Tuesday, February 28, 2006

An illegal Mexican immigrant has pled guilty to sexually assaulting a 10 year old girl

Barbara Anderson:

The Ohio County prosecutor says an illegal Mexican immigrant was staying with a family in the county.

The victim's mother says she trusted that family and let her child spend the night at the home where the 10 year old girl was taken advantage of.

Through a translator, Diego Lopez-Mendez pleaded guilty to sexual assault in the second degree but also pleaded with the judge not to give an excessive sentence.

"In the pueblo where I grew up girls are usually married by 13 years old....I was unaware of the nature of the offense or that it was a bad crime," said Lopez through the translator.

The judge handed down the mandatory 10-25 years sentence.

The defense attorney says Lopez accepted the plea agreement fully understanding the charges and consequences.

Sex with 10 Year Old "normal"?

HIV/AIDS Rates In Tijuana, Mexico Increasing At Alarming Rate

MEXICO - Writer Who Exposed Major Child Sex Ring Fears the Worst is Yet to Come (by Diego Cevallos, IPS)

Student attacked because he is white

Sharlonda L. Waterhouse:

In a black shirt, James Tokarski, a quiet, self-professed skater boy, sits on his sofa with nowhere to go.

Terrified to return to his new school in Gary, Tokarski said he fends off nightmares and is still healing from black eyes and bruises to his back.

The 14-year-old boy claims he enrolled at Bailly Middle School Feb. 3 and has been harassed ever since.

Since then, according to the Tokarski family, James has been beaten up by groups of kids on three occasions.

He says it’s because he’s white. School officials aren’t confirming that.

They called me 'whitey,’ 'white trash,’ 'trailer park trash’ and 'hillbilly’ while they were hitting me,” James Tokarski said. The boy said he simply curled into a fetal position on the ground while he was punched with fists and kicked all over.

Another student confirmed he recently saw James “get hit in the eye by the pop machine.” “He was talking mess and couldn’t back it up,” the student said. That eighth-grader claimed James was beat up three times because he has a reputation of not fighting back and is a “softie.”

James said he didn’t want to fight back and make the attacks worse. He said he did not provoke the students.

Barbara Tokarski, James’ mom, said on her son’s second day at school — Feb. 6 — he was hit in the face in the gym after refusing to join a gang.

Then, on Feb. 15, according to Barbara and James, a group of kids assaulted him in a school hallway as he waited to enter his social studies class. He says he was knocked unconscious and had to be pulled into a classroom by a teacher.

On Feb. 22, James said he was attacked again while on the playground and also was knocked unconscious.

He said he had to be carried into the school by a group of girls.

The family has filed two police reports and has sought treatment for swellings and discoloration to the left side of James’ face at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Hobart.

The official medical report listed injuries as blunt head trauma, facial contusions and acute sinusitis.

“He’s still in pain,” the mother said. “His neck and back are really hurting a lot.”

“I was lying on the sofa bawling. I didn’t want to go back to school,” James said.

He had been a student in Portage until they learned he was using his grandmother’s address to go to that school. Barbara Tokarski said Portage officials demanded tuition, which they couldn’t afford. So, she put him in Bailly, which is within walking distance.

Barbara Tokarski said she is refusing to send her son back to Bailly because school officials, can’t keep him safe.

The consistent bullying whether racially motivated or not, flies in the face of the district’s new anti-bullying policy.

Gary Schools Public Information Specialist Charmella Greer said she spoke with Bailly Assistant Principal Lloyd Booth about the assaults. “They did happen. I gathered incident reports and confirmed two. The third — we don’t know if that happened on school grounds. There were at least two (attackers) in each encounter. We have not confirmed if these were racially motivated incidents,” Greer said.

“We have never had a history of any hate crimes or not accepting any students of other races,” she said.

One parent of a white child at the school said it is typical for the seven or eight minority students there to be called “whitey” or “white boy.”

Mom Says Race Is Factor In Son's Fights At School

Support for Denmark's anti-immigration Danish People's Party has soared in the wake of Muslim protests against cartoons of the prophet Muhammad


Backing for the DPP is up 4.9 points since elections a year ago to 18.2 percent, a poll of 1,124 Danes by Megafon for broadcaster TV2 on Feb. 23 showed. The Liberal-Conservative government's support fell 1.9 points to 37.4 percent and backing for the opposition Social Democrats fell 3.7 points to 22.1 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 1-3 percentage points.

The 11-year-old DPP, which in 2002 compared Islam to a "plague," may overtake the Social Democrats as Denmark's second- biggest party, said Roger Buch, associate professor of political science at the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus. The increase in support for the DPP may cause a dilemma for the government, which relies on DPP backing in parliament.

"We're witnessing a shift in the Danish political landscape," Buch said. "This can, without a doubt, be attributed to the whole Muhammad cartoon debate."

Muslims across the globe are protesting against cartoons of the prophet Muhammad published in the biggest daily, Jyllands-Posten, in September. Demonstrations erupted last month after a Danish Muslim delegation went to the Middle East to rally support against the government for not censuring the paper.

Pia Kjaersgaard, leader and founder of the People's Party, has said members of the delegation should be tried for treason and should lose their Danish residence permits. She has also demanded that imams sign declarations of loyalty toward Denmark.

Strains Over Immigration Unleash Anger : Danes Struggle to Deal With Populist Instincts

Why the Left doesn't blame Muslims for Muslim violence

We need a counter-balance to Islam, says Danish queen

Muslims attack taxi drivers in Denmark

Denmark Is Unlikely Front in Islam-West Culture War


Protesters burn consulate over cartoons

Guestworker Programs: Do They Make Sense for America?

WASHINGTON -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter has just circulated his version of a bill to establish a vast guestworker program that would legalize millions of illegal aliens and import an unlimited number of additional workers from abroad, in addition to unprecedented increases in legal immigration. Its passage would set the stage for a conflict with the House of Representatives, which approved a comprehensive enforcement measure in December.

Supporters of a guestworker program need to answer some important questions:

Is the Department of Homeland Security capable of properly administering such a program?

What can past legalization and guestworker programs, both here and abroad, teach us?

What will be the cost to taxpayers of importing more unskilled workers and their families, and legalizing those here illegally (thus making them eligible for more government services)?

Is the American economy truly reliant upon the labor of foreign workers?

Is there no way other than legalization to address the problem of 12 million illegal aliens?

To assess these and other questions at the very start of the Senate's guestworker deliberations, the Center for Immigration Studies will sponsor a panel discussion featuring leading experts on the economics and administration of U.S. immigration policy. The luncheon panel will convene on Friday, March 3, in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club at 12 noon, and include:

Bill King, former head of the Border Patrol Academy and administrator of the 1986 illegal-alien amnesty on the West Coast

Philip Martin, professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis, and former member of the Commission on Agricultural Workers

Steven Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies

Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. An RSVP is needed for lunch; contact John Keeley at (202) 466-8185 or jmk@cis.org.

Muslims who want to live under sharia should leave Britain

Owen Bowcott:

Muslims who wish to live under a system of sharia law should leave Britain, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality suggested yesterday.

Speaking in the wake of demonstrations against Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, Sir Trevor Phillips said those living in the UK had to accept that British values include a commitment to freedom of speech, even if that means offending people.

"What some minorities have to accept is that there are certain central things we all agree about, which are about the way we treat each other - that we have an attachment to democracy, that we sort things out by voting not by violence and intimidation, that we tolerate things that we don't like," he told ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme. "Short of people menacing and threatening each other, we have freedom of expression. We allow people to offend each other."

Sir Trevor - who stirred controversy with his attacks on multi-culturalism and calls on ethnic minorities to integrate - said a consequence of freedom of speech was that non-Muslims must accept imams' right to denounce homosexuality.

He rejected the idea that British Muslims should be allowed to live under sharia law in their communities. "I don't think that's conceivable," he said. "We have one set of laws ... and that's the end of the story. If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else." Sir Trevor said he wanted to promote a sense of "Britishness" in the UK. "One point of Britishness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is," he said.

Muslims 'must accept' free speech

Race chief defends 'precious right' to offend

Backlash against multiculturalism?

