NEWS STAND: Death of a Tuskegee Airman, Obama and the Supremes, Gates Bets $10B on Vaccines

Lee Archer, the first black ace, the President disses the Court, and more..

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IN MEMORIAM LEE ARCHER Another of the famed Tuskegee Airmen has been grounded. Lee Archer, the only certified ace among the famed corps of black fighter pilots, has died. Archer, who was 90, broke barriers both in the military and in civilian life. The Tuskegee Airmen were created as a black fighter pilot group in World War II. "It is generally conceded that Lee Archer was the first and only black ace pilot," credited with shooting down five enemy planes, Dr. Roscoe Brown Jr., a fellow Tuskegee Airman and friend, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. Archer was born in Yonkers, New York and raised in Harlem. He left New York University to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1941 but was rejected for pilot training because the military didn't allow blacks to serve as pilots. "A War Department study in 1925 expressly stated that Negroes didn't have the intelligence, or the character, or the leadership to be in combat units, and particularly, they didn't have the ability to be Air Force pilots," said Brown. Archer rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring from the military in 1970. Archer joined General Foods Corp., becoming one of the era's first black corporate vice presidents at a major American company. He ran one of the company's small-business investment arms, North Street Capital Corp., which funded companies that included Essence Communications and Black Enterprise Magazine, according to his son and Brown. Archer was an adviser to the late Reginald Lewis in the deal that created the conglomerate TLC Beatrice in 1987, then the largest black-owned and -managed business in the U.S. After retiring from General Foods in 1987, Archer founded the venture capital firm Archer Asset Management. YOU ALMOST LIE The news media is still buzzing about President Obama’s pimp-slap of the U.S. Supreme Court during his State of the Union speech. The President criticized the court controversial 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, which lifted restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns. Presidents have taken on the court before, but this time it was face to face, with the members of the court seated in front of the President as he spoke. Justice Samuel Alito seemed to give it right back to the Prez, mouthing “not true” and shaking his head as the President warned of the prospects of unlimited spending by corporations to support their views. As New York Times Adam Liptak noted, “It was not quite the shouted “You lie!” from Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, at September’s presidential address to a joint session of Congress. But in its way, the breach of decorum on both sides was much starker.” President Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, expressed disagreement with the Court’s decisions in a number of cases during his campaign. As a U.S. senator, Obama voted against the nomination of both Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. BILL AND MELINDA PLEDGE $10 BILLION FOR VACCINES The world’s most generous power couple, Bill and Melinda Gates, has pledged $10 billion for the development of vaccines that will tackle diseases in developing countries. It is the largest single financial commitment by the couple since Gates left the company he co-founded, Microsoft, in 2008 to devote his full attention to his foundation. "We must make this the decade of vaccines," Bill Gates told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "Vaccines are a miracle," added Melinda Gates. "With just a few doses, they can prevent deadly diseases for a lifetime. We've made vaccines our priority at the Gates Foundation because we've seen firsthand their incredible impact on children's lives." The 10-year program will focus on vaccines for AIDS, tuberculosis, rota virus and pneumonia. "By significantly scaling up the delivery of life-saving vaccines in developing countries to 90 percent coverage -- including new vaccines to prevent severe diarrhea and pneumonia -- the model suggests that we could prevent the deaths of some 7.6 million children under 5 from 2010-2019." The foundation also estimates that an additional 1.1 million children could be saved with the rapid introduction of a malaria vaccine beginning in 2014, bringing the total number of potential lives saved to 8.7 million. The couple said their pledge was inspired by the remarkable progress made on vaccines in recent years.

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