Thursday, March 29, 2007

England: Some black and ethnic minority groups are three times more likely to be admitted to mental health hospitals


The chairman of the Healthcare Commission has called for the mandatory recording of the ethnicity of all patients using mental health and learning disability services.

Professor Ian Kennedy's call comes following the publication of results from the 'Count Me In' national census showing that some black and ethnic minority groups are three times more likely to be admitted to mental health hospitals.

Recorded in England and Wales in March 2006, the census also demonstrates that black and white/black mixed groups were far more likely to admitted to hospital under the criminal justice system and retained for longer on average.

Suggesting that the census could only provide a "snapshot" of the real picture, professor Kennedy called for more information to be gathered by the Department of Health and the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Call For Mandatory Reporting Of Ethnicity For All Patients Using Mental Health And Learning Disability Services, UK

Count me in - Results of the 2006 national census of inpatients in mental health and learning disability services in England and Wales

Heart disease is one reason why white people in America live longer than black people

Susan Brink:

Called the black-white life expectancy gap, it has widened, narrowed and widened again during the last 100 years. Now that gap has narrowed to a historically low level, from a 7.1-year gap in 1993 to a 5.3-year gap in 2003, the latest year for which national statistics are available.

In a study in last week's Journal of the American Medical Assn., researchers from Canada, England and the U.S. parsed the numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics to explain the trend — and why a longevity difference remains.

They found some bad news, some good news and considerable challenges ahead in bringing African American life expectancy in line with that of whites. "With a century-long view, it looks like a lot of progress," says Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal and lead author of the study. "But there still remains a pretty substantial gap in 2003. Despite the improvements we've seen in homicide and HIV, the gap in heart disease still remains."

That, he says, is the chief culprit behind the shorter life expectancy for black people.

Although HIV/AIDS, which disproportionately affects black people in America, added to the gap until 1996, life-saving drugs then became available and more people — regardless of race — began living with it as a chronic disease.

The high homicide rate of the 1980s also disproportionately affected young African Americans, contributing to an overall decrease in black life expectancy. The homicide death rate for all Americans has dropped from 10.4 per 100,000 in 1980 to 5.9 per 100,000 in 2004. While young black men, ages 15 to 24, are still victims of homicide in staggeringly high numbers — 77.6 per 100,000 in 2004 — those numbers have fallen from a high of 137 per 100,000 in 1990.

African Americans continue to face some sobering health challenges. Among them, the death rate from heart disease is about 30% higher than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The prevalence of diabetes is about 70% higher, and diabetes significantly increases the risk of heart disease.

"African Americans have greater coronary disease, it happens earlier, and the mortality rate is higher," says Dr. Karol Watson, cardiologist and co-director of preventive cardiology at UCLA and spokeswoman for the American Heart Assn. "There are a whole lot of theories about why, but no one knows for sure."

Cause of Black, White Life Expectancy Gap Examined

Campaign seeks to raise awareness among blacks about colorectal cancer

Heart Pumping Variation Found in Racial Groups

Scientists have found that immigrants' ethnicity and country of origin predispose them to caries (tooth decay) and periodontal (gum) disease

Christopher James:

A New York University College of Dentistry research team has found that immigrants' ethnicity and country of origin predispose them to caries (tooth decay) and periodontal (gum) disease.

The team leader, Dr. Gustavo D. Cruz, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion and Director of Global Oral Public Health at NYU, undertook the largest-ever study on the oral health of immigrants to the United States, analyzing caries and periodontal disease rates in over 1,500 Chinese, Haitian, Indian, West Indian, and Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Central and South American immigrants of Hispanic origin living in New York City.

Dr. Cruz, who presented his findings at the annual scientific meeting of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in New Orleans, said the study revealed significant differences among the ethnic groups. Puerto Ricans, Haitians, and Indians, for example, were more likely to suffer from periodontal disease, while Hispanics were more likely to have dental caries.

"These differences," Dr. Cruz said, "are deeply rooted in an immigrant's country of origin, where early cultural influences can set the stage for oral health problems later in life.

"For example, some ethnic groups may be more prone to tooth decay partly because their traditional foods are high in refined carbohydrates, while other groups may be less susceptible to decay because refined carbohydrates are almost absent from their diet.

"Other factors include oral health practices and environmental influences, as in the case of developing countries that don't have a fluoridated water supply to provide protection against tooth decay. Heredity can play a role, as well. Some ethnic groups may be more susceptible to decay-causing oral bacteria."

Dr. Cruz found that rates of tooth decay and periodontal disease can be linked to ethnicity and country of origin even among immigrants who have lived for many years in the United States and have increased income and education levels.

Ethnicity is also a significant factor among those whose oral health is already at risk because they smoke or suffer from systemic health conditions, such as diabetes, that are known to contribute to oral infections.

"My future research will aim to identify which specific factors are behind individual ethnic differences," said Dr. Cruz, "so that preventive measures can be developed, such as diagnostic tests that pinpoint the presence of harmful oral bacteria that may be more common in certain ethnic groups."

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Oral Health

England: An Orthodox Jewish councillor is at the center of a race row over dressing up to look like former South African leader Nelson Mandela

Leslie Bunder:

An Orthodox Jewish councillor is at the centre of a race row following his "blacking up" in a costume for Purim to look like former South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Barnet Conservative member Brian Gordon sent in a photo of himself to a local paper last week and within hours of appearing was met with a number of complaints from opposition members in Barnet who are seeking to have him sacked.

Leading the calls for Gordon to go is Lib Dem member Stieve De Lance who has already reported him to the council as well as the Commission for Racial Equality.

"How can he think this is funny or acceptable? It is thinly veiled racism," she said. "You cannot make jokes like this."

But Gordon has defended himself by saying every year he dresses up as a leader

"For several years on Purim I have taken on the guise of a range of famous personalities, including President Reagan, Boris Yeltsin, Ariel Sharon and Sir Ian Blair - people for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration, as I do for Nelson Mandela," he says.

Gordon added: "The last thing I have ever intended is to cause offence, and if I did on this occasion then I sincerely apologise. However, I am sure that anyone with a modicum of humour will view this matter in its proper perspective."

Race probe over Mandela costume

Tory accused of racism 30 years ago

Tory goes to a fancy-dress party as Mandela...and ends up in racism inquiry

Pakistani Islamic schools are training militants and supporting violent Islamist groups


Pakistani religious schools are training militants and supporting violent Islamist groups while government efforts to reform the seminaries are in a shambles, a security think-tank said on Thursday.

President Pervez Musharraf announced controls on the schools in 2002 but the seminaries, known as madrasas, had in fact thrived because of the government's dependence on religious parties, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.

The Brussels-based group said in a report focusing on Karachi that madrasas in Pakistan's biggest city had trained and dispatched "jihadi", or holy war, fighters to Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir.

"The government's inaction has allowed well-financed networks of madrasas, sectarian parties, and militant groups to flourish in Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan," said Samina Ahmad, the group's South Asia Project Director.

The report was released as authorities in Islamabad were confronting pro-Taliban clerics and their female madrasa students after the students abducted women in a raid on a suspected brothel as part of a private anti-vice drive.

The ICG said because of government failure to regulate madrasas, it was impossible to know how many there were in Karachi and the country as a whole.

The government has said there are 13,000 madrasas nationwide but the think-tank said well-founded estimates put the number at about 20,000. Despite bans and restrictions, an unknown number of foreign students were enrolled at the schools.

Cleric in Pakistan Frees Alleged Brothel Owner After Forced Apology

Special school programs for black students: racist or essential?

Thomas C. Tobin:

For decades, school districts have organized around a simple idea: Whatever you give to white students, give it to black students, too.

Put both groups of students in the same schools. Expose them to the same teaching. If they struggle, give them the same help.

In the Tampa Bay area and across the nation, this was how educators atoned for the long-ago sin of relegating black children to inferior schools.

Now, in a class-action lawsuit that has Pinellas County's top educators on the defensive, the plaintiffs say the policy of equal access has failed the school district's 20,000 black students.

Black kids, they contend, will need uniquely tailored programs if the district ever hopes to erase an education gap that has them lagging behind every other ethnic group in school performance.

The case of William Crowley vs. the Pinellas County School Board - seven years old and finally headed for trial - may be the only one of its kind in the nation.

"What's unique about it is the unadorned claim that if you have an achievement gap, you are violating the law," said Michael Kirk, a Washington, D.C., lawyer hired to help defend the district. If that were true, he argued, then every district with a significant number of minority students would be liable.

The call for a unique set of programs to help black students has been a central theme in recent days as lawyers prepare for a two-week jury trial starting July 9. The plaintiffs' attorney, Guy Burns of Tampa, has summoned the entire Pinellas School Board for depositions, as well as superintendent Clayton Wilcox and his top deputies.

