived in Brazil as a recognized refugee over the past four years, being currently hired by any private or public company registered with Brazil's Ministry of Labour, be a qualified worker with formally recognized expertise, or run his or her own business. Refugees who have been convicted of a criminal offense will not qualify for residency.

UNHCR added that it believes the majority of former Angolan and Liberian refugees will meet the Government's requirements to remain in the country. It noted that most of them are already largely integrated to society, mainly in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, with many married to locals and with Brazilian children.

Brazil hosts around 4,600 recognized refugees. It's main other refugee populations are from Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Liberia: U.S. Govt Gives LEC U.S.$9 Million

Migrants face abuse, misery in fractured Greece

Migrants face abuse, misery in fractured Greece

Egyptian immigrant Waleed Taleb says demanding his unpaid wages in Greece came at a heavy price; 18 hours chained and beaten by his boss, a stint in jail and orders to leave the country he calls home.

One of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who toil in Greece's black labor market, Taleb had just finished cleaning the bakery where he worked one November morning on the island of Salamina when he sparked his boss's fury.

What followed would end up symbolizing how migrants have become among the biggest and most defenseless victims of Greece's economic crisis, facing racist attacks, police apathy and a system that punishes them rather than their assailants.

The baker and two others fastened an 8-metre long metal chain around Taleb's neck with a lock and dragged him to a stable, he said, where another man joined them. There they tied him to a chair, tightened the noose and punched him while he drifted in and out of consciousness, he said.

The men drank beer – which they also forced into Taleb's mouth – and taunted him for being a Muslim, he said.

"They dragged me around like a dog," said Taleb, recounting the attack from a mattress on the floor of his dingy apartment tucked away amid Salamina's low-roofed houses and tavernas.

"I thought this was the end for me. I kept fainting, and every time I fainted they would hit me with rods to wake me up."

After 18 hours, Taleb managed to escape when his captors left to reopen the bakery. But his nightmare was not over.

Found at dawn under a tree with the heavy chain still around his neck and his face swollen beyond recognition, Taleb was initially taken to a hospital and given first aid.

But police later whisked him away to detain him on the charge that he lacked documents to live in Greece – though he says he complained he could barely walk and was in pain.

"Everyone could see I was suffering. I couldn't even see, and I couldn't eat," says Taleb, 29. A month later he has a neck brace, an arm bandage and can only eat semi-solid food.

"I thought I would die. The problem wasn't that I didn't have papers; the problem was that I had been beaten."

Calling his ordeal one of "striking brutality", the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said his case followed a pattern in which migrants are "immediately arrested with the view to be deported" when they go to police to report an attack.

After an outcry over the case – including condemnation by the Egyptian embassy and a protest by other Egyptians – Greece's public order minister on Tuesday said Taleb would not be deported due to "humanitarian reasons". But rights groups said it was not clear how long he would be allowed to stay.


Taleb says he spent four days in two detention centers and was given documents telling him to leave Greece in 30 days, while his boss was released after three days pending trial.

The baker, a former deputy mayor in Salamina, admitted to beating Taleb – but not brutally – and accuses him of stealing 13,000 euros that Taleb says is his money, police said. The other men Taleb accused were charged but are free pending trial since police failed to arrest them in the required 24-hour window after the crime.

"There was a phone in prison, and when I called other people, they told me my boss had already been released," he said. "They hit me, robbed me and then everyone was out of jail except me."

Indeed, the lack of any convictions in Greece over racist attacks has allowed migrants to be targeted with impunity, said Nikitas Kanakis, head of Doctors of the World in Greece.

"The state should apologize to a man found under a tree in chains. We treated him like a dog – that's bad enough," Kanakis said, attacking the move to detain Taleb after his ordeal.

"If we don't convict any of these people nothing will change. Then everyone feels that they can get away with it."