Nurse in Pakistan raped for refusal to carry out abortions

Isambard Wilkinson:

The gang rape of a nurse who refused to perform illegal abortions has outraged Pakistan and intensified calls for the repeal of its rape laws.

Rubina Kousar, 26, was attacked by three men after they burst into her lodgings at a rural health centre at Mattrai in the western Punjab last Wednesday.

Police arrested Allah Nawaz, 24, his brother Malik Riaz, 34, who has been elected as a local council leader, and a friend, Mohamed Ashraf, 25, on suspicion of rape. They deny the charges.

The case has pitted landowners, who rule their fiefdoms with impunity, against those wanting to do away with brutal practices that go unpunished in rural backwaters.

"I was constantly put under pressure over the course of six months to carry out illegal abortions on two women but I refused," said Miss Kousar. "And so revenge was taken."

Miss Kousar's job at the clinic, set among neat squares of cotton and wheat fields bordering Pakistan's western tribal belt, pays her £35 a month. Abortion is illegal in Pakistan except when the mother's life is at risk.

"The family came and harassed me but I never imagined they would do this," she said, weeping and shaking with shock.

The gang tied up the clinic's guard and then advanced on Miss Kousar's lodgings.

"They broke a panel in my bedroom door and unbolted it. One of them held a pistol to my head and threatened to kill me," she said. "Another held me down and then they took turns raping me."

Pakistan's hudood law outlaws extramarital sex and forces a rape victim to field four witnesses to prove her case. The victim can be considered a guilty party.

President Pervez Musharraf is facing increasing pressure to repeal the law, introduced by the late military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Huq, even if it antagonises radical Islamists. All the same, human rights activists fear Miss Kousar will not get a fair hearing.

The all-embracing power of the local landowner is such that cases like hers often face obstruction.

"This case is part of the feudal system. Unless we change society these cases will continue," said Riaz Hussein, of the Punjab Healthworkers' Association.

"In the past our staff have been subjected to this type of victimisation for refusing to carry out illegal abortions but they have not raised their voices for fear of retribution."

But activists are also hopeful that recent publicity given to rape crimes may change the judiciary's attitude to hudood cases. The case of Mukhtaran Mai prompted an international outcry three years ago after she testified against neighbours who allegedly gang-raped her on the orders of a council of elders.

The case is now before the supreme court, which could sentence 13 men to death.

Speaking from the local jail, the men accused of raping Miss Kousar said the charges were false.

"It is probably a conspiracy concocted by our political enemies," said Allah Nawaz. "We hope the perpetrators of the rape are bought to book."

"They have threatened my family with dire consequences if we do not settle this," said Miss Kousar. "But this is not the past when we can get pushed around. God will give me the courage to fight them."

Pakistani Nurse Raped for Refusing to Perform Abortions

Pakistan rape victim fights on

Did a controversial black comedian cause the murder of Ilan Halimi?

Yossi Lempkowicz:

Sammy Ghozlan, head of a French anti-Semitism monitoring group, has said that the speech of an “alleged comedian” influenced the killers of Ilan Halimi, the young Jewish man murdered in a Paris suburb last week.

“The tortures inflicted upon Ilan could only be perpetrated by criminals motivated by anti-Jewish hatred instigated by a certain comedian who has made headlines,” Sammy Ghozlan said in an interview with European Jewish Press.

Ghozlan made no direct reference to Dieudonne, a controversial black comedian who has been accused of repeated anti-Semitic remarks and who generated outrage among French Jews.

Dieudonne, who is of African origin, asserted that Jews had played a “central role” in the 15th-century slave trade. In December 2003 he appeared on French TV dressed as an Orthodox Jew and performed the Nazi salute while shouting “IsraHeil”.

He is to stand trial for comments made in 2003 in which he declared that Jews were “a sect, a rip-off”.

“One cannot treat a human being like Ilan was treated if one isn’t an animal with a deep anti-Jewish hatred transmitted by racist declarations,” Gozhlan added.

“This is the climate in the suburbs: hatred of the Republic, of police forces and of Jews.”

As the founder and head of the official anti-Semitism Vigilance Bureau (BVCA) that was created in 2000 to monitor anti-Semitic acts in France and collect testimonies, Ghozlan was among the first to ask police to investigate and determine whether there was an anti-Semitic motive to Halimi’s murder and whether the gang was targeting Jews.

Ghozlan said there was a shift in the character of anti-Semitism in France since mid-2005.

“The perpetrators of such acts are no longer the same people. Before they were mainly of Arab-Muslim origin who expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and as such became anti-Semites. Today we have noticed that it is no longer the same. People of African origin are also becoming quite violent,” Gozhlan, a 63-year-old former police superintendent, said.

The suburban prejudice

Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes

Halimi seduced by Iranian teen

ADL To Memorialize Parisian Man Slain By Muslim Gang

Ilan Halimi and Israel

Paris faces up to truth of brutal murder

Black women and Latinas experience the highest rates of miscarriages and newborn deaths

Angela Stewart:

To conduct their study, Healy and his fellow researchers reviewed the records of 35,529 pregnant women at 15 U.S. sites who contacted a doctor during the first trimester between 1999 and 2002. A total of 68 percent of the women were white, 22 percent were Hispanic, 5 percent were black and 5 percent were categorized as "other."

Researchers monitored pregnancy loss at three intervals -- less than 24 weeks of pregnancy, more than 24 weeks and at the time of birth.

Healy said the study did not look at how consistent women were with their prenatal visits or assess the quality of those visits, two factors he admitted could influence a woman's pregnancy.

Overall, 1.3 percent of the pregnancies ended in miscarriage or newborn death. Minorities experienced the highest rate of loss. For every 1,000 pregnancies, there were 42 pregnancy losses for blacks, 15.9 for Hispanics, 16.6 for persons classified as "other," and 10 for whites.

While blacks comprised only 5 percent of the study sample, they accounted for 16 percent of the miscarriages and infant deaths.

"We couldn't explain why minorities still had the increase in pregnancy loss," Healy said, explaining that researchers controlled for factors such as age, education and marital status.

The study did note, however, that the minority women whose records were reviewed had a higher rate of pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. They also tended to smoke more.

State's infant death rate jumps again

Gene Variant Raises SIDS Risk for Black American Infants

Will the black man become a thing of the past?

Shantee Woodards:

Benjamin Evans Jr. was outside smoking a cigarette early Saturday morning in Robinwood when he was shot and killed, making him the city's third homicide victim this year.

Last night, 23-year-old Terry Eugene Mullins Sr. was standing outside on Newtowne Drive when he was shot and wounded in an attempted robbery.

Police say the incidents are not related, but they bring the city's shooting total this year up to seven.

Mr. Evans, 25, was visiting his girlfriend and two children at their home in the 1300 block of Tyler Avenue when shots rang out at 1:24 a.m. He tried to run inside, but was hit the back with the bullet coming out through his chest, police said. He was flown to Shock Trauma Center at University Hospital in Baltimore where he later died.

City officials said they were unable to comment on the current cases because the investigation is ongoing, but they are trying to address what they see as the root of the violence plaguing some Annapolis neighborhoods.

"A lot of the young black-on-black crime I think, is related to drugs," Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said. "We've got to do better,"

Ms. Moyer said as part of the Let's Talk campaign she's formed a committee of professionals to look into illegal drug use, treatment and prevention plans within Annapolis.

She's expects a comprehensive report to be released in October.

Mr. Evans grew up in Annapolis and was a football and basketball player at Annapolis High School. At the time of his death, he was thinking about moving to Washington State for a job with a moving and storage company.

"He was a very quiet young man and he didn't bother anybody," said Torria Evans Watkins, Mr. Evans' older sister. "He was eight years younger than me, but he was more than a brother. He was a friend."

Police circulated fliers in the Robinwood area for information on Mr. Evans' killing. Police are offering a $1,000 award for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information should call (410) 268-9000. Callers can be anonymous.

The city's shooting total, which includes two homicides, accounts to about a shooting a week this year.

Police acknowledged that the shooting total is high, but they say they are doing everything they can to solve the crimes.

It is often difficult to get witnesses to report crimes to police, which makes it even more difficult, said Officer Kevin Freeman.

