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The Carnival of Islam in the West (6)

Another carnival of posts to visit. I am reposting some of these here (in full, usually) as I come across them as I find that the various carnivals are excellent ways to discover new (to me, and possibly to you) blogs and voices and of getting new perspectives on issues and events. Below is the Carnival of Islam in the West, written by Hakim Abdullah of Wasalaam


Finally, the sixth edition of the Carnival of Islam in the West is here! The carnival - this creative collage of Muslim-thought - is over a week late but here nonetheless, complete with criticisms and mention from Islamophobic pundits. But what is point of taking a stand, gaining popularity and changing the tide of society if you don't come across a few critics now and again.

the Carnival of Islam in the West

I'm sure Aziz would agree with me, speaking of Aziz, don't forget to check in to the Carnival of Brass - the dynamic side of this powerhouse team of Muslim-bloggers - and don't forget to tell Aziz that Hakim sent you.

Now, I would like to thank you all for stopping by because we have another collection of excellent articles this month. So without further adieu, I present to you the sixth edition of the Carnival of Islam in the West, enjoy:

Abdur-Rahman. Learning to Talk. "Abdur Rahman's Corner". Jan 27. 2007.

Dare I say: this post is the most important article of this entire carnival, particularly for Muslims - ya akhi, jazaka'allah khairun.

Adam. Radical Islam in the U.K.. "Sophistpundit". Jan 20. 2007

This article is a passionate and spirited look at one of year's most controversial depictions of Muslims to date, the secret investigation of masajid in the U.K. by Channel 4 News. Adam adds an Islamophobic spin to this topic rarely seen in this carnival!

Amad. The Wahhabi Myth: Debunking the Bogey-man. "Musings of a Muslims Mind". Jan 28. 2007.

This post is an interesting analysis and commentary on the terminology "Wahhabi". Amad, explains the colloquial usage of the term and also gives some commentary on the historical figure, comparing notes and contradictions between sources.

Baraka. Only Connect. "Truth & Beauty". Feb 8. 2007

Falling short of nothingless than a masterpiece Baraka discusses meeting members of the Islamosphere (Muslim bloggers) in the "real-world". It is an insightful piece about a subject that I have been contemplating lately. As I have been invited to - though respectfully declined - a number of meetings and gatherings as a result of this blog.

Birt, Yahya. With Us or Against Us: The Rhetoric of the War on Terror. "Yahya Birt". Feb 2. 2007.

This article, like many of Birt's essays and articles is a giant. His profound understanding of Western Culture allows him to peer into the untouched realms of reason. In this entry Birt offers us a well crafted essay on the language used by Western authorities to describe their position on their own foreign military engagements. This declaration ultimately shaped the lens to which Westerners would then look upon Muslims forthright.

Bradford, Hood. PSA (4): What does a Wali look for? (Main objectives of Islam). "Islamic Law, etc". Jan 12. 2007

Hood offers a public service announcement (PSA) about oneof the most popular topics in the present-day Muslim's world, marriage. Its true, marriage always raises the most interesting discussions but this is not just another blog post about marriage. It is a comprehensive narrative of the wali (guardian) as used in traditional Islamic matrimonials. Hood's insightful article is reminiscent of Imam al-Ghazali's, adab an-nikah ("The Proper Conduct of Marriage in Islam").

Karchmar, Irving. Intention. "Darvish". Feb 1. 2007

Irving, whom I find one of the most inspiring personalities in the blogging circuit, gives some advice on intention ( niyya). He finds a way  - as he always does - to connect the dots between, gaining nearness to Allah subhana wa ta 'ala and our seemingly distant lives in a practical exercise that anyone can do. So whats left but to do it! And after you apply this technique and find it fruitful, be sure to thank him.

Kashmiri Nomad. Right-Wing Americans, "Muzzies" and Iraq. "Islam & the West - Opinions of a Kashmiri Nomad". Jan 18. 2007.

The Kashmiri Nomad - I just like typing his name, "The Kashmiri Nomad" - picks up on an issue that has brought me, to my dismay, much heartache. And that is the "disdain" and utter contempt that conservatives, right-wing Americans hold in their hearts for Muslims. He then asks the insightful question, " How can right-wing Americans on the one hand regurgitate the same hateful invective against all Muslims and then on the other hand support policies that are designed to "help" Muslims?"

Maiden, Gazzali. Book title: Gazzali's Jinn. "". Jan 24. 2007.

Author Gazzali Maiden, has written an online book about the subject of jinn. Giving a comprehensive and informative look at the world of jinn.

Maister, David. Islamic Saying. "Passion, People Principles". Jan 28. 2007.

This little tid-bit posted by business "guru" David Maister was a particularly pleasant surprise. I won't give to much away, but I will say this. It was the most unexpected post so far this year, thanks David.

Raysofsunlite. Children of One Faith. "Rays of Sunlite". Jan 27. 2007.

This post is actually a great follow-up to Yahya Birt's essay. It is a gentle and poetic expression of the opposite position to that expressed by the "authorities" depicted in Birt's essay. criticisms. As Raysofsunlite suggests to concentrate not of our differences but our unity.

Shareef, Safi. Yawn. "". Feb 7. 2007.

If you need good advice, perhaps Safi of can help. In this article, Safi shows us the "best" way to manage our body's rest during the prayers and rites of hajj.

That concludes this edition.  Submit your blog article to the next edition of the carnival of islam in the west using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

In addition please support the Carnival of Brass.

Posted by Nanette on 02/20 at 06:44 AM
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Ourstory Carnival: The Beginning

I am stealing this whole from Kevin at Slant Truth. I think it’s a great idea and should yield very interesting stories, as it catches on. 

How It All Began
Things move fast in the blogosphere. A couple days ago, The Angry Black Woman posted an assignment for Black History Month. The assignment was simple enough. It was a call to make Black History Month useful, pertinent, and personal.