Police officials defended their actions by saying Taleb was pulled out of hospital only after they were given the go-ahead by doctors and that Greek law required the detention of illegal immigrants. A Greek police spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement by the minister saying Taleb's deportation had been suspended.

Taleb and others in the Egyptian community say his injuries were serious enough for him to be sent back to hospital for a week after his four days in detention were over.


Two Greek immigration lawyers said Taleb was lucky to be given 30 days to leave – many others are often given just seven days to get out of Greece. Still others – like Hassan Mekki, a 32-year-old Sudanese migrant who fled conflict in his country in hope of a better life in Europe – suffer silently.

In August, he and a friend were walking in Athens when black-shirted men on motorcycles holding Greek flags came up and knocked him unconscious with a blow to the head, he said.

When he came to, he was covered in blood. Only later would he realize that his attackers, whom he says were likely tied to the far-right Golden Dawn party, had left large gashes resembling an "X" across his back.

"I don't have the right papers, so I can't go anywhere to ask for help," Mekki said. "I can't sleep. I'm scared, maybe they will follow me, and my life is in danger now."

Tapping into resentment towards illegal immigrants, Golden Dawn emerged from obscurity to enter parliament this year pledging to kick all immigrants out. The fast-rising party, which has been linked to racist attacks, denies it is neo-Nazi.

In the latest criticism of Greece's handling of migrants, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on migrants' rights condemned Greece for doing little to curb rising racist attacks.

Much of the violence went unreported because victims were afraid of deportation if they went to the police, who were sometimes involved in the attacks, Francois Crepeau said.


A major gateway for Asian and African immigrants trying to enter Europe through its porous borders, Greece has long struggled with illegal immigration. In the last few years, the problem has exploded into a full-blown crisis as Greece sank into a deep recession, leaving one in four jobless and hardening attitudes towards migrants who were blamed for a rise in crime.

Ill equipped at the best of times to deal with the hordes of immigrants crossing its border with Turkey or arriving in plastic boats, Greece now finds itself grappling with a rising number of migrants when it can barely keep itself afloat.

Stepped-up border patrols this year have stemmed the flow only slightly – in the first 10 months of the year, over 70,000 illegal migrants were arrested for crossing into Greece, down from about 82,000 in that period last year.

Many often find shocking conditions at detention centers with food shortages, no hot water or heating and open hostility from Greeks embittered by years of austerity, Crepeau and other rights groups say.

Greek officials say the root of the problem is the so-called Dublin II treaty, which deems asylum seekers to be the responsibility of the country where they entered Europe and thus puts a heavier burden on border states like Greece.

Greek governments have repeatedly asked for the treaty to be repealed, to no avail, and the U.N.'s Crepeau also said Europe needed to do more to help Greece with the flow of migrants.

Still, Greece needs to stop blaming Europe for its failure to properly deal with migrants, said Dimitris Christopoulos, vice president of the Hellenic League for Human Rights. The treaty should be scrapped but Athens could take steps like registering migrants before asking Europe for help in sending them back to their countries or processing them, he said.

"In reality, Greece is doing nothing on this issue, saying 'I can't deal with this issue, I raise my hands,'" he said.

Instead, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's conservative-led government – fearful of losing votes to the fast-rising Golden Dawn – has gone on the offensive with police sweeps to arrest migrants and more checks along the Turkish border.

Police said 59,000 migrants have been detained in waves of raids since August, with about 5,000 deported and the rest released or sent to temporary detention centers.

Samaras has also defied opposition from leftist coalition allies and moved to scrap a law that makes it easier for those born to immigrant parents in Greece to become citizens – which critics say is reflective of his New Democracy party's growing shift to the right.

"New Democracy is trying not to lose this group of very conservative voters," said Theodore Couloumbis, vice president of the Athens-based ELIAMEP think-tank. "The traditional right-wing party is trying to win back some of these people who think that illegal immigration is a big problem."

Far away from the corridors of power, the changing attitudes towards migrants are plainly visible in Salamina, where the reaction to Taleb's ordeal ranges from shock to undisguised glee.

