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Johnson & Johnson to cease sale of skin-whitening lotions

Consumer-products giant Johnson & Johnson said Friday that it would no longer sell certain products that are advertised as dark-spot reducers but have been used by some purchasers to lighten skin tone.
The product lines, Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clear Fairness by Clean & Clear, were not distributed in the United States but were sold in Asia and the Middle East.

“Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our Neutrogena and Clean & Clear dark-spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your own unique skin tone,” the company said in a statement. “This was never our intention — healthy skin is beautiful skin.”

The company said its website was being updated to remove links to both products, which may still appear on shelves “for a short while.”

“We will no longer produce or ship the product line,” the company said.

The statement followed a string of announcements this week by companies saying they would be removing brands that have been criticized for using racist imagery to sell products. On Wednesday, the owners of Cream of Wheat, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Mrs. Butterworth’s all said they would be reviewing how the brands’ products are packaged.

Those announcements came after Quaker Oats said it would retire Aunt Jemima, the pancake mix and syrup brand, after acknowledging that its logo, a grinning black woman, was based on a racial stereotype.

In India, where the Clean & Clear skin-lightening line is sold, consumers have posted reviews touting the products’ effects and their ability to lighten skin. In Asia, commercials advertising Neutrogena Fine Fairness have described how it allows a consumer to “whiten more thoroughly.”

More than 11,000 people have signed a petition calling on Unilever to stop selling Fair & Lovely, a skin-lightening product marketed in India and the Middle East. Commercials for the lotion have shown dark-skinned women using it to lighten their skin and then becoming more successful as a result.

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Latest News USA

US is facing a cumulative socio-political discontent

By DC Pathak

For the first time in his tenure, President Donald Trump’s personal image as the leader of the only superpower of the world and as the head of the world’s oldest democracy is taking a hit — all because of his responses to the ‘killing’ in full public view of George Floyd, an Afro-American suspected of some small time ‘offence’, by a white police officer at Minneapolis.

The first and the only reaction of the American President should have been one of feeling aghast over the incident, sending the lawless policeman and his teammates on the spot packing home and declaring that they did not represent the police force of the nation. This did not happen, either because temperamentally Trump always tended to side with the power of enforcement or allowed his racial instincts to get the better of him. His grudging words of condolence to the family of the Afro-American killed, came late in the day and that too without any fitting rebuke for the policemen concerned.

The protest against the police brutality was instantaneous in Minnesota but soon escalated into a widespread public agitation in which the whites also joined in across several states — the rallying point being the resurrected ‘black lives matter’ movement as well as the mounting opposition to the policies and ways of President Donald Trump. Acts of violence in the initial phase of the protests were promptly used by Trump to denounce the agitators as ‘Thugs’ and ‘Terrorists’ and call for use of full force against them. The agitators demanded ‘defunding’ of the local police which was meant to suggest its complete reorganisation.

The political cost of the mishandling of the George Floyd case will become evident as the Presidential election in the US draws to a close. It is significant that the rival camps of Trump and Joe Biden have started openly accusing each other of attempts to take to fraudulent methods of gaining votes in the impending polls.

Any such act of a police personnel is legally punishable. At Minneapolis, there was a blatant show of white supremacism by policemen in the act of ‘punishing’ the black suspect in public. The racial divide that the incident has uncovered has now brought out the dormant polarization of the Americans even on such fundamental milestones of the American democracy as the abolition of slavery and grant of equality to the blacks as citizens with voting rights.

The George Floyd episode has deepened the racial divide and taken the protests in the direction of condemnation of the advocates of slavery who existed ‘in the historical past’ not only in the US but in the UK as well.

It is to be seen how the black issue will affect the arithmetic of numbers between the Republicans and Democrats in the Presidential election. The anti-Trump forces are likely to keep the pot boiling till the polls. On his part, President Donald Trump believes that it is the post-Covid economic recovery that would put everything else on the back burner and get him a second term in office.

Since the current developments in the US are a direct result of the doings of rogue policemen, it is natural that some writings have appeared on the learning they provide for other democratic countries, particularly India where the police handling of certain kinds of public protests had been commented upon.

India does not have any ‘racial’ problem beyond the unfair practices that did exist in the name of caste — the internal divide here is ‘communal’ in nature which was largely a continuing political legacy of the extraordinary event of the country’s partition that had been done on religious lines.

In India, the government takes responsibility for any failures of the police just as it gets credit for good law and order management. The police, if not meddled with politically, is an instrument for creating an equal and abiding society and a sheet anchor for shaping a secular and democratic governance. It has to be kept under public scrutiny for its own good. The US is apparently falling behind in the matter of ensuring a non-discriminatory and non-sectarian law enforcement in conformity with established democratic norms.

