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Inside The Oval Office For President Joe Biden

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The US press got its first glimpse of President Joe Biden’s Oval Office on Wednesday, showing how in a matter of hours the office has visibly transformed in both dramatic and subtle ways to reflect the taste and politics of the officeholder.

Most keep an eye on what’s happening inside the office — what agreements are made, what policies are announced and which foreign dignitaries stop by.

But with every inch of the space on display, US presidents, their families and their staffs also meticulously choose which pieces of art are installed, what furniture is hauled in, and even which tchotchkes are placed on shelves. Here’s how Biden has chosen to change the Oval Office.

A portrait of Andrew Jackson, to the left of the seat at the Resolute Desk, has been replaced with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis.

Like other works routinely lent to the White House, the portrait appears to be on loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Gallery of Art.

Trump drew criticism in 2017 after holding an event in the Oval Office honouring Navajo veterans while standing in front of the portrait of Jackson — the President who signed legislation that eventually led to the “Trail of Tears.”

The Franklin portrait and a nearby moon rock set are meant to represent Biden’s interest in science.

A bronze bust of Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, created by artist Paul Suarez, was also placed on the credenza behind his desk. Chavez sought to bring awareness to the harsh conditions of farmworkers in the US and fight for better wages.

The prominent inclusion of his bust in the West Wing came the same day that Biden proposed immigration legislation that would allow undocumented farmworkers to qualify to apply for green cards immediately.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the labor leader’s granddaughter, is Biden’s director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Elizabeth Strater, spokeswoman for the United Farm Workers — a labor group Chavez helped found — told the Fresno Bee that the bust was previously on display in the Visitor Center of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in California.

Strater told the publication that Biden’s transition team worked with the Cesar Chavez Foundation to ship the piece.

Biden also prominently placed the White House collection painting “Avenue in the Rain” to the right of the seat at the Resolute Desk.

The artwork, rife for metaphors, was on display in the Oval under Trump, but switched out during his term. The oil painting, created in 1917, was also in the Oval Office during the Obama and Clinton administrations.

Though not entirely visible to television cameras, the Post reported that “busts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy flank a fireplace in the office” — in an apparent nod to their efforts in the civil rights movement.

There are also busts of Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and an Allan Houser sculpture depicting a horse and Chiricahua Apache rider. The sculpture, the Post said, once belonged to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Democrat representing Hawaii.

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Lifestyle

World Mourns Reggae icon Bunny Wailer

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Reggae maestro Bunny Wailer has passed away on Tuesday after battling an unknown illness.

The Jamaican Culture Ministry said Wailer had been hospitalized in Kingston since December. Bunny was aged 73. No cause of death has been given.

Wailer, who co-founded The Wailers with Bob Marley in the 1960s and helped make the catchy Jamaican beat a global phenomenon.

Wailer, who was born Neville Livingstone in the Nine Mile district, where Marley also came from, suffered a stroke in 2018 and another in July of last year.

He was the last surviving original member of the Wailers. Marley died of cancer in 1981, and Peter Tosh was murdered in 1987.

Wailer, who was a childhood friend of Marley, won three Grammys over the course of his career, and in 2017, he was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Merit, one of the country’s highest honours.

“We remain grateful for the role that Bunny Wailer played in the development and popularity of Reggae music across the world,” Culture Minister Olivia Grange said in a statement.

“We remember with great pride how Bunny, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh took Reggae music to the four corners of the earth,” Grange added.

Marley and Tosh acted as The Wailers’ primary singers and songwriters, but Wailer played a key role in providing harmonies and percussion to the trio’s songs, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

“The Wailers are responsible for the Wailers sound. Bob, Peter, and myself: We are totally responsible for the Wailers sound, and what the Wailers brought to the world, and left as a legacy,” Wailer told Afropop in 2016.

The band’s debut album on a major label, “Catch a Fire,” released in 1973, helped propel the group to international fame.

At one point, that record was ranked 126th on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list. The band’s biggest hits include “Simmer Down” and “One Love.”

After leaving the band in 1974, Wailer went on to enjoy a prolific solo career as a writer, producer and singer of what is perhaps Jamaica’s best-known export.

He drew much praise for his album “Blackheart Man,” which included the song “Burning Down Sentence,” which drew on Wailer’s experience doing a one-year prison sentence for marijuana possession.

“The tracks that were done in ‘Blackheart Man’ were very symbolic and significant to this whole development of reggae music,” Wailer told Reggaeville in 2017.

“I really consider ‘Blackheart Man’ to be one of those albums that the universal reggae world should be focused on,” Wailer said.

Fans in his hometown of Kingston mourned Wailer’s death Tuesday.

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Lifestyle

Father Ubald Rugirangoga’s Body Flown To Rwanda

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The remains of Father Ubald Rugirangoga have been flown back to Rwanda as family and friends prepare for burial.

The plane carrying the body of the priest touched ground at Kigali International Airport on Saturday night.

Rugirangoga  died at 65 on January 7th of complications from Covid-19. He was a Catholic priest well-known throughout Africa and often preached to congregations of more than 30,000 in Rwanda.

He died from Utah, United States where he was being treated.

According to Celestin Hakizimana, Bishop of Gikongoro Diocese and Apostolic Administrator of Cyangugu Diocese where Rugirangoga was serving, the deceased succumbed to respiratory complications.

Another Rwandan Priest Twagirumukiza Succumbs To Covid-19

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Lifestyle

Admired Ghanaian Photographer Passes On

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Emmanuel Bobbie, popularly known as Bob Pixel, was a popular Ghanaian celebrity photographer. He is no more.

It is unknown when Bob Pixel passed or the cause of his death.

The news of his death has shocked fans and followers on social media, who have been admiring his handwork for a long time.

Bob Pixel was known for his legendary talent and was always applauded for capturing stunning images across Ghana.

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