In the four depositions to date, Wilcox and three board members have stayed on message: The district provides equal opportunity for all students to learn, they said. What students make of that opportunity is up to them.

If the district does any tailoring, they said, it's with an eye toward individual student needs, not race. They said the causes of the gap are too varied and complex to be solved by a single program or set of programs for black students.

At one point as he appeared to choke back emotion, Wilcox argued that giving black students something special would imply they are, by nature, less able than their peers.

"I know a lot of people want to ascribe things to us, but I will tell you I think we go out of our way to look at kids as kids in this district," he said. "I know we do at the highest levels. I know we do."

He added: "We don't just go into a school and say, 'You know what? We got a bunch of black kids here so we've got to teach (a different way).' I think that would be racist behavior. I absolutely won't do that. You can't make me do that."

The lawsuit was filed in August 2000 by William Crowley on behalf of his son, Akwete Osoka, then a 7-year-old student at Sawgrass Elementary School in St. Petersburg.

The boy, who is black, had faced academic problems that were "typical of those difficulties commonly faced by students of African descent," the lawsuit said. It alleged Pinellas failed to provide an adequate education to black students, in violation of Florida law and the state Constitution.

The case has since become a class action, meaning the plaintiffs include all black children who attend or will later attend Pinellas public schools.

Initially supported by the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement, an activist group in St. Petersburg, the challenge has come to be embraced by a broader segment of the black population, Burns said.

It is a case grounded in numbers, none of them flattering.

Last year, 67 percent of black public school students in Pinellas scored below their grade level on the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test - nearly twice the percentage of low-scoring whites.

The graduation rate for black students was a dismal 46 percent in 2005, and black students perennially are more than twice as likely as nonblacks to be suspended.

Rationale has disappeared for busing kids

Schools tackle plan for diversity

Corrections officers are separating black and Latino detainees in the lockdown unit of the Prince George's County Detention Center in Upper Marlboro

Ruben Castaneda:

Corrections officers are separating black and Latino detainees in the lockdown unit of the Prince George's County Detention Center in Upper Marlboro to try to prevent violence between members of the two groups, according to an internal memo and jail officials.

Escalating tensions between the detainees prompted the March 6 memo, which directed officers to keep Latinos' recreation time separate from that of other detainees. The memo, written by Acting Lt. Col. Jerome R. Smith, chief of security at the detention center, said a "recent escalation of gang violence" prompted the changes.

"Special precautions are to be taken when inmates are out for interviews," Smith wrote. "If a Latino inmate is being interviewed, no other inmates are to be out."

The lockdown unit is for detainees who are accused of an infraction -- such as fighting -- in other parts of the facility. Inmates in the unit are confined to their cells 23 hours a day. It is designed for 96 detainees and typically holds 50 to 60 inmates.

The separation is unusual inss Washington area jails. D.C. and Montgomery and Fairfax County corrections officials said this week that they do not separate their inmates by ethnicity or race.

The memo said nothing about whether black and Latino detainees should not be assigned to the same cell. However, corrections officers in the lockdown unit are assigning black and Latino detainees to separate cells, said a supervisor at the detention center, who asked not to be identified because he had not been given permission to be interviewed.

"There's too much conflict and fighting," the supervisor said. He said officers in the unit are adhering to "jailhouse law" -- assigning black detainees to the same cells as other blacks, Latinos with Latinos, and whites with whites. "It's nothing written, but you try to keep the calm," the supervisor said.

Vicki D. Duncan, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Corrections, confirmed the authenticity of the memo. She said corrections officers consider several factors when assigning cellmates, including tensions along racial or ethnic lines.

Another “Preposterous” Prison Race Riot — In the Year 2007! L.A. Times Editors Would Be Shocked!

Poll shows that half of Israel's Jewish population believes that Arabs should be encouraged to leave the country

Yoav Stern:

A Poll sponsored by the Center for the Campaign Against Racism found that half the Jewish population of Israel believe the state should encourage Arab emigration.

The poll, conducted by the Geocartography Institute and presented Tuesday at a press conference, found a sharp increase in the number of Israeli Jews who support Arab emigration in comparison to a similar poll conducted last year.

The poll was carried out in December 2006, and included 500 participants. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.

In addition, the poll addresses the Jewish reaction to hearing the Arabic language spoken on the streets of Israel. According to the data, some 50 percent of the participants said they become fearful when they hear the Arabic language spoken around them. 43 percent said they feel uncomfortable, and 30 percent feel hatred. In contrast, last year only 17.5 percent said they feel hatred when faced with spoken Arabic.

The poll participants were also asked about work relations with Arabs. 50 percent said they would refuse to work at a job in which their direct supervisor would be Arab. This number represents a 47 percent increase since the 2005 poll on the same topic.

Center for the Campaign Against Racism director Baher Awdeh called on the state of Israel on Tuesday to "wake up" in light of these findings, and utilize its judicial and education systems to combat this rise in racist sentiments. Awdeh said that the fact that Israel is defined as the "Jewish state" is discriminatory against Arabs in and of itself. "Jewish citizens interpret this definition to mean that they are superior or entitled to more rights than Arab citizens," he said.

Awdeh offered his explanation for the deterioration of Jewish-Arab relations, saying the war in Lebanon, and the opposing views it generated among Jewish and Arab citizens, could have contributed to the deterioration. Another reason could be the entry of Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) to the coalition, being a politician known for his anti-Arab views. He added that Israel's policy of expropriating Palestinian lands and destroying Palestinian homes may have also contributed to the problem.

"When Sheikh Raed Salah said what he said in Jerusalem, he was immediately arrested and indicted. But when Jewish religious figures and politicians express anti-Arab views, no indictments are filed, even months later," Awdeh said.

Report: Majority of Israeli Arabs are not part of labor force

Study: Israeli Jews live four years longer than Israeli Arabs

Study: Arabs may be poorer, but Jews get more welfare funds

‘Marriage to an Arab is national treason’

More than 623,000 fugitive aliens are loose on the streets of America

Jerry Seper:

The federal government has spent $204 million since 2003 to hunt down and remove fugitive aliens from the United States, but it has shown little success in slowing down a burgeoning number of aliens now hiding in cities and towns across America.

More than 623,000 fugitive aliens or "absconders" are loose on the streets of America, according to a report issued yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General -- up from 331,000 after the September 11 attacks and 418,000 in 2003.

Despite the deployment by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of 50 Fugitive Operations Teams nationwide with the "immediate mission" to eliminate the growing backlog of fugitive aliens -- those ordered deported but who have disappeared -- it has increased annually since the program's February 2002 inception.

"The fugitive alien population is growing at a rate that exceeds the teams' ability to apprehend," said Inspector General Richard L. Skinner, noting the teams' inability "to keep pace with the increase in the backlog of fugitive aliens, not to mention reduce it."

Mr. Skinner said the backlog of fugitive aliens increased an average of 51,228 each year over a four-year period ending September 2005, and that from October 2005 to August 2006, the number jumped by 86,648.

The 68-page report said the effectiveness of fugitive teams was hampered by insufficient detention capacity, limitations of an immigration database and inadequate working space.

It also found that the teams were called on to perform duties unrelated to fugitive operations, contrary to ICE policy. Those duties included serving as firearms instructors, juvenile coordinators, jail inspectors, escorting aliens to their country of origin or from local jails to an ICE facility, taking bonds, escorting special-interest aliens to court appearances, and managing the detained and non-detained dockets.

"While team members are performing non-fugitive operations duties, they are unable to identify, locate or apprehend fugitives," Mr. Skinner said.

He said that as of March 2006, there were 11.5 million to 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States and that by August 2006, ICE estimated a backlog of 623,292 fugitive aliens. He said fugitive aliens made up 5.4 percent of the illegal-alien population.

Prostitution ring alleged

Report: 600,000 Illegal Immigrants Still in U.S. Despite Orders to Leave

Nigeria: Teachers trade sex for grades

Katherine Houreld:

When Nigeria's education minister faced an audience of 1,000 schoolchildren, she expected to hear complaints of crowded classrooms and lack of equipment. Instead, girl after girl spoke up about being pressured for sex by teachers in exchange for better grades. One girl was just 11 years old.

"I was shocked," said the minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili, who has several children herself. "I asked — was it that prevalent? And they all chorused 'yes.' "

For years, sexual harassment has been rampant in Nigeria's universities, but until recently very little was done about it. From interviews with officials and 12 female college students, a pattern emerges of women being held back and denied passing grades for rebuffing teachers' advances, and of being advised by other teachers to give in quietly.

The problem has spread into schools, says Ezekwesili, and there are signs the government is finally intervening. Now that harassment even features in a song by a popular Nigerian musician, Eedris Abdulkareem, it is almost impossible to ignore.