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International Latest News USA

Race riots in US and walk of the dispossessed in India

By Saeed Naqvi

A passionate appraisal of the widespread anger at George Floyd’s murder by a white policeman that newspaper columns are full off, inspires no lasting change in race relations. Establishments have entrenched themselves too securely. In India the jury is out: will the establishment be able to contain street level eruption of discontent. It has never been tested on a scale it will surely be once the lockdown has been lifted.

In the US, Gen. James Mattis, respected soldier and former Defense Secretary, is enjoying what Andy Warhol called his five minutes of fame. He chastised a President whom everybody chastises except Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Never in his life had Mattis known a President so dedicated to dividing Americans. He was particularly severe on Trump’s call to “dominate” the rioters by taking recourse to troops, in violation of the military’s rules of engagement. His successor, Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, also did himself proud by going against Trump’s pronounced inclination to bring in troops.

I wonder if it shames us that there is neither a Mattis nor an Esper to provide relief in our arid wasteland, bereft of dissenters. Rex Tillerson, as serving Secretary of State described Trump as a “moron”. The Texas police chief, Art Acevedo, was comparatively mild: he asked the President to keep his “mouth shut” if he has no constructive ideas to offer.

The vigor and success of a free society covered up an undercurrent of flaws like racism from the very beginning. Extraordinary success in many fields was able to induce a national amnesia about some harsh realities: the nation was founded on genocide and slavery. Unreliable records of Christopher Columbus combined with modern anthropology point to anywhere between 2.5 million and eight million natives killed by disease or other means of extermination. This was a matter of envy for Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. He lamented the fact that the Brazilian cavalry had not been as effective as its US counterpart in exterminating natives.

I have not seen anything as disturbing as the brutality of pre abolition slave lives portrayed in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. A gruesome image, fairly commonplace in the film, shows a petrified slave, tied to a tree. A pack of hungry dogs, the size of full grown wolves, is let loose upon him, by way of canine supper. Do not dismiss it as cinematic exaggeration. I have just been forwarded a clip from current disturbances — a police dog set upon a black woman, screaming for dear life, even as three white policemen watch with scant interest, a sort of mechanical operation.

To flavor the past, let us rewind at fast speed. In 1919, a black teenager, swimming in Lake Michigan, drifts involuntarily towards a beach for Whites-only. He is stoned until he drowns. Record riots follow in Chicago. This, when President Roosevelt, his cigarette holder at a jaunty angle, is busy persuading senators to ratify the Versailles Treaty. What flourished simultaneously were called “lynch laws”. Bodies of “niggers” hanging from tall, shady trees were occasions for family outings, yielding photographs for albums preserved for posterity. Such memorabilia was the stuff of American pride.

Everyone talks reverentially about Martin Luther King having brought to fruition the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. But this reporter saw “busing” an issue in Boston even in the mid-70s. Was an attitude ingrained over centuries going to be disbanded by pieces of legislation? Communalism in India has recent, deliberate beginnings, but caste beats western racism by millennia. Is its erasure possible by legislative means? And the recent walk of the impoverished, was laden with images of caste-class overlap.

Capitalism, in other words, kept a wary eye on all transitions away from its stranglehold. Then capitalism overreached itself by mismanaging the post-Soviet globalization. The 2008 financial crisis, and a record economic slump after the Covid-19 mayhem, have induced some rethink.

Comprehensive health care for all, Universal Basic Income, an appraisal of the Scandinavian model, are all part of a vigorous discourse in the West. There is, on the other hand, a deafening silence on these issues in India where the millions of the hungry and the destitute sent on a trek may well return to plague us.

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India International Latest News

Gandhi statue in Washington desecrated, US envoy to India apologizes

New Delhi: US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster on Wednesday sincerely apologized for the vandalism and desecration of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue situated outside the Embassy of India’s office in Washington, DC, earlier in the day by unruly elements involved in the ongoing protests in the United States.

“So sorry to see the desecration of the Gandhi statue in Wash, DC. Please accept our sincere apologies. Appalled as well by the horrific death of George Floyd and the awful violence and vandalism. We stand against prejudice and discrimination of any type. We will recover and be better,” the ambassador said in a tweet.

Sources told ANI that United States Park Police have launched an investigation into the matter.

Some unruly elements of the #BlackLivesMatter protesters graffitied Gandhi’s statue with profanities, the locals told ANI. The statue was later covered up and an investigation was launched by the local Park Police in charge of protection of monuments in the area. The statue was graffitied with spray paint.

Further details into the matter are awaited. (ANI)

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New York

South Asians for America condemns violence against African American community

New York, NY: South Asians for America has condemned the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and numerous other instances of abuse, societal inequities, and systemic racism across the United States. “We stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and the African American community in a united call for justice,” it said in a press release. 

