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Although he is one of the country’s most iconic film stars, California native John Wayne will not be getting a day of honor in his home state.
For the past week, men have unloaded tons of ivory at the Nairobi National Park and built them into towers of up to 10 feet tall and 20 feet across.
On Saturday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta—who was the first to light the semi-circle of tusks from about 8,000 elephants—demanded a total ban on the ivory trade to prevent the extinction of elephants in the wild.
CNN reports that every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its tusks.
“To lose our elephants would be to lose a key part of the heritage that we hold in trust ... Quite simply, we will not allow it,” Kenyatta said at a meeting of African heads of state and conservationists, as reported by the Austrailian Broadcasting Company. “We will not be the Africans who stood by as we lost our elephants,” he added.
ABC reports that Africa is home to between 450,000 and 500,000 elephants, but more than 30,000 are killed every year to satisfy a ravenous demand for ivory in Asia. China’s rapidly growing economy and expanding upper class have created a strong market for ivory and for the even more expensive rhino horn.
On the black market, the confiscated ivory is estimated to be worth between $131 and $172 million. The 1.5 tons of rhino horn also burned has a street value of as much as $105 million. Rhino horn is worth more than $79,000 per kilo—more than gold or cocaine.
In the past, countries such as Botswana, South Africa and Namibia have taken their confiscated ivory and sold it, raising millions for elephant conservation initiatives.
But Kenya prefers to let it burn. Beginning in 1989, the country has had about four massive burnings, with the one on Saturday being its largest.
“From a Kenyan perspective, we’re not watching any money go up in smoke,” Kenya Wildlife Service Director General Kitili Mbathi said to CNN. “The only value of the ivory is tusks on a live elephant.”
Ivory itself does not burn, and so the fire is fuelled by a mix of diesel and kerosene injected though steel pipes buried in the ground leading into the middle of the ivory stacks.
The term #IvoryBurn was trending on Twitter Saturday morning, with some Africans calling out Asia’s appetite for fueling the trade.
Police served a search warrant on the local drug store where late singer Prince was seen several times in the days before his death, reports the New York Daily News.
Two black women have filed a lawsuit against the New York Times and its CEO Mark Thompson for allegedly fostering a culture of discrimination based on age, gender and race.
The class action lawsuit, which may be joined by up to 50 others, alleges that the Times, which promotes its “liberal social viewpoints,” favors its “ideal staffer (young, white, unencumbered with a family)” at the expense of older female and black employees who are being pushed out.
The claimants, Ernestine Grant, 62, and Marjorie Walker, 61, who work in the Times’ advertising department (Grant for 16 years and Walker for 8), and allege that the company’s advertising directors have become “increasingly younger and whiter,” according to the Guardian, which has seen a copy of the lawsuit.
They claim these older black workers were repeatedly passed over for promotions by younger white employees, despite the older worker’s experience, and that the white employees were paid more.
The lawsuit also claims that gender inequality is “endemic” to the company and cite the case of former Executive Editor Jill Abramson, who was fired after she complained that she was paid less than her male peers and predecessors. (Abramson was replaced by Dean Baquet, the paper’s first African-American editor.)
Grant, who wrote an essay this week in the Guardian entitled, “Why I’m Suing The New York Times for Discrimination” identified herself as a “black woman in my 60s, currently battling multiple myeloma.” Grant says that since 2013, when CEO Thompson came in and brought in Chief Revenue Officcer Meredith Levien, he and his CRO have set an “aggressive” and “discriminatory agenda.”
“In recent years, I have had a front-row seat to the Times’ new management systematically purging my division (and others) of older employees, people of color and women whose family obligations are viewed as interfering with work,” writes Grant.
She continues, “… Management’s bias towards youth and discriminatory images of what the readers and customers of the Times should look like came at the cost of pushing out the division’s most productive and valuable older, minority and female employees. We came to expect lower pay, being passed over for promotions and having to make do without perks and advantages (event tickets for advertising customers, invites to networking parties, summer Fridays off) that were simply not afforded to those in groups out of favor.”
She concludes, “The New York Times can best serve its employees, business partners, readers and the general public by leading the social change it champions in its pages.”
Through a spokesperson, the Times denies the claims, saying the suit is “entirely without merit and we intend to fight it vigorously in court.”
Read more at the Guardian.
Editor’s note: This short-film series is a collaboration between The Root and El Rey Network to support, elevate and promote African-American filmmakers via on-air, digital and editorial platforms. These talented filmmakers represent the front line in improving diversity of participation and cultural representation in entertainment. Both The Root and El Rey Network are honored to showcase their works and stories.