Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mystery Girl



This is why you should wear one of those god-awful bicycle safety helmets. This is also why you should carry SOME form of ID at all times. You just never know.

Accident victim's identity still unknown.



Wednesday, May 30, 2007

God Save The News!

Remember the "moving pictures" appearing in newspapers in the "Harry Potter" movie series? Such technology could revolutionize newspapers...

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So you thought newspapers were on their last legs, dead or dying out! Think again! There's always a new something, a new angle, a new rule to play the game by... American newspapers are kind of like the TV show "Lost." They're wandering in a digital desert, trying to get their bearings... the "Perry White" days are over for editors...

Dan Gillmor recently posted on the Center for Citizen Media Blog: "the prospects for traditional newspaper jobs are getting slimmer all the time. I’ve been telling students who wonder about their futures to understand the changes in media, but not to get depressed about them. There’s never been a worse time to jump on the semi-standard career track of the past, where you worked for a succession of papers, each one bigger than the last, and hoped to end up at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post or other major daily. Maybe one of the students I’ve taught this year — all of whom were immensely talented — will go that route.

But I also tell them the bright side: There’s never been a better time to be a journalistic entrepreneur — to invent your own job, to become part of the generation that figures out how produce and, yes, sell the journalism we desperately need as a society and as citizens of a shrinking planet. The young journalists who are striking out on their own today, experimenting with techniques and business models, will invent what’s coming."


Or, as Paul McCartney put it when asked why he had chosen to release his latest album through Starbucks: "It's a new world."

A professor at UC-Berkeley bemoans “The decline of news” in an op-ed piece (SF Chronicle) also posted by Dan Gillmor. The Chronicle, whose managing editor Robert Rosenthal just resigned, says "The business model for newspapers is clearly broken."

Paul McCartney is right... and somehow, just in time to revolutionize newspapers, SONY comes along with a paper-thin screen (bendable, in fact) that displays full-color video. I can only imagine journalists at the Albany Times Union: they're already uploading stories and photos and blogging the news as it happens (or at least within an hour or less of when it happens). Hand them video cameras that can capture the news, and (here's where all you Citizen Journalists or CJ's come in) encourage readers to upload cellphone videos of breaking news!!! Your daily Times Union would be good for 24 hours: the thin-screen would be glued to Page One, above the fold: it would update itself all day long via satellite video signal, encrypted to receive a certain channel just for that 24 hours...

Around The Blogosphere 30 May 07

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Check out Charbel Baini's RICH ARAB RAP. Algerian blogger Nouri (The Moor Next Door) continues to discuss the Pew Survey on American Muslims. He also delves into racial classifications among Muslims:
"Even though 1988 was the year I was born in, when I was in seventh and eighth grade, I was under the impression that I was to mark "African" or "Asian" (on the direction of my teachers) on state mastery exams. I think it is fairly obvious that physically most Arabs (at least north-east Mediterranean Arabs, and many North Africans) are the same race as most other Caucasians, European or otherwise. However, socially speaking I do not myself see many people of European heritage recognizing that, probably because I do not appear to be of that origin myself (though I recognize it with other Arabs who are more "Western" looking than myself). When I informed a friend (who is of Russian/French Canadian background) that Casey Kassem was an Arab-American, his response was "he looks white", a response similar to that of many people when they hear that this or that celebrity is Arab/Syrian/Lebanese/etc. However, when the somewhat "grimy" Syrian fellow at the falafel stand is explicitly referred to as "Middle Eastern" or "Arab", and my friend Khalil the Copt meets the same mention I think it is safe for me to say that I do not consider myself to be white necessarily. "
Miss Izzy has a new blog: wyafer.org - (Waɪ-fər) Contemplations of a Wired Young Asian Female. Here is a post I recommend: The Beauty of Participatory Media and here is an excerpt:
The mainstream media is dead, so they say, and participatory media is the contemporary equivalent of the Gutenberg press in the fifteenth century. Edited sources are artefacts of a left- behind culture incapable of keeping up with the progress of the shared knowledge on the internet. Open-source initiatives are in a battle to the death with the monarchies of the mainstream media, and they are going to win. So they say. You know, the people involved in this whole free-for-all content production culture.
Fun Facts: In a City Known for Its Renters, a Record Number Now Own Their Homes [NYT] 33.2: Percentage of New Yorkers who own their homes, a record high (compared to 28.7 in 1990).
68: Percentage of Americans who own their homes, proving that we're still, all things considered, a city of renters.

Checking a few local blogs: Hey ma, they're blogging about GUNS! For example: "We are seeing two world views, two cultures that are not based on something as artificial and crude as “liberal” vs. “conservative,” state boundaries, political parties, or even regions of the country. There is an invisible line between the inner suburbs and the exurbs, and on either side is a different attitude toward gun ownership and use." - from "Blind Shots At A Moving Target" (Albany Weblog) There's also"Shots Fired" and "Gun Conviction" on Democracy In Albany.

Lina Joy Loses Appeal

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*** Background ***


Sidang Media PEMBELA bersempena dengan pengumuman kes keputusan Azlina Jailani @ Lina Joy yang akan dibuat pada keesokan harinya.

PUTRAJAYA: Lina Joy lost her final round of appeal when the Federal Court dismissed on Wednesday her appeal against a ruling that the National Registration Department was right not to allow her to remove the word "Islam" from her identity card. Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Federal Court judge Justice Alauddin Mohd Sheriff delivered the majority decision dismissing her appeal. Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum dissented. On Sept 19, 2005, the Court of Appeal decided that the NRD director-general was right in refusing her application to drop her religious status from her IC on the grounds that the Syariah Court and other Islamic religious authorities did not confirm Linas renunciation of Islam.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Graduation Song (Friends Forever)

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Once a lifetime, a song comes along that becomes an instant classic. Usually associated with a holiday or historical event, it becomes timeless. Such is the case with Vitamin C's Graduation Song / Friends Forever. This is a great song! It's very sad if you hear it when attending a graduation. There are a few different versions (same song with different age-group sorted overlays of graduates) and probably a hundred recording artists who wished they had done this one first. I do not believe anyone could outshine Vitamin C!

Her real name is Colleen Fitzpatrick. She was lead singer of the punk-pop band Eve's Plum. Fitzpatrick was born July 20, 1972, in Old Bridge, NJ; she was a dancer in high school before becoming a singer in several local bands. She also tried acting, landing a role in John Waters' Hairspray in 1988. In 1991, she and guitarist Michael Kotch met while attending New York University and formed Eve's Plum together; after around a year, they landed a deal with Sony and wound up releasing two albums, 1993's Envy and 1995's Cherry Alive. Fitzpatrick subsequently left for a solo career, also taking on acting roles in The Naked Gun 2 1/2, Liar Liar, The Mambo Kings, Dracula 2000, and Get Over It.

