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Nigerian Govt. Names 53 of the Enslaved Girls Putting Them at Risk of Stigmatization

Via AP:

The government of a Nigerian state identified 53 girls who escaped a mass kidnapping by Islamic militants, potentially subjecting the girls to stigma in this conservative society.

Some 276 girls remain missing, and U.S. officials and agents are arriving in Nigeria to help the Nigerian government, which has been widely criticized for not doing enough to find the girls.

Reuben Abati, a spokesman for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, said in a statement late Thursday that the president had met with the U.S. ambassador to discuss “the modalities for the actualization” of the U.S. offer of help. . .

This is a goverment of morons. - Greg Pollowitz

Chinese Owned Company Based in Michigan Selling Helicopters to Venezuela’s Military

Via UPI:

Venezuela’s Ministry of Defense has ordered 420B training helicopters from Michigan-headquartered Enstrom Helicopter Corporation.

The contract is for 16 helicopters for use by the country’s air force and navy and will be delivered within the next 18 months.

Also included in the deal are spare parts and tools, pilot and mechanic training and in-country technical assistance during the life of the contract.

No details as to the financial value of the award, however, were disclosed.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to provide training helicopters for Venezuela,” said Tracy Biegler, Enstrom chief executive officer. “This is their first helicopter purchase from a U.S. Original Equipment Manufacturer in more than 10 years. We are pleased that the 480B was selected for this training mission.”

Diplomatic and economic relations between Venezuela and the United States have been frayed over the policies of late-President Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro. . .

More on Enstrom's owners here. And over to you, President Obama. Are we really going to let this sale go through?

- Greg Pollowitz
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Nigerian Military Had Advanced Warning of Boko Haram Attack?

Via BBC Africa:

Nigeria’s military had advance warning of the attack on a school at which some 270 girls were kidnapped but failed to act, a rights group says.

Several credible sources have told Amnesty International that the military in the state capital, Maiduguri, had more than fours hours’ warning.

Fifty-three of the girls have escaped, leaving more than 200 still captive.

Teams of experts from the US and UK have arrived in Nigeria to help locate and rescue the abductees.

This is an early report and I'll update with new information when/if it becomes available. I'm taking it with the proverbial grain of salt for now. -

300+ Dead in Latest Boko Haram Attack; Some ‘Burned Alive’

Via CNN:

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, whose country’s effort to subdue Boko Haram has been largely ineffective, declared in a speech Thursday that the terror group’s abductions of schoolgirls would be its undoing.

“I believe the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end for terror in Nigeria,” he said at the opening of the World Economic Forum meeting in Abuja.

The abductions and an attack this week that left more than 300 people dead have focused worldwide attention on Nigeria’s fight with terrorists.

The world still doesn’t know what happened to the 276 girls kidnapped almost a month ago, except that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said he plans to sell them. 

Now, the militants may be going after those trying to find the girls. On Thursday, Nigerian police said one officer was wounded in the neck during a gunfight with suspected Boko Haram militants on the road between Maiduguri and Chibok, where the schoolgirls were abducted April 14.

And on Monday, Boko Haram militants attacked Gamboru Ngala, a remote state capital near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon that has been used as a staging ground for troops in the search for the girls. Some of the at least 310 victims were burned alive. . .

Is there a hashtag yet for those burned alive? - Greg Pollowitz

It Begins: China’s Military Now Training Monkeys

Via Washington Post:

They’re fierce. They’re furry. And they’re ready to protect the motherland.

The People’s Liberation Army revealed Monday that it has trained a small unit of macaque monkeys to protect a northern air force base from birds.

The monkeys’ handlers call their newest recruits the Chinese military’s “secret weapon,” and  state-run media highlighted the primates’ impressive skills in photos that were by turns cute, menacing and odd.

For years, migrating birds have wreaked havoc at the air base, threatening catastrophic failure in aircraft by getting sucked into their engines.

The military has tried scarecrows, bird netting, firecrackers and even live ammunition to decimate their nests… to no avail. Soldiers — showing valor in the face of such risks as slipping and falling — had climbed up trees in the past to destroy the nests, said a captain quoted on a news Web site run by China’s military, only to see those strategic spots retaken by birds the next day.

