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Boko Haram ‘Leader Abubakar Shekau’ Claims Baga Raid

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This file image made available from Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2012, taken from video posted by Boko Haram sympathizers shows Imam Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the radical Islamist sect. Boko Haram militants dressed as soldiers slaughtered at least 200 civilians in three villages in northeastern Nigeria and the military failed to intervene even though it was warned that an attack was imminent, witnesses said on Thursday, June 5, 2014. (AP Photo/File)

This file image made available from Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2012, taken from video posted by Boko Haram sympathizers shows Imam Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the radical Islamist sect. (AP Photo/File)

(BBC) – A man purporting to be the leader of the Boko Haram Islamist group has said in a video that his fighters carried out a deadly attacks on the Nigerian town of Baga earlier this month.

The man said to be Abubakar Shekau said people were killed “as our Lord instructed us”, threatening more raids.

He taunted nearby countries’ leaders.

Some reports said that as many as 2,000 people died in the Baga raid but Nigeria’s government has disputed this, putting the toll at 150.

“We killed the people of Baga,” the man claiming to be Shekau said in the 35-minute video, quoted by AFP news agency.

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Gucci Names Diversity Chief after Blackface Flap

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Renee Tirado has been appointed director of Gucci’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion division. In her new capacity, Tirado will be tasked with developing and implementing a global strategy to make Gucci’s workplace more inclusive through by its hiring process and developing its diversity, equity and inclusion team.

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Renee Tirado (Courtesy Photo)
Renee Tirado (Courtesy Photo)

By WI Web Staff

Renee Tirado has been appointed director of Gucci’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion division.

In her new capacity, Tirado will be tasked with developing and implementing a global strategy to make Gucci’s workplace more inclusive through by its hiring process and developing its diversity, equity and inclusion team.

“I am in the business of making human connections that start with the foundations of inclusivity, respect, and diversity to ensure Gucci remains culturally relevant and economically competitive,” Tirado, who is an attorney, said in a statement. “I am honored to join a company that puts these non-negotiable values at the forefront of their business model, not as a ‘nice to have’ but as a key component of its business strategy.”

Tirado, a graduate of the University of Rochester where she joined the Pi Beta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, will also lead Gucci’s Cultural Awareness Learning Program, Global Multicultural Design Fellowship Program, the Internal Global Exchange Program, and other programming.

Over the last year, multiple fashion brands have faced backlash for what many in the public considered culturally insensitive or racist products. Gucci, in particular received backlash for what has been referred to as its “blackface” balaclava sweaters which were pulled from shelves in February.

Chanel, Prada and Burberry have all introduced diversity initiatives as well.

This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

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Los Angeles Sentinel

New British Leader’s Disturbing Remarks Recalled by African Media

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — African media greeted the new British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, by recalling some of particularly cringe-worthy remarks made during his formative years in politics. The new Conservative Party leader has a history of gaffes involving Kenya and Africa, having once attacked Barack Obama saying the “part-Kenyan president” had an “ancestral dislike of the British Empire” after he removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo by: Global Information Network)

 

By Global Information Network

African media greeted the new British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, by recalling some of particularly cringe-worthy remarks made during his formative years in politics.

The new Conservative Party leader has a history of gaffes involving Kenya and Africa, having once attacked Barack Obama saying the “part-Kenyan president” had an “ancestral dislike of the British Empire” after he removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office.

On another occasion he referred to black people as “piccaninnies” and talked about “watermelon smiles”.

The South African online publication dug up this remark by the new leader: “The Queen has come to love the Commonwealth of Africa, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

He continued: “The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”

His tour to the Cape Flats produced these remembrances: “Of the hordes of unwashed kids who came out to compete for our presents – badges and trinkets – hardly any seemed fluent in English. A nice one-eyed woman called Mary took us in to see her flat, and though her linoleum floor shone with mopping, she had almost none of the amenities that are taken for granted by the poorest families in modern Britain.”

In 2002, Johnson, who was a member of the British parliament at the time, wrote about the continent: “Africa is a mess, but we can’t blame colonialism. It is just not convincing, 40 years on, to blame Africa’s problems on the arbitrary boundary making of the men in sola topis (pith helmets).”

“The continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience. The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge anymore.”

Later, while on the campaign trail for the London Mayor elections in 2008, he backtracked on the comments reminding British voters that he “loathed and despised” racism. “I do feel very sad that people have been so offended by these words and I’m sorry that I’ve caused this offense,” he was quoted to say.

Most recently, Boris visited Africa as leader of UK foreign policy. He visited The Gambia at the height of the Jammeh political crisis, he was in Ghana and also in Libya.

Since his election, some African leaders have given him some slack over his previous remarks.

