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Furor Over Painting of Mandela By White Artist

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) - A white South Africa has stirred a furor over his painting of former president Nelson Mandela as a cadaver, surrounded by prominent African figures witnessing his autopsy.

Artist Yuill Damaso called his work “a modern take on the Rembrandt oil painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.” According to Damaso, his rendition is a tribute to Mandela.

“Underneath all his great achievements, the revered former South African president is flesh and bone, like everyone else,” Damaso said in interviews.

But the work has infuriated local residents who are demanding it be removed from Johannesburg’s Hyde Park shopping centre. The African National Congress also has condemned the work, saying: "It is in bad taste, disrespectful, and it is an insult and an affront to values of our society."

In Africa, some believe it taboo to depict a living person — let alone the internationally revered, anti-apartheid icon — as dead.

Mandela, who is due to celebrate his 92nd birthday on July 18, has increasingly limited his time in the public in recent years. He made a brief public appearance at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday about an hour prior to the World Cup final match.

Ugandans Take Stock of Fatal Blasts Linked to Terror

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – Ugandans shared their grief and shock over three deadly bomb blasts Sunday whose death toll has reportedly reached 74.

Africans from the region took to the internet seeking solace over the many who died, never suspecting a threat at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala and later at the Kyadondo Rugby Club where thousands had gathered to watch the windup of the World Soccer Cup.

“After the first blast, which occurred slightly on the sidelines of the crowded area, many people ducked under their chairs, some lying down and using the chairs as shelter. Barely a minute later, I heard the second blast, right in the middle of the crowd. It was more ear-piercing and louder,” recalled Richard Wanambwa, a survivor.

"What had been a football party turned into a sea of chaos. A blanket of smoke hung over the field, with wails and groans being the signature sound,” he recalled.

Among the dead were 10 Eritreans and one American working with a missionary group. Six Americans were injured in the explosions, according to Police Chief Kale Kayihura, adding this is not new in Uganda. The country suffered similar attacks in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Norbert Mao of Uganda’s Democratic Party linked the attacks to Uganda’s deployment in Somalia. Uganda has the largest troop presence in that conflicted country. The Ethiopian restaurant may have faced retaliation over that country’s support of the isolated Somali president who despite backing from the U.S. and international community controls a tiny fraction of the capital city.

An Ethiopian-born Eritrean, Massawa, wrote to the BBC online: “I am devastated to read about the slaughter of my people by murders driven by religious zealotry. This kind of act should be denounced and stopped at its root.”

Massawa blamed “a misguided foreign policy of the United States to support the thugs and warlords who are unable to govern more than a few block of Mogadishu. Al-Shabab and other Islamic groups, though religious fanatics, govern most of Somalia and therefore should be brought-in to the negotiating table.”

“African leaders who have no vested interest in Somalia should facilitate constructive talks to bring about peace. How can you have Ugandan and Burundian "Peace Keepers" when there is no peace to keep?”

Foreign troops, he said, “only embolden Al-Shabab and others” – “The United States, AMISOM and the Ethiopian army need to stay away from Somalia and only assist the people in their endeavour to find lasting peace.”

Obama to Arizona: 'We'll See You in Court'

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By Stephon Johnson, Special to the NNPA from the Amsterdam News –

(NNPA) - It was in the works ever since May when thoughts of apartheid centered on the state of Arizona. Now the White House plans to challenge the immigration policy that has sparked debate and controversy.

The U.S. Justice Department has officially filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona seeking an injunction on the state’s immigration law (known as SB 1070), claiming it illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives. In the lawsuit (titled “The United States of America v. The State of Arizona; and Janice K. Brewer, Governor of the State of Arizona, in her Official Capacity”), it states such.

“In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters,” read the complaint. “This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations and humanitarian interests.”

The complaint also established that the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Department of State are assigned the task of enforcing laws already in place.

The law, designed to identify, prosecute and deport so-called illegal immigrants, would make the failure to carry proper identification a crime and give broad power to local Arizona police departments to detain an individual if he is suspected of being an immigrant.

Detractors have called the law open season on Hispanic Americans in Arizona, believing that the law is a direct response to immigration from Mexico.

The federal lawsuit is the fifth challenge to Arizona’s policy as lawsuits from Phoenix and Tucson police officers, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Law Center have attempted to test the policy’s legality.

But everyone isn’t happy with the federal government challenging what they believe are states’ rights.

Two Republican senators from Arizona, Jon Kyl and former presidential candidate John McCain, sent out a joint statement against the lawsuit calling President Barack Obama weak on immigration enforcement.

“It’s far too premature for the Obama administration to challenge the legality of this new law since it has not yet been enforced,” read the statement. “Most legal experts believe such a ‘facial challenge’ to the statute would be very difficult to win. Moreover, the American people must wonder whether the Obama administration is really committed to securing the border when it sues a state that is simply trying to protect its people by enforcing immigration law.

