Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Experts say that 50% of Texas drop-outs are black or Hispanic


According to education experts a least half of all high school students in the state's urban school districts are dropping out of school and the rate is highest among blacks, Hispanics, and low-income students. In statistics released by the Intercultural Development Research Center statewide, each graduating class has at least 120,000 fewer students than started high school.

Grim Demographics Of Texas And California


State in denial about dropouts

Do We Need More Hispanics?

Nearly half of Hispanic students fail to graduate

Just the Stats: Hispanics in Education, Are they Achieving?

Texas Experts, Lawmakers Struggle with High School Dropouts

The Iraqi embassy in Stockholm has issued thousands of passports based on false information

BBC News:

A Swedish migration official said that their faith in the embassy-issued documents was "nearly zero".

Sweden is the most popular destination in Europe for Iraqis, partly due to its relatively relaxed immigration laws.

The number of Iraqis seeking asylum arriving in Sweden in 2006 tripled from a year earlier, rising to nearly 9,000 people.

Immigration officials said that once in the country, many Iraqis applied for official documents issued by the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm using false identity documents.

"We have seen that [the embassy] regularly issues passports based on documents that we have rejected or deemed to be false," Bengt Hellstrom, of the Swedish migration board, told the Associated Press news agency.

The embassy provides identity documents for both Sweden and neighbouring Norway.

Iraq's ambassador to Sweden is reported to have recently told a Norwegian newspaper that the risk of passports being issued on fake identities was quite high.

"We have to go by the documentation that is presented without being able to check its authenticity in Iraq," the ambassador said.

A false passport can be used as the basis for an asylum application and may lead to citizenship being granted, officials say.

It is believed that some fake passports are sold on to citizens of other Middle Eastern countries who believe it is easier to obtain asylum with an Iraqi nationality.

Iraqi embassy in huge passport blunder

Iraqi exodus worries U.N. refugee agency

Sweden's fury as Iraqi embassy issues 'false' passports

HIV/AIDS is rising among South Africa's rich and best-educated

Andrew Quinn:

South Africa's AIDS epidemic, often regarded by health workers as a disease of the poor, is in fact spreading quickly among the country's richest and best educated people, researchers said on Tuesday.

The study by the Markinor polling firm and the University of South Africa (UNISA) showed a rapid increase in HIV infections in professional people and those with full-time employment – both key to South Africa's hopes to spur economic development.

'The high risk group is growing, it is getting older and it is getting richer,' said Carel van Aardt, director of UNISA's Bureau of Market Research. 'This could represent a whole new wave of the epidemic.'

The study challenges widespread assumptions about South Africa's HIV/AIDS crisis, which is often described as a disease of the rural poor who lack access to information, treatment and basic health services.

South Africa now has some 5.5 million HIV-positive people out of a total population of some 45 million, giving it an estimated overall prevalence rate of about 11 percent and one of the worst AIDS caseloads in the world.

The new study examined some 3,500 South Africans between the years of 2002-2005, a poll engineered to reflect the country's racial and economic demographics.

Overall, the study identified young people below the age of 30 as being at greatest risk for HIV, as most previous research has done. But it also found infections rising at alarming rates in the rich and better educated – groups not previously singled out as being at risk.

'We are on the eve of a very scary reality unless we start making some changes,' said Tracy Hammond, Markinor's project manager for the study.

Researchers said there were many possible factors behind the spread of HIV among upper levels of society, among them confused government messages about HIV/AIDS, greater disposable income and leisure, and general apathy about safe sex practices.

But whatever the reason, AIDS is certainly climbing the social ladder for both black and white South Africans.

Among South Africa's professionals, for instance, the study found a 34 percent jump in estimated HIV prevalence, rising to 8.3 percent in 2004 from 6.2 percent in 2002.

People with full-time jobs – who in South Africa account for only about half the working population – saw estimated HIV-prevalence rise to 19.2 percent in 2005 from 14.4. percent in 2002, an increase of 36 percent.

Unemployed people, while seeing a bigger percentage jump in HIV prevalence, remained lower in terms of actual prevalence rates with just 18.4 percent estimated infected in 2005 compared with 11 percent in 2002.

In a further piece of alarming news, the study said HIV infection was growing most quickly in those aged between 30-34, threatening people just as their careers take off.

Overall, the richest third of South Africa's population still has a lower estimated HIV-prevalence than the poorest third, at 8.5 percent compared to 23.4 percent.

But the study said new infections were increasing most rapidly in this demographic, rising by 39 percent between 2002-2005 against only a 14 percent increase for their poorest compatriots.

'This time it is not the employees, it is the employers. It is not the people without bank accounts, it is the people who make investments,' Markinor's Hammond said. 'If we thought the AIDS epidemic was having bad economic effects already, this could take us to the crisis point.'

South Africa has most Aids orphans - UN

Duke rape hoax: Hearing delayed while lawyers confer

Associated Press:

A critical hearing in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case has been postponed until May as the new prosecutors, who took over from embattled District Attorney Mike Nifong, study the evidence.

Prosecutors from the state attorney general's office met with defense attorneys for about two hours Tuesday, the first meeting between the parties since the state took over the case from Nifong earlier this month.

Defense attorneys said afterward that a planned Feb. 5 hearing would be rescheduled.

"We will use this time to continue reviewing the case files, talking to the many people involved in the cases, and making sure that all discovery requests have been responded to properly," state Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement.

The accuser in the case was expected to appear at the Feb. 5 hearing and defense attorneys planned to ask Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III to throw out her photo identifications of the defendants.

Legal experts have said without the woman's photo identifications, prosecutors would probably have to dismiss the charges against players Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty.

In December, Nifong dropped charges of rape against the three athletes after the 28-year-old woman changed a key detail of her account of the March 13 party where she was hired to perform as a stripper. The players still face charges of sexual offense and kidnapping and have consistently maintained their innocence.

Nifong asked state prosecutors to take over the case after the North Carolina State Bar charged him in December with ethics violations that could lead to his disbarment. Last week, the bar added a new set of charges.

Continuing to Defame the 'Duke 3' as Rapists

Duke Case: Shouldn't Mothers Demonstrate Against Injustice?

Why the Duke Case Attracted Such Attention

Duke Case Collapse

Duke Case: Black Pressure Building

Former Duke lacrosse case prosecutor faces more ethics charges

An Oscar-nominated film based on the plight of Hindu widows is to be released in India seven years after it created huge controversy

Monica Chadha:

The third of Deepa Mehta's "Elements" trilogy, the film is set in the holy city of Varanasi in the 1930s and depicts the lives of Hindu widows.

Even today many Hindu widows in India lead difficult lives, especially in small towns and rural areas where remarrying is looked down upon.

Often disowned by their families, they are forced to beg and resort to other desperate means to survive.

Ms Mehta shot some of the film in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh with Bollywood actresses Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das but had to stop midway following protests from Hindu fundamentalists.

In 2000 they ransacked the movie set, arguing that the film tarnished the city and denigrated Hindu traditions.

Ms Mehta finally re-shot the whole film four years later in Sri Lanka with a brand new cast, including actress Lisa Ray and Bollywood actor John Abraham.

The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2005 and was also screened at other international festivals where it received wide acclaim.

Widows' suicides divide India along cultural lines

Police in southern Pakistan have arrested six men in connection with the kidnap and rape of a 16-year-old girl

Riaz Sohail:

Eleven men are accused of carrying out the attack near the town of Ubaro, about 530km (330 miles) from Karachi.

The girl's family say the rape was in revenge for her cousin eloping with a female relative of the accused.

Doctors confirmed the teenager was raped after she underwent tests in hospital. Such attacks are not uncommon in rural Pakistan in tribal vendettas.

The rape took place on the morning of 27 January in the village of Habib Labano near Ubaro.

The victim's father filed a complaint the same day in Ubaro police station, saying a group of 11 men had kidnapped his daughter, raped her and forced her to walk home naked.

The teenager suffered serious injuries in the attack and was left without any clothes.

Although police initially expressed scepticism over the attack, rape was confirmed in a medical examination carried out on Tuesday, following which the girl left hospital in Sukkur.

On Wednesday, hundreds of political activists and locals blocked the national highway that links Karachi's port to the north of the country for more than two hours in protest at the incident.

They accused police of not taking action against all the accused because they have the support of local influential people.

Women are often used as a means of settling tribal vendettas and honour that is perceived to have been slighted in rural Pakistan.