What black folk do we hardly ever talk about yet deserve to be remembered if not celebrated? What recent history is worth exploring? And what is your personal black history? I would love to hear stories about people’s families. Either stuff you remember or stuff you were told. How did your people contribute to history? How were they affected by it?

So seriously, this is the Black History I want to explore this month. Post this on your blog, pass it around, email your grannies and cousins for material. Recommend some books, dig up some history, have fun!

Then come back here and tell me about it. Oh, and tag your posts “Our Black History Month”

The idea sparked a post from Kevin, in which he encouraged people to participate in ABW’s call and extended it a bit:

I’m gonna take this a step further and say it’s about time we opened this up. Asian folks, Latin@s, The Indigenous folks of the U.S., Middle Eastern Folks, the LGBT community of all races and ethnicities, what history do you want to put out there? What’s been overlooked for the more conventional narratives that makes everyone feel good?

Kevin left off with a question, “Is there a carnival to be had in this idea–a carnival of forgotten history or something?” Kevin and I were IMing each other while he published the post. I immediately responded that i like the idea of a carnival of forgotten ourstories. Being people with no patience for talk without action, we set a date and decided to host the first edition of this carnival together on Taking Place.

Where It Goes From Here
We will publish the first edition of the Ourstory Carnival on Saturday February 24th. The deadline for submissions is Thursday February 22nd. Between now and then, it is up to you to make this happen. We want you to write the stories that are rarely or never told; stories that have been forgotten; stories that helped define you and us. They can be stories of lesser known figures or actions of the past. They can be stories from your family. The idea is to breakdown the hierarchical approach to history that only shares stories to promote patriotism and pacifism. We want to create an ever-evolving ourstory of what makes us who we are. A collective ourstory that informs the present and reminds us that each and every one of us are responsible for how ourstory will be told in the future.

If you are interested in submitting your story, just leave a link to your post in the comments section of this post or use the official post submission page.

Update 2: Note that this is just a repost of the official call for submissions at Taking Place. Please don’t leave a link to your post here. Instead leave your links at Taking Place or the official post submission page.

Posted by Nanette on 02/07 at 07:51 PM
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And for Molly, it’s leaving time.

Molly Ivins passed away today, from cancer.

I admit, I didn’t read her columns a lot, but when I did I’d laugh at a turn of phrase, applaud a “go git ‘em!” sentiment, and not really mind when she got all Texasy and stuff. She was a hoot, and each time I stumbled across a column, it was like discovering her all over again.

Since hearing of her death, the refrain from the song “I Hope You Dance”, by Lee Ann Womack, has been going through my mind. I don’t know if she loved it, hated it, or even knew of its existence. And it’s not really a song I listen to frequently either, but still… there it was. And I think I know why…

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

She danced.

godspeed, Molly. 

Posted by Nanette on 01/31 at 09:53 PM
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‘Duh’ Idea: Design Clothes to Fit the Women, Instead of Women to Fit the Clothes

What will they think of next? 

From BBC:

Spain is to overhaul its clothing sizes for women as part of a government drive to ease pressure on young girls over their body size.

There are fears that efforts to conform could be leading to eating disorders.

The move follows Spain's ban of ultra-thin models on the catwalk during Madrid fashion week last September.


It is a source of frustration for customers and shop assistants alike that in Spain women tend to go into the changing rooms with an armful of different sizes never knowing which one will fit this time or whether any will fit at all.


For the first time ever the National Consumer Institute will measure Spanish females - more than 8,000 of them to be exact - between the ages of 12 and 70.

Spanish fashion houses will then try to fit them, rather than the other way round.

They have also agreed to decorate their shop windows with slightly bigger mannequins.

The health ministry described the current ones as unreal dolls of alien dimensions, which it sees as directly encouraging eating disorders such as anorexia.

I suppose there are a lot of important things that could be said about this story, but I'm afraid all I can do is laugh.

Posted by Nanette on 01/25 at 07:18 PM
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Car fumes stunt child lung growth

Now this is a big surprise. *Cough*

From the BBC:

Living too close to a busy road could stunt a child's lung development, US research suggests.

Children who lived within 500 metres of a major road, such as a motorway, were shown to have lung impairment in tests.

Many children live and go to schools near to busy roads and could be at risk, the University of Southern California authors warn in The Lancet.

Experts already know that toxic traffic fumes can trigger lung conditions such as asthma.

There was some controversy a while back about a trucking company, I believe it was, being given permission to build right near a school in town. I don't remember all the details, but I do recall the stories of the many children who had come down with asthma and other respiratory ailments once the company was up and running and belching great fumes all day as they traveled back and forth along the street where the school was located. Add to this the fact that the school itself was on a fairly busy street and those children didn't have a chance, no matter how many protests their parents made, or how many doctors certificates were produced, not to mention how many school days were missed.

The school, needless to say, serves mostly lower income students - which doesn't mean that the teachers and administration didn't care - they too were out there picketing and protesting.

But back to the effects:

Stunted development

But the latest work suggests pollution can stop the lung from growing to its full potential - even in children who are otherwise healthy.

As background air quality did not alter the picture, children living in the countryside but close to a main road would also be at risk, the researchers add.

Children living close to big roads in cities with high levels of background air pollution were likely to be at a greater risk of lung problems however because of the double effect on their lungs, they suggest.


Stunted development

But the latest work suggests pollution can stop the lung from growing to its full potential - even in children who are otherwise healthy.

As background air quality did not alter the picture, children living in the countryside but close to a main road would also be at risk, the researchers add.

Children living close to big roads in cities with high levels of background air pollution were likely to be at a greater risk of lung problems however because of the double effect on their lungs, they suggest.

The study

They examined the lung function of 3,677 children annually from the age of 10 until they reached 18 - when the lungs are fully developed.

Those who had lived within 500 metres of a motorway had much poorer lung function at the age of 18 than those who had lived 1,500 meters away or more, even when factors such as smoking in the home were taken into account.

read the rest here.


