Voting wrongs

Leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, the National Urban League and other African-American advocacy groups met with President Barack Obama last week to discuss what they called the “black agenda” for his second term.

Among their concerns is the real possibility that the Supreme Court will decide next year that times have so changed that a central pillar of the 1965 Voting Rights Act no longer passes constitutional muster.

The election, and re-election, of an African-American president might argue  that the era of Jim Crow has well and truly gone with the wind. But then again, as the great southern writer William Faulkner put it, “the past is never dead. It is not even past.”
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Asserting the right to silence

The US Congress passed, the Securities and Exchange Commission has issued rules to implement, and Big Oil now wants to kill, a law enlisting Wall Street regulators as champions of the many in countries whose mineral wealth lines the pockets of the few.

The measure says that if you are in the oil, gas or mineral extraction game and wish to raise capital on Wall Street, you must annually disclose to the SEC, on a project by project basis, any royalty, fee, bonus, dividend or other payment above $100 000 you make to any government in the conduct of your business.

This applies equally to US and foreign issuers, including South African companies like AnglogoldAshanti whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange via American Depository Receipts (ADRs), and goes well beyond the similarly intended but voluntary Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) launched by Tony Blair in 2002.
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