In 2002, a village council in Punjab province ordered the rape of a woman by men from another clan because of her brother's alleged affair with a woman from their family.

The case ignited international interest after the woman, Mukhtar Mai, chose to fight her case publicly.

Her fight helped rights groups and legislators galvanise support for changes in the country's laws which were recently amended.

Until then, rape victims risked prosecution under Pakistan's Islamic laws if they filed a complaint.

Pakistani teenager "raped", paraded over "honour"

Rape in Pakistan

Pakistan - Child marriage is marital rape

Pakistan: Muslim scholars say new rape law will turn country into "free sex zone"

Quebec: Muslim immigrants told they are not allowed to stone women to death, burn them or circumcise them

BBC News:

Don't stone women to death, burn them or circumcise them, immigrants wishing to live in the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada, have been told.

The rules come in a new town council declaration on culture that Muslims have branded shocking and insulting.

Quebec is in the midst of a huge debate on integrating immigrant cultures.

Montreal police are investigating an officer who wrote a song called That's Enough Already, which says immigrants are undermining Quebec culture.

Herouxville, which has one immigrant family in its population of about 1,300, is 160km (100 miles) north-east of Montreal.

Its council published the new rules on the town's website.

"We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here," the declaration reads.

"We consider it completely outside norms to... kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc."

It points out that women are allowed to drive, vote, dance and own their own homes.

The rules ban Sikh children from carrying ceremonial daggers to school, even though the Supreme Court has ruled they can.

The man behind the declaration, councillor Andre Drouin, told the National Post newspaper the rules were not racist.

"We invite people from all nationalities, all languages, all sexual orientations, whatever, to come live with us, but we want them to know ahead of time how we live," he said.

Mr Drouin said there had been a number of recent incidents of culture clashes that meant the new rules were needed.

In one a Toronto judge ordered a Christmas tree removed from a court so as not to offend non-Christians. In another a Montreal gym installed frosted windows after a Hasidic synagogue complained the sight of adults exercising was offensive.

However, the president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Salam Elmenyawi, condemned the council, saying it had set back race relations decades.

He told Reuters news agency: "I was shocked and insulted to see these kinds of false stereotypes and ignorance about Islam and our religion."

A poll in a Montreal newspaper this month revealed that 59% of Quebecers admitted to some kind of racist feelings.

Montreal police are considering disciplinary action against the 37-year-old officer who wrote the song urging immigrants in Quebec to assimilate.

The song includes the lines: "We want to accept ethnics, but not at any price... if you're not happy with your fate, there's a place called the airport."

Police spokesman Yan Lafreniere said the song did not uphold the values of the Montreal police force and that the officer would be questioned as to his motives.

Montreal city cop in trouble over song on accommodating minorities

Stoning not allowed in Quebec

Welcome! Leave your customs at the door

You can't kill women, town tells immigrants

Officials in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta have been accused of squandering funds that should have been used to provide services for the poor

BBC News:

"Public schools have been left to fall apart and health care facilities lack even the most basic of amenities," Human Rights Watch said in a report.

Violence has risen dramatically in the area where militants are demanding a greater local share of the oil wealth.

The US-based group said the unrest was due to a failure to deal with graft.

Nigeria's is Africa's biggest oil-producer, but much of the population live on less than $1 a day.

The report used case studies from the country's top oil-producing state, Rivers, to show how millions of petrodollars have either been misused or stolen by public officials in Africa's biggest oil producer.

"One local government chairman habitually deposited his government's money into his own private bank account. Another has siphoned off money by allocating it towards a 'football academy' that has not built," the report said.

HRW says Rivers state is just an example of what is happening across Nigeria.

Rivers, in the volatile Niger Delta region, accounts for most of Nigeria's oil production.

As an oil-producing state, Rivers receives an extra share of oil revenues which have surged thanks to high oil prices.

In 2006 alone, the Rivers state government's budget was $1.3bn, larger than the budgets of many countries in West Africa.

"But that windfall has not translated into efforts by local governments to bolster basic education and health care systems," the report says, listing schools without chalk, desks and books and clinics without medicines and beds.

Since the end of military rule, there has been a huge increase in funding to state and local government, particularly to the oil-producing states in the Niger Delta which receive 13% of revenues from oil produced in their state.

Increasing poverty and years of neglect have fuelled violence in the region with armed militant groups emerging to demand greater control of the oil being extracted from their land.

HRW said the Nigerian government had missed a unique opportunity from high oil revenues to address the deprivation at the root of the violence.

Local government chairmen use inflated contracts to generate kickbacks for themselves and contractors as well as unclear budgets to allocate hefty slices of revenue to themselves, the report says.

"Much of this windfall has been lost to the extravagance, waste and corruption that characterise state government spending," the report says.

Graft cripples richest Nigerian oil state - report

Activists Report on Nigeria Corruption

Eight people were arrested in dawn raids across Birmingham by police investigating an alleged plot to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier

Duncan Hooper:

Security sources claimed to have thwarted a plan to abduct the soldier who would then have been filmed pleading for his life before being executed.

The kidnapping could have resembled operations carried out by insurgents in Iraq, according to the sources, who allege that a young soldier with experience serving in Afghanistan had been identified as the target.

If the reports are true, this would be a major departure from previous Islamist attacks in the West, which have been characterised by co-ordinated explosions aimed at causing high numbers of casualties.

West Midlands Police, which led today's raids, refused to confirm claims that the alleged target had already been placed under protective custody.

It is understood that anti-terror officers had been conducting a surveillance operation for several months.

John Reid, the Home Secretary, this morning confirmed that an operation was ongoing but declined to elaborate on the nature of the suspected plot.

Local people reported seeing dozens of police in the streets in the early hours of this morning.

Baswant Kant, who lives in Stratford Road, near the junction with Poplar Road, where one of the raids took place said: "There were about 55 police officers who turned up in white vans. They went into shops and restaurants along the road. A lot of people got arrested."

West Midlands police said the eight were held "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000".

The operation was led by the Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, and also received support from Metropolitan Police officers. A number of addresses in Birmingham have been closed off and are now being searched.

"Whilst this operation poses no specific threat to the West Midlands, as a precautionary measure we will have an enhanced police presence at these locations," the police said in a statement.

"We would ask for the continued support and co-operation of the public.

"Our message to people living in the West Midlands is to remain vigilant. Public safety is our absolute priority."

Vijay Jakkula, who lives on Poplar Road, in Sparkhill, south east Birmingham, where one of the police raids took place, said the area was predominantly Muslim.

"There are quite a few mosques around here but it is a friendly area," he said.

Today’s arrests come after police detained a total of five people in anti-terror raids in Manchester and Halifax, West Yorkshire, last week.

Arrests over 'terror kidnap plot'

Islamist bookshop was known to sell 'incendiary works'

Blair blackmail terror bid foiled

40% of young UK Muslims want sharia law

Ninth arrest in Muslim soldier 'kidnap terror plot'

Israel sex scandals point up gender bias challenge

Allyn Fisher-Ilan:

Many Israeli feminists see the high-profile case of a president accused of rape as a significant triumph in a decades-old battle against macho workplace ethics in the Jewish state.

"Who would have imagined women levelling charges like this say, 10 years ago?," Rina Bar-Tal, an Israeli women's lobbyist, said of plans to charge President Moshe Katsav with sex offences against four former female employees.

Yet some women wonder if the Katsav case is a pyrrhic victory in a quest for greater equality in a society in which the military, where men hold coveted combat positions and women are generally not on the front line, holds pride of place.

Initial euphoria over the attorney general's release of a draft indictment against Katsav, after investigating him under a law that women lobbyists pushed through in mid-1990s, has given way to rising doubts he will ever be formally charged.

Israel's parliament has been slow to take steps to force Katsav's ouster, despite calls from prominent lawmakers to do so. Under Israeli law, a president can be tried only if impeached or after leaving office.

"Wishful thinking," Tamar Hermann, a Tel Aviv sociologist replied when asked whether Katsav's case may spell the end of public tolerance for the imposing Israeli macho at the office.

Hermann said she felt the case "may boomerang against women by fomenting a feeling they are manipulative" and that many men, fearing the glare of the law in their dealings with women, might avoid hiring or promoting them.

Several male colleagues have expressed such views to her recently, she said.

"Drawing up specific rules of what is permitted and what isn't may actually lead to more separation of the sexes and not necessarily improve the status of women."

Male acquaintances have told her they would hesitate to employ or promote women in a climate where they fear being charged with sexual harassment or assault, Hermann said.

