Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NCOGA Celebrates 54 Years of Ghana’s Independence

NCOGA Celebrates 54 Years of Ghana’s Independence
Amandla Newspaper
March 2011
By Pamela Appea

The National Council of Ghanaian Associations, Inc.(NCOGA) celebrated Ghana’s 54th Independence Anniversary on Saturday, March 12 at the Armenia Hall in Manhattan.

One of its biggest social and cultural events of the year, NCOGA’s Scholarship & Recognition Benefit Gala aims to provide a setting for tri-state area Ghanaian associations to network and to set and achieve common goals in its ongoing work furthering the betterment of Ghana and Ghanaian-American life.

Among the 400 guests in attendance was Ambassador Ken Kanda, permanent representative
of the Ghana Mission and a wide variety of other prominent community leaders. The newly appointed ambassador said in his remarks to the audience that he is optimistic
and enthusiastic about working closely with NCOGA.

“We should all be filled with hope for a better future,” said Mr. Kanda. “I do
sincerely look forward to working closely with the Ghanaian community irrespective
of tribe, gender, party or religion, for the good of our
compatriots in New York.”

Ivy Rose Quarshie, the Executive Secretary General of NCOGA, told Amandla what’s ahead in 2011.

“My main goal is to secure the cultural center for all Ghanaians,
“Ghana House.” Before I leave office in March 2012, I am hoping to have provided
everyone with a cultural center in the Bronx. We have the support of New York politicians, including City Councilwoman Helen Diane Foster,District 16 (the Bronx, New York) but because of the current economy and the New York housing market, the road to accomplishing our goal has been an arduous one,” said
Ms. Quarshie.

“The building will be a community resource for everyone to have weddings and other parties, funerals and other functions.” Other NCOGA projects include
making health education a priority for Ghanaians and the participation of a wide variety of cultural and civic related duties and events, including education scholarships.

Six students were awarded scholarships to various colleges in the country.

Last week NCOGA co-hosted a health fair in Manhattan that attracted a number of
people, including many Africans, and covered topics including hypertension, fibroids,
diabetes and balanced diet.

“The health expo last Saturday is…is a laudable effort as most of us in our community lack the health education necessary to make informed choices about our lifestyle and access to health care,” said Ms. Quarshie.

“These medical professionals and community leaders deserve our utmost praise and admiration,” said Ms. Quarshie who thanked all of the medical professionals
who participated including Dr.Benjamin Dodoo, Chair of the NCOGA Board.

Last but not least, Ms. Quarshie wants to continue to do outreach and connect more
associations under the NCOGA umbrella, particularly in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The event program featured music, dancing, food and more. Rev. Mensah of AME
Zion Church the first female to participate in the interfaith open prayer. And Ms. Olivia Obuabang gave a well-received performance for both the American and Ghanaian
national anthems. DJ Katabo provided music with an interlude by trumpeter Francis

2011 Scholarship Awardees included: Kofi Manu of St.
John’s University; Ruby
Abaka Yankson of the University
of Maryland; Amadu
Haruna of the Art Center College
of Design in California;
Eugene Asante of Fordham
University; Joana A. Ameyaw
of the University of Hartford;
Shannon Mensah of Safe College
of Albany.

Each student
received $500.

Additionally, working together with the Adakum Foundation, a group of highschool
age Scarsdale students attended the event in preparation for their maiden voyage
to Ghana to work on a malaria prevention public project in Accra.

“I had a lot of fun,” said NCOGA scholarship recipient Eugene Asante, a political science major at Fordham University, of his first NCOGA event, “I’m definitely going to come back again.

Mr. Asante who immigrated to the United States only three years ago, said, “I think the giving of scholarships was inspiring to everyone not just the recipients.” His only issue with the gala was it started at 10 p.m. when the event was
supposed to start at 7 p.m. Nonetheless, Mr. Asante stayed until past 4 a.m.

Major event sponsors included:
Money Gram;
Delta Airlines;
Trinity Travel;
Prestige Travel;
Elite International
Shipping Company;
Accra African Restaurant on Davidson Avenue in the Bronx;
Ghana Supply Limited;
African Development Foundation;
and many others.

The Bronx’s Accra African restaurant served a wide variety of
chicken and meat dishes, rice, plantains, salad and more dinner [items.]

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Africans Feel Brunt of Bronx’s Affordable Housing Crisis

Africans Feel Brunt of Bronx’s
Affordable Housing Crisis–AAC
Forum on Housing Reveals

By Pamela Appea
The African Advisory Council (AAC) and the Office of the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. hosted a housing forum at the Bronx Museum of the Arts the evening of January 14th. Assemblywoman Vanessa L. Gibson, District 77 co-sponsored the
event, and representatives from NYCHA, HPD and Legal Aid spoke.

A wide variety of prominent local politicians and community associations were in attendance, including Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene and state Senator Ruth Thompson.

Over 100 individuals attended the forum including “Fatima” mother to
three young children. Fatima is undocumented and cannot work because she lacks legal papers.

Originally from Burkina Faso, “Fatima” has lived in New York for eight years and takes care of her three young children as a stay-at-home mother, while her husband works. “Fatima,” her husband
and their three children live in a one bedroom
apartment in the Bronx.

She felt the forum was useful in learning “you don’t have to be quiet” if you have problems with your apartment. Event organizers particularly want to reach individuals likes “Fatima” who may not otherwise be knowledgeable of their tenant rights.

“It was an easy project to agree upon when decided our next community forum,” said Assemblywoman (77th District) Vanessa L. Gibson. “Having access to affordable and safe housing strengthens our communities and our
families,” she said.
The Bronx’s African Immigrant population has exploded over the past 20 years, and accordingly the demand for affordable and adequate housing has also significantly increased during this same time period.

According to recent U.S. census statistics, the number of African immigrants has quintupled from 12,000 in 1990 to 61, 487
Africans living in the Bronx today. Unofficial numbers put the actual
African population well past 100,000 Africans and growing.

Many new African immigrants come from Francophone West Africa including Senegal, Mali and the Ivory Coast, and there are numerous Ghanaians, Nigerians, Kenyans and other Africans who
call the Bronx their home.

The majority of the newest African immigrant population in the Bronx is working women and men with children and they’re finding the search for affording housing to be challenging, particularly if they’re undocumented and/or they’re not qualified to apply for public housing.

Anecdotal stories indicate many immigrant families live together with other families and/or share cramped apartments with apartment
mates, friends or relatives for years. And some larger African families
have reportedly been told they have too many children or too many
family members to qualify for public housing.

Katie Bukofzer Director of Neighborhood and Preservation for Manhattan and the Bronx at Housing and Preservation
Development (HPD) acknowledged the Bronx has many buildings
that need extensive repairs. Bukofzer said unfortunately some landlords do not adhere to the city’s maintenance code, just a “fancy way of saying something is broken and needs to be fixed.”

“If your ceiling falls in, if you have no heat, if there is a leak in your bathroom, if you have rats, bed bugs,If you have peeling lead paint, mold or another issue, notify your landlord directly in writing—don’t just notify your superintendent. And if nothing is done then notify us. If HPD doesn’t know about the violation, we cannot help you, so please contact us,” she said.

Bukofzer said there is power in numbers, particularly if a group of tenants have a deadbeat landlord who does not do repairs for anyone in the building. She advised forum attendees to document everything, write letters and keep copies of the letters with the dates and
other documentation. “Talk to others in your apartment building about problems they might be having,” she said.