“We encourage others in the South Asian American community to speak out against violence and police brutality. As fellow minorities, South Asians are in a unique position to understand and support the African American community. South Asian-owned businesses and communities have also been affected by protests including the Gandhi Mahal Restaurant in Minneapolis. As Bangladeshi-born owner Ruhel Islam said to his daughter after his restaurant was destroyed, “Don’t worry about us, we will rebuild and we will recover…let my building burn, justice needs to be served, put those officers in jail.” According to the New York Times, “As wounds were bandaged and hands were held in the front room, [Ruhel Islam] was in the
kitchen, preparing daal, basmati rice and naan” for the protesters. This spirit embodies the kindness and empathy of our community.

“South Asians who immigrated to America after 1965 benefited from the civil rights movement started by African Americans. Our communities are intertwined and all deserve the same freedom. We must stand together, we must unite, and we must collectively combat the systemic injustices faced by our African American brothers and sisters.”

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Entertainment Latest News

Spike Lee’s ‘3 Brothers’ inspired by George Floyd killing

Filmmaker Spike Lee has released a short film capturing police brutality with clips of the deaths of George Floyd and Eric Garner, along with footage from his Oscar-nominated film, “Do The Right Thing”.

Titled “3 Brothers”, Lee posted the video on his Twitter account. The film opens with the words “Will History Stop Repeating Itself”, and then shows the footage of the arrests of Floyd and Garner — both of which resulted in their deaths. He then shows scenes from his 1989 movie “Do the Right Thing” wherein Radio Raheem dies after being choked by police officers.

The short film first appeared on CNN, reports theguardian.com.

Floyd, aged 46, died last week after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, held him down with a knee on his neck though he repeatedly pleaded, “I can’t breathe”, and “please, I can’t breathe”. Chauvin was arrested and charged with three-degree murder and manslaughter.

Lee’s film, over a minute long, concluded with the footage from the Floyd video where an onlooker tells Chauvin: “You just really killed that man.”

“How can people not understand why people are acting the way they are? … This is not new, we saw with the riots in the 1960s, the assassination of Dr King, every time something jumps off and we don’t get our justice, people are reacting they way they do to be heard … We are seeing this again and again and again … This is the thing: the killing of black bodies, that is what this country is built upon,” Lee told CNN’s Don Lemon.

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Entertainment Latest News

Halle Berry seeks help for immigrant

Actor Halle Berry took to social media to urge her followers to help out an immigrant family that is struggling after their store was looted and burned in the protests in the city over the weekend.

The 53-year-old actress took to Instagram Stories to post about Ned Harounian, an 81-year-old immigrant, who lost a lot when his shop on Melrose was destroyed. She asked her followers to donate to a fundraiser set up to cover the costs of restoring the shop, reports dailymail.co.uk.

“An 81 year old immigrant father and business owner, Ned Harounian, had his Melrose shop looted and burned to the ground over the weekend,” she wrote.

“He immigrated in 1985 and for 30 years he put his life into his business and community. His recently deceased wife’s jewelry was also stolen,” she added.

“Los Angeles — I know things are crazy right now, but I hope we can all take a minute to help this man out!!’ she added.

“An immigrant business owner in his 80s had his Melrose store looted then burned, and his recently deceased wife’s jewelry stolen. Things are crazy right now, but I hope we can all take a minute to help this man out!! Donate if you can,” she tweeted.

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Entertainment Latest News

Racism is greatest pandemic, says George Clooney

Hollywood star George Clooney has penned an essay about the fight against systemic racism following the death of George Floyd, saying that racism is the “greatest pandemic” of the US, and there hasn’t been a “vaccine” for it even after 400 years.

In the essay, published by Daily Beast, Clooney called for “systemic change” in the US to tackle the problem of racism, reports etonline.com.

“How many times have we seen people of color killed by police?” he writes.

“Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald. There is little doubt that George Floyd was murdered. We watched as he took his last breath at the hands of four police officers. Now we see another defiant reaction to the systemic cruel treatment of a portion of our citizens like we saw in 1968, 1992, and 2014. We don’t know when these protests will subside. We hope and pray that no one else will be killed. But we also know that very little will change,” he continued.

Clooney feels fundamental changes need to be made.

“The anger and the frustration we see playing out once again in our streets is just a reminder of how little we’ve grown as a country from our original sin of slavery,” he wrote, adding: “The fact that we aren’t actually buying and selling other human beings anymore is not a badge of honor. We need systemic change in our law enforcement and in our criminal justice system. … This is our pandemic. It infects all of us, and in 400 years we’ve yet to find a vaccine.”

Clooney also took a dig at US President Donald Trump.

“We need policymakers and politicians that reflect basic fairness to all of their citizens equally. Not leaders that stoke hatred and violence as if the idea of shooting looters could ever be anything less than a racial dog whistle,” he said.

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