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Controversial Ad Featuring Serena Williams Shelved

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

A racy video game ad featuring Serena Williams won’t be aired on broadcast television after the game’s developer said it was too risqué.

The ad for “Top Spin 4” features Williams as “the world’s sexiest tennis player” facing off against Rileah Vanderbilt, an actress labeled “the world’s sexiest tennis gamer.” The scantily-clad women make suggestive facial expressions, motions, and moaning while showing lots of skin, to the tune of a techno soundtrack.

The public response to the ad, after Vanderbilt allegedly introduced it to cyberspace through her Twitter account, was negative. As a result, 2K Sports, the game’s developer, canned the commercial and distanced itself from it.

“As part of the process for creating marketing campaigns to support our titles, we pursue a variety of creative avenues,” the company said in a statement. “This video is not part of the title's final marketing campaign and its distribution was unauthorized.”

However, to some people, 2K Sports’ response rings hollow. Many say that the company was behind the ad from the start, but didn’t want to deal with the negative attention it brought.

“2K Sports deliberately created an absurdly racy ad to drum up interest in the game but didn’t have the courage to officially endorse the commercial because of possible public backlash,” a commentary on the Web site Sports by Brooks said.

Rep. Rangel: Congress Should Have Been Consulted on Libya

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By Herb Boyd, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

If there are any side effects or residue left from a straining battle over his possible removal from office, Rep. Charles Rangel did a good job concealing them. What wasn’t hidden was his objection to the Obama administration as it joined a coalition in an attack on Libya.

“What needs to be done at this point is a call by the president or the vice president for a special session of Congress to inform us and to ask our position on this matter,” Rangel said during a press briefing last week at the State Office Building.

“Obama is going along with past presidents and the United Nations, which is 90 percent [influenced by] the U.S. At the end of the day, we pay the price physically and financially.”

Rangel was outraged that President Barack Obama agreed to launch an attack on Libya without consulting Congress, thereby repeating a pattern of previous presidents, including Harry Truman in Korea, Lyndon Baines Johnson in Vietnam, and George W. Bush in Iraq. “When they say we should get rid of Gaddafi, who is the ‘we’”? Rangel continued. “Yes, we should have compassion for the rebels, but should we have a number of sleepless nights worrying about getting rid of Gaddafi? I don’t like the idea of his being taken out.”

The congressman stopped short of endorsing Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s call for an impeachment of Obama, who has charged the president with going beyond constitutional guidelines. “I’ll leave that alone,” Rangel said of his feelings about impeachment. And, he used an anecdote from his past to sidestep Minister Louis Farrakhan’s idea of sending a diplomatic team of prominent Black Americans to sit with Gaddafi.

“I was in Tanzania at the time of its independence, and I was asked by some of the leaders, ‘What brings you to our country? Are you also made in America like so many of the bombs falling on our people?’ It dawned on me, from their perspective, that color had nothing at all to do with the situation.”

Critically connected with the recent move by the Obama administration on Libya, which the president said he didn’t need congressional authorization for since the Senate had unanimously approved a resolution calling for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, Rangel, a decorated soldier of the Korean War, introduced once again—for the fifth time he said—a Universal National Service Act, or a draft bill.

The bill calls for the establishment of a universal requirement for national service. “If you enjoy the benefits of our democracy, then you should be willing and required to contribute to its defense,” he said, reiterating a recently released press statement. “We make decisions about war without worry over who fights them. Those who do the fighting have no choice.”

The Obama administration, Rangel observed, may have no choice about the cost of entering another war or “what’s the end game and how do we get out of it.”

Nigerians Deploy Internet Against Fraud in Upcoming Poll

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

With more than 29 million users of the internet across Nigeria, election officials and activists are turning to the web to monitor the country’s upcoming national elections in early April.

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and the chair of the national electoral commission observed the launch of reclaimnaija.net – a website based on the Ushahidi technology developed in Kenya to track activities at polling places nationwide.

Social media has also been called into action. ReVoDa, a new mobile application from the Enoughis Enough Nigeria coalition, allows citizens to report violence/fraud, police behavior, election staff conduct, etc, from their respective polling units – and from their mobile phones. “ReVoDa turns eligible voters into informal election observers, and allows monitoring organizations to draw conclusions about the legitimacy and accuracy of the elections,” according to the site http://eienigeria.org

Meanwhile, close to a million people were discovered to be double-registered in the just-ended voter registration period, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission. Those involved will be prosecuted, said INEC chair Attahiru Jega, including some “high profile Nigerians.”

About 73.58 million people registered during the exercise that ended on Feb. 5.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses report more than a dozen deaths and the burning of campaign vehicles in the state of Akwa Ibom stemming from an apparent grudge match between supporters of current president Goodluck Jonathan and candidate Akpan Udoedeghe of an opposition party.

African Leaders Sound Off on Disputed U.S. Bombing Campaign

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

A growing chorus of African leaders are loudly voicing opposition to the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, allegedly aimed at disabling his air force but also, as President Obama has said, “to tell Mr. Gaddafi he has to go.”

