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News

Naomi Campbell exposes the diamond industry’s role in African wars

When international supermodel Naomi Campbell took the witness stand Friday in the trial against Liberia’s former President Charles Taylor, Western media outlets showered unprecedented attention on this largely ignored war crimes trial.

For the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia, Naomi Campbell’s association with this whole affair is of little consequence. But it is a cruel reminder of another stark fact: In the years of war that engulfed both countries, not only were thousands of innocent lives lost and people maimed, not only were women and girls raped or made sex slaves, not only were children conscripted to fight, but the people’s resources also were stolen out from under them and never returned.

The diamond industry has given almost nothing back to Sierra Leone, despite the critical role diamonds played in the war. The same is true for segments of the timber industry that profited from the deforestation of Liberia during the war.

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Style

A genetic journey back in time

How far back can you trace your family history? A few generations, maybe? How about 60,000 years?

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News

Senegal unveils colossal statue

Senegal on Saturday unveiled a colossal statue during a lavish ceremony amid reports of criticism over the monument’s construction at a time when the western African nation is struggling financially.

The 164-foot structure — about a foot taller than the Statue of Liberty — shows the figures of a man, a woman and a child, arms outstretched, facing the Atlantic Ocean.

President Abdoulaye Wade says the statue, which he designed, is a monument to Africa’s renaissance. Critics say the opulent copper structure is merely the product of the president’s own self-indulgent vision and poor governance.

A spokeswoman for the president sought to downplay criticism Saturday, saying the statue — valued at roughly $20 million — was made possible by a land deal between Wade and North Korea, and that proceeds from the monument will benefit Senegalese children.

The statue is “an affirmation to be proud of Africa — to be proud to be black,” said spokeswoman Gia Abrassart.

This renaissance statue is a powerful idea from a powerful mind,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson in remarks to the crowd of hundreds waving flags at the foot of the lighted monument. “This is dedicated to the journey of our ancestors, enslaved but not slaves.”

Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika praised Wade for constructing a monument that represents Africa.

“This monument does not belong to Senegal,” he said. “It belongs to the African people wherever we are.”

Senegal

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Politics

Barack Obama’s Historic Speach from Cairo, Egypt

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Blogs

A black man invented the Venti Latte… kinda

coffee-beans

More than 1,000 years ago, a goat herder in Ethiopia’s south-western highlands plucked a few red berries from some young green trees growing there in the forest and tasted them. He liked the flavor and the feel-good effect that followed. Today those same berries, dried, roasted and ground, have become the world’s second most popular non-alcoholic beverage after tea. The Ethiopian province where they first blossomed is called Kaffa, hence the name coffee.