Posted by Nanette on 01/25 at 05:10 PM
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Somalia: Reported: US Airstrikes Kill 27 civilians;UN Sec-Gen Concerned;Somali President Endorses

UN News Service

Somalia: Secretary-General Ban Concerned Over Humanitarian Impact of US Air Strikes

9 January 2007 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the United States air strikes on Somalia, particularly their humanitarian impact, his spokesperson said today, adding that the world body is seeking more information on the attacks while also assessing the possibility of renewing emergency assistance to the strife-torn country and the thousands who need help at the border with Kenya.

“We are trying to gather more information about the military action in southern Somalia including through the office in Nairobi of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, (Francois Lonsény Fall),” Michele Montas told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

“Notwithstanding the motives for this reported military action, the Secretary-General is concerned about the new dimension this kind of action could introduce to the conflict and the possible escalation of hostilities that may result. He is also concerned about the impact this would have on the civilian population in southern Somalia, and regrets the reported loss of civilian lives.”

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 4,700 internally displaced persons on the border with Kenya have no access to humanitarian aid and are in critical need of food, shelter, medicine and basic supplies, Ms. Montas said.

“The UN is planning to send an assessment team to the Kenya-Somalia border on Thursday. The team will look into the possibility of re-starting humanitarian deliveries into Somalia and examine recent population movements in and around the border,” she said.

Humanitarian operations in Somalia were suspended and international staff evacuated when fighting between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) – backed by Ethiopian troops – and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) intensified late last month.

On Monday, Mr. Fall attended an African Union (AU) Peace and Security Commission meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the situation in Somalia, and tomorrow the Security Council is due to hold consultations on the troubled Horn of Africa country, which has not had a functioning government since the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.

The East African Standard

American air strikes kill at least 27 civilians in Somalia

By Standard team and Reuters

The United States bombed a village near the Kenya-Somalia border and reportedly killed 27 civilians.

A Somalia official who spoke to Sky News from Mogadishu claimed helicopter gunships flattened entire villages in the area suspected to harbour an al Qaeda suspect and fleeing Islamic militia.

The attacks are likely to escalate tension and a fresh surge by Somali refugees, who have been barred from entering Kenya following the closure of the border.

On Tuesday, there was no independent confirmation of the killings though a Reuters report said scores were feared dead.

Initial reports indicated that an AC-130 plane rained gunfire on the desolate southern village of Hayo near the Kenyan border late on Monday.

Internal Security minister Mr John Michuki said Kenya had deployed all its security wings to the common border with war-torn country to maintain security.

Michuki said the Kenya Army, Kenya Navy, Kenya Air Force and Administration and regular police were all currently involved in border patrols.

Michuki, who was speaking to the Press at the Kenya Institute of Administration, added: “In some areas, we have deployed Kenya Wildlife Service rangers to ensure there is tight security”.

Kenya closed its border with Somalia — which stretches more than 2,000km from North Eastern Province to the Indian Ocean in Lamu District — last week in an attempt to lock out fleeing fighters of the routed Islamic Courts Union.

Somali politicians interviewed in Nairobi claimed the US strikes came after Ethiopia sought Washington’s assistance in routing militia which fled Mogadishu last week and believed to be hiding in remote villages near the Kenyan border.


Continue Reading Somalia: Reported: US Airstrikes Kill 27 civilians;UN Sec-Gen Concerned;Somali President Endorses

Posted by Nanette on 01/09 at 06:36 PM
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Bloggers and the Beast: ABC/Disney, Promoters of Hate Speech, Steps In It

A cautionary tale of a small, obscure blog, a media behemoth and *cough* “containing the story”.

I broke a thermometer once, when I was a kid, and was absolutely fascinated by the resultant mercury “spill”. Unaware of the dangers associated with the substance, I’d put my finger out to touch one of the globs and have it either skitter away or break up into many smaller globs. The more I pushed at them, the more little silver nubs there were spreading all over the table, creating entire colonies. Who knows how far it could have gone had not my mother walked into the room and swiftly wiped out my little world.

Bloggers, while just as likely to multiply when you attempt to stomp on one, are a little tougher to wipe out, though, as ABC/Disney will no doubt soon discover.

Here is the story, so far, as I understand it.

Spoko, a proud Z-list blogger (meaning few had ever heard of him outside of his friends, small circle of readers and other bloggers) toiled away in relative obscurity on his site, Spoko’s Brain, chronicling the venomous eliminationist rhetoric and hate speech coming from the San Francisco(?!) radio station with the call letters KSFO. Here is how Spoko describes it (posted at Online Blogintegrity, which is making sure that Spoko’s voice can still be heard – via Bouphonia):

From I am Spoko

KSFO is a Disney affiliate whose radio hosts broadcast violent rhetoric directed toward journalists, liberals, Democrats, Arabs and Muslims all over the SF Bay Area and to the world via the Internet.

And it’s here, apparently, where he ran afoul of the Mouse:

I commented about the content of these host’s broadcasts on my blog and informed KSFO’s advertisers about what they were supporting by letting them listen to the exact audio quotes from the hosts.

This was the result:

Two days before Christmas I got a Cease and Desist letter from ABC regarding my use of audio clips from KSFO radio hosts Melanie Morgan and Lee Rogers on my blog, Spocko’s Brain (see attached PDF).

Why the C&L Letter Now?

In mid-December I got confirmation that a major national advertiser, VISA, pulled their ads from the Melanie Morgan and Lee Rogers show, based on listening to audio clips I provided them. I also think that FedEx, AT&T and Kaiser are considering pulling their ads. Visa isn’t the first advertiser who has left KSFO, multiple advertisers have left the station, especially from the Brian Sussman show. In July of this year when KSFO lost MasterCard as an advertiser someone from KSFO “outed” me on a counter-blog (which I won’t link to). This same person has also threatened me with local and federal criminal action for using the audio (which I clearly used under the fair use portion of copyright law). And because they have suggested violence toward me (in addition to talking about suing me “for everything I have”) I have chosen to remain anonymous.

