Sunday, February 28, 2010

Obama Improves Race Relations but Media Fails to Advance Goal of Post Racial Society

For the record.

26 Feb 2010 15:49 Africa/Lagos


Obama Improves Race Relations but Media Fails to Advance Goal of Post Racial Society According to Survey by TheLoop21.com & UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.

CNN Cited as Most Trusted Cable News Outlet for "Fair and Unbiased" Coverage of Racial and Cultural issues; FOX Least Trusted

Diversity of Views is the Key to Improving Coverage of Racial Issues

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One year after the historic election of President Obama, a panel of journalists of color view the election as a positive turning point in U.S. race relations; however, an overwhelming majority thought that mainstream media did not contribute to improved race relations, according to the 2010 Journalism in Color Survey on "Race and the Media."


(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080723/UNITYLOGO )


The Journalism in Color Survey tracks the views of professional journalists of color on issues of race and media. The survey -- commissioned by TheLoop21.com, a leading African-American web site for economic and political news in collaboration with UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., a strategic alliance advocating fair and accurate news coverage about people of color - provides a unique perspective on racial coverage in the Age of Obama.


For the second consecutive year, the vast majority of respondents (95 percent) did not think mainstream media adequately covered stories regarding racial issues in a multiracial society. Reasons topping the list were "too little diversity in newsrooms" and "lack of understanding by editors/producers." The most telling example of the inadequacy of diversity in newsrooms is that only 14 percent of survey respondents thought that their producers/editors were very knowledgeable of the minority group that they were covering.


Only 1 in 7 thought that coverage of racial issues by the mainstream media had improved U.S. race relations, while nearly twice as many believed it had worsened race relations. And, despite much discussion since the election of a post-racial society, this year's panel of journalists indicated that racial coverage by the mainstream media was just as likely to be "detrimental to the reality of a post-racial society" as it was to further that reality.


A majority of respondents indicated that while "racial and cultural issues are more likely to be covered" the overwhelming majority do not think that "journalists of color cover more high profile stories," or that additional coverage translates into creating opportunities for newsroom advancement for journalists of color. Similar views applied to women and gender issues.


"The persistent lack of confidence in the journalism industry is startling," said Darrell L. Williams, Ph.D., and publisher of TheLoop21.com. "At this critical juncture in U.S. race relations, there is a need for discussion of standards for unbiased racial coverage. What decision-makers in media choose to report, how they report it, and what they choose to ignore affects racial perceptions." William added, "Although the survey answers questions regarding the views of journalists of color, more importantly it highlights opportunities for change and further study."


David C. Wilson, Ph.D., a political scientist specializing in public opinion and political psychology, said the nation's trust and confidence in the media "has been slipping dramatically since the 1970s," and that "there's pretty much a consensus that the media is out of touch with average Americans."


"Media images and language" can prime subtle thoughts and beliefs related to stereotypes that can lead to bias and support faulty beliefs. Greater sensitivity through diversity of ideas among producers and editors is the key. "Diversity is not about 'sheer numbers,' it's about highlighting the different takes on different issues," said Wilson.


MOST TRUSTWORTHY NEWS OUTLETS


The survey also asked journalists of color to rate news outlets and select which types of media, in regards to objectivity and trust, provide "fair and unbiased reporting" of racial and cultural issues.


-- CNN was the most trusted news outlet by journalists of color to
provide "fair and unbiased reporting on racial and cultural issues"
with 69 percent indicating that they "somewhat trust" or "highly
trust." FOX was the least trusted with only 3 percent indicating that
they "somewhat trust" or "highly trust." Ninety-one percent
distrusted FOX to provide "fair and unbiased reporting on racial and
cultural issues."

MOST TRUSTWORTHY TYPES OF MEDIA

-- Public Radio is the most trusted media type to provide "fair and
unbiased reporting on racial and cultural issues" with 80 percent of
journalists of color surveyed indicating that they "somewhat trust" or
"highly trust." Cable news (31 percent) and Internet bloggers (10
percent) were least trusted to provide "fair and unbiased reporting on
racial and cultural issues."


To gain a broader perspective on how media impacts racial perceptions, TheLoop21.com is collaborating with NewsOne.com, and TV One's "Washington Watch with Roland Martin" to poll African-Americans and people of color nationwide from February 24 - March 5th. The "Truth in Media" poll further explores how minority audiences view the media's coverage of racial issues in the Age of Obama. To vote in the "Truth in Media" poll go to http://www.theloop21.com/truthinmedia or www.TheLoop21.com.


The "2010 Journalism in Color" survey was commissioned by TheLoop21.com for members of the alliance partners of UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., to evaluate the attitudes of journalists of color regarding their experiences in mainstream media during one of the most significant presidential campaigns in American history and beyond.


Journalists were surveyed on a variety of topics, including the quality of coverage of issues affecting African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans following the 2008 Presidential campaign as well as their professional experiences in mainstream media, perception of opportunities for advancement in their news organizations and suggestions to improve and increase coverage of issues that are important to people of color.


To vote in the "Truth in Media" poll go to: http://www.theloop21.com/truthinmedia or www.TheLoop21.com.


To get more on the 2010 Journalism in Color survey results or get a copy of the survey go to: Slideshow: 2010 'Journalism in Color' survey results or www.TheLoop21.com.


About TheLoop21.com


TheLoop21.com is the premier online destination for in-depth analysis of economic and political news presented from the minority perspective. TheLoop21.com not only highlights problems, but also offers insights and solutions, plus a platform where everyone is invited to join the conversation. The site is an alternative to mainstream media with a mission to lead the discussion on economic progress for people of color. For more information go to www.TheLoop21.com.


About UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.


UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. is a strategic alliance advocating news coverage about people of color, and aggressively challenging its organizations at all levels to reflect the nation's diversity. UNITY, representing more than 10,000 journalists of color, is comprised of four national associations: Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association. In addition to planning the largest regular gathering of journalists in the nation, UNITY develops programs and institutional relationships that promote its mission. For more information on UNITY, visit www.unityjournalists.org, email info@unityjournalists.org or call (703) 854-3585.


Media Contacts:
Martine Charles | Comment Communications for TheLoop21.com
T: 206-295-9114 | martine@commentpr.com
Katrina Florence | Comment Communications for TheLoop21.com
T: 310-995-3619 | katrina@commentpr.com


Source: UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.

CONTACT: Martine Charles, Comment Communications for TheLoop21.com,
+1-206-295-9114, martine@commentpr.com; or Katrina Florence, Comment
Communications for TheLoop21.com, +1-310-995-3619, katrina@commentpr.com


Web Site: http://www.theloop21.com/


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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Top 10 Companies Using Social Media Strategies for Financial Success

1. Starbucks

2. Dell

3. eBay

4. Google

5. Microsoft

6. Thomson Reuters

7. Nike

8. Amazon

9. SAP

10. Yahoo! and Intel



The results are in and social media is a winner. Social media has been heartily embraced by most of the world, and a new study from Engagementdb shows that when companies use social media and use it well, they are almost certain to reap quantifiable financial rewards.
This truly groundbreaking social media study written by
Charlene Li and Wetpaint, uses a robust statistical analysis to measure how Business Week’s top 100 brands are using social media to achieve financial success. The study’s goals were to measure “how deeply engaged the top 100 global brands are in a variety of social media channels and, more importantly, understand if higher engagement is correlated with financial performance”.