The island's mayor, Yannis Tsavaris, told Reuters the attack was shocking and questioned whether Taleb should have been detained rather than kept in hospital. Some residents agreed.

"It's despicable," said Manos Kailas, 50, who owns a shop at the island's busy port. "This incident is evidence of the social disintegration in Greece. The debt crisis has hit Greeks badly and they feel that illegal immigration is part of the problem."

Some others felt little sympathy for a migrant.

"Was he badly beaten up?" said one man as he walked away from the port. "If so, good – he deserved it."

Posted by on December 7, 2012.

Categories: World News

Strauss-Kahn, NY hotel maid to settle

AP source: Strauss-Kahn, NY hotel maid to settle

NEW YORK  — Word of a settlement agreement between former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid who accused him of trying to rape her could bring an end to a saga that has tarnished Strauss-Kahn's reputation, ended his hopes for the French presidency and renewed a debate about the credibility of sexual assault accusers.

But it might not mean the end of legal troubles for Strauss-Kahn. He is awaiting a ruling on whether he is linked to "pimping" in connection with a French prostitution ring.

A person familiar with the New York case said Thursday that lawyers for Strauss-Kahn and the housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, made the as-yet-unsigned agreement within recent days, with Bronx Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon facilitating that and a separate agreement to end another lawsuit Diallo filed against the New York Post. A court date is expected next week, though the day wasn't set, the person said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private agreement.

Details of the deal, which comes after prosecutors dropped related criminal charges last year, weren't immediately known and likely will be veiled by a confidentiality agreement. That could prevent Strauss-Kahn and Diallo from speaking publicly about a May 2011 encounter that she called a brutally sudden attack and he termed a consensual "moral failing."

Strauss-Kahn lawyer William W. Taylor III declined to comment. Lawyers for the housekeeper didn't immediately respond to phone and email messages.

Diallo, 33, and Strauss-Kahn, 63, crossed paths when she arrived to clean his luxury Manhattan hotel suite. She told police he chased her down, tried to yank down her pantyhose and forced her to perform oral sex.

The allegation seemed to let loose a spiral of accusations about the sexual conduct of Strauss-Kahn, a married diplomat and economist who had long been dubbed the "great seducer."

With DNA evidence showing a sexual encounter and Diallo providing a gripping description of an attack, the Manhattan district attorney's office initially said it had a strong and compelling case. But within six weeks, prosecutors' confidence began to ebb as they said Diallo had lied about her past — including a false account of a previous rape — and her actions after leaving Strauss-Kahn's room.

Diallo, who's from Guinea, said she told the truth about their encounter. But the district attorney's office dropped the charges in August 2011, saying prosecutors could no longer ask a jury to believe her.

Diallo had sued Strauss-Kahn in the meantime, with her lawyers saying she would get her day in a different court. Strauss-Kahn called the lawsuit defamatory and countersued her for $1 million.

Strauss-Kahn's whereabouts Friday were unclear. After his return to France in September 2011, Strauss-Kahn initially kept a very low profile. But in recent months, he has shown signs he is trying to rebuild his professional reputation, giving speeches at international conferences and reportedly setting up a consulting company in Paris.

Unconfirmed reports surfaced Wednesday that Diallo was in Paris this week on the invitation of a feminist group. A French lawyer who works with her U.S. defense team, Thierry de Montbrial, told The Associated Press that the reports were untrue. He declined any comment on the settlement.

Diallo's lawsuit against The Post concerned a series of articles that called her a prostitute and said she sold sex at a hotel where the Manhattan DA's office had housed her during the criminal case. The News Corp. newspaper has said it stands by its reporting; a spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday.

In helping resolve the cases, McKeon averted what could have been an ugly court drama.