As Thers has said, 95 percent of blog fights don’t mean anything, but I think this one does since KSFO is using the full weight and force of an ABC/Disney lawyer and copyright law against a private citizen blogger. I dared to use the audio content in question for nonprofit educational purposes (I don’t even have ads on my blog!), and thus under the protection of the Fair Use Doctrine set forth in Section 107 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C.§107.

While most of the material used at Human Beams Magazine that is not produced by our own columnists, or submitted by writers, is used under the creative commons license, on some rare occasions we have reposted parts of articles or other material under the Fair Use Doctrine, as is the case with many other web publications, especially blogs.  Spoko has not, from what I gather, recorded and reposted full radio programs on his media criticism blog, but small snippets of the relevant hate speech - fully credited to their sources, that being the point - for advertisers (and others) to reference when making their decisions about listening to or advertising on the programs.  In my totally not a lawyer way, I am having trouble seeing how this violates the Fair Use Doctrine as opposed to possibly just impacting the profit margin.

This is a rather important situation, not only because of the hate speech (which is good to highlight in and of itself) but because what it means for the rest of us, bloggers and other online publishers.

Spoko again:

It’s about Money not Ideology

Talk Radio is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is also a regulated industry because the public gave the broadcast airwaves to radio stations. There are rules. First there are FCC rules with fines of $315,000 for obscene and indecent speech, thanks to the Christian Right. Interestingly, the radio union, (which KSFO hosts hate so much) worked very hard to stop those fines from being directed to individual radio hosts. So the corporation will bear the burden of any fines. Next, there are guidelines at the local station level, the network level and the parent company level. So even if the inciting of violence and hate speech is ignored by the FCC, the continued violent rhetoric has been, and continues to be, approved at the station level (KSFO) the group level (KGO-KSFO) the company level (ABC Radio) and the parent company level (Disney). They are ALL aware of this speech, and because they have not acted in a meaningful way, they all are giving approval for it to continue.

No Management Action

When Keith Olbermann and Media Matters ran Melanie Morgan’s comments about “putting the bull’s-eye on” Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, management did nothing. Morgan did a jokey non-apology where she never even mentioned she used the term bull’s-eye.
I’ m guessing Lee Rogers may have gotten a memo telling him to stop talking about burning people alive, torturing them and blowing their brains out, because on November 30th, he defiantly said to management and advertisers, “Nobody is gonna tell me what to talk about or not talk about or in what fashion on this radio program. It ain’t gonna happen!”

ABC/Disney acted only when they lost revenue. Then they went after ME with a cease and desist letter.

Why me? I’m not the one saying journalists should be hanged, thieves should be tortured and killed, people should be burned alive, stomped to death or have their testicles cut off. I’m not the one saying that millions of Muslims should be killed on the presumption that they are extremists or just because they live in Indonesia . I’m not the one who says that lying is as natural as breathing to Egyptians and Arabs or demanding that a caller “Say Allah is a Whore” to prove he is not an Islamist. I’m simply documenting this speech and providing it to the people who are paying KSFO hosts on commercially supported broadcast radio.

They have Lawyers, Guns and Money. I’ve got a 5th tier blog and no money

Because I and some other listeners hit right-wing talk radio in the pocket book, they are acting like wounded animals and brought out the big guns, Corporate Lawyers. Am I scared? Hell yes. They can easily squish me like a bug and tie me up in legal battles for the rest of my natural life (and Vulcans live a long time), not to mention that unlike KSFO radio hosts, I’m not getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and generating millions of revenue for a multibillion-dollar parent company. If I pursue this further I expect the next step is a “CyberSLAPP” suit.

I don’t want to consider the possibility of Morgan’s good friend Michelle Malkin deciding to publish my address and real name so that her minions can send me death threats or “white powder” in the mail. Chad Castagana, was charged with mailing more than a dozen threatening letters containing white powder to liberals. He got the idea from someone that journalists, liberals and democrats were the enemy and deserved to die.

Brian Sussman proudly poses with his handgun in KSFO publicity shots and says that he thinks that everyone should have the right to have a machine gun. Maybe I’m over reacting, why would they attack me? I’m not famous, I’m not an elected official, I tried very hard to be accurate about what THEY said BY USING THEIR OWN WORDS.

I tried to help companies protect their brands from being tainted with the violent rhetoric and anti-any-religion-but-right-wing-christianism speech. I wanted to help the VPs of marketing avoid being associated with Lee Roger’s “testicle talk” or Sussman talking about cutting off a finger and a penis of an Iraqi in his imaginary torture sessions.

It’s about Brands: All the Blessings, None of the Taint

I have found out that KSFO is sold to advertisers as “a Disney affiliate” with all the associated family-friendly connotations. So KSFO is getting all the benefit of the Disney name as well as the massive infrastructure of ad sales at the national level. Clearly ABC Radio doesn’t want KSFO hosts’ horrific comments to actually reach advertisers. Advertisers are kept in the dark so KSFO can benefit from the Disney brand glow (ABC Radio News creditability glow?).

Advertisers should be able to decide if they want to keep supporting this show based on complete information. We already know that management at ABC and Disney support these hosts, which means that the ABC/Disney Radio brand now apparently includes support for violent hate speech toward Muslims, democrats and liberals.

But instead of directing the hosts to refrain from violent rhetoric and hate speech, they go after the weakest person with the fewest resources. It’s cheaper and easier.

Bottom line: ABC/Disney is supporting and profiting from this violent speech, they should at least also accept any negative connotations or financial impact it might have to their image.

There is more there, including actions you can take, sample letters to advertisers, and other advice.

If you’d like to listen to some of the hate rhetoric that Spoko has documented - (what? You, like ABC/Disney, thought that stepping on one blog (blob) would stop the spill?) – you can find links to the various snippets here, and here. If I come across more (or get some time to put up some here… I am doing major catching up from holidays and illness, though) I will add to this post.

In the meantime, if you want a laugh and to see how not to contain a story, do a Technorati or Google blogsearch on KFSO and Spoko, or just Spoko, as well as a regular news search. Obscure and unnoticed but by a few no more, is he… nor is the venomous rhetoric that is being spewed over our airways.