~ from Social Media Engagement Correlates To financial Performance


Another company thar has achieved remarkable success using social media is Nokia since the beginning of the Nokia Nseries Blogger Relations program.

View this video on YouTube - Blogger Meet-Up with Forum Nokia Champion Robin Jewsbury.


Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling 3


Fela Anikulapo Kuti

LIFE-LINES

~ By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling 3

When you look at the staying power of redoubtable musicians like King Sunny Ade, Admiral Dele Abiodun, Sir Shina Peters, Femi Anikulapo Kuti, Majek Fashek, Ras Kimono; and performers/singers like Alhaji Agba Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Kollington Ayinla, Wasiu Ayinde (K1), Onyeka Onwenu, Christy Essien Igbokwe, Orlando Julius Ekemode, Salawa Abeni, and a number of others; the most significant common ground is the fact that they have sustained and solidified their relative musical reputation, legacy and relevance in the past 20 years, at least. After those mentioned, the second generation of artistes digging hard and deep into our consciousness include Lagbaja, Adewale Ayuba, Pasuma, Sunny Neji, and few others.


Christy Essien-Igbokwe

Most of these artistes, with few exceptions, were trained professionals, instrumentalists and long-standing band leaders. You see, music business is first a business, then an art-form. These unfading and constant-as-a-northern-star musicians and singers built their bands painstakingly, to run smoothly and professionally, such that even if they are not there as headliners, the band will sail without losing steam. That was the reason Egypt 80, Fela’s band, rallied and sallied from when Fela died (and Femi with his own band could not possibly sustain his father’s), until Seun, the last of the Anikulapos, was old enough to ascend his father’s “throne”. Now, Egypt Band is contesting the grounds, and reclaiming the glory, “gradually, gradually”.

My point is this: any music form (it doesn’t matter by what tag it’s called) which joints and sinews are not firmly rooted in a solid band management infrastructure, its end has begun even at the first album. The hottest music of today are recorded on CD’s and DVD compilations; sold on the streets and corners; played endlessly on radio and (if they cobble up a video production) on television… and pronto a star is born. But the cornflakes can only taste sweet for a moment.


Lagbaja, a top Nigerian musician

The poor artiste does not bother that he has begun the burial ceremony of his musical talents and relevance with his excitement to “get out there and be appreciated”. He cares only that he can enter the studio without any inkling of how to play any instruments; beg or bribe a studio rat to pretend as his producer; lay his voice to beats he has never heard before, or lifted from pirated beat-making software. Yeah! He’s got a great feeling “this thing” will blast. He runs to the profiteer marketer otherwise known as pirate; begging him to slot his “single” (if not all the entire tracks) into one of the pirate’s numerous “Hottest Hits In Da House!” If the pirate is reluctant, unsure if the untested “hit” being canvassed by the aspiring star would catch the unquenchable thirst of the Hit-loving music freaks, the young man flings himself up, amusing the pirate with his readiness to pay so as to get just a song on the “compilations”. And yes, he pays the pirate to help him ‘pirate’ his own work (no contracts; no indemnity; complete ‘dash’). Frankly, he doesn’t catch the macabre irony. He just wants his chance to be a star.

Shocked? He has just begun. If he’s “lucky”, you begin to hear the song on radio…he makes the rounds, getting in the faces of notable DJs. If need be, running errands for them. He joins a posse (a group of creative malcontents), showing up at shows on the apron strings of more accomplished, more pirated “superstars”…he gets photographed…interviewed, and ghost-written…and viola…a new star is born. He starts getting shows, concerts and “mouth-watering” deals. He goes ballistic! Mission accomplished.

His sense of importance is exploded by unquestioned and pedestrian media adulation; uncritical fawning of fans and admirers. And the singer/pretender-musician loses the plot. He forgets the reason he was blessed with the raw talents: to make the world more tolerable, and sustain a profitable and pleasure-giving posterity for himself, his family and community. He does not ask about Pa Fatai Rolling Dollars, Commander Ebenezer Obey…how they came back after long hiatus. What makes them still tick…?

fajswhatnots@yahoo.com or faj-alive.blogspot.com


(First published in Guardian on Sunday, February 21, 2010)


Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling 2


P Square, very popular Nigerian Hip-hop Singers who are twin brothers.

LIFE-LINES

~ By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling 2

My final line last week: “The Nigerian music industry is dying; and frankly, it will, or probably have to die patapata, before it can truly rise, and take its due position, in the light of things. Incidentally, the best hands to give it life, are the same starving it of the elixir for irreversible success – the young Nigerian artistes. How?”

Yes, piracy is bad for any intellectual work, especially if the product is mostly driven by profit (as it is with Nigerian popular music). All over the world, the fight against piracy is fought at frenetic pace, because the killer-disease is spreading faster than earlier thought. Nowadays, in the US, the sale of recorded CD’s is panting far behind the sales of blank CD’s. You can guess where CDs are going. Music executives are storming the courts to put legitimate e-music dispensers out of business so as to prolong near-certain extinction of the more than 150-year old American music industry. And that is America where piracy has gone absolutely and bizarrely digital, and which has a clear cut infrastructure. However, in Nigeria, the first big case involving a major pirate (an Alaba marketer) came up at the Federal High Court on the first day of this month! We routinely sweep hideouts of small-time Chinese and Hong-Kong CD multipliers masquerading as music and movie pirates. We treat copyright infringement and rights collection with childish naiveté in this climate. In such situation, only death will “do them part”.

Pirated CDs are sold on the street. Photo Credit: Medindia

But of even deadlier dimension is the mentality of young Nigerian artistes: his understanding of his role, and the appreciation of his artistic contribution to social realities. Many years ago, I wrote a series of articles that won the first entertainment reporting award at the Nigerian Media Merit Awards. It was entitled “Creative Rogues”. In the articles, I tried to juxtapose the musical arrangements of the leading lights of the 80’s and 90’s in Nigeria, alongside their foreign counterparts from whose works they literally lifted several lines and riffs without any attribution whatsoever. We basically called them what they were: creative ‘pirates’ of others’ creative nous. That was more than 15 years ago.

Today, the artistes are more brazen; more impatient and couldn’t care if an entire chorus line was lifted verbatim from “reigning” songs of their local or foreign counterparts. They just don’t care. And the fans, as it is now clear, appear not to be bothered. But therein lays the trap. You don’t need a seer to tell you that barefaced robbery, as it being churned out by starry-eyed characters that populate our studios and airwaves, will sooner or later collapse the music business into an economical cul-de-sac.

Apart from music beats sounding alike, and with fast disappearing wholesomeness in syncopation and timbre, the lyrical depth is thinning out rapidly. Now, we seem like a nation of unthinking jingoists and flippant abusers of our traditional mores on the flimsy excuse that our socio-economic realities have condemned us to this state. We fool ourselves that we reflect what is happening on the streets. We have become repeaters, and not creators. We sing complete nonsense, gibberish, and lazy repetitions that leave neutrals wondering how we got to this place.

It is such complete absence of care or self-restraint that gives light to a St. Janet. Why are we scandalized at her cheap, lust-filled “business model”, when we amusingly condoned and back-patted her forerunner, Abbas Akande Obesere (Omo Rapala) who strutted drunkenly and, I can assure you, profitably across the nation casting spells on devotees of his brand of minstrelsy? So, who can wager that St. Jezebel does not have a coterie of lewd-lappers savouring every rotten limerick trolling from her plucky bosom?