"Mr. Lecturer, come get it on with me," croons a young girl in the song. "I'm gonna rub your back and your potbelly, make you pass my paper." With a deep chuckle, Abdulkareem replies, "Come into my office."

Most victims are college students such as Chioma, a quiet 22-year-old with a B average, who repeatedly failed political science after refusing her teacher's explicit demands for sex. She said he was a pastor old enough to be her grandfather.

"Now it has been two years and everyone else has graduated," she said. She is desperate to finish her studies and begin working to help support her family, yet "my life is stopped," she said.

Chioma and others who spoke to The Associated Press asked that their surnames be withheld. All said they and several close friends had been harassed. Stigma prevents many more from speaking out, says Oluyemisi Obilade, a professor who teaches adult education at prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University at Ile-Ife.

Like many Nigerian universities, the seemingly peaceful campus with its flame trees and soaring art-deco architecture has witnessed horrifying sexual assaults. After a student was gang-raped nine years ago, Obilade formed WARSHE — Women Against Rape, Sexual Harassment and Exploitation.

Obilade estimates she has helped hundreds of female students — and the odd male — who have been attacked by students or harassed by lecturers. Students have been raped in libraries, reading rooms and their own dorms, she says. "Some lecturers see young girls as fringe benefits," she says. "We've had cases where the girls have complained and the heads of their department have called them and said, 'Give him what he wants.' "

Mayowa, 20, a student, said six of her friends are having problems and none has sought help. "It's tough to fight," she said. "Sometimes you just have to give in."

In a recent survey carried out by a graduate student and paid for by WARSHE, 80 percent of 300 women questioned at four universities said sexual harassment was their top concern.

But with a strong African tradition of respecting one's elders, families or teachers, harassed students can rarely expect support, even when repeated complaints are made against one individual.

Harassment is commonplace in schools and colleges in many African countries, says Miriam Jato, a senior adviser to UNFPA, the U.N. agency that deals with gender issues. She says dodging teachers' advances consumes a girl's school years.

"In some rural areas, parents withdraw girls from schools when they reach a certain age because they are afraid they will have to have relations with teachers."

Nigerian students held to ransom for grades

African riots enter French politics

Angela Doland:

It began with a routine ticket check at a Paris train station. What happened next - rioting, looting, tear gas - showed the anger that erupted into violence in France's troubled neighborhoods in 2005 still smolders beneath the surface.

The rampage by youths, many apparently of African or North African descent, at a major rail hub Tuesday became an instant campaign issue in the French presidential race. It was a jarring reminder of the social tensions France's new leader will contend with when he or she takes power in May.

Front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy of the governing right called the violence at the Gare du Nord unacceptable. His main rival, Socialist Segolene Royal, blamed Sarkozy's camp, saying the right's policing policies were an utter failure.

Anger erupted after a 32-year-old man without a Metro ticket punched two inspectors during a routine check, police said. The man, an illegal alien from Congo who has challenged France's efforts to expel him, had been convicted in 2004 for insulting a magistrate, police unions said.

Dozens of youths gathered to defend the man from ticket agents, and the group swelled to 300 people and grew more and more aggressive, police said.

The youths wielded metal bars, smashed windows, looted stores and injured eight train agents and a police officer, police authorities said.


Rioting in Paris Dramatizes French Election

Black students are not doing any better in middle-class schools than in black schools

Danielle Deaver:

The school-choice plan that Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools put in place more than 10 years ago created racially segregated schools but did not affect students' performance in school, according to a study from a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Students are performing at the level you would expect them to perform, and it does not appear to be affected by school choice. That is the profound finding here," Dennis K. Orthner, a professor of public policy and social work at the university, told the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board last night.

Orthner presented the findings of Hinckley A. Jones-Sanpei, who studied school choice in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system for her doctoral dissertation, titled "School Choice, Segregation, and Academic Outcomes: Educational Trajectories Under a Controlled Choice Student Assignment Policy." Orthner was her adviser.

"I felt like all along that students were not being disadvantaged," Superintendent Don Martin said. "They were not disadvantaged, but they were not advantaged."

Jones-Sanpei looked at the test scores of 11,000 students who were in the school system between 1992 and 2002. She found that the racial makeup of a student's school had no effect on his or her scores on standardized tests.

"Black students are not doing any better in middle-class schools than the black schools?" asked school-board member Vic Johnson.

"That's right. Just because they are in a majority black school does not mean that they are doing worse. Being in a school with more whites does not make a difference," Orthner said.

The findings were surprising, he said. "Previous studies have shown that school choice as it was implemented here tended to lead to greater racial homogeneity," he said. "What was unanticipated was that there would be no negative effects."

School choice and its effect on the racial makeup of the schools in Forsyth County have been controversial, and some community activists have said that school choice has hurt minority students' academic achievement.

School choice has created segregated schools, Orthner said. They expected racial majorities in schools to be between 32 percent and 68 percent. Instead, schools have as little as 13 percent and as high as 99 percent minorities.

"School choice in this district, does it promote more racial homogeneity? Absolutely. And as you've done it in this district it has produced schools that are majority white and majority black," he said.

Boys, Hispanics less likely to graduate on time, data shows

Illinois schools dodge federal warning list over minority students

Associated Press:

Almost 300,000 reading and math tests taken by Illinois students in 2006 weren't counted because the state relaxed a rule under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, allowing some schools to dodge a warning they were failing.

The tests most likely to be discounted were low-income and minority students, The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday. Almost one in four black students and one in five low-income students didn't have their scores counted.

According to federal guidelines, a school's progress under the law is evaluated on tests taken by students enrolled for a "full academic year," which each state defines.

Illinois changed its rule so that students must be enrolled May 1 of the previous school year to have their tests counted. Before last year, the state counted the tests of students enrolled by Oct. 1 of the school year.

The change meant that 283,000 tests were not counted, letting 53 schools dodge a warning list of underperforming schools. Schools that make the list can face sanctions, such as offering students the chance to transfer to other schools.

The number of unreported tests is more than five times the number that were not counted in 2005, the newspaper reported.

State uses test loophole

Racial and class differences splinter Madrona School

Lornet Turnbull:

A large photo of smiling children hangs at the entrance of Madrona K-8. Superimposed across their faces is the caption: "This is who we are."

Most of the children in the photograph are African American.

A block away, a different portrait emerges — that of a gentrified neighborhood where residents meet to chat at the corner bakery and young mothers push strollers along a main street of small shops and restaurants.

On any given day, most of them are white.

In recent years, the school at the center of this neighborhood in Seattle's Central Area has undergone its own gentrification of sorts, as small numbers of middle-class white families began enrolling their children in a school that remains largely black and persistently poor.

The resulting conflict spotlights a challenge the Seattle School District faces as it tries to attract and keep middle- and upper-middle-class families, while intensifying efforts to help disadvantaged students achieve.

Some parents, even before their own children were old enough for Madrona, had tried to improve the school. That left some parents with children already at the school bristling at the suggestion that somehow it wasn't good enough.

The newer parents helped revive the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), started after-school programs and volunteered in classrooms. But in the end, some gave up, saying they didn't feel welcome, and last fall, several withdrew their children.

Madrona's principal, Kaaren Andrews, believes some left because, ultimately, they were uncomfortable with the school's racial balance. And she believes some of their expectations were unreasonable in a school whose most pressing priority is to help disadvantaged students succeed.

Some supporters of the principal agree, saying some who left expected private-school extras at an inner-city public school.

The result is a clash that speaks to race and class and achievement — where everyone seems to want what's best for the children yet is divided over how to get it.

In this school of 442 students, about 75 percent are black, 11 percent are white, and the others are of other races.

The hurt feelings are so widespread that the head of the PTSA asked Mayor Greg Nickels for help and the school district agreed to pay for a facilitator to bring the sides together.

The result was a meeting Tuesday night that drew about 175 past, present and future Madrona parents who, in often emotional comments, tackled the issue of race at the school. They spoke of Madrona K-8's role in meeting the wide-ranging needs of all their children.

Some white parents talked of wanting to feel that a school only blocks from their homes could be a place where their children could get a well-rounded education and where they could feel welcome donating their time.

Some black parents pointed out that their ethnicity is appreciated at a school like Madrona and expressed concerns over white families changing the school in the same way they've changed the neighborhood.

Ed Taylor, University of Washington dean of undergraduate academic affairs, helped establish a partnership between the school and the university. In an earlier conversation, Taylor said, "Here, you have an interesting confluence where kids living in Section 8 [low-income] housing are brought together with what might be the children of Microsoft millionaires.

"There are fundamental questions for that neighborhood: Can you thoughtfully have a multiracial school in which the needs of all kids are being met?"

Andrews' academic background and Ivy League credentials — Princeton, Stanford and Columbia universities — impressed some of the neighborhood parents when she came on board in 2004, and the white principal's race left a few to hope that she would embrace them.