"These are random acts of violence," said Officer Freeman, police spokesman. "We need cooperation from the public on the shooting. Sometimes we only get one call. People don't want to get involved. The detectives have to spend their time looking for witnesses rather than having people ready to be interviewed."

Mr. Mullins told police that he was in the 700 block of Newtowne Drive talking to someone when a masked man approached him with a gun shortly after 7 p.m.

The man had a black revolver said "give me what you got," police said.

A witness heard a shot and saw the man run toward the back side of the rec center.

Mr. Mullins was hit in the right buttock. He was transported to Annapolis Middle School and then flown to Shock Trauma.

With Mr. Evans' death, witnesses told police they heard as many as 16 shots. Mr. Evans was pulled inside a home, where officers found him unresponsive. No motive has been determined. Mr. Evans' girlfriend, Demetria Watkins, and their two children - Emari Evans , 6, and Machi Benjamin Evans , 6 months, were home at the time of the shooting.

Torria Watkins said she is concerned about the growing number of shootings in the city.

"Nothing will change until we change and the community takes action," Ms. Watkins said. "It's not just Robinwood. With all the predominantly black neighborhoods, it's a war zone. Pretty soon the black man will be a thing of the past. To see an old black man you'll have to go to a museum or something."

Man found fatally shot in Annapolis housing complex

Slaying of man brings city's shooting tally to six

A boat sailing from Somalia forced all of its 137 passengers into deep waters off the Yemeni coast

BBC News:

More than 30 of the migrants have drowned. Survivors that reached shore on Monday night says dozens more, including children, are missing.

Thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians attempt to cross the Gulf of Aden each year, many hoping to reach Europe.

Fearing Yemeni coast guards, smugglers often force their passengers overboard.

The smuggling networks target migrants and asylum seekers and an estimated 100 people a day arrive in Yemen between September to March - when sailing conditions are at their best.

However, the UNHCR says the risks of the voyage are extremely high, with passengers often paying the ultimate price.

"Smugglers torture, rape and shoot their passengers if they complain. It's very dangerous," UNHCR's Peter Kessler told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Those aboard in this incident were Somalis and Ethiopians, including men, women and children.

Bodies have been washed up along the southern coast of Yemen east of Bir Ali.

"It is a sign of the fragility of the situation in Somalia and more and more Ethiopians are also opting to escape on this route," Mr Kessler says.

"It's clear that the political insecurity, especially after the election in Ethiopia, are driving more people from that country to seek asylum."

Ethiopian asylum seekers and migrants stranded in Somali port city

YEMEN: UNHCR warns of danger of illicit sea passage from Horn of Africa

Doctors in France have detected a mosquito-borne disease among people returning from the Indian Ocean region, where the virus is spreading rapidly


France's health minister has blamed "Chikungunya" fever, for which there is no known cure or vaccine, for directly or indirectly killing 77 people on the French island of La Reunion off the southeast coast of Africa.

French health officials say 157,000 people have now been infected by the disease on La Reunion, about one in five of the population.

"We have people returning from La Reunion who have symptoms of chikungunya and their diagnoses have been confirmed," Francois Bricaire, head of the infectious diseases service at Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris, told Europe 1 radio.

"It's not surprising, quite simply because of the contacts between the island of La Reunion and mainland France."

He said about 30 cases had been found by his service and it was likely that other medical services had detected cases. The disease can only spread via mosquitoes and Bricaire did not say whether the people with symptoms were confined or allowed home.

Health Minister Xavier Bertrand told Europe 1 that the mosquito, which carries the virus, could be present in southeastern France but gave no details.

The illness, which has also been found in the nearby Indian Ocean islands of the Seychelles and Mauritius, is marked by high fever and severe rashes. Most people recover although it is extremely painful.

The number of people infected in Mauritius has risen to 962 from 341 the previous week, the Mauritius government said.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is due to travel to La Reunion on Sunday. He faces growing criticism over the failure to prevent the disease spreading and said this week that the entire island should be cleared of mosquitoes.

The spread of chikungunya is likely to increase health concerns in France following confirmation of the presence of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu at a farm in the east of the country where thousands of turkeys died.

First recognized in East Africa in 1952, chikungunya leaves the immune system weak, proving opportunities for other diseases to set in. The name comes from the Swahili for stooped walk, referring to the posture of those afflicted.

La Reunion is a popular tourist destination for European travelers. The Reunion Committee on Tourism has reported tour cancellations but has not provided figures for costs incurred.

French pledge for disease island

Islamists are stifling debate in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe

Douglas Murray:

This may seem fantastic to people in Britain. But the story of Holland — which I have been charting for some years — should be noted by her allies. Where Holland has gone, Britain and the rest of Europe are following. The silencing happens bit by bit. A student paper in Britain that ran the Danish cartoons got pulped. A London magazine withdrew the cartoons from its website after the British police informed the editor they could not protect him, his staff, or his offices from attack. This happened only days before the police provided 500 officers to protect a “peaceful” Muslim protest in Trafalgar Square.

It seems the British police — who regularly provide protection for mosques (as they did after the 7/7 bombs) — were unable to send even one policeman to protect an organ of free speech. At the notorious London protests, Islamists were allowed to incite murder and bloodshed on the streets, but a passer-by objecting to these displays was threatened with detention for making trouble.

Holland — with its disproportionately high Muslim population — is the canary in the mine. Its once open society is closing, and Europe is closing slowly behind it. It looks, from Holland, like the twilight of liberalism — not the “liberalism” that is actually libertarianism, but the liberalism that is freedom. Not least freedom of expression.

All across Europe, debate on Islam is being stopped. Italy’s greatest living writer, Oriana Fallaci, soon comes up for trial in her home country, and in Britain the government seems intent on pushing through laws that would make truths about Islam and the conduct of its followers impossible to voice.

Those of us who write and talk on Islam thus get caught between those on our own side who are increasingly keen to prosecute and increasing numbers of militants threatening murder. In this situation, not only is free speech being shut down, but our nation’s security is being compromised.

Since the assassinations of Fortuyn and, in 2004, the film maker Theo van Gogh, numerous public figures in Holland have received death threats and routine intimidation. The heroic Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her equally outspoken colleague Geert Wilders live under constant police protection, often forced to sleep on army bases. Even university professors are under protection.

Europe is shuffling into darkness. It is proving incapable of standing up to its enemies, and in an effort to accommodate the peripheral rights of a minority is failing to protect the most basic rights of its own people.

The governments of Europe have been tricked into believing that criticism of a belief is the same thing as criticism of a race. And so it is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous to criticise a growing and powerful ideology within our midst. It may soon, in addition, be made illegal.

I had planned — the morning after my speech — to see Geert Wilders, but instead spent the time catching up with his staff. Their leader had been called in by the police to discuss more than 40 new death threats he had received over the previous days.

As I left the Netherlands I once again felt terrible sorrow for a country that is slowly being lost. A society which should be carefree and inspiring has become dark and worried. The jihad in Europe is winning. And Holland, and our continent, takes one step further into a dark and menacing future.

The End of Tolerance

John Derbyshire, NRO, And The Curses Of Those Who Come After

Needed: Mature, Moderate Muslims

Stand up for Denmark!

Protecting speech

About 1,800 inmates at California's San Quentin State Prison are on lockdown after a racially motivated riot

Associated Press:

Officials say about 40 Hispanic and black inmates began fighting in the exercise yard Saturday afternoon following a Black History Month event.

A prison spokesman calls it a "planned assault" by the Hispanic prisoners. One inmate was injured and at least four homemade knives were found.

Earlier this month, 16 inmates were injured in another racially motivated riot at San Quentin, in which prisoners used weapons made from razors, pens and bed springs.

More than 100 inmates have been injured and two killed in a series of racially motivated brawls this month in the Los Angeles County jail system.

Another failure of racial integration.

1 in 5 members of California's Class of 2006 can't pass a test of basic English, math and algebra

Nanette Asimov:

For a 16-year-old, Iris Padilla's resume looks pretty good: Not only is she already a senior close to completing all the credits needed to graduate from Richmond High, she's president of a Latin American culture club and is active in political and religious clubs at school. Next year, Iris wants to go to college and study psychology.

But Richmond High might not let her graduate this spring.