Yet, more dangerous is the professional attitude and work ethics of our latter day music magicians. More on that next week.

fajswhatnots@yahoo.com or faj-alive.blogspot.com

(First published in Guardian on Sunday, February 14, 2010)


Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling 1


King Sunny Ade is a legendary Nigerian musician of the Juju music genre.

LIFE-LINES

~ By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Our Music Is Dying Slowly, And Still Smiling

Music is now so pervasive and in-your face that we dare not imagine a life without it, irrespective of your status or location. It’s that “bad”! But just as we are often propelled by inspiring musical presentations; so are we sometime dismayed at the irreverent hollowness of some “hip” music. And we are told the producers of these music types are profiting from their sweat, or more precisely, from their prodigious talents. I corrected myself about the level of “sweat” our music makers put into their music from reports I got while making enquiries on the state of the Nigerian music business; but more on that later.



Asa, a world class Nigerian musician

Now, that technology has made access to music more flippant, it is quite trendy to see foreign and local rave music downloaded from entertainment search engines, YouTube, Napster…free of charge…. Go to the campuses, and see students clamping MP3’s, 4’s into their earlobes, as they grind out body moves in tune with those sound blasters. As the sounds of the 21st century flies in the face of monumental deprivations, especially in developing and under-developed countries, the promoters and producers of today’s music tend to flow with the tide and stench of their climate, and make a living along the way. So, we are happy that Nigerian artistes, especially singers and wannabe musicians appear to be making tidy lump of money, as they spew out strings of musical presentations that their contemporaries, fans and well-wishers love to buy, dance and queue to watch when live shows come to town. It is good. But that is not my worry.


I know from recent bric-a-bracs in the media, following an article by my friend, Reuben Abati that tended to rile the tender underbelly of the hip-hop motley crew…the singers went on and on about the sacrilege of a grumpy old newspaper intellectual with a giant-sized ego, big enough to attempt ridiculing their hard-earned reputation and well-oiled fiefdom. You would think Abati was a snooty frustrated 60-year old pensioner moon-lighting as a journalist. I laughed at the indignation of the latter-day counter-critics, and their feverish protestations. Many people were stunned at the remarkable adroitness of the leader-writer, Banky W and the extensive disputations with Abati’s profiling of a misdirected youth in the prism of confused commercialization of an art form. He lampooned the historical mishaps in Abati’s intervention, elaborating ceaselessly on the embellishments, rather that the substance of the journalist’s clarion call.


Banky W


Now, I have come to remind the young Turks that the consequence of what Abati was warning against is coming pretty close to its cataclysmic eruptions. The decadence in the Nigerian music “industry” is bellowing near rupture; and the scattering, unfortunately, will engulf the good and the bad. Sadly, people like Abati will have no choice but smirk “Didn’t we tell them” at the remnants that will remain after the storm. Of course, noisemakers and warriors of the current raving nonsense would have fled to whence they came from…leaving the larger body of the follow-follow singing peperempe to froth in the mouth, and grovel for unavailable visas.
Why am I worried? Because the way the business of music is set up today, catastrophe is merely around the corner. Sometime last year, I sat down with a long-time friend and a foremost song-writer, instrumentalist and musician. We analyzed the trends in music production, promotion and dissemination; and came to a unanimous conclusion: the Nigerian music industry is dying; and frankly, it will, or probably have to die patapata, before it can truly rise, and take its due position, in the light of things. Incidentally, the best hands to give it life are the same starving it of the elixir for irreversible success – the young Nigerian artistes. How? Stay with me next week. Katchya.


fajswhatnots@yahoo.com or faj-alive.blogspot.com


(First published in Guardian on Sunday, February 07, 2010)


Friday, February 26, 2010

UN and Africa to Discuss Mercenaries and Private Military and Security Companies

25 Feb 2010 21:15 Africa/Lagos

UN and Africa to discuss mercenaries and private military and security companies


ADDIS ABABA, February 25, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Representatives of some 25 from African States will meet on 3 and 4 March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries* to discuss the presence and activities of mercenaries and private military and security companies (PMSCs) on the continent.


“This regional consultation in Africa is of particular importance given that the region is becoming a key market for the security industry”, said Shaista Shameem, who currently heads the Working Group. "However, PMSCs have remained largely unregulated, insufficiently monitored and rarely held accountable for the international crimes and human rights abuses they have committed.”


This meeting is the fourth of a series of five regional consultations which will end with the consultation with the Western European and Others Group in Geneva in April 2010. “This mandate was created in 1987 in a context in which the right of peoples to self-determination in Africa was often threatened by mercenary activities”, said Ms. Shameem.


State representatives will exchange good practices and lessons learned on the monitoring and regulation of the activities of private military and security companies and in particular on the adoption of a possible draft convention regulating their activities.


The Working Group said it “welcomes this opportunity to build on national experience in the continent to discuss general guidelines and principles for national and international regulation and oversight of the activities of private companies with the aim of encouraging the protection of human rights.”


(*) The Working Group is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Shaista Shameem (Chairperson-Rapporteur, Fiji), Ms. Najat al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), and Mr. Alexander Nikitin (Russian Federation).


Source: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

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25 Feb 2010
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UN and Africa to discuss mercenaries and private military and security companies
21:15
The African Union Commision and UNESCO discus ways to strengthen cooperation ties
21:14
South Africa / Media body wants legislation to protect journalists' sources
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Côte d'Ivoire / UNOCI chief attends 18th meeting of heads of UN peace missions in west Africa
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African Union commemorates eighth Africa Environment Day


Grace Jones to Perform at 18th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party


26 Feb 2010 05:00 Africa/Lagos


Grace Jones to Perform at 18th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Legendary entertainer Grace Jones will perform for guests at the 18th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Viewing Party. The gala event, which will take place March 7, 2010, at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, has brought some of the most iconic musicians to the stage over the years, but none as theatrical as the incomparable Grace Jones.


(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100203/LA48779LOGO)


"Grace Jones is not only an amazing performer, but a dear friend and a fellow activist in the fight against HIV/AIDS," says Sir Elton John. "Without a doubt, Grace will put on a show for our guests that will have them talking for years to come. It is an absolute honor to have Grace as part of this evening that means so much to the Foundation."


Ms. Jones' first album, Portfolio, released in 1977, resulted in a string of dance-club hits that transformed the international club scene. Her following albums "Fame" and "Muse" generated considerable success in the market and solidified her as a major recording artist. Jones later adapted to the emerging New Wave music to create a different style for herself. This resulted in the acclaimed albums "Warm Leatherette", "Nightclubbing" and "Living My Life."


Equally known for her roles in the fashion, art and film communities, Jones has established a presence that has stood the test of time. Born in Jamaica and raised in Syracuse, New York, she began her career as a successful high-fashion model. Starring roles followed in such films as the James Bond blockbuster "A View to a Kill", "Conan the Destroyer" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the vampire thriller "Vamp." Jones took the art world by storm when she became the muse to famed artists Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, resulting in an iconic series of portraits by Warhol and Haring's famous series of body paintings. With her dramatic visual makeover created in partnership with Jean-Paul Goode, Jones starred in the concert special "A One Man Show" and created a persona that has intrigued fans and established her as an international entertainment icon.