A debate erupted recently among womens' rights advocates over charges brought against former justice minister Haim Ramon for allegedly kissing a young woman soldier against her will.

Ramon has denied the sexual assault charge. One of Israel's veteran feminists has sided with him, arguing that prosecuting a man for a kiss could trivialise the purpose of the law and divert crucial personnel from handling more serious crime.

Shulamit Aloni, a former leftist lawmaker, said the case "constitutes contempt" for the law. "People are not robots," she said.

Women's rights experts say Israel has a similar record to other Western countries on violent crime against women, and a competitive one in numbers of women in parliament and senior management.

Israel recently named a woman, Dorit Beinisch, as chief justice of its Supreme Court. Two of 24 cabinet ministers are women, including Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

But gaps remain in achievements of women versus men, and stereotypes of women's roles persist.

Some blame this on Jewish religious clerics, who are empowered to decide on marriage and divorce and under Orthodox ritual law do not grant women equal status with men.

Experts say the Israeli army also helps perpetuate a stronger social status for men over women by serving as a launch pad for many successful political and business careers.

Women serve alongside men in the armed forces, which pioneered female conscription in the 1940s, but they traditionally have performed clerical duties with generally less prestige than combat service.

Recent figures published by Haaretz newspaper suggest a rise in the past year in complaints of sexual harassment in the army, despite the military's efforts to curb the problem.

"We live in a very militant, chauvinist society," Bar-Tal, the lobbyist said.

She said the violence of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians has also hurt the status of women in the Jewish state by keeping women's issues low on the country's political agenda.

"We're a young country that hasn't seen a day of peace," Bar-Tal said. "So when it comes to women's issues the subject gets low priority."

Israel's fmr justice minister found guilty of indecent behavior

Israel in Wonderland

Israeli president's alleged sex crimes distract from neighbouring civil wars

A Somali asylum seeker who was jailed for several sex attacks but was allowed to stay in Britain has been jailed indeterminately for a further attack

BBC News:

Sadiq Mohammed

Sadiq Mohammed, 32, was found guilty of abducting and sexually assaulting a girl of seven in Bristol in May 2006.

Mohammed, of Barton Hill, was jailed for four years in 2000 for indecently assaulting a 55-year-old woman and trying to attack two others.

He assaulted the girl four years after being released from jail.

Mohammed approached the girl as she was standing outside a corner shop with her eight-year-old sister.

He gave her sister £1 to go and by some sweets so he could be alone with the younger girl.

He then took her back to his flat where he sexually assaulted the girl and told her not to tell anyone or he would "beat her".

The victim only told her parents when she spotted him near a supermarket and said he was a "very bad man".

He denied one charge of child abduction and assault, but the jury at Bristol Crown Court took just under an hour to find him guilty on both counts.

Speaking after the hearing the victim's father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was relieved.

He said: "Justice has been served today. We are very glad about the verdict."

Mohammed arrived in Bristol from Somalia in 1990 and applied for asylum.

He was jailed for four years in 2000 for attacking three women including a 14-year-old girl, but was released halfway through his sentence.

At the time, Judge Lester Boothman recommended that he was deported after describing him as a danger to women and his "presence was detrimental to the country".

Commenting on why Mohammed had not been deported, a Home Office spokesman said: "Each case is considered on its individual merits in accordance to our international obligations and taking full account of conditions in the country concerned as they impact on the individual.

"We will only enforce return where we are satisfied that the individual concerned will not be at risk."

Paedo asylum seeker is guilty

Refugee jailed for child sex attack

Asylum perv left to attack girl


Using the Holocaust to start a war with Iran

Patrick J. Buchanan:

When Congress finally decides on just the right language for its "non-binding resolution" deploring Bush's leadership in this war, it might consider a resolution to keep us out of the next one.

For America is on a collision course with an Iran of 70 million, and the folks who stampeded us into Iraq are firing pistols in the air again.

At the annual Herzliya Conference, U.S. presidential aspirants, neoconservatives and Israeli hawks were all invoking the Holocaust and warning of the annihilation of the Jews.

Israel's "Bibi" Netanyahu, who compares Iran's Ahmadinejad to Hitler, said: "The world that didn't stop the Holocaust last time can stop it this time. ... Who will lead the effort against genocide if not us? The world will not stand up on behalf of the Jews if the Jews do not stand up on behalf of the world."

Said former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz: "Iran is the heart of the problem in the Middle East. It is the most urgent threat facing the world, and needs to be dealt with before it's too late." After meeting with the Department of State's Nicholas Burns, Mofaz called 2007 "a year of decision."

Richard Perle assured the conference that Bush will attack Iran rather than see it acquire nuclear weapons capabilities. Newt Gingrich also brought his soothing touch to the proceedings: "(C)itizens who do not wake up every morning and think about possible catastrophic civilian casualties are deluding themselves.

"Three nuclear weapons are a second holocaust. ... I'll repeat it. Three nuclear weapons are a second holocaust. ... Our enemies are fully as determined as Nazi Germany and more determined than the Soviets. Our enemies will kill us the first chance they get.

"If we knew that tomorrow morning we would lose Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, what would we do to stop it? If we knew that we would tomorrow lose Boston, San Francisco or Atlanta, what would we do?"

Mitt Romney agreed. Ahmadinejad's Iran is more dangerous than Khrushchev's Soviet Union, which put missiles in Cuba. For the Soviets "were never suicidal. Soviet commitment to national survival was never in question. That assumption cannot be made to an irrational regime (Iran) that celebrates martyrdom."

Ehud Olmert, mired in scandal, his popularity in the tank after the Lebanon fiasco, was as hawkish as Bibi: "The Jewish people, with the scars of the Holocaust fresh on its body, cannot afford to let itself face the threat of annihilation once again. ... We will stand up against nuclear threats and even prevent them."

Came then U.S. peace candidate John Edwards. Keeping Iran from nuclear weapons "is the greatest challenge of our generation. ... To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep all options on the table. ... Let me reiterate -- all options."

Wrote the Financial Times' Philip Stephens of Herzliya, "I gave up counting the times I heard the words 'existential threat' to describe Iran's nuclear program capability."

A few weeks back, according to UPI's Arnaud De Borchgrave, Netanyahu declared that Israel "must immediately launch an intense, international public relations front first and foremost on the United States -- the goal being to encourage President Bush to live up to specific pledges he would not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. We must make clear to the (U.S.) government, the Congress and the American public that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the U.S. and the entire world, not only Israel."

Israel's war is to be sold as America's war.

The project is underway. According to Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor of the Guardian, Israeli media are reporting that the assignment to convince the world of the need for tough action on Iran has been given to Meir Dagan, head of Mossad.

Listening to the war talk, Gen. Wesley Clark exploded to Arianna Huffington: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided, but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office-seekers."

The former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was ordered out of ranks and dressed down by Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. But Matt Yglesias of American Prospect, himself Jewish, says Clark spoke truth: "(I)t's true that major Jewish organizations are pushing this country into war with Iran."

Yet is the hysteria at Herzliya justified? Consider:

Not once since its 1979 revolution has Iran started a war. In any war with America, or Israel with its hundreds of nuclear weapons, Iran would not be annihilating anyone. Iran would be risking annihilation.

Not only has Iran no nukes, the Guardian reported yesterday, "Iran's efforts to produce highly enriched uranium ... are in chaos." That centrifuge facility at Natanz is "archaic, prone to breakdown and lacks the materials for industrial-scale production."

There is no need for war. Yet, Israelis, neocons and their agents of influence are trying to whip us into one. Senators who are seeking absolution for having voted to take us into Iraq ought to be confronted and asked just what they are doing to keep us out of a war in Iran.

Israeli Internal Assessments of Iran Belie Threat Rhetoric

Iran, Israel, The Big Lie and The Real Threat

Homage to Herzliya

The Feingold Option

Smears for Fears

Selling the Holocaust : From Auschwitz to Schindler; How History is Bought, Packaged and Sold

Bush Is About To Attack Iran—Why Can’t Americans See it?

A new analysis of unpublished FBI data shows that the homicide rate among blacks in Pennsylvania ranks as the highest in the nation

Dan Majors:

The report, released yesterday by the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., is based on uniform crime reports from 2004 -- the most recent data available from the FBI -- and shows that handguns are used in an overwhelming majority of the homicides.