“We condemn the obvious double standards and hypocrisy of the West in ignoring the ravaging bloodshed and abuse of human rights in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia,” said Dr. Koku Adomdza, President of the Council for Afrika International, a U.K.-based think tank.

“We urge proactive diplomatic and mediatory intervention and condemn foreign military intervention, since the latter will only escalate violence.”

In Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, Foreign Affairs Minister Odein Ajumogobia expressed reservations at what he described as the 'complexities and contradictions of international foreign policy'.

'The international community imposed a no-fly zone in Libya, seemingly to protect civilians, yet the same international community watches as women are killed in Cote d'Ivoire,' he said.

In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma called for an immediate cease-fire and said his government would not support any foreign effort to overthrow the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, which has been battling an eastern-based insurgency for the past month.

"We say no to the killing of civilians, no to the regime-change doctrine and no to the foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state," Zuma said.

Zuma is part of a special committee appointed by the African Union to mediate the Libya conflict. The Union has also criticized the multinational coalition attacks on Libyan anti-aircraft and communications installations in which several dozen civilians were reportedly killed.

Other leaders speaking out against the bombing strikes include Namibia’s President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the presidents of Zimbabwe and Uganda.

Dr. Jesse Jackson, during a visit to Trinity College Historical Society in Dublin, concurred with the African heads of state.

"Something had to happen to stop the genocidal march,” he said. “On the other hand, the U.N.'s resolution was about containment and cessation not about aggression. It was not a resolution to wipe out Gaddafi but a humanitarian mission to save the victims of genocide.”

Justice Department Issues Scathing Report on New Orleans Police Department

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By Lee A. Daniels, Special to the NNPA from thedefendersonline.com –

A U.S. Department of Justice report on the New Orleans Police department released last week has described it as wracked by a culture of incompetence and corruption that is “serious, systemic, wide-ranging and deeply rooted” and in need of complete reform.

The city’s police force, which nearly completely collapsed when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005, has been the subject of multiple city, state, and federal investigation since then. Some of these probes have led to criminal indictments and convictions of more than a dozen officers thus far for unprovoked lethal and deadly use of force against innocent citizens in the storm’s aftermath.

But, this investigation, conducted by the federal agency’s Office of Civil Rights, deliberately did not consider those cases. In one sense, it didn’t need to because, it stated, pointedly, “these serious deficiencies existed long before” Hurricane Katrina struck.

In fact, the department was enmeshed in scandal in the 1990s after a series of criminal convictions of police officers – including the conviction of two for murder – exposed widespread problems. But, its deterioration in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with a wider national and even international audience looking on, has forced the concerted, multifaceted effort at reform now underway.

New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, elected in February 2010, last year asked the Justice Department for a “top to bottom review” of the beleaguered police force, one that would help him bring about its “complete transformation.”

Certainly, the resulting document leaves no doubt that a complete transformation is vital. For, believing its prosaic title, “Investigation of the New Orleans Police Department,” it is one of the most damning indictments of an entire police department – and, implicitly, of a city governmental structure responsible for its oversight – in the modern history of policing.

The report states that, bolstered by its unwillingness to adhere to seemingly basic rules and bureaucratic procedures, the New Orleans force indulged in “patterns or practices of unconstitutional conduct and/or violations of federal law” so pervasive and constant that they came to be routine. They include: unwarranted use of force; illegal stops, searches and arrests; rampant discriminatory behavior toward New Orleanians of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens; and, often, women who reported that they has been sexually assaulted. Not surprisingly, sanctions against police officers who abused their positions were virtually non-existent.

One of the more striking indications of the depth of the department’s managerial incompetence cited in the report was that its canine unit was so badly mismanaged—the police dogs were so badly trained—that they often attacked their own handlers.

These attitudes and practices made New Orleans itself less safe for its law-abiding citizens, the federal report stated, in part because police officials had often failed to investigate actual crimes and because their behavior produced a widespread distrust of the department among many citizens that inhibited their calling on or cooperating with police officers when they witnessed a crime being committed.

In fact, the report states, New Orleans criminal courts have trouble empanelling juries because so many prospective jurors say they wouldn’t trust the sworn testimony of police officers.

“There is nobody in this room that is surprised by the general tenor and the tone of what this report has to say,” Mayor Landrieu said at a news conference in New Orleans.

He was flanked by Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant U.S. Attorney General in charge of the department’s Office of Civil Rights, and New Orleans’ police chief, Ronal Serpas, and other city and federal officials. The city and the Justice Department will sign a consent decree that maps out specific avenues of reform, which will be overseen by the federal court.

They said that Chief Serpas has already begun making substantive reforms of the department, aided by a revision of some civil service rules to give him more flexibility in hiring, shifting, and firing personnel within it and the report pointedly praises what it describes as “a remarkably strong shared commitment to the City [among New Orleanians] that spans race, class, and neighborhood … [and] provides a strong foundation upon which to transform” the police department.

Lee A. Daniels is Director of Communications for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and Editor-in-Chief of TheDefendersOnline.

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