Follow the Elton John AIDS Foundation on Facebook: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/5321


ELTON JOHN AIDS FOUNDATION: The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) was established in the United States in 1992 (EJAF-US) and in the United Kingdom in 1993 (EJAF-UK) by founder and chairman Sir Elton John. Together, both entities have raised nearly $175 million for worthy HIV/AIDS programs in 55 countries around the globe since inception. Today, EJAF is one of the world's leading nonprofit HIV/AIDS organizations supporting innovative HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and direct care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS. EJAF-US's current grant-making priorities target HIV prevention programs in the Southern United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America; HIV prevention and care services for highly marginalized and vulnerable populations; and HIV/AIDS prevention education and the promotion of sexual health for adolescents.


CHOPARD: There are few jewelers in the world whose designs are immediately recognizable. At the forefront of that list is Chopard. For 150 years, the "World of Chopard" has embraced elegance, originality and individuality. Renowned internationally for its award-winning "Happy Diamonds" creations, the Chopard collection also includes an array of designs that adorn celebrities around the world. Meticulously crafted in Geneva, Switzerland since 1860, Chopard has distinguished itself worldwide for luxurious jewels and impeccably crafted high-precision timepieces that embody imaginative design and sophistication. To mark Chopard's 10 years of support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele has designed a new watch collection in collaboration with Sir Elton John himself. A testament to their friendship, the watch collection reflects the artist's extravagant personality as well as his tremendous generosity. A percentage of sales from these watches benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. For further information, phone 1.800.CHOPARD or explore Chopard on line at www.chopard.com.


JO and RAFFY MANOUKIAN: Jo and Raffy Manoukian are honored to be one of the sponsors of the annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards® Viewing Party. They have been personal friends of Sir Elton John since the early 1990s and are actively involved with the Foundation in the capacity of both Trustees and Board Members. The Elton John AIDS Foundation forms only one part of Jo and Raffy's philanthropy. Their charitable efforts span the globe with special emphasis on health, education, human rights, music, sports and media ventures.


NEURO DRINKS: Neuro is a groundbreaking brand of great-tasting functional beverages that provides nutraceutical blends formulated to promote health and well-being. Neuro Drinks contain natural, exotic tropical flavors and essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanicals to enhance and support a demanding round-the-clock lifestyle. The line features seven blends: NeuroGasm, NeuroSonic, NeuroBliss, NeuroSport, NeuroTrim, NeuroSleep and NeuroAqua, all individually crafted to provide beneficial elements that help you stay well. Drink smart. Drink Neuro.


AMERICAN AIRLINES: American Airlines, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection airlines serve 250 cities in over 40 countries with more than 3,400 daily flights. American Airlines is the official airline of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.


Contact: Christina Lee/ Jeff Raymond
ROGERS & COWAN
310-854-8100

Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100203/LA48779LOGO
AP Archive: http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: Elton John AIDS Foundation

CONTACT: Christina Lee or Jeff Raymond, both of ROGERS & COWAN,
+1-310-854-8100, for Elton John AIDS Foundation


Web Site: http://www.chopard.com/


TripAdvisor Premieres America's Top 10 Movie Hotels


TripAdvisor names America's top movie hotels, including The Roosevelt, NYC. (PRNewsFoto/TripAdvisor) NEWTON, MA UNITED STATES


26 Feb 2010 12:00 Africa/Lagos

TripAdvisor Premieres America's Top 10 Movie Hotels

The Fairmont San Francisco Gets Top Billing Among Star-Studded U.S. Hotels

NEWTON, Mass., Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- TripAdvisor®, the world's most popular and largest travel community, today announced its top 10 famous movie hotels, according to TripAdvisor editors.


To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/tripadvisor/37993/


(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100226/MM60379 )

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080902/TRIPADVISORLOGO )


While landing a seven-figure movie contract will never be more than a silver-screen dream for most travelers, anyone can be a star at these hotels, where countless classic celluloid scenes have been shot.


1. A Class Act: The Fairmont San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Average Nightly Rate: $317

Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: elegant decor, culture/sightseeing


This grand hotel, set atop the steep incline of Nob Hill, has reached equally great heights on the silver-screen. Ever since Alfred Hitchcock shot Vertigo at the Fairmont in 1958, the hotel has become an iconic part of San Francisco and many movies, including Towering Inferno, Sudden Impact, Junior and The Rock, in which Sean Connery's character enjoys a lavish suite at the property. "There are posters hanging from the various movies that were filmed there, and lots of photos of famous guests throughout the years," notes one TripAdvisor traveler.


2. High-Roller: Bellagio Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
Average Nightly Rate: $253
Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: nightlife, gambling/casinos


Boasting almost 4,000 guest rooms and suites, a renowned casino and world-famous dancing fountains, this hotel is no stranger to the silver-screen. The fountains alone have made countless Hollywood cameos and the hotel may be most famous for its parts in both Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Thirteen. "I opted to stay at the Bellagio purely because of George Clooney and Ocean's Eleven! It proved to live up to every expectation," writes one TripAdvisor traveler.


3. New York's Leading Lady: The Plaza, New York City, New York
Average Nightly Rate: $840

Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: romantic retreat, shopping getaway


This New York landmark hotel boasts sweeping views of Central Park, as well as impressive movie credentials. The Plaza's Oak Room was featured in Hitchcock's classic North By Northwest (and remains unchanged to this day), and the hotel has also served as the place where Crocodile Dundee swapped the Australian outback for a luxurious room, and starred in scenes in The Way We Were, Home Alone 2, Bride Wars, and more. As one TripAdvisor traveler writes, "No wonder it's so famous! It's a stunning hotel with fantastic amenities."


4. California Dream: Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California
Average Nightly Rate: $203

Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: beautiful decor, comfortable rooms


Having been featured in more than 100 movies, the Millennium Biltmore is a true Hollywood scene-stealer. The hotel's guestrooms have made appearances in Mission Impossible 3 and The Bodyguard, while Spiderman, Wedding Crashers, Dreamgirls and Pretty in Pink have also brought their all-star casts into the hotel. Remarks one TripAdvisor traveler, "You really feel a part of the old Hollywood in this hotel - I was wondering who has stayed in my room!"


5. Beverly Hills Beauty: Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills, California


Average Nightly Rate: $619
Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: honeymoon, elegant decor


Set just steps away from Rodeo Drive's renowned boutiques, this luxurious property will thrill shopaholics and Pretty Woman fans alike. This hotel should attract men too, as it's been the backdrop for scenes in Beverly Hills Cop I and III and Bulworth. "There is a glorious sense of old-time Hollywood glamour about the place," notes one TripAdvisor traveler.


6. Flying High: Renaissance St. Louis Hotel Airport, Saint Louis, Missouri
Average Nightly Rate: $163

Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: older travelers, comfortable rooms


While numerous hotels were used in the filming of the movie Up in the Air, the guestrooms at Renaissance St. Louis Hotel Airport were not only graced with George Clooney's on-screen presence, but also receive top marks from TripAdvisor travelers for being quiet and close to the airport. As shared by one TripAdvisor traveler, "What amazed me is that although the airport is across the street, I could barely even tell when a plane was taking off or landing."