At the same time Bukofzer acknowledged with a small staff of 17 individuals at HPD, the enforcement of apartment repairs may not happen immediately, but she promised that an HPD inspector will assess if a situation is hazardous particularly if there are young children in the apartment.

Marshal Greene, a Legal Aid lawyer outlined the role of legal representation for housing and other issues for the audience in both English and in French.

“We are here to provide assistance to poor people who need help
with housing cases and/or are facing eviction proceedings. Our services are free and 100%confidential.”

“You know that big building a block away from here, The Housing Court?” he asked the audience. Don’t go there without a lawyer. Do not assume that the landlord’s lawyer is there to help you,” he said noting many of his clients have not been fully clear on the American legal system. Indeed, many mistakenly believe the landlord’s lawyer represents them both and/or the housing court judge will be sympathetic to their case and allow them time to speak about their personal circumstances.

“Immigrants are scared to go to court. The housing court does not ask your immigration status. We at Legal Aid do not care about your immigration status. These questions are not important to your case,” Greene asserted, noting personal information on immigration status should not be volunteered or discussed during housing court proceedings.

“You do not want to go to housing court by yourself; you should have a lawyer, a friend, someone there to help you. Do not be afraid to assert your rights. Never sign something if you feel pressured, if you do not understand or if you do not agree with it.” Greene said, noting a Legal Aid lawyer will do the best they can to help you win your case.

One forum attendee “Maryam” is a Bronx resident from Senegal.
“Maryam” has lived in the Bronx for 12 years. “Maryam” said she wished the forum was more helpful on addressing individual housing issues, but she admitted to Amanda after the event she fully understood a little more than 50% of the remarks at the forum due to
the fact that English is not her first language and people spoke very quickly.

“The thing I want to know is that I applied for housing in 2003 and they told me I wasn’t qualified. In 2006, I applied again. I applied for Section 8 and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA.) They sent me a letter and they told me again that I’m not qualified.

My rent is getting higher and I have three kids. It is too high,” she
said. “Maryam” currently pays $1,095 for a two-bedroom apartment.
“Maryam” said she needs help understanding why her application was denied two times since she is low-income, but employed as an HHA.

She told Amandla friends have told her NYCHA often gives individuals who have experienced domestic violence
housing within three months. “Maryam” said she wished there was a rent subsidy to help her with rent in her current apartment, but acknowledged she would move anywhere in the Bronx or Manhattan if she could get a NYCHA or Section 8 apartment.

In reality on average NYCHA housing applications can take anywhere from two to three years to process. And no Section 8 apartments are currently available in New York for new applicants. The AAC forum representative for NYCHA gave the audience general information about applying for NYCHA apartments.

Some 40,000 NYCHA apartments are located in the Bronx, but the citywide waiting list for NYCHA apartments currently has 130,000 individuals or families. Moreover the citywide turnover for available
NYCHA apartments is low, at only 3% per year.

While audience participants were urged to take advantage of their rights, many, if not most of the individuals are like “Fatima” who although they have lived in New York City for years are not documented and not yet on track to get legal status. While the local Bronx politicians understand their constituency
group of resident African residents is growing, Africans in the Bronx do not currently have real political clout until more individuals have
legal status, vote and get actively involved in civic matters.

During the forum, audience members were asked how many people were registered to vote and only a handful of hands in the
crowded room went up.

Bukofzer mentioned HPD’s role in recommending the construction of new housing developments—something that is drastically needed in the Bronx. She said the city’s process of planning the future of Bronx’s housing development—a joint effort between the NYC Mayor, HPD, city urban planners and other city agencies and politicians--has
a long way to go.

The forum served as a clearinghouse for written brochures and pamphlets for a myriad of other issues pertinent to housing, landlord’s responsibilities and immigrants’ rights. Topics included heating complaints, preventing lead poisoning in young children, what to do if your apartment has bed bugs, the importance of having window
guards in apartments ensuring an apartment’s fire alarm and carbon
monoxide detectors are in working order.

African Advisory Council organizers including Famod Konneh, Chair and Lacrown Oliomade, Co-Chair and Secretary Stephanie Arthur. Sheikh Moussa Drama served as Master of Ceremony and Mohammed Mardah served as moderator for the Q & A session. AAC Liaison Bourema Niambele translated portions of the forum discussion to French.

The Council committee has a broad scope but five committees covering: Arts & Culture,Economics, Social Issues, Interfaith
and Civic duties and issues and is planning future events on housing and other rights pertinent to immigrants
and families.

African Advisory Council (AAC),Office of the Borough President
851 Grand Concourse, Suite 301 Bronx, New York 10451
(718) 590-3500 Housing and Preservation Development
(HPD) 718-579-2930 1932 Arthur Avenue (off of Tremont
Avenue), Third Floor Bronx, New York

NYCHA-New York City Housing Authority
(This location services new NYCHA
applications and in-person application
status requests; you may be asked to
make an appointment.)

478 Fordham Road, 2nd Floor
Bronx, New York
(718) 329-7859
((To Apply for NYCHA)

Bronx Housing Court
(718) 466-3000

Legal Aid
Marshal Greene

Assemblywoman Vanessa L. Gibson’s-
District Office
930 Grand Concourse, Suite 1E
Bronx, New York 10451
(718) 538-2000

For a booklet on New York City
Tenants Rights, call the office of Attorney
General for the Tenant’s Rights
Guide or go to www.oag.state.ny.us to download

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

AfriMETRO Honors Prominent Africans at New York Gala

AfriMETRO Honors Prominent Africans at New YorkGala
By Pamela Appea

Published by Amandla Newspaper
Volume 9 Issue 12 973-419-0073 / 973-731-1339 An African Community Newspaper December 15, 2010 - January 16, 2011

AfriMETRO, a nonprofit and professional networking association and New York University’sWagner Students Alliance for Africa hosted a Holiday Gala and “Golden Jubilee” on December 8 at NYU’s Kimmel Center in the East Village, attended
by more than 125 participants.

The gala was a fundraiser for global literacy; honoring several community
heroes that have devoted significant time and energy to Africa and the African Diaspora community including essential causes such as literacy, maternal health and human rights.

“This year has been a particularly exciting year for AfriMETRO,” said founder Folake K. Ayoola who the day after the Golden Jubilee NYC event was on route to Houston,
Texas for another professional gala and event.

“AfriMETRO’s work is important in the community because we are one of the very few organizations in the tri-state area with African professionals and “friends of Africa” focused on building a new positive image of Africa and Africans.We do
this by organizing business, charitable and professional networking events that inform, educate, empower, and celebrate Africa and Africans. Our history is grounded in the spirit of collaboration and community, Ms. Ayoola said.

AfriMETRO’s gala featured honored guests including Her Excellency Ambassador Joy Ogwu Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations and Former Nigerian
Foreign Minister and Former Director-General of NIIA and the Honorable Ibrahim Auwalu, Consul General of Nigeria to the United States. The Consul General of Angola
Júlia de Assunção Cipriano Machado also attended.

The event boasted a fashion show with original designs, dozens of Nigerian and African dishes, music, a silent auction and networking opportunities with dozens of professionals who came from every point around the globe.

Special celebrity guests included the Gala Host Ngo Okafor, a model and former two-time heavy-weight champion and Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe who is known for his breakout
role in the acclaimed HBO series “TheWire.” Mr. Akinnagbe will star
in an upcoming Warner Brothers comedy “The Lottery Ticket” and currently is a guest star in the CBS series “The Good Wife.”

