Friday, July 27, 2012
By: Demtris Nellas, Associated Press
Paraskevi Papachristou of Greece competed in the women's triple jump during the London Grand Prix, Diamond League meeting on August 5, 2011.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Triple jumper Voula Papachristou was expelled from Greece's Olympic team Wednesday for her comments on Twitter mocking African immigrants and expressing support for a far-right party.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee said Wednesday that Papachristou had been excluded from the team "for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement."
Papachristou is in Athens and has not responded to calls from The Associated Press. The committee said she was to travel to London shortly before the track events start.
Papachristou's Twitter account ((at)papaxristoutj) contains several retweets and postings of YouTube videos promoting the views of Golden Dawn, a formerly marginal extreme right party that entered the Greek Parliament in the recent two national elections — in May and June this year — by polling almost 7 percent of the vote.
But it was her attempt at a joke Sunday that went viral. Commenting on the widely reported appearance of Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes in Athens, Papachristou wrote: "With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!". Her tweet prompted thousands of negative comments that snowballed Wednesday.
Since anyone can access an unprotected Twitter account, Papachristou's YouTube links and retweets inevitably became known. Several of her retweets were original tweets by Ilias Kasidiaris, the Golden Dawn spokesman and one of the party's 18 Parliament members, who became notorious a few weeks ago for striking a woman Communist MP in the face and throwing water at another female MP during a TV talk show. Papachristou tweeted to Kassidiaris on his name day, last Friday, "Many happy years, be always strong and true!!!"
Papachristou's initial reaction to the negative comments, on Tuesday, was to tweet: "That's how I am. I laugh. I am not a CD to get stuck!!! And if I make mistakes, I don't press the replay! I press Play and move on!!!"
Her attitude changed completely Wednesday and she has posted five apologetic tweets in less than two hours. The last tweet, a very long one in English, which she has also posted on her Facebook account, reads: "I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.
"My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races. I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family."
Before the publication of the last tweet, Democratic Left, one of the three parties in Greece's coalition government, had published a statement assailing the "racist humor" and calling on the Hellenic Olympic Committee to expel Papachristou from the Olympics
"Let her make any miserable 'jokes' on social media while watching the games on TV. She definitely cannot represent Greece in London," the Democratic Left statement said.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
by Cherie Saunders
*Dick Gregory opened up the 2012 Summer TCA Press Tour in Beverly Hills Saturday morning with comments about how soul food is killing us.
“Until we learn about the human body…we go to Harvard, Yale, Howard to learn how to make a living. But the universal God force that created us don’t give a damn about you learning how to make a living,” said the 79-year-old comedian and activist, who tells his personal journey toward healthier food in the upcoming PBS Independent Lens film “Soul Food Junkies.”
From producer/director Byron Hurt (“Beyond Beats and Rhymes”), the documentary uses history and humor to examine this bittersweet culinary tradition, its roots in slavery, the scarcity of healthy food in America’s inner cities and much more.
“If we don’t learn how to live, you can have 12 doctorate degrees and be dead at 35,” said Gregory.
He continues below, and explains why his food journey has him “really angry at white folks.”
“Soul Food Junkies” will premiere on PBS in January. Watch the trailer below.
Posted by Richelieu at 7:01 AM
A lot of seventeen-year-old girls are thinking about boys, parties, cosmetics and the latest fashions. This is not the case for seventeen-year-old Claressa Shields. She is thinking about a ring -- the boxing ring, that is.
The young U.S. Olympic team boxer is aChristian who prays in her corner of the ring before every fight.
Boxing experts call Shields a superstar in the makings. She was 26-0 before experiencing her first loss on her way to qualifying for the Olympics in London. Shields' journey as a boxer is being documented by photographer Sue Jaye Johnson who told the Christian Post:
“When she lost for the first time in her life she prayed very hard. She emerged from that experience feeling like God was trying to send her a message. That she needed to experience a loss and not take anything for granted."
On May 18 when Shields learned that she qualified for the Olympics, she told USA Boxing, “The first thing I thought was thank you God, I’m so, so happy. You are there, you are hearing me.”