7. City Scene-Stealer: The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City, New York
Average Nightly Rate: $290

Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: culture/sightseeing, shopping getaway


Boasting a rich history and prime location near Grand Central Station, The Roosevelt Hotel has seen its share of famous faces over the years. Jennifer Lopez's Maid in Manhattan landed a job at this hotel, while Michael Douglas's famous "Greed is good" scene in Wall Street was also shot at The Roosevelt. "It's got a real classy look to it and it's absolutely spotless. Looks like something out of a really old movie," says one TripAdvisor traveler.


8. Beach-Side Blockbuster: Fountainebleau Miami Beach, Miami Beach, Florida


Average Nightly Rate: $492
Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: beach/sun getaway, trendy decor


The A-list status of this hotel, a former vacation spot for iconic stars such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis, has been upheld by its many movie appearances. In The Bodyguard, Whitney Houston put the Fountainebleau on a high note; Goldfinger added the Midas touch to the property; and Scarface's famous pool scene was also shot here. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, "The lobby is great, the pools are like in the movie clips, and the chicks are like in the magazines!"


9. Shining On: Timberline Lodge, Timberline Lodge, Oregon
Average Nightly Rate: $152
Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: cozy retreat, romantic getaway


Standing at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet within the Mount Hood National Forest, Timberline Lodge is a popular ski retreat, which famously provided chills in The Shining as the exterior of the fictional Overlook Hotel. While the interior scenes were shot on a movie set, and Stephen King's inspiration for the nerve-jangling tale came from a trip to The Stanley Hotel, Colorado, it's Timberline Lodge's looming presence that remains a true scene-stealer. "Expect to never forget your stay," writes one TripAdvisor traveler.


10. A Mov(i)er And Shaker: Mountain Lake Hotel, Pembroke, Virginia
Average Nightly Rate: $220
Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: families, outdoor/adventure


Dirty Dancing fans might just have the time of their lives at this property, which featured as the fictitious Kellerman's Resort in the cult classic movie. Nestled in the New River Valley of the Appalachian Mountains, the hotel offers stunning scenery, as well as Dirty Dancing weekends featuring karaoke, dance lessons and a film location tour. "We are not Dirty Dancing fanatics, but enjoyed seeing the locations around the property that we recognized from the movie," writes one TripAdvisor traveler.


"While many travelers enjoy in-room movies as part of a relaxing hotel stay, these star-studded properties offer guests an actual connection with some classic movie scenes and famous characters," said Christine Peterson, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor.


About TripAdvisor Media Network


TripAdvisor® Media Network, operated by TripAdvisor, LLC, attracts 45 million monthly visitors* across 15 popular travel brands: TripAdvisor®, www.airfarewatchdog.com, www.bookingbuddy.com, www.cruisecritic.com, www.familyvacationcritic.com, www.flipkey.com, www.frequentflier.com, www.holidaywatchdog.com, www.independenttraveler.com, www.onetime.com, www.seatguru.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.travel-library.com, www.travelpod.com and www.virtualtourist.com. TripAdvisor-branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 32 million monthly visitors*, 15 million registered members and 30 million reviews and opinions. Featuring real advice from real travelers, TripAdvisor-branded sites cover more than one million destinations, hotels, restaurants and attractions and operate in the U.S. (http://www.tripadvisor.com/), the U.K. (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/), Ireland (http://www.tripadvisor.ie/), France (http://www.tripadvisor.fr/), Germany (http://www.tripadvisor.de/), Italy (http://www.tripadvisor.it/), Spain (http://www.tripadvisor.es/), India (http://www.tripadvisor.in/), Japan (http://www.tripadvisor.jp/), Portugal and Brazil (http://www.tripadvisor.com.br/), Sweden (http://www.tripadvisor.se/), The Netherlands (http://nl.tripadvisor.com/), Canada (http://www.tripadvisor.ca/), Denmark (http://www.tripadvisor.dk/), Turkey (http://www.tripadvisor.com.tr/) and Mexico (http://www.tripadvisor.com.mx/). TripAdvisor also operates in China under the brand daodao.com (http://www.daodao.com/) and Kuxun.cn (http://www.kuxun.cn/). TripAdvisor® Media Network provides travel suppliers with graphical advertising opportunities and a cost-per-click marketing platform. Collectively, the sites comprising the TripAdvisor Media Network have won hundreds of awards and accolades from press and industry worldwide. TripAdvisor and the sites comprising the TripAdvisor Media Network are operating companies of Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE) .


TripAdvisor and the TripAdvisor logo are registered trademarks of TripAdvisor LLC in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners.


©2010 TripAdvisor LLC. All rights reserved.


*Source: comScore Media Metrix, January 2010


Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100226/MM60379
http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080902/TRIPADVISORLOGO
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com Video: http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/tripadvisor/37993
Source: TripAdvisor

CONTACT: Amelie Hurst, +1-415-829-8158, ahurst@tripadvisor.com,
Alexandra Botti, +1-617-670-6529, abotti@tripadvisor.com


Web Site: http://www.tripadvisor.com/


Two Charged With Terror Violations in Connection With New York Subway Plot

25 Feb 2010 17:15 Africa/Lagos


Two Charged With Terror Violations in Connection With New York Subway Plot

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Justice Department announced that a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York has returned a superseding indictment charging Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin with terrorism violations stemming from, among other activities, their alleged roles in the plot involving Najibullah Zazi to attack the New York subway system in mid-September 2009. Ahmedzay and Medunjanin are scheduled to appear in federal court today in Brooklyn at 11:00 a.m.


Ahmedzay, 25, a U.S. citizen and resident of Queens, N.Y., was previously indicted on Jan. 8, 2010 in the Eastern District of New York on charges of making material false statements to the FBI about his travels to Pakistan and Afghanistan and about his conversations with a fellow traveler. Medunjanin, 25, a U.S. citizen and resident of Queens, N.Y., was previously indicted on Jan. 8, 2010 in the Eastern District of New York on charges of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization, namely al-Qaeda.


The five-count superseding indictment unsealed this morning charges both Ahmedzay and Medunjanin with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction (explosive bombs) against persons or property in the United States. Specifically, they are charged with conspiring with Zazi to conduct an attack on Manhattan subway lines that would take place on Sept. 14, Sept. 15, or Sept. 16, 2009. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is life in prison.


"The facts alleged in this indictment shed further light on the scope of this attempted attack and underscore the importance of using every tool we have available to both disrupt plots against our nation and hold suspected terrorists accountable for their actions," said Attorney General Holder. "This attack would have been deadly, and the many agents, prosecutors and intelligence professionals who worked together seamlessly to thwart it deserve our thanks."


Both defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country. Specifically, the superseding indictment alleges that on or about Aug. 28, 2008, both Ahmedzay and Medunjanin accompanied Zazi on a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., to Peshawar, Pakistan, in furtherance of the conspiracy. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is life in prison.


The superseding indictment also charges both defendants with providing material support, including currency, training, communications equipment and personnel, to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al-Qaeda. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is 15 years in prison.


In addition, Ahmedzay and Medunjanin are charged with receiving military-type training from al-Qaeda. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is ten years in prison.


Finally, Ahmedzay is further charged with making false statements to the FBI in a terrorism investigation. According to the indictment, Ahmedzay falsely told the FBI he had disclosed all the locations he visited during his trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan, when he had failed to disclose all these locations. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is eight years in prison.


This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado and the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department's National Security Division. The investigation is being conducted by the New York and Denver FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which combined have investigators from more than fifty federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.