Enter the monkeys. 

The macaques are trained to respond to precise whistle commands from their handlers, according to the Chinese military, leaping into action, clambering up trees to destroy nests and scare away birds, according to an account on China’s Air Force News Web site on Sunday. The particular air force base employing the monkeys was left unidentified, described simply as being in the Beijing military zone. Base commanders in the account said the monkeys have destroyed more than 180 nests, at a pace of six to eight nests per monkey per day. . .

Yes, it's only a war on birds. For now. But imagine 10,000 monkeys airdopped on an enemy city? Chaos, I tel you. Chaos. - Greg Pollowitz
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What Ayaan Hirsi Ali Would Have Said at Brandeis on Islam and Women

Via Wall Street Journal:

One year ago, the city and suburbs of Boston were still in mourning. Families who only weeks earlier had children and siblings to hug were left with only photographs and memories. Still others were hovering over bedsides, watching as young men, women, and children endured painful surgeries and permanent disfiguration. All because two brothers, radicalized by jihadist websites, decided to place homemade bombs in backpacks near the finish line of one of the most prominent events in American sports, the Boston Marathon.

All of you in the Class of 2014 will never forget that day and the days that followed. You will never forget when you heard the news, where you were, or what you were doing. And when you return here, 10, 15 or 25 years from now, you will be reminded of it. The bombs exploded just 10 miles from this campus.

I read an article recently that said many adults don’t remember much from before the age of 8. That means some of your earliest childhood memories may well be of that September morning simply known as “9/11.”

You deserve better memories than 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing. And you are not the only ones. In Syria, at least 120,000 people have been killed, not simply in battle, but in wholesale massacres, in a civil war that is increasingly waged across a sectarian divide. Violence is escalating in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Libya, in Egypt. And far more than was the case when you were born, organized violence in the world today is disproportionately concentrated in the Muslim world.

Another striking feature of the countries I have just named, and of the Middle East generally, is that violence against women is also increasing. In Saudi Arabia, there has been a noticeable rise in the practice of female genital mutilation. In Egypt, 99% of women report being sexually harassed and up to 80 sexual assaults occur in a single day. . .

Great decision, Brandeis. The biggest news story right now is how Islamic militants are selling girls as sex slaves, and you don't think she should speak at the university? Maybe you can reinvite her? - Greg Pollowitz

The Next Bundy? BLM Backs Down Over Recapture Canyon, Utah Protest

Via Denver Post:

Recapture Canyon is a calm place of cottonwood shade, sinuous streams, beaver ponds and bird song. Ancient cliffside dwellings and ground dotted with potsherds lend it an aura of quiet mystery.

But this canyon — so close to Blanding, Utah, that locals there consider it their wild backyard — is also the site of a long-standing but escalating anti-federal government, Cliven Bundyesque furor.

On Saturday, protesters plan to drive their ATVs past a “closed to motorized use” sign and into the 11-mile-long canyon to show their disdain for the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to keep that area off-limits to vehicles.

The BLM — after a huddle with the FBI, the Utah attorney general’s office, the Utah Department of Public Safety and San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge — has decided once again to “stand back” and avoid a confrontation as it did several weeks ago on the Bundy ranch in Nevada, Eldredge said.

“It was decided that, at the end of the day, it is not worth it to spill any blood,” Eldredge said of the decision. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Nigeria’s Boko Haram: ‘Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women.’

Via CNN:

Fears for the fate of more than 200 Nigerian girls turned even more nightmarish Monday when the leader of the Islamist group that kidnapped them announced plans to sell them.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.

“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.

Boko Haram means “Western education is sin.” In his nearly hourlong, rambling video, Shekau repeatedly called for Western education to end.

“Girls, you should go and get married,” he said. . .

Time to stop using "kidnapped" for the more accurate "enslaved." - Greg Pollowitz

Stand With Sandra Fluke. . .For No Pay or Health Insurance?