“Warm congratulations to Boris Johnson on his decisive election as the leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a tweet. “Best wishes for his success, and I look forward to working with him to strengthen the already strong ties between our two countries.”

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Health

Unexpected Struggles in the Fight Against Ebola

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — The battle to knock out the Ebola virus should have its eyes on the goal. Instead, politics and a divisive struggle between two drug makers has interfered. A key health minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resigned in protest. In his resignation letter, Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga condemned President Felix Tshisekedi ‘s takeover of the country’s Ebola response, removing him as head of the Ebola response team.

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Photo by: Global Information Network

By Global Information Network

The battle to knock out the Ebola virus should have its eyes on the goal. Instead, politics and a divisive struggle between two drug makers has interfered. A key health minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resigned in protest.

In his resignation letter, Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga condemned President Felix Tshisekedi ‘s takeover of the country’s Ebola response, removing him as head of the Ebola response team.

He also criticized what he described as outside pressure to roll out a second experimental Ebola vaccine.

Oly Ilunga Kalenga  defended the work of his ministry, saying it had communicated daily on the situation in the ongoing outbreak “to reassure and show the world that the country is managing this epidemic.”

But on Saturday, Tshisekedi’s administration announced that direct supervision of the Ebola response was being placed with a team of experts under the direction of Jean Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, director-general of the DRC’s National Institute for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and a microbiologist at the University of Kinshasa’s medical school. Tamfum has studied Ebola and responded to outbreaks for more than 40 years.

The change in leadership came days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. “There is no sign of this epidemic slowing down. We therefore welcome the DRC President’s bold decision to change strategy and bring the Ebola response under his direct supervision,” Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.

Since August 2018, the DRC has recorded more than 2,500 cases of Ebola and, among them, more than 1,700 deaths.

In his resignation letter, Kalenga attacked efforts to launch trials of an experimental vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in the country. A Merck & Co. vaccine is already in use there.

Groups backing the use of the J&J vaccine include the Wellcome Trust, Doctors Without Borders, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), WHO, J&J, and NIBR.

But there are important differences from Merck’s vaccine that have to be taken into account, he said. Made from a live, replicating virus, Merck’s vaccine mounts protection against Ebola in about 10 days. While the J&J immunization appears to raise the body’s defenses for the long-term, it’s administered in two shots, about two months apart.

“We have developed a vaccine for a time of peace,” said Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer. He worked in clinics in poor African communities in Congo and elsewhere for years before coming to the company.

How much, if any, protection a person gets from the first shot before getting the second isn’t clear. Ensuring people are fully vaccinated with the two-shot regimen would be challenging among mobile populations, especially in people fleeing conflict, and could stoke suspicions.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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New Tri-State Defender

WGC: Fast, furious golf schedule leaves little time for practice, rest

NEW TRI-STATE DEFENDER — It only took one round of golf at the British Open for Tiger Woods to dash the hopes of fans hoping to see him this week at the FedEx-St. Jude World Golf Championships this week.

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Just months after winning The Masters, Tiger Woods did not make the cut at the British Open on July 18, and immediately announced he’d skip the FedEx St. Jude World Golf Championships. “There’s been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around, different hotels,” Woods said. “I just want to go home.” (Photo: Youtube)

By Lee Eric Smith

It only took one round of golf at the British Open for Tiger Woods to dash the hopes of fans hoping to see him this week at the FedEx-St. Jude World Golf Championships this week.

“It’s more frustrating than anything else because this is a major championship and I love playing in these events,” Woods said after finishing two rounds at 6-over 148 with no birdies on the par 5s for the week. “And unfortunately, I’ve only had a chance to win one of them and was able to do it. But the other three, I didn’t do very well.”

Given his considerable health issues – multiple back and knee surgeries, a 2017 bout with addiction to prescription painkillers – it might have been a pipe dream for fans to expect Woods to play two major events in consecutive weeks in any case.

“I just want some time off. Just to get away from it,” Woods said after bowing out at the British Open. “There’s been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around, different hotels . . . I just want to go home.”

But even younger golfers are having to adjust to how fast the major golf tournaments are coming around. Woods’ won The Masters in April. The PGA Championship was in May. The U.S. Open was in June, and July brings two majors: The British Open last week and this week’s WGC at TPC Southwind here in Memphis.

“I think everyone’s been trying to figure out the schedule this year, for sure,” said Justin Rose said in his pre-WGC remarks. “For me now, it’s about – this is I would say my last chance to position myself before the Playoffs really get underway.”

“It seems yesterday we were playing in Augusta and all of a sudden the four majors are gone,” said Italian golfer Francesco Molinari, who is skipping the World Golf Championships event this week. “So I think it’s something that hopefully next year we will get more used to it. But this year it’s been a big change.”

Molinari wasn’t alone in his thinking.