In the meantime, Fitzpatrick refashioned herself as a dance-pop singer and scored a deal with Elektra in 1998. Her debut album, Vitamin C, was released in late summer 1999 and it produced two decent-sized hits in "Smile" (which featured Jamaican dancehall toaster Lady Saw) and "Me, Myself and I." Vitamin C really took off, though, with the impeccably timed release of the third single, "Graduation (Friends Forever)

Vitamin C - Graduation Song
Here are the lyrics:
And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives
Where we're gonna be when we turn 25
I keep thinking times will never change
Keep on thinking things will always be the same
But when we leave this year we won't be coming back
No more hanging out cause we're on a different track
And if you got something that you need to say
You better say it right now cause you don't have another day
Cause we're moving on and we can't slow down
These memories are playing like a film without sound
And I keep thinking of the night in June
I Didn't know much of love, but it came too soon
And There was me and you, and then it got real blue
Stay at home talkin' on the telephone and
We would get so excited, we'd get so scared
Laughing at our selves thinking life's not fair
And this is how it feels

Chorus:
As we go on, we remember
All the times we had together
And as our lives change, from whatever
We will still be, friends forever

So if we get the big jobs and we make the big money
When we look back now, will that joke still be funny?
Will we still remember everything we learned in school?
Still be trying to break every single rule
Will little brainy Bobby be the stockbroker man?
Can Heather find a job that won't interfere with her tan?
I keep, I keep thinking that it's not goodbye
Keep on thinking it's a time to fly
And this is how it feels

Repeat chorus

La, la, la, la; yeah, yeah, yeah
La, la, la, la, we will still be friends forever

Will we think about tomorrow like we think about now?
Can we survive it out there? Can we make it somehow?
I guess I thought that this would never end
And suddenly it's like we're women and men
Will the past be a shadow that will follow us round?
Will these memories fade when I leave this town
I keep, I keep thinking that it's not goodbye
Keep on thinking it's a time to fly

Repeat chorus 3x

Meet Colleen Fitzpatrick aka Vitamin C
ダウンロード»» PC(.mp4) - 携帯(.3gp) - Audio(.mp3)
【再生時間】3:45
【動画説明】Pop star and actress Vitamin C (Colleen Fitzpatrick) sits with Jeff Favre, host of Jeff at the House, www.jath.com to talk about her career.
【投稿日】2006/03/21 20:47:31
【YouTube】http://www.youtube.com/?v=LmcnYciAoRk
【VideoID】LmcnYciAoRk
【キーワード】 Meet Colleen Fitzpatrick aka Vitamin C
【平均評価】4.73
【評価回数】30

“Legitimate Demands” – A Video Speech by Adam Yahiye Gadahn Produced by as-Sahab Media

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The SITE Institute posts about Adam Yahiye Gadahn AKA Azzam the American, featured in a 7:57 minute video produced by as-Sahab, the multimedia wing of al-Qaeda, and titled: “Legitimate Demands”. The video was issued to jihadist forums today, Tuesday, May 29, 2007. The speech, spoken in English and subtitled in Arabic, is presented as an address to U.S. President George W. Bush, Gadahn speaking in a condescending tone and accusing him of spearheading a Crusade led by his “empire of evil” against Muslims and embroiling American forces in wars without end... in the vid, Azzam promises "you and your people will- Allah willing- experience things which will make you forget all about the horrors of September 11th, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Virginia Tech."

SITE also has posted a picture of Karnac Azzam. Meanwhile, the Northeast Intelligence Network reports:

29 May 2007: A significantly redacted 51-page report was released by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security late last Friday with new details of what federal air marshals say was a terrorist dry run aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 327 from Detroit to Los Angeles on June 29, 2004. The release of the report stems from a freedom of information act request from the Washington Times in April 2006, writes Washington Times reporter Audrey Hudson in an article dated May 27, 2007. Ms. Hudson is known for her tenacity in getting to the bottom of a story and accuracy in reporting, and Ms. Jacobsen for her detailed accounts of the events of Northwest Airlines Flight 327 on June 29, 2004 in her book Terror in the Skies, Why another 9/11 could happen again.

The complete report will appear in tomorrow’s edition of The Washington Times.

YouTube Catapults Pole Vaulter's Career

I don't know. I think there are ways you can get yourself deleted from the Internet. Look at my post Without A Trace, about how TV news reporter Mai Shiozaki is MIA on the NET... Allison Stokke, pictured below, is the subject of a Washington Post article dealing with her brush with Internet fame. The lesson here: always make sure you look your best when you go out, even if it's just a quick hop for gas and a paper. (Remember: surveillance cameras, traffic cameras, papparazzi... Smile for the camera!)

INTERVIEW (VIDEO) With ALLISON STOKKE

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After dinner one evening in mid-May, Stokke asked her parents to gather around the computer. She gave them the Internet tour that she believed now defined her: to the unofficial Allison Stokke fan page ( http://www.allisonstokke.com), complete with a rolling slideshow of 12 pictures; to the fan group on MySpace, with about 1,000 members; to the message boards and chat forums where hundreds of anonymous users looked at Stokke's picture and posted sexual fantasies.

Early this month, 18-year-old Allison Stokke walked into her high school track coach's office and asked if he knew any reliable media consultants. Stokke had tired of constant phone calls, of relentless Internet attention, of interview requests from Boston to Brazil.

In her high school track and field career, Stokke had won a 2004 California state pole vaulting title, broken five national records and earned a scholarship to the University of California, yet only track devotees had noticed. Then, in early May, she received e-mails from friends who warned that a year-old picture of Stokke idly adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had been plastered across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times... [continued]

Radio Killed The Video Star

The DuMont network developed several comedians, including Jackie Gleason ("The Honeymooners"), Morey Amsterdam, and Ernie Kovacs, who would later go on to stardom at other networks doing essentially the same material. It anticipated Sesame Street by two decades with a smarter-than-it-sounds program called Your Television Babysitter, and its Your Television Shopper was around way before cubic zirconium was cool.