Strauss-Kahn initially said he had diplomatic immunity, an argument the judge turned down in May. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers had since asked McKeon to throw out part of her claim for other legal reasons. Court records show the judge had yet to rule on that and several other legal issues, and it appeared that a high-stakes step — depositions, or pretrial questioning under oath — had not yet been taken. Depositions can give both sides information and a better picture of how strong the key parties and other witnesses might be in court.

While the vast majority of civil cases end in settlements, some legal observers were surprised that the deal between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo came before the legal arguments were resolved.

"I really expected it to go a little farther," said Matthew Galluzzo, a criminal defense lawyer and civil litigator who has been following the Strauss-Kahn case closely.

Still, the case likely had taken a toll on both Diallo, a single mother of a teenage daughter, and Strauss-Kahn, who has found himself plagued by accusations of sexual misconduct that further sullied his reputation. The Socialist had been seen as a potential leading candidate for the French presidency before his New York arrest.

In France, judges are to decide by Dec. 19 whether to annul charges linking him to a suspected prostitution ring run out of a luxury hotel in Lille. He acknowledges attending "libertine" gatherings but denies knowing that some women present were paid.

In August, a separate case against Strauss-Kahn, centered on allegations of rape in a Washington, D.C., hotel, was dropped after French prosecutors said the accuser, an escort, changed her account to say she wasn't raped.

Soon after Strauss-Kahn's arrest in New York last year, French writer Tristane Banon accused him of attempting to rape her during an interview in 2003, a claim he called imaginary and slanderous. Prosecutors said they believed the encounter qualified as a sexual assault, but the legal timeframe to pursue her complaint had elapsed.

The Associated Press does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Diallo and Banon have done.

Strauss-Kahn has separated from his wife, journalist and heiress Anne Sinclair, who stood by him through the allegations in New York. The two said they were filing a lawsuit this summer against a French magazine, citing invasion of privacy, for reporting they had split, but Sinclair later acknowledged it was true.

The New York Times first reported the agreement between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo.


Associated Press Writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another Black teen shot down in Florida

Another Black teen shot down in Florida

On Nov. 23 at a Jacksonville gas station, another racist killing took place in Florida having important parallels to the Trayvon Martin incident in February. In both cases, a middle-aged white man with a gun confronted an unarmed Black youth. Both murderers allege that they gunned down the youth because they feared for their own safety.

Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white man, parked beside the victim, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, and his three friends, who had just come from the mall in their SUV. He confronted them over the volume of their music. After an exchange of words, Dunn fired between eight and nine shots into the vehicle. Jordan Davis, sitting in the backseat, was struck twice and died.

Although Dunn claims he saw a shotgun, authorities found no weapon. After the shooting, Dunn and his girlfriend fled to their hotel and then back to their home in Brevard County in the morning, where he was apprehended. His attorney will likely invoke Florida's racist "Stand Your Ground" law, a defense asserting that the use of deadly force was justified by Dunn's belief in imminent danger. The racist ruling class and their media have given extraordinary airtime to both Zimmerman and Dunn, further giving the green light to racist thugs.

The killings of Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin highlight the continued importance of struggle against capitalism, a system that perpetuates and relies on racism. The national oppression of Black people is an important part of U.S. capitalism because it allows the ruling class to divide the multinational working class. National oppression means Black and other oppressed peoples experience super-exploitative working conditions. Meanwhile the capitalist "justice" system works overtime to use racist laws and policies, such as the "stand your ground" law and "zero tolerance" in schools, as a means of feeding oppressed people into the prison-industrial complex.

Dream Defenders, a rapidly growing multinational activist group in Florida, will be holding candlelight vigils for Jordan Davis across the state. Tampa, Tallahassee and Gainesville are a few cities where the vigils will take place at 6:00 pm on  Dec. 1.

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Obama follows up Africa strategy with ‘doing business’ campaign

Obama follows up Africa strategy with 'doing business' campaign

Newly re-elected US President Barack Obama, who has been criticised for having had too little engagement with Africa during his first term, has followed up on the June release of his administration's 'US Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa' with a new Department of Commerce-led campaign, dubbed 'Doing Business in Africa' (DBIA).