“The schedule has been tough this year,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “If you’re not playing great, you actually don’t have time this year to develop your game because you don’t have that time to take periods off, really. You’re constantly playing and you always have to turn up and perform with the way that it goes.”

Rory McIlroy and Jason Day played miserably at the The British Open, failing to make the cut. But does the extra rest give them an advantage for the WGC?

“They’re more rested than I am or than others are, but I’m sure they also wish that they had played well and they felt better about their game,” said Justin Thomas. “For me, I feel like I’ve had success in the past of playing weeks in a row. That’s kind of why I’m hoping to let that momentum go for another about five weeks or so and see if we can keep it rolling.”

First timers, sort of

Many of the golfers have played in the FedEx-St. Jude Invitational. And many have also played the WGC Championship. But this is the first year that the WGC has been played in Memphis, so it will be a new experience for everyone.

“I’ve always wanted to play this golf course and I’ve always wanted to play this tournament,” Thomas said. “Just being the week before the U.S. Open, the timing didn’t make sense and it didn’t work out. So unfortunately we have to miss a lot of tournaments because of scheduling.”

Wolfe played 18 holes at TPC Southwind on Tuesday, and gained an appreciation for the challenges it will bring.

“This is the first time I saw the course and I can see why it’s a tough golf course,” Wolfe said. “It’s narrow fairways, greens are small and fast, and if this place firms up, I could definitely see it being one of the hardest on Tour. I’m really excited to see where my game holds up against these guys.”

Brooks Koepka is no stranger to TPC Southwind, having played 20 rounds on the course, including last year’s FedEx-St. Jude Invitational.

“I love this place. This place has always been good to me. I feel like I play it really well,” Koepka said. “I enjoy the golf course, I enjoy Memphis. It’s a fun place to come back year after year, so I’ve enjoyed it. This golf course, obviously with a little bit of rain, it’s a little bit softer than it has been in years past, but the golf course is in probably the best shape I’ve seen it the last four years.”

‘Cue before Tee?

You knew this was coming. Anytime a major event brings celebrities to Memphis, media has to ask them about barbecue. It may be mandatory. But the golfers took the questions in stride.

“I’m excited to go get some barbecue at some point,” Thomas said. “It’s similar to Alabama, we had some pretty good barbecue places in Tuscaloosa. I’ll try to check at least a barbecue spot or two out. I know it’s going to be an enjoyable week.”

Justin Rose said he’s looking forward to sampling the Bluff City’s food and culture.

“I’ve never been here before, so I just feel like there’s a really nice vibe out there,” Rose said. “I’m looking forward to experiencing all that Memphis has to offer. Sorry to kind of hedge the question, but yeah, give me a couple days.”

But no ‘cue for Koepka.

“I always bring a chef this week,” he said. “Barbecue isn’t really on my diet unfortunately. We stick to the house.”

Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

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This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender

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2018 NNPA DTU Journalism Fellowship

How Idris Elba saved a fan’s life

ROLLINGOUT.COM — Idris Elba rushed to the aid of a fan who was in distress during a performance of his stage play, Tree. The “Luther” star leaped off stage to help Amanda Bilington when he saw she was having a seizure in the audience at the Upper Campfield Market in Manchester during the preview the production on Wednesday, July 3, 2019.

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Idris Elba (Photo Credit: Bang Media)

By Rollingout.com

Idris Elba rushed to the aid of a fan who was in distress during a performance of his stage play, Tree.

The “Luther” star leaped off stage to help Amanda Bilington when he saw she was having a seizure in the audience at the Upper Campfield Market in Manchester during the preview the production on Wednesday, July 3, 2019.

The 33-year-old theatre-goer who suffers from regular seizures didn’t realize the 46-year-old actor was standing by her side until she regained consciousness a little while later. Elba continued to stay with her until the paramedics arrived to take over her care.

“I would love to thank him personally but doubt I will cross paths with him, he’s very famous,” Bilington told the Daily Mirror newspaper.

Meanwhile, although Elba is busy with the play at the moment, the Mountain Between Us actor who is married to Sabrina Dhowre and has children Isan, 17, and five-year-old Winston from previous relationships, is working to spend as much time as possible with his loved ones.

“Everything’s a balance in life. I have to do the work, because it’s a popular time for me, and it’s best to have that. But also: I’m madly in love with my wife and my children,” he said in a recent interview with Vanity Fair.

“At home, I’m not famous, I’m me. And to my team and my family and the people that I work with every day when we build what we build, we’re not famous. You know what I mean? It’s day one every day,” Elba said.

This article originally appeared in Rollingout.com
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#NNPA BlackPress

COMMENTARY: Is U.S. marching steadily to war with Iran?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — A war, Mr. Trump may be estimating, could “rescue” him politically, and inject more money into the Pentagon. The U.S. “war strategy” was revealed by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) after a House Armed Services Committee meeting and confirmed to The Intercept by Rep. Gabbard. “We were all in that meeting with Pompeo where those statements were made,” Ms. Gabbard said.