AfriMETRO gala honorees included Dr. Chika Onyeani, publisher and Editor-and Chief of Africa Sun- Times; Dr. Bruce Charash, founder and Chair of the Board “Doc to Dock”, a nonprofit that collects medical supplies and services and ships them to African countries; and Immaculee Ilibagiza, a human rights activist, author and survivor of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 who was
unable to be present.

In a brief but emotional address to attendees, Her Excellency Ambassador Joy Ogwu Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Stations emphasized how essential it was for her to be present since AfriMETRO is involved in essential and outreach involving such needs as health, literacy for youth and infrastructure in Africa.

“This is a compass for all of us especially for the youth. …. I want to tell
you that I share your aspirations not only for Nigeria, not only for Africa, but for the world. By contributing to your own community, you are also contributing to everyone’s community.….We believe that you will set the path to the future, grandchildren,” said Ambassador Ogwu who referenced the current tense political
situation in Ivory Coast as the reason she was unable to stay for the full
length of the gala.

Keynote speaker Dr. Emeka Akaezuwa, a software technology expert and creator of the Universal Search Operating Software System that is used throughout the world, is
a founding trustee of the Global Literacy Project. In his remarks, Dr. Ekaezuwa discussed his role in working towards sending 1.9 million books to underserved communities in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, India, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

This nonprofit works to ship books to Africa, the Caribbean and beyond, working not only to provide underserved community with books, but also in constructing
library spaces, training library staff and providing technological resources to African school children and the community at large.

Gala attendees viewed a short excerpt of the 2008 documentary on the “Doc to Dock” nonprofit, learning about how a rural Ghanaian hospital benefited from $400,000 in donations of medical equipment. As the program showed, once equipment and medical supplies went to a hospital in the Tepa District in Ashanti Region of Ghana, the hospital was able to better serve all patients particularly its’ very youngest:
newborn babies and prematurely born infants. The hospital—and entire region— received their first sonogram as a result of the “Doc to Dock” supplies. The Tepa District also received incubators, baby radio heaters, birthing beds, mattresses,
surgical and obstetric instruments.

Dr. Bruce Charash noted this Ghanaian hospital is one of many throughout Africa that have serious shortages. Shockingly based on his professional observations on average,
one out of five hospital patients in underdeveloped regions sleep on the floor.

“There are no sheets, no linens. There is a shortage of fundamental supplies, conditions are shockingly bad, he noted, fresh from a recent trip earlier this week to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In accepting a service award from AfriMETRO, Charash noted to the audience “You’ve come from a wide range of African countries… you are familiar with the many rural and
urban hospitals with tremendous needs. But still we want to remind you that these hospitals need you. … I don’t think you should be motivated by guilt but by gratitude of how lucky we are and how much we can do to help others. …. Once again, I thank you as a fellow African.”

Before receiving the award, Dr. Charash, a cardiologist by training, told Amandla that a doctor’s job is never done: In recent weeks and plane trips, every time he has flown individuals have often fallen unconscious
and required medical evaluation and assistance. Indeed the night of Dec. 8th was no exception, moments after AfriMETRO recognized Dr. Charash, he momentarily
left the gala to speak to well-wishers. At the elevator he encountered a sick
youth who was participating in a nearby Hanukkah party on the same
floor who became unconscious and required immediate medical attention. Dr. Charash stayed with the youth until an ambulance came and then returned to the gala.

During the gala, AfriMETRO also publically acknowledged the organization’s
2010 scholarship recipients who included Fatoumata Waggeh, a first-generation Gambian-American who is a sophomore at New York University; Dianne Mbeo a student
at University of Houston and Ihuoma Nwaogwugwu originally from Benin City, Nigeria who is a collegebound high school student in Marietta,

Key AfriMETRO staff were also acknowledged including Elizabeth Omondi, AfriMETRO’s Community Liaison Officer and Nekpen Osuan, AfriMETRO’s Member of the Year.

The event included authentic West African cuisine including Jollof rice, chicken, Designer stew, fried plantains and more provided by Tope Durosinmi, owner of the Mirage African Restaurant in Brooklyn.

AfriMETRO was founded by Ms.Folake K. Ayoola, who is also Chair and President of the Board. She currently works in Washington, D.C. as an attorney-advisor in the Division
of Corporation Finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Ms. Ayoola attended Columbia University, School of Law where she obtained her Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degrees in 2004 and 2002, respectively. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York Bar Association and president of the Nigerian Lawyers Association. In 2008, she was recognized as the Top 40 Under 40 Nigerian Female Professionals by NiPRO International,Inc. for her academic prowess, professional excellence, community involvement, and philanthropy.

Ms. Ayoola is active in numerous charitable associations and causes including breast cancer prevention and Dress for Success.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Immigrants Know Your Rights: Office of Manhattan Borough President Releases Handbook

Immigrants Know Your
Rights: Office of Manhattan
Borough President
Releases Handbook
By Pamela Appea
Amandla Newspaper
Volume 9, Issue 11
November 16-December 15, 2010

Over the past few years and well into the Obama administration, African and other New York City undocumented or out of status New York City residents continue to see high deportation numbers, including mothers and fathers of American-born children.

Many of these thousands of New York City immigrants, often sign away their rights after being placed in detention by the Department of Homeland Security, and provide information that dooms their chances to stay in the U.S., placing them on an automatic course for deportation proceedings. And legal immigrant African individuals
who possess decades old drug or criminal arrests or non-arrest criminal citations are
finding admitting such records on their U.S. citizenship application and/or interview can mean the difference between successfully becoming an U.S. citizen or getting deported.

In light of these recent deportations and legal issues that many immigrants face, the Office of the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recently released a
handbook, “Immigrant Rights and Services Manual: Important Information you need to know to participate in the life of New York City” The booklet is geared towards newcomer immigrants, low-income immigrants and individuals with immigration status
issues and legal immigrants with criminal or drug histories.

“We’re very excited to release this manual that comes from taskforce work that started in 2006,” said Jimmy Yan, general counsel of the Office of the Manhattan
Borough President. “We believe this is something that has never been done before,” he said, noting that a few years ago The New York Times published a Guide for New York City Immigrants. The Office of the Manhattan Borough President’s booklet is free and focuses on legal rights, accessibility and low-income immigrants.

As a child of East Asian immigrants, Yan is a passionate supporter of immigrants and
immigrant rights—including undocumented immigrants.

“Critics ignore how much our economy relies on immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. Our goal is to prosper and the hard work of all immigrants gets us to a stronger, more vibrant economy,” Yan said.

The report urges legal immigrants with drug and/or criminal backgrounds (including those who served no time in jail) services of an immigrant lawyer who
specializes in these cases and can provide skilled professional counsel.

(continued from page 1, front page)
Immigrants Know Your Rights: Office of Manhattan
Borough President Releases Handbook

“If you are detained in immigration custody, you should not say anything
about your immigration status or sign anything giving up your right to an immigration hearing or any other rights. Do not lie. Do not admit to any charges and do not go into detail about your case. If you are arrested for a criminal charge unrelated to your immigration status and are detained in Riker’s Island, you should also follow the rules above for people in immigration custody. Immigration enforcement agents work at Riker’s Island and will interview people being detained there about their immigration status. You have the right not to respond to questions about your status. You should also not sign anything giving up any rights.”

As the report continues, “A recent 2010 Supreme Court decision, Padilla v. Kentucky, now requires criminal defense attorneys to advise their clients about the potential
adverse immigration consequences of their criminal charges. This means that a criminal defense attorney must advise the client whether a guilty plea could result in deportation [now or in the future].If a defense lawyer does not provide this advice and the lack of advice affects the outcome of the case, the client might be able to challenge the conviction.”