Let, some might say, a thousand stories bloom.

Posted by Nanette on 01/06 at 11:27 AM

50 Bullets-No Memory; Dancing in Santiago; Israel Blocks Tutu?; Questioning Diamonds

Newsy Bits

The New York Times adds details and layers to this story that is in not going to go away. Unarmed men, a wedding day, and a hail of bullets have combined to make this story something that even those whose common reflex is to blame the victim in police shootings have a hard time justifying.

50 Bullets, One Dead, and Many Questions

A police sergeant who arrived seconds later described the scene this way: The Nissan had crashed into a van in the middle of the street. Smoke was coming from its radiator. The man in the driver’s seat was slumped back. His passenger was lying across his lap with his arms hanging outside the driver’s window.

The sergeant, Michael Wheeler, later told investigators that both men appeared seriously injured and likely to die, according to the records. A plainclothes officer stood close by, his pistol still trained on the two men in the car. A third man lay on the street nearby.

Minutes later, the shooting scene on Liverpool Street in Jamaica, Queens, was choked with patrol cars and the scrum of officials that follows a police shooting. A captain ordered another uniformed sergeant, Donald Kipp, to locate and inspect the weapons of the men involved in the shooting. In all, five plainclothes officers had fired a total of 50 bullets.

But one after another, in conversations with Sergeant Kipp or Sergeant Wheeler, the men said they could not say how many shots they had fired. Two said they were unsure whether they had even fired at all, including a detective who investigators later learned had fired 31 shots, emptying his 9-millimeter Sig Sauer pistol, reloading and emptying it again during the frenzied barrage.

How safe can you feel, even not being a young Black man, with police officers on the streets that can fire 31 one bullets at someone, stopping to reload, and then not remember even doing it?

via P6

   * * * *
From the BBC:

There was dancing in the streets of Santiago - and water cannons

Thousands of Chileans have taken to the streets following the death of the country’s former military ruler, Augusto Pinochet, at the age of 91.

Jubilant opponents danced in the centre of Santiago, Chile’s capital, before clashes broke out. Police used water cannon and tear gas to control crowds.

Supporters mourned Gen Pinochet outside the military hospital where he died.

The general took power in a 1973 coup, and more than 3,000 people were killed or “disappeared” in his 17-year rule.

He was accused of dozens of human rights abuses as well as fraud but poor health meant he never faced trial.

I may not rejoice in the death of any person but, for some, I do not mourn.

Update: via Tapped, Randy Paul of Beautiful Horizons augments the New York Times’ rather thin list of key dates in Pinochet’s career with a few of the “forgotten” items, in Wanted: A Strong Wooden Stake and Several Garlic Bulbs

   * * * *
Also from BBC, this doesn’t look (or sound) too good.

Israel ‘blocks Tutu Gaza mission’

Israel has blocked a UN fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip that was to be led by South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, the UN says.

Mr Tutu’s team would have investigated last month’s killings of 19 civilians in an Israeli artillery barrage in the northern town of Beit Hanoun.

But Israel had not granted the former Archbishop of Cape Town the necessary travel clearance, a UN official said.

The Israeli government said it had not formally denied visas to the UN team.

Mr Tutu’s team was supposed to report its findings to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council by Friday.

Spokeswoman Sonia Bakar said Mr Tutu had other engagements and could not wait any longer for Israeli permission to travel.

“It has been cancelled. We were supposed to go yesterday (Sunday),” she said.

An Israeli government spokesman said it had not made a final decision on whether to grant visas for Mr Tutu’s team.

He said the government did “not have a problem not with the personalities, we had a problem with the institution. We saw a situation whereby the human rights mechanism of the UN was being cynically exploited to advance an anti-Israel agenda”.


It [the Human Rights Council] asked Mr Tutu to assess the situation of victims, address the needs of survivors and make recommendations on ways to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli attacks.

Maybe it’s considered less of a gamble to keep him out completely, than to have him speak and the world listen.

   * * * *

Some good news -

Diamond trade on the defensive

Betsy Vereckey, The Associated Press
Published: Monday, December 11, 2006

NEW YORK—This holiday season some diamond retailers say they are seeing heightened consumer concern about conflict diamonds, the gems mined in war zones that are sold to fund armed conflict and civil war.

Sales of so-called conflict diamonds have helped finance wars that killed millions in Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone and Liberia over the past several decades, and efforts to address the problem have been made within the diamond industry.

But human rights groups are now taking the issue straight to consumers, and with Friday’s release of Warner Bros. Pictures’ new film Blood Diamond, diamond retailers are preparing to face more scrutiny than ever before.

Many large retailers, such as Tiffany & Co. and Zale Corp., say they have enacted policies to help stem the flow of conflict diamonds. And during the all-important holiday season, when at least half of annual jewelry sales are recorded, retailers want their customers to feel they can shop guilt-free.

There is more there, including various sellers of diamonds and jewelry and what measures they are taking to ensure that their diamonds are not drenched in blood.

I’ve never liked diamonds.

Posted by Nanette on 12/11 at 09:00 AM
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Newsy bits - Throw the Bums Out! Lebanon, Mexico… more

That’s our problem here in the US… not enough people out of work.

“We have no work. We have nothing else to do, so we came to overthrow the government.”

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Dec. 1 — The official goal was to overthrow the government, but the atmosphere was bizarrely festive today as hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters poured into the center of Beirut, banging drums, chanting slogans, pressing shoulder to shoulder as they surged past army troops seeking to keep order.

Families with little children, old people and young people all heeded the call of Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim party and militia, packing buses and cars all over the country. By nighttime, however, only several thousand demonstrators remained, smoking water pipes, playing music and vowing to stay, some in tents, until the Western-backed government falls.

“We are having fun, yes,” said Hussein Hanoum, 27, of Hermel in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, as he lay across a sidewalk in the midst of a huge crowd. “We have no work. We have nothing else to do, so we came to overthrow the government.”