According to the report, there were 398 black homicide victims in Pennsylvania in 2004 -- 348 male, 50 female. Based on population figures, that is a homicide rate of 29.52 victims per 100,000 people.

The states that come closest to Pennsylvania's rate are Louisiana, with 29.48 victims per 100,000; Indiana, with 29.30; and California, with 28.95.

Pennsylvania's rate is more than 1 1/2 times the national average of 18.71 victims per 100,000 people, said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center and co-author of the study.

"In short, the toll that homicide exacts on black teens and young adults in America, both male and female, is disproportionate, disturbing and undeniable," he said.

And of the 389 Pennsylvania homicides in which a weapon was identified, 335 -- roughly 86 percent -- involved guns.

Mr. Sugarmann said the Violence Policy Center, which he founded in 1988, is a national nonprofit research and educational organization funded by foundations. In the past seven years, the group has issued annual data on women who have been killed.

"We have seen policy-makers, advocates and news media use [the reports] to increase awareness and promote good public policy regarding domestic violence issues," he said. "This is the first time we've ever studied black homicides."

Homicide is the leading cause of death of blacks ages 15 to 19, 20 to 24, and 25 to 34.

In comparison, homicide ranks as the third-leading cause of death for whites in age groups 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 -- the top two causes are accidents and suicide. Among whites ages 25 to 34, homicide drops to the fifth-leading cause, behind accidents, suicide, cancer and heart disease.

Report: Indiana ranks third nationally in black homicide rate

Minn. 8th In African-American Homicide Rate

State ranks fourth in homicide rate for blacks

Md. High On List In The Rate Of Black Homicides


Black Women seek protection closer to home

Monday, January 29, 2007

Islamists threaten Yemeni Jews for selling wine


Nearly a quarter Yemen's Jews have fled their village and sought refuge at a hotel in the Arab country after militant Islamists threatened to kill them for selling alcohol, a government official said on Monday.

The official, who asked not to be named, said authorities had deployed policemen around the hotel to protect the Jews, numbering at least 45, after they escaped the village of Al Salem in the northern province of Saada two weeks ago.

Just 200 Jews live in Yemen after thousands were evacuated to Israel in 1948.

"The Shi'ite militants of (Abdel-Malik) al-Houthi sent threats to them (Jews) because they sell wine," the official told Reuters. The Jewish community denied they sold wine.

Islam forbids the sale or drinking of alcohol.

"We are protecting them. They are in a safe place," the official added.

Houthi is a brother of a hardline Shi'ite cleric Hussein al-Houthi who was killed in 2004. His group is seeking to set up an Islamist state in Yemen.

His followers killed six Yemeni soldiers and wounded more than 20 on Saturday when they attacked state buildings near the hotel in Saada, were the Jews are being sheltered. Officials said the two incidents were not linked.

"After two weeks, we are still in the hotel. It is the shelter that the government provided for us after we were threatened by Houthi," Jewish cleric David Merhavi told Reuters by telephone.

"We do not sell wine, this is only propaganda."

Yemeni Jews flee Islamist threat

Germany won't urge EU-wide ban on swastika and Holocaust denial

Associated Press:

The German statement did not say why it had decided against pushing for EU bans on swastikas, but some other EU countries are wary of such legislation and so a community-wide ban may not be achievable.

Denying the Holocaust is a crime punishable in European countries such as Germany, Austria and France with prison terms of as much as 10 years.

But other countries do not consider it as a crime and have resisted moves for an EU-wide legislation.

The Italian cabinet stopped short of making Holocaust denial illegal when it approved a draft law last Thursday imposing jail terms for racist or ethnically motivated crimes.

The EU's executive Commission proposed an EU-wide anti-racism law in 2001 but EU states failed to agree, struggling over the limit between freedom of expression and sanction of racism.

One of the most contentious issues at the time was whether denying that the Holocaust had taken place was a crime.

Germany's new draft suggests that incitement to racism and xenophobia would be punishable by at least 1 to 3 years of jail in all 27 EU states, while leaving to each state to decide on the specifics.

No EU ban on swastika, Holocaust denial: Germany

Among those who took the SAT in the Los Angeles Unified School District, blacks averaged 807, Hispanics 829, Asians 1007, and whites 1059

Steve Sailer:

Did lack of English hold Latino mean scores down? Unlikely. LAUSD's Latinos averaged 408 on the Verbal section and 421 on the Math section, compared to 525 V and 534 M for whites and 477 V and 530 M for Asians. This small gap between the Verbal and Math scores for Latinos suggests that unfamiliarity with English is not a severe problem for those who do take the SAT. Those who don't speak English well are less likely to take the SAT.

It would be easy to blame the poor test scores in Los Angeles public schools on the LAUSD, a vast bureaucracy with a poor reputation for management. Yet 26 of the 56 other school districts in Los Angeles County have worse test scores—many much worse.

Take the Compton Unified School District … please. Only one percent of Compton's seniors score over 1000. While Compton was the home of West Coast gangsta rap, its school district is now 69 percent Latino. At Compton's Centennial High, whose red school color was adopted by the notorious Bloods gang when it was founded at Centennial in 1972, only 22 percent of 12th graders took the SAT. And this cream of the Compton crop recorded an average SAT score of 715.

For Los Angeles County as a whole, which includes some of the ritiziest suburbs in America, just 18 percent of public school students reached the 1000 benchmark.

But the news is actually worse. These statistics overestimate the average LA County teenager's aptitude.

That's because a huge percentage of Southern California students drop out before 12th grade. At a typical LAUSD high school like Birmingham in the San Fernando Valley, there are 1442 9th graders and only 532 12th graders. At South Central Locke, which is 5/8ths Hispanic and 3/8ths black, a UCLA study estimated the graduation rate at 24 percent.

What Do The LA School Wars Say About America's Future?

Getting better grades for knowing less

Britain: The doctrine of multiculturalism has alienated an entire generation of young Muslims and made them increasingly radical

Daily Mail:

In stark contrast with their parents, growing numbers sympathise with extreme teachings of Islam, with almost four in ten wanting to live under Sharia law in Britain.

The study identifies significant support for wearing the veil in public, Islamic schools and even punishment by death for Muslims who convert to another religion.

Most alarmingly, 13 per cent of young Muslims said they "admired" organisations such as Al Qaeda which are prepared to "fight the West".

The poll exposes a fracture between the attitudes of Muslims aged 16 to 24, most of whom were born in Britain, and those of their parents’ generation, who are more likely to have been immigrants.

A report published alongside the poll, commissioned by the Right-wing think tank Policy Exchange and carried out by Populus, said the doctrine of multi-culturalism was at least partly responsible.

A series of Labour ministers have broken recently with the idea that different communities should not be forced to integrate but should be allowed to maintain their own culture and identities.

Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, and Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, have also expressed serious doubts about multi-culturalism.

Academic Munira Mirza, lead author of the report, said: "The emergence of a strong Muslim identity in Britain is, in part, a result of multi-cultural policies implemented since the 1980s which have emphasised difference at the expense of shared national identity and divided people along ethnic, religious and cultural lines."

The poll of 1,000 Muslims, weighted to represent the population across the UK, found that a growing minority of youngsters felt they had less in common with non-Muslims than their parents did.

While only 17 per cent of over-55s said they would prefer to live under Sharia law, that increased to 37 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.

Sharia law, which is practised in large parts of the Middle East, specifies stonings and amputations as routine punishments for crimes.

It also acts as a religious code for living, covering dietary laws and dress codes. Religious police are responsible for bringing suspects before special courts.

The poll found that just 19 per cent of Muslims over 55 would prefer to send their children to Islamic state schools. That increased to 37 per cent of those aged 16 to 24.

If a Muslim converts to another religion, 36 per cent of 16-to-24-year-olds thought this should be punished by death, compared with 19 per cent of 55s and over.

According to the poll, 74 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 prefer Muslim women to wear the veil, compared with only 28 per cent of over 55s.

The report by Miss Mirza, British-born daughter of Pakistani immigrants, concludes that some Muslim groups have exaggerated the problems of "Islamophobic" sentiment among non-Muslim Britons, which has fuelled a sense of victimhood.

The vast majority of Muslims – 84 per cent – believed they had been treated fairly in British society.

And just over a quarter – 28 per cent – believed that authorities in Britain had gone "over the top" in trying not to offend Muslims.

Response to Islamism "makes things worse"

Younger Muslims 'more political'

The body of a black teenager from South Africa was found in the wheel well of a British Airways flight from London that landed in Los Angeles

United Press International:

The youth was found by a pilot during a preflight inspection Sunday afternoon before the Boeing 747 was scheduled to return to London, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Authorities said the youth was black and had documents identifying him as a South African national born in 1989.