That's because Iris hasn't passed the exit exam, and she has only one more chance before graduation day to tackle the two-day test, on March 21-22.

Iris is one of 73,270 California high school seniors in the same pickle -- unable to fulfill a new state law requiring students to pass a test of basic English, math and algebra to graduate. That's 1 in 5 members of the state's Class of 2006, says the state Department of Education.

More than half of those who still need to pass -- 40,002 students -- are like Iris: They don't speak much English.

The question of whether to deny diplomas to otherwise qualified students is divisive, with passions high on both sides. Critics sued state educators earlier this month, challenging the legality of the exam, while the same state educators say they are acting in the best interests of students.

"I need a diploma," said Iris, a chestnut-haired girl who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the Mexican state of Jalisco. "I want it. I deserve it. I've been going to school and studying. I want to have a profession."

Iris said all of this in Spanish. She returned to California in 2004 after the grandmother she'd been living with in Mexico died. Now she lives with her Spanish-speaking mother in an apartment near Richmond High in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Iris' English is so iffy that pronouncing the words makes her blush. When pressed, she easily identified a shrimp but was stumped by a spoon. Asked by a reporter to write something in English, Iris crafted several simple sentences, including, "I was born in the United States," and "I think that the exit exam is innecesary."

Critics Say Calif. Exam Hurts Immigrants

Students, parents file lawsuit over California exit exam

More Latina immigrants are being infected with HIV/AIDS, often by husbands or boyfriends

Anna Gorman:

The number of illegal Mexican and Central American immigrants with HIV or AIDS is unknown, in part because researchers rarely ask about immigration status.

But studies of Latinas in general indicate that more and more are being infected with HIV, often by husbands or boyfriends secretly using injection drugs or having sex with other men.

"Latina women are not aware of what their sex partners are involved in," said Juan Ruiz, chief of HIV/AIDS Epidemiology for California's Office of AIDS.

The rate of HIV infection among Latinas in California is about twice the rate among white women. Most are infected by heterosexual partners, according to the Office of AIDS.

Much attention has been paid in recent years to the plight of black women, who make up the largest percentage of women in the state with HIV and AIDS. But Latinas are not far behind. At the end of June 2005, about 30% of all women with HIV were Latina, compared with 36% African American.

Like many black women, Latinas often do not discover they are HIV-positive until they or their partners become ill, so they fail to benefit from early treatment.

Once their condition is diagnosed, Latinas often keep it a secret — even from their own families.

"They don't know how to tell their children," said Evelyn Renderos, who works at the AIDS Service Center in Pasadena. "They don't talk about it."

Among immigrants, the disease often is not well understood and carries a huge stigma, in part because of religious and cultural views on homosexuality, and limited sex education.

Even when Latinas suspect their husbands or boyfriends of drug use or unfaithfulness, researchers say, they often don't ask questions. Many defer to their mates or are dependent, emotionally or economically, on them.

"When you can't imagine being on your own, you are more likely to justify or put up with or ignore behaviors," said Britt Rios-Ellis, director of the Center for Latino Community Health at Cal State Long Beach.

HIV/AIDS among Hispanics


Blond hair originated around 11,000 years ago

Roger Dobson:

THE modern gentleman may prefer blondes. But new research has found that it was cavemen who were the first to be lured by flaxen locks.

According to the study, north European women evolved blonde hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males.

The study argues that blond hair originated in the region because of food shortages 10,000-11,000 years ago. Until then, humans had the dark brown hair and dark eyes that still dominate in the rest of the world. Almost the only sustenance in northern Europe came from roaming herds of mammoths, reindeer, bison and horses. Finding them required long, arduous hunting trips in which numerous males died, leading to a high ratio of surviving women to men.

Lighter hair colours, which started as rare mutations, became popular for breeding and numbers increased dramatically, according to the research, published under the aegis of the University of St Andrews.

Human hair and eye colour are unusually diverse in northern and eastern Europe (and their) origin over a short span of evolutionary time indicates some kind of selection,” says the study by Peter Frost, a Canadian anthropologist. Frost adds that the high death rate among male hunters “increased the pressures of sexual selection on early European women, one possible outcome being an unusual complex of colour traits.”

Frost’s theory, to be published this week in Evolution and Human Behavior, the academic journal, was supported by Professor John Manning, a specialist in evolutionary psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. “Hair and eye colour tend to be uniform in many parts of the world, but in Europe there is a welter of variants,” he said. “The mate choice explanation now being put forward is, in my mind, close to being correct.”

Frost’s theory is also backed up by a separate scientific analysis of north European genes carried out at three Japanese universities, which has isolated the date of the genetic mutation that resulted in blond hair to about 11,000 years ago.

The hair colour gene MC1R has at least seven variants in Europe and the continent has an unusually wide range of hair and eye shades. In the rest of the world, dark hair and eyes are overwhelmingly dominant.

Just how such variety emerged over such a short period of time in one part of the world has long been a mystery. According to the new research, if the changes had occurred by the usual processes of evolution, they would have taken about 850,000 years. But modern humans, emigrating from Africa, reached Europe only 35,000-40,000 years ago.

Instead, Frost attributes the rapid evolution to how they gathered food. In Africa there was less dependence on animals and women were able to collect fruit for themselves. In Europe, by contrast, food gathering was almost exclusively a male hunter’s preserve. The retreating ice sheets left behind a landscape of fertile soil with plenty of grass and moss for herbivorous animals to eat, but few plants edible for humans. Women therefore took on jobs such as building shelters and making clothes while the men went on hunting trips, where the death rate was high.

The increase in competition for males led to rapid change as women struggled to evolve the most alluring qualities. Frost believes his theory is supported by studies which show blonde hair is an indicator for high oestrogen levels in women.

Peter Frost on the evolution of blondness

Desolate Landscapes: Ice-Age Settlement in Eastern Europe

Peter Frost

Blondes Have Deeper Roots

The Blonde Wars

Why do gentlemen prefer blondes?

Blonde extinction risk overstated

The war against blondes

Is Hinduism indigenous to India?

Dienekes Pontikos:

There is of course no new DNA evidence that Hinduism developed indigenously. The latest studies suggest that Indians are of largely indigenous origin, but that does not mean that their religion is. Hinduism is a blend of many elements, and the contribution of local elements in it should be acknowledged and celebrated, but the binding thread is the religion of the Vedic Indo-Aryans, Sanskrit, and the Brahmin caste.

The latest research actually reinforces the Aryan Invasion Theory. According to that theory, the caste system is not a simple "division of labor" as the revisionists would suggest, but rather a social structure imposed by an intrusive group. A prediction of that theory is that the upper caste in the Hindu system would carry a greater genetic legacy of non-South Asian ancestry. This prediction is supported by current evidence.

The indigenist school must explain why Brahmins are more "West Eurasian" genetically, if they were just assigned this role in a grand within-India "division of labor". A more parsimonious explanation is that they are more "West Eurasian" genetically because, well, their ancestors came from West Eurasia.

Moreover, the "division of labor" theory could accommodate exogenous origins for some Indian castes, but it does not explain why the elite group also happens to coincide with the exogenous group, namely the Brahmin caste. A more parsimonious explanationis that the elite group is also the exogenous group, because a group of outsiders took control of Indian society and placed themselves on top.

Lack of perspective

Groups seeking textbook revisions

Panel resists textbook changes

Textbook proposals rankle some Hindus

Friday, February 24, 2006

Impact of racial genetic polymorphism on the probability of finding an HLA-matched donor

PG Beatty:

As successful organ or marrow transplantation correlates with the degree of HLA-compatibility between patient and donor, registries have been developed to facilitate matching. However, racial minority groups have a lower chance of finding a match. We evaluate the impact of the biology of racial genetic polymorphism upon the probability of finding an HLA match for patients of different racial groups. The National Marrow Donor Program has compiled the HLA types of 20,449 patients and 1,625,159 potential volunteer donors. These HLA types were used to estimate the probability of finding an HLA-matched donor for patients of different racial groups. We estimated the HLA haplotype frequencies for different races, and then determined the probability of finding matched donors, given several hypothetical registry sizes. We confirmed that patients of minority races searching the current National Marrow Donor Program registry have low probabilities of finding matches. This was only partly due to the smaller number of donors from these racial minorities, as the observation persisted even when hypothetical donor registry sizes were the same for all racial groups. We demonstrate that African-Americans are more polymorphic with respect to HLA, and are hence less likely to find donors at any given registry size. An increase in the recruitment of minority racial groups for organ and marrow donors will only partially alleviate the problem of equal access to HLA matches for patients belonging to racial minority groups. It will therefore be important to attempt to improve methods for transplantation using HLA-mismatched donors.