“The Obama administration has not done everything it can do to protect the people of Arizona from the violence and crime illegal immigration beings to our state,” the statement continued.

“Until it does, the federal government should not be suing Arizona on the grounds that immigration enforcement is solely a federal responsibility.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer took to her Twitter page to respond to the lawsuit. “We will be very aggressive in defending our law,” she said. Brewer also suggested that supporters donate to the state’s “defense fund” at www.az.gov to assist with the state’s “border security and immigration matters.”

Verdict in Oscar Grant Case Spurs Violence in Oakland; More Than 50 Arrested

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By Kristin Gray, Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

(NNPA) - Hundreds flooded the streets of downtown Oakland on the evening of July 8 after a verdict in the trial of Oscar Grant’s shooting death.

Johannes Mehserle, a former White transit officer, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter which could land him in jail for up to four years.

However, many in Oakland believe justice had not been served and expected a harsher sentence for the former officer, who shot Grant – a 22-year-old unarmed African American on a BART train New Year’s Day 2009.

According to Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, at least 50 people were arrested in the hours after the verdict for breaking storefront windows and throwing items onto local streets.

According to The Associated Press, rioting peaked around 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EST) with an estimated 800 people protesting in the streets.

Early that day, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums released a statement expressing his personal support for Grant’s family.

“My hope is that justice will be served. I want to reiterate that the journey to justice does not have to end here,” said Dellums, the city’s third Black mayor. “If young Oscar Grant’s parents, who out of respect should make this decision, determine that justice has not been served, then I will commit myself to work with the family and their attorney to continue this journey to justice.”

Dellums continued by urging Oakland residents to “react in a manner that respects” Grant’s life and to “show the nation that we can be a model city as a total community.”

In a more overt statement, Batts said city police “anticipate protests following the reading of the verdict and have heard of possible outside agitation in an attempt to turn the peaceful movement into acts of civil unrest.”

Grant’s shooting, which was caught on a cell phone camera and later went viral on YouTube, spurred national outrage and protests in Oakland. The victim’s family had hoped the jury would find Mehserle guilty of murder, said attorney John Burris in a press conference.

“As you can imagine we are extremely disappointed with this verdict. The verdict is not a true representative of what happened to Oscar Grant and what the officer did to him that night. This is not an involuntary man case,” said Burris. “This was a truly compromised verdict that does not truly and accurately reflect the facts and we are extraordinarily disappointed in that. We do believe this was a murder case…We are surprised that the jury came back as quickly as they did and seemed to be very dismissive of the murder charge and involuntary manslaughter.”

The jury, which did not include any African Americans, found Mehserle to be criminally negligent and did not believe he intentionally killed Grant. The former officer has repeatedly said he intended to shoot Grant with a taser gun, not his firearm.

Mehserle is set for sentencing on Aug. 6.

Rainbow PUSH to Address Advertising, Media Issues With Marketing & Media Project

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Special to the NNPA from Target Market News –

(NNPA) - Today, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, has announced the creation of the Marketing & Media Project to coordinate the organization's activities and initiatives within the advertising and media industries.

The Marketing & Media Project will join RPC's other industry-focused projects whose mission is to protect, defend, and gain civil and economic rights by leveling the playing fields. The current initiatives are The Telecommunications Project, The Peachtree Street Project, The Automotive Project, The Energy & Science Project, The Entertainment Project, The Wall Street Project, and The Silicon Valley Project.

"For more than a decade we have engaged corporations on their contracts and economic relationships with African-American advertising agencies and African-American media companies," said Rev. Jackson. "The creation of The Marketing & Media Project signals the elevation of that dialogue at a critical time. Current economic factors have put these businesses in peril because Corporate America has ignored the unique expertise they possess, while discounting the bottom-line significance of the consumers they represent. By centralizing our resources we can better achieve justice and economic fairness for all."

Rainbow PUSH will invite African American-owned advertising agencies, public relations firms, marketing communications firms and media companies to become member partners of The Marketing & Media Project and to provide RPC with insight and strategy on the critical issues they are facing.

At its recent annual conference, RPC announced an agreement reached with KFC in which the restaurant chain will partner with minority-owned marketing firms to develop programs and strategies targeting minority consumers, and allocate up to 10 percent of KFC's national media budget.

Among the issues that The Marketing & Media Project will immediately address are:

- Securing opportunities and fairness as part of the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal

- Initiating a dialogue with The Obama administration's Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities on increasing the allocation of the $1 billion Federal advertising budget to African- American-owned ad agencies and media

- Negotiating with the automotive, telecom and other industries on the engagement of African -American advertising agencies, public relations firms and other professional services companies - Entering into a dialogue with marketing and media trade associations on a commitment of inclusion of African American professionals within their ranks

- The establishment of research and databases to quantify the economic relationship between marketers, advertising agencies, black radio stations, black newspapers, black magazines, black TV and cable companies and the African American consumer market

- Establish coordination between all entities of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition on marketing, media and advertising issues at the local and national levels, including 1000 Churches Connected and PUSH Excel

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