Via StandWithSandra.com:

Sandra Fluke’s career has been about standing up for the public interest and fighting for social justice.  She is determined to continue this work in the California State Senate, and you can help!  We’re excited to launch the 2014 Organizing Fellows program and have the opportunity to train the next generation of organizers who share her passion for fighting the good fight.

The Stand With Sandra organizing fellowship will begin in April and run through the first week of June 2014.  Based in Los Angeles, fellows should expect to gain hands-on campaign experience while working in a fast-paced environment on one of the most exciting races in Southern California.  As a fellow, you will:

            – Strengthen your leadership abilities

            – Develop relationships with supporters in communities across the district

            – Learn skills in community organizing, grassroots outreach, and issue advocacy

This program is designed to give you real world organizing experience that will have a concrete impact on this election and beyond. No prior campaign experience is necessary.  Fellows must be able to commit to a half day of training on Sunday May 4th and at least 10 hours per week.  Sign up today – applications close on May 2nd. 

We strongly encourage applicants to apply for class credit and school stipend programs, and will work with you to ensure you have what you need in that process. To apply, just fill out the questions below.

Maybe it's a paid position with benefits, but there's no mention of that. I'll happily correct the title when Sandra bravely announces that her "fellows" will receive not just the minimum wage, but a living wage, along with health benefits. And free birth control. There should be lots and lots of free birth control availble in the office. Goldfish-bowls filled with birth control. - Greg Pollowitz

Chicagoland: 19 Shot During Weekend Violence

Via Chicago Tribune:

A gang-related drive-by shooting in the River North neighborhood left a man dead and three others wounded early Sunday morning, the four among at least 19 people shot and two killed since 11 a.m. Saturday.

The most recent shooting involved a 29-year-old man shot and killed about 7:15 a.m. Sunday in the 900 block of East 81st Street in the East Chatham neighborhood on the South Side, according to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada. The man suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head, Estrada said. According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, it has not yet been notified of the death.

No other details were available on the shooting, Estrada said, but Area South detectives are investigating. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Report: 2500 Missing After Landslide in Afghanistan

Via New York Times:

Huge landslides caused by heavy rainfall buried hundreds of houses in a remote area of northeastern Afghanistan on Friday. As many as 2,500 people were said to be missing in the disaster, one of the worst to hit the war-torn country in at least a decade.

Weeks of steady rain softened the hillside above the village of Abi Barak in the Argo district of Badakshan Province, near the borders with China and Tajikistan. Officials said one part of the hill gave way around 11 a.m., burying about 300 houses — by some estimates nearly half the village — in a mass of sodden mud. Neighbors who rushed to help were buried when a second part of the hill slid a short time later.

“I believe it is beyond human capability to even remove all of the dead bodies,” said Shah Waliullah Adeeb, the governor of Badakhshan. “It will take months for machinery to complete the search for bodies.”. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Meet the Disbarred Lawyer In Charge of the NAACP’s L.A. Chapter

Via the Los Angeles Times:

The head of the Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP is coming under scrutiny in the wake of the organization’s decision to give awards to Donald Sterling.

The group granted Sterling an award in 2009, the same year the real estate magnate and L.A. Clippers owner paid $2.73 million to settle U.S. government claims that he refused to rent his apartments to Latinos and blacks in Koreatown. The chapter was set to give Sterling a second award when a recording emerged in which a man said to be Sterling asked a female friend not to publicly associate with African Americans.

Leon Jenkins, president of the NAACP branch, has been a focus of attention in recent days.

While a Detroit judge, Jenkins in 1988 was indicted on federal bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and racketeering charges, according records from the State Bar Court of California.

Authorities at the time alleged that Jenkins received gifts from those who appeared in his court and committed perjury, the records show. He was acquitted of criminal charges. But in 1994 the Michigan Supreme Court disbarred him, finding “overwhelming evidence” that Jenkins “sold his office and his public trust,” according to the bar records. . .

Like I wrote the other day: the NAACP was Sterling's enablers in all this. -

Great White Shark Tagged Off Cape Cod Surfaces in the Gulf of Mexico

Via AP:

Scientists say the satellite tag for a great white shark has appeared in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s west coast.