There were already signs of change by the time she arrived. That year, the kindergarten class of 52 kids was one of the most diverse in years, with an almost equal number of black students and white.

Steven Orser's son was one of them.

Orser, who is white, has lived in the neighborhood 12 years. He had gone to school in Baltimore with children of all races and income levels, knew the racial mix at Madrona and wanted that for his kids, too.

He became active in the school three years before his eldest was enrolled. He was among those who helped revive the PTSA, serving as its treasurer for four years and volunteering in classrooms.

But in the end, he said, he never felt welcomed. Orser said the principal seemed to dismiss suggestions for reducing class sizes or incorporating art and music programs into the curriculum — something he felt would benefit all children.

"We had financial resources and people with all kinds of skills willing to help," Orser said. "It was clear she didn't want our money and was reluctant to give us direction."

Disillusioned, Orser transferred his son at the start of this school year to Lowell Elementary School, where he tested into the gifted program.

"The saddest day of my last 10 years was the day I realized my son would no longer be at Madrona — despite everything I'd put into it."

In the fall, two years after Andrews came to Madrona, nine families with those or other concerns followed him out of the school, withdrawing 11 students in all.

They were allowed to transfer under a federal law that requires the district to offer them a choice of other Seattle schools because so few of Madrona's fourth-graders passed the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) last year.

So much for racially-integrated schools.

California: New regulations require schools to make measurable progress toward closing the gap between whites and lower-achieving minority students

Howard Blume:

Superior Elementary in Chatsworth, as its name implies, is anything but deficient, with a state ranking that far surpasses the state's measure of success.

But under new state rules, the school could go from A+ to F in a hurry. The regulations require schools to make measurable progress toward closing the gap between whites and lower-achieving minority students. And the scores of its students learning English aren't rising fast enough.

Superior is not alone.

The same fate likely awaits other campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The schools met their improvement goals for 2006 but would not have under the 2007 rules.

"It's going to be more challenging for schools to reach their growth target," said state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. But "closing the achievement gap is not only an economic imperative, but a moral imperative."

The state's primary measure of success is the Academic Performance Index, which grades schools on a scale from 200 to 1,000 based on student test scores in math, English and other subjects. Schools are required to meet annual improvement targets. Minorities, the poor, the disabled and other groups also have to improve, but until this year, the achievement gap could widen even while a school received credit for getting better.

The state's push is in concert with national efforts under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which has its own ever-increasing requirements for closing the achievement gap.

Some critics view the state's increased attention to the achievement gap as long overdue or even insufficient. Others worry that more and more schools will be unfairly branded as failures.

Superior Street Elementary has surpassed the state's API target score of 800. It's edging close to 875 — the score a school would earn if every student tested as "proficient." Even its English learners are flying high by district standards, but starting next year, they'll have to do better. They must improve either by five points or 5% of the difference between their score and 800, whichever is more.

Or, put another way, the achievement gap must begin to close or a school won't make its annual improvement targets.

If it was the schools' fault then wouldn't all the students be performing poorly instead of just the minority ones?

Japan: British schoolteacher found dead in a bath of sand in a Tokyo apartment had been badly beaten and strangled

Ben Quinn:

The suspect fled barefoot when police arrived at his apartment

Lindsay Hawker, 22, was struck several times before being throttled at the high-rise home of the main suspect now being hunted for her murder.

Police are still looking for Tatsuya Ichihashi, 28, who was seen fleeing the scene barefoot.

Miss Hawker’s father, Bill, and her boyfriend Ryan Garside have flown to Japan to formally identify the body and make arrangements for her to be returned to the UK.

The results of a post-mortem examination concluded that Miss Hawker, from Brandon near Coventry, died by asphyxiation caused by strangulation.

A police spokesman said he did not know whether the English language teacher had been sexually assaulted.

Ichihashi, who was described in the Japanese press as a "doctor’s pampered son," is wanted on suspicion of abandoning her body.

Police spokesman Akira Ebihara said that Ichihashi first approached Miss Hawker about possible English lessons on March 21. He followed her from the railway station back to her apartment in Funabashi, where she let him in because her flatmate was home, Mr Ebihara said.

Once inside, he drew a picture of the teacher and wrote down his name and number.

Mr Ebihara said Miss Hawker, who had worked in Japan for five months, agreed to give him an English lesson last Sunday morning at his flat in Ichikawa. She was reported missing the following day by the Nova language school after she failed to answer her mobile phone.

Visiting the address left by Ichihashi, police found Miss Hawker’s body in the bath, completely buried under sand except for one hand. Her handbag, identification documents and clothes were found nearby. Neighbours apparently heard scraping noises coming from the fourth floor flat.

'Bathtub murderer stalked victim in days before death'

UK teacher suffocated, say police

Murdered woman's father vows to seek justice

Should the United States try to change a dictatorship to a democracy when it can, or should the United States stay out of other countries' affairs?

Patrick J. Buchanan:

In his second inaugural, President Bush declared that America's national goal is now to "support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny on earth."

Are Americans still willing to support that utopian mission with blood and billions of dollars?

In a Gallup poll this year that posed the question, "Should the United States try to change a dictatorship to a democracy when it can, or should the United States stay out of other countries' affairs?" -- by near five to one Americans said, "Stay out." Fifteen percent said "yes" to the Bush commitment. Sixty-nine percent said to stay out of the internal affairs of other countries.

Columnist David Broder cites a Penn, Schoen poll conducted Jan. 30 to Feb. 4. By 58 percent to 36 percent, respondents said, "It is a dangerous illusion to believe America is superior to other nations; we should not be attempting to reshape other nations in light of our values."

"By an even greater proportion -- almost three to one," adds Broder, "they say the main goal of American foreign policy should be to protect the security of the United States and its allies, rather than the promotion of freedom and democracy."

By 70 percent to 27 percent, Americans agreed, "Sometimes it's better to leave a dictator in charge of a hostile country, if he is contained, rather than risk chaos that we can't control if he is brought down."

By 58 percent to 38 percent, American agreed with the statement that "if negotiating with countries that support terrorism like Iran and Syria will help protect our security interests, the U.S. should consider negotiating with them."

"Practicality trumps idealism at every turn," writes Broder.

"Idealism"? That is true only if one buys the proposition that refusing to talk to enemies and fighting unnecessary wars is idealism rather than folly. FDR and Truman talked to Stalin, Ike invited the Butcher of Budapest to Camp David, Nixon went to Beijing to talk to Mao, Reagan accepted Gorbachev's invitation to Reykjavik during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Were all these men devoid of idealism?

The Coming War With Iran

Iraq, Iran, and the Lobby

Squalor and shrinking hope for Ethiopian Jews who want to move to Israel

Elana Ringler:

Thousands of Ethiopians who say their Jewish roots entitle them to live in Israel are stuck in a squalid camp in Ethiopia, their dream of a promised land fading as Israel scrutinizes their family ties.

Known as "Falashas Mura", the descendants of Ethiopian Jews have reverted to Judaism since their late 18th and 19th century forbears converted to Christianity, sometimes under duress.

Tens of thousands of practicing Ethiopian Jews or Falashas -- which means "outsiders" in Ethiopia's Amharic language -- were airlifted to Israel in dramatic, top-secret operations in the 1980s and 1990s after a rabbinical ruling that they were direct descendants of the biblical Jewish Dan tribe.

By 1998, Israel said it had brought all of Ethiopia's Jews home to the Jewish state but another rabbinical ruling that year complicated matters by also recognizing as Jews those Falashas Mura -- converted outsiders -- who revert to Judaism.

That spawned a special law allowing Falashas Mura with immediate relatives in Israel to immigrate, stopping short of recognizing them under the ‘law of return' which gives Israeli citizenship to any Jew from anywhere in the world.

"Basically we are speaking about a law which is aimed at family unifications, I don't know of any similar law, any similar system, worldwide," said Israel's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Yaacov Amitai.

Since the law was passed small numbers of Falashas Mura every month have been emigrating to Israel.

But now Israel -- a country built on immigration which says it houses about 110,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent -- has finalized a list of the last to be brought in.

That would leave thousands -- estimates range from 8,000 to 16,000 -- in Gondar's sprawling, filthy camp and the surrounding villages.

Many people in the camps have been waiting for years in cramped mud shacks with no running water or basic sanitation, depending on food donations to survive. Families have been split up, only some of their number allowed into Israel.

Israel has criticized the volunteer groups and charities that have been supporting the camp at Gondar, saying they raised false hopes for thousands of Ethiopians -- many of whom have no connection with the Falashas.

But the camps represent a glimmer of hope for the thousands who have left their villages in search of a better life.

"I want to go to Israel and change my life, I'm not happy here," said 9-year-old Maskaram Achinef, helping her mother sort through grain on the dusty ground, an open sewer flowing just meters away.

