Willie O'Ree: NHL's first black player

ENTERTAINMENT - Willie O'Ree didn't let catcalls, slashes or cross-checks keep him from making his mark in the National Hockey League for the Boston Bruins. O'Ree, now 73, recalled becoming the NHL's first black player as he joined another league yesterday: the Order of Canada.

He was one of 60 people named to various ranks of honour by Governor General Michaëlle Jean. "I was at a loss for words, really, when they contacted me this morning," O'Ree, a Fredericton native, said from his home in California.

O'Ree played his first big-league game for Boston on Jan. 18, 1958, against the Habs in Montreal. He played two games in 1958 and 43 in 1960-61, receiving a standing ovation – one of his sweetest memories – when he became the first black player to score an NHL goal on New Year's Day 1961. Some of O'Ree's worst moments include the dirty play and racist taunts he faced during road games in New York, Detroit and Chicago.

"I just wanted to be accepted as just another hockey player." - Willie O'Ree

O'Ree now helps introduce inner-city kids to hockey through the NHL's diversity program.

BIOGRAPHY

Willie O'Ree, OC, ONB (born October 15, 1935, in Fredericton, New Brunswick) is a retired professional ice hockey player, known best for being the first black player in the National Hockey League. O'Ree played as a winger for the Boston Bruins. He is frequently but erroneously referred to as the first African American player, though while he is black, he is in fact a Canadian born and remains a Canadian national. Additionally, O'Ree is referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of ice hockey" due to breaking the colour barrier in the sport.

Midway through his second minor-league season with the Quebec Aces, O'Ree was called up to the Boston Bruins of the NHL to replace an injured player. O'Ree was 95% blind in his right eye due to being hit there by an errant puck two years earlier, which normally would have precluded him from playing in the NHL. However, O'Ree managed to keep it secret, and made his NHL debut with the Bruins on January 18, 1958, against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black player in league history. He played in only two games that year, and came back in 1961 to play 43 games. He scored four goals and 10 assists in his NHL career, all in 1961.

Willie O'Ree noted that "racist remarks were much worse in the U.S. cities than in Toronto and Montreal," the two Canadian cities hosting NHL teams at the time, and that "Fans would yell, 'Go back to the South' and 'How come you're not picking cotton?' Things like that. It didn't bother me. I just wanted to be a hockey player, and if they couldn't accept that fact, that was their problem, not mine."

In the minor leagues, O'Ree won two scoring titles in the Western Hockey League (WHL) between 1961 and 1974, scoring thirty or more goals four times, with a high of 38 in both 1964–65 and 1968–69. Most of O'Ree's playing time was with the WHL's Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls. The latter team retired his number, now hanging from the rafters at the San Diego Sports Arena. O'Ree continued to play in the minors until age 43.

After O'Ree, there was no other black player in the NHL until fellow Canadian Mike Marson was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1974. There are 17 black players in the NHL as of the mid-2000s, the most prominent including Canadians Jarome Iginla and Anson Carter and American Mike Grier (who is currently on the San Jose Sharks). Art Dorrington was the first black player to sign an NHL contract, in 1950 with the New York Rangers organization, but Dorrington never played beyond the minor league level. NHL players are now required to enroll in a diversity training seminar before each season, and racially based verbal abuse is punished through suspensions and fines.

O'Ree was inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1984. In 1998, O’Ree was working at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California when the National Hockey League approached him to be the director of youth development for its diversity task force. The NHL/USA Hockey Diversity Task Force is a non-profit program for minority youth that encourages them to learn and play hockey. As of the mid-2000s, O'Ree lives in Berkeley, California.

On the afternoon of January 19, 2008, the Bruins and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly honoured O'Ree at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston to mark the 50th anniversary of his NHL debut. In addition, The Sports Museum of New England located in TD Banknorth Garden, established a special exhibit on O'Ree's career, comprising many items on loan from his personal collection.

Those in attendance included a busload of friends from O'Ree's hometown of Fredericton. Two days earlier, the City of Fredericton honoured him by naming a new sports complex after him.

On January 27, 2008, the NHL also honored Mr. O'Ree during the 56th National Hockey League All-Star Game in Atlanta, Georgia.

On February 5, 2008, ESPN did a special on him in honour of Black History Month.

On October 29, 2008, San Diego State University presented Mr. O'Ree with an Award for Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Cross Cultural Understanding.

See Also:

Hockey Fight in Canada

Wayne Gretsky and the Death of Hockey

Organizer of Rwandan Genocide sentenced

POLITICS - The main organizer behind the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 to 1,000,000 people people (the numbers vary depending on the source) in Rwanda was convicted of genocide Thursday and sentenced to life in prison, the most significant verdict of a United Nations tribunal set up to bring the killers to justice.

Theoneste Bagosora was found guilty of crimes against humanity, and the court said he used his position as the former director of Rwanda's Ministry of Defence to direct Hutu soldiers to kill Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

More than 800,000 minority Tutsis and Hutus were killed in the 100-day slaughter organized by the extremist Hutu government then in power. Government troops, Hutu militia and ordinary villagers spurred on by hate messages broadcast over the radio went from village to village, butchering men, women and children.

Bagosora had participated in international talks arranged in the early 1990s with the aim of ending Rwanda's long-simmering political crisis. Bagosora grew angry with government delegates he deemed soft on Tutsi-led rebels and said he was returning to Rwanda to "prepare the apocalypse" the indictment quoted Bagosora as saying. The killings began April 7th 1994.

The former colonel also was found responsible for the deaths of former Rwandan prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana – a moderate Hutu – and 10 Belgian peacekeepers who tried to protect her as she was killed at the outset of the genocide.

Bagasora said nothing as the verdict was delivered, and there was complete silence from the scores of people who had packed into the aisles of the tiny courtroom to hear the judgment.

His conviction was welcomed by genocide survivors, who still live uneasily among perpetrators in Rwanda's green hills nearly 15 years later.

Some 63,000 people are suspected of taking part in the genocide, although many of them have been sentenced by community-based courts, where suspects were encouraged to confess and seek forgiveness in exchange for lighter sentences.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was set up by the UN in 1994 to try those responsible for the killings and had its first conviction in 1997. There have been 42 judgments, of which six have been acquittals. It does not have the power to impose the death sentence.