Fads and Fallacies In The Name Of "Race Does Not Exist"

Common West African HLA antigens are associated with protection from severe malaria

Illegal immigrant allies threaten children of border security group

Amanda B. Carpenter:

Casa de Maryland, a taxpayer funded group that assists illegal immigrants, has made a public threat to the children of the grassroots Minuteman Civil Defense Corps that have made headlines since last fall monitoring day labor centers in the Washington DC area.

An article published yesterday by the Sean Sands of Maryland Community Newspapers Online quoted Casa de Maryland’s Executive Director Gustavo Torres saying “We are going to picket their houses, and the schools of their kids and go to their work. If they are going to do this to us, we are going to respond in the same way, to let people know their neighbors are extremists, that they are anti-immigrant. They are going to hear from us.”

The Minutemen have been photographing contractors picking up illegal aliens for work at the Wheaton day laborer center in Maryland spurring conflict with the illegal immigrant supporters.

Casa de Maryland, according to their own website, was “designed to address the multiple conditions of poverty and disenfranchisement that control the lives of many Latino immigrants and refugees“ and “achieves its goals through programs in areas such as leadership, organizing, women's empowerment, tenant support, employment, legal services, health, education, social services, and immigration assistance.”

Casa de Maryland offers an email and phone number where someone can coordinate potential employers with “experts in construction, carpentry, landscaping, babysitting, housekeeping, painting tiling, moving, odd jobs and more.” Casa de Maryland claims to have placed approximately 5,760 men and women in different daily, temporary and permanent job settings in 2004.

The group's website states Casa de Maryland has partnered with Clark Construction, Allentuck Landscaping Company and AFL-CIO to provide those seeking employment with jobs.

From Casa de Maryland’s 2004-2005 annual statement the Minuteman Civil Defense Press Corps found 51% of the groups $2.7 million came directly from grants issued on behalf of Montgomery County.

In response to the threats, Minuteman Civil Defense Corps President Chris Simcox said, “Threatening children like this is outrageous. Casa de Maryland’s funding should be pulled and its contracts cancelled. It is beyond belief that taxpayer dollars are funding this thuggish behavior."

Taxpayer Funded Casa De Maryland Threatens Children of Minutemen

Minutemen announce April border campaign

The 'Racist' Slur

Lawmaker seeks border forces

Lou Dobbs Defends Fire on Illegals

Black genes, white genes and mixed-race twins

Lucy Laing:

Kylie with partner Remi and daughters Remee and Kian

When Kylie Hodgson gave birth to twin daughters by caesarean section, she was just relieved that they had arrived safely.

It was only when the midwife handed them over for her to hold that she noticed the difference between them.

Remee, who weighed 5lb 15oz, was blonde and fair skinned. Her sister Kian, born a minute later weighing 6lb, was black.

"It was a shock when I realised that my twins were two different colours," said Kylie, 19. "But it doesn't matter to us - they are just our two gorgeous little girls."

The amazing conception happened after two eggs were fertilised at the same time in the womb.

Both Kylie and her partner Remi Horder, 17, are of mixed race. Their mothers are both white and their fathers are black.

According to the Multiple Births Foundation, baby Kian must have inherited the black genes from both sides of the family, whilst Remee inherited the white ones.

Kylie, from Nottingham, discovered she was pregnant in the summer of 2004 and a scan at the Queen's Medical Centre revealed that twins were on the way.

"It was a shock at first to discover I was expecting as we hadn't been trying for a family," she said I had my 14-week scan and the sonographer ran the scanner over my stomach and announced that I was carrying twins.

"We couldn't believe it. Neither of us could take our eyes off the scanner - you could just see two of everything, even the outline of their little noses. We were both overwhelmed."

The twins were born by caesarean in April last year because one of the girls was lying in an awkward position in the womb.

"I didn't see them at first," added their mother. "They were both whisked away to be checked over and then the midwife came back and placed them both in my arms.

"I noticed that both of them had beautiful blue eyes, but whilst Remee was blonde, Kian's hair was black and she had darker skin.

"It seemed strange, but I was feeling so ill that I didn't really take it in at that stage."

The next day she mentioned the colour difference to her mother, who told her that Remee's skin would darken as she grew older.

But as the weeks passed, Remee became lighter still while Kian went darker. And while Remee's eyes stayed blue, Kian's turned brown.

"There are some similarities between them," said their mother. "They both love apples and grapes, and their favourite television programme is Teletubbies.

"If they haven't seen each other for a few hours, they are so pleased to see each other and will hold out their arms, wanting to hug each other. And their smiles just light up their faces.

"I'll explain it all to them when they get older about why they look so different."

The odds against of a mixed race couple having twins of dramatically different colour are a million to one.

Skin colour is believed to be determined by up to seven different genes working together.

If a woman is of mixed race, her eggs will usually contain a mixture of genes coding for both black and white skin.

Similarly, a man of mixed race will have a variety of different genes in his sperm. When these eggs and sperm come together, they will create a baby of mixed race.

But, very occasionally, the egg or sperm might contain genes coding for one skin colour. If both the egg and sperm contain all white genes, the baby will be white. And if both contain just the versions necessary for black skin, the baby will be black.

For a mixed-race couple, the odds of either of these scenarios is around 100 to one. But both scenarios can occur at the same time if the woman conceives non-identical twins, another 100 to one chance.

This involves two eggs being fertilised by two sperm at the same time, which also has odds of around 100 to one.

If a sperm containing all-white genes fuses with a similar egg and a sperm coding for purely black skin fuses with a similar egg, two babies of dramatically different colours will be born.

The odds of this happening are 100 x 100 x 100 - a million to one.

"Black" and "white" twins

A network of crime "schools" in Britain helps illegal immigrants survive outside the law

Paul Whitehouse:

A NETWORK of illicit crime "colleges" where illegal immigrants have learned how to survive outside the law has been unearthed during a police investigation in Sheffield.

Officers are now working to try to trace the people responsible for operating three houses where failed asylum seekers were instructed in techniques to obtain money and services which were not officially obtainable.

So far they have been unable to establish who was responsible for operating the three addresses or why they were established, but the assumption is that they were set up to make a profit in some form.

Police also suspect they may be part of a wider network spanning other major cities because many of the immigrants found to be linked to the Sheffield addresses had arrived in England at airports in different parts of the country and had no obvious reason to gravitate towards the city.

The discovery was made as a result of a police investigation into a sudden surge in pickpocketing offences at two locations in the city centre, the Peace Gardens and the Castle Market area.

Descriptions given by many victims were similar and the work culminated in a series of 150 stop checks on people in the street, which revealed almost two-thirds were either awaiting asylum decisions, had applications to stay in this country rejected or had simply entered the UK illegally.

Interviews with those led police back to three addresses, on the Arbourthorne and Manor estates.

Initially, officers believed they were simply used as temporary accommodation but they uncovered evidence that those staying there were being taught how to survive without state help.

The police operation was painstaking because of language difficulties.

However, the investigators are satisfied they have not yet found those who were responsible for setting up the addresses and work to trace them was continuing last night.

Officers have traced two businesses which were employing illegal immigrants, however.


Illegal immigrant jailed for fatal knifing

Refugee faces jail for shoplifting

A senior member of Australia's government has suggested Muslims who do not uphold the country's values should be stripped of their citizenship

Phil Mercer:

Remarks by Finance Minister Peter Costello, at a conference in Sydney, have sparked anger among leaders of Australia's Islamic community.

They have insisted his comments were divisive and inflammatory.

Mr Costello said migrants who did not respect Australia's laws and traditions should lose their citizenship.

He singled out the Muslim community and said it had a responsibility to uphold Australian values.

He insisted those people that did not were no longer welcome.