The public is reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation of a crime, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Source: U.S. Department of Justice

CONTACT: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs,
+1-202-514-2007, TDD: +1-202-514-1888


Web Site: http://www.justice.gov/

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Political Bottom Power of Turai Yar'Adua



The Political Bottom Power of Turai Yar'Adua

Hajia Turai Yar'Adua is the wife of President Umaru Yar'Adua and she has been more popular as the First Lady of Nigeria since her husband fell ill and was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia. She has done all she could to save her husband from being repalced by the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.

Hajia Turai Yar'Adua has used all her wits to frustrate Goodluck Jonathan and make him unstable as the Acting President of the nation.

She has employed used her crocodile tears and played on the fears of the gullible masses to raise doubts over the security and stability of Nigeria in the absence of her sick husband.

The political bottom power of the desperate First Lady was well reported on 234 NEXT and there is no need to repeat the details here. But she is hiding under the force majeure of the ill health of her husband to steer the ship of state against the will of most Nigerians.

Her pretty face and sexy figure has turned the Brigade of Guards and men of the State Security Service (SSS) and political top dogs to dance to her tune. They are willing to kiss her bottom and take turns to play her "hubby" for as long as President Umaru Yar'Adua is still incapacitated.

What can a bedridden man do when his wife is an Iron Lady?




Joan Okorodudu Makes Nigeria Proud at Washington, D.C. Fashion Week

Joan Okorodudu and one of her models at the DC Fashion Week


Joan Okorodudu is fast becoming a top African fashion designer as shown by the most recent display of her latest designs at the 12th International Couture Collections Show that is popularly known as the DC Fashion Week held at the La Maison Francaise (Embassy of France) in Washington, D.C.


Design from Lagos-based fashion label House of Jola by designer Joan Isisoma Okorodudu


Nigeria is blessed with highly gifted fashion designers like the celebrated Deola Sagoe, Frank Osodi, Dakova, Mudi, Zizi Cardow, Hallero, Estella Ogbonna, Bayo Adegbe of Modela Couture and others who can walk tall among the best in the world.


The DC Fashion Week is seen by over 10 million people all over the world.


The last time I saw the ever beautiful and charming Joan Okorodudu was at Linda Ikeji’s Style Night held at the Jade Palace on Adeola Odeku Street on Victoria Island, Lagos. She was full of smiles and dimples as she admired the awesome designs of Bayo Adegbe of Modela Couture and other creative designers. She has been doing her best to promote Nigerian haute couture locally and internationally.


Design from Lagos-based fashion label House of Jola by designer Joan Isisoma Okorodudu

Joan Okorodudu was showcased with Corjor International, Andrew Nowell, Van Maela, Thinkking Hats, Cameron Gray, Kalaa and Destiny’s Creations & Designs, Saman Zar, Tatjana and other fashion designers who were from the US, Pakistan, Serbia, Nigeria and other countries.


Design from Lagos-based fashion label House of Jola by designer Joan Isisoma Okorodudu

About Joan Okorodudu

Joan Okorodudu was born on October 28, 1958. She hails from Aniocha North Local Government Area in Delta State, Nigeria. She graduated from the prestigious Boston University with a political science degree in 1981, and returned to Nigeria to fulfill her Youth Service commitment. During that same year, she was named first runner-up and later Miss Nigeria. This was also the year she became a fashion designer. Okorodudu showcased her House of J’ola Clothing lines in many African nations’ fashion weeks. She is a well tested fashion designer and also the Chief Executive of House of J’ola Designs, which produces exotic designs for all ages and occasions. House of J’ola stocks original fabrics from Gucci and Roberto Cavalli, including silk and taffeta, French and original woodin. Her sojourn into fashion designing dates back to 1990 when she opened her first fashion house in Wilmington, Delaware, which she ran for three years before returning to Nigeria. Joan, or “Mama J” as she is fondly called by close friends and relatives, is a mother and wife of 26 years.


~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, February 25, 2010.





Ivory Coast's Suspension of France 24 is politicized

25 Feb 2010 12:42 Africa/Lagos

Ivory Coast's suspension of France 24 is politicized


ABIDJAN, February 25, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about politically motivated censorship in Ivory Coast after authorities banned international French broadcaster France 24 on Monday on bogus allegations of unprofessionalism over coverage of political unrest in the West African nation.

Speaking to Reuters today, Frank Anderson Kouassi, the president of Ivory Coast's National Broadcasting Council (known by its French acronym as CNCA) accused the Paris-based satellite station of reporting “many deaths in a peremptory manner” after security forces opened fire on an anti-government protest in the southwestern city of Gagnoa on Friday. Ivorian military chief Gen. Philippe Mangou declared in a public statement to the media the same day that five people had been killed and several injured in the clashes, according to news reports. Kouassi told CPJ that France 24 had aired “unbalanced information.” In a press statement on its Web site on Monday, France 24 said it hoped the CNCA would reconsider the ban, saying that it “seemed unjustified.”

“The ban on France 24 deprives Ivorians of an essential source of information on the critical political situation in the country,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on the authorities to reverse this ban and refrain from censorship.”

Several local journalists CPJ interviewed said they believed the ruling appeared to be meant to suppress France 24's exclusive coverage of opposition movements across the country. The government-controlled national broadcaster Radio Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) has not carried demonstrations or interviews with demonstrators, they said.

Thousands of Ivorian opposition supporters marched to the studios of RTI in the economic capital, Abidjan, in January to protest against what they described as President Laurent Gbagbo's monopoly of publicly funded state media, according to news reports. Earlier this month, the official National Press Council suspended private daily Le Patriote for three days over several stories critical of members of the government, according to news reports.


Source: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

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IFQC Ranks Top 100 Countries by Gasoline Benzene Standards; South Korea Ranks First

25 Feb 2010 12:00 Africa/Lagos


IFQC Ranks Top 100 Countries by Gasoline Benzene Standards; South Korea Ranks First

HOUSTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Fuel Quality Center (IFQC) has ranked the top 100 countries based on gasoline benzene content standards. South Korea came in first with the earliest nationwide implementation of the lowest benzene limit - 0.7 vol% since January 2009, down from 1 vol%. Colombia followed in second and Canada was third.


Benzene is found naturally in crude oil and thus passes into refined products, including transportation fuels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies benzene as a Group A known human carcinogen. Controlling benzene levels in gasoline is the most direct way to limit evaporative and exhaust emissions of benzene from vehicles.


"It is delightful to see that the first 50 countries in the ranking have a limit of 1 vol% or less. The improvements in Asia and Latin America are very encouraging and show that the world is making efforts to improve fuel quality and reduce emissions," said Liisa Kiuru, executive director, IFQC.


European countries ranked high (Luxembourg in fourth, Belgium in fifth and nine others tied for sixth), as did with several Asian countries, including Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, tied at 19th with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.


The U.S. ranked 73rd, primarily because these rankings are based on national maximum allowance standards - U.S. standards have not been updated since 1997. California would have actually ranked first if it was a country - its state limit is 0.7 vol%. The U.S. is now in the process of implementing tighter limits under the Mobile Source Air Toxics-2 (MSAT 2) rule, which will reduce benzene levels in gasoline to an annual average of 0.62 vol% beginning in 2011 with a cap of 1.3 vol%. U.S. reformulated gasoline (RFG) has a lower limit, requiring an annual average of 0.95 vol%.