Shields also believes . . .
“God has a plan for me, if it’s meant for me to get this gold medal, I will. I’m thankful though, all Glory to God!"
All eyes will be on Shields in the 2012 Olympics for several reasons:
- This is the first time in Olympics history that women’s boxing will be a medal sport.
- Claressa Shields is the youngest U.S. boxer in 40 years.
- Claressa Shields is good at her craft.
- More than likely Shields will take home an Olympic medal for team USA.
At 17-year-old, Shields wants to be the first female boxer to win an Olympian gold medal. Let's wish her the best since this would be a dream come true for her.
What a person can offer a company should supersede one’s hair.
One summer day, Markeese Warner journeyed to Six Flags in her home state of Maryland for a job interview with the amusement park’s food services. Warner, 21, like most college students was looking for a summer job to make some money before returning to Pennsylvania State University in the fall for her senior year. On the day of the interview, Warner wore a black business dress, a pair of flat shoes, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. Professional as usual for any job interview.
[Also Read: Obama Announces Summer Jobs]
But much to Warner’s disbelief, when she was called into the human resources office to be interviewed, she was told that she was in clear breach of a very strict employee policy.
The interviewer, a black woman with curly natural hair, told Warner that she could not continue the interviewing process because Six Flags Corporation has a policy against “extreme hairstyles,” which includes mohawks and, astonishingly, Warner’s dreadlocks. While Warner may have met every other requirement for the job, her hair was an apparent roadblock.
“I just smiled and I left,” Warner said. “It was mind blowing.”
Feeling defeated, Warner went back home to share what happened at Six Flags with her mother. Her mom, who also wears locks, was disturbed by the news. She decided to contact a family friend in Florida, Kwasi Abahu, about the incident. Abahu, 37, who is Rastafarian, wears dreadlocks. When he learned of Warner’s Six Flags rejection because of her hair, Abahu started a petition to bring awareness to the company’s policy, which he found to be discriminatory.
“I was kind of pissed off,” he said. “I couldn’t not react and not address it in some way.”
Abahu said he is no stranger to such rejection from employers. Having worn his dreadlocks for nearly 20 years, Abahu said his hair prevented him from securing jobs and opportunities he may have otherwise been afforded.
“When you walk through the door people see you,” he said. “Much like the Sikhs with a full beard and a turban on.”
That kind of judgement, he said, is very detrimental for those who choose to wear dreadlocks with distinct purpose. But even so, Abahu adds that what a person can offer a company should supersede one’s hair.
What a person can offer a company should supersede one’s hair.
Six Flags Entertainment Company is not new to such controversy. The same Six Flags theme park in Maryland made headlines two years ago when reports revealed that at least two women were denied employment for having dreadlocks.
Abahu said there remains a negative stereotype that surrounds dreadlocks, which are commonly worn among religious groups in the African culture, and locks -- a term used for those who wear it as a style and not as a religious ornament. While dreadlocks and locks are most closely associated with the Rastafarian movement and predominantly worn as a style in the African-American community, it has also been worn by many ethnic groups throughout history -- though reasons for wearing dreadlocks varies from group to group.
Warner said her hair is a fundamental core of her identity.
“Before I locked my hair, I actually was going through a lot of trouble in high school,” Warner said. “I decided to lock my hair as a representation that I would stop and take school seriously and build my relationship with God.”
[Also Read: Actresses Who Rock Natural Hair]
Warner said since she locked her hair, she has looked at life through a different lens and is doing quite well in college, where she majors in engineering. Her dream job is to work for Apple after graduation. Warner characterized Six Flags’ employee policy against dreadlocks as “sad.” Thankfully for Warner, she has since been hired as a waitress by a local restaurant in the Maryland area.
But Warner’s story has not fallen on deaf ears. The petition started by Abahu has been picked up by online advocacy group Change.org, which mobilizes grassroots causes through the use of online petitioning.