Mr Costello said his remarks were directed at a "small radical minority" and that his message had to be "clear and unequivocal".

His speech comes at a time when racial tensions here are still simmering after the disturbances in Sydney last December.

Following an assault on two white coastguards, attacks by white gangs on people of Middle Eastern appearance sparked a bloody feud with young Lebanese Australians.

Islamic leaders have accused Peter Costello of deliberately whipping up more fear and religious hatred.

They have claimed it is further evidence that the government is no longer committed to multi-culturalism.

There has been support for the treasurer's position from Pauline Hanson.

The former right wing politician caused uproar a decade ago when she insisted that Australia was in danger of being overrun by migrants from Asia.

There has been backing too for Mr Costello from his boss, the prime minister.

John Howard was criticised earlier this week for controversial remarks he made about Muslims.

The veteran leader said he was convinced that migrants with extreme views were intent on committing violence here in the name of Islam.

'Shari'a Law Has No Place Here'

D.A. John Morganelli said the recent Easton homicides are evidence of an alarming trend of young minorities becoming victims and assailants

Bevin Milavsky:

Erick Casimir, 22, of Easton, was gunned down Tuesday night in the first block of South 11th Street, making him the second homicide victim in Easton in the past two weeks and the third in the area this year.

Morganelli noted in every case this year, the victim was black.

"We've lost three young, black kids. Now we have another young, black kid dead," he said. "These are young kids who are becoming the victims of gun violence, and it's black-on-black crime."

Earlier this week Morganelli announced former Easton police detective Barry Golazeski as the new anti-gang official in the county. Police have said the Spring Garden Street shooting may be linked to gang activity.

Morganelli said gangs perpetuate not only violence but racial separation. He said he is concerned about all violence, not just gang-related incidents.

Morganelli wants to unite law enforcement with area organizations that can reach out to local youth and get them off the streets.

"We need to try to work with the NAACP and some of the black churches to get the message out to the young people," he said. "Unfortunately, these are a lot of the people who are lower income. The kids see glorified things about gangs on TV. Some of them don't have strong leadership at home."

One man dead, second charged with murder

Residents say drugs, gangs to blame

Deadly Shooting Marks Easton's Third Murder

Quick arrest follows fatal Easton shooting

Morganelli wants strike force to focus on gangs

DA sends a message: Get gangs off region's streets

Easton boy, 14, is charged with homicide in shooting

Chicago police say a man who was shot and seriously wounded was a known street gang member and may have been the target of a planned assassination

Associated Press:

Coy Freeman

Twenty-nine year-old Coy Freeman was reported in critical condition late last night at Stroger Hospital.

Police say two of Freeman's children were also wounded by bullets that passed through their father's body, but their injuries were only minor. Two other children who were in the car at the time of the shooting yesterday morning were not injured.

Officers say Freeman was a known member of the Mickey Cobras street gang and had recently been released from the Cook County Jail after police dropped drug charges against him.

Kids caught in 'targeted assassination'

Father, 2 of his kids, shot

A murder inquiry has been launched by officers from Operation Trident following a shooting in Thornton Heath, London

Ian Austen:

Trident, which concentrates on black-on-black gun crime, is investigating the death of 35-year-old Norman Delopp at an address in Princess Road last Thursday.

A post mortem revealed that Mr Delopp died from a gunshot wound to the back.

Police were called to the house at around 9pm and Mr Delopp was taken to Mayday Hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 9.45pm.

Two men were arrested shortly afterwards, with one, aged 34, later being released on police bail until early March and the other, aged 18, remaining under arrest at a London hospital.

Man charged over fatal gun attack

Black community urged to help in murder probe

Shopkeepers' horror as teenager is shot by gang

Man sought over pub murder of dad who protected woman

Toronto police have issued a composite sketch of a suspect in the hopes of solving a shooting death

Paul Choi:

Toronto police have released a composite sketch of a suspect in the hopes of solving a shooting murder that happened on city streets last summer. They say this man lives in the east end of the city.

On Sunday, May 8, 2005, Sasha Bailey, 22, was with several acquaintances outside a Pizza Pizza restaurant near Danforth and Pape Aves. when he became involved in an argument with a number of unknown males, police said.

Shots were fired and Bailey was struck and killed.

At a news conference this morning, Toronto police homicide detectives unveiled a composite sketch of a suspect nicknamed “Woo” in the hopes that anyone with information will come forward.

“We first asked the witnesses who were present at the time to come forward with any information, but unfortunately we received very little information,” said Det. Bill Vieira of Toronto police’s homicide squad.

“Recently, (Toronto police) made several arrests in relation to firearm-related offences. Information has been released from some of those arrests.

"That has all resulted in individuals coming forward with relation to this murder and that’s how we were able to come up with this person of interest.”

Police say the suspect is known to reside in the “east end of the city,” in the Scarborough area. He is described as male, with a dark complexion, 5'8", approximately 160 lbs., with a medium build, brown eyes, and black hair worn in cornrows.

While police suspect the man of having connections to firearms, Vieira would not say whether or not the suspect is affiliated with a specific gang or group.

“The impression I get is that people will know this individual,” he said. “And I’m hoping that…people will look at (the composite), recognize the face, and recognize the nickname and contact us and give us that information.”

Chants For Change

Snapshots of a deadly year

At 5:19 p.m., Yonge stood still

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's decision to appoint an official from the Nation of Islam to a hate crimes commission is raising some concerns

Associated Press:

Blagojevich picked Claudette Marie Muhammad to serve on The Governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes.

She's chief of protocol for the Nation of Islam -- which is led by Louis Farrakhan, who's been accused of making anti-Semitic comments.

Also on the commission is Lonnie Nasatir of the Anti-Defamation League.

Nasatir said he isn't judging Muhammad, but he's concerned because of her connection to the Nation of Islam.

The governor's office said it stands behind her appointment.

Spokeswoman Cheryle Jackson said the commission's goal is to have people of different backgrounds work together to fight discrimination.

Farrakhan adviser on gov's hate crime panel

Governor's appointment of Nation of Islam official draws criticism

London's Mayor Ken Livingstone has been suspended for a month for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard

Peter Graff:

A three-person panel which hears complaints against local authorities ruled in a case brought by a Jewish group that Livingstone, 60, had brought his office into disrepute.

It ordered him suspended for four weeks from March 1.

"Three members of a body that no one has ever elected should not be allowed to overturn the votes of millions of Londoners," Livingstone said in a statement.

"This decision strikes at the heart of democracy. Elected politicians should only be able to be removed by the voters or for breaking the law."

He added he was discussing with lawyers whether to appeal.

The suspension came as a surprise: the mayor, one of Britain's most colorful and popular politicians, could have faced up to a five year ban on holding public office, but British media were expecting at most a public rebuke.

Board stitch-up Ken

British Jews welcome Irving sentencing

The Plot to Stigmatize "51 Documents" on Amazon.com

Top Jewish group 'terror' apology

Leave Ken Alone

Viva Free Speech: Just Dont Upset The Jews!

Congolese flee rape and murder by taking refuge on floating islands

David Lewis:

Thousands of civilians have taken refuge on floating islands in the lakes of Congo's Katanga province to escape rape and murder by government and militia fighters, a top U.N. humanitarian official said on Thursday.

Some 120,000 people have fled their homes in the remote Mitwaba area, where hundreds of women have been raped during fighting between the army and former pro-government militiamen that U.N. peacekeepers are unable to control, he added.

Congo is staggering towards elections, due later this year, but fighting continues in Katanga and elsewhere in the lawless east, where minerals are plentiful and gunmen continue to roam, nearly three years after the war was officially declared over.

Daniel Augstburger, the head of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Congo, said many people had taken refuge on islands formed by clumps of papyrus plants floating on lakes in Katanga's Upemba National Park.

"In and around Upemba there are thousands of people living on floating islands because it is the only place they feel safe," he said. "There is systematic sexual violence. Hundreds of women have been treated for rape."

He said it was difficult to know exactly how many rapes there had been as many women were afraid to come forward.

Local militias in the southern mining province of Katanga were originally armed by the government in Kinshasa to fight against Rwandan-backed rebels during Congo's five year war.

