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Whoa. And I Bet You Thought *Your* Boss Was Bad

Might be time to count your blessings. 

Boss Killed Employees After They Asked For Raise

FULTON COUNTY, Ga.—Police say a business owner who was having financial problems shot and killed two of his employees after they asked him for a raise.

The suspect in the murders, 38-year-old Rolandas Milinavicius, turned himself in to East Point authorities Saturday. Officials said Milinavicius was the victims’ boss.

East Point police said Milinavicius confessed to the killings. Officials said he told them he was under a lot of stress because of heavy debts with his business.

Milinavicius told authorities conversations in recent weeks with his only two employees about pay raises pushed him over the edge.


A 28-year-old man and 25-year-old woman had been shot to death.


Posted by Nanette on 07/30 at 06:26 PM
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Send a Net, Save a Life

An emergency appeal from Nothing But Nets, a grassroots organization that sends insecticide treated bed nets to affected areas in Africa.

Here is part of an overview of the crisis:

Armed movements, including fighting spreading from the Darfur region of Sudan (neighboring Chad to the East), have forced over 200,000 Chadians from their homes in recent months, and send them flooding into refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border, particularly around Goz Beida, a major refugee host area.

Displaced from their homes, these Chadians face a growing threat…from a tiny mosquito. In June the rainy season arrived – with malaria following right behind. As the climate gets wetter, disease transmission will rise sharply and continue on through November.

The sudden influx of Chadians into refugee camps has left tens of thousands of people highly vulnerable to malaria.


The challenge is urgent—without outside assistance, officials estimate 25% of these internally displaced people will die from malaria. To save lives, we need to send 40,000 nets in the next six weeks.

Go here to see how you can help.

via UN Dispatch

Posted by Nanette on 07/25 at 09:12 AM
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my heart goes out to the family of david ritcheson

i had posted this on my own blog, but as my readers consist of me...and, well, me, i thought i’d post it over here as well.  during a time when the immigration issue is flying around like yesterday’s “GAY MARRIAGE causes FLAG BURNING which leads to ABORTION and ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS” (i’m sure i’ve forgotten something) issues and hate groups are increasing in number spawning more hate crimes… i’m SO deeply saddened by this story…

...I had to face the fact that I had been targeted for violence in a brutal crime because of my ethnicity.  This crime took place in middle-class America in the year 2006. The reality that hate is alive, strong, and thriving in the cities, towns, and cul-de-sacs of Suburbia, America was a surprise to me.  America is the country I love and call home.  However, the hate crime committed against me illustrates that we are still, in some aspects, a house divided.

i almost don’t know what to say.  this is the type of story that just hurts to read.  it brought matthew shepard to mind immediately, though i held out hope for this victim.  he’d survived.

on april 23, 2006, two skinheads, david tuck, 19, and keith turner, 18, brutally attacked a 16 year old hispanic boy.  he’d once been the running back for the football team, the freshman homecoming prince, had a girlfriend.  sent to an alternative school for fighting, he said he’d never really fit in there.  on the night of april 22, he and gus sons, a boy he’d met in the alternative school, met up with david tuck and keith turner and returned to gus sons’ house.  “partying”, they drank vodka, smoked pot, did some coke, took xanax.  while it is believed that the crime was premeditated, they (tuck and turner) used the pretext that they believed the boy had stolen some drugs and tried to kiss gus sons’ 12 year old sister to initiate what would be an hour long, vicious attack.

they dragged the boy outside.  punched him.  kicked him repeatedly in the head with steel toed boots.  stripped him.  burned him 17 times with cigarettes.  tried to carve a swastika into his chest.  poured bleach on his face and body.  yelling ethnic slurs, david tuck kicked an outdoor umbrella pole up into the boy’s rectum, severely damaging his internal organs. 

gus sons never stopped the attack, nor did he call an ambulance.  the boy lay naked, broken and bleeding, in the backyard, until gus sons’ mother called the police hours later.  (gus sons would later apologize, during his testimony against both attackers.)

the boy would spend the next three months and eight days in the hospital, mostly in critical care.  he’d endure 30 surgeries, with even more to come.

he returned to school in the fall of 2006.  at first, he looked forward to being with his friends and returning to a “normal” life, yet he felt overwhelmed by the realization that everyone knew who he was.  he was “the kid”.  in an april 2007 interview with the houston chronicle, he talks about how it was “degrading”, how he can’t say the “s word” (sodomy), and how he’s trying to deal with it “by not thinking about it”.  he’d declined psychological counseling.

on april 17, 2007, david ritcheson, the victim of this brutal hate crime, testified before congress in support of the “local law enforcement hate crimes prevention act”.  under current law, the fbi had no grounds to investigate the attack, because it occurred in a private yard.  to be a “hate crime”, it had to occur in a place of public access.  this is what david wanted changed. 

“I appear before you as a survivor...I am here before you today asking that our government take the lead in deterring individuals like those who attacked me from committing unthinkable and violent crimes against others because of where they are from, the color of their skin, the God they worship, the person they love, or the way they look, talk or act.”

on may 3, 2007, the house voted 237 to 180 in favor of the ”local law enforcement hate crimes prevention act”, also known as ”the matthew shepard act”.  it will now go on to be voted on by the senate, though president gw bush has indicated that he may veto the bill.

on july 1, 2007, david ritcheson jumped to his death from a carnival cruise ship headed to cozumel.

there are no words to express how saddened i am by david’s death.  may his parents, friends, and community someday find peace.

below, read david ritcheson’s testimony before congress…

Continue Reading my heart goes out to the family of david ritcheson

Posted by arin721 on 07/01 at 11:18 PM
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US Citizen Deported - By The US - For Looking Foreign

Via Steven D at the Booman Tribune comes this ridiculous (and possibly tragic) story. And, as belledame points out, it’s almost a case of fact imitating fiction. 