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Reason Magazine recently published a fantastic book review entitled "Who Killed Captain Video? (How the FCC strangled a TV pioneer)" Here's are a few selectcerpts:
The Forgotten Network, David Weinstein's absorbing account of Du Mont's rise and fall, is aptly titled. Even the explanation of why the network altered the spelling of its creator's name to DuMont has been swallowed by the sands of time. Most television histories mention DuMont only as a footnote, if that, and because the network left the air before the invention of videotape, its programs have mostly faded from memory. When The Hollywood Reporter recently compiled a list of every scripted network program that ran for more than 100 episodes, it omitted DuMont's Captain Video, which had more than 1,500, as well as Life Is Worth Living, the prime-time religious lecture that ran five years and outlived the network itself...

...DuMont programs usually contained commercials from several different advertisers, which meant every comma of a script didn't have to be approved by Procter & Gamble or General Mills. The result was that DuMont producers had much freer rein than their counterparts at the other networks, and--for better or for worse--they used it.

That freedom was never more obvious than at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, when Captain Video whipped out his nucleamatic pistols and thermal ejectors to do battle with evil across the galaxy. Arriving on the DuMont airwaves in 1949 and sticking it out until the network shut down six years later, Captain Video was the first, the last, and certainly the mightiest (he had to be; the prop budget was just $25 a week) of the rocket-jock heroes who magnetically, mesmerically drew America's kids to those early TV sets...

Most intriguing of all was Life Is Worth Living, a weekly chat by the Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen on ethics and philosophy that for many Americans was probably an introduction, however cursory, to the thought of people like Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Sheen's plain-talk approach, soft peddling Catholic doctrine while twitting himself with gentle self-deprecatory humor, turned Life Is Worth Living into a genuine hit: It ran Frank Sinatra's CBS show in the same time slot off the air and made enough inroads against Milton Berle on NBC that the comedian was moved to remark that if you were going to tank in the ratings, it might as well be against a show written by the guy who scripted the Bible. Life Is Worth Living is virtually the only DuMont show to have survived the network's plunge into obscurity; reruns still air on the Eternal Word Television Network, the Catholic Church's cable channel.

Here's the article!

Monday, May 28, 2007

TV contestants to compete for woman's kidneys

Just when you thought you'd seen and heard it all... a Dutch reality TV show in which a terminally ill woman is to select one of three contestants to receive her kidneys when she dies is to air this week despite criticism that it pushes the boundaries of the format too far... [more]

Font Follies

Something is up with fonts... I have received several emails about font sizes on this blog. I almost went into the template to make changes, but then decided to do a little testing from several different computers.Yes, for some reason, fonts are not displaying properly 100% of the time in Internet Explorer. The crazy thing is, the fonts appearing in the wrong size vary from XP to Me to Win98SE. If you're looking at this blog thru Firefox, everything displays as it should. I didn't change anything. So, I'll assume for now it's something to do with Windows, but, it could also be a blogger.com glitch. Keep me posted!

Dope

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On dictionary.com the word "dope" has 14 meanings. #7.Informal. a stupid or unresponsive person, fits the Danish cyclist Bjarne Riis, who "out of the blue" confessed he used several banned drugs, including EPO, steroids and human growth hormone, while competing in the 1990s, becoming the first champion of the sport’s most prestigious competition to confess to doping. Was it his conscience calling? Nope! Riis must have suspected someone was about to rat him out. If not, he is a dope for ratting himself out--- well, wait a minute--- he's a dope no matter what! From the New York Times:
Riis said that he used the banned drugs from 1993 to 1998. He offered to give back the iconic yellow jersey that goes to the winner of the Tour de France; he said it was “at home in a cardboard box.”

“They are welcome to come and get it,” he said. “I have my memories for myself.”

Officially, Riis cannot be stripped of his title, because according to the sport’s antidoping rules, a rider can be stripped of a title because of doping admissions only within eight years of a race.

“Bjarne Riis said himself that he did not deserve to have won the Tour in 1996 because he cheated,” Christian Prudhomme, the race director of the Tour de France, told The Associated Press. “I think the same thing, because he has soiled the yellow jersey..."

Dope: for using dope in the first place!

Soft Drink Conspiracy

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15 or 20 years ago if you told anyone that in 2007 people would be spending more than a dollar on a 20 ounce bottle of WATER you would have likely been sent to an insane asylum. Nowadays it is common to see man, woman and child toting a water bottle around...

As the big soda companies (like Coke and Pepsi) get more into water, "health" water and juice products, (more of profit margin than cola) , they need to figure out ways to make customers move to the higher-profit stuff. So, they manage to get stuff like this out before the public:

"A new health scare erupted over soft drinks last night amid evidence they may cause serious cell damage. Research from a British university suggests a common preservative found in drinks such as Fanta and Pepsi Max has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA."

WoW! Generations of people from the 1930's on are running around with "switched off DNA." Anybody seen Chicken Little?

Reference: Caution: Some soft drinks may seriously harm your health

Internet Censorship Coming To Israel?

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Hard to believe, but the powers that be in the nation of Israel could reign in free speech: (from Gilad Lotan in Global Voices)
Internet censorship could slowly and surely find its way to Israel. Now that a new proposal “that is supposedly meant to protect kids from the dangers of pornography, violence and gambling sites” has passed the primary voting stage in the Israeli Knesset, bloggers writing in Hebrew are asking: What is next?

From Gadi Shimshon’s post “say nicely goodbye to your internet“:
עברה בקריאה טרומית בכנסת (משהו שכיום הוא בעיקר הצהרתי) הצעת חוק של ח”כ אמנון כהן מש”ס שמיועדת, לכאורה, להגן על קטינים מסכנות של אתרי פורנוגרפיה, אלימות והימורים. למען הסר ספק, אין בהצעה הזו דבר שיגן על ילדי מדינת ישראל. כל כולה שילוב של בערות טכנולוגית, צדקנות שמנונית ומשחקי כוח פוליטיים. מצד שני, עד כמה שהצעת החוק מטומטמת לעילא וכמעט בלתי ישימה כלכלית וטכנולוגית, יש בה משהו מעורר חלחלה. הבעיה היא לא ש”ס - הבעיה היא הח”כים שסביר מאוד שרובכם בחרתם. התהליך בו זורמת ומתקדמת ההצעה בכנסת - הוא בדיוק התהליך שהייתם מדמיינים. זה מצחיק בטירוף, וזה מייאש עוד יותר.

A law proposal by politician Amnon Cohen (from the ultra-orthodox political party shas) that is supposedly meant to protect kids from the dangers of pornography, violence and gambling sites has passed the primary voting stage in the Israeli Knesset . There is nothing in this law proposal that will protect the children of Israel. It is a combination of technological ignorance, over-righteousness and a political power play. While this law proposal is utterly stupid and almost impossible economically and technologically, it has something that makes me shudder. The problem is not Shas - it is our political leaders whom most of you have chosen. The process in which this proposal is going forward is like you’d imagine; it is hilarious, and frustrating even more.