Canadian general Romeo Dallaire, who now sits in the Canadian Senate, was in charge of the failed UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda when the massacres began. In court testimonies, Dallaire has spoken about a spiral of mistrust between Hutus and Tutsis in the days leading up to the massacres and described how his peacekeeping force of 2,100 was hastily assembled and poorly equipped to deal with the situation. His demands for more troops and air support were ignored by the United States, Europe and other UN members.

Remembering Shirley Chisholm

FEMINISM/POLITICS - Shirley Chisholm (November 30th 1924 – January 3rd 2005), an advocate for women and people of color, was the first Black woman in the United States Congress, being elected to Brooklyn’s 12th Congressional District of the House in 1968.

As a Congresswoman she represented New York's 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983.

In 1972 she became the first African-American and one of the first women to run for the presidential nomination for a major party. She won 28 delegates but didn’t win the Democratic nomination. She was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and NOW (the National Organization of Women).

Chisholm also worked on a bill that gave domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, worked to improve opportunities for inner-city residents, a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War draft and supported spending increases for education, health care, a variety of social services, and reductions in military spending.

She retired in 1982 and after leaving Congress Chisholm taught at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts for four years and gave public lectures on a variety of causes.

Chisholm wrote two books, Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973). A documentary (Shirley Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed) about her life and her 1972 presidential nomination was aired in February 2005 just weeks after her death.

Brown is Beautiful

POLITICS - Excerpt from a Newsweek article by Allison Samuels about Michelle Obama:

“As my brunch friends and I continued talking about Michelle, our conversation wandered into one area we seldom discuss, even among our families and closest confidantes. Michelle is not only African-American, but brown. Real brown. In an era when beauty is often defined on television, in magazines and in movies as fair or white skin, long straight hair and keen features, Michelle looks nothing like the supermodels who rule the catwalks or the porcelain-faced actresses who hawk must-have cosmetics. Yet now she’s going to grace the March cover of Vogue magazine–the ultimate affirmation of beauty.

Who and what is beautiful has long been a source of pain, anger and frustration in the African-American community. In too many cases, beauty for black women (and even black men) has meant fair skin, “good hair” and dainty facial features. Over the years, African-American icons like Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry and Beyoncé – while beautiful and talented – haven’t exactly represented the diversity of complexions and features of most black women in this country.

That limited scope has had a profound effect on the self-esteem of many African-American women, including me. “When I see Michelle Obama on the cover of magazines and on TV shows, I think, Wow, look at her and her brown skin,” said Charisse Hollands, a 30-year-old mail carrier from Inglewood, Calif., with flawless ebony skin. “And I don’t mean any disrespect to my sisters who aren’t dark brown, but gee, it’s nice to see a brown girl get some attention and be called beautiful by the world. That just doesn’t happen a lot, and our little girls need to see that–my little girl needs to see it.”

Black supermodels absent from the catwalk

FASHION - Check out this article about black supermodels in January 2008:

Black Supermodels being left behind

Its poses the question at the end:
"So will 2009 be more of the same? You'd hope the Obama effect would sink in and the fashion industry would suddenly realize black supermodels aren't just sexy, they're cool."

And it has statistics on the lack of black fashion models on runways and how some fashion casting agents won't even consider non-white models.

Hopefully with Barack Obama as president it will set a new standard, open people's minds to new possibilities and people will realize black women (and men) should get more attention and be treated equally instead of as a token gesture. Not just in the world of fashion supermodels, but in the new economy overall.

Oprah Winfrey weighs 200 pounds, she says

HEALTH - Oprah Winfrey has always been honest about her weight.

The talk show queen continues the honesty, saying in the January issue of O magazine out today that she now weighs 200 pounds and has "fallen off the wagon" when it comes to healthy living.

"I'm mad at myself. I'm embarrassed," Oprah writes. "I can't believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I'm still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, `How did I let this happen again?"'

Oprah Winfrey, 54, says her recent struggles with an out-of-balance thyroid gave her "a fear of working out." She says she's gained 40 pounds since she weighed 160 pounds in 2006. "Yes, you're adding correctly; that means the dreaded 2-0-0," Winfrey writes. "I was so frustrated I started eating whatever I wanted – and that's never good."

Oprah also writes that her goal is to exercise so she can be strong, healthy and fit. She hopes to get started with her upcoming "Best Life Week" starting Jan. 5 with an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show during which she is expected to talk candidly about her weight.

Oprah famously wheeled a wagon loaded with fat onto the set of her talk show in 1988 to represent a 67-pound weight loss while wearing a pair of size 10 Calvin Klein jeans. She had lost the pounds with a liquid protein diet.

Oprah's weight has yo-yoed to the delight of the tabloid press ever since. She weighed as many as 237 pounds and by late 1990 admitted she had regained most of the 67 pounds, saying "I'll never diet again."

In 1994, she finished the Marine Corps Marathon and by 1996 hired personal trainer Bob Greene, saying her roller-coaster weight saga was over.

But now, 20 years since the Calvin Klein jeans episode, Oprah finds herself tipping the scales again, saying that she has yet to choose a gown for President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural ball next month.

Oprah says she hit rock bottom when she wanted to skip out on an April 26 taping with Cher and Tina Turner in Las Vegas. "I felt like a fat cow," Winfrey writes. "I wanted to disappear." An admitted food addict, Oprah sounds almost apologetic in her article. "I definitely wasn't setting an example," she writes. "I was talking the talk, but I wasn't walking the walk. And that was very disappointing to me."

Oprah's weight and height (5'6½") put her body mass index at 31.8, which is obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says people who are obese are "at higher risk for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol."

See also: American Obesity Rates.

Lakeview Terrace

Tutu wants Mugabe out

POLITICS - A day after Zimbabwe declared a national emergency over a cholera epidemic and the collapse of its health-care system, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu yesterday called for the removal of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, by force if necessary.

"I think now that the world must say: `You have been responsible with your cohorts for gross violations, and you are going to face indictment in The Hague unless you step down,'" Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, told a Dutch current affairs TV show.

Zimbabwe's state media reported yesterday the government is seeking more international help to combat the crisis.

The failure of the southern African nation's health care system is one of the most devastating effects of the country's overall economic collapse.

Facing the highest inflation in the world, Zimbabweans are struggling just to eat and find clean drinking water. The United Nations says the number of suspected cholera cases in Zimbabwe since August has climbed above 12,600, with 570 deaths, due to a lack of clean water and broken sewage pipes.