"We at Hart recognize the key role that government, refining and automakers have played in reducing benzene content in gasoline. Airborne toxics have long been a key global concern in major urban centers for many decades. It is gratifying to see the steady progress being made in reducing benzene content in fuel and related air toxics emissions," said Frederick L. Potter, executive vice president, Hart Energy Publishing.


The complete ranking is available on IFQC's Web site (http://www.ifqc.org/).


Hart Energy Consulting is a division of Hart Energy Publishing, LP, one of the world's largest energy industry publishers, with a diverse array of informational products for the worldwide energy industry. Multi-client consulting services include the International Fuel Quality Center, the Global Biofuels Center and an annual Crude, Refining & Clean Transportation Fuel Outlook to 2030. Headquartered in Houston, with offices in New York, London, Washington, D.C., Brussels, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro, Hart Energy Publishing's market-leading publications include Oil and Gas Investor, E&P, FUEL and PipeLine & Gas Technology. Hart also produces newsletters, custom publishing products, conferences, and unique multi-and single-client consulting services.


Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.


Terrence S. Higgins






Press Contact: Florence Kosmala
Director of Marketing
Hart Energy Consulting
fkosmala@Hartenergy.com
+1-713-260-6400

Source: Hart Energy Consulting

CONTACT: Florence Kosmala, Director of Marketing of Hart Energy
Consulting, +1-713-260-6400, fkosmala@Hartenergy.com


Web Site: http://www.ifqc.org/

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American Government Speaks On the Seizure of Power in Niger

25 Feb 2010 12:24 Africa/Lagos


Seizure of Power in Niger


WASHINGTON, February 24, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- William Fitzgerald, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs


Taken questions:


QUESTION: What is the U.S. reaction to the reported overthrow of Mamadou Tandja in Niger?


MR. FITZGERALD: Well, it's very disappointing on the one hand, because we never countenance the violent overthrow of any government. So far, the new government seems to be saying the right things. They call themselves the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy. And if anything, today, we would encourage them to move as quickly as possible if they are serious, and we hold them to that, to restore, in fact, the democracy that existed before Mamadou Tandja himself had begun to modify the constitution and extend his rule extrajudicially.


So at this point, what we're doing is – the ball is in their court. We are telling them, in our statement today, that they need to move as quickly as possible to restoring civilian democratic rule in Niger.


QUESTION: Have we seen signs that they're doing that?


MR. FITZGERALD: Well, I think we've seen some encouraging signs, first being that they actually call themselves the – (laughter) – council for the restoration of democracy. My understanding from press accounts is that curfew has been lifted. We understand that President Tandja is being held along with General (Moumouni) Boureima, who has been a long supporter of him, and that the violence has stopped.


We've heard from folks in Niger that once the shooting stopped yesterday afternoon in Niger time, it really hasn't started again – in other words, that they're consolidating their power and control of the government. In fact, curfew which was put into effect yesterday – again, according to press accounts – seems to have been lifted already, so that's a good sign.


QUESTION: So between the possible violence on the ground and curfew, are we satisfied that the situation on the ground is indeed calm?


MR. FITZGERALD: Well, I think it is calm. We've been speaking with the Embassy out there and they report, in fact, that it is calm.


QUESTION: Is the U.S. Embassy open and operating?


MR. FITZGERALD: The U.S. Embassy is open for consular services. Friday is typically a shortened day for many posts, including Niamey. We're not operating normally, but we are open and we are basically helping out American citizens who need assistance and keeping an eye on things.


QUESTION: What do we know about the group behind the overthrow?


MR. FITZGERALD: Well, some of them – that's a very good question because the leaders are a group of three colonels so far as we know. Again, this is – the overthrow of the government less than 48 hours ago, so a lot of this is not confirmed. It's a very sterile, very fluid situation. There are three colonels, two of whom participated or were involved in the coup in 1999, which was, frankly, much more violent. Two of them, like I said, were in the – have participated in the '99 coup. The other fellow did not, but what we heard in their statement last night is that they were tired of what they perceived as President Tandja's moves away from the constitution and away from democracy.


QUESTION: Where is President Tandja now?


MR. FITZGERALD: We believe President Tandja – again, press accounts – we have not spoken with him. We believe that he is being held at a military base along with some members of his cabinet, as well as perhaps General Boureima, the equivalent of our Joint Chiefs of Staff – the head of our Joint Chiefs of Staff – are being held at a military base outside of Niamey, just on the outside – just on the outskirts of Niamey.


QUESTION: First, what is it that we expect of the CSRD?


MR. FITZGERALD: Here's what we expect from the CSRD. They have to make – they have to return to civilian democratic rule as quickly as possible.


QUESTION: What have we – what has been the international reaction? What have we heard from some of our friends in the region?


MR. FITZGERALD: Right. Well, the ECOWAS – the West African organization – we support completely, and have been supporting. They've already been trying to facilitate the difficulties within the Nigerien Government since Mamadou Tandja tried to extend his rule. They are – again, they have sent up a team to Niamey to meet with the de facto government, and we support all of their efforts. They are likely to be telling them how to go about getting back to democratic rule.


QUESTION: Are there any overriding concerns for citizens, whether it's foreigners, United States citizens, or obviously Niger citizens?


MR. FITZGERALD: That's an excellent question. Really, what we're seeing and what is going on here in Niger is amongst the Nigeriens. The only danger I could see, frankly, is if Americans get out in the middle and are caught in the crossfire and get in the middle of stuff that they don't need to be. As I said before, it is calm, but still, Americans, as we say in our Warden Message to them, should just stick around the house for the next few days.


Again, it's an overthrow of a government. It's a very fluid situation. While the government – the de facto government appears to be taking measures to establish control, there's always that chance that there could be some other sort of difficulties and other sort of conflicts emerging. So I think if Americans stick close to their houses, I think everything will be fine.


QUESTION: Are we satisfied this is a path to democracy for Niger?


MR. FITZGERALD: We're given a set of circumstances that we have very little control over. Nevertheless, we do have some leverage. We do want to see Niger return to democratic rule. Frankly, I think the majority of the people in Niger want to return to democracy. And we are telling the de facto government that that is absolutely essential for them to be – to return to the international community. It's to return to civilian democratic rule.


QUESTION: With the latest occurrences over there, what about elections?


MR. FITZGERALD: That's a good question. Elections and – would be obviously a key benchmark in showing that they are successfully returning to civilian democratic rule. Nevertheless, elections can be a difficult and onerous task for any government, much less in Niger, which is considered to be one of the poorest countries of the world.


Yes, I think that it's possible to have elections by the end of the year, and certainly, we would push this government – this de facto government into doing that as quickly as possible. Again, with help from ECOWAS, perhaps the African Union, and Niger's international partners, I think that is a possibility and I think frankly, it's an important – it would be an important step.

Source: US Department of State



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Video: US Secretary of State for African Affairs Warns Nigeria and Niger



Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the office of President Barack Obama has warned the politicians in Nigeria and Niger to beware of undemocratic actions that can destabilize the two nations.


24 Feb 2010 22:57 Africa/Lagos

State Department's Top Diplomat for Africa Encourages Nigeria and Niger to Stay with the Democratic Processes that have Proven Successful in the Two Countries.