The proposed law requires from the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block adult content-based sites (sexual, gambling and violence) from children. The ISPs will require some biometric means of identification for adults, in addition to a personal password, as a means to verify one’s age. The current law proposal does not state who claims which sites will be blocked, and technology will be used by the ISPs for this sort of identification. In one of their meetings, it was suggested that for an additional monthly fee, ISPs would offer their customers means to block “harmful” content, when and if requested. There are so many problems that come up. For instance, how and who decides which content is violent or sexual. How problematic it is if all the ISP’s in Israel hold a white list of every user’s personal information. If this content can be censored, what is the next stage? Perhaps blocking all sites that deal with evolution?

In his post “Amnon Cohen interests the tip of my finger“, blogger Jonathan Klinger describes the many problems which come up when claiming what the “main nature” of a site is:
אולם, השאלה האמיתית תהיה מי יקבע מהי אותה תועבה ומהם אותם אתרים החסומים בפני משתמשים. האם אתר NRG הוא אתר שמכיל אלימות ומין כיוון שהוא מחזיק את מדור NRG-סקסי מצד אחד, ופה ושם ניתן למצוא פטמה או שתיים באחת מהכתבות, או שמא הוא אתר שעיסוקו העיקרי הוא באלימות כיוון שזה מדווח על מלחמות, פצועים, חיסולים בעולם התחתון ו“סתם” דקירות. החברה שלנו אלימה, אין מה לעשות, וכל אתר חדשות עוסק באלימות.

The real question will be who decides what is an abomination and which websites should be blocked. Is NRG (a popular Israeli news website) a site that has sexual content because it hosts the NRG sexy column, where one can possibly spot a nipple or two? Or rather does it mainly deal with violence because there are articles reporting on war, casualties, deaths and “random” knife stabs. Our society is violent, we cannot do anything about that. And every news website deals with violence.

Too many parents nowadays are unaware of what their children are up to (not only relevant to the internet). The basic argument claims that it is the parent’s responsibility and not the country or government, to educate. A simple yet effective solution is placing the computer in the living room. [continued...]

From a reader: "Dave, what the hell are those little boxes?"
Answer: Those boxes appearing where letters would normally be mean you are missing a language pack or font on your computer! Not all beckon you to install the fonts you need, indeed you may be able to install multi-lingual capability direct from the master disc for your operating system. It is always good to have the capability to see the actual characters in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese... as my Mom once said "you might learn something."

China Could Teach Albany A Thing Or Two

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You've heard about the UAlbany - China connection... Universities exchanging students, programs, information... Chinese educators recently took a tour of Troy Schools... Well, parents, I'll bet you don't know how many teachers this year within the Albany City (including parochial) school system got punched in the face by students. Of course they won't tell you, but I know of one school where it's happened twice in the last six months... maybe if you googled your way thru a search of local MySpace pages you might find a reference or two... I'll leave that up to you...

In China, a Cellphone VIDEO of a teacher assaulted by a student made it up on the Chinese counterpart toYouTube: Talk about Citizen Journalism in action! After hundreds of thousands of hits and page after page of comments, the Chinese internet community hunted the boy and his classmate cronies down: If you're able to follow the link I've provided (darn thing keeps changing) here is some info about the characters, left on the videosite by viewers. Talk about being outed! One commenter suggested "send these kids to Iraq." Others wrote:

Yu Yue (that clown in the front row with the earring’s nick name is big donkey)
Phone: 13681590432

Guo Xu, female (the one filming…who thinks this is so fun, giving the whole country something to enjoy together)
Haiding Arts Vocational School
Class 5, Senior 2
Guo Xu
QQ: 373025284
Telephone: 88977628
Cell: 13661100088

The boy with the earring’s home address has been made public:
7/F Shougang Machinery & Electrics Co. Ltd.
Laoshanxili, Shijingshan District
Beijing
Home phone: 010-88977268

This is the result of China’s having cast away several thousand years of traditional education just to bring in ‘progressive character education’.
This is also what happens when people wave their fingers at others, contrasting the ‘low character’ of others with the highness of the citizens of the capital, the lowest kind of behavior there is.
Which direction ought China’s education be going? Your guess is as good as mine!
Though to tell the truth, I am a teacher. If this had happened in my classroom, there would have only been one result: I would have sacrificed my career to get back the respect that teachers deserve.
Faced with a scene like this, I’d just like to ask our media: will you continue to beat us teachers on the head with the responsibility stick?
If you have conscience, then please, in your anger, tell yourself and your friends that while they’re teaching their own children, to be diligent. Never raise them to be like this.
Not just for yourself, but for this nation and society!
Thank you!

Someone uploaded the footage to YouTube!!!

★ HOT 97 SUMMER JAM

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HOT 97 SUMMER JAM (Sunday, June 3rd at New Jersey's Giants Stadium) The annual mega-concerts presented by the radio station Hot 97 (WQHT-FM) are always among the biggest live hip-hop events in the country, a status derived as much from the long roster of stars as from the sparks that sometimes fly among them. This year features Ludacris, Mims, Akon, and Young Jeezy . This year's concert, sponsored by Boost Mobile, will also feature Chris Brown, Birdman and Lil Wayne, Diddy, Keyshia Cole, Ne-Yo, Ciara, Swizz Beatz, Rich Boy, and T-Pain.

Ticket Prices:
$167, $127, $87, $67, $42

Parking Lots Open:
2:00 PM
Parking Fee:
Cars-$15- Buses-$20
Doors Open: 5:30PM

STADIUM POLICY:

• All guests entering the Stadium are subject to search. Refusal will be grounds to prohibit admission.

• Anyone with floor seats must enter through gate C.

No tickets will be sold at Giants Stadium on the day of the concert.

All guests arriving at The Meadowlands must have a ticket in their possession. Vehicles will be checked at gate entrances and cars transporting guests without tickets will be turned away and not allowed on-site.

Eco Freako

Before you run out to buy a cheap SUV this summer, make sure there are no wackos in the neighborhood...

Self-Serve Gasohol (Make Your Own Fuel Sundae)

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The alternative fuel that screwed up many a car engine (especially Audi) in the late 1970's is back--- sort of. The difference now, is that gasoline retailers don't offer Gasohol directly at the pumps (times of $3 dollar a gallon gas are not making motorists happy, and why piss 'em off further by dissolving fuel system components in their vehicles?) but you can make your own Gasohol. Last week in Albany there were two gas-related stories, both revolving around Campus Mobil and E85 ethanol. In a telephone interview with Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners, I touched on the old Gasohol and Mike remarked that he was already blending his own. He didn't want his Gasohol remarks included in the story, which was fine, but he must have had a change of heart. Conners popped up on local TV [Sumi Somaskanda did a nice report] touting his recipe for Gasohol, which he promises to place on his website.