Additionally, immigrant individuals and their children who are entitled to food stamps, social security disability benefits, health insurance or worker’s compensation disability claims should feel free to apply to these services for themselves (if they are eligible due to low-income, need for services or disability) or their children without providing specific immigration related status information or enduring immigration related questioning.

Additionally, all children are entitled to attend public or private schools in New York without ‘proving’ immigration status or parent’s immigrant status.

Mr. Yan, counsel for the Office of the Borough President, said there
are immediate plans in place to translate the brochure into French,
Creole, Chinese, Spanish and several other languages but due to current
funding limitations these translations may not be available until 2011 or later.

“If you know of any African immigrant groups who would benefit from the translation of the “Immigrant Rights and Services Manual: Important Information you need to know to participate in the life of New York City.” in their native language (including French) please do not hesitate to contact the Office of the Manhattan Borough President and we would do our best to assess if this translation might be possible,” he noted to Amandla.

Mr. Yan also continued that any Manhattan or non-Manhattan community organization who is interested in a group presentation outlining the handbook should contact the contact the Office of the Manhattan Borough President and ask for a copy of the
“Immigrant Rights and Services Manual: Important Information you need to know how to participate in the life of New York City.”

Individual copies are available free of charge and larger quantities for nonprofit and community organizations can be requested. The booklet is also available online
as a free download at:


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Africa @ 50: Progress or Regress

Africa @ 50: Progress or Regress
by Pamela Appea
Amandla Newspaper
Volume 9, Issue 9
September 16-October 15, 2010

The Sixth Annual African Development Institute (ADI) Policy Forum took place on Tuesday evening, August 31st at The Gabarron Foundation Carriage House Center for the Arts in Manhattan. Participants of the forum entitled “Africa @ 50” Progress or Regress” hotly debated issues involving politics, corruption, socio-economic disparities, the issue of a unified federation of African nation-states and the rights of African women.

As the 50th anniversary of independence for some 17 African nations has been reached this year, reflection, assessment and the setting of new goals are a natural area to focus on. But some panelists believe time will tell if the majority of African citizens would see significant socio-economic progress, while other panelists charge that gradualism and keeping the status quo of existing political and social policies within so-called African democracies fail to solve anything.

“Is Africa free today? Is Africa united? Is Africa developed? For those three questions, I’m going to say no. Without a united Africa, it is going to be difficult for Africa to progress …” said Enock Mensah, ADI’s co-founder and president and advocate of a united federation of African states.

“We require new leadership and bold thinking… until or unless an African Federation
is created, the African continent is doomed,” Mensah said. Following an intense audience reaction, he went on to note, “People say if you cannot even get Nigeria together, then how can you get the entire continent on board … I say, if we have five, seven or more states [on board] then the rest will follow.”

In contrast, Dr. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College, said, “There is a tendency for us Africans to write off everything
we do as inadequate. If you are looking for a revolution it will be bloody. Yes, many people say Africa is on the regress side and many people tend to be hung up on economic growth or inequality,” she said. But from a basic standpoint, the immediate goal of independence, the professor explained, was for these African nations to achieve freedom from colonialism, to function independently and to serve as a homeland for possibility.

“Many people thought we would now be in the land of milk and honey… achieving all of their hopes and dreams,” she said. “We are forgetting the struggle, the spirit, the energy of Africans. There have been moments in African history that inspire me and should inspire everyone,” she said. “Now at 50, there should be a sense of urgency. We cannot afford to relax. We have to give it what it takes.

Nearly 100 audience members including business professionals, students, grassroots community activists to government civil servants and others, some visiting from Ghana to Uganda to Cameroon to Haiti participated in the ADI question and answer period.

"The best part of the evening was when the audience provided input, particularly the youth. Their willingness, the demand to get involved and to be part of whatever change was inspiring. With young people they don't believe they can fail. They are not inhibited by the past or the mistakes of the past. And they want to
forge ahead and get something done. It was very encouraging. And some of them seemed to be trying to impact change on the grassroots. I just hope that something productive comes out of this forum. This is the beginning of something promising," said Jacki Fisher, a forum attendee.

The policy forum included musical selections by Salieu Suso and forum remarks from Kwame Akonor, president and founder of African Development Institute (ADI); His Excellency Cheick Sidi Diarra; Dr. Mojubaolu Olufunke
Okome; Ambassador Adonia Ayebarre;and Enock Mensah also of ADI.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


For Babble.com

It took a forced conversion to Islam on the day of my wedding to my Muslim husband to make me realize how much I missed Christianity, my childhood faith.

Islam is a great religion, but it didn't feel right to be mandated to change my religion in order to get married. A West African immigrant, my mother was a Protestant for a number of years and then a Quaker. There were certainly some months where she did not go to church every Sunday, but my mother always spoke with me about the spiritual aspects of nature, social issues, equality and inequality, doing the right thing.

And as soon as I became a mother, I desperately wanted to make sure my son would grow up with Christmas carols and Easter egg hunts. I started going to church, well, religiously. People who knew me, including relatives, were shocked.

But I wanted to create a religious foundation for my family. I wanted my son to be baptized and to have some sense of belonging to something larger than himself and our family. We joined a wonderful Presbyterian church in Manhattan.

And yet, it hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be to avoid feeling conflicted sometimes, particularly when it concerns secular considerations, including social, political and racial issues.

I'm a black mom who happens to be half-white, so when the Trinity Church scandal was erupting, I found myself thinking a lot about the political basis of African-American church history. Trinity Church, like so many evangelical megachurches throughout the country, had a superstar pastor, packed services, fantastic gospel singing and ministries that provided essential and admirable support services to the poor, sick, hungry, homeless and downtrodden.

African-American churches have been political gathering spots stretching back to the days of the slave trade. Many pastors and ministers urge their congregations to strive to understand the causes and dynamics of power, money, politics, imperialism and racism.

And all of that was great, it just wasn't for me.

I didn't grow up attending that kind of church, and I didn't enjoy contentious religious-political debates every week (at church or at the obligatory post-church brunch), plus the worship style was totally different from what I like. I crave sedate, peaceful worship.

One recent Sunday, I struck up a conversation with an amiable African woman on the subway. She was from the same country as my mother and so, predictably, invited me to her church. "I belong to a church already," I explained. She looked even more concerned when I told her the name and location, a wealthy white area. "Do you really like it there?" she asked as if I were a wounded bird. "Do they accept you?"

On the flip side, whenever some white, non-religious acquaintances learn I attend church, I can feel them pause. Are they wondering if I am secretly in league with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, ready with razor-sharp race-based observations about the divide between the haves and have-nots and their chances at entry into the kingdom of God? But I don't talk to angels every night about how Doomsday is near. I'm just a regular person.

Even a few seemingly open-minded members of my own church have expressed wonder that we're there. One well-meaning woman approached me one day when I was brand new to the church.

"I think it's lovely that your little one comes here to church," she told me. Then her expression turned solemn as she looked over at my son, who has a Muslim name and a Middle-Eastern appearance. "Get in as much as you can," she implored me, "before he goes back to his father's religion."

Which brings me to my son's father. He doesn't have any hands-on religious parenting responsibilities right now, as he's not living in the country. My husband's pretty liberal, but I expect he will want to talk about religion with our son soon.

We both agree that it would be great to have the family participate in some special breaking-the-fast Eid dinners during the month of Ramadan. After all, who doesn't enjoy sharing a special tasty meal and good company? But my son's father told me he also wants our child to fast during the holiest month in Islam. Even drinking water is forbidden for children of fasting age, and depending on who you ask, obligatory fasting starts as young as age seven.