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said an autopsy was scheduled for Monday and it wasn't known if the man had entered the wheel well in London or its earlier stop in Hong Kong.

The Torrance (Calif.) Daily Breeze said the man would have been exposed to extreme cold and the thin air in the 11 hours of high-altitude flight across the Atlantic Ocean and continental United States.

The police investigation delayed the flight to London for 307 passengers by almost four hours, the report said.

Death of South African teen found at LAX investigated

Britain: Black and Chinese students are less likely to get top university degrees than their white contemporaries

Tim Ross:

The study suggested that ethnic minority undergraduates faced "a considerable cost" as a result because students who get first-class degrees increasingly command higher salaries.

The Department for Education and Skills report also found that students living at home were more likely to get firsts, women performed better than men, and older students tended to get better degrees.

Analysing data for 65,000 students, the researchers predicted the odds of different ethnic groups getting first-class degrees, 2:1s, 2:2s or thirds.

The gap was widest for black Caribbean, black African and Chinese students. The analysis took account of factors such as gender, prior academic performance, subject studied and deprivation levels.

"A number of studies have found that attaining a 'good' degree carries a premium in the labour market, and that this premium has been increasing over time, as the higher education system has expanded," the study said. "As a result, there is a considerable cost attached to this attainment gap identified in relation to minority ethnic students."

It cautioned that the findings did not "automatically" imply "ethnic bias".

The Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said the Government was committed to ensuring people of all backgrounds could thrive in higher education."

White students 'do better' in British universities

Ethnic minority degrees 'mystery'

Australia: More than a third of overseas students were completing degrees with English so poor they should not have been admitted in the first place


Australia will toughen up English-language requirements for foreign graduates after a report showed poor language skills among many overseas students.

The report by Melbourne's Monash University found more than a third of overseas students were completing degrees with English so poor they should not have been admitted in the first place.

Report author Professor Bob Birrell, director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research, said the government required those coming directly to Australia to pass an English test.

But a third were entering universities without having passed that test.

"The government is assuming that the various pathway programs they do once they get there will bring their English up to standard. But these results indicate that is not the case," he said.

Unis open to students who fail English

More uni English woes tipped

So much for standards

A hospital building program in South Africa has been put back, to help pay for the football World Cup which the country is hosting in 2010

Martin Plaut:

Two hospitals in the remote Northern Cape have been told their buildings will be delayed because of cuts in government spending.

The rising cost to South Africa of hosting the World Cup is beginning to take its toll on government spending.

A new 200-bed hospital in De Aar is to be delayed - so is another in Upington.

A spokeswoman for the Northern Cape health department, Shelley Fielding, said money had been diverted to prepare for 2010.

"The hospital building programme will resume in 2008/9 financial year. Other provinces are also affected," Ms Fielding said.

The South African treasury said spending on health was increasing but did not deny that the money had been transferred.

The cost of providing new and renovated stadiums for the World Cup is rising rapidly, with construction bills hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

A spokesman for the opposition Democratic Alliance has put this down to inadequate government planning.

But President Thabo Mbeki has staked South Africa's reputation on the event, and nothing is likely to stand in its way.

“John, are you ok?”

Severe hunger looms for Zimbabwe

BBC News:

Zimbabwe is facing a food deficit of hundreds of thousands of tonnes - a third of its requirements - an international monitoring agency warns.

The Famine Early Warning System says the cereal balance sheet projects a shortfall in maize - the staple food - of some 850,000 tonnes.

By December only 152,600 tonnes had been delivered, meaning widespread hunger looks set to continue.

The monitors say Zimbabwe's lack of foreign currency is a key problem.

The Zimbabwean government has refused to allow outside agencies to carry out crop assessments but the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) used satellite images.

The government plans to import 565,000 tonnes of cereal - 60% of the projected deficit.

"It remains doubtful that Zimbabwe will be able to meet their import goals," FEWS said.

The monitors said a slight increase in national maize production, higher prices for South African maize and Zimbabwe's shortage of foreign currency due to its economic crisis were the leading causes of the lower levels of imports.

Zimbabwe has been gripped by an economic crisis for more than six years and has one of the world's lowest rates of life expectancy and the highest annual inflation rate - more than 1,200%.

Donors blame government mismanagement and the seizure of white-owned farms for Zimbabwe's economic problems.

President Robert Mugabe instead blames an international plot to remove him from power.

Zimbabwe seen devaluing local dollar

Britain: Muslims urged to shun un-Islamic vaccines

Abul Taher:

A MUSLIM doctors’ leader has provoked an outcry by urging British Muslims not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella because it is “un-Islamic”.

Dr Abdul Majid Katme, head of the Islamic Medical Association, is telling Muslims that almost all vaccines contain products derived from animal and human tissue, which make them “haram”, or unlawful for Muslims to take.

Islam permits only the consumption of halal products, where the animal has had its throat cut and bled to death while God’s name is invoked.

Islam also forbids the eating of any pig meat, which Katme says is another reason why vaccines should be avoided, as some contain or have been made using pork-based gelatine.

His warning has been criticised by the Department of Health and the British Medical Association, who said Katme risked increasing infections ranging from flu and measles to polio and diphtheria in Muslim communities.

Katme, a psychiatrist who has worked in the National Health Service for 15 years, wields influence as the head of one of only two national Islamic medical organisations as well as being a member of the Muslim Council of Britain. Moderate Muslims are concerned at the potential impact because other Islamic doctors will have to confirm vaccines are derived from animal and human products.

There is already evidence of lower than average vaccination rates in Muslim areas, reducing the prospect of the “herd immunity” needed to curb infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella.

Katme’s appeal reflects a global movement by some hardline Islamic leaders who are telling followers to refuse vaccines from the West.

Quarantine the Muslims!

Islamic Groups Refusing Innoculations

UK Muslim Doctor Urges Muslims to Avoid ‘Unholy’ Vaccines

Muslims Told Not to Vaccinate

Forbidden Protection

Health officials in Pakistan say they have failed to immunize over 160,000 children against polio due to rumors the vaccine causes sexual impotence

Ashfaq Yusufzai:

Parents in parts of northern Pakistan told the BBC news website they feared an "American conspiracy" to cut the fertility of the next generation.

Pakistan is one of four countries the World Health Organisation (WHO) says is a source of polio.

The WHO has led a $196m-a-year campaign to control the disease in Pakistan.

At least 39 cases of polio were reported in 2006, 15 of them in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The NWFP and the tribal areas account for 20% of those targeted for immunisation.

Worldwide 1,902 cases of polio were reported during the year, a recent WHO report said.

A WHO meeting in Geneva last October heard that children paralysed by polio around the world were infected by viruses originating from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria.

The main opposition to the drive in Pakistan came from local clerics who run illegal FM radio channels in many NWFP districts and the tribal areas, say officials.

Amirullah Khan, a resident of NWFP's Swat district, quoted Maulana Fazlullah of a local FM channel as telling his listeners the vaccination drive was "a conspiracy of the Jews and Christians to stunt the population growth of Muslims".

Maulana Fazlullah confirmed this to BBC, saying if the international organisations were keen on improving the health of the Muslims, they should help the hepatitis-C patients in the area.

Last year samples of the vaccine were laboratory-tested after a petition in Peshawar High Court alleged they contained oestrogen.

The hormone was not found, said Dr Waheed Khan, a health official.

But the FM channels have won many supporters in the more conservative areas of NWFP and the tribal region, officials have said.

PAKISTAN: Sharp increase in polio cases

Polio endemic countries hit all-time low of four

Tensions between Latinos and African-Americans in Brentwood, Washington, DC

Yolanda Woodlee:

Regina James says she drives past Rhode Island Plaza every weekday morning and has mixed feelings at the sight of more than 100 Latino men waiting for day-labor jobs in the Home Depot parking lot.

The increasing number of laborers, some of whom residents say leave trash on the ground and urinate along a nearby barrier wall, has heightened tension and stirred mistrust between the Latinos and the mostly black residents of the working-class Brentwood neighborhood in Northeast.

Some residents complain that the day laborers don't live in the community, express fears that their presence could bring down property values, and gripe that they may be illegal immigrants taking jobs from others.

"People don't want it there, and it's going to get worse," said James, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner.