DATELINE/CITY: February 24, 2010 - Washington, DC

FORMAT: Soundbites


STORY SUMMARY: Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, briefed journalists on current issues in Africa.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Video, hard copy requests, contact information and more available at http://thedigitalcenter.com/projects/1532-state-departments-top-diplomat-for-a frica-encourages-nigeria-and-niger-to-stay-with-the-democratic-processes-that- have-proven-successful-in-the-two-countries


www.state.gov

CLIP CONTAINING 2 SOUNDBITES (TRT: 1:57)

SOUNDBITES:

Soundbite #1 Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs


Summary: Carson cautions Nigerians in responsible positions, not to use the situation surrounding the health of their President, for personal political gain.


Verbatim: We hope very, very much that the President has recuperated and is healthy and is able to resume his normal duties as President. But it is very important that those who are in responsible positions, put the health of the President of Nigeria first, that they think of the interests, of the stability, and the continued democracy of the country as a primary focal point of interest. This is not a time where personal political ambitions should in fact take precedence over the stability and continued democracy and adherence to the constitutional rule that governs Nigeria today.


TRT: 56 seconds


Soundbite #2 Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs


Summary: Carson sees restoring of democracy in Niger very possible and comments on recent actions taken by junta to force new elections.


Verbatim: If they did this to restore democracy and liberty to the country then they should move forward with doing so very quickly. Niger has had very successful political elections in the past. They have had multi-political parties. There are established parties. There are institutions that were working, institutions that were defending democracy against President Tandja. It should be very easy for that country to move back towards a democratic process. If it does, we will be in the forefront of restoring as quickly as possible, our support for that, for that country.


TRT: 48 seconds

VIDEO PROVIDED BY: U.S. Department of State


FOR TECHNICAL INFORMATION OR HARD COPY, PLEASE E-MAIL: digitalcenter@multivu.com


Media Contact: Joan Storck, (202) 504-6411, storcklj@state.gov


/PRNewswire -- Feb. 24/


Video: http://thedigitalcenter.com/projects/1532-state-departments-top-diplomat-for-africa-encourages-nigeria-and-niger-to-stay-with-the-democratic-processes-that-have-proven-successful-in-the-two-countries
Source: U.S. Department of State

Web Site: http://www.state.gov/


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Photo Report: Academy Board of Governors Bestows 2009 Scientific and Engineering Award to DLP Cinema Team for Color Accuracy


CAPTION: Academy Board of Governors Bestows 2009 Scientific and Engineering Award to DLP Cinema Team for Color Accuracy. (PRNewsFoto/Texas Instruments)
LOCATION:
LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES
POST DATE:
Feb/22/2010 2:23 PM
TAG ID:
prnphotos089951
FORMAT:
9.0" x 6.0" @ 300 DPI (2700 x 1808 Color JPEG)
SPECIAL:
SEE STORY 20100222/LA58347, DA Media contact: Kateri Gemperle of Texas Instruments, +1-214-567-3617, Kateri@ti.com; or Jessika Goldstein of Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, +1-425-638-7000, jgoldstein@waggeneredstrom.com, for Texas Instruments.
Document:
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS 2009 SCIENTIFIC AND ENGINEERING AWARD
Source:
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS
Caption Writer:
TK
Note: For more information, please contact NewsCom at sales@newscom.com or call 801-584-3900. You can browse other images in our collection here.


Photo of the Day: Payless Shoes


Payless ShoeSource unveiled its designer label, Christian Siriano for Payless, at the Fall (TM) 10 NY Fashion Week. The shoes are designed to complement the designer's RTW collection, pulling inspiration from antique furniture from the 18th and 19th century with its filigree and clawfoot detailing. A focal shoe from the collection is the Rocaille style -- a platform pump featuring a signature artisan heel reminiscent of a clawfoot. The collection is expected in Payless stores in September. www.paylessontherunway.com. (PRNewsFoto/Payless ShoeSource, Getty Images)


Gospel Truth Music Ministry Condemns Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

24 Feb 2010 14:35 Africa/Lagos


Gospel Truth Music Ministry Condemns Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Rev. Rizi Nasele Timane' and the Gospel Truth Music Ministry (http://www.rizigospel.com/) are voicing their support for Uganda's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their distress at the new perils that the community faces under the country's proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill.


Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the proposed legislation would create a new offense of "aggravated homosexuality," punishable by death. An extraterritorial clause would require that even Ugandans living in other countries be extradited to face prosecution for offenses listed within the bill. The bill also proposes jail sentences for failure to report a homosexual act and for "promoting homosexuality," which could cover the activities of human rights groups, including organizations working on HIV and AIDS prevention.


Christianity is the most widespread religion in Uganda. In an open letter addressed to President Obama, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Timane' points out the disparity between the proposed legislation and God's law. She draws attention to the command in Micah 6:8 "to do justice, and to love kindness" as well as Mark 12:28-31 where "Jesus spells out the two commandments that encompass every other commandment," the second of which is "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." "The proposed anti-homosexuality bill is in direct violation," Timane' states.


A lesbian reverend from Nigeria, West Africa, Timane' was one of the first people to identify as openly gay in Africa and knows firsthand the life-threatening effects of homophobia. Her letter continues, "The Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill is anti-human, anti-Christian and in violation of the fundamental rights that ALL people living in our world today are entitled to. It is in essence, government-legislated genocide." Timane' calls on all Christians to oppose the proposed law. She also writes, "I ask Uganda's president (Yoweri Museveni) and all Ugandan lawmakers, to please engage in dialogue with the rest of the world on the importance of protecting the rights of minorities."


On February 21, 2010, the ministry took spiritual action by conducting a prayer vigil at the Unity Fellowship of Christ church in Riverside, Calif., praying against the passage of the bill. A record of the vigil is posted in the video section of the Gospel Truth Music Ministry Web site.


In addition, the ministry will be offering monthly video devotionals at its Web site, starting Sunday, March 7, 2010. The devotionals will be video responses to the most often asked questions the ministry receives and occasional sermons on God's inclusive love for all people. "Gospel Truth Music Ministry is available to LGBT individuals 24 hours a day worldwide, including those suffering in Uganda," said Timane'. "We are a resource for anyone in need of encouragement or struggling to reconcile their sexuality with their spiritual faith."


The full text of the open letter is available at http://www.rizigospel.com/.


Contact:

Christina Thach
Gospel Truth Music Ministry
25876 The Old Road, Suite 247
Newhall, CA 91381
888-474-9423
thegospeltruthmusic@yahoo.com




This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit http://www.ereleases.com/.


Source: The Gospel Truth Music Ministry

CONTACT: Christina Thach of Gospel Truth Music Ministry,
+1-888-474-9423, thegospeltruthmusic@yahoo.com


Web Site: http://www.rizigospel.com/


23 Feb 2010
17:00
CMA Announces Jimmy Dean, Ferlin Husky, Billy Sherrill, and Don Williams as Newest Members of Country Music Hall of Fame
22 Feb 2010
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Comedian Bo Burnham to Tape First-Ever Special at the Newly Branded COMEDY CENTRAL's House of Comedy Live From House of Blues in Boston on Friday, April 16. The Performance Will Air As An Original One-Hour Special in Fall 2010
17:36
An Egyptian Actor's Controversial Theatrical Debut in LA
17:12
U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features: Irish-American Heritage Month (March) and St. Patrick's Day (March 17): 2010
14:00
Justice Through Music Releases New Music Video To Galvanize Support Against California's Prop 8 Referendum Opposing Marriage Equality