One caveat: check with your mechanic. Back in the old Gasohol days, there were many cars that could drink it up just fine, but certain vehicles, like Audi, Porsche and some of the Volkswagen clan, developed fuel-system related engine problems when given a steady diet of the stuff. GM cars seem to do okay with it. Flex Fuel cars were made for it.

By the way, Gasohol has just ruined a bunch of cars in Thailand:
""You filled up your car with gasohol, didn't you?"

The question is often the first one asked by mechanics when people bring their cars in to fix problems. It's not something that inspires confidence in the fuel, and as word spreads, more drivers become wary about using gasohol, even if it is cheaper than gasoline."

From: Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand) | Date: February 19, 2007 | More results for: gasohol damage cars

Clinton 'planned to divorce Hillary to be with one of his many lovers'

I don't think anyone is really going to be shocked by this news... all married couples endure rocky times. It comes with the job.

Plunge in CD Sales Shakes Up Big Labels

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They STILL don't get it. They can't figure it out! They must be sleeping! The masterminds of the recording industry continue to fail to understand why music isn't selling like it used to. From the New York Times' JEFF LEEDS (May 28):
"Despite costly efforts to build buzz around new talent and thwart piracy, CD sales have plunged more than 20 percent this year, far outweighing any gains made by digital sales at iTunes and similar services. Aram Sinnreich, a media industry consultant at Radar Research in Los Angeles, said the CD format, introduced in the United States 24 years ago, is in its death throes... Even as the industry tries to branch out, though, there is no promise of an answer to a potentially more profound predicament: a creative drought and a corresponding lack of artists who ignite consumers’ interest in buying music. Sales of rap, which had provided the industry with a lifeboat in recent years, fell far more than the overall market last year with a drop of almost 21 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (And the marquee star 50 Cent just delayed his forthcoming album, “Curtis.”)"
But hold for a minute: there is at least one recording artist who DOES get it: Beatle Paul McCartney! (from the same NYT article:)
" Paul McCartney, is releasing a new album on June 5. But Mr. McCartney is not betting on the traditional record-label methods: He elected to sidestep EMI, his longtime home, and release the album through a new arrangement with Starbucks.... Starbucks will be selling his album “Memory Almost Full” through regular music retail shops but will also be playing it repeatedly in thousands of its coffee shops in more than two dozen countries on the day of release. And the first music video from the new album had it premiere on YouTube. Mr. McCartney, in announcing his deal with Starbucks, described his rationale simply: “It’s a new world.”"
Now, if you are curious about "Mr. McCartney" and the Beatles, your must-read article is "Yeah Yeah Yeah"

Another artist who suddenly finds hereself in a precarious poistion: Kelly Clarkson.

For the benefit of those who missed my initial post explaining what's going on with the music industry, here is "Yo Homies" in its entirety:

This post is dedicated to those critics, commentators, columnists, social observers and bloggers who "can't explain" why rap music took over in the mainstream. It's so simple. But these supposedly smart individuals still don't get it.

Rap and HipHop have been around for a long time, since Napoleon XIV rapped "They're Coming To Take Me Away" in the mid-1960s, and hit #1 in very late 1970s with Blondie's "RAPture." CD sales have been declining since 2001, which peaked at $701 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan’s State of the Industry Report.

If you could dial your radios back to 1999-2002, you would be amazed at the spectrum of popular music (last night I listened to some old off-the-radio cassettes). Artists were evolving, music genres were evolving, production techniques were down to a science. Some of the so-called "R&B" (Rhythm & Blues) material from that time is astounding in vocal, technical and musical quality.[3] Rap and HipHop were there, in the outer sphere.

The "erosion" began in late 1999, when much of the music-buying public, dissatisfied with the high-cost low-quality mass-produced CD's [1], discovered it was possible to DOWNLOAD music off the Net. And why not? There was no big loss of quality, that's for sure. Because of the economy and culture of the time, the people representing the higher-end of the record buying public suddenly stopped buying. [2] Next the middle, and (as more people upgraded computers and switched to broadband) to a lesser extent the lower middle. At the bottom were the working poor and the inner-city buyers, who kept on buying what they always bought: Rap, HipHop, Country... are you beginning to get the picture?

FF to 2007. This is where it gets interesting. Right now, that "bottom" is rapidly equipping with mp3 players, iPods, computers and fast Net connections. You may have seen or heard that the music industry is "declining." Music sales are down overall, but rap sales dropped 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to the Associated Press. Additionally, for the first time in 12 years, no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year. Top that with the burst of public outcry against XXX lyrics in rap music [4] after the Don Imus thing (dirty rap was the top-seller in the CD industry) and suddenly the CD-makers are "down for the count." Good for them!

Your LIFE LESSON here is obviously about CORPORATE GREED. The CD coulda shoulda woulda been a wonderful medium in which to experience music, that could have still made money for the big boys if it were fairly priced. If Vinyl was $9.99 at the time, the CD should have been $5.55, because, remember, the little dinky disks in little plastic cases cost way way less to manufacture and SHIP. Yup. LP's were way heavier and bulkier. It all came down to the almighty dollar!

The CDs being made in 2006-7 are of much higher quality: listen to recent works by Madonna or Freshly Ground or The Veronicas and you will hear some amazing stereo seperation and technical production. But is it now too little, too late for the CD industry?

[1] if you heard a song on the radio in 1999, it was an enhanced version on a high-quality CD single, sparkling with life and stereo. Ear Candy! The mass produced version on the CD for sale sounded like it was being played in a tin can by comparison, with the highs and lows cut off, leaving a "squashed" listening experience. Let me put it this way: it would have been more pleasurable to listen to a good song on an old AM radio rather than on a 2000-era stereo CD. CD's should have been much cheaper at the retail level. The manufacturers tried to make us pay more money for a product that cost them a quarter of what a vinyl 33 LP with cover art would have cost to manufacture. The death of "cover art" may have also contributed to pop music's sales decline, but that's a story for another day.

[2] A friend and I kept hearing a fantastic song on the radio. We both purchase the CD. Reactions were the same. WTF? This doesn't sound as good as the same song on the radio! I looked at an actual copy of the CD sent to the radio station. It was clearly marked "enhanced CD, specially mixed for stereo FM radio."