"I need a clean house and a good school. This is what will make me happy."

She is lucky. After seven years in the camp her family recently heard they will be allowed to emigrate before the end of next year. Many of their neighbors are still waiting: the Interior Ministry has said more than 6,000 'Falashas Mura' will be allowed in by the end of 2008.

But those who are left face an uncertain future in Ethiopia -- living on the margins of society in the Horn of Africa's grinding cycle of war and famine -- because they fail to meet Israel's current definition of who is a Jew and of who has a right to live in the Holy Land.

Carried back in time with Ethiopia's Jews

Ethiopia accuses Jewish group of fraud

Barack Obama makes up story about a black man who had tried to whiten his skin

Richard Cohen:

In his memoir, "Dreams From My Father," he recounts a watershed moment of his own -- a "revelation," a "violent" awakening, an incident that "permanently altered" his "vision." Twice he tells how as a 9-year-old he went to the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia (a country where his mother had taken him to live) and came across a Life magazine article about a black man who had tried to whiten his skin through some sort of chemical process. The result was a disaster.

"I felt my face and neck get hot," Obama wrote. "My stomach knotted; the type began to blur on the page."

The child had, for the first time, confronted racism and its hideous consequences.

Only there is no such issue of Life magazine. So says the Chicago Tribune, which has gone through the Obama memoir with commendable thoroughness. The newspaper conducted "more than 40 interviews with former classmates, teachers, friends and neighbors" from Obama's youth and found both trivial and substantial differences between the stories Obama tells and those recalled by others. What emerges from the Tribune's reporting is a man who seems much less fixated than he insists on finding his racial identity.

When the Tribune told Obama that Life magazine historians could find no such story, Obama suggested it might have been Ebony -- "or it might have been . . . who knows what it was?" (The Tribune says Ebony's archivists also could not come up with such an article.)

Obama skepticism spreading

Obama: Insincere or not-all-that-bright?

Obama as the postmodern John Cheever of Honolulu

Micheal Ray Richardson, coach of the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Assn., has been suspended for comments that insulted Jews and gays

Jim Buzinski:

Micheal Ray Richardson

"Shut the **** up, you faggot," Richardson shouted to a heckler Tuesday during a game, the Albany Times Union reported. He also yelled at another fan to "shut the **** up." As for what he said about Jews, you have to read the account in the Times Union to get the true flavor:

"I've got big-time lawyers," Richardson said when discussing his contract negotiations. "I've got big-time Jew lawyers."

When told, however, that such an offhand remark might offend people because it plays to the stereotype that Jews are crafty and shrewd, Richardson replied: "Are you kidding me? They are. They've got the best security system in the world. Have you ever been to an airport in Tel Aviv? They're real crafty. Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they've got to be crafty."

Why are they hated? he was asked.

"They know that in this country the Jews are running it if you really think about it," Richardson said. "I mean, which is not a bad thing, you know what I mean?"

"How are they running it?" he was asked.

"They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean?" he said. "Which I think is great. I don't think there's nothing wrong with it. If you look in most professional sports, they're run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, more businesses, they're run by Jewish. It's not a knock, but they are some crafty people."

After his remarks became public, Richardson was suspended for the rest of the CBA championship series, and the league said it will conduct an investigation. "We will not tolerate and the league will not tolerate bigots to perform in our league," Patroons owner Ben Fernandez said.

When Patroons general manager Jim Coyne heard about the comments, they were not enough to make him want to talk to Richardson about his conduct, Times Union columnist Brian Ettkin reported. "He's an adult and he should know better," Coyne told Ettkin. "He knows if he's acting appropriately or inappropriately." Apparently, the CBA saw things differently.

Richardson was surprised by the suspension and issued a non-apology apology. "It's terrible and I don't think it's fair," Richardson said. "But I want to make an apology if I offended anyone because that's not me."

Richardson had been an NBA star before being suspended in 1986 for drug use. He then played in Europe for 14 years before coming back to the U.S. and the CBA.

Richardson is the second CBA official and former NBA player to be suspended for comments in a month that dealt with gays. Tim Hardaway, the former Miami Heat star, was relieved of his duties for the expansion Miami franchise after saying, "I hate gay people." Hardaway was reacting to the public coming out of former player John Amaechi.

The Onionization of America, Part 329

Say nay, Micheal Ray

Black Sports Commentator Suggests that Jews Have a Lot of Power and Influence, Gets Fired for Saying So

Scientists have identified a gene for osteoporosis which may underlie differences between African-Americans and Caucasians

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press:

Today, researchers report the identification of a gene that may play a role in susceptibility to osteoporosis-the crippling disease that leads to bone fractures, especially of the hip and spine. The study, conducted by scientists at the Musculoskeletal Diseases Center of the Jerry L Pettis Memorial Veteran's Affairs Medical Center at Loma Linda, shows convincing evidence that a gene called DARC negatively regulates bone density in mice. The report appears online in Genome Research.

"If our finding using the mouse model is confirmed in humans, then we may be able to develop therapies that are based on inhibiting the function of the DARC gene," explains Dr. Subburaman Mohan, Ph.D., a Senior Scientist at the Loma Linda VA Medical Center and a Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at Loma Linda University. "We will also be able to develop genetic screens to identify individuals who are at risk for osteoporosis."

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects 55% of Americans over the age of 50. Low bone mineral density (BMD) - the primary indicator of osteoporosis-is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors (e.g., diet or medication). But the genetic element has been difficult to characterize because bone growth is controlled by many genes, including those for various hormones, growth factors, signaling molecules, and structural components of bone and cartilage.

Previous genetic studies had pointed to a region on mouse chromosome 1 as containing a gene responsible for BMD regulation. In the current project, Mohan and his colleagues honed in on this region of chromosome 1 using a variety of molecular techniques, and they located a gene called DARC (Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines) that exhibited different levels of expression in mice with higher BMD. The analogous chromosomal region has also been shown to influence osteoporosis in humans.

The protein encoded by DARC binds to chemokines-or small signaling proteins-that are involved in osteoclast formation. Osteoclasts break down bone in a process called bone resorption, releasing important minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and magnesium into the bloodstream. This causes a reduction in BMD.

To confirm the involvement of DARC in regulating BMD, Mohan's team characterized the skeletal phenotype of mice with and without the DARC gene. The DARC-knockout mice exhibited increased BMD and lower bone resorption compared to mice with the DARC gene, supporting the predicted role of DARC in hastening bone resorption. They also showed that antibodies to the DARC protein, which effectively blocked the action of DARC, inhibited the formation of osteoclasts.

Although the researchers have identified a number of DNA alterations in the DARC gene, they did not pinpoint the specific alteration that was responsible for the BMD differences between the two strains of mice. However, Mohan and his colleagues predict that changes in the amino acid sequence or alterations in regulatory regions of the DARC gene may lead to key functional changes.

"There are interesting differences between African Americans and Caucasians that could be associated with this gene," explains Mohan. "African Americans exhibit significantly higher BMD compared to Caucasians. Also, African Americans generally do not have the Duffy protein on red blood cells, while Caucasians do. The potential genetic association between DARC gene variation and these traits in humans certainly makes it worthy of further investigation."

Osteoporosis in the Genes?

The Duffy antigen/receptor for chemokines (DARC) and prostate cancer. A role as clear as black and white?

Gene mutation protecting against malaria linked to prostate cancer incidence in African-American men

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tooth decay and human migration out of Africa

Nicholas Wade:

A human body is not the individual organism its proud owner may suppose but rather a walking zoo of microbes and parasites, each exploiting a special ecological niche in its comfortable, temperature-controlled conveyance. Some of these fellow travelers live so intimately with their hosts, biologists are finding, that they accompany them not just in space but also in time, passing from generation to generation for thousands of years.

The latest organism to be identified as a longtime member of the human biota club is Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium that causes tooth decay. From samples collected around the world, Dr. Page W. Caufield and colleagues at New York University have found that the bacterium can be assigned by its DNA to several distinct lineages. One is found in Africans, one in Asians and a third in Caucasians (the people of Europe, the Near East and India), his team reported in last month’s Journal of Bacteriology.

The geographical distribution of these lineages reflects the pattern of human migration out of the ancestral homeland in Africa. If the tooth decay bacterium spreads easily from person to person, any geographical pattern would soon be blurred. But Streptococcus mutans is transmitted almost entirely from mother to child, preserving its lineages over thousands of years. The bacteria apparently infect the infant during birth, beginning the work that provides the dentistry profession its livelihood. “We’ve never seen father-to-child transmission,” Dr. Caulfield said. Thanks, Mom.

'Ancestral eve' was mother of all tooth decay

The plaque record of human migrations

Damage to an area of the brain behind the forehead, inches behind the eyes, transforms the way people make moral judgments

Benedict Carey:

In a new study, people with this rare injury expressed increased willingness to kill or harm another person if doing so would save others’ lives.