“In a country that purports itself to be the greatest ‘melting pot’ of social values and ideals, it’s time for Six Flags to stop its discriminatory policy by categorically refusing to employ people because of their natural hair,” reads a portion of the petition.
So far over 35,000 people have signed the petition in support of Warner. The petition goal is to reach 50,000 signatures.
“The stigma that comes with dreadlocks I realize cannot be erased by a petition,” Abahu said, “but I hope it in some way gives credence to the fact that work ethic and moral values go far beyond somebody’s hair style and appearance.”
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
by Andrew Kirell | 4:33 pm, July 24th, 2012» 34 comments
On his nationally-syndicated radio show Tuesday afternoon, conservative host Rush Limbaugh got a kick out of actor/rap legend Ice-T‘s defense of gun rights to London’s Channel 4 News. Limbaugh praised the remark, adding that it is “double impressive” because the former gangsta rapper “knew the word ‘tyranny.’”
As we reported yesterday, the self-described “Godfather of Gangsta Rap,” told the British television network that guns are “the last form of defense against tyranny” and vehemently denied any connection between gun ownership rights and the massacre in Colorado.
Before playing the sound bite for his audience, Limbaugh reminisced back to “one of the funniest things” he ever saw: when Ice-T, “back in his radical days,” was interviewed by Nightline‘s Ted Koppel during the Rodney King era.
- RELATED: Rapper Ice-T Defends Gun Rights After Colorado Shooting: ‘The Last Form Of Defense Against Tyranny’
“They were talking about some racial strife, and Koppel didn’t know what to call [Ice-T], so he just kept calling him ‘Mr. T.’… And, of course, Ice-T’s in character on this show, and he’s doing the down-low [ed. note: I wonder if Limbaugh knows what that really means], and Koppel here is Mr. Sophisticated. And Ice-T had that angry-at-the-world face, ‘And I’m tellin’ you that I’m down wit it, bro.’”
But, in Limbaugh’s eyes, the rapper seems to have redeemed himself for his past “radical” ways. Limbaugh was amused that a “sophisticate” British journalist tried to get the rapper to talk negatively about gun ownership, and instead he said it’s the “last form of defense against tyranny.”
“He knew the word ‘tyranny,’” Limbaugh said of the rapper. “And he knows that tyranny comes from government representatives.”
“Double impressive,” he concluded.
Listen to the audio below:
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
By Chris Richburg
*The question of why Don Cornelius took his own life in February may never be answered, but the TV and music icon’s son is spearheading a campaign of suicide awareness to prevent others from experiencing the same type of loss that befell him.
The result is the Don Cornelius Foundation, an organization that “not only concentrates on suicide awareness but it also focuses on providing information to people who are in need.”
“This is a huge, huge issue and it’s an issue that has a veil of shame over it. People are still very uncomfortable with who’s talking about suicide, Tony Cornelius detailed to EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “Breast cancer at one time was something that was under the table. Women didn’t want to discuss it. AIDS was something that was under the table. No one wanted to discuss it. I mean I think this is an opportunity to bring this to the surface.”
The creation of the foundation comes months after the suicide of Don Cornelius. Tony Cornelius admits to coping with his father’s passing on a day to day basis.
“I have good days and I have bad days. I was very, very close to my father. We talked every day. We had a good father and son relationship,” he said. “When I say a good father and son relationship, I mean we covered the gambit. Sometimes we were upset with each other. Many times we were very happy with each other. So I mean that’s life and that’s family. I’m doing fine. I’m doing really well.”
Although the desire to create the foundation was automatic, Cornelius revealed his motivation for quickly forging ahead with the idea came from a legendary source.
“Actually, this idea to move forward as quickly as possible really came from Stevie Wonder,” the activist staid. “I had a conversation with Stevie some three or four days after my father’s death and (he) suggested to me that I do something about it and life is worth living.
“The slogan for the foundation is ‘Life is beautiful, precious and worth living’ and I really learned that from Stevie Wonder, Cornelius added. “He spoke to me candidly and he made an impression on me and that type of impression that really brought me to wanting now to help people who are transitioning. In other words, those that have family members who have committed suicide and those that are thinking about suicide. So he was really the one that spawned this concept for me and I’m grateful to him for it.”