[3] One of the most marvelous listening experiences for pop music audiophiles; Jade Anderson's Sugar High. I believe the "high tech" version is only available on the DVD single (pictured above) --- you'll have to search Amazon or eBay IF you can still find it! There are also some astounding "enhanced" CD singles by Shakira (look for ones advertised as advance or promo copies!)

[4] Michael Byrd, a sophomore business management major at Dillard, gives Black College Wire his own theory about why rap sales have declined. "There are a multitude of reasons; CDs cost too much, it's free to download, and nobody has any real talent outside of Jay Z, Nas, T.I. and other people of their caliber," he said.

"Nobody is willing to put money behind an artist who is not talking about sex because they don't want to risk losing money. . . . For the most part, rappers do what they are told. They have no influence; all they do is perform. Most don't even write their own songs or get paid much," he said.

AMEN! No talent and no pay: many of the "rappers" are patsys for corporations: common thugs that have been dressed up in gold and videod with scantily-clad women who have big breasts and horses' asses for rear ends! Again the bottom line: the almighty dollar!

Meanwhile, the "Big Brother Economy" continues to grow. Up next for Uncle Sam's oversight: Placing restrictions on the sale of used music CDs. Yes, you read that right.The goal of this legislation, which is popping up in various states around the union and not (yet) on a federal scale, is designed to stem the alleged flood of counterfeit music CDs as well as stolen discs. The rules, currently in effect in Florida and Utah and coming soon to Wisconsin and Rhode Island, stipulate waiting periods (the store can't resell used discs for 30 days in Florida) and/or that stores can only provide store credit, not cash, for used discs (Florida again). Some states even require you to be fingerprinted to sell your old music. [more from Christopher Null on yahoo! Tech]

See Also: The Album, A Commodity In Disfavor.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rappers Don't Even Respect Their Own

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"What a drag it is getting old." - The Rolling Stones, circa 1966

One of the oddities of music is when performers age. Some do it with style and class (The Rolling Stones, Toney Bennett, Blondie)while for others (Britney Spears) it is a disaster. Show a young tween or teen a bunch of Blondie music videos. They love 'em! Every kid I've ever played "The Best Part (of Breakin' Up)" by The Ronettes for has asked to hear the song again. We tend to venerate older musicians like Bennett, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, not to mention Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary.

Moving to more modern times, I love the classic Hip Hop movie "Wild Style." Some say the era of true Hip Hop is long gone: "When Hip-Hop had begun there was no separation of ages or genders, or even races. Bambaataa would spin records from David Bowie and the Incredible Bongo Band as well as soul classics from the Stax era. The message was in the music and the message was for people to come together. In only thirty short years rap music no longer respects the deejay and the message is to get rich or die trying..." Billy Sunday writes "Hip-Hop music never made the artist’s age a point of contention. Rap music does. This is why I tell you that rap music makes you dumber" [more...]

And Gas Saver Makes Three Cars in the Driveway

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OR "Now is the time to start looking for a nice SUV, fully equipped." You've always wanted a top-of-the line state-of-the-art automobile. Keep rooting for 4 dollar a gallon gas. Before you know it, those glorious SUV's will be available at fire sale prices! I saw a nice Dodge RAM SUV at a used car lot in East Greenbush, NY for $2195!!! I almost bought it... it lacked a couple of features I really like. But think of it, $2195 and your vehicle is PAID for. The typical SUV on the typical payment plan will run the owner around $500-525 a month. For FIVE years! (No wonder they're trading them in upside-down!) If the thing is paid for, who really cares about the cost of the gas? From the NY Times:
"In households that own a small car, the family fleet is close to an average of three vehicles, according to CNW Marketing Research... For three small cars — the Toyota Prius and Corolla and the Honda Civic — more than 500,000 were sold last year as second or third cars in a household, CNW data shows.

“From a dollars-and-cents point of view, it doesn’t make sense,” said Jesse Toprak, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com, a Web site that offers car-buying advice. “There’s no way you’re going to drive it enough to justify the purchase, so it’s more of a psychological decision.”


If I were going to buy a brand new small car, I think I'd get a Chery QQ, if it were available here in the states...

Graduation 2007

Whether you're graduating from 7th or 8th grade, high school, or college--- it's a sentimental, special time you'll never forget. I recall once speaking with an elderly man from down the street, near the end of his time here, resting under a shade tree on a hot summer day. "I lived a good life," he told me that his fondest memory was graduation from his high school class, which happened just a few months after he met the girl of his dreams, his wife, way back in 1927. Part of the sentiment surrounding graduation involves you and the kids you grew up with, all taking a new step forward. Once in awhile, someone gets left behind, doesn't make it all the way to the end of the year. From the weekend's Albany Times Union:
Lahquaviah Q. Harris almost made it to the prom.

That's what the 18-year-old Albany High School senior wanted most as she slowly lost her battle to muscle tissue cancer.

The prom kept her going at the end, even after she dropped out of school as a year of chemotherapy ravaged her body.

Her godmother altered her silver wedding dress to fit Harris, who was known as Qui to family and friends. Qui got matching silver shoes, a corsage and a wig. She even had a date, her 15-year-old brother, Raquad Graham.

When she was admitted to the hospital for the final time on May 16, she had one wish: that her brother attend Albany High's prom at Birch Hill in Schodack.

Before Qui even thought about the prom, she had one other goal. She wanted to be the first in her family to graduate from high school in many years, her mother said.

Sonya Hines said math was her daughter's best subject in school, and she wanted to use that knowledge and her interest in cosmetology to open a salon someday.

Cancer changed all that.

After her diagnosis in February 2006, Qui met with guidance counselor Kimberly Baker and said she wanted to keep up her studies. Qui was determined not to miss her senior year even though she was weak from chemotherapy.

"She was a little bit of a thing," Baker said. "Tiny, but strong-willed."

Qui had her schoolwork sent home. She got a tutor. She talked about the future, one without cancer. She did not make a fuss. "Her only complaint was how it was affecting her mom," Baker said.

A trip to Walt Disney World sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in March with 13 family members and friends rejuvenated her. It took her mind off what doctors told her: that they could do nothing when tests showed the cancer had returned, Baker said.

Qui focused on the prom even though she knew she was dying.

"She was definitely a fighter," her mother said.

Qui was in intensive care while her classmates danced through their last high school memory.

Her brother and her best friend, Sa'Rhea Ross, took pictures of themselves all dressed up, just as she requested. They rushed to a one-hour photo development store and sent the pictures to the hospital, Hines said.

They were one of the last images Qui saw before she lost consciousness.

Her corsage was next to her hospital bed when she died on May 19, prom night.