"Are you going to fast every day?" I ask my son's father. He dodges the question, saying something about how mothers from "all religions" like to fast with their children. Hmmm, I don't recall getting that memo. Clearly our family has more than a few things we need to iron out.

In the years to come, I'm hoping my son and I will have some good conversations about religion and culture and society and politics. I expect there may be some frustrating conversations as well. For now, we're hardly at the point of discussing the Sunni-Shia divide in the Muslim world or analyzing the Black Liberation Theology Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

Recently, though, my son asked me, "Who is that man?" and he pointed at an image of the disciples surrounding Jesus. It was all beautifully etched onto the stained glass windows of our church.

"Who do you think he is?" I asked my son. And he just smiled back at me, a beautiful smile, as if he suddenly knew the answer.

Friday, February 01, 2008

NY companies pass on Super Bowl ads

Crain's New York Business

Pamela Appea

Published: January 29, 2008 - 2:52 pm


The New York Giants can’t seem to get enough love from New York advertisers.

Of approximately 30 companies signed on to advertise during the Feb. 3. game, only four are located in New York—E*Trade Financial Corp., New Line Cinema Corp., Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Brothers.

New Line will feature a spot from actor Will Ferrell’s new movie Semi-Pro with a tie-in from beer company Anheuser-Busch, while Paramount Pictures will have a 30-second spot promoting its upcoming Iron Man movie.

Warner Brothers hasn’t made public its planned ad, but likely candidates include 10,000 B.C., set for a March release, and Speed Racer, which opens in May.

And E*Trade will shell out over $5 million for two thirty-second spots in the third and fourth quarters; high-profile ads the brokerage helps will boost its struggling business.

This year will feature some Super Bowl stalwarts, including the National Football League, Frito-Lay and CareerBuilder.com, while companies that include Victoria’s Secret and Kraft Food will get their first Super Bowl Slot in nearly a decade, according to Travis York, president of Manchester, N.H.-based marketing firm Griffin, York & Krause.

New York companies will regret not getting in the game. Companies with Super Bowl ads have seen their stock prices top the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in 10 out of the last 12 years, according to a recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

They’re also virtually guaranteed at least 93 million viewers.

“The teams in the game don’t typically have much to do with which advertisers get involved,” Mr. York said.

“But of course having major-market teams will certainly increase overall viewership, making advertising during the game even more appealing.” And not everyone’s in it for the game.

According to a recent study by the Retail Advertising & Marketing Association, over 36% of Super Bowl viewers tune into the game specifically to watch commercials.

Fox, which will broadcast the game, is expected to receive anywhere from $2.6 million to $3 million for each 30-second spot it sells, and one television executive believes Giant fever could increase Fox’s pre- and post-Super Bowl ad spending by as much as 50%.

Total ad spending is expected to hit $275 million.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Giants kicker named spokesman for resume site

Lawrence Tynes, the foot behind the 47-yard field goal that won the Giants their ticket to the Super Bowl, will be the new spokesman for Workblast.com.

By Pamela Appea
Crain's New York Business

New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes on Tuesday inked a deal to become the new spokesman for Workblast.com, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based video resume company.

“Here’s a guy that has had to work his way into the NFL through the CFL and NFL Europe with tryouts and video clips, and now he’s kicked his team into the Super Bowl,” Workblast Chief Executive Nick Murphy said in a statement.

“Lawrence is a tremendous competitor and a great role model.”

Mr. Tynes recently catapulted to stardom as the foot behind the 47-yard field goal that won the Giants their ticket to the Super Bowl in overtime on a Jan. 20 game against the Green Bay Packers.

He’s also known for missing the two field goals before the winning kick, earning him a harsh reproof from Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.

The 6”1, 202 lb.-NFL star has received dozens of media requests for interviews, after the now infamous NFC game that will put the Giants in the Super Bowl for the first time in over five years.

Mr. Tynes, 29, even landed a spot on The Late Show With David Letterman.

Workblast, which launched last year, uses specialized technology to allow employers to search, screen and hire candidates via on-demand video resumes and portfolios.

Mr. Tynes, a native of Scotland, has been playing for the New York Giants since 2004.

Previously he played for the Kansas City Chiefs and for the Ottawa Renegades in Canada and the Scottish Claymores in Scotland.

Comverse probe confirms backdating scheme

Crain's New York Business

By Pamela Appea

The independent probe confirmed allegations of stock-option backdating and earnings manipulation at the company, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange



Comverse Technology Inc. said that a board committee completed its independent probe of the company, confirming allegations of stock-option backdating and earnings manipulation. The Manhattan-based maker of voicemail software filed a notice of the probe’s completion, along with a final report on its findings, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday.

“The completion of the investigations and the subsequent report is a major accomplishment and a significant first step in putting the issues addressed by the investigations behind us,” Comverse Chairman Mark Terrell said in a statement.

Comverse said it will follow a series of recommendations made by the independent committee to enhance corporate governance, internal controls, training and compliance.

The company plans to start with a search for a new chief financial officer. Comverse named former AT*T Wireless executive Andre Dahan to the position of CEO in April, after former CEO Jacob “Kobi” Alexander left the company in May of 2006.

Mr. Alexander, along with former Comverse CFO David Kreinberg and senior general counsel William Sorin were accused in August 2006 of pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars by secretly manipulating stock options between 1991 and 2005, and making falsified statements to conceal the fraud from shareholders.

Messrs. Kreinberg and Sorin both pleaded guilty in October 2006, but Mr. Alexander, currently fighting extradition from Namibia to face the criminal charges, hasn’t given up the ghost.

Last week he filed a lawsuit against his former company, saying Comverse owes him more than $72 million in severance and other compensation.

Mr. Alexander says he is innocent of the charges and blames poor advice from his financial and legal advisors. His extradition hearing is not expected before March.

Comverse’s stock was delisted in February after the company failed to file its financial reports on time.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Bad Parent: Suck City on Babble.com

Bad Parent: Suck City
Pamela Appea
For Babble.com
Published July 4, 2008


During a recent appointment, the doctor said this was the summer for my son to give up his pacifier.

"Tell your son that he's a big boy now. There are other babies out there that need his pacifiers," the doctor said, in a kind but no-nonsense tone.

I smiled and nodded.

"We'll do our best," I said with a bright smile.

I was lying through my teeth. The pacifier fairy will not be coming to our apartment this summer, or for as long as I can help it.

This puts me in the minority on my playground, where I constantly hear other mothers bragging to each other: "Oh, my daughter never used a pacifier." And "Well, my son had his binky, two, three months tops and then we took it away. And he's perfectly fine without one."

My son is almost two and has loved his pacifier ever since a nurse at our hospital gave him one in the NICU, where he spent two weeks after being born premature. As soon as my son left the hospital, he graduated to his second pacifier, a Nuk butterfly model that seemed to take up most of his face. I can't count how much money I've spent on pacifiers since, but to me it's money well spent.

Since he was born, my son's pacis have served as a way for me to get him to sleep sooner rather than later. His pacifiers have helped him calm down during New York City subway rides and during rough transitions from home to daycare when he's tired. The pacifier nips a kicking, crying, screaming toddler temper tantrum right in the bud. And my son automatically reaches for his pacifier when he needs something more than a book to read or some milk to drink or a playmate to hug.

Why are people so eager to give up such a magic bullet?

It would make sense if there were strong scientific evidence that the pacifier was truly evil. But it doesn't seem so bad.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund issued a statement that strongly discouraged pacifier use "because of [the] perceived interference with breastfeeding." But other studies have found that once breastfeeding is established, pacifiers are helpful for babies who crave non-nutritive sucking.