The foundation is currently building its board of directors and board of advisors as well as planning fundraising opportunities and aligning itself with a help line that will immediately provide information to those in need and “companies who are in the business of helping people.”
“Our mission is to help companies that exist, that are doing these things for a number of years using professionals, people who understand mental illness, suicide, depression, accidental death when it comes to suicide and depression,” said Cornelius.
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One advantage on Cornelius’ side is his father’s celebrity, a point he says positions the former “Soul Train” host as “the face of suicide awareness.” With that, Cornelius is well aware of how suicide doesn’t discriminate.
“I think our target is all people. It’s not those that just knew my father we’re targeting. It’s anyone. I don’t think suicide has a claim of reference. It’s in the air. It’s colorless, in other words, but our community has a very high percentage of young black males that are now deciding to transition this way and we’re very active in that area,” he said. “… if we can save one person or if we can ask ‘how can I help you’ or where does it hurt?’ we’ve done what we’re supposed to do. So it really takes people who can see, who can pay attention, who can say ‘I have a friend of mine that’s in a bad way and I really want to help.’ That’s really what it’s about. If someone had asked my father ‘How can I help you and where does it hurt?’ he may have answered the question. But if you don’t ask those questions, you will never know.”
By Liz Szabo, USA TODAYs
A trio of new studies highlights the promise and challenges of preventing the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS: Giving anti-AIDS drugs to healthy but high-risk patients can dramatically reduce the risk of infection.
Two studies from Africa in heterosexual patients found that the drugs reduced the rate of HIV infection by 62% to 75%, a success rate that's comparable to results from studies of gay men, according to research in today'sNew England Journal of Medicine. A third study in African women at high risk of infection, however, was ended early after researchers saw the drugs had no effect on HIV rates, largely because fewer than 40% of study participants took their pills as instructed.
Overall, though, the results bolster the notion of giving anti-AIDS drugs to healthy but high-risk people before they're exposed to HIV, says Myron Cohen, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and co-author of an accompanying editorial. The strategy, known as PREP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is one of several powerful new tools in preventing HIV infection, he says.
An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration in May recommended approving the drug used in the studies, sold commercially as Truvada, for prevention. Truvada, which combines the drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine, is already approved to treat the disease. In two of the studies, patients were randomly assigned to take either a placebo or Truvada. In the third study, patients were randomly assigned to take either a placebo, Truvada or tenofovir. In that study, both tenofovir and Truvada worked about equally well.
"We're at some sort of turning point in the AIDS epidemic," says Cohen, who will speak later this month at AIDS 2012, an international conference in Washington, D.C., focusing on science and policy. "It's not a single thing going on. It's the culmination of what's happened for 30 years. … Each of them is moving the political world to start thinking about an AIDS-free generation."
About 34 million people have HIV/AIDS, including 1.1 million in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 50,000 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year.
A key challenge to using these drugs will be finding ways to motivate patients to take them properly, Cohen says. Researchers should find out, for example, whether women stopped taking the pills because of side effects or simply underestimated their risk of getting HIV. In the study of African women, about 3% of women became infected with HIV during the study, whether they took placebos or active drugs.
MORE: Truvada Q&A
Using pills to prevent HIV is itself controversial.
On one hand, the pills could help protect the healthy partners of HIV-positive patients, says Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. The pills could give people a way to protect themselves, even when their partners refuse to use condoms, a common problem in some countries.
But doctors have to be careful to test patients for HIV before prescribing Truvada. If someone already has HIV and doesn't take the pills faithfully, that person could develop and spread a resistant form of the AIDS virus, Cohen says.
Even AIDS activists are divided on the issue, says Guido Silvestri, a professor at theEmory University School of Medicine.
Some argue that the pills should be given to everyone at risk of HIV, especially those with high-risk lifestyles. Others worry that the pills could give people a false sense of security and lead them to stop using condoms, which reduce the risk not only of AIDS but of other sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, Silvestri says.
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