The silver dress and the shoes were at home.


Two Black Eyes For Morocco

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via Global Voices' Jillian York: Late Friday night, A Moroccan in Washington D.C. broke the news that YouTube had been blocked in Morocco. He remarked that “It’s quite saddening to see such a thing happening in Morocco;a country that has made giant steps in freedoms and socio-economic reforms in the span of short 8 years.”
YouTube is not the first site banned in Morocco. Last year, Livejournal, one of the first blogging sites; and Google Earth, which offers satellite photos in sharp detail of most of the world were blocked. Certain sites and blogs documenting the Western Sahara conflict have been banned for years now, although a few in English remain. [continued...]

Hah! So Moroccans like censorship? Maybe they're being careful after the 2005 fiasco involving one of their top journalists:

'Le Soir' paper 'extremely shocked' to be associated in ethical scandal in Morocco
Morocco-Belgium, Local, 6/13/2005


The Belgian daily "Le Soir," whose former journalist, Philippe Servaty, is allegedly involved in an ethical scandal in Morocco, said it was "extremely shocked" for being associated to such an affair.

Servaty would have deluded over 80 Moroccan women, in the Moroccan south-western city of Agadir, into taking pornographic photo-shots and scenes on promises that he would marry them and ensure their legal stay in his country.

The photos and scenes were then compiled in a CD and sold in Agadir and in other cities of the kingdom.

Avenging Muslims Seek to Kill Belgian Journalist
From the desk of Paul Belien on Wed, 2005-07-13 19:03
For decades Tintin has been the world’s most famous Belgian reporter. But now it looks like he may have a competitor. Philippe Servaty is the 42-year old chief economics correspondent of Le Soir, Brussels’ most influential newspaper. This modern Tintin’s adventures took him to Morocco several times over the past years. There dozens of women ended up in his bed and naked in front of his camera lens.
One of them is 42-year old Samira, a teacher in Agadir. Servaty told her that he loved her and asked her to pose nude for a souvenir picture... [continues... WARNING: Graphic descriptions]


As-Salāmu `Alaykum السلام عليك

As-Salāmu `Alaykum السلام عليك
A common greeting among Muslims meaning "Peace be with you." Extended forms include "Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah" (May the peace and mercy of Allah be with you) and "Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh" (May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you).

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There are some who will tell you they believe there exists a campaign to smear Islam. I'm telling you I suspect there is a "campaign" to "divide and conquer" ALL religions! Remember the old song "one bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch?" Just because one or two people of a certain faith commit a crime, doesn't mean all of the members of that belief system will do the same. Case in point: how many of you Catholics cringe whenever you hear of priestly sexual abuses? If you are devout, I'm sure it hurts very deeply. If you are a "Christmas and Easter" Catholic, it sends a chill down your spine, doesn't it?

Robert Spencer (via Michelle Malkin)is Blogging the Qur’an on Hot Air excerpt below:

To understand the motives and goals of Islamic jihad terrorists, one good place to start might be to explore what they themselves say about why they’re doing what they’re doing, and what they want. That in turn will lead you to the Qur’an (or Koran), the Islamic holy book. The jihadists quote it frequently and portray themselves as those who are following “pure Islam,” the genuine article as it is taught in the Qur’an and Islamic tradition. So in the course of my work explaining the jihadists’ objectives, I’ve quoted the Qur’an a great deal – and hardly a day goes by without my being accused of “cherry-picking” violent passages, and quoting them “out of context.” Meanwhile, the Council on American Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups say that in order to understand the true, peaceful Islam, we should read the Qur’an.

So over the course of the next few months, I’m going to read it, and discuss it in a series of columns. All of it. Not “cherry-picked” or “out of context.” The whole thing, beginning to end. Some of you may be familiar with David Plotz’s series on Slate, “Blogging the Bible.” This series will be similar to that one, but rather than just write about what I think or feel about a certain passage, I will, unlike Plotz, refer to commentaries – all Muslim ones – on the Qur’an. I’ll try to explain how mainstream Muslims who study the Qur’an will understand any given passage, and what its import might be for non-Muslims.


You’ll need a Qur’an. Here is a good Arabic/English text. In traditional Islamic theology, the Qur’an is essentially and inherently an “Arabic Qur’an” (as the Qur’an describes itself repeatedly: see 12:2; 20:113; 39:28; 41:3; 41:44; 42:7; and 43:3). Its meaning can be rendered in other languages, but those translations are not the Qur’an, which when no longer in Arabic is no longer itself. Some Muslim scholars even claim that the Qur’an cannot be fully understood except in Arabic, but the blizzard of translations made by Muslims for Muslims who don’t speak Arabic (who are the great majority around the world today) as well as to proselytize among non-Muslims belies that claim. Here are two popular Muslim translations, those of Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, along with a third by M. H. Shakir. Here is another popular translation, that of Muhammad Asad. And here is an omnibus of ten Qur’an translations.

The Qur’an is, according to classic Islamic thought, a perfect copy of a book that has existed eternally with Allah, the one true God, in Heaven:
It will be interesting to see how this series progresses.

On to Darfur: The following was reported on Yahoo News. Normally I would just refer you via the link, but a lot of these types of stories "disappear" after a few hours. Credit for this story goes to ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU, Associated Press Writer.

KALMA, Sudan - The seven women pooled money to rent a donkey and cart, then ventured out of the refugee camp to gather firewood, hoping to sell it for cash to feed their families. Instead, they say, in a wooded area just a few hours walk away, they were gang-raped, beaten and robbed.

Naked and devastated, they fled back to Kalma.

"All the time it lasted, I kept thinking: They're killing my baby, they're killing my baby," wailed Aisha, who was seven months pregnant at the time.

The women have no doubt who attacked them. They say the men's camels and their uniforms marked them as janjaweed — the Arab militiamen accused of terrorizing the mostly black African villagers of Sudan's Darfur region.

Their story, told to an Associated Press reporter and confirmed by other women and aid workers in the camp, provides a glimpse into the hell that Darfur has become as the Arab-dominated government battles a rebellion stoked by a history of discrimination and neglect.

(Picture: Aisha Hamid, one of seven women gang raped while collecting firewood outside their refugee camp.)

Now in its fourth year, the conflict has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis, and rape is its regular byproduct, U.N. and other human rights activists say.

Sudan's government denies arming and unleashing the janjaweed, and bristles at the charges of rape, saying its conservative Islamic society would never tolerate it.

It has agreed to let in 3,000 U.N. peacekeepers, but not the 22,000 mandated by the U.N. Security Council. It claims the force would be a spearhead for anti-Arab powers bent on plundering Sudan's oil.