Since the war officially ended in 2003, some of the gunmen, rag-tag fighters known as Mai Mai who anoint themselves with potions they believe make them invincible, have been integrated into Congo's new army.

Others, however, have turned their guns on the population.

At the end of last year, government forces launched attacks on the Mai Mai, vowing to put an end to their reign of terror and allow elections to be held.

But, as with most units in Congo's army, which is supposed to unite former government forces and rebels, the soldiers are ill-disciplined, seldom paid and poorly fed.

"Both sides are living off the backs of the population -- there is total impunity. There are attacks, murders, mutilation and pillaging," Augstburger said.

"There are now more than 120,000 who are displaced in Mitwaba," an area 400 km (250 miles) north of the Lubumbashi, the capital of copper-rich Katanga.

Congo is home to some 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers, making it the world body's largest peacekeeping mission. But they are spread thinly across the vast country and just several hundred have been deployed to Katanga, which is the size of France.

Humanitarian crises elsewhere in the Congo, where aid workers say fighting and war-related hunger and disease kill 1,000 people a day, mean there are also only a handful of organisations looking after Katanga's displaced.

"We are trying to get more humanitarian actors into Katanga," Augstburger said. "Congo provides us with an enormous list of crises. We can't be everywhere as we don't have unlimited resources."

Due to the severity of the crisis, which is compounded by drought in some parts of Katanga and the plundering by gunmen of what little food stocks civilians had, the U.N. has begun transporting food into Mitwaba by helicopter.

International organisations this month launched a $681 million appeal to help ease the humanitarian crisis in the Congo, which has been called the deadliest since World War Two and has killed an estimated 4 million people since 1998.

UN peacekeeper sex abuse still 'unacceptably high'

38,000 people dying every month in continuing conflict

Report shows DR Congo rape horror

“Not Women Anymore…”

In War-Riddled Congo, Militias Rape with Impunity

A New York-based dancer has contracted respiratory anthrax, apparently after inhaling spores from raw animal hides that he collected in Africa

BBC News:

Diomande is thought to have inhaled spores while treating skins

Vado Diamande is in hospital in a stable condition after collapsing during a performance in the state of Pennsylvania last week.

Diomande, 44, is said to be a skilled drum tuner, and had recently travelled to Africa to collect skins.

Local officials ruled out terrorism and denied any public health threat.

"There is no chance of transmission occurring," Pennsylvania Health Department spokesman Troy Thompson told students at Mansfield University, where the performance took place.

Five people died when several anthrax-laced letters were sent to US public figures in 2001, weeks after the 11 September attacks. The case remains unsolved.

Correspondents say inhalation anthrax has a 75% fatality rate, even with antibiotics.

But the Associated Press news agency quoted friends as saying Diomande was doing "better than expected".

He is thought to have inhaled anthrax spores while treating the hides, though it is not clear whether infection occurred in Africa or the US.

Friends of the dancer told the New York Times newspaper he had been "deathly ill" with a skin condition in 2003 - also possibly anthrax - but somehow survived.

Investigators have been testing hides for contamination at his apartment in the Greenwich Village area of New York City.

Born in the Ivory Coast, Diomande has been dancing since the age of four. He runs a New York-based company performing traditional West African dance and percussion.

His routines include frenetic dancing on stilts while wearing a mask, in which he is said to portray a forest spirit, forming a bridge between his ancestors and the living.

But friends say he is also renowned for his skills with percussion, and is frequently sent drums for tuning by other African performers.

Was Anthrax Victim Infected In Africa Or USA?

Anthrax list adds 3

Experts baffled by case

A Wider Inquiry, as More People Get Antibiotics and 2nd Apartment Is to Be Checked

Seven Tied to N.Y. Anthrax Patient Treated

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his wife, after he was caught having sex with the animal

BBC News:

The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders.

They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi.

"We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said.

Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat.

"When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up".

Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case.

"They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.

Girl Weds Dog to Ward Off 'Evil Eye'

Foreigners live in fear of Russian skinheads

Oliver Bullough:

Russia‘s small Cameroonian community was shocked and saddened, but not surprised, when fellow citizen Kanhem Leon was murdered by racists. They know the danger of violence is ever present.

Simon Samba Samba, the Cameroon Embassy‘s second secretary, says he always advises new arrivals not to walk around on their own and to avoid places where skinheads hunt foreigners.

"When people came here to study in communist times, it was not like this. But now people are poor and drunk. Maybe they are not happy and they attack our lads on the street," he said.

A series of random racist murders, like that of 28-year-old Leon late last year and other foreign students in Moscow and elsewhere, have forced the issue into the headlines.

Last month, a man shouting "Heil Hitler" wounded eight people in a knife attack on a Moscow synagogue, and attacks on immigrants are so common that they rarely make the press.

President Vladimir Putin has responded by calling racism an "infection" and ordered police to take steps to crush it. But experts say its roots are deep in demoralized post-Soviet society and will not be easy to pull out.

The skinheads, they say, are like a mixture of neo-Nazis and soccer hooligans grafted onto the casual racism that the Soviet Union concealed under its communist rhetoric.

"Our ideology is racism above all. We don‘t like Tajiks, Armenians, Jews -- we don‘t like anyone of a different race," said one self-declared skinhead in an interview with Reuters.

The man calls himself Tesak (machete) -- "because I like knives" -- and wears big black boots and a short, padded jacket.

"At the moment in Russia we‘re not very organized, there is no single leader. We just have groups of five or 10 people who go out to kill Armenians, Chinese, Tajiks," he said.

His group Format 18 -- the numbers one and eight represent the initials of Adolf Hitler -- posts videos of its attacks on its Web site. One clip shows a group of young, muscular men in their uniform of jeans and boots beating a Tajik trader in a market before it ends with the slogan of "White Power."

Most Russians strongly disapprove of such assaults, but opinion polls suggest passive racism is widespread.

Foreign visitors to Russia are often shocked by casual racist language and behavior that has long been taboo in their own societies.

Late last year, polling firm Levada Center said 53 percent of 1,600 respondents supported the phrase "Russia for the Russians," while the numbers supporting a limit on immigration were markedly higher than the year before.

Some political groups have flirted with racism, and the Rodina (Motherland) party was barred from Moscow elections last year for a campaign advertisement that said "let‘s clean the city of rubbish" over pictures of immigrants from the Caucasus.

A demonstration organized by the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) in November saw around 5,000 marching under banners of "Russia for the Russians" and "Russia, forwards."

Protests arranged by pro-Western liberals would be lucky to attract a tenth of that number.

"We have lived here for thousands of years, and why should we share what is ours with people who have only just arrived," said DPNI spokesman Alexander Belov.

"White migration has always brought progress, but you can not call what is happening now progress -- millions of immigrants from Tajikistan or China who have never even held electric tools do not bring progress."

There are no precise figures for the level of immigration into Russia. But millions of people from the impoverished ex-Soviet states have moved here in search of work.

Tajiks, Uzbeks, Armenians and Azeris are often highly visible since they work as taxi drivers or in markets.

Many young Africans and Asians come to study in Russian universities, which offer a high-quality education relatively cheaply. Moscow was a major center for students from the developing world during communist years, when the Soviet Union used free education to win friends and influence.

Economists say immigration is necessary to offset the decline in Russia‘s population, which is falling by around 750,000 a year, but experts say there is no sign ethnic Russians are getting any happier about it.

Tesak‘s shaved head and clothes makes him look like an extremist on society‘s fringe, but he is a qualified engineer and not as easily sidelined as drunken soccer hooligans.

"Tesak is the future of the skinhead movement. He is clever and confident, he doesn‘t take drugs or drink. You can only kill him, you can never make him abandon his ideas," said Sergei Belikov, a lawyer who works with skinheads and has written three books on the phenomenon.

"This is becoming a middle class movement ... It has become a national idea when nothing else is left. Teachers have become market traders, doctors have become bums, but they can all say at least they are white and European."

Parliament promises new laws that would, among other things, make Web sites like Tesak‘s illegal. But Cameroon‘s Samba Samba said there was a lack of will to really crack down.

"We do not think the government is doing enough. If someone is killed, the culprit must be found and convicted ... they have still not found (Leon‘s) killers and this is sad. If they wanted to find them, they could do it in two days," he said.