Cholera is an infectious intestinal disease contracted from contaminated food or water. Its symptoms include severe diarrhea.

"He (Mugabe) has destroyed a wonderful country. A country that used to be a bread basket – it has now become a basket case," Tutu said.

The Nobel laureate, who was one of the continent's leading voices against the former apartheid regime in South Africa, said the African Union or the Southern African Development Community (SADC) would have the capacity to remove Mugabe.

Residents are getting little help from the government, which has been paralyzed since disputed March elections as Mugabe and the opposition wrangle over a power-sharing deal.

"Our central hospitals are literally not functioning," Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said Wednesday at a meeting of government and international aid officials, according to the state-run Herald newspaper.

International aid agencies and donors must step up their response, Matthew Cochrane, regional spokesperson for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said yesterday.

"This is about supporting the people of Zimbabwe," Cochrane said, adding aid should include water treatment plants and more medical staff.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, long among Mugabe's sharpest critics, agreed that Zimbabwe was facing a national emergency and nations must step in to help.

"Mugabe's failed state is no longer willing or capable of protecting its people," Brown said in a statement yesterday.

"The international community's differences with Mugabe will not prevent us doing so – we are increasing our development aid, and calling on others to follow."

Britain has offered about $5.6 million and set aside a further $13.1 million in relief aid to provide medicine, fund basic health services and help prevent more cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe.

The European Commission is providing more than $19.5 million for drugs and clean water and the International Red Cross shipped in more supplies Wednesday to fight the cholera outbreak.

In 2006 Robert Mugabe visited Iran to discuss trade options and an alliance against the United States.

Remembering Rosa Parks

POLITICS - Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress later called the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement".

On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks's act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

Rosa was later honoured by numerous medals and statues, wrote an auto-biography and her death in 2005 was a front-page story in the United States' leading newspapers.

ROSA PARKS QUOTES

"The only tired I was, was tired of giving in." - Rosa Parks.

"I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move." - Rosa Parks.

"Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it." - Rosa Parks.

"I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people." - Rosa Parks.

Nigerian riot kills 300

POLITICS - Mobs burned homes, churches and mosques Saturday in a second day of riots, as the death toll rose to more than 300 in the worst sectarian violence in Africa's most populous nation in years.

Sheikh Khalid Abubakar, the imam at the city's main mosque, said more than 300 dead bodies were brought there on Saturday alone and 183 could be seen laying near the building waiting to be interred.

Those killed in the Christian community would not likely be taken to the city mosque, raising the possibility that the total death toll could be much higher. The city morgue wasn't immediately accessible Saturday.

Police spokesman Bala Kassim said there were "many dead," but couldn't cite a firm number.

The hostilities mark the worst clashes in the restive West African nation since 2004, when as many as 700 people died in Plateau State during Christian-Muslim religious clashes. Both religions are refusing to let hostilities die down.

Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has a long history of community violence that has made it difficult to organize voting. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people.

The city is situated in Nigeria's "middle belt," where members of hundreds of ethnic groups live in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south.

Authorities imposed an around-the-clock curfew in the hardest-hit areas of the central Nigerian city, where traditionally pastoralist Hausa Muslims live in tense, close quarters with Christians from other ethnic groups.

The fighting began as clashes between supporters of the region's two main political parties following the first local election in the town of Jos in more than a decade. But the violence expanded along ethnic and religious fault lines, with Hausas and members of Christian ethnic groups doing battle.

Angry mobs gathered Thursday in Jos after electoral workers failed to publicly post results in ballot collation centers, prompting many onlookers to assume the vote was the latest in a long line of fraudulent Nigerian elections.

Riots flared Friday morning and at least 15 people were killed. Local ethnic and religious leaders made radio appeals for calm on Saturday, and streets were mostly empty by early afternoon. Troops were given orders to shoot rioters on sight.

The violence is the worst since the May 2007 inauguration of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who came to power in a vote that international observers dismissed as not credible.

Few Nigerian elections have been deemed free and fair since independence from Britain in 1960, and military takeovers have periodically interrupted civilian rule.

More than 10,000 Nigerians have died in sectarian violence since civilian leaders took over from a former military junta in 1999. Political strife over local issues is common in Nigeria, where government offices control massive budgets stemming from the country's oil industry.

Religious wars and the oil industry? Sounds familiar...

Videos about Interracial Relationships, Dating and Love










Do Black Women Have Attitude?

Busting the Myth of The Angry Black Woman

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas

If you are a black woman, then at some point in your life, you have heard of the so called black female attitude problem. Expressions like black women think they are ‘all that’ or they ‘feel sweet’ are common place these days. Perhaps the most popular expression that pigeonholes and marginalizes the context of the black woman is the so called Angry Black Woman (ABW) term. The expression gives off a vision of a tart-tongued, creatively choreographed neck twisting, finger-wagging, eye-rolling, eye-brow rising, loud-mouthed, drama-filled, defiant sister in a typical Shakespearean taming-of-the-shrew style. Are there sisters like that? Most certainly, just like there are other women of other races with attitude as Shakespeare observed hundreds of years ago. But are all black women like that?

The Evolution of Black Women Image Stereotypes

It is interesting how the stereotypical portrayal of black women has evolved over the years. At one point it was the smiling, asexual, undesirable, overweight Auntie Jemima-esque Mammy and then not too long ago the promiscuous, highly-sexed, always ready, never-say-no, crafty Jezebel who ensnares men with her sexual charms. Today it is the angry black woman, or the attitudinal black woman.

Even the media is milking the stereotype and perpetuating the myth to endless proportions. In the fictitious worlds of film and television, there is no shortage of the portrayal of the angry black woman. Think “The Diary of Mad Black Woman”, the rapper Eve's shouting and tongue-lashing role as Terri in “The Barbershop”, Gabrielle Unions role as in “Deliver Us From Eva,” Wanda Sykes tongue-scolding role in HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, Vivica Fox in “Two Can Play That Game,” Lynn Whitfield in a “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate,” and of course the poster child for the angry black woman with attitude on top of that - Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth of “The Apprentice.”