The findings are the most direct evidence that humans’ native revulsion to hurting others relies on a part of neural anatomy, one that evolved before the higher brain regions responsible for analysis and planning.

The researchers emphasize that the study was small and that the moral decisions were hypothetical; the results cannot predict how people with or without brain injuries will act in real life-or-death situations. Yet the findings, appearing online yesterday, in the journal Nature, confirm the central role of the damaged region, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is thought to give rise to social emotions, like compassion.

Previous studies showed that this region was active during moral decision making, and that damage to it and neighboring areas from severe dementia affected moral judgments. The new study seals the case by demonstrating that a very specific kind of emotion-based judgment is altered when the region is offline. In extreme circumstances, people with the injury will even endorse suffocating an infant if that would save more lives.

“I think it’s very convincing now that there are at least two systems working when we make moral judgments,” said Joshua Greene, a psychologist at Harvard who was not involved in the study. “There’s an emotional system that depends on this specific part of the brain, and another system that performs more utilitarian cost-benefit analyses which in these people is clearly intact.”

Morality, Psychopaths and Emotions

Is Morality a Result of Evolution? Study Shows Biological Roots of Moral Decisions

Posing the right question

Biologist sees human morality evolving from the sociality of primates

Primate origins of morality

Sudanese asylum seeker assaulted young girl in Britain

Portsmouth Today:

An asylum seeker who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in a park has been jailed.

Mobarak Hussein approached the girl and her five-year-old sister in August 2005 on Southsea seafront and asked the 12-year-old to get in his car.

When she refused he followed the two youngsters into a nearby park and sat on a bench next to the 12-year-old.

The 30-year-old pervert then indecently assaulted the girl.

The girl told her mother, who reported the incident to police and Hussein was arrested soon after.

At Portsmouth Crown Court Hussein, who comes from Sudan, was jailed for 18 months.

Judge Gareth Cowling praised the actions of the girl's mother and recommended Hussein should be deported after he has served his sentence

A final decision will be taken by the Home Office when he is released.

Hussein, of Tredegar Road, Southsea, was found guilty of a sexual assault on a child under 13. He had denied the charge.

He will remain on the sex offenders' register for 10 years and has been disqualified from working with children.

Asylum seeker assaulted young girl

A 27-year-old Texas man is under arrest, charged with strangling his college-student ex-girlfriend, cutting up her body and burning it on a grill

Associated Press:

Tynesha Stewart, Tim Shepherd

Investigators in Houston said Timothy Shepherd has confessed, telling them he did it because Tynesha Stewart had begun a new relationship. Shepherd is being held on $250,000 bond.

Stewart was a freshman at Texas A&M and was last seen with Shepherd March 15 while home in Houston on spring break.

An announcement Thursday that authorities would not be searching for the body parts triggered outrage among Stewart's family and friends. But the sheriff said the suspect burned them and that, "There are no remaining body parts."

Sheriff: A&M Student's Body Cooked On Grill

Neighbors: Grills burned for days after body burned

Free speech, Islamic anti-Semitism and Israel in British universities

Isabel Oakeshott:

MEASURES to tackle antisemitism in British universities will be unveiled this week amid concern about rising discrimination.

The government will warn vice-chancellors they must not ignore antiJewish activity on campuses and must prevent prejudiced lecturers, guest speakers and extremist political organisations stirring up hatred against Israel.

A recent Commons report highlighted attacks on undergraduates, a lack of respect by lecturers and tutors for the needs of observant Jewish students and a growing tolerance of extreme language against Israel during student debates on the Middle East.

There is particular concern about so-called “Islamic” antisemitism, with radical Muslim clerics, or their followers, being allowed to preach antiJewish hatred in universities.

Phil Woolas, the communities minister, labelled the findings of the all-party parliamentary report on antisemitism “very worrying” and warned that the government was ready to take radical action.

Woolas said: “Our response will be far tougher than anticipated. We are very worried about Islamic antisemitism on campuses. In this country we tend to see it as something of the past. It is not.”

Although the government will not announce legislation this week Woolas said it had not been ruled out.

Detailed measures to tackle antisemitism were agreed last week after a meeting with the prime minister. Police forces must now keep records of antisemitic attacks, the Foreign Office will be required to raise the issue with Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan, which produce some of the most extreme antisemitic material, and a taskforce will be set up to combat antisemitism.

Guidelines for universities are expected to say that campus authorities should record all complaints of antisemitism made by students, including statements or speeches. University vice-chancellors are also expected to be warned not to tolerate academics whose critical views of Israel “cross the line” from personal interest or activism to abuse of power.

The government is also expected to criticise the boycotting of contact with academics working in Israel by some university departments and say lecturers who oppose boycotts must be supported.

University calls off 'Islamic anti-semitism' talk

Freedom of speech row as talk on Islamic extremists is banned

Islamic extremists are fuelling the spread of honor based violence against women in Britain

Daily Mail:

Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service's director for west London, said that foreign Islamic terror groups had been identified as the driving force behind one murder and another threat to kill.

He also highlighted two cases in which women overseas had been forced to act as suicide bombers after being accused of shaming their families, and warned that the use of the Muslim faith to justify oppression and violence was spreading in Britain.

Mr Afzal's comments came at a London conference in which he spelt out the CPS's determination to bring the "full force of the law" to bear on the minority of Muslims who perpetrated or connived in honour-based violence.

He said that there were estimated to be about a dozen honour killings in Britain each year - and many more incidents of violence and bullying - and expressed concern that the problem was being inflamed by extremist ideology.

"When you talk to women who are victims of this type of behaviour you often find that they will say that their husbands or fathers have been radicalised in the way that they think about women," he said.

Honor Killing: Crimes Against Humanity

Special Report - UK: Killing For Muslim "Honor"

Father gets life for 'honour' killing

Where's the honour in this?

England: Arrest of Muslim terror suspects of Pakistani descent sows more discontent

Jane Perlez:

At their formal best, West Yorkshire police officers in tall dark helmets adorned with a silver badge and wearing neon yellow vests stood outside five run-down terrace houses. Behind closed doors plainclothes detectives searched the property of three South Asian Muslim men and their relatives.

For Beeston, a maze of working-class streets on the fringes of this prosperous British city, the police accentuated a sense of siege and of stigma, a sentiment that first came, residents said, after three young neighborhood men attacked the London transit system, killing 52 people and themselves. A fourth suicide bomber in the deadly 2005 assault lived farther south.

"These people had such narrow-minded ideas and give everybody a bad name," said Mohammed Miah, 26, as he did a brisk dinner trade in chicken wings and pizza at his Hot 'N Krispy store.

"I have no sympathy for them. If they want to kill themselves, O.K. But why kill someone else?"

On Thursday, three men of Pakistani descent were arrested in Beeston, a mixed-race neighborhood of whites, Asians and Africans, on suspicion of being accomplices of the July 2005 London suicide bombers.

The arrests were the first in the case, and brought home to Britain the home-grown nature of its terror threat, which has been heavily investigated by the British authorities but has left a host of unanswered questions.

Among them: Who were the masterminds? Did they live in Britain or in Pakistan? Who paid the £8,000, or $15,700, that the British government said in an official account had been the cost of the overseas trips, homemade bomb-making equipment, apartment and car rental, and local travel that went into the operation?

From the sketchy backgrounds of the three men taken into custody late last week, it did not initially appear that they were major players themselves, analysts said.

But given that the young men of Beeston all know each other - everyone in Beeston, a small enclave, knows everyone else, people said - it was well understood that the three men arrested Thursday knew the four men who blew themselves up in July 2005.

Like the four suicide bombers, the three men were of Pakistani descent, the second- or third-generation sons of Pakistanis who came to Britain in the 1960s to work in the mills.

The eldest of the men arrested Thursday was Mohammed Shakil, 30, a cabdriver, who lived on Firth Mount in a tidy, two-story attached house on the more affluent side of Beeston. He was stopped at Manchester Airport before boarding a plane to Pakistan where, he had told his boss at the taxi company, he planned to take an extended vacation to look after his sick father.

Taxi driver among those held over 7/7 attacks

A relentless bomb investigation

Man held over bombings 'going to see his father'

Taxi driver father of three among 7/7 terror suspects

England: Man admits stabbing to death wife he married in an arranged marriage in Pakistan

This is Lancashire:

A JILTED husband today admitted stabbing his estranged wife to death after she spurned his hopes of a reconciliation.

Zameer Ahmed, 25, pleaded guilty to murdering 23-year-old Nazia Ahmed in a frenzied attack at her home in Shear Bank Road, Blackburn, last June.

He was due to be sentenced later today.

During the attack he stabbed her six times before discarding two knives and going on the run for nine days.