Until more of an effort is made, Belikov said even the precautions Cameroon urges on its citizens are not enough.

"Basically, I would advise Africans and Asians not to come to Russia, there is nothing good for them here," he said.

Living with race hate in Russia

The suspected leader of a gang that tortured and killed a young Jewish man in Paris has been arrested in the Ivory Coast

Philippe Naughton:

The French Government is confident of the speedy extradition of Youssef Fofana from the Ivory Coast

The murder of Ilan Halimi, 23, has infuriated France's Jewish leaders, who complained that police and authorities deliberately played down his kidnappers' anti-Semitic motives for fear of alienating French Muslims.

M Halimi, a mobile phone salesman, was kidnapped in January after being lured into a honeytrap and was then held for three weeks on an immigrant estate south of Paris while the gang demanded ransom payments from his parents.

He was discovered ten days ago near a suburban train station, lying naked, handcuffed, gagged and covered in burns and torture marks but died on the way to hospital.

President Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, his Prime Minister, are to attend a memorial service for the murdered man at the main Paris synagogue. Both men have promised that M Halimi's killers will be tracked down and punished.

The gang's suspected leader, Youssouf Fofana, a Frenchman of Ivorian origin, fled to Ivory Coast shortly after the killing, where he was tracked down and arrested.

M de Villepin said today that M Fofana could be extradited "within hours", although prosecutors in Paris and Abidjan said that it might take a week to complete the extradition process.

So far 13 members or suspected associates of the gang, which called itself "the Barbarians", have been arrested, including the concierge of the building where Halimi was held.

Police initially denied any racial aspect to the Halimi murder, even though the same gang was thought to have tried to kidnap six other Paris residents, four of them Jewish.

On Monday, however, investigators added racial hatred to the kidnapping and murder charges faced by the suspects.

The kidnappers are alleged to have referred to M Halimi’s Jewish background in their telephone and e-mail demands to the family for ransom, and one of the young torturers was reported by accomplices to have stubbed out a cigarette on M Halimi’s forehead while voicing his hatred for Jews.

One intended victim, a 50-year-old Jewish man identified as Michael, told how he had been lured to an estate and knocked out with a blow to the head from a pistol butt. He had been saved after residents called police, but spent a week in hospital.

According to unconfirmed reports in the Jewish community of Paris, at least one family has recently paid a ransom for the release of a kidnapped child.

Ruth Halimi said that her son might still be alive had the police not evaded the nature of his kidnapping as they were negotiating over ransom.

"We told the police that there had been at least three other attempted abductions of young Jews, but they persisted in considering the motives purely criminal because they are afraid of reviving a clash with the Muslims," she said.

French denial

'Gang leader' held in Africa after murder of kidnapped Jew

Extradition for 'kidnap gang boss'

An enraged father stabbed to death his 14-year-old daughter's 27-year-old boyfriend after the man said he wanted to take her to Mexico

Associated Press:

Efrain Ramos, 38, and two other people were arrested Tuesday for investigation of murder in the killing of Anselmo Sanchez-Reyes, whose body remained unidentified for a week after it was found.

"It's a very interesting case," LAPD homicide detective Mike Coffey said.

The victim's body didn't have any identification when it was found Feb. 12 on a North Hollywood street. Three days later, a Van Nuys resident reported his brother was missing, and police identified him as Sanchez-Reyes.

Police learned he often drank with Ramos and Ramos' sister, Maria, who told investigators neither she nor her brother were happy that Sanchez-Reyes was dating the girl.

Authorities allege that Sanchez-Reyes was stabbed to death while he and Efrain Ramos fought in the Ramos' apartment.

Efrain Ramos, Maria Ramos, 29, and a family friend, Dolores Gomez, 27, were arrested for investigation of murder. The women allegedly helped remove Sanchez-Reyes' body from the apartment and put it in a vehicle.

Efrain Ramos is being held without bail, while the women are being held on $1 million bail each.

Suspect in Deputy's Slaying Is Arrested

Women prefer men with masculine voices, especially during their fertile phase

BBC News:

They like men with dominant voices as they are thought to indicate long-term health and higher reproductive success.

It follows research findings that women during their fertile phase prefer men with more masculine faces.

However, the researchers found that when not fertile, women were more likely to be attracted to a more feminine voice signalling a more caring man, more likely to invest in a long-term relationship.

Researchers said only attractive, feminine women did not vary preference over the menstrual cycle, possibly because they may find it easier to establish a long-term relationship with men with deep voices, indicative of high levels of testosterone.

Dr David Feinberg, St Andrews University researcher, said: "We already know male vocal attractiveness is highly related to masculinity and men with attractive voices have more mating success than men with unattractive voices.

"We asked women to assess attractiveness and dominance of voices across the menstrual cycle and predicted that preference for masculinity in men's voices would be stronger when conception risk is high.

"Women's preferences for masculine voices change over the menstrual cycle: women prefer masculine voices more when fertile."

Dr Feinberg added: "But, the menstrual cycle does not affect every woman's preferences equally.

"While we normally think that masculine men are more out for one-night stands than marriage, our research suggests that highly attractive and feminine women can get these masculine men to look for commitment."

Squeaky-voiced men leave women cold

Menstrual cycle, trait estrogen level, and masculinity preferences in the human voice

Women's choice of men goes in cycles

Schools abandon gifted programs because few blacks and Hispanics were being admitted

Lori Aratani:

Middle school magnet programs in Montgomery County have traditionally operated as schools within schools, offering specialized curriculum to a few select students -- who have been mostly Asian and white.

But this fall, educators decided to try a different approach. Instead of selecting a few hundred students for traditional school magnets, officials opened magnet programs at three middle schools to everyone.

In doing so, county educators -- like officials of a growing number of school systems across the country -- are trying to find a more diverse pool of students. They are experimenting with new ways to reach out to students who might have special abilities but may not have been recognized through traditional screening methods.

"In the future, where we want to move is where it's not so much identifying children as gifted and talented so much as getting them the services they need to reach their potential," said Martin Creel, director of the accelerated enriched instruction division.

In Fairfax County, educators have created the Young Scholars Program, aimed at identifying kindergartners from underrepresented populations who have potential but might need extra support. The school system also has added expanded honors classes at its middle schools in hopes of giving a broader spectrum of students more opportunities, said Carol Horn, coordinator of gifted programs for the school system.

"We've changed from labeling children to labeling services," Horn said. "It's not whether you're gifted, it's what's appropriate for you."

The approach has its critics -- those who fear that curriculum will be watered down because too many kids with varying abilities are being thrown together. But Montgomery and Fairfax officials -- like those undertaking similar efforts across the country -- insist that the quality of education will not be diminished. Key to the task is offering high-quality training that helps educators understand how to reach all students, Creel said.

At two elementary schools, Georgian Forest in Silver Spring and Burning Tree in Bethesda, that means piloting an approach in which students are not formally labeled "gifted and talented" solely through traditional testing. Instead, teachers spend more time watching how individual students perform and place them based on those observations. The change doesn't necessarily mean that all students will be in the highest-level reading group, but it is a strategy for reaching out to kids who might have been overlooked in the past, said Georgian Forest Principal Donald D. Masline.

Educators hope that the new approach will help them address why black and Hispanic students continue to lag behind white and Asian counterparts in achievement and why so few take advanced classes or are admitted into accelerated programs.

Evie Frankl, co-chairman of the Montgomery County Education Forum, one of several groups pushing educators to do away with the gifted and talented label, said she applauds the school system's efforts.

"We would never be naive enough to think it will be easy, but these pilots are exciting because teachers have a chance to work out the kinks," she said.

During the spring, Montgomery officials came under fire from a group of black parents who were concerned about the low numbers of blacks and Hispanics who were being admitted to middle school magnet programs. They were also alarmed by how few of them were being labeled "gifted and talented" by the school system's second-grade screening process, which uses a variety of yardsticks. School officials said they were working diligently to narrow the gap between students but acknowledged that they have more work to do.

Turnaround starts with stats

The Black and White Testing Gap

An educational challenge

I'm Not Really Talented and Gifted, I Just Play One for the PC Crowd

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