The angry black woman is seen as off-putting and a little intimidating by many males. That is understandable. You can trust that women like that are off-putting to other females as well. But is the generalization of the term acceptable and warranted? Earlier this year, I was invited on a radio show to speak on the topic of the series of interracial dating articles I wrote a few months back for Afrotoronto. I am very liberal-minded, but I was surprised to hear grown black men call in to say that they prefer to date outside of the black race because they did not have to worry about attitudinal issues when they do that. They blamed black women for having attitudes and some even went as far as to say that black women were ‘golddiggers’ and ‘materialistic.’

One male caller complained that black women will only date men who had cars, money, bling bling and had a white collar job. He pointed out that black women were too haughty, too demanding and had unreasonably high standards (which he obviously felt he feel short of) and that was why he preferred interracial dating. The host of the show, who was a black male, challenged him and asked if he was saying that ALL black women had attitude. The caller’s response was that 90% of them did. The host then told him that he disagreed with that generalization and that it was not his experience. He pointed out that some black women had attitudes but not all do. After the conversation ended, we both wondered how that particular caller could possibly know that many women, to the point where he would come to that conclusion. The sweeping statement that 90% of black women had attitude was a disturbing one.

The Misunderstanding of the Black Woman

In general many black women have no problems asserting themselves. They have no problems showing their confidence and capabilities. They have no problems expressing themselves and speaking their minds. The only problem is that many times when they do it, especially in the work place, they are viewed as too strong. In fact the words powerful, authoritative, strong, aggressive, feisty, independent and in control sound admirable until they are applied to black women.

Men are expected to be strong and assertive, traits that are aligned with being a good leader, but when a black woman falls under those descriptions, it is called having an attitude problem. In fact when they are asserting themselves, the perception becomes that you dare not mess with them. There is no denying that some black women do express themselves in a provocatively angry way, but that does not justify typecasting all of them. It is true that there are some black women who fit the above bill, but it’s not a race thing. It’s a personality and character thing. Just as there are so many quiet, mild-mannered, bookish, sensitive black women out there, there are also many unpleasant to deal with woman out there. But that applies to men too. So once again one cannot generalize and conclude that all black women have attitude. In any case, what is wrong with a little anger?

When a Woman is Fed Up

Throughout history, women's endeavours to stand up for themselves have been dismissed as the ramblings of angry women, whether they were black or not. A case in point example is the case of feminists, who are always brushed off as angry, rabble disturbers, opinionated and unreasonable women.

But in a world where racism, sexism, ageism, single motherhood, misogyny, and even warped body image prevail contrasted with the objectification and fetishization of the black body, it comes as no surprise that some black women are angry. The truth is some women are angry because they are exhausted or they have been ignored and dismissed or they're not taken seriously, or they are being abandoned or they are being rejected. This anger of course is not justified if it becomes a never-ending bitterness that clouds ones present or future. It is not justified when it is an obstinate attitude which appears angry at everything in general and seems to especially relish demonizing all black men, nor is it justified when it is constantly a source of baseless and negative unsolicited criticism or advice.

However, not all anger is bad anger. Sometimes anger is a signal that something is wrong and changes need to be made. There are numerous cases when anger has actually sparked revolutionary change in history. If as human beings, we're able to harness our anger and use our anger for the general good of society, then we are able to make big strides in our lives. This was proven by historical figures Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and even Rosa Parks, who used their anger to spark social strength and change. Part of the reason Rosa Parks refused to get out of that seat was anger. The people who tried to get her out of that seat would have probably said that she had attitude in present day terms. Does that make her an angry black woman? I leave that to you to decide.

Black Feminist Links:

Defining Black Feminist Thought

A Black Feminist Statement

Double Jeopardy: Black and Female

Black Beauty and White Beauty

Black Women in Poverty

Suggested Readings for Black Feminists

Natural or Relaxed?

To relax or not to relax? This has been the question many black women have asked themselves. This is because black women have been taught that the idea that straight hair is more acceptable since childhood. To the point that numerous young girls don't even think about learning how to properly care for their hair. And instead assume getting a perm is just a part of growing up.

The media has a lot to do with it. Black women are usually seen with long, straight, flowing hair. Even on packages that contain kinky hair used for twists, there is a picture of a black woman with long, straight hair. Until recently, women who chose to go natural were often portrayed as eccentric. Or they were dismissed as being afrocentric. Also, some biased beliefs dating back to slavery still survive today. During that period of bondage, African-American hair was viewed as dirty and unkempt. So, many blacks were shamed by their hair and eventually found ways to change its state. After awhile, it just became the social norm for black women to have relaxed hair.

Often, a woman who chooses to maintain her natural hair is considered to be going against the grain. Some even believe (as per an article in Glamour Magaizine) that this type of hair is not appropriate in the corporate world.

For a brief period in history during the 1960’s -1970’s, natural hair became a source of cultural pride. The Civil Rights Movement caused many to esteem their heritage, including their locks. It was common for men and women to wear afros or other natural styles. However, as the Movement died down so did these displays of diverse African-American hairdos. Many returned to using chemicals or heat on their tresses to achieve a straighter look.

Today however, the tide is once again changing. Many women of African descent are returning to their natural roots. It has become more and more common to see blacks on television with cornrows, braids, afros, and many other culturally unique hairstyles. Women such as Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, and Kim Fields-Freeman wear their hair unapologetically.

What is there to be sorry for anyway? It would be odd for Caucasians or other ethnicities to feel inferior because they were born with straight hair. It is natural for their hair to grow that way after all. That should also be the attitude regarding African textured hair. The way it grows out of our scalp is the way it was designed to be.

Sgt. Jan and Wife Murdered By Fellow Marines

CALIFORNIA - A Brooklyn-raised Marine sergeant and his new bride were tortured and killed execution-style in their California home - allegedly by four other Marines under his command.

Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak, who was raised in Bensonhurst, and his wife, Quiana, were found bound and gagged in the ransacked house, each shot in the head.

Pietrzak was the suspects' sergeant at Camp Pendleton, Quiana's mother said Wednesday.

"They're monsters," Faye Jenkins told the Daily News. "They're monsters."

Pietrzak's mother, Henryka Pietrzak-Varga, said she had prepared herself "for the possibility that my son could die in Iraq."

"But to die like this, in their own home?" she told The News. "They were good kids. They didn't deserve to die like this."

Investigators said the motive for murder was "financial gain." Neither mother believes that.

