NEWS STAND: Ebony’s Eunice Johnson Dies, Kenya Ousts Jamaican Cleric

Our take on today's headlines.

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eunicejohnson
AP

Ebony’s Eunice Johnson Dies
Eunice Johnson, the woman who stood alongside John H. Johnson, has died. Mrs. Johnson, who was in her 90s, worked with her husband to build Negro Digest, Jet, and Ebony into the most influential black publications in the post-World War II period. She was instrumental in developing the Ebony Fashion Fair, which brought haute couture to black audiences, and the Fashion Fair Cosmetics line.
Mrs. Johnson produced and directed the Ebony Fashion Fair, which brought name designers as well as many emerging black designers to audiences in cities across the U.S. and Canada. The shows put on an estimated 4,000 performances since its launch in 1961, raising some $55 million for charities.
The shows ended last year because of the financial crisis. Mrs. Johnson was to be honored at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art later this month. According to the company’s web site, Mrs. Johnson was born in Selma, Alabama, the daughter of a doctor and an educator. Her maternal grandmother was founder president of Selma University. Her surviving daughter, Linda Johnson Rice is chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing.

Kenya Ousts Muslim Cleric
Kenya has decided to deport a Jamaican-born Muslim cleric who may have played a role in encouraging the Underwear Bomber to carry out his attack on a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. Abdullah el-Faisal was deported from Britain in 2007 after he was convicted on charges of racial hatred and urging his followers to kill Christians, Hindus, Jews and Americans.
Faisal was arrested in Mombasa while on a preaching tour of Kenya, according to Reuters. Kenyan authorities feared his speeches would encourage radicalism according to the New York Times.
Kenya has been a target of Al Quaeda attacks, including the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in 1998. Faisal moved to Britain in the early 1990s and was imam of a mosque in Brixton, a heavily-immigrant section of London. Richard Reid, who was arrested while trying to blow up another U.S. airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes in 2001, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted in the 9/11 plot, were both reported to have frequented the mosque while Faisal was preacher there. Umar Farouk Abdulmullatab, who was arrested after the Dec. 25 attempt, had written in an online posting that he had listened to Faisal’s preaching, according to U.S. authorities.

France’s Elite Universities Resist Quotas
France’s élite universities are resisting a plan to bring in more students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Some university officials say that the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy is pressuring them to choose as much as 30 percent of entering students from applicants eligible for scholarships.
France strictly forbids using race or ethnicity in government policy – or even counting people on those criteria. The needs-based approach would open the doors to poorer students of institutions like the École Polytechnique, and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, which produce most of the country’s elites. Presumably, selecting among applicants on an economic basis would bring in more blacks, Arabs and immigrants. Government officials deny that they have set a rigid quota and that the frequently-cited 30 percent is a goal.
Educators say that providing better preparation for the difficult admission tests would achieve the same goals without lowering quality. They cite some pilot efforts using this strategy that have worked. The issue has come up in the midst of a divisive national debate about the meaning of French identity and anecdotal evidence from media investigations that employment discrimination in France is rampant. A survey of 1,500 Frenchmen commissioned last month by SOS Racisme, an advocacy group for minorities, reported that 80 percent of respondents think discrimination is widespread in France.

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