And in a 2001 Journal of the American Medical Association study, the conclusion was "that pacifier use is a marker of breastfeeding difficulties or reduced motivation to breastfeed, rather than a true cause of early weaning."

So in plain English, the pacifier didn't cause the breastfeeding to stop. Moms who were going to stop breastfeeding anyway due to work or difficulties or other reasons, elected to use a pacifier as a transition.

There have been a scattered number of reports that pacifier use is connected with ear infections among babies. The British Journal of Community Nursing did a 2002 study on ear infections and pacifier use.

It would be inaccurate to say the study was "pro" pacifier, but one line jumped out at me: "Rather than advising a parent not to use a pacifier for fear of causing otitis media (otherwise known as ear infection), advice in relation to this issue might best be restricted to pacifier users suffering from the problem in order to reduce the chances of recurrence."

So, the Brits say if you think your baby is suffering from ear infections because of pacifier use, then stop. But if they're not having ear infections, then . . . don't? Will do!

As for the alleged damage pacifiers cause to baby teeth, even the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry doesn't seem majorly concerned. They say: "Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between two and four years of age. No harm is done to their teeth or jaws."

The more hard-line American Dental Association recommends that children cut out their pacifier by age two. But at the same time, an article for the Journal of the American Dental Association, states that pacifiers are preferable to giving older babies and toddlers milk nighttime bottles of milk or juice. The article also goes on to say that "teething babies might find relief by using a pacifier." Booyah!

My enthusiasm for studies like these (you should have seen my glee when the AAP said pacifiers helped prevent SIDS!) indicate that I am clearly addicted to giving my son a pacifier. I confess it. Thanks to that little object, I've gotten more sleep (still not enough) and less stress. I've read a lot of books, never skipped a shower and I have been able to take my pacified son to nice restaurants.

Now that my son's in daycare, he doesn't want his pacifier as much as before. He loves playing for hours and can't seem to run while keeping the pacifier in his mouth. When he wants to talk, my son has to take his pacifier out to be understood.

Just today, in the morning rush to my son's daycare, as he was running out the door, he dropped the chain that holds his blue pacifier."Go get your pacifier. Don't forget it!" I said, sounding rather desperate. "You're going to need it."

He ran back and picked up the pacifier. Then he changed his mind. My son turned around and handed it to me. His message was clear: "You need this more than I do."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Long Road Home

The Long Road Home
How to Navigate the first year of specialists after discharge
Preemie Magazine
July/August 2007
By Pamela Appea

Bridget Sabo, a mother of a preemie in Minneapolis, MN, said her 17-month-old son Anton, didn’t see “many” specialists in his first year after being discharged from a 49-day stay in the NICU. Like most preemie parent who have been a part of the specialist parade, “many” is a relative term.

The reality is, like many caretakers of preemie babies, Sabo and other family members shepherded her son to a parade of doctors and specialists in his first year. Anton, born at 30 weeks, was on oxygen during his NICU stay. After he left the hospital, Anton saw a pediatric cardiologist and a pediatric ophthalmologist for routine visits, as well as a cranial specialist for a temporary head condition.

In the early months, Anton had a mild case of gastro esophageal reflux disorder (more commonly known as GERD) and was on Prisolec, a medication to lessen the symptoms. Other specialists, including a nephrologist, also treated him during a hospital stay for a kidney infection. Although Anton is now a healthy and happy toddler, with no chronic medical conditions, he continues to attend physical therapy appointments that focus on his general gross motor abilities.

“Anton is unusual for a preemie in how fast he has grown. He started at 4 lbs., 6 oz. and now at 1 months actual, is in the top 80% for height and weight,” said Sabo. “It’s a bit frustrating because no one thinks he’s a preemie so they forget to give the benefit of those missed 2 ½ months.”

Looking back, Sabo believes the worst is behind them. There are, however, many mothers, fathers and other caretakers of preemies who experience significant frustration and anxiety. This is particularly true in the first year, when parents are trying to figure out what specialists they should see, when they should see them and how to juggle various appointments with everyday commitments.

Prioritize the Specialists

According to Dr. Cami Martin, director of research for the infant follow-up program at Harvard Medical School and an attending neonatologist at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, the logistics of making specialist appointments, multiple competing medical appointments, long travel times, and other issues—including figuring out what is covered by insurance and what is not—may seem to be overwhelming to many parents of preemies.

Martin’s colleague at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Pankaj Agrawal, an instructor in pediatrics and a specialist in Newborn Medicine, stated the earlier a preemie is born, the more likely they will have frequent across-the-board specialist visits.

“It all depends on the gestational age at birth. The risks are much higher, for example, for a baby born at 24 weeks versus one born at 32 weeks,” Agrawal said.

The list of conditions requiring additional attention from specialists is daunting. Some of these conditions include continued oxygen dependence, hydrocephalus (when excess fluid accumulates in the brain), brain bleeds, or retinopathy of prematurely (see related story p. 46.) As a general rule of thumb, parents with younger preemies who have experienced longer NICU stays should expect to see more specialists after discharge.

“To minimize the post-NICU experience, it is critical to include the involvement of an Early Intervention program for full assessment of motor, mental and behavioral milestones by a physical therapist and psychologist at regular intervals,” said Agrawal.

Martin, also the author of the academic text Neonatology Review, also felt developmental and behavioral issues are essential.

“It makes sense to prioritize. Parents may see a pulmonologist, a cardiologist, their pediatrician … but in the long run, developmental and behavioral appointments are just as important as the medical commitments,” said Martin. “Parents shouldn’t feel they have to wait before a developmental delay is recognized. They should be proactive in calling the Early Intervention office that services their community.”

Annual Considerations

Winter can be a challenging time for preemies who may get sick with colds or worse conditions like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

University of Chicago Hospitals pediatrician Dr. William “Corey” Jordan, who sees many preemies come into the emergency room at various hospitals throughout the Chicagoland area, said he sees many preemies return to the hospital after they’ve been discharged from the NICU.

“Some preemies suffer from infections such as RSV, which commonly affects neonates during the fall and winter seasons. Many will receive monthly Synergis shots to protect against RSV,” Jordan said.

Sabo’s son Anton was lucky in that he only had a few mild colds. A feat she credits to breastfeeding and having a “lock-down” on his exposure to germs and viruses during his first few Minnesota winters.

Other Conditions

Jordan added that in addition to RSV and other issues, simple things may be taken for granted with healthy infants [that] may be more difficult for a preemie. For example, feeding, as well as sucking and swallowing coordination, can pose difficulties that could lead to a problem with weight gain. “Adequate nutrition is necessary for preemies to continue their neurological development.”

Preemies’ weight and nutritional intake should be carefully monitored by parents and the child’s pediatrician. In the case of reflux, failure to thrive, failure to gain weight and basic developmental issues may be compromised if parents don’t seek professional help.

In the case of gastrointestinal (GI) issues, like GERD, Dr. Ben Gold, professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology, director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Emory University in Atlanta, explained that all physicians involved in the management and care of preemies should exercise a multidisciplinary approach.

“If the preemie had gastrointestinal problems in the newborn nursery, particularly those that required a GI consult in the nursery, the baby should be followed regularly by a gastroenterologist,” Gold said.

It’s up to a specialist to work hand-in-hand with parents and the pediatrician to see if the prescribed medicines are working well, he said.

The Power of Time

Many parents, including the Sabos, are relieved to find as their preemie grows, they will likely outgrow reflux and other related GI problems.