"When I found out what they did to them, it was like they killed me, too," Pietrzak-Varga said.

A spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney's office would not comment on reports that Pietrzak was killed by his own men.

Detectives also did not divulge what the accused Marines were looking for, but the suspects were tied to the crime by items found in their homes and on the military base.

Born in Poland, Pietrzak was 10 when he moved to the U.S. and enlisted after the 9/11 attacks. He was named Jan Pawel, which means John Paul, after the Polish pontiff.

A mechanic who worked on helicopters, Pietrzak, 24, met his wife three years ago at a party for Marines being deployed to Iraq.

Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, who worked for the county's Black Infant Care Center, was reluctant to date a Marine. But Pietrzak wooed her, and they were married in August.

"They were in love," her mother-in-law said. "It didn't matter to them that they had different skin colors."

The bride wore her favorite white Converse sneakers, and she was still in the process of writing thank-you cards when she was killed.

"She was our only child and my best friend," Faye Jenkins said. "He was like my son. He was so proud to be a Marine. But when he was off the base, he was my son."

The Pietrzaks were not rich and purchased their five-bedroom home in May through a foreclosure, said Waldemar Piasecki, a New York-based Polish journalist and family friend. He used his reenlistment bonus to replace the hardwood floor and carpet.

"They were hardworking young people," Piasecki said.

On Oct. 15, deputies were dispatched to the Pietrzak home in Winchester, an exurb of San Diego, when the Marine did not show up for work.

When they arrived, the deputies found the Pietrzaks in the living room and evidence that the robbers had tried to cover their tracks by torching the house.

Charged with murder and other crimes are Pvt. Emrys John, 18, of Maryland; Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller, 20, of North Carolina; Pvt. Kevin Darnell Cox, 20, of Tennessee, and Pvt. Kesuan Sykes, 21, of California.

Lawyers for the men could not be reached for comment.

Pietrzak's mother said she can't understand how Marines could have committed such a crime.

"Don't the Marines screen out people like this?" she said. "Didn't they know they had murderers under their roof?"

Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow

POLITICS - Last week 13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death in Somalia by insurgents because she was raped.

Reports indicate that she was raped by three men while traveling by foot to visit her grandmother in the capital, Mogadishu. When she went to the authorities to report the rape, they accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. Aisha was forced into a hole in a stadium of 1,000 onlookers as 50 men buried her up to the neck and threw stones at her head until she died.

When some of the people at the stadium tried to save her, militia opened fire on the crowd, killing a boy who was a bystander.

The incident highlights the extreme nature of violence against children and women in Somalia, which has been heightened by the increasing lawlessness.

Aisha's death not only serves as a reminder of the brutality towards children in the midst of war, but a reminder of the brutality towards women. This girl was raped, through no fault of her own, and then killed just because she had been raped.

More Lawsuits For EA

PC GAMES - Melissa Thomas’ lawsuit in September was the first, but now, three more have come up. And two out of the three cases’ plaintiffs are using the same law firm as Melissa Thomas - KamberEdelson. KamberEdelson is the first firm to successfully file a lawsuit against Sony’s XCP rootkit software, as well as Ubisoft’s Starforce DRM system.

The two cases involving KamberEdelson both deal with EA's Mass Effect, and with the free Spore Creature Creator. Both cases are very similar to the original Spore lawsuit. Though with the Mass Effect case there is also a complaint about the activation limits.

The third case came from the law firm Girard Gibbs LLP, which concerns EA’s use of SecuROM in many of their games, including Spore. Filkenstein Thompson LLC, a law firm in the US, is also investigating EA’s use of SecuROM in its games and is requesting any information from customers who have bought games such as Mass Effect and Spore.

SecuROM has been around for awhile just in various different versions. Thought it is Version 7 that contains particularly controversial features. This version includes an online activation system, and installs UAService7.exe, which can prevent emulation software from loading and has been known to affect some software packages from loading, such as Nero

EA isn’t the only one using SecuROM version 7. Atari, Capcom, Codemasters, and Ubisoft have also used the software in its games. There’s list of games that contain SecuROM 7 over at Reclaim Your Game.

EA Facing Lawsuits Over SecuROM

PC GAMES - EA is already facing thousands of enraged PC gamers about Spore's DRM system setting a limit of only three installations of the game. After thousands of one-star reviews on Amazon, the number of installations was increased to five. Then there was also the fact that you couldn't create more than one account in the game on a shared computer.

Wtih SecuROM on new PC games(Mass Effect and Spore), PC gamers are still unhappy and EA is now being sued by a plaintiff who believes that the surreptitious inclusion of SecuROM violates the law.

Melissa Thomas is suing EA ‘on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated’ after buying Spore. The case alleges that ‘When consumers make their purchase of Spore, they are told that they are purchasing “an exciting new simulation game that lets you develop your own personal universe.” However, the document adds that ‘What purchasers are not told is that, included in the purchase, installation, and operation of Spore is a second, undisclosed program.’

That second, undisclosed program is, of course, the much-hated SecuROM, which the document details. ‘Although consumers are told that the game uses access control and copy protection technology,’ says the document, ‘consumers are not told that this technology is actually an entirely separate, stand-alone program which will download, install, and operate on their computers, along with the Spore download. Consumers are given no control, rights, or options over SecuROM.’

The document goes on to say that ‘even if the consumer uninstalls Spore, and entirely deletes it from their computer, SecuROM remains a fixture in their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive.’ Besides complaints about SecuROM, the main crux of the case appears to be the fact that EA doesn’t tell you about it.

The case document alleges that ‘Electronic Arts’ intentionally did not disclose to any such purchasers that the Spore game disk also possessed a second, hidden program which secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel), and surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation on the computer, preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations.’ Which, according to the case, violates a number of California laws, including the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and California’s Unfair Competition.

Interracial Marriages Up in Canada

LOVE/SEX - Four decades after Hollywood's first interracial kiss in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'' shocked mainstream America, Canada's multicultural society is increasingly showing signs that love is colour blind.

The latest census figures by Statistics Canada (April 2008) show that, on this side of the border, mixed unions are forming at unprecedented rates.


There were 289,420 mixed-race couples, married and common law, in 2006 -- one third more than in 2001, the last time the data was collected.

Yet there was a time in North America's not-so distant past that marrying someone of a different race wasn't just taboo, it could land someone behind bars.

