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Sale of sacred statues in Paris vexes Black Lives Matter campaigners

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A pair of sacred statues that a Nigerian museum commission and protesters claimed were looted during the country’s 1960s civil war fetched 212,500 euros ($239,000) at auction in Paris on Monday.

The Igbo statues were sold by the Christie’s auction house, which defended the sale and said the artworks were legitimately acquired.

A Princeton scholar, Chika Okeke-Agulu, alongside Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, raised alarm earlier this month that the objects were looted during the Biafran war in the late 1960s. The war saw more than 1 million people die, many of starvation, trying to create a state for the Igbo people. The Igbo are one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups.

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Okeke-Agulu, who is Igbo, said the objects were taken through “an act of violence” and shouldn’t be sold. An online petition with the hashtags BlackArtsMatter and MyHeritageMatters collected more than 3,000 signatures demanding the auction be halted.

The petition said “as the world awakens to the reality of systemic racial injustice and inequality, thanks to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we must not forget that it is not just the Black body, but also Black culture, identity and especially art that is being misappropriated.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, the auction house said “these objects are being lawfully sold having been publicly exhibited and previously sold over the last decades prior to Christie’s involvement.”

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Christie’s said it recognized the “nuanced and complex debates around cultural property,” but also argued that such sales stop black markets from flourishing.

Babatunde E. Adebiyi, legal adviser for the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria said they had contacted Christie’s on June 17 and had asked the auction house to suspend the sales pending further investigation into their origins.

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“We are shocked the sales went on,” he told the AP. “It represents a major setback in our effort to get our antiquities from abroad.”

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In recent years, French courts have consistently ruled in favor of auction houses whose sales of sacred objects, such as Hopi tribal masks, were contested by rights groups and representatives of the tribes.

Paris has a long history of collecting and selling tribal artifacts, tied to its colonial past in Africa, and to Paris-based groups in the 1960s, such as the “Indianist” movement that celebrated indigenous tribal cultures.

Interest in tribal art in Paris was revived in the early 2000s following two high-profile — and highly lucrative — sales in Paris of tribal art owned by late collectors Andre Breton and Robert Lebel.

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(AP)


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Stephen Colbert hilariously mocks Oklahoma governor ‘Stitt for brains’ for catching COVID-19 after ignoring masks

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) revealed Wednesday that he is positive for the coronavirus. It could have been the exposure he incurred at the Trump rally. Or it could have been all of those times he went out without a mask saying he was "social distancing." Either way, it was something "A Late Show" host Stephen Colbert found to be a hilarious example of schadenfreude.

"All the people in charge who told us the pandemic wasn't a big deal are looking big dumb right now like Oklahoma governor and chunky Dracula Kevin Stitt, cuz remember Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma full of unmasked open mouth screamers," said Colbert. "Lots of people called it a terrible idea, said it should be canceled. Not Governor Stitt."

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The problem isn’t the campaign manager — it’s Trump: Republican analyst

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Switching up the campaign manager four months before the election when the latest poll shows you 12 points down has nothing to do with the campaign's leadership, Republican analyst Amanda Carpenter explained on CNN Wednesday.

"The problem isn't that Donald Trump has a bad campaigner," said Carpenter in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon. "They're raising tons of money. They have a boatload of surrogates. The problem is that he has a bad presidency. And no one -- no one, no spin master, not Kellyanne Conway, not Brad Parscale can spin the most important number of this election, and that's -- at present, 137,000 dead and rising. And so what we need to see if Donald Trump wants to turn this around is to turn around his white house. And I have four words of advice: More Fauci, less Kayleigh."

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Here’s what you need to know about Bill Stepien — the man who just took over Trump’s fledgling campaign

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President Donald Trump announced that his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is being shoved out of his role given the failures the campaign has suffered over the past seven months.

In his place, for now, at least, will be Bill Stepien.

If that name sounds familiar, it may be because Stepien was part of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal, where, as punishment to Mayor Mark Sokolich, two of three toll lanes were closed during a Monday morning rush hour and weren't reopened until Friday.

The court case quoted Bill Stepien's name over 700 times, including an email in which he claimed, "It will be a tough November for this little Serbian." The mayor was born in Fort Lee, and his lineage isn't Serbian, it's actually Croatian.

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