But at the same time, James and other residents are worried about their own reactions. They know that African Americans are also out of work and out looking for jobs.

"I don't want to see this get inflamed, because 40 years ago, this was our history. Black people did those jobs that nobody else wanted to do. It's really sensitive. I want to make sure we handle it with care because it is already explosive."

Despite the ethnic component to the problem, the situation in Brentwood is part of a growing dilemma in the Washington area and elsewhere, intensified by those who oppose spending taxpayer dollars to help immigrants who may not be in the country legally.

Illegal Immigration Pays—For Them, Not Us

Anti-Semitic incidents in Europe more numerous and violent in 2006

Amiram Barkat:

Last year saw a substantial rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, according to the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism.

In an annual press conference, the forum explained that 2006 was characterized by escalation in the number and violent nature of attacks on Jews, proliferation of Holocaust denial and increased comparison of Israel to the Nazi regime.

The Global Forum - a joint effort of the Jewish Agency, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office - counted 360 anti-Semitic incidents in France in 2006, compared to 300 in 2005. In the United Kingdom, the report listed a yearly decrease from 321 incidents in 2005 to 312 incidents in 2006. Russia recorded 300 incidents in 2006 compared to 250 the preceding year, and Austria saw a jump from 50 incidents to 83 last year. The Scandinavian countries saw 53 incidents in 2006, substantially more than the previous year's 35. The report cited a 60-percent rise in incidents in the Berlin area, although it did not include figures for all of Germany.

Spokesmen for the forum emphasized yesterday the many difficulties in classifying and reporting anti-Semitic incidents that affect the accuracy of the figures, which are primarily valuable as indicators of trends in the countries examined.

Report: Anti-Semitic incidents soar worldwide

Global forum reveals massive rise in European anti-Semitism

Attacks on Jews: 2006

Rising Anti-Semitism Around Globe 2006

Rising UK anti-semitism blamed on media

Study finds that Jews are more ethnocentric than WASPs in Canada

Steve Sailer:

Irwin found a surprising degree of ethnic nepotism in the cost-free situations. Roughly 90% of the responses favored helping their own ethnic group. This is strikingly high for Canada, where the Protestant majority is relentlessly lectured against discriminating in favor of themselves.

Ethnic nepotism, however, fell off rapidly as the costs mounted. On a 0 to 3 scale (where 0 is favoring the Other ethnic group in the cost free-situation, 1 is favoring your ethnic relatives when the cost is zero, two is favoring your co-ethnics when the cost is small but real, and 3 is when the cost is substantial), scores ranged from around 1.1 to 1.6 depending on the ethnicity of the subject.

The least ethnocentric group was the WASPs, while the most was the Jewish-Canadians. (French Canadians didn't show up as their own group. And there were only 15 East Asians in the study, so the finding that East Asians are the 2nd least ethnocentric group must be taken with a grain of salt.)

Since ethnic nepotism, at least by Anglo whites, is deeply unfashionable on Canadian campuses, these scores should be taken as reflecting public attitudes more than private feelings, but they're still interesting.

Discrimination and Ethnic Nepotism

No-Think Nation VI: Destroying the West with Political Correctness

Rushton on ethnic nepotism

The Culture of Critique reviewed by Stanley Hornbeck

A judge has found that eight black teenagers beat three white women in Long Beach, California out of racial hatred

Joe Mozingo:

Judge Gibson Lee upheld nearly all of the prosecution's counts in a case that roiled this diverse city with its core allegation: that nine girls and a boy visited a well-to-do part of Long Beach on Halloween night and beat three women to the ground because they were white.

Lee threw out the case against the youngest defendant, a girl who turned 12 the night before the attack. The testimony linking her to the crime was a single statement that she was "throwing newspapers around at the girls." Another was convicted of the assault but not of a hate crime.

On the courthouse steps, Deputy Dist. Atty. Brian Schirn, who supervised the case, said the victory was not something to cheer about.

"Today is not a happy day," he said. "The victims still have to undergo physical, emotional treatment…. I feel sorry for everybody. There are no winners."

Defense attorney Frank Williams Jr. said he was "perplexed" by Lee's ruling. The defense lawyers and the youths' families contend that authorities prosecuted the wrong people in a rush to resolve the highly charged case.

"I thought the judge would make a much more reasoned decision about my client, who was not identified by any of the victims," he said.

Those convicted were eight females — a 13-year-old, two 14-year-olds, two 16-year-olds, a 17-year-old and two 18-year-olds — and an 18-year-old male. The oldest defendants were tried as juveniles because they were 17 when the crimes occurred.

Handcuffed to their chairs, the defendants broke down as Lee read the rulings. Nine were convicted of felony assault, eight with a hate-crime enhancement. For four of the nine, the conviction will count as a first strike under California's three-strikes law, which mandates a life term for a third felony conviction if the first two were for "serious" or "violent" felonies.

One girl cradled another's head. A 13-year-old girl buried her face in her gray Juvenile Hall sweat shirt and sobbed. Their parents' mouths hung open in disbelief.

"His mind was made up," said the mother of a 16-year-old girl, who will have a strike. "The judge was under pressure. He took the way out that makes him look good. He took the cowardly way."

The three victims — Loren Hyman, 21; Laura Schneider, 19; and Michelle Smith, 19 — sat together in the front row, showing no emotion at the verdicts. Concerned about their security, they later went to "safe places" for the weekend without making public comment, said Doug Otto, their civil attorney.

"They're gratified that their version of what occurred seems to be vindicated by the court's decision," Otto said. "They feel that justice is beginning to be done in this case."

Otto said all three women felt victimized again by some of the comments that defendants' supporters made during the contentious trial. "There's not a scintilla of evidence that they provoked these things," he said.

Long Beach Nightmare convictions

Mob's victims still feel fearful, worry about retaliation

Black Mob Convicted in Long Beach Hate Trial

"Fragmented Future"

Barack Obama Snr: Drunk, bigamist and wife-beater

Daily Mail:

Barack Obama Snr started life with the advantage of being able to read and write, but he also felt a profound sense of injustice. His father was a cook for British settlers in Kenya, who demeaningly called him their 'personal boy'.

Grandfather Obama sent his son to a missionary school but after completing his education, the youth could find little work except goatherding in his remote village of Nyangoma Kogela, in the roadless hills of Western Kenya.

At 18, he married a girl called Kezia. But Obama Snr was more interested in politics and economics than his family and his political leanings had been brought to the notice of leaders of the Kenyan Independence movement.

He was put forward for an American-sponsored scholarship in economics, with the idea being that he would eventually use his Western-honed skills in the new Kenya. At the age of 23 he headed for university in Hawaii, leaving behind the pregnant Kezia and their baby son.

Relatives say he was already a slick womaniser and, once in Honolulu, he promptly persuaded a fellow student called Ann - a naive 18-year-old white girl - to marry him. Barack Jnr was born in August, 1961.

Two years later, Obama Snr was on the move again. He was accepted at Harvard, and left his little boy and wife behind when he moved to the exclusive east coast university.

At the time, Ann explained to their son that his father had gone because his meagre stipend would not support the family if they lived together. But finance was the least of her worries.

Mr Obama Jnr claims that racism on both sides of the family destroyed the marriage between his mother and father.

In his book, he says that Ann's mother, who went by the nickname Tut, did not want a black son-in-law, and Obama Snr's father 'didn't want the Obama blood sullied by a white woman'.

In fact Ann divorced her husband after she discovered his bigamous double life. She remarried and moved to Indonesia with young Barack and her new husband, an oil company manager.

Obama Snr was forced to return to Kenya, where he fathered two more children by Kezia. He was eventually hired as a top civil servant in the fledgling government of Jomo Kenyatta - and married yet again.

Now prosperous with a flashy car and good salary, his third wife was an American-born teacher called Ruth, whom he had met at Harvard while still legally married to both Kezia and Ann, and who followed him to Africa.

A relative of Mr Obama says: "We told him[Barack] how his father would still go to Kezia and it was during these visits that she became pregnant with two more children. He also had two children with Ruth."

It is alleged that Ruth finally left him after he repeatedly flew into whisky-fuelled rages, beating her brutally.

Friends say drinking blighted his life - he lost both his legs while driving under the influence and also lost his job.

However, this was no bar to his womanising: he sired a son, his eighth child, by yet another woman and continued to come home drunk.

He was about to marry her when he finally died in yet another drunken crash when Obama was 21.