At Manchester Crown Court, Judge Michael Henshell agreed to the prosecution's request to leave a second charge of wounding Nazia's sister Shazia with intent to lie on file.

Ahmed and Nazia married in 2001 in an arranged marriage in Pakistan before Zameer came to live in the UK.

The court heard how Ahmed admitted knifing Nazia in the chest, back, neck and stomach to the owner of a restaurant in Scotland where he gained employment while being on the run.

The court was told how Zameer claimed he was not happy with how his mother-in-law treated him and claimed his wife had been hanging around boys.

Husband named in murder inquiry

Injured woman does not know sister died

Jilted husband admits wife murder

Wisconsin: The Crazy Hmong Boys versus The Oriental Thugs

Aaron Matas:

La Crosse police have three suspects in custody after an apparent gang fight in La Crosse, and more arrests could be coming.

The incident happened Thursday night at Hood Park in La Crosse and was eventually called in by employees at the Walgreens on the corner of Mississippi and West Avenue. Police say members from a gang called 'The Crazy Hmong Boys' fought members of a rival gang called 'The Oriental Thugs'. 1 member of the Oriental Thugs was injured in the fight. One of the suspects in the case Nhu Vue made his first appearance in court on Friday. Police have other suspects in custody and say they are not done investigating this case.

Police say the problem was much worse in La Crosse just a couple of years ago and a fight like this was a more common occurrence. Police say gang activity in La Crosse has dramatically decreased in the last few years. However, police do have contact with gangs in the city and say the main things the groups are involved with is drugs and drug trafficking. "We do know there is some drug activity involving gang member etc. in La Crosse. We haven't had a lot of gang activity in regards to fighting and territorial issues that would arise in some of the larger cities it's very sporadic here in the city of La Crosse," says Capt. Mike Brohmer of the La Crosse Police Dept.

We spoke with Logan associate principal, Doug Leclair, he says gangs are clearly an issue in the community but they are not a problem inside of the school. Leclair and police credit that to many things including community presentations and having officers in the schools. "One of the main things we do is we have out G.R.E.A.T. program, Gang Resistance Education and Training, we start that at a very young age," says Brohmer, "In the elementary schools and that continues thru the middle schools."

As far as the gang fight officers say they now have to be on the look out for any type of reactionary activity from either one of the rival gangs.

Gang fight leads to charges

A Pakistani policeman and an Islamic militant leader have been killed in a shoot-out at a private school in the north-western town of Tank

BBC News:

Another militant was said to have been arrested, while a third was wounded in the clash at the Oxford Public School.

Police say firing broke out after the militant leader, Ehsan Barqi, threw a grenade at them when they tried to stop him addressing students at the college.

Police say the militants were trying to recruit boys for jihad (holy war).

Officials say the militants who tried to enter the school were all members of the "local Taleban".

"They wanted to go inside in a bid to convince the students to join them for jihad. Police knew their designs and stopped them," Tank administration chief Syed Mohsin Shah told the AFP news agency.

"In an exchange of fire the officer in charge of the local police station, Hasan Khan, was killed. One extremist was killed and another was wounded," he said.

Police say the militants attacked a police van shortly afterwards with a hand grenade, wounding five passers-by.

6 Dead in Gunbattle at Pakistani School

Islam and African polygamists in New York City

Nina Bernstein:

She worked at the Red Lobster in Times Square and lived with her husband near Yankee Stadium. Yet one night, returning home from her job, Odine D. discovered that African custom, not American law, held sway over her marriage.

A strange woman was sitting in the living room, and Ms. D.’s husband, a security guard born in Ghana, introduced her as his other wife.

Devastated, Ms. D., a Guinean immigrant who insisted that her last name be withheld, said she protested: “I can’t live with the woman in my house — we have only two bedrooms.” Her husband cited Islamic precepts allowing a man to have up to four wives, and told her to get used to it. And she tried to obey.

Polygamy in America, outlawed in every state but rarely prosecuted, has long been associated with Mormon splinter groups out West, not immigrants in New York. But a fatal fire in a row house in the Bronx on March 7 revealed its presence here, in a world very different from the suburban Utah setting of “Big Love,” the HBO series about polygamists next door.

The city’s mourning for the dead — a woman and nine children in two families from Mali — has been followed by a hushed double take at the domestic arrangements described by relatives: Moussa Magassa, the Mali-born American citizen who owned the house and was the father of five children who perished, had two wives in the home, on different floors. Both survived.

No one knows how prevalent polygamy is in New York. Those who practice it have cause to keep it secret: under immigration law, polygamy is grounds for exclusion from the United States.

Under state law, bigamy can be punished by up to four years in prison,

No agency is known to collect data on polygamous unions, which typically take shape over time and under the radar, often with religious ceremonies overseas and a visitor’s visa for the wife, arranged by other relatives. Some men have one wife in the United States and others abroad.

But the Magassas clearly are not an isolated case. Immigration to New York and other American cities has soared from places where polygamy is lawful and widespread, especially from West African countries like Mali, where demographic surveys show that 43 percent of women are in polygamous marriages.

And the picture that emerges from dozens of interviews with African immigrants, officials and scholars of polygamy is of a clandestine practice that probably involves thousands of New Yorkers.

“It’s difficult, but one accepts it because it’s our religion,” said Doussou Traoré, 52, president of an association of Malian women in New York, who married an older man with two other wives who remain in Mali. “Our mothers accepted it. Our grandmothers accepted it. Why not us?”

Other women spoke bitterly of polygamy. They said their participation was dictated by an African culture of female subjugation and linked polygamy to female genital cutting and domestic violence. That view is echoed by most research on plural marriages, including studies of West African immigrants in France, where the government estimates that 120,000 people live in 20,000 polygamous families.

“The woman is in effect the slave of the man,” said a stylish Guinean businesswoman in her 40s who, like many women interviewed in Harlem and the Bronx, spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If you protest, your husband will hit you, and if you call the police, he’s going to divorce you, and the whole community will scorn you.”

“Even me,” she added. “My husband went to find another wife in Africa, and he has the right to do that. They tell you nothing, until one afternoon he says, ‘O.K., your co-wife arrives this evening.’ ”

In Secret, Polygamy Follows Africans to N.Y.

What's the Bronx Story? (Overcrowding? Illegal Immigration? Polygamy?)

Polygamy in the Bronx

France's Polygamy Problem

“Women’s rights or multiculturalism: pick one.”

Barack Obama has joined the call for a federal investigation into the handling of the Duke Lacrosse case

Lara Setrakian:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in a written response to a constituent, said that an "independent inquiry is needed" into the conduct of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

Nifong prosecuted and led the investigation into the alleged sexual assault of an exotic dancer at a lacrosse team party in March 2006.

Obama cited the fact that Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has already asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for a federal investigation into Nifong's conduct. ABC News has learned that similar requests have been made by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla.

According to Obama's letter, Jones asked Gonzales to "review new evidence that Mr. Nifong withheld exculpatory DNA results from the defendants in order to determine if his conduct has illegally denied the students their civil rights as U.S. citizens under federal law."

Obama said of the call for a federal investigation that he "will be following its progress closely."

Winter Kills: Obama Exposed As Race Racketeer

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Biracial family abuses white teenager

Bob Stiles:

Mark Pollard Emily Nicely

Nelson Williams said he heard his caregiver question a teenager about her bruised appearance as she stood outside his Hempfield Township door March 10, delivering his Saturday newspaper.

"What in the world happened to you?" Williams, 66, remembered the caregiver asking the teen.

The teen then broke into tears and recounted that she had been beaten and kept against her will by a Greensburg family for more than six months, said Williams, who invited the teen inside and contacted authorities.

On Tuesday, members of that family, Mark Pollard, 43; his wife, Cynthia Pollard, 41; and children Mark Pollard Jr., 18, Jonathan Pollard, 17, and Tabitha Pollard, 16, all of 506 DelBene Way, were arraigned on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, recklessly endangering another person, false imprisonment and conspiracy.

Mark, Cynthia and Mark Pollard Jr. were jailed in lieu of $50,000 bond after their arraignments before District Judge James Albert, of Greensburg.

Jonathan and Tabitha Pollard, both of whom have been charged as adults, are free on $50,000 unsecured bond. Arrangements were being made for them to stay with relatives.

Greensburg Detective Sgt. Henry Fontana alleges that the Pollards were keeping Emily Nicely, 19, against her will since September. She told police that she was beaten with boots, broom handles, a metal pipe, wooden door slats and other objects if she refused "to do chores," according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Nicely, who had attended Greensburg Salem High School, began living with the Pollards last summer in the hope of finishing school there after her family moved out of the district, Fontana said. School district officials said she was last enrolled during the 2004-05 school year.

The abuse started shortly after she moved in, and the family referred to her as their "slave," according to the affidavit.