Meanwhile, more than 200,000 civilians have died and 2.5 million are homeless out of Darfur's population of 6 million, the U.N. says, and a February report by the International Criminal Court alleges "mass rape of civilians who were known not to be participants in any armed conflict."

Kalma is a microcosm of the misery — a sprawling camp of mud huts and scrap-plastic tents where 100,000 people have taken refuge. It is so full of guns that overwhelmed African Union peacekeepers long ago fled, unable to protect it. It is so crowded that the government has tried to limit newcomers — forbidding the building of new latrines, so a stench pervades the air.

Anyone venturing outside must reckon with the janjaweed, as Aisha and her friends found out.

In Sudan, as in many Islamic countries, society views a sexual assault as a dishonor upon the woman's entire family. "Victims can face terrible ostracism," says Maha Muna, the U.N. coordinator on this issue in Sudan.

Some aid workers believe the janjaweed use rape to intimidate the rebels, and their supporters and families. "It's a strategy of war," Muna said in an interview earlier this year in Khartoum, the capital.

Sudan's government is especially sensitive about such accusations and denies rape is widespread.

Sudanese public opinion would view mass rape much more severely than other crimes alleged in Darfur, said a senior Sudanese government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from his superiors.

He acknowledged the janjaweed had initially received weapons from the government — something the government officially denies — and said authorities now are struggling to rein in the militias.

Nasser Kambal, a prominent human rights activist and co-founder of the Amel center, a Sudanese group helping victims of rape and other abuse, offers a similar view.

"I don't think raping was planned by the government. Killing and looting and torture, yes, but not rape," he said.

Kalma isn't the only place where multiple accounts of rape have surfaced. Some 120 miles away, in the town of Mukjar, two men separately described women being brought into a prison where they were being held and raped for hours by janjaweed.

They said the assailants shouted that they were "planting tomatoes" — a reference to skin color: Darfur Arabs describe themselves as "red" because they are slightly lighter-skinned than ethnic Africans.

According to Muna, U.N. agencies are working closely with Sudanese authorities to improve the government's response to rape allegations. In 2005, the government created a task force on rape in Darfur, headed by Attayet Mustapha, a pediatrician, government official and women's rights activist.

In an interview this year, Mustapha said social workers were being deployed to address the problem and a special female police unit was being assembled in Darfur.

"We tell officials that the government has decided to enforce a zero tolerance policy toward rape in Darfur," she said.

U.N. workers say they registered 2,500 rapes in Darfur in 2006, but believe far more went unreported. The real figure is probably thousands a month, said a U.N. official. Like other U.N. personnel and aid workers interviewed, the official insisted on speaking anonymously for fear of being expelled by the government.

Victims usually can't identify their aggressors, which makes prosecutions impossible. Only eight offenders were tried and sentenced for rape crimes in Darfur by Sudanese courts in 2006, said Mustapha, the task force leader. "They received three to five years prison, and 100 lashes" in accordance with Islamic law, she said.

In May, after the top U.N. human rights official charged that Sudanese soldiers had raped at least 15 Darfur women during one recent incident, Justice Minister Mohammed Ali al-Mardi asked where the evidence was.

"We always seem to get sweeping generalizations, without naming the injured, without naming the offenders," he told reporters.

In Kalma, collecting firewood needed to cook meals is becoming more perilous as the trees around the camp dwindle and women are forced to scavenge ever farther afield. It is strictly a woman's task, dictated both by tradition and the fear that any male escorts would be killed if the janjaweed found them.

Agreeing to tell the AP their story earlier this month through a translator, the seven women's voices wavered and hesitated, broken by embarrassed silences. All gave their names and agreed to be identified in full, but the AP is withholding their surnames because they are rape victims and vulnerable to retaliation.

The women said they set out on a Monday morning last July and had barely begun collecting the wood when 10 Arabs on camels surrounded them, shouting insults and shooting their rifles in the air.

The women first attempted to flee. "But I didn't even try, because I couldn't run," being seven months pregnant, said Aisha, a petite 18-year-old whose raspy voice sounds more like that of an old woman.

She said four men stayed behind to flay her with sticks, while the other janjaweed chased down the rest of her group.

"We didn't get very far," said Maryam, displaying the scar of a bullet that hit her on the right knee.

Once rounded up, the women said, they were beaten and their rented donkey killed. Zahya, 30, had brought her 18-year-old daughter, Fatmya, and her baby. The baby was thrown to the ground and both women were raped. The baby survived.

Zahya said the women were lined up and assaulted side by side, and she saw four men taking turns raping Aisha.

The women said the attackers then stripped them naked and jeered at them as they fled. On their way back, men from the refugee camp unraveled their cotton turbans for the women to partly cover up, but the victims said they were laughed at when they entered the refugee camp.

"Ever since, I've made sure that women living on the outskirts of the camp have spare sets of clothes to give out," said Khadidja Abdallah, a sheika, an informal camp leader, who took the women to the international aid compound at the camp to be treated.

They were given anti-pregnancy and anti- HIV pills, thanks to which their families haven't entirely ostracized them, the women said. The baby Aisha was expecting at the time is doing well. His name is Osman.

Sheikas in Kalma said they report over a dozen rapes each week. Human rights activists in South Darfur who monitor violence in the refugee camps estimate more than 100 women are raped each month in and around Kalma alone.

The workers warn of an alarming new trend of rapes within the refugee population amid the boredom and slow social decay of the camps. But for the most part, they added, it all depends on whether janjaweed are present in the area.

The sheikas say they are making some headway toward persuading families to accept raped women back into their embrace and let them report attacks to aid workers. One advantage is that they get a certificate confirming they were raped.

"We tell husbands they might be compensated one day," said Ajaba Zubeir, a sheika. "But I don't think that's going to happen."

The seven women say they haven't left the camp since they were attacked. They have started their own small workshop and make water jugs out of clay and donkey dung to sell to other refugees.

As they worked on their large pile of jugs and bowls, they said they are even poorer than before, because they now have to buy their firewood from other women.

"But at least we never have to go out again," said Aisha.

None of the women has any faith that Sudanese or international courts will ever give them justice. All Zahya asks is that one day she can return to her village.

"If people could at least help end the fighting, that would be enough," she said.

Blogger Bien au Bout writes about his neighbor, Karim, who asked to be shown photographs of Brad Pitt and George Clooney (Fr). Apparently, Karim was listening to the BBC and heard about an event in Cannes organized by Ocean’s 13 stars Pitt, Clooney, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle that raised $9.2 million for Darfur, and was wondering who was eligible to get that money.
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