Before a 1967 United State Supreme Court decision ruled it unconstitutional, 16 states still had laws banning interracial marriage. Alabama maintained a ban on interracial marriages until November 2000.

Since Sidney Poitier's landmark smooch, Hollywood continued the tradition of big-screen portrayals of interracial romances. Kevin Costner hooked up with Whitney Houston in "The Bodyguard'' and Spike Lee brought together a black man and white woman in the more gritty "Jungle Fever.''

Images of real-life interracial couples such as Halle Berry and Montreal model Gabriel Aubry, as well as Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond rarely provoke a mention of their mixed-race makeup.

Statistics Canada began looking at mixed unions in 2001 as yet another indication of Canada's diversity and the way in which different ethnicities are integrating. The reason intermarriage and mixed unions prove so interesting is that they serve as a litmus test of social relations between different groups.

The vast majority -- 85% -- of interracial couples counted in the 2006 census involve a white person and a visible minority. But in a country where visible minorities are on a steep incline, so too are marriages among couples from two different visible minority groups (15 per cent).

The Japanese are most likely to enter a mixed union, the census showed, at 74.7 per cent. The second and third groups most likely to be involved in an interracial relationship are Latin Americans (47 per cent) and blacks (40.6 per cent).

In contrast, South Asians and Chinese are among the least likely to form a union outside their group.

While they are certainly more prevalent, modern day interracial unions aren't entirely immune from the scrutiny and stigma that has coloured them in the past. Interracial couples are frequently the target of open discrimination.

Open-minded attitudes regarding interracial relationships have also extended into the domain of professional matchmaking services, which comment they've seen a remarkable increase in people willing to date people of other races, especially in large cities. The extent to which an individual has been exposed to different cultures can play a role in their willingness to consider an interracial relationship.

The likelihood that intermarriage will reach the same levels as same-race unions probably won't happen in this lifetime, but there's a very good chance that Canada will get there one day.

See also: Is Love Colorblind?

New Planets Discovered

This July, Christian Marois, a young astrophysicist with Canada's National Research Council, was on a plane over the Pacific, poring over telescopic images of the star HR 8799 - an unremarkable pinprick in the Pegasus constellation - when things suddenly fell into focus.

"I thought 'this is crazy, this is amazing'," the 34-year-old research associate says.

"I discovered there was not one but two objects around this star."

And for the first time in the history of creation, a creature on a planet in our solar system was looking at an image of planets orbiting in another.

The discovery was released today in the journal Science.

"It was the first image of another planet system orbiting another star," says Marois, who is just completing a post-doctoral stint at the council's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria.

"I've been dreaming about astronomy since my childhood...so this was a childhood dream come true."

His dream would capture three planets, as it turned out.

Circling HR 8799, 128 light years (128 X 9.46 trillion kilometres) from Earth, the planetary trio are between seven and 10 times the mass of Jupiter.

Some 50 per cent more massive and five times more luminous than our sun, HR 8799 is visible to the naked eye, if you just look towards Pegasus near its zenith in the northern latitudes.

Seeing the planets? That took a bit more work.

Some 300 planets have been detected around distant stars over the past 10 years. But these orbiting bodies have been inferred, rather than photographed, largely by the "wobble" they create in their stars as they pull it gravitationally in different directions during their circling orbits.

And while there have been "exoplanet" sightings reported in the literature - another is reported in this same Science edition - Marois says his images are the clearest and definitely the first to show a distant solar system.

"It might be seen in the future as the first unambiguous (images)," Marois says.

"It has all the elements that are strong arguments that these things are planets. There's no missing link, there's no missing information."

Getting the images was no easy task.

"We had to look at a lot of stars in order to be able to see these," says Marois, whose planetary quest began eight years ago.

Indeed, Marois says 80 stars, painstakingly pared down from the billions available, were scrutinized before the HR 8799 planets appeared.

Because stars are often 25 times brighter than their planets -- which simply mirror the starlight - they typically drown out any of the planetary glow that might be glimpsed by earthbound lenses.

Thus, Marois says, researchers needed to find stars with planets that were far enough out of their sun's glaring shadow to have some visible shine of their own.

This meant turning away from targets that resembled our sun - where Earth-like objects might exist --and towards larger A-class stars that are able to gravitationally hold onto larger planets in more distant orbits.

"Everybody had neglected those stars because, since they're more massive, they're brighter," Marois says.

But more massive stars, he says, can hold larger planets at wider separations, giving astronomers big optical targets that are farther away from the central light source.

"So even if they're brighter it doesn't mean they are bad targets to look for planets. They actually have a lot of good things going for them," Marois says.

"The planets could be distant enough and large enough to (picture)," he says.

Second, Marois says, the star had to be located outside of the galaxy's cluttered plane, where the light from backing stars would simply drown out any planetary light.

Our milky way is a spiral galaxy and most of the stars we can see from Earth are located within the circling arms that give a clear night sky it it's lactic hue.

"HR 8799 is well away from the galactic plain so there was not a dense star field," Marois says.

"And there was nothing else in the field, there was nothing, so it had to be a bound (planet)," he says.

Also well, Marois says, the star needed to be relatively young to ensure any orbiting planets would retain the formational heat that could add to their visibility.

The HR 8799 solar system is only about 60 million years old, compared to the 4.6 billion years that our planetary neighbourhood has been around.

And the trio of planets are between 5.3 and 6.6 times hotter than Jupiter.

As important as meeting these stellar criteria, Marois needed a new way to observe the skies that would separate the brighness of the stars from the puny, planetary glow.

That problem was solved by a software program he himself developed as a PhD. candidate at the University of Montreal, which allowed planetary bodies to come out from their sun's bright shadow far more readily than ever before.

"The new observing strategy that I developed ...enabled us extract very well the light from the star by a factor of 10 to 100, so these were the deepest images ever obtained on any telescope," he says

While hundreds of other exoplanets have been inferred, seeing is actually believing, says University of Western Ontario geologist Roger Osinski

"You're always wary in any kind of science about basing everything on assumptions and inferences," says Osinski, deputy director of Western's Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration.

"So for sure having direct observations is a very big thing," he says.

As well, Osinski says, actually sightings of other planets may eventually help in the future detection of extraterrestrial life, through atmospheric analysis.