Mr Obama's 40-year-old cousin Said Hussein Obama told The Mail on Sunday: "Clearly, Barack has been very deeply affected by what he has learned about his father, who was my father's older brother.

"You have to remember that his father was an African and in Africa, polygamy is part of life.

"We have assured Barack that his father was a loving person but at times it must be difficult for him to reconcile this with his father's drinking and simultaneous marriages."

Said adds: "His father was a human being and as such you can't say that he was 100 per cent perfect.

"My cousin found it difficult when he came here to learn of his half-brothers and sisters born to four different mothers.

"But just as Africans find the Western world strange so Americans coming here will find Africa strange."

Barack Obama's Polygamous Pa Was Straight Out of John Updike's The Coup


Thursday, January 25, 2007

South Africa: Raped on the first day of school

Stephanie Saville:

The return to school has had tragic consequences for two young girls in the Pietermaritzburg area who were raped in separate incidents.

In the first incident, a 10-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a fellow 13-year-old pupil on two consecutive days in the playground at a school in the Taylor's Halt area.

Police Inspector Les Botha said that the rapes had taken place on January 17 and 18, the first two days of the school year.

"The victim was playing with her friends in the playground when the suspect came to her and made her lie on the ground and then raped her."

The boy repeated the rape the following day. Botha said that the boy had been arrested and was due to appear in court. He would not release the name of the school.

In another incident, a 6-year-old girl was raped while walking home from school in the Nagle Dam area on Monday. A man had approached the girl and asked her to accompany him into nearby bushes. When she refused, he grabbed her and took her into the bushes where he raped her. No arrests have been made.

In another incident of child rape, a 5-year-old girl was raped at her home in Mpumalanga township on Sunday by a man who police said was well-known to her. The man fled the scene and has not been arrested.

Child Rape and Child Rapists – A New South African Thing

Reality of rape: Parents need to warn kids

Pupils stone teachers' cars in South Africa over failing grades


Pupils at Malaudzi High School in Blood River near Polokwane damaged four cars belonging to teachers at nearby Makgofe High School while trying to force others to join in a protest, said Limpopo police on Wednesday.

The protesters had been boycotting classes since Monday after 11 pupils, who had passed to Grade 12, were told on returning to school that they had failed because their marks had been miscalculated, said inspector Mohlaka Mashiyane.

The protesters were demanding that those pupils be promoted to Grade 12.

"When they found the gates locked at Makgofe High School they started banging on the gates, instructing the students to abandon classes and join in their protests," said Mashiyane.

They began throwing stones at cars parked in the school grounds and dispersed after seeing police cars approaching.

Mashiyane said: "No pupils have been arrested, but we have opened a case of malicious damage to property as four vehicles were damaged."

The department of education in Limpopo said no steps would be taken against the school management as the mistake had been committed by one teacher.

"We are finalising our investigations and we will release a report shortly," said department spokesperson Ndo Mangala.

New South African “Pupils” Stone Teachers After Failing Exams

Half of South Africa believes most police officials are corrupt

Vusumuzi ka Nzapheza:

Half of South Africa believes most police officials are corrupt, according to Robert Mattes, director at UCT's Centre for Social Science Research.

His findings, published in the Institute for Security Studies' crime quarterly bulletin, are based on public opinion surveys done by Afrobarometer and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) from 1994 to 2006.

Mattes found that given the heat generated by media coverage of crime and opposition parties' critiques of government performance in tackling the problem, crime replaced fears of political violence and became one of the most prominent public concerns after 1994.

Between 1997 and 2000, six in 10 South Africans rated crime as the second most important problem government should address, ranking only behind job creation.

In the run-up to the 1999 national elections, the levels of public emphasis on crime fell and crime lost its position as the second most prominent problem. It fell below housing, poverty and HIV and Aids.

"Over the years, government has fended off questions about these public concerns, often chalking them up as the whinging of previously protected white communities now exposed to the same realities long endured by black South Africans.

"The data, however, paint a far more complex reality with 55 percent of black respondents listing crime as a priority problem," according to Mattes.

Crime was one of the five most cited problems by all groups in 2006, rated as the second most prominent problem by 48% of whites and only the fifth most frequently mentioned by blacks.

Mattes ascribes the decline to the emergence of other problems competing for public attention like HIV and Aids.

South Africa's police chief, his friend the murder suspect, and the crime syndicate

In Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Black-on-Black crime has taken a deadly toll

Andy Sheehan:

In the past year, 95 people were murdered in Allegheny County and 70 of those were black men.

Now some in the community are sounding the alarm.

On Monday, two African-American men were gunned down in McKeesport.

One of them was Tanika Cromerdie-Daniels’ brother.

“This is Martin Luther King's birthday and yet it's another black on black crime. I think that's sad, very sad,” she said.

The story of black men being murdered - mostly by members of their own race – has become so common that many have accepted it as a sad fact of the times.

But not the reporters and editors of the Pittsburgh Courier.

“We sat down as a staff and said look we're under attack. And that's what we called the campaign,” said Lou Ranson of the Pittsburgh Courier. “We're under attack and we made sure to answer we're under attack by us. If there we're marauding bands of white folks driving throughout our neighborhood firing, then a war would be on.”

For the past year, the paper has been publishing the names and race of people murdered in Allegheny County and the year’s end tally tells a grim tale.

Of 95 people murdered, 77 were black and 70 of those were black men.

It’s prompted Courier staff to begin a campaign of public awareness and action.

“We're calling on the black community to do something and to step up and say these kinds of things should not happen we need to do something about it,” said Ranson.

Black on Black crime is a family problem

An ethnic divide in the Arab capital of the United States

Neil MacFarquhar:

After the longtime mayor, Michael A. Guido, died of cancer here in December, a flock of Arab-American candidates stepped forward in the hopes of claiming City Hall.

But despite the fact that roughly one in three Dearborn residents is of Arab origin, most of the Arab-American candidates had dropped out by mid-January. Poll numbers showed that none of them could win.

Internal rivalries echoing those that beset the Arab world, along with the general electorate’s lingering unease about Muslims, combined to derail what many here had hoped would be the chance to prove that Arab-Americans had arrived politically — at least in Dearborn, their unofficial capital in this country.

“One day, an Arab-American will be in office at the top, but this will not be the time,” said Osama Siblani, the burly publisher of the weekly Arab American News, whose friends tease him about his perennial “this is the time” editorial at every election. “There is no doubt that electing an Arab-American to the City Hall in Dearborn would have sent a strong message to the rest of the country that Arab-Americans are part of the political process. Would we want it? Yes. Is it possible? No.”

Mayor Guido had something of a checkered reputation among Arab-Americans here, not least because his first campaign, in 1985, distributed a leaflet promising to address the “Arab problem.” Things improved somewhat over the years — he visited Lebanon, and Arab-Americans donated heavily to his campaigns.

But last summer, he criticized the “mobs” protesting Israel’s attacks against civilian targets in Lebanon and sent the Arab-American community a $23,000 bill for overtime for police officers and firefighters during the demonstration. The bill, sent to a coalition of Arab-American groups, resulted in a free-speech lawsuit.

When Mr. Guido died, several Arab-American candidates stepped forward, including a well-known local prosecutor and a former North American middleweight boxing champion who recently starred on “The Contender,” a reality television series. An intensive vetting of candidates for the Feb. 27 election was started under the auspices of the Lebanese American Heritage Club so that the entire community could unite behind just one contender.

That did not happen, not least because the front-runner, John O’Reilly Jr., having been president of the City Council for 17 years, knew something about the internal rivalries pitting the Lebanese against the Iraqis against the Yemenis. Mr. O’Reilly, known as Jack, set out to separate the Yemenis from the rest of the Arab community here and succeeded in winning their early enthusiasm.

Arab-American candidates “come to us and say ‘salaam aleikum’ and a few other Arabic words to play on our emotions,” said Nass Al Rayashi, one of the founders of the Yemeni American Political Action Committee, using the Arabic greeting of “peace be upon you.” The committee was formed in March 2005 in large part because the Yemenis felt the Lebanese had dominated civic life at their expense.

The Yemenis, concentrated in the somewhat gritty South Side neighborhood sandwiched between the sprawling Ford Rouge plant and Woodmere Cemetery, want a candidate focused on local concerns. These include a lack of parking at the Dix Street mosque and pollution emitted by neighboring industrial areas including the Ford vehicle factory, which drew Arabs here for work for decades, but where fewer and fewer are finding jobs.