"Ms. Nicely was not allowed to be alone or have contact with anyone except the Pollard family. She was not allowed out of the house unless she was with another family member," the affidavit said.

Williams said that after he and his male caregiver invited the bruised Nicely inside, a woman came to the door and demanded the teen come outside. His caregiver -- a tall, muscular man -- refused, Williams said, shutting the door in the woman's face.

"(Nicely) came in and sat," Williams recalled. "I felt bad. She cried. I said, 'Just sit here, stay warm. You don't need to go outside. No one's going to take you.'"

Two other people were outside his home as Nicely was delivering his copy of the Tribune-Review, Williams said.

Cynthia Pollard told police that members of the family had confrontations with Nicely, but only in self-defense, according to the affidavit. She said Nicely fell down while delivering the newspapers, and that was why she was bruised, court papers said.

After state police arrived at Williams' home March 10, Nicely was taken for medical treatment at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, and city police were contacted. She is staying with her mother in another county, police said.

Family accused of holding woman captive as their slave

Cops: Pennsylvania Family Held, Beat Teen 'Slave'

Patrick Cleburne on Kevin MacDonald and National Review

Derbyshire On The Senile Decay Of National Review

The remaining charges against three Duke University lacrosse players originally indicted for rape may be dropped sometime within the next few days

Liza Porteus:

Inside Lacrosse Magazine writer Paul Caulfield told FOX News on Thursday that several sources have revealed to him that the assault and attempted kidnapping charges still pending against Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y.; Dave Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md.; and Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Falls, N.J., will soon be dropped.

Caulfield said his sources include more than just attorneys for the defense.

"There is no case here and they will be hearing a dismissal in the coming days," Caulfield told FOX News.

Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong last year indicted the three former players with raping an exotic dancer hired to perform at an off-campus lacrosse party on March 13, 2006. The dancer, who is black, claimed that she was sexually assaulted in a bathroom in the house by three white lacrosse players. DNA was taken from all members of the university lacrosse team, except for the single black player on the team. DNA tests never conclusively proved that anyone on the team assaulted her. But DNA from other individuals was found in the accuser's underwear, among other places.

The case caused a firestorm of racial tension in a community. Lacrosse coach Mike Pressler was essentially fired and last year's spring season was canceled, Seligmann and Finnerty were suspended (Evans had already graduated by the time the story came out), and Duke began a rigorous review of how alcohol on and around campus is treated.

As the months went on, the story of the accuser — a 28-year-old student at North Carolina Central University — continued to change. When she acknowledged late last year that she could not be sure if she was actually raped, Nifong dropped the rape charges against the three players. The players had claimed their innocence all along, calling the charges "fantastic lies."

Nifong is now facing ethics charges from the state bar association from, among other thing, concealing potentially exculpatory evidence that defense lawyers claim could have proved their clients' innocence.

There have been rumors that the families of Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans may be considering civil lawsuits against Nifong, Duke or the state if it turns out the accuser's story doesn't pan out and Nifong is found to be guilty of mishandling the case.

"This is something that will wait in the wings. Once the criminal case is dropped, we are going to see this and I believe we'll see it quite quickly," said Caulfield, a former prosecutor.

June 12 is the date of the next scheduled hearing for Nifong.

The former prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault investigation faces a June 12 trial date on ethics charges stemming from his handling of the highly publicized case.

The North Carolina State Bar has charged Nifong with several violations of rules governing professional conduct, including withholding evidence from defense lawyers. He's also accused of lying to the court and to bar investigators, and making misleading and inflammatory comments about the players.

Legal experts have said Nifong could be disbarred if he's convicted. While he said he's not sure if that will happen, Caulfield said he wouldn't be surprised if the district attorney is suspended from practicing.

"We're going to see the tables turned on Mike Nifong in the media and in the courtroom because he still continues to defend his name," Caulfield said.

Nifong Faces June 12 Ethics Trial Date

Duke Case: The End of Nifong's "Reign of Terror" Is In Sight

State Bar Says Nifong Skirted System in Handling of Duke Lacrosse Case

Duke Lacrosse Case: America's Top Sex Crimes Expert Cites Serious Problems
Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

Duke Rape Accuser Ordered To Appear Before Special Prosecutor Today

Fiat justitia ruat caelum: An Open Letter to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

Researchers find that ethnicity has no effect on whether defendants are found guilty by juries

BBC News:

Juries trying criminal cases are likely to be more lenient when the person in the dock is physically attractive, psychologists say.

Scientists gave a fictitious transcript of a mugging to 96 volunteers, along with a photograph of the defendant.

The York and Bath Spa universities team found the jurors were less likely to find attractive defendants guilty.

But ethnicity had no effect on whether the defendants were found guilty, the researchers added.

The study, which was presented to the British Psychological Society's annual conference, also allowed the jurors to decide the verdict.

Unattractive black defendants were given the harshest sentences, irrespective of the ethnicity of the "juror".

Lead researcher Dr Sandie Taylor said: "We set out to consider the influence of physical attractiveness and ethnicity of a defendant depicted in a photograph on mock jurors' decisions of verdict, extent of guilt and sentencing.

"Our findings confirm previous research on the effects of defendant characteristics, such as physical attractiveness, on the deliberations of jurors.

"Attractive defendants are, it seems, rated less harshly than 'homely' defendants, so perhaps justice isn't blind after all.

"It is interesting that being an unattractive black defendant only had an impact on sentencing and not on jurors' verdicts of guilt although of course in the real world jurors would not be making decisions about the sentence.

"I think, however, it is a positive finding that neither black nor white participants showed a bias towards their own ethnic group."

The ugly truth about juries

Ugly defendants 'more likely to be found guilty than attractive ones'

England: One of the 21 July bombing suspects planned bigger and better attacks than those on July 7, 2005

BBC News:

Mukhtar Ibrahim: planned to booby-trap a flat and set off four bombs on the tube

The lawyer of a fellow defendant said Muktar Ibrahim wanted to explode four bombs on the Tube and destroy a London tower block with a booby-trap device.

Stephen Kamlish QC told Woolwich Crown Court Mr Ibrahim had wanted the flats to go up in "a ball of flames". The defendant denied that was true.

He is one of six men who deny conspiracy to murder in July 2005.

They also deny conspiracy to cause explosions on the transport network on 21 July 2005 - two weeks after the 7 July attacks in which four suicide bombers killed 52 people.

Mr Kamlish, representing Manfo Asiedu, said to Mr Ibrahim: "You wanted to do a copycat of 7/7 - four bombs on 7/7, four bombs two weeks later on 21/7. That was your plan.

"We say your 21/7 bombs were to be bigger and better in your twisted thinking than that of 7/7.

"Four real bombs on the Tube and one block of flats, a tower, destroyed, going up in a ball of flames. That was your plan, wasn't it?"

Mr Ibrahim denied that and said, as a Muslim, he believed those who committed murder would go to hell fire.

He maintains he planned to create a "fake explosive", in a demonstration against the Iraq war, that would cause panic but not hurt anybody.

Mr Kamlish said the plan to blow up the tower block at Curtis House, New Southgate, north London, involved a sideboard with trigger wires intended to spark an explosion when police entered the premises.

Jurors were shown the sideboard, which they were told had been covered in a charge and if detonated would have destroyed the tower block.

Asked why there was a hydrogen peroxide and chappati flour mixture on the furniture - the substances found in the Tube devices - Mr Ibrahim said it could have got there when he was testing the explosives.

He also said he did not know why wires were scattered over the floor.

The court also heard that Mr Ibrahim called himself "emir" which means prince.

"Because you consider yourself the emir, you think people should follow your orders," Mr Kamlish said.

He said his client, Mr Asiedu, had been "ordered" to take part the night before the alleged attacks of 21 July.

But he had dumped his device near Little Wormwood Scrubs, in west London, on 21 July and then returned to Curtis House where he discovered the booby-trap and dismantled it, Mr Kamlish added.

But Mr Ibrahim said Mr Asiedu had agreed to be involved three or four days earlier.

"I do not know why Asiedu is making these accusations," he told the court.

BBC correspondent June Kelly said there were a series of heated exchanges in court as Mr Ibrahim, who had previously remained fairly cool, turned on the lawyer and started asking him questions.

The judge was forced to step in to remind Mr Ibrahim that he was there to answer questions, she said.

Mr Ibrahim is on trial with Yassin Omar, 26, from New Southgate, north London; Mr Asiedu, 33, of no fixed address; Hussein Osman, 28, of no fixed address; Ramzi Mohammed, 25, of North Kensington, west London; and Adel Yahya, 24, of High Road, Tottenham, north London.

'21/7 bomber wanted to blow up 12-storey block of flats'

Accused: 21/7 was 'for Islam'

Tell me again why the mega mosque is good for London?

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