The campaign was officially launched in Johannesburg on Wednesday by Acting Commerce Secretary Dr Rebecca Blank, who hosted a continent-wide briefing on DBIA after having first unveiled it to South African business leaders.

Blank would also promote the initiative during meetings with East African leaders in Kenya later in the week.

In a letter published on November 26 to outline his support for the initiative, Obama said the goal was to deepen trade and investment between the US and a region that is home to six of the world's ten fastest-growing economies.

"Many American entrepreneurs and business leaders are unaware of the tremendous trade and investment prospects in sub-Saharan Africa," Obama lamented, while promising that the campaign would seek to increase awareness of these opportunities.

Currently, US trade with sub-Saharan Africa accounted for only 2.6% of the country's total trade with the world.

In 2011, two-way trade climbed 16% to $95-billion when compared with 2010, with African exports benefiting directly from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which offered duty-free access to the world's largest economy on 6 400 tariff lines.

But Blank insisted that, "we are still far from reaching the full potential of US-African trade – as well as investment. We can and must do more."

Through DBIA, which unlike Agoa does not exclude any African country, the Commerce Department had outlined five areas of intervention, including:

  • The training of officials at Export Assistance Centers, in the US, as well as commercial service officers around the world on specific African markets and sectors, while offering ongoing information about the new opportunities arising on the continent.
  • Empowering the 'African Diaspora' in the US with tools to trade and invest in Africa.
  • Working with organisations such as the Corporate Council on Africa and the Business Council for International Understanding to launch a series of 'Africa Global Business Summits' in the US during 2013, at which ambassadors and commercial service officers would provide insight to business on specific African prospects.
  • Partnering with the State International Development Organisation to train American economic development leaders on doing business in Africa.
  • And, organising two-way trade missions and shows for African and American companies and business leaders.



Blank also reaffirmed the Obama administration's commitment to working with the US Congress to extend Agoa beyond 2015, when it was due to expire.

However, she was less unequivocal on whether the extension would be applied equally across large and small African economies.

Some South African government and business leaders have expressed concern that Congress might seek to exclude South Africa from Agoa, or reduce the benefits, partly owing to the fact that the country was now a member of the Brics bloc of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

"There is no question that Congress will look to see whether American businesses appear to be operating on a level playing field, whether they have access to procurement and investment opportunities the same as other businesses. If they feel the answer to that is 'no', there might well be hesitations in Congress," Blank cautioned.

But she had "every faith that the sort of investment and business opportunities [that exist in South Africa] are going to continue to unfold and we will be in a position to strongly support a renewal of Agoa come 2015".

Aware of this potential reticence, South Africa was reportedly preparing a targeted lobbying and advocacy campaign focusing on members of Congress and the Senate, as well as with key government departments and influential policy think tanks.

The country was keen to use such engagement to shift the conversation to the opportunities being presented for US business in Africa and to highlight the "goodwill" that flows to US firms as a result of the Agoa preferences.


Blank also used her visit to reiterate the US view of South Africa as a "crucial gateway to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa". But she said that the recent labour unrest was of "great concern".

"Any business leader will tell you that their investment and commitment to an area is very strongly related to their sense of political and economic stability. South Africa has been a gateway for the rest of Africa partly because it has had a growing and stable economy," she said.

"From my perspective, as Secretary of Commerce, my main concern here, is that you want to create a sense of stability," she added, warning that the recent images of violence and death could negatively influence the way US business perceived the country.

Blank also defended the limited personal time Obama gave to Africa during his first Presidential term, when he had been forced to focus his "energies on putting the US economy on a stable path".

She emphasised Obama's personal interest in, as well as his familial associations with, Africa and said that, while she had no insight into the President's future schedule, "I rather suspect that he is going to put quite a bit of focus on the African region" over the coming for years.

"I am here at his personal request," she concluded.