Marois images were compiled from two of the world's largest telescopes; the W.M. Keck and Gemini Observatories on the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea.

Marois says these earthbound telescopes, with their 10 metre apertures, are actuall better than the space based Hubble telescope at planet detection. Indeed the Hubble already eyes HR 8799 in the 1990s and failed to reveal its planets.

There is, however, almost zero chance that anyone on the planets will be looking back at us, Marois says.

As gas giants far more massive that our behemoth Jupiter, the planets have virtually no capacity to support life, Marois says.

They orbit 25, 40 and 70 astronomical units from their star, with an astronomical unit representing the distance between our sun and the Earth (about 150 million kilometres).

"They are similar in distance (from HR 8799) as the outer planets in our own solar system are from the sun," Marois says, referring to the planets Neptune and Uranus.

There is a distinct possibility, however that smaller planets, perhaps even rocky ones, may be orbiting closer to HR 8799, Marois says.

"There's definitely a probability that something is there... but sadly we don't have the instrumentation yet to tell if there's anything closer," he says.

Michelle Obama asks Hillary for advice

POLITICS - Michelle Obama wasn’t always an admirer of Hillary Clinton, but last Wednesday the soon-to-be first lady dialed up the former first lady for pointers on protecting her two young daughters from the media maelstrom of the White House.

“Michelle may not have loved the senator, but she always respected how the Clintons raised Chelsea,” said a Clinton aide. “They need to talk. There just aren’t too many people who have shared that kind of experience.”

An aide briefed on Obama’s side of the chat said she was “grateful” for Clinton’s “pointers” on “raising children in the public eye.”

It’s the latest phase in the soap opera that is the Obama-Clinton alliance, where the two first families negotiate new personal relationships as Hillary Clinton wrestles with her own ambivalence about Barack Obama, a man she once competed with and then worked tirelessly to elect.

“Senator Clinton did not just check the box for Obama - she went all out for him, which says an awful lot about how important she felt this election was, what kind of character she has, and the positive state of their relationship,” said Chris Lehane, an aide to both John Kerry and Al Gore during their United States presidential bids.

Since the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton headlined about three dozen rallies and fundraisers – working rope-lines where well-wishers often lamented her exit from the race. Bill Clinton hosted about 20 events for Obama.

Obama responded by lavishing praise on the pair – after months of questioning the legacy of the Clinton White House. More importantly, he embraced much of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s domestic agenda, especially her health care and green jobs proposals.

People close to the New York senator say she is still struggling to define her role in the Senate following a jarring and unexpected loss. But she’s sure of one thing: she desperately wants to play a major role in crafting the health care reform Obama has pledged to introduce.

The Obama-Clinton relationship is less fraught on the personal front, where Clinton seems surprisingly eager to mentor Michelle Obama.

The incoming First Lady, who had been privately critical of Clinton during the primaries, first reached out to the former First Lady six weeks ago for advice on how to provide some semblance of normality for her young daughters Sasha and Malia.

“They talked for 30 minutes the first time,” said a Clinton insider. “It wasn’t just for show – it was a real conversation.”

Last week, on election night, it was Hillary Clinton making the call, congratulating Barack Obama on his victory and consoling him after the death of his grandmother. It won’t be their last conversation. During that chat, the president-elect vowed to schedule a sit-down meeting with the Clintons in the not-too-distant future.

Obama may reverse Bush policies on stem cells, drilling, birth control

POLITICS - President-elect Barack Obama could reverse some of President Bush's most controversial executive orders, including restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, shortly after taking office on January 20th 2009.

Two other executive orders from George W. Bush, one dealing with a "gag order" on international aid organizations regarding birth control pills, condom usage and abortion and the other with oil and gas drilling on federal lands are also are receiving increased scrutiny.

BUSH'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS

New presidents often use executive orders to put their stamp on Washington quickly. Unlike laws, which require months to complete and the consent of Congress, presidents can use their executive authority to order federal agencies to quickly implement new policies (or reverse old ones). Obama's transition team is reviewing hundreds of Bush's executive orders.

Stem Cell Research

Obama is expected to use his executive authority to reverse Bush's order limiting the types of embryonic stem cell research that can receive federal tax dollars. Health advocates for those suffering from a host of diseases (including diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries) are eagerly awaiting the Bush-era restrictions to be lifted.

In August 2001, Bush barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells other than that using 60 cell lines existing when he signed the executive order.

Researchers say the ban has limited their progress and want the opportunity to create new stem cells from human embryos. On his campaign website, Obama said he supports the creation of new stem cells from embryos created for in vitro fertilization treatments that would otherwise be discarded.

NOTE: Approx. half of the world's facilities capable of doing stem cell research are in the United States. Allowing the USA to participate in stem cell research will effectively double the speed at which people can discover new cures for various diseases.

Planned Pregnancy

Other controversial Bush measures Obama is expected to overturn are related to abortion and family planning. United States family planning groups such as Planned Parenthood said they expect Obama to overturn the "Mexico City" policy, first instituted by the Reagan administration. The policy prevents taxpayer dollars from funding groups that promote planned pregnancy and pro-choice.

President Clinton dropped the order, but Bush re-implemented it and expanded the policy to ensure State Department funding does not go to family planning organizations that give advice about condoms, birth control pills, abstinence and abortion.

Overpopulation

Obama's administration also could overturn the Bush administration policy of banning funding to organizations such as the U.N. Population Fund that operate in countries like China that have overpopulation problems and adheres to the "one child" policy.

Oil Drilling in National Parks

Obama's team is also reviewing Bush's order that lifted restrictions on oil drilling on fragile federal lands in Utah. Environmental groups decried Bush's decision when he opened the lands to oil exploration.

Guantanamo Bay

One set of executive orders that may take longer to overturn pertains to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military prison. Obama has said he wants to close the prison, but will have to make decisions about what to do with the prison's 255 inmates.

Reversing Bush's executive orders would be an immediate way for Obama to show that a new era has begun in Washington.

Poverty the leading cause of abortion

FEMINISM - Here is some interesting statistics from the United States regarding abortion:

Black women are three times more likely to have an abortion and Hispanic women are twice as likely to have an abortion.

73% of women who have abortions are living below the poverty level (earning $9,570 or less per year).

75% of women who have abortion cite lack of money to raise a child as one of their reasons for having an abortion.