The mood was light-hearted, but the impressive turnout underscored the challenge this politically divided and fragile country faces as it confronts its most dangerous political crisis since the end of a 15-year civil war in 1990. The government was holed up in the Grand Serail, an Ottoman-era building on a hill overlooking the demonstrations. The prime minister, Fouad Siniora, said that the people could stay in the streets as long as they like, but neither he nor the other ministers would resign.


Not quite a triumphant and auspicious start to governing, I’d say. Or end, as the case may be.

Mexico Swears In New Leader, Quickly

MEXICO CITY, Dec. 1 — It was not pretty, but Felipe Calderón, the new president of Mexico, managed to take the oath of office in Congress today, while leftist lawmakers whistled and catcalled and the losing leftist candidate staged a huge protest march down the central avenue of the capital.

Mr. Calderón quickly took the oath of office, and Mr. Fox handed over the traditional presidential sash and left the chamber. The entire ceremony lasted four minutes.

All the while, opposition politicians blew whistles and held up banners suggesting Mr. Calderón was “a traitor to democracy.”

Earlier in the day, fisticuffs and pushing matches broke out between right-wing and left-wing lawmakers as they jockeyed for position in the chamber, with leftists trying to obstruct the entranceways and the conservatives ringing the dais and podium.

Never before in modern Mexican history has a president been sworn under such chaotic and divisive conditions.


Speaking to his supporters, Mr. Lopéz Obrador charged once again that the election was fraudulent and that Mr. Calderón’s victory was engineered by a “neofascist oligarchy.” He claimed the “imposition” of Mr. Calderón as president amounted to a “coup d’etat.”

“We are not rebels without a cause,” he said. “Sometimes they forget the heart of the matter, which is that they robbed us of the election.

Posted by Nanette on 12/01 at 02:31 PM
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Houston Judge Terrified of Peaceful Protesters - Assigns Them Combined $39.1 Million Bond

SEIU Press Release:

Houston crackdown on right to peaceful protest, freedom of speech…

44 Janitors Arrested in Non-Violent Civil Disobedience in Houston Held on Combined $39.1 Million Bond

For peaceful protestors charged with Class B misdemeanors, bond for each set at unprecedented $888,888 cash; For Harris County man recently charged with murder, bond set at $30,000

HOUSTON – In an unprecedented transparent attempt to severely limit the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech of low-wage Houston janitors and their supporters, a Harris County District Attorney has set an extraordinarily high bond of $888,888 cash for each of the 44 peaceful protestors arrested last night. Houston janitors and their supporters, many of them janitors from other cities, were participating in an act of non-violent civil disobedience, protesting in the intersection of Travis at Capitol when they were arrested in downtown Houston Thursday night. They were challenging Houston’s real estate industry to settle the janitors’ strike and agree on a contract that provides the 5,300 janitors in Houston with higher wages and affordable health insurance.

The combined $39.1 million bond for the workers and their supporters is far and above the normal amount of bail set for people accused of even violent crimes in Harris County. While each of the non-violent protestors is being held on $888,888 bail…

For a woman charged with beating her granddaughter to death with a sledgehammer, bail was set at $100,000;

For a woman accused of disconnecting her quadriplegic mother's breathing machine, bail was set at $30,000;

For a man charged with murder for stabbing another man to death in a bar brawl, bail was set at $30,000;

For janitors and protesters charged with Class B misdemeanors for past non-violent protests, standard bail has been set at $500 each.

More than 5,300 Houston janitors are paid $20 a day with no health insurance, among the lowest wages and benefits of any workers in America.

Community activists and leaders expressed concern and dismay today at the police’s use of horses to intimidate and corral janitors participating in the non-violent civil disobedience Thursday night in downtown Houston. The police’s choice to use horses to stop the protest resulted in four people being injured, including an 83-year old female janitor from New York.

In a statement released today prior to the bonds being set, U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee said, “A protest is a sign of freedom in the United States and exercises our basic rights to free speech.”

Photos and video shot by people in the crowd during the incident are available on


More than 1,700 SEIU janitors in Houston have been on strike since October 23 over civil rights abuses and a failure to bargain in good faith by their employers, the five national cleaning companies ABM, OneSource, GCA, Sanitors, and Pritchard.

With five of the most influential players in Houston’s commercial real estate industry refusing to intervene in the dispute, the workers’ strike against five national cleaning firms is increasing in scope and intensity. In the highly competitive market of contract cleaning, it the building landlords that hire the cleaning firms that negotiate and set rates for janitors’ wages and benefits. These five major landlords, Hines, Transwestern, Crescent, Brookfield Properties, and the oil giant Chevron, have the power to settle the strike by directing the cleaning contractors they hire to provide higher wages and health insurance all workers need to support their families.

In every city, the janitors work for many of the same national cleaning firms in buildings owned by the same national commercial landlords. But, while janitors in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and other cities make more than $10 an hour, have health insurance and full-time work, Houston workers are paid an average of $20 a day, with no health insurance for part-time work.

Last fall, 5,300 Houston janitors made the historic choice to form a union with SEIU (Service Employees International Union). Their decision capped one of the largest successful organizing drives by private sector workers ever in the Southern half of the United States. Since forming a union with SEIU, Houston janitors have been seeking a raise to $8.50/hour, more hours, and health insurance in a citywide union contract. For more info, visit

More than 225,000 janitors in 29 cities are members of SEIU.

Posted by Nanette on 11/18 at 09:27 PM
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Newsy bits - Chechens in Lebanon; Mercenary Review; BUGS!

From the St. Petersburg Times:

Chechen Soldiers Relish Tour of Duty in Lebanon

SIDON, Lebanon � Not so long ago, the Russian camp was a war zone.Today, the biggest bang most of the 250 military engineers here encounter is the 5 a.m. wake-up call at the sandy settlement of 50 or so tents nestled against the Mediterranean.

The relative calm is largely due to the end of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. But it’s also because two platoons of elite soldiers plucked from the Army’s 42nd Division’s East and West battalions, based in Chechnya, are standing guard.