Likewise, preemie parents may find the majority of non-routine medical specialist visits will begin to taper off after their baby reaches 12 months. However, other parents of preemies who were born smaller and stayed in the hospital longer may find the specialist parade doesn’t taper until after 2 to 3 years.

Sabo’s son is case in point, as the family pediatrician no longer adjusts Anton’s age to account for his prematurity.

“I would encourage parents to make sure all their questions are answered to their satisfaction and to push for another specialist consult with someone if they aren’t comfortable,” Sabo said. “Thankfully, we have a lot fewer issues now that he is older.”

In hindsight, most preemie parents believe it wasn’t so bad. Just take a deep breath, ask lots of questions and get the best care for your preemie.

A Crash Course in Specialists
Your preemie might see one or more of these specialists in the first year post-NICU.

A pediatric cardiologist evaluates and treats hearts and heart disease. Most preemies without previously diagnosed or suspected heart conditions don’t typically require a routine visit.

A pediatric gastroenterologist specializes in conditions of gastrointestinal (GI) track, including the esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas and the gall bladder. For example, a gastroenterologist may treat digestive issues including GERD. If your child has a serious gastro-intestinal disorder, expect to see your GI track specialists frequently in the first year, and perhaps beyond.

A pediatric pulmonologist specializes in respiratory/breathing disorders, including asthma. If your child has serious asthma or respiratory issues, you may end up seeing your child’s pediatric pulmonologist as often as is needed, particularly during the winter months or the spring allergy season.

A pediatric ophthalmologist specializes in eye care and diseases of the eye. Expect to see your ophthalmologist at least one time for a routine visit. If problems such as retinopathy of [the eye] are discovered, your visits will drastically increase.

A pediatric dentist is what it sounds like—a dentist for kids. It’s recommended that your child see a pediatric dentist by 12 months, even if your preemie doesn’t have any teeth yet.

A speech and language therapist evaluates and treats communication disorders and swallowing problems that may be linked. If your child is evaluated and diagnosed with a speech/language delay, you may have weekly visits to your speech/language therapist.

A pediatric physiotherapist/physical therapist treats gross motor delays or disorders. As is the case with speech/language therapy, therapists may recommend that your schedule weekly visits for your child if your child is diagnosed with low muscle tone or is not meeting age appropriate targets for head control crawling and/or walking.

Originally published July/August 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Crain's New York Business content

Crain's New York Business Content Writing

NASD fines AllianceBernstein $100,000
Published 02/12/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
AllianceBernstein Investments Inc. and two other firms a total of $700,000 for violating non-cash compensation rules.

Internet sways Broadway ticket choices
Published 02/12/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
Most Broadway theatergoers are likely to buy or comparison shop for tickets online, and choose a show based on Internet ads, according to a survey.

City Center awarded $3.5 million grant
Published 02/12/07
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The money will help fund the third annual Fall for Dance festival and includes $2.5 million for an endowment.

Dow Jones reports rise in WSJ ad sales
Published 02/12/07
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Total ad revenue rose 5.7% at the flagship paper, which recently underwent a makeover, but international ad sales dropped 20%.

Juvenile center union wins $3M settlement
Published 02/05/07
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The union accused the city's Department of Juvenile Justice of failing to pay overtime to counselors and security and administrative workers.

Nielsen acquires 40% stake of NetRatings
Published 02/05/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
The television ratings agency agreed to buy the remaining 40% stake it doesn't own for $327 million.

ImClone seeks Erbitux approval in Japan
Published 02/05/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
The biotech firm is seeking to bolster sales of its colon cancer treatment, which is facing competition in the U.S.

Lehman acquires 20% stake in hedge fund
Published 01/31/07
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Lehman said it plans to increase its stake in Spinnaker Capital to 25%, as part of a move to expand its hedge fund business.

Comverse stock to be delisted on Feb. 1
Published 01/31/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
The company has missed deadlines for filing financial statements due to investigations into its past stock option grants.

NYCHA opens Section 8 voucher list
Published 01/29/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
The Section 8 waiting list had been closed to non-emergency applicants for the past 12 years because of a lack of federal funding.

Thompson nets $5 million in back wages
Published 01/29/07
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The city Comptroller collected more than $5 million from contractors in 2006 for wage violations.

Clinton, Giuliani lead their primary fields
Published 01/29/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
About 58% of New York Democrats support Sen. Hillary Clinton, while the former New York City mayor has a 47% lead.

IBM buys privately-held storage data firm
Published 01/29/07
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Softek, which helps company's migrate data, will help IBM expand its storage and data services business.

Building industry generates $60.8B: report
Published 01/25/07
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Construction accounts for $27.4 billion in overall economic activity, a new report said.

Ex-NBC Universal exec charged with fraud
Published 01/25/07
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Former treasurer Victor Jung is accused of stealing $800,000 from the media and entertainment company.

IBM spins off printing unit for $725 million
Published 01/25/07
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Big Blue is spinning off the division through a joint venture deal with Tokyo-based Ricoh Co.

Fabrikant lenders agree to extra financing
Published 01/24/07A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
The company, which is in Chapter 11, said its secured lenders agreed to additional financing.

NY venture capital up 18% in 2006: report
Published 01/24/07
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Venture capitalists invested $2 billion in 249 companies in the New York area last year.

1-800-Flowers profit up on strong sales
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Strong sales of gourmet food and gift baskets offset weaker performance of the company's Home and Children's Gift categories.

NYC Investment Fund offers arts loans
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The $2 million Arts Entrepreneurial Loan Fund will provide funding to help arts and cultural nonprofits cut their overhead.

Silverstein names WTC design managers
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Guy Punzi and Fred Alvarez will oversee two of the five planned office towers at Ground Zero.

NYC online job demand dips in December
Published 01/22/07
A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com Nearly all industries tracked by Monster declined in December, with the exception of architecture and engineering, which held steady at 96 points.

AirTrain JFK gained popularity in 2006
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Paid ridership rose 15.4% last year, with nearly four million travelers using the three-year-old system.

CIT profit tops Wall Street estimates
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The quarterly earnings marked the fifteenth consecutive quarter of increased profits for the company.

S&P raises outlook on Maidenform
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The ratings service cited improving revenue and debt management.

Colgate vice chair retiring after 35 years
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Javier Teruel, a Colgate veteran who had been vice chairman since 2004, plans to move back to his native Mexico.

Rodale announces plans for new imprint
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The new imprint, to be led by editorial director Leigh Haber, will publish its first titles in the fall of 2007.

Arbitron shares rise following upgrade
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Bear Stearns & Co. upgraded the stock, citing expected market share growth from the roll-out of Arbitron's Portable People Meter product.

Bristol-Myers, AstraZeneca in diabetes pact
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AstraZeneca will pay an upfront cash payment of $100 million to help develop two compounds that Bristol-Myers discovered.

City OKs aid for nonprofits, industrial firms
Published 01/11/07
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The city's Industrial Development Agency approved $109.6 million in financing assistance, which will help create more than 293 jobs.

NYC arts programs get $10.7M payola grants
Published 01/10/07
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More than 100 local nonprofits received millions of dollars in grants for music appreciation and education programs.

NYSE, other buy 20% stake in NSE bourse
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NYSE, Goldman Sachs, General Atlantic and Softbank Partner's Asian Infrastructure Fund will each buy a 5% stake from an Indian consortium.

Skanska wins Roosevelt Bridge contract
Published 01/10/07
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The Queens-based construction firm won an $86.5 million contract to refurbish the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

Spitzer announces comptroller committee
Published 01/09/07
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The special comptroller committee will produce a short list of qualified candidates for the Legislature to consider in the next few days.