33% of all women who have abortions are between the age of 20 and 24.


So really, when you look at the statistics what you realize is that POVERTY, not rape, is the leading cause of abortions in the United States.

Shouldn't anti-abortionists be doing more to get rid of poverty? If we simply got rid of poverty the abortion rates would drop significantly.

Between 1990 and 1995 the abortion rate in the USA dropped 20%. Why? Because in 1990 we were in a recession. After Bill Clinton got into power he made some changes, the economy got really good and the abortion rate dropped significantly. Now thanks to George W. Bush being incompetent the American economy is in a new recession and Barack Obama has to help fix it. If Obama can get the economy back on track poverty and abortion rates will go down again.

But will anti-abortionists care or notice? If they spent half as much time and effort trying to get rid of poverty Americans wouldn't need so many abortions.

For more statistics and info about the connection between poverty and abortion see: Open Letter to Anti-Abortionists

Reaction to Obama's Win Around The World In Pictures

Obama's relatives in Kenya


Obama's Old school in Indonesia


In Australia



In Israel



In Japan

World Reaction to Obama Victory

OTTAWA - Prime Minster Stephen Harper said Wednesday he looked forward to meeting with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to "strengthen the special bond" that exists between Canada and the U.S.

Harper said Canadian officials and diplomats would be reaching out to work closely with Obama's transition team in the weeks and months ahead.

"Ministers in our government look forward to building a strong working relationship with their counterparts in a new Obama cabinet," said Harper in a statement.
Reaction to Obama's win ranged from jubilation to trepidation on the streets of the world's capital cities as official congratulations from heads of state began to flow shortly after Republican candidate John McCain conceded the election.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called Obama's victory in the US presidential election a "momentous" day for Kenya, where Obama's father was born.

Kibaki declared Thursday a public holiday for Kenyans to "celebrate the historic achievement by Senator Obama and our country."

"This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya. The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success," Kibaki said in a statement.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Obama's victory took the world into a "new era."

"The election of Senator Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States has taken the American people and the rest of the world with them into a new era - an era where race, colour and ethnicity, I hope, will also disappear... in politics in the rest of the world," he said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon congratulated Obama on his "triumph" in the U.S. presidential elections and invited him to Mexico.

"Calderon today sent a letter in the name of the people and government of Mexico to Senator Barack Obama congratulating him for his triumph in the presidential elections in the United States," the statement said.

The conservative Mexican president expressed a hope to "strengthen and deepen bilateral relations and work to build a better future for the region," the statement said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Obama's U.S. presidential election win "brilliant victory."

"I give you my warmest congratulations and, through me, those of all French people," Sarkozy told Obama in a letter made public by the French presidency. "Your brilliant victory rewards a tireless commitment to serve the American people."

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Obama had turned Martin Luther King's dream into a reality .

"Twenty-five years ago Martin Luther King had a dream of an America where men and women would be judged not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character," Rudd told reporters. "Today what America has done is turn that dream into a reality."

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark also congratulated Obama, saying her country looked forward to building on its already strong relationship with the United States.

"Senator Obama will be taking office at a critical juncture," she said. "There are many pressing challenges facing the international community, including the global financial crisis and global warming."

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated Obama, saying he hoped he could help clinch a "new deal" to end the financial crisis.

"This is a time for a renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of America," Barroso said in a statement. "We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world."

But in Israel, Iraq and Pakistan reaction was cool and guarded.

Typical of the skepticism that has dogged Obama's candidacy in Israel was a headline in the Haaretz newspaper on the eve of the election. It read: "So is Obama a Danger to Israel After All?"

Asked what he thought of Obama's landmark win, Shmuel Harel, who was buying cigarettes in an all-night neighbourhood store in Jerusalem, shook his head and raised his eyebrows in despair.

"It will not be good for us because Obama doesn't really understand how difficult our situation is," Harel said. "He's not tough and the U.S. needs a tough president to handle all the problems in this region."

The major reason that most Israelis have given for being anxious about an Obama presidency is his declared intention to put diplomacy and dialogue with Iran about its nuclear weapons program ahead of confrontation. Some Israelis also worry that Obama will be softer on terrorism than George W. Bush has been.

In Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he did not believe Obama's victory lead to any immediate and great upheavals.

"We believe this is the decision of American voters. We respect their will. But there are many upcoming challenges," said Zebari. "We don't think there will be change in policy overnight. There won't be quick disengagement here. A great deal is at stake here."

The Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., issued a statement urging improved relations under an Obama administration.

"President (Asif Ali) Zardari expressed the hope that Pakistan-U.S. relations will be enhanced under the new American leadership that received a popular mandate in Tuesday's poll."

On the streets of Jericho, Moscow, Havana and Beijing, however, there was guarded hope an Obama presidency would improve relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

"I like Obama's program because he says he wants to make peace between us and Israel," said Abdullah Najar, a barber in the West Bank oasis of Jericho. "I hate the life we have. Obama is promising change. He is a peaceful man who will not be starting new wars in the Middle East."

Obama's victory "shows that the United States is capable of renewal, which is good for Russia-US relations," said commentator Fyodor Lukyanov, the Moscow-based editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.

"Little depends on personalities. But Obama will still be better able to resolve a crisis," said 42-year old Muscovite Nikolai Kozyorov, the director of a travel agency. "He is less aggressive than McCain."

In Cuba, Obama's campaign vow to ease the 46-year-old U.S. trade embargo and his willingness to consider dialogue with the Cuban government were a breath of fresh air after almost eight years of tough talk and hard-line policies from the Bush administration, Cubans said.

"I think with Obama we will have some improvement. We're going to breathe a little, because if the other (McCain) had won we would be in bad shape - and not just the Cubans," said housewife Cristina Recio, 50.

"With Obama, there has to be a relaxing of the policy toward Cuba because he has at least promised to change things such as ending restrictions on trips to Cuba (by Americans) and that will be good for everyone," restaurant employee Diego Lopez, 41, said.

China also welcomed Obama and the excitement of his victory filtered down to the streets of Beijing, where ordinary Chinese citizens who have never voted themselves and some who could not even name the candidates embraced Obama's message of change.

"The black guy is a good choice, he has so much more energy than the other one, who was far too old," said Han Xue, a new father who runs a small cigarette and alcohol store.

"Really I never thought a black man could become president."

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