Everything is calm here,” says Rasud Baimuratov, commander of one of the platoons. An ethnic Chechen with a towering figure, Baimuratov and his comrades have been welcomed by locals who say they trust Russians more than Western forces. Bilyal Adzhami, a store owner in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatia, explained that many locals see the Russian troops as a counterbalance to the French, Italian and Spanish forces, among others, helping maintain a UN-imposed peace.

“People don’t trust the NATO countries that sent peacekeepers here under the UN mission,” Adzhami said. “The local populations think their goal here is to protect Israel. And Moscow has always stood up for fair negotiations of the Middle East crisis and for keeping the peace in Lebanon.”

What’s more, as Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has noted, sending soldiers who are mostly Muslim to patrol a Muslim country has its benefits.

“We get along great with the local population,” said Malgobek Khamurzayev, one of the Russian soldiers deployed to southern Lebanon.

Sounds like it could be a good idea… in general. But…

Still, the Chechen battalions, which report to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, are composed of an unusual bunch.

The East battalion includes former Chechen separatists who once battled Russian Army troops but later switched sides. Human rights groups have accused the battalion of atrocities against civilians in Chechnya during regular search-and-destroy missions.

Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Center for Military Forecasting, voiced confidence that the Army engineers would fulfill their mission but had doubts about their Chechen protectors, who he said were not trained in peacekeeping.

“Conducting negotiations, coordinating with local police � these are difficult things,” Tsyganok said.

The East and West battalions were formed during the second Chechen war, which began in late 1999, in an effort to rely more heavily on local recruits in operations against Chechen rebels.

We’ll see.

From the Asia Times, David Isenberg does a book review of Robert Young Pelton’s Licensed to Kill

Mercenaries or ‘contractors’?

...For years now the media have increasingly publicized what is usually described in sensationalistic purple prose as the murky world of corporate mercenaries. While such firms started gaining attention back in the early 1990s with the exploits of, for example, the now-defunct South African-based Executive Outcomes, which did actual combat operations in Angola and Sierra Leone, and gained more publicity with the training contracts of MPRI in the Balkan wars of the mid-1990s, the war in Iraq propelled the industry to the top of the media and pop-culture food chain. Such firms as Blackwater Security, Triple Canopy, and DynCorp are now conversational staples.

And yet while there have been numerous articles in the periodical press and even many academic books, one of which - Peter Singer’s Corporate Warriors - even achieved a measure of popular acclaim when it was published in 2003, they all lacked one key ingredient essential to a real understanding of this world. And that is culture. The key to really understanding any society is to understand its culture. And, as anthropologists have long understood, true cultural understanding comes only from living in the midst of it.

...Just who is Robert Young Pelton? Originally from Canada, he moved to the US ... one day he decided to get out of it and start traveling to the world’s hot spots and war zones as a neutral observer and chronicler of the truth, which is never an easy thing to ascertain.

But as Pelton notes, “If there is a lesson in all of this, it is that once the security business is unhitched from established corporate or government clients, its proponents can quickly turn it into the insecurity business.”

Lots more there - go read it all. Very informative, pretty freaky too.

Maybe those “B” movies weren’t so far off after all… From (via StevenD)

Global Warming Could Trigger Insect Population Boom

A rise in the Earth�s temperature could lead to an increase in the number of insects worldwide, with potentially dire consequences for humans, a new study suggests.

New research shows that insect species living in warmer areas are more likely to undergo rapid population growth because they have higher metabolic rates and reproduce more frequently. The finding has scientists concerned that global warming could give rise to more fast-growing insect populations and that we could see a spike in the number of six-legged critters.

Insect-borne diseases are also a worry. Malaria, Lyme Disease and a host of others rely on insect vectors to spread among humans, and a swell in their populations could mean more infections. 

Already, scientists have observed a widening of malarial zones with new cases appearing in previously unaffected areas. The change is thought to be due to rising temperatures and an expansion of areas habitable for mosquitoes. The new research, detailed in the October issue of The American Naturalist, shows rising temperatures would mean insects would not only spread out, but also multiply more quickly.

Well now… it’s possible that some don’t feel warming temperatures (or cooling ones), floods and so on to be all that big of a threat… but what about the bugs!?

[This post may or may not be updated throughout the day, as I find new stuff and add it.]

Posted by Nanette on 11/06 at 08:30 AM
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Oaxaca - News, Background, Action - & It’s a Feminist Matter, Too

Oaxaca, Mexico:

I don't really know enough to write intelligently about this important situation but, luckily, there are many others that do. Here is a brief compilation of news and commentary. I am putting just a few sites here, but there many others who are writing on this situation in depth and from a position of knowledge. There are links to some of these at the sites below.

I'll probably just keep adding to this post as I find things.

An appeal and call to action:

From brownfemipower at the Women of Color blog:

Why feminists must stand against government oppression in Mexico

Although even Indy Media tends to privilege male voices–you can’t help but notice the heavy presence of indigenous women in the pictures/videos and manifestos. Indigenous social justice movements invariably center the entire community within the movement. Wheras (white) feminist movements in the U.S. tend to call for “rights” and “equality,” indigenous women tend to call for the recovering of their communities. That is, their communities have been under a 500 year long attack, and it is through (radical women of color/third world) feminism that indigenous women seek to recover and heal their communities.

Thus, indigenous women are active participants in decision making, rebellions, and protests–and as such, these same women are often targetted by the nation/state for retribution and sexualized violence. Just as it’s not uncommon to see video tape of women shutting down mainstream corporate media’s negative coverage, it’s also not uncommon to have women imprisoned and sexually assaulted as well. Resistance comes at a price–and for indigenous women of Mexico, that price is often the murders of their children and the violent loss of their bodily integrity. But to not resist means poverty, sexual violence and death. As subcomendante Marcos has often noted, indigenous peoples are already dead–resistance just means dying a different way.