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An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, June 13. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on June 13, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. Photo: AP/Wide World Photo

By Askia Muhammad, Senior Editor, The Final Call
@askiaphotojourn

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump seems to want war with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is beating the drum for war with Iran. National Security Adviser John Bolton is itching for war with Iran. Together they are orchestrating an all-too-familiar scenario to justify the use of U.S. military force against the Islamic Republic.

In 1846 U.S. forces falsely claimed they were attacked by Mexican forces inside U.S. territory. In retaliation the U.S. launched the Mexican-American War, seizing land from New Mexico to California, to Colorado, even to Utah. Have we forgotten the suspicious sinking of the USS Maine, the Navy ship which went down in the Havana Harbor in 1898, dragging the U.S. into the Spanish-American War?

In 1962, a Pentagon plan called “Operation Northwoods” was hatched for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to commit acts of terrorism against U.S. civilians to be blamed on Cuba, in order to justify an invasion of that country. In 1964 the White House committed “material misrepresentations” of the truth of what was known as the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” in order to goad Congress into authorizing war with Vietnam. And of course, the convincing dramatizations of “Yellow Cake Uranium” and non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” were used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Trump administration is now stoking fear of a potential conflict with Iran. The president withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—in May 2018. More recently, National Security Adviser John Bolton asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran.

In the latest incident, the Secretary of State said Iran was behind the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman June 13, implicating the nation in the second set of attacks on tankers in the region in two months. U.S. Central Command even released a video it says shows Iran removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers it’s accused of attacking.

But the Japanese owner of the ship that was damaged denied that it was struck by mines as the U.S. claims, insisting instead that it was hit by “flying objects.” Yutaka Katada, president of the Kokuka Sangyo shipping firm that owns the Kokuka Courageous tanker, told reporters in Tokyo June 14: “The crew are saying it was hit with a flying object. They say something came flying toward them, then there was an explosion, then there was a hole in the vessel. Then some crew witnessed a second shot.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran—(without) a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence,” and he accused the Trump White House of “economic terrorism” and “sabotage diplomacy,” according to published reports.

“So it’s apparent that the United States is trying to execute a false flag operation and to throw dust in the eyes of international communities and make the international community feel that the Iranians are the aggressors when in fact it’s Washington that’s the aggressor,” Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston said in an interview.

The U.S. lust for war is because U.S. interests and allies are suffering, while Iran is making gains in the region, according to Dr. Horne. The U.S. invasion of Iraq has made that country even more dependent on Iran for everything from electricity to security. And U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is fighting a costly and bloody war against rebels in Yemen who enjoy Iranian support.

“Interestingly enough, because of Mr. Trump pulling out of the (Iranian) nuclear deal, the EU 3—Germany, Britain, and France—are trying to set up a special purpose vehicle to circumvent U.S. sanctions,” Dr. Horne said, “which will then be a threat to the dollar, which is now under siege not only because of the EU 3 but also because of Russia (and) China preparing to conduct trade without the dollar.”

A war, Mr. Trump may be estimating, could “rescue” him politically, and inject more money into the Pentagon. The U.S. “war strategy” was revealed by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) after a House Armed Services Committee meeting and confirmed to The Intercept by Rep. Gabbard. “We were all in that meeting with Pompeo where those statements were made,” Ms. Gabbard said.

The Trump administration is prepared to wage the war against Iran without congressional authorization, based on the notion that the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” approved by Congress in 2001 after 9/11 can be applied to Iran, through that country’s purported links to Al Qaeda.

Democratic House members and senators, and a host of presidential candidates condemned the president’s saber rattling. “If the administration wants to go to war against Iran, then the Constitution requires them to come to Congress to ask for an authorization for the use of military force,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a presidential candidate told reporters.

“This is Constitutional Law 101, that it is Congress, not the president, that declares war,” Sen. Warren, a former law professor, continued. “We would have to have a debate on the floor of the Senate. And if the administration doesn’t believe that they can withstand a debate, then they shouldn’t be aiming themselves toward war.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters after a classified members-only briefing on Iran, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Trump told an interviewer on June 13 that “Iran did do it.” In response, presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters: “Attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman are unacceptable and must be fully investigated. But this incident must not be used as a pretext for a war with Iran, a war which would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, Iran, the region and the world.

“The time is now for the United States to exert international leadership and bring the countries in the region together to forge a diplomatic solution to the growing tensions. I would also remind President Trump that there is no congressional authorization for a war with Iran. A unilateral U.S. attack on Iran would be illegal and unconstitutional.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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