City could see more tax revenue: report
Published 01/09/07
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The Independent Budget Office is projecting that tax revenues will be more than $250 million higher in the current fiscal year.

Howard Stern gets $83 million of Sirius stock
Published 01/09/07
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The company ended 2006 with 6 million subscribers – nearly double what analysts had expected when Mr. Stern first joined Sirius.

WebMD stock rises on improved outlook
Published 01/09/07
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The company anticipates reporting better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by gains in online advertising.

Nu Horizons misses Street estimates
Published 01/08/07
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The semiconductor distributor reported worse-than-expected quarterly earnings and sales.

Security guards get $750,000 in back pay
Published 01/08/07
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John C. Mandel Security Bureau will pay 720 full-time security guards for failing to provide a legally required supplemental wage benefit.

Gas smell in NYC being investigated
Published 01/08/07
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Officials have ruled out terrorism as the cause of a mysterious gas odor that spread through Lower Manhattan and Jersey City early Monday.

Rain, fog causing NYC flight delays
Published 01/08/07
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Flights coming in to LaGuardia Airport were being delayed by as much as one hour and 38 minutes on Monday morning because of nasty weather conditions.

OSI, Eli Lilly to develop new diabetes drugs
Published 01/05/07
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Eli Lilly will pay as much as $385 million for the exclusive rights for OSI's Glucokinase Activator program, which includes a new experimental treatment..

MTV Networks debuts new digital team
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The team headed by Mika Salmi, president of global digital media at MTV Networks, will work with MTV's other digital executives.

NY Racing Association in online betting deal
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Sona Mobile Holdings Corp., a Manhattan-based provider of gaming and entertainment applications, will develop the platform.

NYT hires Yahoo! executive for digital growth
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Murray Gaylord, formerly the vice president of brand marketing at Yahoo! Inc., will head up marketing efforts for its digital products.

City offering 350 free Wednesday MetroCards
Published 12/20/06
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The complimentary MetroCards were part of a 2005 intiative for New Yorkers who park their cars at Shea Stadium.

Citrin Cooperman expands through merger
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The Manhattan accounting, tax and consulting firm, said it was merging with three smaller firms, which will add an estimated $8.5 million in annual revenue.

J. Crew shares fall on downgrade
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Scientific Games buys British firm
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A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
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J.P. Morgan Chase to pay $2.2M settlement
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A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
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A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
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NYS could lose $50M in voting machine delay
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A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
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A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
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A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
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Blackstone acquires United Biscuit in $3B deal
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Altria profit dips, Kraft decision in Jan.
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A free web-only article from NewYorkBusiness.com
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Ex Refco CFO indicted on fraud charges
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Moody's raises its rating on Altria's debt
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NYU agrees to buy record level of wind power
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Dow Jones reports rise in WSJ ad sales

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Published: February 12, 2007 - 10:51 am

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Treating GERD with medications

Previously Appeared in Online Health Website for Children

Summer 2006

Treating GERD with medications
By Pamela Appea

Pediatric gastroenterologists may not be able to agree how many GERD cases there are in the pediatric population, but many agree that GERD is on the rise among both boys and girls from ages 0-17.

But regardless of when GERD starts or when it is diagnosed, pharmacological treatment can and should be available to even the youngest GERD patients.

GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease in infant children may be difficult to treat for a variety of reasons. Firstly, parents of infants may assume that GERD is colic or simply resign themselves to crying, excessive vomiting and extreme discomfort before they actually seek treatment from a physician.

Secondly, once the child has visited a pediatrician, it may take some time before GERD sufferers are referred to a specialist and received a formal diagnosis. Pediatricians usually want to rule out other factors for vomiting, including allergic reactions to food and/or formula, adverse reactions to second-hand cigarette smoke.

Thirdly, some parents chose to delay seeing a specialist or getting the GERD tests done since they may cause the child discomfort, require fasting and the procedures often feature tubes that go into your nose, down your throat into your esophagus.

Once a pediatric gastroenterologist meets with the child (and his/her parents), it may take some time to find the right medication and the right dosage of medication to effectively treat the GER. Some medications work better than others; there is still more research that needs to be done on pediatric GERD medications as there have been few to no pediatric clinical trials for most FDA-approved GERD medications.

Many doctors agree that young children with gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and GERD benefit from lifestyle changes, before and/or after prescribing GERD medications. Physicians characterize children with GER as “happy spitters.” But GERD suffers frequently refuse food, fail to gain an adequate amount of weight and they are irritable or sad the majority of the time.

Some of physician-recommended lifestyle changes for babies, infants and older children include thickening formula (for infants), more frequent, smaller feedings or meals and upright positioning after feeding or eating.

But even the youngest of GERD suffers should be able to get effective pharmacological-based treatment, as there a number of medications available on the market that are suitable for pediatric populations.

A pediatric gastroenterologist will consider a number of factors when prescribing medications, including the weight of the child, the severity of the GERD and avoiding other medications that may not have appeared to be as effective in the past.

As Dr. Ben Gold, Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology Director, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Emory, explains, there are a number of different classes of medications that are available for pediatric GERD sufferers. Antacids over the counters medicine, including Maalox. Tums and Rolaids are typically used for the mildest version of esophageal discomfort.

Acid reducers, Histamine 2 receptor blockers, also known as H2 blockers and the proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the three main classes of medications used to treat GERD.

Ranitidine, an acid-reducer, more commonly known as Zantac is frequently prescribed for children.

The stronger PPI medications for more severe GERD cases, said Dr. Gold, are very effective.

Lansoprazole (also known as Prevacid) is suitable for ages 1-17; Omeprazole (also known as Prilosec) is suitable for children ages 2-16; and Esomeprazole (also known as Nexium) are some examples of medications suitable for older children ages 12-17, according to Dr. Gold. Some adult GERD medications, including many PPIs have not yet been approved for use in younger children. .

“When it comes to symptom resolution and disease resolution of GERD, PPIs are superior to acid blockers,” Dr. Gold said. He noted, however, that many PPIs have significant side effects. Depending on the dose and the specific medication, these side effects may include abdominal pain, headache, diarrhea, dry mouth, lightheadedness, headache and rash.

Some other studies have found that prescribing drugs like Prilosec for pediatric patients, might mean they could face risks of pancreatitis and/or liver problems.

Many doctors like Dr, Gold stress the importance of taking a conservative approach, and not prescribing stronger medications than necessary, especially if a child has a milder version of GER or GERD.

Physicians typically prescribe a medication to see if it will work, assessing the child to see if the GERD symptoms have improved or not after about two weeks.
Then the pediatric gastroenterologist will consider a stronger dosage or a different medication altogether.

The North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hematology and Nutrition released guidelines in 2001 for appropriate medication usage among children with GERD.

In some instances, typically the most extreme cases of pediatric and adolescent GERD, a pediatric gastroenterologist may recommend corrective surgery. These typically are minimally invasive procedures.

One of the more common procedures to treat GERD or reflex is called Nissen fundoplication. This procedure wraps the top part of the stomach around the bottom part of the esophagus creating a collar. Once this procedure has been completed, the collar around the esophagus effectively prevents reflux from occurring.

But as Dr. Gold states, there is a common misperception that surgery is the last resort. He often recommends surgery for patients who have “experienced moderate success” with GERD medications, but who want surgery for a variety of different reasons. Patients, Dr. Gold, may get tired of taking multiple medications and/or continue to have mild to moderate symptoms of reflux.