“Don’t tell us you go to Ali so-and-so’s house to eat Arab food,” Mr. Rayashi added. “This is America, this is the melting pot. Our interests should be what is good for us here.”

There has long been a division between the economically better off western side of Dearborn and the eastern side. In the old days, recalled Mr. O’Reilly, whose father was mayor from 1978 to 1985, the division was known as the “cake eaters” versus the “factory rats.”

Now some see it as more like the Muslims versus everybody else.

“People are a little bit afraid of them,” Mr. O’Reilly said, attributing it partly to traditional Christian education that he said had long taught that “their philosophy of religion was ‘convert to Islam or die.’ ”

The fact that Arab-Americans in Dearborn are prone to demonstrations, including protests against last summer’s war in Lebanon and the recent hanging of Saddam Hussein, only adds to the unease, he said.

Although more affluent Arab-American lawyers and real estate developers have gradually integrated the western part of the city, an ethnic divide remains. Abed Hammoud, a lead lawyer in the Wayne County prosecutor’s office and the favorite of the Arab community until he withdrew from the mayor’s race on Jan. 12, said he was met with surprise when he knocked on doors in western Dearborn.

“People reacted like I had come from the moon,” said Mr. Hammoud, 41, a kinetic figure with receding salt and pepper hair who left Lebanon in 1985. “They said things like ‘It’s good of you to come to this end of town,’ or they asked me about the people ‘over there’ and they meant the other side of town.”

The Arab American Political Action Committee, which Mr. Hammoud and Mr. Siblani, the newspaper publisher, helped found in 1998 largely to inspire Arabs to run and vote, commissioned a poll to assess Mr. Hammoud’s chances. They found Mr. O’Reilly, suddenly alone in the non-Arab field, commanding an unbeatable 65 percent lead to Mr. Hammoud’s roughly 30 percent. They consoled themselves with the fact that Mr. Hammoud was likely to do better this time as a candidate than he did in his first mayoral primary, which fell on the unfortunate date of Sept. 11, 2001.

But basically the results suggested that at best he would capture the Arab vote — not enough to win the entire city of 100,000.

Time alone may favor the Arab-Americans here. Mr. Hammoud cited numbers showing that in 1998, there were 60,000 registered voters in the city, 8,500 of them Arab-Americans. Today, it is 14,500 out of 57,000, and at least 60 percent of high school students are Arab-Americans.

“People look at an Arab now, and the first thing that pops into their head is terrorism,” said Tarick Salmaci, the boxer, who withdrew from the race. “We want to change that. Arab-Americans have to become political figures to change that.

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Muslim jailed for attacking gynaecologist in Paris


A French Muslim who attacked a male gynaecologist for examining his wife just after she had given birth, saying it was against Islam, has been jailed for six months by a Paris court.

Fouad ben Moussa burst into the delivery room at a Paris hospital last November and shoved, slapped and insulted Dr Jean-Francois Oury as he examined the woman after a complicated birth, the prosecution said in court on Wednesday.

Police had to intervene to remove him.

Ben Moussa, a 23-year-old lorry driver, apologised for the attack and said he had requested a female doctor. French state hospitals comply with such requests when staffing permits but say patients must accept treatment from the doctors on duty.

"This is a public and secular place," prosecution lawyer Georges Holleaux said of the state hospital where the attack occurred. "This is not the place where one can invoke religion to get different treatment."

French media have reported cases in recent years of Muslim men barring male doctors from treating their wives, sometimes resorting to violence, but legal cases against them are rare.

France's five million Muslims make up eight percent of the French population, Europe's largest Islamic minority.

Doctors attacker gets 6 months

Iraq and Bush's State of the Union speech

Patrick J. Buchanan:

Churchillian it was not. Yet the State of the Union seemed a success if Bush's purpose was to buy time from Congress to wait and see if his surge of U.S. forces into Iraq might yet succeed.

But when Bush started to describe the ideological war we are in, one began to understand why we are in the mess we are in.

"This war," said Bush, "is an ideological struggle. ... To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come to kill us."

But the "conditions" that drove those 19 men "to come to kill us" is our dominance of their world, our authoritarian allies and Israel.

They were over here because we are over there.

If Bush is going to remove those "conditions," he is going to have to get us out of the Middle East. Is he prepared to do that? Of course not. Because Bush, believing the problem is not our pervasive presence but the lack of freedom in the Middle East, is waging his own ideological war to bring freedom in by force of arms, if necessary.

"What every terrorist fears most is human freedom -- societies where men and women make their own choices."

Very American. But the truth is terrorists do not fear free societies, they flourish in them. The suicide bombers of 9-11, Madrid and London all plotted their atrocities in free societies. From the Red Brigades, who murdered Italy's Aldo Mori, to the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, who tried to kill Al Haig, to the Basque ETA, the IRA and the Puerto Rican terrorists who tried to assassinate Harry Truman, free societies are where they do their most effective work.

Stalin's Russia and Nazi Germany had no trouble with terrorists.

"Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies," declared Bush. Oh? Explain, then, why 70 million Germans, under the most democratic government in their history, gave more than half their votes to Nazis and Communists in 1933? In every plebiscite he held, Hitler won a landslide. In the year of Anschluss and Munich, 1938, Hitler was Time's Man of the Year and far more popular than FDR, who lost 71 seats in the House.

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Men who have hormone and radiation therapy for prostate cancer can experience penile shortening

BBC News:

Turkish researchers studied 47 men who were receiving the treatments, the Journal of Urology reported.

Eighteen months later the researchers assessed the men again, and found a decrease in average stretched penile length from 14.2 to 8.6 centimetres.

UK experts said men should be told about the possible side effect.

The men, who had an average age of 68, were treated with male hormone suppression treatments and radiation therapy for prostate cancer between 2000 and 2005.

They were assessed prior to their treatment, and the length of their penis measured.

They were then checked again at three month intervals up until 18 months after the treatment.

The researchers say it is not clear how the treatment can affect penile length, but suggest it there may be effects on the penile tissue.

Writing in the Journal of Urology, the team led by Dr Ahmet Haliloglu, said: "Our findings support observations of decreased penile length after hormonal therapy plus external beam radiation therapy for local or locally advanced prostate cancer.

"Patients should be counselled before therapy that penile shortening may occur."

Dr Chris Hiley, head of policy and research at the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "This is an interesting study although further research is needed about how men feel about this change to their bodies.

"There may be a huge unmet need for advice and support in this area.

"Some men have reported a penile shortening to the nurses who answer our confidential helpline and we would therefore recommend that men were told this was a possible side effect before their treatment started."

She added: "Men can be caused needless worry by unexpected changes in their body which impact on their quality of life. These must always be taken seriously.

"We would urge men not to be put off seeking treatment or advice about prostate cancer because of this, but to make sure they talk to their doctors in detail about all the possible side effects of a particular treatment."

Prostate cancer treatment may shorten penis

An Indian man accused of raping a girl has married his alleged victim in a religious ceremony in a temple within the compound of a law court

Faisal Mohammad Ali:

Kamalnath Patel, a 22-year-old farmer, offered to marry the girl during the trial in Madhya Pradesh state.

He is accused of kidnapping and raping her two years ago, when she was 16.

Prosecutors said the marriage may mean the court takes a more lenient view if Mr Patel is convicted. Campaigners called the marriage "shameful".

The issue of rape still attracts a lot of stigma in India - in most cases members of the public blame the victim for the crime committed against her.

A court in the central city of Jabalpur has been hearing the case for the last couple of months. The next hearing is on Saturday.

Special public prosecutor Umesh Vaidya said the "court may take cognisance of the fact that the accused has married the alleged victim".

Mr Vaidya said: "Family members from both sides had told the court during the last hearing that they wanted the boy and the girl to get married."

He said the court would be informed of the wedding at the next hearing.

An eyewitness said the marriage was solemnised in the presence of the girl's family members, although Mr Patel's father refused to participate in the ceremony.

The couple were to appear before the registrar of marriages on Wednesday to have their marriage registered.

Women rights' activist, Kiran Walia, called the marriage "shameful".

"It is more distressing since the court was aware of the impending wedding plan," Ms Walia said.

Last year, a Delhi court asked a nurse to consider a marriage proposal from a man who had been convicted of raping and assaulting her.

Women's groups, including the National Commission for Women, criticised the court for even entertaining such a proposal.

The nurse rejected the offer and the judge gave her attacker a life sentence.

Rape cases have been rising steadily in India although a large number of them still go unreported.

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