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Ugandan Joins Commission to Protect Human Subjects Used for Studies

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

President Obama has tapped Julius Ecuru, a Ugandan environmental scientist, for an international research panel studying the use of human subjects in scientific studies.

The commission will address such controversial studies as one in Guatemala where mental patients, soldiers and prisoners were injected and otherwise contaminated with syphilis by American public health doctors to study the course of the disease. No effort was made to cure all the infected patients.

Many other studies took place between 1845 and 1990 including the well-known testing of 400 African-American sharecroppers in 1932.

However, the 37-year old Ugandan may draw fire over his work in bio-technology and genetically modified (GM) organisms. Schools throughout the U.K., the U.S. and parts of Europe have banned GM foods as unsafe and not fully tested. Other countries which have banned GM crops include Zambia, Venezuela, Hungary, and India for some crops.

The international panel will deliver its recommendations and findings to President Obama before October this year.

North Carolina Democrats Reach Out to HBCUs

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By Herbert L. White, Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –

North Carolina Democrats are looking to strengthen ties with students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The College Democrats of North Carolina will hold a leadership conference for HBCU students in late March in Greensboro. The forum – a first for the state Democratic Party – will focus on engaging students in the political process, political activity, and on-campus leadership. North Carolina has 11 HBCUs, second only to Alabama.

"HBCU students have a unique story and this HBCU Leadership Conference is here to ensure that we give them a voice and a seat at the table," said N.C. A&T student D.J. McKelvey, CDNC’s Black college coordinator.

U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) will be among the panelists and speakers, which include N.C. State Reps. Marcus Brandon and Alma Adams, N.C. Sen. Gladys Robinson and state Democratic Party Chair David Parker. Panel topics include “HBCUs, Politics and History,” “Black Women and Politics,” “How to Run for Public Office” and “Campaign and Professional Involvement.”

Party activists see the conference as an opportunity to strengthen ties between Democrats and young voters whose support helped Barack Obama carry North Carolina in the 2008 presidential election.

"The College Democrats of North Carolina recognize the importance of engaging HBCU students,” CDNC President Tori Taylor said.

Dallas Mayor Caraway Releases Final Statement on Domestic Incident

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By Lashonda Cooks, Special to NNPA from The Dallas Examiner –

Two months after the city's biggest newspaper and its attorneys requested all records and police reports regarding the Jan. 2ND Caraway domestic incident, it - and the rest of the world - can finally put their curiosity to rest and hear exactly what occurred that fateful evening within the mayor's household. The Dallas Morning News' request on the week of Jan. 14 sparked a tabloid-like frenzy amongst six other area news outlets to force the city to release the information under the open records law.

Initially, the city attorney's office was skeptical. The office questioned whether the records should be withheld based on Mayor Dwaine Caraway's right to privacy. According to privacy law, information can be withheld, if it both contains "highly intimate or embarrassing fact" and is of "no legitimate concern to the public."

The city attorney's office consulted the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for advice. The Dallas Morning News also contacted the attorney general with a letter arguing in favor of the document's release. The letter maintained that the records are of legitimate concern to the public because Caraway leveraged his position as a public official throughout the incident. It referenced how Caraway directly contacted Police Chief David Brown instead of calling 9-1-1 as one of the reasons for the records' release. Ultimately, Abbott agreed that the records should be made public.

In response, on March 8, Caraway sued Abbott and the City of Dallas and received a temporary restraining order preventing the records' release until a hearing on March 22 stressing its importance to protecting his family's privacy. To counter, The Dallas Morning News' attorneys filed a plea for intervention of Caraway's suit, stating that Caraway "cannot meet his high burden of proof to show the information is not of legitimate public concern."

Last Week, Caraway and his lawyer Michael Payma lost their bid for an extension of the restraining order. The records, including a 20-minute audio recording taped on the evening of the incident without Caraway's knowledge, were released. The audio detailed a private statement regarding an altercation between the mayor and his wife State Representative Barbara Caraway.

Immediately after the tape was released, the mayor issued an official statement. The statement is below:

"I have contended from the start that the recording contains deeply personal and private information. There is no public interest in this information and I have made every effort to protect my family's privacy. But I respect the ruling of the court and it's time to move on. This morning, I assembled top City Staff and asked them to join me in focusing on the important issues in front of our city - reducing crime, attracting jobs and businesses, getting through another tough budget year and moving Dallas forward. I will not be discussing this issue further."

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.”

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BVN National News Wire