All feminists MUST pay attention to what is happening in Oaxaca. Indigenous women are leading the way to female liberation–which means that just as their demands for access to birth control carry the same weight in their actions that their demands for access to community radio do, they are also taking the brunt of the violence liberation often brings. But thier entire community recognizes that they will never have liberation (aka community health, freedom from poverty, clean air to breath, workers rights, sexual freedom, control of the land etc) as long as the nation/state has ultimate control over what happens to their bodies and souls–or as long as violence against women is acceptable in any form. (Lots more there, including action items and more background and reasons why it is important for feminists to participate. read it all.) Also, keep up with current updates by visiting the Women of Color blogs Oaxaca archive.

Some Background:

BBC News -

What are the origins of the crisis?

On 1 May 2006, teachers in Oaxaca handed in a document listing their grievances and demands. They then went on strike, saying they had received no answer from the local authorities.

The crisis reached a new level on 14 June, when local police tried to remove the protesters who had, since 22 May been occupying the centre of the city. Some 750 police officers took part in the operation. Media reports at the time said at least four people had died in the clashes - a claim denied by the local authorities.

What do the teachers want?

They are demanding better pay, as well as a series of measures to help poorer pupils, including: breakfasts for schoolchildren, scholarships, uniforms, shoes, medical services and textbooks. The teachers are also demanding the resignation of the Oaxaca Governor, Ulises Ruiz.

Are other groups supporting the teachers?

Yes. The teachers' movement is backed by an umbrella group known as the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (Appo), formed on 17 June by 365 grassroots organisations including unions, indigenous and peasant groups and women's movements.

The protest movement has also received the backing of Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos and former left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. (Read more at BBC)

From The Unapologetic Mexican: The Problem in Oaxaca
BRINGING YOU AN IN-DEPTH PIECE OF BACKGROUND REPORTING on Oaxacan developments, as understood by one Rebecca Barroso. The Unapologetic Mexican cannot place his sterling silver reputation behind all opinions or facts in this piece, as he has not researched them. But he would be negligent in his duty to the underground newsgathering networks were he not to provide it to you for your own consideration.

Teachers, students, and other groups have engaged in increasingly violent demonstrations in and around Oaxaca City for several months, while leaders of social organizations and teacher unions demand the resignation of Ulises Ruiz as governor of Oaxaca.

The conflict has roots in what was allegedly a fraudulent election, when Ulises Ruiz, the candidate for the PRI party, was named victorious over Gabino Cué, the candidate for the Coalición Todos Somos Oaxaca party.


In short, Oaxaca is experiencing nonconformities via three different groups of people: all those trampled by the fraud at the election process; the heads of the social organizations in charge of keeping the peace who used to live off the public monies now denied to them; and the teachers who are requesting an increase in their salaries. (Read more) - Also, for commentary on the current issues in Oaxaca, here is The Unapologetic Mexican's Oaxaca category archive.


Posted by Nanette on 11/03 at 10:58 AM

Still Dusty! We are ‘Under Construction’

As I explained a few posts below, we are doing a bit of structual stuff in the background of the site, making changes here and there, adding this and that and so on, so things are just a tad discombobulated at the moment.  Don’t be alarmed if you come across odd things in different parts of the site, or if it seems as if some portions have disappeared completely. We have it all Under Control! I’m pretty sure.

Also, we’ll not be updating the various sections for this short while (except for blog posts) so, sorry about that.  But things will be much better when we are done! Although you might not actually notice any difference because, well… most of changes are in the background. :)

Thanks for your continued patience.

(this post will stay at the top of the page for a few days)

Posted by Nanette on 10/26 at 04:44 PM
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The dot that protects brothers

Today is “Bhai Phota” in Kolkata. Well, make that West Bengal.

It’s a charming custom where sisters (and we have lots of sisters in our extended families) call all their brothers together, feed them the choicest delicacies and anoint them with three dots on the middle of their forehead, chanting a mantra designed to keep the God of Death (Yama) away. One dot is with the paste of the sacred sandalwood tree; another with “kajol”, the Indian version of mascara, often called “kohl”; and the third is with “ghee”, or clarified butter. The perfumes make quite a heady mix. No wonder Yama decides to stay away.

All the brothers have to do is be anointed and fed. They do bring along gifts for their sisters, though that’s not compulsory. And these could range from the latest music CD to an Ipod, depending how affluent you want to show you’ve become, thanks to your sister’s good wishes. Those less musically inclined could choose from any of the wondrous knicks and knacks that seem designed to charm sisters available at your nearest shopping mall. A good time is had by all, especially the economy.

There is a variant of this ritual, called “Rakhi” celebrated mostly in North India where the sister ties a “thread of protection” around the brother’s right hand.

Are there any similar customs across the world? Where the sister protects the brother? Or the other way around?


Posted by Sumit Roy on 10/22 at 10:23 PM
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The global local earthling

I am returning to Human Beams after several years.

I remember with excitement the concept of a world without borders that inspired Nanette to come up with Human Beams.

I do see myself as a global citizen. But I must confess that for the last five years I have been more concerned about things that have been happening in India than I have been about my global village.

Why just India? It would be right to say that it’s watching Kolkata become a global city that has attracted my attention.

18 million people live/work in this city. Of course it has it’s own character. As does every city in the world.

What’s interesting is that if you step in to any of its shopping malls I guess you could be in any city in the world. You could certainly get anything the world produces.

Shopping malls, I guess, is one phenomenon that has transcended global barriers. And strangely to make that conquest, the truly multinational brands have had to localise.

Coca-Cola is a campaign running here, “Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola” which will not make any sense to anyone who is not Indian. Yet it is true to the Coke brand.

Pizza Hut has toppings that are so Indian that no Italian would ever believe that it could be used on a pizza.

What is it about us that makes us want to localise every global concept?

Why do we still live in a world with cultural, geographic and political borders?

What makes us search for our own food and music, our own language, even when we should feel at home in another part of our global village?

What will it take for Earth to unite?

An invasion from outer space?


Posted by Sumit Roy on 10/18 at 10:46 PM
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