ACLU spokesman Michael Soller said 29-year-old Pedro Guzman was serving a 120-day sentence in a Los Angeles jail for trespassing when he was deported to Tijuana, Mexico, on May 10 or May 11 for an alleged immigration violation.

The group’s suit filed in U.S. District Court seeks to have the deportation order suspended and for the U.S. government to help locate Guzman.

Guzman, who was born in Los Angeles and lived about 70 miles north in Lancaster with his mother, could barely read and write, Soller said. He did not know his phone number and kept his brother’s telephone number on a piece of paper. But the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in a written statement denied Guzman’s deportation, which followed immigration checks at the jail, was improper.

“ICE only processes persons for removal when all available credible evidence suggests the person is an alien,” ICE officials said. “That process was followed here and ICE has no reason to believe that it improperly removed Pedro Guzman.”


The only telephone call Guzman made came shortly after his deportation, on May 11 and was received by his sister in law, Soller said.

“The last thing she heard him do was ask someone nearby ‘Where am I?’ and then the line went dead,” Soller said. Guzman has not been heard from since and is assumed lost in Mexico.

Posted by Nanette on 06/12 at 06:46 PM
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Kennedy: Families Pay The Price For Failed System

They apparently name this mess “Operation Return to Sender”. How… cute. 

Boston Herald

All over New Bedford on Tuesday, hundreds of women and men woke up, kissed their children goodbye and left for another day of work at Michael Bianco Inc. They knew it would be a grueling day because there was no other kind of day in the sweatshop-like conditions of the factory. But they were willing to work hard and without complaint because they believed in the American Dream, in which hard work creates a hope for a better life - if not for them, then for their children.

What happened next was a tragic example of the desperate state of our current immigration policy. Hundreds of armed police and immigration officers raided the factory, creating panic among the workers. They handcuffed unarmed men and women in the same factory where the workers had already known nothing but indignity at the hands of their employer.

While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was ready with hundreds of officers to subdue a group of frightened workers, they were woefully unprepared to deal with the aftermath of their own raid. The DHS knew that it would be detaining young parents, and yet had no effective plan to identify and help the children who would be left alone. The photographs of bewildered, crying children told with eloquence the story of a government operation distinguished by its callousness.

Posted by Nanette on 03/11 at 08:12 PM
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Pot Haulers Are Laid Back Too, I Guess

For some reason I just can’t see this happening with a cocaine shipment. 

From BBC

An abandoned consignment of marijuana with a street value of $20m (£10.3m) was found in California when a policeman went to check on a lorry.

The vehicle was unlocked and the engine warm, but no-one was in the cab.

The patrolman found plastic-wrapped bundles of the drug in the back of the rental vehicle near Los Angeles after smelling marijuana, AP said.


“Somebody’s going be in some major trouble for walking away and leaving that quantity sitting on the side of the freeway,” said Sgt Telfinues Preszler Jnr of the California Highway Patrol .

“I’m glad I’m not him.”

He suggested the engine might have overheated, causing the vehicle to be abandoned along with three tons of marijuana on a slip road in the city of Ontario late on Wednesday. (emphasis added)

For want of a nail…

This story cracks me up. Maybe the shippers were broke until after they were paid for the delivery, and so couldn’t afford to service a truck carrying millions of dollars worth of (illegal) goods. Or even provide a spare water bottle.

Posted by Nanette on 03/11 at 09:08 AM
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Turkish Court Blacks Out YouTube

Insulting the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is a crime in Turkey punishable by prison.

ISTANBUL, Turkey—Four college students on Thursday asked a Turkish court to revoke the ban it imposed on YouTube for running videos that prosecutors said insulted the founder of modern Turkey.

The group condemned the videos in question but said blocking access to the Web site violated their rights to free speech, the private Turkish news agency Dogan reported.

“Banning access to the Web site does not punish those who did that (posted the videos) but the citizens of the Turkish republic,” said student Kursat Cetinkoz, reading from a petition the group submitted to the court in Istanbul.


Turk Telekom, the country’s largest telecommunications provider, immediately began enforcing the ban Wednesday. Those who tried to access the YouTube site from Turkey encountered the message: “Access to this site has been blocked by a court decision!...”

The court—acting on a petition from Turk Telekom—ruled later Wednesday that it would revoke the ban as soon as it ascertained that the offending videos had been removed from YouTube. YouTube is owned by internet search engine giant Google.

From the Chicago Tribune.

I suppose there is a historical reason for the ban on insulting ‘Turkishness’, but I don’t know what it is, or how one could justify punishing the insults with a court case and possible prison time. I know (or at least, I believe I know) that in Germany it is illegal to deny the Holocaust - am not sure if there are prison consequences attached to that, nor am I sure that I agree with the law itself. But, then, I’m not German and that is no doubt a very sensitive issue for them. From what I understand, however, neo Nazi groups flourish in spite of the law.

Anyway, though… the situations are not analogous because in Turkey, it was the Armenians who were the victims of the genocide.

Google/YouTube did take the video down, by the way, after apparently thousands of letters of complaint.

Posted by Nanette on 03/08 at 05:17 PM
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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

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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