Ocearch, a nonprofit organization that researches and tracks sharks, reports that “Betsy,” a 12-foot, 1,400-pound female, was found swimming about 63 miles off Boca Grande on Friday.

The shark was tagged during an August 2013 Ocearch expedition off Cape Cod. The expedition included scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. . .

No doubt in search of lower taxes. - Greg Pollowitz

Get Your Geek On: New Godzilla Trailer

Via YouTube:

Is that Rodan? - Greg Pollowitz

War On Women: Dem Governors Association Giving Up On Wendy Davis

Via the LA Times:

If Washington was reeling on Tuesday, the vertigo may have stemmed from something rare: blunt honesty from the mouth of an elected official.

Really.

It occurred as Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, head of the Democratic Governors Assn., detailed for reporters the group’s target races this year.

Top tier: Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida. Second tier: Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin. Fingers crossed: South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Arizona.

Notably absent was one of the supposed marquee races of 2014, Democrat Wendy Davis’ effort to derail Republican Greg Abbott in Texas.

Shumlin sent an unmistakable signal that the moneyed organization had better places to place its dough.

“We all understand Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” he said, after a reporter noted that Texas had not been included among his targeted states.

Over to you, Dems. -

War On Women: Dem Governors Association Giving Up On Wendy Davis

Via the LA Times:

If Washington was reeling on Tuesday, the vertigo may have stemmed from something rare: blunt honesty from the mouth of an elected official.

Really.

It occurred as Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, head of the Democratic Governors Assn., detailed for reporters the group’s target races this year.

Top tier: Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida. Second tier: Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin. Fingers crossed: South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Arizona.

Notably absent was one of the supposed marquee races of 2014, Democrat Wendy Davis’ effort to derail Republican Greg Abbott in Texas.

Shumlin sent an unmistakable signal that the moneyed organization had better places to place its dough.

“We all understand Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” he said, after a reporter noted that Texas had not been included among his targeted states.

Over to you, Dems. - Greg Pollowitz

Meet the Cast of Star Wars VII

Via StarWars.com:

The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.

Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.

Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.

At least there's no Jar Jar Binks. . .yet. . . - Greg Pollowitz

Kerry: I Was For Calling Israel an Apartheid State Right Before I Was Against It

Via The Guardian:

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has apologised for warning that Israel risked becoming an “apartheid state” if it did not reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, following a barrage of criticism in America.

In a statement, Kerry hit back at what he described as “partisan political” attacks against him, while stating that in retrospect he would have chosen a different word.

He said that apartheid was “a word best left out of the debate [in the US]” despite the fact that there have been similar warnings from senior Israeli politicians.

Kerry insisted his remarks were only an expression of his firm belief that a two-state solution was the only way to end the long-running conflict.

Kerry’s reported comments, and his retraction, come at a sensitive time for the peace process, suspended by Israel last week after the agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas to reconcile and try to form a unity government. . .

He really hasn't changed since losing to Bush. He still thinks he's the smartest guy in the room and that whatever mumble-jumble he speaks is gospel. - Greg Pollowitz

Racism? Ralph Nader: Impeach Obama!

Via Yahoo! News:

What if Washington politics were no longer defined by partisan gridlock but instead by a cross-party alliance that forged solutions? The alliance would be unstoppable.

That’s the premise of the new book “Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State” by longtime political activist and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who contends that such a left-right alliance is not just the stuff of imagination but is actually emerging.

“On Capitol Hill, I’m seeing more and more in Congress, left and right,” Nader told “The Fine Print.” “It was a vote in the House over a year ago over the NSA snooping, it almost broke through … so we’re beginning to see formulations that once they click together, they’re unstoppable.”

Nader was referring to a vote in July 2013 over a measure known as the Amash Amendment that would have curtailed the National Security Agency’s ability to collect bulk phone call data. The measure narrowly failed by 12 votes, in part due to a concerted White House lobbying effort on Capitol Hill. . .

I hope this means Nader is running in 2016. Run, Ralph, run! - Greg Pollowitz

Kentucky Derby Prep: How To Make a Mint Julep

Via Maker's Mark -- YouTube:

News you can use. - Greg Pollowitz

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