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 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.


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.


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."

Obama Victory Speech

Barack Obama Wins!

UNITED STATES – Congratulations to the new President of the United States of America! Barack Obama completed a journey late tonight that had once been unthinkable, becoming the first African-American president in U.S. history and raising hopes that this nation had entered a new, post-racial era.

The rookie U.S. senator from Illinois reshaped the American electoral map in his victory over Republican John McCain and stands poised to also redefine the way the world looks at this nation.

A presidential bid first forged on the themes of hope and change - then carried home by a candidate who personified calm and cool - came 45 years after Martin Luther King told the world he had a dream.

Millions of African-Americans who had lived lives of oppression and discrimination in this country helped craft Obama's victory, joined by many millions more across the racial spectrum who ultimately decided that race could be no barrier to electing a president in 2008.

Early returns contained one important message last night - there was no indication that Obama's race was a defining issue in this election.

With the world watching intently, Obama sealed his victory with easy wins in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the latter the one Democratic state in which McCain and his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, had chosen to make their last stand in a 21-month campaign that sparked unprecedented passions in this nation.

West coast results from California, Oregon and Washington state put Obama over the top, setting off a wild round of celebrations in Chicago's Grant Park where 70,000 gathered to watch history.

Tens of thousands more poured into the streets of Chicago and other major U.S. cities.

Obama and McCain traded wins in states considered safe for their respective parties early last night, but the 47-year-old Obama threatened Republican dominance in three battleground states - Virginia, North Carolina and Florida - in which he battled the 72-year-old McCain evenly during the night.

There were any number of milestones passed in this country on a night that will be studied by generations to come.

A country thought to be centre-right had elected a man perceived to be a liberal, and a northern liberal at that, the first Democrat from north of the Mason-Dixon Line to be elected since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

He would also become the first president born outside the continental U.S., the first Hawaiian-born president and a first-term senator who as recently as four years ago was toiling in Springfield, Ill., as a state senator.

Obama became only the third senator to move directly to the White House and the first ever elected without even completing his first term.

He was also seeking to become the first Democrat to win more than 50 per cent of the vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Even more history appeared to have been made today with a voter turnout that eclipsed U.S. records with people standing in line for hours on voting day, replicating scenes in recent weeks where millions cast ballots in early voting.

Americans also swept a majority of Democrats into the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Today was the final page of a political potboiler that spanned almost two years.

It was a campaign that began with Obama challenging the Clinton dynasty for the Democratic nod, at a time when the war in Iraq and national security appeared certain to again dominate voters' concerns.

Today, only one in 10 voters reported that Iraq was the most important issue to them and the economy eclipsed all else with the nation in the throes of a home-foreclosure and credit crisis, Wall Street humbled and largely crumbled, and confidence in the economic future in tatters. The Bush era of high oil prices, a weak American dollar, corporate crime, huge record budget deficits, and a host of domestic issues that have been ignored by the Bush Administration too focused on the war on terrorism can finally get presidential attention.

On the Friday before Obama declared his candidacy in February, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial average was at 12,580 and he didn't take a single economic question at his first Iowa town hall meeting that day.

Today, a pre-election rally brought the Dow to 9,625.

The economic meltdown in September turned the race, allowing Obama to assert himself as the calm hand on the tiller while McCain lurched from one economic position to another, at one point suspending his campaign in a theatrical - and ultimately unsuccessful bid - to forge consensus on a $750 billion financial bailout bill on Capitol Hill.

Throughout the entire campaign, however, one thing remained constant: this was a nation anxious to bring the curtain down on the George W. Bush administration and in the final days of the race, the outgoing U.S. president was the loneliest man in the capital.

Obama successfully linked McCain to Bush, torpedoing the Republican's self-styled "maverick" image and painting him as a sidekick to Bush.

In fact, one of McCain's best moments came during the third and final debate when he told Obama he was not Bush, and if the Democrat wanted to run against Bush he should have done so four years ago.

Gallup reported yesterday that nearly three-quarters of voters said this year's election outcome mattered more to them than prior elections - the highest the polling organization had measured during the last four campaigns.

Obama voted early in Chicago with wife Michelle and they were accompanied by daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

"Michelle took a long time, I had to check to see who she was voting for," Obama joked later.

In a television interview, he spoke, not of winning, but governing.

"When I think about things when the lights are out and I'm tossing and turning in bed, it's how do we make sure we fulfill the commitments to the American people that we've made throughout this campaign."

Following a brief appearance in Indiana, Obama found a little time to shoot some hoops.

That, in itself, was a liberating moment for a candidate after 21 months on the trail, because senior adviser Robert Gibbs told CNN that the campaign had tried to keep him off the court so he didn't emerge with a broken nose or a black eye before a campaign appearance or a debate.

Obama's running mate Joe Biden cast a ballot in Delaware, where he was also running for re-election as senator, then campaigned in Virginia.

McCain campaigned right to the bitter end, stopping mid-afternoon in Grand Junction, Colo.

"We're going to win it," he said, "we're going to win this election. And we're going to win right here in Colorado."

He was joined on the campaign trail on voting day by his 96-year-old mother, Roberta.

His running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, made the red-eye journey to her hometown of Wasilla to vote early yesterday before joining McCain in Phoenix.

Palin, wearing a hooded jacket emblazoned with the seal of the state of Alaska, was joined by her husband Todd in the polling station at the tiny city hall that was her office when she was town mayor.

She cited her right to privacy when reporters asked her how she voted - likely a bid to fend off questions about whether she voted for long-time Alaska senator, Ted Stevens, the senior Republican in the Senate. He was convicted on corruption charges last week and Palin and McCain called on him to resign. But Stevens returned to Alaska to try to protect his seat against the challenge of Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, the Democrat.

Whipped Shea Butter

I would love to try this recipe, but I have not gotten my hands on some shea butter yet. I looks relatively easy to make though.

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